Thursday, 7 June 2012

How to operate a Dover stove

I love my Dover stove.


Even if it does create a little smoke inside the house when it is first lit.  That is rectified 1) by opening the neighbouring windows wide, and 2) as soon as the "draw" starts.  (However, in keeping with my warts and all policy, I will admit that we made a mistake when we installed our Dover stove.  The chimney should NOT have been left exposed.  In fact, the Dover stove should have been installed in a recess with a large overhanging chimney area.  That would've obviated the initial smoking issue - for all that smoke would've gone up the recessed chimney.)


And I love my Dover stove even if it's oven section is a little small.  Well, it's big enough to roast a crisp chicken for RMan, and it's big enough to bake a couple of loaves of bread.


None of that matters to me, because the big plus is that I can warm our house (well, at this stage the one large room) and cook at the same time. Using nothing but the wood from alien invasive Australian Black Wattles.


But, in winter especially, I like to place the food I've prepared on warm plates. Which presents a problem, because if I am using the oven, there isn't room for much more.
The side section - for drying
wet tea towels?
When I purchased the Dover stove it came with a side section, which I presume was for drying tea towels or suchlike.  Unfortunately, when the structure was built to house the stove, this addition section was not catered for.  So the towel drying section couldn't be used.  Until now.


Clever RMan.  As I was bemoaning the fact that I can't warm the plates he came up with this brilliant solution.
Would only a man think of this...?
Placing the plates directly on the stove top would result in cracking the plates, because the stove top is far to hot.  But putting the unused side section on top of the stove, and then placing the plates on top of that is perfect.  Not too hot so that it will crack the plates, but hot enough to take the chill off them :)
Perfectly warmed plates :)
Recently, being winter in this country, and with Escom's electricity tariffs ever increasing, people are obviously looking at other ways to cook their evening meals.  Which is probably resulting in a surge of Dover Stove sales.  As the stoves don't come with a manual or instructions on how to operate a Dover stove, I have, therefore, had quite a few hits on my blog with the search phrase "how to use a Dover stove", so I thought I give a brief explanation.


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Firstly, it is advisable to place a water filled pot (or whistling kettle LOL) on top of the stove (directly above the fire section) prior to lighting it.  I have heard that this protects the stove and prevents the cast iron from cracking as it suddenly warms up.
Small lever - pull it forward
Secondly, in the front, above the oven door and just below the cooking surface, there is a small lever.  This must be pulled out (forward) in order to close off the vent to the oven, and to ensure that the initial thicker smoke is directed up the chimney and not towards the oven area.

Then, insert your kindling into the burning section, light it and wait for it to achieve a good burn, and chimney draw, before pushing the lever in again. The good burn will indicate that the chimney is drawing correctly and with the increase in heat and flames, the initial smoke will be decreasing.

Finally, once your wood is merrily burning, and your fuel section is filled with wood, close the door, and slide the vent lever at the bottom of the door to a spot where it is open enough to create a draught to burn your wood, but not too wide to send the heat the fire is creating up the chimney because the wood is burning too quickly.

That is all there is to it.  Very simple :)  Just remember to keep your eye on the wood - in order to maintain your oven temperature, you'll have to keep it stoked.

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Latest news:  The purchaser of our town house has just asked whether the would be able to move in a month earlier - makes sense, because she has school going children, and the school holidays is a perfect time to move a family.  Luckily, I started packing last month, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem to complete that task in time.  But it means that we have to speed up with the transporting of all our stuff.

So - we're off to the farm again tomorrow.  This trip will be devoted to schlepping some of the loads of large garden pot plants (and their pots) - as well as to throw the foundation for the garage...

30 comments:

  1. Shame about not having the chimney recess but really the stove looks great and it seems like you're getting on well with it. The burning area looks quite small as well which implies to me that it must have quite good energy efficiency!

    Good luck with the expedited move :)

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    1. Tanya - Yeah, I've got the Dover figured :)

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  2. HI Dani, Fellow SA here. Love your blog and have signed up as a follower. Plates could be warmed by placing over gently simmering pot on stove top with pot lid ontop of them. Swap around after a few minutes, and wipe off just before dishing up. Laura

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    1. Laura - Welcome :) Thanks for taking the time to comment, and for hitting the follow button. Do you have a blog?

      Yes, good idea. Now I can use both LOL

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  3. I woul give anything for a wood stove but we can't fit it in my kitchen atm. How bizzare that you are burning the same wood that is native to our block! How on earth did it get over there?

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    1. Linda - Wood stoves are an absolute treat :)

      Black Wattle was brought in to control erosion - many years ago. But it's overtaken the indigenous plants and is not classified as "Alien" - and "Unwanted - must be removed" :)

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  4. Thanks for the welcome. No I don't blog sadly, love to read other peoples - and occasionally chip in - if thats okay? I live in a townhouse in Gauteng, trying to be as organic and green on my little patch as I can. So envious of your transition and will follow eagerly for all tips. Laura

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  5. So your Hout Bay home is sold! Congratulations, good news.

    Somewhere, oh yes, the Hell up on the Swartberg pass. We had a Dover stove. We made the fire in the BIG section. Telling the story later, to people who had used the Dover stoves, they roared with laughter. The whole cottage was filled with clouds of acrid smoke. We gave up in despair.

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    1. Diana - Thanks - yeah, exciting times :)

      Love your story of the Dover - it's a mistake which is easy to make because the fire compartment doesn't look big enough, and the oven DOES :)

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  6. Dont feel bad, I routinely smoke myself out of the room with my stove too. I think it is just the nature of the beast:)

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    1. Jane - I'm reassured to hear that - I thought it was only the Dover... :)

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  7. Congratulations, you are officially on your way! Love the stove, I have no knowledge of it but it's fun to learn from others!

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    1. DFW - Thanks - oh, yes, we are :)

      Wood burning stoves are brilliant - once they stop smoking LOL

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  8. PLEASE HELP. WE HAVE A DOVER WELCOM WITH CHIMNEY . THE FIRST TIME WE USED WE WERE SMOKED OUT AND HAD TO REPAINT THE KITCHEN AND LOUNGE...WHAT DID WE DO WRONG
    THANK YOU
    HOUT BAY

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    1. Anonymous - Hi and Welcome to my blog. Could I ask you to please contact me via e-mail (dani at ecofootprint dot co dot za) with your contact number or address. I'm in the same suburb as you and I will phone you / pop round :)

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  9. I don't know what it is, but wood stoves (and the Dover in particular) are just so NEAT looking. Maybe it's the concept of having fire in your kitchen to cook with. Like "real" fire, if that make sense. I would love a wood stove but like someone above said we just don't have room, and we don't have a cold enough winter that it would warrant warming the house. Still, even having said that, I'd LOVE to have one! Yours is beautiful. Nice job!

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    1. 1st Man - Thanks :) Great pity it doesn't get cold enough where you are. Nothing nicer than a log burning stove in winter :)

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  10. Hi. Do you now where i can download a manual for reassembling a Dover Stove No 8? Thank you

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  11. Hi. I have a Dover No 8 and i am reconditioning it by myself. Do you where i can find or download a manual for reassembling it? Thank you

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    1. Savvas - Welcome, and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. You can find the Dover stove diagram at http://ecofootprintsa.blogspot.com/2013/05/dover-stove-info.html

      Good luck :)

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  12. Hi - It's great to find this blog. I have a Dover Welcome stove in a house I have purchased in the UK (Northumberland). I have no idea of its history but don't seem to be able to find any others in this country. Do you know when / where these were manufactured?

    It seems to work - although it did send a lot of smoke round the kitchen.. I have since read up on this on your blog so next attempt should at least be more human friendly! I think I may have to reseal the stove top plate openings. I'm guessing new stove rope should do the trick.

    Luckily the stove is not essential for heating / cooking, but in a remote part of Northumberland power cuts are not unheard of so it's a great back up.

    Chris

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    1. Chris - Welcome :)

      I also don't know it's history, but my husband reckons that it originated in Dover, England (thus the name) and the cast iron was a British product - probably from the start of the industrial revolution... ?!? There are plenty of them here in South Africa, especially in the old rural farmhouses, and I think that they were the only cooking stoves available in days of yore - apart from open firepits, and open hearths...

      I would suggest that you check your Dover very well - not only the top cooking area, but also the side walls. Make sure all the external corners / back and inside oven joints are sealed, and if there are any cracks, they will need to be sealed also. See if your local fireplace shop has any heat resistant putty - to seal any joint gaps and cracks. That will assist with the draw of the stove, as well as curb the smoke emmission :)

      I am going to give you a link to the Dover stove diagram I posted - just in case you need to pull it apart and put it back together again ;)

      http://ecofootprintsa.blogspot.com/2013/05/dover-stove-info.html

      And here is a link to the fireplace putty:

      http://ecofootprintsa.blogspot.com/2012/08/final-dover-stove-posting.html for info on the fireplace putty.

      Finally, the Dover stove should be kept as rust free as possible - to extend the life of the parts - I don't know if you will be able to find spares in England...

      Scour off any rust with sandpaper, brush away the resultant dust, and, after lighting the stove to warm the cast iron slightly, sparingly oil the exposed stove surfaces, before wiping it dry again with a dry cloth - especially before putting it to bed for summer.

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    2. Thanks for that - it seems in pretty good nick- but great to hear all your advice in case I need it! Happy Christmas

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  13. Thanks for all that advice - much appreciated! Happy Christmas

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  14. I have a Welcome Dover at our property in Mudgee NSW Australia (surrounded by wattle) I love this stove as we have no electrcity, by choice. I am reassured by your blog that I am using it correctly, thank you, as I had no instructions and had to experiment. It cooks the most delicious meals and I love having so much room on the cooktop. I have always had a pot of water on top so that was good information too. do you use anything else on the stove to keep it in good condition or do you just oil it? I use a polish but it is necessary to do it frequently and doesn't take long to rust. I don't get smoked out very often by the way, only just when I start it. I open the door to outside until I shut the flue lever.

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    1. Lynette - welcome - and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment :)

      Lynette, the only care that I can recommend is to keep a sharp eye out for rust. If you see any, please, use fine steel wool or sandpaper to remove any trace of it, and then oil over that spot.

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  15. Thank you for sharing about this topic! Great blog! We just fired up our new old Welcome Dover and it works as a bomb! The stove-paint gave off smoke initially otherwise no smoke at all. After starting it with wood we added coal. Coal fire is not as fast as wood, it goes longer. Thanks again for all the info and diagram! I found everything I was looking for on your blog)).

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    1. Helena B - Welcome and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and for your blog compliments. I am so glad to hear that the information I posted has been useful. That makes it all worth while :)

      Helena B - just be careful with the coal - a Dover stove is designed to burn wood, and coal may well burn through the wall plates quite quickly as they are not designed to take that heat intensity. ;)

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