Unpretentious and common: Logs have jostled, loosing the concrete chinking only to be replaced more than once.
It is a constant job to patch cracks between logs and in corners but doing so pays off in fewer “visitors” and wind slipping through them. Having a semi-tight house is warmer too.
It is heated using a homemade wood-burning stove I made from a steel 55-gallon drum. It does well. When closely managed it will warm two good-sized rooms in a short while and will keep a fire overnight.
The stove is like a computer. You can’t walk up to a computer and ask it a question but neither can you toss logs into the stove and have it make heat.
There are two dampers. A damper stovepipe damper regulates temperature; the rate of burn is controlled by a sliding small damper on the front door admitting air.
While enjoying nights without television and most modern conveniences it is still years ahead of its origins.
The logs came from an ancient house and barn, moved to the present location and reassembled to about the original dimensions. It was originally two rooms separated by an open hallway. The hallway is now a twelve by sixteen room.
Old timers never expected to stay warm in cold weather. Houses built in the 1800’s were rarely insulated and occupants threw on more clothes.
My mother said the house in which she grew up had floors cracks so wide chickens could be seen below. The house was heated by a pot-bellied stove in one room and a fireplace. Additional heat came from the wood-burning cook stove in the kitchen.
Fireplaces generate little heat because most of the warm air goes up the chimney. Eventually, the rocks around a fireplace will warm enough to radiate some heat but a fireplace is nearly net-zero.
They’re lovely to look at, romantic on a cold evening, provide an interesting and retro way to cook a simple meal but are not practical without heat recovery attachments such as inserts that blow warmed air into the room.
Even with the stove putting out heat there are still chilled corners in the bathroom and kitchen. An electric heater older than I helps that.
I’ve made attempts to learn something about the Model 1527 “Dominion Circulating Heater” made in Mansfield, Ohio by the Dominion Electric Company but there is nothing to be found.
Dominion made many products from small heaters to irons and are, I believe, out of business.
That heater could probably not be sold today because it doesn’t have modern safety features but it works well.
Over the years I have replaced the plug, then the whole wire but I dread the day when I have to replace the heating elements.
The little heater first saw service in the first home I remember.
I don’t know how the two story uninsulated house was heated beyond a couple of coal-burning fireplaces but the little heater kept the bathroom warm. That bathroom, like many added “indoor” bathrooms, was an enclosed area of the back porch.
Years ago I found and bought a second hand, sort of modern wood-burning heater to replace that ugly scratched-together thing we use but meet resistance. It remains in stowage.
Meanwhile, the little Dominion Model 1627 glows on.
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at email@example.com.