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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. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    I guess the bricks are made of a different material these days? I did order an extra set of nozzle brick 2 years ago thinking this year would be time to replace...it's getting close. If I remember correctly the manul states you should be getting about 15 cords per set, I'm hoping to make it 20+ :)

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  2. There are plenty of other controllers available that would work. But the rk2001 seems to be an industry standard as several different mfrs use it. But if you want USA made it is available through ahona.

    I'm typing this next part slowly so you understand what I am saying. ;)

    I could buy the same aquastats, relays, timers, temp gauges etc. and bolt hang or tie them to my boiler. But i dont think the cost/benifit of using standard off the shelf parts is worth it. AHS seems to have come to the same conclusion as they are now using printed circuit boards. I imagine it costs several times as much to replace the functionality of circuit board with standard relays timers and aquastats.

    If and when I run into a situation where the controller is broken and a replacement is unavailable I could use the same control strategy you are using with off the shelf parts. You just paid for the standardization up front while I'm taking a calculated risk that if the rk2001 ever breaks then a replacement will be available.

    Hope that makes cents.

    By fine tuning I meant things like the right settings on the cycle timer to not lose a fire and how to stop the back puffing.
  3. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    I pretty much have everything I need hanging around to eliminate the boiler controller. I would just need to use my Tekmar control and A 419 aquastat to their full potential instead of using a fraction of their features.
    BTW I have the Ekoster 2 control on my unit.
  4. Probably could make a solar differential control work as well. These boilers are all pretty similar in function and can be controlled many different ways.

    The worst case scenario is for the price of oil to dramatically fall. I suspect that more than one dealer/importer/mfr would go out of business. In that case the nozzle for any boiler would be hard to source.
  5. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    Even 5 years ago when I purchased mine, Mark at AHONA was already making friends with people in the ceramic molding industry lining up potential sources for the guts of these machines.
  6. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for typing slow, I read it at normal pace.

    WRT controls, the stock Woodgun uses 2 aquastats, 1 timer and the damper motor. The cycle timer is an optional add-on.

    I'm honestly not sure why AHS went to the PCB. Looking inside that control panel, there are just as many wires and switches as mine. The aquastats and damper motor still must exist. They took the $10 purge timer and the optional $90 cycle timer out of the loop. I'll keep my mechanicals.

    The refractories will always be the big "worry" for long term spare parts. I like the simplicity of the Wood Gun nozzles. I could probably cut them out of steel or even use standard fire bricks to make a replacement if they are ever unavailable. The lower refractory is a bit more complex, but the shape is very beefy and rather simplistic. I was concerned with some of the fancy "U" shaped refractories the other boilers use. That looked tougher to re-produce and more fragile to me.

    I'm not worried about the price of oil falling driving guys out of business, I'm more worried about the OWB hatred transitioning (wrongly) over to IWB.

    Either way, it sounds like both of you have zombie apocalypse plans in place for your boilers. Good jobs.

    ac
  7. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    I felt a chuckle coming and tried to hold it in. I think I spit on my screen.
  8. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    I realized I need to correct something else:

    AHS didn't switch to a PCB, they switched to a PLC. BIG difference. PCB would be 100% proprietary circuit board printed just for this purpose. Instead, they switch to a PLC (Programmable Logic Controller). So while it may SEEM like the "chip" needs to be sent back to AHS for any changes (such as increasing cycle frequency from 4 hours to less), they really could be done with a PLC programming station and a computer.

    I guess the digital control is even more zombie proof then I had initially thought.

    ac
  9. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Sorry about your screen. The WG refractory has rather thick cross-sections. The sides are symmetrical, and are composed of stacked sections. A pretty simple mold could be made to cast the sections. It could be slapped together with a few pieces of wood and PVC pipe.

    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/...-the-new-refractory-brick.88005/#post-1147520

    From Christmas 2011 through July 2012 and he claims his "refractory is falling to pieces".

    No firsthand experience, but that doesn't sound good. Isolated incident, so it doesn't seem prevalent...others chimed in talking about patching and repairs. It doesn't really matter. The purpose of this thread at this point isn't to bash the EKO, it's to bash the WG...DUH!

    ac
  10. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    I haven't fallen in love with my EKO so criticism doesn't bother me. When you fall in love with your boiler and someone criticizes it and it feels like they are telling you your daughter's ugly, thats considered bashing.
  11. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    I'm not sure I'm in love with my boiler, but on weekends that we go away and I switch on the oil, I do suffer from separation anxiety :)
  12. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Oil? One of these days I should really take the time to do the oil portion of my WG install. I mean, the oil backup in one unit was the main reason I went WG in the first place!

    ac
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  13. CTFIRE

    CTFIRE Member

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    Need some help guys. Notice tonight a considerable amount of smoke at the stack tip every time it kicked on tonight. Just went down when I notice it was on. Green light was on and fan was running. But I heard a thumping. I remembered reading something about it, but rather than get the laptop I opened the door. Fireball as I open the door. Close the door. There a a raging fire in the box. I darkened it down a bit with some water and shut it down for 5 mins. Thought maybe the holes were blocked so I racked the bottom coals a bit to open. Fire gets going real good, almost too good. I have since closed the air damper in the back to half to limit oxygen. The boiler got to temp and it shut down, but I want the readers digest of what I am doing wrong rather than 30 pages of searching.
  14. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    A wild guess: I think every gasser has creosote build up or accumulate in the primary wood chamber. It comes & goes, burns off some once in a while - maybe yours built up to a point & when it woke itself up (or whatever those WGs do when they relite), it lit off a bunch of creosote?
  15. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    "Chugging". Do a quick search. One cause is you may have had significantly more wood in the boiler during the day when the demand was low today causing the wood to become significantly dryer than ideal. This causes the fire to burn very quickly and doesn't have enough oxygen to support secondary combustion. When you opened the door, you instantly supplied excess oxygen and HAADOOGAN (Streetfighter anyone?).

    Can you recall exactly the chain of events from your last reload to this point?

    ac
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  16. CTFIRE

    CTFIRE Member

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    Woke up this morning with the fire out. very few embers left. Started a fire this am and got a good bed of coals and loaded it up at 6am. Wife added more wood at 12pm. I added another 10 spilts (only 18inchers) around 5pm. Had a good bed of coals then and all seemed normal. Notice the smoke at 6 and 7pm. seemed more than usually. I had it ok the other day when it was running with no smoke. Damper was fully open as I remember guys saying stuff about avoiding puff backs.
  17. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    How big of a coal bed are you building? Another possibility is too much surface area to burn. That allows for a lot of combusting area that requires a lot of oxygen to sustain, otherwise it produces a lot of wood gas.

    You seem to load that boiler an awful lot. I am still amazed since mine works in ways it shouldn't from everything I have read. I load the darn thing twice/day. That's it. No more, no less. Mine also likes big splits. Just for giggles, I put splits East/West in the front of the boiler last night to see if "bridging" was really a problem. Meh, the 180 didn't care. It burned those splits just fine and had coals to show for it.

    ac
  18. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Check this thread:
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/woodgun-chugging.83063/#post-1067903

    Great resource about chugging.
  19. CTFIRE

    CTFIRE Member

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    AVC - The chugging thread was great. I wasn't searching chugging, was searching thumping. Tomato tamato.. Anyway I was loading alot since the fire kept burning totally out. read how everyone said to get a layer of coals and then load up. Not sure how big a bed of coals to build. We are are only 5 days into this adventure. My damper has been wide open this whole time. I think I have been burning through the dry stuff. I will try the damper as 50-60 % closed and see what happens. We've been checking alot because I didn't want it to keep burning out.
  20. avc8130

    avc8130 Minister of Fire

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    Let's start simple: put more wood in on your reload.

    I have tried all different positions of the damper and have found very little difference in operating characteristics.

    I find my boiler is running nice with 2-4" of coals over the nozzles.

    Today I loaded up at 6:30AM as always. The boiler was not running so I ran the purge. Kicked around the coals and few pieces of large charcoal that remained from the night before's load. I put in wood until it was about even with the bottom of the door all the way across and front to back. Remember I have a 180. I got home at 6pm and went to check on the boiler as always. She was off and sitting at ~190F. I always wait in the evening to catch the boiler firing for the reload since I don't have to be force a reload to be on time for work like the morning. Well, I didn't catch the boiler firing until 9pm when I finally just used the purge. There was still ~3 splits easily identifiable in the boiler along with the coals. I gave it another load similar to this morning.

    25F outside...66F inside.

    ac
  21. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    I suspect your wood is split too small and dried out too much. Don't load with wood that you know is wet or green but grab some larger splits that have dried for about a year and try that. ac is correct, once the chugging starts it's self perpetuating ie, explosion, enter air, explosion, etc,etc. Don't panic. I know you're new at this. It's not the last time you'll see this. I know the helpless feeling you experienced.
    I'm surprised how much wood you're loading. Is the unit running continuously? If so, are you heating a large storage tank that hasn't gotten to temperature yet or a new cold concrete slab?
    It's not unusual for a newbie to feel that their woodburner needs to be full of wood at all times. Even wood parlor stoves. That's why people use 1/3 to1/2 the wood on their second year.
  22. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    I don't have a good answer. I can have that same problem a couple times in a row and then not have it at all for a long time.
    I still can't find a pattern in the sequence of events that would help me avoid it.

    Heres the sequence for now. It will change as it get colder
    First a little background info.
    1st floor T-stat set to turn on at 5:00am to 70* and stay like that until 11:00pm when it shuts down to 66*
    2nd floor T-stat set to turn on at 5:00am to 70* and shut down to 66* at 7:00am until 7:30 pm and it back to 70* till 11pm


    go out to boiler at 5:15am to find it running with a bed of coals and a 1/4 to 1/3 full firebox
    I fill it up to the top.
    It take 2 hours to bring house up to 70* from 66* and the unit shuts off yes it shuts off.
    House is holding heat pretty well but boiler naturally cools off and kicks on around 2 pm according to wife. Still haven't hooked up cycle timer.
    I come home around 4-5pm and boiler is on with a good bed of coals and a 1/3 full fire box. isn't that amazing that it was OFF for that long and relit. Man I pay those gremlins well.
    I fill it up again.
    House starts to call for heat more often and at 10:30 its usually on again and have about 1/2 full box and I reload for night.
    Wake up to find the same thing, 1/4 to 1/3 full box and I start the process all over again.

    Now that has only been the last week or so.
    Prior to that I would come home and the unit was on and almost a full fire box but no fire. Damn Gremlins must have fell a sleep.
  23. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    Gulp. I saw this post after I posted the one right below it.
    I guess I'm still a newbie since I keep it full.

    But I feel that I don't want it to run out completly where I have no coals or anything and have to start a fire from scratch.
    Is that wrong?
    Will I really use less wood?
  24. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    Just went to refill.
    Unit runnning for 15 minutes and zero smoke from stack, roaring sound coming out of stack. Stack temp at 200*
    Open it up, nice roaring sound, I have a bed of red hot coals and remants of 4 full splits just above the bottom of the door.
    I consider this a 1/4 full. I gently move the 4 splits and they crumble apart. Still have nice raoring gasification sound.
    I fill it to the top with 10 splits that are the size of my hand when I touch my pointers and thumbs together.
    Still a loud roaring from inside the box.
    I close the door and look at the stack and lots of smoke billowing out of stack.
    Its too dark and I can't tell if its white or grey.
  25. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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    Just looked at stack, stil some smoke but not as bad, still can hear the roaring.
    The top of my stack is only 12 feet above the ground.
    I have a 4' telescoping section coming off the cyclone and two 3' sections above that.

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