Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Stove, actually

Last Wednesday, just before the snow really kicked in we took the opportunity for a moderately eventful (I really must fix my fuel gauge - again) trip up to Uxbridge, to collect the new flue I'd ordered, and that playing trumpets on boats could be considered to be unlucky). The Slogh Arm had a thin coat of ice, although a channel had already been neatly cut that morning, presumably by a boat coming in for craning out. Pushing the speed an little made the wash crack the ice at the sides of us in a neatly artistic pattern - fun, admittedly. We made it back before dark, and couldn't resist firing up the stove - it's only been about a year since it first came into my possession.

Since then it's been fixed & cemented in to the adapter collar made specially for me by Jon of Windy Smithy (bolted to the top with ten M6 bolts - it's not going anywhere, and there's a tub's worth of fire cement under the top around the flue passages, sealing it in nicely)), and I'm having great fun getting to know it.

World's worst photo, but here's it in action this afternoon - there's potatoes (and an onion - I'm strange like that) baking in the oven, beans simmering on top, and the red cup contains apple juice, very nice hot with Zubrowka vodka. ;-) The big brown kettle is has hot water - it's not great for condensation to keep it simmering away, but comforting, I must admit.

Thoughts so far; it's a lovely little stove. Lighting takes a bit of practice; best done from below (via the grate hatch) with the top plate closed, to avoid filling the cabin with smoke. ;-) Once it's burning well the draw up the flue makes it OK to open the top, and since there's no window and I do like to watch a fire, that's a blessing. So far I've only been burning scrap wood, which of course needs regular attention, I have some coal on board but am yet to try it.

One interesting (bearing in mind online suggestions that new BSC requirements would make a traditional boatman's stove illegal) point is that after hours of use, the tile surround (4" away from the stove) is barely above room temperature. Unsurprising as the sides seem to be lined with rockwool, the heat mainly radiates from the stove top itself, ideal for cooking, of course. Tortoise heats up nicely, albeit slowly (no immediate radiant heat from the fire, it only really starts heating the boat once the stove itself is hot) - being slightly bigger than a trad back cabin, but I'm not sure how well it could heat a bigger space.

I'm looking forward to doing as much cooking on the stove as possible - more sensible in winter than summer, but I don't see myself limited to stews and the like - if it's hot enough for frying, most things I make at home should be acheivable, including bread & cakes. I've never really lusted after the massive edifice of an aga or similar, but this is just right. Thanks again to Geoff & Laura, without whom... - well, without whom I'd still be idly wondering what boatman's stoves are like. ;-)


Anonymous said...

That's a beautiful stove Simon. I hope you have many happy hours warming your toes and tea by it.
Carrie x

Dave Winter said...

Much enjoy your blogs.
Would it be possible to use a pressure cooker on top of the stove & how to regulate the heat to it? (the pressure cooker)
Thanks.Take care.
Dave Winter(Brassiclint)Twitter

Anonymous said...

Wow! I am envious. It looks lovely. I hope we are around next time you have it up and running.
Happy Christmas to you, Simon.
Kath (nb Herbie)

Anonymous said...

Ooh proper vodka, I'm impressed.


Simon said...

thanks all - better photos to follow, I hope.

Dave - haven't used a pressure cooker myself, but I don't see why not. Regulation is a bit 'organic' - pans can be directly over the firebox or on the slower hotplate that just has flue gases underneath - also moving pans to the edge can reduce heat. Of course it all depends on what the fire's doing anyway - thin or thick pieces of wood, for example - haven't tried coal yet, but I will do...

kimberly said...
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