Cookstove! Chimney

Pics or it didn’t happen:


This adapter, made by Selkirk, cost me $42.99 and is worth every penny.

The same part costs the same thing on Amazon: (6″ Chimney Pipe Adapter). Given that ill fitting parts foisted by evil box stores killed several man hours I’ll order online from now on. Lesson learned. The fact that you can climb a ladder and have it installed in 30 seconds makes the high price worthwhile.

cookstove-chimney-02This is a “Lock Bond” and it’s a clever little band that locks the adapter to the existing chimney super tight. It’s dirt simple to install but I think $8.99 is pushing the boundaries of acceptable price. I took a photo of the price tag just to complain. Then I found out it costs $9.97 on Amazon: (Selkirk Metalbestos 6T-LB 6-Inch Stainless Steel Locking Band). I guess I’ll shut my mouth. It does look very slick and install in a jiffy so maybe a ten spot is worth it mainly on the “bullshit avoided” front.

cookstove-chimney-03This is black pipe. Black pipe is dirt cheap but a drag to work with. This is an old piece from my “stash of old but usable black pipe”. As you can see I’m about to modify it with the super high tech tool called hacksaw.

cookstove-chimney-04You work up a sweat hacksawing black pipe but it works. This is old black pipe but it’s entirely serviceable. I assembled the black pipe system from the stove to the chimney out of some new stuff and some old stuff.


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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.

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Cookstove! Nothing Is Easy.

We all know how the world works; nothing is ever as easy as it seems. Get out a pen and write this down:

“Nothing is ever as easy as it seems.”

That’s why I’ve always hated the smug jackoffs (like the folks on the cover of Mother Earth News) who use the phrase voluntary simplicity. You know who I’m talking about. The dude waving at the organic tomatoes that he grew using $10,000 worth of hydroponic wizardry or the happy retired couple standing in front of a massive log home that’s amid six acres of landscaping performed with a brand new Kubota diesel tractor. Sure they’re petting an heirloom breed chicken but a lot of work went into the damn chicken.

Doing things on your own on a farm/homestead/real life may be voluntary but there’s nothing simple about it. It’s messy, goofy, and complex. You know what’s simple? Simple is working in a cubicle as a drone. When you want something you buy it from China, you pick it out at WalMart, and you pay for it with Visa. That’s simple. Not a single brain cell killed in that entire process. No muss. No fuss.

What’s not simple are the goofy ideas that I chase; like putting a woodstove to use 80 years after it was built.

A woodstove is not a box in which you put a fire. It’s a box in which you put heat shields and the heat shields protect the box. This is due to thermodynamics or the Doppler effect or some other sciency way of saying “if the box gets too hot it’ll warp”. The heat shield can be brick… like the non-standard unobtainable ones my wood stove service repairman broke. (Full story: #1, #2, #3, #4.) Or it can be cast iron… based on a design that went away when rural electrification was still a thing;  like the ones in my “new” cookstove.


Here’s today’s challenge. Identify the portion of the firebox that’s missing a heat shield. Then go to WalMart and see if they’ve got one on stock. Go ahead. I dare ya’!


Apparently the previous owners were burning uranium pellets. Though it affected only one of eight shields.


I couldn’t get a cast iron replacement so I got a welded steel facsimile. On the left is the identical part (from the other side of the firebox). It was used as a model. None of this is tight tolerance. It’s a firebox, not a piston ring.


Here’s the replacement when it’s installed. It looks a little loose but all the parts are that way to allow room for expansion and contraction. I suspect steel, which is not as awesome as cast iron, will nonetheless last a very long time. While cast iron ought to last forever, steel might last a mere… lifetime.


I’m still not done but I was pretty excited. I dug up an old camp coffee pot that has been hanging around forever. I put it on the assembled stove and imagined my glorious future. Also, this pot is not a percolator. What gives with that?

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Cookstove! Google Fu Challenge

Some folks asked for more details about my stove (named Betsy) in hopes of delving deeper with their Google Fu. Here goes:

The manufacturer is Jungers Stove and Range Co. of Grafton Wisconsin.

Model is CC-8-39.

I didn’t get far in the few minutes I had to check it out. Smarter folk than me probably can suss it out in seconds.

Mostly I’d like to know when it was made and if I can buy parts or accessories for it. That said it’s complete enough that it functions fine for my needs. I’m just investigating out of curiosity. I think the oven thermometer is toast and I’d replace that if it were possible (and cheap). I don’t need an oven thermometer on the door but it appeals to my psyche to fix that which can be fixed. The oven door spring is a bit weak too. I think I can fix that with a generic spring from a hardware store. I’m in no hurry to worry about such a minor detail. Also if it came with a water heater, it’s long gone; which is acceptable because a water heater in a garage is just a thing that’ll either leak or freeze.

Good luck. Tell me what ya’ find.

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Cookstove! The Middle

It took a while, but with a great deal of grunting and swearing (and wishing my strength was a little better; I haven’t been firing on all cylinders lately) I managed to get the job done. I repositioned the stove, cleaned it out, and reassembled it.

That last part is a miracle! How often do you leave a bunch of parts in a box for the better part of a decade… and then find them all when you want them?

I don’t know the age of the stove. I’m guessing it’s from 1939 but that’s just a guess. I looked up the make and model on the internet and found nothing. Funny thing, grab the serial number of a 1940’s tractor and someone somewhere has a web page explaining who made it and what they had for lunch. Not so with kitchen stoves.

It’s not a pristine antique but I’m very happy with it’s condition. It’s just new enough that it’s probably not a valuable antique. It’s just old enough to be cool.

Also it looks to be fully functional. It has a damper that works. There is a wood dumping grate lever thing (that’s a technical term?) and after some reassembly and a few “taps” with a mallet I got that working. There’s a flue adjustment lever over the oven and that works. The oven door spring is weak but looks fixable (and I don’t plan on baking a pie in my garage anyway). The oven door thermometer is probably toast but who cares? Everything else opens, closes, fits, seems straight, isn’t cracked etc…

A few details remain. I’m fabricating one small part. Nothing too big. I plan to install that before the “test firing”. Also I need to noodle around with black pipe and it’s junction with the existing insulated chimney (probably Metalbestos… it looks old but solid). Also I put the stove far enough away from the wall that I can slap up some paint. (And yes, the wall is “fire resistant” drywall; old and dingy but in good repair.

All told I’m not far away from having the cutest little kitchen stove in my garage. It’s like Christmas came early. I have plans to brew coffee on the cooktop, park my ass in a chair nearby, and hang out in my garage this winter. Ostensibly I’ll be working on a project. More likely I’ll be enjoying the space… something about wooden cookstoves really appeals to me.

Pics or it didn’t happen? Here goes:

I began with entropy and parts.

I began with entropy and parts.

End result: Isn’t that the cutest little stove ever? I’m going to name her Betsy and use her to brew coffee (and maybe make bacon and eggs). Oh yeah, it might heat my garage too.

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Cookstove! The Beginning

Sometimes things work out. Yeah, I know. I’m as surprised as you are. I think I’ve had an actual documented homesteader success. I should quit while I’m ahead!

Here’s the story. Curmudgeon Compound’s garage came with a useless, warped, rusted, soot encrusted, sorry excuse for a woodstove. Rather than mess with a dangerous smoky box of failure I tossed it. I figured I’d rectify things when I had the time and money.

I never had the time. Never had the money. You know how it goes.

I’ve spent years muddling through with kerosene heaters and propane heaters and my all time favorite solution… denial. End result is that my garage is cold all winter and therefore mostly unusable. Life is like that and it’s a first world problem anyway.

But I had a plan.

Some years ago a friend purchased property with a cute little woodburning kitchen stove. It looked functional and I was jealous. How lucky can one be? A woodburning kitchen stove is a rarity!

“You want it? Get it out of my house and it’s yours.” Quoth the new homeowner.

Challenge accepted!

I drafted my long suffering and very patient father to help move the little beast. Let me tell you that “cute little stove” turned into a finger bashing, back bending, metallic rhinoceros of density. Moving it took the two of us and every trick of leverage, balancing, fulcrums, ramps, and (on my part) lots of swearing. I’d never have managed it without my father’s vastly superior problem solving ability. (Age and wisdom really are inseparable. Who knew? If only someone had told me that when I was an idiot teenager in daily contact with my father. Bah, I’m sure they did and I’m sure I ignored it. All kids think their parents are idiots and very few are correct. I’m lucky to have a dad who’s still around and I appreciate it… especially when he keeps me from dropping heavy things on my foot.)

Eventually we wound up disassembling the thing just to reduce weight. After several hours of brutal work it was on the trailer and headed home. We unloaded the stove (or it’s core) onto some cinder blocks (my garage floods) roughly where the old chimney was located. The we heaped what felt like ten tons of miscellaneous components on top of it. After that I promptly avoided the whole “installation” process for several years.

Fast forward several years and there’s an abandoned wood stove in the corner. It’s covered with a couple boxes of “God knows what”, which is under another pile of assorted garage shit, which has over time been heaped with sedimentary layers of old boards and tractor bits and ladders and dull sawblades and all the other junk that accumulates in a homestead workspace.

But the clock was ticking. I, unwise fool that I am, embarked on a project which will require a warm winter workspace. It was time to fight back against entropy. It was a long hard battle… lasting most of the summer. I was only partially successful. Entropy is a brutal enemy!

This week I found myself with some time. Other conditions were bleak. Physically I was (am?) out of commission with unexceptional but undeniable ailments… meaning I’m in no shape to run a chainsaw (my favorite “spare time activity”). In fact I’m in no shape to lift anything bigger than a cup of coffee. I tried to hunker by the fire in our house and let time pass. I tried to ignore the woodstove.

Nope. Can’t do it. Time to fix that cute (but heavy stove). Lucky for my dad he’s well out of range or he’d be drafted to assist with reassembly.

Wish me luck.

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The Man In The High Castle Is Here! / Amazon Is Using Me As A Lab Rat

Saying television is shit is like saying water’s wet. Yet once in a while a good story gets past the pandering dickheads in Hollywood and makes it to the small screen. The Man In The High Castle is ample proof that television has 5% awesome mixed with its 95% crap.

In January Roberta X recommended a TV show called The Man in the High Castle. I intended to ignore it because watching TV destroy a Philip K. Dick book would be brutal. Alas Tam seconded the recommendation. At that point it was more or less an order.

I watched the “pilot” and was delighted. I wrote my own overly wordy recommendation (along with a discussion of the walking literary headcase that was Philip K. Dick). It was that good. If you haven’t watched it yet, why the hell are you hanging around reading my dumbass blog? Get thee to a television.

Amazon had filmed only one episode of the “series”. Leaving me hanging with so many questions is beyond cruel.

So I bought the book. It was pretty good. Later Amazon dropped the price from $7.69 to $2.99. So everyone got a better deal than me (causing me to write I’ve Been Philip K. Dicked Over). I contacted Amazon and they cut me a deal. They didn’t have to do it and I scarcely expected them to but they refunded the extra price. No shit!

By this point I can hardly figure out what Amazon is trying to do to me. Are they awesome for filming the best pilot ever? Are they cruel hard bastards for filming only one episode? Are they amazing for serving up the book on a kindle literally within seconds for my instant gratification? Are they snivelling wretches because they jacked up the price of the book? Are they forgiving and kind because they refunded me the money? I’m getting mixed signals. Sheesh guys, either be evil or be awesome, you’re confusing me. (Yes I do advertise for crap on Amazon. I make hardly anything doing it but I hope to someday support my Kindle habit.)

Then they made another episode. As with the first, it was awesome! All is forgiven Amazon. You and me are pals. (At least until you do some other stupid shit.)

As for me, I’m recommending the book to anyone who groks Philip K. Dick and heartily recommend two episodes of the series to anyone with a pulse. As with all Philip K. Dick writing the story  leaves you a little baffled; but the film version is simply gorgeous. As for the book, buying a Philip K. Dick book it’s like popping the top on some good tequila. You know it’s going to be fun and interesting and you knew what you were getting into when you started.

This has been the first and only television recommendation on this blog (except maybe Firefly which is pretty much a given). Other than that keep the damn television chained in the corner where it belongs.


Update #1: I bought the book (kindle version) for $7.69 in January. It dropped to $2.99 in February. Amazon refunded me the $4.70 difference out of the “goodness” of their mechanical hearts. Now the price is $9.99. At this point I think they’re just pulling numbers out of their ass? Or perhaps we’re all mice in a great Amazon pricing experiment? All I can say is that it’s a good book (provided you understand the author’s weirdness) and none of us are going to wind up living in a cardboard box under a bridge abutment for a tenspot. A good book is worth a read at any of those random and fluctuating prices.

Update #2: The whole series comes out November 20th. (We’re watching for “free” on Amazon Prime.) Mrs. Curmudgeon and I will likely watch the whole series over Thanksgiving. (Which is rare. I scarcely watch TV… but for this I’ll make an exception.)

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