Wood and Coal-burning Stoves





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Wood and Coal-burning Stoves

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3-dimensional Model of Sun 50 Potbelly Stove

Autodesk 123D Catch Experiment Rendering a 3D Model of our Potbelly Stove

I have just started experimenting with this cloud-based application, originally called Autodesk PhotoFly in November 2011. The first attempt was with a shiny skeleton clock, but there was too much reflections between the parts for it to work out well. The second attempt was with a rusted milk can from a dairy farm in Lebanon, New Hampshire. The third attempt was an oil lamp, but its shiney features did not render well at all. This is the fourth attempt, still not perfect, and not anywhere as smooth-looking as it should be.

A 3-dimensional model of our coal-burning potbelly stove, created from dozens of overlapping photographs, using Autodesk's 123D Catch (formerly known as PhotoFly). The rust stain is from a planter pot saucer that cracked and leaked onto the top of the stove. An easy fix to clean up with a good coating of black stove polish and curing with a propane torch, outdoors, of course.

The goal of this experiment is to finish with an AutoCAD 3D drawing, with each facet rendered using the texture from the photographs. 123D Catch supposedly supports it as an export file type, but so far (it is in Beta testing right now) it just creates an empty drawing file in 2010 AutoCAD format.

Useful Books on Tiling

Useful Books on Tiling

This book, Tiling 1-2-3, published by Home Depot, contains several good articles for hearths, stove bases, surrounds and heat shields.

These useful articles are located in Chapter 6, More Tiling Projects:

  • p. 152 - Fireplace Surround
  • p. 154 - Fireplace Hearth
  • p. 156 - Stove Base
  • p. 158 - Gas Stove Alcove
  • p. 160 - Stove Heat Shield
There are other articles in this chapter, but they are not related to stoves, fireplaces, etc.

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Coal burning in the King Stove & Range Company model Sun 50 cast-iron potbelly stove

Coal burning in the King Stove & Range Company model Sun 50 cast-iron potbelly stove

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Life with the Potbelly Stove

July 2010 - Preparing for a Move -The stove is being removed, so I can use it again for decoration at my upcoming new apartment. The rust has been brushed off, where the stove polish has worn through, and it has been given a coat of high-temperature flat black paint. By this weekend, I hope to have it fired up in order to cure the paint. The legs I will heat up with a propane torch.

December 2009 - Tiling the stove surround - the majority of the tiles are installed around the tin ceiling tile and they look great! This sucker is heavy, it took two of us to lift it off of the floor and put it into place behind the potbelly stove.

October 2009 - Implementing an idea for a better-looking surround - the surround is taking shape, which is good, as winter is quickly approaching and I might want to fire it up soon. I have built up a framework for the rear heat shield, using 3-1/2" steel studs, with 3/4" hat channel to support the 1" layer of cement board and the tile layer. So far, I have the first 1/2" layer of Durock on the front face. Maybe I am being too anal about keeping combustables out of the build-up, as I have found many surround designs that have wood studs as part of the build.

A masonry circular saw blade sure makes a mess - the rest of my cuts will be made using a backerboard scoring knife. I picked up two different types at Home Depot - a Brutus model, which has a handle with a knuckle guard and a QEP model, which is quite basic. Both models have a carbide scoring tip. Both models appear to be made by the same company, QEP; found this tidbit by looking at the fine print on the packaging.

A little bit of reading has yielded some backup to my observations on coal energy efficiency. Once I get the coal burning well, it makes a nice layer of gooey, burning coal. Once I achieve this state, it burns without attention for hours. As a matter of fact, if I start to poke at it (thinking that I am helping it get more air circulation) to open up air flow down to the grate, it rebels and proceeds to go out. I have found it best to simply place a paper bagful (lunch bag-sized) of nut-sized coal onto the middle of it and let it spread over the burning coal; with a jostling of the shaker grate at that time and otherwise just leave it alone. I have to throw away my recollections of burning wood, that just loves the attention.

I have realized a consistent 550° burn, measured 18" above the stovetop, with this method. The Rutland brand burn indicator (thermometer) seems to be way off, over 150° too low at times, so I bought another one (what was I thinking?) and found it had a huge lagtime, but when it finally settled out, it was only 25-50° too low, when compared to a Fluke 62 Mini IR Thermometer. I have learned not to trust the Rutland brand, but keep the better-working one on the stovepipe as my sanity check and use the Fluke 62 for my monitoring of the various surfaces around the stove. When the stovepipe is at about 550°, the outside belly of the stove is running between 650 and 750° and the cast iron humidifier on the stovetop is at about 250°.

March 2009 - Implementing an idea for a better-looking surround - after deciding in January to build a hearth surround that looks nicer than the ton of 1/2-inch cement boards that the landlord provided, I finally found a cool idea - tin ceiling tiles, with ceramic tiles around them. It just so happens that the retailer of the tiles, The American Tin Ceiling Company ( website: www.AmericanTinCeilings.com ), is located in Bradenton, Florida - a really long story. So, I paid them a visit this month and checked out all their finishes (there are a LOT of them to choose from) and some of their patterns (I had made some decisions ahead of time) and walked out with the 5- 2'x2' tiles that I needed. I will post pics as that surround developes. But, American Tin Ceilings has some great products.

December 2008 - The potbelly stove gets installed! - An ice storm hits New Hampshire. We are without power for 4 days. On the second day of the outage, the landlord stops by to check on the property and his wife talks him into getting everything needed to get my potbelly stove functional. This video is of the stove burning anthracite coal. I start it with a sheet of newspaper on the grate, with some wood kindling above that, then a little hardwood charcoal, with nut-sized coal on top of it all. The neat-looking blue/purple flame is not as vibrant in this video as it is in real life.

Burning coal has some interesting advantages. First - I find it less messy than wood. In an old book I have, they discuss placing the coal in lunch-bag-sized brown paper bags. I find this works like a charm. Second - the draft does not need to be as wide open as it does with wood, so the stove radiates more heat, while sending less heat up the stovepipe. Third - creosote is not an issue, so a coal fire is not going to create build-up as it cools down and on the same note, practicing to keep the coal at a critical mass to maintain the fire is much less likely to start a chimney fire.

Some History of the King Stove and Range Company

2008-12-20 - Some history of the King Stove & Range Company: In a nutshell, the King Stove & Range Company, of Sheffield, Alabama, was formed when King Hardware purchased the Lizzie Loman Stove Works, in 1905. King Hardware sold the King Stove & Range Company to the Martin Brothers, in 1917. The Martin Brothers companies evolved into Martin Industries, which is still alive and well, in Florence, Alabama. Their website was www.MartinIndustries.com, but it does not appear to be functioning.

Sun 50 Potbelly Stove - Really Cheap

July 2008 - Found the potbelly stove for sale, really cheap! - I found a King Stove & Range Co., model Sun 50 potbelly stove at a yard sale for a fantastic price. Before I realized how good the condition of this stove was, I had merely intended on using it with orange, yellow and white Christmas tree lights inside my country kitchen, for atmosphere only. After brushing the accumulated dust off of it and vaccuming the mice nests from the inside of it, I found it was in great condition, looking like it had experienced very little use. Unfortunately, my kitchen is not built-up to building codes for actually using it as a wood-burning (or coal-burning) stove, so it continues to reside as an ornament. Some day, when I have a place of my own that I can renovate ....

The former website, Black Stove Pipe - Victorian Fireplace Shop, had a decent table for calculating the appropriate stovepipe size for oval flue outlets, by measuring the circumference of the outlet. My tape measure would not make the bend very well, so I cut some strips of paper, taped them together, then wrapped the strip around the outlet. My Sun 50 potbelly stove has an oval outlet pipe circumference of 19", corresponding to a 6-inch stovepipe diameter per their table.