Thursday, January 14, 2010

Shop News Flash!

Recent acquisitions include a Millermatic 250 mig welder (capable of welding 1/2" steel in a single pass, and a 48" Chicago Dreis & Krump  sheet metal break.

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

Monday, January 11, 2010

What Once Was Old is Now New Again.

Twenty years ago, shortly after MrsJac and I purchased our turn of the century farm house and started renovating it ("renovating" does not do the process justice), we were at a loss for how to restore function to one of the fireboxes in a very unique triple firebox hearth. As we did not rescue the house before the previous owner removed the three flue chimney and a large portion of the hearth, there was the issue of clearance to combustibles to deal with. Our options were 1) a complete masonry rebuild of the original system (no chance - every mason we showed it too commenced to head scratchin'), 2) a zero-clearance fireplace (seen in apartments everywhere), 3)a wood burning stove out in the middle of the foyer. While we were weighing the options, we discovered a company in Ashville, North Carolina was producing a zero-clearance wood stove called the Gemini. We located the nearest dealer and went to take a look at one. MrsJAC was smitten with the brass trim and large bay window. I dug the forced air combustion, catalytic combustor, and the ash pan. We immediately made a deal with the salesman, haggling to a good price ($1300 was a lot of money in 1990!), and made an appointment to pick the unit up the following morning.

Long story short, we arrived the next morning with cash in hand only to have the salesman renege on the deal. The manager came out to explain he could not sell the unit at the agreed upon price and made a counter offer several hundred dollars higher than the sum previously agreed upon. We left the store without the stove, disgusted and disappointed at having found our perfect option coupled to a store full of obnoxious asses.

We installed a zero clearance fireplace for a time, then an Englander free standing wood stove out in the middle of the foyer. The Englander heated like crazy, but it sure was ugly and cost us some needed floor space. We made do for 15 the next years.

Late this fall I stumbled upon the Gemini below on Craigslist. I know it looks rough, but MrsJAC and I never stopped thinking it was the best solution to our need, and what good is a barn full of tools if not for this?

The Gemini had to be disassembled and soda blasted. It had been in storage for 15 years and all the high-temp insulation had made fine rat nests.

Upon disassembley I was surprised at the robust construction; a total of three 16ga steel enclosures surround the stove unit, with layers of insulation between each. A phone call to Appalachian Stove Works yielded a huge box of high-temp insulation, gaskets, and adhesive on my doorstep, all precut and tagged for location of installation. The good folks at Appalachian were a bit skeptical when I told them I had disassembled the unit, "That's welded together. How did you get it apart?" The answer, "Plasma cutter." removed all barriers between me and the tech staff.

Both blower motors had to be taken apart and freed up. JamieD pitched in and revived the combustion air blower while his brother, Brent sent naughty text messages to girls. Shortly, reassembly and the painting commenced.

Next, was to get the 700lb beast in the front door. I broke one wheel off a furniture dolly rated for 1200lbs in the process. Incidentally, next time you see those round plastic disks at Walmart claiming to make moving furniture a breeze, buy some.

Here you can see I had to remove some more of the other two fireboxes (gas logs anyone?) to make room in the hearth for the Gemini unit. Those two fireplaces cut the corners of the parlor and adjacent pool room forming a triangular three fireplace hearth with the fireplace in the foyer. The previous owner had designs on taking the parlor and pool room fireplaces out to "square the rooms". Retard.

Needed: one bearskin rug.

-- Sent from my Palm Pre