New Encore: One Month Update

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New Member
Jan 20, 2024
I have been burning my new Encore for a little over a month now. It has been working great. Background: We had a very old Encore that was needing a rebuild and could no longer take a catalyst (previous homeowner modification). Once we looked at part prices for glass, catalyst, etc and the work needed we jumped on a local sale on VC stoves. So I have a lot of experience running an Encore before, although not in catalyst mode. We are using the factory catalyst thermometer. We pulled out the old 8" singlewall pipe and installed 6" double wall Selkirk. The look is much more balanced with the size of the stove. We bought another Encore because we like the look, THE TOP LOADING and the "FIREPLACE" MODE (more on that later).

For the first time, we get all night fires. Very easy. And we have clean stack exhaust and low buildup. I am a big fan of the catalyst and ours behaves very well with our setup and our wood. Our wood is fir, seasoned under cover for 12-24 months. I have only overheated catalyst one time due to inattention. I find it very easy to light and get up to temp and when I close damper and engage the catalyst it hums along in the middle of the factory thermometer range. I really like the analog operation of the stove with a metal SST and factory thermometer. Running the stove is a lot like fly fishing. Low tech and you get in a groove knowing your stove and your wood and the stove just behaves and puts out heat. I still run outside when I kick in the catalyst to see the amazing clean exhaust gases!

The switch to double wall pipe was done for a few reasons. First we needed new pipe anyway since the new stove had smaller flue than old Encore. And we keep reading that the double wall will build up less creosote since it runs hotter inside. The double wall is also sturdier...we have a 12' run inside in a room with vaulted ceiling. The double wall still gives off some heat to the room.

And....we kept the fireplace screen off the old stove. And the stove draws just fine in "fireplace" mode. We really like to use stove with doors open in the morning when having coffee or want to sit around and watch the fire. With the reduction to 6" pipe we where worried there would be smoke leak, but it draws about the same as the 8" stove. I would say our long straight stack (16' total) helps with this and more restrictive stack installations would have problems.

The bad: Only one thing...the glass on the new stove is always blackened. Even burning a pretty hot morning fire will only open up some of the glass but never get it as clean as we see with Woodcutter's burns. Same wood as old stove, just burning it slowed down more with working catalyst. Maybe fir just burns that way? We just got a load of Maple we are seasoning for next winter and will see if there is any difference.

Overall I like the stove but I have no problem with having to work the stove and pay attention to the process of working it. I would not recommend it to someone who just wants to start a fire and walk away. I would say it is an enthusiast's stove.
Thanks for the nice update. VC still makes some of the nicest looking classic-style stoves on the market. The glass may stay clearer when temperatures drop below freezing and the stove is pushed harder for heat. Problem is that in our area that's much less frequent than in other parts of the state.
My encore is old but with the catalyst my glass is black in the morning. I use a digital probe for cat temps and it's hard to push for more heat when burning overnight unless you want to get up every 2 hours to adjust the air intake. I get the cat hot and cut the air back make sure temps stabilize and go to bed. In the AM glass is black and I open the air wide open. This burns a lot of the black off before I reload. Some soot on the glass doesn't bother me as much as it does others.