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Wood Gun first impressions

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by muncybob, Oct 13, 2009.

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  1. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    This weekend was the maiden voyage with wood burning for us. We have the smallest unit they make(E-100) with stainless steel and the oil burner backup. I must admit I was a bit nervous starting the first fire and opening the door once the fire got under way. Really was nothing to worry about though and after a few days of chilly nights(low 40's and upper 30's) I'm getting more comfortable with the beast. As instructed I have only lit some small fires to gradually dry out the refractory as we have not had a need for a large fire anyway so I wasn't tempted to throw too much wood in. Made the switch over from the elec. water heater to the WG coil as I expect we'll keep the water temp up even on warmer days. Good hot showers! Good heat output too! We had some people over Saturday and spent some time outdoors by the fire pit(ironic we are burning wood outdoors and in too!) and those of us wearing glasses had them fog over everytime we came in for a refreshment.

    As expected the first couple of fires left little in the way of hot coals due to my inexperience and low demand. I put some wood in before bedtime last night and used the 4 hour cycle timer and had some hot coals this morning which made getting a fire going again easy.

    I am troubled by the heavy smoke smell in our basement. I'm sure some of this has to do with the many times I opened the door just to see what was going on. I'll get better at this once I get a "system" down as to when to feed it. I don't get much smoke out of the loading door if opened very slowly but I think I left the door open too long on the initial fire and let too much smoke into the basement. But, I wonder if I have a small leak somewhere...can't really see anything with the lighting we have in the basement but I pland to bring in my shop work light to really check things out tonight. Is it possible to have enough of a leak to smell things up but the leak is not easliy visible?? If so, how do you check for smoke leaks not easliy visible? I wonder if the stove pipe needs to be sealed at the joints?

    A problem we have not yet overcome is condensation with the oil burner. The "cyclone chamber" has a drawer that slides out for ash removal when burning wood and this drawer accumulates water from condensation when using the oil burner. Put a larger nozzle on the burner hoping to increase the stack temp but still have the issue. Will be in touch with AHS on this but the oil tech thinks this will be a ongoing problem due to the high draft and the Reillo burner not suitable for such a draft? Fortunatley this is not an issue when burning wood. It's amazing how fine the ash is in the drawer.

    Will posts some pics eventually and continue to post my thoughts/findings as we continue this adventure.

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  2. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    I don't know about the Wood Gun, but most gasifiers in general have a pressurized primary chamber that's filled with really noxious gases during operation. Even the smallest pinhole leak will produce noticeable odors.

    That's the main advantage that I can see of the suction fan approach that Froeling and others use - negative pressure in the primary chamber.
  3. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    Many hours have been spent by several of us EKO owners dealing with the leaky door seals. Last year I rigged up a cheapo bathroom vent fan which I placed directly over my boiler upper door and vented it outside through one of my existing utility room vents. Worked great, looked rediculous.

    This year several of us are trying upgraded door seals on our EKO's. Perhaps there is something similar available for your wood gun. If not, RTV sealant may be your new best friend....
  4. chiefburritt

    chiefburritt New Member

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    Check your flue pipe for leaks.. Did you use a high temp silicone to seal all joints? Downdrafts pressurize your flue and cause leaks. Also did you purchase the smoke hood? If not you can probably build one that vents to the outside. I don't get that nasty noxious smell in the basement. Just a nice slight wood smell. Also check your seals on the doors as this could be a possible leaky area. To fix follow their directions, they have addressed all problems. Use a white crayon they should provide to adjust the doors. You will be happy with the system, but remember it is wood. Cheers.
  5. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    What nofossil said.

    Although as I recall, the Wood Gun has an induction fan. At least it used to.

    In the final analysis, I think some kind of an exhaust hood is the most effective, cheapest way around the problem if your boiler is located in or near living space. That goes for wood gasifiers as well as conventional boilers and furnaces. Not every installation has the problem, but if yours does, it's a tough one to solve.

    JMO
  6. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    Hi Bob; I'm jealous, my Atmos is barely started. You need to seal up the stove pipe & WG has 2 sizes of optional vent hoods available. The WG has a big powerfull induced draft fan & will blow air out leaky stove pipes/cyclone etc as it changes to forced draft right at the back of the boiler. You might want to find some seamless mechanical tubing. I looked at a WG in Wis that the owner had plastered the entire stovepipe in an attempt to seal it. This was not a 100 percent solution. Good hearing from you, Randy
  7. RobC

    RobC Minister of Fire

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    Could be paint and oils from the new unit cooking off too ? Need a week or 2 of good hot burning to get rid of all that.
    Rob
  8. sdrobertson

    sdrobertson Minister of Fire

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    This is an excellent statement that I think we all forget sometimes.
  9. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    I did the "chalk" test last night on all 3 doors. Appears the doors do seal all the way around but in some spots the seal was better than others. I guess I could "build up" some areas a bit but problem with that right now is it's getting cold at night and need the heat(this is when I wish I had 2 seperate heating units!)...the silicone takes at least 24 hours to cure. I guess I'll look into that more when/if we get an Indian Summer. All the stove piping is SS, I was thinking about using muffler wrap to seal the connections or should I stay with the high temp silicone(won't look as pretty though!)? The stove pipe is well sealed at the cyclone unit. Was also thinking the stove pipe should be insulated...perhaps wrap it in mineral wool or some other high temp capable insulation?

    Fire was just about out when I arrived home last night so I took the time to clean it out...not that it really needed it. Got a fire started and didn't keep the door open much for very long and seems perhaps the smoke smell is a bit less so maybe it's just taking time for it to go away after the intial day of firing or maybe I'm just getting used to it? Thankfully the smoke smell is not affecting the living quarters and strangley enough the wife says it isn't too bad in the basement. Perhaps I'm expecting too much?
    Randy, I thought about the exhaust hood but trying to do without for now. Looking forward to hearing about your Atmos experiences! Atmos was the boiler we were going to buy until I realized problems I would have had in the basement bulkhead.
  10. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    Bob; The WG I looked at seemed to have poor chimney draft & he got smoke out of it whenever opening the door. I'm not sure why as it's induced draft at this point. If you have stove pipe leaks you could check into 6" semi truck exhaust tubing. I'm working on the Atmos, fell off a ladder though cutting a limb & this is slowing me down. Randy
  11. chiefburritt

    chiefburritt New Member

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    16 gauge welded stainless steel flue with a minimum amount of connection points, use red high temp silicone just at the connection points and screws holding it together. it works!!!! Get the pipe made at a local metal shop. 8" flue was less than $400 for 16 feet of pipe with clean outs.never will corrode or leak if maintained. No need to insulate unless its putting out to much heat to your boiler room. I want to add radiator fins to mine to steal that flue heat as it does not depend on the heat to make the draft. Realize my stack temp never gets above 250-260 degrees F, really

    Enjoy
  12. chiefburritt

    chiefburritt New Member

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    Very good point!!!! mine off gassed from the paint and oils for a month. I ahd a lot of black iron piping though.
  13. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    The pipe seams must have been my problem. I sealed all seams and screw holes with the red silicone last night and allowed it to cure overnight. Fired up the boiler this morning and a very noticeable difference! My old Taco pump is now slightly leaking at the flange and is making a noise like it needs lubrication. Never realized the older pumps need lube but I can't find any where on the unit where I would lubricate it? I guess I will tighten the flange a bit tonight to hopefully stop the minor leak but the noise has me more concerned. The pump is old and the label is worn so I'm not even sure what model I have.
  14. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    New, self-lubricating pumps are pretty cheap (many models, anyway). Replacement might not be a bad idea.
  15. chiefburritt

    chiefburritt New Member

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    Check your inbox!!!
  16. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    My saga continues!! The pump leak was a worn seal. Decided since it was an old circ and the fact that it had not been lubed in years that we should replace it. While at it the make up water supply was re-routed so that the temp gauge was not connected at a T with the make up water. This makes a big differnce(as I suspected), temps are now reading what they should be. Gauge was not inserted far enough into the boiler to get accurate temp readings.

    What a difference in appearance the new circs are compared to the very old one I had...it's 1/3 the size! Hoping it's a bit more efficient too.
    No problems with the wood heat...other than the learning curve. Have had a few nights that the fire went out due to low demand and the cycle timer is only a 4 hour max cycle. If the timer would be longer I would expect to still have good hot coals in the morning. I had thought the fan would stop running once water temp went below a certain point if the fire wnet out but apparently not. This would be an issue if the fire went out and if the auto oil was not on.The smoke problem is now fully corrected and I'm glad I didn't splurge for the exhaust fan option. I've found as long as I let the purge timer run about 2 minutes or so before opening the door slowly I have no detectable smoke escape upon reloading. Weekly cleaning is easy and quick.

    I am surprised by the amount of heat in our basement. I have insulated most of the water pipes and this has brought down the basement air temp somewhat, but if the outside air temp is 50 or higher ..the living area thermostat(which is directly above the basement boiler location) won't call for heat as the rising basement heat keeps the living area at 68 or higher. I'm sure this will change once we get into higher heat demand days.

    I have replaced the nozzle on the oil burner from a .65 gph to a .75 gph per AHS in hopes of raising the stack temp and eliminating condensation on the oil side of things. Also increased the pump pressure from 100 psi to 150 psi. This has helped a lot but I still have some condensation. AHS is suggesting a .85 gph nozzle now...if this does not work apparently they are suggesting a switch(which they will provide) to eliminate the fan when using oil as apparently the high draft is the culprit?

    The loading chamber has some creosote build up but this seems to burn off if the fire gets hot enough. The only other place I have noticed any build up is the opening of the fresh air inlet. It's minimal considering I'm burning oak at apprx. 30% mc. Stack only has ash and I'm impressed by the lack of smoke once the fire gets "gassing". I had some initial reservations on if I made the right choice but I'm getting much more comforatbale with the WG...just like Dry steam said I would!
  17. chiefburritt

    chiefburritt New Member

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    Muncybob,

    Isn't there a aquastat on yours that you can set to cycle your boiler at a certain low temp? Mines not hot water based its steam, but I do have an aquastat I can turn up or down to keep the coals active on the shoulder months. Just curious?
  18. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    I have 3...High Limit(set at 210), Operating Limit(set at 190) and Burner Control(set at 140). The latter was orig set at 150 but manual says to set lower if you only want the oil to fire when the wood is completely out? If I do not want to use the oil at all should this be set higher? I had thought this aquastat was related to the oil burner only? The Op Limit is at 190 per AHS as part of the condensation control issue...I would rather it was at 180 though.
  19. chiefburritt

    chiefburritt New Member

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    Call em up and ask for carl if he's still there, hes excellent on this info.
  20. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    OK...time for an update. The oil burner condensation isssue is resolved!! :) It seems it took a combination of a larger nozzle, increased pump pressure and what I believe was the actual remedy of defeating the induced draft fan while in the oil mode. This was accomplished by removing a wire on one of the Dayton timers in the "control" box. I am greatly relieved as I was starting to think I spent a lot of $$ for the oil option for nothing. Of course this means yet another trip by the oil tech guy to set up the burner properly since I had to adjust the air intake on the burner.
    I do have an issue with the green light(indicates it's OK to open the firebox door) not working now. AHS sent me a new part to install and I have tried a couple of things but still not working. I'm no electrician and they have indicated if I need to hire somebody to trouble shoot this they will pay the bill.
    It appears I was not using the 4 hour cycle timer correctly. After an education from Carl I now have mastered it and can get a re-light after being in a prolonged no demand state...even when burning pine.
    I'm getting to be a happy camper now...esp after the Mrs. started grumbling about going to wood burning and the minor setbacks of a new unit and the associated learning curve. Have not had much in the way of cold weather yet so I really don't know what kind of burn times I'll get on a typical PA. winter day and I'm in no hurry to find out! The longer my wood piles last the better!!!
  21. Singed Eyebrows

    Singed Eyebrows New Member

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    I'm glad thats going better for you Bob. Your unit seems to have quite a bit more learning curve than the wood only ones. Keep us updated on this, Randy
  22. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    OK...some colder weather has arrived. Nothing extreme compared to some parts of the country but definately has given us a taste of heating season weather compared to the very enjoyable warmer temps we have experienced this autumn.
    For now we have established a 3 loads per day routine...each load is 4 to 6 small splits of oak and we have had very good results. The overnight load is normally 6 splits and that leaves me with some unused wood and plenty of hot coals at 7 am the next day. We keep living area temps around 70 most of the time and drop it down to 66 while sleeping overnight. I have finally gotten over the urge to check the fire after 3 to 4 hours or so since now I know it's burning often enough to keep everything going. No longer need the cycle timer.

    I tested an oveheat situation since I was told I did not need a dump zone. This was done by making the unit run well above the 180 degree operating limit. The high limit aquastat was set at 210 and when it reached that limit the unit shut down...air was defeated to the fire box and temp was held in check. Then I decided to do the same thing but kill power to the boiler when it reached around 210 degrees...basically same thing happened. We also made the unit run over 180 with the cycle timer running and once the high limit of 210 was reached the unit shut down and the cycle timer was defeated. I think this assures me that I indeed do not need a dump zone for power failure and as long as the high limit aquastat works propelry everything should be OK. But, this makes me somewhat concerned about what if the high limit aquasatat did fail? Even if there is only a very slim chance of this happening...what can I do?

    I did not know the aquastats have a differential control on them. I think you could manually adjust these and probably would not need the cycle timer in the shoulder season.

    The "green light" situation continues to be an issue but hopefully this is corrected this weekend. Carl at AHS has been great to work with...he is making himself available to us this Saturday(his day off) since that's the only time my electrician can come over.

    I installed a cheap temp guage in the stack off the cyclone unit and am hitting around 380 degrees when burning wood. Once the oil burner is calibrated properly I'll be interested to see what the stack temp is then too! This probably won't be until springtime though.
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