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What to look for in an old Vermont Castings stove?

Discussion in 'Firewood, Heating and Wood Burning Equipment' started by Kong, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. Kong

    Kong ArboristSite Member

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    I don't know squat about wood stoves, we've had the same one for 25 years or so. However when I got ours I just had my heart set on one by Vermont Castings. That was a long time ago. I understand the company had difficulty and they turned out some bad product. So it goes.

    So my son calls me and says a friend of his is there and his dad had an old one for sale. Here is all I know about it, the thing is rusty, its the "Defiant" model. It has solid cast iron doors, no windows, they tell me it has no cracks in it at all. I asked the boy if it was 'catalitic' or not because I have heard that matters. He looked at me like I had asked the meaning of life. I had to admit I didn't know what it meant either, but I had to ask.

    I can go take a look at this thing next week if I want to. I don't even know what to look for other than if its straight, in one piece (he says there's a handel broken off). What's a catalitic converter look like in a stove? Are there any internal parts I should be taking a good look at? Oh, he want's $200 for the thing but I got the firm impression that could change.

    Tell me what I need to know.
     
  2. jasult

    jasult ArboristSite Operative

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    I have been burning a Vermont Encore with the cat for 20 years.
    Very effeciant stove but requires that the cat be cleaned and replaced when it goes bad. Look at the back of stove and it will show the specs on the plate. Here is what the cat converter looks like and it is pricey. I just replaced mine last week. http://www.blackswanhome.com/product/catalytic-combustor-various-models1

    here is a link to the parts for my older modlel 0028.
    http://www.blackswanhome.com/encore-0028-2140.html

    And all the modles listed here http://www.blackswanhome.com/category/vermont-castings1
     
  3. Wood Scrounge

    Wood Scrounge ArboristSite Guru

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    I just disconnected my 80s era Defiant for a modern Jotel that someone "lent" me (long story) the Jotel is way more efficient and gives off way more heat with the same amount of wood. I would try to find something a little more modern with secondary burners and an efficiency rating in the 70s.
     
  4. logbutcher

    logbutcher Banned

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    It was the beast of the original Vermont Castings company. Solid, reliable, well engineered for its time. Later "EPA" rated stoves made by the original VC company before the buyout in the mid-90's were also high quality heaters: Vigilant, Intrepid. The Defiant was pre-EPA: not catalytic or non-cat, just a good burner with a heat saving flame path with the damper closed down.

    If you're looking at buying the Defiant check out: the cast interior and exterior plates for cracks; the air control operation, doors/hinges, internal damper plate operation. Get a good ash vacuum to suck out the insides. Count on replacing ALL the gaskets and sealing the joints with furnace cement.

    Most of us here will recommend ( if you can swing the $$$ ) that you get an EPA cat or non-cat wood stove. Efficient (saves wood ), cleaner burning, longer burns for the same BTU's.

    Stay away from the VC stoves post 1995: the build quality dropped, maintenance for replaced parts is pricey, too many serious problems for an appliance for wood heating.

    JMNSHO
     
    Del_ likes this.
  5. stint

    stint ArboristSite Operative

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    Logbutch gives good advice.

    I burned one of the old original non cat VC defiant from 1974 thru 1993.
    Great stove...... *in its day*

    Still have it in shop for weekend/short burns.

    But, absolutely No comparison to later technology secondary burn stoves.
    My Jotul F600 heats lots more and burns loads less
     
  6. Kong

    Kong ArboristSite Member

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    Gentlemen, thank you all very much.

    I'll pass on riding down to take a look at it. Life's too short.
     
  7. jasult

    jasult ArboristSite Operative

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    Now you guys are gonna make me look at a new modern stove:jawdrop:
    Them cats are pricey:cry:
     
  8. logbutcher

    logbutcher Banned

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    Butt, look at the heat and fuel savings. Two wood stoves close to the same firebox sizes, in two similar spaces burning 24/7 with no backup heat. One is a VC Encore cat, the other a Jotul Oslo. With full loads the cat will heat for at least 2X the time compared to the non-cat Oslo. The Oslo air can't be shut down to have a low burn ( the character of non-cats' EPA specs :cry:) like the Encore cat.

    Catalytic combustors have a life of ~ 12,000 hours, which is 2-3 years of burning for us depending on the winter. For the efficiency and wood savings it's part of regular maintenance ( like brake pads or exhaust systems ). Yes, the cats take a little more care burning....it's worth it.:clap:

    JMNSHO
     
  9. jasult

    jasult ArboristSite Operative

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    Logbutcher, in your first post above you stated how much better your JOEL was than VC :dizzy:

    After rereading it was another poster that said it , sorry
     
  10. stint

    stint ArboristSite Operative

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    Guess I just do not share your infatuation with a VC Encore.

    Couple reasons:

    1) The Cat. Although you state the average life of a cat would be 2-3 years, I sincerely doubt most users get that kind of life, at least not at full efficiency. The device is just too easy to get screwed up from abuse; usually a result of inattention or unfamiliarity with restrictions.
    Also, even *if* the VC got 2- 3 years, at current cat price, that is at least $100/year

    2) Burn efficiency and time. You completely lost me on that one. My non cat secondary burn Jotul F600, (next larger to Oslo) has absolutely no problem being "shut down for low burn".
    In fact, that is what I do every night, and every morn always have warm house and plenty of coals for easy restart to higher burn. What am I doing 'wrong' ??

    3)Confusion: In your earlier post which I agreed with, you caution against post 1995 VC for problems that are pretty universally accepted...now you recommend a new VC cat encore over non cat secondary burn Jotul or other ????
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
  11. Mr. Obvious

    Mr. Obvious ArboristSite Operative

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    Cats last on average for 5 years. My VC defiant has the cat in it since new and has been used 5 years every day for about 4 months per year.

    I thought my cat wasn't working since no orange glow like it used to have. Bought the Condar remote temperature sensor and found it still runs up to 1500 degrees in the CAT chamber. Without knowing the temp you can never be sure if it is working or not. Looking at the smoke out the top is not a real good way to judge.

    New cats are $250 or less so thats 50 per year on average. Get the steel CAT and it will last longer.
     
  12. logbutcher

    logbutcher Banned

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    Ah yes, "consistency"....the hobgoblin of ____ :monkey:.

    Over the years since '89 that the VC Encore cat has been used by us for 24/7. 100% heating ( none of this "up from" the furnace set @ 65 F ) the cats have operated well for the 12K spec hours through 3 Encore stoves in 2 homes in northern New England winters. No abuse or hurting to the cats--just the usual 1-2X per years cleaning when the usual stove maintenance is done. With the warranty on the cats from Sud Chemie ( in Massachusetts) the cost/year is more like $50-$70. They did send the new metal cat for the same warranty price as the ceramic cat this time. We shall see.
    The savings of wood and efficiency is worth the small cost and savings.

    The non-cats will NOT allow very low burns compared with an air control that can be shut near completely. With choice sized logs and species ( rare oak for us here ) there is an easy overnight burn in the Oslo( all part of using wood stoves for 100% heat ), but the amount of coals in the morning with the non-cat Oslo is small. The EPA mandated design of the non-cats is
    the "mommie burn" : not too low, not too high.

    And BTW the cost of replacing non-cat burn tubes over a few years of hard burning is close to the cost of a new cat every 2-3 years. It all equals out.

    The VC Encore WHEN MAINTAINED and kept up to specs is a solid stove WITH ALL ITS PROBLEMS and COST. Not recommending anything except the Woodstock line of cat stoves---well engineered, well built, exceptional customer service. ( I have no $$$$ in the company.....yet. :cheers: )

    You burning oil in N.J. ? :monkey::poke:

    JMNSHO
     
  13. stint

    stint ArboristSite Operative

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    LB:

    Well stated, and I cannot dispute any of the facts you cite about your experiences.

    In my 150 year old Northern NJ Farmhouse, I burn about 5 cords/yr in a Jotul F600 and 602, one on each side of center hall ground floor.

    I do also burn about 100 gals of oil a year just to keep 3 zone OHWBB system pumping some warmth to basement and particularly crawl spaces also inhabited by water/waste plumbing for a few hours when OAT gets near/below zero overnite
     
  14. Wood Doctor

    Wood Doctor Edwin

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    I bought a new Defiant in 1977, and believe me, it was a whale of a stove. In its day, some say it was the best stove you could buy. Times have changed since then, but I would say that $200 is a steal. I think it was rated at 60,000 BTU/hr, and it accepted a 24" long. I hated to part with it, but I lived in Connecticut at the time and had to move away because of a job transfer.

    I say buy it and I have a feeling you will really like it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2010
  15. logbutcher

    logbutcher Banned

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    :agree2: ..... "whale" is right on Doc. The Defiant is one big heater.

    $200. is the bargain only if
    1. All systems operate normally.
    2. No cracks anywhere ( drop light look )
    3. You're willing to do the gaskets, and mess with furnace cement ( use procto gloves :bowdown: ).
     
  16. logbutcher

    logbutcher Banned

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    Thanx...it is lonely being correct :deadhorse: .

    The Jotul 602 is a classic. Since the early days of heating for us, 602's were used for shop, for a sauna ( in Jotul green porcelain ) for camp. Good taste.

    Have you thought about sealing/insulating the crawl spaces ?
     
  17. Wood Doctor

    Wood Doctor Edwin

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    +1. That is an all cast iron stove except for the steel top plate and the stove pipe. When you move them around, cracks can form in the seals. However, most stove cements can seal them tight as a drum. The Defiant I bought in '77 was so well made that no cracks existed anywhere and it never leaked. Quality all the way and made in USA. :)
     

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