Questions for any Osburn Strattford II owners (or others with shallow fire boxes)

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NickW

Minister of Fire
Oct 16, 2019
644
SE WI
So I've done some break in burns in the Strattford II in the new cabin, but am not used to a shallow fire box. It is just over 12" from the back to the andirons. 3 or 4 16" medium size chunks of pine will burn for 3 hours and raise the mostly insulated house temp 5 degrees. Install is in the middle of the house with 19' straight up class A insulated pipe.

Do you cut wood 12" long for a north south load or just use 16" east west? Or a combo of both? My NC30 stove at home doesn't seem to like east west much... The manual only gives a few basic diagrams for fire starting. Should full loads be packed tight or leave some breathing gaps? Does this vary from ns to ew?

How do you monitor temps? Can I put a probe into the class A chimney and run the wire through the surround wall out to the display or is that a no-no having the wire hanging inside the surround?

Any other words of wisdom to help shorten the learning curve?
 

NickW

Minister of Fire
Oct 16, 2019
644
SE WI
Sounds like you have class A pipe all the way to the stove?
Use single wall until you reach the point where you pass through the ceiling. Rutland burn indicator on single wall 18" above stove.
If anyone sees faults in this please "pipe up," so to speak.
It's a "zc" fireplace, so fully enclosed except the front.
 
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NickW

Minister of Fire
Oct 16, 2019
644
SE WI
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,909
Long Island NY
I'm not sure drilling a hole in (ul listed) class A would void the UL listing...?
 

NickW

Minister of Fire
Oct 16, 2019
644
SE WI
I'm not sure drilling a hole in (ul listed) class A would void the UL listing...?
That's what I'm wondering...? Are flue probes only for stovepipe and not for use in liners or class A?
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,909
Long Island NY
I think so. I hope the residential expert will confirm this or teach us a lesson. @bholler?
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,927
central pa
That's what I'm wondering...? Are flue probes only for stovepipe and not for use in liners or class A?
I am sure it would void the listing. But honestly if it was mine I would do it. Don't tell anyone I said that though lol
 
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timmyd

Member
Jan 31, 2009
19
Western PA
I have the Stratford, not the Stratford II. By removing the andiron and replacing it with a piece of firebrick an additional row of wood can be added. I burn hardwood cut to 18 inch lengths and probably medium sized splits It takes 8-9 to fully fill the firebox. This gives 7-8 hour burns
 

NickW

Minister of Fire
Oct 16, 2019
644
SE WI
I have the Stratford, not the Stratford II. By removing the andiron and replacing it with a piece of firebrick an additional row of wood can be added. I burn hardwood cut to 18 inch lengths and probably medium sized splits It takes 8-9 to fully fill the firebox. This gives 7-8 hour burns
Ok Tim, I have some questions for you... I think the fireplaces are pretty similar.

First of all, understand that right now I am trying to heat an unheated new construction with pine as best as I can. The pine is seasoned OK, but not all is great. A few weeks ago I was at 16-23% on some test splits (on a warm fresh split). I am going to haul some well seasoned hardwoods & softwoods from home to supplement the pine. Once the furnace is up and running in the next couple of weeks I won't be as concerned.

Questions:

1. It takes forever (about an hour) from a cold start to get to operating temp and the blower to kick in on auto. Does it take you a long time too? I am running the blower on manual as soon as I can get warm air out of it.

2. I assume that your full east west loads are on a hot bed of coals? I am not, at least so far, a big fan of the air flow in it. On a cold start I have to have a couple of pieces going more north south to get it to burn and not smoke the crap out of my glass. What do you do on cold starts?
 

NickW

Minister of Fire
Oct 16, 2019
644
SE WI
I have the Stratford, not the Stratford II. By removing the andiron and replacing it with a piece of firebrick an additional row of wood can be added. I burn hardwood cut to 18 inch lengths and probably medium sized splits It takes 8-9 to fully fill the firebox. This gives 7-8 hour burns
Oh yeah... Question 3. How do you monitor temps?
 

tabner

Burning Hunk
Jan 17, 2019
230
Eastern CT
2. I assume that your full east west loads are on a hot bed of coals? I am not, at least so far, a big fan of the air flow in it. On a cold start I have to have a couple of pieces going more north south to get it to burn and not smoke the crap out of my glass. What do you do on cold starts?

I have a different stove and am pretty new to this, so don't take my input as gospel. But I am experiencing a similar issue, my firebox is very shallow (both depth below the front lip, and shallow front to back). N/S it's about 10" whearas E/W it's 18". I am finding that for cold starts i really need to run the first layer of wood N/S. this would be short pieces, 10" long, operating as "sleepers" under the load. Same as you describe, in order to get everything up to temp quickly, generate some warmth, and avoid excessive smoking. Once i have a hot bed of coals I can load it E/W with 18" lengths. But it's a little annoying, I guess I am going to have to get in the habit of cutting and stacking 5% of my wood at a 10" length. I suppose this would be more of an issue if you are just lighting one fire a day, vs 24/7 operation, you'd have more cold starts.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,345
South Puget Sound, WA
Ok Tim, I have some questions for you... I think the fireplaces are pretty similar.

First of all, understand that right now I am trying to heat an unheated new construction with pine as best as I can. The pine is seasoned OK, but not all is great. A few weeks ago I was at 16-23% on some test splits (on a warm fresh split). I am going to haul some well seasoned hardwoods & softwoods from home to supplement the pine. Once the furnace is up and running in the next couple of weeks I won't be as concerned.

Questions:

1. It takes forever (about an hour) from a cold start to get to operating temp and the blower to kick in on auto. Does it take you a long time too? I am running the blower on manual as soon as I can get warm air out of it.

2. I assume that your full east west loads are on a hot bed of coals? I am not, at least so far, a big fan of the air flow in it. On a cold start I have to have a couple of pieces going more north south to get it to burn and not smoke the crap out of my glass. What do you do on cold starts?
It's not uncommon in an E/W loader to put down 2 , N/S sleepers about 4" apart, on which the rest of the E/W load rests. That is the way I started the F400 Castine frequently. If you put 1/4 of a SuperCedar in middle, in between the N/S sleepers, that should be enough to get a fire started quickly with good dry wood.
If the pine is in the 23% moisture range it is going to be a little sluggish. If the hardwood is truly dry, then it should provide a more satisfying heat. Split some 2x4 and 2x6 construction scraps in half to use as kindling and as the N/S sleepers for a quick boost.

It takes a ton less BTUs to keep a place warm and in the 70s than to take it from 50 to 65º. And the heat will be more even once ceiling fans get put in.
 

NickW

Minister of Fire
Oct 16, 2019
644
SE WI
I have a box fan up in the loft for now to help circulation. It's only a couple of degrees warmer up there than the main level. Even with no drywall up yet the Great room with the fireplace is 4 degrees warmer than the other end of the house. I have been able to get it up to about 64 in the stove room, but it takes all day and once the sun goes down and temps start dropping it gets a little tougher. I'm working on things and only paying so-so attention to the fire.

Next week the electrician and plumber will get done what they need to so the HVAC guy can get the furnace going, then the insulator will do the spray foam sill plates after it's been 65 inside for a few days.
 

timmyd

Member
Jan 31, 2009
19
Western PA
Ok Tim, I have some questions for you... I think the fireplaces are pretty similar.

First of all, understand that right now I am trying to heat an unheated new construction with pine as best as I can. The pine is seasoned OK, but not all is great. A few weeks ago I was at 16-23% on some test splits (on a warm fresh split). I am going to haul some well seasoned hardwoods & softwoods from home to supplement the pine. Once the furnace is up and running in the next couple of weeks I won't be as concerned.

Questions:

1. It takes forever (about an hour) from a cold start to get to operating temp and the blower to kick in on auto. Does it take you a long time too? I am running the blower on manual as soon as I can get warm air out of it.

2. I assume that your full east west loads are on a hot bed of coals? I am not, at least so far, a big fan of the air flow in it. On a cold start I have to have a couple of pieces going more north south to get it to burn and not smoke the crap out of my glass. What do you do on cold starts?
A cold start for mine is with the house between 55 and 62 degrees. It's a second home so I keep the furnace as low as I can when we aren't there. I crumple newspaper to cover the bottom of the firebox then space 6-7 pieces of kindling e/w and the same diagonal across those. I put 2 small splits on top of that but try not to compress the paper too much. The draft gets fully opened and paper lit then the doors closed but not latched. The blower is set on auto, and usually within 20 minutes the splits are burning well and blower kicks on. The doors get latched and the fire burns until there are decent coals and splits are fully burning. Once that happens, the firebox gets loaded up and doors closed but not latched until the load is burning well. When the wood is caught, the doors get latched and I start watching the temperature gauge. The Rutland flue temp thermometer is placed halfway down the left hand door, It isn't accurate as far as real box temperature, but is used for information only. In my case, when it hits 300-325 the draft gets closed halfway. At 350 the draft is closed all the way if the secondaries are burning well, If the secondaries go out, the draft is opened halfway until they relight and I try again.

The first load will give 4-5 hours before coaling and cooling. I reload when the thermometer gets to 200. On a reload, the coals are raked forward and wood stacked as high as possible from back to front to about 2-3 inches from the glass. From this point on the blower never shuts off and there are good coals for 7-8 hours.

It's a long post, but I hope it helps.
 
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NickW

Minister of Fire
Oct 16, 2019
644
SE WI
So I purchased an IR gun for the fireplace up north. Only have hit a little over 700 inside the firebox and a little over 500 stt. Brought it home with me to check the NC30 and it reads pretty close to the Condar Inferno. Discovered that my hot spot is different from where I had the Condar, but that could be because I damaged one of my boards during cleaning and haven't replaced it yet. Only broke 2 corners, but it should be replaced...

Learning the Strattford II a little better. Still takes a really long time to get the blower to kick in on auto. I don't have enough patience to wait that long, so once I can get heat I just flip it to manual. Certainly does better with some better wood! The pine is OK if it goes on a good hot bed of coals. I can raise the entire house temp 10 degrees (53 to 63) in about 3 hours with outside temps in the 30's. Furnace should be running by the end of the day...
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,345
South Puget Sound, WA
Temps measured through the glass to the firebox are not valid. The IR thermometer can not get an accurate read there. If you are seeing good secondary combustion, then the firebox temp is over 1100º.
 

NickW

Minister of Fire
Oct 16, 2019
644
SE WI
Temps measured through the glass to the firebox are not valid. The IR thermometer can not get an accurate read there. If you are seeing good secondary combustion, then the firebox temp is over 1100º.
So any suggestions for monitoring temps? Just reference stt to door front top corner for an idea?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,345
South Puget Sound, WA
It's harder with ZCs. On the face above the left or right door is probably the best bet.

I find flue gas temp more important and a better guide for operation. It would violate the pipe warranty, but I'd be tempted to put a probe on the chimney about 12-18" above the box that is tied to an Auber or PID. This would require a 1/8" hole and a service access port in case the probe failed.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
91,345
South Puget Sound, WA
Yes, I rarely look at stovetop temp, but follow the flue temp closely. This thread illustrates why.

 

Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
1,096
Massachusetts
Regarding shallow EW loaders and starting fires I have plenty of experience. The firebox in my Osburn 1600 is 17 3/4 x 10" and I've tried just about every possible interaction of top down starts.

I find a lot of it depends on the wood. If the kindling and wood are A+ I can just pack the wood in EW and leaving the top center log out, fill that area with kindling, one piece of super cedar or fat wood and off she goes. Door 1" open for about 5 minutes, close it up, and let her go. Once it catches I'll add a small split to the area where the kindling was. It'll go from 0-100 mph in about 45 minutes.

This method is a little more complicated when the wood is suspect. Maybe 20-24%. I find that adding small 1/2 to 1" kindling sleepers allows the regular and airwash air underneath to boost performance. I will also not pack the stove, use more kindling, and try to get a decent small fire going before adding more wood. A full load of mediocre wood will struggle to take off and waste tons of energy.

Now the true fun comes when I have a pile of shorties. I tend to save them as I find them in order to do a full NS burn. I do the same top down method as I described first and its amazing how much faster it takes off. Instead of 45 minutes it's about 30 minutes. It just has access access a lot more air.

If I know it's going to be a cold night but I not burning 24/7 yet I will do hybrid small fire with sleepers and a few small EW logs designed to burn to coals within an hr or two after dinner then reload a full stove on the coals before bed. I get a lot more mileage out of the wood instead of wasting smoke heating up the box.

It's clear that loading NS or using sleepers enhances the speed at which the fire takes off however if you are ahead with your wood prep and have A+ wood the regular EW way works just fine. Dry wood catches fast and burns hot.
 
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Caw

Minister of Fire
May 26, 2020
1,096
Massachusetts
Regarding temp monitoring since I have an insert a probe is out of the question without serious effort. It does protrude about 8" so I have a Condar Inferno STT as far back as it will go and I can still read it, slightly under the surround. I also have an IR gun that I can hit the collar with if I crouch down and peer in above the stove top.

I obviously don't know exactly what's happening with flue gas temps without a probe but based on the STT and collar readings plus visual and audio cues I know exactly when to adjust the air and reload. I was much more nervous year 1 but learned to utilize what I can monitor and run the stove well. At the end of the season cleaning the chimney and having next to nothing in it is good confirmation of practice. I remember year 1 I did a mid season cleaning because I was nervous, now it's just annually.
 
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