The restoration process for an AGA that arrives at Emmie’s workshop, usually in pieces, seldom whole or complete, is a long and painstaking process.
The AGA has to be stripped and the parts examined for damage.
All the parts are laid out and numbered. The parts that required sandblasting to get rid of any rust are loaded up and taken to the sandblaster. The nature of cast iron is, that if not protected by a coating, it rusts almost immediately. This means that immediately the parts return from the sand blaster, they need to be painted. If this is not done, they have to go back to the sand blast company.
In the photograph on the left is an AGA top as it was received. There is a crack in the cast iron and most of the enamel has rusted away. This has to be sandblasted and repainted. No re-enamelling of the top takes place, as there is no company in South Africa that can do the type of enamelling required. The cost of importing a used top from England is hugely expensive, costing in the region of R25, 000 just for a blank hob, after the import duties.
The top is then repaired by an expert cast iron welder, which seem to be very hard to find. Fortunately, Emmie has one such expert who does such a good job, the weld is almost invisible. That then finishes the top and it is placed carefully on a blanket alid table, waiting for the rest of the stove to be assembled.
All the nuts and bolts are BSW (British Standard Whitworth) threaded and are in imperial measurements. Emmie insists that the authenticity of the stove is maintained, so any of these that need to be replaced are usually remade by an engineer to those standards. There are usually many of these that have to be replaced. This takes quite a long time as many of these nuts and bolts are small.
Next come the ovens. The photograph below is a top oven as it was received. This is sand blasted and immediately painted upon return with heat resistant rust prevention paint, and put aside for future assembly. The photograph on the right shows the bottom oven and brackets that hold these ovens in place. In the background one can see the outer barrel, into which the inner barrel goes. It is within the inner barrel that the anthracite is placed. All these parts are sent to the sand blast company at once, so there is normally quite a lot of painting to be done when they return.
The firebox door is almost always in a bad state and requires a large amount of refurbishment, as can be seen by the next photograph. One can also see that the front enamel has also been badly burnt. A complicated reassembly as well. New fins have to be cut and bent and there are small spacers between each of the fins. Each one of the fins is a different size as well. The firebox itself also gets sandblasted and painted. Enough said. It is an arduous task and none of the large parts are very light! The entire completed stove weighs in at around 750kgs. So the assembly and moving of the individual parts is hard work. There are many more parts and much more assembly than has been detailed here, but it would take a book to describe all the processes. The long task though is rewarded finally with a beautiful almost like new AGA.
If you are considering purchasing an AGA for your home, then you couldn’t make a finer investment. Most of the stoves that are available date back to the 1950’s, but once restored they can last at least another fifty years.