Blayney welder Justin Press has always had a love of all things colonial Australia.
On a hill on his Kings Plains property his mancave features several cast-iron stoves, cream separators and cast-iron stove top water fountains from that era.
During recent lockdowns home improvement has been a booming industry and as kitchens were renovated and mancaves built, his side hustle of restoring old wood-fired stoves has sparked up.
"I've always been interested in old colonial Australia and used to collect bottles when I was a kid, go gold panning and metal-detecting and have always liked the old stoves," he said.
Like many hobbyists Mr Press had no intention of buying and selling old stoves and his first one was restored as a personal project.
"I bought the stove from Oberon about five years ago, fixed it up a bit, took a picture of it and someone asked me if I wanted to sell it," he said. "That really started the ball rolling. Now people around Australia send their stoves to me, and I send them all around Australia"
Every Sunday I pop in a roast and they taste so much better out of a wood-fired oven.Justin Press.
With three sheds on his Kings Plains property featuring stoves in all different stages of renovation, it's in his mancave that his pride of joy is brought to the fore every Sunday.
Weighing in at 500 kilograms his favourite range of stoves are the Sydney made The Younger stoves. Sitting at pride-of-place on a welded frame with heavy-duty wheels attached is a The Younger 9 stove that sees regular usage.
"This one came from out at Ophir so imagine having to drag this all the way over the mountains with a horse and dray," he said. "The logistics of that are just crazy."
"Every Sunday I pop in a roast and they taste so much better out of a wood-fired oven. They take on a little bit of that wood-smoke flavour."
With no thermostat to work with Mr Press said that it takes some time before you know when to pop in your meat.
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"There's a lot of trail and error involved when you begin but after a while you get a real feel for it," he said.
Popularly used in large hotels and shearing sheds the The Younger stove he uses is over 100 years old. In his third shed further down on his property he has several others that are waiting for their time to be renewed in his second shed, the workshop.
Lined up in the storage shed familiar brands like Metters, IXL and Simpson compete for space with Mr Press's other fascination, cream separators.
When he's not travelling the countryside looking for old stoves to buy Mr Press is collecting jobs on consignment from those discovered during kitchen renovations.
In amongst several other stoves a heavily rusted The Younger 5 sits waiting for his talented hands to bring it back to life.
"This was in one of the mansions around Cook Park in Orange and it was behind a wall in the servants area that had been boarded up," he said.
The heavier the damage the greater the time it takes to fabricate and restore the parts needed.
"I have one that I have just finished for a customer in Sydney and it's a Metters Astra 7 and it took 50 hours of work," he said. "It's good to know that it'll last another 100 years."
More of Justin's work can be found at https://www.instagram.com/the_woodstove_guy_australia
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