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Vigilant Install Advice

Post in 'Vermont Castings & CDW Dutchwest older Models' started by Lowellmotel, Nov 23, 2012.

  1. Lowellmotel

    Lowellmotel New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2012
    Messages:
    11
    Loc:
    SE Ohio
    Hello All,

    I am very new to this, but have been reading here for months. I am on the eve of having my vintage refurbished Vigilant (by a MA guy who is likely on this list) installed in my house by a reputable chimney sweep/stove install guy as my insurance wants this. The install guy is not familiar with vintage coal burners to let you know.

    My Vig. is pre EPA and has the coal kit installed. The stove will go into the basement of a 2000 sq ft 2 story ranch that is embedded in a hillside in SE Ohio (mostly supplementary heating). The house has all new windows and is pretty tight. I will mostly burn wood, but am inspired by coal and there is access to it. The pipe will go through the wall and up through the eve (with a "T" for easy cleaning). There was a stove here once, but installer wants to replace the thru wall kit.

    While replacing the pipe thru the block and fire brick wall, should I install an air intake from the outside with some sort of valve to regulate airflow from the outside? Any advice on this or anything else I should know about?

    I know that the type of fuel requires diff air intake needs. I want to leave the coal kit in, and am under the impression that this is ok for wood, and will only limit how much wood is in it. Is that true? Is there any way to keep my option for coal in the future? Or should a Newbie just concentrate on learning the stove as a wood burner?

    Thanks

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  2. Lowellmotel

    Lowellmotel New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2012
    Messages:
    11
    Loc:
    SE Ohio
    I also kinda want to know if there is a realistic and efficient way to switch between coal and wood. I'd like to know how, and there is a "Cool Factor" in the coal for me. My area was a big coal producer for years.. Plus, I have the means to throw a few tons of coal in the yard and kind of let it sit (not that I'm educated enough yet to know what strategy is best out of the variations of Anth. or Bit. and my regional costs). I have a chain saw and maul, and need the exercise for the rest of my heating needs (plus i live in a rural area with lots of wood).
    I picked up from reading forum posts that there is kind of a "Coal Cult", there has to be some aesthetic and history oriented Vigilant owners out there...
  3. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    1,459
    Loc:
    Southwest NH
    Sorry, no experience with coal here. All I know is the Vigilant was a great wood heater. Best of luck with the Vigilant!
  4. coaly

    coaly Fisher Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2007
    Messages:
    1,558
    Loc:
    NE PA
    I helped a neighbor install a coal kit in his Vigilant. His worked better with wood. it takes all th eair the chimney pulls through the stove intake to go through the coal bed. A coal only stove will have a secondary inlet above the fire to allow oxgen to get to the top of the fire to allow cola gas to ignite. Otherwise the oxygen is used up through the coal bed, and you are not taking advantage of the coal gas being expelled from the heated coal that gives you the blue flames on top. I believe the Vigilant accessory grates allowed sme air to bypass the center of the grate for this secondary oxygen. His idled along and wouldn't kick up like a normal coal fire in a coal stove.
    http://nepacrossroads.com/about13810.html

    Wood on coal grates burns MUCH faster getting all kinds of air through the fire. Wood needs to lay in a bed of ash, coal needs oxygen to come up through it.

    My father in law has a coal only Vigilant that works great. They have a lever you pull after starting on wood, so when the coal is ignited, (500* stove top temp) it becomes a horizontal burn / down draft through the coal bed. (You "can" burn wood in any coal stove, just not as efficiently as coal, since they are designed for coal use)
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/vc-vigilant-questions.77932/

    Bottom line is the design for burning wood is different than burning coal. Many wood stoves had kits and accessory coal burning grates, but there is no substitute for a stove designed for coal use only.
  5. Lowellmotel

    Lowellmotel New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2012
    Messages:
    11
    Loc:
    SE Ohio
    Wow,
    So do you recommend that I remove the coal kit? And if I do, should I do anything to to the stove to promote it's health and function?

    Holy wow there is a lot of information on those links. I have some serious study time coming up...

    I really appreciate the guidance!
  6. coaly

    coaly Fisher Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2007
    Messages:
    1,558
    Loc:
    NE PA
    If you want to try a bag of coal, try the coal kit. Otherwise I'd remove it for burning wood.

    8 hours of burn time on a bucket of coal is great, and it's nice not cleaning chimneys when burning coal, but there is a corrosive factor that coal does tear up chimney caps, (if you have metal) and is hard on even stainless liners. Any fly ash that sticks to the glass etches into it, (acidic) so you should wipe the glass daily if it looks like it needs it or not.

    At one time I had to buy coal or wood, so for the cost and ease of tending and work we heated with coal for a few years. (coal was also just over $100 a ton,and is now about $200) Now we own enough acreage with multiple rental homes that we can cut from, so heat, cook and heat water with wood only.

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