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I have looked for an answer to this question in some of the other threads, if I missed it I apologise.
I have been starting a small fire on a grate in a burn barrel and collecting the coals that fall to run my drum forge. does the coal you get from a retort burn better ie. longer , hotter , cleaner? is the method that I am using worth the time and efforts? if the answer to these questions are elsewhere I'm sorry I scanned for most of the day.
thank you for any input.

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John. Good question. I don't know. What is burning? Is it the wood between the two barrels or the gas coming from the inner barrel? 

 

If it is a really slow burn of the material between the two barrels then I might suggest some more holes to get it burning hotter and faster. If it is the gases from the inner barrel that are burning longer at least you know it is working. 

 

There has been so much good information from others on this post that I will bow and back away for others to offer advice. I am still working on refining what I have. If you try something different, please reply with your successes and failures so we all can learn.

 

Hazmat, As the pics show in the original post, the pieces of charcoal vary in size. Some are quite large. I assume that if your char is falling through a grate then the pieces will be relatively small and therefore burn faster in your forge. I do break up the larger pieces to golf ball size or smaller.

 I would also assume that you lose a lot of wood to ashes. Can you cover the fire in the drum and starve it of oxygen? That would make the fire smolder and not have as much ash.

 

Again, others please chime in with your experiences and advice.

 

Mark <><

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I'll try that Mark. I really like your quote at the bottom of your post. is that a scripture?

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Yesterday, I built a retort like Marksnagel's. Fired it today loaded with some pine from a brush pile. 1" to 5" logs cut about 8" long. I used hardwood scrap from a sawmill for fuel. At around 2 hours into the burn, I could hear the gases burning. I hope that in the morning that I have charcoal.

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Chestnut, if you hear the gasses burning then you should get some charcoal. Good luck. Hope you were pleasantly surprised when you opened it.

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I did not get a full char on some of the logs on the first burn.  For the second time, I put about 4" of dirt on top of the outer barrel. I now have my charcoal bin about 3/4 full.  I need to get more barrels and set up a couple of retorts.

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I am using a 15 gal barrel and I doesn't sit in the bottom of my 55 gal perfectly, Is this a big issue?

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TCook,

 

It may be an issue if it allows air to backdraft into the 15 gal drum. This will let O2 in and the wood may actually burn leaving you with ashes. Give it a go and see.

 

Trial and error. I do a lot of error but thats how we perfect things.

 

Mark <><

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I'm not seeing the photos in the original post. Is this an issue at my end, or are they gone for good? 

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They're gone until IPS fixes their software, or someone reposts them.  Even then, I wouldn't be surprised if they're lost for good.

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So far I have tried a couple different kinds of retorts and am really interested in this one. Your description is quite good, it's just that the pictures are for some reason not coming up. If anyone saved them or if you still have them would there be anyway of fixing them or re-uploading them?

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I would also love to see your setup. It sounds really good. Better than others I have seen.

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