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Returning to woodstove heat - help maintaining fire in Shenandoah barrel stove?

Post in 'Classic Wood Stove Forums (prior to approx. 1993)' started by CVPeg, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. CVPeg

    CVPeg New Member

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    Hi, All -

    New to this forum, so apologize if any of my questions are redundant!

    I am returning to the use of my woodstoves this winter. Live in a house that formerly was a store downstairs and apartment upstairs. Downstairs has a Shenandoah barrel stove, upstairs a small Vermont Castings stove.

    Never used the latter, as the wood we had previously too large. We're set now for this year.

    However, using the Shenandoah, the tough part about it is keeping any kind of flame going past a couple of hours. Real pain at nighttime during a power outage!

    House is backed up with electric baseboard, but I want to cut that out as much as possible.

    Any ideas for how to maintain a flame in this stove? I don't have the means to replace it this year.

    Thanks for your help!

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  2. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Welcome to the forum, not familar with that brand of stove, do you have a picture of it?
  3. CVPeg

    CVPeg New Member

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    Here it is. I've always been told, this is just a stove that makes a fast, hot flame, so I'm kind of stuck. But maybe someone has some ideas?
    Also, obviously won't have the stuff piled up/standing so close once back in use. ;)

    Attached Files:

  4. Young_Buck

    Young_Buck New Member

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    I have the same stove (Shenandoah) and have had the same problem keeping it hot for more than a few hours. I have a pipe damper and between that and finding a setting on the air flow control on the front, I haven't found anything that helps. This stove does produce a lot of heat, but it's a constant battle keeping it roaring. I just fill mine up, get it burning good and hot and then choke it down a little. It will stay hot for 2-3 hours maybe, definitely not overnight (as you said).

    Good luck.
    CVPeg likes this.
  5. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Do those have an internal baffle in them?
    Do you have to have it roaring to heat your house, running at a high level of heat will chew through a lot of wood.
  6. CVPeg

    CVPeg New Member

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    Thanks, YB. So guess previous advice is true. :(

    I was wondering if using bigger chunks of wood helped at all, but since it burns pretty hot/fast, probably not much longer...
  7. CVPeg

    CVPeg New Member

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    Not necessarily - house is pretty well insulated, but seems the stove either burns hot, or not at all.
  8. Young_Buck

    Young_Buck New Member

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    No baffle in mine. Straight up and out.

    They do use a lot of wood, but they hold a lot of wood, too, so you don't have to refill quite as often as you would with a smaller stove.
  9. Young_Buck

    Young_Buck New Member

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    Yeah, unfortunately, your advice seems to be pretty accurate. Bigger chunks will help a little, and if you really fill it up it will stay hot for a while (4-5 hours maybe). It will give you good heat, it just requires a little more tending to than the newer stoves. Stay warm.
  10. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    What type of wood are you guys using?
  11. Young_Buck

    Young_Buck New Member

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    Maple, oak and black locust here.
  12. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    And I assume it dry, running any stove at the roaring level is going to use a lot of wood, an older stove (with no baffle) and a house that does not heat easily are going to be hard to deal with for the most part.
  13. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Haven't owned one but I thought all of the Shenandoah stoves had a bi-metallic thermostat on them to control the burn rate.
  14. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    CVPeg, in the least I would add an inexpensive key damper about 12-18" above the stove flue collar. That will allow you to regulate the burn better. This can make a big difference with this style stove. You can find one at your local hardware store or order one online: http://www.northlineexpress.com/chimney/chimney-dampers/shopby/product_type-flue_dampers.html

    Also, check the thermostat operation. It may be stuck in the open position. You can use a hair dryer to warm it up and see if it is still working correctly.
  15. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    YB does have a damper but I dont see one in the OP picture so yes that could help.
  16. Stephen in SoKY

    Stephen in SoKY Feeling the Heat

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    Like BB I thought all these had bimetal thermostats. Are you sure yours is working properly? That & the key damper are going to be the key to a more controlled burn.

    ETA: With 2 stories of chimney you probably have wicked good draft. Proper use of the key damper will allow you to moderate high draft & result in a more controllable burn, especially in concert with your bimetal thermostat.

    ETA V2: Are the seals around the feed & ash doors really, really good? $10 of gasket rope could make a huge difference.
  17. CVPeg

    CVPeg New Member

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    Thanks for all the answer. I'll look into a damper (assume that requires some kind of help I couldn't do...) and the seals.

    One other question - I do have a 2 story stainless steel chimney. Last year the bottom fell off of it. It was the kind that extended almost two feet below the turn and had debris solidly built up in it. When I had it repaired, the welder merely put a bottom across the turn, without extending it below. Will that change how well it drafts? Other pluses/minuses to the change?

    Thanks! A whole new world of understanding something else I hadn't before!
  18. Stephen in SoKY

    Stephen in SoKY Feeling the Heat

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    If you can use a measuring tape & electric drill, you can easily install an MPD yourself. They're available for less than $10 at hardware & farm stores everywhere. As to the flue question, a photo would really help. Another poster may instantly know what you're asking, but I can't get a mental picture of your current setup. I have 2 stories plus of insulated double wall 6" and the resulting high draft here. Also, I use, by choice, an appliance similar to yours. Once you're set up it's very easily controlled and produces even heat with minimal user input.
  19. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    These are pretty decent stoves - and, yes, if you throttle the chimney down a bit with a damper and make sure all the door and other seals are fairly tight, it should be very controllable.

    Make certain that the bimetallic damper (built in) is working - and opening and closing correctly.
  20. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    Isn't that the knob for the bi-metallic damper on top of the box right below the loading door?
  21. Stephen in SoKY

    Stephen in SoKY Feeling the Heat

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    Appears to be on top of the ash door. IIRC, these also had shaker grates.
  22. CVPeg

    CVPeg New Member

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    Just thought I'd let you all know - key damper put in today by my chimney sweep who was here to check the chimneys anyway. It's now rainy & 58 outside, so thought now as good a time as any!

    As I got everything cleared away from the stove this morning, even found 2 owners manuals. And after reading your comments above, realized the damper on the door as well. We're good to go, so crumpled a pile of paper, dropped in some kindling, and a log that obviously hadn't burned well previously. Should be seasoned by now! LOL

    Taking the chill out of the room perfectly. Looking forward to being able to keep a pot of water on for tea. :)

    Chimney sweep says I only have about a 1/4 of what I'll need for the winter in wood, so will be looking to buy some, and also attack the trees that have come down behind the house the past few years. Have lots of woods/land, but not all the fun equipment one needs. That's ok - will do some character building for my son when he visits. ;)

    Thanks so much for your help!
  23. SteveKG

    SteveKG Minister of Fire

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    Depends on the model and age of the Shenandoah. I have one I've been using since 1974 [bought brand new]. Mine has the bi-metalic-controlled damper on the lower side, feeding air into the ash collection area. Above that area is an iron grate, so the air is fed into the lower part of the stove and from there up through the grate. Works very well. Though I only adjust the damper a time or two a day. Our stove is also a top-loader, and I know that at some point Shenandoah changed to a door on the front of the stove and had a flat top.

    These things eat wood. My method for extending burn is to get a good bed of coals and gradually add more wood til it has as much as I want. It helps to add an unsplit round or two, they can go for hours.

    Fire intensity can get away from you, this is not an airtight stove in any way, shape or form. They are cylinders of steel, lined part-way up inside with firebrick. Mine has done us good service for all these nearly four decades with no repairs needed.

    I know of no way to extend the burn time to last all night. But I can easily get several hours. I have gotten up in the night a few times to add wood during exceptionally cold spells. Big cold fronts, etc. We are considering a Woodstock or whatever as a replacement as I age and think of the idea of using less wood...read: less time and effort in the woods with heavy chainsaws and all the additional labor. Newer stoves [and newer technology] mean a third to even less wood use. People warn that closing the damper way down creates a "smoke dragon" stove and leads to creosote formation. When we moved into this place in 1985, I brought and installed this stove with SelKirk pipe. I check this pipe annually, and I have never had to clean it out [not making that up]. I only have pine and spruce and some aspen to burn, and I season it well.

    But, can't complain about this Shenandoah, it's been a great heater for many years. They just don't wear out.

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