New to me VC Resolute III

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Nov 30, 2021
Southern RI
Hi everyone,
Sorry this is going to be kinda long but I figured I'd tell the whole story before I ask y'all some troubleshooting questions..
I moved into a house in March and it had a VC Resolute III marked 03/11/1986 on the inside of the left door. When I first looked at it, it seemed to be in rough shape and it was getting to be summertime so I put it on the back burner. Well about a month ago it started getting colder and we decided it was time to see if we could get the old girl going again.
I'm an industrial maintenance tech by trade so I did a little research and tackled it all myself. First I had to get the birds nest and family of 5 out of the 90 degree elbow that went through the wall and out to the exterior stainless insulated chimney. Then noticed that where the nest was had a nice hole eaten through the inner lining.. Found out after some research that the company (Hart & Cooley) had not made this style of tab-lock chimney since 2002. But the old guy who I got on the phone sent me a new twist lock style section that worked with a little MacGyvering and some self tappers.
So I installed the new pipe through the wall, got all new interior pipe down to the stove and was ready to work on the stove itself. It looked (and still looks) pretty rough on the outside and all the gaskets were shot so that was my first order of business. Things were going smoothly until I got to the 2 window gaskets and noticed that a few of the glass holder clips had broken and a few of the screws were all stripped out. I was as able to (after about 5 hours, 3 broken screws, 4 broken drill bits,2 broken taps, some clips for jotul glass from a local stove store, a lot of foul language, and quite a few adult beverages) get the gasket and glass back in and snugged down. Ahhh the fun of cast iron.....
So after about a week of on-and-off work, I was finally ready to fire the thing up. We always had a woodstove in our house growing up but I haven't used one since I was probly 12 (I'm 32 now) So I had some basic knowledge along with reading a bit about the stove online. We've been using it for a few weeks now and it's going pretty well but I have a few questions/concerns to run by you all.
First, periodically while the damper is closed, it will sometimes belch quite a bit of smoke out from around the sides of the top cover in short bursts (not the griddle, but the actual top seam of the stove). Is there a regular fiberglass gasket like others under the top, or is it something else that is put in from the factory and has since deteriorated? How do I seal it? Or is there a way to get a better draft with the damper closed that may stop it from happening? I've tried running it with the thermostat open and closed but it seems to just do it randomly and it stinks the house up. (Possibly wind?)
Second, when it gets going good and I shut the damper, I hear lots of particles falling back down the pipe for about a minute. Is that normal, and how long before I should disconnect the pipe and clean it out?
Next, how much wood can I load this thing up with, and how long should I run it damper-open before I can shut it and let it eat? I've been going max about 3 logs in it at any given time, and the one time I put 4 the pipe got so hot it started billowing smoke from the coating burning off it. Temp at the stove was about 650 when it happened but I've been hesitant to put more than 3 in it at a time since then.. Wondering if that's just what the new pipes do the first time they get that hot, or if it just plain got too hot?
That's all I can think of for now, but im sure it won't be the last time I post here. Thanks in advance for any help you guys can give me. I'll put some pics in of the unit and the journey so far...

New to me VC Resolute III New to me VC Resolute III New to me VC Resolute III New to me VC Resolute III New to me VC Resolute III New to me VC Resolute III