Our Rayburn had been in situ when we bought the cottage and we had believed, at that point, that it was only 7 or 8 years old and had centuries of life left in it. Over the years we’ve replaced the firebricks, bought a new riddle assembly and gone through 2 ash pans but this year the Rayburn gave up the ghost and resigned without notice.
Thankfully, this happened in April and not November but it was still a massive blow.
Over the years Mud and I have learned that no matter how carefully you plan your expenditure, no matter how thrifty you are, no matter how tight your belt, something major always goes wrong, usually just when you think you’re clearing the mire. Normally it’s the washing machine, the vacuum cleaner or something on the truck but this time it was huge and it knocked us for six.
So then we had to make a decision: stay with solid fuel or switch to gas.
Had this happened 6 years ago, I’d probably have jumped at the chance of switching back to gas – regulated hot plate and oven temperatures! Wow! What a concept.
As it was, I’d gotten used to cooking with the Rayburn, I was used to (though still exasperated by at times) its’ quirky nature. Cooking and even baking on the gas barbeque during the summer was the norm. Returning to a more conventional/modern system had little appeal but it would be cost that would decide the matter.
Mud is nothing if not thorough and so sat down and did all the maths. Taking into account the cost of having gas brought into the cottage, a new boiler, a new cooker AND tumble dryer (let’s not forget that I dry the clothes on the rack over the Rayburn in winter), the additional cost of electric, not to mention the rising cost of gas, he concluded that it would only be slightly more expensive to have a new Rayburn fitted.
This was despite the fact that the law had changed since our old Rayburn had been installed (not that we believe for one moment that it had been fitted by a qualified Rayburn engineer) and when we contacted the supplier we discovered that a site survey would now need to be carried out to ensure the cottage complied with the regulations. So added to the cost of the new Rayburn, was:
- lining the chimney (repointing and capping of the chimney will also be done );
- fitting a new air brick (we actually haven’t got one); and
- replacing the old plastic hot water tank in the attic with a copper one because as solid fuel stoves can not be quickly ‘turned off’, if the thermostatically controlled water pump were to fail and the water got too hot, then the plastic tank could melt, sending scolding hot water into our bedroom (and more to the point, my side of the bed).
Of course to poor Mud this is ‘Ciggys’ new bulkhead, engine and gearbox rebuild money and he’s understandably, despondent but he has found a way out of that: a LWB Series III called ‘Annie’ and I’ll tell you all about her another day.