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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. KevinG

    KevinG Member

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  2. timusp40

    timusp40 Feeling the Heat

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    Too many inconsistancies, problems, and best guess solutions! I am not a long time member at the Hearth, but I post now and then and really appreciate the sage advise of all you members. This steel cat problem (it obviously is a problem) just gets bigger and bigger every day. Until a definivite solution comes forth, I doubt that this will be resolved to anyones satisfaction. I know Woodstock, Blaze King, and other stove manufactures do not make their cats. And I appreciate the obvious fact that Woodstock in particular is very concerned and has their reputation at stake as previous threads will support. However, I find very little in these 150 plus posts to assure me that a solution is right around the corner.

    Sorry if I offended anyone,
    Tim
  3. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    This morning I pulled the old cat from the Fireview. I purposely did not clean the cat so what you seen in the pictures is how it came from the stove.

    As you can see, the first picture is the bottom of the cat (the side that gets the flame). You will notice very little discoloration on either side of the cat.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    So I put the new cat in and also put some gasket in each corner to see what effect that might have. The old cat is on the way right now to Woodstock for testing. Then the busy day took over and the stove sit cold the rest of the day until just about an hour ago. When I got home I decided to light a fire although we could have waited as it is 41 degrees outside and not cold in the house. But I lit the fire by placing 2 splits on the bottom of the stove forming a vee. I then placed 1/4 of a Super Cedar and lit it. On a diagonal across the top of the vee of the splits I then placed 4 pieces of kindling. The kindling is soft maple split into approximately 1" x 1." I then placed another split on top of the kindling. The splits were all white ash that was split and stacked in April 2009. The wood we are burning now was put into the barn last October.

    I engaged the catalyst when the stovetop reached 240 degrees and the flue was a bit over 500. I then decided to look at the cat right away so went from the side of the stove to the front. When I bent down so that I could see the cat, much to my surprise the thing was red already! About 1/2 hour later I looked again and it was red in the center of the cat. Just now I went to the stove to look again. There is no red on the catalyst and the stovetop is at 470 degrees. There is no smoke from the chimney.

    I'm actually happy when I found that at present the cat is not red. The reason for that is because I think many folks are thinking their cats are not working when it is not glowing red. This is not true at all. We have many times seen no glowing red on the cat but know it is working fine because of the stovetop temperature. It is nice to see that red glow but it is not necessary.

    As we use this new catalyst, I plan on keeping some records this time to notice any differences. I'm thinking about noting the wood, the outside temperature, wind, current conditions and if perhaps a low pressure is heading our way, etc. If anyone has other suggestions I will be happy to entertain the suggestions.
  4. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    Oh, to be retired! :)
    I wake up in the morning, load the stove, shower, dress, engage the cat, set the air and run out the door. When I get home at night, l reload and go to bed. I wish I could take the time to keep records like that.... Some day.
  5. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Thomas, you already know we use the Super Cedars. I do find it interesting that Sud Chemie states the Super Cedars prolong the life of the cat. I will add to this stating I have never in my lifetime lit so many fires from scratch as this year. The winter has been so mild plus the added insulation we put in last summer that many times we just have not needed a fire in the stove. Most nights we do not stock the stove full and many times I'll put in only 3 or 4 splits. Naturally the stove is cooled pretty much in the mornings but the house is still warm. Sometimes we'll light a fire right away but many times we just wait until we start feeling cool. This means we use a Super Cedar for lighting the fire. I doubt there will be many who have used as many Super Cedars as we have this winter. But as you no doubt have read now, we have returned our SS cat to Woodstock. They will be doing some testing on the cat and it might be interesting to hear what they find or do not find.

    Do you have something in mind that you are thinking of adding to the Super Cedars?
  6. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Steve, retirement has both plus and minus to it. I might add that it just seems that retirement was made for guys like me! lol I'm not sure what it would be like to return to a "normal" job because there just is not enough time in the day to do what I want to do. Well, some of that is because I tire quicker and rest more but I don't mind the resting part.
  7. HollowHill

    HollowHill Minister of Fire

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    Just wondering, how many started to notice a problem with their cats after cleaning them? I'm wondering if I put mine in not quite snuggly enough.
  8. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Tim, I highly doubt that you have offended anyone on this forum or anyone at Woodstock. As for it being a major problem, I just do not see that yet. A problem, yes, but not a major one.
  9. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Good point HollowHill. It does seem there has been some problems with the gasket and that is being taken care of. It might also be of interest to find out how people are cleaning the cats. As for us, we use an old paint brush and just lightly brush both sides and then put it back in place.
  10. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    Funny after all this talk of a problem I started my Fireview from cold last night with some crumpled news paper, 6 1x1x12" ceder sticks, and 4 thin Ask splits. I engaged that cat at about 300 and in about 30 minutes it was cruising at about 500. I think my problem is getting that darn Black Locust burning.
  11. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    That is good to know Steve. I hope you got that cat unclogged. I was amazed at how much ash you had in that. Almost every time we clean our cat it looks just about like those pictures I posted. We normally clean our cat 2 times per year.
  12. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Worst case solution: Go back to the trusted ceramic cat
  13. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    I'm with you on that, Steve!
  14. NWfuel

    NWfuel Minister of Fire

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    Dennis,

    I had just came across this thread and quickly thought to myself what if the Super Cedar is contributing to this cat problem. I wanted to hear from the ones as yourself who are using my product and if there was a fact being over looked. If their is a way to even add a ingredient that could reverse a reaction in these cats I thought the start up was a good place to add it. On my website www.supercedar.com you can read the Sud Chemie report stating the Super Cedar will prolong the life of the combuster. When I read the cat life might be shortening I wanted to be on top of it if I could help.

    Thomas
  15. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Thomas. I also highly suggest you work with Tom Morrissey on this too.
  16. NWfuel

    NWfuel Minister of Fire

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    Dennis, by the way your cats look great! Very good burning habits.
    Thomas
  17. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Thomas. When we purchased the Fireview we were advised to check the cat something like every 6 weeks. We quickly realized that was not necessary in our case. So we normally clean it in mid winter and then again with the normal summer cleaning. Most of the time the cat looks very similar to those pictures I just posted. I give half the credit to Woodstock's stove and the other half to our fuel. We learned many moons ago that drying the wood several years pays great dividends. Our first 4 years with the Fireview we burned an average of 3 cord of wood per year and that is coming off of 6+ cord we used to burn. We will be a long ways from burning 3 cord this year. I'm amazed at how little we've burned, just like I'm amazed at how many Super Cedars we've used. lol But we still have plenty and still love them.
  18. NWfuel

    NWfuel Minister of Fire

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    I have been told that start up of the stove is hard on the cats as well as your fuel source. They like it hot!
    Thomas
  19. Stump_Branch

    Stump_Branch Minister of Fire

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    My cat tends to look similar to yours backwoods, a bit of a sprinkle of fly ash on it like a piece of powered sugar french toast.

    What is this gasket material that wraps the cat made of? I get the fact of it 'sealing' the area so the flow is through it and not around it. But it seems too hot an area for pure kaowool and such. I need to order the gasket, combustor housing, and would like the new scoop...just have to get around to it.
  20. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    For what it is worth, I cleaned the ceramic cat on my Fireview once a year in the spring - it never had much at all to clean, and my first cat lasted almost five years, but the PH has been a different story. My stovepipe/chimney with the Fireview yielded about a cup and a half of "good" per my sweep soot once a year. That was true for over six years. However, with the PH my screen and cat were completely blocked after about a month with fine grayish white fly ash.. The cat looked fine to visual inspection, but the entire surface distally was covered...you couldn't see any cells. However, it was surface ash only...there wasn't any in the cells. I did have two experiences of starting a fire with crumpled paper and as the door was closing having the paper incinerate with a temendous whoosh that didn't do anything to my stove but made the stovepipe rumble and shake for an instant. That certainly could have sucked a lot of fly ash up the pipe..didn't know to check at the time, so don't know if that experience clogged the screen/cat. Was doing a top down fire, started from ash with a few coals. . Have not started a fire with paper since...use birchbark as firestarter.. Since my cleaning of the screen and cat, I have not had a subsequent problem. I'll be checking the cat again in about a week, and am getting my chimney swept from the roof down in March, once it is safe to go up on my steep three story high roof. Had put off my annual sweep for the Fireview until PH installation, expecting installation in early November and wanting to start with a clean chimney with the PH. At the time of actual installation in late December we were having an ice storm...precluded cleaning. Am rather anxious to see how the sweep goes, since my cat experience is so different. The good thing: what was on the cat/screen would not be at all bad for the chimney. But I did have a day or two of really bad burning before it occurred to me my cat had to be clogged...
    ?
  21. jdonna

    jdonna Member

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    This is good news that they are looking into a different screen or scoop. I think they're walking a fine line trying to find the right combination between air flow and keeping the potassium poisoning filled ash from reaching the cat. They have tested the flow through both cats and found them to be about identical and the new screen gives a more even flow over the face of the cat than the old scoop.

    I know when I changed old scoops, new scoops, steel cat and ceramic cats all around I found you either have to put up with more ash on the screen or more on the cat. I chose the new scoop with ceramic cat. The new scoop does catch more ash but so does the new steel cat. The ceramic cat has larger cells that doesn't catch the smaller ash that can make it through the s/s screen but the steel cat with it's smaller cells can still plug up quicker.

    I have a long handled wire brush I use every couple weeks to remove any build up on the screen without having to remove the scoop from a hot stove. Just takes a couple seconds to run it over the front of the screen.[/quote]

    Thank you for contributing to what I was told, wrote the post late last night. The flow rate is supposed to be identical. I agree on it being a fine line, I understand too that you are getting a better flow across the face of the cat. I did mention that the old scoop had a more even burn instead of left to right, which they found to be interesting because they are finding that it was supposed to be more even with the new scoop than the old scoop.

    I have debated about the thin stainless mesh on the new scoop as helping ignite volatile gasses pre-cat, similar to a sunflower type heater. I know mine will glow quite bright.

    Cannot wait to try and swap to the ceramic cat and see what the results are.

    I know in the automotive world, poisoning a cat is the quick way to a failed cat, much faster in some instances than loading it up with raw fuel. Just think back to the late 70's and early 80's how much abuse those poor cats went through with overly rich mixtures.

    I am confident that Woodstock will get to the bottom of this and have a great fix.

    Interesting to hear everybody's views out there. I know for myself, even with a minor issue I am still 150% more satisfied over the chronic problem laden harman oakwood that is now sitting in my garage.
  22. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    I let the stove go out yesterday and cleaned the SS cat, screen and glass. All I had to clean up was a bit of fly ash on the combustor, the screen seemed to catch most of it. The combustor didn't show any of the green tint that's visible in some of the posted pics but I've only run this stove for about six weeks. I'm surprised that they haven't been able to duplicate the burn that sometimes occurs inside the screen under the combustor. Maybe this occurs more often when there's a buildup of fly ash on the screen. Anyway, I usually cold-start with a top-down fire and I think that gets the top of the stove up to temp pretty quickly. I run the probe around 900 for several minutes and then the combustor lights off strong even with the stove top 250 or less. I don't get identical light-offs or burns in the stove every time; I think there are a lot variables involved...
  23. greythorn3

    greythorn3 Minister of Fire

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    i cant wait to see what the next innovation will be with woodstoves.
  24. chipsoflyin

    chipsoflyin Member

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    How bout a ceramic cat for the PH
  25. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    I was thinking I'd rather deal with the expense myself of replacing a crumbling cat every two years, rather than have a finicky,inconsistent SS cat. But
    the end of this chapter has not been written yet... stay tuned.

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