I have waited a very long time to fulfil my dream of owning a Rayburn. To the uninitiated, a Rayburn is a range-stove which can be powered by various forms of fuel. I have had installed a Rayburn 300W, which is powered by wood.
The a wood fuelled Rayburn made sense in a lot of ways. Firstly, I could get access to a lot of free wood and although most of which I would have to season, erecting a shelter to accommodate this would not be know problem. Until recently, the energy companies in the UK hiked their charges year on year, so having an alterative means to cook and heat the house (at least in part) seemed to make sense. I expect to save on my home’s electricity consumption because those electric appliances which generate heat use the most electricity (think electric oven, or electric toaster etc.).
Secondly, I like the idea of ‘heat-security’. What I mean by this is that my home is served by water, electricity and gas. The boiler which serves the radiators needs water, electricity and gas, and if either one of these services are down then the boiler won’t work and my home is cold. In addition, the old oven works on electricity and if there is a blackout, then say good-bye to a warm meal.
Thirdly, because of the way a Rayburn is built, I can do away with the electric toaster, electric kettle, microwave and electric oven. If the need arises, I can cook fish and bake a cake in the Rayburn at the same time without the difference smells mixing. See Dick Strawbridge’s presentation below to get the idea:
My home has an existing steel flue, which originally served a gas boiler. The boiler became redundant and was removed by the previous owner and the hearth was boarded-over. A glimpse of the flue was given through a small door into the boarded-over hearth.
To transform the hearth into the beating heart of the home, the hearth would need to be un-boarded and the redundant metal-work removed.
When the hearth was un-boarded we found some surprises. We discovered dangling power cables and redundant central heating pipes. Another surprise was the discovery of a mains water pipe going through the wall into the hearth; the stop-cock for this supply has not been found, and oddly it is a second source of mains water into the house. In addition, we found an old fire-surround in the wall and two 1953 newspapers.
The chimney arrangement is unusual. The original configuration was the flue would go up the chimney breast and terminate under a flat-slab; the photograph below makes it clear. However, as a new flue-liner would be required, the top section of the chimney-stack was removed and a chimney pot put in its place.
Scaffolding was erected and the work began on the chimney. The top of the chimney stack was removed and then a flue liner was fed down the flue. Once the flue liner was secured to the top of the chimney, a chimney pot and cowl was placed on top.
At the hearth, a steel lintel was inserted into the supporting brickwork of the hearth and the existing metal framework within the hearth was attached to the lintel. The metal framework at ground level was removed the exposed walls were plastered-boarded; in places special fire-board was used. Vermiculite was poured down between the flue and the flue liner to act as an insulator.
A plinth was formed at the base of the hearth from York stone slabs. This served two purposes: firstly to ensure the Rayburn would be sitting on something fireproof; secondly to raise the Rayburn so the range would be the same height as the adjacent worktop. Once the mortar on the base had dried, the interior of the hearth was tiled using square olive coloured ‘Fired Earth’ handmade tiles; large white tiles were used at the back because they would not been seen (these also come from ‘Fired Earth’).
We painted the hearth an olive green colour to match the tiles.
The electrician returned to install the light and switch to illuminate the hearth.
The scaffolding was removed to show the new chimney in all its glory.
The Rayburn was delivered in a lorry and to my surprise is was packaged-up in a rather large brown box. It is worth keeping in mind that the Rayburn weighs in excess of 300kg (around 600 lb). The men from Edwards and Godding (two of them) had to use a heavy duty trolley which could be jacked to move it too the rear of the house. The hardest part was to get the Rayburn through the French-doors and then in situ on the hearth. In toll, there were five blokes (two from E&G, two from HPP and me) playing some part in moving the Rayburn from the outside to the inside.
We discovered that the flue which connects the Rayburn to the chimney was the wrong colour and a trip was needed to get a replacement. In the meantime an air-vent was drilled in the exterior wall to ensure a sufficient supply of air serves the Rayburn and also to comply with regulations.
Adjustments had to be made to the flue manifold in the ceiling so that the intervening flue stood straight; this was mainly for aesthetic reasons.
A few days later the Rayburn was commissioned. This entailed attaching a flue plate on the side on the flue and lighting a fire in the firebox of the Rayburn. The Rayburn began to heat-up and the flue started drawing-up smoke. All was well with the Rayburn and HETAS certificate was duly award.
The kitchen has a different feel about it now, something akin to being more cosy or homely. It was a big decision to have a Rayburn installed yet already we are feeling the benefit. A good decision!