Tiny Wood Stove Flue Kit Unboxing

 

2/1/18 Update: I ended up doing some remote work for Nick and tinywoodstove.com starting around September 2017.  A lot has changed since I wrote this post, but I think leaving it and the subsequent posts untouched is the right thing to do.  The kits offered by tinywoodstove.com are now from a different manufacturer, so what you get will not look exactly like what's in this post.  As of today's writing, the kits include a gray silicone pipe boot, something I would have loved to have when I was doing this project.  And Nick started selling his own line of stoves, the Dwarf, which is pretty exciting for the tiny living community.  Looking back on my experience just two years ago vs. today, there are so many more great options for tiny wood stoves and accessories than there used to be -- and it's only been two years!

I purchased this flue kit from Nick at tinywoodstove.com.  He and his family of four live in a renovated 1966 Airstream Overlander, and blog at livinlightly.com.  Nick has been a huge source of ideas and encouragement for us as we take on our own renovation project.  When I saw that Nick was setting up a wood stoves for small spaces business, I jumped at the chance to be one of the first customers.  

Nick is on the bleeding edge of this business, so I don't expect everything to be perfect out of the gate.  Sure, there are a few folks out there who have put wood stoves in travel trailers, and there's a precedent for installing wood stoves in canal boats, but I haven't found anybody who is running with it like Nick.

After a few months of waiting, we received a nice big box on Monday.  Here's a slideshow:

The packing materials weren't as tight as I was expecting, but the flue parts held up surprisingly well during shipping.  There were only a couple of bends in a couple of parts, but those were easily bent back into shape.  I thought one of the clamps was missing a screw and a bolt, but it had just fallen off during shipping and I found it loose in the box.

The Good:

1. This pipe is beautiful.  It's incredibly well made.  Perfect welds, nicely polished, and stamped male and female ends that fit securely together.  Included grooved clamps wrap around the entire perimeter of the joints and will hold very securely.  I am 100% confident that this product will hold up well in the moving Airstream.

2. This is a pretty comprehensive matching kit.  I have almost everything I need to complete my installation, and all the parts fit together the way they're supposed to.  While working on the Airstream, I've gotten used to having to improvise and modify parts that don't quite fit perfectly, so it's a pleasure to have some parts that fit exactly as they should.

3. Nick was very responsive.  He was able to add 45 degree elbows for me, and has agreed to source a tee with a cap for my rear exit, as well as provide me with a 90 temporarily so that I can get everything lined up while I wait for his next shipment.  As someone who deals with vendors for a living, I can appreciate working with someone who is willing to go out of his way to accommodate my needs.

4. Nick anticipated that many people would not be installing this kit in a flat roof, so he included alternate brackets that would work with a slope.  I'm a little disappointed that I can't use the nice, hefty three-screw wrap-around bracket, but I'm grateful that there is an alternative included.  

The Gripes:

1. The shipping took forever.  I'm not talking about the time between ordering and shipping -- I expected long delays since I pre-ordered.  I'm talking about the USPS "it'll get there eventually and I don't care if it's late" shipping option that arrived a full week after the stated ETA with no tracking updates in the interim.  I get why Nick chose this option -- it allowed him to offer free shipping on a large box.  I would have preferred to have the option between free shipping and paying extra for faster shipping and better tracking.  I probably would still have chosen the free option, but at least I would be able to monetize my impatience.

2. You know how you spend a bunch of money on a shiny new product, then you bring it home, and when you peel off the bar code sticker, it leaves a ton of adhesive that requires industrial strength goo remover to clean off?   This is one of those.  When I am supreme overlord of the universe, I'm going to ban the use of certain adhesives for this reason.  Fortunately, this pipe is made of stainless steel, so I should be able to safely use whatever I want to remove the goo, short of my angle grinder.

3. I wish there were a few more instructions.  First, instructions on how to cut the pipe.  The ends of the pipe have formed male and female ends that I won't be able to replicate, so I assume I need to cut the female end and (hopefully) the clamp will compress the pipe enough for a good seal.  Nick has been very responsive, so I'm sure he'll have advice to offer when I ask him, but it would be nice to include that.  I can't imagine there are too many of these installations that don't require cutting at least one pipe to size.  Second, more detailed instructions on how to attach the flue to the back of my stove.  I'm a little nervous about drilling holes through the cast iron outlet of the stove, and I'll need to do some research on how to properly apply the cement to get a good seal.

 source: tinywoodstove.com

source: tinywoodstove.com

4. The flue cap is not as pictured on the website.  I don't know if the model I got is any better or worse, but it's different from the one pictured when I ordered.  Not a huge surprise that an item is slightly different than pictured when I'm pre-ordering from the first shipment.  My only concern is that this cap might not block out driving rain as well as the one I thought I was getting.  I'm not planning on deploying the flue in a hurricane or while driving, so I don't expect it'll be an issue. 

5. I can't (yet) get everything I need from the same place.  I had to order the Dektite gasket off Amazon, and I'm going to need to find some cement to seal around the joint between the stove and the flue pipe.  I also need to find somewhere to get the materials for the outside air inlet.  And maybe a storm collar.  It would be far more convenient if I could get all the proper materials at the same time.  For that matter, I'm looking for somewhere to buy stainless steel sheet for the heat shielding.  Hear that, Nick?  Sell me more stuff!

Overall Impression:

I'm very pleased with the product I received and the customer service Nick has provided.  As Nick irons out some of the wrinkles in his process, I think tinywoodstove.com is going to be a very successful vendor.