The CAT is caput

raygard

Member
Nov 5, 2011
88
Columbia, MD
Opps. Don't know how this happened. This week, i noticed a very substantial decline in the performance of the the ol' VC 2550 Encore (CAT) so much so that when I closed the damper to engage the CAT the fire in the box just simple went out. Choked off sort of thing. Even with air on full blast it would only work if the damper was open.

Well decided to open it up and vacum out the CAT. The problem is I now have no CAT. I opened up the internal wall seperating the fire box from the refractory enclosure and pulled off the top of the refractory housing and started removing indivudual pieces of the CAT. It is now sitting in a heap on the hearth, all white and brittle. The metal frame that it is supposed to sit in is melted on one side. So not much I can do there. I have to get a new one. I brought the shop vac out and vacumed up as much as I could yet I know there is gunk in the bottom of the refractory where it disintegrated in my hands and fell into the hollow. My question is: how to I get the refractory out to vacuum it without destroying it? If I can get a picture I'll post that as well. The missus has the camera at present.

Thanks

Ray
 

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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
78,080
South Puget Sound, WA
Sorry to hear that Ray. How old was the cat?
 

BrowningBAR

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
7,609
San Tan Valley, AZ
rayg said:
Opps. Don't know how this happened. This week, i noticed a very substantial decline in the performance of the the ol' VC 2550 Encore (CAT) so much so that when I closed the damper to engage the CAT the fire in the box just simple went out. Choked off sort of thing. Even with air on full blast it would only work if the damper was open.

Well decided to open it up and vacum out the CAT. The problem is I now have no CAT. I opened up the internal wall seperating the fire box from the refractory enclosure and pulled off the top of the refractory housing and started removing indivudual pieces of the CAT. It is now sitting in a heap on the hearth, all white and brittle. The metal frame that it is supposed to sit in is melted on one side. So not much I can do there. I have to get a new one. I brought the shop vac out and vacumed up as much as I could yet I know there is gunk in the bottom of the refractory where it disintegrated in my hands and fell into the hollow. My question is: how to I get the refractory out to vacuum it without destroying it? If I can get a picture I'll post that as well. The missus has the camera at present.

Thanks

Ray

At this point, if the assembly looks to be usable, I would vacuum around it as best I could. Otherwise you do risk damaging the assembly.

Here are a few options for buying a new Catalyst:

Ebay $179:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Wood-Stove-Replacement-Catalytic-Combustor-Vermont-Castings-Ships-Fast-NEW-/220949510617?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item33719df9d9

Ebay $181.80 Condar brand:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/AMERICAN-BUILT-Catalytic-Combustor-for-Vermont-Castings-stoves-by-Condar-CC-257-/270821640768?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f0e3a4a40

Amazon $181.89:
http://www.amazon.com/Honeycomb-Catalytic-Combustor-CC-257-CASTINGS/dp/B00180UWTK

Ebay $194.99
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vermont-Castings-Winter-Warm-Catalytic-Combustor-/220439613508?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3353399044

Black Swan $239.00
http://www.blackswanhome.com/product/catalytic-combustor-various-models1

If you find better pricing, let me know.
 

raygard

Member
Nov 5, 2011
88
Columbia, MD
First burn was Oct '09. From the looks of it. It just got way too hot in there.
 

BrowningBAR

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
7,609
San Tan Valley, AZ
rayg said:
First burn was Oct '09. From the looks of it. It just way to hot in there.
You're going to need a Cat probe to correct this issue.
 

raygard

Member
Nov 5, 2011
88
Columbia, MD
BrowningBAR said:
rayg said:
First burn was Oct '09. From the looks of it. It just way to hot in there.
You're going to need a Cat probe to correct this issue.
Agreed. The disintegration does look spectacular, and would want it to happen again. Thanks for the prices.

That refractory material is pretty delicate stuff, so leaving it alone may be the only option.
 

BrowningBAR

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
7,609
San Tan Valley, AZ
rayg said:
BrowningBAR said:
rayg said:
First burn was Oct '09. From the looks of it. It just way to hot in there.
You're going to need a Cat probe to correct this issue.
Agreed. The disintegration does look spectacular, and would want it to happen again. Thanks for the prices.

That refractory material is pretty delicate stuff, so leaving it alone may be the only option.

Both, the Cat and Refractory should last longer than 2.5 burning seasons. If you can get a probe in there and you are burning dry wood, the life span of both should increase quite a bit.

I am assuming you have removed the back panel of the stove as oppose to the fireback? Either way, you might as well replace the gasket material when you re-install the casting piece(s) to be sure you have a good seal.
 

raygard

Member
Nov 5, 2011
88
Columbia, MD
Take off the throat, knock the wedges out with a mallet and the whole cast iron piece just falls forward? I saw the gasket. How do you get that cast iron piece out throught the double doors?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
78,080
South Puget Sound, WA
Definitely a dead cat. That stove is officially catatonic.
<ducking>
 

jharkin

Minister of Fire
Oct 21, 2009
3,887
Holliston, MA USA
If you have a shop vac with a small (like 1 inch) hose, or can rig up an adapter for one that will be small and flexible enough to get into the bottom of the refractory box from the side openings. Thats what I do.

I got the Condar steel cat. Expensive but works well so far.

BTW, wit the cat that bad the secondary air control probe is probably toast as well. Its about a $40 or so part I think and removes with one screw from the back. I got a replacement at Black Swan.
 

WoodpileOCD

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2011
722
Central NC
Are all of those pictures from one cat? I'm looking at the stove leg there and the size of the pile of pieces and it looks like several dead cats to me. Is it really that big or is it some optical illusion?
 

Bub381

Minister of Fire
Feb 4, 2011
872
Mid-coast Maine
I looked at these stoves and priced the parts and that's why i didn't buy 1.I'm sorry for your bill though. I hope ya find a cheap 1 and soon.
 

BrowningBAR

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
7,609
San Tan Valley, AZ
WoodpileOCD said:
Are all of those pictures from one cat? I'm looking at the stove leg there and the size of the pile of pieces and it looks like several dead cats to me. Is it really that big or is it some optical illusion?
2.5" x 13" x 2"
 

raygard

Member
Nov 5, 2011
88
Columbia, MD
Yep. It's one CAT. The internal fire box had gotten so hot that the "throat" for the smoke enterance to the CAT had warped the cast iron. Now I can't get the throat back in (came out comparitvely easily) to use the stove in start up burn fashion ie. damper open
 

Gark

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2007
808
SW Michigan
Ray, sorry to see that. The lower fireback can be removed, but with care. I first remove the griddle off the stove and the coal grate out. Have been able to remove the fireback without removing the andirons. The directions call for 36 inch long 5/16" rope gasket for the lower fireback, but 5 feet long is more likely.
EDITED: Have sent you PM's with a couple of pdf manuals for this stove attached.
 

Gark

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2007
808
SW Michigan
rayg said:
Take off the throat, knock the wedges out with a mallet and the whole cast iron piece just falls forward? I saw the gasket. How do you get that cast iron piece out throught the double doors?
One of the manuals says to remove the andirons so the lower fireback can be removed, but I've been able to work it out of there with andirons still in (careful not to bash the refractory with that heavy fireback...).
 

raygard

Member
Nov 5, 2011
88
Columbia, MD
Thanks for the input Folks. Have had to turn the Center Heater on will the parts are coming in. It pains me every time that electric system switches on.

Ray