Well, it has been a while since we have posted on the blog. It doesn’t mean that we haven’t been busy, in fact, quite the opposite. I’ll try and post some more updates this week.
The rain has eased up for the past week or so and the fields have started to dry out a bit. This has meant that we have been able to restart working in the bottom field repairing the last of the dry stone walls. We had to clear a reasonable amount of undergrowth before we could get to this area. When we first bought the property, you couldn’t get in here at all.
We had to take a 3-4 medium sized trees to get access to this area, but it looks a lot better now that the area has been cleared. It is amazing how many logs that we seem to get from so few trees. They’ll need to dry out over the summer before we will be able to use them on the log stoves. The main issue now is where to store them.
We believe that this is the boundary wall between the old quarry that was in the bottom field and Hagg Wood. According to the old maps, this quarry was no longer used from about 1899. Most of the stone for the wall was under the piles of leafs.
The area to the left of the wall was a small quarry in the mid 1800’s. I suspect that much of the stone that was used to build the house came from here. A number of the guys in the local pub remember playing in the quarry as kids. I believe that it was filled in during the 1960’s when a modern property was built next door and the quarry was used for landfill.
Rather than starting the wall from scratch we have taken it back down to where we could find the foundation stones. It makes repairing the wall a lot quicker!
The dumper holds about 3/4 ton and this was just about on it’s limit (considering that the brakes aren’t all that good!). There is probably amount the same amount again to be collected. It’ll take about a year before these are dry enough to burn, but they should be ready for next Winter.
We have finally had a log stove installed in the hall. Ever since we moved in, we have had the fireplace boarded up and the stainless steel flue tucked up out of the way.
Since we have been delighted with the Firebelly stove that we installed in the snug, we have decided to install another Firebelly stove. This time it is the slightly larger FB2 model. This outputs about 12Kw, so it should be more than enough to heat the hall, stairway and landing. They come in a variety of colours – this one is sky blue.
We have had absolutely no trouble with our existing FB1 stove – it is a dream to use – easy to control and clean. I am sure the FB2 will be just as good.
This was installed in the hall today and looks great. It is a Firebelly FB2 supplied direct from the local manufacturer based in Elland (Halifax). They are an absolute pleasure to do business with. Highly recommended.
These stoves come from a local manufacturer and come in a variety of colours. This model (FB2) is in sky blue with a matching stove pipe. This outputs around 12Kw.
Anyone who has owned a log stove will be aware of the problems of the stove glass sooting up. Some stoves seem worse than others, but it is something that all stoves do over a period of time.
There appears to be two main causes:
- Poor fuel: This usually means logs/wood that is still damp. The drier the wood the better. Logs should really be air dried for up to a year. This will get their water content down to 20-25%. If you want to be extra sure, you can use kiln dried logs. These are frequently down to about 10-15%;
- Not enough air: This leads to poor combustion and smoke. This will eventually blacken the glass.
The solution seems to be:
- Use the correct wood fuel;
- Ensure that the fire has enough air. There are usually two vents – one allowing air in from the bottom and one allowing air from the top. Logs burn best with air from on top. Start the fire with all the vents open. Once the fire has started going, shut the bottom air off. For example with our Firebelly stove, we leave the top vent open 3/4 of a turn. This never changes. We open up the bottom vent fully when starting the fire, we let the fire burn through (this warms the chimney/flue and establishes a good draft), then we add more wood and half close the bottom vent. Once the fire is fully established, we close the bottom vent completely. The top vent is always left in the same position;
- Make sure the fire is burning hot enough. We have a Stovax flue thermometer that shows the optimum temperature for the flue. This ensures that the exhaust products from the fire reach the right temperature to be burnt off. They cost about £10 and are a good investment.
All of the above works really well with our Firebelly FB1. We seem to be able to burn just about anything on it (we never put treated or painted wood on the fire) and it never soots up. The Spartherm unit (Arte 3RL) is a different story. Despite only putting kiln dried wood onto the fire, it always seems to soot up. The Spartherm glass goes black all over. While some sooting up is inevitable, this seems to happen within 1-2 hours. There is only one control on the front. This controls the air flow from underneath. There seems to be little control of the flow from above. There is also no opportunity to view the temperature, so it is difficult to tell whether it is hot enough.
We wrote to the manufacturer. Their response was to send us the manual that we already had (the same one that was supplied with the unit).
We have found the easiest way to clean it is using Stovax clear glass cleaner, but it soots up so quickly, we really avoid using it too much. It is shame since it is a nice looking unit. But we have better things to do that clean the glass everyday. The Firebelly unit is a completely different story. We have used it continually and have only had to resort to cleaning it once a month. And that is often just to take the odd black soot mark off the glass. It takes all of 5 minutes.
Stovax glass cleaner. This works a treat. It is caustic so be careful when you use it. It says to apply it liberally and leave it for 5 minutes before removing with a damp cloth. I use it sparingly and clean off within a minute or so. It is expensive, but you don’t need to use much of it.
A rather dusty Firebelly FB1 showing the top vent and the bottom vent control (the “U” shape poking out from the door underneath the glass pane). You can also see the Stovax flue thermometer in place too.
We always leave this slightly open. It provices air to the top of the fire – exactly what logs need. We fully close it and then open 3/4 of a turn. We only adjust the bottom vent.
While the glass does soot up very quickly (within a matter of 1-2 hours), the soot does clean off easily with Stovax glass cleaner.
Although the house is fine, we did lose one of the bigger trees in the orchard yesterday afternoon. I suspect we were actually around when it fell down, but we didn’t hear it.
We waited until the wind died down before attempting to clear the debris. Our chainsaw managed to cut through all but the largest branches – I suspect that we will have to get our friendly tree surgeon to deal with these. The smaller branches will go on a bonfire. The larger ones have been cut up into firewood. It will be around 12 months before these are dry enough to burn.
We the storms yesterday afternoon, we lost one of the trees in the orchard. This was a particularly large treee, so it was even more disappointing to lose it. However, it was pretty rotten inside and this wasn’t the first time that it had lost some of it’s bigger branches in the wind.
One of the larger branches fell and hit the dry stone wall that we built last year. Another ended up in the skip.
It didn’t take long with the chainsaw to cut up the smaller branches and then cut the larger ones into logs. Unfortunately, some of the bigger bits are jsut too big for my chainsaw.
I cut up the larger branches into logs for the fire. These will have to dry out before we can burn them, but they should be ready to burn by the end of the year.
In the top corner of the bottom field, the brambles and nettles had pretty much taken over. It was very difficult to get access to this area in the summer due to the undergrowth. Well, a couple of hours with a metal bladed strimmer soon had this area under control.
This part of the field is bordered by a small crag. There are some trees that are growing either at the top of the crag, or in the crag itself. Because of the canopy of the bigger trees, the smaller trees underneath have died. I had one of these (an old Hawthorn tree) removed early in the week and cut the tree into logs. It is amazing how much wood has come out of such a smallish tree – there were 4 wheelbarrows of logs from this single tree.
Once the undergrowth has dried back a bit, I will burn this material on a bonfire.