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County4x4

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    435
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About County4x4

  • Rank
    Senior Member

Personal Information

  • Location
    Carnforth, Lancashire
  • Occupation
    Chimney sweep, woodfuels supply
  1. New wood burner and flue

    I wouldn't go within a country mile of a Country Kiln - they're appalling. I know of several fitters who won't even install them. Only seen one in the flesh and it appeared to be knocked together from bits they'd found laying about - nothing fitted properly. The website is (or was when I last looked) written to make you think they're made in Scotland - they're absolute bottom of the range Chinese imports - probably coming in at less than £50 a unit.
  2. Teaming up with a Chimney Sweep

    I'd have to say that wouldn't be my experience of warranty jobs. Also, (unfortunately) there's no disputing the fact that GMCS or NACS membership is no more a guarantee of getting a good sweep than HETAS membership is a guarantee of a good installation. I've gone to no end of jobs where sweeps from various trade associations have made a complete balls up, failed to do the job right, condemned (perfectly sound) brand new liners as breached with an incorrect smoke test, left nests in the chimney when fitting a nest guard, condemned perfectly sound chimneys on the sole basis that "I've been to loads round here and they're all knackered" etc etc. I could go on all night. This is why I've never joined a trade association. And having never once been asked whether I am a member of any of them, it seems like there's little to gain except another bill to pay to an office somewhere. In an ideal world of course, membership would actually mean something. Having said that - I would certainly say that sweeps are generally perceived a lot better and more trustworthy than stove fitters by the public. I've always been properly insured (though never had anything even approaching a claim), and always used the proper equipment for the job in question.
  3. Teaming up with a Chimney Sweep

    I guess the main thing is that you're sure of each other - as if one of you mucks up - it reflects on the other. I have a stove fitter I always recommend to customers - he's one of many round here. He puts our details on all his installations for sweeping and maintenance work so it works well for both of us. But I was careful in choosing him - he's not the cheapest or the fatest, but he does jobs right. And I've since found out that he spends a lot of time re-installing stoves fitted by another (fully qualified) local fitter. If I'd recommended the second guy, my own reputation would have suffered a lot as a result. Chimney sweeping is one of those trades that has expanded a lot in recent years - and there are just as many dodgy operators as there are in tree work as a lot of people have had a quick look and decided it's easy money for a dead simple job. There's probably a lot more to it than most people would realise. A bad sweep can make a proper mess and leave the customer with a dangerous stove. If your mate has a "My first chimney sweep set" from B&Q and his wife's old Henry - then you need to think carefully. Setting up in business should cost a lot less than establishing an arb business - but with a decent vacuum for the job at over £700 and a single set of rods at over £400, it's not exactly pocket money. Has he had any training or experience? As far as liners go - a lot of customers will see the £20 a metre stuff on ebay and decided the fitter is obviously trying to rip them off as he quoted way more than that. Good fitters won't use crap liner - as they know it'll come back to bite them a few years down the line. Poor fitters don't give a toss - one big company round here fitted a 316 grade liner to a boiler stove that only ever burned smokeless - they should have used 904 grade. Two and a bit years later the liner is in pieces above the register plate - you could have sneexed through the side of it. Company then want to charge the customer to replace it with the wrong stuff for a second time!! Don't know how they sleep at night....
  4. M/C for UK air dried logs

    Any of you guys keep tabs on what moisture content your air dried logs get to? Just asking as a guy on another forum reckons his are generally between 4% and 14%. Don't honestly think I've ever seen any anywhere near 4% to be honest - and a bit of mooching around on google would suggest that if the relative humidity of the air is above 70% - which it appears to be for the UK, then the lowest you'd expect air dried logs to get to would be about 14%. Anyone out there who can add their experience?
  5. sheds/dens

    Might find a bit of inspiration here: Cabin Porn?
  6. Briquetts killing log sales

    That's pretty much bang on mate. It's no different to the firewood game really - a lot of you guys have seen chancers coming along, selling rubbish at cheap prices, and then hopefully disappearing. There's been a huge increase in the whole market - I read there were 175000 new stoves fitted last year alone - and there are plenty of people around who will see something like that and just think there's a killing to be made. It's happened with logs and it's happened with briquettes. Lots of small producers of sawdust have decided it's time to jump on the bandwagon and get their piece of the action - but hey - we don't need to go and spend £160k+ on buying a decent machine designed for the job - there's a machine shop down the road with an old swarf press for £3k - that'll do! The result is your "garden centre special" Loads of my customers have tried them, and they all say the same thing about them - "rubbish - they didn't last five minutes" The size is one problem - they have a lot of surface area for the volume, so more air can get to them. The other problem is the density - they're like a sponge cake compared to a housebrick. The manufacturers put them in sacks "to keep them dry" while half the reason is that retailers won't put up with piles of sawdust all over their shop! Most of them are pressed - and pressed briquettes expand when burning - so they have an even greater surface area. They also fall to bits if disturbed leaving you with a pile of hot sawdust. Extruded briquettes don't do either - you'll get proper embers that will last for hours. But the machine will cost a packet. I've come at the whole thing from a slightly different angle really. It's more important that my customers get a good deal than I make a killing - and so for some enquiries I'll forget the sale and tell them they'll be better off with something else instead. I also won't sell them a product I don't think is good - we've burned nothing but briquettes in our stoves for years, and so we want the best we can find too. As I said, when I offered a cheaper alternative in the past, our customers said they worked out MORE expensive in use - which pretty much confirmed our thoughts on them. Ever since we've stuck with just one type - and if I found one I thought was better then I'd be using and selling that instead.
  7. Briquetts killing log sales

    I'm not here to get in a pissing match with anyone mate, and I'm glad we both have plenty of happy customers. There's no glue in briquettes though...
  8. Briquetts killing log sales

    Our experience is a bit different then - most of our customers wouldn't swap them. Many have shopped around quite a bit and tried different types - they seem to have stopped shopping around now though. As I said - there are briquettes and briquettes - different brands can be like chalk and cheese.
  9. Briquetts killing log sales

    Well there's the HETAS firewood scheme I guess - but it's not obligatory, and I guess a lot of people wouldn't want it to be - basically some office bod coming to your yard, telling you your logs are okay, then charging you a membership fee and more fees for every load you sell. Decent sellers don't need it - their customers know they're getting good stuff and stick with them. Poor sellers don't have to use it - they know there'll be another crop of newcomers to fleece next year. Looks a lot like just another set of self appointed office types making their money off the backs of the blokes doing the graft. It's easy to get hooked on briquettes - I worked in forestry for many years and certainly did my share of firewood, but the only way I'd switch to logs now would be if they were coming out of my own wood. As it stands, I have one pallet in the corner of the garage - and that's me for a year. No mess, no splitting, storing for ages, loads of room taken up with log stores, testing to make sure they're dry enough etc etc. Every one is exactly the same and I know I'll get more heat than logs for the same weight of fuel. It's a bit lazy perhaps - but we can have a weeks worth sat on the hearth, and just bring in a few more packs now and again. Seemed to be forever traipsing up and down with a wheelbarrow when logs were the dish of the day.
  10. Briquetts killing log sales

    Briquettes have a lot of plus points over logs - or good ones do anyway. Customers appreciate that they know exactly what they're going to get in terms of quantity, quality and moisture content - there's no guessing or hoping. Unfortunately it's a fact that there's an awful lot of poor quality firewood about - I hear about it week in week out from my chimney customers. And a lot of them don't want to be trying to work out if the bloke is using tonne bags, dumpy bags, cubic metres, "a load" or whatever. They order a pallet of briquettes and they get exactly 1000 briquettes and every one will be under 5% mc - simple. And for most average customers - those 1000 briquettes will last them the whole season or longer. No offence, but I wouldn't touch the ones in the picture with a barge pole - they're what I call garden centre specials - basically small and soft briquettes - you can see the amount of material that's come off them already in the bags. Doesn't matter what type of wood they're made from - small and soft will equal short lived - whereas ours aren't even in sealed bags (beacuse they're so hard they don't need to be), and will often last all night in the stove. They may well be a lot cheaper than the ones we sell - but we sold a cheaper variety one year and while everyone who took some to try said they were okay - nobody bought them twice - they all said the "expensive" ones lasted so much longer they actually worked out cheaper to use. Good briquettes are expensive because the machinery to make them is expensive - but the difference between a good one and a poor one is like the difference between pop and beech. Having said all that, I don't think I'm threatening anyone elses business round here. A lot of people just insist on logs anyway in spite of all the possible disadvantages. And of course they look a lot nicer next to the fire!
  11. what do you recon?

    I reckon it would probably be hard work personally. With a firebox only 4" square it's only going to take very small stuff and there's a lot of metalwork to heat up. And of course it's going to weigh a tonne! I'd be more inclined to go for a woodgas camp stove - which produce an incredible amount of heat from the tiniest bit of wood, or a rocket stove. Have a gander at Wild Stoves Been a while since I was involved - but I imported the first woodgas stoves into the UK donkeys years ago - and was well impressed with their performance.
  12. I would like to see what is inside this !

    Here's what's inside it
  13. IBC plastic tank

    Bloke at a big greenhouse near us filled a bunch of ibc bubbles with water - wished he hadn't! Couple started leaking but the others just turned into a great big blob - couldn't be moved or anything. Much better left in the cages I reckon. They also tend to go brittle after prolonged exposure to sunlight.
  14. Any Jonsered dealers on here?

    Hi all, Ordered a Jonsered CS2153 online a couple of days ago just for convenience really. Heard back from them this morning and they said Anybody know anything about this? I've emailed Jonsered direct but no reply yet.
  15. DEFRA approved stove

    Lots of clean burning stoves are made, or adjusted so that the air can't be shut right down. Sometimes it's extra vents out of the way somewhere - sometimes it's some kind of restrictor fitted to the normal air controls preventing them from being closed completely - the idea being that the fuel in the fire will always be getting enough combustion air to burn reasonably cleanly. Like it or not - air quality is an issue - some places have had a lot of bother with a modern day smog which has come about as a result of all the wood burners being fitted in recent years. And of course there are a lot of people using stoves (many of them frequenting the moneysavingexpert forum it seems) who think it's fine to burn any old crap - "it's free heat innit?" in a stove. Treated /painted wood etc - who cares about toxic fumes - you can't smell it in your house - so screw the neighbours and their kids.

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