Question for those with cat stoves

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Burning Hunk
Nov 23, 2014
brookville, indiana
I am on my second year of burning (trying to) my Buck. I just can't seem to get it right. At what temps (with a IR) do you cruise at?. With the temp taken at the top of the door next to the probe.

Also, what are the temps on your probe? Mine went to 520 IT temp and 1700 on the probe. Scared the heck out of me, as it was still climbing. I am trying to get an idea of how people get the long burn times and heat houses a lot bigger than mine.

I am going to swallow my pride and ask more questions so I can enjoy this stove.

Thanks for putting up with me
1700 is a little higher than I like to see because it's getting close to 1800 and they say don't run the cat there for a prolonged period. I found that a stove top (stove front) reading of 400-450 was putting out good heat. 520 stove temp next to the probe is definitely cranking big heat. You can bail out and open the bypass if you have to, but I managed my burn rate with how I loaded the stove. I've described it in other threads, but basically I would pull the coals to the center in a line, running front to back. Then I would put a couple big splits on both sides of the coals, on the floor of the stove with no coals under them. Then fill in the rest of the sides, then a couple medium split on top of the coals to kick it off. Loading like this, the big splits next to the coals would catch more slowly, so I didn't have a lot of wood off-gassing all at once at the beginning of the burn; Major gassing early in a new load is what causes the cat and stove temps to go high in a hurry. Another factor in gassing is the type of wood you're using, and the size of the splits. If you load a bunch of small soft-Maple splits, they will be gassing like crazy in a fairly short time, the cat will start eating all that smoke/gas and will get hotter than you want. On the other hand, big splits and dense woods like Hickory will take longer to get gassing, resulting in a more even burn.
As far as the burn times, I can get 12 hrs. with even soft Maple but the stove top will be a bit lower at the end of the burn, and not tossing big heat any more. With some Oak or Hickory, the stove will still be putting out decent heat at the 12-hr. mark. As I've said before, if stove temp and coal bed are pretty low, I may burn a few smaller splits in the front of the box to get the temp back up closer to where I need to be for light-off, then put in the main fuel. That way, you don't burn up as much of your main load getting the stove up to temp.
Now, it took me a while to get the air control where I wanted it, to control off-gassing and stove/cat temps. You need a good gasket seal on the ash pan. If your ash pan gasket is leaking, you will see a lot of glowing inside the firebox, around the ash dump lid (a little glowing is OK.) With a new stove, your ash pan gasket should be OK, but still check to see that the ends haven't frayed and left a gap where air can get in. When I put a new gasket on, I dabbed a small amount of silicone on the ends of the gasket rope to keep them from unraveling. Also make sure that the top of the ash pan housing is hitting the gasket well. This may be a bit hard to determine, but you may be able to see an indentation in the gasket. If not, maybe get some colored chalk that would show up on the white gasket, like red or blue chalk. Remove the ash pan, run the chalk around the edge of the ash pan housing, then slide the pan in all the way. Pull it back out and see if it looks like the edge of the pan housing hit the gasket all the way around. It seems that the top of the gasket has to be positioned just right...too low, and it won't hit the top edge of the ash pan housing.
Secondly, how does your glass look, pretty clear most of the time (assuming your wood is dry?) If the glass gunks up easily you may want to check the door adjustment. Do the dollar-bill test all the way around the door. It should take some effort to pull the bill out. If it pulls out easily, you may need to adjust the door latch to make more gasket pressure against the stove. Also, what position is the handle in when the door is closed tightly? Should be about 4 o'clock; If it goes close to vertical, the handle may be bottoming out before the door is closed tightly. To adjust the door latch, there are two set screws on the barrel of the latch, and a phillips screw on the end to position the latch before re-tightening the set screws.
What kind of burn times are you getting now? Describe your procedure and use of the air controls, starting from when you put a fresh load in the stove, to when you get up to temp, close the bypass, and set the air for the overnight burn. If you would, refresh my memory about your setup. About what is your stack height from stove top to the top of the liner? Do you have an open floor plan, or a lot of small rooms down hallways? Is the stove centrally located? How many sq.ft. are you trying to heat?
My probe temp cruises at 1,000, I keep a stove top thermometer over the side bay window, it cruises at 400-450. I have to keep the air wash opened slightly to keep in burning all the way through. I am getting good 12 hr runs on hot reloads. Like Woody, I like to toss in small splits to get up to temp before packing it in. We are in a cold snap in MD and the Buck is still our only heat source needed. Woody is the man! He's been a HUGE help to me, also in my second season.
Like Woody, I like to toss in small splits to get up to temp before packing it in.
Yep, if you try to bring it up from 200 or so with it already loaded, not only do you burn through a lot of wood, you also get too much wood gassing by the time you get up to temp, and then she can go high.
He's been a HUGE help to me, also in my second season.
What's the old saying... "blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut." ;lol I've stumbled onto a couple things, since I've been messing with it for a few years. ==c
Well I dont have a Buck, I have a VC so I'm not going to see the same results. The cruising temps I hit depend a lot on how strong the draft is (outside temp), the load and how I started the load.

If I start from minimal coals and need to fire the load a long time to get the stack temps up and light off the cat, what will happen is everything off gases at once and the cat temps will slowly rise throughout the burn and might hit 1700 or more. I have my cat probe set to alarm at 1650 as I dont want to ever go over 1700, Condor says that the platimum wash starts to be damaged beyond that temp. I also now from experience that at 1800+ I will start to see glowing iron. On the occasion the alarm does go off, I open the bypass and let the cat cool off for about 5 minutes, and then open the door and knock the load down a bit with the ash rake. Often I can then re-engage and it will settle back into to a safer temp.

If I have a big deep coal bed and reload, I can get the stack temps up in 5 minutes or so and start shutting down before the entire load is offgassing. In this case I can usually get the cat to settle in and cruise in the 1200-1400 range wit the air completely shut. I get longer burns and more even temps that way. Griddle temps will usually be 350-450.

On cold days if I need max heat I run half loads and leave the air around 1/4 open giving me cat temps in the 1300-1500 range and griddle of 500-600.
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