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Multi-Fuel and Wood-Burning Stoves, Craft Built in Scotland
We have been making stoves on a craft basis, working purely in heavy gauge steel, since 1982.
Over that time we have evolved radically different designs from the norm, that have stood the test of time as well as performance. We hope that this site gives an idea of the variety and invention that we feel we bring to a rather conservative industry sector.
We build by hand, in the heaviest gauges of steel used on the domestic stove market, taking ideas that first formed on the shop floor, that over the years have evolved into the six basic models that we now offer; each radically different from anything else on the market, but each with a proven track record of performance, reliability & longevity.
We started off in 1982 by imitating the basic Scandinavian box stove; then turned it sideways for the larger door opening.
This is the configuration that most modern stoves have settled on, with the grate squashed into the base, an ash drawer and bottom draught underneath, and a long baffle across the top to lengthen the flame path and accelerate the burning gasses to exit. Nowadays a preheated secondary air system usually provides an air wash over the glass doors to help keep them clean.
Otherwise, the difference between the various stoves tend to be in the detail, or in the overall quality of construction. Because we didn't want to get involved with glass doors to start with, it was important that our stoves burnt well with the doors open, as customers wanted to see the flames.
We found that sloping the front helped improve the 'draw', so we tried the same with the sides, until we ended up with the pyramidal shape of the Sumo.
The burning gasses can be seen to loop the loop, before exiting over the back plate as well as improving the draw, other incidental benefits became apparent: large radiant surface areas close to the fire for rapid heat radiation; the fire continually collapses in on itself for safety when opening the door; volume where it’s needed, i.e. the fire bed itself; the wide door like a mouth, that allows easy loading of large fuels pieces, like wood or rubbish, and also affords a good view of the fire. The door looks up into the room.
Building completely in steel and fabricating rather than bending and pressing has given us the freedom to experiment with these shapes. Cast iron plates would crack so close to the fire, and would be difficult to protect without complex brick design. We operate on the principle of getting the heat out of the stove as fast as possible, and large surface areas allow us to do this. Detail in steel, however, is labour intensive, so we have to keep it simple. Most modern stoves press the bodies out of steel, and use cast iron for the doors, grates, and other details.
Building purely in steel, we've had to come up with different solutions. Hence instead of fire bars for the grate, we use one heavy block of steel (20 to 25mm thick) cut to what we call a 'jaw' that rocks the collapsing fuel to riddle it into the ash drawer below.
A set of cast iron fire bars cost up to £200 and might need replacing every two or three years...the jaw on a Dowling does not burn out! It also allows us to introduce air directly into the heart of the fire, pre-warmed as it come in through the ash drawer in the plinth below.
Secondary air is introduced by simply cracking the door open.
Again, simplicity of construction is essential, so the door handle provides both the function of locking the door tight, or, by simply turning the other way levering it slightly open for secondary air. The glass plate slides it into the door from the side and is secured by 4 clips, which hold the glass about 1mm from the door face allowing for a simple air wash -, no nuts, bolts or screws, fire cement or glass fibre rope.
Although we intend to be here for a long time, if our stoves should ever outlast the business, there is nothing on the stove that could not be continually fixed by a competent Blacksmith. That’s the beauty of steel!
It was once pointed out to us that our stoves echoed the natural shape of flame.
Although this was never the conscious intention, there is a beautiful logic in a flame that perhaps the stoves have unwittingly moved towards the way the flame tapers within its envelope of heated air, providing itself with a circle of convection, sucking in fresh oxygen at the base, to replace the gas as it burns.
Since starting to build stoves in 1982, we've fitted approximately half the stoves we've made.
This has given us an intimate feel not just of how stoves operate in different circumstances, but how they connect to the structure of the house; whether they radiate directly to space, or into the chimney base as a heat sink, or are wet-lined to run central heating systems.
Because each job is different, we have to respond to the customers’ preferences as well as the exigencies of required heat. The designs are being continually stimulated.
We've put stoves in boats and caravans, cottages and country houses; workshops and conservatories, barn conversions and architect designed spaces; from 4 kilowatt wood burners to 60 kilowatt multi fuel hi-output boilers we have a catalogue of literally hundreds of different stoves. True, they are generally developed from our six basic stove designs that have evolved over the years, but we are always open to new ideas.
Our customers are genuinely dynamic partners in the design process, and we encourage dialogue.
The bulk of any information about a stove is obviously going to be about design, what a stove will do and how it does it. But with a small business like ours the finished product is each individual stove. These are various principles that have taken form over the years: shaping the stove for maximum radiation; bottom hinged doors for safety; strength for longevity; straightforward operation and maintenance; and, always, simplicity, not just for the customers benefit, but also so we can afford to make them!
Our six01012 basic models are starting points from which we develop each finished item in conjunction with the customer. This principle has been such a powerful machine for product development that we will always maintain a custom-built facility.
Our stoves are sufficiently unusual in appearance for the uninitiated to need reassurance.
Strongest In The World
Fabricated with High Quality Mild Steel
If you’re searching for solid fuel stoves, you will probably already appreciate the advantage that an enclosed stove has over an open fire: an efficient, controlled burn that doesn't suck all the warm air out of the house.
Any stove should offer at least a four fold saving in fuel,
'half the fuel, twice the heat' is a modest claim.
As well as the comfortable heat a solid fuel stove produces, it allows the house to breathe, as opposed to a gasping open fire, or a stultifying gas or electric heat it has the potential of being completely sustainable for the environment (burning wood releases the same CO2 to the atmosphere as does the process of natural decay, and the equivalent volume of timber will reabsorb the CO2 as it grows). So you win all round!
With a Dowling Stove, you don't need to replace fire bars every two or three years, re-seal the doors, or replace cracked cast iron panels.
Our stoves are fabricated (that is, cut and welded, as opposed to pressed) completely in high quality mild steel, which has the tensility to absorb the heat stresses that would crack unprotected cast iron. We use heavier gauges than any other stove on the market for a multi-fuel stove, 8mm upper body up to 25mm for the grate plates.
No fire bricks, ceramic rope or handles, nuts and bolts.
Building with craft techniques means a different economic equation to produce each stove. The material is only a small proportion of the cost, so we can afford to whack on the steel; a high labour content means we have to keep the detail simple, however – so no ornament; we get the shape to do the work. Again, the gauges of steel we work in mean that we can be adventurous with the shapes. We'll admit that strength is not the only consideration for a stove.. but it gives us an edge: if a stove is built to last a lifetime. Long term value is greatly increased.
With a Dowling Solid Fuel Stove you don’t need to replace fire bars every two or three years, re-seal the doors, or replace cracked cast iron panels.
Our boilers are built of a minimum 6mm steel, and tested to 60 p.s.i (as opposed to the usual 40 p.s.i.)
Dowling Stoves, Unit 3, Bladnoch Bridge Estate, Newton Stewart, Scotland DG8 9AB
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