The AGA saga is over

2 09 2011

This post is a continuation of the AGA Saga almost over

The beast is conquered…..  After 15 years in waiting, the AGA is finally ready for firing up.  The flue went in Monday, (those struts that support the flue above the roof I found at the tip a few weeks ago… perfect for the job too, nice and strong, and just the right length).  I got all the plumbing fittings to connect the wetback to the hot water system Tuesday, and today I generally stuffed around soldering all the one inch bits that have to be connected to the stove itself.  Research on the ‘net clearly said to not fire it up without doing this first otherwise the boiler might burn out  Those big copper pipes almost make the whole thing look like a big still!

Plumbing the wetback was a saga in itself…. one inch pipes and fittings are one order of magnitude dearer than 1/2 inch plumbing, and just bending those pipes was an effort which unfortunately did not come out perfectly as I wanted.  And of course it all had to fit in with the split system solar water heating, which meant doing a fair bit of re-plumbing there as well….  But there you go, the stove is sixty years old, and it’s showing its age with chips in the enamel, a broken dome that I have yet to work out what to do with, and still no grilles for the ovens where the important cooking is done.  So whilst the hard work has been done, there are still things to fix, and more money to be spent.  Such is life……..  The boiler will now give us unlimited hot water, rain hail or shine.

I’m particularly pleased with this project though, as Glenda thinks she remembers Richard once telling her before he died that the cooker was beyond repair.  Or maybe it was going to cost an arm and a leg to fix it.  There’s nothing quite as satisfying as bringing a nice piece of hardware like that back from the brink.  I hope Richard is watching from wherever he may be.

UPDATE:

Yes….  I fired it up.  With trepidation, I filled the void called the firebox with paper, kindling, and a few pieces of leftover pine from building, and lit a huge ball of scrunched up newspaper in the ash pit below the firebox with my BBQ lighter.  It was very smoky to start with (as per instructions, the auxiliary vent pipe was blocked off), and smoke even came out of interstices I didn’t know existed but eventually the smoke disappeared, and now a nice clean combustion is happening.  The new flue draws beautifully.  I’ve topped it up with hardwood now, and combustion has slowed nicely.

In fact, it is working beyond all expectations.  I have done a lot of research on AGAs on the internet, and everyone was telling me you could not burn firewood in an AGA, that the calorific content of wood was so much lower than fossil fuels it simply would not work….  I also read it takes an AGA 12 to 18 hours to “reach temperature” (they are known as heat storage units rather than merely “stoves”), well I am happy to report that this AGA reached temperature in less than three hours…  In fact, it’s now just three hours ago I started the fire and I already have turned the thermostat to the lowest setting of 1.  It’s making oodles of hot water, warming the kitchen up far more than I had anticipated, and we have already boiled our first kettle on it in no time flat.  All the research I have done on the internet bar none says that AGAs should never be turned off, except perhaps in Summer, because they take so long to heat up.  After this first experience with my wood fired cooker, I reckon I will be able to start it up at will, particularly in Winter when the occasional rainy period starts to make our solar water heating marginal, or if the weather turns really cold in those westerlies….

Success is soooo sweet.  Must be time for a pint of Guinness!

PS.  For info on AGA wood conversion kits look here https://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/aga-wood-conversion/

Inadvertently, I discovered that there is an AGA shop in Melbourne (where of course you cannot buy the now long Cream Roomset 2discontinued solid fuel version capable of wood conversion we have), and the price tag for a new cooker blew me away……

Prices inc. GST

GAS FIRED (Natural & LPG) – CONVENTIONAL FLUE

2 Oven Classic Cooker $21,207

GAS FIRED (Natural & LPG) – POWER FLUE

2 Oven Classic Cooker $24,013

13 AMP ELECTRIC

2 Oven Classic Cooker $23,486
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3 responses

23 09 2012
Toon van den Broek

Dear Sir,

In Holland I’ve cooked en heated my house with an old AGA for nearly 34 Years. I only use it in winter, because of the heat in summer and also because of the price of coal/cokes.
7 Years ago I stopped farming and now I live in an area with very much (own)trees, so wood is no problem.
I thought of buying a Rayburn-cooker SWF, but that’s quite expensive (Euro 3500).
I found your story of rebuilding/changing your AGA for wood-burning.
Can you give me some more idea’s of drawings how I’ll fix that?
Of course I’m able to make a lot of things myself, as I work as teacher on a school for metal-construction.
But possibly it is also possible to buy a changing-kit in Australia?

Friendly regards, Toon van den Broek/Gronbingen/Holland

23 09 2012
15 05 2014
tasagaia

Be very careful. The fire wood we burn in australia is a lot different from European timbers. I dont think your timber will be dense enough to produce the sustainable heat eucalyptus does. Our aga loves well seasoned peppermint gum or stringy bark (or hardwood fence posts and droppers) . It will take wattle or pine in small amounts but it would burn out overnight and be hard to regulate.

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