Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Answer to a "Grate" Question

New blog follower "Return to Basics" asked a question about the firebox grates in the Qualified Range via a comment on the post about cleaning a cookstove.  Here is the answer.

The grates in our Qualified Range are what are called duplex grates.  This style of grate was very popular on old style ranges, but is not so common on the modern woodburning range.  Duplex grates consist of two, two-sided grate bars which lie horizontally on the bottom of the firebox.  These two grate bars have gears called grate cogs on the front of them so that when the grate shaker is attached to the left one, both rotate about a quarter turn to shake ashes down to the ash drawer.

Truthfully, the grates from the Qualified are what I miss the most about that cookstove.  While I wouldn't trade the new Margin Gem, ash removal is more difficult with its poker grate since I was used to a couple swings of the grate shaker resulting in a completely empty firebox.

The operating instructions that came with the Qualified state the following:

"If you are using wood for fuel, turn the grates so the holes are turned up, using the grate shaker provided with your unit.  If you use coal as a fuel, turn the solid side of the grates up."

The Monarch Range which belonged to my great-great grandmother (which my grandparents still had in their possession until some band of reprobates stole it while I was in college) actually had a little sign on the front that said "wood" when its duplex grates were turned with the holes up and "coal" when the solid side was up.  From what I have seen on the Internet, many models of the Monarch Range made in the 1920's had this feature.

A picture of the firebox in the Qualified Range.
This picture is taken while standing at the front of the
range, so the drafts are on the left, and the oven is
on the right.  Here, the grates are in the position to
burn wood.

Here the grates are turned to the coal-burning position.
A picture of the front door of the firebox, which
is only accessible once the front enameled surface
door is opened. 

Here the grate shaker is attached to the grate bolt.

The Riverside Bakewell down in the summer kitchen is equipped with duplex grates also.  The solid side of them is slightly different than the solid side of the grates in the Qualified because they have small perforations to let some air up to the fire.

While I like the convenience of duplex grates because they make emptying the firebox so efficient, their main purpose was to facilitate the burning of coal.  A coal fire needs to be shaken every so often so that the ash falls away from the burned edges of the coals and oxygen is permitted to get to the inner part of the coal where combustion is then taking place.

An interesting note about the Qualified Range is that the pattern for the range has actually been owned by several different companies over the years.  I have seen pictures of Qualified Ranges that were manufactured in the 1920s or 1930s, and the similarities to the stove that I purchased nearly seventy years later are remarkable.  My Qualified was manufactured in January of 1997.  At that time Qualified Ranges were made by Hitzer Inc. in Berne, Indiana.  By 2000, Hitzer had quit making the Qualified Range.  I was told that Hitzer subcontracted the porcelain enamel work and were having difficulty finding a company who could get the enamel to stick to the steel well enough for their standards, and for this reason they halted production of the Qualified Range. 

I have the list of repair part numbers that came with my Qualified and would be happy to share part numbers if anybody needs them.  The Hitzer company is still in business and perhaps they would either carry repair parts or know where one could find them.  You can find their information at this website: www.hitzer.com.  As always, if anyone has any further questions, I welcome them and will do my best to answer.

10 comments:

  1. Jim,

    That was exactly the information I needed. Thank you!

    I now know that I am missing one of the grates and will be looking into sourcing this. The one I have has the gear facing to the right if in the wood position (assuming the gears mesh in the middle). I also do not have the "grate shaker" handle.

    Additionally I am going to need to replace the ash bin, which has "Qualified Rge. Co. No. 20-20, Belleville Ill." on the front plate where you pull the bin out of the stove. If you have the part number for the grate and also the ash bin (20-20 I assume?) that would be "great".

    Is the comments section the best way to contact you with these questions? If you have an alternate method (email, question form, etc.) you would prefer for contact on issues such as the very specific questions I have, please direct me accordingly.

    I have more questions about this stove but do not want to fill up your comments sections with my personal queries unless that is OK with you and your preferred method to take and respond to questions.

    Again, many thanks for this service you are providing. Back in another era, wood stove cooking acumen would have been common and part of daily life. It is wonderful to find a spot dedicated to helping those who are "rekindling" the interest and practical benefits of woodstove cooking.

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    1. I'm excited to be of service! Please feel free to continue the use of the comments sections with whatever questions you may have. My thought is that others may benefit from what you ask, so this is the best forum.

      The gears of the grates do mesh in the middle, so it sounds like you need to replace the right grate bar. The part number for the grate bar is 527-R. I assume that you also will need the grate cog, which is 529-R. If I missed my guess and you need the left side, substitute an "L" for the "R" in the numbers above, and you're good to go.

      The part number for the grate shaker is 22-27. However, you have some options here. I frequently see grate shakers in antique stores; just keep the measurements of your grate bolt handy and check them against the grate shakers that you see. Even if you can't find a grate shaker which fits, don't despair. The grates can be turned with ordinary wrenches or pliers quite easily.

      Unfortunately, the ash bin is not included on my repair parts list. I find this strange because the ash bin is one of the pieces which is most susceptible to damage. Extreme heat can be a problem, but the biggest issue is that ashes and humidity make potash lye, a substance which is very corrosive. Any stove that has experienced a period of extended disuse is vulnerable to this kind of damage.

      If you can't find a genuine replacement, look for a metalworking shop near you. I know of a couple of shops in our area which could remanufacture an ash bin very easily. If this is the route that you have to take, be sure that the front panel of the ash bin is large enough to overlap the sides of the opening where the drawer slides in. You need this for the safety measure that it affords in preventing hot coals from rolling out of the stove onto the floor and because it reduces uncontrolled draft to the fire (a hindrance to being able to control the temperature of your stove).

      I hope this helps. Keep the questions coming!

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    2. Jim,

      Now I understand why the left grate wasn't lining up properly (I thought the left grate "bolt" protruded through the door). It seems I need the cog you mentioned that will protrude through the door and connect to both the left and right gears in the middle.

      You are absolutely correct about the ash bin. This stove is very old and it looks like it had endured an acid bath for some time (large portions of the side walls eaten away). The design is pretty simple and I have extensive inside and outside dimensions of the bin written so that I can find the proper replacement or see if a metal shop will bend some sheet metal (a simple box). Thanks for the tips on grate shaker solutions too.

      Now I am having the Selkirk Metalbestos 8" piping installed along with the black pipe-the adventure continues...

      I am looking at building a "hearth pad" too and I'm open to suggestions (I just spoke with an Amish heating store worker who said concrete backerboard with ceremic tile should work just fine).

      Kind regards,

      Brian

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    3. I hope that I haven't confused you. The "grate cogs" are the same things as the gears. The front of your range could be different from ours, but both of the grate cogs are concealed behind the front fire door frame (see the third picture above).

      Another thought occurred to me: I purchased my Qualified from Lehman Hardware in Kidron, Ohio. When I first visited their store, they carried repair parts for many brands of stoves that were no longer being manufactured. They might be another good resource for you.

      As far as hearth pads go, I agree with the Amish fellow that you talked to. However, we did not choose that route for our kitchen because our contractor was afraid that the small flex in our wood kitchen floor would result in enough movement to cause the weight of the stove to crack the tiles. Instead, we purchased two tiled floor pads which are specifically designed for heavy wood stoves.

      Under the Qualified we used two heat shields which were sheet metal over mineral board. We purchased both types of floor protection at Menards at reasonable prices, but I wouldn't classify either one as particularly attractive. They satisfy our home insurer's requirements, though.

      Sounds like you are making good progress toward your installation. I hope your experience with your Qualified will be as positive as ours.

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    4. Hello Jim,
      The picture of your Monarch wood stove looks almost exactly like mine. Although the plate on it says Malleable Iron Range Co and Beaver Dam, Wisconsin plus the style#(472ATN) and serial#(P2G93), it does not have a date. But my grate on the right side has been losing it's "teeth" (It must be getting old) I purchased a new grate which looks like it will fit, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to remove the old grate and install this new one. Can you help?

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  2. You ask a really great question. The first thing that has to happen is that any linings (these were usually made of cast iron in the Monarchs) have to be removed from the sides and front and back. Often, once this is done, the grates can be lifted out by raising the back part first so as to pull the grate bolt back into the firebox and then out. Both sides of the grate will come out at together, then you can take it apart and replace the right side.

    Anybody else have more thorough instructions or first hand experience?

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  3. Parts for Qualified Range cook stoves available at Troyer Repair in Millersburg Ohio. They do not have a phone (Amish store), but can be contacted by writing to them at:

    Troyer's Repair,
    7655 SR 241,
    Millersburg, OH 44654.

    I purchased two new grates, two cogs/gears, and the two piece grate frame. They can even send you a diagram of the stove with parts and numbers listed (please do not post this parts list and diagram online if you do get one, as they prefer not to have this posted). They do have some parts in stock, so if you need anything write to them and they will quote you the parts. They own the rights to the Range Qualified stoves and Troyer's is likely the only place to buy parts for these stoves currently outside of finding a used one.

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    1. Thanks for the great information!

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  4. Jim,
    I noticed the firebox has pieces on both ends. Mine has the same and they can be removed. If the one end is in the I obviously cannot load from the front. If I remove this end then I can. What is the purpose of this piece and does it matter whether or not it is in or out?

    Thanks
    Damian

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    1. Great question, Damian! That extra piece of the firebox liner that fits over the front door of the firebox is to be inserted if you are burning coal. Coal would be fed from the pouch feed door or through a top lid, whereas wood might be fed through the front door. Usually, the pieces of the liner that go at the end and front of the firebox are much thicker than the front door. This extra piece is meant to protect the door from the more intense heat of a coal fire which could cause the door to warp or crack.

      I should have mentioned this in the text of the post. Thanks for pointing it out!

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