Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Ideas (1)

During the winter, I replaced the worn out grate in our stove. We have a villager puffin rated at 4kw. Its a small stove that keeps the boat quite warm even in the coldest weather. However, the cast iron grate seems to last about two winter seasons before requiring replacement. The cost of the genuine part is £85 inc vat. Shopping around, on-line the cheapest cast iron replacement I could find cost £55 a time plus postage. 

So this time I decided to look around for a replacement. But this time one made to improve performance. I asked a friend who has a fabrication business if he could make me something to do the job to my own design. He agreed and so I have had a couple of new grates made out of high carbon heavy plate steel. I also had the slots run from the front to the back rather than from side to side. It is much easier to use the poker to keep the grids clean. This layout certainly makes removing stove ash much easier.

So at the end of its first winter season the grate displays little sign of being used and is performing quite well. A pair of my new grates cost me less than the price of a single manufacturers replacement. 

The original cast iron stove grate as it came to the end of its life, always sagged in the middle before eventually fracturing. I had the slots cut shorter in length to leave a wider centre support. I am hoping that the thicker centre section will help to reduce sagging and fracturing. 

The slots have also been plasma cut slightly narrower than the slots on the cast iron version. Which means that small pieces of partly burnt solid fuel tends not to fall through into the ash pan. 

The problem was that sometimes the small bits of partly burnt, solid fuel material fell through the slots into the ash pan. It was then slowly burning in the ash pan. This could cause a small leak of the fumes of combustion into the cabin through the front air vent. Now that the material remains in the firebox until fully burnt, we have not had a recurrence of the leakage problem.

If your stove grate is getting to the end of its life and is ready for replacement. Think about having one made up by a jobbing fabricator.  The fabricator who produced the grate for me is located in Sheffield. I can supply his details or alternatively you can shop around for a fabricator that is more local to yourself. 

Measure the length and width of your old grate. Then knock off four millimetres on the measurements to allow for any expansion. I also discovered that it was much easier to remove the grate when cleaning the firebox out. Look for any weak point's that the stove grate may have. Then try to come up with a design that will improve the working life. Then have a replacement and a spare made.

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