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Question on crumbling refractory cement on a Dutchwest 2479

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by LarryD, Oct 28, 2007.

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  1. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Trader, as you know the manual SHOWS someone snaking a vaccum cleaner hose all the way down the side of the package, and then sucking up the ash. It would be quite tough to slide hoses, etc. down there and not touch the refractory.

    My metal cover thing would sit on top of the outside of the chamber - to protect against that hose, etc. - maybe I don't understand the combustion process in that model, but I assumed that nothing was happening at that point (covering the top where the finger went in)....

    It may simply be that customers do not understand how fragile this stuff is - like thin styrofoam. If I was a layman, I would have a hard time comprehending that something which I would break apart with my finger could hold up to 1200 degrees plus!

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  2. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    Yea, I know, its impossible to avoid touching it - I said "hit" not "touch". I'd have to go back and check the exact words the CFM tech used, but I think it was basically don't bump/hit the stuff. The manual just says "be careful" but doesn't go nearly into enough detail. Heck I was tempted to poke the stuff myself just to see what would happen (glad I didn't).

    I don't know for sure if secondary burn gets up that high or not. But if not, then why did they bother to put the ceramic material there in the first place? If the material doesn't help the stove in that spot they should just get rid of it.
  3. LarryD

    LarryD Member

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    Everyone,

    Here is a picture I just took of the interior of the stove. I would say that if the stove were overfired it would be all white. I guess one could say that our last fire wasn't an overfire situation. This is typical of what the interior looks like.

    Trader-I guess I need to clarify what occured. I did read the manual but did not reread it prior to vacuming. I was trying to be careful (I was aware that the part was delicate). I, at the time I posted, did not know the name of the part. After noticing that the piece was crumbling (like wet card board), I removed the vacumn hose and just barely touched the surface and my thumb went through. That is what I call delicate. I am not saying that it isn't possible that I didn't do anything I should'nt have. I do think this happened VERY easily. I will say that our experience with the stove over all has been ok. We do feel now that if we can run this stove, we can run pretty much any stove. You need to be dialed into it. Back to the overfiring issue. We have a VC stove top thermometer as well as a Stack temp gauge in the double wall pipe going to the SS pipe. They are consistant, generally the stack gauge is about twice the surface temp. so 550 surface 1100 stack. I think that is about what you should expect, correct? I agree with Elk that we trust a $1,500 stove to $35 worth of gauges. I suppose they both could be off but what are the chances of that?

    LarryD

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  4. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

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    Gooserider, wasnt sure if you were referring to my post or the other one w/ the cracked top re: failures. I didnt mean to imply in my post that I had experienced a failure, quite far from it. Just commenting that whitening doesnt always imply overfiring.
  5. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    That's a fine looking interior.......

    I'll have to study these stoves a bit more. On all the first acclaims, the cast iron in the rear - near that "mouth" would warp, crack and need replaced quite often - but it was designed to be easily replaceable. This new part looks SUPER thick, and perhaps that is how they solved the problem. A really thick casting can transfer the heat away from itself (like a heat sink).

    Maybe they also added alloy to that part.

    This stove looks very lightly used, and because your problem was not related to excess heat anyway (probably physical shock, or thin part in the first place, etc.), I don't think your burning or anything else is a problem.

    Back to the original "patching" suggestions - if I had a stove like this and it was out of warranty or hard to replace the part, I would have no problem patching that up with a similar material - it is done everyday with furnaces, boilers and even power plants! Heck, I would patch it just to see what would happen! (Nothing, IMHO). I would use a "wetpac" type of product which you mix with water and place on there....this stuff has fiber in it and holds pretty well. Another solution would be to glue a small square patch of similar material over it - if it doesn't get in the way of anything.
  6. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm assuming that it is only the INSIDE of that chamber that is taking the heat - and that a piece of metal on the outside would hold up.

    As I said, I have to look closer, but that seems to be the gas flow - the top of this only has the relatively cooler gases going over it and out the flue.
  7. LarryD

    LarryD Member

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    [quote "This stove looks very lightly used, and because your problem was not related to excess heat anyway (probably physical shock, or thin part in the first place, etc.), I don’t think your burning or anything else is a problem"]

    I guess lightly used is relative. We generally burn (1st year 5 cords and last year 4 cords) the stove continuously. 9 cords in 2 years, I guess thats light. We live in central Connecticut, I don't consider this area to be frigid. We do have a distinct heating season. It is bothersome that perhaps this part was damaged by this little use. Again I was barely touching the part when the hole poked through.

    I guess the next step is to fix it! I will post pictures when I open the stove up. Perhaps there is more to teh story

    Thanks again for all the help

    Larry D
  8. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    I think you should talk to someone at CFM to see what they say about it, and ask them if this is a common problem (and how to fix it). The temps you mentioned seem normal by the way.
  9. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Stoves looks pretty dang good for nine cords in two years. I think they probably have most of the "high temp" bugs out of these things.
  10. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    this material is the same material that insulates the molten cast iron urns capable of withstanding 2700 degrees and very light weight


    Craig the inside fire box picture is the Everburn shoe rerefractory material that replaced the lod cast iron plates from the 80's stoves they did the same with the resolute encore and others after the cracking and warping of the cast iron parts they even have retrofit refractory parts to be used in older Resolutes.

    This is concrete type material rerfactory concrete practically indestructible According to Vc none have need replacing yet in the 4 plus years of usage Note the holes pattern at the bottom
    that is the main component of the everburn technology for VC or Fire dome for Harman oakwood T another main difference is the poprimary air is mixed into the secondary burn chamber not the secondary air like the cat stoves but really super heated. I'm not hyping A manufacturer but the technology. Been in production going on 5 years even the resolute Acclaim now enploy this technology No prior model can now be compared to the current too many internal changes and combustion changes to compare All the old issues no longer apply they are not the same stoves Only the outer casing cast iron design remains the same Also changed is no more refractory joints all seams are gasketed and bolted together A lot has changed sine you sold these stoves
    might I submit they are entirely a different stove gasket joints allow more heating flexing a as well can not be compared to the past models Let Seaken explain tthe technology see if he can add to what I have said Shane sold them as well.
  11. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Amazing what you learn when carefully reviewing the thread to see what is REALLY there... I have just gone back through all four pages, and have the following capsule summary.

    1. TWO userrs, with TWO different failures, apparently NOT related.

    2. Both users claim to not be over-firing, both use thermometers, both are "heavy burners" by which I mean they heat full time, burning 4-5 cords / year.

    The key quotes, with capsule summary and status...

    Problem is with the refractory package under the flue collar, it is apparently getting replaced under warranty. Cause may be mechanical damage, a water leak dripping on that point, or other, could be overfiring, but does not appear likely from pictures. Other parts of stove are not said to be a problem. Appears to be a "one-shot" failure. Most of the thread discussion has involved this problem.

    Problem description definitely includes the damper frame, may or may not include the ceramic "shoe" - the shoe was mentioned later, but it isn't clear. Problem appears to be chronic as this is third go-round. WE HAVE NO PICTURES! Problem does sound more like something caused by over-firing, but from where we sit, this can't be determined. I don't really see how we can be of much more help unless Chris posts more pictures or otherwise supplies us with more info.

    Hope this summary helps...

    Gooserider
  12. titan

    titan Minister of Fire

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    I got to play with a new Defiant non-cat yesterday @ a local dealer;I came away fairly impressed.....it was really throwing heat and the coal bed with the everburn system was just firing away.I now see the addictive convenience of having a top loader.
  13. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    All else being equal, top loading is pretty cool. Problem is, all else is not always equal.....

    Goose provides an interesting summary of the thread - it appears that one instance (multiple top replacements of iron pieces?) might be over-firing or design, and the other could simply be a part (which is probably outsourced) that might have been cast thin (the soft ceramic) or might have been shocked in some way by shipping, handling, etc.

    I will have to go back and read to see the exact part that Chris replaced a couple time (part #?).

    In terms of Larry, I would not sell or be disillusioned with the stove because of that hole in the soft stuff - could be a fluke. Stove interior looks A-1, like it is ready for LOTS of more years. As I mentioned, this technology has been under development for 20 years (since 1988)....I would hope and assume that it is quite a bit better than early models. Elk assures us that is the case, and I think the VC dealers here agree.
  14. LarryD

    LarryD Member

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    I don't know if I should have started a new thread, but same stove continued!!

    I got the "soft refractory part" from my dealer, it was warranteed. Now the hard part, replacing it. I took the stove apart. For those of you who have taken a stove apart, I would like input as to some of the things to look for while re-assemabling. For those of you that have not, kind of a scary thing. I kept thinking how am I gonna get this back together!

    Anyhow, I have pictures of what the old and new packages look like. For those of you that are experienced at what the inside of a stove should look like, I would like your feedback. I would think that by looking at this that the stove has been overfired. I asked my wife, she runs the stove during the day, if she ever had the stove real hot and she said "no". I guess the question is, is this normal?

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  15. LarryD

    LarryD Member

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    This is the shot looking into the stove once the "everburn" pieces are removed. Notice teh verticle crack. Again is this what you would expect after tow years of use? Did we do something wrong?

    Thanks again for all the help.

    Larry D

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  16. LarryD

    LarryD Member

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    This is a shot of the rear of the "everburn". There is a black discoloration but no apparent damage to the part.

    Also for those that burn this stove there was quite a bit of ash inside the system and in the refractory. Again this may be unique to us. Might be worth looking into.

    Larry D

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  17. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Short of burning trash or pallets and leaving ash pan doors open for an extended period of time, it should not be easy to over fire a stove. Millions of stoves have been sold, and as a general rule they don't start disintegrating at 2 years old.

    As I mentioned before, all stoves today have tightly controlled air intakes, and UL does not allow them to open too far (unlike earlier models).

    I don't like the looks of that refractory package! But from afar there is no way I can say whether it is the stove design, the part composition, over firing or anything else. We can only give hints as to help you try to burn better.

    I guess the major theme is this. If the stove has been over fired, it is probably because of excess draft - meaning a chimney that is too strong. It might be a good idea to install a barometric draft regulator on your pipe to slow down (balance) the chimney. That will often do a lot to avoid overheating of the stove.

    Also, use a stovetop thermometer and try to keep it below 750.

    Back to the refractory package - that is designed to take the hottest temperatures possible that wood can dole out. So it is very hard to say that such a part could be over fired. The system is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing, burning the wood gases. It would be extremely difficult for you to control the temperature at which wood gases are burning!

    All guesswork, but that ceramic looks like a combination of heat AND chemicals from the wood attacking it. In one sense we are back to some of the original questions in this thread about long-term and destructive testing of particular parts....in this case, the question perhaps being:
    "Can a ceramic like this take the heat of 10 to 50 cords of wood and all the associated chemical produced by that, PLUS the humidity of the summer reacting with that?".

    Perhaps Keitho or one of our engineers would like to weight in on this.
  18. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    that soft refractory material is the same material the insulated the molten cast iron for cooling in the urns pots with the ash door open to overcome wet wood
    I wondering if over firing occurred and that steam reacted with sulfur gas and created H2so4 and rooted out the soft refractory package. There is way too much damage to a material that can take 2700 degrees even stove over heating should not come close to those temperatures. Does the chimney leak moisture back into the stove.

    Nothing happening here is normal there has to be another explanation the damage is way beyond stove heating I suppose leaving the ash door open will create a blast furnace effect. Every picture is indicative of over heating abuse. or not normal operations.. I have not taken apart a two year old stove but have taken plenty others I will try to help as much as I can even if I need to go to VC to get a rebuilding instructions Mind If I share those photos withVC I have never seen the everburn shoe refractory crack I even smacked one with an 8 lb sledgehammer held waist high an only bounce off
  19. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    The rebuilding instructions you speak of were posted in the review thread for this stove. Seems like a very straightforward process, there really aren't that many parts, and there are photos for every step. My only question would be related to replacing those internal gaskets - there is no info on that in the service manual (like the size or if there are any special considerations - maybe its obvious?).

    As far as those pics of the damage - its hard to tell what we are looking at in the first pic - is that a badly damaged and deteriorated secondary burn chamber or is it just covered with ash? The crack in the second pic looks pretty insignificant to me but I have no idea if hairline cracks like this are normal or not?
  20. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree that the hairline doesn't look like a problem.

    Look closely at that refractory, though, and you see it is not covered with ash, but malformed in numerous ways. Compare the angles, etc. with the new one.
  21. LarryD

    LarryD Member

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    I guess describing each picture would have been a good idea.
    The first picture is a comparison of the old part and the new. The differences that I can see is that the throat of the "package" ssems to either have a lot of build up or is delaminating. If that is possible.
    The second picture is the face of the soft refractory package. It is up against the ceramic refractory. The cr4ack is more than superficial, it appears to go through that part of the package.
    The third picture is the rear of the upper ceramic refractory. It is discolored but seems to be fine other wise.

    I have opened the ash pan door on occasion. The only reason I have done this is with a very low coal bed to get some flames going after I've loaded the stove with wood, the by pass damper was always open. I than shut the door. I have always been afraid of getting distracted and forgetting about it.

    We do use a stove top thermometer. At the end of last year we added a stack temp gauge through the double wall pipe. We have placed the gauge on top of the griddle to the rear near the stove pipe.

    Elk- By all means please do share the pictures. I am interested in knowing what has occured. Again I am not saying we are innocent. I would like to clarify, the ceramic refractory is undamaged. It is the soft refractory that is "toast". You have also mentioned water/moisture getting into the pipe. I suppose it is possible. However when I took the pipe off to clean it was completely dry. I have seen nothing to suggest that I have a leak or moisture building up. I will say this though. We have suspected overdraft for quite some time. Our max burn time has been about 5-51/2 hours. No twhat I thought it would be. We also have had a difficult time at time regulating the stove with the air control. We have also been woken up in the middle of the night with the stove in the thermal nuclear mode.

    Tradergordo-I did overlook the instructions. The rub as you said it doesn't give any direction as to the gasket material. That is where I got stuck this evening. I am not sure where it all belongs ( I wish I took pictures).

    Once I get it back together I'll be happy. I did end up buying a new quadra fire. I am concerned about what to do with this stove. I am not sure at this point reselling it is a good idea until I know what has occurred.

    Thanks again for all your help. I look at this as a learning experience (an expensive one). I am interested in what occured and what we had to do with it.

    Larry D
  22. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    The barometric draft regulator may be your best solution. You should easily be able to get 8+ hours with that stove....and while 5 1/2 is nothing to sneeze at, the baro will balance the chimney. Another option is to put a turn damper in the stove pipe, and then find a good setting (closing off partway), and leave it in that position (mark it on the pipe).
  23. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

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    Yeah, I've been a bit disappointed w/ the burn times. The manual claims 14 hours for burn time. I have gotten close to that before, but thats certainly the exception and have only gotten that high under the most ideal of conditions. Ten hours from a fully loaded firebox to a small bed of coals is closer to the norm, which as Craig says, isn't bad at all. It's nice not having to rebuild a fire in the morning!

    I had another "run away" fire two nights ago. Stove COMPLETELY dampered down and the magnetic thermometer on top of the flu connector pipe (single wall) didnt drop below 600 for over 2 hours. I'm going to be disassembling the back of the stove in a few weeks, will check for damage, but I'm cautiously optimistic that I wont have the kind of damage seen in those photos.
  24. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Thanks for the explanation, it helps to know what the photos are showing.

    What is that white stuff along the right edge of both packages in the first picture - looks sort of like shaving cream? Is it some kind of extra sealing gasket or something?

    As a data point, I believe that both the ceramics and the soft refractory packages are made in house by VC in the VT plant - Elk and I saw the area where they were made on our tour up there. Not to say they couldn't have had an in house manufacturing defect, or possibly a bad batch of material.

    The crack in the second picture doesn't look like it is in a place where it would do serious harm since it is backing up against the refractory panel, but on general principle, it isn't a good thing. Just as a theory that occurred to me from looking at it, is to wonder if it might have been caused by something pushing the opening in the package down against that rounded "hump" in the shoe under it - the way the crack seems to start from the corner of the package is the same way I'd expect it to let go if something were trying to break it by putting a spreading pressure in that opening. (I repeat that this is purely speculation on my part - I have no idea if it is actually the cause, or how it would have occured if it were...)

    Gooserider
  25. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    The sad thing is that not one person so far has posted that they are able to get consistent good results from this stove. Lots of people have posted about problems, some serious, several have posted that they replaced the stove with a different model (at their own expense). To me, burning clean is of the utmost importance - I don't want my neighbors to even know that I'm burning, and I certainly don't want to smoke up the neighborhood. Many of us "everburners" have given these stoves all our effort, using them for 1 or 2 full years now, experimenting in every way we can imagine. And after all this effort the best we can say is that it "sometimes" gives a long clean burn. I think under IDEAL conditions, perfect draft, perfect wood, and a huge coal bed, you can get good results - for the other 95% of the time you won't.

    I just started burning again last night (we finally made it down to the low 20's with a good hard frost) and if you can't tell already, I'm frusterated with this stove. I can heat my house fine, but it doesn't burn clean, and burntimes are normally not that great. Honestly I'm almost ready to buy another stove - which really sucks because it will increase my payoff time on investment by at least another year if not more (and most of us know how much work goes into gathering, splitting, stacking a year's supply of wood).

    I wish there was some way I could swap out my stove with CFM/Vermont Castings for just about any other model they sell that actually works consistently (I wouldn't mind going catalytic) without costing me an arm and a leg. I think they need to step up to the plate and admit that this design is flawed, and they need to either fix it or stop selling this model of stove. There have been enough complaints already on this forum, and like I said, literally not one person has come out saying they are fully satisfied with this stove (BurningIsLove and myself are the closest thing, and I don't think that is saying much at this point!)

    My friend who bought a cheap-o $700 Drollet last year from northerntool.com says he never has visible smoke coming out his chimney except when starting a new fire or reloading (and then only for a short time). I'm tempted to just buy one of them myself, of course now that winter's here they want $1000 for it.

    IF CFM/VERMONT CASTINGS had any business sense at all they would make me happy. My silly "woodstove" webpage has had over 12,000 hits since I put it out there, not to mention the much more significant traffic on hearth.com which contains reviews from me and many other people on their stoves. Over the years I'm sure I will influence hundreds of sales of whatever stove I end up actually being satisfied with. At this point I can only hope that I did NOT influence too many people to purchase a Dutchwest because I think it will lead new wood burners to frusteration and smokey neighborhoods.

    Elk - if you can forward this to someone at CFM that actually cares (if there is anyone) I would love to get some feedback from them...
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