Vermont Castings Vigilant I down... :( for now... :)

Vermont Castings Vigilant I down... :( for now... :)

PostBy: eelhc On: Tue Nov 04, 2008 2:20 pm

Well after a great start I've been struggling to keep the Vigilant I lit. I attribute it mostly to operator error and partly an unforgiving stove that was never designed to burn coal from the start with a tough learning curve...

Here's what I've learned over the last couple of weeks...

Getting a fire started and burning through the initial load of coals is quite easy. Different story sustaining the fire. Once the ashes/embers build up on the bottom I'm finding it difficult to sustain a low rate of burn even after shaking/poking/slicing. Air is definitely getting to the coals from the top. The Vigilant I is a wood stove with a coal conversion kit. I've taken the stove apart (coal conversion kit parts slide out), cleaned the pieces up and used furnace cement to seal up any joints + gaps.

Unlike a wood fire, the coals seem to "like" it better when the hopper is full and there's always a fresh supply of coal sitting on top of the fire. If the coals in the hopper to get too low the fire begins to struggle. Maybe because the hopper gasket is worn and air is entering the stove from the top. I will be replacing the hopper door gasket as well as soon as I am able to find 5/16 gasket material around my parts.

Shaker assembly... I noticed that the shaker lever is worn and is becoming separated from rear. I was not able to shake the rear grate and tha ashes were building up. I had a machinist friend make some weld repairs to the lever this past weekend and it's as good as new.

Coals... I had been using the small amount coals left in the bin from the previous owner of the house. A big surprise when I opened up a fresh bag of Reading nut coal yesterday. The new coal is soooo much bigger. I suspect that the fines in the coals I had been using were falling down through the crevices in the burning pile and suffocating the fire.

It's ~60*F during the day in my parts so I have the stove down presently. I'll have another go at it this weekend. I really liked the heat the stove was putting out while it was working. If it works out wel through this winter, I'll upgrade to a more modern stove for the next heating season.
eelhc
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman Magnum Stoker

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant I down... :( for now... :)

PostBy: BearKnot On: Tue Nov 04, 2008 7:01 pm

Sounds like you got it under control, eelhc. Keep up the good Yankee ingenuity. ;)
BearKnot
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Fisher Grandpa Bear
Stove/Furnace Model: Gave up Looking for anthracite

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant I down... :( for now... :)

PostBy: rewinder On: Tue Nov 04, 2008 11:18 pm

Hey keep at it, you'll get the hang of it. A lot of people poo-poo the old VC stoves, but they runn well when you figure out their characteristics.

I have a Vigilant I and a Resolute early version going now, after a 22 year break from using them! I pulled them out of mothballs and re furbed the gaskets ect and they are running fine now.

the key to using the coal kits is making sure the pieces below the grates, and the whole left side is "glued" up nice and leak proof with furnace cement. Also if your stove didn't come with a gasket below the front gate, put some 3/8 or 1/2 inch round fiberglass gasket material on the doors at the ledge so that they seal the area where it comes close to the lower front grate. Also the little rectangular "door like" plate that is located at the fire back's lower right side must be cemented inwhen you secure it to the back with the 1/4-20 bolt.

Mine's running at 190deg surface temp now cause it's in the upper 40's tonite, and was 63deg today. It's 10:30 PM now and I last put in 2 scoops in at noon,

Do you have the knife like slicer? I've found using the slicer, stabbing and sliding it across the grates while sliding it under the front grate till you see the glow projecting down onto the ash pan, then a few not too harsh shakes on the handle , works better than just shaking it.

I also use a baro damper on both stoves.

Glad to see someone else using these old classic coal burners! Some parts are sill available from woodmans stoves in NH, grates mostly.

My brother ressurected his also this year, we're burning Reading bagged pea coal., never tried nut coal.

I have some manuals in pdf files I can sent you if you need them.

Good luck!!

Paul
rewinder
 
Stove/Furnace Make: VT Castings--early models
Stove/Furnace Model: Vigilant, and Resolute

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Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant I down... :( for now... :)

PostBy: eelhc On: Thu Nov 06, 2008 11:56 am

Also if your stove didn't come with a gasket below the front gate, put some 3/8 or 1/2 inch round fiberglass gasket material on the doors at the ledge so that they seal the area where it comes close to the lower front grate. Also the little rectangular "door like" plate that is located at the fire back's lower right side must be cemented inwhen you secure it to the back with the 1/4-20 bolt.

Hmm... do you mean the area marked up in red in the picture below?

Image
eelhc
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman Magnum Stoker

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant I down... :( for now... :)

PostBy: rewinder On: Thu Nov 06, 2008 2:26 pm

Yes that's the area in question.

My stove has a thin strip bolted to the underside of the front ,that squeezes (clamps ) a flat gasket (armored with woven wire for durability) tha protrudes forward to contact the doors.

The gasket has some ware and tare, can't find it anyplace, so I "glued" on a piece of gasket material to the door with rutland door gasket glue to seal the door/grate gap.

I can take a pic of this if you want.

Item # 21 on that blow up is the door think I was talking about, should be sealed up well to its mating parts.

That's the key I think to getting a controlled and longlasting burn with these old girls!

Paul
rewinder
 
Stove/Furnace Make: VT Castings--early models
Stove/Furnace Model: Vigilant, and Resolute

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant I down... :( for now... :)

PostBy: rewinder On: Thu Nov 06, 2008 2:28 pm

Forgot to comment, Burning pea coal I get a deeper fire using the nut coal setting on the hopper throat position shown on that manual I sent. lessens the front burn back issue I think.
rewinder
 
Stove/Furnace Make: VT Castings--early models
Stove/Furnace Model: Vigilant, and Resolute

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant I down... :( for now... :)

PostBy: eelhc On: Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:13 pm

rewinder wrote:Yes that's the area in question.

My stove has a thin strip bolted to the underside of the front ,that squeezes (clamps ) a flat gasket (armored with woven wire for durability) tha protrudes forward to contact the doors.

The gasket has some ware and tare, can't find it anyplace, so I "glued" on a piece of gasket material to the door with rutland door gasket glue to seal the door/grate gap.

I can take a pic of this if you want.

Item # 21 on that blow up is the door think I was talking about, should be sealed up well to its mating parts.

That's the key I think to getting a controlled and longlasting burn with these old girls!

Paul


Hmmm... My stove has no such strip bolted onto the underside. I think maybe a thicker gasket on the door will have to do. I have put several layers of rutland furnace cement around 21 (doesn't look pretty but it looks pretty much sealed up) so I think I'm good to go there.

I've been looking for the 5/16" hopper door gasket which is also got a steel shroud around the fiberglass material. and the local Vermont Castings Dealers do not have stock and are quoting Jan/Feb for delivery on a special order. Apparently VC is in the process of being acquired and their distribution/ordering is a bit of a mess. I wonder if the rutland 5/16 grapho-glas gasket will do. I can't imagine why it wouldn't so long as it makes a good seal.

T-2 days till I fire her up again...
eelhc
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman Magnum Stoker

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant I down... :( for now... :)

PostBy: rewinder On: Thu Nov 06, 2008 11:25 pm

As to the front grate gasket, I went on a quest to find a repracement, calling around to VC dealers and they swore there was never one used, and no un-boltable metal strip!. But mine and my brothers stove have them,and we bought them at the same time. Ours might have been the early models of the Vigilant w/coal kit, they had just been introduced when we got them. Even Woodmans/ Stoveparts plus said they didn't excist!

Well maybe you should check to see how much space is betweeen the lower grate and the door when you shut one door. Mine had about 1/4", and the thick plyable woven rope gasket crushes easily to seal that area making for no leakage in front of the grate. I think that's the key to the stove being to run at a 200deg stove top temp on a 55-60 deg day.

If they get scuzzy after a while I just rip them off the doord and glue on 2 new ones.

The gridle armored gasket rope i got this year from a stove shope that carries the rutland line of gasket material. they have it on a bulk roll.

The non armored rope gasket will work, it's just not a durable, I've used it before.

I think most coal stoves need some tweeking now and then to keep them running well, it sure is easier to just turn up the thermostat and run the oil fired boiler!!!!!!!!!!!!!

paul
rewinder
 
Stove/Furnace Make: VT Castings--early models
Stove/Furnace Model: Vigilant, and Resolute

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant I down... :( for now... :)

PostBy: rewinder On: Mon Nov 10, 2008 9:28 pm

I can't figure out how to edit a older post, so I'll do it here.

Forther up i posted the rope gasket I used to seal the front grate to doors was 3/8 to 1/2" diameter. Actually I looked at the packaging from Rutland and it's 5/8", very soft and compressable.

In case anyone else reads this Vigiland coal post, I thought I'd correct it.

Paul
rewinder
 
Stove/Furnace Make: VT Castings--early models
Stove/Furnace Model: Vigilant, and Resolute

Up and running for 25 hrs now...

PostBy: eelhc On: Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:38 pm

In the past week I've replaced all the gaskets and added a strip of armor core (lid gasket) on the portions of the doors that come in contact with the front part of the firebox. I also added some more furnace cement to all the gaps.

I started the fire ~8PM last night, got it good and hot, topped off the hopper, closed off the damper and adjusted the air inlet to a small opening and went to bed. This morning ~6:30 the fire was a bit weak so I opened the air inlet all the way and opened the damper. I opened the front door and noticed very little ash in the pan. I moved the shaker handle back/forth lightly for a minute or so to loosen some of the ashes and topped off the hopper. The fire had picked up significantly by the time I left for work ~7:30 so I closed off the damper and gave instructions to my wife to close off the air inlet if the fire picks up too much.

I came home - 7PM tonight while I was at work the fire was weak. My wife mentioned that she didn't have to touch the air inlet. So I opened the damper, gave a light shake again for a minute, opened the door, used the slicer to loosen the ashes from the bottom and poked the edges and corners and once again gave it a light shake before filling up the hopper again. The fire picked up and is going strong now. I will shake lightly again, fill up the hopper and empty the ashes before going to bed tonight.

So far the fire looks sustainable. I think the gasketing and furnace cement really made a difference. I cleaned the window with some crumpled up newspaper and threw it on the coals. With the door closed, the newspaper did not catch on fire. When I opened the hopper door, it went up in flames. Looks like I got a good seal and all the air for the coals are coming from the bottom.
eelhc
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman Magnum Stoker

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant I down... :( for now... :)

PostBy: rewinder On: Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:21 pm

Sounds like you're getting there.

As to slicing/shaking, i use the slicer first, starting from one side (inserted under the front grate and flat across the rockers) I stab and slice in in and out all the way to the back, working my over to the other side. I do it till some small glowing bits fall in the pan and I can see the glow of the coals reflecting off the top of the ashes in the pan. Some times it takes 2 or 3 passe from side to side to get the glow shining down. THEN I give it 2 or three short rapid shakes to settle it. I rarely do a full stroke handle shake.


I ran mine the last 7 days when it was 55-62 deg days, and onle in low to mid 50's at nite. Wanted to see if I could keep it idle'n along in such warm weather. Burned a bag only during that time. Not too bad I think!


Happy coal burning!!

Paul
rewinder
 
Stove/Furnace Make: VT Castings--early models
Stove/Furnace Model: Vigilant, and Resolute

Update...

PostBy: eelhc On: Tue Nov 11, 2008 10:39 am

This morning I woke up to a low fire. Some glowing embers in the middle but out in the corners and edges. I sliced and shook down again and it looked like the fire was picking up when I left for work.

The lack of a separate ash pan door in this stove does not allow one to open just the ash pan door to get the fire good and hot. I may work up a small induction mechanism with a 40mm PC fan and some ducting to go place over the air inlet to get the fire going prior to shaking down/adding coals.
eelhc
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman Magnum Stoker

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant I down... :( for now... :)

PostBy: rewinder On: Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:50 pm

eelhc, can you describe you chimny set up? Are you filling the hopper? Is the door squishing the added gaskets? What's the temp on the griddle and where the stove pipe enters the chimny? do you have a baro damper?

Sorry for asking all those questions, I just came home for lunch and hadn't touched the stove since 10PM, the griddle temp is where I set it last night, 250deg, the edges were still glowing.The fire wasn't as deep as after a good slicing/shake, but it was full width and length. I could put my hand on the pipe at the elbow (pic of the stove by name here) and it was barely warm.

I know you said you sealed it well, but mine would burn back from the edges overnight before i added the door gaskets.

Leaving the top damper up and themostatic flapper at 90 deg should liven the fire up in 10 min or so.

Paul
rewinder
 
Stove/Furnace Make: VT Castings--early models
Stove/Furnace Model: Vigilant, and Resolute

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant I down... :( for now... :)

PostBy: eelhc On: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:40 am

My chimney setup is just like yours (masonry chimney, 90* elbow where the pipe goes into the chimney 8" pipe) however I do not have the barometric damper. Stack temperatures wide open running ~400*F+ and 150~200*F when closed up. Griddle temps ~100*F higher.

The previous owner burned coal for 20 years with this stove and this setup. That's why I assume operator error.

I am keeping the hopper full (load 3~4x/day). The bagged reading nut coal I bought is much bigger than what was left in the coal bin. I did notice this morning that the edges were burned back again but discovered something. The nut coal is not feeding down smoothly. In fact... after I sliced, there was a gap between the embers and the coal in the hopper (coals were stuck). When I gave a light shake the coals all came down.

I see that the gaskets are well compressed and the doors are somewhat difficult to closed. There is an indentation on the gaskets everywhere it comes comes together with the metal.

With the damper up and the flapper at 90* the fire does liven up but for me it takes much longer than 10 min.
eelhc
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman Magnum Stoker

Re: Vermont Castings Vigilant I down... :( for now... :)

PostBy: rewinder On: Wed Nov 12, 2008 2:51 pm

Ahh I missed the nut coal comment before, what's why the stuff you found in the cellar was smaller. I only burned pea and anyone I knew did also-- the stove shop I bought mine from reccomended pea.

you seem to be getting good hot burns, but a LOT is going up the chimney. Maybe that's why you have to load so often?

You don't have much differential between griddle and stack temps tho. only ~ 100*? When my griddle is 400* my stack is 200@ 10" above the stove top, and about 150 at the chimney above the barometric. Al low sedttings, griddle is 190-200*, stack is about 150 and at the chimney it's not much warmer than body temp. I haven't run it hotter than 400 yet, not cold enough outside.

You prob could use a baro.
I the old days (ya I'm old!!) I had one stove on a centeral chiminey that had the boiler vented into it in the cellar--- boiler had a baro on it so it relieved the hi draft somewhat upstairs at the VIgilant. the other stove is where you see in the picture. A single flue for the stove only (no baro at that time), I had to crack the clean out door some to reduce the draft.

After my 22 yr coal vacation, I set them up with baro's at each stove, no dual use flues. They burn much better with the draft control from what I remember from way back then. both stoves are way cooler at the chiminey entrance, bigger stack/griddle differential. I can stick my hand in thru the baro with a 350* griddle temp, and the exaust gasses are just warm, not hot.

Hope all this rambling helps!
My kid brother has the Vigilant in a 24X36 cape house, he took a 22 year coal vacation too. He fired his up last Jan,Feb and march, burning the coal left in the barn from 22 yrs ago (not a drop of oil during that time!) . after seeing that I I decided to fire mine up this year. My house is older, not at tight and L shaped, so I needed the 2 stoves. So we are comparing notes this year getting the routine worked out after such a long time away from coal.

Well I'll shut up now, Been too long winded I'm afraid----------------

Paul
rewinder
 
Stove/Furnace Make: VT Castings--early models
Stove/Furnace Model: Vigilant, and Resolute

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