Hi all, First time poster, short time lurker here. What brings me is that my 20 year old Defiant (model #1910) is finally needing some major work, after being our main source of heat (2400 sq ft two story house) for those 20 years here in Wisconsin. I noticed that the top casting is developing a hairline crack radiating inward away from the griddle. Beyond that the biscuit enamal is getting rough from various careless knocks and little water splashes from refilling the humidty pot on the griddle. I'm on my second catalyst, still working well, and when I replaced the first one I also replaced the refractory box, which had gotten fragile. Not sure what the material is, but it's kind of a soft synthetic insulating material. I think I replaced the gaskets on the griddle and on the ash drawer once. So all in all, not bad service. I did check availability of parts, and amazingly I could get a new top for $200 if I though I'd be able to get it apart and back together again. Looks like other parts available as well, but still planning to replace it. I created a spreadsheet to compare the new Defiant Flexburn with a number of other stoves that have a roughly 3 cu.ft. firebox. There are a lot of nice stoves out there to choose from. From the short time I've been reading these forums, it seems people are pretty down on VC, or at least the most vocal people are. I talked to a multibrand (VC and BK) dealer to ask their opinion about VC quality, and she claimed they'd made significant improvements after the latest buyout. I'd like to have the Defiant as one of the replacement candidates because it has a nice combination of features. One being the top loading (not sure why all stoves don't offer that, gravity is your friend on a top loader, and smoke never enters the house). Another being the swing out ash drawer which can be filled by scraping ashes through the grate, no complicated trapdoor, slides, latch, etc. Another is the optional warming shelves which can be equipped with the "mitten rack" rods, which are pretty handy. Ability to either run with catalyst or not seems like a plus, although I prefer having the cat. On the negative side, I understand a cast iron stove that is cemented together is likely neither as durable nor as serviceable as one with a welded firebox with add on decorative castings. So my first question is what am I missing on the negative side? One of my top considerations for replacement is the Woodstock Progress Hybrid. I spoke to the company, and they said the firebox is a welded assembly, with the soapstone on both inside and outside, and decoratives castings outside, so seemingly a more serviceable alternative to the cemented VC. Questions for you Progress owners: Does it take a long time to get heat out of it from cold start, due to all the mass? Our retired routine unless it's really cold is to let the fire die out in the afternoon when the house gets into the 70's, and then by morning it's down to 60 and I restart the fire. If it's cold like now, I keep the fire going during the night, and just reload in the morning. How about the lack of thermostat to vary the draft airflow. Most manufacturers have them and tout the benefits. Do you have to manually fiddle with the airflow a lot to get it dialed in during the daily burn? If it works well without the thermostat, then great, one less thing to go wrong. Temperatures easy to control? Blaze King Ashford 30.1 is another candidate. Seems like super long burn time is the big selling point, but not sure if that's their hype or not compared to other stoves of equal firebox size. Not a fan of front loader but would consider it if everything else pointed that way. Dealer said it would be most effective with the fan kit, to force air through the gap between the firebox and top casting. That would mean either a cord or drilling through my limestone hearth to route power. Dealer said she sells more BK than VC. One downside for me is only 18" log length max, a lot shorter than my current 25". Lopi Cape Cod is another possibility, but appears to have the same construction as VC (cemented castings). The Green Start option looks pretty slick, but I'd have to run power. Read about some early quality problems, not sure if that's been resolved. Pacific Energy Alderlea T6, and Quadrafire Explorer III seem decent, but no catalyst for efficiency. I would think all the stoves are pretty similar in terms of max heat output, given similar efficiency and firebox size. Any comments on that, or other things that I'm missing in this comparison? Any thoughts would be appreciated.