I was lucky to get some gracious assistance from a blacksmith friend who found a relatively handy source for coal not far away in Oklahoma. He offered to show me the way and we set a date for the trip.
I have used bagged coal for years and didn’t have a bin for loose coal so I had to build one before the trip. I used a couple of sheets of 5/8” treated exterior grade plywood to construct a bin on the studio porch. I can back the pickup to bin to off load with a scoop shovel. It sits about 16” off the floor so a five gallon bucket can slide under and fill easily by gravity when the door slides open. The bin should hold about two tons.
On the scheduled day we drove to the mine and I was able to purchase a pickup load of smithing coal for quite a bit less than I was spending for bagged coal. The current price was $100 per ton and the trip down and back was about six hours total and then there was the price paid for gas to figure into the actual cost. When I add in the cost for the coal bin I may not come out ahead this year but as long as the mine produces I should be set for the future.
The process was really easy. Check in at the scale office and place the order, weigh inbound on the scale, drive to the loading area, get out of the way while the huge front end loader filled the bed of my truck, weigh outbound, and pay. Twenty minutes in and out and we were on the road again.
It was nice to get this chore done at a convenient time. With only a little prudence I should be able to avoid making a trip in inclement weather or running out of fuel.