Fine Tuning BioMass

bab313

New Member
Aug 1, 2014
7
New Jersey
Hey all, I'm looking at purchasing a Biomass 40 combo wood/oil boiler. I'm trying to understand how to setup the system to have 1000 gallons of storage that is heated only by the wood, and if the oil kicks in while out of town, the oil will not heat the water in the storage tank. Does anyone have a setup they would be willing to share? Is there a control line coming from the boiler that can be used to close a valve? If Tenneman still visits this, do you have any suggestions of whether you advise storage or not? I notice you mention you do not have any, wanted to see if it is worth it, or maybe I should do without for now. Thanks for the help guys. Great information on this site.
 

woodsmaster

Minister of Fire
Jan 25, 2010
2,878
N.W. Ohio
Hey all, I'm looking at purchasing a Biomass 40 combo wood/oil boiler. I'm trying to understand how to setup the system to have 1000 gallons of storage that is heated only by the wood, and if the oil kicks in while out of town, the oil will not heat the water in the storage tank. Does anyone have a setup they would be willing to share? Is there a control line coming from the boiler that can be used to close a valve? If Tenneman still visits this, do you have any suggestions of whether you advise storage or not? I notice you mention you do not have any, wanted to see if it is worth it, or maybe I should do without for now. Thanks for the help guys. Great information on this site.
Before going out of town just shut the valves to the tank.
 

GregMajecki

Member
Jul 29, 2013
22
Upstate, NY
bab313,

I have biomass 40 combo wood/oil and this will by my second winter. The problem with oil is that if there is any wood in the upper chamber and oil starts there will be smoke coming out of front air flap. What I do is close valves to 500gal tank and manually switch on oil burner. As you know wood burning is very irregular process so if oil starts and there is some wood left it will smoke out of air flap. My advice is to first install two boilers 1st oil boiler then do a lot of research and install wood or pallet boiler. Make sure you the best you can afford. Also the price of combo unit you can get two separate units.
 

Tennman

Minister of Fire
Mar 4, 2009
983
Southern Tenn
Greg, In following around here for quite a while, I've yet to hear of a happy combo owner. I'm old enough to remember the combo TV/VCR players. Inevitably one or the other would crap out first or not work well. With equipment this important I'd want the option of dumping one or the other if I wasn't satisfied. Thanks for posting your experience.
 

woodsmaster

Minister of Fire
Jan 25, 2010
2,878
N.W. Ohio
image.jpg image.jpg As requested, flapper linkage and spring photos. Hope these help.
 

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91LMS

Member
Oct 20, 2011
217
MAINE
woodmaster you rock! I would have never gotten that, I was trying to use the two pieces as a linkage combination. one is the lever, the other to connect the spring.... cant thank you enough!!!
 
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woodsmaster

Minister of Fire
Jan 25, 2010
2,878
N.W. Ohio
woodmaster you rock! I would have never gotten that, I was trying to use the two pieces as a linkage combination. one is the lever, the other to connect the spring.... cant thank you enough!!!
Glad that helped... First I ever took that panel loose... Sorry the second picture is sideways.
 

91LMS

Member
Oct 20, 2011
217
MAINE
I have looked this over so many times and left it with frustration the picture could have been inside out and I could have made sense of it! will get it welded up tonight and measure for a spring. door gasket, some wiring and set it up with some basic settings/adjustments and I should be ready to fire.
 
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91LMS

Member
Oct 20, 2011
217
MAINE
successful weekend! I am plumbed, wired and piped to the chimney. small first fire, wanted to circulate to storage to remove the air. was not gassing on the old settings, secondary was wide open and primary 1/4. changed to 75% open on primary and 20% on secondary with air shutter wide open. had orange gasification flame but a fair amount of coal blowing out through the nozzle. very small load of wood though. try another fire tonight with some adjustments to get better secondary burn.
 

woodsmaster

Minister of Fire
Jan 25, 2010
2,878
N.W. Ohio
successful weekend! I am plumbed, wired and piped to the chimney. small first fire, wanted to circulate to storage to remove the air. was not gassing on the old settings, secondary was wide open and primary 1/4. changed to 75% open on primary and 20% on secondary with air shutter wide open. had orange gasification flame but a fair amount of coal blowing out through the nozzle. very small load of wood though. try another fire tonight with some adjustments to get better secondary burn.
I'd close the shutter most the way. That will help with the coals blowing threw.
 

91LMS

Member
Oct 20, 2011
217
MAINE
it did just that woodmaster. so I now have.....

shutter 3/8"-1/2" open
primaries wide open
secondaries 1/4"

burning hemlock right now for domestic and the little heat that is needed for these 45 deg nights. biggest hurdle right now it bridging.... I am thinking that its worse with soft wood where it burns at a faster rate?
 

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Tennman

Minister of Fire
Mar 4, 2009
983
Southern Tenn
Wrote this nozzle replacement process in a post and thot it would be useful for other BioMass 60 owners. I pray yours is easier to replace than mine.

NOZZLE REPLACEMENT PROCEDURE:
If you hope to reuse the side blocks it may be hard. We've not run with storage so bonding due to creosote could have been worse for our boiler than yours. This is a wood boiler so it's more likely to be gooey in the upper chamber. The key is understanding how the side blocks must be removed. Since ours was stuck, there was no way to tell if you're doing something wrong. I'm of average height, but stocky. So when I did get my body into the boiler, I had no space to work. I finally had to hire someone smaller than me because the 60's chamber is too deep to work from the outside and too small for me to work inside. :confused:

1) I tried to use soft tools, wood or nylon to loosen the blocks. Try to get movement in one of the side blocks. Take your pick, front or back. Try both, one or the other will be less bonded than the other. Once you have some movement, use some type of tool (big flat blade screwdriver) to pry on the top of the block to get it to pivot the top into the chamber. I chipped all my blocks prying and working to get them loose but they were still useable.

2) Once loose they will rotate about the bottom into the chamber and then you can lift it from their metal pocket. Getting the first one out on each side is the hardest because now for the second block you can get a wedge behind the second one and pop it loose. MARK the blocks or place them on the floor so they'll go back in the same location.

3) Start over and repeat on the other side. At this point you may want to go get an adult beverage, watch football and attempt the other side following Saturday morning.

4) Now that you've successfully removed the side blocks with hopefully minimal damage. Take a hammer and chisel and beat the crap out of that old nozzle. Turn it into a thousand pieces for all the hours and missed football games it took to get you to this point. <> You can try to bump it from the bottom, or pry it out, but turning it into powder at this point is more satisfying.

5) I used a right angle grinder used for sharpening bush hog blades to grind/trim the nozzle. It took us 3-4 fitting attempts until it dropped into the nozzle cavity. I can't remember if the nozzle rope insulation is on the top or bottom, I think around the top, but not sure.

6) Clean the side block cavities so the blocks will set properly. Replace blocks back to their same positions. Admire.

7) Now cogitate if a removable shield to protect that nozzle and hopefully double it's life is a good idea.
 
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jaoneill

Feeling the Heat
Newbie to the forum here. I bought an econoburn 150 eight years ago for supplementary heat to take the curse off the oil bill and it served me well for as long as it lasted. It sprung a major leak at the end of the last heating season and we decided to get a proper sized unit. Installed a Biomass 80 last weekend and have begun the learning curve. With night time temps around 30 we fired it up mid week. Currently burning 2 yr seasoned hard maple with a moisture content in the 8%-10% range. Have had bridging and the resulting "FUEL" condition regularly. Part of the problem is that we have an abundance of 18" wood so it is difficult to arrange for complete coverage of the nozzle. That will be remedied when we switch over to 24" later in the fall. Thanks to you folks sharing here I have made some tweaks to the controller this evening; primarily dialing the fan speed back to 70% and closing the fan gate a bit. Anxious to see the results.

Once I get this thing dialed in it may be a moot issue but is there any way to disable the "FUEL" shutdown mode?
 

Tennman

Minister of Fire
Mar 4, 2009
983
Southern Tenn
An 80!!! Wow. How big's your home? Are you running storage? Do a search on bridging. There was a really good thread on that topic last season. Last winter was really cold for us so the BioMass ran hot and hard most of the time which resulted in far less bridging than usual for us. See if you can find that old post because it discussed many issues including how to stack, moisture content, etc. But you will learn how to feed your 80 with time. If the "FUEL" shutdown can be disabled you could read how in the RK2001 manual downloaded from the New Horizons site.
 

jaoneill

Feeling the Heat
An 80!!! Wow. How big's your home? Are you running storage? Do a search on bridging. There was a really good thread on that topic last season. Last winter was really cold for us so the BioMass ran hot and hard most of the time which resulted in far less bridging than usual for us. See if you can find that old post because it discussed many issues including how to stack, moisture content, etc. But you will learn how to feed your 80 with time. If the "FUEL" shutdown can be disabled you could read how in the RK2001 manual downloaded from the New Horizons site.
Big old Victorian with 10' ceilings and thirty something 3'X7' windows. We only use half of it except when we have house guests but it isn't insulated between the rooms we use and those we don't (been meaning to do that for the last 40 years or so) and also heating my offices behind the house. We are at the northwest corner of the Adirondack mountains with weather as severe as any in the lower 48. Not unusual for it to be 25-40 below zero with 30 mph winds for weeks on end. Our heat loss is just south of 280K. That said, with the warmer winters we've had from the late 80's until last year the Econoburn 150 was enough for all but 3 weeks or so of each winter. I went with the 80 to increase the burn time and ensure we would have some reserve if the winters reverted to the historic average.
I don't have storage.
I cut the fan speed down from the factory 100% to 60% and opened the secondary air port to the halfway mark. This improved the gasification performance tremendously and lessened the blow holes and bridging. I've also been experimenting with some really dry elm (fresh split tests 12%) that I cut at the optimum 24" (length of the nozzle bed) and still running into blow holes, bridging and the inevitable "FUEL" message when I get up in the morning. I've been through the manual more than twice and they give no indication that the shutdown mode can be disabled.
Have been playing with it today and have had a bed of coals level across the top of the ceramic slants all day but I have to stir it and add a stick or two every hour or so to fill the blow holes and keep it functioning as it should.
The 80 is very close to the 60 in most respects; how fine do you split your wood?
 

91LMS

Member
Oct 20, 2011
217
MAINE
I have read here the basic rule of thumb for wood size with the bio's is to keep the ends of your splits no bigger than playing card size.... I have found already with mine that straight smaller splits gasify better as well as eliminate bridging and give much better output..... splitting that small was a hard discipline to keep during the 18 cords I processed this summer!
 

jaoneill

Feeling the Heat
I have read here the basic rule of thumb for wood size with the bio's is to keep the ends of your splits no bigger than playing card size.... I have found already with mine that straight smaller splits gasify better as well as eliminate bridging and give much better output..... splitting that small was a hard discipline to keep during the 18 cords I processed this summer!
Thanks 91LMS, you are correct in that it will be a hard dicipline to keep, gosh darn that's small. But if it works…… OK, I split a half cord down to the recommended size this afternoon and just filled the 80 for the night. Takes quite a bundle of those toothpicks :)
 
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Tennman

Minister of Fire
Mar 4, 2009
983
Southern Tenn
JA, Sorry, been a while since I checked into this Sticky. I have to agree that smaller splits on the bottom allows building of a healthy coal bed more consistently. So I do place smaller splits on the bottom then stack ~softball cross-section splits. I have my splitter sitting in my boiler barn so I can build a pile of smaller splits that's handy to the boiler. Experiment with the fan speed also. Sometimes a slower fan speed reduces aggressive blow thrus. Much to learn.

We must have a similar love of big, old homes. Much of our home is un-insulated. We only heat the downstairs with the boiler which keeps the upstairs nice for sleeping but chilly in the morning. But we have the advantage of a 37*F mean winter temp here in southern Tennessee. I just fired our boiler for the first time last nite and starting the learning/debugging of our new storage system.
 

jaoneill

Feeling the Heat
JA, Sorry, been a while since I checked into this Sticky. I have to agree that smaller splits on the bottom allows building of a healthy coal bed more consistently. So I do place smaller splits on the bottom then stack ~softball cross-section splits. I have my splitter sitting in my boiler barn so I can build a pile of smaller splits that's handy to the boiler. Experiment with the fan speed also. Sometimes a slower fan speed reduces aggressive blow thrus. Much to learn.

We must have a similar love of big, old homes. Much of our home is un-insulated. We only heat the downstairs with the boiler which keeps the upstairs nice for sleeping but chilly in the morning. But we have the advantage of a 37*F mean winter temp here in southern Tennessee. I just fired our boiler for the first time last nite and starting the learning/debugging of our new storage system.
Do dearly love the big old white elephants. At this stage of my life it would be nice to downsize but have been here for over 40 years and also dearly love being here on the farm. Our buildings sit roughly in the center of 250 acres (driveway is 8/10 of a mile). The privacy and quiet are irreplaceable; not something I would give up willingly.
I've been cutting dead elm and splitting it small; moisture in the 12%-15% range, doesn't get much better. Reduced the blower speed to 60% and the 80 functions as it should. It has been relatively warm here (days 40's, nights low 30's high 20's) so I am running into some creosote issues. Trying to minimize it by filling light and often (3-4 small splits every couple of hours). Low 20's last night and woke up this am to FUEL and a chilly house. Box was level to the door with charcoal, all black, no fire. Opened blower cabinet to find that the blower was active but the weighted blower damper was closed. Opened air distribution box to find its damper stuck shut with a light film of the black sh*t. Cleaned it up with a bit of solvent and had a good burn within a few minutes. Probably should still be burning oil but hate to contribute any more to the camel jockeys than I have to…..

Jim
 
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Ok so I finally got my system up and running. It was a LOT of work! I'm really glad to be done. Yesterday was the first day I tried to burn. Couldn't get it to gasify though, so I had a few questions.

1. What does the arm on the left side of the boiler do? This is the arm that is located on the side and rotates up and down.
2.What does the arm near the top door do? This is the arm that you can pull outwards or push in.
3. Where is the secondary air adjustment located? I'm assuming the primary is the one on the front shaped like a triangle.
 

91LMS

Member
Oct 20, 2011
217
MAINE
what model biomass do you have?

i would suggest getting onto first horizons sight and downloading an owners manual if you don't already have one. adjustments will be less mind boggling if you understand the boiler's operation first.
 
Ok so I got my biomass 40 up and gassifying. I was worried at first because the temperature of the boiler didn't want to go above 140 with the circulator running but I believe that is because it was taking so much to warm the storage tank right off the bat. I have 1000 gal of storage. What I'm curious about now is how to get the pump to shut off when it's done charging the tank. I want the temp to be around 180, but when it's at 180 the circulator on the boiler keeps going. The bioler is in a back shed that is insulated but I feel like its just a giant heat sink that's draining the system and wasting all that extra heat I put into the tank. Any ideas on how to keep it from circulating when the tank is above 170?
 

91LMS

Member
Oct 20, 2011
217
MAINE
do you have any kind of boiler return protection? what is your min boiler temp set at?