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Thread: Switching freom charcoal to propan

  1. #1

    Switching freom charcoal to propan

    I want to switch from using a charcoal fueled furnace to a propane (or preferably waste oil) fueled furnace. First of all, I am in Eastern Europe, so the big problem is that all the fancy high tech stuff you guys can get is not available to me. I've searched high and low for a decent refractory but have yet to find it here yet (same as as any type of ceramic fire blanket). So, my furnace is built from Calcium Aluminate cement. Speaking of which, has anybody heard from 3_D in awhile? He was the the only person I know of that also has built furnaces with this. My question is, the CalALum cement is only rated to 1300c (2372f), so will this stand up to the heat of propane. I was working on a kwiky burner, but as usual with everything here I cant find the right parts or things I need, then I realized my hotface might not stand up to the temps. If I switch to propane, will the temps be too high for this. I need to find a solution because getting charcoal here in the off season is next to impossible and I actually think propane will be cheaper. A bag of charcoal (2.5kg) costs close to 2$US, I usually use half the bag for one melt. As odd as it sounds, coal is actually cheaper than charcoal, and easier to get. I started making my own charcoal, but come winter it will be a little harder.

  2. #2
    Administrator Site Admin
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    I would think that if you are only melting aluminum, and you use propane, and you are careful, that you will be okay. Careful means not pouring the maximum heat into your furnace.

    A good Reil propane burner can be made from ordinary plumbing parts. Iron pipe and a reducing coupling. An easy orifice is a MIG tip, but you can drill one if you need to.



    I made that thing to cut down the air before I fired up the burner. I nerver use it. Using 1/2 inch pipe, I use a .025 orifice.

    In my 3/4 inch Reil, I use a .043 orifice.

    Richard
    When I die, Heaven can wait—I want to go to McMaster-Carr.

  3. #3
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    I've been using a 2300F refractory with good results. I've run charcoal, oil and propane. It holds out fine if it doesn't get abused. I've only melted aluminum in it. The few times I used coal I did some damage to it. That stuff is insane.
    Do you live near Warsaw?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Tobho Mott's Avatar
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    Are there any pottery/ceramics supply shops there? There's one in Ottawa where the owner was happy to hook me up with ceramic fiber blanket by the foot and a box of IFB's; he said he could probably special-order castable refractory too if I wanted it and was willing to wait a week or two.

    Charcoal-powered melting is messy; if you're anything like me, you won't miss it much once you get set up to use a burner instead.

    Good luck!

    Jeff
    Tobho had learned to work Valyrian steel at the forges of Qohor as a boy. Only a man who knew the spells could take old weapons and forge them anew.

    How I built my oil furnace | My Photo Album | My Videos

  5. #5
    Do you live near Warsaw?
    No, I am in south-eastern Poland near Rzeszów . It's about 60miles west of Ukraine and 60 miles north of Slovakia. Rzeszów is actually a sister city with Buffalo (Not really sure what a sister city entitles, but I know every time I go into the city there is a big flag of Buffalo, NY saying it's a sister city). And when did cities become genderized? If it was a brother city the womens lib would be protesting. Now a days, I feel we cant classify anything without offending someone.

    I've been using a 2300F refractory with good results.
    Glad to hear it, that sets my mind at ease a bit.
    The few times I used coal I did some damage to it. That stuff is insane.
    Yeah, I know. I tried it once. As crazy as it sounds, coal is actually cheaper and easier to come by here. The one time I tried it I was worried but didnt see anything wrong. The next time I fired up with charcoal, a 5"x5" chunk of my hotface fell out (where the tuyere was blowing on it). I always have a few 25kg bags of coal on hand to burn in my furnace when it's SUPER cold. But I try to be as ecological as possible and only burn wood in my furnace. I do use the coal for my forge, but the stuff is as stinky as hell.

    Charcoal-powered melting is messy; if you're anything like me, you won't miss it much once you get set up to use a burner instead.
    Yeah, I cant wait. The charcoal is a messy business. It's not like Im wearing my good clothes when I melt, but even wearing work clothes I'm filthy by the end of it.
    Are there any pottery/ceramics supply shops there?
    I've looked but havent found one yet. A few years ago my wife and I went to some ceramic festival nearby, but they like to do everything traditionally in the old world style here. And it is the region that is famous for ceramics.

    Anyways, thanks for the input from y'all. My next obstacle is deciding what burner to build. In a few I'll have to take some pics, because I have a few other questions.

  6. #6
    Ok, here come some pics.

    I think first and most importantly is the type of fuel I'll be using:
    20171114_221035.jpg
    This is what I use to run my kitchen stove (and damned if I didnt feel like a 10 year old sneaking in to the kitchen to sneak some cookies. Had to be as quite as possible digging this thing out and not waking up the wife). BTW, this usually runs my kitchen stove about 4 months. It is the equivalent of 15$us for 11kg (as stated on the tank). So, my question is: is there any difference between pure propane and propane-butane. Second, I have no idea what the regulator thingy is attached to it, my father-in-law put that on. I think it is some kind of reducer.

    Next,
    Here is my current set up:
    20171114_220530.jpg
    20171114_220559.jpg
    The weird curved design is because I was originally building a drip waist oil burner, but put that on hold. The ball valve is to regulate air flow. The biggest problem I think is that the pipe going into the tuyere is only 1" and was built in the furnace when building, so any chance of enlarging the tuyere is not plausible. Thankfully, I didnt know what I was doing at the time and built the tuyere tangentially (not good for charcoal, but good for gas).
    Here's some pics of the original oil burner I was working on:
    20170426_182809.jpg
    20170426_183016.jpg
    20170426_183126.jpg

    Any ideas and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Kyle

  7. #7
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    Not to beat the supplier thing to death, but it looks like there is some activity around you. Check this out.
    http://www.kom-cast.pl/en/about-us/
    It looks like a regional trade organization. One of the members, I'm thinking the University, might be able to steer you to a supplier that can help a little guy. Tell them your brother, uh, siste..., nah, whatever, sent you.

    This is my propane burner. The ID of the burner tube is only about an inch or so. The propane is unregulated. There is nothing complicated about it. The propane just dumps in right there at the connection. Oh by the way, that burner tube was made of aluminum and has since been replaced.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFCKFJ-Lh-0

    Pete

  8. #8
    THE ACTIVITY OF THE CLUSTER, HISTORY
    Our Cluster is a gathering of connected companies, specialized suppliers, service units, and companies operating in related fields.
    Do I have to learn their secret handshake?

    No seriously, these people are professional beyond my ability to do any dealings with them. Unless I'm ordering huge amounts of supplies. I saw a job listing the other day for WSK, and I was thinking it was right up my alley.. for a foundry worker in aluminum. WSK is a division of Pratt-Whitney/United Technologies - one of the leaders in aerospace engineering. First of all, I dont speak Polish, second of all I am completely unqualified as being a beginner in this whole obsession of molten metal that it was only a fleeting interest of an opportunity. I do, however do proof readings for the University on a regular basis. Maybe I can ask one of my friends there. But they only deal in AI machine learning.

  9. #9
    Kyle; See if there's a shop that specializes in boiler repair or fireplace repair somewhere around you. If there is, then see if they'll sell you some refractory by the bag. A boiler repair shop might be your best bet.

    Roger

  10. #10
    Kyle; See if there's a shop that specializes in boiler repair or fireplace repair somewhere around you. If there is, then see if they'll sell you some refractory by the bag. A boiler repair shop might be your best bet.
    Rasper suggested the same thing to me earlier. One of the things I dont like here is the dependency on coal . Unfortunately coal is a major factor in heating here. The large buildings and apartment buildings are all very pre-communistic in design. The heating is done off-site at a coal burning facility where hot water is pumped througout the city. Im sure there must be modern buildings not reliant upon this and will definitly look into it. Besides the refractory issue (Im knid of over that for the moment, until I build a new furnace), my main question which has not been answered yet, is there a difference in propane vs. propane-butane mix. I know where to get the latter as I buy it all the time for my kitchen (availabe at any local shop basically, where some more simple things I cant find anywhere. In 12 years of being here, still havent found bleach for example). My car also runs on LPG (also known as auto gas), is this an acceptable substitute? I'm not really an expert in this, so still waiting for some feedback.

    Cheers,
    Kyle

    Edit - I said "pre-communistic" where i should have just said "communistic". Maybe half the city (at best) is still "post-communistic" archeologically speaking.

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