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Jumping into the wood and coal boiler world with both feet

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Woodsrover, Oct 15, 2012.

  1. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    Hey all. Sorry for what will probably end up being a long post. New boiler owner here but I’ve been watching and reading this board for a while and thought I’d join in. I’ve gotten a lot of good information from here in the past and hope to add a bit when I can. Thanks for the help you all have given me without even knowing it!

    I’ve been burning wood to heat my house for six or seven years now in an old Vermont Castings Vigilant stove. We average about 6-cord a year cut on our own land. It’s been great and has heated the house perfectly well even on the coldest nights and I’m almost sorry to pull it out of service. We have HWBB heat as well as an indirect-fired water store fired by a propane Weil-Mclain boiler so I’ve been wanting a wood boiler for a while now. I’d cringe every time the hot water was running and having more even and controllable heat would be a bonus.

    I started doing some research, talked to owners of different brands and models and even went to visit the Tarm distributor in New Hampshire before settling on an AHS Woodgun E100ss. A good friend of mine is a plumber and was looking into them too so we struck a deal with AHS and headed down to Chambersburg. Last week we brought home my E100ss and he bought an E180. Mine was a simple installation and was done in a couple nights after work. It’s been up and running since Thursday. Though not demanding a lot of heat yet it’s a nice feeling heating the DHW with it and with the cycle timer it takes care of itself. I have a feeling I’m going to like this boiler.

    My buddy’s is being installed in a barn about 100-feet from the house and is a little more difficult. We spent Saturday jack-hammering part of the old floor out for a pad and digging a 3’-deep, 100’-long trench for the insulated pex. (It’s his backhoe so you know who was in the ditch with a shovel!) With any luck he’ll be up and running this weekend.

    And on a related note, between ordering and picking up this Woodgun, another friend of mine bought an old Austin Healy GT3000 MKII from a very nice older guy in town and he asked me to help him move it after work one night (I have a roll-back truck). This Austin was in the back of an old barn and I got to poking around (like I do) when I noticed a couple pallets of bagged coal in the corner. “What’s that coal for” I asked the owner of the barn. “Eh, it’s for a coal furnace I bought a while back.….Why?” he asked. “Well, I’m kinda into alternative heat and am installing a wood furnace in my house”. “Come here” he said and led me to his basement. Inside he showed me a brand new S130 Coalgun still sitting on the pallet and six more tons of coal. “Wow, that’s nice.” “Yup….you want it?” “Um, ah, what do you mean?” “I bought it five years ago and I never got around to installing it. I’m spending winters in Florida now and I’d rather see someone use it than see it sit here. If you want it, it’s yours.” “Well, I could heat my barn with it?” “Great, take it. And take this 8-tons of coal too. And this stainless storage tank.” So I’m going back this Saturday with a couple trucks and a tractor with a forklift to bring home my new Coalgun. Sometimes I think I’m the luckiest guy in the world!

    Anyway, that’s my story of diving into the deep-end of the wood and coal boiler world. I’ll take some pictures of my installation of the Woodgun and when I’m picking up the Coalgun…Seems you guys like pictures!

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  2. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I'm pretty sure you ARE the luckiest guy around. To give back to the community you better start by posting pictures, and LOTS of them.

    ac
  3. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Thats right, pics or it never happened!!!

    Welcome to Hearth, looks/sounds like you'll fit right in. LOL

    TS
  4. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    Alright, pictures as promised.

    The Woodgun running happy and warm. My plumber busted my stones for putting it at an angle to the wall but I wanted to get to the cyclone and ashpan and having square to the wall was a little tight. Having it square would have made it clumsy coming in the door too. By the way, those little shoes aren't mine. You'll see we wired the smoke hood into the control box and installed a switch for it. Just nicer and cleaner than the box and cord WG gives you. We also installed a switch to run the circulator independent of the boiler.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Heres the rest of the mess in the basement. WM propane boiler, WM 40-gallon boiler mate, water softener, ancient Winpower 12k generator parked in front of a doggie-door that I run the PTO shaft through. (Try to keep 150 gallons of diesel on hand for the power outages.)

    [​IMG]

    Here's the barn that I'm going to heat with the Coalgun. I put it up years ago but just sided three sides of it last year. This year I built and ubber-strong wooden floor out of wood cut and milled on our property. The front siding is also from white pine I cut, milled and planed right here. The doors will come in the next couple of weeks. In the next year it will get insulation, a ceiling and interior walls, again all cut and milled right here. You can see my little Norwood mill there to the right. Inside the barn is a cool old Parks planer from the 50's. They don't make them like they used to. Sorry about the crappy picture here...It's from the front porch and it was raining out.

    [​IMG]
    711mhw likes this.
  5. 711mhw

    711mhw Feeling the Heat

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    How can a guy piss me off sooo baad after only 3 posts?
    I guess with 2 "Guns" you're the new sherrif in town. Congrats on your new find and nice looking set up!
    I'd love to hear about your coalgun after it's up and you can compare it to your woodgun. I'm thinking that might be the direction I'll be heading after my wood cutting days are over. Hopefully that will coincide with my woodgun getting old.
    Gasifier likes this.
  6. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    Man. What the _ _ _ _?. I don't believe it. Given a brand new boiler! That is unbelievable. Great for you Woodsrover!
    And HEY!!!! Nice dam boiler you got there! Welcome aboard. So your friend is helping you move all that coal right? I mean with you being in the ditch with the shovel and all. Thanks for the pics. And congrats on the new install and future install.

    Oh. I tell everyone this. Not just wood burners. Smoke detectors. Make sure you got em and they are working.
  7. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    Where in Maine are you 711? I get up to the North Maine Woods at least once a year if not two or three times. It's my favorite place in the world. We usually camp at Cliff Lake or Spider Lake. Made it up there only once this past year but counting the days until next.
  8. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Let's talk more about that Wood Gun for now.

    Can you post more details of the install?

    How did you bring power in? What controls your circulator pump? What's up with that stove pipe? How'd you wire in the hood (love it)? Is that a cycle timer on the side?

    Welcome to the forum. Now spill the beans! LOL

    ac
  9. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    Smoke and CO2 detectors...Check. Thanks.
  10. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    Ran BX cable from the box feeding the propane boiler so they're on the same 15-amp circuit.

    The circulator pumps water over to the propane boiler and keeps that warm as well. It's on it's own independent switch in the control box.

    The stove pipe is plain-old galvanized 26-guage whatever pipe you can find at any hardware place. It runs into a DuraVent thimble and up a DuraVent SS 6" chimney that used to come from the Vermont Castings woodstove. Not sure why everyone talks about stainless right off the boiler...I can't see where corrosion would be a problem here. Guess we'll see.

    Yup, that's a cycle timer you see. Talked to a few WG owners and they thought the timer was a good option to get. What I didn't get was the low-temp shut-off aquastat but in these shoulder times I think it's needed. Came home today to a boiler running cold. The cycle timer didn't catch it in time. The propane boiler is still "on" but turned down to 140-degrees so it didn't fire, but it was close. I'm going to figure and run the low-temp shut off with a manual override so the furnace will run but the circulator won't until the temperature comes up. I'll let you know how I do that in a week or two when I actually figure it out myself.
  11. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    My Wood Gun has the low temp cutoff, but no cycle timer...yet.

    The wiring diagram for the low-temp is in the back of the manual. If you need help, I can go over the wires in mine to help.

    I was surprised there is no knock-out in the control panel to bring power in. That is the right place to bring line, correct?

    Do you have a circulator pump that is always running to keep your primary loop warm between the WG and the propane?

    Right now the chimney connector is my biggest hang up. I just can't figure out the best route.

    ac
  12. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    My box had a hole in the top for power in already. Wonder why yours doesn't?

    Yes, the circulator runs all the time keeping the propane boiler warm too. That boiler is still switched on but set to 140 degrees so it'll only fire if I run out of wood or the fire goes out between cycles.
  13. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    Hey Congratulations brother.

    That is way to sweet, getting a free coal burner. And so is the barn you built out of your own milled wood. Way to cool.

    Nice to see more Wood Gun owners here.
  14. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    My OCD would make it impossible for me to sleep having my boiler at an odd angle like that. Otherwise, nice looking install!
  15. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    Ha! My plumber buddy is the same way. He argued with me for 20 minutes to turn it square to the wall before giving up. He's OCD, I'm stubborn. I know it looks funny in the picture but it works well like that.
  16. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    Woodsrover. You say "keeping the propane boiler warm too". Is the Wood Gun plumbed in series with the propane boiler? Or in parrallel allowing the hot water to go to zones if they are calling. I guess I am wondering if you Wood Gun will shut down each time it has itself and the propane boiler up to temp. ? Cool set up, and man are you one lucky son of a bee....
  17. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    The hot water "out" from the Woodgun is plumbed to the return line on the propane boiler with a circulator that runs all the time. The propane boiler is set to fire at 140 degrees, the Woodgun at 150 degrees and shut down at 170 degrees. The propane boiler is getting fed with hot water constantly, even when none of the zones are calling for heat. As long as the Woodgun is above 140 degrees the propane boiler won't fire but the zones will operate as normal. The return water to the Woodgun comes straight from the hot water "out" from the propane boiler. So yes, the Woodgun satisfies both itself and the propane boiler and then will shut down. My plumber has installed a few of these and maintains a bunch of others and tells me this is the best way to plumb them up. I'm taking his word for it but so far is seems to work well.

    If anyone wants to see close ups of how everything is run I'd be happy to post them for you.
  18. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    Hey AC, any chance you can get the Honeywell part number off your dual aquastat? After running this thing for a week I really think I'd like to hook the low cutoff circuit into the system.
  19. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Is the diagram in the back of your manual?

    ac
  20. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    Thats interesting. I'm not a plumber or engineer so take what I say with a grain of salt. I feel that by having the hot water circulate 24/7 round and round from boiler to boiler you are using an awful lot of electric and there is an awful lot of heat loss as the water is flowing round and round. Also your 170* shut off sounds a little low. I have mine set for 190* and will swing up to about 205* after shut down.
    I have baseboard heat emitters which really need about 180* water to work properly
    What type of heat emitters do you have? Baseboard,radiant, cast iron radiators?

    I would love to see some more close up pics.
  21. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    Thanks for looking at the number for me.

    Yup, it is, but what I see is that WG doesn't offer a low-temp shut-off when a cycle timer is installed....which kinda makes sense. I'm still tuning this cycle timer in and have set it up to fire for 12 minutes every 2 hours. If I'm not a dummy and charge it with enough wood and get the cycle timer tuned in right, the boiler should be fine for at least 12 hours (especially this time of year) and won't every run cold. It hasn't really gotten cold here yet so the test of wood load will come later, but I think I might be alright without the low-temp shut-off. Everyone says it's a learning curve with these boilers. I'm getting to see what they're talking about. We're only at 7 days online....All things considered it's doing pretty well so far.
  22. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    These little Taco pumps only draw about .5 amps and have a 100% duty cycle so I'm not too worried about it, but these are the exact questions I was asking my plumber too. I'll insulate the pipes running between the two boilers but the WG bleeds off so much heat from the front and rear of itself its probably insignificant what comes off the pipes. I actually cracked a window in the basement because it's so warm down there.

    I had my limit set at 180 but as I'm still messing around with the cycle timer I wanted to give myself a little room. I had visions of the boiler kicking off after a heating cycle at 180, coasting up to 190 and then the cycle timer coming around right afterwards and switching the boiler back on for 12 minutes and pushing it to 210. As I'm away from home for 12-hours a day with a new boiler I like to play it safe.

    I have baseboard radiators. The problem with this little house and figuring this boiler out is its so well insulated I haven't really used the heat yet. The boiler has only been heating hot water so far. It was 60 degrees outside yesterday and down to 34 degrees this morning. The two zones are set for 70 degrees and the heat never came on last night. its been the same for the past three nights. Hahaha. Gotta get some cold weather to see what this thing will really do. Maybe I should leave the windows open.
  23. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    How big a house are you heating with your Gun?
  24. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    Woodrover,

    Can take a picture of the cycle timer and do you have a model number.

    I was actually thinking the same thing about the cycle timer overheating the unit and blowing off the pressure valve.
    Like I said I shut off at 190 and it can swing up to 200 and even 205. I'm not sure how cool it will get in 2 hours but if the timer kicked on it may overheat. I'm not sure what my T&P valve is rated for or if I can buy one rated for 220 or higher.

    But I asked this in te past and the WG guys say its not an issue.
  25. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    1500 sq-ft built in 1991 so it's very well insulated and has good windows in it. I joke that I can heat the whole place with a candle. I used to heat the whole place with just a VC Vigilant in the basement and usually didn't fire it up until November 1st.

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