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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ideal Steel Hybrid: Completed Stoves and New Designs

Below is a sampling of the stoves that were completed and shipped from our factory today.
The State of Maine and Log Cabin Side Design were custom requests from our customers.
To see the designs in our online design book, click here. (More designs are added every week!)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why Catalytic & Hybrid Stoves are the Cleanest Burning Cordwood Stoves in America

The Ideal Steel Hybrid has the highest efficiency of over 700 stoves tested to EPA standards, and a low 1.0 gm/hr emissions.  But the news just gets better.  When you burn cordwood in the Ideal Steel Hybrid, the efficiency is just as high, but the emissions are even lower.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ideal Steel Hybrid: Building & Shipping Every Day

We are busy making and shipping Ideal Steel Hybrids every day! 

In fact, we've been so busy that we haven't had a chance to post all of the new designs we've been working on in collaboration with our customers. As we can, we will post the new design sets within our GEARED 2U Design Book

Below is a sampling of some of the Ideal Steel Hybrid stoves that have been completed for customers.

You can also find images of completed Ideal Steel Hybrid stoves on the Woodstock Soapstone Co. Facebook Page.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hittin’ the note!

We’ve been spending a lot of time the last few weeks testing our Franklin inspired steel hybrid in the lab. We hope to begin beta-testing this next new model in the early fall.  So far the results are good.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Lifting the Curtain for a Look at Wood Stove Politics

The proposed new EPA regulations have prompted some attacks on catalytic stoves and hybrid wood stoves.  And even more eye opening, there have been some unfounded and unjustifiable comments about the owners of these stoves.

Woodstock Soapstone Company values its owners.  For 36 years we have made every effort to assist our owners, and we consider them to be our friends as well as our valued customers.  We think criticisms of catalytic/hybrid stove owners for failing to maintain or operate their stoves correctly, at least as it might be directed at our owners, is completely baseless and false.  

The attacks have been widespread and orchestrated by noncatalytic stove manufacturers and their retail dealers. Noncatalytic stove manufacturers hope to get higher emission limits by discrediting catalysts.  Our purpose in this article is to inform our owners and friends about what has been going on in our industry and to educate them about some of the important differences between the technologies involved.  It will help to explain why we have a petition in support of EPA, and more specifically why we petition in support of (a) a single standard for all woodburning devices, and (b) full and complete public disclosure of test results relating to (1) tested efficiency, (2) particulate emissions, (3) carbon monoxide emissions, and (4) cordwood results.

We feel it is important to respond, particularly when the attacks are based on misinformation and disinformation.  This post is long.  Click this link to read the full pdf  (9 pages)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Customer Letter: Stove Feedback

Greetings Folks, 
My wife and I bought a Progress Hybrid from Woodstock last fall and as we close in on the end of our first full season using this stove, I wanted to contact you with some feedback.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The benefits of high efficiency: MORE HEAT!

The IDEAL STEEL Hybrid is 30% more efficient than the average noncatalytic stove.** This means that 30% more heat stays in your house, rather than going up the stack.  Another way of looking at it is that with an IDEAL STEEL Hybrid (82% Efficiency) 18% of the heat produced goes up the stack, but with the average noncatalytic stove 37% of the heat produced goes up the stack.  That’s a huge difference in performance.

Most serious woodburners operate their stoves at around 1.00-1.5 kgs/hr.  You’ll get up to 131,000 extra BTU’s per day with higher efficiency.  Independent lab testing has confirmed these high efficiencies with cordwood, so you can be sure that you’ll get more heat, or burn less wood, or both!

Click Image to Enlarge

** For the mathematically challenged, the increase in efficiency from 63% to 82% is a 30% improvement (82/63=1.302).  This is a huge increase.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Our Favorite Beta Tester Comment EVER!

"Loaded the stove 75% full as we were headed out the door for the hospital.  Sydney was born that morning.  We came home 3 days later and still had enough coals in the IS to start a fire, easily.  56 hours later!!!"
Doug K. 
Newbury, VT

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

First Cuts: Our Next Steel Hybrid

Firebox with Franklin front wings and ash lip.
Available as box stove or Franklin. Left or right door.
When designing a new stove, we typically start out with just a box (i.e. the “firebox”), and see if we are in the ballpark with emissions and efficiency.  This time we decided to cut the skirt, wings, and some legs so that we can experiment with a steel Franklin style stove from the beginning.  The guys in the shop like it, even though it is really only the “first cuts”.
Glass retainer goes over the front.
We can modify the wings, glass retainer and
surface detail to create period detail
-Modern, Arts & Crafts, Federal, etc.

Right now, this steel hybrid stove has a 2.6 cu ft. firebox (at least in current drawings), and would be available either as a plain box or as a Franklin.
Left or right door.

Don’t read too much into the appearance - it’s early.  Names anyone?  FranklinSteel Hybrid? Louise W. (aka Rideau) - can you help us?

Playing with legs.  Cut and folded steel.
There’s a lot we can do with cutting and folding.
v1 of the Franklin Steel Hybrid running in our test lab.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Discussion of comments on our petition

 Our petition in support of cleaner stoves and cleaner air has reached 500 signatures in just five days.  Please click here to sign if you haven’t already signed.

The most frequent comments that we have received by far have been “I want to do my part to help keep the air we breathe clean.“ 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Even MORE Petition Comments!

The comments just keep coming... they are mostly from our owners.  WHAT A GREAT GROUP OF OWNERS!  Comments are running about 80 to one in favor of our petition, and we will answer some of the negative comments/objections (there aren’t many!) on Monday.  In the meantime, thanks to everyone who has signed and/or commented, and if you want to sign our Petition in Support of Cleaner Woodstoves and Cleaner Air, please click here!

Why is the petition to Gina McCarthy in support of the NSPS important to you?

This being the only source of heat for our home I want it to be clean burning and efficient and expect the product I use meet these standards.

Comments on our Petition

Lots of people have commented on why our petition in support of cleaner stoves and air is important to them.  It's only been two days and we're getting a lot of great comments, below is a sampling of just a few. Please join us by signing our petition today!

Why is the petition to Gina McCarthy in support of the NSPS important to you?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sign Our Petition for Clean Stoves & Clean Air!

We have listened to both sides (state air regulators and the woodstove industry) in the debate over the new EPA regulations. We have concluded that the new regulations are (1) the “right thing to do” because the public health benefits outweigh the costs of compliance, and that (2) clean, efficient and affordable stoves can be made under the proposed new standards.  We initiated our petition because we wanted to let the EPA know that we think their targets are achievable, and to give a voice to wood burners who care deeply about wood heat and want to push the industry toward higher efficiency and lower emissions.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

More Improvements: IDEAL STEEL Hybrid

Here are a few other improvements we have made recently to the Ideal Steel Hybrid:

We cut a damper adjustment scale in the ash lip.  Lots of people operate their stoves in a narrow range for long periods of time, and this makes it easier to remember your best operating settings.

The andirons have been tricky.  Before we settled on andirons that folded forward, we prototyped andirons that folded over on their sides, moved laterally to both sides of the load door opening, folded in the middle, and/or were removable.  We still like our current version best, in part because it is simple, and in part because one can move the andirons with a poker, or the toe of a boot.  The andiron plate also acts as an air deflector that helps eliminate smoke spillage in installations with marginal draft.

To lessen ash spillage onto the ash lip, we have added a slot between the front of the andiron and the body of the stove so that fly ash on the andiron plate will slide back into the stove instead of onto the ash lip.  We have also shortened the andirons from 7” to 5” so that it’s easy to load over them most of the time.  We’re also working on a little tool to brush ash off the andiron plate before folding it forward.

New Andirons, like the dragon pictured above, are 5" tall, 
rather than 7". This makes it easy to load over the andirons
if you wish. A slot in the front of the andirons allows fly ash
 to fall back inside the stove.
The damper adjustment scale is cut into the edge of the ash lip.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The NEXT Gearhead Hybrid Stove

Basic version

The next Gearhead Hybrid Stove is under construction right now (prototype only).  We are building a slightly smaller firebox (about 2.6 cubic feet), and version 3.0 of our hybrid combustion design. The Ideal Steel Hybrid (going into production soon) had the lowest high burn emissions on record, and with new regulations coming, there’s an incentive to flatten the emissions curve even more.  One of the most important things for us is the combustion design, but we'll do a lot of testing over the summer before “going public” with the internal workings of this stove.

This stove will definitely be sideloading (left or right), and have a top and rear vent. We plan to make an inexpensive basic version - a utilitarian workhorse that is easy to use but has some nice details (see Basic Version, at right).  Then we think we will make a steel Franklin stove.  Some of our favorite antique soapstone stoves have Franklin stove designs, and we manufacture three gas stoves with Franklin designs, including our unique 17 inch tall Mini Franklin gas stove.

Franklin Stove Design lends itself perfectly to steel fabrication.  We plan to alter the shape of the wings, ash lip, and door as well as the stove ornamentation, to reflect different periods:  Arts and Crafts, Gothic, Transitional, or Modern for example.  The sketches at the right and below are not final by any means, they are just offered to show the general direction we are heading in.
1800's Franklin Soapstone
We plan to beta-test this stove extensively next winter, and have it available in June/July of 2015.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ideal Steel Improvements

We’ve made a number of improvements to the IDEAL STEEL Hybrid over the winter, and many were based on comments/suggestions from our beta testers.  We’ll try to cover some of the changes on this blog over the next few weeks.

Friday, March 7, 2014

IDEAL STEEL Hybrid Catalytic Temperature Probe

We’ve added a port for a catalytic temperature probe just above the center of the loading door.  The probes are simple bimetallic coils attached to a stainless rod.  We have been testing the bimetallic probe against a thermocouple:  it’s certainly “in the ballpark” and gives a good idea of catalyst light-off.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Beta-testing and Pre-Production Prices for the IDEAL STEEL Hybrid

We are offering pre-production prices for the IDEAL STEEL Hybrid for the next several months (see below).  We won’t actually begin shipping IDEAL STEEL Hybrids until June, for one simple reason:  it’s still cold and we haven’t quite finished with Beta testing yet.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Why are non-catalytic stove manufacturers so upset?

As a result of the recently proposed EPA regulations, non-catalytic stove manufacturers (and their surrogates) have stepped up attacks on catalytic stoves in comments to the EPA, and public meetings with EPA.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Our Design Book is Live!

Our Geared 2U Design Book for the Ideal Steel Hybrid is now live on our website. We're still working on getting all of our designs into the book, but we have a good start.

Click here to see our Geared 2U Design Book

Monday, March 3, 2014

BTU Output: How is it Determined?

Several people have recently asked about how BTU output is determined. BTU/hr rating is basically a speed and efficiency rating.  The (1) greater the number of POUNDS OF WOOD CONSUMED PER HOUR, and (2) the higher the OVERALL EFFICIENCY, then the HIGHER THE BTU/hr OUTPUT RATING.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Beta Tester: Meriden, NH

It's nearing the end of February and we are still working on getting few more Ideal Steel Hybrid beta stoves out in the field for the last couple months of burning.

Saying Goodbye to Charlie Wolz

We received the very sad news today that a very active customer of ours, Charlie Wolz, passed away on February 8th.

We first met Charlie in person in May of 2012 when he and his wife, Maribeth, came to see our stoves. This meeting was just the beginning of our relationship with Charlie.  Charlie went on to purchase  a Fireview stove, but due to the age (circa 1840) and size of the home, decided to utilize the 6 month buy back, to exchange the Fireview in for the larger Progress.

Charlie's dog, Benny, with the original Fireview
Throughout the two short years of knowing Charlie, we had many conversations about his stoves and wood burning in general,  and Charlie became a big proponent of our company and our work on the Ideal Steel Stove, and was always at the ready to offer a helpful thought or suggestion. It's customers like Charlie who have helped to to make the Woodstock Soapstone story brighter and richer.

Benny and his Progress Hybrid
After Charlie & Maribeth came up to exchange stoves, we received the following email:

"Thanks for all your time today... We had a blast! Beer was good at the 7 Barrels Brewery... as was the food... Had the Dublin Brown Ale, yummy! Thanks for the cricket.... I’ll bring you some growlers next time I stop in!"
      Charlie & Maribeth Wolz

Charlie, it looks like we'll have to put the growlers on hold for a while.

To read Charlie Wolz's obituary and to write in his guest book, please visit the links below:
Charlie Wolz Obituary 
Charlie Wolz Guest Book

Thursday, February 20, 2014

New Beta Tester: Newbury, VT

When Doug and his wife Amanda came in to pick out the colors for their Ideal Steel beta stove, Amanda quickly took over the reins to create a color combination that would work well in their home.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New Beta Tester in Goffstown, NH

Two weeks ago we got Nick, another beta tester, up and running with a beta version of the Ideal Steel Hybrid.

Nick was the first to submit his own artwork of a maple leaf and mountains motif, which Nick generated using AutoDesk. With a little bit of translation on our side we were able to get a file that Nick and his wife were happy with and since we had already designed and cut a maple leaf andiron, we were able to pair an already cut file with Nick's design.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bow, NH Beta Tester: Stove Design

One of the interesting aspects of our Ideal Steel Hybrid, is that the side medallion, burners, and andirons can be customized.

Kurt, our beta tester in Bow NH, decided to submit a photograph for a customized art set. Below is the file Kurt originally sent,  followed by the side medallion and andiron files we created. The center burner of the stove mimics the side medallion, and the andiron design was taken from the simple leaf like ends on the spiral.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A quick note and pictures/video from a new Beta Tester

"I just wanted to send a quick note.  First off, thank you for including me in this beta test and thank you for the quick ship on the parts.

It's all up and running!  The house is nice and toasty again.  Here are a couple of quick pics from last night.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mid-Winter Woodstove Maintenance

Have you cleaned your combustor lately? Or checked the protective inconel screens at the ceiling of the firebox? 

This winter has been particularly eventful with drastic changes in the weather. Making sure that your combustor and its protective screen are clear of ash build up will help ensure that your stove will provide warmth and comfort regardless of the weather. A simple vacuuming or brushing off of the combustor and screen is often sufficient to keep the stove functioning well.

Cleaning the combustor every 4-6 weeks should become routine maintenance. Every combustor has two sides a "face side" and an "exhaust side" the face side where the smoke initially passes through is more prone to clogging (as shown above).  Make sure both sides of the combustor are checked and cleaned.

The inconel screen provides protection for the combustor and will accumulate fly ash. If the build up is not cleaned severe clogging will occur (clogged Fireview inconel screen shown above) and the stove performance will drastically diminish.

If you have a newer stainless foil combustor, you can do a thorough cleaning with a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and distilled water. Put the solution in a spray bottle and give both sides a good spritzing and let drain over paper towels, and/or foil pan. The vinegar solution is also great for removing any hard deposits on the inconel screens. Rinse with distilled water (ordinary tap water may contain minerals and chemicals that may have adverse effects on your combustor). After rinsing, let dry and put back in your stove.

Click below to see a slideshow on cleaning your combustor:

Your catalytic combustor (stainless or ceramic honeycomb materials) will work for 12,000 to 14,000 burn hours. That typically translates into a 3-6 year time span, depending on how long your winters are, wood quality, and stove operation.

One of the most common questions we hear from our stove owners is: How will I know when your combustor is worn out?  There are three symptoms that will indicate that the catalyst in your stove may not be working:
First, your stove will generate noticeably less heat than it will when the catalyst is working. 
Second, you will notice an increase in the amount of soot and/or creosote in you stovepipe or chimney. 
Third, the color of the smoke produced when the combustor is engaged will change. Smoke will appear brownish, instead of clear heat waves or white vapor. If you suspect your combustor is not working, let the stove cool down, remove and clean the combustor and screen and try again.

Please feel free to call us toll free at, 1-800-866-4344, if you have any question about your catalytic combustor.

Mid-winter is also the time to give your chimney and chimney cap a check, particularly if there is a screen around or under your cap. Build up of soot at this vulnerable point can inhibit draft flow, resulting in back puffing or reduced performance.

A clogged chimney cap will restrict air flow 

And remember- it’s never a bad time to be thinking about getting next year’s wood supply ordered, cut, split and seasoning!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Time lapse video of the Ideal Steel Hybrid

We are very excited to share this video from Brian K, one of our Ideal Steel beta testers. Brian's video is a 16 hour time lapse, with ever 4 seconds representing about an hour of burning.  Below the video you will see some of Brian's description of the burn and a link to his forum post for more information.