My latest intrigue at Sassafras House is the fireplace. WHAT is up with this fireplace?
You can’t really tell from that picture. Let me move the wreath. (My neighbor Jim’s wife made that wreath.)
This is an old house, built in the 1930s. You know they liked fireplaces big back then–but this fireplace appears tiny. There is a Buck Stove insert. You can fit a few small pieces of wood in there and that’s it.
But there is quite a large surround, the big black thing around the Buck Stove.
I’m not a fan of brass, so I don’t like the brass of the Buck Stove and the trim on the surround, but beyond that, I know there’s more to this fireplace than what I’m seeing. I have a hankering to rip the whole thing out and find out. I felt around a little bit behind the black surround until I found the true opening of the fireplace. The actual fireplace opening is 28 inches high and 40 inches wide. The Buck Stove is almost less than half those dimensions. I don’t know why the Buck Stove was installed. (It has no blower to throw heat.) I contacted the previous owners and they told me that they were told that the Buck Stove was installed in the mid-90s by owners at the time who remodeled the house. Before that time, it was a regular working fireplace.
My curiosity started with my desire to install a wood stove. I was thinking I could install it in the fireplace, running the pipe up the existing chimney. I went over the actual opening dimensions with my wood stove installer, keeping in mind the type of wood stove I’m interested in, and it’s not going to work. I’m interested in a wood stove that will also operate as a cook stove. I don’t want to sound like a crazy prepper here, but I don’t see any point in installing a wood stove that can’t do it all. Back at Stringtown Rising, I experimented valiantly with cooking on a “regular” wood stove during one of our long power outages. The surface of a wood stove doesn’t get hot enough for real cooking, and inside, baking is called burning. I want a wood stove that is designed with a cooktop surface for real cooking, and comes with an oven for baking.
I have a small house, which is good and bad. I don’t need a large wood stove to heat it, and I can’t fit a large wood stove in here anyway, but I have limited options for positioning one. I’ve found a wood stove that will suit my purposes–compact in size, will provide heat for a small house, and has the cooktop and oven I want. I just have to find the right place to put it. My wood stove installer is going to be out after Thanksgiving to take a look-see and discuss it. The main issue with installing it at the fireplace and running pipe up the chimney is the need for a rear exit flue, which just isn’t available in compact-size wood cook stoves. I’ll have to put it somewhere else and install pipe.
Meanwhile, I still want to tear out that Buck Stove insert, open up the fireplace to its original state, get the chimney cleaned and inspected, and make it safely operational. No matter what I do about the wood cook stove, the Buck Stove’s gotta go. It might go over Thanksgiving when I have my hefty helpers here.
I’ll keep you posted! Can’t wait to see what’s back there….. I hope there’s a big box of bank robbery loot! Or maybe some bones! Now it’s getting exciting!