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New tech, Old tech woodstoves Options
Dorene
#1 Posted : Friday, November 11, 2005 5:41:48 PM
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I''ve really liked the looks of the soapstone models. I know, I''m falling for the way it looks but the cost is prohibitive. $2300 right now. I''ve seen a couple on e-bay pretty cheap, but I would have to use a truck to get them as delivery is not arranged. My justification is the compaarison with a regular furnace installed and that I will be able to use it to dispose of old scrap wood and brush to stay warm - which for me is a necessity. I know I can get a regualr cast iron stove with no glass door for around $200 but if I am going to have something take up that a large space in my living room I would like to have it look sort of like furniture. I didn''t know they would require so much maintenance though. Guess I may have to start reconsidering.
davisonh
#2 Posted : Saturday, November 12, 2005 1:43:25 AM
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Thats why I like my outside furnace.All the combustions'' outdoors,it never burns too hot because the damper is made to let in only a certain amount of oxygen when the doors'' closed,it ''shuts off''when no more heat is needed to maintain the water temp.and it burns nearly everything wood.
Brush,slash,pallets,not a problem.I throw them in to fill the firebox halfway and I''m good to go for the next 12 hours.
practicalman45
#3 Posted : Saturday, November 12, 2005 6:57:55 PM
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Dave,
That outdoor furnace sounds like its just great for you. It addresses many of the problems that creep in with an indoor stove: from hibernating spiders, to dirt and dust, fire hazards and the nuisance of having to tend a fire frequently. Its really ideal for you with your extreme cold climate there (and your woodlot!)

You know, the automatic draft (air intake) control on that furnace is the same principle as the thermostatic draft controls on some of the old stoves. Your furnace has electronic sensors and solenoid controls. The old thermostatic draft woodstoves did the same thing except with a bi-metal coil spring. I remember an old Ashley stove that was just legendary for its performance. It was a big tin oval drum with cast top and bottom and curved door. The bimetal spring was in the door, between the draft inlet and the knob you turned to adjust it. If the stove got hotter, the draft would close down tighter. As the temps cooled down, the little coil would turn and let in more air and kick up the heat. Stoked up, it kept a steady heat output overnight no problem. I wonder if anyone still uses one of those? They are probably all gone now, they were such thin metal.

My homemade unit is strictly manual control. It requires that you know what you''re doing. It is NOT idiot proof. You could stoke it up and not give it enough air and have a real smoky polluting fire, or you could open it wide and forget that and maybe burn your house down or damage the stove from overheating. Its high performance, and not for space cadets! It works beautifully for me, and a few other folks who have them and use common sense. Everyone loves how thrifty of wood it is.


Dorene,
My neighbors were hard on their stoves. You''ll probably get longer service from one of those soapstone units than they did. Its good to know that they will need maintenance. And they cost so much that you you shouldn''t neglect that. Just keep that in mind when you''re shopping. Those are real nice units. Supposedly, they keep putting out heat for a while after the fire is done. That might be just right for you. A short hot fire and heat for 1/2 a day? Maybe.
Dorene
#4 Posted : Sunday, November 13, 2005 12:40:41 AM
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The woodstock units are advertised as having double stone walls, sort of like a masonary stone. Some of the units come with an ash box and I am watching on e-bay hoping that maybe next spring somebody will want to get rid of one... There are a couple there currently that need some repair but are only a fraction of the cost. Don''t know if I am brave enough to take used, but still thinking. The main drawback (beside the price!!!!!!) is the weight - they are close to 500 lbs. I''m not sure I can get a two wheeled cart heavy enough to handle it. I love cast iron, but I also love stone and they are very attractive units with a claim of 35,000 to 55,000 btus depending on the unit and also the 12 hour burn time between loadings. Guess I won''t count it out on my pipe dream list then, huh? Some people buy paintings, some people get a statue, I want a stone woodstove. Even my dreams tend to be down to earth.
NHYankee
#5 Posted : Saturday, November 19, 2005 11:09:59 AM
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Dorene,

I like the soapstone stoves as well but I am currently looking at one of the refractory masonry stoves made by the Montana Stove company. They can manufacture these with tile facing and I believe you could get one with soapstone tiles. The unit is a gasifying stove which produces very high amounts of heat and hold the heat for a long time. Although with what may be a concern to you they are very heavy.

I''ll share anything else I find out. Take a look at:
[url]http://www.rohor.com/[/url]
Dorene
#6 Posted : Saturday, November 19, 2005 9:33:41 PM
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I''ll look into it, but thke stove would be going into a mobile home. I think the Woodstock soapstone is almost too heavy. Who knows though - if I like it that much I just might have to pipedream a basement to put my pipedream masonary stove in. Dreams are so much fun because they are free and you can change them as much as you want.

edited to add: That is an interesting site and product and they are very reasonably priced. I think I would definitly have to put it in a basement or build a room below for it. It''s worth considering. Thank you.
lary999
#7 Posted : Monday, December 12, 2005 9:50:26 PM
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Thank you, Practicalman45, for your excellent insights into wood stove life-cycle costs. You say:

"The newer type of stoves (made since 1990) come in occasionally for work. These higher-efficiency models have pre-heated air intakes, more insulated fireboxes, and sometimes, after-burn combustion catalysts, or just secondary burn chambers. Their higher combustion temps do improve their efficiency. Quite often they are damaged from overheating. The original catalysts usually have long been abandoned and removed….
The newer type stoves overall seem to have a much shorter life expectancy than the older ones. They cost a lot more to own because they just don''t last as long besides being initially more expensive."


Here in the maritime Pacific Northwest, the old-style stoves (Fisher, etc) are illegal, even in remote rural areas (air-pollution laws). Also, we live in a mild climate, so a $5,000+ stove would be overkill. Which newer-type stove designs are best, in your experience?

I agree that all stoves with catalytic converters should be avoided. What about the Jotul woodstove design, which uses a stainless steel secondary burn chamber? This same basic cast-iron Jotul design (sans the after-burner) has been in production for 50+ years – how well have these stoves held up after several decades of use? What kinds of abuse must be avoided, to prolong stove life? Over-heating, obviously, but what else? What kinds of repairs are typical, over a 20-year service life?

practicalman45
#8 Posted : Tuesday, December 13, 2005 3:33:52 AM
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The Jotul is an imported high quality cast iron stove. Like you said, the newer ones have some refinemants added on. People don''t bring these kind of stoves to me. If they are damaged and need parts? it isn''t something that I get to work on. I''m a welder/fabricator. Cast Iron stoves are NOT very repairable by welding (for the most part...at least not grey iron castings that have seen repeated high temps). While it is pretty durable, and warp resistant, castings in stoves can wear out. Generally if they''ve been overheated, or specific high temperature parts such as baffles or grates. People can fix that stuff themselves. It usually entails ordering/buying costly parts, tearing the thing all apart (nuts and bolts stuff) reassemble the whole thing while making sure to seal all the joints where the castings come together.

From what you said, the stainless steel secondary burn chambers area stuff will probably be what you have to replace periodically. I don''t know how costly those parts are. I would doubt that they are cheap. As for how often it may need this? I couldn''t predict that. It may never need that if you use it gently (read, NOT OVERHEATING). It might need it every 5 years or 3 years if you are using it hard to try to heat more than its designed to. The newer high temp designs naturally stress their components more.

I''d suggest that a larger stove run gently will outlast a smaller one at full throttle. The new stoves cannot be turned down very low. You''ll have to learn to limit their fuel. That probably means more frequent stoking with smaller charges.


I will keep using my homemade steel airtight stoves, myself. There is no law against making my own at this point. As mentioned, they last me for a long time. Sorry that I can''t offer to sell those, thats just how it is. I am unaware of the older styles such as Fishers being illegal here, at least where I am. They are just not legal to advertise or SELL (people still do sell them out of ignorance of that law). If you find one in the dump and refurbish it I don''t believe thats illegal. Plenty of folks are still using them around here. The clean air codes here in Oregon are local or county statutes, not statewide. In some areas, they may prohibit installing not certified stoves, but I am unaware that they will make you take one out of service if you have it already. (sort of like a grandfather clause).

I do make stainless steel pipe water heating coils for sale. For thermosiphon systems heating domestic hot water in stoves. Same material as the factory ones, 304 stainless, or from salvaged stainless steel boiler tubes (not sure what type stainless that is, a 300 series). Tig welded. See some pics of them at my photo pages, link below. You can glimpse my stove there too.
rlively
#9 Posted : Sunday, December 06, 2009 8:16:49 PM
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I own a schrader fireplace wood stove.  Both doors are warped. They are aluminum.  I've tried replacing the gaskets 4 times now with no luck. The stove is in North Bend, OR.  Do you have any suggestions where I can get 2 new doors for this.  Thank you for any information that you can give me.

practicalman45
#10 Posted : Sunday, December 06, 2009 10:47:27 PM
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rlively wrote:

I own a schrader fireplace wood stove.  Both doors are warped. They are aluminum.  I've tried replacing the gaskets 4 times now with no luck. The stove is in North Bend, OR.  Do you have any suggestions where I can get 2 new doors for this.  Thank you for any information that you can give me.

 


I am familiar with that model of Schrader (after seeing the pic in your attachment). I know someone who has one. His seals poorly around the doors, also. This happens especially when you have two doors that close together (one onto the other). I don't think that you can still get original replacement doors for those, they are a pretty old model (pre-EPA).  I have rebuilt old Fishers that had the same problem, changing their  double door setup to a large single door of fabricated steel construction. Adding a heavy plate steel baffle inside the top of the firebox helps a lot too for heat output (that goes for any of these old airtight design stoves). It is a testament to the durability of these stoves that some have lasted so long as they have, but the doors are the weak point (as you have found) warping if overheated. If you can find someone to fabricate a new steel door for you, a smaller single door being way preferrable over the double setup. I just use the very same door that I make for my waterheater tank stoves, making the double door opening smaller, and making a new sealing-frame for the rope gasket. Those have the air draft control built into them, and utlize a "baffle draft tube" design, which cools the door preventing warpage. If you have one made, be sure to include the air deflector plate, it is crucial to the stove's preformance.  Details of the door and its' design can be seen in my stove construction photo website:  http://cid-835fd5edf0a1158d.skydrive.live.com/browse.aspx/Stove%20Construction%20Pics

The door construction is the most labor-intensive part of making a stove. Getting the gasket seal and hinges right is crucial.

 

--Practicalman45

practicalman45
#11 Posted : Sunday, December 06, 2009 10:47:27 PM
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Having a welding business, I do woodstove repairs and have made a number of woodstoves. Years ago I worked for a woodstove company as a lead welder on one of their assembly lines. This time of year usually brings a few jobs from folks fixing up or doing repair work on their old stoves. Here are some observations from over the years.

Folks bring in some fairly old stoves for me to work on sometimes. The old Fisher and Schrader type styles are still being used. Many of these are like 25 years old now. If they havent been overheated and warped the doors, they are usually still pretty sound. Often they just want the flu collar moved to the top instead of the rear. Many originally had the collar that the stovepipe slides over the outside of (a bad idea..). I'll encourage them to add a good baffle plate, and if the door is warped I try to sell them on a new fabricated gasketted steel door. Expensive, but well worth it to restore the original performance or even make it better than original, usually.

The newer type of stoves (made since 1990) come in occasionally for work. These higher-efficiency models have pre-heated air intakes, more insulated fireboxes, and sometimes, after-burn combustion catalysts, or just secondary burn chambers. Their higher combustion temps do improve their efficiency. Quite often they are damaged from overheating. The original catalysts usually have long been abandoned and removed. The cost of frequently replacing the catalysts has discouraged their being replaced. Like the newer automobiles with their computer systems and complexity, the newer stoves are sometimes unrepairable (at least affordably).

The newer type stoves overall seem to have a much shorter life expectancy than the older ones. They cost a lot more to own because they just don't last as long besides being initially more expensive.

One of my neighbors has used several of the newer catalyst stoves. The first one was a beautiful cast iron monster. It worked great for them. They could stoke it up with douglas fir, watch it burn through the glass loading door. It actually was too much stove for their house. It couldn't really be turned down very much. Often, they had to open some windows to cool the place down. After 2 years, the catalyst needed replacing. A few other parts needed replacing from heat damage too. Cast iron pieces, gaskets, catalyst. Around $250 in parts. A few years later, the unit needed a more thorough rebuild again. He's pretty handy, so he did the work himself. Again, a few hundred expense in parts, besides his time to tear the thing down and order parts etc.
By the time it was 7 years old, the $1800 stove was due for its 3rd overhaul. The first 2 servicings had cost them over $500 in parts alone. They retired that stove and purchased a smaller, soapstone covered model. Beautiful. Again, though, similar maintenance, and parts every couple years or so. Not to mention the $1500. initial cost of the unit.

I would rib my neighbors. Comparing my homemade stove to their high tech wonders. In 15 years, they had spent over $3500. on stoves. My homemade unit was still in good shape at 15 years old. Other than a new door gasket every few years, it needed nothing. after using it for 15 years. I made myself a new one. It is made from all recycled metal junk. A water heater tank, and some scrap steel plates. It works very well for me. It does demand dry hardwood, but only about 2 cords a year. It holds a fire real well. Overnight is no problem.

My neighbors could have probably chosen to buy more durable stoves? They did spent good money, and chose some top of the line models that had good reviews in "consumer reports". Why they had so much maintenance expense is puzzling. They did burn mostly fir. She worked at a sawmill and got the fir for free. It worked good with their catalyst stoves. The fact remains: they spent more on just their STOVES in the past 15 years than I did on ALL of my firewood. (even buying it at $150/cord, which I didn't...)
Of course, they have homeowners insurance, and they said they had to use the approved model stoves because of that. Go figure.
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