Archive for November, 2011

Of Blaze Kings and Princesses and Lovely Hot Fire

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

“They sent the wrong model,” I said.

Even as I said it a tortuous disappointment washed over me.  Who knew that you could get so excited by the arrival of a new woodstove?  And thence to be struck with such despondent dismay when it all went awry?

“What do you want us to do?” Darwin asked, one hand still holding the heavy cardboard facing he had pulled away from the dark stove atop the pallet.

My mind raced.  The forlorn shape of my old The Earth Stove stood there in the darkness on the deck, already pulled out of the house.  It was done and I knew it.  I wasn’t going to ask them to lift it yet again and put it back.

It was going to be cold tonight.  And I’d be leaving in a day to go hunting.

I flashed back to the specs.  Would a couple of inches really make that much difference?

“Go ahead and bring it in,” I said, despondency morphing into resolution.  “We’ll make it work.”


Like a lot of things, this all started with only the whiff of a thought.  And not a new one at that.  Ginny and I had bounced around the idea of getting a new woodstove for years.  As usual, I just didn’t want to spend the money.

But then there was that Saturday a few weeks ago, right on the cusp of what I now know serious wood burners call ‘the shoulder season.’  A few clicks on Google and I sat there looking at an Osburn 1800.  Sixteen, seventeen hundred bucks.  Not cheap.  But not outrageous either.  And the more I looked at that stove with its nice glass front the more I said hmm.

I could see us sitting there on a cold January day with a pretty little fire going behind that glass.

Alrighty then.

A little more research and a little more googling tweaked it a bit.  I decided upon the Osburn 2300.  Then it was just a matter of reading some reviews and finding out where to buy one.  That search led me to

I spent a rainy Sunday afternoon mesmerized.  After years of burning wood every winter in our old, 70’s-era ‘The Earth Stove,’ I thought I knew everything – the very little bit – anyone needed to know about burning wood in a woodstove.

Au contraire.

Turns out there are layers of subtlety woven into what surely is one of the oldest practices of man.  It’s the confluence of art and wisdom and science.

And it turns out I didn’t know jack shit.

I figured the biggest difference in new stoves today – other than having draft controls that work – was that pretty glass door.

Turns out there’s a little more to it than that.

A couple weeks and a bunch of fun hours later – I truly did find all this wood burning lore fascinating – I knew a few more things about it.  And I no longer was interested in that Osburn.   I have no doubt it’s a nice stove.  But I learned a long time ago that when a bunch of really smart people in an arcane art profess a similar opinion, one is wise to listen to them.

And so down the rabbit hole I went.

After that it was just a matter of figuring out the details.  The King wouldn’t work because my chimney flue is only 6.”  But no worries.  There’s the Princess – just a little smaller, and designed for that 6” flue of mine.  And still wielding all the magic that Blaze King is famous for.

Now certain of what I wanted, and suddenly committed to biting the financial bullet to get it done, the next speed bump was… there are apparently no authorized Blaze King dealers in Virginia.  I had a couple of nice conversations with dealers across the river over in Maryland, and tried calling one in West Virginia, but finally shook my head and said ‘this is crazy.’

I called Blaze King, out in Walla Walla.  The nice lady there hooked me up with the East Coast distributor.  “No problem,” the friendly fellow there told me.  “How’s Fairfax?”

“That’s perfect,” I said, being as it’s on my way home from work.

And that’s exactly what I did.  Tony sent the order the next day.

I ordered the ‘Parlor’ model simply because it was a couple inches shorter than the ‘Ultra’ which first caught my eye.  Blaze King recommends 36 inches of vertical rise before you turn your stovepipe towards the wall.   I couldn’t make that.  Not even close.

And so my consternation ten days later when Darwin and Eric tore away the shipping cardboard of my new stove, an Ultra, there in the dark with their truck backed up to my deck, wondering what to do.

Bring it in.  We’ll make it work.

And so it is that the old The Earth Stove is gone.  It might have been dirty and it might have burned a mountain of wood in the process, but it brought many an hour of warmth and comfort, standing between us and hurt on how many cold and snowy days.  May it rest in peace.

And now ‘The Princess.’  Four hours into her maiden, virgin burn.  She’s already amazing.  Hell, she might roll this burn all damn winter.

I love her already.

The Old Warhorse

The Princess

One More Time...