Once You Go Lumberjack

Woodstock Stove: Survival Hybrid

Discussion in 'Modern EPA Stoves and Fireplaces' started by RGrant, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. RGrant

    RGrant

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    This thread is going to focus on the Woodstock Stoves “Survival Hybrid- Wood Stove” Model 212S. I’ll give some back story, and take you guys on a little journey- I tend to like context.

    In a Reddit styled TLDR: Here’s the overview. After a few years using a VC Vigilant I switched to a Woodstock Stoves Survival Hybrid Wood- Model 212S.

    My introduction into wood heat was my first post in this thread. There are many good stories over there and I’d recommend giving it a read and adding your back story- it’s pretty refreshing to be reminded of what got people into this lifestyle. I won’t overlap much, I promise… kind of.


    Back Story:
    My introduction to wood heat came as a kid and the splitting came in my mid teens up on a family farm I’d visit in the summers. It wasn’t until my mid 20’s that I was able to get into a place that had a fireplace (with an insert) and I did quite a bit of learning there. I purchased a home in 2015 and it didn’t have a woodstove or a hearth, so I knocked down a wall, put in a beam for support, refinished the living room and put in a hearth. The first hearth pad I made, but I did an absolutely horrendous job with tile and trying to bring it into the house a few fell off and of course cracked. So I figured ok- I had better get a prefab hearth pad because I didn’t want this to go to chance. I put down 2 layers of cement board, and the prefab hearth pad on top of that- I never had a problem with that set up.
    To protect the wall I contacted a friend of mine that has a sheet metal manufacturing operation. (Quick side note- it’s been my experience that folks in the trades are extremely helpful and are very willing to help the small time guy with a project. Of course, nothing is free- but I’m a pretty big proponent of Made in USA and having local businesses getting my business.) So I had a heat shield made out of 10 gauge steel and afixted it to the wall where the stove would go. I used 1 inch spacers and had the shield 1 inch off the floor at the bottom. It’s significantly over engineered for what was called for by spec. Speeding up I had a buddy who worked at a local hardware store and he helped me order the stove pipe, wall thimble and the chimney piping for the outside. A cousin of mine helped with the installation.
    The stove I got was a Vermont Castings Vigilant- the 1977 model, but the paperwork I had with it indicated it was manufactured in 1984. Myself and that stove are the same age. So I borrowed a truck from a friend and wrestled it into the bed of the truck with my buddy. We got it to the house and hooked up. It was in pretty good condition with a little bit of rust. I used steel wool and got the surface rust off, used some of the high temp stove paint and gave that stove a facelift. It’s the kind with the windows in the doors.

    The documentation was limited regarding the stove and I did some looking around online but embarrassingly it wouldn’t be for another year that I figured out 1) that it had a secondary burn chamber 2) how to engage it and 3) how to get it to work right. Now there were some limitations to my set up. I did have some wood, but it wasn’t great. I did a good amount of finding pallets, pulling the nails and cutting them pallets to size. I did a pretty good job of offsetting my natural gas bill in the winter.
    Let me keep this moving along.

    Running the VC:
    I had no problem lighting the stove, and it heated my home nicely. Maybe fiercely. It did not take long to heat up, but I did wind up with a little bit of an unforeseen problem. My home is pretty small, and not that difficult to heat. Granted, as it turns out, we have very little insulation so if the stove wasn’t running it did cool down rather quickly- but the problem wound up being- the stove in order to stay on the efficient side (lack of visible smoke coming out of the chimney) the stove liked to be run around 600-650 or so i found. That took a decent amount of wood, but it also made it in the upper 80’s a few times lower 90’s in the living room.
    I’m again aware the wood’s moisture content probably had something to do with that, but I also bought the compressed wood bricks and would configure the supply in the stove in a way that made the most sense to me- if you’re familiar with the VC the secondary chamber is a serpentine channel behind the primary burn chamber- and it gets pulled through the stove on the lower right hand side through a little opening, so if I kept the wood bricks I’d burn as close as possible to that chamber opening I found that it was able to significantly decrease the amount of smoke I’d see. Also to that end, I had very little creosote in my chimney after 2 years of burning that way. I think I was onto something. If my house were twice the size, or I lived in Alaska or something I would have held onto that stove. *Spoiler Alert* I gave the Vigilant to my brother-in-law who has a significantly larger home and wants to place the stove in his basement.
    66D05666-8337-4B1A-927F-72725373424B.JPG

    Woodstock Stoves:
    I had loved the way they looked for years and was so into the soapstone benefits. I took a trip up this past winter to see their showroom. But when I saw them in person I thought “oh boy.. These are gigantic”. I saw the Survival Hybrid and thought it still looked quite big, but checking out the literature and asking a few questions- I thought the smaller burn chamber and the technology of the stove would give us a steadier more comfortable burn.
    So here is the background on the Survival Stove and an attempt to clear up a tiny misconception. It was designed for the Navajo nation so those folks could have a clean burning wood stove that also had the ability to burn coal that they have access to on their lands. The stoves that Woodstock sells to the public in general does not have the ability to burn coal by design. The stove that Woodstock sells the to general public is wood only.
    It has a hybrid design, combining both a secondary baffle system and a catalyst. This is the first catalyst stove that I have owned, and the first I have ever used. I’ll post some pictures and give a little more info about the stove but obviously I won’t be able to give any sorts of updates until the weather turns cold and I can get this stove roaring.
    I’m mainly writing this because I haven’t found any real reports of the stove’s use- so this isn’t a repeat of stuff you guys have been reading all along- hopefully.
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    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
  2. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage

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    Welcome to the forum RGrant.

    Yes, the Survival Hybrid has quite a story behind it as do all of Woodstock's stoves. But bear in mind that the Survival is a rather small stove so keeping a long overnight fire could be a problem. I personally have not yet burned one of those stoves but am up to date about some of it.

    We have one of the Fireview which is a soapstone stove and absolutely love it. What is did for us is to cut our wood consumption in half or more immediately! Not only that but we used to always be cold January-February and just could not keep our house as warm as we'd liked. Also had to use fans to move some air. Now we have the Fireview and keep our home around 80 all winter long! Love it!

    In addition, with our old stove we were cleaning our chimney several times each winter. No more of that as we can go several years between that now. But the biggest factor in that is the wood we burn.

    I would highly recommend you do some reading here: Primer on Woodburning by Backwoods Savage

    You can read that online or even copy the entire article to your computer and even share it with others. I would also highly recommend looking strongly at the 3 year picture and you'll read much of that on this forum. The benefits to it are enormous.

    Good luck.
     
  3. RGrant

    RGrant

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    Thanks Dennis- and I did read the primer. I appreciate the effort that you put into that document- it's quite comprehensive. I remember coming across your advice to folks in a different forum- I kind of grew tired of that one and made my way here. Glad to see you here. Your 3 years ahead advice is something I'm working on- and I'm keeping track in a notebook at home how much wood I'm going through this first season. Too many variables to try and predict now, but despite my downtown location I am blessed with space in my yard to accommodate, and a fenced in yard to protect.
    I did a little more research into the stove than I described above, and while this stove is as of yet unproven to me I am pretty excited to see how it goes. I'm not the type of guy to double down on something when it turns out I'm not right about it, so if this stove doesn't work out the way I'm hoping it does- my wife and I could always go another route with the Fireview, but for now I'm going to give this guy a whirl.
     
  4. billb3

    billb3

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    I'm considering this stove to replace a 40 year old 0.6 cu ft stove. Yes we rely on back-up heat (primary as far as the insurance company is concerned) just about every morning because a 3-4 hour burn time stove is a 3-4 hour burn time stove.

    I've done the "small fire in too large a stove" deal and found just how immensely impractical it is. It's just as impractical and ill advised as putting an over-sized furnace or boiler in a home "because a little extra capacity can't hurt".

    The air adjust doesn't seem very "precise". But maybe it doesn't need to be ?
     
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  5. RGrant

    RGrant

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    Here is a quick post with some images I just took of the Survival all hooked up. The air intake is kind of interesting- if you'd like I can post some internal pictures and give as good a description I am able to if you have specific questions you'd like me to try and respond to. Back to the air intake, regarding its lack of precision- for sure- but its a slide, rather than a notched setting. I hope I'm making sense with that. I'm hoping that makes it tweekable to a higher degree.... Time will tell on that one.
    My old stove was really only good for 3-4 hours per what I found. The claim on this stove is a 6-8 hour burn on its lowest setting. I was essentially starting a fire twice a day- once in the very early morning before work, and then again when I got home from work.
    IMG_3646.JPG IMG_3648.JPG IMG_3647.JPG
     
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  6. billb3

    billb3

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    There was a pretty good explanation for how the air adjustment worked , what all the cutouts were for and is all in the door for the coal/wood hybrid stove on Woodstock's site or blog, whatever. So what is there now looks like a modification of that. It just doesn't seem like it would slide very much, which could make fine tuning rather clumsy. But that's from pics, which can be deceiving.
     
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  7. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage

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    Thank you.

    If you get the chance one of these days, you should take a drive up to Woodstock. It is really something to go through the factory and also meet the sales gang. There are some new people in sales now that I'm not yet familiar with but many of the good folks there know who I am. If you ever go, tell them Dennis sent you and they will know who you are talking about. lol

    The Absolute Steel is another stove to look at; just a tad larger than the Fireview. For a big one, either the Progress or Ideal Steel. I'm still a big fan of soapstone over steel though. It has made such a huge difference in our home, well, I'm sold on it. Also sold on Woodstock not only because they have good stoves but there customer service is second to none.
     
  8. tim117

    tim117

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    for the love of nature, I wish they would make a gear head stove bigger than this, but a bit smaller than the Absolute Steel. Rear exit and height like the good old ones so you can put it on an old hearth/ fireplace.
     
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  9. tim117

    tim117

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    Oh yes and put some soapstone in that thing please!
     
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  10. RGrant

    RGrant

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    I'd like to take a moment to give a little context to my house, my set up and perhaps even my expectations in order to give a better idea as to where this thread may be heading.
    My home is situated in South Western Connecticut, stone's throw from the NY border. I do get really good unobstructed sun in the front during the day. So much so that I installed a full roof's worth of solar panels 3 years ago. I get some passive solar through the front windows, however the home is essentially uninsulated as it turns out and its difficult to keep warm. I took advantage of a sealing program and had the home made less drafty, but insulation in the walls is something I have on my list of things to do. My basement has a 1 car under garage, so that too is pretty drafty but the basement is fairly reliably 55 degrees fahrenheit on any average day. The coldest I've ever noticed it was 47, and the warmest was 61. With that in mind, I set my thermostat at 55 - my house is 1 zone.
    Prior to installing a wood stove my heating would go on and off as normal, but any time I set it over 55 it would seemingly run constantly. We have forced hot air, I'm not sure but I feel like that had a lot to do with it, especially with how drafty it was. I have natural gas, and when using the oven in the kitchen it would raise the temp in the house rather noticeably- so I did a good amount of grilling in the summer to keep the house from being too hot, and I'd use the oven and range more in the fall / winter / spring when it was cooler out. My gas bill in the summer months is usually just under $30 a month, and in the coldest months sometimes as high as $100, but usually between $60-80 for the rest of the year. The wood stove's addition to my home was certainly welcome, because now I'm not as worried about the heat loss, although I know I still lose a bit.
    In a conversation with my neighbor (I'm on a street where all the houses are the same small Cape Cod style home that all went up in the early 1950's) and he was saying he pays on average $275 a month on natural gas and they use electric space heaters so there's an electric cost. By contrast, the savings to me seems rather apparent. As I had previously mentioned the Vermont Castings Vigilant, for all that I loved about it, had significant peaks and valleys- very very hot, but otherwise not really holding a long flame. For what it's worth regarding my burn times that seem to be an outlier on the really short end of the burn time spectrum, my neighbors are really close and I did my best to really stay on top of keeping the smoke at bay out of my chimney. To say nothing of wanting to be more efficient.
    I know I have the smaller stove, but with the secondary baffles and the catalyst- I'm suspicious to see if I get a steadier and perhaps longer burn out of this set up. Now to make some of you flash a hard eye roll or spit your drink out at my post, I used to go to bed with the house somewhere in the upper 70's and I'd wake up usually around 4 am hearing the furnace kick on- that means the house had dropped to 55 on the main living level. Upstairs it had usually fallen closer to 52, not unheard of for it to read 47 in my bedroom. I know this sounds crazy to a lot of you- and my wife in particular doesn't like the cold- but.... I actually have no excuse.... I just don't care to put my heat on if I don't need to. Being familiar with compromise however I got a heated mattress pad for our bed with dual controls. I don't usually turn it on above low, but my wife turns it on to whatever temp she likes, and for the most part she's basically unbothered by the cold room temp while she's under the blankets.
    Now- my previous habit was to put the heat up in the mornings to about 60 or 61 while she takes a shower, and while she was in there I would do my best to get the stove going in the morning so the house wasn't cold all day for our dogs, but I was starting a cold stove every morning. Basically I was starting a cold stove twice a day. I'm hoping to avoid that. Stay tuned! (If you're interested.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
  11. Highbeam

    Highbeam

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    When I first bought this old house, old for the PNW, I had very young daughters and a similar noncat stove that couldn't make good heat through the night. The single pane windows and other envelope deficiencies would leak all the heat out after the fire went out and it would be too cold in the morning. So we had electric wall heaters on a scheduled thermostat that would keep the kid's room warm overnight and used an electric blanket or mattress pad for the parents. I would heat the house up really hot and reload the stove before bed just like you.

    Now, with new windows and insulation plus a way better cat stove that makes steady, sufficient, for 24 hours at a time we are never cold and the wall heaters have been turned off for at least a decade.

    Oh, we still have the heated mattress pad. Crank that puppy up to max about an hour before bed and then shut it off when you go to bed. It's pretty great.
     
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  12. Rich L

    Rich L

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    Sir you did say the new stove can also burn coal.I would think that the burning of coal is great since coal burns a long time.In a Cat.stove I'd imagine the coal would burn longer than 6-8 hrs.It'll be interesting to see how long the coal's heat will last in this stove.Thanks for the post.
     
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  13. RGrant

    RGrant

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    Hey Rich, thank you for the question- I do not have the coal burning model- that model was exclusively designed for the Navajo people. It is evidently unable to be sold to the wider population. I could guess as to why, but I doubt anyone cares about my ponderings!
    I've got the version that can only burn wood, but I did elect to get the Navajo artwork on my stove. My wife liked the design, so that's what we got.
     
  14. Rich L

    Rich L

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    That's too bad that it doesn't burn coal as well as wood.With the coal the burn times would definitely be longer.
     
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  15. moresnow

    moresnow

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    Looking forward to this stove story unfolding. Ive been following the stove since news of it got out. Very neat.
     
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  16. RGrant

    RGrant

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    In the interest of staying current, and I suspect a few folks out there might have some curiosity to see how this little stove performs- I took the advice of T.Jeff Veal and got the stove going tonight. He made a good point of it being a new stove and wanting to cure the paint and might as well do it while the windows can be open.
    So I got the first burn underway around 5:30 pm. This is my first time using a catalyst stove so I'm definitely expecting a learning curve here.
    At first I don't think I had the thermometer in the right place on the stove top because I had it too close to the front and after almost an hour of trying to slowly raise the temp, the stove top temp was only around 300F. So I placed the thermometer in a few different places and found the temp jumped pretty quickly to about 500F. So I engaged the catalyst then.
    Someone help me out if that doesn't sound right. I'm going to add a few pictures of the start up burn, and how its going now.
     

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  17. RGrant

    RGrant

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    Here’s what I have going on right now.
    The STT is 400f and I’m looking at what I believe everyone would commonly refer to as secondaries.
     

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  18. BigPapi

    BigPapi

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    Those are in fact secondaries in your second photo. Welcome to the club. :)
     
  19. RGrant

    RGrant

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    I feel a sense of accomplishment- and I mean that in all seriousness. I've been hearing about this stuff for years, and had wanted one of these kinds of stoves from the onset of hearing about them.
    Quick question for you if you don't mind- based on the thermometer, what temperature is too low for the catalyst to be run. Currently my stove top temperature is reading right at 300F with the catalyst engaged, and I have just a crumbled bed of coals glowing red. I'm not seeing hardly anything coming out of the chimney outside.
     
  20. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu

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    Sounds like you did it right...:yes: