Vigilant worth keeping?

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rmowens

Member
Feb 9, 2009
9
Walpole, NH
I've only posted a few times to Hearth over the years, but you all have been invaluable to me. Now a big question.

I have an older VC Vigilant (1977 on the one-piece fireback) that has served me pretty well as the primary heat source through nine NH winters. It has always backpuffed occasionally, but now it's nearly constant when I crank it up before closing the bypass and reducing the air for the night. Being awakened by the smoke detector is no fun.

My technique hasn't changed, nor wood water content, so I think the thing is just getting leaky, or the rear smoke passages blocked, or the stove pipe leaky, or all of the above. Chimney is clear. There clearly isn't enough draft pull to get sufficient air to the firebox, but if I open the flapper it just runs away, gets hotter, and starts backpuffing again. Only solution is to open the bypass, but with a full firebox that gets way too hot no matter the air level.

I'm thinking I could rebuild the thing, in the process sealing up the joints, cleaning out the smoke passages, and properly sealing the stove pipe-thimble-masonry chimney junction. But is it worth it to keep this dinosaur? Should I just bite the bullet and get a newer, more efficient, cleaner stove?

Thanks for any advice.
 

defiant3

Minister of Fire
Dec 23, 2010
1,002
No. NH
The Vig 1C fireback kit, part number 5855 contains everything you need to convert a 1 piece fireback model to a 2 piece. You get upper and lower firebacks of course, as well as new sides, damper, misc. hardware and small parts, cement and new tie rods. The stove needs to come completely apart and get rebuilt, and there are step by step instructions. It's not terribly difficult but takes time and if any bolts break (likely) the holes need to be drilled and tapped. Might also need some grinding to get parts to fit together perfectly.
 

rmowens

Member
Feb 9, 2009
9
Walpole, NH
Not to be obtuse, but why do I need a kit full of replacement parts when I already have a complete stove? Disassemble, clean, reassemble w/ cement (maybe grind for proper fit). Or am I missing something?