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help with steel king wood furnace

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by tobaccogrower, Jan 10, 2010.

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  1. tobaccogrower

    tobaccogrower Member

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    hello everyone. great site! alot of good info and humor here!

    i have decided to hook up my steel king forced hot air wood furnace as the primary source of heat in my shop. the furnace has never been fired and has been sitting patiently in my basement for 25+ years waiting to be used. my grandfather bought it and never hooked it up. is this a good boiler? i have other options(wood stove and pellett stove) this is my first time ever using a wood fired furnace. i have no clue how to get this thing to work like a furnace. there are no controls.

    the furnace has a small combustion blower and a large convection blower. also a spot to install a water jacket.

    my plans are to come out of the back of furnace with a 90*then up 12 inches to my magic heat then 7 feet up to the ceiling where the 6 inch single wall will be expanded to 7 inch. then use a single wall to double wall adapter then i'm using double wall stainless 7 inch all the way out. total run will be about 30 feet. like i said this is going to be in my shop. the first 10 feet is going to be inside the the next 20ish will be outside. does this plan sound ok? do i need to install a berometric damper in the run? if so, where?

    what do i need to get to get this boiler in motion? there are no controls. (i dont have a manual) i am assuming that the wood boiler works like a gas or oil boiler. thermostat calls for heat, combustion fan comes on and stokes the fire. then when it comes up to temp the circulation fan comes on and presto! the shop has heat. is this correct? if so what do i need to make this happen? also, there are no air adjustments on the stove. does it draw all it's air through the blower?

    thanks for any help! really want to get this up and running so i can finish the shop! fingers dont work well at 20* down there!

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  2. webie

    webie Minister of Fire

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    Is this a hot air furnace or a boiler ?
    I had a steel king boiler for 18 years prior to my solo 60 . I need to go bigger and resold it ,as far as i know its still going in the guys shop.
  3. tobaccogrower

    tobaccogrower Member

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    hot air
  4. webie

    webie Minister of Fire

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    I had a boiler made by them it was excellent and as far as I know still going . I know nothing about there hot air furnaces .
  5. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    The combustion control that you mentioned seems right - if it has a combustion fan, that is the way that it work - it turns the fan on when heat is called for, and then off (idle) when either heat is no longer needed or plenum overheats, etc.

    As far as a barometric, I would leave that to the owners manual. It would probably be OK either way.

    Good Luck.
  6. webie

    webie Minister of Fire

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    If this has the same controls my boiler , there are 3 dials inside the control box a low a high and a high limit . The low would run the combustion fan till it was satisfied . The high would shut the combustion fan off and the high limit would kick in the over heat control . My boiler would run the combustion fan and the pump when there was a call for heat other wise it would be silent .
    I would suggest no magic heat use on this furnace , it didn't work on my boiler .
    My boiler had an optional catalytic combustor does your furnace ?
    There are plenty on here with knowledge and if you can post a few pics on questions you may have that would be great .
    As far as I know steel king was built in Wis. I am not sure if the company is still in buisness , the last that I know they use to make industrial steel shelveing I think.
  7. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    To start off with, a bit of disambiguation - Boiler = box that makes WATER hot... Furnace = box that makes AIR hot...

    I believe the OP said he had a furnace, so he is making hot air...

    Can you get a manual - it would make life a whole lot easier if you can, because the process would go - Read manual, install it like it says, ask questions on what you don't understand in the manual...

    Without the manual, we are all doing a bit of that "flying blind" routine - we know more about setting these things up, but can't see your setup (which is why we like pictures so much) You can see the setup, but don't know what to do with it...

    The run that you are talking about in the first post, is that for the chimney, or for the heat distribution system? It sounds like a chimney - if so, unless the manual says otherwise, you should use the same size pipe as the furnace stack outlet, and keep that size all the way from the stove to the end.

    The Magic Heat should magically disappear - we have a former user that loved them, nobody else does, as they don't work all that well at making heat, but are great for making creosote...

    Double wall pipe is a bit of an ambiguous term - are you talking double wall "connector pipe" or pre-fab chimney, which is better known as "Class A", and can be made with double or triple walls, and should be UL rated for HT-103 specs. As long as you meet clearance requirements, single wall to the ceiling and then going to Class A is pretty standard. Double wall connector pipe is NOT approved or safe other than as an option to connect a burner to a Class A chimney or proper masonry chimney. Not sure why you'd need 20 feet of outside chimney though - code just has the rule that you have to be 3' above the point where you come out of the roof, and 2' above anything else w/in 10' of the point where you come out... Unless you have a really weird roof, I'd expect you'd only need 3-6 feet of outside chimney, plus whatever it took to get you from the ceiling to the roof.

    Whether you need a barometric damper is debatable. If the manual says you do, you absolutely do, configured and set as the manual specifies. If not, there can be some debate - given that it's an older unit, and probably a bit of a smoke dragon, I'd be inclined to see how it did without, as you will want higher stack temps to minimize the creosote buildup.

    For the control stuff, it pretty much works as you describe, but if you don't have any controls that came with it (what do the motors on the blowers connect to?) then it's going to take some improvising to figure out what needs to be set and where...

    Are there any sensors or other switches on the unit anywhere? How about any schematics?

    At a minimum, You will presumably need a control to turn on the combustion blower, and a high-limit to shut things down if you over fire on the wood side, and a sensor to turn on the circulation blower on the distribution side.

    You will also need to think about how you are going to distribute the heat - is there any existing ductwork, or are you going to have to make that up as well?

    Gooserider
  8. tobaccogrower

    tobaccogrower Member

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    ok: i'll answer the best i can. there is NO MANUAL! this furnace was bought at a bargin traveling tool show 25+years ago. it's been in my grandparents basement ever since. if there ever was a manual it's long gone. i'm sure we can get it up and running together!

    what does disambiguation mean?

    the pipe i'm referring to is going to be my chinmey. regular black stove pipe to ceiling then to 7 in double wall insulated pipe(i have 7 30 inch sections) this stuff will start in the shop, go through the thimble in the floor, then travel up and through the roof to the cap. i'm going to take some pic's so you have an idea what i'm going to do.

    first pic is the outside of the barn. it faces west. chimney will be to the right of the overhead door by about 3 feet(on the inside of course) it will exit the roof about 4 feet up from the gutter.

    second pic is of the vertical run of the flue pipe. furnace is basically where it will live.there will be about 10 feet of single wall in here. just below the floor it's going to switch to 7 inch double wall stainless.

    pic 3 is of the front of the furnace

    pic 4 is the back


    i'm going to build a plentum on top and direct the hot air in 2 directions. i have all the old duckwork out of my old house so eventually will hook it up so it runs along the back wall and dump air in each bay.

    the last pic is of the double wall pipe i'm using. it's heart & cooley and is heavy as heck! i'd rather use all the same size pipe but i have this stuff already. @ $200 a section i'm not going to throw it away! will 1 inch increase really make that much of a diffrance to cause poor draft? this chimney will be about 30 feet when finished!

    keep the questions coming. hopfully we can figure this out!

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  9. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Thanks for the pictures - it helps to clear up a lot of things...

    Disambiguation is a reference to the section in Wikipedia where if you look up a topic which could refer to several different articles they will give you a page intended to remove the ambiguity, where they have a bunch of very short summaries to say "which of these do you mean?" - It seemed initially that you were using both boiler and furnace as interchangeable terms, I had to read your post a couple times to try and figure out which you were talking about - seemed like a good thing to throw in the definitions...

    No manual will make things harder, but I agree we should be able to figure stuff out... What about schematics or other info?

    Given your setup, I agree, it looks like the chimney stuff that you have will work, as long as it's the solid fuel rated grade (not gas furnace stuff) and the picture of the barn makes it clearer as to why so tall - I hadn't understood that there was a second floor involved. Still shouldn't be that long of a run once you poke through the roof however. Looks like most of the run will be in the barn, which is good as it keeps the chimney warmer, and warm chimneys work better.

    I notice in the picture of the front side of the furnace, it looks like the left side cover is pried open at the bottom - is it supposed to be like that?

    I see there are just a couple wires coming off the motor on the back - which I assume is the combustion blower? Are there any other sensors or switches anywhere around the firebox or heat exchanger?

    Where is the air circulation blower, and again does it have anything more than wires sticking out of it?

    Gooserider
  10. tobaccogrower

    tobaccogrower Member

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    the tin work on the stove is hodge podged. the furnace didnt come with the right sides so the farmers rigged somthing up. it will be fine. i just have to rivit it on. i'll take a look today for a schematic on the unit somwhere. there are no sensors or switches anywhere on the unit. the combustion wires are just cut off and hanging. the other blower is on my Tucker stove(see thread ot the hearth room) needed a kick ass blower for it so i borrowed it from the furnace. i belive it's a 600cfm squirrl fan.

    i figure i'll get a honeywell control for a oil furnace to control the convection blower. not sure what i'll need for the combustion side. talking to a local burner man and he said that on a wood furnace the combustion fan is supposed to speed and slow, but never really stop blowing. is this true? it kind of makes sense seeing theres no air controls on the unit. the fuel would smolder very badly without any air.

    there is a rod and handle on the front of the unit over the door. it moves a plate from front to back of the furnace chamber. is this how the draft is controlled or just for re fueling? it blocks a direct path out the flue. smoke has to travel to the front of the furnace then up and around the plate to make it;s way up the chimney.



    i'm getting excited on the first fire in this thing! stupid supply company didnt order the adapter from hart&cooley; to stove pipe or the wall(floor in my case)thimble! have to wait untill wednsday 7am! BS!! gives me more time on figuring out how this is going to be controlled!
  11. webie

    webie Minister of Fire

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    I can tell you one thing . Your doors and handles all match my old steel king BOILER to a t . by your pictures this thing is very close to what they made as a boiler . The combustion blower in the back does it have a plate on the air intake that is adjustable , mine did . My boiler had coal shaker grates in it to . If your insides are the same as my boiler this should be brick lined , the handle above the feed door was a smoke bypass . There is a small metal plate that slides over about a 6 inch hole near the back of the top of the fire box where the smoke goes out of and then the smoke comes forward to the front of the stove and then up then out the back , this is done by a plate in the inside of the smoke chamber . Now if this inside is the same as my old boiler was there was an optional catalytic package for this that cat would sit in that hole where the smoke has to go up and thru then out . I would probably not put a magic heat on your smoke stack out unless you are planning full out burns , because it will just block up your chimney because your smoke will cool to much . The diffuser plate in the inside will draw a lot of heat out of the smoke already .
    Your outside jack looks like a jack from my old steel king boiler and very well may be they just popped some extra tin on the bottom to make it longer.
    A Honeywell controller from an oil furnace or an old gas furnace should work to control the circulating blower just have to set a low limit on it to kick in . I am trying to think back 30 years on how my Ashley wood furnace was before I changes to hot water heat . I think that control had a low and a high , the low would kick on the circulating blower and the high was actually your over heat control and would shut the power off to the combustion blower You shouldn't need to get to technical on the combustion blower , Just a simple 24v transformer wired to a thermostat wired to a 24v relay to trip the combustion blower on and off when there is a call for heat . So in essence how this works is when it is cold , no fire , You start this thing , your combustion blower would be on because of a call for heat and once it is hot enough your circulating blower kicks in . Once your demand is satisfied or the furnace becomes to hot the combustion blower kicks off until there is another call for heat . This is an air tight stove , sort of , air will still be drawn thru the stove by where your combustion blower is , this is why I say look to see if you have an adjustable plate on there or if there is a hole in the blower where one can be attached as you can make this out of sheet metal if you have too. By adjusting this plate you controlled two things your max air for combustion and also minimal air to support a fire when this idled .
    I am just trying to think this thing as being identical to my boiler , only its hot air .
    Now i can tell u this right now a ninety and up and out smoke pipe wont work for very long on this thing . You need to come out of the back with a T because and crap that falls down your chimney will block up that ninety because of that diffuser plate in the stove the crap cant fall back inside . You will need a way to clean this out every so often .
    If this is like my boiler was it will heat you out of house and home , and they were built like tanks . This wont make any difference in your shop but there will be alot of heat off the sides of this thing the jacket is not insulated and that back of the furnace is also the back of burning chamber .
    I believe the company is still in exists , but i think they make industrial steel shelving now .
    Really any good heating service or maybe some guys on here should be able to set you up with some simple controls to get this thing going .
  12. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Sounds like if you don't have any other switches or controls, the schematic will be less useful, other than showing how the manufacturer thought things should work - with no sensors or switches you are going to need to make your own way on the controls regardless...

    The way the combustion fan works is going to very much depend on the way the unit is designed and intended to work, but I would expect you to have a multi-speed blower if it was intended to stay on - but the photo only looked like it had two wires, which suggests a single speed... Are there any data plates on the blower motor that would identify what it was? (These things tend to be generic, so it could well have a motor manufacturers plate that specifies voltage, rpm's, current draw, etc...

    Assuming that it's a single speed, it should turn on when it gets a call for heat, possibly turn off if it doesn't see a temperature increase after some time (as in the fire went out...) and definitely turn off in case of an overheat condition. Remember that a blower offers very little restriction to airflow through it when it isn't running, so it could easily be getting draft through the non-running blower - from what Webie said, sounds like that is what it does, and where the combustion control lives.

    The air circulation blower should have a different set of controls - it should come on in response to a call for heat, if the furnace is hot enough to supply it, and go off when the call is satisfied. It should also have an "emergency over-ride" that will turn the blower ON in case of an overheat condition, in an effort to help cool the unit down.

    Hard to tell from that description, but it does sound more like a refueling bypass flap than a combustion control... Many units will have a flap that allows direct connection to the chimney for maximum draft when fueling and starting the fire, but then want you to close that in order to force the exhaust to take a longer path through the HX so as to get the heat out of it... Webie sounds like he has a lot more relevant experience with these kinds of units than I do, and I would definitely take his advice about operation and how to set things up.

    Sounds like you have a fair bit of work to do before it's ready to burn, but we do seem to be making progress...

    Gooserider
  13. mike1234

    mike1234 New Member

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    Just one idea. This looks a lot like my wood furnace (yukon-eagle.com, superjack) and I bet not far off from other still made wood furnaces. Download the operations manual for them, see of they match up, I bet they are not too far off, and will help you with your install.
  14. tobaccogrower

    tobaccogrower Member

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    ok guys...
    took some advise and ideas from you and changed the setup around a bit. i tossed the 90* for a t and cap still not sure if i should add a b-damper over the tee(like this one) http://yukon-eagle.com/WoodFurnaceHOME/tabid/36/Default.aspx what do you think? see anything i should change?

    i picked up a honeywell limit probe or whatever there called. where should i mount this? it's 8inches long. should it go in the front, back or side of the unit? also, how high off the firebox? what temp should i set the high limit shut off to?

    where the heart & cooley insulated pipe goes up through the roof do i need to add any tin or somthing for added protection or just cut my hole in the roof and slide the pipe up and be done with it? my rafters are 2foot on center. i'm probally going to be about 2 inched off the side of one. is this clearance ok?

    the run in the shop is 18 inches off the wall. is this enough clearance?


    i'm getting really close! today might be the day!!whohoo.......

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  15. webie

    webie Minister of Fire

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    For now I wouldnt worry about getting a baromatic draft , ( It didn't work on my steel king boiler , just cooled the smoke off and created alot of nasty drippy tar dripping out of my pipe .) I would just go as is for now and see how it burns along with watching your stack temps and how your chimney looks after you burn awhile . Worry about controling your chimney draw only if you cant control your heat out put . The honeywell control I would mount on one side or the other , ( I dont think you want to drill thru the 1/4" boiler steel plate on the front or the back , besides these surfaces will get very HOT ) Some others with force air wood furnaces may chime in here but I would say mount it near the top close to where your hot air will exit the furnace , this should give you about your trueist reading I would think .
    The high limit is going to have to be something you yourself will have to feel out . I personally would get this set up get it burning and then with a decent load of dry wood see what your hot air out temp is after say about a hard 20 minute burn ( combustion blower going ) and probably set it at that temp or a few degrees lower . You want to make sure this is kind of a normal day not one that is super cold or windy , you want kind of an average draw day . If you think that after this run its too hot then turn the limit down . All it is designed to shut off your combustion blower in the event you have a run away fire .
    Now I say you will have to feel this out because you can have a bunch of variables that can change your temp that none of us will experience . What I am saying is you will move much cooler air off this thing if you use very large duct work and only a small run verses small duck work that has very long runs .
    This will also change too because this is a shop not a house , Chances are your floor will be very cold most the time you run this there fore your cold air return will be colder and your air out temp will be cooler than would be for a home install , ( set to what you feel comfortable ) .
    the pipeing clearances just follow the manufactures clearances ,
  16. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Agreed, hold of on the BD for now - it is easy enough to add later if you find it's needed - as you can put it below the tee between the tee and the cap...

    Webie pretty much nailed it on setting the high limit switch, and pretty much the same rule is going to apply to the other switches as well - especially since you don't have any manufacturer guides to go by. You might look at what some of the similar modern furnaces use for settings just as a starting point.

    The manufacturer will specify a minimum clearance to combustibles for the pipe and any mounting hardware, which should be followed carefully. I see what looks like a mounting kit in the photos where you go through the ceiling, you should have a similar kit at each penetration, with the roof kit containing your flashing and so forth to keep the rain out. If you pass through spaces with insulation, you should also be using some kind of insulation guard to ensure that the insulation is kept far enough away from the pipe.

    Gooserider
  17. webie

    webie Minister of Fire

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    I have really been thinking about this thing !
    I never heard of steel king building a hot air furnace , not saying they didnt just saying I hadn't heard . If i am not mistaken they only built a few size boilers too .
    Not that this is a bad thing but I am just wondering if this wasn't some kind of a prototype that they built . Hear me out on this .
    This looks like my boiler did but is hot air . The out side jacket doesnt fit looks like someone just add some extra steel to make it longer The front the back look just like my boiler did , And it almost looks like an extra weld line in the picture of the back of the furnace where the extra side steel was added . The other thing is there are no controls or access for the controls the combustion blower is the same as was on the boiler , bypass is the same .
    Just wondering Tobaccogrower the plates that are on this furnace are there any that are UL listed any kind of output capacities or clearance plates or model number plates or are they just generic caution plates .
  18. tobaccogrower

    tobaccogrower Member

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    i took a look at the plate on the back of the furnace. this is the information that i found:

    steel king industries 325 east beckert rd. new london WI, 54691

    model# 480s/r

    pfs report # 254

    DATE TESTED 11/04/80

    UL listing 727,737 ICBO accepted


    i had to change my stack around due to my wife. i was just about to cut the hole through the roof when she came outside and had a meltdown on where the stack was going to be! so i had to pull it all down and start over. almost moved the stove to the far left but came up with a solution so the stove was able to stay in it's location. do you guys think i'll have any problem with the new setup? all together i'm using 29 feet of pipe. 19 feet are vertical. using a round cap that i think will work.

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  19. webie

    webie Minister of Fire

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    I think you are going to have problems , way too much sloped pipe , its going to fill up with crud and block up .
  20. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I tend to agree, with webie, looks like a problematic piping setup - plus it will be a bear to clean, as that jog will be hard to get a brush around. Any major reason you can't push the stove over to the left under the roof penetration? Even if you can't get directly under, it will be better if you can reduce the offset distance to a minimum, and adjust the angles on the pipe elbows to give as gentle a transition as possible.

    Gooserider
  21. tobaccogrower

    tobaccogrower Member

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    i decided to ditch the automatic -operation of this furnace. i pulled the door off today, put a 2.5 inch hole in it and am going to use it just like any other wood stove! it's only a shop and it will be alot easier to manually fire it than screw around with all the eletric crap.

    i lit the first fire today. she fired right up and drafted nice. what suprised me was i had very little smoke at the cap when running. stack temp around 3-400. even chocked down almost no smoke. almost like it's not even running.


    i know what you guys are saying about the long run. belive me i plan on taking it down every few days to get a idea whats gong on in there. with 2 guys its very simple to drop that run of pipe down.


    i'm also concerned about where my pipe exits the roof line. it's touching in 2 spots. the pipe gets warm to the touch with a small fire. should i cut the roof back so the pipe wont touch or dont worry about it? that double wall stuff is supposed to be self contained right?
  22. mike1234

    mike1234 New Member

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    The stove pipe should not be touching any wood, I think it is suppose to have a 2" clearance (maybe 1", someone else will clarify) when it exits through the roof. I think what is going through your roof is triple wall right? that is what it looks like. Still needs the clearance though.

  23. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Cut the wood back - there is a clearance distance that is REQUIRED for safe operation - It's probably 2", but you should double check the manufacturer website or other docs to be sure.

    Gooserider
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