2022/23 VC Owner thread

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Jimmy C

Member
Jan 30, 2020
120
Guilford, CT
I don't know how I never knew this? I didn't see anything in the manual about it either. If you don't mind, you are referring to the "opening" above the primary air intake in my picture? I never took anything off/on here, I assume mine is open?

View attachment 301878
Likely. Your stove is much newer than mine (2550), so the design for secondary air is different.
 

xanadu1797

Member
Nov 12, 2015
16
Eastern PA
It is on the back of the stove above primary air flap. There is a panel that covers it, which can be taken off by two screws. The secondary air flap is controlled by a bimetallic coil (much like one used in a stovetop thermometer) that opens and closed the flap based on the temperature in the secondary burn chamber. In theory at least.
Mine appears to not have any kind of slider that opens and closes. Encore 2040
 

NewGuy132

Member
Jan 22, 2021
160
Central MA
It seems like my CAT still isn't lighting off. Last night I got a fire going and let it burn down to coals. I pushed the hot coals to the back of the stove and added 4 splits. I gave them 15 minutes or so to catch and closed the damper. It got up to and stayed around 550. I turned the air down and it remained about 550. Once that burned down I loaded up before I went to bed. Again I moved all of the coals to the back and this time I added 3 splits. I waited 10 minutes (these took off faster because the stove was still fairly warm) and closed the damper. This time the cat went to 600 fairly quickly and over the next 5-10 minutes climbed to the mid 700's. After about 5 minutes sitting in the 700's I closed the air down to 1/2. The wood had been in the stove for about 25 minutes at this point and the damper closed for about 15 minutes. The cat dropped to the mid 500's again and I went to bed so I wasn't watching it. I did however wake up 6 hours later and the cat was still reading 120. That was kind of impressive to me being a little stove with just 3 splits.

Tonight/tomorrow/this weekend I am going to pull out the cat and take a look at it. It was just out 2 fires ago and seemed fine. It had a couple plugged holes (10 or so) on the bottom so I flipped it so they would at the top to hopefully burn the stuff our of them.

Anyone have any ideas? Could it be a CAT stall if I was able to easily get the CAT to 700+ and hold it there for 5 minutes or so? I didn't treat it the best last year, but my chimney sweep cleaned it up and its still in decent physical shape.
 

Mreif

New Member
Dec 15, 2020
5
Chester county pa
New guy, try pulling the cat and vacuum out inside the of the secondary chamber underneath where the cat sits. Also make sure those 6 or 8 little holes aren't clogged with fly ash. My encore was doing the same thing and this worked for me.
 

t0asty

New Member
Oct 12, 2021
64
NJ
This time the cat went to 600 fairly quickly and over the next 5-10 minutes climbed to the mid 700's. After about 5 minutes sitting in the 700's I closed the air down to 1/2. The wood had been in the stove for about 25 minutes at this point and the damper closed for
my biggest suggestion is not to turn the air down 1/2 way when its in the 700's. Do you have a stove top temperature gauge (magnetic one). You need to have a small bed of coals and then get the fire really going with air open unrestricted. See if it will climb up into the 1000 range before restricting air. Are you using nice seasoned wood?
 

Diabel

Minister of Fire
Jan 11, 2008
3,667
Ottawa, ON
my biggest suggestion is not to turn the air down 1/2 way when its in the 700's. Do you have a stove top temperature gauge (magnetic one). You need to have a small bed of coals and then get the fire really going with air open unrestricted. See if it will climb up into the 1000 range before restricting air. Are you using nice seasoned wood?
^^^^^^ What he said
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,471
Woolwich nj
It seems like my CAT still isn't lighting off. Last night I got a fire going and let it burn down to coals. I pushed the hot coals to the back of the stove and added 4 splits. I gave them 15 minutes or so to catch and closed the damper. It got up to and stayed around 550. I turned the air down and it remained about 550. Once that burned down I loaded up before I went to bed. Again I moved all of the coals to the back and this time I added 3 splits. I waited 10 minutes (these took off faster because the stove was still fairly warm) and closed the damper. This time the cat went to 600 fairly quickly and over the next 5-10 minutes climbed to the mid 700's. After about 5 minutes sitting in the 700's I closed the air down to 1/2. The wood had been in the stove for about 25 minutes at this point and the damper closed for about 15 minutes. The cat dropped to the mid 500's again and I went to bed so I wasn't watching it. I did however wake up 6 hours later and the cat was still reading 120. That was kind of impressive to me being a little stove with just 3 splits.

Tonight/tomorrow/this weekend I am going to pull out the cat and take a look at it. It was just out 2 fires ago and seemed fine. It had a couple plugged holes (10 or so) on the bottom so I flipped it so they would at the top to hopefully burn the stuff our of them.

Anyone have any ideas? Could it be a CAT stall if I was able to easily get the CAT to 700+ and hold it there for 5 minutes or so? I didn't treat it the best last year, but my chimney sweep cleaned it up and its still in decent physical shape.

So part of this is throwing me off. I dont go by time or wood placed into the stove. This is why its hard for me to understand. I go by temperature. The temperature of the flue and stove. Your going to need to make sure your flue temps are high enough to maintain draft to light the cat off and same for the stove temperature. Sometimes my stove is close to 500 and the flue is not quite warm enough, that being said, I need to wait. If its a cooler reload your going to need to get things back up to temp, If its a hot reload things are much easier
Do you have bimetal thermometers on the stove.. 1 on the stove pipe and 1 on the stove.. and if so.. when you close the bypass.. what does the thermometer on the stovepipe read

I just finished reading the rest of this thread. as stated above
I agree ..your also turning the air back to fast.. let the cat get up to temp.. like 1000 degrees is good before you cut the air back
 

bert670

Member
Mar 19, 2021
49
Hudson Valley, NY
Anyone have any similar situations with the newer VC’s? My Dauntless is loaded for the night, but the cat seems to be really taking off and causing a abnormal airflow, almost like it’s sucking air in. I have my bypass closed and the air control is 1 or 2 clicks from fully closed off. Usually in this setting the stove is just smoldering, and the cat gauge is at about the mid section. Right now the cat gauge is maxed out. The oddest part is the stove top temp is below average for the amount of air flow that seems to be going on inside the firebox.



 

NewGuy132

Member
Jan 22, 2021
160
Central MA
So part of this is throwing me off. I dont go by time or wood placed into the stove. This is why its hard for me to understand. I go by temperature. The temperature of the flue and stove. Your going to need to make sure your flue temps are high enough to maintain draft to light the cat off and same for the stove temperature. Sometimes my stove is close to 500 and the flue is not quite warm enough, that being said, I need to wait. If its a cooler reload your going to need to get things back up to temp, If its a hot reload things are much easier
Do you have bimetal thermometers on the stove.. 1 on the stove pipe and 1 on the stove.. and if so.. when you close the bypass.. what does the thermometer on the stovepipe read

I just finished reading the rest of this thread. as stated above
I agree ..your also turning the air back to fast.. let the cat get up to temp.. like 1000 degrees is good before you cut the air back
Sorry about the delay, I guess I'm only on here during work hours😂 . Unfortunately I can't do a flue temp as my install is in a fireplace and I have a blockoff plate installed. All I have to go by is the digital CAT readout via Auber and a STT from an IR thermometer. At one point I got the CAT in the 800's for about 10 minutes, but at that point my STT was sitting around 650 and I try to keep it below that so I turned the air down.

I'll play with it later tonight. It is a cold one so I expect the wife to start a fire today as she is working form home and I'll take over once I get home.

Worst case scenario I keep on top of cleaning my chimney to make sure I don't have a chimney fire. I plan on ordering a SootEater in the next week or two. Maybe I'll just clean it once a month or so just to be on the safe side. It isn't like this little stove is capable of 24X7 burning anyway.
 

NewGuy132

Member
Jan 22, 2021
160
Central MA
my biggest suggestion is not to turn the air down 1/2 way when its in the 700's. Do you have a stove top temperature gauge (magnetic one). You need to have a small bed of coals and then get the fire really going with air open unrestricted. See if it will climb up into the 1000 range before restricting air. Are you using nice seasoned wood?
So this is how I have been operating it so far this year. I am open to suggestions. I get a fire going and start with a 2 medium sized splits. I let these burn down to coals. Then I rake coals to the back of the stove, add more wood, wait for it to catch/char(STT 500+) and close the damper. My typical STT with the air shut down about 1/2 way is 550-625.

The wood is Maple that I cut/split/stacked/covered spring 2021. The MC when tested on a fresh split is in the high teens. The wood sounds dry when I toss it from my stack to the driveway and catches quickly. I could be wrong, but I don't think that it is the wood.
 

Kevin Weis

Minister of Fire
Mar 3, 2018
1,050
Union Bridge, Md
Some of this may be your bed of coals isn't big enough. Believe the VC manual says 3" deep bed of coals. 3" is a lot and that 3" bed needs to be maintained. That's not necessarily an easy task. I think a misnomer here is that once the cat is activated above 500 degrees and is lighted it only needs smoke feed to it to keep it activated and not so much heat from the flue gases. I believe the manual states this or at least eludes to this. My experience is that the flue gas to the cat needs to have the temp maintained above 500 to keep the cat active, not just the smoke.
 

Jimmy C

Member
Jan 30, 2020
120
Guilford, CT
Anyone have any similar situations with the newer VC’s? My Dauntless is loaded for the night, but the cat seems to be really taking off and causing a abnormal airflow, almost like it’s sucking air in. I have my bypass closed and the air control is 1 or 2 clicks from fully closed off. Usually in this setting the stove is just smoldering, and the cat gauge is at about the mid section. Right now the cat gauge is maxed out. The oddest part is the stove top temp is below average for the amount of air flow that seems to be going on inside the firebox.



View attachment 302738
Welcome to the world of overfiring your CAT. This will consume you for the next few years as try different solutions and create new sets of problems. I have noticed when my wood was not as dry as the stove would like i would get smoldering/ low temps in the fire box and sometimes CAT shooting temps up.
 
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Jimmy C

Member
Jan 30, 2020
120
Guilford, CT
Some of this may be your bed of coals isn't big enough. Believe the VC manual says 3" deep bed of coals. 3" is a lot and that 3" bed needs to be maintained. That's not necessarily an easy task. I think a misnomer here is that once the cat is activated above 500 degrees and is lighted it only needs smoke feed to it to keep it activated and not so much heat from the flue gases. I believe the manual states this or at least eludes to this. My experience is that the flue gas to the cat needs to have the temp maintained above 500 to keep the cat active, not just the smoke.
This is very true. The stove operates much better with a bed of coals. Which sucks because it is so much easier to build a fire with small splits on bottom and big on top, then when everything is up to temp close down. I did this all last year but noticed some stalls/ spikes and a lot more creosote than normal. This year its about establishing that bed of coals, even though it takes forever.
 

bert670

Member
Mar 19, 2021
49
Hudson Valley, NY
Welcome to the world of overfiring your CAT. This will consume you for the next few years as try different solutions and create new sets of problems. I have noticed when my wood was not as dry as the stove would like i would get smoldering/ low temps in the fire box and sometimes CAT shooting temps up.

I’m confident it’s not wet wood, all the pieces ‘Ive taken reading of have been between 15-18%. Anything is possible though, haven’t had the problem since. I have a little more ash in the stove now, and it seems to be acting much more kindly, so we shall see how the rest of the winter goes.
 

arnermd

Member
May 16, 2014
57
Tolland, CT
Hello All, Glad to see the forum is alive and well....

I have a 10 year old Defiant (2n1) model 1975 and have been fighting with it for all 10 years (See posts from years past). Issue is cat temps up over 1500- 1700 F, but not consistently. Some times it will be fine for a week, (cat at 1200-1300) then it gets cranky and decides I am getting too much sleep and it wants some "quality" with me, usually around midnight.... it is a love hate relationship. I burn 24/7 in the winter, ~4 cord a year, all under a metal roof shed, aged at least 2 years. MC <15- 18% (usually.... ;))

Last year for the first time I plugged the secondary air to varying degrees, it definitely made the stove more controllable, but I too had massive creosote buildup.... Had to clean it out late winter, nearly blocked an 8" chimney liner. Never had a creosote problem in years past, clearly there was not enough secondary air.

I have plugged every hole there is to plug, screws in the 8 holes in the fireback is the most effective in calming things down but not 100% effective. This year I have the secondary open and trying to keep cat below 1300 - 1350.... it is mostly futile..... it is not at all clear to me what is "too hot". Some say 1300, some say 1500 and everything in between.

I also suspect air likes to leak around the door seals, particularly the glass panes. Seems like when I replace or tighten the glass screws things get better, but not completely.

I am on my 3rd refractory set, (yes it requires a complete rebuild) all were cracked and new parts under warranty (thanks VC). Lucky me I have a lifetime refractory warranty. I go through cats every 2 years, almost like clockwork. They crack and fall apart. I don't even care anymore about replacing cats.....

My feelings are that this "new" 2n1 design is just not very robust. Having no air control on the secondary air seems like a really bad design choice to me. I have friends who have older Encores with bimetal temp control secondary air and their cats cruise along at 1200 for hours, steady..... Might see 1400 spikes once in a blue moon.

Another design flaw (IMO) is that the secondary smoke inlet is at the bottom of the stove. It is like a vacuum just sucking flame right off the hot coals. I have seen evidence of flame impingement on the refractory all the way to the cat (heavy spalling and flaking). The older stoves took smoke off the firebox nearer to the top, so that flame has a chance to burn out. Also different is the secondary air routing, in the new stoves the secondary air can support primary combustion by leaking into the firebox, in the older design there is no place for secondary air to go except to the cat. Gives the primary air lever more positive control of the burn.

My stove gets very cranky when I do a hot reload (Cat >500F with a glowing bed of coals), even if I let it sit with the damper open for 20 - 30 min to burn off the soft wood, in an hour or two it will be screaming at me (cat 1400+). I gets really mad if I have some moist wood in there or throttle air down too quickly resulting in a smoldering fire with low griddle temps (300 or less)..... So I try not to do that.

Below is an plot of data from yesterday (I bought a 4 channel TC data logger)..... You can see I did a hot reload at Cat=600F, red arrows are where I opened the damper to try and save the refractory.... twice. Took a couple hours but finally settled down. I am tired today....

Bottom line is I do not have an answer on how to control this sucker...... I can make it better, but not completely. I have reached out to VC several times and got no response.... I guess I will keep putting in warranty claims till they decide to address the issue, or not...

That being said, I love the stove when it runs good, it has so many great features, throws a lot of heat and burns all night. As the burn season progresses I keep raising my Cat temp alarm, I start at 1300, now it is at 1450, in a week or two it will be at 1550..... I need to get some sleep.

Happy to hear other opinions or suggestions and I hope this at least provides come comfort to those struggling with the same issues...... you are not alone!


Capture.JPG
 
Last edited:

JohnDaileyNH

New Member
Oct 10, 2022
59
Seacoast, NH
Hello All, Glad to see the forum is alive and well....

I have a 10 year old Defiant (2n1) model 1975 and have been fighting with it for all 10 years (See posts from years past). Issue is cat temps up over 1500- 1700 F, but not consistently. Some times it will be fine for a week, (cat at 1200-1300) then it gets cranky and decides I am getting too much sleep and it wants some "quality" with me, usually around midnight.... it is a love hate relationship. I burn 24/7 in the winter, ~4 cord a year, all under a metal roof shed, aged at least 2 years. MC <15- 18% (usually.... ;))

Last year for the first time I plugged the secondary air to varying degrees, it definitely made the stove more controllable, but I too had massive creosote buildup.... Had to clean it out late winter, nearly blocked an 8" chimney liner. Never had a creosote problem in years past, clearly there was not enough secondary air.

I have plugged every hole there is to plug, screws in the 8 holes in the fireback is the most effective in calming things down but not 100% effective. This year I have the secondary open and trying to keep cat below 1300 - 1350.... it is mostly futile..... it is not at all clear to me what is "too hot". Some say 1300, some say 1500 and everything in between.

I also suspect air likes to leak around the door seals, particularly the glass panes. Seems like when I replace or tighten the glass screws things get better, but not completely.

I am on my 3rd refractory set, (yes it requires a complete rebuild) all were cracked and new parts under warranty (thanks VC). Lucky me I have a lifetime refractory warranty. I go through cats every 2 years, almost like clockwork. They crack and fall apart. I don't even care anymore about replacing cats.....

My feelings are that this "new" 2n1 design is just not very robust. Having no air control on the secondary air seems like a really bad design choice to me. I have friends who have older Encores with bimetal temp control secondary air and their cats cruise along at 1200 for hours, steady..... Might see 1400 spikes once in a blue moon.

Another design flaw (IMO) is that the secondary smoke inlet is at the bottom of the stove. It is like a vacuum just sucking flame right off the hot coals. I have seen evidence of flame impingement on the refractory all the way to the cat (heavy spalling and flaking). The older stoves took smoke off the firebox nearer to the top, so that flame has a chance to burn out. Also different is the secondary air routing, in the new stoves the secondary air can support primary combustion by leaking into the firebox, in the older design there is no place for secondary air to go except to the cat. Gives the primary air lever more positive control of the burn.

My stove gets very cranky when I do a hot reload (Cat >500F with a glowing bed of coals), even if I let it sit with the damper open for 20 - 30 min to burn off the soft wood, in an hour or two it will be screaming at me (cat 1400+). I gets really mad if I have some moist wood in there or throttle air down too quickly resulting in a smoldering fire with low griddle temps (300 or less)..... So I try not to do that.

Below is an plot of data from yesterday (I bought a 4 channel TC data logger)..... You can see I did a hot reload at Cat=600F, red arrows are where I opened the damper to try and save the refractory.... twice. Took a couple hours but finally settled down. I am tired today....

Bottom line is I do not have an answer on how to control this sucker...... I can make it better, but not completely. I have reached out to VC several times and got no response.... I guess I will keep putting in warranty claims till they decide to address the issue, or not...

That being said, I love the stove when it runs good, it has so many great features, throws a lot of heat and burns all night. As the burn season progresses I keep raising my Cat temp alarm, I start at 1300, now it is at 1450, in a week or two it will be at 1550..... I need to get some sleep.

Happy to hear other opinions or suggestions and I hope this at least provides come comfort to those struggling with the same issues...... you are not alone!


View attachment 302936
I had this issue on my new Encore. Stove ran fine overnight burns no issues. Cat would get up to 1400 on a spike if something lit then right back down. Then 2 nights in a row it spiked to 1600 a few hours after a reload. Reload was CAT temps >500. Since I've kept me reloads at CAT temps 350-500 and have had no issues.
 

Kevin Weis

Minister of Fire
Mar 3, 2018
1,050
Union Bridge, Md
Anyone have any similar situations with the newer VC’s? My Dauntless is loaded for the night, but the cat seems to be really taking off and causing a abnormal airflow, almost like it’s sucking air in. I have my bypass closed and the air control is 1 or 2 clicks from fully closed off. Usually in this setting the stove is just smoldering, and the cat gauge is at about the mid section. Right now the cat gauge is maxed out. The oddest part is the stove top temp is below average for the amount of air flow that seems to be going on inside the firebox.



View attachment 302738
 

Kevin Weis

Minister of Fire
Mar 3, 2018
1,050
Union Bridge, Md
Too much coals and wood up against the combuster will make that cat go like that. Cat should run no more than 1200.
 

Kevin Weis

Minister of Fire
Mar 3, 2018
1,050
Union Bridge, Md
Would say too much very dry wood up against the combuster. When all that wood catches the flames will get into the cat easily if it's banked up against that combuster. Especially if it's smallish splits there. Yes though the coals need to be there. It's a balancing act. There are times I've needed to pull wood away from the combuster some to settle it down.
 

arnermd

Member
May 16, 2014
57
Tolland, CT
Data from last nights burn, looks better, a little bit cold even.....

Cat was ~600 when I reloaded, raked coals towards the front before loading more wood. Left it in bypass for 45 min to heat things back up. Cat came up pretty slow... but peak temp looks OK. Air was set to ~60% for overnight.

Forgot to mention.... I am burning up a bunch of short splits, just to use them up before the real cold weather. So the firebox has a lot of open space on the left and right sides. Not a full load, so burn times are shorter.


11172022.jpg
 

JohnDaileyNH

New Member
Oct 10, 2022
59
Seacoast, NH
Data from last nights burn, looks better, a little bit cold even.....

Cat was ~600 when I reloaded, raked coals towards the front before loading more wood. Left it in bypass for 45 min to heat things back up. Cat came up pretty slow... but peak temp looks OK. Air was set to ~60% for overnight.

Forgot to mention.... I am burning up a bunch of short splits, just to use them up before the real cold weather. So the firebox has a lot of open space on the left and right sides. Not a full load, so burn times are shorter.


View attachment 302974
What thermometer setup do you use to get all these readings? I like this. Real clean.
 

arnermd

Member
May 16, 2014
57
Tolland, CT
What thermometer setup do you use to get all these readings? I like this. Real clean.
Setup is:
- 3 type K 1/8" thermocouples, one in exhaust stack ~18" above stove, one immeadiately downstream of the cat, one on the griddle (it is actually in the gap between flue collar and stope top so it reads ~50 deg hotter than actual griddle)
- For alarms I have two watlow controllers monitoring Flue and Cat temps
- For data logging I have a Perfect Prime TC0520, 4 channels, 16k data points for each channel. You can buy it on amazon. Very nice to have. I bought the manual one so I have to connect it to my PC and download the data, then plot in excel. They make a wireless version for more $. You can also connect it to a laptop and plot real time.


P1230006.JPG
 

Eman85

Member
Oct 10, 2022
229
E TN
@arnermd Is that correct that your griddle temp is that much lower than your flue temp? I just installed a DW stove pipe so I don't have a true flue temp but I do have my magnetic thermometer on the flue adapter and mine reads cooler than the griddle temps even when checked with an IR gun, usually about 100* cooler.
 

arnermd

Member
May 16, 2014
57
Tolland, CT
@arnermd Is that correct that your griddle temp is that much lower than your flue temp? I just installed a DW stove pipe so I don't have a true flue temp but I do have my magnetic thermometer on the flue adapter and mine reads cooler than the griddle temps even when checked with an IR gun, usually about 100* cooler.
Pretty sure it is correct, I just checked to make sure I did not swap channels... I did not.

Couple thoughts:
  • My flue temp is in the exhaust gas stream, is not on the outside of the stove pipe. You can see how twitchy the flue temp is, that's because it is in direct contact with the gas, there is no heavy cast iron to dampen out the temp reading.
    • If you are reading the outside skin temp of the adapter / stovepipe it would be cooler than the actual exhaust gas.
    • I just took a quick and dirty stove pipe surface temp reading with a surface TC. The outside skin is reading 200F lower then than the flue gas.... So I think this might explain it.
  • When the stove is off all three channels read within 2 deg of each other.