Friday, 24 December 2010

Changing the Fire Rope 6 December 2010

So, we haven't been able to light our solid fuel stove for more than three weeks because it was leaking carbon monoxide gas into the boat.  Thankfully we have a carbon monoxide detector, which is a loud beeping alarm like a smoke detector.  Carbon monoxide is invisible and odorless, and really really poisonous.  If you have any kind of solid fuel stove or gas appliance in your home, go out and get a CO monitor right now.  Get a beeping one, not one of those utterly pointless sticker things that changes colors when it detects CO--how is a mood ring going to help you when you are sleeping? 

I applied some fire cement to the collar of the stove, where the chimney meets the stove, where I could see some smoke leaking out, but that didn't solve the problem.  The next step was to replace the fire rope, which is a gasket on the main door of the stove.  It looked like it might have perished.  We got some fire rope and I set to work on a very dirty task. 

The first step was to take the door off the stove.  That was easy enough, it comes off like a Jeep door. 

Next, I had to remove the old fire rope.  It had perished a bit and was really really crusty and compacted.  I used a screwdriver to dig the old rope out of the channel in the door.  It was pretty gross.

Next, I used white spirit (rubbing alcohol in the States?) to clean the channel of any leftover bits of rope, glue and creosote.  The groove needs to be clean and dry before you can put in the new rope.  I also tried to clean the glass a bit but I didn't get very far. 

Finally, I put in the fresh rope.  You lay a bead of glue all the way around the groove, and then push the rope into the groove, making sure the ends meet and there aren't any gaps. 

I left the glue to dry for about an hour and then re-hung the door and lit the fire.  It went fine and the alarm didn't beep, until about 2:00 am.  I woke up and put the fire out.  And that was the pattern over the past three weeks--make a repair or adjustment to the stove to try to fix the leak, light the fire, think it is fine because the alarm doesn't go off, and then wake up in the middle of the night to a beeping alarm and massive, freezing disappointment. 

We went to Wales for a week with some friends, and came back on Sunday night to arctic temperatures on the boat.  We gave in and lit the fire but had to put it out in the middle of the night, again.  The little electric heater really doesn't have the power to heat the saloon and it sucks up a ton of electricity.  We decided to give in and impose on our friends.  Since Monday we have been camping out at our very dear friend Fruity's house.  I'm sure it hasn't been easy on him having two extra people in his flat, especially since we have both been sick as dogs with the flu.  We are very grateful to have friends like him. 

At the risk of jinxing it, I am very happy to say that our landlady came yesterday and lit some smoke pellets in the stove to see if she could pinpoint the leaks.  She found and plugged up some leaks and lit the stove yesterday afternoon, and so far, after eighteen hours, nothing is beeping.  Yet.  Keep  your fingers crossed.

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