17th May 2018 – Into the unknown


It’s still 1 degree this morning and none of us really want to get out into the air from our warm beds….but business is business.

Our first job is on a farm undergoing renovation some 45kms outside Bethlehem on the Warden Road. It is always a daunting task to go to a new customer …the condition of the stove is relatively unknown as photos can never show exactly what the problems are. Thank goodness for technology – we have a ‘pin’of the location of the farm, and quite frankly without it we would have driven around in circles.

We had been offered accommodation on this farm and quite frankly we were rather disturbed at its condition. There were no curtains, no electric lights, builders rubble everywhere, no hot water and a couple of new mattresses on the lounge floor…. I leave how we felt about this to your imagination.

The stove was a 4 oven solid fuel AGA de Luxe which needed a new barrel, ring and a service…we normally don’t clean stoves as that is not required to make the stove functional and is really the responsibility of the owner. However, this stove had to be cleaned up before we could start…grease everywhere and that is virtually impossible to get off without very harsh chemicals which we don’t carry with us. One of the lids was so covered in grease that we had to pack it up to bring home and deal with the grease there. The fact of no hot water didn’t help either!

The rings sit in a groove in the top of the stove and to get them to sit level with the barrel and simmering plate we had to grind off the grease so that they would sit properly….finally achieved.

The chimney box was checked and cleaned out, the chimney checked for draw and various other externals degreased and cleaned. Doors were checked for signs of wear, one inner liner straightened and packing inserted. The thermostat was then checked for correct operation and reset, as it wasn’t set correctly. An H-cowl was left for the top of the chimney pipe and the owner informed that he was to source the chimney pipes.

Quite honestly, we are so tired of people insisting that they have stainless steel pipes or some other contraption that they ‘heard’ someone else has used, that we don’t do chimneys – we leave that up to the client.

Solid fuel – in this case – anthracite – contains sulphur. The soot produced in the chimney mixes with the condensation that occurs inside the pipe and these two glorious substances make sulphuric acid when mixed together. Give or take a couple of years the acid has eaten into the pipe and formed pinholes. Then at the joints it makes a white gooey substance which runs down the outside of the pipe. We are tired of explaining this so we simply leave you to do whatever you like with your pipes. The H-cowl is also essential to stop down draughts and rain entering your stove…..anyway I digress, so enough of that.

There were other problems with this repair, as it doesn’t seem to occur to some people that it takes a huge amount of time and money to be borne by ourselves at the start of every trip, and being treated like alien simpletons is really not OK.

We have realised, obviously over time and many clients later, that some members of the human race have no common sense or decency……can’t buy that I’m afraid!!


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