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Just talked with Fred Seton ..

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by patch53, Dec 29, 2009.

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  1. tigermaple

    tigermaple Member

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    Hey Jimbo,
    No rust visible yet. When I burn green wood I will get a few drops of moisture come out each of the back corners. I should start looking for SS sheets soon, I guess. You really do have to operate one of these beasts to understand them. They will burn wood a Euro would choke on.
    GW should have mentioned at some point the importance of cleaning the fly ash out of the exhaust outlet and the horizontal stove pipe run. I clean mine twice a season.
    Pat

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  2. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    Amen, Brutha :coolsmirk:
  3. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    Further clarification needed Steve . . . . That 'heat to evaporate water' figure . . . is that per percentage of moisure or what?
  4. tom in maine

    tom in maine Minister of Fire

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    Kinda funny that they called it the Greenwood!
    Talk about truth in advertising.
  5. sgschwend

    sgschwend New Member

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    jimbo,

    I used the energy value to evaporate cold water which is 1150 Btu per pound of water, the wood can be cold but not frozen, if so then use 1300 Btu/pound of water.

    I looked up the weight of a season cord of wood and then extrapolated the pounds of water. The range I posted was to accommodate how dry is dry.
    Here is some table information: 1 cord of Oak 12% MC: 2821 - 3625 40-60% MC: 4450 - 5725

    So you take the temperature of your starting condition this helps to find the heat necessary to evaporate the water and multiply by the number of pounds of water you remove (which is based on the difference of starting MC (moisture content) and the final).
  6. 4acrefarm

    4acrefarm Member

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    just a comment on huffing from someone who has never experienced it, and does not own, and has never seen a greenwood, or seton. ( though, I would like to). It sounds like a similer situation to putting a blower on a street car with mutiple carbs. When they idle they huff because they run rich then lean and back again the longer they idle the more extreme it gets to the point of it sounds like an on off swich being toggled.
  7. mole

    mole Member

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    Patch53,
    It sounds from your discussion with Fred that you're doing everything right and everything is working right. So is your boiler is running well and burning clean now? I had a couple of discussions with him a few years back. I was doing everything OK too. I heard the same comments about storage definitely not being needed or even desirable. Unfortunately the positive reinforcement didn't stop the creosote from forming on my boiler tubes. Fred didn't think it was a big deal. He suggested squirting a little kerosene on the tubes (once furnace is fairly cool) and burning it off. It didn't work. In fact, I tried one of those propane "weed" torches that you connect to a 20lb propane bottle and blasted the hell out of a few spots. Got the tubes hot enough (180deg)to cycle the boiler off, but even that wouldn't burn it off. I think the water in the boiler tubes prevents the creosote from getting hot enough to burn closer than about 1/8", similar to the way water in a copper pipe prevents you from getting it hot enough to sweat a joint. In retrospect, I think my expectations were different. Fred was most likely referring to burning thicker amounts of creosote than I had on my tubes. I know the efficiency drops off dramatically when the tubes build even a thin (1/16' - 1/8" maybe )layer of creosote as can be seen by higher stack temperatures. And even this amount annoyed the hell out of me. You either accept lower efficiency or clean tubes a lot. I think most people don't worry about it and opt for the lower efficiency, judging from some of the pictures I've seen of people's boiler tubes. It also seems like you reach sort of an equilibrium where most of the creosote will burn off, once you've built up an initial 1/8"+ coating on the tubes (and lost some efficiency). But the efficiency was one of the main reasons I bought the boiler!!!

    I'm not trying to bad-mouth Fred. I have a lot of respect for him and his invention. I think he's generally a good and honest guy, and genuinely tries to hlep his customers. I also know my boiler is oversized for my house, which created a lot of my problem. I do think maybe the efficiency and performance claims are a little exaggerated relative to real world performance and I also think what goes on inside the boiler during the cycling isn't well understood. I have my own thoughts on the "pyrolysis" and "coking" concepts but that's enough for a separate thread.

    My question to other Seton style users: Is there anyone who is a Seton type user out there WITHOUT storage who DOES NOT get creosote on their tubes? Pictures please? Is my experience the exception of the rule?

    BTW, here's a link to some info I found on wood combustion that shows the relationship between moisture content and available BTU's/lb wood:
    http://www.mha-net.org/docs/v8n2/docs/WDBASICS.pdf

    JR
  8. patch53

    patch53 New Member

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    Hi Mole, I just got done cleaning the ash out about an hour ago. While I was in there I thought I might as well check the tubes, chimney etc. The tubes had some soot build-up, altho not very bad. I took a 1/4" piece of aluminum angle I had laying around and was easily able to just run it up and down the tubes and all the junk just fell right off. I'm not seeing really any creosote build-up anywhere. the chimney just had a thin soot coating that came right off when I wiped my glove over it.

    However, I can see that the vertical part of the tubes in the back look a little shiny, so maybe a little creosote there, and have more build-up on them, but not bad. I am going to try to design a device that I can slide up and down the tubes ocassionally, even down the vertical sections, that would keep the tubes relatively clean.

    My Seton is definitely oversized as well, but so far I'm pleased with the way it performs. My wood consumption is going to be WAY down from years past with my Aquatherm. I still think I want to go with storage next year, I think it will help keep the unit operating even more efficiently and most importantly, cleaner.

    I'm burning red oak that was cut almost 2 years ago and was cut up, split and stacked last May, so I think its fairly dry. Haven't checked the MC, but its a hell of a lot lighter then when I stacked it I can tell you that ! I have a lot of dying white birch around here I'm going to cut, split and stack in early spring to use during the day so I can save more of the oak for when I need it most. I probably have enough oak for at least 2 seasons now, and I could probably extend that to 3 seasons by mixing in some birch/soft maple. Then I only have to cut up about 2-3 cords of oak every year to replenish what I use.


    I'm not sure what kind of wood you're burning, but I have to think that dryer wood will help keep the creosote build-up to a minimum, altho Fred seems to think it doesn't matter. He reiterated that large rounds, pretty much regardless of MC, were the best for burning in the Seton. I don't really agree with that, but haven't tried it yet either?

    Totally agree about the efficiency issue. I was burning 10-12 cords every year in my Aquatherm, so anything under 7-8 cords for me will be a HUGE improvement. But I also want a stove that I don't have to worry about. With OWB's you really don't have to worry about creosote, but they are grossly inefficient. With these things you need to keep an eye on it, and if they are building up creosote then something isn't right, obviously. The last thing I want is to lay awake at night wondering when I'm going to have a roaring creosote fire erupt. So far it looks good, so I'm sleeping pretty well! LOL

    take care, Pat
  9. 2.beans

    2.beans Minister of Fire

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    this stove was built and tested around soft wood for a heat source. where fred lives there is no hard wood readily available. ive learned this from speaking to fred and from friends of mine that live in the same town, so with that said i think you could get less build up on the vessel running just soft wood. i burn alot of soft wood and have good results alltough i also have to clean my vessel even though i run wide open for the most part of my burns.
  10. patch53

    patch53 New Member

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    Yup, when I first started talking with Fred about building a Seton he said he burns pine in his, mainly because he didn't have many choices, other than perhaps Aspen or spruce. No true hardwood species to speak of in Montana that I know of.

    How often do you have to clean the tubes?

    Pat
  11. mole

    mole Member

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    Patch53,
    Sounds like you've got a good dry wood supply. That's a great way to start off. I burned 1 yr seasoned rounds my first year and I think it was a contributing factor to my issues. I burn all 2yr+ wood now that was dried outdoors for the first year and inside my woodshed for the second summer. I burn whatever I can scavenge. This year I have an assortment maple, black locust, black walnut, and spruce. At this moment I'm burning two big maple lunkers, about 12-14" in dia. No doubt that's what burns best. I have a whole collection of tube-scraping tools I experimented with to reach from various angles. Just about all I use now is the bottle brush...to dust the ash off the tubes.
  12. 2.beans

    2.beans Minister of Fire

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    i clean mine in the spring, this will be my fourth year and i didnt clean it after the first year, so this spring will be my third time. i cut the side panel open for easy access to the bottom of the vessel. i do sometimes through the season clean the ash ash off the tubes that i can reach thru the feed door. the ash can build up in the back also. if that was get get wet with creosote that can also make things rot out real fast.

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  13. mole

    mole Member

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    Beans,
    By the time it's that fouled, aren't you losing a whole lot of heat up the stack? That's what I mean about the choice of efficiency or routine tube cleaning. I used to take the back off of mine almost once a month to scrape the rear tubes. I didn't let it get quite as bad as your end of season picture but here's some ball park performance numbers: Before I added storage, when the boiler cycled regularly, I would see average peak stack temperatures of about 500-550deg before the boiler cycled off when the rear tubes were fouled. After cleaning, it would only reach about 400-450F. It was like night and day. With my storage setup, it's easy to calculate BTU/hr transferred to the tank. There is a visible drop in efficiency as ash gathers about on the rear tubes and the air inlet tubes that prewarm the incoming air. I typically charge my tank at about 60K BTU/hr with a 450-500F stack temp. Right after dusting the tubes off, I see about 70KBTU/hr for the first few days.

    I think that when efficiency claims of 80-85% are made, calculations are all based on data gathered from clean tubes. But in real life, they don't stay clean very long. Real world efficiency is lower. In that regard, I'm envious of the downdraft boilers since the air-tubes are more easily cleaned. On the positive side though, we don't have to do all that nasty wood splitting that those guys do!!
  14. in hot water

    in hot water New Member

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    more heat exchanger than fire space.

    I attended a seminar on boilers design last year. The engineer presenting has 30 plus years in combustion design, testing and forensics. While not solid fuel specific he claims boilers soot or plug, even oil and gas fired, when there is too much HX surface for the amount of fire.

    I would imagine with solid fuel boilers that formula is hard to predict or engineer to. As the fire size and quality is always changing in a wood boiler.

    Owners tell me the large water tube boilers are notorious for soot and creasote issues as the fire box can not support enough "fire" for the amount of HX surface the manufacturers have designed into the equipment.

    Soot on the outside, or scale on the inside, even a few thousands of an inch drives the heat exchange efficiency down and perpetuates the sooting or fouling problem.

    The solid fuel boiler combustion efficiency tests I have seen are always on new equipment. They measure and control the fuel closely 4" blocks of dry red oak in one case. Be interesting to see the same test performed on the equipment after 6 months or so in typical use. A simple BTU meter would be an easy way to watch those numbers and could be added to any boiler.

    hr
  15. tigermaple

    tigermaple Member

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    BTU meter, is there such a thing?
  16. tom in maine

    tom in maine Minister of Fire

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    The way the HX fouls makes me wonder about the fact that a control like a Ladomatt might be a good add-on to these units.
    The buildup on the HX has to be due at least in part to a cool hx. Isn't this why the Tarm/Eko etc. use this valve, to keep the hx from having
    condensation buildup.

    Most gasifiers have some means of regular cleaning of flyash off the HX. The fact that this is not simple (at least for the back of the HX) is a
    big flaw, no?
  17. mole

    mole Member

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    Thanks, Deepheat. I've sponged so much off of the people here, it's nice to be able to give a little back!
  18. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    A mixing valve can assure relatively hot water returning to the boiler - say 160 degree or so - instead of 120 degrees. However, the jury is out as to whether either of those temps would discourage creosote formation. After all, both are relatively cool compared to the smoke and fire.
  19. tom in maine

    tom in maine Minister of Fire

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    I would assume that the downdraft folks specify them for a reason. I agree that is not much of a temp difference.
    The gasifier boiler that I am running has no low temp control and is pumping tank water--as low as 100F through the unit without any buildup,
    other than some occasional flyash.
  20. 2.beans

    2.beans Minister of Fire

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    the top left pic is the first time, the second time was alot better top right, so this year im hoping will be even better. im sure my efficiency drops thru the year but this year im burning alot drier wood. im not cutting it out of a frozen pile and throwing it in the boiler.
  21. patch53

    patch53 New Member

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    I was thinking last night of a way to be able to access the vertical section of the draft tubes in my Seton without having to take the entire back panel off. What about cutting say a 16" x 16" hole in the back panel about 6" from the top? Then cut another piece of galzanized panel to slightly overlap that hole. Weld on a few SS pins and reinsulate. Attatch that piece where the cutout was with some self tapping SS screws or other fasteners that can be removed easily.

    I would think you should be able to access all the rear (vertical) tubes and also the top row of tubes on the horizontal section. You could probably also stick a shop vac hose in there and suck up all the soot/ash down around the draft tubes and near the chimney outlet. I know the new Setons come with removable small side panels too, but it would probably be difficult to clean the top row tubes on the horizontal section from there. The bottom row tubes on the horizontal section are pretty easy to clean from the feed door.

    I don't know, what do you think? Seems like it would work?

    Pat
  22. sparke

    sparke Minister of Fire

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    I run a Greenfire (now called Green Horizon). Very similar to Seton design. Anyway, I have often wondered how the unit and hex would perform if the tubes were totally encased in refractory. It would change the combustion dynamics and I don't know if the hex would be able to extract the btus properly. If the design worked , it certainly would take care of the dirty hex issue...
  23. NNYorker

    NNYorker Member

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    Sparke, I like how you're thinking... the water vessel cast in the refractory with ceramic/ ?? spacers between pipe and refrac. Was'nt there talk a year or two ago-- using high temp board below the vessel.... I wonder how a layered approach would work-- one on top and one below the vessel. I had issues when cleaning my tubes with a boiler brush--removal of the insulation from the top panel.
  24. snowman49820

    snowman49820 Member

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    I have a homemade Seton. Instead of insulation I used 2" hi-temp refractory board. It works great. The top is a little warm but you can put your hands on the steel. When I made the water vessel, I made an extra plate that the water tubes weld to. The holes are slightly bigger so it can slide back and forth to clean the tubes. Unfortunately, I changed my mind and left it off before I welded it. I should have left it on.
  25. 91220da

    91220da Member

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    I agree with Webmaster Craig, I have a mixing valve that does not let my return water go below 140. I have ash, soot and some creosote but nothing like the pictures some are posting. Has anyone tried some of the creosote removal products? I have been using Rutlands creosote remover. You sprinkle a scoop full over hot coals maybe once a week. Seems to work. I run a round brush over the tubes in the top and were I can reach in the back and everything just seems to powder and fall off. I often thought about throwing a Chimney sweeping log in their once a week but they are expensive. Rutlands powder was about $6 for a pint size container at ACE hardware. Anybody else tried chemical warfare?
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