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Stationary Steam & Traction Engines

Does coal go bad? Does someone want it?


This is probably stupid to bring up, but if I have, give or take, a ton of coal in a basement coal...

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  #1  
Old 10-21-2009, 09:34 PM
KPerron KPerron is online now
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Default Does coal go bad? Does someone want it?

This is probably stupid to bring up, but if I have, give or take, a ton of coal in a basement coal bin and I need to get rid of it, will it be any good. I can't see throwing it away and I can't advertise it, I dont want anything for it just to get rid of it and not have to throw it away if someone can use it. I know the local show uses coal, but have tried to give them stuff before, all I get is the deer in the headlights look followed by I dont think so, but we will take a monetary donation.
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  #2  
Old 10-21-2009, 09:49 PM
jht1057 jht1057 is offline
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Default Re: does coal go bad does someone want it

kperron,

Wish you were closer, I would be happy to take the coal off your hands. As far as I know, the only way to ruin coal is to burn it. There should be nothing wrong with what you have and I am surprised you are having trouble trying to give it away.

Good luck,

Jim
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  #3  
Old 10-21-2009, 09:49 PM
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Default Re: does coal go bad does someone want it

That coal is just as good as the day it was put in the bin. I can't see why someone wouldn't want it, except for the work involved in removing it.
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Old 10-21-2009, 10:28 PM
Jeff Smith Jeff Smith is offline
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Default Re: does coal go bad does someone want it

I am going to disagree....................and I'm sure I will catch some flack but that is ok. I grew up in the coal fields of West Virginia and I was told by many old timers that once the coal was taken out of the ground and that it was exposed to air that the coal pile would eventually go bad and I would have to agree. Here is an example, one of my parent's neighbor had a pile of coal that was in his coal shed (that did not leak to leach the coal) next to his garage and the coal was placed there when I was a kid; he asked me if I wanted it if it was good and I said yes so we took a rosebud torch and could not get it to burn yet it burned great when his dad used it to heat the house prior to his death when I was a boy. The neighbor had worked for Consoldated Coal his entire life and said that it was bad and was no use for me to haul it to Florida this past trip and I agreed.......................until I thought that I should at least take a five gallon bucket full home and "give" it to some engine friends as a joke and then ask them later how they liked the coal.................

One issue that I have seen happen is that many of the mines shut down for a while and then the coal sat in piles for years and now they are opening the mines again and the coal that was outside all of those years won't burn as well as the coal taken from the same seem in more recent times. Many of my friends that burn coal to heat their houses have told me quite a few stories about "that" type of coal......................

I used to work for the power company while in college and I asked the plant engineering staff why the coal pile was only one million tons and the response was that if any larger the coal would begin to go bad (lose BTU's) in the time frame it took to shift the coal around on the pile and create the "blend" that they needed to meet EPA standards on air quality........................now they have scrubbers so they can burn any coal.

I would take a few pieces of the coal from your pile and try to burn it with a torch first and see if it will burn; if it does burn great! If not, you may find that the coal deeper in the pile will be fine and only the exterior will be bad, or it may all be bad but it will depend on the storage conditions from what I gathered from the old timers over the years.

The bucket I brought back has been a lot of fun so far, I actually wish I would have brought the entire pile back and then bagged it and passed it out as Christmas gifts to my steam friends........................

One last item, many houses in my parent's neighborhood still have coal in the basement from the 1920's and 1930's and they can't get anyone to haul it out for them...............

Jeff
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Old 10-21-2009, 11:56 PM
Andrew Mackey Andrew Mackey is offline
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Exclamation Re: does coal go bad does someone want it

Coal absorbs humidity, and oxygen combines with the carbon within, over time, thus deadening the fuel value As more water and oxygen is absorbed, the BTUs go down, to the point that the coal goes 'exothermic', that is, it takes more energy to burn it than the energy released as it burns. The same thing happens to wood that is stored in a damp environment. If the coal is placed in a super dry environment, perhaps the water could be driven off, and the coal be used. Maybe a better use, is to make coal gas and coke out of it. (heat in a sealed container, and collect all the volatile material).
Andrew.
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Old 10-22-2009, 12:33 AM
TracksNIowa TracksNIowa is offline
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Default Re: Does coal go bad? Does someone want it?

I have also heard that coal goes bad. However I live in Muscatine Ia, (not too far from Mt. Pleasnt, same climate and seasons etc). Two years ago I got nearly two tons of coal from a similar situation, someone cleaning out the basement of an old house and the coal had been there for decades. I burned it and wood in my solid fuel boiler to heat my shop all winter. I have burned fresh delivered coal in a traction engine and this seemed to burn nearly as well. It is hard to compare between induced draft and natrally drafted burning conditions. i like coal for the black smoke and the smell, and it is easy to fire with when you are under a load. If I was home I would go and get that coal. I am pretty sure that no matter how old it is it will still burn as good as wood?
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Old 10-22-2009, 12:57 AM
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Default Re: Does coal go bad? Does someone want it?

I sure would love that coal for my blacksmithing but i think Western Australia is just a little bit too far ror transporting it.
If theres a blacksmiths group in your area offer it to them i think they would gladly take it.
Ron Australia.
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Old 10-22-2009, 06:13 AM
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Default Re: Does coal go bad? Does someone want it?

The volatile oils and gasses escape and, as said prior, oxidize. In eastern Pennsylvania we have " hard coal " that is low on these volatiles. It burns slowly and without a lot of initial "flare" that soft coal with lots of volatiles. This is why some RR lokeys were built with Wooten fireboxes, to handle the lower BTU and slower burning hard coal.
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Old 10-22-2009, 07:35 AM
Fred Cooper Fred Cooper is offline
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Default Re: Does coal go bad? Does someone want it?

Hi Guys,
I've been asked many times, "What is the best coal for your steam roller" and I always give the same answer "Free coal"

Yes coal will degrade, but if its been in the dark and dry, I doubt you'll notice the diffrence.
Happy steaming,
Fred
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Old 10-22-2009, 07:41 AM
Pete LaBelle Pete LaBelle is offline
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Default Re: Does coal go bad? Does someone want it?

Try running an add on your local Craigslist.com.

I was given a couple tons of coal from a similar situation you are in and have been burning it during show time. Several bigger kids and at least that number of 5 gallon buckets will move a lot of coal out of a basement. 5 of us moved about 3 yards of coal in less than a half hour one evening.

Just remember: the guy with the loaded bucket has the right-of-way on the stairs.
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:10 AM
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Default Re: Does coal go bad? Does someone want it?

If you get this crappy coal from ND you have to burn it right away in the season. It breaks up into basically dust. I don't know about the harder coals from Wyoming and Montana but ND coal is not much good for lump coal. I also heard at one time that coal collects water and if you have it in a pile it can heat up and spontainiously ignite????? I sure hope that doesn't happen. Anyone know of somewhere in Belle Forche SD that I could get some Wyoming Coal??
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Old 10-22-2009, 09:40 AM
wayne m. wayne m. is offline
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Default Re: Does coal go bad? Does someone want it?

If you have any hogs they love it and will eat it!!
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Old 10-22-2009, 09:44 AM
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Default Re: Does coal go bad? Does someone want it?

We had a Rottweiler & a Great Dane that just loved chomping on it. As for how it digested and what nutrients it released.................

Beth
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Old 10-22-2009, 09:59 AM
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Default Re: Does coal go bad? Does someone want it?

I have a friend who just purchased a 10 year supply of coal for home heating. This is stacked in a bin on the concrete floor of a dry workshop. Should it be bagged or sealed up somehow?
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Old 10-22-2009, 01:13 PM
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Default Re: Does coal go bad? Does someone want it?

Can't be much worse than the usual mixture of slate, dirt, crap that fell off the crusher belt, and just plain old black rocks that our club so often gets because they insist on buying the 'least expensive' stuff that they can find.

The year they had the stuff that made heavy green smoke was interesting, until it came time to clean tubes. As was the stuff you had to 'bake' for 20 minutes, then bust up with the poker before it would actually burn....

They'd probably even take yours off your hands -- as long as you delivered it.
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:38 PM
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Default Re: Does coal go bad? Does someone want it?

Just my luck. I just bought three ton of bagged coal to burn this winter.







Each bag is 50 lbs and I handled each one at least twice.

Luckily my wife helped the entire time as we wheeled the bags thru the basement into the storage area in the front of the basement.

Jeff
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Old 10-22-2009, 09:27 PM
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Default Re: Does coal go bad? Does someone want it?

WOW Jeff.......anthracite yet.......

Would you mind putting a $$ figure on that?
I'm just curious.......along with probably everybody else here.......

Some smithies might be interested in getting their hands on some of that too.
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Old 10-22-2009, 11:01 PM
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Default Re: Does coal go bad? Does someone want it?

I paid $300 a ton for it at KC Stoves in Alburtis PA. It's not cheap but it burns really nice in my Harman insert.

They sell it by the bag too.
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Old 10-22-2009, 11:11 PM
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Default Re: Does coal go bad? Does someone want it?

I also purchased coal in previous years from the local hardware store / lumber yard by the ton. It's slightly cheaper but the quality went down.

I just got two bags the other year, here's one of them.



That a 55 gallon drum I put there for size comparison.

I paid $35 for the bag and another $40 for delivery to my house. Delivery price was the same when I got two bags delivered.

However then I had to shovel the coal into old feed bags and store them in the house. The bagged coal made more sense to me. ( until I move my oil tanks to have bulk coal delivered)
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Old 10-23-2009, 10:51 AM
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Default Re: Does coal go bad? Does someone want it?

We've had the same coal pile for over 40-50yrs and it still burns just as well as coal at any show. Grandpa was friends with a railroad man and when they had a coal car derail and tip over they offered the whole train car of coal to him. It's sat outside ever since and hasn't been covered.
The only problem we are having now (the pile is much smaller now due to regular use ) is that after 50years it is starting to break up into smaller and smaller pieces (as a young boy I remember climbing on the coal pile and some of the chunks were two or three feet long by 18"-24" thick). It still burns good enough to run our locomotive all the way to greenville and works just as good (or better) than the coal for our return trip which is not nearly as old.
Winter freezing and thawing seems to be the hardest on the coal. I would say the sun comes in next. Just think of putting a tire out in the sun for 50 years.

Andrew
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