I’d heard all sorts of stories about these simple, standard boxwood stoves getting so hot they glowed red. Mine seemed in absolutely no danger of doing any such thing, no matter if I stoked it like a locomotive. For the first few days of operation the stove has been superior to the old one, but not as much as I’d hoped. The fire starts easily (I do know how to lay a fire) and the stove produces a palpable draft. But if I didn’t tend the fire every fifteen or twenty minutes it was still likely to go out on me. And it never really burned very much hotter than in the old stove.
I think it was Commenter Jay who suggested I might be making a mistake with my fire brick. The stove’s construction leaves little shelves on either side of the firebox that are perfectly far apart for laying fire bricks lengthwise. This produces an open space, a little less than an inch, between the bottom of the bricks and the bottom of the firebox but at first I didn’t see that it was hurting anything. Wrong. The width of four bricks doesn’t quite fill the length of the firebox, so this morning I tried spacing the bricks out a bit, leaving gaps between them.
The result was almost startling. Turns out the air from the inlet wasn’t very happily making the two sharp turns my new brick floor required. Coming in through the damper inlet the air wants to go straight (who’da thunk?) and it just ends up in that cul-de-sac under the bricks. With spaces between the bricks they act more like a half-assed grate and suddenly the draft works much better. So much better that for the first time I needed to use the damper.
Approximately one hour into the fire, temperature in the coldest corner of the cabin is up twenty degrees. Normally I’d expect half that.
So it looks like I should put a grate on the “definitely obtain” list, then get rid of the bricks.
Oh, and BTW: Cracking a window also makes a noticeable difference in the quality of the fire after a while, which tells me I’m finally getting the cabin at least mostly caulked up. And that I should take better care of my two remaining brain cells.