Cleaning Econoburn 200 flue tubes.

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,317
Northern Canada
So a few days ago i thought i would give the boiler a quick fall inspection before starting to burn,so i pulled the cover over the turbulators to look at the flue's.
Crap they had a buildup of hard baked on stuff.Last year they were covered with light ash,so i was really surprised.Then i remembered our long cold spring and the old firewood pile i burnt because the good wood was gone,and the rest of the good wood is in log length on my other lot.
I knew the wood wasn't the best,and i paid for it.So i searched Hearth for ideas and anyone who had done their 200.I grabbed the collection of brushes i had and tried them,wouldn't even touch the stuff.Back to research and brainpower.I seen some cool tools from TC Wilson for cleaning boiler tubes.Then i came across one that is made by Profab for their boilers.It was really close to what was in my mind so off to the shop i went.
I had some 11/2" strapping like the metal lumber stuff but wider.It is springy i bent two legs 2 1/2" long off a 1 1/2" square which i drilled a hole in to attach a 48" rod.I curved the legs and bent in the tips so they would go in the flues easier.Then i bent out the leading edge of the legs to increase the angle to scrape the tubes.The springy nature kept pressure against the tubes
A few adjustments and i was happy,add a drill to the rod and about 5 min got them clean,and another 5 to get them completely crud free so you could see the weld and machine marks down the tubes,i was happy.
Now i did all this without taking the back panel off.I took the turbulators off the hanging bar because i didn't know if they would come out in one piece.They were a hard pull to get the out with the build up.I did cut about 3/8" off each end of the hanging bar and the end of a couple of bolts on the linkage to ease the reinstall.I was able to reinstall the hanging bar and 6 turbulators in one piece,then all i had to do is install 2 bolts for the raising linkage.
No i don't have any pic's,but if anyone wants a pic of the tool i can e-mail you one.
Hopes this helps someone.the next time i will try to pull the hanging bar and turbs in one piece,then it will be an easy quick job.Under two hours to complete next time i'm sure.
Thomas
 

mr.fixit

Feeling the Heat
Dec 27, 2009
260
west central wi.
I think for maximum efficiency it pays to keep the HX tubes clean. Doesn't take much fly ash to restrict heat transfer.
Look at how often these newer pellet boilers auto clean themselves,and they are burning a more refined fuel.
This season I am going to try to do weekly tube brushings. Seems like the boiler always burns better after a cleaning.
 

kopeck

Minister of Fire
Mar 24, 2011
536
Maine
Heck I would love to see the Profab tool.

I never say creosote on my tube/turbulators until this spring, much like you I burned up some wood that wasn't quite ready at the end of the season. It was just a little bit but boy was it a pain to get out with standard brush.

K
 

FinsterCT

Member
Nov 29, 2010
4
Newtown,CT
Salecker asked me to post photos of his econoburn tube cleaning tool. so i am going to give it a try. Thanks Thomas
Just found this Thread... I've got an EB100 and decided to get it cleaned up today... it looks like we are finally going to get some burn worthy weather here in new England. This is my third year...last year, I cleaned my tubes with the brush econoburn recommends from Mcmaster... It was my first cleanout and I noticed a lot of creosote in the tubes... just felt timid about getting too aggressive getting it out.

Definitely guilty of burning some less than dry wood here and there and I run without storage for now....so I definitely get some idling time. Decided to hop on here and see what others have done, glad I did! Salecker, brilliant simple idea... It worked great! Great use of something that would ordinarily end up in a dumpster!

I attached some pics... in the before pic, I'd spent a good hour with the brush on the tube on the right ... in the after pic I cleaned the tube in less than five minutes.

Found the best way was to spin this with a cordless at a slow speed... too fast just resulted in the banding chattering and doing nothing.
 

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salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,317
Northern Canada
Hi FinsterCT
Glad it worked for you,i bought the Mcmaster Carr tool last year,it was a dismal failure.
I had to build tool#2 because of cracking last spring.I changed the angles of my bends a bit but other wise it's the same.I bent the banding at a bit of an angle so the leading edge has a little more of an attack angle.I also found that running the tool in reverse works too,it kind of hits stubborn deposits from a different angle.I have sharpened the edge a bit with a file once the tool seems to loss it's ability to scrape the tubes.I'm really good at sharpening drills freehand,so i figured with my eye for edges it wouldn't hurt to try on this tool.It worked.
If you bend the leading edges you may lose some of the chatter you experienced at high speed.
Thomas
 

FinsterCT

Member
Nov 29, 2010
4
Newtown,CT
I'll definitely try some tweaks! I noticed the band kinda bounces over the seam in the pipe and leaves crud on the other side of the seam...and tried to go in reverse... I just had a piece of threaded rod with some nuts on it and it would loosen if I went opposite the tightening direction of the rod... I'll have to do something a little better next time.
 

Buzz Saw

Minister of Fire
Jan 18, 2014
523
Attica, Ohio
I'll definitely try some tweaks! I noticed the band kinda bounces over the seam in the pipe and leaves crud on the other side of the seam...and tried to go in reverse... I just had a piece of threaded rod with some nuts on it and it would loosen if I went opposite the tightening direction of the rod... I'll have to do something a little better next time.
Try using a jam nut, you should be able to go both directions.
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,317
Northern Canada
Bump for Dave
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,317
Northern Canada
Hi All just a quick update...
I have made 3 of these tools in the last 8 years.I cleaned my tubes last fall before starting the boiler and noticed a crack forming on my cleaning tool.A few hours later i finished the cleaning and thought it seemed like it took a long time.The crack was bigger and followed the edge of the lock nut holding it to the rod.
Fast forward to yesterday...Armed with a newly formed tool and my pully system i did the complete open to clean closed boiler ready for a fire in 2 hours.The new tool cut the buildup with hardly any effort compared with what it took to clean in the fall.I did add a washer to each side of the tool in hopes of it lasting longer,which i think mat add extra pressure to the tool when it is in the tubes.I also didn't bend the tool as much as the last one's which also may add pressure.Yesterday each tube was cleaned in about 5 minutes.And had i read my notes on the removal of the turbulators i could have taken at least 20 minutes less time.I have a rope and pulley system that i use to assist in removing them.The trick is to pull them up in 3" steps till you are close to the opening with the bar the turbs are hanging on.Then lift one side higher and out them come.Takes less than 5 minutes when you review your notes.
I am pretty sure that i could do my cleaning in 1 1/2 hours easy if i read my notes before i start.
So if you have any homemade tools that you use please post them,i hope someone has made something better than i have.
Thomas
 

airlina

Burning Hunk
Feb 15, 2009
126
western new york
Hi Thomas, My tool came about from copying yours, back when you first introduced it years ago. I use my worn out lumber bandsaw blades to make a simple tool that has worked well . I bend the blade so its a bit wider than the boiler tube I.D. and I have to squeeze the tool to fit it in the tube . this makes a nice tight fit in the tube when running it thru. A couple passes and its clean as a whistle. Also to make it easier to pull my turbulators, I use a harbor freight electric winch that is positioned above the boiler on the joists in my shed. Bruce
 

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salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,317
Northern Canada
Hi Bruce
Thanks for pic's of your tool... I will keep my eyes open for some band saw blades to try.
I used a rope and pulley system,but i see where a remote control winch would be awesome.It would be like having a helping hand that dosn't talk back.
Did you replace the bolts that connect the turbulators to the lifting linkage with pin's and clips?That takes some of the PIA factor away.
How many uses are you getting from one of your tools?
Thomas
 

airlina

Burning Hunk
Feb 15, 2009
126
western new york
Thomas , probably have used my tool 5 times since I built it (thanks to your design). and yes I have replaced the bolts with pins and clips to speed the process. The winch works well to pull the turbs . i only go thr the process once a year at the end of the burn season. Bruce
 

Sparky

Member
Feb 24, 2012
64
Southern Vermont
I switched to chains for turbulators in my EB100 I can do a complete cleaning in less than 30 minutes. I had all four chains on one piece of threaded rod but it slipped out of my hand and a chain got stuck sideways in tube (the sucked) So I now have two chains on it's own piece of threaded rod. I use a hook made out of piece of wire (I used a wire that was used to hold up insulation) to pull the chains out. A brush on a cordless drill and you are done. Usually clean every two weeks.
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,317
Northern Canada
I found a brush doesn't cut it for mine.I even tried the fancy cleaner from McMaster,waste of money.
Pulling the turbulators is a 5 min job for me now that i have the routine figured.Econoburn says to move the turbulators to knock ash off the tubes.I really don't see them doing that unless you leave you cleaning the tubes to long.
Sparky did you notice any change in stack temp when you switched to chains?
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,317
Northern Canada
Bump for pictuers
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,317
Northern Canada
Made some more cleaners today.
My last one was cracked but i got a few more cleanings with it by using large flat washers on each side of the banding.
Made 3,going to try two on one rod and see how that works.
Maybe cut my cleaning time per tube by half;)
We have about 4 ft of snow,but i found the banding right where i left it. tool.jpg tool2.jpg tool3.jpg tool plus.jpg
 
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airlina

Burning Hunk
Feb 15, 2009
126
western new york
Thomas, Great idea with the double blades . Been using your design since you first posted your patented design, and this post is especially timely as another guy (Mark) in western NY near me , has just recently fired up his Econoburn 300. He just sent me an email on cleaning so I will pass this on to him. Bruce
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,317
Northern Canada
I hope Mark gets as good of service from his boiler as i have.If he is on the site and has questions or if you want to ask any for him i will give my experiences.There is a 300 sitting unloved in town here i am going to try and get cheap.It is plugged solid,they were running it with the top door open the last time i saw it with smoke coming out.
I offered to let their maintenance guys watch as i cleaned mine,no takers.They replaced a CB but didn't change their habits on wood.Green spruce or popular with a little dry in a pile outside covered in snow from clearing house lots
I know i will have to do cleaning next weekend so i will try the double blades then.
Got some free wood last summer 10 cords.Most of it was green trees cut down over a few different years.
The first few loads i was being optimistic as to what was going to season after it was cut .Most of it was to small to split.I am finding some of the bigger rounds are still sitting at 25%+ moisture.
After our cold snap i had one evening that the storage wasn't coming up to temp as fast as usual.It was one large round that wasn't split that made it through a couple loading's before it was gone.That got me to split another round from that part of the wood pile.
No such thing as free wood. Only about 2 cords made it into this winters wood.The rest was way to green,it will season in a year or two.
 
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cumminstinkerer

Burning Hunk
Feb 2, 2016
153
central iowa
@salecker I ran into the same issue during the cold snap, I had some oak that when split was kinda soft on the inside but good towards the outer part, it was hollow, I figured oh heck that'll be ok and all will be good, loaded it out of my pile and it felt ok not wet or too heavy for its size, was all mixed in with other stuff, second day into the cold spell and boiler is going nice load her up, go in the house and help wife with dinner, I can see out the window to the chimney, pretty soon the steam dwindles and gets a blue cast to it, I go out and pop the lower door open, no flame, WTH, pop top door not much for fire, stir it, still nothing, it seems like its not getting much air, I get to looking and there is of that stuff on the bottom over the nozzle and it feels squishy, I get my leather gloves and unload the whole load so I can get to and the thing feels like a wet sponge, start reloading and found two more chunks of that spongy stuff, they went in trash pile. I guess when I brought them in they were frozen so they didn't feel off but boy they sure were. after I got them out she took right back off and all was good.
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,317
Northern Canada
Yea at first i was puzzled why the storage wasn't where it should have been...
But watching that round survive a couple loads was the Aha moment.
It really doesn't take much crappy wood to fizzle the gasification out of a burn.It's been a quite a few years since i had any crappy wood,so the memory's faded.
 

mark cline

Minister of Fire
Dec 20, 2012
687
Cattaraugus, NY
I have been watching this forum for a few years now and now that I have my 300 up and running, the learning has begun. I connected my PID controller yesterday and started to compile some data on my stack temperature. Emailing back and forth with Airlina for information, I had suspected high stack temperatures due to only a 2 1/2 hr burn time . I lit the boiler and through the first hr , the temps climbed to 400, slowly inching up past 400 , then all of a sudden they jumped up to 560 after 1 1/2 hrs. Over the next hr they settled back down to about 500 . Before I reloaded, I took the cover off the fan , looking for a way to cut back the air. I found out there was no pie shaped air adjuster, so I took it off the old fan that Econoburn changed out when they did my overhaul. So later today when I fire up the 300, I’ll be able to adjust down if needed.
 
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salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,317
Northern Canada
Cleaned my tubes yesterday and thought i would add a couple pictures for those who feel you have to disassemble the back of the boiler to clean it.
I also tried my new 4 bladed tool,found out it was a pain the way i had built it,version 2 coming up.The PIA part was all my blades were pretty much the same lenght,so getting them all in the hole with one hand wasn't working.I will make a few tools shorter so you can get one set of blades in then the shorter set.
I forgot how aggressive the tools are when new.I was timing everything i did yesterday,the first 2 holes were 7 min each,the next two being the middle ones were close to 13 min each and the last two about 10 min each.I looked at the edges of the tool and could see the shinny areas where it was contacting the tubes,the sharp edge of the strapping had been taken off.
In total it took me 1 hr and 49 minuites from starting the clean till i was finished.That included cleaning the ash from the upper and lower chambers,cleaning the area around the boiler,finding all the required tools ect,and stopping between tube 3 and 4 for a smoke break of our legal refreshments.
econoburn 2.jpg turbulators coming out in one piece through the top plate econoburn3.jpg Install is the same but backwards.When removing them bring one end up close to the top of the chamber then the other end out,which allows them to come through the opening without having to remove anything other than the actuating leaver,which i may not bother to hook up next time it really doesn't do anything.
econoburn.jpg The drill on the end of the cleaning tool bottomed out,notice the flue and back plate still attached to the boiler,they have never been removed.
When i cleaned the tubes i did a couple runs with the drill in forward then reverse.Then i clean out the pile of scraped off creosote and put a light at the bottom of the tube. Then i do the final passes.You can watch the light coming up to see if you have the tube clean.As the tool turns the light disappears as the creosote is being scraped off. Stop the drill for a second and the light appears,then continue.The tube is clean once the light can be seen from top to bottom.
Hopefully this will help others see that it is a dirty job,but doesn't require a whole lot of time.
This year i have been cleaning after 2 rows of wood have gone through the boiler.Aprox 2 1/2 cords of spruce.The turbulators were moving without any binding so they are useless for cleaning the tubes.One member mentioned that he leaves his unhooked from the actuator arm.I may do that not as a time saver,with hitch pins unhooking them takes less than a minute,but just because it is redundant so why bother.
Any questions?