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Vermont Castings: Vigilant into 6 inch metal chimney, possible? Also opinions on the Vigilant?

Post in 'Vermont Castings & CDW Dutchwest older Models' started by cleithau, Jan 28, 2010.

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  1. cleithau

    cleithau New Member

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    So my dad bought a Vermont Castings Vigilant for her house. First of all the it was shipped across the country, and was not at all in the condition described. The thermostatic damper spring is broken, the flap that attaches to the thermostatic spring is homemade (poorly) and catches sometimes not allowing it to close all the way, the pin the the flap is on is a piece of copper, bent into place since to actually replace the pin the entire stove needs to be disassembled. And the back chamber for exhaust gasses was full of wet clay-like silt. Also she has a 6 inch metal chimney and this stove requires and 8".

    So we cleaned it all up, set it up with a manual damper till the new one comes, and installed it, hoping it would work with the 6" pipe, it works ok once warm but when building a fire it pours out smoke. My dad thinks replacing the interior pipe with 8 inch will solve the problem, but I am skeptical since the outside pipe will still be 6 inch.

    Peronsally I think we should sell it and cut our losses. Unless someone here has run one into 6 inch pipe and had it work. I have a Jotul 118 (older model) and it heats so much better than the Vigilant. There is an Atlanta 27 box stove on good shape for $150.

    Also the Vigilant is such a short woodstove the tile under her stove gets extremely hot to the touch. The hearth is tile, over duroc, over wood, is it safe if the tile is getting that hot?

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  2. Fsappo

    Fsappo Minister of Fire

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    I wouldnt run a vigilant on a 6" flue. How much did you pay for it with the cross country shipping? You can buy a decent home depot stove for $1000 or so and get a $300 tax credit making your net cost 700 bucks or less for brand new. New gives you better efficiency, even with the cheaper new stoves, a warranty, even though you will have to do repairs yourself with a Home Depot stove. Heck, you can even probably find a brand name stove thru a regular Hearth Shop for about $1000 and get something better than decent with a place you can walk into for parts/advice/service.

    When burning wood, just do it right or dont bother messin around bending the rules. Thats my opinion.
  3. cleithau

    cleithau New Member

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    I know, I tried to tell him to get a newer stove, there are also a ton locally for sale that you can inspect before purchase. It was $500 to the door. Just under $300 for the stove and $200 to ship it. None of it was my idea, now I just have to clean up the mess.

    Was the Vigilant designed for a solid brick hearth?
  4. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Are you sure it is a Vigilant? Because it is not short by any means. The Vigilant is just over 30" tall with 8" legs (nearly the same hieght as your Jotul 118). The floor of my hearth does not get over 135 degrees.

    Your Jotul 118 will heat better as the Vigilant puts out 50k BTUs vs the Jotul's 60k. But it should still throw a decent amount of heat.

    But, it seems like your dad picked up a beaten and abused stove. Even in great condition it is a wood eater. If money is an issue, and there aren't any cracks or gaps in the stove, than it will work ok for their needs. But, if it is possible to purchase another stove, I would recommend doing so.
  5. Fsappo

    Fsappo Minister of Fire

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    Could be a vigilant with the short leg kit
  6. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    If the stove is in that poor of a condition I will bet the seals/gaskets are shot, too. Check all the rope gaskets for air tightness. Check all the caulking for breaks and cracks. Get it good and airtight. My Vigilant stands eight inches off the floor. I didn't know they made a short leg kit. Why would anyone even need or use one with short legs?
    I haven't been into the wood stove thing very long but since the stove is made for an eight inch flu you're never going to get a good airflow with only six inches.
    The Vigilant is older technology but there are a lot of them out there and, if kept in good condition, can do a good job for you.
  7. labrador

    labrador Member

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    I agree with all of the above comments. I have a Vigilant that came with the house and is still in good condition. It really throws heat but does eat wood. You can tell if it is a Vigilant if the name is stamped on both sides and 1977 appears on the back plate as you open the double doors. Mine has ceramic glass in the doors but I think they came in cast iron also. I wouldn't go from an 8" stove opening to a 6". Look around I'm sure you will find a new one at a good price. The dilmensions are 38H x 28W x 19 1/2 D That is from the original catalog. Original cost from the factory was $550.00 way back when they were a great company.
  8. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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  9. cleithau

    cleithau New Member

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    I didn't mean short, as in the top, I meant short height off the ground. It's definitely a Vigilant, with the short leg option, 1977 on the back plate, cast iron doors The top gasket is new, the door gasket needs to be replaced but thats not really my main concern. I rebuilt my 118 from a yard sale rust bucket to a nice air tight efficient stove. Mostly just wondering if the Vigilant will ever work with the 6" pipe. Money is definitely an issue but I found an Atlantic 27 box stove from the original owners for $125 obo. Seems like it might be a better way to go. Would changing the black stove pipe on the inside to 8" make any difference if the pipe through the roof is still 6"?

    Also what is a safe temp for the tiles below the hearth? Is there anything to worry about with tile over duroc? Plywood underneath the duroc.
  10. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    I burned a 118 clone for 18 years. I won't claim that it was as good as a real Jotul, but mine was virtually identical in design and function. Only difference might be in the quality of the castings, but that alone won't have much effect on the output a stove is capable of producing, only on the heat it is capable of holding. It rebuilt mine as well, so I know it was air-tight. It was a great little heater that was drop dead simply to use, and from its basement location, it always heated this place up to a solid 66ºF except in the coldest part of winter, at which point we would cave in and supplement with the electric backup.

    This year I found a used Vigilant in excellent shape. We have jumped up 6º in warmth on the average and have only once touched the electric thermostat. December electric bill was $128 for one of the coldest Decembers we've had in a while. So I know the stove will do the job once you get it working right and dialed in so to speak. My stove really cranks. It's 17º outside and windy as hell, but I'm typing this post from my far bedroom while sitting in me boxers and a t-shirt.

    You need to go to the 8" pipe, all the way to the top. The stove eats more wood than the Jotul, and it gulps more air as well. One of the recommendations for cutting down the draft in an excessive draft situation has been to either add a key damper in the pipe or to create a restriction at the top of the flue. A run of 6" pipe does a fine job of creating this restriction.

    As far as the bottom temp goes, yes, it seems to throw out more heat from the bottom than the 118 did. I keep a minimum of about 1 1/2 - 2" of ash in the bottom of mine, but I have picked up a 450ºF IR thermo reading from it when it was really running hard. It gets the basement cement floor up to almost 170º if it has been going full-tilt all day. I think you need to beef up the hearth, especially with those short legs.

    I have a 7" x 7" square-tiled interior masonry chimney that has the same cross-sectional area as an 8" round pipe. It is about 25' tall from the stove bottom to the cap. I think a 6" liner might work OK in my chimney as far as getting by the smoke, but I'm fairly confident it would result in less heat from the stove. I've been told by many, and have come to understand it to be true, that you really need to have a 50 sq.in. cross-sectional area - all the way to the top - to get the BTUs you want out of this stove. That may not seem right coming from a stove like the 118 that was designed for a 5" flue, but even the VC product literature tells you this. And expect it will eat more wood, that's where the extra BTUs are coming from.
  11. wellbuilt home

    wellbuilt home Minister of Fire

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    I had a vigilant stove for 4 years and thought it was a good burner .
    I gave it to my sister in 95 and she has been burning since .
    Her flue changes from 8" to 6" on top of the oval adaptor.
    Then runs up about 6' and elbows into a 8x8clay flue.
    total height is around 15' +- .
    Ive used the stove and it seemed to work OK on the 6" pipe .

    John

    .
  12. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    If the stove has short legs it may have been instaled in a fireplace where clearance to the floor was not an issue. Longer legs would be recommended check this link: http://www.woodmanspartsplus.com/4845/Wood-Coal-Stove-Parts.html I would not burn that thing on cement board covered in tile! If it's getting too hot an air space could be created by putting ceramic spacers under it or simply spaced out bricks if you want to save money. In my opinion, I would check to make sure that it's instaled up to code. It's not worth risking lives and homes over some heat. If installed correctly and in good working order the VC Vigilant should be able to heat your sister's house with no problem. If while starting up, the stove smokes it's probably because the chimney is cold and has poor draft. Tell her to burn a rolled up piece of newspaper right in front of the open damper before even attempting to light the fire. Then throw two or three pieces of newspaper on top of the starter pile and burn those before lighting the base of the fire. If after doing this the stove still smokes there's something wrong with the stove or the chimney (maybe with her set up this stove can't be connected to a 6" flue!) During warmer (30 °F and above) days it's harder to get a draft but it should be easier when it gets colder (20's and below.) I'd go on this link: http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/wiki/Vermont_Castings_Older_Stove_Models/ and check out the owner's manual for the stove to make sure it's installed according to manufacture's recommendations and go from there. Good luck and burn on!
  13. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    BBAR, I might agree with you as far as peak output. The 118 is a much more intense burner at peak burn, more efficient as well with that "S" flame path. Still, it has a much shorter burn cycle in my experience, so over the course of a 24 hour period, I think the Vig will outperform it. I routinely come down to the basement at 8AM now rather than 6AM I used to with the 118, and the Vigilant is usually still pumping out heat whereas the 118 would be almost cool to the touch with 2 hours less burn time. I've come down at 6AM with the Vig and found it to be over 300º with a nice red coal bed.

    Funny thing, the friend who gave me the 118 clone after he got the real deal Jotul stopped by today while I was out. He saw his old stove sitting outside getting rusty and then gave me a call when he got home. He said he sure wouldn't mind having it back. I told him that the top baffle was burned through as were the side baffles, and he said his Jotul is on its fourth set of sides and this year he had to hunt down a new top baffle for his as well. Seems you get about 20 years before you have to replace it. He's going to check it out to make sure the parts are interchangeable and the invest in a new top and side baffles. If so, we'll rebuild it again together. No cracks in it, so I think he might as well.

    When he asked what I got to replace it, I told him about the Vigilant. "Sweet", he said. "Real sweet".

    Only thing I wish was that I had a way to look inside it. Mine has the cast doors, so it is quite literally a "black box". With the 118, at least you can look though the draft opening to see the quality of the burn. With the Vig, it's more an act of faith since you can't see what's going on behind the fireback.

    I've been using my IR to check the temp of the block that the thermostat is screwed into. I don't start to shut the primary air down until I get a reading of over 400ºF. That seems to keep that secondary rumble going and the flue pipe thermometer above 300º.

    J118MI, I had the same problem with the intake flap sticking in the open position. If you take a set up pliers and put a very slight outward bend to the top of the intake flap, it won't catch on you like that. Tip thanks to Shane at Saratoga Masonry Supply, VC repairman extraordinaire.
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