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Vermont Castings Original Defiant Question

Post in 'Vermont Castings & CDW Dutchwest older Models' started by HumaneSocietySteve, Jan 21, 2008.

  1. HumaneSocietySteve

    HumaneSocietySteve New Member

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    Jan 21, 2008
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    Loc:
    Smoky Mountains in Tennessee
    Hello All,

    I can't believe I found this great site. I love wood burning. I got my VC Defiant built in 1975 when I bought my 2500 sq ft brick rancher in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains back in 1998. I now think this is the best thing that came with the house. I have not had to turn my central heat on for 10 years. The Defiant keeps us warm and toasty. It is burning away right now with Black Walnut fueling this winters fires. I would never believed that a wood stove would be such a big part and enjoyment of my life. Simple pleasures really are the best.

    My father in law also has the same model VC Defiant he bought new back in 1974 and it is still going strong today. He has burned 24/7 since he installed it and has never had another source of heat in his 1800 sq ft brick rancher. My wife was raised with this wood stove so she feels right at home with ours and now I can't imagine life without it. If I ever move it's going with me.

    I operate my stove in the updraft mode and have never really experimented with the horizontal burn mode of this stove. Neither has my father in law. If anyone else out there has this old trooper and is educated on how to use the horizontal burn mode please let me know the best way to use this feature. Also if anyone wants to share other things they have learned about this stove that I may not know about please feel free to chip in.

    Steven Phipps
    President/Founder
    Blount County Humane Society
    www.blountcountyhumanesociety.org
    Dedicated to helping all God's Creatures!
    Please Spay or Neuter your pet.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
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    12,379
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    Welcome to the Forums!

    The interesting thing about the way you operate your stove....is - well, we can tell you live in the South! That stove was designed to run in the downdraft (or side draft) mode virtually full time!

    BUT, in order to do this properly, you need two thing - or maybe three:
    1. A strong draft
    2. Dry wood
    3. The need for LOTS of heat

    VC (Vermont Castings) quickly discovered that this stove was too big for most houses, so they came out with 3 smaller models in the years after the Defiant.

    You probably won't find a lot of Defiant users here these days, although many folks had them in the past. A lot of folks have upgraded to the new clean burning technologies - which have large glass doors and produce more heat from less wood. But some of our members may still remember their techniques.

    If you don't have an owners manual, you can download one here:
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/wiki/Vermont_Castings_Older_Stove_Models/

    That should also have some hints on the operation modes.

    Again, welcome and I hope you enjoy this little corner of the world.
  3. HumaneSocietySteve

    HumaneSocietySteve New Member

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    Loc:
    Smoky Mountains in Tennessee
    Craig,

    Thank you for such an informative and wonderful site. You should be proud.

    Hey it gets cold here in the South...at least to us Southerners. It's about 17 outside now.

    It is a little disappointing that there are not a lot of people on the site that still have this stove. I didn't know it was such an antique. But I still love it and can't imagine spending the money for a new stove when this one works so well for me. I'm funny that way. I still drive a 89 Isuzu Trooper with 249,000 miles on the Odometer that is part of the family just like the Defiant. I'm putting a new 3.4 engine in the Trooper next month and plan to drive it the rest of my life. I wonder if I could install a Defiant instead and run on wood? Ha Ha

    A few more questions I have always wondered about the Defiant I hope someone can answer.

    Are there any glass fire doors available for this model stove? This is the only thing I don't like about the stove. It would be nice to see the fire without having to open the doors.

    Can you burn coal in the Defiant? I throw a piece in every once in a while just for fun. But I do mean just a gravel size piece.

    Steve....in the COOOOOOLD Smoky Mountains
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Loc:
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    No glass and no coal - although as you say, a piece thrown on top (of soft coal) is something that folks have done......hard coal will really not even burn.

    Kudos on using things til they wear out.

    With cold weather like this, you should be able to go into downdraft mode - assuming your chimney draft is decent.
    As far a burning hints, here are some starters (the vigilant/resolute works in the same way as yours)

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/QA_Templates/info/1820/
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/12191/#136074

    and article on newer downdraft systems (some parts are relevant)
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/wiki/Downdraft_Stove_Operation/

    and another:
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/9729/P0/

    that should do for light reading....
  5. HumaneSocietySteve

    HumaneSocietySteve New Member

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    Loc:
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    THANKS FOR ALL THE HELP :coolsmile:
  6. fraxinus

    fraxinus Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    coastal Maine
    I've been using an original Defiant for the past 30 years or so - picked it up in Randolph before there was any dealer network - so I had to chime in. Going to horizontal burn is easy. Keep in updraft mode until there's a good blaze going and you can feel the heat radiating. Then just close the damper. That's all there is to it. Heat output and burn rate can then be regulated with the thermostat lever on the upper left back of the stove.
    Our moderator has answered all of your other questions, so I'd just add that in my view this was the finest wood stove ever made. Elegant design, simple to operate and largely indestructable (two rebuilds in 30+ years). I estimate that well over 200 cords of wood have gone through this stove over the years. It has been the primary source of heat in a 1600 sq. ft. 19th century house in a Zone 5 climate for all this time. As for the EPA emissions issue, I'm convinced that the Defiant is at least the equal of the more recent approved
    stoves. When up to operating temperature, I see not even a whisp of smoke from the chimney. When swept after burning 8 cords or so, there's between 3 and 4 gallons of loose creosote. It's all in how you operate it and using good dry wood. And not constantly running it shut down because it's too big a stove for the the space.
    Be glad you don't have glass doors. They do break, smoke over quickly, and, despite some manufacturers' claims can't, I believe, radiate as much heat as cast iron. Use the screen if fire viewing is important.
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That's really cool that you got one of the originals and a testament to their longevity. They were good old stoves for sure. My brother runs an original. But if you had a new stove and were going through 1/2 the wood and found half (or less) the creosote, would you say the same? FWIW, it's not untypical for some of us to have about a quart of creosote after a season of burning.

    As to the glass, it sounds like you haven't owned a modern, well designed air wash stove. Glass stays quite clean if the wood is good and the stove is burning hot like it's meant to be. And yes, lots of radiant heat coming from it unless the stove manufacturer designed it to hold in heat to increase the firebox temp.
  8. HumaneSocietySteve

    HumaneSocietySteve New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
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    Loc:
    Smoky Mountains in Tennessee
    Hey fraxinus,

    Thank you for the reply. Since last night I read the owners manual for the Defiant and followed the directions for "horizontal burn mode" but I must be doing something wrong.

    I will start having 3 to 4 inches of good hot coals in the bottom of the stove. I put 2 or 3 sticks of medium wood and let it get to blazing. The Chimgard Surface thermometer is up in the Red Zone when I add another couple sticks of wood. I let that cook for about 5 to 10 minutes. Then I go into horizontal burn mode. What happens then is the stove starts cooling down. The radiated heat levels drop drastically and level out. The heat out put is not enough to keep the cold at bay. I have the secondary air control and the draft damper fully open.

    I know I must be doing something wrong or I am thinking the stove needs to be disassembled and cleaned. I clean it often with a shop vac in the places I can access without disassembly. But that is the only thing I can think of. I seem to have good draft and my wood has been covered in the wood shed and dry. My Defiants stove pipe exits from the top goes about 3' then 90's into the tile lined masonry chimney.

    Any thoughts from anyone would be appreciated. I would like to get the stove burning in the horizontal burn mode and realize all that heat that is going up the chimney...Steve
  9. fraxinus

    fraxinus Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    coastal Maine
    I would bet that your secondary air passages are clogged with fine fly ash. With the stove pipe removed and the damper plate out of the way, look straight down and you will see a removable iron plate. With this plate out of the way, you have access to the space between the fireback and the back stove casting. Taking this plate out and reinstalling it tends to be difficult (maybe the one design flaw in this stove), so I use a vacuum with a 1" vinyl tube duct taped to the vac hose. There is sufficient space on the left side of the removable plate to insert the vinyl tubing and vacuum out the ash. It is important to clean this area annually. Not only can ash clog the air passages but enough ash can cause the fireback to overheat and crack.
  10. fraxinus

    fraxinus Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
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    BeGreen
    Thanks for your message. I will admit I was tempted to go more modern when I first read about the new VC Everburns. Last year, however, good friends and very experienced wood burners did take the plunge. Sold their old Defiant and installed a brand new one. They've regretted it ever since. They experienced all of the problems enumerated throughout this site and despite quite good support from VC still wish they had kept their old stove. I realize this experience does not condemn other brands and technologies, but it does give me an excellent reason to remain loyal to what I have.
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Alas seems to be true. And I admire you for keeping the old stove in good running condition. The VC Everburns seem to work best under very specific draft conditions. My first cast stove was a VC and I loved it. I strongly considered a new VC when I got the Castine. Issues with friends stoves, complaints on the forums, and high clearances deterred me.

    However, it is not the only stove company on the block. There are many stoves that offer clean burning and put out a very respectable amount of heat. They come in a wide variety of packaging from top, to side to front loaders in steel, cast iron, and soapstone. And the statement that a new stove will burn much cleaner and more efficiently stands true regardless of an occasional misstep in design along the way. But as you've pointed out, getting the right stove is an important part of this decision. In the long run, lower emissions, cleaner chimneys and less wood consumption is the way to go.
  12. HumaneSocietySteve

    HumaneSocietySteve New Member

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    Loc:
    Smoky Mountains in Tennessee
    Fraxinus,

    I took your advice today and removed the stove pipe and iron plate (Bear to get out) to remove the ash that had accumulated behind the fire back. All was going well till metallic objects of some sort started plinking their way through the shop vac hose. Upon closer examination it seems to be semi metallic stove putty of some sort. I am guessing this is not supposed to happen under normal circumstances. Under the putty, which is now in pieces. there is what looks like screen door wire mesh material.

    I have really opened up a can of worms or more likely my check book. HELP...Some of you old stove horses please clue me in to what I have uncovered in my ROUTINE cleaning and what I need to do now.

    Also upon closer inspection I noticed a hairline crack running vertically up the fire back from top to bottom. If I remember right my father in law had his old original fire back replaced with the new and improved two piece fire back. My guess is that I am going to have to cart the stove in for an overhaul at the local wood stove shop.

    Any and all input welcome.
  13. StanP

    StanP New Member

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    10
    Loc:
    SW CT
    Hi Everyone,

    I just bought a Defiant that was first inspected (backplate) in 1980 although it has 1975 written in the back of the firebox. It does not have legs, since the previous owner used it as a fireplace insert. It's funny because we had the same stove when I was a kid, so it brings back some old memories. Some not so good of us having to process about 25 cord per year to stay warm in upstate NY.

    I have two questions. First, the stove plate says I need a 8 inch pipe. I am using this in a hunting camp and have already bought most of the material I need to go through the roof for 6 inch pipe. Can I use the 6 inch pipe? What is the downside?

    Secod, how can I find legs that will work for the stove?

    thanks for any advice you can give.

    Stan
  14. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    That stove is unlikely to work at all with 6" pipe. However, the stove probably has a decent resale value (with legs), and you could probably sell it and buy something else used or new for the money you will get.

    I would think you can find the exact stock legs for that stove. Try woodmans or black swan - links at:
    http://www.hearth.com/partsplace.html
  15. StanP

    StanP New Member

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    Thank you for the feedback.


    Stan
  16. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

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    Old Lyme CT
    Stan I concurr with Craig about the chimney, you will need 8" for that stove. The 1975 on the fireback denotes the year that particular stove was designed not produced.
  17. HumaneSocietySteve

    HumaneSocietySteve New Member

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    Smoky Mountains in Tennessee
    Hey Stan,

    I have the same VC Defiant stove as you and have been using it for 10 years now. Since I have been on this forum I have learned some very important lessons. Before you install your stove make sure you thoroughly clean between the fire back(where the "1975" is stamped) and the stove back. If you look into the stove through the stove pipe outlet on top of the stove you will see an opening to your left that accesses this area. You can clean this area one of two ways. 1. Take shop vac with a small diameter flexible hose and vacuum away making sure to get to the right below the metal plate as well as you can. If you use the smaller diameter hose this will allow you the most access as the larger diameter shop vac hoses don't allow you to get into the crevice effectively. 2. What I did is remove the access plate (that you will be looking at directly under the stove pipe outlet) so I could get at every crevice and visually inspect my work. I took a crow bar and very gently worked the plate loose. I emphasize very gently because the cast iron is much more brittle than steel and is prone to cracking. This process took at least 15 minutes of maneuvering to remove the plate but it's the best way to remove every trace of built up ash to my knowledge.

    After this operation my stove had renewed life and I have been able to achieve "horizontal or secondary burn" every day since then. The horizontal burn is 70's technology that more efficiently burns the wood gases where at least 50% of the available heat is stored. In normal updraft burn mode this heat goes right up the chimney. Like I said this technology is from the 70's but until you decide to get a newer more efficient stove you may as well get the most out of the old Defiant. The Defiant is designed to burn 90% of the time in horizontal burn mode so you get the most bang for the buck from you seasoned hardwood. I know you said you grew up with this stove but I have found many people who have these stoves just use them in normal updraft mode and never utilize the horizontal burn method.

    To go into horizontal burn mode get a good hot bed of coals which usually takes me about an hour to achieve from a cold stove. Once you achieve a good coal bed load up the stove with wood. This stove holds A LOT of wood and I literally cram in every stick I can. Once you load up the stove with wood keep a close eye on this step of the process as it could get away from you if your not watching. Once the lower levels of the wood stack catch up and the stove is producing a good amount of heat shut the side door and turn the handle above the door to its vertical position. In this mode my stove puts out more heat than I know what to do with sometimes down here in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Now there are a lot of variables like chimney draw (the Defiant needs a lot of draw to work effectively in horizontal burn mode), wood type and condition and outside weather conditions. But the most important variable is to experiment with your stove and get to know it's nature.

    One other little detail that I feel has helped my stove be as efficient as it can be is to clean out the ashes frequently. In the past I was not as diligent as I should have been and my stoves efficiency suffered. My rule of thumb is to never let the ash build up past the small air outlet holes in the lower portion of your fire back. Once the ash starts approaching this level I clean it out immediately and I think my heat output is much better since I have done this chore regularly.

    I hope your Defiant gives you as much pleasure and warmth as mine has. There are not many people who use these old classic stoves on the forum since most have upgraded to the newer more efficient stoves so I like to help with the older classics like the Defiant as much as I can.

    Happy Burning
  18. Garyvol

    Garyvol New Member

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    Loc:
    North of Boston
    Hi Stephen,
    Great info about cleaning behind the firepback plate. I've always been wondering about that myself on how to clean it.
    But first, my late 70's stove is most likely from Taiwan called the Scandia 315 and I think is a clone of the Defiant.
    Front doors and side loading and horizontal burn capapbility just as you point out.

    My stove required cement sealing around some seems and then Ispray painted it with the black stove paint. The stove looks and burns great. I still however only burn on weekends with 1 overnite.

    The stove also has a thermostat lever on the back left top of the stove with a chain extending down to a flap plate that
    can cover the air opening at the bottom. I still however question if this coil type thermostat is fully functional. I did verify
    some functionality using a hair dryer. BTW, my stove has an extra insulator back and botom plate, thus the thermostat lever is exposed compared to other units displayed on exploded diagrams showing a cover box over the thermostat and lever. I'm wondering if the lack of the box cover does not allow for the thermostat to fully function. Does yours have the back lever thermostat I describe and does yours function for controllin the air intake.??

    I think with Stan's stove, if the top opening is oval, as is mine, an 8" stove pipe is needed.
    I'll stop here for any feed back.
  19. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    You can easily find a good 6 inch stovepipe unit with the money you get for this stove. In fact if you hurry you might still find one of the Century models at Lowe's for an incredible deal. It will throw out a good amount of heat and is EPA approved; so it won't produce a lot of creosote to gunk up that new liner.

    Will make life easier for you...
  20. StanP

    StanP New Member

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    thank you. that's great info Steven. I guess I do have a lot to learn. Firestarter, the oval exit is in the back.
    I ordered the legs as you was suggested (thanks), but they do not come with bolts. Does anyone out there would know the size and or thread of the bottom bolts for the legs?

    thanks

    Stan
  21. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    I think they are 3/8 course but the stove shop should be able to look that up, just like the legs.
  22. HumaneSocietySteve

    HumaneSocietySteve New Member

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    GaryVol,

    My thermostat is exposed and works fine. I'm not sure what you are referring to as an "extra insulator back and bottom plate". This is beyond my "Stove Tech" knowledge. Maybe one of the other Guys can weigh in on this one.

    From GaryVol.....BTW, my stove has an extra insulator back and bottom plate, thus the thermostat lever is exposed compared to other units displayed on exploded diagrams showing a cover box over the thermostat and lever. I’m wondering if the lack of the box cover does not allow for the thermostat to fully function. Does yours have the back lever thermostat I describe and does yours function for controlling the air intake.??
  23. Garyvol

    Garyvol New Member

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    North of Boston
    Hi Stephen
    I guess insulator back is not correctly describing it. The back of my stove has an extra sheet metal back plate from top to bottom. It is spaced away and bolted from the stove about 2 inches. I guess it helps to allow stoves to be placed closer to a wall. So if your thermostat works correctly then it means that when you have a cold stove the bottom metal flap is lifting up allowing air into the openning. When then stove heats up, the themostat senses this heat and begins to change the position of the metal flap by lowering it and subsequently limiting air flow into the stove. I assume that this is how the thing should work??

    BTW, I used to burn on a layer of sand. But I've switched to a compromised grate for the logs to sit on.
    Due to the small front to back foot print of the floor box and sloping fireback wall, a regular iron grate was to big, so I got a metal grate small enough to fit. I space some pieces of thin firebrick on the floor for the grate to rest on and works very good.
    -gary
  24. welby21

    welby21 New Member

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    Loc:
    northern california
    We just got a Vermont Casting Defiant Parlor Furnace (all in pieces). If anyone could help us put this back together, that would be great. We do not have a manual. Please help.
  25. HumaneSocietySteve

    HumaneSocietySteve New Member

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