March – Warmer – Inside and Out

Maybe we’ve finally turned the corner and spring will “March” in this April. The grass is greening, the daffodils have buds and the days are ever so slightly warmer.

But it’s what inside that is keeping us warm! We finally found a solution to our living room fireplace. From the beginning, it has been a struggle. It is on a north-facing wall against a steep outside slope, so getting a proper draft going always meant using a hair-dryer to blow hot air up the chimney, followed by bouts of smoke filling the room, opening multiple doors and “fanning” them to circulate the air, dissipate the smoke, and coax the fire to draft properly.  The fireplace has a shallow fire box, and a very tight throat. I didn’t know fireplaces have throats, but apparently, ours is a problem. And if all of that wasn’t enough of a problem, we couldn’t close the damper at night until the fire was completely out – so any heat we did have, went straight up the tight throat of the chimney.  We looked into getting a fireplace insert about a year ago, but nothing would fit in our tiny space.

Finally – we found a very cute (and very small) Vermont Castings wood stove that fits just right – it is the Goldilocks of wood stoves.  Even better – it was last years model, end of season and on sale! After two days of four guys trying to figure out how to install this – we could start fires to “season” the stove. We could only burn a small fire and let it go completely out – repeat three times – before really firing it up. We are now in the firing it up stage, and the temperature in the family room has sky-rocketed from 66 to 76! I might have to give up my flannel pajamas and fuzzy blanket.

I can hardly wait for next fall so we can stay warm all winter long! And guess what Chris is doing today? Chopping wood!

A fire in the fireplace — it looks pretty, but it wasn’t very warm.


It’s a tiny thing, but fits perfectly – not sure how Santa will get down this chimney though.
What a nice fire! And finally, a really warm family room!
Time to chop more firewood!

January 2017 – A Pot Crane

What the heck is a pot crane, you might ask.  I didn’t know either, except that I had these two round brackets in the fireplace where something used to be.  After scanning the Historic Housefitters website for other accoutrements for the house, I saw the pot crane and realized we just have to have one.  If for no rhyme or reason other than to sit in the brackets that were already embedded in the stone walls of the fireplace, just waiting for something to fit there.

It was a bit of a process.  Historic Housefitters has ready made pot cranes in standard sizes.  Who knew there could be such an unfulfilled need that they come in standard sizes.  But not much in this house comes in a standard size.  So I called the company, explained my dilemma and got  a lesson in pot crane lingo at the same time.  The round brackets in my fireplace are called gudgeons, and the pot crane, would be made with a 30″ swing arm attached to a riveted post joined by mortise and tenon.

We measured and re-measured and looked at the scaled drawings that Historic Housefitters created.  Finally, we said “yes.”  I waited impatiently for the package to arrive, holding my breath, wondering if it would fit.

A triangular looking packaged showed up at the door, looking much smaller than what I had envisioned.  We opened it up and I continued to hold by breath while Chris raised the top tenon into the the top gudgeon, aligned the bottom tenon with the bottom gudgeon and let it fall in to place.  A perfect fit!

Then it needed something to hang from the pot crane — like a pot.  I have an old copper pot, not of cooking quality, but attractive none-the-less.  It makes the fireplace look like we’re ready to stir up a pot of stew.  The next step will be getting a cast iron Lodge pot that we can actually use, hanging it from the crane and stoking up a fire.

In the meantime, the wrought iron pot crane and shiny copper pot add a little colonial bling (if there is such a thing), to our awesome fireplace.

It took some time for the design to be just right.
It slipped into those gudgeons like it was made for it.
Now we need to strike a match and make a stew or a pot of soup.