Along with all the other "issues" I have been dealing with over the past two weeks, last week the throat plate or baffle on the wood stove started slipping down into the fire. I used an Ikea silicone oven glove to reach in and set it back in place, thinking I would eventually get around to figuring out what was causing the throat plate to drop at some other time. I just wanted some room to breathe and not have to face yet one more thing.
Alas, yesterday evening just after I got the fire going nice and hot, the bloody throat plate suddenly dropped again and I had simply had enough. I kicked the stairs, screamed at the sky and went to bed sobbing "Enough is f*****g well enough already!"
I remember the last time Les replaced the fire bricks. He didn't want to use cheap vermiculite bricks so he walked into a stove shop in Leighton Buzzard and bought a set of ceramic bricks. These were not fit for purpose to our Valar Willow solid fuel stove, so Les had to measure the inside of the firebox, cut the bricks with a hand saw, cobble them together with fire cement and fit them into the stove box. This is a prime example of Les' love of tinkering and figuring out cheap, cheerful solutions and doing the work on his own. This is not even a possibility for me. I don't have the upper body strength to cut fired bricks with a hand saw. I don't have the mathematical skills to measure the inside of the firebox and extrapolate what angles to cut the brick to begin with! Crap! Crap!! Crap!!!
This morning I woke at 6:25 am to a cool boat. The fire was obviously out. I opened the stove door and with flashlight (torch) in hand I poked around to discover that the fire bricks Les installed about three years ago had crumbled on the top edge. A large triangular piece was missing on the left side and the throat plate--which rests on the top edge of each brick--could not possible stay in place.
As Les was well aware and other boaters have commented, I am a very driven person; however I am learning that drive without thought and good directions will NOT take one where one wants and needs to go. So I decided to let things percolate over several cups of morning coffee. I went online and downloaded the instruction manual for our stove, reviewing the directions for changing out the fire bricks. I knew Les had ordered a replacement set of fire bricks for me last August. He wrapped them in bubble wrap, labeled them and they were tucked away under the seat on his side of the dinette.
I moved the upholstered cushions, pulled the heavy, ungainly lid up on the dinette seat storage and extracted the package labeled "fire bricks" in Les' familiar handwriting. I pulled the taped bubble wrap apart and found a complete set of vermiculite fire bricks made specifically for our stove with the order receipt inside detailing what they were, where Les purchased them from, and how much they cost. Goddess bless his precious soul!
I proceeded to clean out the fire box with a wire brush from Les' man drawers set the brick in place and replaced the throat plate. It took me all of twenty minutes and was not difficult. I did have to look at the pictures of the throat plate in the instruction manual to get it in the right way up. It all fit together like a glove. I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face. My Best beloved is still looking after me in his way; his love for me made him think far ahead to the time I would have to cope on my own; he ordered extra parts which he labeled and stored under the dinette seats for me. With Les' help I will become self-reliant. He believed in me so I must believe in myself.
|New fire bricks in place with the throat plate resting properly on top.|
|The old ceramic fire bricks on the left, and the receipt for the new ones with all the information I need to order another replacement set.|
Yesterday I was blessed with a short visit by Adam and Adrian on NB Briar Rose. They were on their way back northward and pulled in behind me for a cuppa and a natter. Thanks guys! It was as always lovely to see you and spend a bit of time chatting. Thank you for your hugs and kindness.
This morning a boat moored up behind me with two young women on it. They are partners and I was chuffed to bits to meet them. It is wonderful to see young women living aboard and cruising the cut, reaching for this lovely life and making it theirs.