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Calling In The Warranty On Woodstock Steel Cat

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Todd, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. scotsman

    scotsman Feeling the Heat

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    Todd--I asked about a ceramic cat for the PH and was told (not by the owner, but by a trusted employee) that there isn't one for it. Were you talking about the PH or something else? I would like to have the ceramic, because, having had both, for me the ceramic is more productive--i.e. more heat. My FV ran higher temps for longer than the PH has been able to muster so far. The PH running a ceramic cat seems like the best of both worlds. Thanks--

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  2. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Adam,You do have a Fireview? I had one 7 years, have a great draft, never burned it at 0 = that always snuffed the fire out right away. If you are able to burn with a Fireview at 0, I think you must have an air leak. At this point , I'd be worrying about your stove, not the catalyst, which after all is easily replaced at a reasonable expense. Talk with Woodstock about the catalyst/ Woodstock's stoves are designed to be run routinely at 400-600, with a safe range being 250-700. 750 is considered overfired by Woodstock. Woodstock specifically cautions not to overfire the stove as repeated overfiring will harm the stove. They also strongly recommend against basement installations of Woodstock stoves, and state one should not expect satisfactory heating of a home from a basement installation. There are folks who nevertheless seem to have success with basement installation. Don't know how big your home is, but I wouldn't expect a Fireview in the basement to heat a good sized home. A Progress Hybrid would be more likely to if you really want a Woodstock. It puts out a great deal more heat. When did you get your Fireview? What is your floorplan and how freely does air exit your basement? You might talk with Woodstock. If the situation isn't right for you and you've had the stove less than six months, I believe you can return it for any reason whatsoever if it is not satisfactory for your purpose. Alternatively, you might be able to switch a Fireview out for a Progress Hybrid at a very reasonable rate' PH would deliver a great deal more heat. If you are dealing with a relatively new Fireview, Woodstock is in a position to resell it as a used unit for a decent amount. I'd also talk with Woodstock about those high temperatures. I believe there are reasons related to the cast iron oxidizing that should keep you burning at lower temperatures than 750. Finally, I have Excel double wall pipe...really good pipe...and Excel cautions against burning on any regular basis with flue temperatures above 600. I am of the opinion that it is incorrect to assume that a device should not fail if it is "occasionally" run outside its designed maximum. A few time in its life cycle , if not TOO much overfired probably minimal damage. A few times in a year, probably bad news long term for any stove or other heating device. Lastly, if you go over with Wooodstock your specific floorplan and what you are trying to accomplish , they'll give you good advice about whether their PH will likely be satisfactory for you, as well as whether you are likely fighting a losing battle with a Fireview. You may be outside its design parameters. Good luck. Hope you can get things resolved. i have found my Woodstock's to be great stoves which have contributed to my enjoyment of life.
  3. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Terry, are you saying your Fireview put out more heat than your PH is? Or just that the stovetop temp was higher on the Fireview than it is on the PH?
  4. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    I don't know about the PH? Maybe Tom was just talking about their other stoves? I know he sent me a ceramic cat for my keystone and now both of my stoves will have ceramic cats with the new ss scoops.

    If Woodstock doesn't have ceramic cats for the PH you could always purchase one from Applied Ceramics and keep that steel one for a spare.
  5. adamscotera

    adamscotera New Member

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    Hi Rideau,
    I do have an air leak, but it's pretty minimal. I plan on patching it with cement when the weather is warmer. I'm not having a problem with controlling the draft- I have no trouble getting the burn rate too low. The problem I'm having is getting my combustor to burn the smoke, even when the stovetop is at 550 for an extended amount of time, and the only time I ever see 600 on my flue is when I've left the damper open a little too long on start-up. Burn range I'm using is 400-450 on the flue, and if the combustor would work, I could get that down to 325.
    I think you're right that a PH would suit my needs a lot better. When we bought the Fireview in 2010, it was the biggest stove they were offering (tied with the Classic for firebox size and heat output, but apparently surpassing it in efficiency). If the PH had existed then, we would have bought it. Do you really think Woodstock would be able and willing to help us change it out? Seems like somebody would have to spend a lot on labor and transport costs, and there's the difference in price.
    Guess there's only one way to find out..
  6. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Hello, Adam:
    I'm sending you a private message. (PM)
  7. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Adam, with the air leak it is very possible you might not get the higher stove top temperatures. However, you will get more heat from the sides of the stove with more flame in the firebox. Overall, you may not get more heat if you keep the flames down and run a higher stove top temperature. I know Todd has done some experimenting with this and we have too. Occasionally I'll get out the IR gun just for a reminder of where the most heat comes from.

    No doubt you will notice a big difference when you get that leak repaired. Good luck.

    Oh, btw, with only 4 splits last night we got our Fireview at 700+ degree stove top. Yes, we corrected that right away.
  8. adamscotera

    adamscotera New Member

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    so for clarification, when I mentioned running a stove at 750 all the time without any consequences, I meant for the steel combustor unit, not the iron components of the stove. I do believe that iron will degrade a lot faster when exposed to 1500 degree temperatures on a regular basis for a long time. But the stainless steel combustor should be unaffected by such temperatures even if they happen all the time, which they don't. However, even if you run those temps all the time, it seems to me that it should only mean that you will need to replace your scoop and combustor pan in twenty years instead of forty. The body of the stove should not be in peril, as the most intense heat is not directly impacting the cast iron frame and the stone can certainly handle higher temps. If you get an air leak (as I have), you just need to patch it with better cement. Rutland Chimney Sweep cement is rated at a max temp of 2700 degrees. Surely that means it won't crack if the firebox occasionally touches 1700 or 1800.
    Adam
  9. scotsman

    scotsman Feeling the Heat

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    Lynda and I have talked about it several times and we both think that we got both higher top temps faster and more total heat output from the FV than with the PH. The FV definitely did not have the capacity to heat our house without constant re-loading, BUT even though it didn't burn as long, it did put out more total heat per burn than the PH--and that is with the identical wood and loads. We have achieved nearly 500 degree top temps with the PH, after some difficulties were ironed out, but the FV would go to 600 and beyond every time, and quickly, if allowed, which is something the PH has not done on it's best burn.

    Still trying to figure this out.
  10. Buck1200

    Buck1200 Member

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    I had the PH at 680 stove top the other night. That was with a 'dark box' cat burn with a full load of 2 year old maple and beech, and falling temps outside. The thing is, the stove puts out more heat faster when you don't do that. To get the most heat you need to leave the air open to about 1/4 and let the secondaries burn. Then the sides and front heat up, and not just the top. This is what I've found anyway.

    I've also found, now that I have a thermocouple on the outlet of the cat, that I have to leave the air open about 1/2 way for the first half hour or so after closing the bypass or the cat stalls. If I leave it open, it stays hot, and the stovetop temp comes up nicely to the mid 400's as usual. What it does after that is dependent on how much wood I put in, and how much I shut it down thereafter. Lot's of wood with a closed air supply and I've seen cat discharge temps hit 1500, though they usually sit around 1100. With secondaries burning, the cat temp will fluctuate from 750ish to 900 or so until down to coals.

    I have some more thermocouples coming which I intend to use to fully characterize this cat. WS sent me a new combustor which I'll switch in once I get my test setup dialed in.
  11. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    There are a lot of cast pieces inside there right around the combustor that I would be concerned with - the entire metal section dividing the top and bottom of the stove is cast I do believe... so there are parts that may not like being exposed to the extreme temperatures. All in all, I would generally advise taking the WS recommendations of avoiding running over 700 surface temp any more than the occasional "oops" dictates. As Dennis mentioned though - if you run with more flame in the box generally the surface temps don't run as high and you get more total heat from the stove since the sides and lower stove as a whole heat up more.

    I do believe that in most cases the only way to sustain those very high surface temperatures is to have it burning a lot more smoke on a very hot bed of coals with good draft.

    Each to their own though of course. I do believe that the FV is a well built stove and that they have engineered sufficient strength into the parts to put up with quite a bit of abuse so I imagine it would take quite a while of abusing it before you would see the affects, but I'm sure eventually the damage would show...
  12. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    buck1200: I have the same story: the stove needs more air after engaging or the cat stalls. I don't have thermocouples, but I can tell the cat is stalled from the heavy outside smoke trail and the steady 300F stovetop temp until I open up the air.

    This is not how the stove operated earlier this season, under similar outdoor temperatures. Stovetop temps used to take right off after engaging and immediatlely dialing back to zero air setting. It would be good to get some feedback from you once you get all those thermocouples set up - better yet both with the old and new combustor.
  13. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    This is interesting. Have you monitored cat light off temps? Will it light off at 400 degrees like advertised? When I was monitoring my cat temps at the beginning of the season I could get the steel cat to light off at lower 400-500 temps and not have to worry about giving it more air to keep it going but as the season went on that changed and it took higher temps and more air.

    I think you PH guys and gals could really benefit from some kind of cat probe since you can't see your cat like I can. You can somewhat tell what's going on with the cat by stove top temps but they lag way behind what the info from a probe would give.

    Could you give us all some more info on your thermocouples and some pictures of how it's installed?
  14. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Darn, there is a definite trend going on here. More air, higher light of temps, I just hope WS can duplicate this. I don't think this is correlated highly to the outside temps. I have noticed the sluggish SS cat response in temps near 30F. Todd, I think you must have set a record with this thread topic for most views.
  15. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    I called WS yesterday. My new SS cat is on the way and my old one will be donated to science. I may have to get my chimney cleaned this spring, too much smokey burning. I was hoping to go three years, but the cap is very blackened now. I can't get up there for a closer look.
  16. Flamestead

    Flamestead Feeling the Heat

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    Here's a upstream and downstream view of my PH cat before the first cleaning, after burning 1.2 (real) cords of mostly Red Maple (css in 2010). No discoloration, quite a bit of fine ash, and there was a noticable decrease in airflow when the bypass was closed.

    Been burning much of the time at 1/8 open damper. Cat is working fine (closed it down for a black box yesterday evening for a while, cruised at 500). We've been needing the heat from the secondaries, so don't have a lot of experience trying for the long, low temp burns.

    Attached Files:

  17. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    Looks like a good size cat.
  18. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, maybe it's a distortion of scale, but that cat looks a lot larger than in the original design drawings. Looks like at least 3x the surface area of the Fireview cat, which is interesting since the Progress holds only ~ 1.5x the amount of wood(2.7 vs 1.8 cu ft AFAIK), and the cat doesn't have to work much at higher burn rates in the Progress. I guess the cross section would have to be large enough to allow for sufficient exhaust flow even if there's not much to burn in the exhaust, but it also looks a lot thicker than the Fireview cat. Maybe they oversized it to promote longevity. Got a tape measure?
  19. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    This cat is much longer but much narrower. Runs the entire available length under stovetop at the back of the stove.
  20. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    I'm courious about that gasket that's wrapped around the PH cat, is it the same gasket as the other stoves? Do you have to replace it every time you remove the cat to clean? I know my gaskets are very fragile and break or fall apart if you take the cat out of the housing, maybe this is a different gasket?
  21. scotsman

    scotsman Feeling the Heat

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    Todd--The cat gasket is not wrapped around the cat. It's what I'd call a face contact gasket. The cat slides toward and rests against the gasket at the end of the housing. The entire perimeter of the cat is in contact with the gasket. The cat is at about a 10 degree angle down and toward the back. The cat is not held against the gasket and has a fair amount of wiggle inside the housing. WS sent me a black 1/8" gasket to push into the gap at the top and sides, which would actually cause less contact with the top half of the gasket in the back. So, that gasket is now installed underneath and up both sides, while the gasket that held the stainless heat shield now seals the top and down both sides. The cat is now quite secure with (IMO) no possibility of blow-by because it is now in full contact with the gasket it rests against AND all sides are now sealed completely with additional gasket material all around. The gasket that held the shield has been replaced by a length of 3/8" gasket material, which actually fits more snugly and holds better, again, IMO.

    The gasket does not appear to be fragile in anyway and appears to be the same size and type as the door gasket and tucked into it's groove. It would not appear to be susceptible to any kind of damage.

    Oh, almost forgot--a new s/s cat arrived today and is now installed along with the gaskets described above.
  22. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Terry: Please let us know how the new SS cat works - hopefully you will get some higher stovetop temps, closer to what you got with the Fireview. I got a replacement cat as well, still playing with the old one, about to try the new one soon so I can send the old one back to WS. I just can't get this thing much over 450F.
  23. scotsman

    scotsman Feeling the Heat

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    Sure will. The new cat is in and the old one is already packed to send back. If the problems are from blow-by, I have eliminated that possibility. Now all I need is some cold weather to put it to the test. Tomorrow I will check out the stove and re-check all the gaskets and hopefully we'll have a fire tomorrow evening. I'm hoping to see some 600-700 level temps and will be interested to see if I can still get 'em 30 and 45 days from now IF we still have cold weather. Y'know the groundhog DID see his shadow, so I'm hoping for the best.
  24. HollowHill

    HollowHill Minister of Fire

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    Terry, I'm not sure you should be aiming for 600-700 temps with this stove, thinking of it like the Fireview. This is a different stove. It is constructed very differently, I believe, - the top is thicker as well as the cat pointing to the front instead of the top of the stove. Those 600-700 stove top temps may be a rare occurrence with this stove. The secondaries kick in before that happens and then the heat is "redirected" to the firebox instead of the stove top, if you catch my drift. I've gotten the stove up to 580 on occasion, but that's as high as its gone. I, too, was a bit disappointed at first when I wasn't getting the higher stove top temps, because that's what's talked about here a lot. But then, it slowly dawned on me that I was heating my house with the lower stove top temps. In other words, I was getting the heat, just not the high stove top temps. I'm wondering if Progress owners need to get their temp from somewhere other than the stove top to really judge how the stove is doing.

  25. scotsman

    scotsman Feeling the Heat

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    HH-Your point is well made, but I'm not operating from or referring to top temps. Ron weaned me away from that to the flue temp coming out the back of my stove. I have found that to be far more indicative of the "true" sense of things going on in the stove. I've begun to engage the cat based upon the flue temp, as he says, rather than the top temp, which lags far behind. Operating based on the flue temp seems far more reliable. So, I suppose I should be more careful about the location temp I'm using, since lots of folks use the top temp as a sort of standard. When I was discussing the amount of heat obtained from the FV compared to the PH, I was disregarding the operational differences and using the "how much heat are we getting in the house" approach, which takes the technical stuff out of the equation.

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