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Time to start sifting the pellets

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by 343amc, Nov 10, 2012.

  1. 343amc

    343amc Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Messages:
    376
    Loc:
    West Michigan
    I had to replace the ignitor in my stove this morning. When I took the side panels off to get to the wiring harness I noticed a big pile of fines that were built up under the auger motor. There was enough to fill a quart jar and then some. I've run 62 bags through the stove since I got it (58 bags last season and 4 this season) and wasn't expecting to see that large of a pile, although I admittedly used some low grade pellets last season. I've since "seen the light" and have about 2.5 tons of better pellets for this year, one ton of Somerset, one ton of Pro Pellets and a half ton of AWF. There are only a few bags left of the Michigan pellets that I had bought last year when I thought all wood pellets were created equal. I'm trying to get rid of those before the cold weather sets in.

    Long story short, while I was in there I gave everything a good cleaning, got the ignitor replaced and the stove fired right up. My wife will be happy as she doesn't like manually lighting the stove. I'd done the leaf blower trick in the spring, so I'm now ready for the cold weather to hit, which it sounds like is coming this way next week. Now its time to consider making a pellet sifter to cut down on fines in the hopper. I'd been careful to not drop the whole bag in, leaving a pound or so in the bag which I'd dump in a bucket and eventually sift. I'm thinking that isn't enough.

    Thanks to all for the good advice on this forum. Happy burning.

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  2. imacman

    imacman Guest

  3. boosted3g

    boosted3g Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2012
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    Central PA
    This is the bottom of my shop vac after 8 bags of cheat river through my pellet vacuum sifter contraption thing. I would imagine after a ton of unsifted pellets your stove will swallow quite a bit of fines.

    [​IMG]
  4. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Have you looked at the bushing in the bottom of the auger flight? Sounds like the bushing may be bad?

    Fines shouldnt be dropping out of there? IMO
  5. 343amc

    343amc Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
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    376
    Loc:
    West Michigan
    I didn't look that closely at the bushing or the bottom of the auger shaft. It wasn't coarse, more like a very fine dust. However I do agree that there shouldn't be much of anything coming out of there. I'll pull the stove back out tomorrow and take a closer look. I wonder if maybe it isn't coming from the auger shaft but maybe a poorly sealed seam in the hopper itself. The hopper is pretty much empty. I'll put a droplight in the hopper and see if I can see light from any of the seams from the back side of the stove. That theory makes a bit more sense to me.
  6. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    I would take a look.. Its well worth the few bucks and hours worth of time a bushing would take.

    BTW- I sift, so I am not hating on sifting. But you are doing it for a reason that may be fixed? Quads have a spring style auger and do NOT lift fines up to auger flight to the drop chute (some make it, but majority sits at the bottom and lowers the feedrate over time).

    All seams should have Hi temp RTV on them and/or High temp foil tape. Add them if needed. But its likely the bushing :( For a new stove, its sad. But I have a buddy that has a new stove that has the same problem.
    Eatonpcat likes this.
  7. Joel Craft

    Joel Craft New Member

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    Jul 2, 2012
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    Loc:
    Nome, Alaska
    Can you show what you are sifting with? Since I have a quad I have been seeing lots of fines in the bags I am putting in. I think I need to start sifting so I do not get a plugged augger. Thanks Jay
  8. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    You can clean the hopper on a bi-weekly to monthly basis. Or build one of these. (If you go back 3-4 pages, you will find several threads with MANY more pics) or just search pellet sifter. A search will come up with a parts list.


    2012-10-08_21-21-09_967.jpg
  9. pell it

    pell it Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    Rhode Island
    http://www.englanderstoves.com/corn_sifter.html

    You can also make one of these out of some plywood and hardware cloth. There is a thread on here where someone detailed a build of one.

    I put a set of legs on mine so I do not have to balance it on a couple 5 gallon pails!
  10. kenstogie

    kenstogie Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    Albany (ish)
    1. how necessary is it to sift? what happens if you don't? looks easy enough to do yet i never have and just figured it would all just get torched evevtually.
  11. 343amc

    343amc Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    West Michigan
    I think I found the issue. Got up early this morning and pulled the stove out and removed the hopper cover. The first picture shows what it looked like when I opened it. There was a wad of RTV/silicone that was barely hanging on to the top of the auger cover. Underneath the silicone was the rope gasket that goes between the top of the cover and the chute where the pellets drop into the stove. One of the nuts that holds the cover on was holding on by a thread. You can see in the picture (sorry its blurry) that there were some pellet chunks stuck between the auger cover and the hopper. I pulled the cover off and I could see where I suspect the fines/dust were falling into the body of the stove. None of the hopper seams were sealed. They are riveted together and the seams were full of fines. I had a tube of high temp RTV left over from some work I'd done on the my toy (1969 AMC Javelin, hence my screen name) earlier this spring. I put the auger cover back on and sealed the top with RTV, then foil taped all the hopper seams. I then gave everything a good polish with some silicone spray I had in the garage. Hopefully this takes care of the issue.

    The bushing on the bottom of the auger looks fine. I'm fairly confident that the fines were getting into the body of the stove from the gap at the top where the silicone had come loose. I didn't pay that close of attention to it when I bought the stove last fall, but based on some of the other fit and finish items I found I'd guess it has been this way since I brought it home. I'll check it out after running a few bags through and see if this took care of it.

    Trips to the hardware store: 0
    Time to complete task: About 2 hours start to finish. I dropped a nut into the auger and had to fish it out.
    Cost of the foil tape and RTV I already had laying around: $2 or so
    Another season of watching the oil truck drive by my house: Priceless

    Thanks Dexter for pointing me in the right direction.

    Attached Files:

  12. Nice follow-up with the pics and great idea with foil-taping all the hopper seams, 343amc. What stove is this???
  13. 343amc

    343amc Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    West Michigan
    It's a US Stove 6041 insert.

    DexterDay gave me the idea to tape the seams. I wouldn't have thought of that on my own.
    The Village Idiot likes this.
  14. boosted3g

    boosted3g Feeling the Heat

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    Central PA
    343amc thats a sweet ride. I worked for a few years at an AMC shop building lots of fiberglass parts and have seen my share of AMX's and Javalins. The shop closed now and the owner moved back to Italy but it was sure fun while he was open. He taught me a lot of lessons and history of cars since i missed the days of muscle only being born in 1978. I still remember riding wheelies in an old cj with a built 401.
  15. I should have known that Dexter had something to do with this! :)
    DexterDay likes this.
  16. 343amc

    343amc Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    I'm not far behind you as I was born in 75. My memories of AMC growing up was Eagles, Concords and the AMC badged Renault's. I really wanted a early 70's Road Runner but stumbled across the Javelin about 15 years ago, and the rest is history. It's fun having something different.

    The regulars on this forum have probably forgotten more about pellet stoves than I can ever hope to know. This site is invaluable for people like me and those of us that have stoves that have little or no dealer support.
    The Village Idiot likes this.
  17. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    ;em

    That looks like the culprit. Not only will that prevent fine build up, but by sealing the hopper (much better than factory) you have eliminated lots of air infiltration points. Which will help with the overall burn (if it had a sealed hopper). Air is not your friend in a hopper, especially in the event of a burn back or hopper fire (God forbid, but staying Viligant keeps you safer).

    The pellets will probably feed better now also. As for polishing, I use Pledge Furniture Polish. Works great and smells great. Hell, I even use it on the exterior stove body. For that lovely shine :)
  18. Amen to that.

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