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new stove user w/ an old VC Vigilant

Post in 'Vermont Castings & CDW Dutchwest older Models' started by rawlins02, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. Viggyowner

    Viggyowner New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    Messages:
    6
    Loc:
    Newmarket,England
    Hi Kenster I am sure that the holes or rather slots under the left lower air tube are designed in, not rust. I have a genuine VC Operations manual that shows on page 4 a semi exploded view of a Vigilant. That tube is shown to have 2 slots on the side. They are underneath on mine so maybe it is artist's licence? Anyway, as someone said, keep the airpath from this tube clear both from underneath and from the front end and it should help horizontal burning.
    Also someone in another thread pointed out that galvanised buckets and hot embers may give of Zinc fumes which are toxic so be aware of that too. Get that hot bucket outside asap and remember it can stay hot for many hours so let it cool down before emptying it into a plastic sack,trash can or whatever.
    Regards Peter

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  2. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2010
    Messages:
    1,579
    Loc:
    Texas- West of Houston
    I haven't looked yet. It actually got cold enough to have a fire last night and expect one again tonight. My target temp for lighting the stove is 40 degrees. It got down to 37 last night.

    Once the fire is out and I do a clean out for the last time this winter, I'll search for those air ports on the tube.

    Re the galvanized bucket. I used to use an old coal/ash bucket and scoop but got a good deal on a Cougar vac a few months ago. Makes a huge difference in easy of cleaning and reducing the fly ash/dust that settled all over the living room.
  3. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2009
    Messages:
    3,732
    Loc:
    Just Outside the Blue Line
    Actually, all of the draft openings inside the stove are for primary combustion. The five small holes along the bottom of the fireback are the principal mode of air introduction into the fire zone. The entire left side could be blocked with ashes (been there) and the stove would probably run OK, just as long as those five holes in the back are clean and open.

    The small hole in the left side of the stove is what feeds the secondary combustion. Air is introduced through a channel behind the fireback (where you can't see it). Under normal conditions, this should be open all the way, but you can experiment with partial opening to see if your burn improves. Bottom line is that this stove is a pretty old design, and it has no insulation surrounding the secondary burn chamber to keep the combustion temps up. You need to get the stove really hot back there for sustained secondary combustion to occur.

    At very high temps, the thermostat in the back will close the primary air intake (flapper door) almost all the way if the thermostat chain is correctly adjusted (45º angle of the flapper when stove is ice cold). Don't forget, there is a handle on the thermostat for a reason. Pulling the lever to the left (as you face the stove from the front) will allow more air to come into the primary burn zone at all stove temps. This will allow more air to come in at higher burn rates, but will let too much air in as the stove cools down.

    Moving the lever to the right allows less air to come into the primary zone at all temps. Getting the stove real hot (650-750º) and then shutting the primary down too far may starve the primary fire of the necessary air. Don't count on the secondary burn to clean things up like it would in a modern stove. Chances are that you will get a smoldering burn in the firebox and not enough heat to keep temps high enough in the secondary chamber for smoke reburn to occur.

    With my flue and burn practices, I liked to set my thermostat so that the flapper was open about a 1/8" to 1/4" when the stove was fully involved. On my stove, that was usually with the lever tilted just to the left of vertical. Always had long overnight burns that way, with plenty of coals and a warm stove 8 hours after a full load.

    BTW if your flapper door is not opening back up as the stove cools, there is probably something binding at the hinge joint that is preventing it from pivoting on the hinge pin, or your bi-metalic coil is shot. Check for free movement up and down while the stove is cold. You should feel fair resistance to closing the flapper manually if the coil still has plenty of spring left in it. Attached below are a cutaway drawing of the stove and a drawing of the correct position for the thermostat linkage.

    Attached Files:

  4. rawlins02

    rawlins02 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2012
    Messages:
    67
    Loc:
    Western Massachusetts
    I'll likely look to retire my Vigilant soon. Thermostat does not open as stove cools, the damper tends to flop open, and the damper handle won't screw into the little faucet. Suppose it's time for some new technology.
  5. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    1,579
    Loc:
    Texas- West of Houston
    Pretty minor stuff and should be easily repairable. I'm sure you'll find a good buyer at a fair price. Don't just junk it.
  6. rawlins02

    rawlins02 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2012
    Messages:
    67
    Loc:
    Western Massachusetts
    No, I wouldn't junk it. I'd certainly like to have the damper handle screw into the faucet. Perhaps I'll see if it can be retapped. As for the flapper door, it's not clear if the problem lies with the coil or hinge pin. I'm new to this stove and wood stoves in general (going on third month buring) so will have to do some investigating to figure that out. I have plans to rig a sling on the damper handle to keep it from closing. If I do decide to keep her a rebuild to include a new fireback would be in order.

    One shortcoming I'm seeing is that this thing really gobbles up wood. I'm only getting about 4-5 hours on a full firebox. Temperatures from 500-600F. Not sure what the wood type is that I inherited. Thinking oak and maple. I plan to get a meter to check moisture content.
  7. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2010
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    1,579
    Loc:
    Texas- West of Houston
    If you're keeping it at 500-600 degrees I'm thinking like the fire is getting too much air for a long burn. Either it needs to be recaulked and sealed or the flapper door is staying wide open allowing too much draft. Once it gets up to and cruises at 600 or so for a while, are you putting it into horizontal burn mode?

    Haven't we already had this conversation?
  8. rawlins02

    rawlins02 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2012
    Messages:
    67
    Loc:
    Western Massachusetts
    Yes, I've learned much in this thread, and I do run in horizontal mode.

    A t typical run the past two weeks:

    - Up to around 550 F in about 30 minutes. I've recently tried smaller splits which seem to help get her to climb more quickly to operating temperature.
    - Add 5-6" splits for mostly full firebox. Allow to char and/or for temps to get back up to 550 F.
    - Close damper. Position flapper to just slightly open.
    - Flapper door closes as temperature rise to closer to 600 F. Stove will run, depending on outside temperature and wind, near 600F for 1-2 hours. Then slowly descend to 400F.
    - Total time once damper is shut to reach 400 F: no more than about 3.5 hours.

    I've placed a flashlight in the cold stove. I see no light emanating from it. OK, gaskets are worn. Am replacing them soon. But I've assumed 500-600 was standard operating temp in horizontal mode, and that the wood would last 5-6 hours at those temps. Perhaps I'm not getting good secondary burns.

    And while I've learned a lot her, I'm clearly still getting the feel for how this stove behaves given varying conditions. Thanks for all the help.
  9. Tmac845

    Tmac845 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2013
    Messages:
    24
    Loc:
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Hey guys. I'm almost a year behind on this thread, but I have what I think is a relevant question. After you switch to horizontal burn mode, and you set that flapper to just slightly open, the flapper closes to cut the primary air. A lot of guys are saying when they go to reload the next day they've got a nice coal bed. So, HERE'S MY QUESTION: Is that flapper door re-opening as temps cool off over night, and is it WIDE OPEN when you get down around 300 degrees?
  10. rawlins02

    rawlins02 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2012
    Messages:
    67
    Loc:
    Western Massachusetts
    The mechanism is designed to allow the door to open(close) as stove temperature cools(warms). How it responds to a given temperature range depends largely on how the small steel handle is positioned. Many users prefer a setting whereby the handle is pointing straight up. At this position it would be common for the door to be slightly open at temps around 400F and for it to close at higher temps (>550F). It would then open fairly wide as the stove cooled. YMMV.

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