2022/23 VC Owner thread

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Diabel

Minister of Fire
Jan 11, 2008
3,664
Ottawa, ON
At 650 to 900 are you seeing smoke out the pipe? If yea you are too low
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,464
Woolwich nj
I think a cat running between 650 and 900 is just fine. North of 1300 may be considered too hot. The Condar web page says above 1300 for the steel cat is too hot and may cause it to not function. But other VC stoves have a ceramic cat which maybe different.

You have the option purchasing either if its made for your stove. My stove came with a ceramic, but I run a steel one as of last year. steel lights off easier and doesn't get as hot..
 

Kevin Weis

Minister of Fire
Mar 3, 2018
1,040
Union Bridge, Md
Can't find a ceramic one for the Intrepid flexburn. Only the steel seems to be available. In the ceramic ones they seem to have larger honeycomb than the steel which I thought would draft better and less likely to clog with ash. Funny thing the manual still mentions a ceramic cat but the steel one came with the stove.
 

arnermd

Member
May 16, 2014
57
Tolland, CT
At 650 to 900 are you seeing smoke out the pipe? If yea you are too low
- At 650 to 900 I definitely see and smell smoke out the chimney. I think it is fine to run the stove there but it is definitely not running well or as intended. I would keep an eye out for creosote build up.
- If I had a magic wand and could fix this terrible design I would want my cat at 1000 - 1200F.

You have the option purchasing either if its made for your stove. My stove came with a ceramic, but I run a steel one as of last year. steel lights off easier and doesn't get as hot..
- For the Defiant model 1975 the only cat available as far as I know is the ceramic version. Would love to try a steel one just to see what the effect is, with this stove design it would probably melt the steel cat on the first full load.

For the newer owners who are dealing with over-temping cats.... There is a well known "fix" you should try first (see threads from past years). There are 8 holes at the bottom of your refractory, try plugging some or all of them with machine screws, I use button heads and they fit very nicely. You want them a little loose. This definitely helps to calm things down a bit, although cat light offs will take longer. it is quick and easy and helps, but it is not 100% effective.

If that does not work there are also secondary air feeds on either side of the inner cover, circled in red below. I have plugged those partially / completely with ceramic insulation and that also helps.

None of these have been 100% effective for me and the results vary with wood load, wood quality and I suspect draft levels. Try playing with these areas to tune things for your conditions. If your cat won't get to 1000F on a full load you know you have gone to far.
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My personal limits at the moment are (others may feel otherwise)
- At 1250F I have a soft alarm, which means I take action, either increase or decrease primary air or open / close my key damper to change draft. I have mixed results from day to day, sometimes more primary air will bring the temp down, sometimes less air will bring it down, many times nothing brings it down..... I usually wait 5-10 min to gage what the effect was. Many times temps will go down intially and in 3-5 minutes they climb back up again, patience is required....
- At 1450 I have a hard alarm and that's when I throw in the towel and open the cat bypass damper. Exhaust gas temps will rocket north of 950 - 1000F so I close my key damper and close primary air all the way. Then I wait.... sometimes 30 - 60 minutes for the load to burn off some then re-engage the cat and open up the primary air and key damper. Usually this works but sometimes i have to repeat.....
- If things get really bad I will also block off the secondary inlet with a metal plate and a magnet, not too often I have to resort to this. As I wait for the load to cool I swear a lot and search the internet for a new wood stove.....
 

Kevin Weis

Minister of Fire
Mar 3, 2018
1,040
Union Bridge, Md
Generally in my Intrepid the smoke disappears north of 800 with the cat engaged. Some of that depends on the species and MC of the wood. And yeah, at 1000 no smoke virtually no matter the species or MC.
 
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I apologize for interrupting this thread with an "uh-oh" which may or may not result in a sad story...

I've disassembled my 1992 VC Defiant Encore Model 2190 so that I can install the new refractory box. The fireback and sideplates came out with no trouble. There are two bolts left, to remove the heavy metal flue flapper box. Then I will be able to slide in the new refractory and begin reassembling the stove.

Looking into the stove from the front, the right side flue flapper box bolt came out easily. The left side bolt broke off. Given that the flue flapper box requires heavy taps with a rubber mallet to get it to move to the Right and come out, I wonder if I am stymied.

I can look into the bolt hole in the back of the stove and see the bolt, broken right between the back of the stove and the flue flapper box. I cannot tell if it will hang up or not. However, the right side of the flue flapper box moves a wee bit after tapping, but not so the left side with the broken bolt.

If I cannot find a way to get the flue flapper box out, I could reassemble and operate the stove without a catalytic converter. The stove is in my shop, so that would not be the worst outcome. It just means that I paid too much for the stove last spring.

I'm going to try using drift punch to whack the broken bolt gently from the back of the stove. If that doesn't work, I'll get my Easy Out, and hope for the best.

Edit: Got the flue flapper box out, without removing the broken bolt, by tapping and working it until it came free. Turns out it was Cement that compromised the bolt, and caused it to break. I have a hole drilled through the broken bolt, now I am off to purchase a replacement for the Easy Out that I cannot find!
 
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Easy Out broke... drilled out the hole and tapped it for 1/4-20 like the original... now I can replace gaskets and reassemble!

They used cement to attach gaskets! Not a lot of thinking about the one coming after them, to replace refractory or rebuild.
 

arnermd

Member
May 16, 2014
57
Tolland, CT
Classic cat over firing.... In case you were wondering.

Conditions:
Fuel load was about 80% full, mostly big splits, 12-15% moisture content
Primary air: 100% open till 21:00 when I dialed it back to ~60% open and went to bed (maybe reduced air too early?)
Secondary holes in fireback: 2 plugged with screws

Capture.JPG
 

NewGuy132

Member
Jan 22, 2021
160
Central MA
Random question. How often is everyone cleaning out ashes? Everything that you read says to keep a couple inches of ashes, but that just makes a giant mess when I go to open the ash cleanout. I've been doing to before i start every fire lately.
 

Kevin Weis

Minister of Fire
Mar 3, 2018
1,040
Union Bridge, Md
I have the same stove (Intrepid flexburn) and de-ash and empty ash pan every morning. Usually the pan is full everyday. If I burn nothing but OAK that leaves noticebly less ash behind and tend to be less full. Maple leaves way more ash behind so I try to avoid it.
 

Eman85

Member
Oct 10, 2022
211
E TN
@arnermd I've been having the same thing happen where cat temps keep rising. If I just put a few splits in it will rise and then slowly drop and cruise. If I load the box with a good bed of coals and let the fire burn then engage the cat it seems to rise quickly to 1600 and I have to shut the primary way down to try and control it. Then it will smolder and have a flashover and puff a little smoke before it settles down. I can see the cat glow through the slot at the back of the firebox.
As for ashes mine has an ash pan underneath that catches the ash and can be removed for dumping, don't have to shovel.
 
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Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,464
Woolwich nj
Random question. How often is everyone cleaning out ashes? Everything that you read says to keep a couple inches of ashes, but that just makes a giant mess when I go to open the ash cleanout. I've been doing to before i start every fire lately.

I empty mine every 2 to 3 weeks depending on how much I burn.. I let it build up then rake some into the pan when the ash gets think, but I never completely remove all the ash There's always a layer. Most times when I do an ash dupm I vacuum the cat to keep it clean.
 
In older stoves without catalysts, I have found that a good layer of ash helps lot. Not sure why, but I've speculated that it regulates the burning of the coals, insulates the bottom of the fire, and seals open seams if there are any (as with the vintage Sears Woodbox that is bolted together with four threaded rods).

In our climate, a typical winter afternoon gets well above freezing, The stove goes out nearly every day while we are at work, so I shovel all the ashes out and clean the glass before starting a new fire in the evening. I might start experimenting with leaving the ashes in the stove; there is not much, and they always contain some burning embers.
 

JohnDaileyNH

New Member
Oct 10, 2022
54
Seacoast, NH
I haven't emptied my pan in about a month. I empty the stove itself maybe once a week, every 10 days or so. Just shovel it in to a bucket. Haven't noticed a difference in how it runs, just that ash blows around when I open it to reload
 

arnermd

Member
May 16, 2014
57
Tolland, CT
I empty my pan once it is full 1 or 2 times a week, yes it makes a mess if I delay too long. I try to leave ash on the grates and then knock it into the pan when it gets too thick. 3-4".

Surprised the intrepid ash pan fills up in a day... Seems too quick, but I have no experience with an intrepid.

Leaving a bed of ash seems to calm the stove down a bit, but it is not a big difference.