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 Re-think; reboot; recycle...and now it's real.

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Posts : 25
Join date : 2013-12-02
Location : Vermont

PostSubject: Re-think; reboot; recycle...and now it's real.   Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:16 pm

So...after (too many) false starts the actual build is now in place and really - seriously all done.

I looked at the same stuff over and over and finally a useful pattern emerged...:

This needed to be off the floor=> hence the old cast iron stove base which I'd already leveled with assorted bits & bobs.

The base needed expanding to be usable so on top of that went the funky 7-sided kiln ends.

Stubborn old me wanted both vertical and horizontal access at the 'front' to the burn tube so that got made from some old, thick stovepipes with an elbow for connecting the riser and a hand-made tee for the vertical burn tube opening.
Both entrances can be capped with a standard stovepipe cap too - so I can cap whichever one needs it - and got a 2nd cap to cap both when it is not in use or if it needs to be snuffed out in a hurry for some reason.

True strangeness starts here=>
The stovepipe parts are naturally of limited life so they are used as a mold and under the burn tunnel there is a funky slab of cast iron that was one side of the old box stove that I junked for parts.
That slab boosts up the burn tunnel so the horizontal cap works really well and it also served as the bottom outside of my 'mold'.

Once all this got started serendipity took over and a great guy at a local business gave me a wonderful ring-type 55 gallon barrel & lid - and that lid forms the base where the barrel sits so I got the dimensions right (it is also slid under the cast iron slab which makes a slight upward angle for the burn tunnel).

Around the perimeter of the barrel lid I cobbled together a funky ring of angled kiln firebricks and 1/2's of regular firebricks with the exit tube embedded between those bricks.
(I didn't have to use a single one of the really good firebricks as all I used came from the old kiln & some 1/2's that the potter gave me.)

This was all placed so as to create as large an exit path as I could arrange and there are several courses of firebricks all globbed together with mortar for strength & sealing.

The easiest way I could imagine to form the burn tunnel's thickness was by making a starting layer of mortar + perlite mix - that was done & allowed to set overnight.

Next the rocket tube was made by cutting an opening to form around the 6" burn tube and mating tightly at the bottom and with the bricks so as to keep the perlite in as well as possible; it was then filled between the 6" & 8" pipes with perlite, but not finished at the top because of the needed height adjustment for the proper clearance to the barrel end before finishing that part.

Comment about this process=>
Making an insulated pipe with perlite is really quite fun & I highly recommend it !!!

Then I added one side + top of the burn tunnel's body using a board for a form secured by screws & string while I filled it in by hand with mortar for the thicker outer, strong layer to hold it all together.

One thing I am very glad of is that I remembered that when folks didn't have lots of fancy stuff to form things with - they just cobbled them together using what they had to hand with a good mason's trowel - and mortar formed this way, good & wet gets very solid & strong after it sets - and that is what I did here.

Yes - I do have some pictures already - and I'll post them soon.

I also adhered to my firm belief that this needn't be overly scientific to be quite good & usable - and this has proven itself in reality very well.
(I got really 'burned out' with all the hoity-toity technicalities I saw cited over at other places - so I am following Kevin Bacon's suggestions that these things can be cobbled together very simply without being too fussy about all of it.)

My goals also remained unchanged when I began this build:
I wanted it to be safe - to make heat where heat is needed - use little fuel - and in the best of all worlds have a really nice, low outlet temperature.

This design has allowed me to use up all the goodies I had on hand which pleases me greatly.
All I finally bought was some more stovepipes & flex, 2 caps and some mortar.

This critter has built-in mass aplenty as it's swaddled it in mortar and stuff...
It must (easily) weigh 300 pounds or more between the bags of mortar, bricks & cast iron parts - and that barrel ain't light either.

More later...

Best Wishes to All !!!
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Posts : 25
Join date : 2013-12-02
Location : Vermont

PostSubject: photo time...   Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:28 pm

Well - it's all made & in use now !!

Ultimately this RMH got made in the finest spirit of a cobbled-together fireplace - all odd bits and plentiful mortar.

Most of the bricks looked like this=>

Because of the smallness of the room it was not possible to get good, full pics so please bear with me as I share what I could actually get - they are in progression from loose parts to fully mortared whole.

If you examine the pics of the un-mortared bottom, the barrel lid I used as a guide & support is visible in little spots.
Once the colour of it is noticed it is also clearly visible as the 'floor' of the exit chamber.
It was a huge help in making the round portion the correct size & shape.

It's not easy to see in a photo - but the exit cavity is about a foot deep=>

Post testing...yes, it rocketed quite nicely, and the exhaust was cool enough to run through flex tubing.

My test runs were made with just potter's clay sealing the barrel down and it worked very well.
Once it had dried & cracked it was quite easy to pry off too.
Then it was time to put the barrel back on & finalize it...

My burn tests were made on a sub-zero day here in Vermont - and that room was closed off from the heated parts of this apartment.
The total amount of stuff burned might have been a couple of pounds of wood & paper.
It warmed the room up nicely - and what really pleased me was that hours after the fire was out it kept that room nice & warm via stored heat.

As soon as I could get my car fixed I got some more pipes to make the U-tube against the wall before exhausting it via the flex tubing.
I made & set in a funky window thingy for the final exit & it worked well too.

This meets my goals quite well - it is off the old wood floor - is efficient enough to have a low outlet temp - and will safely heat the part of the house that needs it the most.

I have some final pics also, which I'll post...

Best Wishes to All !!!
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Posts : 25
Join date : 2013-12-02
Location : Vermont

PostSubject: Finished and...cough, cough, cough !!!   Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:41 pm

Got the heater all built - piped up and tight enough - BUT:
My only option was to use a window for it's exhaust.
This was 100% fine when I just dangled the flexible tube out onto the roof - no backdraft at all.

To make it more permanent I made a window blocker thingy and ran a short stovepipe through it so as to connect the flex.
I also built a little box open at the top & bottom to encourage drafting.
This worked perfectly on a cold, calm day...then came a gusty one...Uh-oh=>
The backdrafting commenced immediately.

This window sits above a small roof - points north and the wind is usually very much out of the west, right across this window.

Due to neighbor problems I cannot erect even a small stack and there is no chimney nearby to connect to either.

Soooo....I turbocharged the thing !!!

Sometimes it's just time to push one's way to closure and that happened here with me, sort of like=>
!#$%&*+$#!!!DANG IT - it's time for this thing to WORK - and I mean NOW !!!

Just so happens the perfect fan to do that was on hand too.
(After all - my nice old car is turbocharged as well as highly efficient on fuel, so why shouldn't this be ?!?)

Changes got made...:

The new plumbing was finalized:

That is stovepipe bits=> hard flex=> soft flex=> and OUT IT GOES !!!

As you can see, I likes loops:

This loop has a nice cushion of reflectix insulation taped on where it is held up by just some strong string on a screw; it weighs very little. (Notice the paper label on the barrel's right side in this shot...)

For the proverbial 'just in case', I stuck up a small sheet of that same reflectix on the wall closest to the barrel - and it does not show in this shot but there is a paper label on that side of it that has not even turned brown (yet...?)despite some good, hot burns already made a bunch of times:

Almost done in this shot - just before some cleaning up & the final connection:

If you look closely, the 2 porcelain tiles I used to space the loop from the wall can be seen as well as the plumber's tape I used to secure the loop to the wall.
(This may be the best boot/shoe dryer I've ever had !!!)

Finally - here 'tis, last connection is made, openings stuffed to prevent drafts for now, and all nice & tight - and already burning quite nicely=>

Some small factoids...:
- The fan it uses is a high volume & speed, metal 120VAC model and is actually outside in the box part
- The box is just 3 sides made of plywood - open top & bottom.
- The flex tube at the last joint is merely nice and warm even with a big chunk of oak burning hot.
- The 1st section of stovepipe is too hot to rest a hand upon.
- The 2nd section of hard flex is hot, but not burning hot.
- The 3rd section of soft flex starts pretty hot and cools alot before it's end.
- The horizontal opening is what I'm using at present with the vertical one capped.
- When I burned softwood sticks earlier both were open and that worked quite well too.
- There is no further back drafting.
- The barrel (even with a hot fire) is not burning off it's outside paint a'tall.
- The black drips on it started out quite clear and are slowly darkening & vanishing.
- The only smoke smell is a tiny bit getting in through small window leaks via the wind outside.
- After about 2 1/2 hours of burning the firebrick/mortar final stage was not even hot yet at it's bottom.

Of course if my fan gives out I'll be quite happy to have caps for both openings !!!
As it stands, if this holds together for a couple of months, as-is, I will be delighted indeed.

In a perfect world I'd make the burn tunnel bigger and about a foot higher off the floor so that me olde knees could take it easy.
As I'll mostly be burning oak - when it stands up it tends to be OK for a time, then catch all at once - and though the flames are kind of cute to see, I'll pass on that idea and keep that part closed instead.

Also - it is making nice coals when used horizontally and so it's easier to start whatever wood I put in next that way.
All told, I am very happy that I made that tee as I'd have been bummed out now if'n I had not done so.

When heating season is done I'll consider whatever mods to make next - but for right now I say:

Case Closed.
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Posts : 913
Join date : 2013-10-07

PostSubject: Re: Re-think; reboot; recycle...and now it's real.   Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:38 pm

Well first I have to say....necessity is the mother of invention.
Be really cautious with your safety.

This was really well written, and well documented in your step by step process.

The fan gives me concern because if their is a failure with the fan, this creates restriction to the flow of the gasses and exhaust.

What I would suggest is placing the exhaust in the top of the window and not the bottom and get rid of the fan, this should flow without the fan.

No pun intend, I am not a big fan of using fans.
They are a weak spot.

Fantastic use of materials and well thought out, as well I think you really should consider writing, you are a very creative writer.

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Posts : 25
Join date : 2013-12-02
Location : Vermont

PostSubject: Thanks Trying2Hard !!   Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:17 pm

Just to be clear - I'm a bit of a safety freak - and this is used ONLY when I am awake & present - if it gets super deeply cold (-20 or so) the wasteful box stove can stay lit for a few's here & works as well as can be expected.

The situation here for anything obvious is bad - and the window itself is anpther barrier as it is barely attached & falling apart as it is.
(My adapter & other stuff actually tightened it up ALOT !!!)

I have at least one spare fan and likely a couple more on hand elsewhere, should it fail; there are smoke & CO detectors within feet of it as well.

Come spring we are hoping for some positive changes which will allow me to do better stuff with this, but for the next few months this is really excellent as it is presently.

Two very serious benefits of the forced air idea:
- It makes starting this amazingly easy.
- It is fantastic for folks like myself who've had respiratory problems all their lives.

Aside of the above - it turns anything used for fuel into the equivalent of a torch even BEFORE the rocket tube and it's very cool to see and hear !!

I thank you for your kind and thoughtful reply.
If I were ever to take up writing as work I'd likely get myself snuffed out by folks who would fail to appreciate what I'd have to say about their business I am alive today because of what I've learned and it saddens me that it is nearly impossible to share this kind of stuff with others.

Best Wishes to You and Yours !!!
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Posts : 333
Join date : 2013-10-07

PostSubject: Re: Re-think; reboot; recycle...and now it's real.   Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:23 pm


That is quite a detailed and inspiring document you offered us. Since I am too lazy to write (and that is why I make videos) I am overwhelmed by your writing skills. You should take your skill seriously and invest in writing for the masses...

Back to the stoves. I agree with Trying2Hard about the fan issue. Now is Winter and of course you're going to wait for Spring to make some changes but I also consider a fan a weak spot of a stove. The other suggestions are also relevant in your case and I would go even further. I would place the chimney exit a couple of inches above its current location, it would allow exhaust gases to exit the stove easier. I am absolutely certain as well that you will be able to assemble outdoors a  short vertical section of chimney with a rotating cap on top of it.

Don't forget, in engineering there are no perfect solutions, only possible solutions...

Last edited by caotropheus on Wed Jan 15, 2014 6:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Re-think; reboot; recycle...and now it's real.   Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:14 pm

Great post with  pics !  Very Happy  No question about it, you have spent some serious time on your Mass RS.  :bball:  Your on the right Forum to get your Mass RS dialed in !  cheers
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Posts : 1459
Join date : 2013-12-08

PostSubject: Re: Re-think; reboot; recycle...and now it's real.   Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:40 pm

i can see why using the fan to pump out the gases as it dosnt give the neighbour an idea that your using/installed a fire

heres my other suggestions

as the legs on the stand are small and pokey and old wood floors id suggest either a wood placed under them although would be better with a stone/steel plate this is to spread the weight of the item above across your floor ( its better than the legs going through the floor )

as your running the pipe at back of wall how about putting reflector film at back of the pipes and lift the tubing off the floor as will give more reflective heat

i can see a problem where the plug is as the heat will cause the plug socket to go brittle this point would need a better heat cover to protect it
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Posts : 25
Join date : 2013-12-02
Location : Vermont

PostSubject: Thanks Folks !!   Thu Jan 16, 2014 2:34 am

Thanks Very Much for your wonderfully thoughtful replies & suggestions !!!

I will try to reply to some of those ideas, but first - the photos of this, all done:

High view:

Lower view:

Front view:

Another front view:

The loop:

From the kitchen:

(I should have moved that shiny bit of metal before snapping that - sorry !!)

Comments, ideas and so forth...:
The legs stand upon a very sturdy wide plank floor.
At some later date it would be my preference to lift or jack the whole thing and set those legs upon bricks or pavers - but again - it shall stand as it is until after heating season.

The wall behind the loop is the coldest wet wall in the house - so letting heat get to it is a huge, positive of all this.

In use, when burning quite hot - the outlet at the wall has merely gotten warm - it is not even hot enough to soften the cords which are touching it - but I'll keep checking this to be sure, thanks.

Finally - when things get better here, neighbor-wise, it will be possible to make improvements to the exhaust, and not before, sadly.

It is a strange situation to be sure and we must make the best of it as it goes...

Best Wishes to all !!!
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PostSubject: Re: Re-think; reboot; recycle...and now it's real.   Thu Jan 16, 2014 3:43 am

smallhagrid, Congrats on the completion and success of you RS !  Very Happy cheers Your build was  enjoyable to follow with all your pics.

Now that you been bitten by the RS Bug,  alien  How long before you start your next RS build ? :?: :bball:
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Posts : 25
Join date : 2013-12-02
Location : Vermont

PostSubject: Re: Re-think; reboot; recycle...and now it's real.   Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:33 am

Thanks Dkwelder !!
I'm enjoying the one I've made & have no place for a 2nd one, so it'll be a while yet...

Just to share a bit for the sake of clarity=>
My main focus for a while now has been upon surviving an illness that was literally eating my body alive from the inside-out, and that priority remains firmly in place, and comes before anything less serious for me.

It saddens me all the time that many, many others also suffer from variations of what I've been through; but are also not open-minded enough to accept non-mainstream thoughts which might help them hugely.

It is such thinking which has kept me alive & has promoted my own healing...and I've found that it is impossible to share about this without arousing great ire (even from those who would most benefit from it).

Mention of me & writing reminded me (belatedly...) that I do have a site with some of my scribblins in it - for now.

It will likely be gone in a few weeks as it's domain reg. is expiring and I lack 'fun funds' so it will not be renewed.

If curious, have a look here=>

Best Wishes to All !!!
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Posts : 1459
Join date : 2013-12-08

PostSubject: Re: Re-think; reboot; recycle...and now it's real.   Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:57 am

nice build by the way

ive noticed a crack upon your base just becareful of it while using it

anyway heres what id be expecting to see on temperature via your build

most of the barrel burners ive noticed dont go over 450 but a gas bottle version does go over that temp maybe worth considering doing one
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PostSubject: Re: Re-think; reboot; recycle...and now it's real.   Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:36 pm

smallhagrid. I did look at your website some hours ago and reread your RS build topic again. I am not only impressed with your RS design and build, I am amazed in your writing abilities,Your website is very powerful and eye opening.

I have always been intrigued by peoples self made success life stories. More times then not, there is always some kind of tragedy or personal struggles along the road.

The wealth wasn't the part of the story I was interested in, I was more interested in why all these people viewed the glass of water as being half full over half empty?

Ones own ability to focus on the positive of a bad situation and not dwelling on the negatives, has been proven to be some powerful medicine.

As for your paid website expiring, Have you ever considered a Free Forum ? This Forum is free and it has attracted a Great bunch of members from around the world. cheers  Or maybe ?

You could track yourself down a gas bottle like gadily suggested, hang around this Forum and get started on your next RS build!  Very Happy  cheers
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Posts : 25
Join date : 2013-12-02
Location : Vermont

PostSubject: Re: Re-think; reboot; recycle...and now it's real.   Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:56 pm

Thanks a Million for your kind words & thoughts Dkwelder !!!

As to stories - well - my life has so doggone many I'd not know where to start if anyone ever cared to hear any of the stuff.

My biggie, life-wise is that I was apparently sprung from the birth canal with the illness that killed my mother by the time I was 11 - had a mis-diagnosed outbreak of it at 5 - was permanently injured by the clueless medicos with no help to recover from any of it - and for decades I literally had no idea that illness was taking over my body 24/7.
But still...I remain alive and know that many. many, many others suffer unknowingly from the same and die from it.

Web site wise, as silly as it may sound, I have loads of already paid server space (I even offer it to folks for free if they want some...) - it is the domain reg. that points to the server which is expiring in a few weeks and I choose to have grocery $ rather than re-up for that  - am I silly, or what ?!?

At one time I did start a forum but found it impossible to gain active posters, so I got rid of it.

The next RMH is not even on my map - let alone the calendar - many other things will have to happen before that time even comes into long view and=>
The one I've already got is brewing along very nicely right now !!!

My Best Wishes to You and Yours.

Last edited by smallhagrid on Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:02 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : eye speel bedly)
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Posts : 25
Join date : 2013-12-02
Location : Vermont

PostSubject: I've been waiting to get this shot...   Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:37 am

Precipitation and other things have kept me from getting it - and finally, here 'tis:

That shot was taken with some small oak splits actively burning and as you can see - nothing visible seems to be coming out of the funny window box a'tall.

What is visible is the discolouration above the box from the dirty steam exhaust - which I'm guessing I'll have to wash off at some point.
(If you look closely you can also see how poor a shape that window is in; what is not obvious is how the cold outside air leaks right in through the wall there !!)

Presently it is a balmy 4°F here with a 'wind chill' of -8°F and at my desk it is 68°F; pretty doggone good for heating with something that uses so little fuel I think !!!

It thrills me that I can go from no fire in this to making useful heat with it in under 10 minutes and that once warmed all I have to do is to tuck in another small bit or two of wood now & then to keep it comfy in here.


Best Wishes to All !!!
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PostSubject: Re: Re-think; reboot; recycle...and now it's real.   Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:27 am

with the stain on the window you can stop this or lesson the effects of it by using a c shape flange on inside and outside as this effect will deflect the exiting fumes from the stove pipe
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Location : Vermont

PostSubject: Re: Re-think; reboot; recycle...and now it's real.   Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:42 am

Thanks !!
The key word for this in the here & now is...

Right now it's umpteen below zero & ain't nuttin gettin changed as it's making some wonderful heat !!!

Aside of that - I've (someplace..) got a great hose nozzle and some warmish day I'll use the same hose I do horse water with to spray that off there for the time being.

Now that the RMH has shown how great it is we have already discussed that a more permanent stack is needed.

Best Wishes to All !!!
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