Last week Ian and Matt collected a rather special cooker, a rare beauty, but a bit of a mess to take apart! Installed in 1936 this 4 oven is worthy of being in a museum,..maybe it will be one day!
It took 3 times longer than normal to dismantle this one, as Ian and Matt familiarised themselves with her complexities. She has far more bolts than you would see in younger cookers, indicating that the internal workings and fittings have been streamlined over the years.
The Model 62 was waiting for us, enjoying the company of her original kettle sidekick, a beautifully engineered object in its own right. There was some debate in the Blake and Bull workshop as to whether the metal joining strip is original, as the boys expected it to be cream enamel as on a standard 4 oven. I am pleased (and smug) to say that I was right, and it is in fact original! It had at some stage however been removed and re-secured with the aid of carpet strip, which is fair to say threw Ian and Matt off the scent a little.
The integrated cast iron rail is attractive, but arguably less practical than the modern alternative as it shields the 'heat indicator' from view and has a smaller space for hanging, well... your smalls! This cooker, later superseded by the Model C, on which the rail was removed altogether from the front.
The doors are seemingly aesthetically similar to those on a standard model, however the shape of the handles is different and the two main oven doors are also different sizes. The small roundel blanking plate to the centre/left of this image would have housed a tap, which would have released over 35 litres of near boiling water on demand for cooking, bathing, and laundry.
I love the shape of the thermostat setting knob too, flatter and wider narrowing to a point. The backplate design becomes rounder and softer in the coming years.
The ash pit door is stretched down in this irregular shape to accommodate an aperture for an auxiliary air inlet, a wide internal pipe that pulls cold air through to aid the draw on the flue.
This Aga range cooker had a flue set up that exited at the rear of the machine, leaving an aperture on the top between the lids for a second 'cold air mixer'. Serving as an additional cold air source to aid the 'draw'.
The expansion ring here is massive, and the lid liners are made of fibre board, not the aluminium factory 'standard' that is seen on younger cookers.
We love the little 'sputnik' sci-fi looking cold air source. It looks like a spaceship has just landed, anyone remember the 80's classic 'Batteries Not Included', just the same!
The cooker has an industrial feel, which seems like a silly thing to say as all Aga range cookers are robust machines, but somehow this one feels that bit more utilitarian. Maybe because at this time commercial models were made alongside the smaller domestic appliances, serving hospitals, large ships, and huge estates. With some accommodating 6 lids! Imagine the modern fuel bill!
The left hand oven doors open downwards, the hinge area looks very similar, but is secured with a beautifully engineered square ended bolt. the handles are deep and more angular, maybe it is the angles that make it that bit more masculine?
The exterior was in remarkably good condition, with only small hints as to what we might reveal on taking her apart. The main hob top section has corroded through near the hot spot after over 80 years of service.
The cast iron has slowly eroded from the underside, almost entirely concealing the rock wool insulation. With such a large copper boiler, that was itself partly corroded, it is highly likely that a slow steady moisture leakage caused this. Hard to tell where from exactly, especially as she had lain dormant for sometime.
There is something quite beautiful about the scarring left by the Kieselgur insulation.
A messy substance, but no challenge for Big Brute! The Boiler, made of copper has transferred verdigris into the powder, creating this vibrant green patina.
The Kieselgur, a natural sedimentary rock, has degraded over time through exposure to intense heat from the solid fuel burning and moisture from the boiler. This is replaced in younger adaptations with Vermiculite, but rock wool is still widely used to insulate the top, lids and doors. We prefer a more modern mineral fibre insulation, easy to cut and fit to ensure every nook is filled.
We cannot wait to show you these ovens when they have been shot-blasted. This lovely old 'gal is unlikely to ever cook or heat again, but we are determined to preserve her.
The flue can be seen here on the right, as it exits the machine to the rear.
Personally I am looking forward to seeing this little kettle restored too, as she won my heart when I climbed on the van on the gents return to the workshop. Original to the cooker, they have been together all this time, serving the household.
She is now sleeping in storage, in readiness for restoration. Watch this space...