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2012-2013 Blaze King Performance Thread(everything BK)

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by rdust, Oct 29, 2012.

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  1. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    I'll run 350-400 for about a day and a half, right over the cat. Starts to taper off after that. Stuffed full, with bit of an active flame, runs around 600 for a couple of hours, then tapers off to 5-550 for 16-18 hours. It'll run 600+ for a good ten hours, maybe a little more. Cold, windy days I'm loading it full every 12 or so.

    Lots of radiant heat thru the glass. Don't have an IR, some day maybe.
    BrowningBAR likes this.

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  2. Rickb

    Rickb Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for getting back to me. I am almost 100% this is the stove I am going with. I want it on legs but really liking the longer burn times you are getting with it.
  3. scjfly

    scjfly New Member

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    Hey Guys,

    Shopping for a Blaze king and have a few questions. If I go new, is it worth the money to get the ultra? What do you guys think of the convection deck? I gather the ash pan is nice.

    If I go the used route, Is there a write up somewhere that will tell me when they made significant changes and improvements? Anything to look for as in terms of damage from overheating?

    Thanks,

    Clark
  4. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Used, modern Blaze Kings aren't easy to come by. You'll find them here or there. I think I have come across one or two in the northeast in the five years of searching online.
  5. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    I've never used my ash pan. Really depends on whether you want a pedestal. Includes side shields, if you need them for clearance, but you can add them to the other models. I have no feelings on the convection deck. I can let you know about that after I get my sister's stove installed. Hers doesn't have one.

    I think just the current version of the Princess and King have glass in the door. The older ones don't.

    I think the only way to overfire this stove is to have the bypass open and the door cracked. Open the bypass and look thru the flue collar, and check the channel where the rope gasket is (or should be). If it is really twisted out of shape from extreme heat, start looking at the rest of the stove. If it was glowing, it would be on the top around the flue collar, and in a widening circle towards the back of the stove. Check for cracks and popped welds in the body of the stove. If you buy used, figure on replacing the cat, for around $300.
  6. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    The BK ash pan is relatively decent but not useful for the very simple reason that it is way to friggin small. A couple of inches in the bottom of a princess fills a bucket and would fill the little ash pan several times. The second reason that the ashpan is a no-go is that it is of the plug design meaning you dig through the ash (maybe 6 inches deep) to find this little plug which is difficult at best, then you have to put it back in before the ashes finish emptying. Imagine trying to change the oil in your car and your drain pan only holds one quart, you then have to put the plug back in to stop ash from falling but also you had better get it on right or else air will be leaking up into the fire and your fire will be out of control. Do not choose this model for the ash pan. To be fair, I have never liked ash pans in any stove.

    The ultra has something that the other models don't. A square front shape. The others taper towards the top and look, well, weirder. The sideshields also help the stove look more square on the sides, square is good on a stove. The leg models have BK legs which are pretty unique looking too and a ruffly skirt if you choose the ash pan on the parlor model.

    Yes, it is absolutely worth the small extra to get the ultra because the pedestal looks better than the legs w/skirt and because the stove is square. It just looks better. All princess stoves perform the same which is unmatched by any other stove on the market.

    I bought the convection deck and fans to get maximum convection from the stove. Since the fans ended up being unnecessary in my home, I'm not sure if the deck does anything useful. Not sure I would recommend the deck unless you were heating a large area and planned on needing to run the fans.
  7. ohlongarm

    ohlongarm Minister of Fire

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    Get the ultra better to have and not need than to need and not have,the ash pan in my opinion is great I empty once a month with average temps of 18 to 25 degrees twice when temps dip into low teens or below,the ash pan plug is easily accessible they even give you a tool to remove it with.In my opinion the pan holds quite a bit of ash,and is easy to empty the stove through the hole provided as all of what's left is powder anyway if your wood is primo.The deck serves a purpose I guess but I've never used the blowers yet.The side shields I'll probably remove as they serve no purpose to me,hope this helps some ,remember opinions are like,rectums everyone has one.
  8. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    For sure. All models, the princess is a princess and the important stuff is constant. The looks and usefulness of an ash pan are very subjective.
  9. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    I'd buy whatever I could get for the best price, new or used. Even the Classic is growing on me, now that I've spent some time with one.
  10. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    I've never messed with the ash pan. I just shovel it out into a 5 gal metal pail. Usually fill that to the top when I empty the stove. Don't think the ash pan can hold nearly that much.

    The blowers work great. When the power goes out I don't have the blowers and it makes a big difference in heat distribution. Stove top will run 600-700 with no blower, with blower around 300-400.

    The T Stat is more or less useless when using the blowers though. I just have a pretty good idea that x many splits will keep the house at ~70* for whatever the temp is. Typically 25ish* 3-4 splits is all I need. I don't usually load it right full unless I'll be gone for more than a day or it's approaching below zero temps. Only time I don't have the air shut all the way down is when it's cold out (like -20*)

    As with any stove, really all depends on so many variables. House size/insulation, wood used, outside temp/humidity, etc, etc, etc.
    Upper 30s-40s a fire every other day is usually enough to heat my house. For others they'd need to run the stove full blast.
  11. phatline

    phatline New Member

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    Hi everyone. I'm a long time reader but haven't posted much. After a bunch of research I decided to go with the Blaze King Princess for my 1800 sqft house. The local dealer tried real hard to talk me out of a catalytic stove (even though I said my main priorities were efficient burning and long burns with consistent heat output). I stuck to my guns and got the Princess. It has not been smooth sailing, however. Hoping some of you may have tips for me.

    The first problem I ran into was that I cannot get the stove started up with the front door closed. The instructions clearly say that once your kindling is going, you can close the front door (tstat at #3) and burn that way until the cat is active. Well, my firebox will just fill with smoke and the fire will go out. I have to leave the door cracked. When I do that, it burns like a furnace (which makes me think insufficient draft is NOT the problem...). If the firebox is up to temp, I *can* run with the bypass open and it operates pretty much like a non-cat stove withs secondary action (but why would I want to do that??? :).

    The second problem is that I get a lot more smoke out the chimney than I had expected. Certainly during start-up, but also during the initial burn-in on high, and it continues for at least the first hour or two (regardless of thermostat setting). It's not steam, it's smoke--does not dissipate and I can smell it. Once the fire has "settled in", the smoke does stop.

    The third problem is that I can't use the full thermostat range. At 3 (won't go past #3, despite a tick mark at 3.5) the stove will produce smoke out the chimney. Below 1.5 the fire will go out. The stove really seems to only run best in the range marked "NORMAL" (about 1.75-2.25).

    The fourth problem is that I don't get very long burn times. Loaded up with dry oak (verified with a moisture meter at 10-12%) and set at #2 I might get 10 (down to coals). Not bad for your average stove, but less than I expected. The burn profile will be something like this: 1-2 hours of active flames, 1-2 hours of "borealis"/intermittent blue flames, then dark with just the glowing cat, then a dark (but still active) cat. I can't manage a twice-daily load cycle. With cedar (also bone dry) a full load will burn down in 6 hours or less at the same setting.

    The fifth problem is that I get significant soot buildup on the glass. It would probably stay clean if I burned the whole load at #2, but if I turn it down below 2 it'll soot up. It seems this isn't too uncommon so I'm not that worried about it, but I sure would prefer clean glass.

    The one strange thing about my setup is that I had a two story 7" single-wall stovepipe that I wanted to reuse for cost reasons. We replaced the first few feet with straight 6", followed by two 45's to get in line with the 7" run, then 7" to the roof (so about 15 feet of 7"). The stovepipe is 2-300 degrees near the stove, but cools very rapidly as you go up. Near the top, it's almost room temperature (90F, sometimes cooler!). I think this could be contributing to my problems, because at higher thermostat settings that massive pipe is creating too much draft and causing the smoke out the top (incomplete burn through the cat); at lower settings the flow is so slow that the flue gas cools rapidly and there is insufficient draft. I'm even worried about spillage into the house given the temps at the top are so low--we have two CO detectors and I bought a professional meter, too. So far so good though.

    I checked the bypass gasket and it looks fine to me--no gaps that I can see, and no sooty areas to indicate exhaust gas flowing through. When I look into the firebox I do see flames going straight up to the top (as opposed to being "pulled" towards the cat) but I can't really tell if they're heading to the bypass or just the ceiling of the firebox in general.

    Oh, and yes my cat is lighting off. It typically runs between 1/2 and 3/4 on the dial, glows orange when there's significant smoke. The only time it stalls (drops out of the active zone) is if I try to go below the 1.5 setting.

    I have tried an experiment--wrapped about half of the stovepipe with crinkled aluminum to simulate a double-wall pipe. The stove does seem happier and I have been able to go a bit below 1.5 (albeit with very little heat output).

    Having said all that, I still love my stove. Burns 2-3 times longer on the same load compared to my old smoke dragon, and requires far less fiddling (as long as I stay between 1.5 and 2.5).
  12. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I'll try a stab.

    The manual is a guide. I have found that the manual tries to be complete but it contradicts itself and sometimes just makes errors. This stove, like all stoves, must be burned with the door cracked until the fire is going good enough to latch the door shut. The time this takes depends on your wood quality and wood size. Technically, the manual told you not to latch the door until your kindling is going, and obviously it isn't going good enough when you shut your door if you are snuffing the fire.

    My stat goes past three but not by far. I don't need anything past three anyway.

    I expected less smoke from the princess. This think is a dragon before engaging the cat. With a glowing cat I can still get more smoke than I would expect near the startup but once it settles in for the burn at the normal 1.5-2 setting the smoke is gone.

    I also expected the flames to be pulled towards the cat when the bypass was closed but like you noticed, they still run straight up to the ceiling. That appears to be normal.

    At a stat setting of about 1.5 the intake shudder clicks closed. So whether you are at 0.5, 1, or 1.25, the stat will let the same minimal amount of air into the fire. Something isn't allowing you to burn at low settings. Could be draft, could be poor fuel. How long has the oak been split and stacked out of the rain? What is the outside temp? Where are you located? This stove seems to be sensitive to poor draft and with warm outside temps I have to adjust my process.

    I almost believe that all of your problems could be attributed to wet wood. Hard to start, smokey, snuffs easily, have to use high stat settings to keep it going, flames, etc. The biggest tip off that your fuel is poor is that you run it on #2 with flames for a significant amount of time in an 1800 SF house. This stove shouldn't be making flames after initial startup, so maybe an hour after you light the match. That's a wet wood thing.

    So please tell us about your wood.
  13. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    That's a lot of single wall pipe, especially for a stove that already runs with cool flue temps.

    Did you check a fresh split with the meter?

    I can run for a very long time with the thermostat all the way closed. Cat stays active throughout. Need really dry wood and decent draft. I don't have anything special, about 5' of double wall into 11' of class A. It works.
  14. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    x2
  15. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    Phat, did you split your wood before taking the reading with the moisture meter? Certainly sounds like an unseasoned wood problem.
  16. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    It does make a huge diff checking a fresh split.
    I have some honey locust that has been css for two years.
    I can burn the small splits fine but the big ones no way are they ready but will burn.
    They read 17% on the outside but split it again and it's almost double that!
  17. Monosperma

    Monosperma Member

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    Although my Blaze King KEJ 1101 is an predecesor of yours, I think I'm qualified to respond. Your first three "problems" are substantially similar to my everyday experience. I am starting to view these "issues" as the personality of the stove. My older stove has no glass, so I have no smoked up glass issues, nor can I see what my fire is doing - which may sometimes be a blessing, as my judgment is made by instruments, not by my reaction to what flames I see. Also, with my older model, once the front door is closed, the by-pass MUST close. That's engineered into the unit.

    Issue #1, start-up. I have single-wall stove pipe up to the ceiling, and at the specified 18 inches above the stove top, I have a magnetic flue thermometer, from True Value Hardware. I have another thermometer, a probe, measuring the temp right above the cat. When I start up or re-load, I leave the door open and the by-pass open until that flue thermometer hits about 500F. The cat probe, on a cold start, will still be in the cold zone. Then I close the door and the by-pass gets closed at that time. The stack temperature comes down slowly and then, even more slowly, the temp on the cat probe thermometer starts to rise. You have to be patient, the cat probe thermometer waits a while but then, in fifteen or twenty minutes, the thing is 1000F and rising. When it hits 1600, I turn down from 3 1/2 to 3, and go down in increments of 1/2 each 15 minutes or more.

    Issue #2, smoke when new wood is catching, either a cold start or a re-load: if the gasket at your bypass is good and the gasket around your cat is good, what else can one do? Live with a couple of hours of smoke. Everyone says if your wood is dry, creosote won't be a problem. Well, with the Blaze King (the marketing video shows you can stick your hand into the flue and not get burned) my stack temp normally is down into what the flue thermometer indicates is the creosote range, and so I'm going to sweep/check the flue. However with dry wood and the fact that the smoke has gone through the combustor, I'm much less worried. To put it another way, the pre-printed flue thermometer does not know whether it is attached to the stack above a smoke dragon or above that of an EPA catalytic stove. Beyond that, you can choose to see the glass as (more than) half-full; 2 hours of smoke in a 12 or 24 hour burn cycle is 10 or 22 hours without significant smoke.


    Issue #3, range of the thermostat. I can go 3 1/2 full power, but below 2, my fire is also going out. (If I catch it with any embers left, which is always, I just have to open up the air and open the door as if a re-load, and stand by to close the door when the wood is really going, i.e., flue temp of 500F.) For me, it's an old stove, it's been two decades or more since the thermostat was "set" at the factory, and this is just the personality of my stove, with my install, with my house, with the wood that I'm using. So I don't set it at or below where I think the fire will go out. My longest burns are right above that - 24 hours so far.
  18. Monosperma

    Monosperma Member

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    P.S. Not that you are burning pine, but in my non-cat EPA Lopi Revere, Ponderosa Pine needs the air turned way, way, down, and still leads to very smokey glass. Not that I care; I'm all about the heat, not the view.
  19. greythorn3

    greythorn3 Minister of Fire

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    thats because all the hot air that comes out of your mouth nate!
  20. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Since this is a catch all thread.... When you folks engage your cats by locking down the bypass plate do you get a significant pop, clunk, or clank when you lock in the bypass? Sometimes I get a nice over-center smooth lock type feel and other times it is a pretty loud pop. The plate is adjustable but I have no desire to adjust it unless it really needs it. Do the you guys still get a thunk after a few years? Has the noise changed?

    Still getting 24 hour burns out of 50% red alder and 50% half punky swamp willow with 40 degree outside temps. This thing is amazing. 40% of the glass is blackened but it is more of a tint, I can still watch the "fire" through most of the window.
  21. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    I burnt my stove for two solid seasons and just adjusted the by-pass last weekend..it seemed it was way easier then the first season.
    Not sure I needed to but I did..still not as hard to do as when I first bought it..it took a lot of effort then.
  22. phatline

    phatline New Member

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    Thanks for the replies everyone! I'll consolidate my responses here:

    Highbeam: I've also just accepted that I need to warm the stove up with the door cracked. That's OK with me--the copious air means less smoke during the warm-up. Once I engage the cat, it comes up to temperature very quickly. The smoke continues to come out the stack for 1-2 hours, but like you once I'm "settled in" at 1.5-2 there will be no smoke. I don't run #2 because I want to, I run it because the stove seems happiest there. It's honestly too much heat! After my "tin foil mod job" on the flue, I've been able to run 1.5 with acceptable results. I even tried 1.25 last night, and there's still wood in the box this morning, but it's not really putting out heat and the cat is just barely in the active zone. I think it's basically stalled.

    jeff_t: I have two kinds of wood: cedar and oak. I bought them both in the early Fall of 2011 so they've had an extra a year to season. The cedar was bone-dry from the start (very light, sounds hollow, and measures 8% on a fresh split). The oak was definitely wet when I bought it, felt heavy and would hiss and steam when first put on the fire (this was before the princess). I let it season another year, cross-stacked in my wood shed (off the ground and shielded from rain, but with plenty of air flow), and now it measures 12-14% on a fresh split. Some pieces are wetter than others but in general it is fairly dry now.

    Also I would think that if I run on #2 for an hour or two, what moisture is left would be driven off. No?

    Mono: sounds like we have a pretty similar setup. Maybe there's something to my theory that with a long single-wall pipe, the lower settings fail because of insufficient draft. It make sense: very little exhaust flow means rapid cooling and less draft. I don't know exactly how the BK thermostat works, but I envision a coil that you preload or offset when you turn the dial--meaning at the lower settings, the BK can open up the intake only so much. If there isn't enough draft, insufficient air will get to the stove. I've noticed that it's only at the setting of ~2 where I hear the thermostat really doing its work (creaking sounds as it adjusts towards open and closed)--above or below that I hear nothing, and I assume this is because the thermostat is just pegged towards the open or closed position as far as it can go.

    PS: I do have a little bit of pine (lodgepole, I think) that's been in the woodshed for a few years. It's extremely dry. I've noticed that it soots more than the cedar. And I agree, not having a glass door would be a minor blessing :)

    I *think* my moisture meter works. I just tested it and on dry lumber in my house it reads 5-6% (we live in an extremely dry climate), on wet wood 24-40%. When I first got that oak, it was 12-14% externally but 24% inside a fresh split. After another 14 months of seasoning it was down to 12-14% inside.

    Thanks again everyone!
  23. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    If you really want to know what your t-stat is doing you need to take the cover off it and watch it.
    It won't affect the burn or hurt anything..mine is always off now.
    I recommend that to all bk owners to get a grip on it.
  24. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    My dealer had one all taken apart on display and another installed on a stove but with the cover off just so customers could grasp what the lever was doing. It is a butterfly valve and in this navy town full of welders and mechanics it is very easy to compare to a carburetor.
  25. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    My bypass still "clunks" as loud as it used to but isn't as tough to get over the last "hump". When I checked the bypass gasket before starting burning it was still plenty tight. The mechanism is a simple adjustment, loosen a lock nut and tighten a bolt.

    I'm still getting away with 24 hour burns with 20's for the lows and 30-40's for the high. End of the burn the rooms away from the stove are in the high 60's but still plenty comfortable.
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