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Last Night, I'd had it: Goodbye Defiant; Hello Mansfield!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by swestall, Jan 7, 2008.

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  1. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    Many of you know that my love for Vermont Castings has waned during this past several months that I've been unfortunate enough to own a Non-CAT Defiant. Last night, after building a bed of coals from 5PM to 8PM: I started my ritual at 8PM and at 11:30. I got the wood charred and the stack up to 500, closed the damper, got the Everburn rumble and then the stall. I did this, as usual, many times between 8 and 11:30. Many, many times.
    Finally at 11:30, I snapped. I turned to the Defiant, and defiantly said, "do whatever you want tonight dear, you are out of here". And, that is exactly what's going to happen.
    Here in CT it is going to be in the 40's and 50's for the rest of the week. The Defiant is now cooling down...and this morning I went to Dean's Stove, in Plainville, CT. (I tell you this because for all who want to know, they are a fine outfit). I ordered a new Hearthstone Mansfield, liner, connector, etc. And, it is going in this Thursday. That's, That.
    I don't have to tell all the Soapstone owners why. But, for others who may contemplate a change, the thing that finally sold me on the Soapstone is the extra time the stove will radiate heat after the fire is burning down. What this will mean to me is, from 4AM to 6AM when I reload, I'll still have heat; from 4PM to 6:30PM when we get in and reload, we will still have heat. Combine that with passive solar gain and say not to the OIL man!
    I've had Vermont Castings products for over 20 years: the Old Vermont Castings Company. They were great, so were their products. This new company and the technology they are giving the woodstove community are not the same company I learned to care for. Consequently, I have wasted a $ignificant amount of money by going with their latest NON-CAT Everburn model which has a secodary burn mechanism that works intermittently and requires a significant amount of user time to tend it and make sure one is not generating a lot of creosote to coat their chimney and potentially burn their house down: you get it I am mad and done with Vermont Castings.
    I still have their wonderful CAT Defiant in my basement; I will be selling that off to someone who wants one. And, CORIE, you can now have the Non CAT for $900.00 if you want to have your freight company pick it up.
    As for Hearthstone, while I was filling out my purchase paperwork for the MANSFIELD, I watched Dean's start a fire in the Heritage. The tech there put 4 crumpled pieced of paper in and some cut up pallet wood, threw in a match with full open, closed the door and walked away. Within about 3 minutes the fire was roaring, within about 10 minutes he shut it down and the secondary burn engaged fully (and beautifully I might add). I watched this stack of pallet wood burn for about an hour while we filled out all the paper work, etc. The secondary burner, just kept on going, and going. As I was leaving, I walked by the stove, it was very toasty warm; lots of heat being radiated. And, the original wood, which was the equivalent of about 3 splits of oak, 3.5 inches, was still burning and in tact. (that is not coaled).
    So, good by to you Vermont Castings, hello to you Hearthstone: and now maybe I'll be able to sleep knowing that my woodstove is burning safely, efficiently and without filling my stack with that black gooey creosote I fear so much!

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  2. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    swestall,

    as you may (or may not know), i had the exact same experience with my DW Everburn, and did exactly the same thing as you. I replaced mine with a Heritage. It took some getting used to, and I would expect you are going to have the same type of experience with your Mansfield. Give it some time. This mass of soapstone will take an hour or more to get up to temp where secondary will kick in., unlike cast iron which you can get going within the hour (from a cold start).

    With my Heritage:

    With a probe thermometer I have seen that stack temps like to spike in the 800 F range, and then close the primary air, and it will take 20 minutes or so for the chimney temp to come back down (if your set-up responds like mine did - i close the air control to about 1/2" open). Then, the chimney will settle in at about 600 F for a couple/few hours before it makes it descent to the 200 range, at which time, you be down to coals; time to reload if necessary. With my Heritage, if I run the chimney at 600, my stove top will usually peak at 500. If I keep the chimney at 700 for a long period (like more than an hour), I can get the stove top up to 550.

    I also placed a damper in the chimey. You might want to consider this if you find that it's hard to control your chimney temps without closing primary air all of the way. I know your experiences will be different with the mansfield, but if you run into some troubles, maybe what I have shared will help.

    I definitely monitor creosote build-up. My heritage generates WAY LESS than my neverburn did, but definitely more than my catalytic DW did.

    Good luck, and I hope this one makes you happy!!! You will have more time to enjoy and less time pissing around with it.
  3. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    I was hoping when I started reading this post that you'd be selling that stove. I'm sorry to hear it's been so finicky and hard to operate. I hope I can shed some light onto these stoves or at least find out where the problem is.

    Do you have anyway to set up the freight to here? PM me if you've got something in mind. I might also have an idea.
  4. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the soapstone side. ;-) You will love the soapstone heat, and like Mike says, it will take some time to get use to it, but nothing like the problems you had with your VC, I hope.
  5. They Call Me Pete

    They Call Me Pete Member

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    Good luck with Dean's. Just don't try to return a stove or anything for that matter !!!!!! Congrats on the Mansfield
  6. LarryD

    LarryD Member

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    You know I feel your pain. Good luck with your new stove!


    Larry D
  7. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

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    dude i don't care what anybody says, Vermont Castings should buy that stove back from you, period! that's the ONLY way they could save face.

    the ONLY exception to what i just said would be if you did not have the stove installed according to spec.

    i've been in the retailing, and have a degree in marketing, and i've lost respect for this company.
  8. DriftWood

    DriftWood Minister of Fire

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  9. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    Hey Driftwood, thanks for the post. That video was one of my motivators for going to a tube secondary. The downdraft technology is just not refined yet.
    I burn 24/7 so I'll get the house up to temp and maintain it with the Mansfield. It is a bit large for the house at 80K/BTU where the Defiant's were 60K/BTU. But, I figure I'll burn a bit smaller loads and see what happens.
    You have to get use to each stove, that's for sure. But, I have to tell you that VC "thing" was a nightmare, I had to attend it every 30 minutes to make sure it was still burning with the secondary. Even at that I've ended up with as much creosote in 3 months as I had in the previous 5 years with a CAT stove.
    Its good to be moving on, and I appreciate everyone here giving me input along the way.
    Steve.
  10. Gunner

    Gunner New Member

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    I can't believe you held out for as long as you did... I hope you will really like your Mansfield seems like a nice stove.
  11. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    Yes, you are right Gunner! Being mechanically inclined, I had to try to figure it out. And, see if I could get around it, etc. IN the end, I figured out that some things are just not meant to work, and you gotta leave them behind.
    AS Craig said, its good to just cut your losses.
    Thanks for the support!
    Steve.
  12. DriftWood

    DriftWood Minister of Fire

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    I shut the Hearthstone Heritage stove today down to sweep the liner, No problem there less than a quart of ash. I cleaned out the fire box took out the baffle and swept the T. Its about 55F so I did start it up again. Thats about 11/2 full cord three year old stuff.
  13. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    I think you are really going to like the Mansfield.

    I have its little brother here, and have been real happy with it.
  14. North of 60

    North of 60 Minister of Fire

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    swestall I also had to cut my losses. It did however really make me appreatiate what im burnin now though. Between the two stoves I had spent $5300 bucks.
    Threw $2300 away and took some life out of my chimney and wasted a hell of a lota wood/reloads and oil. If this makes ya feel any better. The old useless toy is gone and the new proven tractor has been idlin for 3 years. Enjoy your new investment.
  15. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for all the support! I'll be sure to post after the installation (this Thursday) and also change my Avatar to reflect a real stove versus a pretty but useless fish tank.....
  16. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    That's really too bad we have not heard one word from VC (except how few problems they have been having)... the fact is that most companies, not only VC, tend to be pretty far away from their customers these days. People buying stoves today tend to think that VC is related to the original company and legend - while the truth is far from that. The original company is well portrayed in an old INC. article:
    http://www.inc.com/magazine/19890301/5564.html

    Quote from the article, probably very accurate:
    "Looking back, the 1980 Owners' Outing was probably the high point in Vermont Castings' history"

    As of one year after this article, about 1990, it was all over...The company went broke after buying Dutchwest (which was a complete rip-deal - in other words, VC was screwed big time) - then ended up being tossed around to various "corporate groups" like a hot potato. Looking back, some of these incarnations were a heck of a lot better than what eventually happened.....that is, CFM.

    The CFM story is too long to get into, but it was basically the typical case of firing every person at the company who was from the old days and then trying to get the maximum "value out of the brand". Any newer stoves sold today are the results of CFM....

    The story continues when CFM went belly up for numerous reasons (not just bad luck!), and the current owners were a pension fund that had money invested in CFM.....

    It is really a shame, since they have the ability to make great stoves, but have never again attained the vision thing.....like the quotes from that article:
    "The product is sacred. Always was. Always will be."
    "Forget cutting employees to meet a seasonal drop in demand: layoffs have too drastic an effect on morale. Forget just-in-time inventory control, too. Syme has to eat inventory costs, sometimes letting finished castings gather dust for months, other times building with hot metal."

    "He wouldn't do it any other way -- "Why would anyone want to settle for anything less than their best?""

    I think the current owners want to do all the right things, but stepping into a company with so much history is tough, especially when none of the "old salts" are still around to help guide the ship.
  17. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    I watched this for the first time, and I am curious about Hearthstone stoves and the claim that you can't overfire (the particular stove in the clip) because it was designed to not be overfired...it seemed that she was saying the you can run it full bore and not have to worry about it.

    This doesn't seem to be the case with my Heritage, and, in fact, I have to run it with 1/4" to 1/2" primary air or the chimney will peak over 1000F in real hurry. My old catalytic - yes, IMPOSSIBLE to overfire. The Heritage seems easier to overheat the chimney and consequently the stove. I don't mean to "hijack" this thread, but I thought it was worthwhile to bring up, since we're talking somewhat about stove performance, and the video was brought up.

    Does this seem to be the case with other Hearthstone owners?
  18. cmonSTART

    cmonSTART Minister of Fire

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    It's really a bummer to hear about the modern VC company. I didn't know too much about them. Growing up, my parents had an old VC Defiant which we used as our primary source of heat for a long time. It never gave us any problems and always kept the house toasty (especially downstairs!). My grandparents had an old VC Vigilant, which is to this day their primary source of heat. My 90+ year old grandfather still splits and carries his own wood. When we first installed a woodstove in the house a couple years ago, we were originally looking for one, but settled on an Englander 12FP due to cost and installation clearances.
  19. Vic99

    Vic99 Minister of Fire

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    The manual on my HS homestead says that overfiring occurs when the stovetop reaches a temp of >600 F.

    Since Dec 1st, this has almost happened 3 times to me. When the stovetop reached 580/590, I ran a box fan on medium aimed at the stove. This halted further temp. increase . . . . . it's too bad. I'd like the stove to get hotter and throw out even more heat.
  20. jpl1nh

    jpl1nh Minister of Fire

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    A couple of years ago, I was on E-Bay, did a search for wood stoves, and came across a Mansfield for sale in NY state. I had never seen a soapstone stove before and knew very little about stoves but I though it was by far the most beautiful stove I had ever seen. The guy had a minimum on the bidding of $1500 and it was more than I wanted to pay otherwise I would have bought it then and there. Good thing I didn't because it really is substantially more stove than my house needs. But Swes, after your poor experience with your current VC, I'm sure you're gonna love your new stove. Soapstone takes a while to get used to because you are always loading for heat starting an hour or 2 later. I keep my house warm all the time now whcih the sopastone makes quite easy. Before, I'd let the house cool when we were'nt there because I could raise the temps to quick with my old stove. Once you start to get used to the rythym of heating with soapstone, life is very good. :coolsmile:
  21. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the input on Soapstone: it took me a lot of research to settle on the Mansfield. We do have a very tight house and the Encore and Defiant stoves, rated at 55 and 60 K/BTU, were able to heat it. We burn 24/7 so once it gets going, we don't have a problem maintaining; I think I will use less wood with the Mansfield by maybe 1/3 to 1/2. The Mansfield is just a step up in BTU output, but that will come in handy when it gets below zero (many times late Jan to early Feb). When its 15 to 40 we'll just burn smaller and less frequent loads.

    I am SO looking forward to putting wood in my stove, letting it ignite, watching it, going to secondary and going to bed....
    Craig: thanks for the post on VC History-well put and all so true.

    If I had the capital group available, I think I'd buy VC and fix it: the next wave of wood is about to come in a serious fashion. Wait till next year after all the folks thinking about it take a look at what GAS/OIL cost them in the 2007/2008 season. Anyone who is in a position to use wood, should....

    I can't wait to replace my Avatar with the updated image of a working secondary burner!
  22. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    There was a time.....maybe one month, when VC could have been purchased for about 5-10 million! Wow, what a deal......my dad and I even slightly considered it (we would have had to raise capital, of course)...
    It was then pumped up a few times (like to 60-80 million)........but, who knows? Maybe someday a bunch of "old hippies and old salts" will take it over again....

    I actually feel bad for manufacturers (of all types), because it seems to be a bad game these days. The money is in "intelligence", not in iron (Google vs. GM).
    If you are in a "story" mood, and want to hear how I almost saved VC from total ruin (history can turn on a dime), read:
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/stories/articles/almost_saved_vc/

    Instead of Century and Dutchwest, they could be selling Avalon and Upland!
  23. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I would say that overfiring a stove is not the same as overfiring the chimney. I am quite certain that I could overfire either one with the right combination of kindling and wide open primary air.
  24. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    Highbeam:

    I agree with you - it is REALLY easy to get the chimney too hot, pretty difficult to get the stove too hot ( >600). Just wondering if this is common among Hearthstone users, and to give a heads-up to potential new users if this is the norm. The video gives the impression that you can open primary all the way, walk out of the room, and forget about it.
  25. kevin fitzsimmons

    kevin fitzsimmons New Member

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    After what i would call being very patient, i also gave up on my neverburn stove. I can recall the same experience when i walked away from it and said i don't care what you do, burn with secondary engaged, smolder all nigh, whatever, i am going to bed and dreaming of PE's I first though my install or burning were to blame, but it appears that the stove is just plain finicky. The only users who NEVER seemed to have a problem were the dealer, or anyone else they sold to (there words not mine)
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