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  1. spirilis

    spirilis Minister of Fire

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    New Market, MD
    Well, I bought this house about 3 months ago and I'm looking into my woodstove options here, and it looks like the 'ole lady who owned this house previously had a Vermont Castings Defiant (that's all it says, "Defiant", says 1975 on the back of the firebox, and the placard on the backside mentions it was safety-tested in 1980; house was built in 1981) upstairs with a horizontal 8" pipe going straight into the chimney (looks like the chimney collar was designed with the height of the stovepipe in mind). Far as I can see, no visible cracks on the inside or outside, but it's very dirty with caked up soot and glossy creosote on parts of the firebox and inside one of the doors. Lots of ash and grime inside the air inlet in the back and the secondary air inlet on the side. The stovepipe is bent thanks to a mishap involving the mantlepiece (a big slab of wood, which isn't secured to the masonry or wall in any way, fell onto the stovepipe when I leaned on it once...) but I have a chimney sweep coming by next week to check that out and sweep the chimney, not to mention give me the low-down on what kind of chimney I have (no idea of its size, don't care to climb up on the roof either) and its condition.

    As for the stove, is it easy to clean the inside of these, and should I disassemble anything to get to the secondary chamber back there? Anyone have experience with mucking around with these things?


    Downstairs there's another stove, this one a Jotul Fireplace Stove 8, doesn't appear to have a cat and its mfgr. date was in 1984. Looks like a much simpler unit but it's a little dirty inside too, not as much glossy creosote though. From what I've read about the Defiant, that one's meant to be burned hot and I guess the previous owners didn't quite get that. It's a beast either way though, and maybe a bit much for that living room; the sellers mentioned the downstairs stove heats the whole house pretty well. Looking to try some brick fuel like WoodBrickFuel in either of these stoves (should burn hot like the Defiant prefers) once it gets cold out, but I'm lining up all my ducks right now. Probably give one of them a good burn once we have a modestly cold evening this month or next.

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  2. spirilis

    spirilis Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
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  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, you definitely have some original (not knockoffs) and good stoves......

    It makes sense that your Defiant is circa 1982 or so.....

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/wiki/Defiant/
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/wiki/Vermont_Castings_Older_Stove_Models/
    (manuals, brochures, etc. in second link).....

    You can find a bunch of threads here about the old defiant - it is a monster and does not take well to being burned low. The exception might be with a screen and the doors open in updraft mode.

    You should be able to access most of it for cleaning either from the rear or from the inside. There are even some guides around on how to do it. I don't have a link handy, but maybe another owner can clue you in.

    The Jotul you have is also a really nice stove and burns hot and quite cleanly.

    Sounds like you are on the right track. It might end up being a good move to sell and replace that Defiant...with a smaller and cleaner unit. Back in that time period there were not as many properly sized options, so a lot of people purchased stoves which were too big.

    Keep up informed about what the sweep says. There is a good chance that one or the other of the chimneys will need updating, lining or repair.
  4. spirilis

    spirilis Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the reply! I'm trying to do things low-budget this year since my savings was depleted quite well from the house purchase, so I was thinking more along the lines of taking apart the Defiant and thoroughly cleaning it inside. Even found a good rebuild guide and a site that sells parts. It might be worth my while to replace the Defiant but TBH the sellers told me the Jotul does a great job alone, and the Defiant does look nice in the living room so I might just restore it instead. I guess all of this is contingent on how the chimney looks though. If the Defiant's chimney needs a new liner I'll probably look into replacing it next year and getting a smaller SS insulated liner if it doesn't have one already (and get a smaller stove to match the new liner). But if not, hell, might as well roast the living room! After moving all my furniture as far away as possible, heh...
  5. fredarm

    fredarm Minister of Fire

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    The short-term solution might be to use the Jotul as the primary heater and the Defiant as a "fireplace" with the doors open and a screen in the evening (after giving both stoves and chimneys a good cleaning). My parents had a Defiant in their New Hampshire ski condo back in the '80's and we really enjoyed sitting around the open fire in the evening after skiing toasting marshmallows. Can't really do that with a modern EPA stove--they tend to let smoke in the room if you leave the door open because the opening for the smoke is at the front of the baffle.
  6. spirilis

    spirilis Minister of Fire

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    Hmmm, good call. Can't go wrong just using it as a fireplace. I don't know what kind of stove my dad had but growing up when I was a kid he used to do that and it was a lot of fun. Never fired it after some time though, not sure why (probably the fact that he kept using the hearth as storage space for his junk.... lol)

    Still though, I am totally psyching myself up to overhaul this thing. I love fun projects like that. Changing the clutch in my old Nissan Maxima was fun like this ;)
  7. spirilis

    spirilis Minister of Fire

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  8. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    i run a defiant 1 as my primary heater. it is a great stove. it is also very easy to creosote up a chimney fast with the stove. when i bought my house it two had a defiant in it. and it only took a matter of 3 weeks of running it the wrong way for me to have a chimney fire. and a good one at that. 5 foot flames roaring out of a 8 x 12 chimney. the best thing for you to do is pull the top off the stove to give your cleaning but like i did you might windup vacuuming the secondary tunnel. so be very careful. the best tool that you can have for that stove or any other stove is a stove top thermometer. i run my stove at 550 degrees with the thermometer on the cook plate and it's not to bad on caking up the chimney. if you run it below 500 you'll be looking for trouble. don't worry about those hard to reach area's they burn off when you get a nice fire going in it. get a nice 600 degree fire going for about 3 or 4 hours and it will burn off the area's that you couldn't reach.
    easy stove to rebuild.
    good luck
  9. spirilis

    spirilis Minister of Fire

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    yeah I've got that impression--need to run the beast hot. Makes sense, it's so big, and so easy to run cool... gotta fuel her up to get things rolling. Thanks for the advice on the temps though; the thermometer I bought for the Jotul lists 600 as "overfiring" so I'll keep in mind that the defiant needs to run around there. What temp would you consider "overfiring" with the defiant (thermometer on the griddle)?
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Most surface thermometers are designed to go on the stove pipe. That's why the scales list 600 as overfire territory. At 600 on the stovetop, some stoves are just cruising. All depends on the stove and the wood.

    I see Condar is now going to make a stovetop thermometer with a bit more realistic scales:
    http://www.condar.com/stove_top_meters.html
  11. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    if you get a chance download the manual from the vermont castings web site. when you start off your fire the manual says it's ok to run at 750, but not for extended times so 600 is med hi heat. my experience with those chimney pipe thermometers is to use it on the stove top. i was using it as directed for the thermometer and staying in the good range on the pipe and not knowingly the stove was running cool. so now i use it on the stove top. you need to know what the stove is running at more so than the pipe.
  12. spirilis

    spirilis Minister of Fire

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    Alright, got the chimney sweep in here. The chimney was clean; the previous owners must've been cleaning it themselves (they did leave me a chimney brush up in the attic, I just need to buy the fiberglass rods for it.). Chimney crown needs to be replaced, they're gonna come out and do that in a few days (already paid for it, so they'll just show up when I'm away and do it...) and the flashing needs some sealing. The chimney is a clay 12"x12" and the guys said it's definitely oversized--both thimbles are 8" and the downstairs stove is 6". The guys said they could put a SS liner in there but it'd cost some cash. Don't think I want to shell out the cash for that right now. I can run both stoves simultaneously (and the guy said I probably should for optimum performance). I think I'll go through with rebuilding the Defiant. My girlfriend will love it--she absolutely loves the heat ;)

    I'm not sure what to do long-term, though. I seriously doubt I should run both at the same time due to the massive heat output (this house is only ~1600 sqft) but that liner is huge. Maybe an 8" SS liner connected to one or the other? Problem with capping off the upstairs one is it's just ugly, capping off the downstairs one is removing the best-sized stove, unless I flip them around (or cap off the basement, bring the Jotul upstairs, and sell the Defiant?)

    Sounds like a huge pain either way. Or trade in both stoves for a single EPA-certified stove with the SS liner as part of the installation? Guess the options are there. Then again this old house might need all that heat for all I know; it's not very well insulated (the attic I plan on tackling by early December).
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Did the sweep explicitly warn that it is against code to run two wood burning appliances on the same flue?
  14. spirilis

    spirilis Minister of Fire

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    He did not mention it, though he was rather surprised it was set up like that. I talked to one of them this morning to discuss relining options and he said it's possible to get two 6" oval liners in there (after breaking up the terra-cotta liner) if I wanted to ditch the Defiant and get something smaller, or they could use an 8" liner and connect both stoves together again (just improving efficiency a bit) but I could only burn one at a time and that'd be more of a "theoretical" possibility as he put it. Not a recommended one. He told me to be frank, if it were his house, he'd keep the current setup as it is and just run both stoves simultaneously if I was that worried. If it were an immediate safety issue (such as a cracked liner or the like) he'd suggest one of the SS liner options right away, but that isn't the case here--he said the terra-cotta liner is in great shape.
  15. TreePapa

    TreePapa Minister of Fire

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    I thought Old Defiant was a brand of bourbon or something!

    Peace,
    - Sequoia
  16. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    we could all drink to that for old time sake
  17. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    how tall is the chimney? the downstairs stove is it in a habitable room or a basement?
    knowing how my stove heats, i think if it were me, i wouldn't run two stoves at the same time. it would get to hot in there. crank up the defiant and see if you can get the stove up to it's normal running temp. maybe she creosoted up the stove because she couldn't get a good enough draft or she just liked getting those 20 hour 200 degree burns.
  18. spirilis

    spirilis Minister of Fire

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    Don't know the height in feet, but the house is a rancher with a main level and a basement, nothing too fancy about it (no cathedral ceilings or the like). The basement is finished, so the downstairs stove is in a habitable living room area (needs cleaning and some new furniture, but I can tell the old folks used that place as a nice little hangout). I like having it down there but I don't think I'll use it much if the Defiant works well enough to keep my furnace from turning on.


    Anyway, I cranked up the stove this weekend for kicks. I couldn't get it up to operating temp. Think I had enough wood in there (I'm using WoodBrickFuel, a compressed sawdust product, so it *should* burn hot enough... it got the downstairs stove near-overfiring hot after an hour or 2 when I tried it a week or 2 ago) but it just wouldn't budge much past 350F griddle temp. I also could smell smoke throughout the house after a while. I think all the gaskets need replacement, and I'm guessing the smoke came through the griddle gasket (which started peeling off when I was fumbling with it). The stovepipe is sealed up with furnace cement (the chimney sweep guys did that) and I have a probe-type flue thermometer in there. Flue temps didn't get much past 700F.
    Some of the air intake passages were clogged, but most of the time I ran it with the side door open. It was around 45F outside. I don't think I had as much ash in the bottom as I should have, and I don't have any firebricks down there. Any suggestions here? I did notice quite a draft coming through the downstairs stove's air intake so I closed that shut and closed its flue-damper, but still didn't get it past 350F griddle temps. Actually with the side door closed it dropped a bit to ~300-325F, but maintained that and kept burning throughout the night; at 2AM I woke up and checked and it was still around 200F with a few glowing embers and keeping the house super warm, then by 7AM it was dead cold.

    Also would adding firebricks help or is that not recommended with these stoves? (can't remember if someone answered this already--I know someone told me not to use a grate in these stoves, per the manufacturer's instruction...)
  19. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    you can't get the stove hot enough for a variety of reasons
    1: temps outside might not be cold enough to get that chimney moving
    2: chimney is to big so trying to get that hot enough is a chore
    3: what little draft you have is being robbed by that downstairs stove
    try pulling out the basement stove pipe and put in a plug so that what ever draft you can get is pulling from the defiant.
    4: when you were running the bio brick was it the only log in there?
    5: not knowing how the old owners of the house ran the stove they might have let the ash get high enough before cleaning it out that some ash got into the primary air holes in the fireback. if so you need to take the stove apart and rebuild it. my house is a ranch, from the thimble going into the outside chimney to the top is about 10 feet and i can if i want to, crank the stove up to over 800 degrees.
    also check the cleanout at the bottom of your chimney and make sure that the door is closed and sealed tight.
    6: were you running with the baffle closed or open. i ask that because if you have a weak draft and you try running with the baffle closed the chimney might not have the power to pull thru the stove.
  20. spirilis

    spirilis Minister of Fire

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    #1's probably true, especially with that huge chimney. I'm guessing I'll have better luck firing both stoves simultaneously for that.
    #3 - Probably, especially since the downstairs stovepipe wasn't sealed to the thimble at all. I rectified that last night with a liberal coating of cement. Could still leak but it won't be as bad now. The cleanout was closed, but I didn't check how well it sealed. I don't recall it being a very tight seal when I closed the door so that could hurt the draft too.
    #4 - Yeah, they were the only things there. I used a few small firestarter sticks to get them going. (I should think about collecting a pile of kindling... might get the stove hotter on startup)
    #5 - Some of the fireback ports were clogged, so I ran a screwdriver through them to clean 'em out, but I can only imagine what it looks like behind there. I'm convinced a full teardown is appropriate for this stove anyway so I'll be working on that in the next few weeks.
    #6 - Baffle open. I know the baffle shouldn't be closed until it's at least 550F+ griddle temp, and I was excited to try that out to see if the smoke passages back there were open or not, but couldn't get the stove hot enough to try.
  21. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    duct tape the clean out. a plug is not expensive buy one to try running with the other stove plugged.
    at the end of every season i burn one of those csl logs.(chimney sweeping log) and let it sit for at least a month if not until the next burning season begins then clean the chimney. for me it works well turns the creosote in the chimney to flaky stuff and makes the sweeping a ton easier. on my basement stove it make what creosote i have there like black flour and it comes off easy. but beware of this subject because there are alot of people here that will tell you different. to each his own. it works for me. we'll end that here.
    i brought up the csl log for a different reason. when i do the csl burn your suppose to burn it by itself. when i burn it the stove only run at 250 to 325 on the plate. so my point is try some real wood in there and it might be better.
  22. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    by the way. what is the difference between the defiant 1 and the defiant 2? i never had to find this out and was just curious
  23. fraxinus

    fraxinus Feeling the Heat

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    First version of the Defiant had a one piece fireback that was prone to cracking. The second version was identical except it had a two piece fireback. In the early good old days of Vermont Castings, the company changed the one piece version to the two piece for free. Owners did have to provide , if I remember correctly, one way transportation back to Randolph. BTW, you do not need to disassemble the stove to clean between the fireback and rear casting. You can do this through the stove pipe opening.
  24. spirilis

    spirilis Minister of Fire

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    I don't have any seasoned wood around unfortunately and no good place to stack cordwood on my property, so the woodbrickfuel will have to do... I've already read some different accounts on this site from folks using stuff like it (i.e. biobricks) so it sounds like there may be a little trial & error and technique involved. I'll figure it out.

    I'll try some foil tape on the cleanout. That should be a good solution. In the meantime I bought new gaskets for the defiant this morning and the guy there at ACE hardware gave me a reference for some company that puts together rebuild kits for VC stoves (Target Wholesale - 1-800-648-5864) so I'm gonna give them a call and see if they have the mesh for that secondary air passage or a whole rebuild kit for that matter.
  25. spirilis

    spirilis Minister of Fire

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    PS- I just want to thank you all for helping me out. This board is an absolutely incredible goldmine of information and I love forums like this. It's easy to find information about anything piquing my curiosity just by searching.

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