It is currently Sat Apr 04, 2020 8:48 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 13 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Converting a coal stove to propane
PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2020 4:27 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 9:54 am
Posts: 898
Location: NJ
Has anyone here successfully and SAFELY converted a coach or caboose stove from burning coal to propane? I did some research online, hoping to find some sort of kit, but so far have come up drawing a blank.

I did find burners used for forges, knife making. etc. on eBay. Would one of those be appropriate, hidden under a bed of barbecue type lava rocks, to retain heat and simulate coal?

Would like to hear from someone that has had experience with this, and has done it safely. Thanks in advance!


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Converting a coal stove to propane
PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2020 7:47 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:25 pm
Posts: 325
By "SAFELY" do you mean I had the same amount of eyebrows left after the conversion ?

Ha Ha...

Seriously, this is not too hard to do. There are Kits;

https://www.hargrovegaslogs.com/
https://www.hargrovegaslogs.com/coal-baskets

And there is at least one company that does "conversions";

https://goodtimestove.com/conversions/

(No personal association with these firms)

And you can get individual parts, burners, valves, standing pilot, glow bars.

If you are in a rural area I would call a local propane distributor (the folks that deliver and fill those big 400 gallon propane tanks that look like a small submarine). They can probably advise you.

Note; if you want a setup than can output the same heat as a good sized caboose stove with a roaring fire (~75,000 BTU) you are probably going to need a larger propane tank. The volume of propane gas produced by the tank is proportional to the surface area of the liquid propane inside.

If you just want the ambience of a coal stove and don't need it strictly for heat you might get by with a couple of 20 pound tanks (typical home grill size).

I can't help with the missing smell of coal smoke,

Cheers, Kevin


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Converting a coal stove to propane
PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2020 9:16 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:25 pm
Posts: 325
Here is a "textbook" with lots of good info for propane installations from tank size to pipe size to regulator options;

http://www.regoproducts.com/pdfs/L-545_ ... Manual.pdf

A good size propane heat stove is 35 kBTU, that will heat up a 1500 sq ft house pretty good. An old potbelly stove (when filled with a "roaring coal fire") puts out about 75 kBTU.

Also, Propane is heavier than air, your tanks and regulators should be located on the exterior of a caboose/coach or underneath. And some amount of venting under the stove can't hurt. And the use of an explosive gas detector, they are inexpensive these days is highly recommended.

Most gas pressure regulators have a vent port that has an internal thread. If the regulator is in an interior space (avoid if possible) this vent port needs to be piped outside (and maintained without blockages).

For some reason spiders in upstate New York like propane and they tend to make webs in regulator vent ports and burner jets. This can be a concern for systems that are only used seasonally or on weekends.

Good luck, and say goodbye to your eyebrows for a while.... Ha Ha, just kidding..


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Converting a coal stove to propane
PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2020 10:01 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:25 pm
Posts: 325
Also, a good source of propane related parts/tools is the RV community. They have lots of different tank sizes, hoses, valves, regulators, leak detection kits, gas alarms;

https://www.campingworld.com/maintain-your-rv/propane

https://rvshare.com/blog/the-ultimate-r ... or-buying/

https://www.rvpartscountry.com/RVPropaneTanks

Of course none of this is FRA compliant, but I don't think the FRA allows coal fired stoves on modern trains either.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Converting a coal stove to propane
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 11:19 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 9:54 am
Posts: 898
Location: NJ
Wow! Thanks for all the information and those links. Will give me some heavy reading for over the winter-


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Converting a coal stove to propane
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 6:40 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:25 pm
Posts: 325
You are welcome for the info.

One more "textbook" link (Propane 101);

https://www.propane101.com/

I assumed you wanted a conversion to use inside a rail vehicle.

If this is for a residence you need the NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code. It will outline how close to a residence the propane tank can be, how far from windows/doors a regulator can be, etc. A propane supplier will know all of that.

You have to purchase that document.

If you are going to use this in a rail vehicle where people will be sleeping that gets more complicated. Not sure where you go for that info, maybe some DOT standards for RVs ?

Also, if you can configure a system using a few (2-5) 20 lb gas tanks you have the advantage of swapping them for filled tanks at many convenience stores since they are so common for home gas grills. Other sizes require you to seek out someone who will fill a LP tank, something many hardware stores used to do but it is becoming harder to find. And the "permanent" ASME tanks on motor-homes require you to drive to a supplier that has the equipment to fill those. That could be hard to do with a caboose...

One last safety note, the best and safest way to test a gas piping system for leaks is with a manometer (pressure gauge with very fine resolution). Gas is applied to the system with no burner valves open or pilot flames burning. After a set time (about 10 minutes) the pressure drop is noted and must be less than an industry standard. If you are going to do any propane installations that involve safety of building occupants this test is essential.

Good luck, Kevin.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Converting a coal stove to propane
PostPosted: Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:32 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:50 pm
Posts: 156
Location: www.easttroyrr.org
Just to suggest an alternative. Here in the upper Midwest where winters can be brutal, wood pellet conversions are simple and the pellets are eco-friendly, being produced primarily from waste such as sawdust and small pieces of scrap wood. The primary drawback is dealing with the ashes afterwards.

Amazon sells inexpensive conversion kits.
https://www.amazon.com/Pellet-Alternati ... B006C8FFEK


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Converting a coal stove to propane
PostPosted: Thu Feb 06, 2020 12:37 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 9:32 pm
Posts: 294
Oil is a good option for rail use. Less explosive than propane and less expensive per BTU. White pass and Yukon was using Nordic 6800 series stoves for car heat.

https://www.ruralenergy.com/heating-equ ... 800-series

I was curious to take a photo of the stove and Toby burner control when there. Possibly Toby makes a refit burner.


Attachments:
Toby ctl.JPG
Toby ctl.JPG [ 159.11 KiB | Viewed 1064 times ]
AK Stove.JPG
AK Stove.JPG [ 259.31 KiB | Viewed 1064 times ]
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Converting a coal stove to propane
PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 7:11 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 1267
One of the points of 'pressurized gas' storage is that you need to be sure the tank is fully PURGED before you try to put any gas at all into it, first fill or refill. That means making sure there is no residual gas or liquid in the tank, and then making sure the volume inside the empty tank is an inert gas blanket and not 'air' containing oxygen.

I have always found that U-Haul dealers make the business decision to offer propane tank filling service, and at least rudimentarily train employees to purge and fill tanks (they do it by weight, not by volume, putting the tank on a scale as they fill it). You can get a liquid-crystal stick-on "volume" gauge (it changes color where the level of the compressed 'liquid phase' gas at ambient pressure is).

I would install and use either electric igniters or 'piezo' remote pushbutton mechanical-electric igniters. Your eyebrows will assuredly thank you.

_________________
R.M.Ellsworth


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Converting a coal stove to propane
PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 8:27 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:25 pm
Posts: 325
"I would install and use either electric igniters or 'piezo' remote pushbutton mechanical-electric igniters. Your eyebrows will assuredly thank you."

Most modern propane (or LNG) equipment has either an electric igniter or a piezo. The days of "cracking" a gas valve open and throwing in a lit match are long gone.

As a resident of a rural home I have a propane setup that "powers" our hot water, clothes dryer, whole house back up generator and a 35 kBTU "gas log stove".

I appreciate the advantages of both a "standing pilot" and an electric igniter.

Our hot water heater and clothes dryer use an electric igniter (glow bar) this makes sense since they get used every day and a standing pilot would waste some gas. The backup generator uses spark plugs.

Our "gas log stove aka heating stove" uses a standing pilot, there is a tee tiny little flame burning all the time. One advantage of a standing pilot is that it delivers enough heat to the interior of the "heating stove" to drive out any condensation. The interior of the heating stove is connected to the "exterior atmosphere" with all the humidity of the spring, summer and fall seasons when the heat stove is not in use. So I chose to buy a little propane to keep the inside of my firebox just a little warm all year. Does seem to cut down on any rust inside the stove.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Converting a coal stove to propane
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2020 11:23 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 9:54 am
Posts: 898
Location: NJ
The primary reason for asking about a coal to gas conversion centers around a wooden coach used as a first class car in tourist service. While I like the idea of the Nordic stove, in terms of appearance it would just not look right in a coach built 130 years ago.

The problem with the coal stove and continuing to burn coal rests with some of the car hosts. There are just too many differing ideas of how to start a fire, how often and how much coal to put into the stove, how often do you need to shake the grates, and so forth.

The rest of our consist has propane hot air heat, professionally installed by an HVAC contractor. We would like to standardize on one fuel and have the same convenience that the propane units offer, while retaining the visual 'charm' of having a coal stove..

Having said that, the Nordic stove info did attract some attention for use as a caboose stove. There was a long thread recently about Caban heaters here on RyPN; perhaps these Nordic units could replace some of the Caban units.

And rest assured, any propane installation will be done professionally, with either the aforementioned pilot light or a piezo-electric ignition system. We all like having eyebrows, beards and other hair.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Converting a coal stove to propane
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:20 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2522
Location: Northern Illinois
My experience with propane pilot lights comes from a travel trailer we owned years ago which had a propane refrigerator, which basically used a standing pilot to power the refrigeration cycle. It was fine standing in a campground, but on the road it was guaranteed to blow out within the first thirty minutes. Just too many gusts and cross drafts. A railroad coach might keep a pilot better protected, but I don't know, between the speed of the train and varying orientation of the smoke jack cap to the wind, there will be some unpredictable down drafts. Since electric igniters are proven technology, I wouldn't even consider a standing pilot for the application.

_________________
Dennis Storzek


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Converting a coal stove to propane
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2020 11:34 am 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 1267
Quote:
"Since electric igniters are proven technology, I wouldn't even consider a standing pilot for the application."


Part of the historical reason for a 'standing pilot' was that it provided a safety feature, in the form of a 'pilot generator', for a magnetic safety shutoff in the main gas valve. If the pilot went out, or was blown out, the little thermocouple stopped providing current to hold the pilot line open and the gas was safely kept from being 'commanded on' even if the thermostat had power.

More modern systems with igniters 'usually' do this with electronics, turning on the spark igniter or glow bar when the system is commanded to fire any time the flame sensor indicates low. Presumably this is cycled to prevent any possible accumulation of gas that can form 'enough' critical mixture to puff without overheating the device(s) involved. Be at least mindful of the existence of ketenes, although that is unlikely to be an actual problem in daily operation.

A standing pilot with a pilot generator needs to have the manual bypass kept depressed long enough to get the thing up to full power. It would be nice if there were some kind of indicator showing this, especially if you're not sure the pilot generator is still working correctly or aligned right in the pilot flame.

I have seen a number of cases where, either through accident or poor installation, pilot generators have been overheated and 'burned out'. This usually results in 'failsafe' off, but can be a pain to rework. I've also seen a couple where draft problems 'pulled' the pilot flame aside from the generator under certain conditions, usually the sort of cold, wet storm conditions where you want the heat or hot water to keep working.

My recommendation in this particular case would be to avoid any kind of standing pilots entirely, even if all you have as an option is 'manual (piezo) lighting every time'.

_________________
R.M.Ellsworth


Offline
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 13 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


 Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Faller?, Google [Bot], soups and 19 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: