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Whitfield Advantage II auger jams

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by RideOn, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. RideOn

    RideOn New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
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    Loc:
    Northern CA
    I'm a new member here, and I just found this site last night after trying to do some research. Lots of good info, but I didn't seem to see an issue quite like mine. I got a early to mid 90's Whitfield Advantage II insert about 4 years ago. The auger had been jammed and the previous owner wasn't big on maintenance, so I got it for cheap. I got it cleared out and it has been working with no issues ever since then....until now.

    I got it all cleaned up for this winter and started running a new bag of Blazers through it and after about 15 minutes the auger becomes jammed. I can hear the motor trying to turn and the red indicator light comes on but the auger doesn't turn. If i open the hopper lid and tap on top of the auger housing it will resume dropping pellets in to the burn pot. Sometimes it will continue on for another 15 minutes and sometimes it will jam again after just a couple of turns. When I tap on it, it will usually drop some smaller pellet particles before it starts dumping pellets. The auger will run fine with no pellets in it, but will jam shortly after adding pellets. It seems like the auger motor doesn't have enough power to push the pellets all the way up and out without a jam.

    Is my auger motor worn out or are these pellets the problem. I have burned the Blazers every year and not had any issues. I have also used Golden Fires, Atlas, and Lignetics as well as a couple other brands I have picked up here and there.

    Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

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  2. Cincinnati Kid

    Cincinnati Kid Feeling the Heat

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    I previously owned an Advantage Plus insert which is just like the Advantage II except for the window. After several years, my stove quite dropping pellets into the burn pot. I did a little research on the web and found that there is a small washer on the augor motor that wears out after several years of use. I tried to replace the washer but the augor still did not turn well. I ended up replacing the augor motor for $125 or so. It was a pretty simple fix.

    You can google Whitfield maintenance on the internet and I'm fairly certain you could find detailed information on this augor repair/problem.
  3. Stovensen

    Stovensen Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2010
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    Loc:
    Denmark, EU
    RideOn,
    Before spending $125 on a new auger motor please check that the output shaft on the motor isn't just spinning where it engages the auger screw... the set screw may have become loose, and even worse... it may very well have been tightened by the previous owner, but... on the curved ( = wrong ) part of the motor shaft!!
    If that's the case, some deep tracks may have been made on the motor shaft and also inside the auger so it may be difficult to separate the motor from the auger.

    The set screw MUST be tightened facing the flat portion of the shaft. It is VERY difficult to see when the parts are assembled. One has to turn both auger motor and set screw to and fro simultaneously until the spot where the set screw can be turned most inwards, and only then tighten fully.

    The previous owner of my Quest Plus stove had a serious auger jam, in fact so serious that he had given up separating the motor from the auger and decided to sell it ( to me ).
    The photo of my old auger motor clearly shows the deep tracks made on the shaft by the set screw, when it was tightened on the wrong ( = curved ) portion of the motor shaft. Also, we can see the deep marks on the gear housing made by the previous owner, when he tried to pull the motor off with a crow bar!!!

    I got a big reduction in the price because of this serious issue, but it was a struggle to separate the motor from the auger screw.

    This is what I did: Unscrewed the set screw, the four end plate bolts and then pulled the whole assembly off the stove. With the gear housing firmly placed in a vice, I could now turn the auger screw with the hands, but first I injected my home made abrasive paste in the set screw hole.

    The recipe for my abrasive paste is simple: Quartz powder and engine oil. If you don't have any quartz powder, the paste for grinding valves in engines will do the job, too.
    After some time with turning and internal grinding, the quartz powder had done its job, and the parts could be separated. You can tell from the shining surface of the shaft that quartz powder is an efficient polishing agent.

    Good luck and keep us posted
    Bo DSC_0162.jpg
  4. imacman

    imacman Guest

    As Stovenson says above, check for slippage.

    But if that isn't the issue, these are very good quality auger motors, and relatively inexpensive....you'll need the #A901, 1.2 RPM unit....$75. They will even change the rotation direction if need be before shipping:

    http://www.gleasonavery.com/catalog/pellet-corn-stove-motors.html
  5. RideOn

    RideOn New Member

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    Nov 27, 2012
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    Loc:
    Northern CA
    Thanks for the quick responses! I am going to check for slippage/grooves tonight when I get home. That would actually make a lot of sense. It sounds like the motor is turning but the auger jams and stops completely.
  6. DirtyDave

    DirtyDave Feeling the Heat

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    western wa
    I am interested in hearing how this repair comes out.
  7. RideOn

    RideOn New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
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    Loc:
    Northern CA
    Well, I went home last night and pulled the stove insert out to do some investigating. The stove was empty and had not been run so it was cool. I turned it on and watched it run for a while, and everything looked normal. The set screw on the output shaft is tight and is not slipping at all. I removed the motor to see if there were any grooves on the shaft, but it looked brand new. I put the motor back on and continued to run it to see if the brass bushing was spinning on the shaft and it wasn't. It appeared to be functioning 100% like it should.

    I pushed the insert back in and put a couple of scoops of pellets in the hopper and fired it up. It was running good for about 10 minutes and then I noticed that it wasn't dropping pellets like it should. I watched the auger as it fed pellets up the tube but they were not falling in to the burn pot as fast as they were being fed up the tube. The fire would start to burn down and then several pellets will fall out at once and the fire would continue on for a couple of minutes and then slow down again to the point where there would be hardly any pellets burning in the pot. I left the house for 15 minutes and when I got back the fire had gone out and the auger was stopped even with the red light blinking. I pulled the insert back out to see if the motor was making noise or had any obvious issue. The auger motor was stopped completely. I tapped on the auger tube with a hammer and a bunch of pellets fell down to the burn pot and the auger motor started to work again like normal. The auger speeds are right where they should be so I don't think its over feeding. I think pellets are clumping up at the top of the auger tube and becoming lodged in there. Sometimes it clears itself out and sometimes the jam stops the auger in its tracks.

    Now i'm not sure if the motor is getting tired and doesn't have enough power to clear the pellet log jams or if the pellets themselves are the problem. Like I said I have burned Blazers for a couple of years now. This years batch seems to be a lot lighter in color and they are much more dusty than I remember the other Blazers being. I have run dirtier pellets before with little or no problems, so I am at a loss for what the real problem is. I keep my stove really clean both inside and out and I typically do one major cleaning a year. I am in northern California so I typically only run my stove from late November to early April and since me and my old lady work all day we only run it at night. Needless to say my stove doesn't get near the run time that some of you guys in colder climates are getting so it cleans up pretty easy. I burn 40lbs every 2-3 days and clean it once a week. My last option I can think of without replacing the motor is to try a different brand of pellets and see if that works. I'm going today to look for something else. That kind of sucks because my dad and I bought 2 tons of blazers from Home depot in September. His stove has no problems with them so its not a total waste, and he runs his all day long for my mom.
  8. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Standish, ME
    Auger motors have been known to get a bit tired. Some of them may be recoverable with a new lube job. Sometimes the coils develop shorts. Then there are striped gears inside the unit.

    You can get auger motors fairly cheaply if you look around.
  9. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    does the brass bushing at the bottom of the auger wobble back and forth if you try to shift it around? Sometimes the bushing wears into the steel plate it passes through, elongating the hole into an elipse shape, allowing the auger to push up against the tube and jamming itself up. Just something to look at.
    SmokeyTheBear likes this.
  10. RideOn

    RideOn New Member

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    Nope, the brass bushing is solid. There is no play in the auger at all and none of the parts appear to worn out in any way.
  11. RideOn

    RideOn New Member

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    Well I went and bought a bag of Atlas pellets last night. I cleaned the stove out and ran some of the Atlas pellets through it. It went solid for 5 hours without a single jam. I guess it was the pellets all along.
  12. Stovensen

    Stovensen Burning Hunk

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    First of all I'm glad to hear that you managed to get some stable heating in your home by switching to another brand of pellets.
    It may comfort you to hear that I've had a lot of similar auger jams lately also due to an excessive amount of fines in the bags.
    The photo below shows what I saw EVERY time I had shoveled all the pellets out of the hopper... <>
    A lot of the members here at hearth.com have made their own sifting devices, and that's a very efficient way of handling the issue once and for all.
    Unfortunately I don't have room for this, as I live in an appartement with very little storage room in the basement.

    And another thing: The fines sucked up in the vac is a waste of good BTUs;hm

    This situation is now becoming unbearable, so I did some homework... I consulted some experienced pellet burners around here with top fed stoves like our Whitfields ( Italian made pellet stoves are most common here in DK ). At least I got one advice to solve the feeding issue that definitely is worth giving a try. It's very simple: By pouring/spraying a litte vegetable oil over the pellets and fines when the hopper is almost empty, the fines will cake up and should thus be made transportable for the auger screw. It sounds plausible, doesn't it?

    Vegetable oil is very cheap and will only contribute to the BTUs... Dieselcars here in Europe run very well on vegetable oil large scale.

    Successful or not, I promise to post the results of my experiments with vegetable oil here at Hearth.com

    Fines blocking auger intake.jpg
  13. Heatsource

    Heatsource Minister of Fire

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    highly recommend replacing the bushing when doing the motor, the new nylatron bushing offers far less resistance to the motor

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