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VC Dutchwest "Large Cat" 2461, my diary thread (w/ pics)

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by VCBurner, Feb 24, 2010.

  1. Highlandwelder

    Highlandwelder New Member

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    Hey VC!

    Sounds like you are getting the hang of your VCDW. I utilize a magnetic thermometer placed on the door(as someone else, and the manual recommend), and it works out well for me. My cat temps usually run 1100F +/ 150F, and door temps around 450F. The only time I have to adjust the secondary(cat) draft is when I run smaller loads or less than perfect wood. I run a non VC variable speeed blower on my stove and it really pulls the heat off of it.

    Enjoy your VCDW, I know we do!

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  2. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Hey Jim,
    I'm glad you posted. Good to see another Magic Heat user with a Dutchwest. Looks familiar. I disconected mine a few days ago. I wanted to learn how to operate the stove with optimum conditions. Some people say it slows down the draft and I wanted to learn the stove without always thinking there was something slowing it down. The first night with the stove I had the cat at 1000 a half an hour after starting the fire. That day I burned my last bucket of dry wood and I haven't been able to duplicate those temps with the semi-seasoned wood. You're right about the MH throwing out a ton of heat, though. I may find it necessary to hook it back up when we hit the coldest part of next years heating season. But I want to master the stove in its purest condition. However, I bought a blower for it, to help spread the heat and I'm getting a thermostat for it within the next couple of days.
    I understand that our stove's air controls are somewhat different. But I understand your theory. Too much air would cause the cat to run at lower temps. Looking back at the post you quoted, I realize that I had the primary almost all the way closed. I've been leaving the air almost all the way open. The owner's manual says the intensity of the fire is controlled by the primary air intake. But my best cat temp was achieved with the primary closed almost all the way. I'll have to try that on the next load, it's almost that time. By the way, when I said dancing flames I meant ghost flames. But now I know that faint flames are OK. I have the cat bright red during every burn cycle, so I'm not worried about the cat being bad yet.
    Thanks again Jim

    Now, the most important part of this post, the questions:
    After reloading in the morning, do you have your primary air intake shut almost all the way?
    What's the best way to get the most heat? Does cat temp dictate top heat out put? If so it would seem I'm not reaching it's capacity because of the semi seasoned wood. With my old stove it was easy, burn it as hot as you can without overfireing. This is a CAT of a different color. I want to get the most out of it while remaining efficient and I don't quite understand how to achieve that yet. All I know is I need some really dry wood. I'm not cold by any means, it's 76 in here and the Dutchwest is my only source of heat. I just want to master this stove.
  3. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    I remembered our first conversations we had about dry wood and the Dutchwest and I just knew that's what you would say. I read your mind, Firewalker. It looks like this, minus the heat heat reclaimer, until further notice.

    Attached Files:

  4. Highlandwelder

    Highlandwelder New Member

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    Hey VC! Here are my answers to your questions. Not gospel by any means, but it works for me.

    After reloading in the morning, do you have your primary air intake shut almost all the way?

    After a morning reload, we leave the by-pass open, and run the primary air so that you are getting a good burn (lots of flames, and building the heat back up in the stove, which again we like to see over 375F to 425F on the door before closing the by-pass) At this point primary air is probably around 1/2.

    What’s the best way to get the most heat?

    Good bed of coals, over 400F on door, primary around 1/2 and secondary about 1 and 1/2 turns. If outside temp is over 32F and little wind this will push stove room to 84F and fartherest away to 74F.

    Does cat temp dictate top heat out put?

    I view cat temps as an indicator of efficency more than top heat output, although they kinda go hand in hand! :) My goal is no smoke out the chimney, and having no chimney build-up.

    If so it would seem I’m not reaching it’s capacity because of the semi seasoned wood.

    I would reload more often to try to limit the "dampening" effect of a large semi-seasoned reload.

    With my old stove it was easy, burn it as hot as you can without overfireing. This is a CAT of a different color. I want to get the most out of it while remaining efficient and I don’t quite understand how to achieve that yet. All I know is I need some really dry wood. I’m not cold by any means, it’s 76 in here and the

    Dutchwest is my only source of heat. Same here. I love "Energy Independence"!

    I just want to master this stove.

    Same here, and so far, I think we have it under control. My gas bill was $250 less this past month than it was a year ago. That makes me :) and :) and :)!!
    These stoves are not a chuck-a-stick-in model by any means, but I think can work well once they are understood!
  5. Highlandwelder

    Highlandwelder New Member

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    Ok. I think I have this figured out. The first photo is our install, and the second is a close up showing a start-up after cleaning. I was a non-believer in the top-down starting method until I tried it. Now I am a convert!

    Attached Files:

  6. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Hi BrowningBar, good tohear from you again.
    The manual on these things says that the catalysts reduce the temps at which secondary combustion can start from 1000-1200 °F to 500-600 °F ,increasing efficiency, and reducing creosote and emissions. It also states that normal catalytic temperatures range from 600-1400 °F. The cat temp can be read from the probe thermometer that comes on top of the stove, as Todd said. The normal range of firebox temps is 400-650 °F which can be measured from the side loading door.
  7. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    Great looking stove enjoy! That would be the extra large convection I think.. Huge firebox and very efficient too! I heat 1632 sq. ft. with the large convection..

    Enjoy!

    Ray
  8. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Thank you for your answers Highlandwelder.
    I could use as much input as possible from all the experienced Dutchwest operators. I've been meaning to get another thermometer for the door to go along with the one on the pipe. Love the pics of your stove and hearth. It looks beautiful. You should enter your pics in the official show off your hearth thread and compete for some Supercedars. http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/53428/
    I really enjoy the look of this stove. So much so that I may try to convince my wife that we should have it in the living room.
    So take care and have a good night. Thanks again, I'll try your techniques.
  9. imacheezhead

    imacheezhead Member

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    Thanks for the acknowledgment VC,

    That really is a great looking stove and if I had my druthers back in 1988 I would have opted for the large VCDW like you have! I find it curious that your stove doesn't have an air damper on the ash door like mine does. Is it somewhere else??

    I agree with most everything Highlandwelder said. I don't think you will ever find 2 people that will operate their stoves the same way. I like to operate my stove with all air intakes, (except the cat air intake, which stays open permanently about 1/4"), closed tight, but only after I'm sure that the cat is up to temperature! The stove runs like this for 5-6 hours without doing anything to it and I use the cat temperature to tell me if I need to reload. I really keep a close watch on that cat temperature and if it drops below 500° after reloading, I will open the ash door to get the fire going again. I may then leave the door's air intake open a little until I see the cat temp. over 600° at which time I close everything up tight again. Our bedroom is on the 2nd floor and the stove is on the 1st and I can tell if it's working okay by hearing the Magic Heat Reclaimer cycle on & off.

    Jim
  10. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the response Jim,
    Please keep talking, I'm all ears!
    There are only two air controls. I guess they wanted to simplify the operation when they revamped the DW's. The primary is one control that operates two doors in opposite sides of the lower front. The secondary cat air screw type feed is over the side loading door. I wish the stove had some type of air intake circulation in the back. Often times it seems as if the wood in the back is not really adding much to the heating.
    Does this mean you don't close the bypass damper untill the cat temp is up to 500?

    The manual is very vague as far as when to close the bypass. The following is a simplified version of the manual's directions on how to start a fire:

    They say you need to build a live coal bed. Then after a lively fire has been established (approximately 30 minutes) close the stove damper.(Question 1) Close the primary air control- med. to low. Fire volume will diminish, but the stove will continue to warm up. Maintain control of the fire using the primary air control. Reduce the setting for a smaller fire, increase for a hotter, more intense fire. The final step is to open the catalyst air control.(Question 2)

    Questions:
    (1) What should the cat temperature be when the damper is closed?
    (2) How long between dampering down and openning the catalyst air control?

    If the cat drops below 500, you open the ash door air intake with the damper still shut?

    Thank you for all the input, every little bit helps.
  11. imacheezhead

    imacheezhead Member

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    Hi VC

    I usually run the stove wide open with the ash door open for a minute or so after reloading and then I'll close the bypass damper and let the cat get up to at least 500° before I close the door again. Sometimes if it's stubborn I'll open the ash bin damper about a 1/4" or so until I'm sure the cat has attained "light off" at which time I close off all primary air supplies. If I see the cat temperature climb then I know I'm good to go and I can walk away from it.

    (1) As I said previously I try for 500° or better.
    (2) I always leave the cat damper open about 1/4". Maybe I'm wrong but I can't see the reason for doing anything with it. The cat needs air in order for it to be able to burn off the gasses, so why would I want to close it?

    If the cat temp. drops below 500° after reloading I will open the ash door with the bypass damper closed to get the fire up and running again. Sometimes I'll have to shake down the ashes to allow air to get in. Actually the only time I open the bypass is when I'm reloading or trying to bring back a weak fire. Once I hear the flames roar I close the bypass so all the heat will be directed through the cat.

    I think you said that you are putting a blower on your stove so this may be irrelevant. I noticed from your pictures that you still have the small cast iron plates on the bottom 2 corners on either side of the front door. When you run this stove without a blower those 2 plates should be removed and 2 screen inserts installed in place of them in order to allow air to circulate between the stove walls and out the top vents. My stove is a smaller version of yours but I believe they are the same in this regard.

    Hope this helps,
    Jim
  12. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    Jim VC's stove and ours are the same size, these are both large convection stoves with the same dimensions.. Pretty sure the sizes offered are small, large and extra large.. The 264ccl and 2461 are just generations apart.. Both these stoves can take a 22" log... I think the air system would be easier to learn and control on the 2461 though..

    Ray
  13. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Jim, thank you,
    You're the only guy who has told me this procedure and I've never tried it. But it makes sence. I'll have to try it. It may not work with my semi seasoned wood, but it's worth a shot. The true test will be next year, when the wood is ready to give off some real BTU's. My other concearn is that I have a lazy cat. But I don't think that is the case because it reached over 1000 with my last load of really seasoned wood. If I can't reach higher cat temps with your technique, either now or next year after the wood has dried, I would suspect the cat is lazy. I know it's not a draft issue, although it is in a basement and shares the air supply with the furnace and the drier and that has caused some back puffs when they are running. The furnace only turns on to heat the hot water which is quite often with a family of six.

    I'm not sure. The guy who rebuilt it only told me that he doesn't think it was the factory original. He also said it should last me at least a couple of years. But, these statements are kind of vague and I may very well need one next year. It's too late in the season and I've spent too much money on wood heating already for this year. I'll be prepared to buy one next fall/winter if necessary. Besides the weather is tapering off now and I can ride it out for the next few weeks. It's 75 in here right now.
    Thank you once more Jim.
  14. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Hello again Ray and Jim,
    Ray is right about the stove sizes. The extra large Highlandwelder owns is model 2462. They accept 25" logs, have 12 hour burn, heat up to 2,400ft. and put out 55,000BTU's. The guy who sold me mine had one for a couple more bens. I wanted to buy it, but my flue is 6" and I would have had to spend some more $ to accomodate an 8" pipe. I think it would have been better suited for a basement install.

    As far as the 2461 being easier to learn, it probably would be, if I had properly seasoned wood.

    The good news is, I've been able to get a hot cat temp of over 1000! It was tough, with semi seasoned wood! But again I knew I was going to need dry wood when I purchased this stove. I've now used Jim's open ash door technique, and it works well for getting cat temps up faster while in damper down mode. I wish they didn't do away with the ash door air intake, though.

    Jim, the air inlets are now under the stove. When you purchase the blower, it comes with the cast iron plates to close off the natural convection chaimber.

    The last and final point I want to make on this post, is about the backpuffing. Which I figured was worth mentioning, since it seems to be a common occurrence, especially this time of the year. However, I must say, this condition doesn't seem to be unique to the Dutchwests, as much as some people may say it is. I'm new with this stove, but it's been really easy to control the condition by giving the stove more catalytic air and primary air during the burn cycle. Avoid large loads with lazy smoldering fires. The manual states youm should always have lively, dancing flames in the firebox. Again, my inexperience with new EPA stoves, could mean that ignorance is bliss. However, the backpuffing is not a big issue for me, with this stove. I guess it could be, with inadequate draft.

    I hope this thread may help someone else. Thank you all again for helping me learn how to operate my first EPA stove!
  15. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    From what I've been reading it sounds like most of us got spoiled by a little early warm up! We never let the fire go out all weekend. 24/7 since Friday. Of course, I'm still burning green wood. I knew I should have processed more wood last year. But those 6 cords looked so imposing for a first time 24/7 wood heating rookie! I also wasted a lot of wood learning how to burn wood in two older stoves. In the past year I've learned how to operate three stoves. That was a lot to take on for a first time wood burner. I'm still experimenting with the Dutchwest. How to get more heat with different types of wood and stacking the firebox in different ways. I will have gone through an entire cart of wood from Friday night (had both stoves going that night) to probably Monday night or Tuesday morning. That's a lot of wood in 3.5 days!! About 17 cubic feet of maple, oak and cherry. I'm going through a ton of wood to heat the house in such mild weather. That's because I have to wait a long time to damper down due to how green the wood is. With dry wood, I'd probably be using half the amount of fuel. I'm finally beginning to understand the cat. The whole point is to squeeze heat out of the wood that is burning at lower intensity than a non epa stove would. I can't squeeze heat out of green wood because by the time the wood has actually caught enough to engage the cat the wood is burned to a crisp. I also don't want to damage the cat by engaging it too early with the green wood.
  16. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    Hang in there Chris next year it will be better however I feel you would use much less wood if your stove was in your livingroom instead of the basement.. The downside is a cold basement but I don't live there so not a problem.. Wet wood sucks and I have used some that is less than dry lately too not to mention the tarry mess is leaves inside the stove too..Do you have a stove in your livingroom too? If you can get the stove out of the cellar you'll use much less wood and have a warmer house too..

    Ray
  17. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Hey Ray, how's it going?
    I would love to have a decent stove in the livingroom. However, the wife and I have agreed that a big stove in there would take up too much space. The other thing is I'm afraid the heat would not circulate as well due to the location of the livingroom. I know this because we do have a stove in the fireplace now. Although, it's an antique, it can put out some good heat but it doesn't come out of the livingroom as well as the heat in the basement travels to the rest of the house. Even with fans blowing the heat around and cooler air toward the stove.. We also don't like the fan thing. I like the blower in the basement stove but can't stand having fans everywhere! We have registers cut out throughout the house and the air circulates really well out of the basement. I do understand the thought behind having the main heater in a main living space. Just don't think it would work for our lay out. The livingroom would be way too hot and the rest of the house would be cooler than it is now. I do want to get a newer, small stove for the livingroom. Something like a Jotul F100 or a small steel stove with a good size fireview! But, the box stove in there now works fine to get the chill out of the livingroom when the weather reaches single digits.
  18. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    I hear ya on the fan thing. Here I have a blower on the stove and that's all the annoyance I can handle.. The ceiling fan is quiet and runs most of the time but u never notice it unless u you look at it.. I don't know your house layout but you would know what works best.. Just thinking out loud..

    Aside from that my wood guy from last year appears to be ripping me off and I am about ready to take it to the courts if I do not get the wood I paid for soon.. It's a very sore subject for me as I trusted this guy seeing I bought 3 cords from him last year and also had landscaping work done by him.. I paid by check for 3 cords and he said he would bring it all the same day so leave a check.. I did as asked and he dropped 1/2 cord and I haven't seen him since!!! That was 3 weeks ago!! My middle daughter is in college and she just studied basic law and said this would be a breach of contract and with that dollar amount no paperwork is needed.. If he doesn't act soon I will press charges with my family as witnesses.. I am SO frustrated about this!!!!!

    Ray
  19. imacheezhead

    imacheezhead Member

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    I'm going to have to admit to having several chimney fires that I am aware of and maybe some that occurred without my knowledge even though I clean the chimney each Fall. I've never seen sparks or flames shooting out of the chimney but it produces copious amounts of acrid smoke and a roaring sound. When this happens I close off all the air dampers to at least hopefully slow down the burn. The fires usually last about 20 minutes or so and die down almost as fast as they start. Why this happens mystifies me. The crazy thing is that the chimney is clean except for maybe 3 feet above where the flue pipe enters the stack. The cat is supposed to clean the smoke and keep creosote deposits in the chimney to a minimum. Creosote in the stove itself is something I would consider normal for an airtight because by their very nature they burn dirty and the cat gets its fuel from the dirty fire's smoke. If a stove is clean inside, that tells me that the fire is getting too much air and the cat is heating up not through catalytic action like its supposed to but rather by the flames themselves. When I close off all the air dampers once I achieve 500° or better and I see the cat temperature climb dramatically I know that the cat is doing it's job rather than just being heated by a hot fire. Another good indicator to me is a load of splits that keeps producing heat for 8 hours or more. If air dampers are left open even a little or if the stove's joints leak in air, the load will not last nearly as long and you will burn a lot more wood.

    The reason I'm saying all this is because to me burning all that green wood seems like a recipe for a dirty chimney and the potential for a chimney fire. Please be sure to check it out and clean it.

    Jim
  20. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Ray, I hope you can get it ironed out before going to court. Maybe he'll bring it to you soon! Good luck.
  21. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Jim,
    I've been thinking of that very subject every time I light a match to the green wood! I wonder how much build up I'll have when I clean up in a month or two. I notice with this stove it's easier to get really hot pipe temps than my old stove. The old stove had a large heat exchanger where the smoke would twirl around before going to the pipe. With the DW it goes right up the connector unless I have the damper down. I even noticed some pipe discoloration. A sign of an overfire. I never got this with the older stove. This is probably because I have to let the wood burn much longer before dampering down with the green wood. I've had pipe skin temps up to 800, but not for long. When that happens I just damper down and the temps go down within seconds. Not good I know!

    I have wasted a lot of heat without the MH connected to the pipes. I may instal it before the end of the burning season. It really helps to harvest the heat and heats the house with less wood cunsumption.
  22. Don2222

    Don2222 Minister of Fire

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    Hello

    I have had a FA288CCL for 19 years. I purchased it at fireplace village in Bedford NH. Made by Vermont Castings in Randolf VT it was called the extra large Consolidated Dutchwest Federal Design Coal/Wood stove with EPA approved Catalytic Combuster. They still make them new!

    See 20 year odl Lit below.

    If anyone wants a copy of this lit, I can email the PDF.

    Attached Files:

  23. Bob in AR

    Bob in AR New Member

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    Have found this thread informative, I am new operator of an old Dutchwest 2183. Have found the manual online, as well as the service manual courtesy of a kind soul who posted to the wiki here. Curious to know how your cat is working for you this fall, any quick tips on operation. Thanks for posting!
  24. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    I have found that loading the first load with thinner pieces of wood helps. Or if you load it up in the morning and leave the house like I do put the smaller pieces on the bottom followed by some larger on top. I bought my 2461 rebuilt. The cat was not new so I don't know how old it is, however I was told that the cat still looked good and would last me around two seasons. The guy who rebuilt it was really thorough about taking all the stoves appart piece by piece. I was in his basement shop and saw some of the stoves he was working on when I bought the Dutchwest. They were entirely taken appart and resealed with new cement at every seam and all new gaskets, as well as sandblasted inside and out and repainted. My stove looked brand new when I bought it. But the cat's age is unknown. However it seems to work well. I have experimented with engaging the cat earlier to see if it would reach light off temps. I've engaged the cat with temps as low as 200's and it has reached over 1000 cat temps with no problem. The trick is to make sure 90% of the wood is well lit. This sometimes takes a good 1/2 hour from a fresh started fire. I've also tried starting a reverse fire with some big pieces at the bottom and kindling on top. This works well and seems to last longer, but takes longer to reach full burn. Good luck with the new stove Bob. I hope this response has been helpfull.

    Chris
  25. tribe683

    tribe683 New Member

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    Thanks for all the posts and tips on this stove. I recently purchased and installed a new VC Dutchwest 2461. It has been installed for about a week and a half. I only burned in the stove for 3 days and that was late last week. Temps. in the mid to upper 70's lately have diminished the need for any heat what-so-ever, so I am anxious to get back to it. Although it is nice having a comfortably warm house with no heating expenses. I believe it is supposed to cool down a little for the next week.

    I still have a lot of learning to do and just wanted to let you guys know that you have helped with a lot of my questions, so keep posting if you find something that really works well for you with this stove.

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