Vermont Castings Encore Air Control

PeterNH2

New Member
Oct 25, 2018
8
New Hampshire
I have a new VC Encore. I had a Jotul F3 for many years, and now I'm finding operating the Encore is a bit more complicated than the Jotul. I've now figured out how to get it going and then engage the catalytic converter. I do like the slow burn and it's generating way more heat than the Jotul did. All good so far.

However, one thing that's driving me a bit crazy is the primary air supply lever. On the Jotul, if I turned down the air supply (by sliding the air control sleeve to the left), I saw an immediate change in the fire. It would start to go dark immediately. Similarly, if I opened up the air supply, the flames typically kicked in. Lots of control over the flames.

On the Encore, if I open the air supply by pulling the lever forward, nothing seems to change. I got down on the ground when the stove was cold and I could see the small door in the back opening and closing when the lever was moved, but when the fire's going, it doesn't seem to have much of an effect. If it does, it seems to be a slow motion effect and pretty subtle. Is that normal?

I'm slowly learning to pack the stove with more wood, and the griddle temp ranges from 400-600 and so far seems to cap off at 600 when it's in cat mode. It would be nice, however, to have a bit more control over the burn, but maybe that's not something I should expect to be able to do with a cat stove?

Thanks,

Peter
 
Last edited:

PeterNH2

New Member
Oct 25, 2018
8
New Hampshire
Okay, haven't received any replies, but maybe that's because there's been quite a few older and similar threads. Based on that material, I've been able to figure out a few things, and I'm now pretty comfortable with my startup and operating process with my new Encore 2040. I know how to get the fire nice and hot, engage damper and the cat, and watch the probe thermometer hover right in the middle of its reading. Everything looks good.

My only issue--and I'll be a bit more specific here--is that when it's cruising along in Cat mode, the lowest surface temperature on the grill I can get is just around 500. And that's with the air control completely closed.

The good news is it stays right there at 500 throughout the burn, and I've worked my way up to about a 3/4 full load of wood. That tells me the thermostat is working. However, I'd like to have a bit more control and bring it down to say, 400 or 450 when I want, so it burns slower.

So my specific question to other Encore users is this: Is my thermostatic air control operating correctly? When you put the air control on completely closed with the cat engaged, does your grill surface temperature go down below 500? Shouldn't it almost go out if it's closed all the way?

Thanks,

Peter
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
81,836
South Puget Sound, WA
A thermometer is helpful but griddle temps are less of an indicator with a cat stove. Cat temp is more important. Do you have a cat thermometer on the stove? The cat should not go out if the draft is strong, even if the air control is fully closed. It should just burn a bit slower, with the air control opening up a little as the stove cools down, then closing back down as that demand is satisfied.

PS: try posting this question in the VC owners thread.
https://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/2018-19-vc-owners-thread.169911
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
1,187
Woolwich nj
Okay, haven't received any replies, but maybe that's because there's been quite a few older and similar threads. Based on that material, I've been able to figure out a few things, and I'm now pretty comfortable with my startup and operating process with my new Encore 2040. I know how to get the fire nice and hot, engage damper and the cat, and watch the probe thermometer hover right in the middle of its reading. Everything looks good.

My only issue--and I'll be a bit more specific here--is that when it's cruising along in Cat mode, the lowest surface temperature on the grill I can get is just around 500. And that's with the air control completely closed.

The good news is it stays right there at 500 throughout the burn, and I've worked my way up to about a 3/4 full load of wood. That tells me the thermostat is working. However, I'd like to have a bit more control and bring it down to say, 400 or 450 when I want, so it burns slower.

So my specific question to other Encore users is this: Is my thermostatic air control operating correctly? When you put the air control on completely closed with the cat engaged, does your grill surface temperature go down below 500? Shouldn't it almost go out if it's closed all the way?

Thanks,

Peter
Actually i sent you a PM that you never replyed to
 

PeterNH2

New Member
Oct 25, 2018
8
New Hampshire
A thermometer is helpful but griddle temps are less of an indicator with a cat stove. Cat temp is more important. Do you have a cat thermometer on the stove? The cat should not go out if the draft is strong, even if the air control is fully closed. It should just burn a bit slower, with the air control opening up a little as the stove cools down, then closing back down as that demand is satisfied.

PS: try posting this question in the VC owners thread.
https://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/2018-19-vc-owners-thread.169911
Yes, I have the cat probe thermometer that comes with the stove--on the back. It doesn't have any numbers on it, but a white area that indicates the catalyst is working. After I engage the damper, it goes into the white area as expected--about mid-way in, which seems right. No issues there. Interesting that maybe I'm putting too much emphasis on the temp on the griddle, but from my experience with a non-cat Jotul, I expected to see more happening when I adjust the air control. Seems to have very little effect once the cat's running.

I'll post over in the VC owners' thread. Thanks.
 

Dobish

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2015
1,993
Golden CO

PeterNH2

New Member
Oct 25, 2018
8
New Hampshire
https://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/how-to-be-happy-when-burning-wood-in-your-stove-a-flowchart.157888/

There are a couple of flowcharts and manuals in that thread. I have found that my griddle temp stays about 500 the whole time when it is up to temp, especially when it is a full load. Too low of a griddle temp, and the cat stalls out. After it has been running a while, i might be able to reload and engage the cat sooner without getting the griddle temps too high.
Thanks for this reply. So your stove runs around 500 griddle temp. That makes me feel a little better. Just seemed pretty hot to me, but maybe it's not that far off. Also, I'm reading other threads about the size of the splits to put in. I'm experimenting now with larger wood to see if my burn time increases. Maybe packing it with too many small pieces. We'll see.

I like the flowcharts, by the way. Thanks for sharing. :)
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
1,187
Woolwich nj
Thanks for this reply. So your stove runs around 500 griddle temp. That makes me feel a little better. Just seemed pretty hot to me, but maybe it's not that far off. Also, I'm reading other threads about the size of the splits to put in. I'm experimenting now with larger wood to see if my burn time increases. Maybe packing it with too many small pieces. We'll see.

I like the flowcharts, by the way. Thanks for sharing. :)
For me to achieve a really good burn time. I put nothing but large splits in. I split my overnight splits into squares so the stove is packed tight with vreey little space inbetween
 

Dobish

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2015
1,993
Golden CO
For me to achieve a really good burn time. I put nothing but large splits in. I split my overnight splits into squares so the stove is packed tight with vreey little space inbetween
Yep, big splits all the time.
 

Dobish

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2015
1,993
Golden CO
Thanks for this reply. So your stove runs around 500 griddle temp. That makes me feel a little better. Just seemed pretty hot to me, but maybe it's not that far off. Also, I'm reading other threads about the size of the splits to put in. I'm experimenting now with larger wood to see if my burn time increases. Maybe packing it with too many small pieces. We'll see.

I like the flowcharts, by the way. Thanks for sharing. :)
Thank you! I love flow charts :)
 

defiant3

Minister of Fire
Dec 23, 2010
890
No. NH
I have a new VC Encore. I had a Jotul F3 for many years, and now I'm finding operating the Encore is a bit more complicated than the Jotul. I've now figured out how to get it going and then engage the catalytic converter. I do like the slow burn and it's generating way more heat than the Jotul did. All good so far.

However, one thing that's driving me a bit crazy is the primary air supply lever. On the Jotul, if I turned down the air supply (by sliding the air control sleeve to the left), I saw an immediate change in the fire. It would start to go dark immediately. Similarly, if I opened up the air supply, the flames typically kicked in. Lots of control over the flames.

On the Encore, if I open the air supply by pulling the lever forward, nothing seems to change. I got down on the ground when the stove was cold and I could see the small door in the back opening and closing when the lever was moved, but when the fire's going, it doesn't seem to have much of an effect. If it does, it seems to be a slow motion effect and pretty subtle. Is that normal?

I'm slowly learning to pack the stove with more wood, and the griddle temp ranges from 400-600 and so far seems to cap off at 600 when it's in cat mode. It would be nice, however, to have a bit more control over the burn, but maybe that's not something I should expect to be able to do with a cat stove?

Thanks,

Peter
It's likely leaking, and the usual culprit is the ash pan door. Double check to see that it's closing really tightly.
See if glass rattles that's next most likely, then griddle gasket, front door gaskets. If it's a new stove, get the dealer to do it.
 

Dobish

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2015
1,993
Golden CO
It's likely leaking, and the usual culprit is the ash pan door. Double check to see that it's closing really tightly.
See if glass rattles that's next most likely, then griddle gasket, front door gaskets. If it's a new stove, get the dealer to do it.
i found i had to tighten the handle on my ash pan door after a few uses.
 

RandyBoBandy

Minister of Fire
Feb 25, 2015
1,060
Whitmore lake, MI
F466DA1F-760D-4261-A7E6-4FC698351C34.jpeg 19C196E2-9AEB-4A67-86AD-8906BD45045F.jpeg 3C3338A4-CC2A-4986-B882-E12BFD2006DE.jpeg
This is this mornings fire. 1/3 load. I closed the primary all the way and then opened it so the flapper was just a hair from being completely closed.
 
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Reactions: Diabel

RandyBoBandy

Minister of Fire
Feb 25, 2015
1,060
Whitmore lake, MI
Probably more like a half load. There is a fatty oak split on top of those coals.
 

PeterNH2

New Member
Oct 25, 2018
8
New Hampshire
Just to follow up on my thread from back in October, I'm now into a daily routine with my new Encore. It just took a while to get used it after having a small, non-converter Jotul for so many years. Very different experience with a larger cat stove.

Turns out when it gets cold out (as it was pretty warm back in October), running around 500F on the griddle is just fine. Keeps our newly finished basement nice and toasty, and the warm air rises up our open stairway and takes the chill off the house. After about 30-40 minutes in cat mode, our main furnace goes quiet and we basically heat the whole two-story, garrison style house with this baby. After a couple of hours, I get 70s in the basement, high 60's on the main floor and low 60s in the bedrooms upstairs, even on a very cold day, which is fine with me.

The burn time is still not quite as advertised, but as discussed in various threads, it depends a lot on chimney draw, the quality of wood, and the ash bed, I think, as well as how you define the end of burn time. For example, even with just coals, this stove stays pretty warm for a while afterwards. I'm actually very happy with the stove now that I've figured it out and have my routine.

The nicest feature by far is the top-loading door. With my Jotul F3, I had to cut the logs pretty short and often had trouble with getting larger, border-line logs to fit. Now, I just drop in my splits with no worries. Plenty of room and it's saved me a lot of time and effort.

I am going through more wood--in fact, I ended up ordering an extra kiln-dried cord in late December. However, I'm very happy with the stove overall and glad I made the upgrade. I'm using it more than we used the old Jotul and it's just a larger stove overall.

Oh, and I don't think I mentioned that I bought a new stove-top thermometer (a Rutland Burn Indicator), which I believe is much more accurate. Its readings are much more inline with the experiences most Encore users were showing me. I still do keep the thermostat (air controller) close to closed most of the time, but as I mentioned, the temps on the stove are very stable and predictable when the damper's closed and the cat's running smoothly.

Thanks to everyone for your patience and help for a new cat stove owner.
 

Kevin Weis

Minister of Fire
Mar 3, 2018
932
Union Bridge, Md
PeterNH2, since the Encore is a down draft design a change in primary air wil not result in an immediate change in the flames as the draft is greatly reduced going through the cat. But with that said you should see some change within a half minute or so. Mine cruises at 425 griddle and at 750 or so on the cat. If I go higher than that it will run me out of the room. I get about 4 hours out of it running it that way. Since to make it run right as designed would be too warm for the room that it's in (lesson learned now) I'm down sizing to the new Flexburn Intrepid in about a week or so. Sounds like you have the Ecore figured out for the most part though. It likes a strong draft with the downdraft design so if your draft is average and you have the smaller 6" flue, you will find it needs to be set or managed within a very specific boundary of parameters to run well. Follow the instructions and advice here to a tee.
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
1,187
Woolwich nj
Just to follow up on my thread from back in October, I'm now into a daily routine with my new Encore. It just took a while to get used it after having a small, non-converter Jotul for so many years. Very different experience with a larger cat stove.

Turns out when it gets cold out (as it was pretty warm back in October), running around 500F on the griddle is just fine. Keeps our newly finished basement nice and toasty, and the warm air rises up our open stairway and takes the chill off the house. After about 30-40 minutes in cat mode, our main furnace goes quiet and we basically heat the whole two-story, garrison style house with this baby. After a couple of hours, I get 70s in the basement, high 60's on the main floor and low 60s in the bedrooms upstairs, even on a very cold day, which is fine with me.

The burn time is still not quite as advertised, but as discussed in various threads, it depends a lot on chimney draw, the quality of wood, and the ash bed, I think, as well as how you define the end of burn time. For example, even with just coals, this stove stays pretty warm for a while afterwards. I'm actually very happy with the stove now that I've figured it out and have my routine.

The nicest feature by far is the top-loading door. With my Jotul F3, I had to cut the logs pretty short and often had trouble with getting larger, border-line logs to fit. Now, I just drop in my splits with no worries. Plenty of room and it's saved me a lot of time and effort.

I am going through more wood--in fact, I ended up ordering an extra kiln-dried cord in late December. However, I'm very happy with the stove overall and glad I made the upgrade. I'm using it more than we used the old Jotul and it's just a larger stove overall.

Oh, and I don't think I mentioned that I bought a new stove-top thermometer (a Rutland Burn Indicator), which I believe is much more accurate. Its readings are much more inline with the experiences most Encore users were showing me. I still do keep the thermostat (air controller) close to closed most of the time, but as I mentioned, the temps on the stove are very stable and predictable when the damper's closed and the cat's running smoothly.

Thanks to everyone for your patience and help for a new cat stove owner.
Glad to see your having a better burning experience with your stove.. glad to have been apart of it