Vermont castings aspen question

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Dec 31, 2021
Hello, I recently installed my Vermont castings aspen 1920 stove. I have about 7 feet of double wall pipe and then 4ft of triple wall chimney pipe, straight shot up the roof. how do you typically light the stove? Is it supposed to be run with the door closed all the time, or do you leave the door ajar during the start, and then seal it once it’s going? With the door completely sealed and the rear damper fully opened, it still doesn’t seem like it’s getting enough air.

Another question, in the top corners of the stove there is clearly a gap as I can see the fire. Is it supposed to be like that?

Thank you for your advice!

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That stove looks like it needs to be completely torn apart and resealed/recemented. I'm not sure it would be safe to use until that is done. That thing looks like it's been neglected for a while. I have an Aspen C3 which is the newer version than your 1920 so I can't speak for the 1920, but it's not uncommon for me to crack the door open 5-10 minutes on a startup.

Also is that carpet all throughout the room, under loose pavers beneath the stove?
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Curious what makes you say that? The stove was in nice condition when I bought it a few months ago. Unfortunately it got a bit damp where I had it stored so it’s rusted a bit.

The setup is temporary and I obviously won’t be having it sit on loose pavers in the long term. Sometimes you need to get heat going ASAP. Sorry if I upset people.

If anyone has specific advise about the gap in the corner, and whether or not that is supposed to be there, I would much appreciate it.
You wont be able to control the fire if there are uncontrollable air inlets (cracks). It can overfire. It can go wrong and then your carpet will make sure the whole thing goes up in the air. Nice and warm, but for a short time only.
And then your insurance will find out it wasn't installed to code and won't pay out.

Also, 11 ft is likely too short for this thing to operate properly (after proper install).
The manual mentions:
Another separate supply of oxygen is delivered to the upper
area of the firebox to support combustion of gases released
from the main fuel bed. This Secondary Air enters the stove
through two, unrestricted inlets and is heated while passing
through separate channels before being delivered through
three stainless steel multi-ported tubes located at the top of
the firebox.
I'm curious if these gaps are the air supply for the secondary combustion.

The stove pipe section will be getting longer as I have to add a couple 45 degree elbows to situate the stove where it'll permanently go. The cabin is not insured; thank you for your concern though.
Cool looking stove. Is the stove anything more than a big fire box with a chimney outlet? Did they have the secondary burn concept in 1920? I assume it has no secondary burn tubes. Are the cutouts at the top of the wall the same on both sides? If left open, I would be concerned with a spark poping out.
Thanks! It does appear both the top left and right corners have the same gap. I think Aspen 1920 was the model number, not the year. The manufacturers date code on the UL plaque says "0030", maybe 30th day of year 2000? The manual does confirm it has secondary burn tubes, pg 32 shows the parts diagram with 3 secondary burn chambers. It also shows a Left and Right secondary air channel, parts 3 and 5, but it's not really clear where it draws that air from.


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Curious what makes you say that?

If you can see inside the firebox from outside with the door closed, no bueno. Air goes into those holes, bypassing whatever air controls the stove has.

Now you have a stove that you can't turn down correctly installed on a carpeted floor... not much needs to go wrong for you to have a bad time with that.
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I don't think we have many Aspen 1920 owners on here, and certainly not many if any recent posts. Since I have the newer Aspen C3 and not the 1920 I am doing some logicking here and will do my best to explain my reasoning:

1. If those holes were intended as air intakes, what would be the point of the bolt on outside air kit adapter that goes at the bottom rear of those stoves? You would be bypassing that and drawing interior house air, defeating the purpose of the OAK. This stove is approved for mobile home installation which requires an OAK.
2. The side plate/baffle pieces shown in the parts diagram only make sense to direct air up from underneath the stove to the top burn tubes (lining up with point #1). As you noted the manual states that the secondary air intakes ultimately deliver air to the 3 stainless steel multi-ported tubes at the top of the firebox. Those two holes you have taken pictures of appear to be straight in... If they were intakes for the secondary tubes, you wouldn't be able to see straight through into the fire.
3. I have a very hard time believing VC would've designed holes that appear to be straight into the firebox like that. The fact that we can see orange fiery goodness inside means that sparks, small embers, etc. could jump out through those holes. That doesn't make sense to me on any UL-listed stove that has been designed in recent history.
4. I did a lot of research on the Aspen, including the older 1920 model, when I was shopping around and ultimately settled on buying my C3. I never saw any photos, videos, etc. referring to intake holes there, nor could you see into the firebox like that in any of those photos/videos.

From what I can tell on the parts diagram, I am thinking the two fixed secondary air intakes are at the rear of the stove, on either side of the primary air damper. You might be able to see these by removing the rear heat shield? The air then goes through the bottom to the front of the stove, up the sides around those baffles, and to the secondary burn tubes. Finding those two holes would prove without a doubt where the intended secondary air intake holes are.

I want you to like your Aspen and use it safely. I love my C3 so far. It looks like the forum consensus is that what you have with those open holes at the corners is not safe and at best will result in short burn times or at worst cause an overfire because there is just no control of the air there.

Vermont castings aspen question
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Well said.
Our home came with a 1920 pre-installed when we purchased it Nov 2020. We have taken the top off twice. Once for cleaning and once for inexperienced flue fire. (Complete with emergency blockage of all air intakes and of water spray bottles to cool the pipe.)

What I don’t see in the image of your stovetop is the gasket. (Part 47 in C2 diagram) And I believe all the corners of ours are cemented to the top edge of the joint. (But not to the top plate itself. ) Cannot confirm until spring tear down.

To be honest we don’t like this stove. It is hard to get started, forcing us to crack the door. Something that does not make us happy since we have not replaced the carpet in the in-law suite. We find the primary air intake is constantly full of ash.

The home came with a Dutchwest 2462 for main living space which runs great. The stoves are both fed the same wood, just shorter for the Aspen. So that does not appear to be the issue.

Ours does not have the fresh air kit. We our so frustrated with this stove that part is now on order. I would recommend you have one. We are planning to mount a small blower to it. We placed an old fan behind the stove and found much better results with it on low.

Best of luck with yours. And maybe check for warping, that could be causing your gaps.

Vermont castings aspen question
Vermont castings aspen question
Thank you for the information @SlowBurner, I did end up doing a partial tear down of removing the top and front panel, and recemented those seams and cemented the corner gap. It runs better now for sure.

I definitely echo your woes about the air inlet. Such a bizarre design choice. I’m also annoyed with the ash pan. Ultimately not all the ash ends up in the pan, so when you remove the ash pan some falls into the pan cavity. This ash will eventually accumulate until the pan won’t fully insert in. If I had a vacuum with a long narrow attachment it wouldn’t be too annoying, but I don’t. So you have to kind of rake the ash out from the back with a fire pick little by little. It’s annoying.

I’m keeping my eyes out for a used jotul 602. If one ever comes up I’ll probably try that.
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We used the Aspen exclusively last winter. But this year the in-law is occupying the suite and she’s not keen on the poor performance. So we are keeping an eye out for something small but easy. (On both the budget and the body. )

For the ash pan, we have a Home Depot “bucket head” vacuum. We find it needs vacuum about monthly. Plan ahead when using a regular shop vac, checking for warmer days.

However, when the stars align, that little stove cooks. Literally, they made JiffyPop on it for school snow day. We often see the thermometer for the 400sqft suite in the high 80s.