Q&A Info about old Federal Airtight

QandA Posted By QandA, May 20, 2004 at 2:20 PM

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  1. QandA

    New Member 2.
    Staff Member

    Nov 27, 2012

    I have recently moved into a new (new to me- the home was constructed in 1987) home on Mt. Lemmon- AZ. The house is at 8-000 ft. elevation and we get plenty of cold weather. The house has passive solar and wood stove heat. I am in the process installing a small gas forced air furnace in the basement. I have used the wood stove a number of times now- and plan to continue to use it to off-set propane costs during the winter. I read your "instructions" but still have a few questions. First some information: The wood stove is a Federal Airtight. There are no other markings on the stove and no manuals or receipts. The stove looks older than the house and maintenance on it was poor to moderate. It is a free-standing unit with two quarter circle doors on the front and one rectangle door on the side. The side door has a single screw type air damper. The back of the stove has a air vent that is connected to a spring type thermostat This is a bimetallic damper- which responds to the heat of the stove and closes as it gets hot-- (opps- typo) which operates like a "flapper"- but I have not figured out if it opens when hot (this would not make sense to me) or when cold. The stove-pipe chimney was cleaned 4 months ago when the house was cleaned up for sale. Now the questions:<p> 1) The stove burning chamber has small shelves on the side which appear to be designed for a grate.<p>2)At this time I control the stove with the stove air damper only. Should the stove pipe flue-damper also be used- and how should it be set? When burning I have it fully open- and fully closed when not in use.<p>3) When the stove becomes very hot- and I turn down the air-damper to slow it down (but not choke it) the stove sometimes "chuffs". It seems like it is grabbing air from the chimney. This makes me a tad nervous and I find myself making smaller fires which defeats its intended use. Should I turn down the air supply earlier to avoid this?<p>4) When burning a larger load before bed is it safe to leave the air supply open enough to maintain flame. It seems that if I do so the stove "over heats" when it reaches the coal stage. My guess is that I should slow the fire down earlier- then maintain a slow burn but I am not sure- and do not want to experiment with the stove when I am going to sleep. Right now I almost completely close the air supply at bed-time. Sometimes I notice that I get incomplete burns (charcoal wood left over)- but mostly ash.


    1. There is no grate with the stove and I wonder if I should attempt to construct one- or if it is OK to set the wood on the floor of the stove (plain metal- no firebrick). The floor has 1" ridges (two) that run perpendicular to the front doors. The stove is a really old model- and it may have had some grates in it (they sit on the 1" shelves)- You could set some firebricks on the floor and it will do all right.
    2. Stove pipe dampers are used on older inefficient stoves and should be fully open when starting the fire and for the first couple hours--after awhile- when a good bed of coals are established- you can close the stack damper to hold the fire and heat longer in the stove.
    3. When a fire becomes used to a certain amount of air- and you cut it off--it will do the "locomotive" thing--as it tries to grab air. Turning it down slowly should help. Actually smaller- hotter fires are cleaner and more efficient.
    4. Overnight burns are always tricky. It's best to load an hour or two before bed- burn it hot for a bit- so the wood starts to turn to embers- then close the air. It's easier to hold a ember fire like this.
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