I have a new woodburner for the van. I went back to Dave at Glastonbury Burners and got a new "mini-cyclops" burner which is based on my old Gnome. In this video and article I am going to show you how I removed my old wood burner and installed the new one - and made some "home" improvements at the same time!
A new woodburner? Why?
It has a glass window - that's why I changed! The mini-cyclops is slightly taller, but otherwise the dimensions are the same as my old Gnome burner. The footprint is the same as well, which means it would bolt straight into the van, using the existing bolt holes.
Dave at Glastonbury Burners didn't offer the mini-cyclops when I bought the Gnome a couple of years back. When I found out I can get one with glass in the front, I knew it was time to upgrade! Now I will be able watch the flames. Happy days (or nights!) 🙂
The original woodburner install
To bring you up to speed, if you haven't checked out my original campervan woodburner installation videos, you can find them here. They will show all the safety aspects I built into the van, including an air vent underneath the hearth, the hardiebacker wall and back plate.
Removing the old woodburner
First thing to do was to remove the old Gnome burner. To start with, I had to lubricate the flashing on the roof so the flue could be moved upwards and out of the old woodburner. Plenty of wiggling was needed to break the seal holding the flue in the burner. Couple this with digging away at the sealant with a Stanley knife, and the flue was soon free.
Next I had to remove the two bolts holding the burner in place. Easily done. The burner was now free, which left me with the broken hearth stone. The heat from the wood burner had broken the stone about 18months ago. When it broke, it went with a bang, and scared the hell out of me while I was chilling in the back of the van.
The new hearth
Now came the point to build a new hearth. One which wouldn't crack from the heat of the stove. For this I used the existing wood supports that had been under the stone.
I arranged them in a square, screwed them back onto the floor, making sure to leave an air gap. This would allow the underside of the hearth to breathe using the vent I had installed previously. I then placed a 60cm square of 0.6mm thick copper sheeting over the top of the supports. It was then secured into place using screws.
Next job, was to finish around the edge of the hearth with some edging trim. I thought I had this sorted at the first attempt, but alas it wasn't to be. I couldn't decide on the best trim finish, so ended up trying 3 times before I was happy with it.
Securing the woodburner in place
The burner weighs in at around 10Kg. If this was to come loose in the event of an accident, then that's a lot of damage to me, and the van! So it needs bolting down.
The mini-cyclops burner has the same footprint as my old Gnome, so I was able to use the same bolt holes. I used high tensile steel bolts, rated to 8.8tonnes.
These secure the burner through the floor of the van, where there are spreader plates to evenly distribute any forces over a larger area of the floor pan. This would stop the burner from ripping out in the event of a crash.
Sealing the flue
Next up was sealing the flue into the top of the woodburner. In the past I had used Envirograf, but this broke down after about 18 months. So what I was using this time was a product called Ceramix TC.
Ceramix TC is a high temperature caulking sealant and adhesive compound, that is both flame and heat resistant up to 1250 degrees Celsius. It's easy to apply and sets hard, almost like cement.
You can find Ceramix TC on eBay here:
Flue Rain Cap
Whilst I was installing a new burner, I thought I might as well sort out a new rain cap for the top of the flue. I had tried various rain caps over the past year or so, and all of them let in some amount of rain into the flue.
Then I came across a 4inch all weather cowl. This protects from rain and wind, but the only problem is that it was designed for twin wall flues, not my single wall. The internal measurement was the important one (4 inch), so I took the risk and ordered one from Flue Supplies online.
It was a little loose inside the flue, so I took an off-cut of my single wall flue and cut it down its length. This then slid over the internal flue of the rain cap. This meant it was a nice snug fit into the top. Once installed, the outer wall of the all weather cowl does a good job of protecting the seal of the flashing around the flue. Have a look at the video at the top of the page - its easier to see what I mean than explain it here!
Copper back plate
With the burner installed and sealed, it was time to turn my attention to the back plate. Up until now I was using 2mm aluminium as a protective back plate to the wood burner and flue. I didn't really think about it at the time of installation, but the silver colour was quite a cold colour.
So whilst changing out the burner, I thought I might has well address this. So I bought some copper sheet from Metals South West. It wasn't cheap! I paid over £120 for 2 pieces of copper sheet - one piece at 1200mmx700mm and the other (which went under the woodburner) was 600mmx600mm. The copper is only 0.6mm thick!
During the original install of the back plate, I had spaced it off the wall by 1 inch. This was achieved by cutting tubing to 1 inch lengths and then passing the mounting screw through the middle. By spacing the back plate off the wall, it allows airflow both sides, which takes away any heat.
Thus, the back plate never gets hot, and dissipates the heat brilliantly. Its worth mentioning that the wall itself is hardie-backer board - which in itself is heat resistant. But I wanted to go for maximum safety so installed the aluminium too.
The copper was not thick enough to support itself, so I laid it over the aluminium. The copper had been cut slightly too big, to allow me to bend it over the top edge of the aluminium. I then proceeded to drill the holes which would mount it on the wall. Installation back on the wall was then straightforward.
It is important to have a small first burn. Don't just load up your woodburner and away you go. The paint has to harden, and this is done by gently heating it, not blasting it with load of heat from a full load!
During this first burn, the wood burner will start to smoke as the paint dries and hardens. Therefore it's important to have plenty of ventilation. I had my side door open and my roof vent was wide open too.
The subsequent burns, were larger in size and generated more heat. So during these I took the time to carry out some tests with a laser thermometer to check temperatures at various points on the flue. Here is my results:
These are maximum temperatures observed. Most of the time it was a lot lower than this
- The top plate got to to 300 degrees Celsius.
- Approx 15cm up the flue got to 250 degrees Celsius
- The top of flue inside the van got to 140 degrees Celsius
- The flue exit (outside the van) was 120 degrees, well within the flashings limit of 250 degrees Celsius
When I originally installed my Gnome woodburner, I used a safety guide that was written for canal boats. It translates well into a campervan, as many of the aspects of the installation are the same. So I have reproduced it here so you can check it out:
Other van changes
After finishing the new woodburner install, I took opportunity to update the floor on the van as well. I used self adhesive tiles in a stone effect. Simple and easy to install, it really helped set off the new burner and copper back plate. Check out the video above to see how I did this.
The van was nice to begin with, but by changing the appearance of the back plate, it really has been transformed. The whole van has a warmer feel, and the copper creates beautiful gold reflections around the van. Couple this with the ability to see the flames in the new woodburner, and my already rustic campervan takes on a whole new level of cosiness!
I'm very pleased! 🙂