The Navigator Stove Forum

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Gypsy wagon stoves

I realize that this is not a very active forum but I want to throw out my experience with heating our two wooden gypsy wagons. I built the first one in 1987 and bought a stove similar to the Halibut directly from the Lunenburg foundry. It is rather heavy for use in what is essentially a trailer, and we rarely use the oven, though directing the heat around the oven does increase the efficiency of the stove by cooling the smoke stream-- one just leaves the door open after the draft is established and the draft diverter is slid into place. Unfortunately, my wife did not have much luck getting a long lasting fire in the stove (when she was in the wagon alone) because of the small firebox and short stack. I ended up removing the grates and putting in a propane burner from an inexpensive sheet metal stove that is sold to heat ice-fishing shanties. That burner does have a pilot flame and thermocouple control to guarantee there would be no gas leak if the burner flame were ever to blow out-- which it never has. It does not have a thermostat, but the main flame can be turned up or down. In a wagon, there is no concern with propane being heavier than air. The comment in this forum about using pressed logs instead of natural wood also sounds great-- I wonder whether there are any that are small enough for a stove like mine or the Halibut? If there are, I might convert back!

For our second wagon, my wife insisted on a with a visible flame. She bought a propane Jotul Allagash stove (which is very pretty, and lighter than it looks). I modified it by putting two hidden gas burners under the cast iron grate at the top of the stove, for cooking. The disadvantage of a stove like that is that the main burner cannot be turned down below 18,000 btu/hour-- which means it has to be cycled on and off by a threomostat, and the interior of the wagon cycles with it. I think we would be better off with a Sardine or similar Navigator stove than that setup-- without the oven the firebox would be larger and the fire easier to maintain.

I have now seen that the Woodstock Soapstone Stove Company is making a tiny propane stove with a glass front, that weighs less than 100 lbs. It might be an option for similar wagons.