Modifying the Boiler

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Eric Johnson

Mod Emeritus
Nov 18, 2005
Central NYS
Some of us like to do it more than others. From his pics, it looks like nofossil put some additional switches on his control panel and modified the loading door handle.

I've made a couple of minor changes to accommodate my space and style of operating the boiler.

One is a handle for the heat exchanger cleaner. A stock EKO Super has a lever on the left side towards the back that moves the heat exchanger cleaning rods up and down when you yank on it. The dealer I bought the boiler from suggested cranking that lever "vigorously" every time I load the boiler. And while that's not a big problem for most people, in my case I have about an inch of clearance on both sides of the boiler and I have to go outside to get around to the back. So even if I remembered to yank the lever once or twice a day, I probably wouldn't always get around to it.

The simple solution was to drill a couple of holes and attach an old snow shovel handle to the hx cleaner lever. That involved taking the lever off the boiler, drilling a hole at the tip, and then mounting it so that it points up, rather than down. Now I just pull the handle back and forth (from the front) 3 or 4 times every time I'm tending the stove, and that seems to keep everything clean and clear.

Pics of that, attached.

The other modification I made was to turn the main loading door handle around so that you can now open the loading door while the bypass damper is shut. The EKO is designed so that you can't do that, presumably as a safety precaution. But since my bypass damper tends to stick from time to time, making impossible to open the damper and thus open the door, I've thrown caution to the wind and engineered a workaround. As a practical matter, the only time the damper sticks is at the end of the cycle when it gets a little creosote stuck to it, usually first thing in the morning when I'm trying to get the fire going again and get to work. So the only time I open the main door with the damper closed is when there's little or nothing burning in the boiler. To turn the handle all you have to do is drive the setpin out with a thin nailset, turn the handle around 180 degrees and reset the pin.


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Eric Johnson said:
Some of us like to do it more than others. From his pics, it looks like nofossil put some additional switches on his control panel and modified the loading door handle.

Feel like a couple of teenagers pointing to mods on their cars - 'I got neon underlights'.

My handle mod is decidedly high-tech - a chunk of copper pipe extends the handle so that persons of diminutive stature can manage the thing. As detailed in another thread, I've also been experimenting with combustion chamber baffles.

I've got a couple more mods on tap:

1) Electrical interlock so that the damper can't be opened when the fan is running - MAJOR safety hazard.
2) Relay to run circulator to scavenge heat after fire has gone out.
3) Relay to kill fan earlier after fire has gone out - the &*$## thing runs forever blowing air over ashes.

I'm hoping for a few more cool ideas. I'm still jealous of the HX cleaning function in the new EKOs - mine doesn't have it.
nofossil---------I’m hoping for a few more cool ideas. I’m still jealous of the HX cleaning function in the new EKOs - mine doesn’t have it.

I haven't taken mine apart but I bet you could get the parts and add the cleaning rods very easily. They are just twisted flat stock connected to a cam rod lever.
With all the good press you have given zennen He might be able to get them for you very cheap. It is a very good and usefull feature.

One other feature that I like is the heat ex in the top for over heat protection. I have it hooked up and use it for hot water in my boiler room. It is right by my barn so I have hot water for my donkeys in the winter, my pressure washer, and cleaning up after a dirty job.

You're the king of EKO mods, nofo, no disputing that.

I think your brother could retrofit your boiler with the hx cleaner probably in an afternoon. Not much to it.

Couple things I'd like to see on mine:

1.) A ceramic glass viewing port on the gasification chamber. I don't mind opening the door to see the flames, but a window would be nicer, assuming it would hold up and stay clear. That would make it a lot easier to adjust the air intakes.

2.) Speaking of which, there are three ways to control the air on this boiler, and one of them requires the removal of 12 sheet metal screws to disconnect the blower mounting panel. I presume it's difficult to set the air for reasons of safety and/or boiler protection, but everyone seems to need to fool around with them from time to time, and it would be a lot nicer if it was more intuitive and easier (knobs, for example, and maybe calibration marks as well).

3.) A few tappings for adding in-well aquastats, t/p gauges, etc. Craig's post about fittings often leading to premature boiler failure got my attention. I'm thinking maybe that's why they're absent on these boilers.

4.) A few of us without working storage tanks have experimented with blocking off part or all of the nozzles to effectively reduce the output of the boiler during milder weather. I think they could engineer that option into the boiler design for greater operator flexibility.

5.) Oh yeah--ash removal. It's the weak point on any boiler I've owned. An ash pan wouldn't survive very long in the gasification chamber on an EKO, but even with one of those (my last boiler had one), it still makes a mess when you dump it. With the EKO you can just rake it out with the tool they give you, but you have to rake it onto something like a shovel, and then dump it into a bucket or can to cool off. Still makes a mess, probably because I'm clumsy and don't always hit the can. Some OWBs have an auger arrangement that seems to work pretty well. Better than fooling around with a shovel and a hoe, in any event.

Minor stuff.

Is your overheat protection tank piped directly into the boiler, leaddog, or is there a heat exchanger involved. Sounds like an hx. Can you elaborate? If it's piped direct, you probably don't want to draw water out of it, as that would introduce oxygen into your system every time you opened the tap. O2 isn't good for the boiler or the components.
The over heat protection is a heat exchanger that is built into the boiler. It comes with the SUPER. it is supposed to be hooked up to a valve so if the boiler temp. gets to high cold water will flow thru it and cool the boiler down. With my large storage tank I don't have that problem so I use it as a source of hot water. It saved me from having to add a hx for warm water for my donkeys. They think they are like me and need something hot in the mornings on a cold day. I haven't started to brew them coffee YET.
I don't know how large the hx is but it will flow water that is hot to the touch contantly.

I have been useing just one nozzle for a few weeks now and like it. I don't think I lose any efficiency In fact I think I might gain. I have a large fire box and I can get a longer burn time so it is easier to start as it is hotter at start time. Also I think that with a hot clean burn from one nozzle will let more of the heat to be removed from burnt exaust. I get a very clean burn and my stack temp is lower than with both nozzels burning. It just takes longer to burn up. But that isn't any problem as I'm storing the heat.

OK, I know what you're talking about now. I had to cut one of those pipes off to get mine to fit in the boiler room. It occurred to me that you could use it for DHW, but since it's black iron, that wouldn't work too well. It never occurred to me to use it for overheat protection. Nice. Dave told me that in Europe, it's hooked up to a pressurized (domestic) water source that flows cold water through the coil and down a drain in the event of a boiler overheat. I like your solution a lot better. No room for me to do that in any event. I have mine piped into the supply and return lines.
A mod that I did on my eko80 was to put some foil/bubble/foil wrap on the top as it seem hot .
Earlier nofossel told someone to get a ir thermometer to check temps and I thought that was a great idea so I bought one. Well when I checked the temp on the top of the boiler with the bubble wrap it is about 25 degrees cooler. That is a lot of heat lose. Looks like I'm going to have to experment more and maybe add even more. It didn't look like I was losing much from the sides but from the top and front. I didn't spend much time on this as I just got the meterbut will investigate more when I have time.
I might even add more on my dhw tank as that was running about 5 to 10 degrees aver room temp.

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