Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Cookstove Report (Fireplace Part XVII)

Several months ago, I wrote about our pilgrimage to Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio to pick up our wood cook stove. To know that it would fit, we wanted to have the woodstove on hand while building the masonry alcove where it will probably reside for many decades. This is one of those products that I wish was made in the USA, but alas, it's manufactured in Waterford, Ireland. Most of the few remaining wood cook stove manufacturers in North America seem to be focussed on appearance (bling!) more than functionality. This stove is built to cook!

When we built the masonry alcove, I included conduit and an electrical box so that we could have electricity and light right at the stove. The light works well for illuminating what would otherwise be a shadowy brick closet. To keep readers oriented, I should mention that this alcove is back-to-back with the Rumford fireplace.

The entire alcove, including the floor, had to be complete before I could confidently fit up the stove pipe and fire the stove for the first time. The last place we laid the flagstone flooring was beneath the stove. Because the stove was already sitting in the alcove (and weighs maybe 1500 pounds), I used a car jack to lift the feet far enough off the ground to get the flagstones under them. To the left and right of the stove, I temporarily placed foam insulation to keep the stove from tipping within the alcove. I was glad to get the floor done and put the stove back on the ground, because this was not the most stable (or safe) configuration.

Fires are very easy to start in this stove, and although it is not 100.00% air tight, no smoke leaks out of the stove, because the flue is always pulling air from the stove. The cook top is hot enough to cook on within 20 minutes, but the oven takes a bit longer to come up to temperature. With the firebox loaded about 25% full, and the air inlet shut almost all the way down, the oven "wants" to stay about 375 to 425 degrees... wonderful! Open the air inlet too much, or put little pieces of really dry wood in the stove and the oven will shoot up to 600 degrees. Great for self-cleaning, but a little too hot for cookies and pies! Speaking of which, my wife has already cooked a some tasty pies in this oven.

In this final picture, I'm impressing my daughter with my culinary skills. She's patiently waiting in the wood storage area for me to finish cooking some frozen corn dogs for her. (A somewhat ironic choice for the first meal from our cook stove?) Home canned green beans are simmering on the cook top (compliments of my wife), and a pie (it was cooked a few days earlier in the pizza oven I think) is in the warming closet at the top of the oven.

Until we fired it up for the first time, I never realized how much cooking area these stoves have. You can place a pan (or your hand!) anywhere on the large stovetop and cook. A grocery bag full of wood is plenty enough to cook an entire meal with this stove. Unlike some stoves, this one is not designed to heat a house - in fact, it's so well insulated that you can safely place your hand on the side or back of the stove after it's been fired for the entire day. (But don't try touching the front doors or the cook top!) We have not yet figured out how to keep a fire going all night in the stove. The wood always burns up some time in the middle of the night. I suspect our flue has too much draft, because the fires burn hot even when the integral damper and air controls are shut all the way down. But, so far, we're really happy with the stove. It's another one of those products that has exceeded our expectations.


Anonymous Jeff said...

I'm greatly enjoying your blog - we made a similar move to our family farm here in the Palouse of eastern Washington in 2000. Lately we have been considering getting a few steers... Keep at it, you are doing great work!

December 12, 2008 at 12:33 PM  
Anonymous Marco Warm said...

as to your problem of the high chimney draft you may think about installing a stovepipe with damper flap. I don't know if that would help through the night but it surely will make a "slow oven" as the Amish call it.
To retain ember through the night we use lignite briquettes. The ash forming on the coal will shield the coals of the oxygen and they will remain fiery. But they produce a lot of ash that you cannot dispose in the own garden.
In the end we ended up in letting the fire go out and rekindeling it in the morning.
Greetings from Germany

December 15, 2008 at 4:04 AM  
Blogger oldmilwaukee said...


a few steers will keep the place cleaned up. if there is no existing fence, I would put up only electric fence and quickly get rid of any steers that don't get the concept. :)

I've never heard of the lignite briquettes - sounds interesting. I suppose they are some type of coal? Yes, we are using the ashes presently to improve the soil in our backyard, so we'd like to keep them clean. Do many folks cook with wood in Germany, or are you as atypical as us? I will be blogging about our gasification wood boiler soon - it is made in Denmark. Seems like they are about 20 or 30 years ahead of us in wood boiler design. My radiant heat circulator pump will be a Wilo Stratos (made in Germany). Very energy efficient but not commonly used in the US.

December 16, 2008 at 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Marco Warm said...

As you put it ... yes we are kind of atypical ;-)
There are not too many Germans cooking with wood I guess. Most of German manufactured wood stoves are made for the stylish effect. We use a Wood/Coal stove manufactured in Bulgaria. On the other hand here in Eastern Germany a great number of people still rely on burning coal or wood to heat their homes. We have a long lignite/brown coal tradition here (region Lausitz) and in the Rhine-Land. Im not sure such briquettes are even manufacured in the US. (here a German product site)
Nowadays ppl shift more and more to burning wood since the oil prices are very disagreeable here because of the strong Euro.
I wish you a great (and busy ;-) ) week. I enjoy reading your blog as it shows I am not the only atypical guy in the world.

December 17, 2008 at 8:42 AM  
Anonymous MarcoWarm said...

here the link... it seems I still have to learn this tag thing *grin*

December 17, 2008 at 8:43 AM  
Anonymous Mike from Wood Burning Stoves said...

Wow, that is a beautiful setup. So few people are installing wood cook stoves these days.

Regarding keeping a fire in overnight I suspect that you will be unable to do that. Air quality regulations in europe are strict and to pass them stoves of all types need to have a secondary burn to prevent unburned pollutants (soot, creosote, carbon monoxide etc...) going up the chimney.

This secondary burn necessitates that some air be allowed into the firebox at all time so that the fire isn't smothered. How are you finding the stove now that it has been in place a while? Do you find yourself wishing for gas?

All the best,


November 30, 2010 at 7:29 AM  

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