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Whitfield Advantage II--Half the Burn Pot Doesn't Burn

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by susb8383, Jan 20, 2011.

  1. Stovensen

    Stovensen Burning Hunk

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    The burn was asymmetrical all the time until I plugged the ignitor-hole.

    The ash clog in your exhaust "manifold" can most likely contribute to an uneven airflow above the burnpot, so cleaning that area is very important to ensure good draft.

    From reading this thread I understand that your Advantage Plus has a different ducting in the housing between the heatexchangertubes and the combustionblowerhousing ( AKA "the exhaust manifold" ). A Quest Plus is rather difficult to clean in this area, since it can't be dismantled... I'll have to use a long bottlecleanerbrush and a homemade hose for the vac. This cleaning, however, is very effective... the stove works like brand new after each cleaning.

    It's very easy to plug the igniter-hole. All you need is a bolt and nut of the right size.

    Safety first... if you're planning to unplug the ignitor as well, take care... first unplug the mains, and the "hot" connectors to the ignitor must be insulated properly and fastened to something, so that they by no means can get to touch anything :exclaim:

    Good luck
    Bo

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  2. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    You know, you got me thinking. Today I tried the leaf blower thing after plugging up the vertical pipe. I expected a big cloud of ash like I saw on Youtube, but I hardly got anything.

    Maybe I'm chasing a mythical clog. Maybe the problem is the combustion blower or something and the burn pot has a problem all around. But I don't notice it on the left because of the ignitor air leak as you mentioned. Also one of the bars in our ultra grate has come loose on one side, so there's a bigger hole. This is also on the left side of the burn pot which probably means the pellets fall through before being burned thoroughly.

    Well, tomorrow (hopefully) I'm going to take out the combustion blower and try to clean down that passage as much as I can, as you suggested. I was hoping that the leaf blower would do this for me because every time I take off the combustion blower, there's a chance the gasket will break and buying those things add up. But I'll give it a shot. I might just buy a new combustion blower for good measure.

    --Susie
  3. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Sheesh, well I replaced the door gasket. And that made it worse!!

    Now I can't get it to light at all. It ignites for a second but then never really catches.

    So...my theory is that my door gasket was so bad before that it made up for its other problems. Now that I have a tight seal, it accentuates whatever caused the problem in the first place.

    My next plan is to replace the combustion blower.
  4. arnash

    arnash New Member

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    Yeah, it might be the combustion blower, but don't replace it until you connect it to an electrical outlet to see if it runs normally. If it does, then there's another problem. If it works the same outside of the stove as inside then it should produce a strong wind to the burn pot. My burn pot flame looks like there's a wind storm blowing through it, even with the damper opened only about a quarter of an inch (that's about the size of a big postage stamp).

    As for getting the flame going, you must be referring to using an electrical igniter since manual fire-starting can make a flame of any size determined by the amount of combustible material used. But what I'm guessing that you're referring to, without saying it, is that the flame is not being stoked enough by blower air to make it aggressive. My blower has done something similar a few times when it took way too many seconds for the blower to start spinning, meanwhile the flame was "lazy" and smokey. I don't know what caused the delay. What you can do is prep the burn pot with your fire-starter material, turn on the stove and see if the blower starts immediately. If you can manually close the damper all the way, do that and then light the pot, close the door and open the damper and make sure that pellets feed into it.
  5. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    You have to be certain you have a really good fire going before closing the door.

    The fastest and easiest way to get a good fire going is to use a gas torch.
  6. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Well, what happened is that it started off normal: when it ignited I got a good size flame. But instead of it slowly spreading through the pellets in the burn pot, it just burned out where it was.

    I can tell that the exhaust fan is working on the 5 different speeds. But it doesn't seem like that strong a wind to me. Also as it's spinning on 3, for example, suddenly it backs off for a few seconds and then back to where it was before (I could hear it slow down).

    I wish there was some way to test the wind coming out of the fan so I know if it's working properly or not.
  7. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Get one of these: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=magnehelic

    ETA: You likely should have kept the door open a bit longer until you had a larger area of pellets burning and a few coals glowing. You have a fresh gasket on the stove so it doesn't allow the same amount of air into the unit that it was getting before.

    If I don't pay attention to the amount of involved pellets and coals when I manually light the stove will go out as it is only idling the combustion blower until either loss of vacuum or fire is detected.
  8. arnash

    arnash New Member

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    "ETA: You likely should have kept the door open a bit longer until you had a larger area of pellets burning and a few coals glowing."

    Yes, I learned that lesson today when only half my burn pot ignited before I quickly closed the door. The un-lit side just wouldn't ignite even though it had several drops of lamp oil to help it. It took quite a while before the flame finally spread to the other side. ( Perhaps a few more drops of lamp oil would have helped.) So it's important to make sure that at least 2/3rds of the pot is burning to get the fire going good. I'll start using my self-igniting propane torch as soon as I find where I put it.
    As for your blower output, it should be substantial since blower motors aren't weaklings. Could you have a problem with your damper not being open far enough? That would cut down on the flow to the pot.
  9. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Hi,

    Well you're right, leaving the door open longer solved the problem with it not igniting.

    But...I've got a bigger problem.

    Way back near the beginning of this thread, I posted this:
    This really is a huge problem; it gets way too hot. We have the exhaust fan on 1, the room blower fan on 5, and the damper at the recommended 2 inches. And it's still really hot. So hot that when I accidentally touched the pellet bag to the top of the hopper, it immediately burned a slash through the bag. My brand new heat baffle which has only been in there for a few weeks, now looks like this:

    [​IMG]

    In trying to trouble shoot my half burn pot, I think I uncovered the heat problem. I put my vacuum on blow and held it to the hole behind the plug, to try to figure out if I really do have a clog. I could feel some air coming out from behind the heat exchanger tubes so I don't think I have a clog after all. So then I did something that probably isn't recommended...I opened up the right side panel and stuck my hand inside. I wanted to see if I could feel any air coming in there. Well I did feel air moving, but it wasn't from my vacuum. It's from the room blower fan.

    I could feel it with the fan on 1 and I could really feel it with the fan on 5. It seems to be coming from the panel on the inside of the stove, behind the burn chamber, where the auger shoot is. Don't know if this picture is clear enough or not:

    [​IMG]

    I assume I'm not supposed to feel air blowing in the back of my stove, correct? That would explain the heat problem, wouldn't it? Even though the room blower fan is working fine, this leak would mean that the fan isn't directing all the air where it should be going, correct?

    So what do I do now? I suppose I have to remove that little panel, which I've been reluctant to do. Never took it off before. Actually never noticed it was there before.

    Any advice?

    Thanks, Susie
  10. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Susie,

    The area around the drop chute should be sealed it could be a direct shot into the fire box if things aren't sealed elsewhere (I don't know where the seals are on that stove).

    One should look at all firebox penetrations.

    ETA: Turn down the pellet feed.
  11. arnash

    arnash New Member

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    The room blower wouldn't be the cause of the air movement you felt except by causing air movement into the blower, sucking surrounding air in. That will result in a slight breeze near the blower. If the strength of the room air blower is plenty strong, then the excess heat output can only be from excess pellet feed. Too much fuel produces too much heat. If my auger is set to maximum, it runs non-stop without pauses and feeds so many pellets to the pot that the fire gets too strong. It sounds like your fire is too hot, probably because of too fast of a pellet feed-rate
  12. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Well, we did replace the auger motor last year and we both thought that the new motor has a higher rpm than the old. And we noticed that with this new motor, even after the light on the control panel goes out, we can still hear it winding down. We really didn't start having this overheating issue until this last batch of pellets which are better quality than what we had last year. Maybe it's combination of the two.

    But how do I know it isn't also a problem with the blower air leaking out? The place I feel the air coming out isn't right near the blower. And the higher I put the blower, the stronger I feel the air.

    If it is just a problem with the pellet feed, is the only way to fix it to buy a new auger motor? We've already tweaked the dials in the control panel so that the auger is at the lowest setting and the blower is at the highest. Having it be too hot when the combustion setting is 1 and the blower is 5 is a huge difference. You'd think that if the problem were just the feed rate, then maybe 1 & 2 or 1 & 3 would have problems, but 1 & 5?
  13. Stovensen

    Stovensen Burning Hunk

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    Susie,

    When I bought my Quest Plus three years ago, I changed the auger motor, since the old one was mechanically worn out ( not electrically, though ).

    The old auger motor was an ECM with 220 V, 50 hz, 1 RPM clearly written on it. See Photo.

    The new auger motor is a Merkle and Korff with only a kode written on it. See photo.

    I bought the new motor from a dealer here in Denmark and, being no expert in Whitfield stoves, he couldn't guarantee that it was the right one as for RPMs and the direction of rotation.

    So, I benchtested it and it turned out that the MK is a 1.5 RPM with the correct direction of rotation.

    It works fine, but obviously the pellet feed trimpot on the controlboard has to be tweeked down constantly. Just like on yours.

    Now, who knows the exact RPMs of your auger motor? If it's more than 1.5 RPM I guess that would explain the excessive heat produced by your stove.

    Take care, If you're making a benchtest. 120 V can be dangerous.

    Another less dangerous way is to take some photos of the code written on your new auger motor and post them here... then I'm sure some of the nice people in here will be able to translate the code.
    Bo

    Attached Files:

  14. arnash

    arnash New Member

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    I wonder if you're noticing the important levels of the main operations that affect stove heat production. The main level to judge is the volume of pellets being dumped into the burn pot. If the volume isn't excessive, just moderate, and the stove is too hot, then the heat produced isn't being expelled by the blower.

    The second level to judge is the size of the burn pot fire. If it's large, then a lot of heat is being produced normally but only because it's being fed with lots of pellets.

    The third level to judge is the volume of air that the room blower is sending through the heat-transfer tubes. If the air speed seems weak then the blower isn't operating at it's normal capacity. It might need oiling. If there's air being felt in the back interior of the stove, that may be a deliberate design feature to cool components, but if so, the question would be as to whether or not too much air is being "diverted" to the back. If you can learn more about your stove, you should be able to figure-out if it's not operating normally. If you have an owner's manual and haven't really studied it , now is the time.
  15. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    The flame is enormous! When the combustion setting is 1, the flame is as big as it used to be with the old auger/pellets on 5. So I think you're right about too many pellets being fed.

    Let me see if I can dig up some info on the old and new auger motors....
  16. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Whitfield produced stoves that require 1 RPM (frequently not exactly 1 RPM) auger motors and 5.5 RPM motors, perhaps you got the wrong one, google and the numbers on that auger motor might answer the question.

    ETA: And likely others but those were the common replacements I found when looking.
  17. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Ok, the original motor that came with the stove was 1 RPM, 60 HZ, 55 Amps.

    It looks like the new one I bought is also 1 RPM. I don't know the other numbers. I had bought it off eBay and the details are now gone, but I can still see the description in my Paypal history as "AUGER FEED MOTOR for WHITFIELD PELLET STOVE - 1 RPM." It was from pelletstoveparts.com. This is the only auger motor for Whitfield that I see on their website, so I'm pretty sure it was a CW Maxi-torque:
    http://www.pelletstoveparts.com/mm5...PSP&Product_Code=PP7000&Category_Code=Advplus

    As I mentioned, one weird thing about the new motor is that after the red light goes off, we can still hear it winding down for a second or so. Is that normal?

    So since both are 1 RPM, that doesn't explain my problem, right?
  18. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Really need the numbers off of the motor to verify.

    Website descriptions have been known to be wrong.

    I can show you page after page of messed up descriptions on big box sites.
  19. arnash

    arnash New Member

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    Could the problem be that the rotation-speed controller is actually not working and it's operating at full-speed all the time? Does the speed knob control the motor directly or is there an electronic component that controls the power to the auger, (which gets a signal from the control knob)? Perhaps the speed control potentiameter is burned-out. I have a variable pot. light switch which I used to replace a light switch, but it's variable-current coil was blown, so it only worked at full power. Perhaps the same thing has happened to your auger speed pot.
  20. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    You could mark a part of the auger or the motor output shaft with a marker, then watch it when it runs. At 1 RPM, it should take (TA DA!) one minute to make a full revolution. If it only runs 30 seconds, it should make ½ turn. You might need to use a stopwatch, starting and stopping it as the motor starts and stops. With a minute of accumulated time, the auger should have turned only one turn. Doing this will eliminate any question of the correctness of the motor. There are a lot of variables in play here, so eliminating them one by one will eventually get you to the problem.
    The service manual might provide some help with the auger feed speeds. My St Croix has an 11.5 second cycle time, and the various feeds have certain time spans for the auger to run. For instance, at low speed it will run 1.5 seconds out of every 11.5 seconds, and so on. (How they got these times I don't know…) You might be able to find similar information for your stove. If everything checks out with the feed systems, then you know the problem is elsewhere.
    If your motor is variable speed, then the stopwatch part of this post obviously doesn't apply.
  21. arnash

    arnash New Member

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    You need to check to see if the slower auger speeds take longer than 1 minute. If it only operates a 1 rpm, then it's running at full speed all the time. That will generally over-feed the burn pot and result in the excessive amount of flame and heat.
  22. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Sigh...it seems every time I try to check something I find something else that's wrong...

    So I opened up the back to check the auger label. It looks as it should: 60hz, 120v, 1rpm. But, when I removed the back, I found that there was a covering of wood dust collecting in that section. The auger motor itself had a layer on it, including the round part that spins (not the shaft, but that thing that resembles a washer coming out of the motor itself.)

    I think that explains the weird sound. For a long time, even after the auger light went off, the motor itself would 'wind down,' kind of like an engine that's about to stall. It would do that for about a second after the light went off. Depending on the setting, sometimes it was still making that sound when the light came on for the next burst.

    I took a paper towel and wiped off the gunk and then watched it run. It didn't make that sound anymore. Which makes me think that the crud was making it so that the motor wasn't stopping instantly even though it no longer had power.

    Don't know if that's related to the heat problem or not. I also found that the dial on the control panel for the combustion air was set at the maximum.

    But getting back to the crud itself: a year ago I had removed the auger screw because we thought we had a clog. I thought I put all back as it was. It spins freely. But now I watched it closely and I can see that some debris is falling out from the circle around the auger screw. Each time it turns, a little big of wood dust falls out.

    I don't know if all of these problems are related or not. But I know that I need to figure out why this dust is falling out and, once that's remedied, clean off the auger motor, turn down the combustion air dial, and see if that's any better.

    So....my new question is does anyone know why debris is falling out where the auger screw turns? It must be something that I did when I took at the screw and put it back, but what I don't know. Any suggestions?

    Sigh again...by the time I get all these problems resolved, it'll be spring!
  23. Stovensen

    Stovensen Burning Hunk

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    Susie,

    Safety First... the most serious issue your Advantage Plus stove has, is by far the leak somewhere leading to flying embers in front of the stove.

    I just got an idea to make a simple but efficient tool to leak-test the heat exchanger tubes. It requires a bit of soldering i'm afraid, but the tester can be made of these simple components:

    One 1.5 Volt AA cell

    One 1.5 Volt bulb

    Two thin insulated electrical wires about two feet each.

    The insulation on the tips of the wires is now removed and soldered properly between the bulb and AA cell, so the bulb is lit. A piece of insulation tape is also needed around the bulb so it won't get shorted when used during the leak test.

    Now, turn off any disturbing light around your stove and lower the "light probe" slowly down through the exchanger tubes one at a time while you very carefully are observing for any light passing through any possible leaks/cracks. This light-test should be able to reveal even very small leaks in the tubes.

    Before making the test, the exterior surface of the tubes should be cleaned for fly ash, so it won't block the light in case there is/are any leaks. Let's hope not.

    BTW, that debris falling from the lower auger bushing also was an issue on my Quest Plus before I changed the nylatron bushing... a large gap/clearence between the augershaft and endplate allowed a lot of fines/saw dust to drop down inside the stove. Some of these fines would get sucked up by the roomblower, since its intake is right next to the augershaft on my Quest Plus. Perhaps this could explain the flying embers? But fines passing through the heat exchanger system most likely wouldn't get ignited. Just saw dust flying around in front of the stove.

    Did you also change the nylatron bushing ( and end-plate ? ) when you changed the augermotor?

    Good luck and keep us posted
    Bo
  24. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Hi,

    I still haven't been able to figure out how to access the ends of the heat exchanger tubes. Anyone with an Advantage, feel free to chime in. If that panel comes off, they don't make it obvious how to do it.

    Incidentally the stray spark wasn't anywhere near where the air blows out. It was at the left side of the stove, near where the side panel connects. Could this have been caused by a hole in the tubes? Or maybe because my center fire brick is so worn?

    I never saw any kind of bushing on the auger. Is that something that's visible normally or would I only see that if I took the auger screw out? As I recall, there was just the shaft, the screw, and the end plate.
    Hmm...I see that the service manual for the Advantage IIT (I have an Advantage Plus, but it's probably the same) mentioned an oilite bushing for the auger. Hmm...

    [edit] Oh, sorry, didn't answer your question. Nope, I didn't replace anything with the auger. Just removed it, checked for a clog (which there wasn't), and put everything back.
  25. susb8383

    susb8383 Member

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    Saw this from another post (the owner has an Advantage II):
    "So, I ordered the lower bushing with plate from Lennox. The new plate is “upgraded†with a plastic bushing that has a nut on the back side. My old bushing wobbled in the plate so I was happy to see that it could be locked down. I am not sure how long that plastic bushing will hold up, but we will see. The bushing seemed to be installed backwards on the plate. The nut was on the inside of the plate so that, once installed, the pellets were getting crunched up against it. Mike, I found a picture on your site that showed the nut on the motor side of the plate and reinstalled it correctly. That seemed to do the trick. "

    Maybe they've improved the bushing? I didn't really notice a bushing as I mentioned, but that's probably because it sounds like the old one is brass.

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