Harman Oakwood... lots of ash in back!

branchburner Posted By branchburner, Aug 30, 2009 at 2:57 AM

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  1. branchburner

    branchburner
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    Took advantage of the rainy day to do a little Summer Cleaning of the stove and pulled the back off the Oakwood. This "downdraft" stove has the fragile "afterburner" package that burns the smoke in the lower back of the stove, as opposed to the usual burn-tube stoves that do the secondary burn up top. Similar technology is used in the Lopi Leyden and VC Everburn models (VC pioneered this system, but their stoves seem to have the most problems with it).

    With the back removed I can carefully pull the combustion package straight back and out. It was loaded with very fine ash, a few cups worth, after one season burning. Some of you may remember Dill's post last fall about his Harman's smoke problem, which turned out to be ash buildup over several seasons. So I guess I'll be pulling the stove all the way out of the fireplace to do this every year.

    The actual ceramic fiber piece was in okay but not great shape. This was a brand new part at the start of the season. When I bought the stove last summer, at one year old, the piece was burnt through, broken and crumbly. The owner had overfired. I didn't burn that hot, but even so, the replaced part now shows some cracking and is very brittle, and slightly charred on the back face. I'm almost afraid to take a vacuum to it, though I'm sure the many tiny holes in it have plenty of ash stuck in there. I'm handling it a lot more gingerly then when it was new - I expect this $300 part will last 2 or 3 years more at best, kind of a bummer. I avoided a cat stove to escape some maintenance, but now I'd just as soon have a cat to clean and replace.

    The catch-22 with these stoves is they need to be run hot to engage the afterburner, but the afterburner isn't made of material that takes that well to the stove being run hot. (Hey, at least I can grill a great steak on the thing!) An excellent stove, solid and beautiful to look at, heated the whole house with much less wood than expected, so I hate to complain about it. Except for the fact that I like to complain. But really big thanks to everyone on this forum who taught me to burn dry wood (including pine!) - this stove would have been a complete disaster if I had tried burning the stuff I had been burning the past few years.

    Something else that other Harman owners might want to peek at: when pulling the back, I noticed a bolt holding the damper assembly was loose. I checked the others and all four (TWO OUTSIDE, TWO INSIDE THE STOVE) were very loose. I had noticed a little jiggling of the damper during the season. I guess I hadn't noticed a little jiggling had turned into a lot, as opening and closing the damper repeatedly had loosened all the bolts - I almost jiggled the damn damper right off. Something to keep an eye on...
     
  2. summit

    summit
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    thats the problem with just about any top load stove now (cat or non cat) is that they all rely on the fragile chamber in the rear of the stove... i recently priced one out for a vc encore... to the tune of 320 bucks!! my customer decided he had rebuilt the thing enough over the last 4 years, and bought a brand new hearthstone heritage... i gave him a helluva deal on cash and carry for our showroom model (10% off plus a 300 trade in on the old VC.. combined w/ the tax credit he'll only be into the new stove for about $1650 after its all said and done.. the afterburn chambers do have their advantages in burn time and efficiency, but at around 300 bucks a pop every few years.... i can buy alotta gas for the crapsman saw and a couple cord of tree length
    for that... on a brighter note for the dedicated top loaders: Jotul is currently testing a new top loader, was talking to the rep about it the other day. he couldn't delve into too much detail, but: no afterburn chamber, simple tube system... steel box w/ cast facades (can you say PE alderlea?). he said he's getting one to test out for the winter at his pad... can't wait to see that honey hit the market...
     
  3. Todd

    Todd
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    Oh great, another new stove to tempt me! :shut: Sounds similar to the Quad Isle Royal?
     
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart
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    Hurry up. I am waiting on that hand me down Fireview from you. :cheese:
     
  5. summit

    summit
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    he said there was only one moving part... i don't know if they are going with a swing away baffle like the royale (previously the dovers, which we sold for a time, and were quite cool)
     
  6. Macandmall

    Macandmall
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    I've had my Oakwood for 6 seasons. The burn chamber was replaced about 1/2 way through the first season. The dealer had never put one together before mine. The 1/4" bolt that puts tension on the damper plate when it's closed was not installed. I ran it for a couple weeks with the damper just sitting in the closed position, no friction holding it in place. Good thing my wife was home the day it fell open. She called me and said the stove smelled hot, like burning paint, that was the paint on the double wall pipe going to the chimney. Good thing I have a high quality 3 wall stainless chimney. Anyway, when they came out to inspect the stove, they found no 1/4" bolt to adjust the tension on the damper plate. They put in a long 1/4" bolt, so long when the damper plate was opened, it poked a hole right through the top of the burn chamber. I had them come back and replace the burn chamber that first season. So it has been through 6 seasons of heavy use, pretty much burning 24/7 all winter. The inside of the burn chamber was falling apart at the beginning of last season. I ran it that way, I could control the flue temp no problem, but I did go through more wood, and it would not keep up on cold windy days, so the gas furnace would kick in a lot more than in the past. I searched for this thread to find out if I could replace the burn chamber my self. I am a do it yourselfer, but I'm a little concerned if trying to save $300 in labor by doing it myself is worth the worry. I don't want to regret burning my house down trying to save $300. Then again, they screwed-up when installing it and might have burnt my house down if my wife wasn't home the day the damper fell open and went into an uncontrolled burn.
    Is this an easy job?
    Thanks,
    Scott
    There is a "trough" in the bottom of that burn chamber that does fill-up with fine ash. I went through a whole season with hardly any draft, and backdraft smoke puffing out the bottom of the stove. Like branchburner said, it needs to be cleaned.
     
  7. Macandmall

    Macandmall
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    Well I read Dills thread about smoke and found my answer in that thread. I'm going to give it a try myself. After 6 years of heavy use, the cp should be pretty well plugged and or burnt out. No wonder it wouldn't put out heat like it did in the past. The shoe at the bottom is plugged too, so that will come out as well.
    Scott
     
  8. branchburner

    branchburner
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    Scott, it is pretty straightforward - and the shoe comes out the front really easy once you loosen the clips holding the surrounding firebrick in. Be careful at this point because now the combustor is partly exposed, if you are trying to salvage it. That has to come out the back, and when I pulled the back of the stove off, the combustor was sort of fused onto it and it came out as one heavy, awkward-to-handle piece.

    Be interesting to see if there's enough left of the combustor to save. After 6 years I expect yours is going to be very crumbly so handle as little as possible. I think you can gently brush most of the ash off, but to clean the row of small holes I don't know what else to use but a vacuum. Watch out your vacuum doesn't gobble the whole thing up! (See recent BrianVT thread on VC refractory to get an idea how fragile this stuff is. Another catch-22: you need to handle it to clean it, but handling it shortens its lifespan.)

    I found a lot of ash had spilled down into the enclosure for the secondary air intakes, so you'll want to clean that out too. Good luck - feel free to PM me with any questions.
     
  9. Macandmall

    Macandmall
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    There are no holes in my cp, but the center of it, the waffle with all the holes is completely gone. I knew that last year. The shoe brick is cracked, but I could probably use it. I went to the dealer, the cp is only $199, the shoe is 55, also ordered the cooking grill after reading all the praise in here. The cover gasket tore apart as I pulled the cover off, it's just 3/8 hd round gasket. There was about 4-5" of fly ash around the outside of the cp, the intake pan under the cp had quite a bit of ash in it as well. I can't wait to see how this thing works when I get it back together and it is all clean and clear. The left and right back bricks each have a square tab that hangs below the logo brick, those are both broken off and I'm going to try it without replacing them. They are also around $60 ea. They'll be easy to replace if the secondary won't kick in right.
    Scott
     
  10. branchburner

    branchburner
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    I'm sure you'll notice a big diff - mine really cranks now.
    CP only $199, interesting - I paid $270 last summer from a dealer that has very aggressive prices on most stuff.
    My shoe also cracked, right down the middle, and I cemented it.
    You are going to love that grill - the only drawback is that it's not all that big, but of course your coal bed lasts long enough to do a few rounds. I've even used it to bake potatoes and yams. Enjoy!
     
  11. Dill

    Dill
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    Glad to see everyone is using that thread. I had such a crazy summer trying to cram all my haying into August and September that I never got a chance to pull it out and clean it this year. But I've burned 24 hours a day for 2 weeks now and knock of firewood, no smoke issues. So I'm chalking it up to an everyother year maintence item.
    Now the whole reason I logged on. My father's looking to replace his 20 yr old vigilant. And being that he last 3 stoves where VCs back to the 70s he is looking at an Encore and one of his reasons is due to my Oakwood ash issue. But looking at the encore the non-cat works the same way right? And I suppose its going to have the same issues? Oh and anyone else in New England notice that firewood didn't dry this year? I have cherry that was cut after the ice storm that still looks fresh.
     
  12. summit

    summit
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    he will have the same issue you have had with any top load, rear chamber system. tell him to get a Tube burner, front or side load if he wishes to avoid it... after running the old 70's era VC stoves, I don't think he'll like the new ones, its a whole different system. Tell him to get a Jotul F500 or F600... it will perform much more like his old stove, but with less wood. the Harman system is probably the better of the rear burn chamber systems I have seen for ease of dissassembly/ cleaning (with the only exception being their Exception woodstove, now discontinued.)
     
  13. branchburner

    branchburner
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    Hi Dill, welcome back. Glad you are burning well. And I can relate to this year's wood!

    Have you thought about a non-VC cat stove? I'm slowly being sold on Woodstock as my next stove.
     
  14. Macandmall

    Macandmall
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    I was happy when the parts guy said 199, but I'm hoping it's the right part. I made the parts list from the back of my manual, and the # in the manual for the cp has been changed according to the dealer. Parts are not here yet, I should have gotten started on this sooner, it's been cold here for 2 weeks and I'm burning lp.
    Scott
     
  15. Macandmall

    Macandmall
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    I got the parts last week. The CP has a different # now because it is made out of a different material. It looks and feels like cement board, and the price is 199 now. I put it all together and burned a couple nights last week. It wasn't the best weather to get a good draft so the secondary combustion never really kicked in. It was producing good heat in the back, but I didn't hear the roar. Here is a link to the before and after photos. http://photo2.walgreens.com/slideshow/AlbumID=1946035002/PictureID=59642522002/a=4495964_4495964/otsc=SHR/otsi=SPIClink/COBRAND_NAME=walgreens/
    http://photo2.walgreens.com/slideshow/AlbumID=1946035002/PictureID=59642525002/a=4495964_4495964/otsc=SHR/otsi=SPIClink/COBRAND_NAME=walgreens/
    http://photo2.walgreens.com/slideshow/AlbumID=1946035002/PictureID=59642527002/a=4495964_4495964/otsc=SHR/otsi=SPIClink/COBRAND_NAME=walgreens/
    http://photo2.walgreens.com/slideshow/AlbumID=1946035002/PictureID=59642529002/a=4495964_4495964/otsc=SHR/otsi=SPIClink/COBRAND_NAME=walgreens/
    Scott
     
  16. branchburner

    branchburner
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    Well, if the price went down and the piece is sturdier, hats off to Harman.
    Thanks for posting the pics - I always think of them after I've finished the job!
    Happy burning - I hope it cranks for ya.
     
  17. dolphins1lrb

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    Macandmall - thanks for the pics. So with the new material does it seem sturdier, not as prone to crumbling?
     
  18. Macandmall

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    It is still fragile. maybe a little better than the original stuff, but it still feels like you should handle with care.
    Scott
     
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