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Defiant Encore ?1450? (non-cat) repair?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by ToltingColtAcres, Jun 26, 2013.

  1. ToltingColtAcres

    ToltingColtAcres New Member

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    Inherited a defiant encore (early 2000's, model 1450?) non-cat stove with my 300 year old home.

    The refractory unit in the rear has started to fall apart, and it appears the damper door is warped (either that, or the damper housing itself is warped).

    I'm located near Cape Cod, Mass. None of the stove stores in the area service the unit. Two local VC dealers have said they will sell me the parts (about $600 or so, depending on what exactly I need on the damper problem)

    I'm handy (can rebuild my own Harley engines) but have never worked on a stove. Would, to some extent, be afraid to... don't want to reassemble it incorrectly and either a) burn my house down, or b) kill myself w/ a CO leak somewhere.

    So, I guess the question is... how hard is it to replace the refractory (Yes, I have read through the threads on rebuilding it, but haven't found a thread yet that describes how to disassemble the stove to get to the point of repair. Are there any online guides which would step me through the process (like my Harley repair manuals :))

    Or, should I cut my losses on this stove, and take the $600 and invest in another stove? I did see a Quadrafire Isle Royale at one of the stove shops I visited today which I did like... The sales rep at the store (where they also sell VC units as well) actually recommended I try to find someone to repair the stove rather than buy a new stove, which was nice... I didn't get the "hard sell" to convince me to buy a new stove.

    But, I don't know what I'm doing... or getting into... so any guidance would be appreciated.

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  2. sticks

    sticks Member

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    You probably won't find a lot of fans of that stove on here. An old house with a lot of heat loss is hard on that particular stove. If you rebuild the back yourself and watch how you burn it you "might" be okay. Would be worth getting a price but I think if you have to pay someone the total would be pretty high. If can rebuild a Harley engine I would think you could do it this time of year with no time crunch. If you think you might scrap it then why not tear in to it. A couple of things broken bolts you may have drill and tap a few holes or use a heli-coil. Also some parts may look okay until you put a straight piece of cast iron next to it so figure a good materials list be fore you dive into it.
  3. DJB

    DJB New Member

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    I faced a similar dilemma with my VC 2550. The consensus from around here was that even if I fixed it, something else would probably need to be replaced again in the future. So rather than spend more money on it, I found a nice used Jotul Oslo for not much more than what I would have spent on parts. Also, check out http://www.woodmanspartsplus.com/4845/Wood-Coal-Stove-Parts.html for parts, prices may be better than you were quoted already.
  4. Jack Fate

    Jack Fate Feeling the Heat

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    Man that stove has a lot of parts _g

    and I thought my VC Resolute had a lot of parts

    Did mine about 5 yrs ago then again last year . did refractory & all fire brick first time & main gaskets

    last year tore it way down & cemented seams & all gaskets

    now needs new refractory & a couple new bricks ,about $400

    I'm new stove shopping now

    good luck what ever you decide ,me my lesson was I want a simpler stove with less & cheaper parts

    like $3 firebricks you can find locally ,instead of $65 special order plus shipping ones

    Cheers
  5. ToltingColtAcres

    ToltingColtAcres New Member

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    Thanks for all the replies thus-far.

    A local stove shop (the aforementioned one which recommended I try to find someone to repair mine) is having a "tax free" sale day this weekend (which means they will pay the 6.25% sales tax when you buy a new stove.) My state (Mass) normally has a tax-free sale day in the middle of August, so I may wait until then and try to get the dealer to give me their "6.25% discount" (which, all they are doing this coming weekend by paying your sales tax is discounting their sale price by 6.25%) on top of the State's "real" tax-free holiday.

    While I was there, I really did like the look and feel of the Isle Royale, but I know very little about the Quadrafire line of stoves... and the internals sure look a lot different than other wood stoves I've seen over the years. I was thinking of a new Jotul F600, however, this particular retailer doesn't carry that line.

    Part of my hesitation on ripping apart the Encore is the lack of knowledge on how to do so... I'm not sure how to get to the fiberboard "fountain assembly" in the rear (looks like Part #58)... is it as simple as removing the angle-iron inside the firebox and pulling out the shoe and rear refractory?

    On the other hand, I suppose I could take advantage of this opportunity to get a slightly larger stove... The encore works pretty good at keeping the house warm, for instance, this past winter we lost power for 4 days after a 3' snow dump, and the main sections of the house never got below 60.... but my house is 3.5k sq ft total (80x30 cape with dormered second floor, though we use the stove mainly to heat the central 40x30 section) and the encore is rated for a little over 1/2 of that at maximum output.

    Any thoughts on a Jotul vs. QuadraFire (or is that like asking do you prefer vanilla or chocolate ice cream :) ?)
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The Isle Royale is a great stove. It's been in production a long time with little complaint and a lot of happy owners. It is a real heat machine too and an easy breather. Moderator Jags has one. Start a conversation with him if he doesn't join this thread.
  7. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    I think scraping the Encore is the best thing. Say you fix it for $800?, will it last another 6 years? Likely not. By the time most people realize that their neverburn stove has a problem, it's been bad for a while. They just require so much maintenance and the cost is just too much to warrant.
    If you want a simple stove that will give you a lifetime of service and no regrets, go with the Jotul 600.
  8. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Vanilla ice cream . . . definitely vanilla.
  9. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    And on the serious side . . . I have a Jotul . . . love it . . . but a lot of folks also have Quadafires and love 'em just as much . . . so yeah, it's a vanilla vs. chocolate type of debate or more like a butterscotch sundae vs. hot chocolate sundae debate.
  10. ToltingColtAcres

    ToltingColtAcres New Member

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    Found a Jotul dealer about 30 minutes from where I take my Belgian for sheep herding training... going to stop there today and see if they have an F600 I can take a look at.
  11. STOVEGUY11

    STOVEGUY11 Feeling the Heat

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    Go with a new stove. I have seen so many of those Vermont Castings Everburn a.k.a never burn stoves fall apart. Its always the same parts, and they are costly like you stated. And who is to say once you get it back together, the parts do not fail again. Use it as a boat anchor.
  12. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    With an older house like that I think you might like the looks of the Woodstock stoves, you are not that far away from their factory, few hours drive up I-89. The Progress Hybrid would be in my mind a good fit for zone heating that central room.
  13. ToltingColtAcres

    ToltingColtAcres New Member

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    Visited the Jotul dealer on my way back from herding today... I think the F600 is out of consideration. I've gotten accustomed over the years to a top-loading stove, and apparently the F600 no longer has a top-loading feature.

    Don't hold back now, tell me how you really feel :)

    While at the stove shop, I got a lead to a local guy who does stove repairs as a side-job. Talked to him, and his assessment was also to use it as a boat-anchor. He indicated a day's worth of labor and miscellaneous gaskets to reassemble ($400) plus parts (at a minimum, $500, if its only the fountain assembly and the damper plate and latching mechanism), and that's assuming it doesn't need anything else after he tears into it. Plus he thinks the parts would need replaced in another 5 years. He wasn't at all surprised the fountain assembly is failing. He suspects the problem with the damper is the metal bar behind it was bent with age, and it popped open when we were asleep and the stove overfired, warping the plate.

    So, I guess the decision will be to bite the bullet and get a new stove.

    I did see a Lopi Cape Cod I really liked at the Jotul dealer :)

    Out of curiosity, why are wood stove dealers pushing consumers away from the cast iron stoves towards the steel stoves instead? Three stove shops I've been to thusfar have pushed me in the direction of steel. Can't say I have any experience with steel stoves, not sure I'd want to move in that direction (frankly, they look too much like pellet stoves to me and lack the character of a good cast iron stove.)
  14. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    There is no reason for them to push you toward steel. The only reason could be that steel stoves are harder too hurt, so there's less chance they will do any kinda warranty. But it takes some serious abuse to hurt an iron stove, so no worries.

    The top door is kinda nice, but you see now what comes along with it. A complicated, fragile combustion system! There a few out there that don't have complicated internals, but I wouldn't want to narrow my search to such a small venue. At least two of the most problematic stoves out there are top loaders! No thanks.
    Take a good look at the Cape Cod. It's a great stove! Anything except the Leyden from Lopi will be a winner.
  15. ToltingColtAcres

    ToltingColtAcres New Member

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    I did like the look of the Cape Cod... but I think its a little out of my price range (~$3.8k w/ the blower according to the dealer I was at today, although they are offering a "10% discount" (I don't know if I can contain my enthusiasm!)), and I believe it is a little large for my existing hearth, which is in a corner and not expandable as it has a corner with a doorway. My clearances are a little tight -- with the Encore I use double-walled and shielded stove pipe to the wall connector, and have a protected wall surface.

    An Isle Royale looks like it will fit ok with some room to spare on the hearth and the clearances will work. What I'll probably do is move the Encore out to the garage where I can fiddle with it myself (anyone have a disassembly guide?) and then use a mock-up with the proper dimensions to see exactly what will "fit" with the clearances. W/ the Encore there its hard to get a feel for it because the Encore has the optional side grates installed, so it looks physically larger than the stove itself really is.
  16. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    If I remember right, All the Encores had pretty high clearances to combustibles. I would think that it would easy to find a replacement stove that fits the hearth and meets clearances.

    You mentioned that you use double wall pipe with shields, keep in mind that the shields won't allow you to put the pipe any closer than 6". 6" is the minimum distance to combustibles, and since the pipe is listed this way, the shields would only be for piece of mind, not reduce to the clearance.
  17. ToltingColtAcres

    ToltingColtAcres New Member

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    Agree completely. Entirely piece of mind. This 300 year old farmhouse has hand-hewn oak beams, 17" oak floor and roof planks, and is essentially like running a stove in the middle of a wood shed :)
  18. ToltingColtAcres

    ToltingColtAcres New Member

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    Started disassembly of the Encore this evening. Removed the rear heat shield, blower, and flue collar. Removed the 3 bolts on either side which pass through to the fire box, but I don't know what they secure exactly. Only snapped one in the process, the others were easy to remove... in fact, some were loose.

    However, already have had my parts cost skyrocket.

    The rear cast assembly (#2 on the parts list, MJH30002385 - Back Inner-encore NC) has a crack.. Crack was under the flue collar and gasket... completely invisible until I took it off (its wet in the picture so it is more easily viewable). The crack travels down to the lip. At that point it stops, at least, on the outside. Can't see the inside yet.

    Have another picture I'll post tomorrow. The "fountain assembly" is almost completely gone on that side, so my guess is that side received the brunt of some extremely high heat and cracked at some point.

    $300 part, if its available.

    On a "positive" note, it appears the problem is the damper is the sealing gasket is completely disintegrated.... without the gasket, there is not enough tension for the rod to hold the damper in place. if I replace the gasket and adjust the tensioning screw a little I actually think it would seal ok.


    [​IMG]
  19. ToltingColtAcres

    ToltingColtAcres New Member

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    A couple of follow-up points:

    Does anyone know what the "trick" is to removing the rear refractory and shoe? They are not moving and I can't see what is holding them in place.


    Took a look today at the Jotul F55... Did I read the online manual correctly, only 2.5" of clearance necessary to the rear heat shield when using double-walled stove pipe and the protective flue collar?

    I'm starting to lean towards a steel stove (with less maintenance, standard firebrick and easily-replaceable tubes) and the F55 w/ its cast exterior seems the best of both worlds... the classic look with the low-maintenance steel firebox.

    Some of the posts here about how it fires though are disconcerting...
  20. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    Oh, it's available! Hundreds of other people have needed to replace the same part in just a few short years. Ohh, VC!!!<>
  21. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    I have no doubt that it burns great!! It's a Jotul after all!;)
  22. ToltingColtAcres

    ToltingColtAcres New Member

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    Finished gutting the interior of the stove tonight. Took off the top plate, removed the damper assembly, the side firebricks and insulation, lower refractory and shoe, and ripped out what was left of the fountain assembly. Removed the screws which attach the back to the lower and sides, but still can't figure out how to take it apart... gave up after a little while.

    Shoe looks a little scorched but otherwise serviceable. The lower refractory, however, has a hairline crack in the middle which traverses all the way through the material front-to-back and travels about 80% of the way up the piece to the top (isn't this covered by my Vermont Castings "Lifetime warrantee" (snicker)). I didn't see it when the piece was in the stove, so I can't say for sure if it happened before or after I started to disassemble the stove. Read a couple of related posts here about the cracked refractory in some of these stoves. Probably better to replace it since it would suck to stick it back in there only to have it crack in two in a month.

    Parts list right now to rebuild (prices from woodsmanpartsplus)

    2-INNER BACK (30002385) $167
    3-LEFT HEAT DEFLECTOR (30002441) $19
    4-RIGHT HEAT DEFLECTOR (30002442) $19
    58-FOUNTAIN ASSEMBLY CDW $299.95
    59-INSUL GASKET SHOE (30002418) $5
    61-REFRACTORY LOWER (30002414) $249
    62-END INSULATION (30002420) $11x2

    Total cost (appx) $781... not including the gaskets I need to rebuild it, or the bolt I snapped taking it apart.

    The heat deflectors were pretty scorched but didn't appear warped, that I could tell, hard to say with all the formed steel in there, I could probably save that $38 and reuse what I have, but given the heat they were exposed to I worry about metal fatigue. Figured I would replace the insulation as well behind the side fire bricks, which are in good shape.

    I'll have to spend some more time with the damper... I can't really tell if the part is warped or not, having nothing to compare it to.

    On a side-note, I believe the fountain assembly has been disintegrating for a period of three or more years now. A few years back while cleaning out some debris between the shoe and lower refractory, I found some debris which I couldn't identify. It was a greyish color but brittle. Took some samples to my dealer who looked at it and had no idea what it was. Found a ton of it when I started to rip out what was left of the fountain assembly... it appears to be desiccated fiberboard, or pieces of the fiberboard severely burned and crumbled up.

    Doesn't make me particularly warm and fuzzy knowing I showed this to the dealer 3 years ago and they had no idea what it was (at the time, the dealer said "must be some type of build-up from the chimney working its way down"... which, given the chimney is a metalbestos chimney installed at the same time as the stove, seemed unlikely, but, hey, he's a dealer and I'm not, so he must know what he's talking about, right?

    Built a mock-up out of some rough-sawn scrap I had in the woodworking shop to match the footprint of a Jotul F55 (sold by an entirely different stove company in the area, mind you... don't think I'll be going back to the VC dealer)... sits really pretty on the hearth :)
  23. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Ouch! Visually I love VC stoves, but their downdraft models have to be one of the most expensive stoves made for long-term maintenance.
  24. STOVEGUY11

    STOVEGUY11 Feeling the Heat

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    2-INNER BACK (30002385) $167
    3-LEFT HEAT DEFLECTOR (30002441) $19
    4-RIGHT HEAT DEFLECTOR (30002442) $19
    58-FOUNTAIN ASSEMBLY CDW $299.95
    59-INSUL GASKET SHOE (30002418) $5
    61-REFRACTORY LOWER (30002414) $249
    62-END INSULATION (30002420) $11x2

    That is a ton of loot. I would re-consider that Jotul you mentioned.
  25. ToltingColtAcres

    ToltingColtAcres New Member

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    Oh, I'm definitely purchasing another stove. Just can't decide: Isle Royale, Jotul F600, or Jotul F55. Each has something I like and dislike:

    -- Isle Royale (pros) all cast iron with a top-loading feature and damper/air controls I'm used to; (cons) essentially the same size as the Encore (in terms of heating capacity, according to the dealer) and I could use something a little larger than the Encore;

    -- F600 (pros) a larger heater, is all cast iron with an ash pan; (cons) lacks the damper/air controls I'm used to for controlling stove temperature;

    --F55 (pros) steel firebox under cast w/ less longer-term maintenance (and is a larger stove); but (cons) no ash removal system and no damper/air controls I'm used to for regulating the stove temperature.

    All 3 will fit on my hearth with appropriate clearances.

    The stove I *really* liked was the Lopi Cape Cod (has all the features I'm used to -- a bypass, air control, ash removal, mega-CFM blower... isn't a top-loader, but hey, I wanted to marry Kate Upton too but life has taught me I can't have everything I want)... but the information on clearances is a bit confusing to me, since the manual does not have a specific set of clearances listed for my type of hearth structure (see http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/should-i-gut-and-rebuild-hearth.111033, basically I have a corner installation on a wood wall w/ a protective surface (durarock/flexbond/slate tile) installed 1" from the wall) I can't say for sure if it unit would "fit" with appropriate clearances -- for example, with the Jotul F55 manual, it is pretty clear the rear of the factory heat-shield can be 2.5" from the protected wall surface. I don't know if I should measure the clearance from the wood wall surface, or the tile protective surface.

    Also if purchased the Lopi, I would probably have to rig up some type of seasonal hearth-extender to get the necessary front clearances to my very combustible pine floor, I think it will sit too far forward on the hearth I have.


    In my (cough cough) spare time I will buy parts and reassemble the Encore... I have a second chimney at the far end of my house I can vent it into, and use it as a secondary heater for severe cold snaps.

    Right now I have to figure out how to get the back of the Encore off.

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