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Vermont Castings Vigilant - Help/Tips

Post in 'Vermont Castings & CDW Dutchwest older Models' started by Erwin77, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. Erwin77

    Erwin77 New Member

    Dec 26, 2013
    Downsville, NY
    HI there,

    I have just recently obtained a Vermont castings Vigilant at no cost, and had a couple questions about the operation/maintenance of this stove.

    1.) I can visually see that the griddle and door gaskets need to be replaced (chunks and pieces missing) so those are ordered and on their way. Would I benefit from running furnace cement along all the joints around the stove?

    2) I couldn't help myself but start this old girl up the other night (before the new gaskets arrived) with temps below 20* and the oil furnace kicking on and the price of oil I could feel my money blowing out the window. After reading some forums and the owner’s manual for this stove I felt fairly confident in its operation. I had a nice small kindled fire going, good draft for 20 min, and had a nice bed of coals (over the 1.5" of play sand- thanks to some advice for another forum) running about 600*. Then I loaded the firebox with seasoned wood and left it in updraft mode for 15 min. No some out of the chimney. Then I switched to horizontal mode and opened the secondary air all the way, the smoke that was coming out of the chimney was quite substantial. I know that this is an old stove and from the pre-EPA era but is this much smoke normal? How do you know if secondary combustion is taking place? Would these new gaskets/sealing help?

    3) In horizontal mode i find it very hard to regulate the temperature of the stove its either too hot 650*+ than I close the primary are little and is down to 400* and I barely moved the thermostat. Is there any way to test the thermostats of these stoves?

    4) Lastly, I have a thermometer on the griddle of the stove and where the stove pipe exits though the wall. What would be opportune readings for both these gauges?


    ANY other tips/ lessons learned about this stove would be very helpful!

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  2. Erwin77

    Erwin77 New Member

    Dec 26, 2013
    Downsville, NY
    One more thing, the adapter form the oval flue to the 8" round stove pipe came with the stove and seems to be just a bent 8" round stove pipe shoved into the oval opening. In this typical or should i buy some kind of adapter. Looking online all i could find is double walled oval to round adapters and they are rather pricey. Any thoughts as to where I could find a single walled 8" oval to round adapter or do you think the setup I have now is fine?

  3. Viggyowner

    Viggyowner New Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    Just my twopenny's worth.
    1/ The stove was designed to have specific air paths, so leaks through defective gaskets and cracks will not help. Whether you should clean out the out the old fire cement or just put new stuff over the top I can't answer.
    2/ I think that one and a half inches of sand is a little too much. You have to balance the top of the sand bed and the height of the ash layer so that the 5 small holes in the fire back are always uncovered. If you start at one and a half inches of sand there isn't much room for ash. I don't use sand anyway, just the old ash.
    According to the manual and my own experience the small round hole on the left side of the stove with the little circular flap is left open at all times. Mine is 90% open and I can't remember why I set it there but it seems to work and I never touch it.
    The air tube inside the firebox,left hand side, low down, that has the circular opening near the left lower door hinge also has long slots underneath it. Make sure that you keep the ash away from that tube and the openings as best as you can to let the air enter the firebox. Feel for the slots to see what I mean when the stove is next stone cold.
    When the stove is cold, so that you can play about without your arms getting fried, move the thermostat lever from left to right and hear the thermostat flap freely and easily against the stove body. I can't see it on mine but it sounds as though it moves nice and easily. It also does this when its hot, but in a different position to get the slap as it closes. From this I am pretty sure that my thermostat works correctly. I only use the thermostat lever to control the stove when it is running.( Apart from a bit of vertical mode when in the loading stages) Make quite sure that the closing slap sound comes with a different position of the thermostat lever when the stove is cold as to when it is hot. If it does then you can say that the thermostat is working to some extent.
    When the stove is nice and hot with a full fire box as you described I get a nice roar from the back right hand side when I go horizontal. I think that this is the air/fire causing a noise as it shoots through the convoluted airway on the stove back.Usually this noise dies away over the next couple of minutes. What I think is happening is that the secondary air channels are relatively cold and damp out the fire as they heat up and the rest of the stove cools down a bit. I think, and this is just my opinion, that going back to vertical for a few minutes gets the fire going again and then you can switch to horizontal again to get the rear channels hot enough to combust the smoke.(Repeat as neccessary). These old VC stoves don't really do secondary combustion unless they are really hot. When my Vigilant is 'really hot' I can't get near it.
    My stove smokes quite a lot. Probably because I can't run it hot enough. Also because that is what they do! They are not called smoke dragons for nothing.
    3,4/ Can't really help as I don't have a thermometer.
    The round to oval pipe is what I have also and it seems to work OK.
    Recently, first time out after the summer, I could not get the damper to stay in vertical mode. It would not go over centre properly. I waited until the stove was cold and cleaned out all parts of the main casting that the damper rests on when in vertical mode. There are lots of little ledges and nooks and crannies in the top rear of the stove. There was a great deal of old ash/flaky carbon etc etc up there. I got very dirty. I also got a lot of debris out and now the damper closes with a distinct clank rather than the dull thud as before. I think the stove works more efficently than before but that may be wishful thinking.
    Out of interest only. I know I am a bad boy for running it low and slow. I regularly get it to relight in the morning from the old coals. Last week I refilled it about 75% at 18:00 and relit it at 09:00 the next day from the coals. It was still pumping out a gentle heat as well in the morning.
    Morning is the best time to empty the ash. I use a metal bucket and the lovely shovel that came with the stove. Go vertical, open the doors at the front slowly. Hold the bucket right up to the opening and tilt it forwards then shovel some ash into the bucket. Try to move as slow as possible. Hopefully the resultant ash cloud will be sucked up the flue and not into the room. Don't breathe the fumes from the bucket,especially if it is galvanised, and leave the bucket to cool down outside for several hours until cold, you don't want to start a garbage fire. Use a poker to level out the ash in the stove. Keep it away from the left hand side, but still covering the stove bottom and poke the 5 holes at the back to clear them.
    In case you don't know the flue size is 8 inches minimum according to their manual and you need to clean it frequently as you will almost certainly generate creoste. For your own peace of mind make sure that you have smoke detectors and a carbon monoxide alarm.
    Regards Pete

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