Chengdu OE-TEX fan-assisted wood stove

Discussion in 'China' started by presscall, Dec 13, 2019.

  1. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Manufacturer’s website. Translation required!

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    Quality of manufacture is excellent, a robust gauge of stainless steel throughout and a high-spec fan unit, powered by a solar charger, externally chargeable from a power point when required.

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    Beneath the fan, when removed.

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    Toggling through three speeds and off.

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    Combustion chamber.

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    Where the secondary combustion of wood gas takes place, at the outlet holes at the top of the combustion chamber, angled downwards at 45 degrees.

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    The combustion chamber capacity is 700 cubic centimetres (I’ve taken dimensions and have calculated). That of a Biolite Mark II is 684 ccs.

    Externally, the Chinese stove doesn’t exactly dwarf the Biolite, but it’s taller. The combustion chamber is located on top of the fan, on the Biolite the ducted fan is in the detachable power pod. Additionally, there’s a fuel charging gap and windshield shroud on which the pot rests are mounted above the former’s combustion chamber. On the Biolite the pot rests ate those three protrusions on the top rim of the combustion chamber.

    A wider combustion chamber and greater air space between outer wall of the combustion chamber an the outer casing makes the Chinese product wider, though not front-to-back (because of the outrigged power pod of the Biolite. Though the extensive use of heavy-gauge stainless steel makes it heavier than the Biolite it’s not by much (1.3kg: 1kg).

    Evident in the photos is the narrower combustion chamber outlet/charging aperture of the Chinese stove. Deceptive because its combustion chamber is of larger diameter than the Biolite’s but the former’s narrows for the top two centimetres due to that inward-angled rim pierced by the secondary combustion outlet holes.

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    I bought an accessory with the stove.

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    A stainless steel grill pan, also robustly made with a heavy gauge pierced metal conical heat diffuser in the base.

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    The pan positively locks onto the stove’s pot tests.

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    The grill pan would sit well on a Coleman suitcase stove, or could be mounted on a classic Primus 3-legger if wired securely to the pot rests.

    On the stove it was made for it’s very solidly mounted.

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    Like the rest of the stove there’s nothing flimsy about its feet or their hinge mounts but for added security from topple or sideways movement the bundle included stainless steel components to peg the feet to the ground.

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    The packaging.

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    The UK distributor I bought the stove and grill from is on ebay HERE. Enquiries to fourfires1@outlook.com.

    My conclusions? Constant heavy rain in the UK since I’ve taken delivery! I’m sure that the stove could cope, once underway and with the power pack and switch covered but I’ve no enthusiasm to get a soaking. I’ll post my thoughts on a test firing.

    For now, I’ll content myself by saying that I’m impressed by the solid construction. The fan is smooth running and quiet. Pound (£) for pound it’s good value.

    John
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2019
  2. Simes

    Simes Subscriber

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    Oh so tempting John. :)
     
  3. ROBBO55

    ROBBO55 Subscriber

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    A good review of the stoves construction, John. :thumbup:
    Looking forward to seeing it perform.
     
  4. Simes

    Simes Subscriber

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    John, @presscall out of curiosity what is the spec for the solar battery pack.

    It's pretty much how I've set up with the Cookstove.
     
  5. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner Subscriber

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    @Simes
    Here you go.

    The battery spec.

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    Four solar panels

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    Reverse side, eyelets at each corner to attach to pack - charge while hiking.

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    Aspirational text on the battery, “I want to travel around the world.”

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    Charge indicator lights, external charging socket, USB outlet.

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    Connector lead - various phone outlets and can be used to connect to USB mains charger for external charging of the battery.

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    Folded, clasped shut.

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    Visible, charge indicator lights lit (fully charged, all four) responding to ambient light levels.

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    Dry weather forecast here tomorrow Simon, I’ll be firing up the stove.
     
  6. Simes

    Simes Subscriber

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    Thanks John, the battery pack alone is worth a few bob. I bought a simple single panel 10000mAh to support the Biolite.

    I note there isn't a rating on the fan label so will interested to know what the run time is likely to be. Although I may take a small detour next time I cross the bridge. :)
     
  7. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner Subscriber

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    @Simes @ROBBO55
    Break in the weather!
    Tried in succession a variety of fuel: wood pellets; a couple of types of softwood offcuts (spruce and decking boards); oak offcuts.

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    Pictured with the oak offcuts the stainless steel tongs that came with the stove - handy size for feeding the sticks into the stove.

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    Lighting was easy, letting the flames from the lighting card I used take hold on the wood (or top-down ignition in the case of the wood pellets), then switching on the fan (low setting) after a minute or so.

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    Better to maintain the fire with fuel inserted gradually. Here I’d overfuelled a bit and upped the fan speed. Dramatic and a cheery sight on a cold day but not something I’d want to heat soup on!

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    This is a useful setting.

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    Camera exposure reduced to get the effect, kettle on.

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    Actual ambient light.

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    Peering into the combustion chamber as well as I could without cooking the camera or myself.

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    Here I tested how well combustion picks up with new fuel when the fire’s nearly exhausted the previous fuel charge.

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    It did well, igniting that oak stick with very little smouldering/smoke.

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    The instruction sheet assures the user that the lit stove stays cool enough to handle in the lower half of the body (below the horizontal seam line). It’s true, it does.

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    This shows how the pot rests can flip inwards if a small-diameter based pot, ibrik or similar, is to go on the stove. I can’t see that the heavy-gauge stainless steel pot rests are going to degrade.

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    At the end of the cooking session, the user instructions advise running the fan for 3-4 minutes to protect the fan from any residual heat. I’d not contradict the manufacturer’s advice but I wanted to see how efficiently the stove’s ‘core’ function as a wood gas burner is.

    Reassured by how cool the stove was to the touch in the base/fan area I switched the fan off while the fuel was burning well.

    Not only did it burn as I wanted to see, with a strong through-flow of air and consequently excellent combustion even without the forced air from the fan ...

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    ... but several minutes of that didn’t result in the lower part of the stove (or the fan) heating up at all. Very impressive - but good practice to do as the user instructions advise.

    Result, fuel reduces to a fine ash. Tipped it out prematurely here (still glowing) so would burn down even more.

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    With a nod to Biolite, their kettle pot finds a solid base on the OE stove.

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    A final word about fan speeds. ‘Low’ was all I needed throughout. That’s probably down to the stove’s inherent qualities as a wood gasifier even without the forced air of the fan. Although when ‘dry running’ the fan before firing up the stove I’d established there are three fan speeds, in use the fastest speed is achievable but there is presumably some sort of thermal limiter in the circuitry, since the fan speed soon defaults to ‘low’. To be fair, the supplier’s product description defines it as a two-speed fan, and so it is. The higher of those two speeds holds without switching back to low, so if a blowtorch effect really is required, it’s certainly there if needed.

    I’ll be trying out the grill pan on another occasion. I’m encouraged by the fact that the gap in the windshield to stoke the combustion chamber with fuel serves well without having to remove the pot - essential with the grill pan securely attached to the pot rests and not readily removable when the stove’s in use.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2019
  8. salan3

    salan3 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Excellent review as always. Very tempted to get one. The stove looks good and the solar /battery pack is very useful by itself.
     
  9. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner Subscriber

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    You’ll gather I’m tickled pink with how it’s performed Alan.

    John
     
  10. salan3

    salan3 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Off the back of your review, I have ordered one!
     
  11. Simes

    Simes Subscriber

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    One the back of that I'm going to drop a quick note to the guy in Abergavenny to put one aside till I'm next in the vicinity in the near future.

    @presscall It's nice to see the results as just a natural draught gassifier without fan assist, though there may possibly be too much for a pure TLUD.

    It would certainly extend operating time if all you wished to do was quickly raise to operating temperature to get the convection.
     
  12. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner Subscriber

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    @salan3 @Simes
    Sternest test, taking the stove on a hike on the first dry day for a while and relying for fuel on the driest twigs I could collect on my walk. I looked for ‘windfall’ branches that had broken off or died a while ago and that hadn’t fallen to the ground but were at shoulder height.

    A dull, but clear day.

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    Cold enough not to have melted hail from the last downpour.

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    Brewed water for tea. Easy ignition with no smoking from my harvested fuel.

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    Chicken noodle soup with crackers.

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    After initially balancing the MSR pan on the opened out pot rests I realised that the facility to flip them inwards made a more stable base.

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    Heading back I noticed a broad arrow on a boulder embedded in the path.

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    Recycled from a War Dept masonry project I supposed.

    The stove performed well. Very pleased with it.

    John
     
  13. Simes

    Simes Subscriber

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    And with the added pleasure of warming the hands up after making hail balls as well.

    Something I've grown to appreciate with the Biolite under cover is it can be a usefull warm fire.
     
  14. Ed Winskill

    Ed Winskill United States Subscriber

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    Another splendid ramble....
     
  15. salan3

    salan3 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Well the grill arrived today. No stove... Just a grill!
     
  16. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner Subscriber

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    @salan3
    My stove, charger, grill were packed separately. Arrived in the same delivery though.

    I’ve yet to try out the grill.
     
  17. salan3

    salan3 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    That was what I was expecting. Contacted the supplier to see if sent separately.
     
  18. Simes

    Simes Subscriber

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    They don't do local collect as I discovered today, albeit I'm in their advertised area fairly.regularly.

    There is an option on the Bay for the stove complete with grill now if it wasn't already offered previously.
     
  19. salan3

    salan3 United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Had a very nice reply within a couple of hours. They were posted as separate parcels. So should arrive in the next day or two.
     
  20. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner Subscriber

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    @salan3 @Simes
    Wouldn’t you know it? Out of bacon, steak, sausage, fish ... so nothing to grill, but decided on firing it up to see how well it works.

    I’d worked out at the outset that though a fire could at a pinch be started in the stove combustion chamber with the grill already attached, it’s easier to attach the grill shortly after start up. The pot rests haven’t by then got too hot to touch to engage with the pan’s attachment points and it was easy enough to do.

    This was the level of the fire when I attached the grill. Not yet intense.

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    The pan’s heat diffuser was soon working as intended ...

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    ... and the pan was up to temperature.

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    A Biolite has a handy trap door to top up the stove with fuel when in use.

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    I wondered if the OE stove and grill combination would be as easy to stoke with fuel.

    No problem.

    I used a small stainless steel scoop I’d already purchased for fuelling the Biolite with wood pellets ...

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    ... and the small tongs supplied with the stove made fuelling with sticks easy to do.

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    No meat or fish to grill, so I reasoned that a small stainless steel MSR pot placed in a corner of the grill furthest away from the stove outlet would give a good indication of how well the grill diffuser and corrugated tray in the pan distributed the heat.

    A perfectly cooked egg provided the evidence.

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