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About to take the plunge and would appreciate some insight; Jotul, VC or ?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Black Locust Burner, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. slindo

    slindo Member

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    I can't help but get a feeling that you have not been paying attention if after reading all the posts here you still settle on a VC.

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  2. Black Locust Burner

    Black Locust Burner New Member

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    Not too clear on your point. VC quality was not strongly discussed and I buy into the idea that they went thru a negative period of change that has been sorted out. If I heard from a reputable dealer who dropped the line in the last 2 years because of quality and support issues, I would be all ears.

    I admit that my thinking has flip-flopped alot in the past month, but this is similar to choosing between a room full of beautiful girls. You have blondes, brunettes, red-heads; I'm spending enough time with them to find the one who can share my space and is the least nuts!

    My corner install has made a big difference and eliminated side-loaders.
  3. slindo

    slindo Member

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    There is another recent thread here from someone who has a 2-in-1 that he cannot get fixed - his dealer keeps stalling, other dealers say that VC doesn't pay enough for them to do warranty work on stoves they didn't sell, and VC won't intervene. The latter has been an especially common theme here - many companies (Jotul, too) are trying prevent any direct communication between consumers and the manufacturer which leaves you screwed if the dealer slacks off.

    I haven't heard of any dealers giving up the line, but why would they? VC is still a very big name, and still makes gorgeous stoves. I get the impression that many dealers who don't particularly like the stoves still carry the line, to sell to people who are more concerned with looks than function, or insist on the brand. But it is interesting to note that when I went shopping recently for a stove, 3 dealers at different shops carrying both VC and Jotul told me I would be better off with the Jotul when I showed interest in the VC. I can't resist twisting your metaphor a bit - it may be like choosing between a roomfull of beautiful girls, but when the prettiest just may have an STD.

    Forgot I just said that! You have special issues in your installation that restrict your choices, and may make the risk involved in buying a VC stove worthwhile. They do have the best toploading, and the best ashtray in the biz. Just remember you are buying a stove which is a tad delicate and may have questionable support. So you you got to take prophylactic measures. Remember it will not tolerate bad wood, overfiring or failure to keep the cat clean. Overfiring especially. And always, always remember that the ashdoor is not a substitute for dry wood and a good supply of kindling.

    Good luck!

  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  5. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    If all blondes were strippers that had a lot of baggage, required you to spend massive amounts of time with them, while constantly demanding new clothing, plastic surgery, and expensive trinkets, you might decide dating a blonde isn't worth the hassle.

    A VC Stove is that blonde stripper, BLB.

    Can you make it work dating a high maintenance stripper? Sure. I did (I'm really digging a deep hole with any women members of Hearth right now<> ). But, I got both of my strippers after they came from bad break ups. So, they were cheap. All that means is that I have a higher tolerance level to the high maintenance since my entry point was so low.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go buy flowers to all the women members of Hearth here so they stop glaring at me for making this post.
    northwinds likes this.
  6. tcassavaugh

    tcassavaugh Minister of Fire

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    well by now, you have probably made up your mind on what stove to buy. however, i just thought i'd throw in an opinion....i've had two VC/Consolidated DW stoves and each burned well for me. i had a large Adirondack stove and a CD F2461 cat stove i still have, but not hooked up. I got good service out of both stoves. The Adiroundack burned for many years at my brothers house after i got rid of it for a larger stove. The 2461 did well except i tried to heat a bout 2800 square feet from the basement and it did well until it got to about 25 or so and i would start my small Jotul. Both were good stoves and burned easily, if you had dry wood, and were pretty easy to reload from the side. I've had a Jotul 602, small box stove and have a F3b which is a little larger that i use as a primary heater now on the main floor (1400 sq ft). With these mild winters, it does the job and still has some coals in it so its not a cold start after 7-8 hours depending on how much was in there the night before. Jotal is a snap to operate and the the wife is not intimidated by it as it has only a draft slide and i've put a pipe damper in mine. There are a lot of good stoves out there but I don't think you can go wrong with with the Jotul or the DW. Like i said, lot of good stoves out there and you can tell from the responses, some really supportive people of their stoves. I often think of it like cars....some like fords, some like dodge, some toyota....they all do the job, some more efficiently than others and some you need to tinker with before they run good.
    Enjoy the stove, whatever you end or ended up getting. discover its strengths, learn its weakness and burn the heck out of it.

    cass :)
  7. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    /me
    Falls out of chair laughing hysterically
  8. Black Locust Burner

    Black Locust Burner New Member

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    Begreen, my analogy is that there are a number of good choices and using the word pretty was not intended to describe the looks of the stove. But I have to wonder why (in my opinion) there are not many stoves that are designed to look good and bring form and function together. Maybe manufacturers are more concerned with function and don't feel the general public is overly concerned with looks to spend extra. I will say that I do not have many friends my age (38) who burn but would likely do so if stoves were designed as more of a centerpiece if their homes. I know it sounds shallow but if i think this, i cant be alone. Also, why are there so few top load options? Too much R&D to develop?
  9. Nonprophet

    Nonprophet Minister of Fire

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    There are some contemporary European designed wood stoves that are just gorgeous! Many people (myself not included) also really like the "victorian look" of the Woodstock stoves. We loved the looks of our VC Defiant-Encore, it was a beautiful cobalt blue enamel with pretty and ornate warming shelf holders/brackets that look like dragons--people were always telling how how pretty the stove was.....too bad it was such a high-maintenance stove....

    NP
  10. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    I'm 37 and an advertising and marketing designer. Your post does not make much sense as there are designs out there for everyone.
    • You have the classic/gothic cast iron stove designs.Jotul, VC, and Quad cast iron stoves use a LOT of the same design elements. So, if you like the VC cast iron stoves, the Jotul F600 and the Quadrafire Isle Royale are designed for the same user in terms of visual design.
    • Then you have Soapstone stoves which offer classic and modern designs.
    • Steel stoves which can have a modern design like the PE line, but for the most part or minimalistic utilitarian looking.
    • Contemporary/European designs that manufacturers like Jotul offer.
    • Masonry stone heaters
    • Cookstoves that resemble antique kitchen stoves
    Several reason. With a top loader you have three options for your reburn technology:
    1. Down draft: Which offers hit or miss results for the masses + fragile refractory package.
    2. Swing away burn tubes: Offers smaller top loading ability, more moving parts.
    3. Downdraft cat system: Offers poorer results when compared to other cat systems + expensive to maintain compared to other designs.
    jharkin likes this.
  11. Black Locust Burner

    Black Locust Burner New Member

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    I leave the interior decorating stuff to my wife, not uncommon. Show your average 30 something woman 20 modern stoves and she likes one. Show them stoves from the turn of the century and you get the opposite.
  12. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    My suggestion would be to take your wife for a drive to meet the good folks at Woodstock. The stoves are beautifully built, and are designed with the fact that they are going to be in your living room kept well in mind. The Progress Hybrid is a beautiful, modern stove with lines that you will never tire of seeing. The Fireview is lovely, with nicely detailed cast iron elements and certainly can compete with any older stoves for fine, rich detail. The Keystone is quite modern wiwth a large viewing window, and the Palladian is quite classic in appearance.
    The stoves are easy to use, miserly in their use of wood, have good viewing windows, require little maintenance (the seven years I had my Fireview I only pulled the cat at the end of the season when cleaning the flue...took a few minutes. They are easy to load, and easy to clean.

    A Woodstock stove, once purchased, will last your lifetime, with hardly any maintenance. No risk of poor quality or lack of superb customer service. Personally cannot understand someone having the option picking a VC over a Woodstock.

    Now, I could understand you choosing some other stoves rather than a Woodstock, for various personal preference reasons. But I'm amazed you'd go with a VC over a Woodstock, or over a good number of other stoves, after all the research you've done, and information you've been given here.

    But you have to go with both your heart and your head, so do what seems best for you, and please keep posting here as you get to know your stove. Let is know how things go.

    And good luck. I hope you find your stove the pleasurable purchase that a woodstove should be. Most of us grow to love ours, as we learn their quirks and qualities. . .
  13. slindo

    slindo Member

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    Remember VC was once a friendly, accessible little company with a unique, superior product and superb customer service. Strange things can happen in a lifetime.

    Oldhippie, jharkin and BrowningBAR like this.
  14. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    I will again second what BBar and Slindo have said... Be really really really sure a VC is what you want and you know what you are getting into before you buy one. Some of us manage to heat quite acceptably with them, but it is a high maintenance love hate relationship. It is not even comparable to owning a European sports car where all the pain comes with a payoff in the superior driving experience. Its just pain for average results. They are far from the best investment for your money in their price point.

    Ive been around VC stoves since the 80s, and I really want to see them build and support a world class product but they are just not there anymore / or back there yet.


    Hmm I would have though the opposite. The Victorian and Gothic looks seems to be an acquired taste where as ultra modern boxy/white/stainless/minimalist everything seems to be the rage in the mainstream. (This coming from myself and my wife who are both antique house lovers and had to search far an wide to find an antique that hadn't been wrecked in some misguided attempt to stuff a modern interior in an old shell)
  15. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    These stoves are surely being made beautifully NOW, and don't take maintenance beyond an occasional gasket, a cat every 5-10 years, etc. Used my Fireview about 6-7 years, replaced the cat in the last year, after flame inpingement whne it was already quite old- a ceramic cat, and the heat at the 5 + years fractured an area of the cat. So I replaced it. Never had to replace a gasket, tighten a door, anything else. Flue cleaned once a year or so (,maybe cup of light brown soot) and cat checked at that time, screen brushed. Cat never really needed cleaning...tiny bit of fine powder.

    Just saying.

    The world could end too.

    A superior product is a superior produxt. I'd always rather have it.

    .
  16. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I was in the same boat as the OP, not long ago. Side-loading soapstone stoves aside, there simply is not a classically-attractive catalytic stove on the market today. Okay, maybe the Cape Cod, but that wasn't available last summer, when I was shopping. I read so many horror stories about VC, that I went and bought a 20 year old stove instead.

    I think if a few more cast-iron catalytic stoves hit the market, or if Woodstock someday gets their head out of their ass and starts making some front-loading stoves for those of us who can't use a side-loader, there will be little reason left for anyone to consider VC.
    Black Locust Burner likes this.
  17. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    That really depends upon how the market receives the new influx of cat stoves (Regency and Lopi).

    That would be nice.
  18. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Re: The ashes. Yup . . . I remember well having to miss a Thanksgiving Dinner one year after someone tossed their ashes into the woods . . . started the dead grass on fire in a nearby field.
  19. Black Locust Burner

    Black Locust Burner New Member

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    So after everyone's input I promised myself I would not commit until making a trip to Woodstock to see the soap stones in person. I did that today, it's a three hour drive thru Vermont one way and not a bad trip this time of year. I will be buying the Progress Hybrid after a lot of thought, and probably too much overthinking. It was nice to see the factory and they were very helpful and not pushy. The function of the stove seems excellent and not having to load as often will hopefully make the side loading seem less important than I initially thought.
    Thanks for all the comments and now I just have to decide the colors and grind out a road trip and 700 lb install with a dolly and determination!

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