Hello all,First a little about us. We live on a small farm in MA with chickens, pigs, goats, cow, bunnies, a beautifull wife and four kiddos 2-9. I have been reading Permies and permaculture stuff for years and have incorporated tons of the great ideas onto our farm. We bed the animals with shredded paper, chickens and rabbits have 55 gallon drum water containers with nipples that only need to be filled monthly, they also have large wall feeders that take 50 and 100 pounds of feed at a time. Some chickens free range or live in the tractor that moves around our yard. The goats provide us with all the milk we need and we will be breeding the short horn cow for beef. Our pigs are a great way to turn all our scraps and leftovers ( local establishments drop off day old bread etc) into great food and I smoke my own bacon, ham,hocks etc. We recently added two 155 gal rainwater barrels and a 24 panel solar array. Next on my list is a well and a greenhouse. All that being said we are truly blessed to have the farm provide all the meat, milk and eggs our family and friends need.
Now to my question,with the northeast having such a short growing season I am planning an earth bermed greenhouse with a rocket mass heater. I have built a mock up of the heater all out of masonry blocks with a 30 gal drum and firebrick for the heat riser but have not been able to get the thing to draft let alone rocket. I have taken it appart several times to check that all the parts are in the right place, still no rocket, any help would be appreciated.
I am new to this all though I have been reading a lot of material about the stoves. I think I am getting the hang of them. More importantly I am a pretty decent trouble shooter. Do you have pictures of the assembly? What is it actually doing?
Hi Ken, I hope the pictures help. when I fire it up it kind of drafts a bit then smokes out the burn tube, if I blow into the tube to help the draft along it kind of drafts but not strong at all. The smoke that exits the end is a strange kind of green-grey and smells not like smoke but almost like some chemical smell.
Thank you for your help,
Smokin in MA.
One day, as it is now, try to light it with 90° alcool. Half a liter or more . When it's cold hey! Carefull of the flame back.
To the nay sayers. It works perfect for me, i light my rocket all the time this way. Smokes far less than paper, so if it's not hot and draws the wrong way before being hot, i don't care. Tho, don't do this when hot, never!
I say we break the system down and see what we get....
with the drum removed it looks like you have a j tube of 8 inch half blocks....
If you light a small fire in the chimney section with paper does it burn ok? Drafts enough air?
If yes then keep a small fire going in the chimney while you light a fire in the fuel feed area....does it start drafting now?
Other questions...what is the condition of your wood? Dry? Wet? Dripping wet...he he
Other than that I would start there.....
When the drum is on...where does the air exit? I didn't see an escape area...I assume the drum has a place for the gases to leave and go into another chimney?
picture#193, doesn't show any exhaust port. I guess it is covered in insulation dirt & ash? Your exhaust port at the bottom of the barrel should be at least noticeable, a large collector area from the bottom of the barrel is necessary before entering your exhaust duct pipe. A 36" wide piece of barn roofing sheet metal will make a nice 10" diameter outer cover for your heat riser bricks, to hold insulative backfill dirt in the space between the outside of your heat riser bricks and the sheet metal tube with dirt or whatever, that might get your heat riser better insulated.
All good comments above - insulation, and the exhaust bottleneck, would be my first guesses for troubleshooting.
It might be helpful to see any other photos or layout.
Other problems that can cause 'off' smoke: very wet wood, too-short heat riser even with insulation, or critical changes in dimension in certain flues. Sometimes a too-big flow area can be as bad as too-small, especially if it necks down again afterwards.
I would also check the seal on the barrel, and ensure there are no leaks anywhere between bricks etc. A simple mix of mud and sand (clay/sand mortar), or even just clay, can work well to seal the system for initial testing and you can take it apart again as many times as needed.
Your farm sounds lovely.
We will be passing through in a few months (Sept. 2012). Though the Vermont workshop is full, you might see if any of the other workshops on our schedule are convenient for your location and availability. Maine or upstate NY might be the closest after Vermont. I know there's at least one other rocket builder in MA who has had success with his greenhouse rocket heater, and there will be other folks interested after this workshop tour. Hope you can connect. http://www.ErnieAndErica.info/upcoming_workshops
Thank you all for your help. I took the barrel off, fired it up and did get a good burn with only a little smoke but as soon as the barrel went back on it was smoke galore.
I have seen other units with masonry risers with no insulation, do I need to insulate the riser? How about air leaks, the burn tube and some other joints are not totally airtight, do they need to be? I am using a 30 gal drum and the riser is within 3-4" of the top of the barell when over the riser. Pic #193 has the barrell on so you can't see the exhaust port but I have included a short burn vid with the barrel off and at the end you can see the port, it is about 2" tall by 6" long and the smoke winds thru blocks stacked side by side and finally up a 4' block chimney. I think I will work on getting the whole burn tube and riser section air tight and will include some more pics in the next update.
Thank you all sooo much for your coments and Erica I have sent an email to the Maine workshop person for availability on attending.
I would have saved myself and all the nice helpfull people a lot of time had I read the book first........ Once I have read and understand the principles, not just looked at videos, I will rebuild and get back here with pictures. Thank you all for helping.
A sonic boom would certainly ruin a giant souffle. But this tiny ad would protect it: