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WinterWarm Large installation

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by R2.0, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. R2.0

    R2.0 New Member

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    I bought a WinterWarm large insert (I believe it's a 2100 model) a number of years ago but didn't install it. I have since moved to a new-to-me house and after using 1000 gallons of fuel oil last year, installing the unit has become a high priority. Before the chorus of "get a new one" (I did a search on Winterwarm before I posted) I bought the unit for $400, it appears to be in pretty good shape, and I have owned relatively complex insert before, specifically a QuadraFire 4000 series about 10 years ago. I know this model is finicky, but the reality is that I simply cannot afford to buy a new one.

    (Note to moderators: I can split this post up if you wish; I looked in the FAQ and it was silent but most forums I frequent encourage consolidating questions.)

    I have 3 main questions:
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    1) Paint. The unit has rusted in storage (apparently my garage was not as waterproof as I expected). Mostly on the gingerbread, a little on the firebox components.

    a) Has anyone used a rust converter product? I *really* don't want to have to try to get that rust off.

    b) Has anyone painted the gingerbread a different color using regular enamel? I am considering using Hammerite which would give an excellent effect.
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    2) Chimney Diameter. I have had a sweep come in to look at the existing chimney, and it has...issues. There is a terra cotta liner, but it extends down through the smoke chamber to about 8" above the damper (which has huge gaps around it).

    a) It is 8"x12" rectangular, but it was installed 90 degrees twisted, so it doesn't line up with the opening in the stove, so I can't use the oval flex that came with the stove to get through the damper. Has anyone else seen a chimney liner installed like this?

    b) The Winterwarm manual calls for an 8" diameter liner. In order to install that the tile needs to be broken out. We could use an oval liner, but that is more expensive than the breakout and there is still the weird transition. The sweep said that a 6" liner would fit with no issues. If I go with a 6" liner, what would be the effect on stove performance? I can deal with a lower heat output - the house is pretty small - but I wouldn't do it if it would create other issues. The chimney is about 15' from bottom of the firebox to the top of the flue.
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    3) Fireplace size. My fireplace is brick masonry and is exactly 33" wide. The unit itself is exactly 33" wide. The manual calls for a 34" minimum opening. I took the top of the shroud off and the only part of the stove body that is 33" wide are the flanges on the sides of the firebox that are right above the fans. It would only interfere at the very front of the fireplace, as the whole assembly tapers back but the masonry does not.

    a) How much clearance is really necessary? I assume some of it is for expansion, but the cast iron should only expand .18" at 1000F. I could accommodate that by cutting a bit of clearance in the brick.

    b) The interference is only a problem with the unit fully inserted into the fireplace. What about pulling the unit forward about an inch? That would provide plenty of side clearance without modifications and I could put some filler in behind the gingerbread.
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  2. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I have a coworker heating his house (for many years now) with a WinterWarm Large, and he loves it. It's a capable heater.

    I can't answer your questions directly, but I can tell you how I handle stuff like this. Find a local sandblaster, most of whom will also do painting. Your best bet for finding them (other than Google) is talk to the local hotrod / speed shops and large equipment mechanics, as most of these sandblast shops do that sort of work. Get it sandblasted, and repaint with Stove Bright.

    Perhaps you should consider a SupaFlu, or similar poured-in liner. They can form to 8" round, in your existing rectangular.

    I think you already answered your own questions, here. Depending on how pretty or historic that brick is, I'd consider cutting the opening.
  3. R2.0

    R2.0 New Member

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    I hadn't thought of that. There's a welding shop just down the street that will take small jobs; if they don't blast they will know someone who does. I could also have them knock up a spacer if I decide to set the insert out a bit for clearance

    Still leaning toward the Hammerite though. :)


    That's a thought, but I have no idea who does that work around here. And to be honest, I'm getting a pretty good deal on a SS reline.


    Neither pretty nor historic; in fact I'm pretty sure it was rebuilt with newer brick at one point.
  4. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    I know what you said about not being able to afford a new one, but can you afford to repair this one every few years? These things are complex and require a lot maintenance. It's not uncommon to spend $800 every 5-6 years to keep it going! Of course you can save some money if you do it yourself. It seems like a lot of work to get it to fit in there, I just hate to see you wishing you hadn't in a few years.
  5. R2.0

    R2.0 New Member

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    $800? I know the cat needs regular replacement - $250 every 15-20 cords. I'm pretty handy, so DIY isn't a problem, but once the buggy stuff is addressed (Door fit/hinges, plugging up air leaks from empty bolt holes) what goes wrong? I've seen some comments regarding warping, but I can't help but believe that would be from over-firing.

    On a more practical note, for various reasons I am only tied to living here for another 5 years until my son goes to college. The only reason I hauled this over to this house when I moved is that I hadn't installed it yet in the old place and I only moved 3 blocks. I don't intend to take it with me when I leave. The new owner can have it along with the giant Kodiak in the basement (that's another story).
  6. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    They warp under "normal" conditions. In addition to the warping parts, gaskets everywhere, and the cat, is the refractory box that houses the cat. Its extremely fragile and most often needs replaced along with the cat.
  7. R2.0

    R2.0 New Member

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    So a follow up. After reading some of the threads on here I decided that I needed to be a bit more thorough in my install. Today I stripped down the insert to the firebox. Found the following:

    1) the whole thing is rusty all around. Is this going to be a problem? I used a wire brush and air compressor to get the surface stuff off. I have stove paint but does it really matter on the backside of the unit?

    2) broke off one of the bolts on the flue collar. I'm leaving the rest alone and hoping that 3 is enough. The rest of the hardware came off relatively easy, but it's still going to be reassembled with nickel based anti-sieze.

    3) The refractory is in pretty good shape. A couple of divots from where it stuck to the firebox. Not through and through, about half the depth. Can I fill the divots in with anything?

    4) I checked for air leaks and found one at a cemented joint. Just squirt some cement in there and let it set up?

    5) The catalytic combustor is not clogged but it has bulged a little. It still fits in the refractory. Should I be concerned?

    I am in the process of scraping the cement out of the gasket channels. There's 1/16" to 1/8" of the stuff everywhere. Per another thread I'm going to hit it with some Kroil and let that soak and then use a rotary wire brush.

    I also got a temperature probe for the catalyst. It's an Inconel clad type K thermocouple with 6' of stainless steel armored cable. I already have a DMM that can read it. I also have a PLC temperature controller I both years ago for another project. I can at least use it to alarm if cat or flue temps get too high.

    Would photos of the rebuild process be welcomed?
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013
  8. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Most definitely.

    I've not seen anyone repair refractory here, but I'd also be interested in this. It seems the usual route is replacement of any damaged refractory components.
  9. R2.0

    R2.0 New Member

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    OK. I'll snap some pics. I went ahead and blacked the stove exterior - it didn't take that long, though I am a little high from the fumes.;sick I have the misc parts soaking in rest remover in the ash pan - kill two birds, etc.

    The gasket cement has turned out to be a real pain. Stuff is like epoxy. I've been hitting it with a wire wheel, Dremel grinder, even chipping with a prick punch to get into the corners. I bought some chainsaw sharpening stones today and will use them to clean up the channels from the occasional, uh, excursion with a Dremel grinding wheel.;em

    As for the refractory, I'm giving that some consideration. One of the things I found were various recipes and techniques for cast refractory material, including DIY. My initial thought was to build a mold and cast a new refractory to match the old. But then it dawned on me that it might be easier to simply cast it in place. If what I'm envisioning would work it might make people's lives a LOT happier.
    Joful likes this.
  10. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

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    If you have damper linkage problems the stove becomes useless. Some parts are not available anymore for this unit:(, I had to scrap 2 of them this year. If the unit is in great shape you will reap good heat if properly maintained. That's my .02:cool:
  11. R2.0

    R2.0 New Member

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    It appears that the linkage is all there, and in reasonably good shape - no obvious bends that are not supposed to be there. Given the construction I can see where the problems lie though. Those little locking nuts are insufficient for the task; heat cycling will work them loose, and after that I can see bad things happening when the rods pop out of place. So I see some Loctite or lock wire in my future. I'm also going to find some high temp lubricant and make sure the bearing points all move freely.
  12. R2.0

    R2.0 New Member

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    Just an update since it's been a while. I have pictures but forgot to get the memory card out of the camera, so I'll post those later.

    Per last post I soaked the cast iron and steel linkage pieces in rust remover, as well as some other small pieces from the interior. Interesting results on the latter - the parts that had turned red stayed that way, so there is something else besides normal rust happening there. The other pieces were removed and dried over heat, which was probably a bad idea because they formed a bit of flash rust. Quick brush with a SS wire brush and then shot the pieces with a flat black spray paint. I didn't use stove paint because I don't think they will reach a temperature to cure. On the other hand, they may get hot enough so that the spray paint degrades - we'll see.

    I started assembling the linkages on Saturday. Threads on hot items got nickel bases Never-Seez. I only loosely assembles the wires and locknuts - I want to get them adjusted and then hit with Loctite or double nutted. Bearing surfaces got lithium grease, which I will likely remove and replace with Never-Seez - despite the fact that the crap gets *everywhere*, it deals with high temps better than the lithium grease. I operated the linkages to look for binding and found 2 problems. First, the tie rod on the left front of the stove was standing proud of the nut and just hitting one of the control arms; 30 seconds with a Dremel took care of that. But worse was the "Screech Screech" from the thermostat housing. Fuuuuuu..... I didn't remove the housing because it is sealed with cement and I didn't want to mess with it. But then I thought of hearing that noise every...single...time I used the fireplace. So out came the tools, off came the cover, and into the rust bath it went. I also checked the cement - yep, hard as iron, which means I'm grinding it off. I ended Saturday farther behind than when I started.

    Sunday I spent painting and grinding. I used a Dremel with a chainsaw sharpening stone (small diameter), some larger stones for the door gasket channels, and rotary wire brushes. By the end of the day (ok, I was also watching Archer) I had clean gasket channels, grinding stones shaped into vaguely phallic forms, and incipient silicosis. I also ordered stove cement and a digital thermometer for the thermocouples - I'm also putting one on either the flue or on the stove top, as I can't figure where I would place a magnetic.

    I also brushed off the SS plates on the door and found that I have a 1280 and not a 2100. Or a door from a 1280, because the fans are the later style with the elastomeric tubing for mounts. Didn't see CFM, either.

    An intermediate observation: This thing looks like it was was assembled by a troop of drunk monkeys kicked out of the Shakespeare typewriter project because they weren't intelligent enough. Some of the gasket cement was 1/4" thick, and the alignment of some of the pieces is just...yikes.

    And how the HELL do I get the front grating out of this thing?!
  13. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

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    Facing stove left side up and in then out.
    Rather humorous post:) Can't wait to see pics:rolleyes:
  14. R2.0

    R2.0 New Member

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    Ask and ye shall receive.

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  15. R2.0

    R2.0 New Member

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    Ok, here's a dumb question - are the tie rods supposed to be there? Because with them in place I can't see how that that thing is supposed to come out.
  16. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

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    A dumb question is the one that is not asked. Yes the tie rods belong there (do not remove). Nice photos and work, try to jiggle it, it should go in and out easy. it looks like it was forced in upside down, not sure from the photos.
  17. R2.0

    R2.0 New Member

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    I'm going with upside down. There is no "jiggle" involved - it moves up about 1/2" and jams. Won't move forward or back or rotate. I might need to remove the tie rod just to get it out and then reinstall it.
  18. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

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    I think you are on the right track. Left side should lift up easy. The more I look at it, seems to be not in correctly.
  19. R2.0

    R2.0 New Member

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    "Ok, I'm going with 'Drunk Monkeys in Manufacturing', Alex."

    Undid the tie rods, pulled out the bars, put the tie rods back in. Tried putting the bars back in. No go. Flip over - no go. Swap end for end - definitely no go.

    I'm starting to think there's some warpage I can't see or some tolerance stacking that is not working out in my favor. The bars seem like they are either 1/8" too long, or the box is 1/8" too narrow. When I put the right side into the socket under the latch box, the left side should simply drop in. But it doesn't.
  20. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    ;lol;lol;lol
  21. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

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    I warned you about the tie rods!!:eek:
  22. R2.0

    R2.0 New Member

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    Umm, ok, what did I do? I thought the "do not remove" was regarding permanent removal. I'm guessing from the reaction I was incorrect.
  23. R2.0

    R2.0 New Member

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    Another update. Got my stove cement so I started prepping for sealing the box. I cleaned up the joints with a sanding drum on the Dremel and then chased them out a bit with a cute little abrasive flapper-finger-thingy. Expensive but worked well to get the loose stuff out. I then applied the furnace cement to the inside of the seams. I started with a putty knife but changed to just using my fingertip. Got all the inside seams packed well and are drying.

    I also started installing gaskets on the pieces I took out - again, fingers worked better than the tube tip. I also discovered the gasket cement left inside the stove for the upper fireback. Nothing like 2 hours on your back, head inside a stove, grinding and chipping gasket cement 6" from your nose - I'm going to be blowing black snot for a week.

    Now, for a question. I want to seal the outside of the seams as well. But I also painted them with stove paint. Do I need to strip to bare metal before I apply? I'm concerned that the outgassing from the stove paint will lift the stove cement under it. And I can't feasibly cure the paint and then seal it - the box gets a shroud and then into the fireplace, and I'm not inclined to pull it back out.

    Though that does bring up another question. Could I just bring the shell outside with no internals and light a fire inside of it to cook off the paint? Without the baffles or chimney I'm imagining it would pretty much be just a campfire in a box. Any special precautions? I can't imagine overfiring it that way.

    And finally, attached are pics of the opening for the secondary air thermostat. I saw in another thread on a VC stove rebuild that the opening should be about 3/8" at room temp. This is obviously way more than that. Anyone know if this is spec? It's not something that is easily adjustable after installation.

    DSCF0339.JPG
  24. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I believe the manufacturer typically applies the gasket cement right over the paint. Of course, this advice is free, so take it for what it's worth!
  25. R2.0

    R2.0 New Member

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    I think I've pretty much decided on taking the stove back outside and firing it to cure the paint. It was a lot easier to get inside than I expected, and the prospect of cooking it off inside the house isn't attractive. I'll use a thermocouple to monitor the temperature to make sure I'm not over firing it. I'll also experiment with the cement and see how well it seals over stove paint. If it looses adhesion or spalls off, no big loss - I just reapply over the now-cured paint.

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