Is this cat still good? Pics.

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RockyMtnGriz

Burning Hunk
Apr 19, 2019
123
SW Montana
Now that I have you all here: _g

(Note that I was having too much fun, and first used a somewhat suggestive title for this post, which I have edited to better reflect the content.)

I dug into my 1999 ish Englander 24ACD to have a look at the cat. This is my first cat stove, so I've no experience. I have no background on the stove, except that I've used it very occasionally for the past 8 or so years, and I have no idea what the previous owner of the house did with, or to, it.

When I've cleaned the stove, I've seen the cat sitting there looking nice and white, so I know it works, at least somewhat. Yet, there's more crud buildup than I would expect in the stove and chimney, and I can often have more smoke than I think is right. Plus, the thing is rather cantankerous, tends to smell the house, and doesn't like to be turned down (smells more). I've done a lot over the years to seal the chimney to improve draft (this stove seems to like a LOT of draft), and seal the door, but I'm still not happy with it. I think the next move is a new cat, but I'd like to get input from the experts with this. Particularly since I figure changing the cat will probably destroy the current one. Should I think about cutting the gasket in an effort to avoid breaking this one? Would a banded cat work in this holder, or would it need to be gasketed like this one?

So the main question: Can a cat that appears to be fine (to me anyway), still need to be replaced? Can you even anything tell by looking at it (if it's not plugged up or black)? The thermometer shows 1,000 plus degree temps, and it will sometimes level and hold in the 600-800 deg range, though it usually needs to run hotter than that unless I have a draft enhancing wind. The white dust tells me it's working, but I wonder...

Keep in mind, this is a little darker than I've usually seen it. The last fire was snuffed out by gradually closing the draft, leaving about 3/4 of a load of coals in the firebox. I was actually surprised that it didn't come out with a little more sooting after that. The really dark section I've never seen before, and I'm sure that's the result of snuffing this fire.

IMG_3545M.JPG IMG_3535M.JPG IMG_3540M.JPG IMG_3541M.JPG IMG_3543M.JPG IMG_3544M.JPG

Also, it seems popular to show a 2" thick replacement cat for these stoves that came with a 3". Beyond having 50% less surface area, my temp probe would be in the wrong place. It makes sense to me to go back with a 3", but are there opinions on that?

Thanks for looking!
IMG_3539M.JPG
 
Last edited:

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,173
central pa
Now that I have you all here: _g

I dug into my 1999 ish Englander 24ACD to have a look at the cat. This is my first cat stove, so I've no experience. I have no background on the stove, except that I've used it very occasionally for the past 8 or so years, and I have no idea what the previous owner of the house did with, or to, it.

When I've cleaned the stove, I've seen the cat sitting there looking nice and white, so I know it works, at least somewhat. Yet, there's more crud buildup than I would expect in the stove and chimney, and I can often have more smoke than I think is right. Plus, the thing is rather cantankerous, tends to smell the house, and doesn't like to be turned down (smells more). I've done a lot over the years to seal the chimney to improve draft (this stove seems to like a LOT of draft), and seal the door, but I'm still not happy with it. I think the next move is a new cat, but I'd like to get input from the experts with this. Particularly since I figure changing the cat will probably destroy the current one. Should I think about cutting the gasket in an effort to avoid breaking this one? Would a banded cat work in this holder, or would it need to be gasketed like this one?

So the main question: Can a cat that appears to be fine (to me anyway), still need to be replaced? Can you even anything tell by looking at it (if it's not plugged up or black)? The thermometer shows 1,000 plus degree temps, and it will sometimes level and hold in the 600-800 deg range, though it usually needs to run hotter than that unless I have a draft enhancing wind. The white dust tells me it's working, but I wonder...

Keep in mind, this is a little darker than I've usually seen it. The last fire was snuffed out by gradually closing the draft, leaving about 3/4 of a load of coals in the firebox. I was actually surprised that it didn't come out with a little more sooting after that. The really dark section I've never seen before, and I'm sure that's the result of snuffing this fire.

View attachment 277816
View attachment 277817

View attachment 277815

img_3539m-jpg.277818


View attachment 277819

View attachment 277820

View attachment 277821

Also, it seems popular to show a 2" thick replacement cat for these stoves that came with a 3". Beyond having 50% less surface area, my temp probe would be in the wrong place. It makes sense to me to go back with a 3", but are there opinions on that?

Thanks for looking! View attachment 277818
How old is the cat?
 

RockyMtnGriz

Burning Hunk
Apr 19, 2019
123
SW Montana
How old is the cat?
Really no idea. I know I've owned the stove for about 8 years, but used it very little. I have no knowledge of what went on before I purchased the house. I'd think if they were using it before I bought it, they must've been misusing it (with the bypass open), or, it once was ok, and deteriorated to it's current state. I have a hard time believing that it ever worked right with a really leaky chimney, though. I've gradually been making it usable by improving the chimney situation, and door seal experiments. I don't know if it'll ever be really right, but step by step, it's getting better.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,973
Long Island NY
If you don't get above 800, AND you see smoke (not steam?! -check by having someone open the bypass while you look at what's coming out of the chimney), that to me suggests the cat is slowly dying.
Assuming you do run low and slow every now and then, it's not dead yet because it's not plugged up.

I had the same cat on my DutchWest. It did not have black spots, and always ran above 1000.
 

RockyMtnGriz

Burning Hunk
Apr 19, 2019
123
SW Montana
If you don't get above 800, AND you see smoke (not steam?! -check by having someone open the bypass while you look at what's coming out of the chimney), that to me suggests the cat is slowly dying.
Assuming you do run low and slow every now and then, it's not dead yet because it's not plugged up.

I had the same cat on my DutchWest. It did not have black spots, and always ran above 1000.

Thanks for the thought out reply. Yes the cat for this stove is also listed as the DutchWest cat. I guess there's also a Blaze King cat that is the same diameter, and 2, not 3 inches thick. It's usually listed as an option. When I look, the 3" cats are sold out, which I guess is giving me more time to ponder.

I had it burning yesterday, and even with the draft at about 1/4 (which is low for this stove - I often have to run at full open to live with the thing), it was 1200, so the cat clearly still works, but it was smelling up the room. I had it running because I have had a draft inducing, east wind the past few days, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to fire it up and experiment, without it smoking too much. I have to admit, I've had a bit more smell from it than I had expected, though.

I'd love to really run low and slow, but with this stove I can't. In the prevailing W wind, I can't turn it down more than 10-20 percent without really inviting bad (smelling) behavior. It seems like if I don't have a substantial volume of gasses going up the flue, it's not happy. And, that's usually about full throttle. The chimney is interior masonry 6x6, and about 25-30' tall. Because of the way the chimney was built, about 2 1/2 feet above the stove, there's a stove pipe 90 (about 75 actually), 18" angle up to the wall thimble, about 20" of horizontal, then a 90 up and out. Not the best way to build a chimney! But it is tall. 7,000 ft elevation offsets some of the height, though.

It's a relief to burn it when I have an E wind, but that's mostly because of the comparison to the W wind days. My Kuuma furnace does 99 percent of the heating. If I was relying on this stove, I would have frozen to death or asphyxiated a long time ago!

When I have a good draft inducing E wind, I will use the last load to make charcoal for my bbq by loading full with smaller pieces, and gradually cranking the draft to zero before walking away. I'm certain that's why the cat showed the dark spot in the pictures. I realize that's "kinda" abuse, but at least I get something of value out of maintaining this stove. Even with a favorable wind, it's a touchy situation to turn this thing down without it stinking me out of the room, if not the house.

What I don't get is, I can have a consistent light to moderate smoke coming from the chimney (not steam), with the cat at 1200 or higher, and have all these temperamental stove issues, yet look at this cat and see it a nice light powdery white, surrounded by white dust. I'm pondering weather a new cat is any hope of improving this thing, or if it's just never going to work in this installation.

I see the rave reviews of people putting in a new cat, but I wonder what condition their old one was in. If the old one comes out black - well, that's a no-brainer! In my case, looking at this, I have no idea which life this cat is working on, and if a new one will do anything to make me like this stove. That's why I'm soliciting opinions.

Thanks!
Mike
PS - Is it just me, or does this forum software do freaky things when you're typing? I so often find myself hitting the undo maybe multiple times to get back after some mysterious inadvertent hot-key mistake.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,173
central pa
Thanks for the thought out reply. Yes the cat for this stove is also listed as the DutchWest cat. I guess there's also a Blaze King cat that is the same diameter, and 2, not 3 inches thick. It's usually listed as an option. When I look, the 3" cats are sold out, which I guess is giving me more time to ponder.

I had it burning yesterday, and even with the draft at about 1/4 (which is low for this stove - I often have to run at full open to live with the thing), it was 1200, so the cat clearly still works, but it was smelling up the room. I had it running because I have had a draft inducing, east wind the past few days, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to fire it up and experiment, without it smoking too much. I have to admit, I've had a bit more smell from it than I had expected, though.

I'd love to really run low and slow, but with this stove I can't. In the prevailing W wind, I can't turn it down more than 10-20 percent without really inviting bad (smelling) behavior. It seems like if I don't have a substantial volume of gasses going up the flue, it's not happy. And, that's usually about full throttle. The chimney is interior masonry 6x6, and about 25-30' tall. Because of the way the chimney was built, about 2 1/2 feet above the stove, there's a stove pipe 90 (about 75 actually), 18" angle up to the wall thimble, about 20" of horizontal, then a 90 up and out. Not the best way to build a chimney! But it is tall. 7,000 ft elevation offsets some of the height, though.

It's a relief to burn it when I have an E wind, but that's mostly because of the comparison to the W wind days. My Kuuma furnace does 99 percent of the heating. If I was relying on this stove, I would have frozen to death or asphyxiated a long time ago!

When I have a good draft inducing E wind, I will use the last load to make charcoal for my bbq by loading full with smaller pieces, and gradually cranking the draft to zero before walking away. I'm certain that's why the cat showed the dark spot in the pictures. I realize that's "kinda" abuse, but at least I get something of value out of maintaining this stove. Even with a favorable wind, it's a touchy situation to turn this thing down without it stinking me out of the room, if not the house.

What I don't get is, I can have a consistent light to moderate smoke coming from the chimney (not steam), with the cat at 1200 or higher, and have all these temperamental stove issues, yet look at this cat and see it a nice light powdery white, surrounded by white dust. I'm pondering weather a new cat is any hope of improving this thing, or if it's just never going to work in this installation.

I see the rave reviews of people putting in a new cat, but I wonder what condition their old one was in. If the old one comes out black - well, that's a no-brainer! In my case, looking at this, I have no idea which life this cat is working on, and if a new one will do anything to make me like this stove. That's why I'm soliciting opinions.

Thanks!
Mike
PS - Is it just me, or does this forum software do freaky things when you're typing? I so often find myself hitting the undo maybe multiple times to get back after some mysterious inadvertent hot-key mistake.
It really sounds like pretty bad chimney issues
 

RockyMtnGriz

Burning Hunk
Apr 19, 2019
123
SW Montana
2” is just 33% less than 3”. 3” is 50% more than 2”.

Lies, damn lies, and statistics!

Is 3" not half-again-as-much as 2"? :)

And, does thickness really matter? ;)
 

RockyMtnGriz

Burning Hunk
Apr 19, 2019
123
SW Montana
It really sounds like pretty bad chimney issues

Agreed!

Downdrafting - but I can't move the mountain that causes it. I did fabricate a creative cap that helped a lot.

Crappy masonry setup - but the house is built around it, and it holds up some of the roof.

Can't really put in the class A straight up setup I would prefer, without removing the above crappy masonry setup - that also holds up the roof.

Not really room for an insulated liner, and the blasting required to do it would probably cost more than all the propane I could ever use in an alternative to this stove.

But the stove has value, as a wood and match only, backup to the backups. And, I'm a wood guy. Other than that, it's just a "would be nice to have" option, since I have another zc ish woodburner upstairs, and a Kuuma furnace, plus central propane backup. That's why I just casually try to fix this thing.

For a while, I was looking for a tube stove, thinking it might get along better with the chimney. The creators of this installed the masonry just a couple of inches each side of this narrow, deep stove, so I didn't see good options within the size constraints. And, if it could ever happen, a cat stove capable of going really low, would be great in this case.

I have read, and I think, experienced, that this stove in particular, likes a lot of draft. Sadly, I don't think that a crooked, massive, masonry chimney is a good match. It does burn better after a few days of constant use (on those 30+ below weeks), once the masonry is good and warm, but that just doesn't fit my needs. The furnace's straight up Class A on the same floor, however, is able to relocate the ash drawer contents onto the roof, if left uncontrolled.

When I was changing out my old furnace for the Kuuma, I thought a lot about trying this stove on the furnace flue, but sadly, I was just too fr....n tired and sore to remove it, move it, try it, move it, and reinstall it. I think it would have liked it, though.

Like everything in my life that's not quite right, but not an emergency, I try to keep pecking away at it. I've made this thing a whole lot better, and I'm down to pretty much the last thing I can reasonably replace. It's just that from what I can see, I'm not sure it's going to change anything, so I thought I'd try to get opinions from those with cat experience, of which I have none.

I likely would have ordered a replacement to try, except there aren't any 6x3 converters in stock right now (at a reasonable price), so I have extra time to contemplate.

Anybody have any luck removing a gasketed converter without breaking it? Just thinking if I DO decide to just change it out, I might as well save this one if I can, in case it is perfectly good. And, can a stainless banded converter be used in this holder?
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,330
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
You can’t tell by looking at a cat that it’s dead unless it is physically damaged. My dead ones look as good as they did after the first week of burning. If the original cat was 3” thick then I would wait for a replacement that is 3” thick if possible. The extra depth means more time that the smoke is exposed to the catalyst on its way through.

My cat is ceramic with a stainless steel band. Easily removed and replaced without damage. Every stove design is different though. The cats aren’t as fragile as you might think.

Englander used to make pretty good stuff. I have one of their better stoves and can’t complain about the purchase.
 

logfarmer

Burning Hunk
Oct 25, 2015
217
Ohio
You’ve got a similar chimney setup to mine, I have the bigger sibling stove the icd! Mine drafts good most of the time and I can turn mine down a bit, wanted the same stove you have but I missed out on it. I replaced my cat when I bought last fall looked ok and was the original( stove was purchased new in “91”) lol. But I went with the 3” ceramic cat.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,973
Long Island NY
What I meant was that If the cat gets black (while operating the stove as per the manual), that would suggest that it's not combusting the gases, meaning it's dead.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,330
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
What I meant was that If the cat gets black (while operating the stove as per the manual), that would suggest that it's not combusting the gases, meaning it's dead.

Yeah, the experts all say a cat must not glow for it to be functioning so instead, consider other factors such as visible smoke.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,973
Long Island NY
I meant black as in coated (rather than white for a ceramic cat).
 

RockyMtnGriz

Burning Hunk
Apr 19, 2019
123
SW Montana
I've never seen this cat dark in color, so it obviously works, at least some. But the chimney and smoke I've seen, leads me to think it also maybe doesn't work as well as it should. I guess I've got to go with the comment that a bad cat can look as good as the day it was purchased, and try another.

There's a considerable size difference between the holder and the cat. Is that a gasket only situation, or can a band take up that gap? Sorry, I've never seen one.

Also, anyone have a good technique for getting a cat out of the gasketed holder? I was thinking maybe I could cut the gasket with a jigsaw or sawzall blade, or maybe a sheetrock saw. It would be a shame to destroy a good cat, if this is as good as it gets. I didn't want to experiment when I had it out, since it was going back to work the next day.

Thanks!