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Information about Russian fireplaces

The Monitor ran a story earlier this year about a Russian fireplace. Can you give me the names of the companies which built it? What about cost? I have a fireplace in my home now but heat my house with gas forced air. Mrs. Laurence H. Chambers Baltimore

Two State of Mainers, Jim and Holly Harley, heat their South Gardiner home with what may be the ultimate in wood stoves. It burns scrap wood, twigs, shavings -- anything to create a fast fire for a half hour or so. Then the fire fades and finally goes out, yet the heat continues to flow out of the stove.

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The so-called Russian or Finnish fireplace holds the heat for up to 12 hours, wrote Peter Tonge of the Monitor staff.

"In effect, the fireplace becomes a radiating brick wall that frequently ranges from 3 to 5 feet wide and up to 7 feet high," he wrote. "The hot bricks retain considerable heat for more than 12 hours, radiating out a steady warmth over a distance of some 20 feet."

Mr. Tonge mentioned two sources of information on the unit:

* Basilo Lepuschenko, a Russian immigrant, built the stove for the Harleys. Mr. Lepuschenko has prepared plans for both three-flue and five-flue fireplaces. The plans cost $10 and can be ordered from him at: Alexander Road, Richmond, Maine 04357. He also will provide information alone if you include a stamped self-addressed envelope with your request.

* You also can obtain data on this type of fireplace -- or stove, if you wish -- by writing to the Maine Wood Heat Company, Father Rasle Monument Road, Norridgewock, Maine 04957.

A reasonably handy person should be able to build the stove from plans but it may take a little time. It could cost around $1,400 if a mason were to build it , considering the cost of labor these days as well as the price of bricks.

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