Vermont Castings Encore Reloading

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Jimmy C

Member
Jan 30, 2020
120
Guilford, CT
Hello all,

I have a Vermont Castings Encore 2550. It is not one of the new flex burn models. I replaced the CAT less than two years ago and based on the smoke coming from my chimney and what happens when I reload the stove, I don’t think it’s working correctly...

I’ll start with the reloading. As per manual I will wait until I have only enough coals to reload before opening the damper and air and filling the stove. In the manual it recommends to rake the ash into the ash pan without breaking up the coals, which is more or less impossible. I have also heard people say the ash acts as an insulator for the coals and never to rake. Either way usually after I fill the stove and close the damper, I get a dramatic temperature loss. Usually when reloading the surface temp is 350 - 400. Even with the air temp all the way open, the temp will drop all the way down to 250 sometimes. I know I’m building a ton of creosote during this time and likely disengaging the CAT. Lately I have been keeping the damper open for a while after reloading and until the temp is back up past 500, but im worried it’s overfiring the stove. Also my burn times are barley 6 hours after reloading that way and it’s causing me to waste more wood and have to restart the fire all the time.

I tried watching the chimney to see the smoke change but to be honest there’s not much of a change until after the fire has burned up all the smoke anyway. I’m worried I need a new cat but it looks completely fine. No build up of ash in the honey combs or anything.

Grateful for any opinions...
 
I might have missed something. But not sure what the question is.
btw welcome to the forum
 
I might have missed something. But not sure what the question is.
btw welcome to the forum

Sorry I guess I just started ranting. The question is am I reloading properly. Should the temp drop to under 300 after reloading? Is the surface temp dropping normal right after reloading or am I doing something wrong.
 
In my experience, a few things might be going wrong. If the wood isn’t super dry, it is not going to light into a quick hot burn and you’ll get big temp loss. Also, correct or not, I rarely wait until all coals to reload. Throwing 4 splits in at once is like throwing 4 big ice cubes into the stove. Once temp is in the sweet spot i wait until stove is roughly half full and toss in some more wood.

My guess, based on what your describing, is wet wood.

Also a cat thermometer is a great tool to operate and learn your stove. Look up Auber in these forums, they make a good one that has worked great for me and allowed me to get a feel for my stove.
 
In my experience, a few things might be going wrong. If the wood isn’t super dry, it is not going to light into a quick hot burn and you’ll get big temp loss. Also, correct or not, I rarely wait until all coals to reload. Throwing 4 splits in at once is like throwing 4 big ice cubes into the stove. Once temp is in the sweet spot i wait until stove is roughly half full and toss in some more wood.

My guess, based on what your describing, is wet wood.

Also a cat thermometer is a great tool to operate and learn your stove. Look up Auber in these forums, they make a good one that has worked great for me and allowed me to get a feel for my stove.


I originally thought the wood too but it’s all mostly reading 14 - 18% on a moisture meter. I’ve heard loading too early can lead to problems and the stove is designed to be loaded and then burned fully. I was thinking about getting a CAT thermometer but could only find the condor one with the dial. I would not be able to see it on the back of the stove anyway. Do you know of any that have. Wire going to a digital display?
 
This is a 3 thermometer stove. Cat probe, pipe thermo and stove top thermo. You have a good model, we just need to get you burning correctly. I have to get ready for work but I will try and get back here later. @Diabel is another veteran of this stove and has good advice if he beats me to it. Also read past years in the VC owners threads. I use the pipe thermo to decide when to close the damper not the stove top thermo. Also it sounds like your wood is not dry enough.
My pipe is a double wall so I use a probe. At 600 degrees I close the damper. I’m getting 10-12 hours of usable heat per load out of my encore. So something sounds off with your setup , wood or burning habits.
 
OP. Tell us about your wood supply.
 
 
I originally thought the wood too but it’s all mostly reading 14 - 18% on a moisture meter. I’ve heard loading too early can lead to problems and the stove is designed to be loaded and then burned fully. I was thinking about getting a CAT thermometer but could only find the condor one with the dial. I would not be able to see it on the back of the stove anyway. Do you know of any that have. Wire going to a digital display?
A cat meter is a must on these stoves. On all cat stoves as a matter of fact. Research Auber100 and get one. How are you measuring the moisture of your firewood?
 
This is a 3 thermometer stove. Cat probe, pipe thermo and stove top thermo. You have a good model, we just need to get you burning correctly. I have to get ready for work but I will try and get back here later. @Diabel is another veteran of this stove and has good advice if he beats me to it. Also read past years in the VC owners threads. I use the pipe thermo to decide when to close the damper not the stove top thermo. Also it sounds like your wood is not dry enough.
My pipe is a double wall so I use a probe. At 600 degrees I close the damper. I’m getting 10-12 hours of usable heat per load out of my encore. So something sounds off with your setup , wood or burning habits.

Thanks for reaching out! I would love to get a probe thermometer but stove is in front of a fireplace with a cover over it. I don’t know if I would be able to read the dial in back of the stove. Maybe if I used a mirror on a stick or something. Since my pipe is in the firebox I will not be able to get a thermometer on that either. The wood is reading around 15% on a moisture meter. When you say 10 - 12 hours is that seeing flames in the stove? Or just until you can reload?
 
A cat meter is a must on these stoves. On all cat stoves as a matter of fact. Research Auber100 and get one. How are you measuring the moisture of your firewood?

Could you tell me which probe to get with the Auber AT100?
 
In my experience, a few things might be going wrong. If the wood isn’t super dry, it is not going to light into a quick hot burn and you’ll get big temp loss. Also, correct or not, I rarely wait until all coals to reload. Throwing 4 splits in at once is like throwing 4 big ice cubes into the stove. Once temp is in the sweet spot i wait until stove is roughly half full and toss in some more wood.

My guess, based on what your describing, is wet wood.

Also a cat thermometer is a great tool to operate and learn your stove. Look up Auber in these forums, they make a good one that has worked great for me and allowed me to get a feel for my stove.

Could you tell me which thermometer to get with the AT100? I’m not sure which probe size I would need.
 
Could you tell me which thermometer to get with the AT100? I’m not sure which probe size I would need.
Wrnk- 191 should work. As long as it is rated for 2000*f or more
 
I believe it is the mini.

Hard to tell but it seems like you would need the spade connector for AT100. Although I hardly know what I’m talking about. Is 6” too long, should I look for 4”? I was worried it will hang out of the stove a lot. Very appreciative of your help by the way!
 
Could you tell me which probe to get with the Auber AT100?
K type. The Auber one is a 6” probe so if you are using the rear heat shield you will have to drill a hole in the back of the heat shield to accommodate the probe.
 
Thanks for reaching out! I would love to get a probe thermometer but stove is in front of a fireplace with a cover over it. I don’t know if I would be able to read the dial in back of the stove. Maybe if I used a mirror on a stick or something. Since my pipe is in the firebox I will not be able to get a thermometer on that either. The wood is reading around 15% on a moisture meter. When you say 10 - 12 hours is that seeing flames in the stove? Or just until you can reload?
The AT100 is a digital readout. The probe has a 4’ or so wire so no worries on not being able to see it. Just run the wire under the stove. The thermo will come with a plug that you can wire yourself. I had the condar (pos) digital thermo first so I just used the probe from that. As far as my 10 hour burns: I will load the stove all the up to the top. Sometimes I have to play around with different pieces so I can get the griddle top to shut. I run the stove with the damper open and primary air fully open until my pipe thermo is around 600. Then I shut the damper but leave the primary air fully open. With the AT 100 now as your meter you will see the temps increase steadily. Start to turn your air down around 700 degrees. Start off with small increments. Next around 1050degrees lower your air even more. By time you see 1350-1400 you should be pretty much fully closed on your primary. At this point there should be little to no flames just glowing coals with the occasional whisk of flame dancing around the stove. Often my firebox is dark and all the action is happening in the refractory box. This is typically when I’m cruising at 400 degrees GT ( griddle top). When I know my wood might be a littler wetter than I like ( usually my oak) I keep the primary air all the open after shutting the damper until the cat reads 1400. This helps my dry the wood a littler better before I start cutting the air. One thing I’ve noticed with wetter wood is if you start shutting the air to soon you kill the flames in the box to soon and the cat is off to the races trying to go nuclear. In that event you need to open the damper and let the wood catch again and repeat the process. Hope this helps. Keep reading, tinkering, and asking questions. Post a pic of your setup. It would be nice if we could figure out how to monitor pipe temps for you. Side note. It would scare me to try and run this stove blind. Meaning no thermos. Specifically the cat probe. The firebox doesn’t look different when the cat is either 1400 degrees or 1600 degrees. And 1600 degrees kills cats.
 
K type. The Auber one is a 6” probe so if you are using the rear heat shield you will have to drill a hole in the back of the heat shield to accommodate the probe.
The AT100 is a digital readout. The probe has a 4’ or so wire so no worries on not being able to see it. Just run the wire under the stove. The thermo will come with a plug that you can wire yourself. I had the condar (pos) digital thermo first so I just used the probe from that. As far as my 10 hour burns: I will load the stove all the up to the top. Sometimes I have to play around with different pieces so I can get the griddle top to shut. I run the stove with the damper open and primary air fully open until my pipe thermo is around 600. Then I shut the damper but leave the primary air fully open. With the AT 100 now as your meter you will see the temps increase steadily. Start to turn your air down around 700 degrees. Start off with small increments. Next around 1050degrees lower your air even more. By time you see 1350-1400 you should be pretty much fully closed on your primary. At this point there should be little to no flames just glowing coals with the occasional whisk of flame dancing around the stove. Often my firebox is dark and all the action is happening in the refractory box. This is typically when I’m cruising at 400 degrees GT ( griddle top). When I know my wood might be a littler wetter than I like ( usually my oak) I keep the primary air all the open after shutting the damper until the cat reads 1400. This helps my dry the wood a littler better before I start cutting the air. One thing I’ve noticed with wetter wood is if you start shutting the air to soon you kill the flames in the box to soon and the cat is off to the races trying to go nuclear. In that event you need to open the damper and let the wood catch again and repeat the process. Hope this helps. Keep reading, tinkering, and asking questions. Post a pic of your setup. It would be nice if we could figure out how to monitor pipe temps for you. Side note. It would scare me to try and run this stove blind. Meaning no thermos. Specifically the cat probe. The firebox doesn’t look different when the cat is either 1400 degrees or 1600 degrees. And 1600 degrees kills cats.

See attached pic for set up...
glad to know I’m not the only one who leaves the damper open for a little while after reloading. The manual says not to but I don’t think letting the stove drop to 250 is better. I just ordered the AT100 and a thermocoupler. Hopefully this will give me some answers. As of today I’m lucky to get 6 or 7 hours before needing to reload.
 

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I like to pooch!
Still bit confused in terms of why your stovetop drops to 250 after closing the damper. Once you get the cat probe, you will likely stop paying attention to the stove top temp
 
I like to pooch!
Still bit confused in terms of why your stovetop drops to 250 after closing the damper. Once you get the cat probe, you will likely stop paying attention to the stove top temp

Thanks! His name is Gus and although he never offers solutions to fix Woodstove problems, he loves laying in front of it. I’m confused too. As I said my wood is no more than 16%. Do I need the stove to get back up to 500 after reloading to close damper? If I do this the fire is usually roaring and doesn’t get a good burn time.
 
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And you get 16% on a freshly split wood in a room temperature, correct.

So, your griddle temp is at 500, you close the bypass, leave the primary air fully open. What happens next? Any visible change in the flame?