I’m receiving so many enquiries on how to convert an AGA to run on firewood, I’ve decided that rather than reply to individuals one at a time, I’d make it a full post here….
Yes, it is possible…… but an AGA running on wood does not run like an AGA on anthracite I now understand. When all and sundry on the internet told me “it will never work”, I now understand they meant “it will never work the way it was designed”!
A solid fuel AGA is a wonderfully designed and engineered piece of kit. The inner barrel (which is removed during the conversion) feeds coal to the fire at a steady rate using gravity, ensuring the stove remains at a constant temperature once you have established the position of the thermostat on the left hand side of the front. And I suspect you’d only need to fuel it once a day, maybe even less often….
When using wood, you have to feed it fuel constantly through the [new conversion kit] top, about 1/2 kg/hour. Otherwise your temperature will be all over the place, albeit changing slowly, as the stove has amazing thermal momentum due to all the cast iron in it….. And, when re-stoking it in the morning, you will have to at the very least move the thermostat to 5, or even open the ashpit door to get lots of air to restart the fire if it goes out overnight. Most mornings, mine is on the edge of the black zone on the heat gauge, or somewhere between that and the black line in the middle, which is your target temperature. But I put a couple of kgs of wood in it before going to bed. The gauge will redline, and the cooking rings will glow red hot!
Wood doesn’t burn as efficiently as anthracite, and burning it produces a lot more exhaust gases than coal. So you need a larger diameter flue. You can buy a conversion kit in Australia from here http://www.gallaghers.com.au/ where you can also view a (pretty crappy) B&W picture of the conversion kit
The kit consists of an adapter from 4″ to 5″ flue (top RH item in the pic), a new grate, and a new set of boiling plate rings that allow you to feed large pieces of wood through the top. The rest of the stuff is for cleaning the flueways, an ash shovel, and a tool for lifting the middle cover for feeding the wood. Not sure what the little round thing is….. There is one other major thing you need to do, and that’s to open up the flueway above the top oven. When you lift the RH simmering plates off the stove, you will see a bar that runs diagonally above the top oven. It has a semi circular cutout in the middle of it, which astonishingly is all the space allowed for the exhaust to pass through to the flue, as the simmering plate sits on this. This is way too small when using wood, and you have to cut it with an angle grinder so that none remains. I did this by making lots of cuts close together, and using a hammer to knock out the small pieces. It’s a bit messy, but it works…. I suspect this reduces the temperature of the simmering plate somewhat, but there you go, you can’t have everything in life!
I’m still pleased with the conversion, but beware…. ONLY burn well seasoned wood! The first load of wood I got was quite good, but the second was not. It burns less hot, and worse, creates rather large amounts of soot that deposit in the flue box where the flue proper shoots off upwards. When enough soot blocks the manifold (that’s the part I had to replace when I fixed the AGA), the whole thing refuses to work… a bit like blocking the exhaust pipe of your car! It’s not hard to fix with a scraping tool and a vacuum cleaner, but it means letting the stove go cold.
Good luck, and let me know how you get on…..
UPDATE: This blog is getting a lot of hits from searches for converting gas/oil AGAs to wood. IF your AGA was originally a coal burning device that has been converted to gas/oil, then YES it can be converted to wood, because if it can be converted back to its original fuel, then it can be converted to wood as well. However, if your AGA was built to only burn gas/oil, then I’m afraid you can stop searching……. it can’t be done.
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