Everything Drolet Tundra - Heatmax...

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Builderml

Burning Hunk
Sep 13, 2015
195
Ct
Good luck Buildermi. I hope it turns out well. Keep us posted.
Thanks, I sure will keep y'all posted.
Its not the fact that it cracked that is getting under my skin. I tried doing my research prior to purchase and I knew these units had cracking issues thanks to "hearth". So I took the time and called sbi to confirm that the issues were taken care of, and I was told yes. Also I asked so the units currently available for purchase are good to go, again I was told yes. That's the part that has me upset. Now tonight they tell me that I might have received " old stock". So I gave him my serial number and he said thats not really a newer one. Needless to say I won't type out here what I really wanted to tell him. So buyer beware think twice before you purchase one at this point and time.
One other thing, I think it's complete B.S. that these can not be run at or around high limit without failing. If that is the case it in itself proves a design flaw. Guess the high limit is to high now isn't it??? Not rocket science to figure that out.
 
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DoubleB

Minister of Fire
Mar 4, 2014
659
NE Wisconsin
@Builderml ,
Your thoughts are right on target, IMHO. You're totally right, that getting burned after specifically doing homework to avoid it makes it seem like deceit. I'll won't opine whether SBI deceived you, but I won't defend them either. I feel sorry for you, and all I can say is that I know how you feel, for the same reason.

I still think it's wise to avoid the high limit since it's possible to do so. That said, I sure don't design my products to enable users to operate them in ways that I know might cause significant problems. Just not good design.

Another thought is some posts ago I mentioned my hottest temps that I measure with my IR gun are at the top corners of the loading door, with the damper closed and secondaries cruising. And of course this is where the cracks like to manifest around the loading door. Therefore, I suppose it's also possible that the cracking has nothing to do with high overall temps and burn rate, nor with the high temp snap disc.

Oh, the story continues...
 

STIHLY DAN

Minister of Fire
Jan 15, 2013
1,431
So NH
I too feel for you. But after reading all of the 40 pages here and 100+ on AS you should have known better. If I were you I would be pissed that at the time you talked to them and purchased, SBI was giving full refunds or replacements. Now they are paying for a welder. Which then voids the warranty. I believe anyway.
 
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trx250r87

Burning Hunk
Nov 30, 2012
229
NE Wisconsin
Ever since I installed a key damper last year I have had better luck with keeping heat in the house and not sending it up the chimney and burning wood too quickly. My draft is way to high with a 27' chimney. (Yes I have a Dwyer Mark II on the wall.)

This is my 3rd season with the Tundra and I have one of the earlier units with snap discs in the back rather than on top. Last year I installed the ash drawer fix and I sealed the plug in with high temp cement. I upgraded the top snap disc kit and recently I installed the damper door/front brick update. I don't have any cracks but I don't let it get out of control either. I think I have kit the high limit about a half dozen times where the damper closes by itself.

My home is a 4 year old 1723 sq feet ranch spec home with good insulation but poor, really cheap windows. The main area has 12' or 13' cathedral ceilings. My basement is open and unfinished with bare concrete walls (I'm guessing at least 1700 sq feet as well).

I live in Northeast Wisconsin so the weather is probably as cold if not colder than some of the people on here. I don't have a cold air plenum, just air down the basement stairs and sucking off the basement floor.

To make a long story short, I feel my Tundra does a decent job heating my house. In below zero (F) weather I can keep the natural gas furnace from running and even gain a couple degrees if I want to.

My only complaint is that I feel like I need to babysit the Tundra. Every time I have a fire the furnace seems to act a little different, never a consistent, predictable burn. It's not a set it and forget it for me. The only thing I might want high to add is a "hot tub timer" to close the damper after 20-30 minutes after loading.

The person I have dealt with at SBI has been great to deal with. I have had numerous parts sent to me free of charge (fire brick, damper motor, 3 ash pan kits including a spare gasket and tubes of cement, damper restrictor kit, front fire brick kit...).
Not once did SBI give me the run around or make anything difficult. All parts were delivered on time as promised.

The best part is that I got the furnace on Craigslist and am not even the original owner! The previous owner had it for a month and said it didn't make enough heat so I bought it for $800 less and got the tax credit too.
 

JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,949
Wisconsin Dells, WI
I too feel for you. But after reading all of the 40 pages here and 100+ on AS you should have known better. If I were you I would be pissed that at the time you talked to them and purchased, SBI was giving full refunds or replacements. Now they are paying for a welder. Which then voids the warranty. I believe anyway.

<rant> ::-)
What I have an issue with is a company that builds cheap junk just for the sake of filling a market void in order to make $$$. Maybe there's a reason why there was a market void in the first place......and I think you're seeing why, quality costs $$$ plain and simple. People don't care about quality anymore, all they care about is buying something cheap, cheap, cheap. Caveat emptor is something I learned way back in HS and it has stuck with me.

As far as I know, SBI is known to be a good company building quality stuff, and then they released this a b o r t i o n. Why would a company take the chance of ruining it's reputation on a single product line?

</rant>

:) carry on
 

DoubleB

Minister of Fire
Mar 4, 2014
659
NE Wisconsin
quality costs $$$ plain and simple. People don't care about quality anymore, all they care about is buying something cheap, cheap, cheap.

The fact that we aren't living in caves is because mankind takes chances of doing more with less (more quality at less cost) and over time succeeds. Look at cell phones. So it is normal and good to believe that SBI could figure out how to sell a product that performs well and costs less. Add a good company reputation, good warranty, highly leverage a known good product (Caddy), and I find it hard to accuse people for buying a Tundra. It's their money, they can decide, and live with the good and bad consequences, as we are.

Which leads to the reputation. You're right, it's too bad to see that slide. I hope they can figure this out quickly so that it ends as a better value than before, instead of a lasting fail.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
7,785
NE Ohio
I really don't think it would add much to the cost of a new unit to address the issues...so what if it cost another $100...if that means they work well (reliably), then GIT-R-DUN!
I also think they should sell the Tundra with the option of duct connections like they have currently, or a plenum. Maybe a plenum like the Heatpro?
Thanks, I sure will keep y'all posted.
Its not the fact that it cracked that is getting under my skin. I tried doing my research prior to purchase and I knew these units had cracking issues thanks to "hearth". So I took the time and called sbi to confirm that the issues were taken care of, and I was told yes. Also I asked so the units currently available for purchase are good to go, again I was told yes. That's the part that has me upset. Now tonight they tell me that I might have received " old stock".
Too bad they told you this on the phone instead of an email...written proof n all...
 

laynes69

Minister of Fire
Oct 2, 2006
2,673
Ashland OH
It sucks for the consumer to have these issues, but it's not their fault for buying a product. Cheap is a relative word, could be used multiple ways. Not everyone can afford a 5000 dollar furnace plus shipping, with a possible chimney install and the cost of labor. Really.......it's the consumer's fault for buying cheap?!?, please. SBI is one of the largest manufacturers of wood burning units, with many very reputable lines. Do you think SBI wants this?? doubt it. It's not the first company with problems and won't be the last. I'm with Brenn, whatever it takes to rectify the problem they need to do it.

I can't stand the comments of money and how people should spend it, when a majority of people even if it was 1,000 dollars couldn't afford something. Not everyone has a high paying job, a saving, credit, etc.
 

Builderml

Burning Hunk
Sep 13, 2015
195
Ct
Too bad they told you this on the phone instead of an email...written proof n all...
Yes and no. While that was a phone conversation and will be tough to prove I do have an email from sbi as follows. Here's the story. Right around the time I was about to fire the tundra for the first time I learned of the front firebrick update once again thanks to Hearth. So when I requested the new firebricks I also ask in an email if I should not fire up the Tundra until I had the new firebricks installed due to the cracking issue. Again I was trying to play it safe and get the info from the horses mouth. SBI wrote back
" while we are not in the peak heating season and you will likely not be running the tundra 24/7 you are all set to use it". I think most of us who live on the eastern half of the US know that the heating season just started about a couple weeks ago. Really warm until recently around here. So its safe to say that the firebrick update was installed well before the 24/7 heating season kicked in.
 

JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,949
Wisconsin Dells, WI
The fact that we aren't living in caves is because mankind takes chances of doing more with less (more quality at less cost) and over time succeeds. Look at cell phones. So it is normal and good to believe that SBI could figure out how to sell a product that performs well and costs less. Add a good company reputation, good warranty, highly leverage a known good product (Caddy), and I find it hard to accuse people for buying a Tundra. It's their money, they can decide, and live with the good and bad consequences, as we are.

Which leads to the reputation. You're right, it's too bad to see that slide. I hope they can figure this out quickly so that it ends as a better value than before, instead of a lasting fail.

We don't live in caves anymore due to scientific advancement of our species and from that came the efficiency you mention. The Tundra benefited from this same advancement but then choose to skimp on material and labor during the design/manufacturing process in order to produce it cheap to be sold in big box stores. The Tundra is not my sole source of frustration. Consumers are just getting what they've wanted over the past couple decades......cheap. It's hard to buy quality anything anymore and it's just irritating. The aftermarket car parts industry is a prime example. You can't find quality aftermarket car parts. I recently had a power steering pump go bad on one of my cars. Heck if I was going to buy some "remanufactured" pump made in China so it too can fail. I ended up paying almost $300 for a power steering pump from -TURN ONE-. Why??? Because,
The most important component of Turn One products is quality. Turn One gives you performance you can feel on or off the track. Every component used to assemble our products is 100% new and made in the USA. Each power steering pump and gear is dyno tested to ensure top quality and performance, to give you quality in every turn.


Manufacturing in the US has pretty much got up and left. We will not get it back unless we stop accepting the cheap crap being pushed on us.

Sorry, I went on a tangent once again and steered this thread in a different direction once again. I should have just kept quiet....lol It's just that all this cheaply made stuff in today's society bothers me. Quality didn't used to cost a fortune, it's the influx of inferior quality items at an inflated price is what is driving up the price of true quality.
 
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brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
7,785
NE Ohio
I can't stand the comments of money and how people should spend it, when a majority of people even if it was 1,000 dollars couldn't afford something. Not everyone has a high paying job, a saving, credit, etc
Totally off topic here but this comment made me think of this...interesting bit of trivia.
Did you know that if you make more than $11k per year that you make more than 90% of the worlds population. And if you make more than $50k (or up to $60k per year depending who you believe) that you are in the worlds top 1% wealthiest?!
Now back to Tundras...
 
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centennial60

Member
Mar 17, 2015
14
Iowa
Hello all, I don't post much on here but I have been watching this thread. Seeing where these units are cracking makes me wonder if it is due to the secondary hx box being welded to the front face of the furnace. It seems to me that this should be able to expand and contract independently. Can anyone verify if the caddy's have the tack welds below the clean out door?
 

3fordasho

Minister of Fire
Jul 20, 2007
1,013
South Central Minnesota
Closed on my new place November 2014 (after many delays because of septic and well compliance issues) and wanted a wood heating solution ASAP ( after moving 15+ cords of wood from the old place I was NOT going to just pay the propane man) I did seriously look at the "quality" options out there, Kuuma, and Caddy lines and I usually go for them but this time lead times and the fact that I need several heating units kind of ruled out a 5K a pop Kuuma. In went a $1500 Tundra and a further discounted one into the 2400sqft shop knowing some of the issues that other users were experiencing. After a quick and easy install in the house I quickly identified the rudimentary controls on the Tundra could allow it to get to hot or burn too cool after the damper closed and I added my simple flue temp control. Now some will argue the higher end options would not have needed this addition and you are probably correct, but almost all of the wood furnace installs are not plug and play and need considerable tweaking.

So second season heating 3400sq ft house with the Tundra and it handles it fine down to 10F or less if it's not real windy, ease of operation is as good as it gets with my add on temp control... I'm calling it a win so far and would buy it again. I do fire up my Woodstock Progress Hybrid when it gets below zero (a quality product that has had it's share of issues - had to send it back for a rebuild - it had smoke leakage issues from day one)

First season on the Tundra in the 1950's built Quonset shop - Tundra is undersized again but it can bring it up to mid 40's from a everything cold start and then minutes of propane assist from the unit heater gets it to a usable temp of 60F - then the Tundra can maintain with little or no more assist from the propane unit heater. Again Tundra for the affordable win.

If my Tundra's develop cracks, and there are none so far, well the wire feed welder is about 30ft away- I guess I'll wheel it over and weld the thing up.
 
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brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
7,785
NE Ohio

KARB2014

New Member
Sep 24, 2015
27
PA
The more I have been looking at the Caddy's the more I don't buy the idea that the false front is stopping the cracking. From what I can see, from the pictures I have been finding online, the false front is atleast 1.5" away from where everyone is experiencing the cracking. From what I can see there is still more than enough room for heat to cause issues. I'm wondering if the steel is not Canadian steel but China steel? Also it has me wondering about how they cut the front panel if they are making it sharp corners or radius' in the corners? Then are they skimping out on the welding, less and smaller welds? It maybe two different manufactures producing the front panels. As of right now I don't have any cracking but looking at those welds I would never let them past QA. They look small and the weld under cuts on most of them, I would like to see what there prints spec out between the two units.
 

STIHLY DAN

Minister of Fire
Jan 15, 2013
1,431
So NH
I love the idea of the Tundra, I love that the rep came on these sites asking the wood burning nuts what they like and dislike in wood furnaces. I love that its a low cost secondary combustion unit. I wish they spent another year on research and development to get the many bugs out. I don't understand as laynes69 said, SBI is one of the largest wood burning appliance manufacturers, Yet little things slipped through the cracks like flue gas into the plenum from the ash pan, location of snap disc, and unprotected front. Those are things a company with that kind of experience should have known. At the very least they have a leg up with a couple trial years ahead of the competition with other brands in R&D at the moment.
 
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Builderml

Burning Hunk
Sep 13, 2015
195
Ct
I love the idea of the Tundra, I love that the rep came on these sites asking the wood burning nuts what they like and dislike in wood furnaces. I love that its a low cost secondary combustion unit. I wish they spent another year on research and development to get the many bugs out. I don't understand as laynes69 said, SBI is one of the largest wood burning appliance manufacturers, Yet little things slipped through the cracks like flue gas into the plenum from the ash pan, location of snap disc, and unprotected front. Those are things a company with that kind of experience should have known. At the very least they have a leg up with a couple trial years ahead of the competition with other brands in R&D at the moment.
It's funny you say that. Back in the end of August when I was looking into purchasing a wood furnace. I again found out from hearth that there was rumors about a larger tundra type unit being made. So when I made my original call to SBI questioning them on weither or not the cracking issues were taken care of I also asked about the rumor of a larger unit being available shortly. SBI rep laughed and replied , I am not sure how you are getting this information but no we do not have any larger units that are ready for production we just have a proto type model right now. So now a few months later they have the "heatpro" that is available for purchase. To me that is a pretty short time to go from prototype into production and be able to varify that the units were tested properly. Time will tell if they will have the same issues with the Heatpro.
 

DoubleB

Minister of Fire
Mar 4, 2014
659
NE Wisconsin
Today was pretty warm so the Tundra cooled down enough to clean the HX tubes and inspect the turbulator from post #923. I found a problem: I sure didn't design that thing for easy cleaning. Two dozen curved fins that deflect away when you try to clean them. I'm sure there's an easier way, I just need to find it. Oh well, I got it good enough for now. Not like it needs to transfer heat, just change flow direction.
 
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DoubleB

Minister of Fire
Mar 4, 2014
659
NE Wisconsin
Is the area around the H.E. door part of the firebox at that point? I don't think so because none of that area is even welded.

Mine is not welded around the heat exchanger door as well.

I checked mine today and confirmed that my HX flange is indeed welded on the inside. I would assume yours is, too, but you'll have to check next time you open the HX door.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
7,785
NE Ohio
For the Tundra owners who have never seen the way a Caddy is set up, and for Caddy owners who have never seen a Tundra in person, I will try to explain the difference in the way the front is made.
On the Tundra, the steel that is the front of the firebox extends 2-3" past the firebox width for the full height of the furnace and the air jacket attaches directly to it both on the sides, and the top.
On the Caddy, the steel that forms the front of the firebox ends at the sides of the firebox. The side air jacket panels are still spaced that same 2-3" away from the firebox, but, are attached to some brackets instead of that front panel. Now here is where the big difference comes in. The whole front of the furnace is completely covered by the air jacket with only the HE cleanout door, the loading door, and the ash pan door sticking out. There is 1", maybe 1.5" between the firebox and the front air jacket panel, and air from the blower is free to circulate through there on its way to the plenum...and there is a TON of heat to be picked up from that area.
Now, I'm not sure if the blower circulating air through there is keeping the steel cool, or if the air jacket is kinda insulating the steel from the stress of having fire on one side and cool room air on the other? I suspect the former...
 
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JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,949
Wisconsin Dells, WI
I wish they spent another year on research and development to get the many bugs out.

Why should they.....that's what they are using the public for....lol R&D costs $$$$$, using the public as guinea pigs is "free". Just like Microsoft did with Windows Vista.
 

Builderml

Burning Hunk
Sep 13, 2015
195
Ct
Hello all, I don't post much on here but I have been watching this thread. Seeing where these units are cracking makes me wonder if it is due to the secondary hx box being welded to the front face of the furnace. It seems to me that this should be able to expand and contract independently. Can anyone verify if the caddy's have the tack welds below the clean out door?
I was thinking the same thing. The way those two metals meet they want to expand in different directions. I guess the stronger of the two is winning. No issue so far with the top two corners but that's also not welded.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
7,785
NE Ohio
Well, time for an update of recent events.
I decided to take the insulation blanket out from behind the firebrick to try to get some heat off the firebox itself, especially the hot coals part of the burn cycle. I did this a couple weeks ago right before the real cold snap...big mistake. I hadn't considered the possibility that this lil experiment could backfire...but it did. The firebox temp was lower, still good secondary burn, but just not as hot as before...noticeably. I had to wait to warmer weather to let Tundra cool down so that I could heat with the lil stove upstairs during insulation re-install.
After I finished I decided to pull the side air jacket panels off to look around again in preparation for designing a top to install a plenum on. So I'm lookin all around the HEs to figure out how the air flows through this thing and I notice something...a crack! Well, not really a crack, more like a gap. When this thing was built the guy (gal) that welded the backside of the HE cleanout box to the side of the box just kinda missed with the welder, the weld just barely touched the back panel for a couple inches and the ultra thin weld didn't hold at all. Looks like it has been this way for a long time...likely from one of the first fires. I KNEW there was something wrong with this thing! As soon as I seen it I said "there it is!" This gap was enough that you could see light through so it was definitely flowing air.
This would cause problems two different ways.
1. The draft of the chimney would not draw as hard on the firebox because it was getting some of the draw satisfied here instead of pulling everything through the firebox. So the firebox is not gonna burn quite as hard.
2. The hot exhaust flowing though the HE cleanout box and the center HE would be cooled by the pressurized (+.2" WC) air from the blower since this gap was inside the air jacket. It also explains the very occasional wisp of smoke smell that I noticed too. Here's pics
DSCN1299.JPG Oh, I forgot. This is the one crack at the top right of the loading door that has grown here lately. I drilled it and will just fill the hole with furnace cement without welding to see if that alone will stop the crack.
DSCN1302.JPG The offender...
DSCN1310.JPG From the inside...see the light...
DSCN1313.JPG Post repair

DSCN1316.JPG A shot of the left side showing where this area is...and for anybody who has never seen a nekked Tundra...
DSCN1322.JPG The right side... just because
I fired up last night and it is hard to tell for sure how much difference this repair has made, but it did help, for sure. The duct temps seem to hold higher and for quite a bit longer. It wasn't that cold here today (low 30s) but the morning load managed to raise the house 3-4*...and that has never happened before!
I have never in my life had a reason to torch or weld in the house...and now this thing has caused me to do both, inside of a 6-8 week period no less! :mad: ;lol
 

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brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
7,785
NE Ohio
Is the area around the H.E. door part of the firebox at that point? I don't think so because none of that area is even welded. To me if it was part of the firebox it would allow some smoke to come out.
You are correct, the HE cleanout box is about 3/8" or so above the actual firebox. So that crack is (as of now) just in the front panel of the furnace. And smoke shouldn't come out anyways (normally)...chimney has a negative pressure on the firebox