The picture and story behind my latest wood stove

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Thinking of buying a used wood stove? Here what I did and the reasons behind it.
Vermont Castings made great woodstoves, all the way up till, the company was bought out by Majestic CFM about 1994. When I was doing an inspection earlier this fall the people were replacing this VC Intrepid II throwing it away for their new Harmon Pellet stove. I thought about if for a while then took them up on their offer. I knew this was manufactured at the time when the original VC craftsmen were stilled employed. Knowing it was at the peak of their quality production. I also knew it was pre EPA, but VC had anticipated the EPA regs, and built their stoves to Oregon Specs that were actually EPA regs. This applies to the Cat Intrepid line, manufactured from 1987 forward. Originally the blue ceramic was chipped, not ugly and not bad but considering it free, a no brainier. I knew It would require new gasketing what I did not plan on was a total disassembly and rebuild. With a dust hood, respirator, and blowgun I decided to clean it and blow it out. 110 LBS of air pressure created a dust cloud. so much so, the dust actually escaped out the refectory seams. It exposed all gasket leaks as well. At this point, I knew I it required much more than gasketing. I took it a part. Using ratchet load bands and bar clamps. I was able to scrape and apply refactory cement and seal all the seams. The clamps allow me to hold it in place as I bolted it back together and to keep joints aligned. Yes I did snap off some bolts, which I drilled out, and re- threaded the sockets. Actually, other than two tubes of refactory caulk and gaskets, few bolts and pan screws, and including a new Combustor Combusters,com $59, total cost under $100. replacement has worked better than planned. Been burning with it for 2 weeks, practically no smoke exits the chimney. This VC stove is surprising me. It performs better than I ever expected.
The Cat definitely extends the burn times. I am still regulating the primary air flow and damper cat working the heat and burn times.

I have read the burn time threads and there should be some qualifying info of how, their stoves are used and even loaded. If I am around I never load it to the gills but add a few pieces as needed to sustain temps. Last night load it 10:45. open the air up get it going good 500 plus degrees. 11:00 shut the damper down and move the air to 1/4 open position. 11:30 throw 2 smaller splits in, stove temp around 500 now room temp 74 outside 21. This morning 7:00 stove still at 450 room at 72 outside 18. Open damper expose the coals open the air full, throw 3 small splits in, fire revived and burning healthy in 15 minutes. I never was able to sustain that heat level that long before the combustor replacement Realistically good volume of heat with combustor and ¼ to1/3 air 6 hours at no lower than 450 degrees. Not bad for a stove close to 16 years old $100. I do have a Resolute that is 3 years old, you know what the older Intrepid out performs it. I now wish I had bought the combustor Encore. I know, stay away from combustors, they are headaches. Learn how to run them and sit back and feel the heat flow.
So why do combustors or VC get a bad rap? Most do not have the venting needed to run them correctly, or newbies the knowledge or patience so they diss them. Wood stoves take work they are not instant heat Run them 24 -7 and judge the out put not measured in BTUs but room temps. When VC was bought out by Majestic a lot of the long time workers left. It was no longer a family run business, but a corporate entity, watching spread sheets. QC went downhill. Majestic then CFM, milked the quality reputation VC had established with little emphasis on QC. As quality slipped so did sales and eventually profits and market share My guess this continued till into 2001. The Dutchwest line is part of the VC family. Originally cheap Taiwanese manufacture that VC over paid for that forced their demise. Fast forward to the past few years Duthch west is now cast in Bethel VC and I have gotten to know the head of the Bethel operations. From my dealings with the people there, Pride in workmanship is back, QC is back, and real people that care about the consumers and the product they manufacturer. I do not know the execs. above the Bethel operations but the workers and management, there are on track




David an update combusters: So far so good infact I am very pleased with the results and price
VC combuster $119 $59. It extends the burn at a decent high temp, around 400- 450 for quite a long time, add a little air and 500-to 550 is a reality. the key is to get a good bed of glowing coals add wood let it catch and damper it down.
Intrepid is a smaller stove, and a good burn of 6 Hours where constant heat is produced with enough coals to easilly fire up a fresh load


New Member
Nov 20, 2005
Richmond VA
my experience has been similar although my ove tem drops to about 350 and hangs there for the last couple hours. draft is always iffy for me but I assume adding a chimney next year will change that completely.


New Member
Nov 25, 2005

Awesome post!

Did everybody pick up on what Elk said about catalytic combustors?

"I know, stay away from combustors, they are headaches. Learn how to run them and sit back and feel the heat flow. "

Stay warm


Minister of Fire
Nov 21, 2005
Casper Wyoming
Seeing alot of innovation and expansion in the wood line as well as like you said dedication to quality is back. I think VC will come back and be strong as ever, I hope so anyway.
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