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Northeastern Pennsylvania Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pocono area
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Old 02-02-2011, 05:19 PM
 
37,063 posts, read 38,191,147 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coalboy View Post
...I remember 'pea coal' being an integral part and maybe the last step...?
The two most common sizes used in hand fired stoves now are pea and chestnut. Chestnut by far is the most popular of the two. Pea is about the size of a quarter and smallest size you can use in a hand fired stove. Chestnut is about half the size of a baseball. Larger sizes include stove and egg. Stove is still sold but it's more expensive, it's roughly the size of a baseball or a little bigger. Egg coal is about the size of a softball if not larger, I've never seen any egg myself for sale and I've been in the business for about 20 years, closest I saw was some over sized stove that was approaching the softball size. My Uncle told me stories of delivering it and he'd be down in the basement stacking it by hand building walls with it, you obviously can't shovel it. Stove is pretty hard to shovel too, I used to wait until the coal stacked up in front of the chute and then have my uncle send a shovelful down at a time to fill the shovel conveniently placed at the end of the chute.

Anyhow one of the great things about coal compared to something like wood is its easily controllable. For example with a coal stove you fill it up as much as you can when loading coal, this goes against common sense because most people think more fuel equals more heat but that is not the case. Instead you control it by the amount of air. The smaller coal like pea acts a like a damper and will slow the rate of the burn because it restricts the air flow. If for example you lived in very windy area straight pea coal might be the ticket because it's easier to keep it under control. The larger sizes will burn faster and produce more heat. You would throw pea over the top to restrict the air flow, another trick is to just get some ashes and spread them across the top. You can also have what they call range which is nut and pea mixed. Most of the people I've suggested this too liked it best and have stuck with it.

Your old stoves, boilers and furnaces were not nearly as air tight as modern ones so the need for having control through the size of the coal is somewhat diminished because you don't have a lot of unwanted air infiltration.
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Old 02-02-2011, 06:35 PM
 
Location: Turning Point of the American Revolution
224 posts, read 166,901 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecoalman View Post
The two most common sizes used in hand fired stoves now are pea and chestnut. Chestnut by far is the most popular of the two. Pea is about the size of a quarter and smallest size you can use in a hand fired stove. Chestnut is about half the size of a baseball. Larger sizes include stove and egg. Stove is still sold but it's more expensive, it's roughly the size of a baseball or a little bigger. Egg coal is about the size of a softball if not larger, I've never seen any egg myself for sale and I've been in the business for about 20 years, closest I saw was some over sized stove that was approaching the softball size. My Uncle told me stories of delivering it and he'd be down in the basement stacking it by hand building walls with it, you obviously can't shovel it. Stove is pretty hard to shovel too, I used to wait until the coal stacked up in front of the chute and then have my uncle send a shovelful down at a time to fill the shovel conveniently placed at the end of the chute.

Anyhow one of the great things about coal compared to something like wood is its easily controllable. For example with a coal stove you fill it up as much as you can when loading coal, this goes against common sense because most people think more fuel equals more heat but that is not the case. Instead you control it by the amount of air. The smaller coal like pea acts a like a damper and will slow the rate of the burn because it restricts the air flow. If for example you lived in very windy area straight pea coal might be the ticket because it's easier to keep it under control. The larger sizes will burn faster and produce more heat. You would throw pea over the top to restrict the air flow, another trick is to just get some ashes and spread them across the top. You can also have what they call range which is nut and pea mixed. Most of the people I've suggested this too liked it best and have stuck with it.

Your old stoves, boilers and furnaces were not nearly as air tight as modern ones so the need for having control through the size of the coal is somewhat diminished because you don't have a lot of unwanted air infiltration.
Thanks so much, I passing this info on to my brothers who also listened to my Dads stories, but like me only half listened because we were thinkin' about chasing 'skirts ' and other stuff.
I really appreciate the time it took to explain this to me.

You da Man, Coalman...I'm just the Coalboy standin' next to da man!
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Old 02-03-2011, 06:39 AM
 
Location: Location: Location
6,208 posts, read 7,381,117 times
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coalman, I can remember my Grandmother referring to "the copper coke man" when expecting a coal delivery. This was in Philadelphia in the '40's. Was she referring to the name of a company or was there a product called copper coke?

I used to tend the furnace at my Father's house when I was in elementary school. He would fire it up in the morning so the house would be warm for us but I would bank it just before I left for school. Back then, every kid knew about taking care that the fire wouldn't go out. Good times.
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Old 02-03-2011, 09:26 AM
 
37,063 posts, read 38,191,147 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theatergypsy View Post
coalman, I can remember my Grandmother referring to "the copper coke man" when expecting a coal delivery. This was in Philadelphia in the '40's. Was she referring to the name of a company or was there a product called copper coke?
I never heard that term before, coke derived from coal is used for fuel in the steel industry. Since a lot of heating pipes are copper perhaps it's a joking type term? I really don't know, I'm just guessing.
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Old 02-03-2011, 10:26 AM
 
Location: Location: Location
6,208 posts, read 7,381,117 times
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Thanks, coalman. I guess I should have paid more attention to Grandmere. LOL
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Old 02-06-2011, 11:17 AM
 
Location: University City, Philadelphia
22,583 posts, read 11,742,045 times
Reputation: 15397
Default Another Phoebe Snow ditty

A cozy seat
A dainty treat
Makes Phoebe's
Happiness complete
With Linen white
And silver bright
Upon the road
Of Anthracite
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Old 02-07-2011, 07:15 PM
 
Location: Scranton-Wilkes-Barre area
95 posts, read 114,916 times
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Wow! Great history and personal accounts! So interesting. My parents came here from Eastern Europe, and we got to know a couple of people in the area, in Luzerne, who knew they were Croatian... even though their ancestors were listed in immigration papers as Yugoslav or Austro-Hungarian, like alot of other Slavic immigrants. They came to this area and got involved in mining because they just wanted to support their families. As fas a s I know, back "home" they mainly used wood as fuel, back then in their villages.
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Old 02-08-2011, 05:01 PM
 
1 posts, read 2,402 times
Reputation: 10
Would love to find resources and/or information on Italian miners or mine owners 1910-1940. I believe my great-uncles, Frank and Joe Passarelli were partners who ran The Pompeii Anthracite Co. Or Pompeii-Supreme Anthracite Co. My grandfather (their brother-in-law) worked in the mines as a laborer from 1923-1943. All were immigrants from Calabria.
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Old 02-11-2011, 05:17 AM
 
Location: PA
372 posts, read 1,065,351 times
Reputation: 220
Fun fact I got in my mail today!!

Did you know...

... that today is Anthracite Coal Day? In 1808, Judge Jesse
Fell of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, burned anthracite coal in
his home to show that such coal burned clean and could be used
as a heating fuel. His successful experiment helped northeast
Pennsylvania become a great coal mining area.
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Old 02-11-2011, 07:40 AM
 
37,063 posts, read 38,191,147 times
Reputation: 14808
The part of Judge Fell is correct, wasn't aware there was "anthracite coal day" nor can I find any reference to it. The key here is he burned it with natural air currents opposed to force air. They were using coal in blacksmiths shop long before this, additionally anthracite is very hard to light. Many thought it to be useless as fuel since the soft coal burns so much easier.

That's not the case though, once lit well it's like a freight train, unstoppable. Since it doesn't smoke and doesn't "klinker" like soft coal its ideal for home heating use. A klinker is fused ash and common with soft coal, it will also happen with the red ash coal south of Wilkes Barre which has a higher iron content when its burned too hot. This looks like molten piece of lava/metal and will be very heavy and impossible to break. It has to be manually removed:
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