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Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Flophouse Godin

Mail and quite a few hits in response to my posts about our Godin wood stove. Here is the story - all the posts I wrote last year about it in chronological order:

A "Petit Godin" for the Flophouse (January 2013)  Why we decided to get a wood stove for our house here in Versailles and a nice video I found that shows how a top-loading Godin works.

The Search for the Perfect French Wood Stove (May 2013)  All the different models we looked at when we went to the Godin showroom in St. Cyr.


Tempus Fugit at the Flophouse (June 2013)  The month we finally got the mason to do the work of raising the chimney.  He did great work.  Before and after pictures.

Flophouse House and Garden Fall Projects (September 2013)  The story of how we came to buy our odd little house in Versailles and how the installation of the wood stove by Godin went.



Settling in for the Winter - le Petit Godin (November 2013)  A report on how well we liked our stove once we actually started using it.

People have sent stories about Godins in places like Vermont and Quebec.  I've also heard from folks who either want one and want to know if they are still being exported, or from those who are thinking about it and have questions about how well they work and if it's really worth it.

One wood stove does not make me an expert but, hey, I live to serve.





Finding a Godin:  From what I am hearing (and if you have other information, please correct me) Godin still exports but not everywhere.  I found new stoves for sale in the UK, for example.  I did not find any resellers in North America BUT I did see more than one used Godin on Ebay under "vintage wood stove" or "antique French Godin" so that's one place to look.   Craigslist might be another - they have sites all over the world.  There are other forums and boards you can check out like this one which gives you a good idea of the prices (used) - I see one in Tacoma, Washington for 300 USD (about 220 Euros).   These stoves are downright indestructible and last forever so it makes sense that there would be used ones out there.  

On the Godin website they have a catalog request form and apparently they have an English language version.  So for you anglophones out there just put in your address and check "Anglais" and "Particulier."  You can also have a look at their on-line catalog.  I'd suggest checking one or the other of these sources to get a good idea of the range of stoves available and then start looking for a used one in your area if there aren't any Godin resellers in your country.

How Well Do They Work?  Well, I haven't received a single comment or email from someone who doesn't love their Godin.  As for us, we are very pleased so far.  Be aware that it's not that cold in Versailles yet.  Early January temperatures are hovering just above freezing at night and there's almost no wind. Depending on how much wood I feed it, I can keep the main floor of our little house between 21 and 23 degrees Celsius ( between 70 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit).

We are using more wood these days and we are now confronted with the problem of picking it up, storing it, and keeping it dry.  We don't have a truck so we have to use the car and we can only fit about 3/4 of a stere in the back per load.  That amount of wood lasts us about three weeks.

Last week we made two trips to Viroflay and Mr. Treps' woodlot and packed 1.5 steres on the front porch.   This is the side of the house least exposed to the wind and rain.  I've learned that it's easier to get the stove started and continuously burning throughout the day if I stack a day's worth of wood and kindling in the house in the evening before I go to bed.

We could get wood delivered and we've looked into it.  But we don't have a driveway and there's no place for a truck to pull up and dump the wood.  Also, we like buying locally and Mr. Treps' prices and service (he always helps us load) are good.  What we may do next summer is build a shelter on the side of the house with room for roughly what we would need for the winter.  Then we would make a series of small trips each month while the weather is good until we fill the space.


Yesterday I got a call from Caldeo, the fuel company (another place with great service) asking if we needed the tank topped off.  Last delivery was 1000 liters in October which brought the counter up to 1200 liters.  I went down and checked and we still have about 800 liters left.  So we are using a little over 100 liters (26 gallons) of fuel a month.  That's about what you would put into an SUV if you took one down to the local gas station and said, "Fill her up."

I think we can do better but it will never be zero because our boiler provides heat and hot water.  I'm an old lady with arthritis and I'm not giving up my hot baths nor will I wash my dishes in cold water. There are limits and il ne faut pas exagérer...

I've set up a spreadsheet and I will be tracking how much wood we use and the rate at which we are burning fuel.  This will give me a baseline for next year.

The Final Grade:  5 Stars.  Two thumbs up.  20/20.  A++.  It really was worth all the trouble and the expense.  I have no idea when we will get a return on the investment but we are clearly using less fuel.  There are also a number of indirect benefits that we didn't think of when we first got the stove installed but have become apparent with time and experience.

Dry heat:  The heat from the wood stove is dry heat and feels better than the heat that comes off the radiators.  Versailles is really humid and cold - it was built on swampland and a few hundred years ago there was a pond where our house sits today.  We get that stove going and we can feel the house getting warmer and drier.  It's great for my arthritis.

Cooking:  I'm not kidding.  I hauled out my grandmother's (great-grandmother's?) cast iron skillet which fits beautifully on the top of the stove.  I've made beef stew, reheated roast chicken and defrosted vegetables from the freezer.  I'm sure I could do much more.  Right now I am looking for a cast iron tea kettle at a reasonable price so I can have tea water on demand.

Fertilizer:  There is a little tray for the ashes in the bottom of the stove.  Every morning I take it out and either dump it in the garden or I mix it into the compost pail in the kitchen (keeps it from smelling).  I used our fireplace ashes in the garden in our old apartment and it made a huge difference - the flowers and vegetables just loved it.  I think this garden will love it too.



Less waste:  We used to take out the recycling bin once a week and it was always full.  These days it's more like every two or three weeks.  This is because we use paper for starting fires.  I'd never realized just how much of our recycling was paper products.  That was an inspiration and now we are looking into just what else is going into that bin that we could reuse.  Here's one example and, yes, I'm going to try it.

That's the bilan so far.  If you know other resources or have stories to tell about Godin wood stoves old or new, antique or modern, please share them.  I can attest to the fact that there is interest out there.

And for the next big Flophouse project?  Right here.

2 comments:

Blaze said...

OMG. You haven't given up on the chicken idea if I'm interpreting French correctly in your next project.

Victoria, you've lost your clucking head!

I hoped the two hens and a rooster I sent you for someone else would have cured you of this idea.

When do you plan to get cracking?

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Nope we are still on the road to hell, blaze. :-)