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Let the big cat eat! Buck 91 up and running. Advice, tricks and tips welcome...

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Woody Stover, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Glad you found the thread and weighed in! :cool: Thank you, and mellow, for posting the useful info. Maybe my cat isn't that tired, after all. It appears that we've all found a similar effective way to ramp up the stove...get the cat involved early, at lower-than-recommended temps. I discovered this when I had a start-up load going, then left for a while with the cat accidentally engaged. When I came back...900 on the probe. Hmmm... But you've cut out the extra step of a separate small start-up load with a few kindling splits, and have saved time there. [400 to 800 in six minutes...impressive.] _g I've been cutting back to cruise air at a little lower temp than you do...like 1100 or a little over. Like mellow, I've been bypassing until about 600 on the probe. Flame is starting to diminish on the start-up kindling at this point but the cat rises steadily, and I figure there's not all that much smoke coming off what's left of the start-up load, possibly minimizing unburned smoke going through the cat. I might be worrying for nothing though; Manual sez "Even though it is possible (and likely) to have gas temperatures reach 600 F within two to three minutes after a
    fire is started, if the fire is allowed to die down immediately it may go out or the combustor may stop working. Once the combustor starts working, heat generated in it by burning the smoke will keep it working." So it may be that the combustor is already burning the smoke, even starting from 400. However, I can go out, look at the stack, and still see smoke until the probe is over 1000, so...
    If you fall asleep during the start-up fire, like I did this AM, cat probe will go over 1100. ;lol
    When I get 800 or so on the probe, I load. I can tell the cat is burning if the probe temp doesn't drop much when I have the door open to load up, so I'll experiment with that and see if I can get it burning at a lower temp. As I've mentioned, I've had the probe approach 1800 a couple of time, which I want to avoid. I think that has happened because, in trying to get from 600 to 1000, I've gotten too much of the load burning. Also, the air coming in from the ash drop lid really makes the left side of the load take off once it gets burning. To keep most of the load from getting involved early, when I load I'll push the coals to the middle N/S. Then I grab two big split and, using the fat sides as 'walls,' push the coals into as thin a N/S line as I can. I then build up the far left and right sides with big splits. Lastly, I put a few smaller splits in the center on top of the coals. I then clear out any coals/ash in front of the 'shot gun air box.' To get some flame going and the cat chewing, I use mainly shot gun (doghouse) air (left slider,) with little or no air coming into the air wash and the other channel half way back in the top of the fire box (right slider.) I figure this sends hotter air to the cat. It also keeps the load burning in the very center instead of getting more wood involved like the air wash does. I cut the shot gun air and cruise it with the air wash closed, or slightly open. I think this method may allow me to cruise with the air open a little more when I need more heat, with the load burning in a more even, controlled manner. It might put out more heat later in the load. Up 'til now I've been having my MIL open up the air a bit in the afternoon to get more heat and burn the coals down for the reload.
    Yep, pretty nice to have a half-cord or so stacked up next to the stove. ;lol
    Those Appalachians look almost identical...
    Wow, that looks great. The elevated hearth accents the free-standing look. And you don't have to crawl around on your knees! >>
    What's that leaning up in the corner, a bong? Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "That cat is lit off." ;lol

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  2. WoodpileOCD

    WoodpileOCD Minister of Fire

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    Seems like I had one about that size "back in the day"... now if i lived in Washington state or Colorado... :) It's a rainstick.
  3. David Tackett

    David Tackett Member

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    Ok, you guys say that you close the bypass when your cat probe gets to 600 degrees. How hot is your stove pipe temp at this time? I close my bypass around 400, because if I don't the chimney pipe gets over 600 degrees.
  4. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    You might be one of the few that are running it as a freestanding stove, most of us with inserts don't monitor the chimney pipe temps.
  5. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    I didn't put the surround on right away and it seems to me that the temps were in the 300s, max. But now I'm cranking the stove on start-up more than I did at first...
    Is that 600 on a probe or a surface thermo? Even on a surface thermo, I wouldn't think 600 would be excessive, maybe 1100 or so internal? I've noticed with the IR gun that the hottest spots seem to be the inside corner where the flue takes a sharp bend, like going from the horizontal tee snout to the vertical flex on my Fv. I've also noticed that the IR will often report a lower temp than the surface thermo...
  6. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, I'm finding the I really have to put the heat to it to get 'er rockin' and get the combustor burning the smoke up. Lately, I haven't had success cutting the air early and the cat taking off on the smoke like it did a couple of times before. If I don't have the combustor up to 1100 at least, it will drop quite a bit when I turn on the blower and will just hang at the lower temp. Maybe it should be burning the smoke at 800, but I still see quite a bit. Are you guys getting a clean burn at that temp? If others are finding it easier than I am to get a clean burn, I may end up getting a new cat and saving the old one for a spare. Looking at how fast Rusty is able to ramp it up has got me wondering about this cat...
  7. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Oh yeah, and some of the Sugar Maple splits I took over there don't seem super-dry. Not sizzling but they might be a bit sluggish. I've been putting those against the walls of the box, on top, and drier stuff in the middle to get 'er rollin'.
  8. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Quickly becoming an adherent to the BWS school of wood-drying...Oak, three years...two years for everything else that's supposed to dry in a year. ;lol
  9. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    Great cat thread!

    I don't know if this tip will work for you Buck guys but it does for me.

    To get the stove up to temp without using kindling I put in 2 to 5 cups of good hard wood pellets on the coals that I have left.
    I let it rip with full air and usually have the by-pass closed.
    .
    Then after the fire from the pellets dies some I load the wood in.
    I don't do it every time and a few bags of pellets is fairly cheap and easy to store.
    It sure brings my stove temp up fast.
    Cheers!
  10. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Good idea! I do have a bunch of soft Maple over there that came off yard trees in the wind, and most is pretty dry. I need to split some of that down into kindling...
  11. WoodpileOCD

    WoodpileOCD Minister of Fire

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    Better wood this year has definitely made a difference. Last year some of my wood was pretty iffy moisture wise but this year most everything I am burning is a full year or more and the oak is 2 years c/s/s. I'm seeing my temps go up much faster and without having to overthink things this year. I've burned for 20 years with an old 'Black Bart' smoke dragon and never gave much thought to seasoning the wood other than trying to get 6-8 months or a year drying. First year with the Buck, I found this site and all the talk about 2-3 years and I thought, yea right, just how much difference can another year make in the wood...... :-( Just say that now I'm a believer and will (if at all possible) never get less than 2-3 years ahead again.
  12. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    I'm liking the way the stove is running now that I'm getting the hang of it. As far as I can gather from the stove readings that my wife, MIL and SIL jot down when I'm not there, I don't think the combustor has been getting too hot. Mixing in the semi-dry Maple with the drier Oak, etc, seems to result in a nice, controlled burn. As I said, I've been making sure there are no coals under the wood that I stack on the left side, above the ash dump, which keeps that wood from gassing too early in the burn. Big splits probably help as well.
    House temp is tailing off at the end of the overnight burn, so I'm having her toss a couple of smaller splits on when she gets up to keep the furnace off as much as possible. She's got it set at 63, which she claims doesn't seem cold compared to how it was without the stove. ;lol It's been teens at night and low 30s daytime, so a little below average for this time of year. If I was there running the stove, I could be tweaking it mid-burn to get more even output, but I can't expect her to do as much as I would. That said, she seems to be taking an interest in the operation of the stove, so that's good. I'm going to take some higher-powered wood over there next load, Hickory and BL, and maybe mixing that in will keep the stove tossing heat a bit longer without tweaking.
    I think I'm losing some heat to the continuous windows on three walls in the stove room. The inner windows seem pretty tight but the storms on the east and west walls could use new glazing compound. The north wall has aluminum storms...not sure what I can do there to trap the air pocket better. If this stove was in the next room, which is more central to the floor plan, I'm sure overall house temps would be a few degrees higher.
    There's definitely a different burn with the drier Oak than with the not-as-dry hard Maple. I've seen the cat glowing as low as 800* with the Oak. I'm thinking the combustor is working pretty well, but hopefully I can stop over at maflake's one day when he's ramping up his 91 to compare. His combustor is only two years old. His Red Oak isn't quite as dry as mine so I don't know if a comparison could really be made unless the same wood was used in both stoves...
    I'm probably going to end up burning more of my primo wood over at her place than at mine. I've been using a bit of Cherry and soft Maple at home, throwing in some BL or something for overnight. I'm trying to conserve the big splits and primo stuff now, so I'm glad I have the medium-heat woods to help me do that. Here I thought I was in Fat City, wood-wise. Now with the 91 eating, not so much. Can't let up and coast yet... ;lol
    I've been refining my technique for using the ash drop, and it's not much problem at all. I usually pull and dump the pan every couple of days. I figure that if I empty the pan before dumping new ash in, any coals lost in the previous dump have burned somewhat and heated up the stove a little. That's why I avoid shoveling and immediately tossing out the coals, if possible...hate tossing away heat. :mad:
    Yeah, I'm liking more and more how this stove works. To reload on a coal bed, I toss in a few small splits, leave they bypass open until the probe hits 600. Close the bypass and take it up to around 1000. I maintain pretty lively flame in the box during ramp-up. I find that tweaking the balance between shot gun and airwash air can accelerate temp rise when I find the sweet spot. Then I load up, char the center a bit with shotgun air and close the bypass again. Finally, I cut the shot gun air and leave the airwash either closed or open maybe a little open, depending on the load. I've now got it to where I can go from coals to cruise in about half an hour. My wife and SIL are now able to run the stove as well, so we're splitting up the workload and saving me trips over there. :cool:
  13. eujamfh

    eujamfh Member

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    We have a buck 91 and similarly getting the cat up to temp on a completely cold stove takes some time if the dampener is open. Ours will get to 500 withing 20 minutes or so…but I have been known to close it at 400 and it takes off really fast. When I close it early, I go out and look at the stack and seldom is there a long period of black smoke. There is usually only a couple minutes and then the cat is off and running. I also found, pending the wood I have to run it with the air completely shut down. Dry pine or poplar, it HAS to be shut down or it will run off. With better wood (oak or locust) I leave the one air open a quarter an inch. If the outside temps are above 40 degrees, it runs amuck quickly and I put a box fan ten feet way to remove some of the stove hear…if it is below 32 degrees, I have fewer problems with a full load running hot.

    The other night the house was 75 degrees and it was 40 degrees outside…I loaded it with oak, and it quickly got to the 1600 range…I had to run the box fan all night since the blower simply was not able to remove enough heat to make me comfortable.

    We have found the 91 to be a beast in cold weather. Load it and let it fly. But in "shoulder" temps, I have found tinkering with the box fan a necessity. Its a little bit of a pain, but worth it when the temps dip.

    We just installed a new cat this year, as well as a new rheostat. Rheostat we had started to fail and was fluctuating on its own…that meant really keeping tabs on the temps. But with the new rheostat installed, and cooler temps ahead, it will do what it has done for years and that is pump out a lot of heat. Course, which its large woodbox, it also means we chew through wood heating the house.

    Thus far this year, between the two stoves we have burned about three cords of pine. We are through the pine now and burning oak only…which means large coal beds and overnight burns with little fanfare.
  14. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Hmmm, sounds like a new combustor might be in order at some point. Did you buy your 91 new, or do you know how long your old cat lasted? Why did you decide to replace it? Mine doesn't take off from 400, or as quickly as you're describing. It will go pretty high sometimes depending on the wood, like you said. This AM I put several splits of soft Maple in the center of the load. After 1.5 hours it was up to 1640. I left, but I'm pretty sure it was leveling off there, or might go a little higher. I had some Oak and hard Maple on the sides of the load so I don't think it'll go too high. Because my combustor seems to be slower to light off, I've been using just a few splits to get up to temp. If I put in a full load, too much of it might get burning before I could get up to temp and cut the air, then I risk the cat going too high.
    Last night, I cut the air and turned on the blower a little too early I guess because the probe temp dropped below 700. Cutting the blower again allowed the temp to rise pretty quickly to around 1000, and the cat began to glow. I might be over-thinking the cat a bit, but I like to make sure it's burning clean before I leave so as not to annoy the neighbors with smoke for a long period. I think with a new cat, I could skip the warm-up splits and just put a full load in, confident that the cat would take off quickly. That would definitely save me time and extra adjustments.
    The wood I'm taking over there is cut for my stove, about 16". This has worked out pretty well. If I have a big coal bed when I get there to load the stove, I can push some of the coals to the back of the box and still have room in the front for a load of the 16" splits. ==c
  15. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    So the ash dump on the Bucks leak air as well, interesting. I just disabled mine with furnace cement since I did not use it and was sick of the possible over fires happening from it. I am getting longer controlled burns since I disabled it.

    My post about it with my Bay 52: http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/appalachian-52-bay-wood-stove-insert.83621/page-4#post-1316604
  16. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    I have a high valley, but the design of it and the 91 i think are similar. It takes a while for my smoke to clear, and i have noticed that hotter it is, say over 1100 the beter the smoke clears. But even if i have a chared load of good wood it will take 5 mins at least to clear the smoke after engagement. Better wood like oak that is dry is better. I have dry pine and it still will smoke a bit even in the active range, also i have some elm that is low 20s maybe and it will smoke at 1100-1300 ish even after engagement, it all depends but my good oak clears faster. Now the pine will roll smoke then i close damper and it will still smke for minutes but unless that cat is rocking 1300F it still will wisp some smoke.

    I probably need new cats but there clearing 90% of the smoke it appears when you look at it without then once fully engaged.
  17. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    You might be seeing steam not smoke, I know on these colder days I still get a steam trail, but it dissipates after 10 feet.
  18. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    That sounds more like how mine operates. And I have burned some loads of dry Oak lately. As I said, I've seen the cat glowing at 800 with the dry Oak, so it's likely that the cat will perform great when all of my wood supply is that dry.
    Pine definitely burns dirtier, even when it's dry. You can see the black smoke coming off of it. Heck, last night I threw a couple of Fatwoods on some coals in the front of the Fv. The door was slightly open so there was no airwash. That pitchy stuff gunked up the entire front window in short order. It burned off later, and nobody is burning Fatwood for heat (I don't think) but regular Pine is putting out more gunk than hardwood, too.
    Yeah, it can be tough to tell the smoke from the steam, or I could be getting a combination of the two. With this semi-dry hard Maple I've been burning, steam output is probably pretty high at the beginning of the burn.
  19. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Good info about your stove in that thread, mellow. :cool:

    Here's the ash pan on the 91. The gasket is secured with hi-temp silicone. You can see that the back of the pan is open, so if you spill ash or coals in the housing, the pan will still slide all the way in.
    [​IMG]

    In this pic you can see the piece of spring steel welded to the left side of the pan housing that exerts pressure on the pan and holds it in place. The pan gasket seals against the end of the housing. Some air still gets by, though. There's no rod or hole like the 52 has.
    [​IMG]

    The ash drop lid hinges up. I thought of sealing off the ash drop like you did, but have been able to minimize the effect of the air coming in, at the beginning of the burn anyway, by clearing off the coals and putting a large split with a flat bottom on top of the lid.
    [​IMG]

    The door latch cams down on the plate-steel front. You can see the set screw hole with no screw. They have a roll pin instead (not visible here.)
    [​IMG]

    You gotta be quick loading this thing if you have a sizable coal bed in there; It will melt your face off and cook you like a roasting pig! :ZZZ I'm usually down to a tee shirt at that point...gotta know where your arms are in relation to hot stove parts, as I found out the hard way. !!!
  20. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    For reloads I will usually do it in 3 phases if time allows, I will open the bypass and air and let it sit for a minute to help clear up smoke, then I open it up and push all the active coals to the back and create a trench in the ashes in the middle back to front then close the door, then I go and get my wood and put it by the stove, put on my welding gloves, then load up the stove as fast as I can back to front. Sometimes that is a really challenge if you are doing a reload of a hot firebox but the welding gloves do make it easier.

    If interested I got my welding gloves at harborfreight: http://www.harborfreight.com/3-pair-14-inch-split-cowhide-welding-gloves-488.html
  21. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    So you're loading E/W? I haven't tried that yet. What results are you getting compared to N/S? It would probably prevent excessive gassing early and prevent the cat temp from going high. I don't want to slow it down too much though, especially in the morning when I need to recover house temp. The stove room isn't centrally located, and all the glass in that room is robbing me of BTUs as well.
    I'm using a nice pair of leather gloves that come up pretty far. Thomas included them with my SuperCedar order last year. :cool:
  22. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    I was doing N/S but I found even with the ash dump air leak fix the firebox would still have to much flame activity and the cat would go up to 1500 and the load would burn quicker and hotter even with the air shut down completely, which if I needed the extra heat I would do that, but for 90% of the time I only need to load E/W and enjoy the longer burn times (air trench in ash helps with E/W).

    The other bothersome thing with loading N/S is I feel I have to turn the fan on high so the extra BTU's don't go to waste, the fan on low is quite loud, on high it is right down annoying.
  23. WoodpileOCD

    WoodpileOCD Minister of Fire

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    How can you tell if your ash pan seal is leaking? Do you see hot spots in the coals around the drop or extra flames there? I have never used mine or even pulled it out for that matter. I only have to empty about every 10 days or so and I find it easy enough to just shovel into a bucket. Just curious because I have not seen any indication that I have any leaks. I do have a minor leak in the lower right corner of my door but I think I read of a couple other people with the same problem with these stoves. I'm going to reseal with door gasket soon and see if that fixes the problem.
  24. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    Click the link I posted back on post #40 in this thread, I could visually see in my stove bright red hot coals right over the ash pan indicating an air leak.
  25. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Good info, mellow. I hadn't thought much about trying E/W loading. I don't think the cat has been going too high when I make sure the wood over the ash lid is packed for a slow burn. I think the ash dump is a little different on the Buck than the App. But I might try E/W with some of the Hickory and BL that I'm going to take over there in the next load. Maybe that would prolong the high heat output and keep room temp from tailing off as much at the end of the burn. Yeah, the fan seems a bit loud to me, but I haven't burned many blower stoves to compare it to. Not really a problem there, since she doesn't hang out in the stove room.
    Like mellow said, I can see the coals glowing above the ash drop lid, and flame if I don't load it to burn slower over there. I don't really see the stove a lot when the load has burned for a while, so I'm thinking it probably burns pretty hot above the lid later in the burn.
    Yeah, it seems that the lower right corner of the glass is a little dirtier than the lower left. I put a new gasket on and that seemed to help somewhat. I think my door latch might have a notch worn in it that is preventing me from getting the door as tight as it could be. I need to take a closer look and if that's the case, file the latch ramp to smooth out the operation of the latch. Could also be that due to the hotter burn over the ash lid, the left side stays cleaner...

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