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Lighting a Fire in an Insert - My Jotul Kennebec C450 - 7 pics

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by oconnor, Dec 19, 2008.

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  1. oconnor

    oconnor Minister of Fire

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    I have had a few questions about how I get my stove so hot so quickly, so here it is.

    Pic 1 is the wood I will use - some of it is 30%(not dry enough, but what I have), half is about 20%.
    Pic 2 is the start - inverted V with the 2 biggest pieces. If I had coals, I would pile them in the middle by the primary air. No coals today.
    Pic 3 is ignition - log cabin pile of wood, with birch bark for tinder, shoved in middle.
    Pic 4 liftoff - door is closed, air open. Thermometer is cold at this point. Some smoke in the box, but doesn't last long.
    Pic 5 - T + 13 mins - all the wood is engaged, thermometer is at 550-600
    Pic 6 and 7 - T + 15 - air to half, temp now 650-700. wood is starting to collapse between the two larger splits on the bottom.

    Then at T + 40, reload, char, and turn down.

    Thats how I do it.

    My one concern has always been that I am getting it too hot too fast, but I haven't had anyone here say that yet - so I ask, am I firing too fast?

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  2. drdoct

    drdoct Feeling the Heat

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    I wish I had the patience to lay it all out and take pictures like you did. Looks good. Don't know any harm of bringing up quickly.
  3. ba_jie

    ba_jie New Member

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    After seeing your photos, i think my stove may have serious problem. Why? because the color of bricks in my stove are all black. But yours is still like the original color.
  4. oconnor

    oconnor Minister of Fire

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    Mine get black when I have a wet load of wood, and then it doesn't get hot. A hot fire will keep them clean. If the bricks are black, then your flue is probably black too.
  5. LeonMSPT

    LeonMSPT Minister of Fire

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    My understanding is, once a stove has been "seasoned", unless you plain old overheat it, it's pretty hard to hurt them. I usually burn fairly hot and hard initially to get up to temp. But the mass of the VC insert I have with all the refractory brick in the back, just takes a real long time to get hot.
  6. Rudyjr

    Rudyjr Feeling the Heat

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    Brent, Great pictures and tips. I believe what you are saying is true an both counts , a sufficient hot bed must be established in these stoves and the wood must be dry. I went from struggling to maintain a fire to having repeatable success just by establishing a good initial fire. These stoves are as you told me are a little finicky but once you have it figured out they are a breeze. I just went down this morning 10 hour after the last time I loaded the firebox (with only 2 splits!) expecting a cold stove raked up some nice coals, threw on 2 more splits instant fire! Never could have done anything close to this with my old airtight 30 years ago. Thanks for all of your help. I think you should start a c450 tips and tricks thread like the c550.
  7. tomp

    tomp New Member

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    Hi,
    I have bookmarked your excellent firing tutorial! Thank you!!

    My question is: where is your thermometer located? I put mine of the top of the stove box and can just see it between the top of the box and the opening of the surround.

    Also, do you burn some paper first to get a draft started when cold? I have a 28 foot 6" liner insulated with poured in refractory in an outside chimney. Even when I have started mine just fine the top of the steel firebox does not seem to get that hot as fast as yours.

    Any thoughts that you can share?

    Thanks, Tom
  8. stejus

    stejus Minister of Fire

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    My stove manual states never overfire a cold stove. I guess it there way of saying you may heat the metal up too fast and weaken joints over time from rapid expansion of the metal. I rarely start from a cold stove during the prrimary heating season so it's not a problem with reloading a warm stove.
  9. oconnor

    oconnor Minister of Fire

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    My thermometer is top center about 2 inches back from the front lip. Temps are relative of course - one thermometer to another can have big variations. I haven't had to use paper at all to start the draft - mine drafts well without it.

    In the end, the aim of the experiment was to give a benchmark as to what can be achieved for those who have trouble getting heat from their Kennebec. I don't fire it up that fast at all times - but if you are having heat output issues, the aim was to give something to compare to.
  10. Skier76

    Skier76 Minister of Fire

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    Excellent pics! Thanks so much for posting that. I was using a top down, with an east/west orientation for my larger splits on my Castine this weekend. But I like the "V" idea; to help get air to the fire. I'm going to give that a shot next weekend.
  11. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    I agree, I would not go out of my way to get a ripping fire going as quickly as possible in a cold stove.
  12. DPBurn

    DPBurn Member

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    Hi.. Just joined this forum, and I've been reading some of the post about the Jotul C450
    Thanks for posting all the great photos, and providing the good info on starting the fire!!

    We had a C450 Kennebec installed Sept 2008, we used it all last winter, and kept the oil usage way down. Couple questions .... I seem to get alot of fine ash dust blown around the room this stove is installed in, is this common ?

    I was cleaning out the blower housing today, getting ready for the new season when I noticed that the screw holding the damper control lever had come loose & then fell down behind the blower. Is this a common problem..? I had too pull the aslip extension off the stove to retrieve the bolt, this actually will make it easier to clean out the blower using some compressed air.

    Thanks,
    DPB
  13. oconnor

    oconnor Minister of Fire

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    I haven't had issues with dust or the loose screw. I keep the ash levels low in the firebox, and I keep it raked away from the primary air port in the front. Also, I leave the blower off during reloads.
  14. sandie

    sandie Feeling the Heat

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    So the large splits on the floor in V, then what? You said something about log cabin but what are you actually doing with the rest of the wood you laid out, put int he middle of the V and how to set it up? It gets to 600 or so degrees in short order but how long does it last with all that wood? Then, what do you load in once it is really hot coals?
  15. oconnor

    oconnor Minister of Fire

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    The rest of the wood is criss crossed on top, with the smallest on top. That load will last me about two hours until I reload - my house is very well insulated and airtight after recent renos. Once it's down to coals, it all depends on how much heat I need in the house - tonight I threw in 2 stick just so I could watch the flames, but if I needed, load it up. Just keep the flames bright. If you find you can't keep the fire going, then stack the splits with air gaps around them.
  16. boostnut

    boostnut Member

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    Nice writeup, looks like we use a similar method with similar results. I cut my wood a little longer (18" - 20") so the "V" is not an option for me. I lay an average sized split flat on the bottom and at the back of the firebox. Then do the criss cross layout with kindling similar to your first picture. I lay the first row N-S from the top of the split to the lip just inside the doors then E-W with the next row. 1 piece of newspaper under the kindling gets things started. A couple of smaller splits on top of the kindling and in 15 minutes we're up and running. Others results may vary but I've had no problems with using this method for 4 or 5 years with only a 12 foot non-insulated liner.

    If someone is having trouble getting good heat out of their 450 I would first question their wood supply. I struggled my first year with sub-par wood and now know how much difference good, dry, seasoned wood makes. When in doubt cut up some construction lumber, load the firebox up about half way and light it up. You'll then see what good dry wood can do. These stoves can really crank out some heat.
  17. oconnor

    oconnor Minister of Fire

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    My technique has evolved to something similar as you describe Boostnut. Dry wood is definitely the Holy Grail. When I wrote the original, it was more to help someone who was having heat output issues, so this was intended to give a set of parameters that had a measurable result. We get awesome heat, and are now figuring out how to get less intense but more consistent heat, so I can watch the flames more - good for the mental health!
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