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I purchased a 50 bag of coal (for initial start up) that seems to be all sand and pea gravel sized  material....

 

I have seen the coal used at local blacksmith Saturday get together that is larger and more chunky, a lot of it up to marble to golf ball size...

 

The  frustrating thing for me is at home forge I seem to have to be continual adding more coal, maybe 4-6 times in a hour or so of forge use, where at Saturday group they seem to heap coal on forge and fire it off and it may go for a hour or so without any adding any new coal (proper stoking included) ...

 

I understand the concept of enough fuel and plenty of air to create a "fireball" in coal pile for max heat (orange-white hot), but do not seem to be able to get there...

 

Am I not putting on enough coal initially to form a solid bed of coke or is it the quality of coal that may be at issue here...

 

I must say the 50 lb bag of coal when it arrived from well known "online" source was a disappointment because I was expecting the larger chunkier version of coal and not the very fine grained coal that I received....

 

Also I am aware of the two different types of coal but have no understanding which is best to feed our forges....

 

Dale

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you want to *size* the coal sift it through hardware cloth, expanded metal, or other material so the fine stuff falls through and the larger sizes are held on top of the sifter.

 

Put the fines in a 5 gallon bucket of water. When you need coal reach in and grab a hand full of black mud, let it drain a bit, and put it on the fire. Being wet (with a hot fire underneath) it should coke up and then burn, as well as hold the heat of the fire under the wet fines.  Keep a small hole at the top of the coal in the fire pot (think volcano) to release some of the fire to help burn any smoke.

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Dale-

I have to wonder if you have a large clinker going in the bottom of your fire pot. If you are just feed coal without getting good heat. Does your air vent blow plent of air?

Do you know John McClellen? He sells coal and coke out of his shop in Loomis, outside of Sacramento.

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No clinker, pretty conscientious about cleaning bottom of fire pot, sort of pull coal/coke out of way and look for clinker in bottom before each session...... Have electric blower capable of shooting fire a foot above coal....

 

Here is my build ( please do not laugh) ...

 

http://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/31104-first-time-forge-build/

 

Not sure if I did something wrong with build, or I just don't have good grasp on how to stoke up a coal/coke fire....

 

Don;t know John, but may look him up.... But I have source for coal right down the road from me with the local group... I was just wondering about different coal types (bituminous vs anthracite), and if size of coal lumps really matter...

 

Dale

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Go with bituminous and go with another coal source. I use coal fines like you got in that bag to suppliment cave building and last resort fuel. Sounds like your local group has exactly what you need.

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When you put fuel to the fire, How do you add it?

 

I just opened a new bag of coal today and it sound alot like yours. It is smithing coal with lots of fines and average chunk size is about 1/2"

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Hi Dale,

 

Glenn has it correct for using the fines. I make them about the size of a hard ball. Add them to the outside edges and keep pushing the coal toward the center as it cokes up. When you rake the fire apart to shut it down, save the partially burnt coke to light the next fire.

 

Some people can't figure out how to use the fines, I think they work great!!

 

Neil

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Your forge build is fine, once the core of your fire is hot try to build that dome like Mr Glenn suggested. Make the outside wet and pat it down a little with the back of your shovel. It will surprise you how much a little water can help a fire. Keep it damp while you work, a fireball over a foot high is not necessary to heat a section of half inch square bar. At demos I seldom let a fire get much bigger than a softball. That is for safety and fuel consumption. So size that fire to the work at hand and turn the blower off when the metal is out of the fire. Good luck to you

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Bud Beaston ran a farriers' school in Oklahoma and was asked by a student what size the coal should be. Bud replied, "Gravy Trains." Perhaps that would be ideal, but coal comes in different sized lumps and there will always be some fines. I use coal that comes in mostly softball sized pieces. I break up some of it with a tamper, but once a fire is going, I can put large chunks around the fire. As they get heated, they start turning into coke and they fractionize and are easily chipped into the fire.

 

Make sure it is "metallurgical" grade coal, meaning a coking grade.

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When you put fuel to the fire, How do you add it?

 

I just opened a new bag of coal today and it sound alot like yours. It is smithing coal with lots of fines and average chunk size is about 1/2"

Basically just using large soup can to scoop it out of bag and add it around parameter of fire to try to maintain volcano effect... Use a "sprinkling can" ( soup can with 6 or so small hole in bottom and a handle) of water to moisten it down...

 

Dale

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Hi Dale,

 

Glenn has it correct for using the fines. I make them about the size of a hard ball. Add them to the outside edges and keep pushing the coal toward the center as it cokes up. When you rake the fire apart to shut it down, save the partially burnt coke to light the next fire.

 

Some people can't figure out how to use the fines, I think they work great!!

 

Neil

Ok.... I usually save everything (black or dark  grey in color) that I deem to be coal or coke and dump clinker (tan or extremely light grey material) after I rake fire apart and it has cooled...

 

Will try making a damp/wet ball when adding to fire and see what that gets me...

 

IT seems to be a consensus that damp/wet coal is better to add to fire than dry coal... Do I have that right?

 

Dale

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I don't use the wet slurry. No reason really just havn't needed to. I get good coke and it sticks together fine. Only when I bank the fire do I put coal directly on the fire.

 

I use a rectangular fire pot and line both sides of the fire with green coal. I then push in the coke with the rake and add more coal.

 

Without seeing pictures of how your fire is burning, its hard to say what is happening. Is there someone in your group that can come take a look?

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Just a thought, but you might also want to open up a few of the holes in your grate to a larger diameter. I have 5 - 1/2" holes in my great and I can get my fireball to white heat without issue.

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My coal sounds a lot like what you are using.  I use BAM coal and it is widely used by BAM members.  I use it moist and it clumps together as it cokes.  It works really well!  I use it as it comes with fines and chunks all mixed in together.  I like the big clumps as they burn very nicely and also make a nice roof for the fireball!  I sometimes get a ring of solid clump around the fireball and have to break it up a little to push more into the fire... this is easy to do.  Keep lots of fresh coal around your fireball to insulate and shape it and to coke up so that you have a steady supply of coke to feed into the fireball as it hollows out.

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Just a thought, but you might also want to open up a few of the holes in your grate to a larger diameter. I have 5 - 1/2" holes in my great and I can get my fireball to white heat without issue.

 

I have given that some though... No reason why I cant.. Wont hurt anything... IF "grate" burns through I will just make something else to replace it with...

 

Dale

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You have all of the information you need now.  Turn of the computer, light a fire, and and go to work.  Fail and go again, and again, and...... This is how self tought works.  You will have a slow, dense course in elementary fire maintainance.  

 

I found a few old men who greatly shortened my elementry schooling.  Seek out old men who know what you do not know and want to know.  Listen.

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tomhaw couldn't have said it better.  The key to learning how to be a blacksmith is not researching it to death on the computer.  It's lighting a forge, heating some metal, and beating it with a hammer.  The forge, hammer, and anvil will often answer many of your questions, and that's how you learn.  There's nothing wrong with learning everything you can from people who have more experience than you, but the only way to gain your own experience is by doing it yourself.

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