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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Vermont Castings Aspen Wood Stove
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# Posted: 15 May 2019 10:15

This is primarily to help those with this stove and future folks who search for info about it...

When we bought the cabin - sits at 9500' on the east slope of the Rockies in southern Colorado - it had a, what I considered a pretty small woodstove, never thought it would be enough for the 800sqft and couldn't imagine it holding a fire all night. I was proven to be wrong, for the most part. It is a good little stove...once you learn how to operate and care for it.

The first thing we noticed is that to have any kind of hot fire, you had to leave the door open a bit for air. That didn't seem right. The heat controlled air inlet is in the back. As the stove gets warmer it slowly closes off the air, even if you want it open....that's when I spotted the little block of wood lying behind the stove, just the right size to prop the air vent door open. Still didn't draw all that well.

Here is the cure...if any of you are experiencing the same. BTW, you can download the manual online: and this Youtube video helped as well: - The air comes all the way from the back up each side and is released under a plate-approx. 4" by the width of the openning - just in front of the door. There are also tubes across the top of the firebox that add air for secondary combustion. What happens is ash builds up under that front plate blocking the flow of air into the firebox. There is one screw holding it down, when I pulled the plate out I found it packed with ash underneath. Cleaned it out and viola! we started getting air! Before I cleaned that ash out we NEVER had visible flames once we closed the door - has a window in the door. Now thermostat control at the back actually works...somewhat. Another tip... keep the ash bin under the firebox cleaned out. If ash builds up in there it then builds up in the bottom of the stove again blocking the air outlets there in the front. Also keep the ash, coals pushed back from the front. Lastly take a look at the air intake in the back - adjust the little chain that operates the flap. If the chain is slack when the lever is pushed to close the door, it will not open completely and will prematurely close the draft as the stove heats. Try to adjust it to where the flap just barely closes - or almost closes - this will give you a little more control. This said we still occasionally prop the flap open with that block of wood when we want a hotter fire than the Aspen thinks we need!

Hope this helps - and would love any other tips on using this stove!

# Posted: 15 May 2019 18:11 - Edited by: ICC

Like many things, it helps to read the user manual/ Cleaning that lower inlet is covered.

Yeah you need to keep the ash pan clean otherwise it gets too full and spills ash into the compartment the tray slides into. Not only can that block the air inlet but ash can get pushed to the back and make it hard or impossible to slide the tray all the way back. I vacuum that out each year, when cold of course.

It also helps a lot to have the external air inlet kit, especially if you have tried to seal the cabin or house against unwanted air drafts.

I bought an Aspen in early 2007. Liked it so much I bought a second enameled version for another place. All the VC models are well-made stoves, although some time ago they had a quality bump when they were bought out, but that has since been fixed. I bought my first VC stove way back in 1980, the original Vigilant model. That is still being used by the new owners of that house. I also have a recent VC Intrepid wood burner (non-catalytic) as well as an old Vigilant coal burner (in the barn). Have loved every one. There are other well made stoves too. I had a great experience with my first and that prompted me to stay with the brand. The enameled ones are especially attractive.

# Posted: 15 May 2019 19:24

ICC... good to hear you have been very happy with VC stoves. This is our first one and I'm pretty impressed with it. Especially how well it hold fire.

I burn exclusively aspen, not known to be a terrific firewood...actually pretty low on the btu output scale. I have one of those little chimney thermometers and unless I crack the door a little, the needle hovers just below the "safe" zone into the creosote zone. Could be the thermometer is not accurate.

Do you have one of these? Do you find it easily burns hot enough to stay in the safe zone?

I will say after a good cleaning the stove burns hotter but still as viewed through the glass is a pretty low fire.

Thanks, Don

# Posted: 15 May 2019 20:26

I use an IR thermometer whenever I want to read the temperature of stove or pipe. I hardly do that at all anymore. I burn mostly pine and some aspen, whatever needs thinning or the wind blew down. I like aspen as when dry it is a clean burn, but we have way more pine. FYI, all wood has the same BTU output per pound; so the denser the species the more heat per stick or volume. The pine pitch does add some BYU's. Most creosote buildup comes from wet wood and/or too many low smouldering fires regardless of the species.

I usually have a hot burn most mornings. Clean the pipe once a year and have never had a worrisome amount of buildup . The lower telescoping black pipe runs hot enough with the fast AM burn that it stays pretty clean. The insulated pipe holds the heat well enough to manage the creosote buildup. That goes for all the VC I have had or still have.

The wood I burn is very well seasoned, most often two years or better, and stored under cover. I keep way ahead of myself as I also sell some to campers thru camping season.

The door latch on the aspen may need ocassional latch adjustments to compensate for any compression of the door gasket. I have not needed very many adjustments. Years apart as a rule.

# Posted: 19 May 2019 08:11

I have been useing a VC stove since the mid 1990s. My primary heat source is a VC defiant with a CAT. I can tell you that an outside air kit will really help. I burn 25-30* less wood and have a warmer house in the process.

I have a spare CAT and fiber secondary chamber but havnt needed them. My stove is a 2006 model. All i do is clean it 2x a year and i have changed the top griddle gasket once. I burn 4cords of hardwood a year. Start the fire in oct/nov and put it out mar/april. I never let it go out in heating season but to clean it once.

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