Review: Avalon Olympic
Avalon Olympic free standing stove
Our stove came with our house which we bought 13 years ago. Since then it has been our primary heat source. We burn about 3 cord of Vermont northern hardwoods (red maple, sugar maple, white ash, beech, red oak, yellow birch; some poplar and paper birch fall and spring), always dried for at least a year. Dried means stacked under cover with good air drainage. I cut most of the wood about 18" to 20" long and split it 4 to 6" thick to go in side to side. I mix in small diameter shorts that are about 14" long to fit front to back. We learned quickly, by reading the instruction manual, how to build a fire that works. You can't simply chuck the wood in. You need to set a couple of small sticks perpendicular to the door on the bottom and then put the larger fuel across those sticks, lined up parallel to the door. You must have that space between the ash and the bulk of the fuel so air can move under the fire from the vent beneath the door to the back of the firebox for the fire to burn well. Some folks wrote that they have trouble with smoke coming into the house through the open door. We have a bit of that when the stove is cold and the outside temperature is kinda warm. A couple of crunched up sheets of newspaper set on top of the smoking fire and lit, with the flue wide open, heats the air which rises rapidly up the chimney taking the smoke with it. The draft pulls fresh air into the burn chamber, fanning the fire and pretty soon everything is burning as it should. Get a wood stove thermometer and put it on the stove pipe. And pay attention! Cut down the air flow before the stove pipe gets into the dangerously hot zone. We've gotten the stovepipe pretty hot a couple of times when we weren't paying attention. We've had some maintenance. Several years ago, we cracked the air heater box in the back of the stove and had a local welder re-build it with thicker steel. While it was all apart, we replaced most of the fire brick, much of which had cracked. The wooden door handle burned (no flames, but turned to charcoal) so I carved and drilled another which is also beginning to show signs of getting too hot and turning black. Now we are replacing the welded steel support that holds the firebrick above the fire tubes and replacing the gasket in the door. I'll also replace broken firebrick again. We have a chimney expert clean the metal chimney (runs up through the house, not up the outside wall) once a year and he always says it really didn't need to be done because there is no creosote. We run the stove pretty much non-stop (except for emptying the ash when needed) from mid-November to April and as needed when the weather is just cool. On nights when the temperature gets down below Zero Farenheight, I fill it up around 9 and may get up around 5 (if I hear the oil burner turn on) to recharge the firebox. This is a great stove for us. I hate to think about replacing it. Maybe we won't have to. It only needs to last another 20 years or so until we're in our mid-80s and don't want to move wood any more. If the past 13 years are any indication, it might just make it.