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Rocket mass heater in my camper van???  RSS feed

 
Rebecca morgan
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I guess I wanted to throw out there my idea of putting a rocket mass heater in my 1979 dodge camper van. Does this sound way to sketchy? Do-able? I figure I've seen enough buses with wood stoves. Thanks in advance for your considerations. oh and in case its relavent, Im in oregon.
 
Andrew Parker
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Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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Many things are doable. Many things shouldn't be done.

Do you plan on moving your camper van after installing an RMH in it? Even taking the M out of the RMH may not make it something that should be done. Someone mentioned that there are some very nice marine woodstoves on the market. Perhaps something like that might be more appropriate?

If you are insistent, a rocket based heater could probably be cobbled together. Look around on the internet for something that has already been done successfully.

If your camper is static sculpture, you might be able to put a conventional RMH in it, but the heated space is so small you would be using a small diameter flue and I understand that anything under 6" dia. can get finicky, but has been done. On the other hand, you could put in a 6" system that puts out so much heat you could keep the windows open and not worry about CO poisoning -- as much.

Just doing a little brainstorming while preparing this response leads me to believe that you could likely be able to do it, but it won't be easy and probably not cheap and maybe not safe -- but it might be fun to try.
 
Rebecca morgan
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Thanks for your reply. I think I am realizing a few problems that could happen with the RMH in the van. For one, the cob could get pretty heavy, and once built theres a strong chance that once the van was moving the cob could crack...... I think instead I am now entertaining the idea of a wood stove in a van with an earthen plastered floor, and earth plaster walls or clay straw insulation. What Iam trying to work with is trying to create a warm space in winter thats cozy and not built with weird bad for me stuff. I also need to navigate the problem of moisture that I hope to keep at bay by burning dry heat........... Any ideas.......? Anything fun yall would try?
 
Andrew Parker
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Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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Rebecca,

How much traveling do think you would be doing in your camper? If you will be be fairly static, just moving once in awhile for short distances at relatively low speeds, what you are envisioning may be doable. You still need to keep the gross weight within the chassis' and tires' specifications.

If you are going to be moving around frequently and/or over long distances at highway speeds, I would go for the lightest solution, even if that means using modern materials. You're in a van, not a cob cottage. You won't be doing the earth, or your pocketbook, any favors lugging around hundreds of extra pounds. You can always give it a funky earthy/rustic veneer.

Have you looked at cotton or wool batt as an insulating option? Closed-cell foam and/or XPS panels are probably the most efficient option. Aluminized bubble insulation can also be very effective if it is installed correctly, especially in conjunction with some kind of batt insulation.

I have no experience with straw-clay, but I have researched it. You can probably get a fairly lightweight, consistent result with some trial and error and lots of practice.

I looked up marine/small stoves. There are a some very nice products available. They aren't particularly cheap. You might be able to look around and find a good used one for a reasonable price. Another option is a tent stove. Quite a variety, but they aren't as pretty.

Good-luck, and remember that just because something is natural doesn't mean it is healthy, or vice versa.
 
Itybt Fox
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Straw/clay slip is very easy to use/make. You take fresh straw and 'toss' it like salad greens in oil dressing, only you use mud slip. Its not like cob. You coat it in the mud slip to help bind it and create a fire barrier. I dont think it would be good in a moving van. Although it is doable, using plastic netting to maintain it. I have several walls of it in my shed.

Story: after mixing up the slip and letting it rest a while (too much water in it), a chicken came in and nested in the straw, leaving me an egg. I have a pic someplace.

You could build a smaller rocket stove and bench, using perlite/vermiculite and no clay for the packing. Something similar to the ones built in the box? Maybe use the light fire bricks for bulk. The vermiculite will hold the heat and some moisture. Ive been searching around for similar ideas for my RV. The only one i found so far was for the 35 foot rv.

Im surprised to not find more infor for smaller homes, like rvs and tiny houses on wheels. I would think something on the line of that stainless steel propane stove shown in some of the tiny home links, but built as a rocket stove for wood instead.
 
Glenn Herbert
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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Old thread I know, but I see nobody has mentioned the obvious: If you want to do mass heat storage in a small and potentially mobile place, water stores more heat by both mass and volume than anything else commonly available. You could even dump the water for traveling and refill at your new location - not practical for a frequent traveler, but no kind of mass storage is going to be good there.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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