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Does anyone build a better damper?  RSS feed

 
ted agens
Posts: 16
Location: Elk County PA
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Hello-yes I am new---

I am in north central PA and use 2 large Vogelzang cast iron boxwoods in my basement and heat the entire house this way from below. Very nice and warm.

I have been doing this for 8 yrs now and I am getting pretty tired of replacing dampers at a seemingly endless pace. These are the pipe dampers that is located in the 6" stove pipe just above the stove. A basic cast iron round "flap" that is on an axis of soft metal (which I never understood).

The problem as you may know, is that the "pin" that the damper spins on being so soft will bend and rust out at least once a season if not more. After a month or so of use, a new one will begin to weaken and it gets very difficult to figure out just what position the damper is in.

So I have to resort to either the sound of the heat going up the pipe or open the lid to visibly look at how the smoke and flames are moving.

Local stores have nothing different and I was considering coming up with my own sliding damper made from a coffee can lid. I was going to cut a fine line in the pipe at about 300 degrees out of the total circumference of the pipe, then slide the lid in and then slide out or in depending on what is needed.

But before I do this, does anyone know of any other type of off the shelf in pipe (single wall black pipe) damper that is better constructed? I could have sworn that as a kid, I saw in another house a rectangular shaped contraption that mounted around the pipe then one could slide the damper through as needed. Does that ring any bells?

This is my only question for this area.

My wife and I are also very active in growing as much of our own food as we can. We even have spinach and lettuce fresh planted in a "cold frame" outside. We have about 100 laying hens and we sell eggs to two local stores. We have numerous apple, pear, plum, peach and fig tress and a ton of strawberry and blueberry bushes.

I am retired from the Army (1984-2004) where I served as a Field Artillery Surveyor for all of my 20 yrs. I retired as a Sergeant First Class.

I do a lot of reading (history, poli sci, sci fi, fantasy) and participate in a multi subject "sci fi" forum at gatefans.net. I also burn through dozens and dozens of movies on netflix when I can not do anything outside (the North central PA weather can be a kill joy)

Anyhow, thanks ahead for any info on this damper question!
 
M Foti
Posts: 171
Location: western n.c.
5
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why not just make your own following the original design? I did

Like you I was tired of the pins malfunctioning from heat/rust. I have my own equipment, but this would not cost very much to just have one made for you similar to mine. When I made my last wood furnace, I still had the circle that I cut out of the 3/8 inch steel for the flue. I went to the store bought a short section of pipe, drilled the holes, put a steel rod through the holes, and put the steel circle inside the pipe in the "damper closed" position so I would be sure that it would function, then welded it to the pin. now, when it fails, it isn't "serviceable" but i'll just have to buy another short section of pipe and do it all over again but it really isn't much work. Took me about half an hour after I figured it out in my head.

OH, the steel rod that is through the flue pipe is threaded rod, I have bolts and washers on BOTH ends so I can adjust tension as needed and block the small bits of smoke that I imagined would come out.

Been working fine for me with the added bonus of having a slightly larger handle to grab, although I'd imagine you would want to be conservative with the handle so you don't have weight issues trying to pull the damper open or closed

I think your idea would work well, but I also think it might smoke a bit...

If you get the pipe, but the holes in it, bolts washers and get everything ready to go, just get a welding shop or steel supply shop to cut a circle out of a "scrap" piece and weld it to your pin, or you might be able to go on craigslist and find a guy like me with a plasma cutter and welder in his shop that'll do it on the cheap for you if you can't find a shop to do it for a reasonable price.


OR.... this might be the perfect time to convince the missus that you need a little wire feed welder for these little chores you'd still have to get someone with a plasma cutter to cut out a circle for ya though... just make sure that the circle is of sufficient thickness so it won't mess up, I'd say 3/16ths would be just right.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3351
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
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M Foti has a good plan.

If you don't want to do that much, copy the rod out of stainless. Or just quality carbon steel. Anything would be better than those lame rods they come with.

My answer was to upgrade to an airtight stove and remove the damper entirely. Now I am trying to retrain myself to not overload the firebox...
 
ted agens
Posts: 16
Location: Elk County PA
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M Foti- That sounds good. I wonder could it be modified to use a new rod with one of the current dampers? I have a small collection of them...They hold up, it is the rod that is the issue. Why do they make it out of such soft and easily rusted metal anyhow? It can't be cost because it is such a small component.

R Scott--what is an airtight stove? I got these boxwoods at a really good price when I used to work at TSC. They were already on clearance + my 10% off-I got one new for $99-hard to beat and therefore hard to part with...when I see the prices of some stoves now I don't know whether to laugh or cry
 
R Scott
Posts: 3351
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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An airtight stove is just that, all the seams are welded, door is gasketed and it has an intake air control that can seal tight enough to smother the fire. It does encourage bad behavior on my part, though--loading too much wood and letting it choke down and burn dirty.

Those boxwood stoves aren't bad for the money if you cement all the seams and put brick or sand in the bottom. They can even burn somewhat efficient if you are careful with how you run them. A better stove will get you more heat into the house from less wood, though--so it can be worth the investment. Lots of stoves are stupid expensive and just look better, not actually work better.

 
C. Letellier
Posts: 227
Location: Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
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You can get stainless rods in various sizes at most serious hardware stores like Lowes or Home depot. I would simply fabricate a new rod. The cast iron damper itself should be good long term and the sections of pipe are easily replaces as they fail.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3351
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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The Amish around here sell STAINLESS single-wall pipe. It is pricey, but it lasts forever.
 
ted agens
Posts: 16
Location: Elk County PA
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R Scott wrote:An airtight stove is just that, all the seams are welded, door is gasketed and it has an intake air control that can seal tight enough to smother the fire. It does encourage bad behavior on my part, though--loading too much wood and letting it choke down and burn dirty.

Those boxwood stoves aren't bad for the money if you cement all the seams and put brick or sand in the bottom. They can even burn somewhat efficient if you are careful with how you run them. A better stove will get you more heat into the house from less wood, though--so it can be worth the investment. Lots of stoves are stupid expensive and just look better, not actually work better.



Oh, well my stove is welded all around. They both had door gaskets but they are not very good at staying on. I could crank the door drafter all the way shut and close the damper and the wood will sit and slow burn.

Perhaps I mistakenly made it sound like I have one of those army/camp "boxey" stoves that are thin gauge steel. Not those.

I want a stove that will "radiate" heat-no forced air or duct works. That just blows dust around-NO matter how much you clean them. Noisy too with "squirrel wheels" and all. Not for me.

Now if I could find an even larger cast iron "dumb" no tech stove-that would be great. They do not seem to exist though-except as antiques.
 
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