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Wood Burning Crop Dryers Work Great
Low-temperature drying may take a bit longer than high-temperature methods. But, when you don't want to spend a lot of money on expensive LP-gas, and you have plenty of wood to burn, a low-temperature woodburning dryer makes a lot of sense. At least it does to Caret' Chapman of Veedersburg, Ind.
Chapman admits his woodburning dryer requires more labor than do gas-fired or electrically heated dryers. But he adds, "I don't have the dollars to spend on gas, and "we have plenty of Wood here which makes this system very attractive. It works great," he told FARM SHOW.
The dryer burns about a pickup load of wood a day to dry grain. Chapman checks it about every 90 minutes but says it generally only needs wood every three hours. Larger pieces burn longer.
Chapman tried burning conventional bales of corn stalks in his dryer. He says they burned okay but he didn't get as much heat from them as he does from wood. Pound for pound, cornstalks don't have as much heat value as wood, says Chapman. The stalks he burned were still tough. "Dry stalks would burn better, but you might have to store them from the year before to have a satisfactory supply." Although his dryer wasn't built large enough to handle big round bales of crop residue, Chapman believes it would burn coal without any problems. "Coal might cost less than wood if significant labor costs are required to cut wood," he points out. "As for me, I've got plenty of wood, and plenty time to cut it during the winter months when I'm not busy farming."
Chapman's dryer was built by his landlord, Robert Draper, Fairmount, Ill., who is in the sheetmetal business. It has a 4 x 8 x 3 ft, firebox. To keep smoke from entering grain, there's a stainless steel heat exchanger above the firebox. An electric fan blows air through the heat exchanger and into the bin. On cold days, air temperature is raised 40-50?, but on warm fall days it was as much as 120?.
Another Woodburner
Another woodburmng dryer was built by George Renner, Marshall, Ill. after his LP-gas dealer shut off his gas supply a few years ago. Renner gathered up bits and pieces of steel, had two cylinders rolled and welded by a metal shop, and built his dryer for about $100. His smokestack is made of scraps of steel piling.
Renner dried about 17,000 bu. the first year and has had excellent results every year since. His dryer consists of a cylindrical firebox, fueled from the top, and surrounded by- a larger cylindrical air chamber. A ran blows air around the firebox and into the grain bin.
Renner has forced air draft on the burner and a damper to provide better combustion. However, he must let the fire go out and the dryer cool to remove ashes from the top. "But this chore doesn't seriously interrupt drying," says Renner. "After drying about 2,000 bu. of corn, I let the fire burn out and keep the fan running about a day to cool the grain. By then, the ashes have cooled enough to be removed. I then load more grain into the bin and start a new fire. The next unit I build will have a cleanout door at the bottom for easier ash removal."
Much of Renner's fuel has been discarded railroad ties, which he says burn well and provide a large amount of heat. Although he hasn't tried it, he believes he could also burn coal, but thinks the firebox should be of heavier steel to withstand the higher temperatures of a coal fire. He normally adds wood about every five or six hours.
For more information on Caret' Chapman's woodburning dryer, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Robert Draper, Fairmount, Ill. 61841 (ph 217 758-2861).

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1980 - Volume #4, Issue #5