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Preparing for the long burn

If you want a long overnight burn in your catalytic stove, whether a retrofit or not, the last thing you should do is throw an armload of new wood on the coals just before you go to bed. The volume of new fuel would lower stove temperatures so much that you would have to wait awhile before reengaging the combustor. So what should you do? The answer is simple, says Peter Albertson of New Tech Inc. in Rhode Island: Starting with a bed of coals earlier in the evening, keep adding small amounts of wood at half-hour intervals, each time adding a little more wood than has been consumed in the preceding 30 minutes. If your timing is right, two or three pieces of wood should fill the stove to capacity just before you retire. The combustor could continue operating nonstop, with minimal effect on stove temperatures.

Mr. Albertson makes these recommendations, assuming you wanted to go to bed at 11 p.m.:

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At 9 p.m., have the stove up to temperature with a good bed of established coals. At 9:30, set the air controls to the overnight setting and add two small logs or splits of wood four to six inches in diameter. At 10, shake down the stack of burning wood and coals and add two additional pieces of wood to the fire. At 11, fill the firebox. If the previous loadings were properly sized, two more logs should fill the box. Otherwise add a third. - P.T.

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