Cookstove! You Gotta’ Be Kidding

No shit, there I was. A custom fabricated component tucked neatly into a nearly perfect 1935 cookstove. All I needed was to hook it up to the existing chimney. How hard could it be?

For those of you who heat their home with fossil fuels (i.e. everyone but rednecks and hippies) I need to provide a little detail about the black magic that makes wood stoves work. The thing that takes the smoke from ceiling level to the roof (and above reasonable snow level!) is called a chimney. You might be thinking a squarish brick tube… possibly serviced yearly by Dick Van Dyke.

dick van dyke in mary poppins

Chimney sweeps are apparently good dancers with charming English accents and a penchant for assisting childcare workers. I wouldn’t know, I have to clean my own chimney. (And I’m bitter about it.)

Well that’s not quite the case for the last several decades. One of many chimney materials is double walled stainless steel insulated tube; often manufactured under the rather cool sounding brand name of Metalbestos.


OK Dick, if you and Mary care to assemble a few of these around my compound I’m lookin’ to hire.

Metalbestos is expensive as hell but it’s good stuff. I really like it. Mostly I like it because the sections literally snug together with a well designed threaded fitting. I love that threaded fitting! I love it, because it’s nothing like smoke pipe (a.k.a. black pipe… see below). Most shocking of all, the orangutans with tools that previously owned my garage actually installed Metalbestos in the garage roof. Wow! (Based on the rest of the place I assumed they’d done something unnatural with tinfoil and a chunk of sewer pipe.

Beneath the Metalbestos, from the ceiling to the stove, is black pipe. Where Metalbestos is a double walled, insulated, carefully manufactured, industrial product with really handy joinery that makes my heart flutter, black pipe is cheap shit that looks like a cowboy hammered it out of scrap metal and old beer cans. It’s thin, flimsy, shoved together with corrugated “friction” fitting and really likes to cut your palm as you assemble the jagged, semi-rigid, tubes into something useful. It’s cheap and it does the job. I just hate it.

Where the exquisite Metalbestos chimney meets the obnoxious black pipe you need a Metalbestos adapter. Or, if you’re the morons that formerly owned my garage you just shove black pipe into the chimney and hope for the best. Losers! I needed to get a Metalbestos adapter and some black pipe and I’d be good to go.

Since everyone everywhere in my area uses chimneys and black pipe they’re in every store. (Later I found out that was wrong.) I was out of town and cruising past one of those “generica” box stores that would have everything handy. I stopped at a store that rhymes with Retards. At Retards I bought the adapter; chimney to 6″ black pipe. It was a lot like this 6″ Chimney Pipe Adapter except the Retards version was made by a Canadian outfit and it was black. It was cheaper than usual too. I figured that was an advantage of the big box store. As for the brand? Our Canadian friends to the north know a thing our two about winter and threaded chimney pipe ‘aint rocket science. Three hundred miles later I was home, climbed a ladder, attempted to fit that delightful threaded fitting to the existing chimney in my garage and…


It didn’t fit. I’ve never ever experienced a double walled chimney component that didn’t fit other double walled chimney components… that’s the whole point. I decided to go to the nearest Retards and return the part for my money back; then burn the store to the ground. It would be a public service. We can only stand so much bullshit in this world and Retards had messed up the simplest component in their whole store. They’d gone too far!

What followed was an annoying slog through one, two, three, four, five local hardware stores. I learned that every single one carried lots of black pipe (the shit wears out) but only a few carried double walled chimney (properly installed it ought to outlast you) and none had a 6″ adapter. At one furnace shop I had a delightful chat with a nice lady who told me all about her cousin who makes tables out of milled burls… so it wasn’t a total loss.

Time passed and I was on another trip. I noticed one of those soul sucking, death of the mind, Retards box stores and made to return the adapter that had been rolling around in my truck. Ironically a low rent farm supply place shared the same parking lot. I stopped at the farm place first. There I found double walled stuff made by a company called Selkirk. I had my doubts.

Then I encountered an intelligent human being. A miracle! He was stocking the chimney parts and knew his shit. He explained that Selkirk was the new name for Metalbestos (which is probably a subsidiary of Apple, run by the Rand Corp, and owned by China). He hooked an accusing thumb at the Retards across the street. “Those guys, who I won’t name, sell some crap that looks the same but it doesn’t thread up right.” Ah ha! The dirty stinking truth was laid bare! I explained my conundrum with the ill fitting pipe. He assured me the new stuff I’d bought, which was very expensive, would fit.

While I was there I picked up some spare black pipe too. (Black pipe doesn’t last forever and you have to disassemble it from time to time for cleaning. I keep a supply of the material around my homestead “just in case”. It is possible to step on an “elbow” while servicing the stove (crushing the elbow) and find oneself without heat on a Sunday afternoon when all the stores are closed. Don’t ask how I know this. I thanked the guy a hundred times and walked out of the store $69 lighter but happy.

Ten minutes later I returned the “non-fitting, non-Selikirk, non-Metalbestos” abomination to Retards. I decided not to burn the place down; because I’m all peaceful like that.

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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2 Responses to Cookstove! You Gotta’ Be Kidding

  1. ric says:

    Take heart, you’re not the only one. I have found that a good snort of whiskey is required before setting foot in such stores. I’m not kidding about that. Be ware of even those employees who profess to actually know their products. Farm supply stores are the only stores I can trust.

  2. doubletrouble says:

    “Everything takes longer than it should.”
    But, good job, there. Perhaps we should add, “you get what you pay for”?
    Reminds me of our redneck m-bestos we made years ago for a cabin we built in the woods- 8″ pipe w/a 6″ pipe inside, with pink stuffed all around. It worked! Well, the cabin didn’t burn down, yet.

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