A Helping Hand

SMRY Posted By SMRY, Jul 19, 2018 at 8:34 AM

  1. SMRY

    SMRY
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    Jul 19, 2018
    17
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    Southern-VT.
    Hello Everyone, I'm new to Hearth.com...lol...please be gentle.
    I'm in VT. My state is offing a program to install/replace older inefficient heating equipment for which I qualify.
    I'm still relatively new to pellet stoves, though I've been using one (loaner) for roughly 3/4 yrs.
    I'm looking for guidance, ideas, really anything that may be of help choosing a new pellet stove of my own.

    The stove inplace now is the only one I've ever used. I've no other experience to go off of.
    The stove is an Englander-PDVC believe 11/07. My log-home is 800sqft. with a 15ft high ceiling.
    The home has been newly insulated in the roof area, (8)-double-pane windows, (2)-energy efficient doors installed. The logs themselves are tongue & groove fitment, sealed along each joint/seam as well. The home just had an energy audit roughly 1/2 yrs ago was given A+ rating.

    With my disability & age. I tend to like the home on the warm side (75/80) esp. on the coldest days, probably uncomfortable for many though. I have no issue cleaning the stove, I rather enjoy it, & probably preform too often (2+x-per-day) during use, no matter the settings. An ash pan is a feature wished for, other on my wish list larger room blower able to push heat little further out into the room. I have been reading/studying so many areas of the internet my head spins. I did install a hopper extension which has been great, also a door installed over the convection blower, allowing for quick cleaning each day. Sound levels are no issue, as I'm deaf.

    My Main Wishes:
    Ash Pan / Large Convection Blower-CFM / Large-Larger Hopper / (also the ability to operate both the feed rate, &, room blower independent of the other, which I really like with this present stove)

    My local dealers (part of the heat program) are steering towards the following stoves:
    Harman P43 / P61
    Pelpro-ppc90 / pp130
    Avalon-AGP
    Lopi-Deerfield
    Quadra-Fire-Mt.Vernon-AE / Mt.Vernon-E2 / Classic-Bay1200
    Englander PDV / PAH / CPM

    I've several questions: Will a stove that cycles on & off, rather than just maintain steady level, use more energy?. Also, will the same stove go thru igniters quicker, having to cycle on/off repeatedly?. &. which stoves have that ability outside the Englander line.

    I'm not sure how I feel about cast stoves, if a hopper ext. could be added down the rd. if desired.
    Also worry cats may burn themselves should they climb onboard...

    Again, at this point, I'm open to everything offered by others that be in the know, as I have no experience with any other stove outside the present PDVC.

    Thank You Ever So Much Scott (SMRY)
     

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  2. jpeterson2322

    jpeterson2322
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    Feb 11, 2018
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    I have the Harmen P61a and love it. Tons of heat- heats my 1800 sq ft ranch. Large ash pan- I empty once a month and it's not even full. You can get a hopper extension- I don't have one because I only put 1 bag in at a time. I set the temp on the side and it cycles on and off like you were asking, left it on steady flow one night and the house got too hot. I wouldn't worry about the cats, they'll figure out when it's too hot.

    I only have one heating season under my belt. Started with a POS that came with the house- loud, not very air tight, and broke down. I was ready to give up till I heard how great the Harmens are and we love it. Our living room is 75 easily with the bedrooms at the opposite side of the house at 70. They are pricey but worth it. Good luck!
     
  3. bogieb

    bogieb
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    Oct 31, 2014
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    Be aware that the P38 is an old model that has been discontinued; they should be offering a P43 or P61. The P43 would heat 800 sq/ft well, but I am unsure with the 15' high ceilings (my main floor is 950 sq/ft with 8' ceiling). Also, be aware that the P-series take a large amount of clearance, so your 800 sq/ft loses a lot of space (relatively speaking). The P61 needs 20" to each side (unless you get separate heat shields, then it is 14"); the P43 needs 16" to each side (10" if you get heat shields). Both need a couple inches in back, but you would need more than that to get the exhaust in if you run any vertical anyway. You can download the manual here to do more research.

    Not trying to dissuade you from the Harman's - love mine, just want you to be aware. The plus side is they are easy to clean, have large ash pans that even with cr*ppy pellets can go 2-3 weeks between cleanings, you can get hopper extensions, they aren't picky as to what you feed them, and they put out a ton of heat.

    None of my cats have tried to get on my stoves, but I can tell you that when they are running you can't hold your hand on the top, so you wouldn't want your kitty to get up there.

    Harman's can run in either in room temp mode (turns itself on and off) or can be run at a constant burn. I normally run mine in room temp mode. One is hooked to a thermostat that is in a room half way down the hall (stove on one side of the house, bedrooms 40' away). The other stove I run on the room temp probe. I've never replace an ignitor, so don't think that should be a factor. Other people like to run their Harman's in constant mode - it is really up to personal goals and preferences in that regard.

    Good luck in your decision making!
     
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  4. rich2500

    rich2500
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    Nov 19, 2005
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    May want to check out a Harman Allure 50
    Dual convection blowers, 92 lb hopper and closer clearances then the P series, top of mine gets warm but not hot enough to burn. Basically I set the temp I want the house to be on my Allure and don't touch the stove for 3 days until I have to refill the hopper at which I will give the burn pot a quick scrape also. Every 2 - 3 weeks shut the stove down give it a 10 min cleaning and fire it back up.
     
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  5. SMRY

    SMRY
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    Jul 19, 2018
    17
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    Loc:
    Southern-VT.
    Thank You.. First I may have typed incorrect Harman model P38 as it does seem P43 was the actual model.
    For clearances, believe I should be in fine shape. both sides of present stove, has no walls, at the rear I've exactly 2ft to the present exhaust pipe.
    The top of PDVC gets lukewarm, never hot, Handsome-Boy (cat) still able to pass across it on his way to the window. Pellets I must say, no idea if those I use are considered good/bad/between, as really the only brand offered, or, able to get reliably close to home. They're New England Wood Pellet Premium(blend), $249 per ton delivered.
     
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  6. bogieb

    bogieb
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    Oct 31, 2014
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    I would call NEWP's a middling pellet. That is actually not a bad price, especially with delivery. I live 15 miles from the dang plant and can't get them for less than $280 (not delivered), so haven't used that brand in a couple of years.
     
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  7. SMRY

    SMRY
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    Jul 19, 2018
    17
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    Loc:
    Southern-VT.
    Thank You!... Doesn't it seem strange my pellet vender (LaValley's) of both Lebanon / N. Walpole NH. able to deliver (roughly 50miles/less) for that price, being further away too, than you, pretty much at the plants doorsteps. Anyways not having tried others, can't compare. Last year 2017 winter I ordered 7-tons both due to VT offering help & Lavalley's offing a sale, another $10 off of $249 each ton, thus I ordered 7-tons at $239-delivered (min order had to be 2-tons). I burned 3.5-tons. It seemed this last yrs batch burned supper clean, very little ash, very fine powder, rather than more grainy/granular texture. The door glass only took a quick drywipe, rather than a shutdown during deeper cleaning (firepot/impingement plate/ash area). perhaps the Plant/vendors have an agreement the plant not to sell pellets to the general public, so as not to shutout, the store, or, at lest not to offer a better price, again cutting the stores themselves out of the picture if you will. I do believe I'd still like to try others, as, I rather enjoy testing/experimenting.
     
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  8. bogieb

    bogieb
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    Oct 31, 2014
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    Yeah, the pellet plant doesn't sell direct - which I understand. What I don't understand is how no place within 20 miles of the plant seem to be able to offer the lower prices that places that far away can offer. I mean, I understand hauling charges - but shouldn't that mean the further away places would be more expensive?

    I can actually pay less for pellets from Maine (MWP's) from the local TSC than I can for NEWPs from the local Agway or Aubuchon's. All of these places are within 3 miles of me, so I fail to find the logic.
     
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  9. SMRY

    SMRY
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    Jul 19, 2018
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    Loc:
    Southern-VT.
    Surely doesn't make sense. Like you point out, esp. with trucking/fuel prices being what they are. Received a call from Heat-Squad Friday &, starting to push me to make a choice in stoves. Honestly, still feeling overwhelmed. Director of the program, advised, get as much stove as possible, being a one time opportunity resulting in no cost. They would like me to look into the following as base, however, not limited to, should something else fit the bill, with 3-local vendors.

    ("brands available by 3 local suppliers we work with, and, further by emissions cap which is at least 70% efficient, and, max 2.0 grams/ hr emissions.")
     
  10. Don2222

    Don2222
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    Feb 1, 2010
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    Hello and welcome to the forum.
    I have worked on many pellet stoves and my 2 all time favorites are the Harman P61a which I own 2 and the Quadrature Classic Bay 1200. I own the little brother of the Quadrafire CB1200 called the Quadrafire Contour Stove to heat my shed.
    These 2 stoves put out the best heat for the money and are the easiest to maintain and the most reliable. They both have long lasting Igniters even though they go on and off. The Harman can also accommodate an optional hopper extension, I also recommend 4” diameter venting for the best efficiency and the easiest to maintain.
    Also I am very much intrigued by your access door to the Convection blower, can you post a picture of it please? I know the exhaust blower on the back left side cleanout door come with the stove.
     
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  11. SMRY

    SMRY
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    Jul 19, 2018
    17
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    Loc:
    Southern-VT.
    Thank You Don,
    I snapped several quick shots of access door to the convection blower. The door itself I fabbed from a floor register cut in half from the local hardware store. So much easier than trying to snake the brush/vac underneath. The PDVC is actually a nice stove. Works great. I would say, long as anyone owning this stove, along with the PDV, keeps knocking the crust from the lower lip at auger, on somewhat of a regular basis during the season should be golden. I really like being able to operate the Heat & Convection blower separate from one another. Just thought, while I have the opportunity to try another stove would indeed do so, &, hopefully an upgrade.
    IMG_0653.JPG
     

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  12. Don2222

    Don2222
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    Feb 1, 2010
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    Wow, that is so cool! You are now in our elite designer pellet stove club! Congrats on that innovative and practical design for easy maintenance. I really luv that! Thanks so much for those pics!
    What did you use for hinges and how does the door stay closed?
    There is also an Auger Bearing Upgrade that has a secondary grease channel cut into the steel ball around of the ball bearing. So the grease is in the channel of the iron block and the steel ball. I highly recommend that and making sure the greese resovoir is full of red high temp grease and remove the augers every 3-4 years to wire wheel them and spray them with Dry Moly lubricant. That makes the auger motors last longer!
     
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  13. SMRY

    SMRY
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    Jul 19, 2018
    17
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    Loc:
    Southern-VT.
    IMG_0656.JPG IMG_0657.JPG The Auger Bearing Upgrade.. can you steer me in the right direction, surely would like to see, perhaps purchase. I as a rule keep the bearings greased with the red-hi-temp, several squirts during the season. Off season, remove both augers, &, wire-wheel, along with running wheel down the auger-tubes. The other side of stove (exhaust blower) usually keep pretty clean, &, remove during maint as well. I rather enjoy it, as, keeps me active, &, reminds me of my days with the RRs.

    I've also discovered from time to time pellets unburned in the pot. What I've done an experiment at the time is to cut a pc of window screen as I had lots of. I folded a pc over placed just under the wear plate. This has eliminated pellets from not burning. After a fashion, perhaps once a year I need to replace the screen having finally burned thru. It really does last a long time, &, I don't find un-burned pellets dropping further down inside the burn-pot itself in front of the fresh air tube. I've also drilled every other hole in the wear plate slightly larger, for an extra-boost.. Snapshots just after 3-weeks use, for a general idea.
     
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  14. Don2222

    Don2222
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    Feb 1, 2010
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    Yes
    Do a Private conversation with me and put in your email address and I will send you the info on the bearings.
    Did you see my question?
    What did you use for hinges and how does the door stay closed?
     
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  15. SMRY

    SMRY
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    Jul 19, 2018
    17
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    Loc:
    Southern-VT.
    Sorry there Don, must have passed over your ?... The hinges I believe were sized / for jewelry boxes / medicine cabinet, been some time, not big at all. the knob is just a standard cabinet knob. I drilled a hole in the stove used the bolt & nut that came with the knob,, I just spin the knob on to keep closed & spin off during cleaning. As an after thought, was going to use two magnets, but, this works so well, never got around to try other.
     
  16. Don2222

    Don2222
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    Feb 1, 2010
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    Interesting about the burn pot.
    What size did you drill the holes out too?
     
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  17. SMRY

    SMRY
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    Jul 19, 2018
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    Loc:
    Southern-VT.
    Holes drilled went with 1/4 inch. Have been thinking of trying 7/32 on the remaining holes, slightly larger than factory holes, but, don't want to hurt performance. It worked just great this last season, don't want to start going backwards with any mods. I had also saved the panel cut from side, thinking should it be too loud for others could always block once again.
    Just for the hell of it, I also tried a Styrofoam cup fitted to the blower with the small end cut open, thinking, somewhat of a ram-air effect. The cup (large end) fit perfectly, unfortunately, performance went down. However, not shown in the older snapshot, have installed a pc of filter (taken from an old AC unit) fitted to both the door & blower which helps keep the dust-bunnies at bay.
     
  18. Don2222

    Don2222
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    Feb 1, 2010
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    The High Ash Burn pots that Enviro sells use 1/4” holes so they should be fine, I would not go any larger because then a whole pellet would fall right through. The only other suggestion I have on that is to make the 7/32” holes below the Igniter in the back right corner to keep the burn plate stronger in that area and you will see what I mean from what I am working on now. :)
    I am working on getting some equipment to fix this burnpot for a Saranac. The slats right below where the Igniter air comes thru have burned thru. See pics. So I ordered some 11 Guage perforated Steel with 1/4” holes. I am going to try to cut the bottom out with a Simadre 5200dx Plasma Cutter and weld in the perforated piece, The only issue I can see is that the Simadre does not have expanded mode like the Hypotherm 45 to keep the arc going when you go across a hole. So we are going to try putting a piece of aluminum flashing under the bars we are cutting to keep the arc going. Then if we can cut the new perforated Steel in the same manner. We can weld it on the bottom of the pot with my Vulcan MiG Welder. The new 11 Guage bottom should be stronger than the 12 Guage sides and last longer?
    What do you think?
     

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  19. SMRY

    SMRY
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    Jul 19, 2018
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    Loc:
    Southern-VT.
    Sticking with the 1/4 for the largest holes.. 7/32 being ever so slightly smaller, not sure going to bother with the remaining factory holes (3/16), like I say, worked great as is. I failed to mention though, opened the igniter hole ever so slightly & with a taper/bevel. that too really helped the fire start much quicker. Your project, could always cut your perforated pc, then just lay inside the pot (over the old grate), should it work to your liking (testing) this season, come spring do a nice fitment / weld up. I like the welder.. Really enjoy my Lincoln-125/mig/argon. Anything too large a project, just take to the roundhouse.
     
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  20. SMRY

    SMRY
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    Jul 19, 2018
    17
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    Loc:
    Southern-VT.
    My stove project started out, wanting more heat, without the need to fire the stove in the upper ranges, say 5 & above, on heat setting.
    When I started out, discovered at times, the little block-off plate at the bottom of hopper, had often prevented a steady flow of pellets, no matter how I adjusted this plate, &, seemed to coincide with my heat being set on 1-2. I've removed this plate, result, no dry fires, doesn't seem to use anymore fuel without this plate regardless of heat settings.
    My normal routine from startup, is, set heat on 4, room-blower 9-(all the time). Once the room gets up to the temp I'm most comfy at, 75/80, I back the heat down to 1-2, which is just enough to maintain both the stove, &, my preferred temps, without fear pellets may fail to drop.
    These settings have saved me tons of pellets, whiles still keeping the house toasty, &, should it really be necessary (rare) to crank the heat, have a large safety-valve of choices above 5 to 9 within the heat range.
    Having installed the screen under the wear-plate has prevented pellets from not burning completely. Drilling every other hole in the wear-plate has helped greatly, by allowing more fresh air to enter the hot coals. Drilling/Beveling the igniter hole, has allowed more air to reach its tip, &, heat to reach the pellets faster. My start-up routine takes less than 10mins to a nice roaring fire. Please-Note, I also use a thermostat as of last season, another test, result, I really can't see any difference alongside my preferred settings on the stove itself, from when the stat wasn't installed. My pellets NEWPs are stored outside on skids, covered year round, with roughly half ton inside the home any given time.
     
  21. Don2222

    Don2222
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    Feb 1, 2010
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    Hello
    Good idea on making the Igniter hole larger! Also good not to run the stove at 5 and higher a lot, my friend who has the same stove as you did that because he needed more heat. It took it’s toll on the stove because parts wore out faster and it required more maintenance! Last year he upgraded to a Harman and he is soo much happier! Puts out more heat and does not wear out the stove!
    You did the right thing to remove that blocking plate! I was lucky to talk to the expert at England Stove works because I had the same problem! He said that blocking plate was added some years ago to compensate for different size pellets. Now that we have the PFI controlling size and length with the manufacturers there is no need for that plate anymore!
    Also the factory settings for the lower 3 buttons which effect heat settings 1 and 2 are 6-4-1 for maximum heat by default. But my expert recommended to change them to 4-6-1 to save on pellets and it still puts out great heat!
    It is much better to keep the pellet bags in a nice dry warm place before using them. :)
     
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  22. SMRY

    SMRY
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    Jul 19, 2018
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    Loc:
    Southern-VT.
    You know, several calls to the tech dept. in the past, gave
    691- up to 05, models, followed by, 641- 05 to present models.

    I tried both, &, a whole host of others along the way...lol...
    Most days, I'm able to keep at 241 which really saves the fuel, whiles maintaining the heat quite well..
    I operate 641 on the very coldest days (sub-zero-days-on-end).
    Whiles 691 produces lots of heat as well, found that it burned thru the pellets
    faster than I care for. That 9 really pumps the "Low Burn Air" thru the embers.

    Pellet storage not something able to change, due to space / funds.
    Half ton inside for weeks/months at a time, surprisingly seems to be working very well.
    Those remaining outside, have been very well protected thus far, have yet to find wet
    sawdust / bloated pellets. However, would prefer a silo/bin of some sort one day.
     
  23. SMRY

    SMRY
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    Jul 19, 2018
    17
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    Loc:
    Southern-VT.
    Latest Update: Look like I'm down to 3-vendors within my area for stove choices, &, local heat program has approved the following models. Vendor1= P43 /\ Vendor2= Mt.VernonE2, Deerfield, AGP /\ Vendor3= 25-PAH, 25-PDV, PPC90, PPC130. They've all got their pluses & minuses, has my head spinning. Looking for feedback from the Hearth Family...lol...Don't Be Shy....
     
  24. rich2500

    rich2500
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    Nov 19, 2005
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    Loc:
    Berks County PA.
    P43 or Mt Vernon
     
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  25. Don2222

    Don2222
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    Feb 1, 2010
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    P43 is the most reliable one and easiest to clean and maintain. :)
     
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