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Should I dump this lousy 2001 Lopi pellet stove?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by CynR, Dec 2, 2007.

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  1. CynR

    CynR New Member

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    Napa, CA
    I bought a Lopi Pioneer Bay pellet insert in 2001. The thing worked OK for the first 4 winters (evening use only, faithful maintenance as per owner's manual). It needed a new blower in 2005. Now it is nearly impossible to light and if it does light, it goes out. There are few pellets in the firebox even with the auger set to HIGH and there are massive clinkers during the short time fire actually happens. A service tech came out 2 weeks ago and adjusted the air - he said it was getting too much O2 and that was burning the pellets faster than they could fall. HUH? 2 weeks later it is malfunctioning as before. The gasket doesn't leak. It is not too much 02. Sometimes the auger light comes on and no pellets drop. There seems to be no correlation between auger setting and amount of pellets. Each night of the 2 weeks since it was "fixed" it has burned fewer and fewer hours before snuffing itself out. It will be several weeks before a tech can return (yes, the same one who "fixed" it before - these techs are rarer than hen's teeth in California and will only work on stoves sold by their store.)
    My question - does this sound even remotely fixable? Do any of you have any ideas as to likely causes? Is there anything at all I can do myself? And perhaps the most important question, should I dump this crummy Lopi machine and buy a new stove? I'm afraid I am throwing good money after bad right now.
    Thank you!

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  2. CynR

    CynR New Member

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    OOPS.
    I guess I was too mad about Lopi and missed seeing that the pellet and corn crib forum is for pellet problems, so I am reposting in this forum where my post belongs!
    I bought a Lopi Pioneer Bay pellet insert in 2001. The thing worked OK for the first 4 winters (evening use only, faithful maintenance as per owner’s manual). It needed a new blower in 2005. Now it is nearly impossible to light and if it does light, it goes out. There are few pellets in the firebox even with the auger set to HIGH and there are massive clinkers during the short time fire actually happens. A service tech came out 2 weeks ago and adjusted the air - he said it was getting too much O2 and that was burning the pellets faster than they could fall. HUH? 2 weeks later it is malfunctioning as before. The gasket doesn’t leak. It is not too much 02. Sometimes the auger light comes on and no pellets drop. There seems to be no correlation between auger setting and amount of pellets. Each night of the 2 weeks since it was “fixed” it has burned fewer and fewer hours before snuffing itself out. It will be several weeks before a tech can return (yes, the same one who “fixed” it before - these techs are rarer than hen’s teeth in California and will only work on stoves sold by their store.)
    My question - does this sound even remotely fixable? Do any of you have any ideas as to likely causes? Is there anything at all I can do myself? And perhaps the most important question, should I dump this crummy Lopi machine and buy a new stove? I’m afraid I am throwing good money after bad right now.
    Thank you!
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    What pellets are you burning? Is this a different brand then say a couple years ago? What length are the pellets?
  4. hearthtools

    hearthtools Moderator Emeritus

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    Could be serveral things with a 4 year old system

    But
    What feed rate are you operating the stove at?
    sometimes on LOW and you have long pellets ALL pellet stove may go out because it will feed to many or to little and go our or smother the fire.

    Door gasket? Good?
    Glass Gasket? Good?
    There was a Air was Retrofit for the older bay units because the air was was too large and starving the fire for air

    Vacuum Switch (Flow switch)
    Try blowing the hose out from the switch to the stove.
    it might be just plugged up enough for the auger system to start and stop.

    and then finally control panel
    Time the On and off times of the feed.
    Look at the auger motor as you time it not the pellet drop.
  5. CynR

    CynR New Member

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    I'm using Golden Fire pellets. Years ago, different house, I had a Lopi (that's why I mistakenly bought another when I moved) and burned Bear Valley. That was my first stove and I thought constantly cleaning the glass was normal. Since then I have learned it is a sign of poor pellets. I have used Golden Fire for about 4 years now and rarely have to clean the glass. The pellets range in size from 3/4" long to maybe 1/4". I do know that there has been a Golden Fire supply problem and I heard they bought Bear Valley (or vice versa?) and that there have been 2 recent and suspicious pellet warehouse fires in Oregon since the buyout. I'm not sure what effect that might have.
  6. CynR

    CynR New Member

    Joined:
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    But
    What feed rate are you operating the stove at?

    Usually medium to high or somewhere between those settings.

    sometimes on LOW and you have long pellets ALL pellet stove may go out because it will feed to many or to little and go our or smother the fire.

    I did learn that with my previous stove - different house, different stove. These are Golden Fire and from 3/4" to 1/4" in length. Golden Fire had been problem free for me for the past 4 years and seemed better quality than Bear Valley in that GF pellets seldom gunk up the glass.

    Door gasket? Good?
    Glass Gasket? Good?
    I tried the dollar bill test and the door gasket seems good except for about a 3" segment at the bottom where the dollar slides out. Could this be enough to cause the stove to not work? The store suggested the gasket and tells me they can at least sell me that part on Monday, although I would have thought that if a 3" area made such a big difference, the technician would have checked it first.
    I'm not sure how to test the glass gasket?


    There was a Air was Retrofit for the older bay units because the air was was too large and starving the fire for air

    Do you know how much older? This insert was purchased in 2001.

    Vacuum Switch (Flow switch)

    What is this? I don't have a flow switch on the control panel; is it internal? I also see no mention of either vacuum or flow switch in the owner's manual.

    Try blowing the hose out from the switch to the stove.
    it might be just plugged up enough for the auger system to start and stop.

    and then finally control panel
    Time the On and off times of the feed.
    Look at the auger motor as you time it not the pellet drop.

    Can you please tell me what I am looking for by timing it? As the stove fizzles out, at times the auger light comes on but NO pellets drop, even on high. (The fault light does NOT come on.)
    Thank you for your help!!
  7. hearthtools

    hearthtools Moderator Emeritus

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    The flow switch (see your owners manual)
    is a vacuum switch that will kill the augers Feed system is the flue is plugged up.
    But if the Combustion chamber is dirty the small port. the hose connect to the stove is very small and will plug up.
    If you open up the side panels you will see a Round Silver pressure switch with a Red or black hose and two wires going to it.
    Remove the hose from the switch and blow in it to clear it.

    The auger light dont mean crap it is just the control board showing when it is giving power to the auger circuit. but if the flow switch is tripped
    or the auger motor is not working correctly because a gear is bad in the gear box or the motor it self is week, the auger motor set screw might not even be tight on the auger
    then pellet will not feed all the time.

    Very important to have a good seal on the door and the ash pan or the stove will burn like crap or
    even take away enough vacuum to trip the flow switch.
    Good idea to look at your owners manual and look at the wire diagram and you will see what I am saying.

    You can even look at the trouble shooting guide on my website for the 1999 Avalon/Lopi stoves
    I dont think I have the Astoria/Yankee stove trouble shooting but the small 1999 stoves have the same type of systems.
    http://www.hearthtools.com/parts/900_ps_1990_97.htm

    Even the whitfield truble shooting pages will help you learn how a pellet stove works
    and what the Basic stuff to look for.
    http://www.hearthtools.com/parts/lowlimit.htm
  8. hearthtools

    hearthtools Moderator Emeritus

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    My bad I thought you had the large pellet stove
    the first link for the trouble shooting is for your stove

    I stopped selling the small Avalon version because of the lack of heat to how much $$ the unit is and some problems we had with the first few we sold in 1999
    but im sure they fixed most of them

    But with that stove it is very important to have a good seal on the door.
    There was a big problem with doors on the first units 1999 or so.
    Also look at the heat exchange tubes from the front of the stove.
    Put a flash light in the stove up to the tubes
    Make sure you dont see Light coming out around the tubes in the front of the stove.
    we had one Insert that the tubes were not swedged to the face of the unit and air was leaking around the tubes.
    We found this problem after 3 years of use.
    We gave the customer a new stove and sent the unit back to Travis.

    Side Note
    Gary W.
    Please dont RAT me out that in bashing Travis stoves
    Im not Im just giving the fact. and trying to help this guy.
  9. hearthtools

    hearthtools Moderator Emeritus

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  10. CynR

    CynR New Member

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    Napa, CA
    Thank you so much. I am going to try your suggestions this weekend - having a day job is a real pain sometimes! I have learned, however, not to undertake taking things apart after work unless I am SURE I can put them back together in a reasonable time.
    Btw, my house is only 1200 sq ft. The stove sits at the far end of a room that's about 250 sq ft. When this stove was working, it would first warm the room it's in and after an hour or so, have a nice blanket of warmth in the main living areas. It left the bedrooms coolish which I like. I expect the day to come when I offload this and I will NOT go anywhere near a Travis-Lopi unit again. I know this is asking a lot after all of the time you've taken to reply to me, but can you possibly recommend an insert for a standard 1962 tract home brick fireplace that might do about the same job but with less malfunctioning?
    I'm guessing that you don't do installations all the way off in Napa, do you? I have also learned that having someone readily answer questions is maybe even more important than the stove itself!
    Thank you again. I'll report back soon.
  11. hearthtools

    hearthtools Moderator Emeritus

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    Travis makes good stoves. I sell them all the time.
    Just the Newport/pioneer IMO is a POS.

    Look at the Enviro Line
    There are several Bay area and North bay dealers
    go to
    www.hpbapacific.org
    to find a dealer

    I recommend to only buy a stove from a dealer that INSTALLS and SERVICES there own stove and not subcontracts out the work.
  12. Don2222

    Don2222 Minister of Fire

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    Hello

    Sounds like the Ash traps may be all plugged. Try removing the fire brick and vacuuming everything out!
  13. Gary_602z

    Gary_602z Minister of Fire

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    Maybe after 4 1/2 years do you think he may have resolved his problem?:rolleyes:

    Gary
  14. Harman Lover 007

    Harman Lover 007 Minister of Fire

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    Ah...Don...how's the beer supply holding out?
  15. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    The OP's last visit to the Forum was Dec 9 2007.

    LOL.... :)
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