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How to remove catalyst chamber from Jotul Firelight 12?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by bentrice, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. bentrice

    bentrice New Member

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    Well, the title says it all! I just bought a jotul firelight 12 that was not cared for very carefully by its previous owner. From the parts diagram I found on other threads on this forum, I've deduced that my catalyst chamber is severely modified. I don't mind putting money into this stove as I got a fine deal on it so I'm going to buy a new catalyst chamber.

    I understand that the top if this stove comes off with a couple bolts but does this gain me access to the top of this catalyst chamber and it simply slides out vertically?

    Joful, I've read many of your posts and you seem to understand the workings of this stove fairly well. Hope you can help me refurbish this nice stove!

    In other news, I've bought a new cat and left door glass. I'm going to buy new gaskets all around and replace them. This is the second stove I regasketed. The first was my morso 1125.

    Thanks!!

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  2. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I can definitely help with this part of it. One other user has done an even more complete restoration this summer, but the cat chamber is relatively easy.

    Referencing this diagram and parts list:
    http://www.woodmanspartsplus.com/68/catalogs/Wood-and-Coal-Stove-Manufacturers-Cross-Reference.html
    http://rs.woodmanspartsplus.com/company_41/Firelight12_PartsList.pdf

    - Remove rear burn plate covering cat chamber, cat chamber cover and bottom, and catalyst.
    - Remove left and right burn plates (they just lift out thru the front door).
    - Remove the two screws on the hanger strap under the top-load door. Be VERY careful the top load door is supported (flue pipe works well) when you do this, as the cast hinges WILL BREAK if the lid is allowed to flop over backwards. After removed, set the lid back down.
    - Remove the two bolts which hold the top on. Looking in thru the front door, you'll find these high on either side of the firebox, running vertically up into the lid.
    - Get a blanket or something ready to set the top down on. It's not heavy, but you don't want to be fiddling around looking for a place to set it while you're holding it.
    - Lift top off and set it aside. Again, pay attention to not letting top load door flop open / break off.
    (This is where my memory may be a little hazy...)
    - Remove bolt on either side of bypass door. I believe the entire bypass door assembly (frame and door together?) might lift out as one unit. Can't remember for sure, though.
    - Remove four bolts holding inner back plate (big cast iron plate with pretty array of holes), and lift plate out of stove.
    - Slide cat chamber forward, and then lift out of the top of the stove.

    Re-assembly is in reverse order. You owe it to yourself to replace all of the gaskets when you reassemble. I believe the big rear gasket that goes behind the inner back plate is 1/4", but double check that. Since this gasket is not typically cemented, you can just hold it in place with several small pieces of masking tape, when you reset the inner back plate. Others have used small dabs of cement in the corners, but I think that is more risky. Also, replace your damper door gasket while it's out of the stove (much easier than in the stove). Getting the right amount of compression of the inner back plate gasket and the gasket behind the damper frame is what gets the damper door rod tension right.

    Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
    raybonz likes this.
  3. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Good luck. Joful can definitely help you out.

    But, this is another example of how the general public is awful when it comes to maintaining catalytic stoves.
  4. bentrice

    bentrice New Member

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    Awesome write-up. I'll be sure to expand on your instruction and post many pictures. I have the stove moved on it's tile pad in the basement now and my flue liner is on my front porch!

    Keep looking here.
    Joful and raybonz like this.
  5. BurnerBob

    BurnerBob New Member

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    Bentrice, have you made any progress? I realize it's been a few months but you seem to have just disappeared. I hope the replacement went well. Please update us on your experience.

    Thanks!
    Joful likes this.
  6. bentrice

    bentrice New Member

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    Hey folks. I'm sorry I haven't posted anything here in a while. I used my Firelight 12 all winter last year with a bum catalyst chamber. Well the time has come to drop an overtime paycheck on my Jotul and give it a full rebuild. Check back here for pictures.
    Joful and PapaDave like this.
  7. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Interesting thread - subscribed to see the photos.

    Looking at that parts diagram the Firelight looks like an even more complicated stove than a VC, didn't think that was possible ;) At least it sounds like Jotul had the good sense to gasket all the panel seams rather than cement.....
  8. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    More complex than a VC?!? Maybe... haven't looked inside any of those old VC's. I just took it from BrowningBAR that they're a nightmare, as he has had his head in both the Firelight 12 and several older VC's.
  9. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Nightmare is right... just read my rebuild thread and you will never want to buy one.

    It just appears that the 12 has more parts. But we know that doesn't necessarily mean more of a pain.


    One bright side - my refractory package is only half the price !
  10. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Yeah... Jotul really rapes you on this part, IMO. $250 for the box, $70 for the cat cover, and another $70 for this little 1" x 2" x 10" rectangular board that doesn't appear to serve any purpose at all. $400 in refractory parts. However, they're all hiding behind heavy cast iron panels, so if you take reasonable care when removing / reinstalling your cat, you should get 20 years out of them.
  11. bentrice

    bentrice New Member

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    OUCH! I just purchased the refractory and log retainers. Oh well, it's the same price as one electric bill without the wood stove going.

    Anyway, I didn't do much besides pull the burn plates and grate out of it today. Basically the left and right plates are loose in the stove. Just lean them in toward the center and pull them out. The back plate has one bolt at the top that needs to be removed. The grate, of course, simply lifts out of the stove. As you can see my Cat is absolutely done. It's very crumbly and about 50% clogged with ash. Tomorrow when my bride gets home I'll have her help me pull off the top.
    plates out.JPG clogged cat.JPG
  12. bentrice

    bentrice New Member

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    Joful, are you still happy with your Steel Cat from Condar? I'm going to order one if you are have had good success.
  13. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Yes, I am happy with my SteelCat, after almost two seasons on it. The caveat in that statement is that I only had less than one season's experience on a 19-year-old ceramic cat, before I switched to the steel. So, I have no good past experience on which to compare it. I burned fireplaces for 20+ years, but I only have a couple years experience burning these Firelight 12's. I can say the steel has held up well for me the last two years.

    Be sure that, if you do buy a ceramic cat, it's NOT Condar. Their ceramic cat for this stove has a gasket around it that's designed to expand when exposed to heat. That works fine in a more durable cat chamber, but it will damage your $250 refractory box, if used in this particular stove. Their SteelCat does not have this same design flaw, which is actually how I ended up using that.

    BTW, you do not need your wife to lift off that top. It's not as heavy as you might think. Just put down an old blanket or something to set the top down on, before lifting it off, since you don't want to be fumbling for that while you're holding the top. Also, be sure you disconnect the pedal linkage under the top door, and be damn sure you keep that top door closed when you lift it off! If the top load door flops open with the linkage disconnected, the result is usually a broken hinge casting.
  14. bentrice

    bentrice New Member

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    ok! SteelCat ordered.
    Another thing I need to buy before winter is a thermometer for the Catalyst chamber...

    Good call on the no-wife-required. I'll give it a shot after I wake up. When I bought the stove it didn't have that strap that holds the pedal linkage onto the top door. No big deal though, I'm going to find a piece of scrap metal here at work and make one.
  15. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    On that strap: item 128402. Available from your Jotul dealer for about $8.
  16. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Joful, how does your Steelcat look? After only 3.5 seasons (~ 4000hr, probably less than you used in 2 seasons) mine is warped and has turned from the original brown color to an overall grey. I just sent it back on warranty.
  17. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Will post photos later.
  18. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    So, I've been noticing the light-off temperatures of mine climbing over the last year. They used to light off at 450F, then 550F, then 700F... I swear by the end of the season, they were not even taking off at 700F sometimes. However, my wood quality was degrading throughout the season, as I had started off with my driest stuff, and was working my way toward less seasoned stuff. So, I am not ready to condemn these. I think a big part of my trouble was the less-seasoned wood I was getting into at the end of the season. They're certainly not falling apart, the way I saw some of the earlier SteelCat's do... seems they have that problem solved.

    In any case, here's the photos, after about 5 cords of marginal quality wood thru one of them:

    IMG_1499.jpg IMG_1500.jpg IMG_1511.jpg IMG_1513.jpg IMG_1508.jpg

    Those two weird stripes of corrosion down the side wall in the photo with my thumb are awful odd.
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Are you sure that ceramic cat was 19 years old? I have only heard that on cat stoves that get little use.
  20. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Joful. Your cat looks in a lot better shape than mine did, and most importantly appears to still have most of the brown coating intact. That helps convince me that mine was really stripped.
  21. bentrice

    bentrice New Member

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    Strap ordered.
    Jharkin, glad to know Condar has a reasonable warranty department.

    Well yesterday I removed the top which, as stated before, required the removal of the two bolts in the top of the stove. The top simply lifted off with little effort. Be sure to remove the strap that holds the foot pedal linkage on as well. The picture is looking up inside the stove at the bolt. image.jpg

    The next part can be attacked several ways. I decided to remove the bypass damper next. This requires the removal of the two bolts on either side of the damper assembly. Before you go lifting it out, however, you must move the top door opening off to the side and loosen the back plate. To move the pedal linkage out of the way you must remove the two clips, lift up on the pedal, and move the pedal linkage bar towards the back of the stove. To loosen the back plate just back out the four bolts that hold it in about half-way. The bypass damper assembly should pull out easily. The picture shows how the pedal linkage is moved toward the back of the stove.
    image.jpg

    Next I removed the back plate. Take the four bolts out that hold it in. I had to GENTLY pry my back plate out with a craftsman flathead pry-bar because it was cemented in. It didn't take much force to break it free. Once out of the cement, it lifted out easily. image.jpg

    Now I wait for my parts to arrive! I took the opportunity to use a wire brush to remove any loose cement to replace.

    Throughout this process, I kept a vacuum with a quality filter handy. After each step, clean the parts thoroughly; it makes for a much more pleasant experience.
  22. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    For replacing fireback, tape new gasket in place with a few pieces of masking tape, to holdit in place while you set the fireback. No cement here, IIRC. Tape will burn up / go away on first firing.

    Begreen, I can't be 100% sure on that cat, but I do believe it was the original from 1993. Previous owner was an "occasional" burner.
  23. bentrice

    bentrice New Member

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    The expensive parts have arrived! I spent a few hours recementing a few spots on the stove which I will not go over unless my method holds up all winter. ;)

    I placed the refractory in the stove
    image.jpg
    Placed the brand new SteelCat inside
    image.jpg
    Placed the cover on. And.... Ok what the heck do I do with the $70 piece of refractory? Does it just lay in the bottom of the stove like so:
    image.jpg
    When I bought the stove there was no cat cover or bottom. The cat cover is obvious but the bottom seems odd. Please advise! Sorry for the blurry pic. I'll take a more clear one tomorrow.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 2, 2013
  24. Burner

    Burner New Member

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    I believe the bottom is not needed because the new refractory assembly already includes it. If you can, send it back for a refund. By the way, how much did the assembly cost you? I purchased one for 200+ from woodmanspartsplus a while back, however, I noticed that they are now selling it for much more, something like 400+.
  25. bentrice

    bentrice New Member

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    I'll take a few more pictures when I get home from night shift so you can determine if the chamber has the part integrated. I bought the parts from woodman parts plus. Hopefully they'll accept returns.
    Here's what I bought:
    Catalyst Chamber: $419
    Catalyst Chamber Cover: $68
    Catalyst Chamber Bottom: $60
    Log Retainers: $29 each

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