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Vermont Castings Original Defiant Question

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

  1. asmith1

    asmith1 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2008
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    Loc:
    Marcy NY
    I burned a 1977 VC Vigilant(next size down) in my old house for 5yrs. before getting an Avalon Olympic. Family friends in my home town burned a mid70's defiant untill they sold the house 2 yrs ago . Lot a heat, lot a wood. I also used up draft initially for few months untill i figured out how much better the down draft was. Fill it up, char all the wood for maybe 30min. close the damper and come back in 8-10 hrs. to add wood. I had decent draft so it worked well and I don't think I could haver over fired it in down draft mode if I tried. I did find it easy to over fire in updraft with a short lapse in att. ie dogs, kid, football.

    The one thing I didn't like was the daily removal of charcoal like chunks that never burned all the way. My Olympic burned to a very fine ash and usually needed removal only once a week with 24/7 burning. News stoves = much less work and someless wood. If I had to replace again I would seriously look at Englander 30 at Home Depot for $800. You would spend 3x as much and maybe not get a better stove. I put one in my Sister and brother in laws place and it runs great. They burn 24/7 from like Oct-april or may. They have a big old house outside of Ithaca NY. The thing made me regret paying $2200 for my Olympic, though mine did look a little better, I thought. You can get gold legs and doors for it from web site. I wouldn't spend to much on the VC after using newer stoves.

    My VC also developed a crack in the fireback. I called around for a while to several places inc. local VC dealer and no one could help. I didn't know about this site 4yrs ago.

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  2. VTZJ

    VTZJ Member

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    Loc:
    Northern VT
    Old thread, I know, but worth answering I guess. You have cleaned down to the top of the secondary air passage. THis passage is formed by cast horizontal ribs on the back of the fireback which approach but don't quite touch similar cast ribs on the front of the stoveback. When bridged with cement, the secondary air passage is formed and is isolated from the exiting flue gasses in the chamber above. Stove cement bridges the gap between the lower set of ribs, stove cement plus screen bridges the upper, larger gap. The material you are sucking up is old cement which has failed. You did not cause the failure by vacuuming, but only discovered it.

    The failure of this passage probably explains why your Defiant is operating so poorly in side-draft mode. An unimpeded supply of clean, prewarmed secondary air is vital for the primitive secondary burn of which the Defiant is capable. You could do a quick-and-dirty repair by parging on more cement from above. Really, though, it is time to knock this stove down, clean and reseal it properly. Local shops want many hundreds for this service, which I thought was outrageous, so I did it myself. I don't think it's outrageous anymore. Mine took me 15 hours, 10 beers and 3 sandwiches, but included regasketing the doors, plus a thorough wire-brushing and new paint job.

    Go to the VC website and search for an excellent document called The Defiant: Top to Bottom and back again. This is a good document for this site to archive. Moderator help? http://www.vermontcastings.com/catalog/elements/files/2008/2003225_Rebuild_Defiant.pdf

    If you are going to attempt a rebuild yourself, my advice is to knock the unit down and have it sand blasted with special instructions to blast all the old stove cement out of the channels. Most of my rebuild time was spent wire brushing and removing old cement. Rebuilding, resealing and repainting from freshly sandblasted components would be a pleasure, and a four hour job probably.
  3. VTZJ

    VTZJ Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
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    138
    Loc:
    Northern VT
    Yes, lack of cover does not allow the thermostat to fully function. This is easily rectified with a custom heat shield for the stove back, which will retain a zone of hotter air close to the back and give the coil a more powerful stimulus.

    I have this same stove, the Scandia 315. As you know, it is a very close copy of the Defiant, and some parts are interchangeable. Blow off the hate speech you will get about this "Taiwanese Junk" of a stove from the $2500 stove snobs on this site (Get a life, guys! Isn't there a chainsaw or flashlight forum for you to hover on?). I am here to tell you my $50 Scandia is an awsome heater, and a reliable and safe appliance. Of course, it wasn't reliable when I paid $50 for it, but it is now that it is "tight and right". Sure, it makes a little "old school" smoke before it gets up to temp. Don't tell Al Gore.

    If you look at the back of your stove, you will see four cast bosses which have been drilled and tapped for a heat shield. Maybe the 2" steel standoffs for the heatshield are still in place on these bosses, as mine were. If not, no worries, these are easily fabricated. My heatshield was long gone, so I had one made this year, and now the bimetalic coil controlling the primary air intake works MUCH BETTER with a DRAMATIC increase in movement.

    By better I mean it results in steadier output. Before installing the heatshield last week, I ran this stove daily through four Vermont winters, sometimes 24/7 for weeks, with the thermostat control exposed, as yours is. So I have a good basis for comparison. With the new heatshield on I burned the stove last night with a 2/3 load, first burn of the season after a total knock-down rebuild, reseal and repaint. Once warmed up and put into horizontal burn mode, it ran rock solid between 525 and 625 degrees (measured at center top) for four hours with no adjustments to the primary air lever. I was checking frequently. The stove has never performed evenly like this before, so the thermostat seems to be doing a much better job of controlling primary air.

    When I went to bed, the air control was cracked open about 3/16" at the bottom of the door. Again, I left this untouched. When I went down to check in the morning, stove top temp was about 200, and the air control had opened considerably to about 1" due to action of the thermostat control. A good bed of coals remained, glowing angry red, clearly getting plenty of primary air. This is a major improvement over the performance of the unshielded thermostat.

    I had my heatshield made at a local HVAC outfit for 45 bucks. Start with 36x24 galvanized. Measure for the mounting holes so that the top of the shield is the same height as the top of the stove, and centered in the horizontal dimension. If the shield is set up higher than the stove top, your air control lever will be difficult to reach and operate. I had the holes for mounting stamped out as slots to allow for a little expansion and adjustment -- came out very nice.

    Apart from solving the thermostat problem, the shield is a very nice addition in my application because it adds a powerful convection chamber to the back of the stove.

    A couple more observations about the Scandia 315.

    (1) The castings are not particularly precise in the way those of a genuine Defiant are. But they do respond to some lovin' from the grinder and the file. I spent 15 minutes improving the fit between panels here and there, knocking down the obvious high spots, and the result was worth it.

    (2) The design of the secondary air passage is, in my opinion, a weakness in the original Defiant, and that weakness was faithfully copied with poor execution by Scandia. The problem is, the passage is vulnerable to leaking when the stove cement sealing its dozen nooks and crannies begins to fail. When the passage looses integrity, secondary air doesnt arrive properly and secondary combustion falls apart. So it is VITAL to the efficient performance of this model to get this passage well-sealed and isolated from other passages in the stove. I was liberal with the Rutland stove cement and aluminum screening on this during my reassembly. The condition of this passage deserves your attention at least annually for a clean-out, an inspection with a powerful flashlight and patch job when needed.

    (3) Comments about the Scandia being hard to control have a measure of truth. If the stove is not properly maintained and gasketed, you might not be able to shut down primary air as much as you wish. But isn't this true of any powerful woodstove with a 3 cubic foot firebox? I found that the fit of the front loading doors on my Scandia 315 is definitely not Vermont Castings quality. So some creative gasketing was in order along the bottom edge, where I have used a larger diameter gasket to get proper sealing.

    (4) The dimensions of the stove are all in inches because it is a rip off of the made-in-Vermont Defiant. But the fasteners are metric, because it was made in Taiwan by the metric people.

    (5) It's pockmarked complexion reminds me of the underappreciated actor, Edward James Olmos.
  4. Dinsdale

    Dinsdale New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2008
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    2
    Loc:
    Taconic Hills, NY
    Thanks for posting the rebuild pdf.

    Been using a Defiant 1975 to help heat our home for the last 18 yrs., (we love it). Although I'm currently investigating a problem with the griddle.
    When operating the stove, if the griddle surface temp exceeds 500* F... something expands enough to create an interference problem between the griddle and the damper. With the damper closed the griddle begins to raise up and allows smoke to escape into the house. If I open the damper the griddle sets down again. I think I've got to grind on something, but not sure what. Has anyone else experienced this problem?
  5. STOVEGUY11

    STOVEGUY11 Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    SOUTHERN CT
    Sounds like something is warped
  6. Hanko

    Hanko Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    livingstion co, Michigan
  7. argus56

    argus56 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
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    3
    Loc:
    NH
    Defiant 1975 HELP!!!!!!

    Ok I'm new to this just moved to NH from GA so im not the most knowledgeable on the art of fire making... Here's the deal the place we are renting has a Defiant 1975 model in the living room. i have read all your posts here and seem a little confused, Horizontal draft??? Here is what i have done so far. i have gotten maybe 4 fires going but when i close the side door (the big one where i throw the wood in) the fire goes out. I read the owners manuel (thanks to whoever posted the link for that) But is says to close the damper!! If i close the damper then what happens to the smoke from the fire? wont it fill up the house? I always thought closing the damper was bad when you have a fire going. My wood seems to be burning fast and im always having to throw more in.. i thought you shouldn't have to mess with it for a few hours.... Any help would be great as i have to teach my wife how to use this so i have to know what i'm doing.. thanks
  8. fraxinus

    fraxinus Feeling the Heat

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    332
    Loc:
    coastal Maine
    Hi Argus,
    Check replies #8 and #15 in this thread. It sounds as if the area between the fireback and stove back is clogged with ash. The fact that the fire goes out when you close the side loading door indicates a lack of air - a thorough cleaning should correct this. There's also a small opening below this door and toward the rear of the stove. It has a movable cast iron cover. Make sure this is open. The sheet metal thermostat flap should also be raised when starting fires. Closing the damper on the Defiant directs the smoke and unburned gasses back over the coals (secondary burn) - it's not at all like a fireplace damper that seals off the chimney and sends smoke pouring into the room if closed while a fire is burning. It would probably also be a good idea to have an experienced Defiant user - I'd guess there are many in VT - check the stove. Closing the side door really shouldn't extinguish the fire.
  9. cmonSTART

    cmonSTART Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2007
    Messages:
    2,284
    Loc:
    Antrim, NH
    Just a suggestion, Argus, but you may want to start your own thread and tell us about your chimney, stove, wood, issues and all that wonderful stuff. We love pictures! You may get more focused help that way.

    Welcome to NH!!!!
  10. Dinsdale

    Dinsdale New Member

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    Sep 20, 2008
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    Taconic Hills, NY
    Hey Argus, Here's how I start my 1975 Defiant:
    Open damper, side door, small port hole to left of side door and thermostatic intake lever. Start the fire and leave the side door open about 4-5". After the griddle surface temp reaches 500* throw on another good size log, close the side door and damper. Adjust thermostat lever to maintain desired griddle temp, (500* works good for me). Above procedure assumes stove is clean inside. If your fire still goes out you may have a problem with the stove, chimney or your wood.
  11. argus56

    argus56 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
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    Loc:
    NH
    All,

    I know it been a little bit but I want to thank all of you for your help. My problem has been solved. I cleaned out the whole stove with a vacuum and it works great. I now get it started until it reaches about 400-500 i then fill it up and shut all the doors. It has been keeping my giant upstairs at about 68-70 degrees for a range of 8-12 hours depending on how i set the thermometer. The thermometer is broke and doesn't adjust itself so i do it manually depending on ho long I want it to burn. I cant believe how efficient it still works. It is 66 in here and i filled it at about 930 last night.(it was in the mid 20's all night) My only fear now is running out of wood!!!!! thanks again
  12. Valhalla

    Valhalla Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Essex County, New York
    The thermostat lever control, the small one on the rear top left, is real important once you put it in the horizontal burn mode. Combined with an accurate griddle top thermometer, it makes for long overnight burns.

    I bought my first Defiant in 1979 direct from the factory. Used it and heated with it for many, many years.
  13. argus56

    argus56 New Member

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    Loc:
    NH
    Ha , I meant thermostat not thermometer. Yes i have noticed that. I do have a old temp gage on the griddle which seems to work pretty good. Since the "thermostat" is broke i have been trying to get a feel of where it needs to be when we head to bed. For instance if I have it all the way open the temp reads around 500. As I slowly close the thermostat the temp goes down. so i just need to play with it until i am able to eye it. I do have a small version downstairs, called a Reliant?? made by Vermont castings (could be wrong about he name) but that one works great and its just as old.
  14. fraxinus

    fraxinus Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    coastal Maine
    Argus,
    Glad your vintage VC stoves are working well. There's really no reason, though, to go through the winter with a non-operating thermostat on the Defiant. This is a very easy part to replace. Everything is external and is a simple matter of removing the old one by loosening a few screws and putting in a new one. They should be available at a VC dealer or possibly on line. There is not much that can go wrong with this thermostat, so before replacing check to see if the chain which connects th bi-metallic coil at the top to the sheet metal cover at the bottom is not just hung up somehow or incorrectly oriented to the coil.
  15. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    1,669
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    Northern NH
    Now that you have the horizontal burn working, be aware that the stove doesnt respond well to fast changes in the air damper position. If the stove is running full bore and you close down the air, it can go into a "huffing" mode. Essentially you have plenty of heat and fuel but not enough air. The stove will start "huffing" to the point that the griddle will be lifted upwards couple of inches. Makes for an exciting event the first couple of times. The most frequent time this happens is when you have had a hot fire all evening, then load up the firebox full and cut back on the damper. Leaving the secondary air port open, usually helps to rpevent this from happening but realizie the stove really like to run full bore.
  16. kwikrp

    kwikrp Feeling the Heat

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    297
    Loc:
    SE Mass
    I have an old defiant also but the top needs to be resealed. Can I just take the top nuts off pull the top plate off , recement and replace without changing the rods. Will they fall out of the bottom and then i would have to sendthem from the top down. Are they easy to line up or is it a nightmare wainting ?
  17. Dill

    Dill Feeling the Heat

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    Oct 14, 2008
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    329
    Loc:
    Northwood NH
    I have to say I'm a woodstove addict. I was out visiting a house to do an insurance quote this morning. And the woman had the this big beautiful Defiant in the place. She said it was there when they bought they house and she didn't know how to use it.
    The gasket were in good shape so we fired it up.
    Man that stove can put out some heat. And what a fire box way bigger than the vigilants.
  18. andrew

    andrew New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1
    Loc:
    Nottingham. England
    Hello,
    Really good to see all the posts on the 1975 Vermont Defiant, I have one in my place, a chilly Victorian gamekeepers lodge. Cracking info on this thread and reassuring to hear of other people still wood burning with the defiant.

    I live in Sherwood Forest, Nottingham, England, my side door handle sheared off when I was doing annual maintenance !!! Need to buy a replacement asap.

    All the woodburning stores around here are new sales only, no one has come accross a 1975 defiant. Could someone recommend a stove parts supplier in the UK or one who could ship to England?
    Thanks in advance for your assistance.
    Andrew
  19. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,384
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    Andrew,

    I think you could find a US supplier who would mail to you!

    Try these two first....

    1. Woodman Parts
    http://www.woodmanspartsplus.com/

    2. Black Swan Stove
    http://www.blackswanhome.com/old-defiant.html

    Or, maybe you will get a response from one of our locals on the board!

  20. stevenmi

    stevenmi New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    9
    Loc:
    Central Oregon
    Hi All,
    I've read this entire thread and there is much great info. (Thanks for the great site!)

    My stove is a VC Defiant Encore, model 0028. The manual I have is a download of the '1945' which does not show my fireback or other pieces correctly. (Mine fireback is all cast and has no firebrick.)

    I modified a fireplace and installed this stove (from my mom's house and very lightly used), well back in the alcove. It looks great and burns well but the combustor and secondary burn chamber are full of ash. I pass quite a bit of smoke out the chimney liner cap, so it is not burning well. It does choke down well and leaves me good coals in the morning, but I would like it to be more efficient.

    My question: Can I access/vacuum my secondary/gasses burn chamber & combustor (catalyst) from the firebox? (Its current installation does not allow coming down from the pipe exit.) I've removed a number of internal bolts but everything is still tight.

    Question 2: Is the '0028' manual available? A correct parts breakdown would help.

    Thanks in advance.
    Steve in Central Oregon

    PS: Though I am not thrilled to, if needed I will un-install it to come down from the top......
  21. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

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    Jul 24, 2010
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    1,676
    Loc:
    Central Michigan
    I am burning/heating with a Olympic Crest which is a near perfect Defiant knock off. Actually has Vermont casting design copy cast into the back. As far as cleaning it would be MUCH easier and thorough if you pulled it out and came in from the top but you can get a lot of fly ash out through the holes in the bottom of the back(inside) with a vacuum. make sure it is completely burnt out and cold prior to attempting though. I can only imagine what a hot coal in a vacuum would do!!!

    Also, if you have access through the thermo flap and the small adjustible hole in the lower left by the fill door it will allow some access with a vacuum. I have a long rod that I use through that hole to help pull ash towards the hole with a vacuum running. A straight coat hanger with a small hook bent into it will work.

    If you come in from the top through the stove pipe hole you can remove the plate and really get at it but the plate is tough to get out??

    On a side note and in another thread I have posted - my insurance company is threatening to drop me because my stove is pre-EPA and does not have the UL plate on the back. What insurance company are you using for your home??

    Bob Urban
  22. stevenmi

    stevenmi New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Central Oregon
    Hi Bob,
    Thanks for your post.
    I was directed to another thread for a 'probable' faster responce than this one, so have a fairly active thread on this dis-assembly/cleaning the VC running here: http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/85374/
    Thanks for your tips, but I don't appear to have some of the access holes you mention.

    Regards insurance: (And this may be a good stand-alone thread); I insure with Oregon Mutual. Whe I first moved into this house my agent insisted I remove a locally build, heavily welded, thermostatically controlled fireplace insert. I did but was very disappointed with the fireplace's performance. My VC came available from my Mom's house and I modified my fireplace for the install. I had the county inspect it (and it passed just fine), but do not remember telling my new agent about it so have sent him an email asking he check my policy to assure it is listed if necessary.

    Hope that helps,
    Steve Miller
    Central Oregon
  23. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
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    1,459
    Loc:
    Southwest NH
    1.welcome to nh and the forums- you will certainly find help here!

    2. Closing the damper forces the gases through the secondary burn chamber and the baffles on the stove. The stove is designed to operate this way and you should not get any smoke in the house unless the baffles are blocked with ash. I am not certain if I remember correctly, but there may be w secondary combustion air inlet on thside of the stove ( round opening ) make certain this is open.

    3. If the fire goes out I suspect you may be closing the door too soon. Growing up we would have to leave the door open for about 5-10 minutes to get the fire going before closing the side door. Once the fire ws going and a good coal bed buildt up we could add wood and close the door fairly quickly.

    4. Be certain your draft is open on the back of the stove. The defiant should have an automatic draft tht will open and close, but these do fail.


    5. The wonderful thing about here is you will get a lot of advice. Many times it will show you the way, but you need to choose the correct path :)

    Enjoy!
  24. 4wheelcycle

    4wheelcycle New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2012
    Messages:
    25
    Loc:
    NH
    I just joined the forum to talk about my new Fireview. The Fireview is installed in our lower floor family room, but we still have our 1977 Defiant installed in a custom "fake" fireplace in our living room. We designed the hearth for the Defiant's measurements and picked up our stove at the original factory in Randolph, VT. It is a rock solid stove and I expect it will burn forever.

    We don't use it much any more because it is messy to bring wood into our living room and because we tend to hang out more in our family room. However, from 1977 through the 1980's we used it all the time. Winters around here always used to include at least one or two weeks of weather that went to 15 or 20 below zero every night and our Defiant never failed us.

    Someone earlier in this thread said you really have to need a big stove to get the most out of a Defiant and they are right. When we first installed it I used to (stupidly) burn it low and slow during mild winter days. After we had our first (and only) chimney fire from too much creosote build-up I learned to burn the Defiant hot for the first part of every burn and then at moderate heat for the rest of each burn - never low and slow. I never had any more appreciable creosote build-up and we always had a very warm house!

    Attached Files:

  25. defiant3

    defiant3 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2010
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    408
    Loc:
    No. NH
    Soooooooo many people seem to have a Defiant story! My story is still being written, as the Defiant I have currently heats the house, which has other heat but not sufficient for mid-winter. If we have another winter like THIS one though, the next chapter may be titled "Downsize to Vigilant." lol

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