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Fix an old Vermont Stove Company - Shelburne, or buy a new one

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by mnowaczyk, Feb 20, 2009.

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  1. mnowaczyk

    mnowaczyk Member

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    I'm new, and not only do I not know what I'm doing with the fireplace insert, but I also started this thread the wrong way. To see pics and research and opinions on the stove, see the old thread:
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/2411/#380730

    Here's my addition to that old thread, asking all my questions:

    3 days ago I bought a Vermont Stove Company – Shelburne, not knowing the model (so I couldn’t do any research), but liked the looks of it, so I paid $350 for it assuming I can’t lose when comparing it to paying $2000 for a new stove. Now see one closer to me for $50 (not as nice shape), and I’m thinking of buying it for parts and the manual. I like the looks and the flush mount, and was happy with the heat output. I think the fan could be more powerful though. Air doesn’t kick too far forward. Most heat is felt within a foot or so of the stove. It does however seem to heat my three story 2400 sq ft on a sunny 34/25 degree day. (I burnt about a dozen logs that day.)

    Two problems I have with this unit:

    1) Fire exhaust is too far forward (although the complaint in the link above says too much of firebox too far back). I’d probably have to rip out my damper and maybe even some bricks to get a direct up flow. (I’m not going to be the guy to wreck my 80 yr old fireplace, I’d sooner ditch the whole insert idea.) Two of the five inch deep (by 11 inch wide) exhaust is directly below the metal under the masonry two front of my fireplace. There’s only 3 inches between the top of the unit and that metal sheet too. So if I try to exhaust duct this thing, it’s got to go back two inches before rising three, a five inch 90 degree would take at least five inches. A 45* would be better I guess, but doubt it would turn two inches in less than three too. (All of this before any double-wall or anything like that. I’m envisioning something like house ductwork with a single layer of sheet metal.) Round duct is simply not an option. (I know I need to research this, and the ducting options.) As a result of my “slammer” installation, after about 24 hours of burning, I’ve already got creosote on the FRONT of my fireplace. Now I see why a slammer installation is not exactly safe.

    2) The fan is REALLY loud. Now the fan doesn’t even work. I pulled the plug on the fan this morning (which I just had running down my ash trap into my basement) when the unit was cold, and then plugged it back in when the fire got hot this morning. The fan was louder, and not kicking air. I assume what was going on was the exterior fan must have been running (I guess this fan is for cooling the fan motor), but the big motor for the room circulation was struggling to move at all. This was a bummer, but not the end of the world since I was thinking of trying to replace the noise maker with something a little quieter.
    (Of course I also see that folks say this unit is total junk anyway).
    This morning I pulled the wood, cinders and ash out (metal bucket with lid of course), and pulled my “slammer” forward to check out the fan, and hopefully get a part number off it. No luck yet, as it looks like I need to tip this 500 lb beast on it’s face to get the motor off. I’ll try to get that done before 5 PM today, so I can search stores before they all close for the weekend, but I’m not hopeful.
    So now that I’ve learned quite a few things in only 3 days, I’m starting to wonder if I should upgrade this stove. I previously thought they were all just metal boxes, with fans, but now see how complex they are. I am committed to an insert, but hate the idea of spending $2000 on a new one. It seems that it will take over a year to get that return-on-investment back. On the other hand, piece of mind and knowing my family is safe is worth quite a bit.

    Do the members of this forum suggest I:

    a) get a new insert, somehow, somewhere? If so, I’m in the Philly area, and willing to go get the stove.

    b) just get (I) a new fan (or jsut fan motor), and get (II) some ducting to get the exhaust connected to my clay lined 45 foot chimney (that my chimney sweep had said would be fine (i) without a liner, and (ii) without connecting the unit to the chimney (aka “slammer” installation).

    Fix it, or buy a new one?

    I'm assuming most will tell me to buy a new one, I'm looking for suggestions about what stove to buy. I want to heat my house. I don't want it to bump out in to the room (too much), and I want it to look good. And if I'm paying $2000 for it, the fan better be darn near silent. (Our 50" plasma is directly above, so the noise affects TV viewing, hearing crying kids, etc.) I don't want to tear apart my fireplace. My clay liner is about 45 feet and 12 inch round (based on what I see at the top), and lining it is apparently a $5000 project based on one estiamte I've had. So at most, I'm looking to get an exhaust pipe up to the lowest level of clay liner.

    info on the stove I have:
    http://www.wikipatents.com/patent_full.php?id=US4465055

    Thanks,
    Mike



    I just now dug up some more info from http://www.stovepartsunlimited.com/pricing/pdfs/2008_magnaflex_pricing_retail_rev_09_02_2008.pdf

    It looks as if I can get a postive connect kit, and they spent some significant time with me to determine that the rectangular positive connect kit should work $301.20 (plus shipping I assume). I just need to make sure it doesn't sit too far back on the unit (being over 10 inches deep in total, and has a 45* rise to over three inches. Hmm.... I just now realized, that although it would all fit together while in the fireplace, I won't be able to get it in there after screwing it all together... because the positive connect kit is over 3 inches tall... Ughhh...

    FYI to anyone suggesting a stove to me. My fireplace is not very deep, only about 17" deep at 26" high.

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  2. mnowaczyk

    mnowaczyk Member

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    In the far right picture, Notice the approximately 1" high line of creosote on the front of my black bricks. That's after only about 24-30 hours of burn (and maybe smolder) time.

    Are there other suppliers of positive connect kits?

    What do you fasten the top end of the positive connect kit to? The picture shows a rectangular plate that the oval tubing connects to.

    My slate roof guy who burns coal, and also has a sheet metal break suggested putting an angled sheet of metal simply in front of the exhaust to direct the exhaust back. It seems like a simple and good idea. However, it's not going to stop the cooling in the firebox that causes the creostoe in the first place. That's just an augmented "slammer" installation. Right?

    I'm waiting for a call back from my chimney sweep (knowing this is not stuff I should be doing on my own).
  3. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    You might be able to get away with this adapter installed over your exhaust and connected to an insulated 6" or 8" full chimney liner.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Wood-Stove-Inse...ryZ20598QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    But as you were saying your exhaust is already not back far enough in the firebox, that was the main reason I was saying to scrap the idea of using this insert. You will not be able to take the brick out of the damper area as that has a metal bar in it bracing the bricks.
  4. mnowaczyk

    mnowaczyk Member

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    I need to read up on how positive connections are typically done. Since the item Mellow has pointed me to on eBay is 5" tall, I don't see how I could connect that to my insert before I push it into the fireplace. Sure, I could just rest it on top, and I guess that's better than nothing, but if I'm going to do this, I should do my best to do it right. I'll go a searching for instructions on how a positive connection is installed. THANKS!
  5. mnowaczyk

    mnowaczyk Member

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    Got together with my slate roofer who also does chimney liners and chimney sweeps (apparently better than my chimney sweep does) and we agreed to go with the rectangular positive connection from http://www.stovepartsunlimited.com/pricing/pdfs/2008_magnaflex_pricing_retail_rev_09_02_2008.pdf

    Question now is waht else do we need to do:
    - Should I do a full 8" stainless liner to the top of the 45 foot chimney?
    - If so, whats the cheapest, easiest way? Flex? or Solid? I'd envision screwing together sections solid (not flex) would be best and least likely to collect creosote, and probably strongest for a lasting liner.
    - how do you typically connect mulitple sections of flex?
    - if I just install the top plate in the positive connect kit to the lower rectangluar portion of my clay- lined masonry chimney, would that be sifficient?
    - Should I also get a damper plate? I'm assuming that my chimney is going to be blocked off in other places (either the top plate from to positive connection, or a chimney cap on a long liner)

    Any other recommendations?

    Thanks,
    Mike
  6. Jimbob

    Jimbob New Member

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    One option might be to take the insert to a metalworking shop and have them modify the top plate, giving you a 6" or 8"round flue collar exiting closer to the back.

    I would definitely do a full liner, either 6" or 8".
    6" will be likely easier to install. If you have multiple bends, a flex liner will be easier than a rigid liner.
    6" liner is generally less expensive too.
  7. mnowaczyk

    mnowaczyk Member

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    JimBob:

    I looked up liner pricing at Stove Parts Direct: http://www.stovepartsunlimited.com/ I have not checked other suppliers since they seem so comprehensive.

    The image below from the stove parts catalog shows an 8" liner that will convert from my rectangular output, go through my damper plate. That's about $301 I was considering then using a 5 foot 8" oval to round flex converter for $175. That would take me to the stright portion of my 12" masonry chimney, that shows a 12" round clay liner at the top. I cant see it at the bottom, so I'm not sure if I've got square, round, or none at all. (Chimney sweep said I had a clay liner, but now I'm worrying he was full of $&!t since he also told me the installation without a connection would be fine aka "slammer".)

    So it looks like I'm at $476 before adding about 35 feet of liner.

    Looking at my four options: 6" flex (35 feet), 6" rigid (36 feet), 8" flex (35 feet), 8" rigid (36 feet), I come up with these four totals (in order):

    $1,161.80 $1,161.31 $1,414.15 $1,312.22

    These numbers include:
    - PCK-RET-8 8" Oval Pipe to 9 3/4" x 17" Base $301.20 (for all options)
    - 630805 Oval to Round Liner 8" x 5 ft. $175.84 (for all options since I see no oval reducers)
    - 820680 Reducer/Increaser 06" to 08" $36.64 (for 6 inch options)
    - 770800 8" Liner Support $17.98 (for 8" options)
    - 770600 6" Liner Support $17.63 (for 6" options)
    - 620635 Length 35 Ft.(stock) $630.49 (for 6" flex option)
    - 650648 06" SS Rigid Liner x 48" Long $70.00 (9 of these for 6" rigid option)
    - 620835 Length 35 Ft.(stock) $919.13 (for 8" flex option)
    - 650848 08" SS Rigid Liner x 48" Long $90.80 (9 of these for 8" rigid option)

    These numbers do not include screws for the rigid options
    These numbers do not include chimney caps. (maybe I can use my existing, but if not, prices are about the same regardless of the option.)
    These numbers do not include labor.
    These numbers do not include the cost of screws to the rigid

    I've attached a picture of my chimney. It does nto look like a fun jopb to install a liner, nomatter what kind is used. I've installed a 25 foot ss 6" flex liner for a heater on a flat roof house, and I recall it being very difficult to first get the liner bent without denting it, as we guided it down the chimney. Then, I recall it being difficult to straighten it out while guiding it downt eh chimney. Add the difficulty of doing all of this on top of a ladder, and I'm thinking that 4 foot rigid sections would be easier in this scenario. With rigid duct work, I envision the weight would be an issue during installation, so I'm sure we'd need to work out a method for this. I envision that rigid duct work would be stronger and less likely to get creosote buildup.

    Any recommendations on rigid vs. flex?

    Any recommendations on rigid vs. flex when considering the view of my chimney?

    Next, for the 6" vs. 8" options.
    The output on my old POS stove is 5"x11", total area: 55 square inches. The area of 8" round is: 50.24 sq inches. The area of 6" round is: 28.26.
    Might it be smarter to have a smaller liner at the top to assure a high velocity draft at the cooler top of the chimney? Or because it's cooler at the top of the chimney... do I want to have a larger chimney with less resistance... allowing for an easy draft? Keep in mind that my chimney is over four stories tall from the base of the stove. I'm not sure how this affects my physics.

    Since this thread is turning into an educational session on chimney liners, I'm going to create a new thread. http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/35910/ Replies would probably make more sense there.

    Thanks,
    Mike

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  8. Jimbob

    Jimbob New Member

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    The 8" liner will put you closer to the area of the outlet on the stove, but with 40 feet of chimney, draft shouldn't be an issue so 6" should do fine. 35 feet of 6" liner should definitely provide enough draft for any insert.

    Rigid liner might be easier in your case , provided you can figure out how to attach it to the ovalised flex liner/adapter once it is in place, unless you feel the whole works will fit from the top, then you could assemble it to the first section of rigid liner first, then work your way down 1 section at a time.
    If it were me, I'd be scared the flex stuff might catch on the area where the old damper used to be.

    Remember to use all stainless screws when assembling the liner.
    That doesn't look like a fun chimney to re-line.... :gulp:
  9. mnowaczyk

    mnowaczyk Member

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    Thank JimBob:

    That's exactly the method I was thinking. I've been messaging Magnaflex too. He recommends flex the whole way. Here's a rigid plan I'd writen to him:

    1) Connect the flex 8” oval-to-round to the first section of rigid, talking about 10 feet total length, or maybe have an additional section of oval (from the Rectangular positive connection kit) connected to the bottom to assure we have the distance required to connect to the fireplace insert (total 15 feet in length coudl get a bit hairy since we’d need to bend the flex. (Nobody I know is 10 feet tall or would feel comfortable standing on my chimney).
    2) Have a $17 liner support attached to that first section of rigid (stainless screws) with a 50’ rope or chain connected to it. (or 100’ so a guy on the ground could handle supporting the weight) Maybe use a chain that we’d leave there permanently in case the system needs to be removed for some crazy reason.
    3) Use the chain to lower the liner to the top of the rigid.
    4) Fasten the next peice of rigid
    5) repeat steps 3 & 4 until the flex liner reaches th e stove
    6) connect the chimney cap

    Magnaflex recommends flex and using a boom / scissor lift (which probably makes a lot of sense), but I'm going to let my slate roofer decide what to do (ladder vs. lift). He's not afraid of heights, and has already started working with me on this project. Not to mention, I'll want him around when we break a few slates during the project.
  10. mnowaczyk

    mnowaczyk Member

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    I had two guys take a look at my chimney and the flawless clay liner. Both said not to worry about the stainless steel liner for now, and just clean the chimney regularly... from the top down. So I was down to looking at just purchasing the positive connection kit shown above (to the right of the picture of the house and Jeep Cherokee). I was looking at purchasing the kit on the right in that picture with the primary concern of directing the exhaust back away from the brick (face / ledger brick in front of the damper). I decided to get the stove rolling fast, and just bent some leftover galvanized sheet metal from a the plenum of a HVAC installation. That should assure no exhaust comes forward at least. I have yet to pull the stove out and see how it's holding up.

    I've been burning for three days now. Day 1: last years leftover wood, appears well seasoned, but I let it get wet all year. Day 2: had a full cord delivered in the morning for $165, and it overfilled the 3 half cord racks I bought for $30 each. The mostly hardwood seems to be a little green but the smaller pieced definitely sound like a baseball bat when you smack them together. I can see some pieces actually look green though. So I'll try to get some more dry wood. Day 3: Let the stove burn out in the morning because the plasma TV guy was coming and I did not want to have to worry about the stove. After fully cleaning the glass, the wood seemed to dirty the glass right up. So I got a little concerned that I could not get hot burning temps. I got some small dry pieces and tossed them in, opened the ash pan, and let it rip for a while. When it got burning well. I grabbed out oven thermometer and put it up to the glass (with the firre tool of course). To my surprise I was over 600 degrees. Cool! I then decided to give the thermometer a chance to equilibrate. Since the oven thermometer stops at 650, the needle wrapped almost all the way back to the 100 degree (zero mark). Hmm... I must have been running aroung 850-900 degrees. So for the first time this season, I backed down the air.

    At what temperatures do you think you'd start chimney fires?
    Well the lowest flue temps anyway... I know 600 degrees at the stove probably wont' start a fire... but maybe 600 in the flur would... right?
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