Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blast from the Past--Coal Furnaces

The NY Times has an article suggesting that coal-fired stoves are gaining in popularity, inasmuch as coal is 1/3 to 1/2 the price of oil. It triggers memories, as our farmhouse had a coal burning stove (provided hot water as well) and a coal furnace (hot air). I note from the pictures and description that modern technology must have improved the stoves--where our anthracite coal was in lumps maybe the size of an egg (extra large), coal now is crunched down into thumbnail size nuggets. And where we had a coal scuttle to feed the stove, now there's some sort of automatic feed. The stove-owner says he has to replenish the coal storage bin and take out ash every couple days. We had to feed the stove several times a day, being sure at night to close down the damper and top it off so the fire would last the night.

Starting a fire in the stove was an exercise, first paper, then small kindling wood, then larger chunks, then a few pieces of coal to catch on. Mom was skilled at this, the rest of us not so much.

The greens, like Treehugger, predictably don't like the idea of expanding use of coal.

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