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Hybrid Elm on the Way (on the hearth) Pics

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by REF1, Mar 18, 2010.

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  1. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    "From what I can gather, the folks that I know using modern Elms are saying that they burn about 30-50% more wood with their Elm stove than they did with an equivalent EPA II stove. " nonprophet


    I guess that's where I got the idea these folks already had EPA 2 stoves and switched.

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  2. Nonprophet

    Nonprophet Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, with the one owner they had a vacation home in the NE that came with an EPA II stove (a VC I think) and they replaced it with a modern Elm. They like the stove and I think plan on keeping it, they just warned me that if I was looking for an efficient stove that wouldn't burn a lot of wood that I'd probably be disappointed with the Elm.

    I very much agree with Be Green, it would be great if Steve could set up a forum so us Elm owners could talk about these stoves and compare notes, tips, mods, etc. Of course Steve seems busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest, so don't know if he's got the time to create one and then moderate it.......

    Looks-wise, nothing comes close to an Elm in my book--they truly are gorgeous! The only real downsides that I see are that the recommended clearances aren't so great (no heat shields), and the issue of how much wood they go through.

    I bought both of mine from the original owners, and, while they liked the stoves and certainly felt they got their money's worth after 25+ years of service, they both stated that they were amazed at how little wood their new stoves used compared to the Elm--but again this is without their Elm being "modernized" with secondary air.......


    NP
  3. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    Well, I'll tell you what. When next season arrives (can't be too soon), and I put this Hybrid through its paces, I'll know pretty quick if I am using more or less wood than with the Homestead, which has a slightly smaller firebox, but close enough for comparison sake. I already experienced in what short time I used it before warm weather set in that it burned less wood than the Homestead, but again, it's a cat, and I just believe this Hybrid Elm has some natural and man-made design aspects that make it a colossal stove. And that will only improve when I add the beam into it. I could not imagine using 20% more wood than the Homestead, let alone 30-50%. Just the thought of using 4.5 cords instead of 3 next year is impossible to conceive. But, I'm biased too. I used a cat Elm all those years in Maine.

    Hey, you've got the stoves. I wouldn't be afraid to set one up, use it, watch how it works, then decide if you want to invest in the new secondary stuff. I think you'll be able to watch the interior combustion cycle and see whether or not the new secondaries will do what Steve claims. And shows on the vids for that matter. But a fire inside a barrel does interesting things. Different than a square box. Add the secondaries and the direction of the burn dramatically changes from the way currents move in a square firebox with secondaries moving things north south with an east/west burn, and exit placed in the front. The Elm is a north south burn, with the secondaries moving currents east west, in a barrel, and finally stuff escapes north or south exit and still has to deal with getting out of that barrel when it's atop the baffle. And if you have the cook-top chamber on top it adds even more combustible surface (exhibited by soot which stays trapped in there and can't get out - easily cleaned out later), and add a cat and it's just a dynamite burn cycle. Makes all the sense in the world to me. It has to be efficient because heat stays in the stove for so long and steel radiates it easily.

    Clearances, yeah. Can't argue that. Although I was suggesting some stuff to Steve about cosmetic design on the barrel, and he has been thinking the idea through with shields in mind for more convection heating. People have asked about that. So, you know. He is constantly trying to improve every aspect of the stove. Gotta love him for that.
  4. Nonprophet

    Nonprophet Minister of Fire

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    So how efficient was the cat Elm just by itself without the new mods? I only know of one other person who had one--it was in a house he rented in Boston while going to school. I'm definitely curious to get some feedback from you once you start regular burning with your Elm. I really hope that it's more efficient than the other ones and that your happy with it! I was pretty excited about fixing up the two I have, but when people started telling me how much wood they use it kind of took the wind out of my sails for wanting to continue with them. Neither of mine has a cat, so I'd just do the beam--maybe the u tube too, I don't know. How much is Steve asking for just the beam?

    I have used an 18" before, it was in a friend's cabin in Colorado. This was in the late 80's. It put out a ton of heat, that's for sure!

    Neither of mine has the cook-top chamber, just the leaf "pads" for pots to sit on. I think the cook-top chamber is a feature only found on the cat Elms........

    No doubt! I'm really glad that he's so passionate about them and continues to not only fix them up but innovate on their design as well! Like I said, I really hope yours works well as I'd like to re-motivate myself! LOL


    NP
  5. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    I used the 36" cat Elm for 15 years. Monster heater. And think, too, that putting 33-36" logs in it and the cat had to deal with twice the amount of volatiles than an 18" and still lasted 5 or six years before I replaced it. Plus the old cat Elm had no protection from thermal shock against the cat. At one time I affixed various things like saw blades or whatever to the bottom of the cage to keep the flames from directly entering the combustor. My birns were super clean. Cleaned the chimney every few years and had just a small amount of flakes to vacuum. I'd get 12-16 hour burns with it. I could load it in the morning, go off for the day, come back later at night and still have heat in the house (in Maine, 3000 sq') and plenty of coals to reload. If I ever let the fire go out, I had nothing but fine white ash in the box almost all the time. So, that was a unit without the full steel baffle inside. Just the old iron baffle at the back. One burn tube to render air to the cat, but I never saw it do much. I even installed my own copper secondary tubes on each side of the box. But they didn't do very well for a number of important reasons I had no idea about, so I took them out. But I was thinking about things, even back then. All the things I did not know, Steve knows, and has employed in his secondary tubes. His work. Mine didn't. But I could see the stove needed more air in the barrel for complete combustion. Such a huge firebox.

    I bought one more combustor for it and when I left that house the Elm stayed. Have no idea what the new owners did with it.

    Check the web site out but I think an 18" stainless beam goes for $150 or 60. The cook-top is available for noncats. It gets up to 700 degrees on the cook plate. But you would need to put the oval hole in the barrel for smoke to get up into the cook-top and out the flue attached to it. The non cat Wildfire is designed with the cook-top on it.

    I'm already satisfied with the stove. More than satisfied. Comparing it to the overall features and performance of the Homestead it has worked much better for me in this house. And I haven't even cranked it up with a full load yet.

    Super easy start ups, no smoke in my face (and the outside temps were in the 40s when I got the stove set up), incredibly fast ignition of the cat (10 minutes) and in no time it stayed cruising at 1500 degrees for a few hours on just a few medium sticks. Sheesh. That's efficiency to me. No celestial events with the Utubes, although visible evidence of their performance is there, but the cat engaged so quickly the tubes hardly had a chance to go. But, when I think of adding the beam this summer, when I want to, I can do some really cat-saving burn time with the secondaries going and the cat still going but the bypass open. The placement of the cat is perfect in the barrel. I'll get all three going on full loads. So, my theory is the cat's life will be extended in this Hybrid. But only time will tell about that.

    Hey, man, I'll psyche you up yet to fix one of yours up some and you'll see for yourself. I can't answer for how the people you contacted operated their units or what they compared their Elms to in previous use. I can only go by my own experience and what I see on Steve's vids.

    Hang in there. I think you'll have some great stoves on your hands.
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    IIRC, several folks told ya to get a bigger stove from the get go. The Homestead appears to be a decent stove, particularly for what it was designed to do, but it was not the right stove for the job.
  7. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    I don't know what IIRC means. I don't recall anyone telling me to get a bigger stove. They told me my wood was not correct, my chimney and draft were not correct, my stove pipe set up was not correct, but the size of the stove was not an issue when I first posted. When it threw heat it heated okay until the real cold set in, but by that time that was a secondary issue with using the unit. The Elm weighs less than the Homestead, but has a little bit bigger firebox. I know it will not take as long to throw heat as the soapstone. There are those who will obviously say soaps give off heat longer than steel. So be it. My experience with two soaps is that the heat they end up giving off after a burn cycle is not very appreciable ten feet away, let alone a whole house. I could do the same by putting a kitchen range burner on medium and trying to heat the house with it.

    As I have said, folks here love their Homesteads. That's great. I'd like to finally sell mine to someone who will love it as others do. I did not like the craftsmanship, I didn't like the shape of the firebox, I did not like the air intake for start ups, for slicing my loads in half and leaving large chunks of unburned wood left and right, or allowing any shaped wood on top to fall forward into the glass when the bottom splits were torched in half and gave way, and certainly didn't like smoke in my face every single day. It looks nice. Once going well, it did burn clean, erratically so. That's about all I can say for it. But the stove not being able to heat our home was an issue that developed later in the discussion.
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  9. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    You have always wanted another barrel stove with a pie plate window and you now have it. Enjoy.
  10. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    At the time the FV was a contender for sure, but my wife wanted the enamel on the Hearthstone. So, that's the way I went. Of course, at that point I had no experience with an EPA 2 stove, and the heating capacity of the FV doesn't seem to be much different than the Homestead by virtue of all the posts I have read concerning both stoves. And that thread was about heating capacity based on manufacturers square footage stats. As i recall the FV has a slightly smaller firebox than the Homestead, correct? But I never gave a thought to the types of problems I encountered with the Homestead. But sure, if I did get the FV I probably would continue to use it if it performed well for us, and bit the bullet on fast heat. Being a cat, I would have found it more user friendly. But having the Elm is like having an old friend in the house, so all is good.
  11. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    BTW, NP, my old Elms had both rear and bottom heat shields. You can get side shields too. The rear one affixes to the rod bolts, the bottom and side shields clip to the rods. Makes the stove more convection than radiant heating. I never used mine because of how the stove was placed in the house, which was a large open floor plan. With the 14" legs heat off the bottom of the stove was not a problem.

    BB, Elms are the Pacer of wood stoves I guess. People made fun of my Pacer. Called it a fish bowl on wheels. I loved it though. I had 200k on it when we gave it to someone who needed a car. Great paint job on that thing. Alot of people make fun of the Pyrex. The original idea was to insulate the window and work to keep sooting from happening on the inside glass. The stove is soon to be fitted with a new type of glass to see how it works out. But now the plate is just part of the character of the stove, kind of like mica windows on the antique stoves, I reckon.

    In doing a search for Vermont Iron Stoves I came upon various historical mention of the company in a few histories of the region, including mention of the original contest developed. It's a pretty cool history for both Elms and VC Defiant to start with. The Maple never made it to production, but I read of the three stoves some felt it was the nicest looking. I would have loved to see what it looked like. The guy who developed the Elm is now into cooling mechanics and refrigerants or something like that. Steve was in there from the beginning though, and it's good to see him carrying the ball now.
  12. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    I mentioned I would render a report of some kind on how the Hybrid functions. The season is about over up here in the mountains, but I've had it fired up enough times to gather observable, very consistent specs on its operation.

    The stove is set up as both a catalytic, which is my preference, and a non-cat with stainless U-tube secondaries, which is Steve's Slatter's preference. It should be noted again the model is an 18," with an approx. 2.15 cu' firebox, and 2.90 cu' of internal heat surface for barrel and cook-top. This model has five rows of fire brick, two deep in the barrel.

    Outside temps have been anywhere from 35 to 51 degrees, both clear and cloudy skies, morning or evening fires. Thus far no particular atmospheric condition has effected the stoves function (I haven't had opportunity to light or operate the stove on a cold rainy or snowing day yet). Draft and performance have been consistent with each burn cycle.

    Each load has consisted of 5 medium splits of mostly 2 year old cherry, with some oak, hickory, or locust added which could be more seasoned and dry, and with 6 or 7 kindling strips, and a super cedar. I use some newspaper only to start flue suction at the back end of the stove.

    Results have been very impressive.

    Fires ignite quickly, with very little smoke in the firebox, and even while hearing some hiss from the less than perfectly dry wood, the fire rages on. The Air Intake is very effective.

    In 5 to 8 minutes the U-tubes begin firing. Flue temps have been at 200.

    In 10 to 18 minutes the Flue temps will range from 400-600 degrees, stove Body temps 400-500, and the combustor at 500 ready for closing of the bypass rod.

    In 70% of the burn cycles the U-tubes stop firing once the bypass is closed.

    Each cycle sees rapid changes every minute or two in rise of Flue, Body and Cat temperatures.

    In 17 to 25 minutes with very fast, intense fires burning, with Flue temps reaching 650 degrees, I close the Air Intake to 1/4."

    In 25 to 37 minutes the Flue will hover around 275-375 degrees, Body cruise 450-650, Cat at 1500. Stove Body temps will rise to 700 max with the Cat engaged.

    If I open the Air Intake to half way after the Cat hits 1000 degrees, by 45-50 minutes into a burn cycle the Flue will top out at 450, Body at 800, Cat climb to 2000, which is maxing out Body and Cat thermometers. The safest and easiest operating procedure is to keep the Intake at 1/4," which is 20% capacity. Lazy flames will rise out of the load. At times the U-tubes will fire, but 90% of the action is at the combustor, which will glow at various temps starting around 900 degrees.

    At 2 hours into a cycle I open everything up and throw in 3 medium splits. In 1-2 minutes the fire is ready to be returned to cruising at 1/4" on the Intake.

    Thus far 8-9 hours renders a burn cycle down to a 3" to 5" deep bed of coals for reloading, with Body temps in the 300-450 degree range at that time. If I packed the firebox with some good size rounds thrown in, I expect to extend that to at least 60-90 minutes or more depending on wood species. I am told by Steve that some Elm owners burn 10" rounds in their Elms. I've not tried that, but shall next season. Man, the energy saved on my body splitting wood will be great, indeed.

    Some observations on the negative side:

    At the beginning of a cycle some flames are able to reach the combustor basket, which is an inch above the baffle and 3/4" back, which could cause some thermal shock, so we're going to work on extending the baffle in that area just a little to keep the flames under control.

    Because the box is a round barrel, loading the stove erects a pyramid of fuel, which generates a combustion activity mostly aimed at the center of the baffle, north south. The U-tubes run north/south in the box, but are also east/west of the bulk of flaming activity. As an active fire builds flames hit the baffle center stage and splay east and west, or as an intense fire is able to shoot flames from the outside of the load they reach the tubes and they ignite. But as the load burns down some, the activity of the U-tubes ceases fairly quickly and only occasionally fire throughout a burn cycle. By then the Cat is ready for action, anyway, but the real action for secondary activity is at the center baffle, which cries out for the box beam. That will be installed this summer and by next season secondary activity will be increased exponentially before the Cat is ready for full ignition. Clean, efficient burn start to finish. I should add that in a 24" non-cat model the larger firebox seems to render more U-tube secondary activity. It has six rows of bricks which add to thermal mass and internal combustion temps. That's based on Steve Slatter's testimony of his own stoves.
  13. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    The stove is a beast. And by that I mean it can bring about a raging fire in very quick order and produce some serious heat. I'm going to install a rear heat shield to keep from losing heat into the brick hearth wall behind it. I'd rather have the convective heat rising up. The cast iron back throws off alot of heat.

    I haven't made pan cakes on the cook-top yet, but will. I have a great cast iron skillet for that. Paula Deen and the Elm will work deliciously together.

    In comparing the overall function and performance of the Hybrid to the Homestead I used before, it excels in all ways but one, which would be the secondary activity. Having the three rows of tubes running east/west in the Homestead captured more flame activity and could be seen igniting more volatiles in a burn cycle, when an intense fire could be gained. Installing the box beam will logically balance that observation. I might also add the cleanliness of the glass door, unless a log rolled into it, which was a common occurrence. That is obviously not possible in the Elm. But I have also figured out ways to use the Elm's air intake which greatly lessens darkening of its glass. Plus the installation of the new air wash will solve the problem of any darkening at the corners over the course of a low burn cycle. Other wise in all areas of function and performance, especially in the ease and quickness of starting a fire, a smoke-free firebox, and a great coal bed, the Elm has shadowed the Homestead. It's been a night and day experience.

    Not having any other Phase 2 stove use I couldn't compare to anything else, but at this point I am exceedingly pleased with the Elm, and I expect it to get better.

    Come Fall I'll have the box beam in, the air wash on, and hopefully a fix for the baffle at the combustor area. And we'll throw in a ten inch round and see how it goes.
  14. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    Rather then write it all over again, I'll just copy and paste the email I just sent to Steve. -

    "Well, I can now post I have started a fire easily on a rainy day at 50 degrees outside. Amazing. Draft seems good.

    Problem. This time I loaded the stove pretty good. Not much space between the load and the baffle. That leaves flames at the front just shooting right up and hitting nothing. Easy access to the combustor, although with the bypass open the flames want to get past the cage and get out, so I don't think it's a major deal yet. But as the load catches there's going to be alot of flames blasting away at the cage.

    Well, I'm five minutes in and the fire is building really well.

    Yumpin' Yiminee I've got the cat ready in less than ten minutes! It's already 600 and glowing. I pushed in the bypass. Both tubes are going crazy! This is really cool.

    Whoah! At ten minutes the cat is at 1200! Tubes blazing at every hole, literally! Flue at 300, Body only 300. Has to catch up.

    Aggghhhh! At 12 minutes the cat is at 1600!!! I have to shut down to 1/4". This is phenomenal! Must be the full stove. What else could it be? At 50 outside and raining. Woo hoo!
  15. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the update, glad the new stove is working out better than the old one. Sounds like the cat temp can easily get too hot? Can you shut her down further so the flame is just a flicker or occasional burst, it might keep the temp down and give you longer burns? Also was wondering if there is some kind of screen in front of the cat to protect it from flame impingement?
  16. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    The baffle definitely needs to come forward a couple more inches. That should correct front flames from getting at it. It should be easy to make an extension that can slip on the baffle's edge.

    The cat sits in an iron 'basket.' On the old Elms the basket was just hanging there over the fire and it really took a beating. I still got average life out of it, though. In this case the steel baffle catches most of the flames. Once the fire burns back a little flames move elsewhere.

    In tonight's case I shut the air intake down to nothing to keep the cat from getting out of control for too long. It's still cruising at 1500 and the intake is basically less than a 1/4." The fire is long since past the front and lazy flames are leaving at the back of the stove.
  17. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    Because the majority of stove use is in a medium to low burn setting I asked Steve (and apparently others have too) to video the box beam secondary in a low burn setting. It's one thing for secondaries to consume volatiles when a stove is cranked up, but the real test comes when the stove is shut down for the long burn.

    Here's the very impressive result. There's nothing like seeing blue flames to make a point:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKAdkFBLlzo
  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Glad you asked them. That looks a lot more realistic. The previous videos posted for the Elm with the air mostly open were for pyros. This looks much better for the long burn. The secondary flame style is similar to what I see in the Alderlea when burning hardwood. Softwood is similar, but with more orange flames descending from above.
  19. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I'm sorry. I don't see what all the shouting is about. That is the same burn I had in my old Sierra. They just didn't gasket the top of the door glass so some air came in over the top of the glass and rolled back under the baffle. Most of the time it was just a rolling blue cloud under the baffle.

    The later Timberlines did the same thing. And the Englander I have now kicks both of their asses for heat output.

    Enjoy your stove, but it ain't doing anything magic.
  20. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    I never said Steve Slatter has an 'S' under his shirt, or that the Elm is the best stove on earth. But, indeed, based on what I have seen around and experienced I don't mind shoutin.' And I'm also looking at the bigger picture.

    Enjoy your stoves, too, BrotherBart.
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