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St. Croix Hastings VersaGrate Motor Noise - Revisited with videos!

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by ylomnstr, Sep 30, 2009.

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  1. johnny1720

    johnny1720 Member

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    From my research it seems that the versa grates are just cheese graters. And you know what happens at the bottom of a cheese grater? All the waste matter is piled up below the grate and it slows the burn down. If you don't have one be happy that you don't. I agree they are good for a quick clean but to have it constantly running is bothersome to me. I unplugged the grates on both of my stove and never looked back.


    Just an FYI: Unplug the grate and clean the stove every two weeks like the rest of us.


    Johnny

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  2. krooser

    krooser Minister of Fire

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    That just doesn't happen... after a week the ash is MAYBE 1" higher under the Versa-grate than on the sides. The ash is pretty evenly distributed....

    I bought my St. Croix BECAUSE of the versa-grate... I didn't know anything about pellet stoves but the service tech I talked to told me I'd have a lot less cleaning to do with the versa-grate than without. I can go as long as two weeks without even opening the stove's door... the versa-grate motor is something like a two rpm motor... not exactly high speed....
  3. mnkywrnch

    mnkywrnch Minister of Fire

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    I agree ash does build up under the grate,but that's why there's a shaker plate a few pulls every morning and the ash falls right in the pan,IMO the versa grate is a nice feature just a little noisy,but I will be solving that problem soon,so to unplug the grate would be kinda silly when it does work well.
    mnkywrnch
  4. johnny1720

    johnny1720 Member

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    How many stoves have you worked on? How many stoves have you owned?

    You just agreed with me in your statement above.

    Trust me I know what I am talking about and you have no idea.

    Johnny
  5. krooser

    krooser Minister of Fire

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    Here's five days of ash (Monday to Saturday) in my St. Croix burning Uncle Jed's pine pellets... sure looks pretty good to me.

    The burn pot...
    [​IMG]

    The ash under the dreaded versa-grate... the unburned pellets are from the auger dumping them in while I waited for the grate to cycle back so I could remove it.
    [​IMG]

    The versa-grate plate...
    [​IMG]

    Finally the ash pan...
    [​IMG]

    This stove ran almost continuously from Monday until Saturday @ 11:00PM CST. I shut it down for maybe 8 hours total during the day when the outside temps were in the 40's.

    How many stoves have I worked on? One...mine. For three seasons... I think I know it pretty well. I don't plan on getting in a peeing match with you... but now it's your turn to provide some photgraphic evidence of how bad the versa-grate system is...

    Your turn...
  6. johnny1720

    johnny1720 Member

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    Kroozer

    I worked on a design team that re-developed a line of pellet stoves. I know the in's and out's of the versa grate systems. And they just don't work. The amount of ash you have below your grate is more than if you simply unplugged it for the week. Also you would not have any unburnt "wasted" pellet fuel below your grate if your grate was disabled. Look at the different stoves on the market and you will have clear understanding of why so few of the other MFG's use that system. It is another object that can break or cause a call back. And when it comes down to the functionality of that design it really does not work as well as you think it would.

    But you want to believe what a salesman told you by all means go ahead and don't listen to the people designing stoves.



    Johnny
  7. mnkywrnch

    mnkywrnch Minister of Fire

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    I've never designed or built a pellet stove,but do clean and repair mine and help friends when there having issues I personaly like the versa grate system, I ran it unplugged and the ash was much higher under the burnpot than when I was running it,but your a designer of stoves and know much better than personal experiences,so I must be dreaming it all up.BTW you really must of had a bad experience with the versa grate to hate it so much.Krooser thanks for sharing the pics looks good.
  8. krooser

    krooser Minister of Fire

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    I just don't agree... I never have any unburned pellets under the grate... those in the picture were dumped by the auger while I was waiting 30 seconds or so for the grate to move so I could remove it.

    I doubt there are many stoves that will allow you to run for 10-14 days without scraping, cleaning or otherwise attending to the burn pot and still have a good running stove. I can't go that long using Uncle Jed's pellets... but I can using Eureka's or Bear Mountain since they both produce less ash than the UJ's... seven days is about max with my regular pellet.

    There's room in this industry for many different products and designs... top feed, bottom feed, etc. No one design is perfect... no one opinion is correct all the time. I come from the automotive world where there's always new and different designs being developed. Maybe a new Maybach is the best car in the world but I really don't give a flying crap... I like my '56 Ford F100 with the supercharged Hemi... my stove is an older, low tech model and I like that.

    I spoke with the SERVICE dept. at my dealer, too... the tech told me he prefers the St. Croix's over the other brands they sell...Harman, Enviro, Quad, Theilen, Lennox and others. Fewer problems and service calls. Since I used to be an ASE certified auto technician listening to the guys who repair the stoves was important.

    I'd buy another St. Croix in a heartbeat... my stove is 9 years old. I've owned it for three seasons. Except for screwing around with damper settings and forgetting to tighten the ashpan resulting in a poor burn and a plugged stove (my fault) it's been almost perfect. Keep most any stove clean and it will give years of great service.

    There are other stoves I'd look at, too... I'm not a "brand snob"... I try to buy the best product for the price.

    No offense... but listening to just the designers would mean I could have also owned a Corvair, Vega, Pinto, Edsel, Yugo, Fiat, Chop-o-matic, Shamwows etc.
  9. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    Last year I went 14 days using MaineWoods bad batch. I only had to stop because the ash pan was full. I remember seeing hearthtools posting a photo of his stove running for a solid month(I will try to find the lnk). Yes we both own the same stove. Enviro Omega.

    Rods link 10 weeks 35 bags(can't find the one with the photo's)

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/12700/#144031

    Here the one with photo's

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/13351/#147693

    So they are out there. But your gonna pay for them.

    jay

    P.S. krooser. For a week solid run that aint shabby.
  10. imacman

    imacman Guest

    Hmmmmm......so your an engineer. You did research, but according to what you said above, you still bought not one, but TWO stoves that had the grates. Then, I guess your research was way off, because then you had to UNPLUG the grates on both stoves. (I would think a good engineer would have forseen that and NOT bought a stove that had them).

    And now your annoyed that other NON-ENGINEERS seem to like and have good luck with their stoves.

    Sounds like a disgruntled engineer that is annoyed that he didn't see "problems" ahead of time, even though he did "research" on it.

    And THEN, in a later post, you said "Trust me I know what I am talking about and you have no idea."

    Seems like YOU had "no idea", otherwise you wouldn't have bought 2 stoves that had the grates.

    But hey, what do I know....I'm not an engineer. :-/
  11. mnkywrnch

    mnkywrnch Minister of Fire

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    Well said Jay,mac&krooser;.
  12. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    I don't get that part. If its working and you get about a week before cleaning. How would it go 1 week longer without the grate not working(disabled).

    You would think you would get less time without the grate. I'm with krooser on this. Just doesn't sound possible.
  13. johnny1720

    johnny1720 Member

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    -I understand how you might think that having the grate would extend your cleaning intervals. However what happens when you run that stove on a lower combustion setting the material gets shredded and falls below the grate. Also the material that it does grind up when the stove is running harder flies out of the grate then moves to either the ash traps or the chimney of your stove. And usually that little motor that runs the "versa" grate is wired directly in with the convection blower. When it really should either be on its own circuit or wired up to run the same speed as the combustion fan.

    -If you look at a cheese grater and you run it back and forth where does the cheese go? Now place that cheese grater under your burn pot. The material goes directly below the grate and it slows the airlfow when running on lower settings. If you are dilligent about cleaning your stove this is not an issue as many of the people on this forum clean there stoves regularly. However when you have the uneducated public using these stoves and they think they are automatically cleaning because of this grate you will have issues. What happens is this little grate allows the stove to run no matter how dirty it is. However it will run terrible the entire time and thus creating bad situations. It would be better to have the stove stop burning because it is dirty rather than it run terrible.

    I was just trying to help the fellow out with the problem in the frist place. I know everyone is entitled to there ideas/opinions but when you have actually worked in the industry and have seen why/what how and when it puts things in different perspective.

    Johnny
  14. johnny1720

    johnny1720 Member

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    Big Mac,

    Your crystal ball must be cloudy!

    Peace

    Johnny
  15. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

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    I think the versa grate is a useless/noisy p.o.s. on these late model st croix stoves
    and I disconnected mine last season and have not looked back. I tried lubing it
    and it was still noisy.
  16. krooser

    krooser Minister of Fire

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    Johhny,

    Just to be accurate... the versa-grate doesn't "grate" anything. It's right under the burn pot (as you know) and it simply moves back and forth about 2" and can rock from side to side while moving. This allows the ash to drop off the "grate" and onto the shaker plate which is above the ashpan. Then you simply pull on the shaker plate rod a couple time per day to drop the ash into the pan...

    The versa-grate motor is maybe 2 rpm's... very slow.

    I know there are lots of good stoves out there... I've been looking for a good, used stove for my shop and it wouldn't have to be any certain brand... I'm open to others.

    We'll just have to agree to disagree because it's evident we'll never agree ... that's OK... I'm married and I'm used to that.

    Take care...
  17. johnny1720

    johnny1720 Member

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    True enough!

    Peace
  18. scoop7707

    scoop7707 New Member

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    Sorry it has taken me so long to get back. I am working a lot of hours.
    Sounds like some good discussion here. All is good food for thought.

    Whether you think the VersaGrate is good or bad, there is an issue with the St. Croix VersaGrate gear boxes making a lot of noise. After running this for a few weeks packed with grease, the gearbox is still almost completely silent. We can now hear the TV (maybe I should make it noisy again!). Some of my sanity has returned (in my opinion, my wife may have a different one).

    So if you want to use the Versa Grate, then take apart the gearbox and pack it will good high temp grease and seal the case outside with high temp silicone. You will be surprised at how quiet it is.
    Of course, if you don't want to use the grate and unplug it, the noise will also go away.

    For me, after using the stove when it gets colder here, I will probably unplug mine for a week to test how that works. I will be interested in the ash drop and see if there is increased pellet usage. It might not make much of a difference. So far I am cleaning my stove every couple days. This may be overkill or good practice. Either way I am sure that the new stove cleaning might go the way of my washing a new car. After 5 years, it doesn't get washed nearly as mush as that first year.

    Have a great night everyone and stay warm.
  19. krooser

    krooser Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like the problem is resolved... good luck.
  20. scoop7707

    scoop7707 New Member

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    One more update. I got around to cleaning the burn pot and found there was a lot of ash clumped together in the bottom of the pot. Thought it was wierd. When I looked at the motor, I forgot to tighten the set screw on the linkage between the motor and shaft. I tightened it and the motor started making a lot of noise again.
    The good news is after about 30 minutes, every bit of noise went away! Right now I am sitting less than 10' from the side of the stove where the motor is and I cannot hear it at all. This is the way it should sound. I only hear the blower and the pellets. I stopped by the dealer and theirs also make no noise. Packing the gearbox with grease and sealing it so the grease does nto come out is definitely the fix. Thanks for the help and suggestions everyone.
  21. woodchopper

    woodchopper New Member

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    Glad things worked out for you Scoop and glad I read this thread.
  22. scoop7707

    scoop7707 New Member

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    Hey everybody,
    Not to beat a dead horse, but wanted to report a couple things. Versagrate motor is still quiet as a mouse.

    There was some conversation here about running the versagrate vs. not running it. I got the chance to do both. Here are the results.
    St. Croix Prescott EXP

    No Versagrate:
    After 1.5 days with pulling the ash cleanout rod three times, I had to use the pot scraper tool to break up the leftovers on the bottom of the burn pot. The fire was not burning well.

    With Versagrate:
    5 days with pulling the Ash Cleanout rod twice a day (same frequency as with no VersaGrate). Burnpot clean. fire good, no scraper needed.
    There was some question of whether the versagrate would pile all the ash in the center of the pan. This was not the case. I actually got more ash build up on the right hand side of the ash pan than anywhere else. Then was the left side, then the middle.
    My opinion, I will keep the VersaGrate. I will also keep the stove. It is great. I don't run my furnace at all and my house is an even temp throughout which was not the case with the furnace even after balancing the heat.

    I did run into one additional issue with the stove. After over a month of running everyday, I turned it up to maximum. I smelled a smell like the paint was curing again. What happened is the paint on the fake brick grate at the back of the stove started peeling. The paint was soft and peeled in a couple spots. Looked at the stove at my dealer and the paint is bubbling a bit on theirs also. I can only see it when I clean it. After a couple hours, there is enough ash to blend the peel into the rest of the grate. My wife was pretty upset, but she is never around when I clean it and think she has forgotten it. We do like the stove. She is getting spoiled being warm in the family room again.
  23. mnkywrnch

    mnkywrnch Minister of Fire

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    Nice post scoop!I've tried it both ways as well and my results were similar to yours,I will definetly keep the versa grate running.
  24. Estarrio

    Estarrio Member

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    Has anyone had issues with popping or banging sounds from the versa grate?

    I have a York insert that I just installed. Intermittently, it makes a LOUD popping noise...when I look at the burn pot, you can see the pellets jumping along with the bangs - looks like popcorn!

    Last night the banging got so loud, it woke up everyone in the house both upstairs and down. It sounded like a hammer hitting sheet metal at full velocity.

    The dealer is going to send someone by this weekend but as it is an intermittent problem, I'm afraid they won't be able to do much.
  25. woodsman23

    woodsman23 Minister of Fire

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    Try and lube the cams on the versa grate.. maybe vacuum the hopper when it empties (auger area)
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