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Best top loading stove

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Trilifter7, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    I got between 9 and 10 hours with my Oslo. It has very few working parts to go bad. A rear combustion stove has alot of stuff behind the scenes. It's got the Pre-cast refractory panels covering a very fragile combustion chamber. These parts often last for many years, for others a very short time. Is it miss-use? Abuse? It's hard to tell, it has happened to experienced wood burners as well as newbies. The biggest reason I'm trying out this Leyden is because of reported problems from the field, some have had failure after a very short time, others have never reported a single problem. So far I am happy with it. It seems sluggish to get up to temp. but then chugs along just fine for 10 hours or so. It produces very little smoke. The biggest advantage to the top load to me is being able to make better use of a smaller firebox. It can hold more wood than another stove with same box size because you use the entire box, theres no baffle in the way. But, if you have the room, getting a bigger stove and not stuffing it full might be a better choice.

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  2. Trilifter7

    Trilifter7 Feeling the Heat

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    My model is a resolute I 0042 I believe. It is a 1991 model with the drop down front door and the griddle on the top instead of recessed. I agree with you completely webby, with the top loader being nice if you are cramming a stove full but if its big enough you don't have to. You have me thinking i shouldn't put so much emphases on the top load and look at more options. The Oslo is sounding better again... Hmmmm. How about the quadra fire as far as ease of use and maintenance? The side shelves are something I still like as well
  3. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    Do you have a dealer near by with the Leyden on display? Ask if they have had any real problems with it. It is a nice stove from a great company, but it does have more fragile parts than some others. I do love the brown enamel!;)
  4. Trilifter7

    Trilifter7 Feeling the Heat

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    I will check and see who is around. My selection of good dealers is very limited around Dayton ohio. There are a couple of dealers in Cincinnati I can check with. I actually started looking at the Leyden bc of your initial reviews webby. Keep us posted on how it does as it gets colder out. I know there is a Harman dealer close to me that I am going to check out soon so we will see.
  5. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Does the Oslo have a side-load door like the Firelight? If so, and you're in a position where you can use it, I don't think you'll miss the top-load door.

    To answer your earlier question, don't confuse the comments about a catalytic stove requiring a little more attention with the issue of maintenance. I don't think one can say a cat stove requires more maintenance, other than pulling the combuster out twice per year to dust it off and inpsect for damage. It takes only ten minutes to do this with my stove, most of that time being the act of shoveling the ash out of the stove, so I remove the rear burn plate.
  6. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    The Oslo has a left side door as the Firelight has a right side door. I agree that all Cat stoves don't require more maintenance, But some aren't as easy to get to. The #12 is sooooo easy to access, I guess the only hard ones are VC. :p
  7. Trilifter7

    Trilifter7 Feeling the Heat

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    Joful, you do bring up a good point. I am realizing that the cat stoves aren't as bad as they sound. I just want to make sure I get a stove that's reliable and maintainable without too much effort or annual cost.
  8. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I believe the maintenance issue is more about brand and design than which technology you choose.

    If I could paint with a very broad brush (sure to get myself into trouble here), I'd recommend one technology versus the other, as follows:

    Cat stove: for those who like to fiddle with things. Engineers, technicians, frustated orthodontists. Anyone who ever put a high performance cam in their car; or "chipped" it, for you younger folks. Geeks who wants performance at any cost. Guys who aren't married.

    Non-cat stove: anyone not fitting the above description... or more importantly, those having wives who may be less than entirely impressed that your cat stove has a few percent higher efficiency, or can burn a few hours longer and a few degrees cooler than a non-cat.

    My wife's an engineer, but painfully short-tempered... not sure which camp that puts me in.
    Blue Vomit and Bluerubi like this.
  9. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    Believe it or not, the wife will play a big role in this. I spoiled my wife with the Blaze King. Even though the Leyden has a bypass damper, she has trouble figuring it out. It can be difficult for women, if they 'might even' have to load it, make it as simple as possible. In her defense, the B-King only needed attention once a day. And I was the guy for the job.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Boot camp. ::-)
    BrowningBAR likes this.
  11. Bluerubi

    Bluerubi Member

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    I couldn't agree more with your "cat stove" criteria. As a chemical engineer I love the concept of a cat and really enjoy playing with my three strategically placed temperature indicators, primary air control, and newly installed flue damper. There is no doubt in my mind that I squeeze more heat out of the wood in the Firelight than my much newer and more expensive VC merrimack, but my wife doesn't find the same joy that I do in tinkering. Once I get things set up the stove runs forever untouched, but part of the fun for me is getting things going so it doesn't seem like work at all. Grab a cocktail and a comfy seat, and the Firelight 12 is more like therapy for me than a heat source.
  12. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    In the Winter with hardwood (ash, birch, maple, cherry, elm, beech, etc.) I generally load up my final load at 9:30 p.m. or so and have the stove cruising by 10 p.m. . . . when I wake up at 4:30-5 a.m. there are enough coals to get the fire started by just tossing on some kindling or small splits. Obviously, other's burn times may vary depending on what you are burning (oak and locust vs. my birch, ash, maple, etc.), draft, etc. . . . not to mention on how you define burn time (i.e. does the manufacturer define "burn time" as the time from when the fire is lit to when the last coal goes out, time from when the woodstove hits X degrees to when it falls below that heat level, time from when there is usable heat from the stove to when you can easily reload and get a fire back . . .
  13. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    I think you meant confuse, but stated either way this is true... I think a lot of the "cat stoves are too maintenance intensive" thinking comes from the experience of us Vermont Castings owners - but that has nothing to do with the catalyst and everything to do with the overly complicated VC design.

    Hey I resemble that remark >>

    This sounds familiar as well. My wife wants only two things - To be warm, and for me to make that happen. She doesn't care how and doesn't want to be bothered to participate.
  14. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Yep... got tripped up in the middle of an edit.


    Now where have I heard that before? Oh yeah... I said it three weeks ago! ;lol

  15. Nonprophet

    Nonprophet Minister of Fire

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    Can't say enough good things about our Isle Royale! We went from an Encore 2550 (good burns, gorgeous, but high maintenance) to an Oslo that never burned right for us, to the IR which--in over 20 years of burning--is the best stove we've ever owned! I do admit that I don't use the top-loading as much as the front door, but, it's an option I got used to on the Encore and I like using it better than the side door on the Oslo.

    NP
  16. slindo

    slindo Member

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    After 30 years burning VC stoves, and about 25 with an Encore, we bought an Oslo. We both really wanted a top loader but VC was out of the question, and the other toploaders we looked at, like the Rangely and Isle Royale, were so compromised in the loading (Rangely had an intermediate chamber you have to thread the logs through to get them into the firebox, and IR has sliding air tubes that partially block the loading door) that they barely deserve to be called top loaders - have you looked inside either? So we said goodbye to toploading and bought an Oslo. Can't say I love it. but we have no regrets now that we have used it for a while. One thing that does surprise us is how drama-free it is. You put wood in it, and it heats. No waiting until it gets to 400 degrees to put it in downdraft, or worrying if you let it get too much higher, or feeling guilty about not cleaning the cat (which required moving the stove away from the wall!). I think it requires just as much fiddling, since the non-thermostatic air control doesn't adjust automatically, but the adjustment is much less critical, so you don't have to worry about it all the time.
  17. Trilifter7

    Trilifter7 Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks for all the input so far everyone. I am leaning towards the Isle Royal or the Jotul Oslo right now. I really like the Harman Oakwood as well if anyone has any input on it??
  18. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    Oakwood is a fine stove but most likely will be tougher to use, with a longer learning curve and more babysitting, and a greater need for optimal draft and well-seasoned wood. (see the Leyden/Oakleaf thread)

    If I didn't love my drop-in grill so much, and could have a re-do, three of my top picks would be Woodstock Fireview, Isle Royale and Oslo.
  19. Trilifter7

    Trilifter7 Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks for the input branchburner. What is your typical burn time with the Oakwood? I really like the stoves with the side racks so that is also a factor. And how do you like the top load of the Oakwood?
  20. Trilifter7

    Trilifter7 Feeling the Heat

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    NP, how is the maintenance on your Isle Royale? Any issues with cleaning or routine maintenance?
  21. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    I do like the top load feature, but I seem to be getting much shorter burn times than I used to - I may have a gasket problem or something I don't see, but I suspect it has something to do with the new afterburner part I put in (another caution with these stoves!) that didn't seem to fit quite right. For long burn times with better control of heat output, a cat stove seems like a good way to go.
  22. Trilifter7

    Trilifter7 Feeling the Heat

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    I will keep that in mind branchburner. I am in Erie this weekend so I am going to look at the Oakwood this weekend and when I get back next week I am going to look at the Oslo and the Isle Royale. I'm really leaning torwards the Isle Royale at this point. Anyone know how maintenance and general operation are with it?
  23. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    Insert seasoned wood, adjust the air, and let it burn. I had a cracked baffleboard, but it was covered under warranty and haven't had any problems
    in a couple of years. I also banged some north/south wood too hard into the rear bricks and broke a brick in half. I'm more careful now. I'm entering my
    fifth season with the stove.

    When I moved to my current house a few years ago, I thought about leaving the Isle Royale in the old house and buying a new stove, but prospective buyers of my
    old house didn't like idea of a wood stove. So I called my stove dealer, had the chimney and stove professionally moved to my current house, and immediately
    received an offer on the old house for nearly full price. Worked out for everyone. Some people would rather pay the gas man than mess with wood.
  24. Trilifter7

    Trilifter7 Feeling the Heat

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    Good to know Northwinds. The Isle Royale is on the top of my list right now. Hopefully I can see one up close next week and give some more feedback.
  25. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    One thing you will notice when you look at the Isle Royale close-up is that the very back of the stove narrows, creating less usable space in the back. I know that some people have chosen other stoves as a result. I don't know anyone who has chosen the Isle Royale who has been dissatisfied with the amount of space in the firebox.
    I heat over 2000 square feet of living space, typically running 3 loads of wood per day over a 24 hour period. We're having a mild winter so far, and I'm running two smaller loads per day, and letting the house cool off overnight. I have the plain black finish on my stove, and it has held up well. There are enamel options as well for
    a higher cost.

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