View Full Version : Sheepherder stove

2006-11-27, 02:44
I purchased a Cabela's Sheepherder's stove about a year ago and finally got around to setting it up in the garage to play with. I'm referring back to the text from "Paradise Below Zero" by Calvin Rutstrum, quote below:

"When burning wood a backdraft damper needs to be installed in the pipe near the stove, so that the stove may fully be filled with wood before retiring and the stove kept properly dampered all night. With the backdraft damper open draft air goes directly into the vent pipe and not through the fuel in the stove. A slow fire will then continue to burn all night because it has the least amount of air for combustion, yet the fire is not smothered. In the morning all that one needs to do is close the backdraft, open the regular draft which supplies air directly to the fuel, add more wood, and crawl back into bed. In a few moments the tent is warm. There should be another damper within the vent pipe for additional control to help radiate the heat and keep it from going up the chimmney when the fire is going well."

- I understand what a _damper_ is, it's that butterfly valve thingy that goes inside the stove pipe (chimmney). I'm familiar with fireplace dampers, when no fire you close it to keep the cold draft out, open it before lighting a fire, forget to open = smoke everywhere! I'm not familiar with his useage here. Is it used to throttle the smoke to retain heat? Wouldn't that encourage smoke coming into the tent? Also, where is the ideal place to install it? Right by the stove or further up?

- I would imagine the "draft" is the air intake, which is usually some kind of a sliding valve on the front door of the stove, easy enough... Close the draft and you limit air intake to fuel so it takes longer to burn...

- But what the heck is a "Backdraft damper"? :albertein I'm really baffled here. Anyone have an idea? Diagrams and/or pictures would help me...

2006-11-27, 03:34
go here backdraft dampter oops this is for cold air but close

2006-11-27, 04:06
Put the stove pipe damper 6 to 10 inches up from the stove.
It is normally the main control on your fire. As you close it, it slows the flow of air and slows the burning. -You usually only want it completely open when starting a fire.

If you get a lot of smoke coming into your house when you open the doors with the damper closed (dampers are not airtight) you need more chimney, because you don't have enough draft.

Backdraft damper? I know what one is, but I've never heard of them being used on a wood stove. Usually they're used for bathroom vents and dryer vents. They're kind of a one-way valve for air.
I don't see how a real backdraft damper would be beneficial on a wood stove.

Perhaps what he's talking about (and mislabeling) is an air feed pipe used for feeding outside air to the fire. They normally come into the back of the stove - not all stoves have this and usually they're controled by a manual damper.

I also hate to tell you this, but with that stove, I really doubt that your going to be able to bank a fire and keep it going all night without putting on more wood during the night. It will either burn all the fuel or go out.

Your better off setting some tinder either in the stove or beside it and lighting a new fire in the morning. If you set it up right it only takes minutes and then you can scuttle back into bed until it gets warm.

You'll learn as you go. They aren't actually that complicated.

2006-11-27, 04:13
thanks dropkick i should know better i been burning wood all my life the damper that i showed is for cold air well i guess i should go down stairs bank up the stove for the night whats left of it say warm all

2006-11-28, 05:10
It used to be common to have the stovepipe drop down almost to the floor and the stove connected to it by an elbow. There would be 2 dampers - one ove the stove and one in the stove pipe above the floor. When you wanted the stove to last you would close the damper over the stove and open the damper in the other pipe - the backdraft. This would pull cold air off the floor and slow the fire down. Takes a little trial and error to keep from putting your fire out.

There is a good diagram of this in an old book, but I can't remember which one right now. I'll look for it and post the book if I find it.

2006-11-28, 18:46
Thanks all for your responses! This helps a lot.

Yeah, Dropkick, the stove burns out pretty quick, even when full and the draft is shut. Like in about 2 hours. :argh: Of course there a few factors here working against me. Of course the size of the stove - 10x8x23 - we're talking logs not much bigger than your wrist, which burn quickly. I don't have a damper installed (yet) nor a backdraft device (thanks Doug12 for explanation) so no ability to throttle there. Nor does it help to have a stove designed for no more than a 10x10 tent heating a 25x28 cinder block garage. :argh:

But HEY, I gots somethin' to PLAY with this winter! And more deevices to add... :biggrin:

Thanks again all for your input.


Red Gauntlet
2007-04-03, 20:32
So happens that a search for "backdraft damper" with "wood stove" brought me here; I too was looking further into Calvin Rutstrum's description in Paradise Below Zero as to his technique for all-night woodstove burning.
My take from his descriptions (in more than one book) is that the backdraft damper is contained in a "T" pipe section, below the stovepipe section which has the regular damper.
Rutstrum says that a "tin can" can be placed over the end of the T during regular operation of the stove. Then, at night, the stove is filled, any vents closed, and the backdraft damper is "activated" by removal of the can, and the regular damper is at least partially open.
This then leads to air getting to the fire in an amount just sufficient to keep it going, without enough to cause it to burn too fast. One of the things about tent woodstoves is that you get the "blowtorch" effect with even a very small draw through the front of the stove.
This is what I'm figuring, anyway, but while Cal has a lot of detail in his books about a lot of things, it can be fuzzy detail, and this is the case here.
Nowhere else than his books have I yet been able to find anything else about this technique. Anybody have any information?

2007-04-03, 21:00
I have a Vermont Castings Intrepid cast-iron wood stove in my house, I think it weighs some 200 pounds. It was the smallest stove they sold at the time. If I get a good evening burn going and load it up at 11pm and just leave the air feed on the back of the stove cracked it might still have a good enough bed of coals to just toss wood on at 6am the next morning. Sometimes it burns out and I have to rebuild anyway. My point is this, if you can get a sheet metal stove to burn for two hours that is about as good as you can ask for, a longer burn is unrealistic. If you are using this thing in a tent you'd better have enough sleeping bag to keep you warm without a burning stove.