Modifying a Pot Bellied Stove

Modifying a Pot Bellied Stove

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:50 am

I use a cheap Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove which works okay. It burns coal better than it does firewood, but I am thinking about making it even better. My main concern is how air prone it is, both in the damper area under the grate as well as above it.

I was always told that any air that comes in over the coal bed, puts the fire out and it must be routed through the bottom of it. If that is the case then I am thinking about sealing off the upper portion of the stove through stove gasket rope, sealant and through bolts. I do want to make the stove an air tight stove and plan to get the air leaks out of the bottom portion as well so I can get better control over my burn, but I think I can get enough of a seal on the damper because of its weight on the new stove gasket, but my main concern is the access door midway up...because it is above the coal bed.

My specific question is this: my stove does not have a door latch on it. I am unsure if it is because this is a cheap stove and thus not having one on saves the company considerable money, or is the latchless door a safety feature should coal gas build up and the door would fly open and semi-prevent an explosive situation? I think I really need to fabricate a door latch since this a light weight door and I need some "pull" to help seal the door against the new stove seal I will be adding.

I do wish to add a disclaimer here and say that I am a welder/machinist of skill so this is not out of my realm, and I had an old woodstove I did this too last year and it went from being a useless stove, to being manageable...the problem was...it was just too big for my small home and so I reverted back to the pot bellied stove. My wife likes it better as well as it looks better in our country-style home. I am motvated to make it work, but I want to do so safely!
NoSmoke
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)

Re: Modifying a Pot Bellied Stove

PostBy: DOUG On: Mon Oct 15, 2012 5:55 am

Here is a link to what I did to secure the door on my Vogelzang Pot Belly Stove. http://nepacrossroads.com/post230080.html#p230080 I also used some self adhesive gasket material around the inside of the door to get a good tight seal around the door and all of the pieces which bolted together. This made for a very controllable burning stove.
DOUG
 
Stove/Furnace Make: CHUBBY, D.S.MACHINE BOILER
Stove/Furnace Model: CLAYTON 1600

Re: Modifying a Pot Bellied Stove

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:01 pm

Hey thanks, that was what I was semi-thinking of doing. Glad it is working out for you and that by going through all this, I can get a better burning stove.
NoSmoke
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)


Re: Modifying a Pot Bellied Stove

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:18 pm

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.
NoSmoke
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)

Re: Modifying a Pot Bellied Stove

PostBy: franco b On: Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:43 pm

I think you will find that you need a more precise way to control the air under the grate.

A little air over the fire is a good thing to help burn off gasses.
franco b
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: V ermont Castings 2310, Franco Belge 262
Baseburners & Antiques: Glenwood Modern Oak 114
Coal Size/Type: nut and pea

Re: Modifying a Pot Bellied Stove

PostBy: DOUG On: Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:54 pm

Let us see some pictures please. I sure would like to see you fine work. :)
DOUG
 
Stove/Furnace Make: CHUBBY, D.S.MACHINE BOILER
Stove/Furnace Model: CLAYTON 1600

Re: Modifying a Pot Bellied Stove

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:56 am

You may be right.

I am sort of thinking aloud here but maybe a person could modify one of those bi-metal air inlets like what is used on the Wonderwood stoves. I have a Wonderwood kicking around and might be able to steal it off the stove and modify it for this one.

I am not sure if you know what I am talking about, but it is one of those damper controls where it is mounted on the side of the stove and when the desired temperature is reached, the bi-metal spring opens or closes a chain that lifts or drops the inlet air under the grate. By doing so the fire is thus automatically controlled.

It would not be a big pickle to remove the ash pan door and fabricate one of those open/closeable air inlets. I have some copper sheets kicking around, and a bending brake and all that, so mounting the bi-metal spring would be the biggest challenge. Where you would put that on a Vogelzang stove would be a serious question to ponder. I am not sure copper and cast iron would look that good matched up either and the weight of copper might be too much for the bi-metal Spring???

It sure would be nice to have an automatic damper control though of air going into the firebox. It is an interesting idea, thanks for making me ponder this scenario.


franco b wrote:I think you will find that you need a more precise way to control the air under the grate.

A little air over the fire is a good thing to help burn off gasses.
NoSmoke
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)

Re: Modifying a Pot Bellied Stove

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:19 am

Here is two photos of my stove.

The first consists of my stove in its painted and rebuilt mode, while the second photo shows a close up of the latch mechanism.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/75671532@N00/8096536336

http://www.flickr.com/photos/75671532@N00/8096527679
NoSmoke
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)

Re: Modifying a Pot Bellied Stove

PostBy: DOUG On: Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:20 pm

Nice job! It looks like it was made from the factory!

You'll be surprised how well you will be able to control the fire with this stove now that it is air tight. With mine all gasketed now, burning wood is much easier. I just keep the ash door closed and adjust the feed door spinner to the desired temperature. I do use a stovepipe manual damper too.

As for burning anthracite in the now gasketed air tight pot belly, I found that leaving the ash door ungasketed gives just enough air to keep a low fire and the slider control on the ash door can be easily adjusted for a steady higher rate. I also found out that the leakage around the feed door spinner is just right for over the anthracite fire secondary air. I wouldn't bother with trying to figure out how to install the bi-metal air control. I personally don't see the need for it now that it is air tight and very controllable. It is a neat idea, but not necessary in my opinion.

Although I do have reservations with you not being able to shake down the anthracite fire using the side access door. Without being able to shake, I'm not sure if you'll be able to keep the anthracite fire going. From my experience with this stove, only poking from under the grate doesn't cut it, it needs shaken.

Good job and keep us posted on your results. ;)
DOUG
 
Stove/Furnace Make: CHUBBY, D.S.MACHINE BOILER
Stove/Furnace Model: CLAYTON 1600

Re: Modifying a Pot Bellied Stove

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:55 pm

Well Doug you are certainly right, it does burn a lot better and just as you say. I was unable to burn anything in it as I had just painted it and needed to wait 24 hours. It was tempting to cheat the clock as it was 60 degrees in the house this morning, but we are tough and waited it out. It was worth the wait.

I do not have a top spinner that is functional now, nor the slider on the bottom, but just as you said, by cracking the door you can easily adjust the flames...including putting that fire out just by shutting the ash door completely if need be. I live on a big hill so draft was never a problem anyway and now with it sealed completely, you can hear the air sucking through the ash door.

What a difference. And yes, no automatic damper needed.

I have not tried burning coal yet. I figure I will try that in the morning when it is a bit colder out. I am not too worried about the shaker part though, I never used it before so I am sure with that much air sucking up through, it can only work better.
NoSmoke
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)

Re: Modifying a Pot Bellied Stove

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Sun Oct 21, 2012 6:38 am

Well I either lied, and did need to modify my stove with an automatic damper, or I just cannot leave well enough alone. If I must be honest, I think it is the latter! Either way, my Vogelzang Pot Bellied stove is now outfitted with an automatic damper...the bimetal spring variety that allows the air to be shut off or opened up depending upon the resulting heat of the stove.

I had a few options, but my domestic supervisor (wife) was not thrilled with having a chunk of metal sticking out of the front of the stove, so I opted to situate the automatic damper to the right side of the stove and let air under the grate through the grate shaker access flap. I also had a automatic damper control kicking around that belonged to another Ashley wood stove I have, but is not in use. Because this stove is completely usable, I had several work arounds in this MAJOR renovation:

1. Be able to return all parts back to their original stoves
2. Impart no structural damage to either stove

Removing the automatic damper from the Ashley wood stove was easy and only took a few minutes to do. Fabricating a mount to hold it on my Vogelzang stove was a bit more challenging. It took about an hour to fabricate a mount out of some sheet copper I had kicking around and get the bracket to hold the control knob, spring and chain and bolt it up to one of the bolts that hold the middle sections of the pot bellied stove together.

The next challenge was fabricating a copper cover around the round and angled bottom portion of the Vogelzang stove. I do have a sheet metal brake and tooling to make sheet metal parts and was able to produce a box that formed the curves that were required to mount it to the stove. This took a lot of cutting, bending, drilling and pop riveting. I say the latter with embarrassment; while I am a first class welder and weld up some of the toughest, most import welds on the US Navy Destroyers that I build at work, I do not know how to solder. Embarrassing huh? So everything on this modification was pop riveted together.

This cover was built in two sections; the curved section that was affixed to the stove with 1/4-20 bolts and gasket rope, and then an outer box that was used to make the first round cover, back into a rectangular box. I sealed the connection with lots of stove gasket sealer and then pop riveted the two together. Once that was completed, I fabricated a simple copper flap that dropped by gravity to cover the air inlet hole and seal the firebox shut of air. Finally I attached the chain to connect the bimetal spring to the flap, and then added a copper support to help hold up the bracket holding the control knob and spring mechanism.

Engineering as I went, it took me about 7 hours to complete this project and initial testing seems as if it has been worth it. I have only been burning with this automatic damper for an hour so the learning curve is still straight up hill as I type this, but it seems to be opening and closing the air intake flap as the stove heats up and cools off. So far though I have only tried burning wood and have not experimented with coal. I am sure I will have to adjust everything quite differently while burning that!

Cost was nothing; I had all the copper, parts and bolts kicking around my shop, but there is no question this is an added on accessory to my stove and UGLY AS SIN! But as my wife says, "if it works good..."
NoSmoke
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)

Re: Modifying a Pot Bellied Stove

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:00 am

Okay, what good is a long build history description without a picture or two? Well that is a rhetorical question for sure! So here are two pictures, and while I warn you, they do look like a copper wart on the side of a beautiful black pot bellied stove, it does seem to be working extremely well. Incidentally, as Doug properly pointed out, access to the shaker grate is a good thing, which my last modification obliterated...this one ALLOWS ACCESS to the shaker grate, so no function of this stove is eliminated now.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/75671532@N00/8108532368/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/75671532@N00/8108533322/
NoSmoke
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)

Re: Modifying a Pot Bellied Stove

PostBy: warminmn On: Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:32 am

Theres a post somewhere on the site where someone put mica glass where the 3 slots are in the door so they can see their fire. I have a real small potbelly I redid to burn coal this fall and plan on trying the glass but havent ordered it yet. I like your new air intake. simple and works, thats what matters.
warminmn
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Chubby Junior, Surdiac Nestor Martin
Coal Size/Type: nut ant
Other Heating: wood

Re: Modifying a Pot Bellied Stove

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Sun Oct 28, 2012 4:35 am

I bet the Mica glass would really help. After running it for a week or so now in its current configuration, I could see where peering into the firebox would be really handy without having to break a seal on the firebox door.

I will also say that I am happily wrong with my prediction regarding my new automatic damper...that is the part of it that is controlled by a bi-metal spring. I assumed I would constantly have to change the settings on it, and radically do so when I switch from burning coal to wood. That is not the case at all. The draft control is set in one place for burning both wood and coal and does a superb job of controlling how hot the stove gets. It has made a huge difference in the burn times between loadings, and has increased the amount of heat put out by the stove because not as much heat is going up the chimney. This has had the added effect of producing some very stable chimney temperatures since it automatically keeps itself from getting too cold, or too hot. In fact I have yet to see the chimney get into an over-fire situation...and that is worth installing one for that reason alone!
NoSmoke
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)

Re: Modifying a Pot Bellied Stove

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:47 am

One MAJOR improvement I made on my Vogelzang stove was actually many, many years ago!

The first time I fired the old gal up, I got a good pine fire going and began to add coal. That burned well, so I kept adding more until it was several inches deep and glowing nicely. Then I noted that the coal, now laying against the sides of the stove, was glowing too. The entire bottom portion of it. I was so scared I would burn my house down that I threw in a bag of sand, and it was so hot it instantly turned to glass!

After that I knew I had to do something!

What I did was, take a piece of pipe, 1/2 inch thick, and 12 inches in diameter and cut it 8 inches high. In order to get it in my stove, I slit the pipe lengthwise so that it resembled (2) c-shaped pieces. By rolling that carefully through the fire door, they sit on the outside of the grate standing up. Now when I load coal into the old gal, the (2) c-shaped pieces of pipe glow nice and red from the hot coal on it, but the outside of the stove itself does not glow.

This does not in anyway impeded the effect of the stove. My house gets nice and toasty warm, yet my stove doesn't glow. It will also help preserve the stove a bit longer and does not affect the use of the grate since the pipe sections sit outside it. When I need to clean the stove out after the end of the heating season, I just roll the pipe sections out and do my annual cleaning. I have had this pipe in for yars and I recommend it to everyone that has one.
NoSmoke
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)