In case you didn’t read my previous post, here’s a recap. Years ago forces of evil mandated that combustion in a wood stove can’t be a campfire fire in a box. It has to be a carefully monitored fire to look at while a gee whiz gaseous turbine of decarbonification chews up the smoke in places you can’t see.
Like all things with complexity, my stove was vulnerable to failure. Like all things that can fail, it did. This was… A. Big. Deal.
Failed wood stoves matter. Few other issues are so immediate. Politics, economic decline, Santa’s eminent arrival, thermonuclear war, and the amount of toilet paper in the pantry become irrelevant. One might fret if Congress hyperinflates the dollar to supply Federally mandated sex change operations for Communist illegal alien chipmunks with a criminal record but none of that truly matters; when the fire is out heat is the only thing on your mind.
Time for a Curmudgeonly Gem of Insight:
“Focus is one of the joys of having a rural homestead.”
My stove has a secondary “non-catalytic reburn” chamber. It’s one of several alternative technologies shoehorned into modern wood stoves. I gather from the title that it’s not chemically assisted (unlike me). This is good because I didn’t want to be dependent on a consumable material. (Except coffee. That shit is the only reason I’m not dead.)
Also, I’ll have to admit that the sucker works. I really do get extra heat from otherwise wasted volatile gases. How much? I don’t know but it’s a lot. Further, it really does cut down on emissions. Aside from startup and shutdown cycles (which are infrequent because we keep the bastard running nearly 24/7) the chimney puts out very little smoke. Compared to the wood stove I fondly remember in my youth, my chimney is practically an exhaust vent for some steam and a couple of candles. It’s not a small difference.
On the other hand it broke. I tried to do something. But what? I had no idea.
Like a politician, I’d assumed the internal baffles, all that stuff, would continue to do it’s work while I could remain ignorant. Thus I couldn’t figure out how to get into the guts of the thing. The parts of the stove looked spot welded, I had no idea what to do. I was at my wit’s end. Time for another Curmudgeonly Gem of Insight:
“Anyone who refers to ‘homesteading’ as ‘the simple life’ is utterly and irretrievably full of shit. What’s simple is working 30 years in a cubicle while cutting a check for civilization to do your dirty work for you. Going your own way is complex. Fixing your own problems is physically and emotionally challenging. Never forget that a brain surgeon can screw up a vegetable garden.”
I rarely do this but I resorted to calling for help. Dammit that pisses me off!
It’s even worse because formal capitalism broke down years ago in the hinterlands where I live. The local talent pool is spread thin. I can have an iDevice shipped from Borneo via FedEx and it’ll arrive on time and functioning but if the job must be done in situ I’m screwed.
Me on the phone: “Hello I’m Mr. Curmudgeon. I’d like a wood stove serviced.”
Other guy: “My partner went broke. Now all I sell is pellet stoves.”
Me: “Can you recommend someone?”
Other guy: “Nope, you’re screwed. Would you like a pellet stove?”
Me: “Do you service pellet stoves?”
Other guy: “Not really.”
Me on the phone: “Hello I’m looking for someone to service a wood stove.”
Other guy: “Where do you live?”
Me: “Mumble mumble mumble”
Other guy: “Where?”
Me: (Saying it clearly this time.)
Other guy: “Hells bells I wouldn’t drive there for all the tea in China.”
Me: “I will buy you all the tea in China.”
Other guy: “No, the boss won’t go for it.”
Me: “I will pay cash. The boss doesn’t need to know shit. I’ll throw in a six pack, two steaks, and plane tickets to Tahiti.”
Other guy: “Can’t do it.”
Me: “For any amount of money?”
Other guy: “You know how it is; liability and stuff.”
Me: “I won’t sue. I will kill any lawyer who sues.”
Other guy: “Ha ha.”
Me: “Capitalism is dead isn’t it.”
Other guy: (Sighing) “I can’t take your money so maybe it is. We’re all screwed.”
Me: “Hello I’d like to have my wood stove serviced.”
Secretary: “Wood stoves don’t break.”
Me: “I beg to differ.”
Secretary: “We had one when I was a kid. It was just a metal box.”
Me: “I know. I did too. They’re different now. Remember Tab?”
Secretary: “Oh yes, that was some bad stuff. Let me guess, it had something to do with the EPA?”
Me: “Bingo! You’re a wood stove store right? Can you ask around about how they service the stoves they sell?”
On hold for ten minutes….
Secretary: “I talked to the guys on the sales floor…”
Secretary: “Well this is embarrassing but they said the stoves do sometimes break…”
Secretary: “Apparently the salesmen have a solution. They all blame the last guy who sold the stove, hope it’s out of warranty, and then sell you a new stove.”
Me: “They said this?”
Secretary: “Yeah, I’m supposed to try and sell you a new stove.”
Me: “Which you won’t service?”
Secretary: Well we have a service guy.”
Me: “Awesome, put me in touch with him.”
Secretary: “This is embarrassing too. He’s not here.”
Me: “Vacation? Hunting?”
Me: “I’m screwed aren’t I?”
Secretary: “The good news is there’s an opening. If you can fix a stove I can get you hired right away.”
Me: “If I could fix it I wouldn’t call.”
Secretary: “You’re screwed.”
Me: “Hello I’m looking for a wood stove repairman.”
Guy: “I can do that. Where do you live?”
Me: (Gives the address.)
Guy: “It’s going to cost you. Long drive.”
Me: “I’ll pay.”
Guy: “And I’m really busy.”
Me: “I’ll pay more.”
Guy: “I want to go deer hunting.”
Me: “I’ll give you some of my deer. I’ll pay cash. I’ll grovel. I’ll plead. I’ll debase myself for your pleasure.”
Guy: “Whoa there. It’s not like I’m the TSA. Those sickos. All I want is money. Lots of it.”
Guy: “I will be there in two weeks.”
Me: “I’m freezing. Please hurry.”
Guy: “You’re lucky you found me. Nobody does that kind of job anymore. You could be…”
After that conversation I poured myself a stiff shot, put on another sweater, and prepared for a bill that would cause hemorrhaging. Life is full of twists and turns.