The Fan Ce Blog

Progress – The Smallest Stove Top Fan …

The third prototype is looking very promising. Still a few more refinements to add – but its looking good .. if you like aluminium !

You Tube Video of earlier version – Low Profile Stove Top Fan

Taking a break from the development while I resolve a few other workshop issues – one of which is determining what to get for a video camera to improve on the dreadful quality of video produced by my now 6 year old HTC Desire. Very tired and if I am honest unreliable at best. Cant quite scrape the funds together for an upgrade – it seams a ‘newer phone’ comes complete with 4G – which is pretty useless around the High Peak when you are lucky to get 3G reception and most of the time I get no signal at all.  So the obvious choice is to go for a DSLR Nikon so that I can make use of the F mount lenses I have fro my D3 and the fact I can take a photo … when inspired – I could do with a used one in good order as I see little advantage in a new one.

Meanwhile, I am in the process of rebuilding a Capstan Lathe attachment for my Boxford AUD lathe so that when I am ready to roll out production I can make the fan hubs repeatably and at a workable price.  3 weeks past, I approached a firm to request a quote for small batch production of the fan blades – I even sent CAD drawings and had a chat on the phone – seams they are not interested – having not even had the good manners to reply with a thanks but no thanks.  Is it any wonder UK manufacturing is suffering.

No posts for a week or so as I have a tough few days ahead and then some seriously larger bills which will require settlement – I have to research the used organ market and see what the going rates are !

 

Read more

‘Fuffing Air Out’

The key element to any new fan is the volume and speed of any air it can actually move.

Some of the early fan blade design work has proven interesting – development continues….

IMAG0498

Read more

Slow Going Progress with new Stove Top Fan development

Feb 2016 is nearly over, I had hoped to have a working set of samples by now – but progress has been slow for many reasons, not least of which are the technical difficulties and waiting for modified designs to be laser cut.  The last set of bits arrived Monday and a further prototype is to be built up this week…. hopefully. The following image shows the main cooler parts for a single unit – the costs off all these equates to the same as the Fan-C – frustrating as I had hoped to bring it down substantially – after a lengthy talk with the ‘costing department’ at my supplier – it is clear that laser cut holes cost – early days yet though.

IMAG0496

Read more

Prototype Progress & Stove Top Fan-C Feedback

It is wet with overnight snow outside – wet seams to be the appropriate term for much of this winter season – it has been the wettest winter on record for much of the country (UK) scant little in the way of snow and frost …. not so good for seasonal sales – not much to say on that matter – only to add that I have been giving some thought into boot drying kit for the dog walkers out there !

The new prototype fan is on the bench in part completed state. I have to varying degrees of success ‘soldered’ aluminium to give me a cooler design which I ‘hope’ will achieve my desired effect.  During the process of working my way through various old gas canisters to fuel my small blow torch (cheers Dad it worked but not for long) I made the investment in a larger unit to fit on my camping propane bottle (20lts)… works a treat along with the small nozzle and regulator required – so much for £35 … the set up was £100 including some fire bricks purchased from ebay and supplied by a lovely lady based in North Nottinghamshire.   I called mid day, they arrive 10am next morning.  So, soldering aluminium .. looks simple enough on YouTube – I purchased a few sticks of ‘Alubuild 300’ solder rods designed for Aluminiun and melt at 300 deg C … The key is getting everything up to temp at the same time and having the solder in place to melt & then flow into the joint .. which has to be tight to avoid voids and failure of the solder bond…

It also helps to be systematic in pre-coating and not pick up the recently heated aluminium part .. After welding a small section to a finger tip I can confirm its still hot for quite a while – the finger tip will remain without a print for a few weeks I suspect.

 

One of the benefits of making prototypes from scratch is that it throws up all the manufacturing issues which are likely to arise when batch production starts. Most noticeable is the requirement to make jigs & fixtures to enable repeat dimensions to be machined to tight tolerance (typically 0.02mm) and simple things like holding parts to enable machining to take place.  More on that in a later post.  Alas the lazer cutting firm have been far from fast and I am now awaiting profiles for the next stage of assembly.

Fan-c Feedback:  If you have not found our Facebook page – do please take a quick look and like it – it all helps spread the word & if you have your own page leave us a comment and like and we will search you out and return the favour.

I posted this last night:- ” I get out to meet few folk over the course of a year – one of the downsides of mainly internet based sales. However, those folk that visit the Peak District and fancy a Stove Top Fac-C are always welcome to call in for a brew and a chat … always best to call ahead though … just in case I am off out fishing for trout.

A few weeks back a nice gentleman emailed to agree a suitable time for such a chat. He arrived in a series 1 landrover – much admired by me it was. He left some 2 hrs later with a fan-c and full of tea.
Here is his last email:-

“Hi Mat
Just an update on fan.
Fits in space nicely. Trying facing out first. Runs fine.
Although not been in use for long I think it is a benefit.
Room warmer all round at lower stove temperature and I am sure using less fuel.
As you say I have loaded one log at a time and had same heat output.
I find the power of the fan quite surprising.
Thanks Charles”
Pictures to follow.

 Comments – (then from other facebook users ) :

“I have to say, your fans are incredible. Having ordered one myself just before Christmas time, in truth I thought it was too small to make a difference. We have quite a large room and previously it took literally 3 hours before the back of the room even started to warm up. Boy, was I wrong! Within around 30-40 mins of the stove hitting a sensible temperature, the room was noticeably warmer and the back of the room was beginning to warm up. Fast forward 1hr and we had to open the door and turn the stove heat down. I’m honestly not exaggerating!

I know this probably sounds like one of those reviews from a friend of the company, but I absolutely assure you I’m not. I’m just a very happy customer who will (and have!) recommended your fans to anybody that will listen. It was also nice chatting to you on the phone regarding the copper “disc” that came with it. Great bloke, great product, great company”

It is always good to get feedback – more so when its positive and out of the blue. So far this year the only negative feedback was related to a product which had arrived damaged – a replacement is on its way – frustrating given the time and effort which goes into packing the units.  In total, 2015 we had 3 units returned with the ‘no quibble returns policy’, a handful of initial use burn outs … as I like to call them – all serviced & returned with a note suggesting closer observation of stove top temps would be beneficial – xmas presents I suspect 🙂
My Morso badger is burning, ‘Trev’ … The Wonder Dog’ to give him his full title (he also has a facebook page!) is stretched out steaming dry in front of it & I guess I need to get on with more productive work.
Read more

The Skills Gap…

Over the last few years, I have come to regret my poor skills level, in terms of ‘building stuff’. Following the degree in Environmental Management which I studied in Manchester, and a career basically in engineering, purchasing & production management – I was at the end fully skilled in not much at all when it came to actually doing something.  I am not and never have been one to sit on my hands. .. well Ok so I used to fish for bream in Ireland and not striking required quite a bit of sitting on my hands awaiting the right time to lift into the fish and set the hook…  The point is , I watched skilled and sometimes not so skilled people do the tasks which I had requested. I picked up a lot (plenty of ‘bad habits) along the way and only now am I revisiting some of what I watched years ago and ;trying it myself’.  Youtube, and blogs have been an absolute joy – so much information for the taking / using. Many of the machine skills (and I use the term broadly as they relate to me) I have gained from the various YouTube Channels – Doubleboost, Oxtools, Shadon HK, R&R In the shop) to name a few – my subscriptions list is double figured and each weekly update these guys post has useful skills and knowledge passed on. It sure beets watching TV with the drivel that passes for entertainment these days.  I am on the look out for a Nikon SLR with HD video so That I may in due course add to the pool of knowledge out there. Maybe a DIY Stove Top Fan You Tube channel who knows ?

As relates to the product development – this weeks skill set will be aluminium welding … or brazing / soldering call it what you will – and it goes under many names on Youtube – basically using an alloy stick & lots of heat form a propane torch to bond two aluminium surface together.  Having spent 4 days machining the parts, I really don’t want to cock it up – I have watched countless videos and ordered the required safety gear (visor / goggles), gloves, fire bricks, brazing sticks (not cheep!) and thats the plan this week. Do my best o assemble the 25 parts which make up the new cooler section. Then machine the base & build up the unit (motor, teg & blade set).

If I can work out how I will try and capture some video or stills and add them to a post later this week.

If I cock it up … probably not !

The Landrover is due its annual investment in new parts – timing belt replacement, service, reversing sensors etc etc ….. I love the car but hate the bills. The three day garage vacation it is getting should force me to get on in the shop !

Cheers

mat

Read more

Trade Information – A good read .. if you like this sort of thing …

In 2014, I met up with a nice chap starting out publishing an online magazine for the fireplace & stove industry / trade.  I wanted to support him and placed an add for an issue and it interesting to see what it generated.  I also placed a small add in Country Living Magazine (an actual genuine paper printed pages etc !) alas with my mind occupied on matters closer to home I missed it all in 2015.

 

For those that like a read take a look through this Fireplace.co.uk

If you visit the website and look back through the archives there is lots of handy information on all things Fireplace – you may even come across my feature.

On the other hand if while at the dentist or GP’s and you find the December copy of Country Living 2014 – you will if you look really closely in the adds find my little add.  It surprises me that 12 months on I occasionally get a call from someone with a copy asking if I still do the fan things …. now just to ensure the these calls get he full deal, I have to leave the workshop and stand in the garden allowing the chickens to cluck around me providing the authentic country living rural business experience – whilst trying to decipher their requirements.  Which brings me nicely to this posts point:-

If you are unsure, don’t know or just interested – give me a call or drop me an email – details on the website www.stovetopfan.co.uk  – now if I am running a machine leave a message – chances are I will pick up half way through when I have been able to both stop the machine safely and find the phone handset ! … if you leave your number be sure to make it clear – it can take me an age trying the various combinations of digits.

That’s all folks.

Read more

2016 – January … The lost year of 2015

First Off – Happy New Year – If you are reading this either you have very odd internet search interests or you have purchased a Stove Top Fan or are about to or have been given one …

To all those clients that have come before – thank you very much for your support of my little business, to all those clients looking for updates – sorry – please read below & accept that I promise to try and do better this year. To all the rest of you – I hope you enjoy the BLOG, I will try and make it a lot more stove relevant this year.

 

So what happened to 2015 ?

Well my business carried on while a major aspect of my private life went down the drain. In short almost a year to this day  my former partner of some 15 years turns up at the door and announces her intentions for the future as relates to her and our children – a week after her bombshell, I get a solicitors letter and confirmation that an application to the family court has been made by her.  I am unable to comment further as such matters are not in the childrens best interests and will be used in court against me – suffice to say that several £1,000’s later and after numerous court appearances the matter still remains unresolved and at present I still get to be full time dad every other week.

The net result of the above is a series of missed deadlines for development and a huge amount of worry not to mention the complete destruction of the financial buffer I had built up over the last 10 years. I am bitter about it, I continue to be frustrated about it and am fully aware that neither will do me or the situation any good.

Are there any plus points – well sure, my partner has been an absolute rock and despite the plans we had having to be paused she remains solid with me, our friends have been and continue to be very understanding and accepting things cannot be explained or discussed.  The entire mess has focused my attention ever more on my kids lives and how I can be as good a dad to them as I can making me relish every possible minute I share with them and making positive memories.

Hopefully come mid March the court matters will be concluded and the outcome proven to be in the children s’ best interests….. it remains scary prospect that someone unknown to me or the kids will decide the matter and no matter my view on it I have to go along with it – I would not wish the associated trauma on any parent.

I am now back at the drawing board working on the new product .. well new in so much as its not off the drawing board yet which is where it has been hanging around for 24 months !  The plan is to get a working prototype up and running by March – the clock is ticking and I keep breaking the pencil lead whilst the cat sits on the board hindering the parallel motions action !

2015 has had some super times – more valuable for break they gave from stress of time, my daughters 1st trout on a traditional wet fly from a highland loch, my lads first rainbow from our club water here in Derbyshire  Errwood Fly Fishing Club:- Seeing the kids after school for a few days before xmas and they traveled to France  – I made the effort this year complete with hat & white bearded outfit from the kids… .

GAIRLOCH SUMMER 2015 674 Nat Trout 10269372_1123084957716079_8830315904776309941_n

Read more

And so onto November 2014…

I sit typing as the rain hammers down outside – but its still quite mild out. Sales across the board are in line with last year which is re-assuring given the countless boxes off parts currently in storage around the place. Thoughts turning to advertising & ‘marketing’ again …. previous years we have used Addwords through Google etc – and to be honest was not that impressed – no significant level of orders as far as I could tell came as a direct result. Something more targeted is required.
It is not to say that the Google addwords system does not allow targeting – it does – and its pretty good. But the thing is if you are a bit rubbish at the whole on-line searching then maybe you don’t shop on line ! Clearly a chunk of clients prefer to buy the product through the likes of Amazon – so much so that sales at a price well in excess of those on our own website www.stovetopfan.co.uk  have been made through the trade.

So we turn to the more traditional approach – glossy magazine on the coffee tables up and down the country … NOT CHEEP ! crikey …. well that’s the budget gone in one hit. If I could work out how to attach a pdf of the new ADD I would cleverly attach it here., thus making the Blog a little more interesting. Looks like I have to go search the web to find out how now.

The add, should run for 125k copies published 2 weeks ahead of Christmas – apparently lots of people (70%+ readership) labelled as A, AB & B, etc read it … what ever that means 🙂

Fingers crossed it produces the results required – otherwise its Christmas Turkey eaten off of the stock in boxes around the place !

 

Read more

Suppliers – some are just not that helpful at times

Well its the first day of November, production of the fan-c copper units is well underway and stock is … plentiful. Alas the same can not be said of the fan-ce its larger brother. Days after ordering up a batch of stock parts, the supplier announces that they are no longer stocking this unit and that I cleared their stock with my last order.. thank you very much for that order Look Creations. Now Ok, this can happen, but what cheeses me off is that the very same supplier did the same some months back with other parts I purchased. Fortunately, they did help me out in securing further stock for season from outside the UK – I asked at that time if they would please advise me as and when they felt a similar situation would arise with the other parts.. they forgot.

The next thing we do is scour the internet for parts – ind some – order some and then when nothing turns up chase up the order. Only to get an email advising me that the ‘automated system updated the listing with the incorrect price and we cant possibly supply the units at that price and if by the way you wanted to triple the order we can supply you but the price is 50% higher than you already paid … but we will throw in free next day delivery …’

GRRRRRRR !

So now we find that we have a single Fan-ce left in stock and a 30% (at least) price hike on the parts or we have to go ahead and order £10Ks worth of stock to get just a 20% price hike. Wonderful. One to sleep on that, with Space at a premium and cash is always tight at the start of the season oh and yes – notice the ‘warm’ october we have had not helped sales volume at all. I went out to split some logs for my Morso – I was breaking out in a sweat just carrying the axe to the log pile !

rant over… for now 😉
Hope you all had a good Halloween & wishing you a happy All Saints Day or what ever you say on the 1st of November.

Read more

Mid October – The Log Burner Season is well underway

It has been a busy few months getting my ‘ducks in a row’. There have been parts to order & ship in … with all the usual complications of customs, couriers and poor service from some suppliers – but then some of my suppliers have been fantastic. There has been hundreds of hours so far making the bespoke parts, getting the materials to do the job, tweaking specifications to reduce risks of rejects and improve repeatability of my own process. Sorting out packaging so that it is to hand and effective whilst being mindful of the down sides of excessive packaging.
A brief foray into the art / science of electroplating – expensive lessons I hope have been learnt and we will have to re-visit the exercise as the Black Nickel coated batch is all but sold.
Sadly some 10 units were assembled and then found to be lacking with some areas of partial coverage – they are fine if you don’t look too hard – but now this are sat in a big box marked REJECTS ! Meanwhile, we have secured a long term future for the laser cut parts with a local firm – the first batch has been great – no deburring required and thankfully no protective film to remove – if only the same could be said for the last batch of copper squares – 500 little slivers of plastic film to scrape off. More frustrating was the fact the supplier agreed o supply with no film.

we have anew Trade Account establishing, The Efficiency People Trading Ltd – based out of Manchester – offering all manner of products with a healthy stove accessories business. after many months of continually chasing me, I have agreed a trade price which should work for both parties – in return for my supplying, Look creations can now offer a discount code for their website – which provides each order with a 5% discount and a small finders fee back to Look Creations. It remains to be seen what level of orders for fans the business will generate through its larger more sophisticated and better advertised website http://www.theefficiencypeople.co.uk/

Tomorrow we hope to see the arrival of a pallet of parts – now 4 weeks late, I had no idea it took that long to ship a pallet from the Netherlands to the UK. Maybe next time I will rent a trailer and collect !

Great to hear some feedback from happy clients – the last one traveled down to the area from Perth and called in to see/buy a Fan-C.

On a side note – I seam to have got myself into Fly Fishing for Trout on the local fishery. 3 trips and each time I had trout for tea afterwards & now I have aquired a fly tying vice and bag of feathers to convert – should be fun learning a new ‘hobby’.

Read more