Saturday, February 21, 2009

Collapse of Brunel iron structure

No, not an I.K. Brunel bridge, but our Stovax Brunel multifuel stove on Herbie. There has been a crack in the top for some time which we have been filling with fire cement, but when we visited the boat today a whole piece of cast iron had fallen off. It looks like the back has also broken out of its mounting lip. Time for a new stove I'm afraid.
So we went off to Uxbridge Boat Centre where they have a good range of stoves and started the learning process. Here's what we have found out so far.

Time has moved on and good stoves are available in steel as well as cast iron, and several now have clean burn technology which provides a more complete combustion giving more heat and less harmful flue gases. Clean burn also uses less fuel. It works by ducting a flow of heated air through to the upper rear of the fire and gives a secondary burn to the combustion gases. Clever.

You might think steel is inferior to cast iron and that it will corrode away quicker, but we're told that it ain't necessarily so. Cast iron has better heat conduction capability but being inherently more brittle is more vulnerable to cracking if suddenly vigourously reheated after being left cold and possibly damp for a while. This is probably what killed our old Brunel. Nevertheless some very cheap steel stoves are very thin and I can't imagine one of them lasting very long. You get what you pay for.

To avoid disruption we hope to get a stove as close to the size of our old one as possible. We may even end up buying the same model again as we like it. Apart from dimensions, size equates also to fuel capacity, which in turn equates to heat generated in Kw. 4Kw seems to have been adequate for us up until now so we don't need to go any bigger.
A new problem is that due to the big rise in gas and electricity prices, so many people are turning to solid fuel stoves that the manufacturers cannot keep up with orders, so there can be long waits for deliveries. We don't want to wait because we want to start boating now that the weather is improving, but we'll still need heat at night. It might be a case of opting for second favourite choice because of availability.

Cost? Anything from £530 to £650 plus flue £65 ish plus odds and sods. More if you want it fitted of course. Nobody ever said boating was cheap!


Vallypee said...

Shame about the old stove. That must have been a sad moment! New stoves are very expensive aren't they? I use a little Kabola oil stove on my Vereeniging, and it's amazingly economical to run. Diesel is nice and cheap this year too!

Anonymous said...

now I feel very guilty!

I was going to re-employ Tortoise's existing Carabo stove at home, but if it's any use to you when removed (possibly not until the autumn, not sure yet, though) please do say...