Steam Engines
[Home] - [HELP] - [Forums] - [Articles] - [Photo Gallery] - [Groups] - [Chat] - [Classified Ads] - [Subscribe] - [Links] - [Books] - [Sponsors] - [Tools]

Go Back   SmokStak > SmokStak® Old Iron and Tractor Community > Stationary Steam & Traction Engines
Forgot Password? Join Us!

Notices

Stationary Steam & Traction Engines Antique steam engines, traction engines, their boilers and the related things that make them run.

Stationary Steam & Traction Engines

Burning Wood: Round vs Split


Was tending Marvin Troutwines 80 Case on the last day of the Western Montana Fair. There wasn't a...

this thread has 16 replies and has been viewed 5363 times

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 08-20-2010, 02:01 AM
mikefrommontana mikefrommontana is offline
Registered-II
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Missoula MT USA
Posts: 30
Thanks: 43
Thanked 65 Times in 15 Posts
Default Burning Wood: Round vs Split

Was tending Marvin Troutwines 80 Case on the last day of the Western Montana Fair. There wasn't a big wood pile present and the general thought was (at 11:30) that we would be out of wood well before 6 pm. Most of the wood was short cedar post (cut up poles) rounds.

When I arrived, the fire was going with whole rounds (most around 18" long). Holding a fire at 50 lbs all day leaves time for other things, so I started splitting some of the rounds (12-15" diameter). As I started firing with this, I noticed that we seemed to have more wood and the fire was easier to keep up. In the end (6:00 pm) we wound up with a surplus.

So, the question is, will split wood fire better than rounds? Or am I guilty (and I've been accused of having "magic wood" of just getting the fire to like me? Sort of curious with what others have found.

I realize that most operators are happy to have anything to burn and when burning wood, especially on sawmills, it's probably going to be slab wood. Also certainly understand that nobody really wants to (if they can avoid it) split wood.

Michael Seitz
Missoula MT
Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to mikefrommontana:
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 08-20-2010, 02:12 AM
Craig A's Avatar
Craig A Craig A is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Wisconsin USA
Posts: 12,330
Images: 18
Thanks: 10,456
Thanked 13,584 Times in 4,242 Posts
Default Re: Wood: Round vs Split

It's a heckuva lot easier firing with "smaller" wood.
It's MUCH easier keeping the corners covered and the wood burns faster making it easier to keep up steam.
Big chunks allow a lot of cold air to get through the bed of fire too.
If (when) there's trouble it also burns down faster.
Reply With Quote
The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Craig A:
  #3  
Old 08-20-2010, 07:35 AM
AndyG's Avatar
AndyG AndyG is offline
Subscriber
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Mount Vernon, Indiana USA
Posts: 2,161
Images: 7
Thanks: 4,124
Thanked 1,293 Times in 604 Posts
Default Re: Wood: Round vs Split

It depends a lot on the boiler and the firebox. A return flue will like smaller pieces of wood because more of it can be stuffen into the "firebox". A boiler which has a farily large firebox for it's size, like my Keck, can stand much larger chuncks of wood and still perform well.
__________________
Andy Glines
16 HP Huber # 8213
19 HP Keck-Gonnerman # 1789
"There's just something about steam!"
Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to AndyG:
  #4  
Old 08-20-2010, 07:49 AM
Joe K Joe K is offline
Subscriber
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Cow Hampshire, USA
Posts: 746
Thanks: 190
Thanked 670 Times in 375 Posts
Default Re: Wood: Round vs Split

Generally, I think the more finely divided the wood, the more efficient the fire. Pulverized coal and sawdust burning in suspension brings this principle to it's ultimate.

For those of us in the "woodstove" crowd, this principle may not apply directly. Cordwood Woodstoves are generally best to run "airtight" and while short periodic fire tending may lend itself to efficiency, it's a heck of a lot easier to put in a big round and go watch the football game.

On the other end of the spectrum, pellet stoves bring your divided wood thought to its closest home application. The stove measures out only what fuel is necessary to keep up the heat setting, adds fuel as necessary, meanwhile fuel being finely divided, meanwhile fuel being concentrated in a retort area that concentrates and focuses the heat. So with a pellet stove you can have efficiency AND go watch that football game.

But be prepared for when the power goes off...

Joe
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 08-20-2010, 08:19 AM
Case Place Case Place is offline
Subscriber
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Cary, NC, USA
Posts: 640
Thanks: 1,142
Thanked 1,196 Times in 378 Posts
Default Re: Wood: Round vs Split

Smaller pieces generate more surface area for the fire to be active on. To many small pieces can choke off the air trying to come through the draft doors. It's a matter of knowing your engine and how it fires best. Larry PS-this is from a 1/3 scale CASE owner/operator
__________________
Larry
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 08-20-2010, 08:29 AM
MCanady's Avatar
MCanady MCanady is offline
Subscriber
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Washington, North Carolina, USA
Posts: 817
Images: 38
Thanks: 114
Thanked 327 Times in 170 Posts
Default Re: Wood: Round vs Split

I not a steam man but, my Father always told me that Split firewood would fire a wood heater faster than non split firewood. So I always had to split all his firewood. My father could have our wood heater hot in a very short time on a cold winter morning.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 08-20-2010, 12:56 PM
Jack Hottel Jack Hottel is offline
Subscriber
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Haymarket, Virginia, USA
Posts: 665
Thanks: 174
Thanked 287 Times in 193 Posts
Default Re: Burning Wood: Round vs Split

Split wood burns faster, good for starting fires and raising steam quickly. Round wood takes longer to catch but lasts longer. Flat pieces, like slabs and scrap make it easier to keep the holes in the fire covered. The dryer the wood the better, half green slabs have to cook a while before you get heat, so you need to anticipate. Firing under load will keep you busy, no matter what shape the wood is. Except for kindling I wouldn't split any firewood that will go through the fire door.
Jack Hottel
Peerless 50
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 08-20-2010, 02:28 PM
Casemaker Casemaker is offline
Registered-III
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: southern Illinois
Posts: 2,032
Thanks: 715
Thanked 1,813 Times in 547 Posts
Default Re: Burning Wood: Round vs Split

to make firewood last longer you need to burn against the grain.....especially split wood....of course the bark on the wood burns a lot hotter than the rest
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 08-20-2010, 02:38 PM
James L James L is offline
Registered-II
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: So. Wisconsin
Posts: 146
Thanks: 413
Thanked 209 Times in 77 Posts
Default Re: Burning Wood: Round vs Split

Hence the old saying, bark down steam up, bark up steam down! when using slab wood fresh off the saw mill.
Reply With Quote
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to James L:
  #10  
Old 08-20-2010, 04:47 PM
Steamrguy's Avatar
Steamrguy Steamrguy is offline
Subscriber
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Saugus, California
Posts: 403
Thanks: 2,000
Thanked 623 Times in 120 Posts
Default Re: Burning Wood: Round vs Split

Consider your self a good fireman!
It really is a matter of experience. Knowing your boiler and knowing your wood ( or coal) and adapting to changes in the fuel supply is what make a good fireman!

Wood that does not burn well to start with will burn a lot better when it is split. Large pieces of poor wood just sit in the firebox unless you have something else to keep them lit or a good draft. If your boiler has a large exhaust nozzle or does not draft real well you may tend toward smaller wood. Then, what works on one engine may not work so well on another! Firing really is an art. That’s part of the fun!

-DA-
Reply With Quote
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Steamrguy:
  #11  
Old 08-21-2010, 02:24 AM
James Maxwell James Maxwell is offline
Registered-III
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Missoula, Montana, USofA
Posts: 237
Thanks: 132
Thanked 243 Times in 68 Posts
Default Re: Burning Wood: Round vs Split

We make jokes about his "Magic Wood" but there is no one I'd rather have on the deck in a cut. It was like the loaves and the fish on the wood deck and we put ourselves out of a job. Best idling day we've had in awhile.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 08-21-2010, 08:25 AM
Mike McKnight Mike McKnight is offline
Subscriber
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Mason, Tennessee USA
Posts: 5,743
Thanks: 5,622
Thanked 5,140 Times in 1,925 Posts
Default Re: Burning Wood: Round vs Split

I usually keep an axe on whatever one of my engines I'm running at the time-I prefer to burn smaller split wood over big chunks any day. Only time I like to throw any really good sized chunks is when we're taking a break for awhile, and I want to throw something in there that will keep the heat for awhile and I can shut the damper and not worry about the fire going out.

Last weekend at Wilson County, we were cutting good dry stuff on the mill, (Cedar, Oak, Walnut, and Buckeye) and after a good size pile of slabs built up, out would come the chainsaw and I'd have a new supply of fuel. Fired most of the day on the stuff. I had some small rounds (dry) to fire up on first thing that morning that I'd brought from home-a little bit of Hickory and some (gasp!) Elm.... That's all I had, and someone had told me awhile back if Elm is dried properly it WILL burn...he was right!

I really have to say my favorite fuel of choice on a steamer on a sawmill is good DRY slab wood. That stuff you've got to boil the sap out of before it will burn will work you to death, though, unless you have a really monstrous firebox where you can pack enough in there to be drying while you've got some already lit off and burning good. You can't smother the fire with it, though. I HATE that green stuff!

Mike M
Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Mike McKnight:
  #13  
Old 08-21-2010, 04:32 PM
Jeff Smith Jeff Smith is offline
Subscriber
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Port St. Lucie, Florida USA
Posts: 3,671
Thanks: 3,796
Thanked 2,438 Times in 944 Posts
Default Re: Burning Wood: Round vs Split

I get my firewood from a local mill works. It has been kiln dried and it is drops or pieces that they can't use. When I go there, they even cut the long stuff for me to the distance requested. They have to pay for the dumpster, so they like it when I show up because it saves them money. They use many different types of wood, but they mill one species on day "x" and then a different species on day "y". I like to get there on the days that they mill maple because that seems to be the hottest burning wood of the species that they mill. I also get poplar, it is great for my boys that have more energy than I do because it burns about as fast as they can throw it in the firebox.............................

I always enjoyed firing on green slabs when I was younger on my friend's steam sawmill, it was like trying to solve a puzzle to keep steam up with green wood. Sometimes I would stack wood on top of the boiler and it would start the drying process, other times I would place it under the ash pan. I was always trying something to help dry it so I would not have to split the slabs into twigs.

Jeff
Attached Thumbnails
IMG_0508.jpg  
Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Jeff Smith:
  #14  
Old 08-21-2010, 09:46 PM
mikefrommontana mikefrommontana is offline
Registered-II
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Missoula MT USA
Posts: 30
Thanks: 43
Thanked 65 Times in 15 Posts
Default Re: Burning Wood: Round vs Split

Well, didn't expect quite so many responses. One bonus in the pile was some really odd and wet mystery wood (Elm, Willow?) but it was perfect for working on the sides and corners to keep them from burning out so quickly. Except for one one long unsplit round (about 9") the fire burned out within a half hour of ending firing. Should the situation arise again, I'll be back at the axe.

Thanks!

Michael Seitz
Missoula MT
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 08-23-2010, 01:14 PM
pvtschultz pvtschultz is offline
Registered-III
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 233
Thanks: 598
Thanked 318 Times in 79 Posts
Default Re: Burning Wood: Round vs Split

When I was a lad (not that long ago) we preferred to heat the house with elm. It is a pain to light, that's what the other hardwoods are for, but once a good bed of coals has been established, it will hold a fire all night long.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 08-23-2010, 01:40 PM
OTTO-Sawyer's Avatar
OTTO-Sawyer OTTO-Sawyer is offline
Subscriber
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Scioto Mills, Illinois USA
Posts: 6,546
Thanks: 10,143
Thanked 5,184 Times in 2,563 Posts
Default Re: Burning Wood: Round vs Split

Split wood has a lot more surface area to burn and will give a hotter faster burning fire that can be controlled with the damper if need be to slow it down and make it last longer. Bigger chunks or rounds have less surface area and a bigger 'heat sink' that needs to be heated up before it burns good and will last longer with normal draft and likely need more draft to get it burning good and hot.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 08-26-2010, 08:55 AM
Case-d Case-d is offline
Registered-II
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Carver, MN
Posts: 144
Thanks: 452
Thanked 259 Times in 61 Posts
Lightbulb Re: Burning Wood: Round vs Split

And also split wood is better for steaming up because it alows more air through, so you have a bigger fire. And round is better if you have steam and are sitting around.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Case-d:
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

F o r u m Jump

Similar Threads Chosen at Random
Thread Thread Starter F o r u m Replies Last Post
Line Shaft Pulley split wood bushing dakea Machine Shop and Tool Talk 9 04-03-2010 08:14 AM
burning E 85 in hit and miss lowboy Antique Gas Engine Discussion 1 12-26-2009 02:53 PM
This is how you split wood!! Steamrguy Stationary Steam & Traction Engines 5 05-27-2009 09:18 PM
Burning out a piston Zira Antique Gas Engine Discussion 11 03-19-2009 10:32 PM
FM-Z D burning oil Chris Kirk Antique Engine Archives 2 09-04-2003 09:22 PM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 11:34 PM.

Smokstak and Enginads site search!


All use is subject to our TERMS OF SERVICE
SMOKSTAK® is a Registered Trade Mark
A Community of Antique Engine Enthusiasts
Copyright © 2000 - 2014 by Harry Matthews
P.O. Box 5612 - Sarasota, FL 34277