Vermont Castings Vigilant 1a coal burning

Vermont Castings Vigilant 1a coal burning

PostBy: PhillyBob On: Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:40 pm

Hi Everyone

Yet another coal newbie here. From what I've been reading I have about the most finicky stove available for my maiden voyage. I have NEVER burned coal. A coal retrofit for a wood stove. Oh well. Gotta make do for now.

This stove came with a coal kit, however I knew I was in trouble when I saw warped parts in the coal kit. After years of looking and a lot of convincing by the locals, I have decided to give it a try. Luckily they other day a search on Craig's List came up fruitful. I found a complete coal kit for a whopping $75. When I came home with it I had to peek and saw a refurbed, repainted kit for sale on Ebay for $400, shipping included.

Truth be told, I'll likely wind up going to a stoker in a year or two. I'm in my mid to latter 50's. Splitting, lugging and drying firewood is something that suited me better 20 years ago. Needless to say, with all the nuances of all different types of stoves and all they different types of stokers out there AND all the fun stuff I see on the forum here, I'll do my research before taking the plunge. I can get it up to 80 no problem in the basement just burning wood with this monster, but getting the heat upstairs one or two floors is a different matter. I've tried using the forced air system to do it but negative pressure is an issue. One grate does not take in enough air to do the trick. I'm assuming I'll need to use a blower from the coal furnace to get the heat into the ducts and then run the blower from my home system to get it around the house.

So before I fire this thing up, I'm wondering if it would be smart to look into having the good throat pieces copied by someone that pours cast? They are not available anymore and are wicked difficult to find. They are the pieces that were warped in my kit from being over fired. These particular pieces might have been used once or possibly not at all; they are essentially new. I know there are tons of these old Vigilant 1a's around, mostly used as wood stoves.

Bob
PhillyBob
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: VT Castings Vigilant 1
Other Heating: Wood - Country S-240 EPA Phase 2

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant 1a coal burning

PostBy: oliver power On: Sun Jan 19, 2014 8:40 pm

Hi Bob, welcome to the forum. By throat piece, I'm assuming you are talking about the hopper. Am I correct? If so, the answer is "NO". You don't need the hopper to burn coal in that stove. The hopper would greatly improve your burning experience with the Vigilant you have. I'm also going to tell you not to waste money on a hopper for your stove. You picked one of the worst stoves to cut your teeth on. However, should you concur that vigilant stove, you'll be able to run ANY other coal stove while blind folded, one hand behind your back, and standing on your head. Coal heat is great! Don't be discouraged with "your" Vigilant stove. The only Vigilant any good for coal is the Vigilant-II. The Vigilant-II has been all redesigned for burning coal. Go ahead, play with the vigilant. Then go buy yourself a real coal stove, not a new hopper for the one you have. Oliver
oliver power
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: KEYSTOKER Kaa-2
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93 & 30-95, Vigilant (pre-Vigilant-II)
Baseburners & Antiques: MANY (Mostly when burning wood)
Stove/Furnace Make: HITZER / KEYSTOKER
Stove/Furnace Model: 50-93 & 30-95 , Kaa-2

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant 1a coal burning

PostBy: PhillyBob On: Sun Jan 19, 2014 10:05 pm

Hello Oliver!

Thanks for the warm welcome, no pun intended.

Yeah, I 'figger learning to burn coal in this unit will be about equivalent to reducing my Phase 2 EPA special (by "Country" recently sold by Lennox so I hear to whom I dunno) wood stove from an 8 to a 6 inch pipe going into a 35 foot chimney in the basement. Try warming up THAT flue!

Matter of fact the Vigilant 1a will vent into that very hole! Yikes. :o

But no, the throat pieces are actually two brackets that screw together or maybe just set against each other that come off the bottom of the hopper to supposedly regulate the flow of whatever sizes coal you choose onto the grates. They fit into one of several slots in the inside of the hopper, depending on what size you're burning.

As Vermont Castings dispensed with the entire hopper assembly in the Vigilant II, I guessed that an experienced person burning coal might be able to make do without a hopper and just burn as is done with a Vigilant II, in layers. The grates are pretty different however. And from what I've been reading, several people do like the hopper and some don't even think it's that bad an idea. I have to admit I do like the grate design in the Vigilant 2.

If I could come up with a good way of getting heat into the ductwork I might stick with a radiant heat source as I like that warm-to-the-bone feeling and so do my pets. Hooking into forced air ducts with an auger feed, thermostatically controlled does have a certain appeal though.

I now have two coal kits; one with a fair amount of use with no throat and another essentially new. I don't think $75 is a horrible investment for something I could maybe get $400 for. And hey, I could restore one off these things to museum quality! But going through the hassle and expense of casting iron for something obsolete probably wouldn't prove too fruitful. Bad enough I took a hit trying soapstone as firebrick in my wood stove. That cost a few bucks and though it might work in the VC, no way it's happening in a Phase 2 stove without a 30 mph wind outside.

Bob
PhillyBob
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: VT Castings Vigilant 1
Other Heating: Wood - Country S-240 EPA Phase 2

Visit Hitzer Stoves

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant 1a coal burning

PostBy: Storm On: Sun Jan 19, 2014 10:19 pm

George here, I too have a Vigilant 1 with the coal conversion. Had it for 34 years. Burn wood in the spring and fall. From thanksgiving to my birthday March 6 burn nut coal. Keep it between 300 to 450 degrees no higher in our home of 1700 sq. ft. R-30 wall and R-50 ceilings. Ok not a long burn times as with Vigilant 2. The cast iron with plenty of surface to radiate the heat on all sides. I like it very much. Sorry about the warp parts. The people on this forum did help me with some things like the air that passes between the front doors and the front shelf. G.
Storm
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark 1& 111
Baseburners & Antiques: Coal Kitchen heater
Coal Size/Type: Nut & stove
Stove/Furnace Make: Vermont Cast. Vig. '79 w/coal

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant 1a coal burning

PostBy: PhillyBob On: Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:03 pm

Hi George:

Nice to meet ya! I too have witnessed the air that passes between the doors. It's pretty noticeable with wood. The shelf I'll have to learn about.

So I take it you use the hopper? I have only about 800 sq ft per floor, give or take, times three. I figured using the hopper there would be shorter burn times. As long as I can get 12 hours out of it I'll be more than happy. Even less would do.

I'll likely stick with nut from what I've been reading. And I'll likely start with the entire unit, or if I'm brave, the old unit without the throat pieces. Then I could just re-sell the kit I purchased if I decide to.

If this stove can keep you warm that many years in Wisconsin, I don't care if it's a retro wood stove or not. Glad you and VigPea burn at lower temps. His videos will prove invaluable.

Thanks!

Bob
PhillyBob
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: VT Castings Vigilant 1
Other Heating: Wood - Country S-240 EPA Phase 2

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant 1a coal burning

PostBy: oliver power On: Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:08 pm

PhillyBob wrote:Hello Oliver!

Thanks for the warm welcome, no pun intended.

Yeah, I 'figger learning to burn coal in this unit will be about equivalent to reducing my Phase 2 EPA special (by "Country" recently sold by Lennox so I hear to whom I dunno) wood stove from an 8 to a 6 inch pipe going into a 35 foot chimney in the basement. Try warming up THAT flue!

Matter of fact the Vigilant 1a will vent into that very hole! Yikes. :o

But no, the throat pieces are actually two brackets that screw together or maybe just set against each other that come off the bottom of the hopper to supposedly regulate the flow of whatever sizes coal you choose onto the grates. They fit into one of several slots in the inside of the hopper, depending on what size you're burning.

As Vermont Castings dispensed with the entire hopper assembly in the Vigilant II, I guessed that an experienced person burning coal might be able to make do without a hopper and just burn as is done with a Vigilant II, in layers. The grates are pretty different however. And from what I've been reading, several people do like the hopper and some don't even think it's that bad an idea. I have to admit I do like the grate design in the Vigilant 2.

If I could come up with a good way of getting heat into the ductwork I might stick with a radiant heat source as I like that warm-to-the-bone feeling and so do my pets. Hooking into forced air ducts with an auger feed, thermostatically controlled does have a certain appeal though.

I now have two coal kits; one with a fair amount of use with no throat and another essentially new. I don't think $75 is a horrible investment for something I could maybe get $400 for. And hey, I could restore one off these things to museum quality! But going through the hassle and expense of casting iron for something obsolete probably wouldn't prove too fruitful. Bad enough I took a hit trying soapstone as firebrick in my wood stove. That cost a few bucks and though it might work in the VC, no way it's happening in a Phase 2 stove without a 30 mph wind outside.

Bob
Yes, I do remember the adjustment at the bottom of the hopper. I don't remember where I had mine set. I started out with no hopper (bought used). Afterwards, I ordered the hopper. Again, don't waste your money.
oliver power
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: KEYSTOKER Kaa-2
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93 & 30-95, Vigilant (pre-Vigilant-II)
Baseburners & Antiques: MANY (Mostly when burning wood)
Stove/Furnace Make: HITZER / KEYSTOKER
Stove/Furnace Model: 50-93 & 30-95 , Kaa-2

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant 1a coal burning with picture

PostBy: Storm On: Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:40 am

Hi Bob. I have in closed a picture with the hopper. Using Blashack nut. If you want a long burn use pea size. The heat output is less. I've used pea have a temp of 300degrees. Main living area 70 degrees outside 25 degrees with a 5 to 10 mph wind. Burn time between shack downs 8 hours. Even thou my home is well insulated it still leaks air in. At 128 year farm house of 3 bricks thick. I have a duct from the basement to the intake to the stove. The hopper is a good thing, otherwise you are limited to have to fill the fire box many times per/ day. The coal level can not be to high. One does not want the coal to touch the cast iron shell. Each house is unique in how the heat is circulated around to other rooms. Our home is two storied. The seconded floor we don't use. Closed at the stairway. Were the stove is the ceiling is 14 feet. Have vents that carry the heat to other rooms that do not get heated by the stove's heat. The fan is a squired cage run by a 1/4 horse power motor. G.
Attachments
image.jpg
(197.33 KiB) Viewed 19 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
[nepathumb]48262[/nepathumb]
Storm
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark 1& 111
Baseburners & Antiques: Coal Kitchen heater
Coal Size/Type: Nut & stove
Stove/Furnace Make: Vermont Cast. Vig. '79 w/coal

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant 1a coal burning

PostBy: PhillyBob On: Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:34 pm

Hey George:

Well, that sheds a little light on the subject. I do have the original manual for the stove though, so if I take the time to read, which I'm sure I will before firing, I should do ok. Not having the coal touch the cast iron shell is a good tip, though I figured the whole reason for a hopper would be to hold the supply in place and just damper it down so the fire doesn't come in contact with the throat and warp the pieces the way my original pieces were.

Moving the warm air around the house is an art to be sure. It will take a while to figure out how to do it. Years ago I opened an air intake in the basement on the far end away from the stove after reading about negative pressure in my wood stove manual, however it still caused a problem. I have had it 80 degrees in the basement and the heat will not follow up a stairway well. To compound things, my wife finally got me to build her an office down there and just like a dog you build a substantial house for, she won't use it. :x Before that the floor plan in the basement was pretty open.

Possibly small 12 volt fans at the top of key doorways will help. They are available at the local flea market. I just need to come up with adapters to power them and I'm sure I will as I have plenty lying around with no clue what they fit.

My wood stove on the first floor provides heat up the center hall but it pretty much stops at the doorways. I'll figure it out. It's still kind of refreshing after sitting in the heat all day to go into a room a few degrees cooler.

Thanks for the tip on the hopper!

Bob
PhillyBob
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: VT Castings Vigilant 1
Other Heating: Wood - Country S-240 EPA Phase 2

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant 1a coal burning

PostBy: PhillyBob On: Thu Jan 23, 2014 10:06 am

I wasn't sure if I should post this question here or go looking for a different thread but here goes. I'm wondering what I should do about a damper.

VC traditionally uses 8" pipe. I've been told in no uncertain terms that coal prefers 6".

The one thing I have going for me with learning to burn coal in this most finicky of stoves is, I know the stove and how it operates with wood very well. The internal manual damper, the thermostat, all the fresh air feeds and secondary combustion chamber and how they function is no mystery to me.

With the 8" oval coming off the back and the unit going into an 8" chimney, I'm wondering where the wisdom would be in going to 6" for the few feet of pipe between the stove and chimney, except for being able to find 6" barometric damper's more easily.

To pull this off, I'd need to reduce the pipe once it gets round, install the damper then expand it again at the chimney. I'm not so sure this makes a lot of sense. And as long we're on the subject of dampers, if I manage to find someone interested in this labor intensive EPA wood stove and find a nice cast coal stove for the family room that will fit on the fireplace pad and provide enough heat to try and move around the house, chances are there will barely be enough pipe to add a damper. Are they highly recommended and/or necessary with all coal stoves?

I saw a small VC Intrepid (?) coal stove that looks exactly like the Vigilant 2 for sale at a guy's place that reconditions stoves. I assume VC made this stove for a very short time and it wasn't too popular due to the size. I've been told it's too small for my application but he may have been talking about use with wood, or trying to heat the entire house with it. We have Geo-therm and I'm really just looking to supplement to take the edge off for very cold days and also to save a few bucks. This little unit is priced pretty reasonably and outside of using it in the smaller arched fireplace, I'd need to look into tearing a couple courses of brick off the hearth pad and maybe the bottom of the hearth itself to lower the pad down and make a little more room for a more commonly sized stove. Then I could look into a stoker. :)

Thanks in advance!

Bob
PhillyBob
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: VT Castings Vigilant 1
Other Heating: Wood - Country S-240 EPA Phase 2

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant 1a coal burning

PostBy: Storm On: Fri Jan 24, 2014 12:05 pm

George here, Bob, My Vigilant wood and coal stove has a 8 inch pipe. That was for the wood to be burn with the front doors open. To get a good draft in the chimney a smaller 6 inch pipe is what I have now with coal. No baro or Manuel pipe damper. The pathways threw the stove is enough to slow the flow and produce the heat. My stove top is 425 degrees, the pipe exit at 175 degrees, Yet have a good draft of .05. One has to get a balance. Most of our chimney is inside the home. Out side pipe 4 feet. It's the Metabestos brand. The intrepid stove is nice for a small space say 700 feet with R-19 insulation. I have a Resolute wood burner in our getaway cabin of 900 ft. Does a good job. If you a looking for a 12 hour burn at say between 350 to 500 degrees you will need a modern stove. I do not know what state you live in, other members of this forum can guide you what's best for your application. G.
Storm
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark 1& 111
Baseburners & Antiques: Coal Kitchen heater
Coal Size/Type: Nut & stove
Stove/Furnace Make: Vermont Cast. Vig. '79 w/coal

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant 1a coal burning

PostBy: PhillyBob On: Fri Jan 24, 2014 5:41 pm

Hi George:

I called one local VC dealer. They told me they had a 6" collar that I could bolt on my stove so I'll have to stop and pick one up.

I live outside Philadelphia, maybe 45 miles north and west. Minnesota it ain't but we do get our cold snaps. I know I had an ash pan, now I just need to find it. I'd hate to buy another. I did just find my slicer. I also have to re-invest in some 6" pipe. And of course I need gasket and cement. And here I thought all those nice pieces just bolted in place!

I'd like to be able to get and Vigilant 2 for our family room upstairs but my fireplace is too short. I'll call they guy that built it and ask what kind of surprises to expect if I should remove one course of brick. That would be enough to get the pipe under the arch of this small fireplace. You'd think a mason would have built a big impressive hearth so I wouldn't have these issues. :roll:

Thanks again

Bob
PhillyBob
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: VT Castings Vigilant 1
Other Heating: Wood - Country S-240 EPA Phase 2

Visit Hitzer Stoves