Grate Protectors

We had a Clearview Vision stove installed about 14 years ago and since then it's been one of the main sources of heat in the home, burning 3-4 tons of dried wood in a typical year. We've consumed two top baffle plates in that period, but the grate looks as good as new because from the outset I installed a home-made grate protector to preserve it (that's bristle from the brush, not a crack, top right of the photos). Contrast that with the state of the grate protector I just took out, originally made and repaired from bits of scrap steel. The old protector has burned paper-thin in places and has been patched a couple of times, but eventually has been junked and replaced - I am now on the third version of it.

Clearview Grate

Clearview Grate

Clearview Grate

Burned-out protector

The grate protector sits above the grate and is sacrificed to save it, holding the hot charcoal and wood away from the cast iron. I don't mind making a new one every few years if it saves the cost and aggravation of trying to get and fit spares for the fire, spares which seem to me to be exorbitantly priced.

I've mentioned this to a number of friends who have shown interest in doing something similar and have provided a small but steady stream of protectors to people nearby who wanted to do what I have done. Having exhausted my supply of scrap iron I've taken to making them from new angle iron supplied by Parker Steel who have proved to be competitive in cost and extremely reliable on delivery from their nearby base at Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire.

I tend to make them out of two different sizes of stock. For smaller fires I use 20mm x 3mm angle iron, for larger ones 40mm x 3mm. The larger ones are hefty pieces of metal and definitely not lightweight - for my Clearview, the current protector weighs 3.5kg - an industrial lump of iron!

Here are two of the more recent creations prior to being used. Once is for the Clearview and the other for a Morso Squirrel. The Morso one is actually a lot smaller, the iron used is half the size but in the photos that tricks your eyes.

Clearview Protector

Squirrel Protector

Squirrel Protector

If you would like one yourself, let me know the dimensions in cm that you want and which grade of metal stock you want - 20mm square for smaller fires or 40mm for larger ones. I can quote you a cost for time and materials, which is typically in the £15-£20 range (but bear in mind that postage costs on heavy lumps of metal add 50% to 100% of the cost). This is still cheap in my opinion - at the time of writing, July 2016, Clearview are quoting £34.80 for the inner circular grate and a further £50.40 for the outer grate, so about £85 in total, presumably then with postage to add. I burn a lot of wood and my own protectors seem to last about 5 years or so and I reckon they represent a bargain.

I'm not a full-on commercial supplier of these things, they are hand-made to order and lead times will depend on whether I'm available to make them that weekend.

The best way to order is firstly to cut a piece of cardboard to fit your fire grate (the back of a cereal packet maybe, or cardboard box that you happen to have). Make sure it's a reasonable fit to your grate with a few mm all around to allow for expansion, a snug fit might expand too much and crack your fire bricks and we don't want that. Then make sure you can get the thing in and out of the door with plenty of space around it. When you feel confident you have the size right, get in touch with me via my contact page and let me know what you want - I'll reply with a cost and weight for you, so I can quote postage too.

If your grate is not rectangular, send me a sketch with dimensions and I'll see what I can do for you.

Keep warm this year!

Manufacturing Details

If you want to know how these are made, they are typically hand-cut from angle iron stock using a plasma cutter, individual bars solidly welded to the front and back (or side) runners and sharp/rough edges ground off. These are lumps of ironmongery and are not intended to be works of art or aesthetically pleasing, but they are solidly built to last. They will come with odd bits of welding spatter and slag possibly still attached and the original mill scale on the iron, with maybe a bit of light rust showing too. There's no point in polishing or painting them - they are going to be red-hot inside your fire as soon as you use them, they are to hold hot charcoal off the original grate, not be admired.

Whilst I'll try to ensure that there are no razor-sharp edges on them (I have to handle them too) I'd advise using gardening gloves whilst handling them and putting them into your fire.

As for weight, you can reckon on 1.8kg per linear metre of 40mm angle iron and half that (0.9kg) for 20mm stock. Most protectors have two rails which cover the short dimension of the grate and then a suitable number which cover the long dimension, like the Clearview version above. It doesn't matter much which way round the protector is built but having fewer longer bars rather than more numerous short ones reduces the number of cuts and welds that need to be done and helps keep the cost down.