Help deciding about a used VC Intrepid for sale

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New Member
Oct 4, 2022
A VC Intrepid is for sale, not sure which model so any help would be appreciated. (I asked the owner but he was not sure.) We will be new wood stove owners. We live in Arizona at about 3000 feet so very mild weather. It is mostly for ambiance but the extra heat will be nice. I am aware of the cost of installing it. They are asking 1200. I am considering other small stoves but because this is available, beautiful and top loading I am interested. By the way, used stoves are harder to come by in Arizona.

Thank you!


(I think I included the pictures but if not I will repost with them.)

Help deciding about a used VC Intrepid for sale Help deciding about a used VC Intrepid for sale Help deciding about a used VC Intrepid for sale
That's the Intrepid II and looks to be a nice later one with not much use. Would go over it though to make sure no cracks in the cast or ceramics on the inside. Would feel good at around $1,000.
Thank you Kevin. I can get the Drolet 1500 for about the same price but since this is a better size for our needs (and top load and nicer to look at) I am hoping it is a better stove for us. But any input is welcome.

We have a ranch and think we will put it in the family room by the open doorway to the rest of the house. Most days in winter the furnace comes on first thing in the morning to take the chill off and then later in the evening. We are retired now and home so I might start a little fire in the morning and then burn a little in the evening. The house is warmed during the day by the sun. We plan to burn seasoned trimmings from our trees, like mesquite and palo verde--some logs, some bigger branches. Will this stove do okay if we don't burn cord wood?

Thank you again, Kathy
I think your wood will be alright properly seasoned. The VC's are draft needy stoves. So if you're chimney set up has a so so draft you may want to consider a non-downdraft designed stove. Although the Intrepid II I think is a non-downdraft stove. By downdraft I mean the draft picks up the smoke and gases from the bottom back of the stove instead of conventionally at the top. Good luck with whatever you decide.
Thank you again. We are putting in a chimney from scratch. It will be set from the top of the stove, straight up through the roof and at least 16 feet, the minimum height. No elbows. So I hope that will give it sufficient draft. And if it matters, the house is not particularly air tight so the stove should have sufficient outside air.

The picture of the stove shows a black metal thing on the back. I am guessing that it is a heat shield and so I can use the "shielded" dimensions for installation. We plan on using the double stove pipe as well.

I think we will buy it unless we see damage. Then I can come back with install questions. :)

Honestly I would look for a different stove. Yes some people get these stoves to work very well for them. But many many people struggle
I understand your concern about this stove. I have similar concerns after reading many posts here about Vermont Castings. I think we will buy it anyway if it looks sound because it has the features I want (small, top load, catalytic converter, epa approved) at a price I can afford. We both like to tinker and are pretty handy so I am hoping, because I don't want to sell it and have to start over.
I understand your concern about this stove. I have similar concerns after reading many posts here about Vermont Castings. I think we will buy it anyway if it looks sound because it has the features I want (small, top load, catalytic converter, epa approved) at a price I can afford. We both like to tinker and are pretty handy so I am hoping, because I don't want to sell it and have to start over.
Glad to share our experience, as complete wood stove novices.

We did buy it and have been very pleased. I wanted a top load, cast iron, with a catalytic converter. And then I found one within our price range so we went for it. We live in Arizona at about 3000' so our heating needs are not great. But we were chilly in the evenings and wanted to be warmer without spending more on heating. Most winters we have had the furnace set to come on in the mornings and then in the evenings. I hoped to use the furnace less in the evenings but as it turns out we have rarely used it all, morning or evening, and our winter has been comparatively cold.

We have it in the family room, by the door to the rest of the house and it warms the family room up to 73-75 and warms next room and hall to 70 or 71 if we burn for a few hours. We have never loaded it up all the way with wood but with it about halfway loaded the cat will run for an hour or two and then it is still warm in the morning. Mostly we only have a few pieces of wood in it and the cat goes off fine but then runs out of fuel. We did have a couple of evenings in the 20s (really cold for us) and had no problem keeping the house warm enough for the evening.

It may well be finicky but as we have never had anything else we are perfectly satisfied. We are retired and have time to mess with it and try things out. It was in good shape. We added a thermometer to the cat and use an infrared one for the temp on the top. We burn wood from our property, mostly mesquite and palo verde.

Hope this is helpful in some way. We are still learning.

Thanks for your reply, sorry to be so late acknowledging. We are building an addition to a cabin on 40 acres we now use as a weekend place and I have been tied up with construction issues. The stove will be mostly for ambiance, some help on the heating and emergency heating if our electric line goes down-has happened before, the worst time took 8 days to get back in service. Of course, that was after a tornado came thru the area.
Did you design the installation? Did you allow the distances stated in the VC installation manual? Does this stove really get that hot in normal operation? I am replacing a big Ashley wood heater-cast iron firebox, no insulating brick, and it was set within 12" of the wood wall. It was our only source of heat while we lived in the cabin. This was a good thing when the power was out for 8 days. Hard to believe the new stove needs to be so much further away. I there a lot of heat from the cat area?
Not familiar with palo verde, but know mesquite well, born in Midland TX, raised in Roswell NM. Do you only burn well seasoned wood? Do you have problems getting it too hot?
Thanks again for the response.
In most stoves, you do not receive much heat directly from the cat. The cat is in the inside of the stove surrounded by ceramic. Your ceramic will be hot and you will receive some heat from the stove pipe. The object of the catalyst is to allow you to turn the air down and burn more cleanly. the catalyst will maintain stovepipe temperature preventing the stove from stalling. The benefit of the cat is to burn low on warmer.. less heat demand days... and not live in a room thats to hot. What ever stove you pick you definitely should follow the manual for all the clearances.
Hi again. Yes, we think we followed the clearances. Our Intrepid came with the heat shield and then we added a shield, cement board, to the wall. We have double wall stove pipe straight up to the triple wall chimney pipe. We are in a one-story ranch and we put the stove in the addition so there was not really a "design". For now our cement board is just leaning on the wall. We painted it to match the wall. My husband put feet on it so it would be up off the floor and stops on the back so it would stay away from the wall. Not elegant but it works and maybe some day we will make something attractive.

I found the clearances hard to read in the manual. I kept going between the chart and the images they have, trying to get it all to match. If I remember correctly, they don't show the heat shield with a wall shield in the chart. But it is in the images. I followed the clearance in the image. The cement board has never been hot to the touch, just nicely warm. And the wall behind the cement board is cool to the touch. The wall above the wall shield, behind the stove pipe, gets warmer--but still comfortable to touch. I can imagine the clearances are generous, lawsuits and all, but we decided to follow them. (Also, I assume that the clearances are set for a roaring fire, full firebox, and we haven't done that.) Our couch is the appropriate distance away but the metal bucket of wood is pretty close to the side, 16"?. It never feels hot.

Palo Verde is soft. Not like mesquite at all. We have a problem having enough moisture in the wood, tends to dry out fast in the desert. So yes, we only burn well-seasoned wood. You ask about it getting "too" hot. No, but we have never filled it more than half full. Or on a cool cloudy day like today we just burn smaller pieces without the cat to take the chill off. But if it is going to be "cold", 40s and 50s, all day then we use the cat and warm up the whole house. Without the stove we used our gas furnace to warm up the house to 70 but we were chilly in this room. Now we often don't use the gas heat at all and this room is 74 or so and the house is 69 or 70.

We have used it more than we thought we would and it has been great for us. It would definitely be sufficient in an emergency. Again, hope this is helpful, we are about the least experienced on this board.