AGA Saga almost over

26 08 2011

This post is a continuation of the AGA Saga.

The parts from Midland Cookers in the UK arrived quick smart…  but I had to wait for the parts made locally.  Typical, it’s hard to get decent service in Australia.  In the end I had to partly make the auxiliary vent pipe myself, and get a local to weld it together after the original fabricator who told me he’d have it done “this week” let me down.  I suppose I’ve been waiting fifteen years for this to happen, so why should I stress out over another week.  Apart of course for the monster in the kitchen enveloping the whole house in fine white dust!

Because I could not fit the new vent to the tee piece shown from inside the cooker as is usually done, it had to be 44mm aluminium because it fits snugly into the 50mm pipe the tee piece is made of and I could shove it in from the front of the stove where the hole was almost the exact right size for it.  A little bit of high temperature silicon, and voila.  It all went together very neatly.  At the top of the vent pipe, I riveted a collar made from cut 60mm pipe, and it too was a snug fit in the new manifold.  The whole thing could not have worked out better.  With only two bolts to attach the new manifold to the top oven, it didn’t take long before I was ready to start refilling the cooker with the seemingly humungous amounts of Diatomaceous Earth that I removed out of its bowels.

I wasn’t looking forward to this bit.. I was told by Dean from Midland Cookers that the stuff was totally harmless, but I don’t like the idea of breathing in foreign substances one iota.  So with face covered with dust mask I started to gingerly shovel the stuff back in, but quickly found that it actually adheres to itself quite well, almost behaving like a liquid.  Really weird stuff to work with.  I had to refill the void beneath the firebox where the vent pipe was, but trying to push it in there was no easy task as my arm was only just long enough to reach.  Perseverance always pays off, and soon I had the D E nearly all the way to the top of the cooker when I realised that I would need to install the two cook plates to firstly stop the powder falling down the holes, and secondly use them as formwork as the DE needs to go right up against the cast iron parts.  To position the plates properly, I had to fit the whole top on, and then of course remove it… The smoke box also had to be fitted to the new manifold.  I’m getting good at working out what to do as I go along!

Once the DE reached the top….  I had some left over!  But I soon discovered that I could compress it down, particularly in the places where it was rather deep, and eventually it all went back in, notwithstanding the inevitable spillages around the edges.  I simply screed the powder just like one would concrete in formwork.

The top then went back on with its brand new stainless steel retaining nuts and shiny chrome caps.  Now all I need is for the weather to go back to sunny mode so I can punch a hole in the roof to put the flue through…..  and fire it up!

Who needs a two thousand dollar AGA engineer if you’re a half smart handyman…..?

Continued here

We’ve got bees!

4 08 2011

Sometimes, things are just meant to happen…….  My dear other half, looking for a billy goat to impregnate our doe instead found 11 bee hives, complete with all the paraphernalia required for beekeeping just 100 km or so from here, and the price was right, if a bit more than we could afford.  I’ve always wanted bees.  Honey is far less bad for you than sugar, and it’s expensive to buy (like hives are cheap..!) and with the global semi collapse of bee numbers, it’s a good idea to do your bit kind of thing.

Having recently joined a group of bee enthusiasts, you could say we had connections.  So we asked another local couple who also wanted to keep bees if they’d like to go halves, and the rest is history as they say.  The elder who started the (Mary) Valley Bees is a well known beekeeping “guru” called Athol, and he and his son Glenbo offered to come with us to Maryborough to check them out for health and quality etc.  And boy were they impressed….  We struck a deal with John the seller, and all we needed to do was organise the collection, not a mean feat in itself….  Luckily, the other couple own a 4WD ute that will carry a fair bit of stuff.  So on a nice sunny winter morning, we all took off early for the 100km drive, to find John had a you beaut BBQ on an open fire going….

It had previously been agreed that we would extract all the honey (less enough to keep the bees happy during what’s left of winter) and to our amazement harvested 75kg of the sweet sticky nectar….  and yummy too!

Apparently, we’ll be able to split the hives in September, turning four hives into eight…  The rest of the hives that are yet to be picked up will be set up near a Macadamia farm, and two of them have been sold to another Valley Bee member…

Next thing we’ll have to organise are containers to sell our excess honey in, and make some mead…..  Ah life’s a bitch on the farm…!

The end of growth

4 08 2011