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Thinking Wood Gun...any advice or experience?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by avc8130, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I have the smoke shield. I haven't come even close to it limiting my ability to load yet. My 180 will suck down 12-14 6" backbone splits easily before it even gets to the bottom of the door.

    Honestly, with regards to smoke spillage, it really isn't THAT bad since I generally have been coming across the boiler with just coals in it. I think a lot of guys just load the boiler too often.

    ac

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  2. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I've got 660 gallons storage between two tanks.

    No bladder expansion tank - just using a 110 gallon propane tank standing on the floor. It seems to be doing OK so far, but I put it in with the possibility I might have to get a bladder tank if it didn't work out. I had/have visions of the water 'soaking up' the air and the tank gradually water logging over time - but so far so good. I am running quite a low system pressure. It's about 10psi on the low side, gets up to 13-15psi max at full temps.
  3. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Your 110 gallon tank is on the same level as your storage? Or is it above?

    You have just one connection on it at the bottom?

    ac
  4. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Bottom of 110 gallon expansion tank is about the same level as bottom of storage, a couple inches above floor level. I would have raised it up if I could have, but couldn't at the time. Next summer I will be removing my oil tank, that might free up the space to do more with it. Connection at bottom of expansion to main return manifold yes, just upstream from my load circ. I also have a couple of holes on the top of it, one with a pressure guage, & one that holds the top of a fluid level tube, a snifter valve, and ball valve to open for draining or whatever. There's a couple pics of it in my install thread if you can wade thru all the other pics, not sure now how much of it they show.
  5. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    I do not have any doubts about the WGs btu claim. Once you get use to it and you are burning nothing but dry wood that thing will heat your house and the other load you were talking about adding on in the future. No problem in my opinion. Obviously there are a lot of variables. Insulation, wood quality, etc. etc.

    When things start getting really cold, which we did not have hardly any of last year, I will fill the Wood Gun about three quarters full. It has no problem going over eight hours and the tank will get me a few more hours on top of that. I am not exactly sure what the buffer is affording me. Never did the calculations. I never did run the Gun without it. I knew I wanted some storage, and installed what I could afford at the time. But I knew I wanted to heat my hot water as long as I could. And having the buffer has resulted in me heating our DHW year round. One short fire a day after it gets warm out. No oil year round now.

    I have baseboard as well. And radiant in the slab in the garage. My storage usually gets to about 185-187ish. The baseboard will still put out heat below 150. Not as much, but it will put out some heat. If you send water through a zone with a temperature of 140 degrees, and the water that was in that zone was down to room temperature of 70, you will get some heat out of it.

    I guess the storage added about $1100 to the system. I found the tank for just over $600 and another couple hundred to get it delivered to the house. So I think about $850 or so. Then another pump was required and some more 1-1/2 copper pipe. Ouch! But worth every penny in the end. No oil year round now. Did I say that already. ;lol
  6. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    What is "3/4 full"? Does that mean 3/4 of the way up the firebox, full side to side and front to back?

    With your storage, you should be able to calculate exactly the output of your WG. Would be a neat science experiment.

    How do you heat hot water? Indirect? I couldn't imagine firing this thing in my basement in the summer. My basement is easily 80F with this thing running. I PAY to cool my house in the summer. I'll let the electric hot water heater handle it for now at ~$25/month.

    Does your $110 include the insulation? $850: tank, pump, aquastat: $200, I see that $1100 estimate flying out the window pretty quickly. 400 gallons of storage has to have quite a bit more expansion tank than just your normal system...big expansion seems to be quite costly.

    If all the storage afforded me was no more electric for hot water, that would be ~44 month pay back assuming the wood burned is "free". I plan to use the electric for ~6 months of the year. Pay back in ~7 years. Not too terrible. Right about when my hot water heater should be taking a dump according to the warranty...

    I'll keep my eyes out. Like I said. I'm not opposed to adding storage, but it just needs to be the right deal.

    ac
  7. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    What is "3/4 full"? Does that mean 3/4 of the way up the firebox, full side to side and front to back?

    Yes. Pretty much.

    With your storage, you should be able to calculate exactly the output of your WG. Would be a neat science experiment.

    Not necessary. It puts out a lot of heat. And it is hot. Happy with it.
    How do you heat hot water? Indirect? I couldn't imagine firing this thing in my basement in the summer. My basement is easily 80F with this thing running. I PAY to cool my house in the summer. I'll let the electric hot water heater handle it for now at ~$25/month.

    Yes. Indirect. I seperate the basement with a door. Then put a small fan in the window to draw heat outside. It only runs for a short time each day. Tank is pretty well insulated.

    Does your $110 include the insulation? $850: tank, pump, aquastat: $200, I see that $1100 estimate flying out the window pretty quickly. 400 gallons of storage has to have quite a bit more expansion tank than just your normal system...big expansion seems to be quite costly.

    No. Add in another $279 for insulation. Tank, pump, aqua. You are correct. Eeehh. Minor. Okay. Call it what? $15-1600. When you add storage to your system and run it for a year, you will understand how nice it is to have. I am sure things will work fine for you this year as well. Already are.

    If all the storage afforded me was no more electric for hot water, that would be ~44 month pay back assuming the wood burned is "free". I plan to use the electric for ~6 months of the year. Pay back in ~7 years. Not too terrible. Right about when my hot water heater should be taking a dump according to the warranty...

    To each, his own.

    I'll keep my eyes out. Like I said. I'm not opposed to adding storage, but it just needs to be the right deal.

    Take your time. Storage is expensive. But worth it. If and when you go for it, try to put as much in as possible. This will give you more flexability.

    ac[/quote]
  8. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I'm still trying to figure out how your 400 gallons works out.

    Do you burn your entire wood load to get the 400 gallons to full temp and then heat off of it for 5 hours and then burn again?

    Or do you burn and max the storage out, then the boiler idles for an extended period of time while your house draws from storage and then tries to re-ignite?

    I'm not trying to be a jerk or discount your storage. I am just trying to learn. It seems most guys around here say 1000 gallons or don't even bother. I'm curious how your 400 "works".

    The engineer in me likes science experiments. I'd be weighing wood, taking moisture readings, timing burns and monitoring temps. I don't know why, just can't help myself. LOL

    ac
  9. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    I'm still trying to figure out how your 400 gallons works out.

    It works the same as 1000 gallons of storage. Helps to store energy and puts that energy as it is called for. And works as a "buffer" for the boiler. It works beautifully really. Because there are times when there is demand from zones and the boiler is still heating up. Again, lots of variables, but you get the point.

    Do you burn your entire wood load to get the 400 gallons to full temp and then heat off of it for 5 hours and then burn again?

    No. It does not take an entire load to heat the tank up. Of course everything depends on what demand the zones are calling for at the time. If there is no call from zones it does not take anywhere near a full load to heat the tank all the way through.

    Or do you burn and max the storage out, then the boiler idles for an extended period of time while your house draws from storage and then tries to re-ignite?

    Yes. This is the way it works. The cirulation pump that is for the primary loop is just above the line that goes from the boiler to the tank. So if the circulation pump is on between boiler and tank then when the circulation pump for the primary loop is on above that, it is drawing most of it's feed from the boiler. If the circulation pump between the boiler and the tank is not on, then the primary loop circulation pump is drawing most of it's feed from the tank.

    I'm not trying to be a jerk or discount your storage. I am just trying to learn. It seems most guys around here say 1000 gallons or don't even bother. I'm curious how your 400 "works".

    Like I said. To each his own. I find that it works great. When things are really cold it helps the whole system out by being a buffer. And when things are not very cold it allows me to burn the boiler flat out until the 400 gallons is heated all the way through, then shut the boiler down and let the tank take care of the small demand from hot water and a little heat to house. I do not understand why some people would think that does not work. Works great.

    The engineer in me likes science experiments. I'd be weighing wood, taking moisture readings, timing burns and monitoring temps. I don't know why, just can't help myself. LOL

    ;lol I understand and have respect for the tweaking that some of you guys do. I have done some work for engineers and designers in the past. Have a two year technical degree in Civil Engineering, and a four year degree in Vocational/Technical education. But I do not weigh wood. I do take moisture readings every so often. I do not time burns. I monitor temps in boiler and tank by looking at thermometers on each and say, "Yup, they are hot". Or, "Nope, not hot." Sometimes Engineers, and wood burners, can make things more complicated than need be. Besides going through the learning curve of split sizes and dry enough wood, and paying attention to things. I put wood into the boiler and it heats the house. Pretty simple, and pretty nice. This leaves me with time to do a lot of other things I have to do. Very important.
    muncybob likes this.
  10. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    Gas, have to agree 100% with your last statement. I'll leave all the science projects to those that enjoy that sort of thing and have the $$ to do so. I'm just happy to have a warm house and endless DHW each day...but I do enjoy reading about the engineer types out there that tinker with their boilers.
  11. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Oh trust me, I don't spend that much time with it. In fact, I bet I spend more time on this forum talking ABOUT my boiler than I do actually RUNNING it in a given day! LOL

    ac
    Taylor Sutherland likes this.
  12. BravoWhiskey

    BravoWhiskey New Member

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    Wood Gun plus a buffer big enough to go an hour or two is sounding more and more like the way to go. Buffer prevents short cycling and firebox provides the storage in the form of wood ready to burn. I'm not so sure I'm willing to give up enough indoor space to make room for a 1000 gallon tank plus insulation.
  13. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I have no first hand experience with a buffer...but I have trouble wrapping my head around it. "wood ready to burn" is just sitting in the boiler idling. Drying out. Getting ready to puff or chug. Then there is also the possibility of losing the fire.

    To me it would seem that either letting the Wood Gun "do its thing" turning on and off frequently OR having enough storage to burn full out and carry for the desired time (8+ hours) would seem better.

    Again, no firsthand experience with a buffer. Gasifier is living and posting proof it "works".

    ac
  14. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    Space is one of the advantages of a vertical tank. My tank with it's insulation takes up about 46" max. I think the tank is 36" and the max insulation is about 5" thick at the top. At some point I hope to apply one more tank of that spray foam to the tank so that I can even it out at 5-6 inches from top to bottom. Another $279. :rolleyes: Looks like I will have to find another little side job and make a few extra bucks. Hmmm. Maybe I could sell some of the wood that I have that has been c/s/s outside for over a year? Naaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!
  15. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I think the coolest part of your install is that you "sunk" the floor to get the tank in. You really minimized the space your storage occupies.

    ac
  16. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    I can see the advantages of having storage, but for me, at least this time of year, wouldn't really pay off. I load the firebox about 3/4 full at 6:00am. I load it again somewhere between 6:00-8:00pm and there are still a few logs left each time and everything is warm. My wood is cut on my own land and between the storms over the past year and a half and what I want to cut down anyway, I have more wood than I'll ever burn. I also have piles of both hard and softwood slabs from the sawmill if that isn't enough. The cycle timer keeps me from having to relight the fire and my Gun is becoming almost as thoughtless as brushing my teeth or feeding the dogs. It takes a moment or two of my time twice a day and that's about it. Clean the ash pan twice a week and the lower chambers once a week and forget about it. I too admire the guys that like to play with everything but after a month of figuring out how to burn this boiler in a way that works for me, its become inconspicuous...just another appliance that does its job. Don't get me wrong, I love bragging about it and how well it does its job, but it doesn't require a whole lot of attention once I got it figured out.

    And talking about the chugging you guys get sometimes; I've never experienced it normally but I have a really good fire going right now as I just loaded it, turned up the heat and bathed the little one. If I open the hatch on the back of the intake I get a good chug, chug, chug, but close the door and it goes away completely. I have my fresh air intake coming from outside with about three feet of pipe. With that I never get it without opening that trap door.
  17. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I couldn't agree more. In just a short week I have already learned to open the boiler and put wood in it twice/day. I have yet to have a cold house.

    I have been considering ducting my intake outside. Does yours go down to the floor and then back up?

    ac
  18. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    I can not believe I did all that work. ;lol I must be out of my _ _ _ _ ing mind. But I had been looking and looking for a tank I could afford and I jumped on it when I found one. Before I bought it I remember trying to rationalized it ;lol of how I was going to make the thing fit. One of the things I thought of was if it ever sprung a leak the "hole in the floor" that I made for it would hold a lot of the water! But, doing all the work myself was cool. It only cost me the materials, a lot of sweat, and some time. Ohhhhhh, the rationalizing I went through justifying this system! ;lol
  19. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    One nice thing about the buffer tank, as you have probably already heard me brag about, is the same that any storage can do for your system. I have an indirect hot water heater and being able to use the buffer tank anytime of the year to hold energy to heat the DHW is a plus. I have been through 30-40 gallons of oil or so in 14 months now. Very cool. I think back to the days before I started heating the house with a wood stove, and now my boiler system, and remember going through anywhere from 1200-1500 gallons a year!
  20. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    Nope. Just straight over and out. I talked to my plumber-buddy about that...He has installed a few of these including mine and his own, and services a bunch of others. He told me, and he's probably right, that everything coming together in just the right way to cause this fire to start burning backwards is almost impossible and probably not worrying about.
  21. Woodsrover

    Woodsrover Member

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    I can totally understand that. And if I had more room in my basement I'd probably do the same. I've also considered finding an old 1000 gallon propane tank and burying it ouside and packing foam around it. Still might do that if I find an old tank. But without storage I think I'm still going to burn all summer next year. With the cycle timer I won't have to give it anymore thought than I do right now and like I've said, I have the wood...Might as well burn it.

    I also have plans to installing radiant heat under my 24'x24' deck next year. Even in the summer the nights can get a little chilly and being able to have some warm air coming up between the deck boards will make it cozy out there and extend the outside season by a couple months. My wife thought I was crazy until she thought about it for a while. Nice October evening, 45-degrees outside but we can still hang on the deck 'cause its heated! Hahaha. Can't wait to do that!
  22. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Is your Wood Gun in your basement? I couldn't imagine having this hot monster burning in my basement during the cooling season.

    I might just pipe mine out when I finish my smokehood and have to pipe that anyways.

    That deck idea sounds insane. You'll have to share the details if you do it!

    ac
  23. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    Aaahhh. I don't know if doing any of those things are a good idea Woodsrover. Not trying to be negative here man. I always try to be the opposite. But want to be honest with you as well. You might want to discuss each of these with some other more knowledgable members from the boiler room in another thread.
  24. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Learned a lesson:

    Watch your purge timer!

    Mine apparently got "stuck" and was causing the boiler to fire to the high limit constantly. I turned it back to "off", but now it won't hold any position and just springs back to off.

    ac
  25. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    ac, I had that happen to us early on. My practice is now to turn the dial past the 6 minute point, then manually turn it back to the 3 minute setting and be sure to listen for the ticking. Sometimes we even have to tap on the box to get it to start ticking. Fortunately for you they are cheap enough to buy if the warranty does not cover it.

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