Sergey ordered a barbecue stove unit from Furnace Art Engineering a few years ago. Whilst the stove was being made, he often came up, talked to us and would say, “So what are your sauna stoves capable of then (meaning the temperature in the steam room), 70 degrees? 80? 90? That's nothing! Mine will do 140!" Sergey’s sauna stove was fitted with iron pipes.
Sometime after work on the barbecue stove unit was complete, we received a call from Sergey saying: "Come and fix my sauna stove. I’ve just almost died from monoxide poisoning."
When the sauna stove was finished, Sergey’s daughter came to visit with some of her friends from Cambridge, who had this to say: ”This sauna has got to be the best place on the whole planet!"
My husband adores a sauna. He's a real connoisseur. He's always out at ‘Sandunovs’*. I'm building him a sauna as a present. I'd like to order the stove from you."
A year after we had finished the sauna stove, Margaret called us asking us to fix a botch job she'd had done on her barbecue stove station at their country house. When we arrived, her husband greeted us with a, "Thank you so much!" and a crate of real Narzan. “'Sandunovs' have just lost a client!’”
Note: 'Sandunovs', is the popular name for ‘Sandunov Banyas’, the oldest sauna centre in Moscow and highly respected to this day.
"My father was awarded the title Honoured Builder of Russia and I'm a builder too. I told my father that I would have the best sauna there is. I won't be using it myself. I smoke, drink, high blood pressure and all that. It's for my friends, wife and children. Most of all, I want to impress my father. Make it the best you can do and I'll pay you double."
We met with Basil a few years later, when he was busy building a sauna centre in Moscow. "Remember 2010, the heat wave of 40 degrees? I used the sauna all the time. Didn't miss a single weekend. I started off once every two weeks. Now, it’s Friday to Sunday on one fire-up. Blood pressure, what blood pressure? I'm mountain skiing now!"
Before undertaking this project (a 'turnkey sauna'), we spent a long time discussing the construction details with the architect. "Wood isn't an option. There's a ban on nuisance smoke. Gas would be less problematic but would mean jumping through hoops to get permission from the building officer. Yes, an electric powered sauna stove is the best solution."
When we were building the stove, Francois would often come up and say, "It looks so simple but it’s not is it!”
Eighteen months later, we asked the majordomo how the stove was going, whether it was easy to use and how often they had to fire it up. "You won't believe this. I heat the stove every day but for no more than two hours at a time. You know, he (Francois) uses the steam room almost every day and often has friends here too."
Roger occasionally flies to Moscow for business negotiations. After visiting our sauna and relaxing in the pool, he said, "So that's how you do a sauna session. It’s fantastic!" "Yes, this is the sauna Russian style!"
Later, Roger invited us to stay at his estate in Kent, where he has a home sauna centre. It looked like Roger had the full works, a metal stove, a hot tub, a pool... but tar had built up from the burning fuel and was dripping from the ceiling. Having nearly passed out after one particular sauna session, Roger said, "Let's make a decent sauna. I don't care what it costs. I want the best sauna stove in the entire United Kingdom."
We completely rebuilt Roger's sauna. When invited to try it, professional sauna masters - ‘banshiki', from a commercial sauna centre in London said, "This sauna is simply incredible".
“There’s something wrong with your stove. It’s taking too long to heat up. It shouldn’t take eight hours to heat. I’m having to keep an eye on it all the time. Sort it out!”
Low air pressure, a factor of the local landscape, appeared to be weakening the draft in the flue. We solved the issue on the spot. Victor said, "Don’t expect me to pay for the alteration. I'll wait and see how it goes."
One month later, Victor rang again and said, “Build me another one, electric-powered this time. I have so many guests wanting to use it, we can't fit them all in".
"Can you give me a quote for a heating stove for a small cottage. N recommends you. He and I are good friends.
Vera thought the price we quoted her seemed high, "Oh that's a lot. Why so expensive? I hadn't banked on that kind of sum." We explain, "It's not just a matter of the stove. It's your health, your safety and your home. We’re taking on a huge responsibility."
"Ok, I understand". At that, the conversation came to an end and we didn't hear anything from Vera until two and half years later.
Then, one day, the phone rang. It was Vera. "I've been saving up. Let's go ahead."
“They’ve tried out the sauna. Yury (the client) hasn’t called, which means everything was fine. It isn't our custom necessarily to say thank you to service providers. We tend to think that the fee is enough but in this case, I am ringing to say, 'thank you!".
"You know, ten years ago, I had gout and kidney stones. The doctors said the sauna was a No-no. Before that I was ill but didn't know why. They insisted on doing an operation. But what do they know! I refused to go under the knife and quite rightly. The sauna helped with everything and the stones passed out themselves. I tell everyone: install a real Russian sauna stove and use it as often as you can."
Maxim built a sauna at the same time as his neighbour.
He invited his neighbour round, saying, "Come over to mine and we'll have a good sauna session. I'll show you my sauna and next week, I'll come round to yours.” After the first sauna session, his neighbour said,"No. Let's not. I have nothing to show you.
From now on, we'll just use your sauna." On another occasion he said, "It's just like being at 'Sandunovs'!" Not far from it. What am I saying? It's even better. The air is more pure (evidently a comment on the stove's capacity to ventilate the steam room).”
Note: 'Sandunovs' is the popular name for ‘Sandunov Banyas’, the oldest sauna centre in Moscow and highly respected to this day.
"The thing is, I'm not sure I need a Russian sauna stove in my centre at all. Light steam you say? Will it draw the clients? I'm not a communal bath house after all!"
Six months later, once we’d installed the sauna at Anna’s spa, she said, "It's permanently booked three weeks ahead. Who would have thought it!"
After a talk by a representative of a Finnish stove brand at a spa centre conference, Anna said: "They sing the praises of the Finnish saunas so beautifully. You love to listen. But I don't care. I have a queue to mine. The rest is just words."
"Listen, why try so hard? I know his routine and I can tell you now, no-one here would use a sauna more than once a quarter."
after we had installed a sauna at the residence in question, Gregory said,
”He uses it twice a week. They never turn it off. Sauna treatments are going on
all the time. It used to be really quiet here. The family lives here all the
time now, so they’ve had to transfer additional staff."