maine2005 wrote:Okay, I think we need to watch the back flap more carefully. We have moved the thermometer from the chimney to the stovetop. We know that we should put a full load of coal in there (45 lbs, according to the manual, or to the top of the grille), and we have done so when things were going well with the fire, but we hesitate to use this much because a) when burning well, the room temp becomes unbearable, and b) on the other hand, if the fire goes out, there's a lot of pounds of unburned coal in the firebox. We used to try to remove all the unburned coal by hand, though we've given up on that idea and just make a small fire so that when it goes out, there's less "housework" to do before starting another fire. As a result of a small fire, we have to add coal often. Another problem with a full load of coal is the accumulation of ash. We tend the stove through the top, and rarely open the glass doors because the lip on the front of the Vigilant is much smaller than the one on the Resolute--hot embers tend to roll out and bounce off the lip and onto the hearth pad and then to the floor or rug, which is scary. Our task this weekend will be to check the gaskets and use the back air intake flap more carefully. We just realized that we started the current so-so fire 12 hours ago, and we're still fiddling and adjusting and have very little to show for it, firewise. Thanks to all who have tried to suggest things to try. We'll take the advice and hope things go better.
I've found that regulating the air with the thermostatic air flap is the easiest way to control the temp on this stove under normal winter conditions. Coordinating that with the internal damper and stove top temp monitoring keeps the heat in the stove and evens out the max/min temp. I'll wait 45 - 60 minutes before assessing the effect any changes I make to the stove has on the fire/temperature. I've learned how to drive it but it took me most of three years to parallel park it :) :D
Coal burns best when the fire bed is tall/thick. When full, I have mine sloped from the top of the grill to the top of the back firebrick. I use the back of the shovel to pull the new coal off the grill's top lip. Too much frequent fiddling/poking disturbs the burn, especially from the top down. Burning coal likes to burn in a huddle and too much stirring of a thin fire breaks up the neighborhood and the "sharing" of the burn. If it's really hot and close to the ash fusion temp, poking it can push burning coal together and help to fuse them into a clinker. Clinkers prevent thorough shaking if they are big enough to block the ash from falling past them and thru the grates to the pan. I very rarely pull the plate from the front of the grates and slice between the grates.
Because of the notch on the end, the slicer hooks the coal. That's why I use the metal dowel. If your concerned with bouncing embers, I've learned a trick from this forum. Take a cookie/jelly roll sheet, fill it with sand and store it under the stove. When I poke across the bottom with the front doors open, I pull the pan out to the front of the hearth beneath the lip. I do wish they would have kept that larger lip on this model.
see also ---> vermont castings stove, need info