Well I got my Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove rebuilt today. Basically the rebuild consisted of getting the stove air tight and fabricating a latch onto the existing door which took the majority of my time. I noticed there were 4 areas that allowed air into either under the grate or above it.
1. Burner plate on top of the stove
2. Firebox Door
3. Ash Door
4. Shaker Access Flap
To get this stove air tight, I bought $49 worth of fiberglass gaskets, gasket cement and black paint and spent about 6 hours working on it.
The Burner plate on top of the stove was pretty straight forward. I put gasket sealer and a fiberglass rope gasket around the hole and then drilled a 1/4 inch hole through the exact center of the burn plate and counter sunk that hole. To get the burner plate to seal onto the new seal, I cut a piece of flat bar that spanned under the top of the stove and drilled and tapped the center of it with a 1/4-20 through hole. I then used a 1-1/2 1/4-20 counter sunk bolt and bolted the burner plate, and the flat bar together with the stove rim sandwiched in between. In this way the burner plate sealed the gasket tight. I then added some gasket sealer around the outside of the burner plate for a final good measure of air tightness.
For the Shaker Access Flap I did the same thing as the burner plate which sealed that flap tightly. (My shaker grate does not work anyway so I never use the shake down feature of this stove).
For the Ash Pan door, things got a little more complicated. It had a slide arrangement for a draft control that...and well...it just sucked. So to seal it up, I took a piece of 1/16 sheet metal and sandwiched it between the slide portion of the grate, and the ash pan door itself and through bolted it with a countersunk 1/4-20 bolt and nut. Inside and out, I used gasket sealer to ensure this slide mechanism...which is no longer functional...is air tight. I then ran gasket rope around the outside of the Ash Pan Door secured with gasket sealer. In order to supply air under the grate, I simply have to open the ash pan door to get air under the grate, with the volume of air being controlled by how far the door is opened; or alternatively, I can shut all air off by having the weight of this door press against the gasket rope sealing it tight.
Finally I started on the Fire Box Door itself...and what a job that was! It took up most of my time, but it was very involved. It involved three phases;
1. Sealing the pin wheel type of air inlet that was very sloppy
2. Putting a gasket around the door itself
3. Installing the latch
Sealing the pin wheel grate was pretty straight forward. I dismantled the rotating mechanism and sealed the air inlet with another piece of 1/16 sheet metal. I simply used a 4 inch hole saw to make the 4 inch diameter circle and then sanded it down to 3-3/4 on my belt sander spun with my cordless drill. Then I applied gasket sealer to everything, inside and out and bolted everything back together. It was air tight then but non-functional.
Applying the gasket around the door was even more straight forward, it is just gasket sealer cemented in place, with a couple of 3/32 bolts holding the corners on by through drilling the corners of the fire box door.
The real difficult job was installing a latch on the fire box door. I located a latch off from a Monarch Wood Stove that we had kicking around...circa 1900...and realized it was in really bad shape. I had to grind the latch apart just to break it free from the door it was on. Once disassembled I had to start rebuilding it, by re-drilling the bolt hole, tapping it, modifying a 1/4-20 bolt and then filing down the square alignment latch key way. That was pretty easy, but then I had to turn the latch body down from a taper to a straight cylinder...tough when you do not have a lathe.
To accomplish that, I used my drill press to spin the latch while I used a grinder to knock down the high part of the cylinder. Once it was close, I finished up the cylinder from tapered to straight by spinning the latch on the drill press and using a hand file...ha, lathe not required!! Once that was accomplished I had to align the hole in the fire box door with the inside lip of the stove. Once located, I had to drill a .575 hole in the door with a half inch drill. Careful filing with a chainsaw file finally got the latch to fit. Oh but I was not done yet...no the Monarch Wood Stove Door was much too thick compared to this stove, so I had to machine out a bushing that was the right inside and outside diameter, as well as be the proper height. Only then could I bolt the latch through my thin Vogelzang fire box door.
My final work was to get the latch...now ridiculously deep inside my stove to pinch against the inside of the stove carcass. To do that I had to grind a flat spot on the inside latch mechanism, drill a Numerber 7 hole, then tap it for a 1/4-20 bolt. A one inch bolt threaded in nicely and took up the space. Amazingly everything fit on the first try and as I moved the latch, it drew the door tight against the gasket! Success! The final touch was to give this stove a coat of new high temperature paint.
So for a few hours of work, $49 dollars in material, I got a low cost $379 Vogelzang pot bellied stove to be completely air tight. I think it was money and time well spent. If anyone else has one of these stoves, and is interested in how I managed to do it, just let me know. I can probably walk you through it. It was very easy and the result is a stove that looks like it was factory made this way...without the factory price. I used tools any homeowner has, and certainly no real machining skills. It sounds more difficult then it really was.