Meet Sonia. Sonia is the newest member of our household. She came to us about 15 months ago where she has languished in the back shed ever since. Last weekend though, with
some severe nagging at a little bit of pressure on my husband to help, we dug her weighty body parts out of the shed and assembled her near our pergola. Sonia is a wood fired stove.
Armed with a wire brush I started to clean up some of the accumulated filth on her cast iron cook plates and a flat head screwdriver cleared out the fat and filth under said plates. This is when we discovered her name. Well, her model and brand to be exact. Sonia is a Backwell IXL 72. 🙂
Ebenezer Backwell began building stoves way back in 1852 and you may recognise the brand as the company is still going, creating heaters, coolers and bathroom heater lights. You can check out the company’s history here. The IXL 72 is a model made long after Mr Backwell passed away, sometime around the 1960’s. The dying end of wood cooking I would say.
She is a very small unit, designed to fit into a brick chimney with a small but spacious oven, a very small firebox and then the ash catchment area. Some of them come with a plate warmer but Miss Sonia didn’t have one when she was rescued from a house lined up for demolition.
She is, under her grime, in rather good condition to my inexp-
erienced eye. She is still in need of restoration. Now, please don’t laugh, but I have decided I want to restore her myself. I cannot weld, I have absolutely zero experience in restoring wood stoves and indeed no metalworking experience bar a little year 7-8 metalworking classes (I attended a school with a strong technical focus). I do however have a desire to learn and a friend who welds who is more than willing to teach me. 🙂
Aside from a hole in the base, the sides are rusted but still in tact and we have a perfect damper box on the top so Sonia, now moved to our pergola and with a little extra flue to divert the smoke, is being pressed into action on weather appropriate days instead of using the gas barbecue. She eats rather little all things considered and so far we have used a mere handful of logs as we can run her on twigs and larger wood chips. A basket full of this fuel will see us through 3 meals!
We are using a second thermometre as the current one is in Fahrenheit (this stove was built in the 1960’s) which I cannot read or work out in my head and it’s also not working very well.
So far this week we’ve had breakfast cooked on her heat at least twice and brunch, a sultana laden gluten-free damper, cooked in her belly for Australia Day Breakfast. Milk warms in a minute or two and my coffee takes only a moment longer. We made the deal that unless she could cook the “hot oven” foods though that she could not stay. I’m pleased to advise that her Yorkshire puddings were perfect!
I’m really enjoying learning how to cook in and on her and each time I do I spend a little more time de-griming her. I’ve just acquired the instruction manual from IXL in Geelong (I love that it’s a locally made) and I look forward to learning more about her as we work together. Not to mention learning some new skills with welding and metalwork. 😀