1977 Vigilant rebuild advice please!

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New Member
Oct 17, 2017
Worcester, MA
I have a 1977 with a two piece fireback that stopped working last winter. We would build up the fire, open the secondary air, close the door, it would be at temp, but as soon as we closed the damper the fire would start to die. Upon inspection, I found that there was a gap between the bottom fireback piece and the part that completes the secondary air intake vents (proper name?) at the bottom back where the horizontal exhaust is. If the air intake is open directly to the exhaust, of course the fire was dying! I dismantled the whole thing to get at the piece, and I discovered that the clay/cement is all fallen away and crumbled. Now, I've replaced the gaskets before and did cement the top exhaust (the one that can rotate) since I could see flames between it and the firebox when the damper was open - which might indicate even more problems, but for now... Is there any sort of guide to resealing the inside? I feel like I remember how to put it all back together, but am unsure of where exactly to cement and where to leave open, nothing was sealed when I took it apart. I do have the manual, but can't find rebuild instructions, only how to clean and replace the gaskets. Please help!
hi jtreedoe welcome to the forum. i have a defiant rebuild sheet. i'm not sure if you can use it but it might give you a idea. your stove is the little brother to my stove. good luck



  • old Defiant rebuild instructions.pdf
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I know there's a publication called, "Vigilant the Inside Story" which still comes with the Vig. fireback replacement kit. Somewhere here in the archives or whatever there is a copy, maybe someone can point you to it? Ask around or have a look.
Thanks for your responses! We decided that instead of investing a ton of time and /or money in a stove that doesn't meet our needs in its best running condition (we need long burns and low maintenance) we would get a stove that was better for us. I managed to find a Jotul Black Bear for under $400. Now to find the Jotul people out there!
If this is an original F118 and it is in good condition that is a good price. Check out the side burn plates and baffle carefully for warping and cracking. If this is a new F118CB, maybe not so good. There have been issues with the secondary rack warping.
Ugh upon further inspection, you are right; the right side burn plate is cracked. Not clear in half, but in the middle. The other side burn plate fell loose during the move, going to call the wood stove store today.
Did you ever find any instructions on where to apply cement on your rebuild? I have a set of instructions that came with my defiant fireback replacement kit. If you buy a new fireback kit you should get some instructions that show you where to apply the cement.

If you need I can scan my instructions and post them here. Just let me know.

As far as the gap in the air tube intake that you mention I believe that gap is supposed to be there. It is on our 70's Defiant anyway if I am understanding you correctly. Below is a photo of the area with the gap in the intake tube on our Defiant right after the rebuild. The gap in the tube where it meets the lower fireback. Hope this helps.

1977 Vigilant rebuild advice please!
Thanks! It is a different gap on the other side. You know the bottom right corner where the exhaust is at the end of the line of the secondary air intake? If you feel along the top there is a split seam. At some point last winter it got way too hot and the pieces are warped. All the cement needs to be replaced. As this model doesn't meet our needs to begin with, we decided to get a different stove altogether. Thanks for sharing your documents tho!
one thing that has been throwing me off thinking about this you say that the vc was not meeting your needs it has a 50000 btu rating the jotul 118 has a 37533 btu rating if the vigilant was not burning long enough than the lower btu rating stove would burn less time having to keep up the temp in the room or am i missing something
just looking thru jotul doc's on the stove one page says 1500 square foot rating and another says 2000. one page says 23000 btu to other says 60000 btu how big of a fire box does this stove have?
It's a 24" deep box. We're not heating the whole house with it, and not exclusively. I live in an 8 bedroom single family. We just need it to burn thru the night so we don't have to relight it every morning.
i ask because when i looked up the stove it gave different ratings and if it was the smaller of the two and the firebox is smaller cubic foot than the vc you would have to run the stove hotter which would mean it would use the wood in the box faster and that would equal shorter burn time
Hello, I'm new to this furum. Trying to problem solve a VC. Pretty sure this is a vigilant with firebox cracks.
Will burn fast with top damper open. When closed the fire goes out. There is is some fire brick which looks like an attempts to cover cracks. Perhaps the secondary air intake was blocked? Can I order the replacement back wall and rebuild or is it likely there are many other problems? I would love to revive this stove but not if it means one thing after the other or getting way too expensive. Any thoughts?
First, does the damper still open and close normally even when the stove is hot?
Second, have you tried cleaning out behind the fireback?
Before either of those, is this a new problem just this season?