In the past I have repaired and swept two Franco-Belge Stoves for two different customers; one of the stoves was a Merville, whilst the other was a Montfort. The issue with these stoves is that the grate expands with heating and then cannot be removed from the stove with ease. This is a problem because the grate has to be removed before the baffle/throat plate is removed to gain access to the flue for sweeping. I can only think that this issue with the grate is a design fault with these models of stove as it occurs wherever you find these types of Franco-Belge Stoves. The stove is also quite complex to dismantle and must be done in a particular order and in a particular way, otherwise it will not come to pieces. Firstly the two fire-retaining bars have to be removed; these sit on top of each other at the front of the fire-box. Next the rear fire-brick has to be removed; this is extracted from the bottom first and pulled forward; there are two diagonal indentations at the bottom of the brick that assist in gripping it for removal. It is then rotated so that it can be completely removed from the stove. The two side bricks are then removed in turn, again lifting them from the bottom. It is at this point that the grate can now be removed by lifting it upward from the rear until it clears the baffle, which somewhat unhelpfully slopes forward restricting the grates removal. Once lifted clear at the rear from the baffle the grate can be pulled forward, rotated and removed from the stove. Finally, the baffle can be removed by dropping it off the rear ledge on which it sits, it is then pulled forward, bottom first, just like the rear fire-brick, before it is rotated and removed from the stove. Frequently, the two baffle gaskets will fall lose into the firebox when the baffle is removed. These gaskets sit on top of either side of the top of the baffle. These can simply be stuck back in place on top of the baffle using heat resistant silicone and allowed to dry whilst the chimney is swept.
I hear you ask though, ‘how can you sweep the chimney of one of these stoves if the grate has expanded and is wedged in place’? One rather expensive option would be to have an inspection hatch cut in the stove pipe which would allow access to the flue. As I say, this would be expensive and it does not facilitate cleaning the top and rear of the baffle where soot and tar can collect and impede the efficient operation of the stove. A cheaper alternative way of repairing the stove is to pries out the grate using a large crowbar. A small amount of the rear of the grate can then be removed by grinding, so that it once again fits the stove correctly. This is the method I used last week to repair both stoves. Having removed the grates I took them to Springwell Forge in Ugley, where the Blacksmith David Gowlett removed the requisite amount from the rear of both grates. David is a handy man to know, on previous occasions he has repaired or totally re-fabricated stove baffles for me at a very reasonable cost. David has been a blacksmith since 1978 and has been running the forge at Ugley since 1989; he is a true craftsman. David Gowlett – Springwell Forge, Cambridge Road, Ugley CM22 6HY 01799546270 – springwellforge.co.uk
Franco Belge are one of Europe’s leading stove manufacturers and have been producing high quality stoves for over 80 years.