I have a grassroots organization located on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation. We have built a cob/strawbale house, a pallet house and a light straw clay house. The first two were lead by professional natural builders and the last was lead by me. Most of the projects I do are run as workshops that are free to local Lakota Sioux people. I had intended to build the rocket mass heater next summer but its WAAAY too cold already and its not even THAT cold outside yet.
A little bit about Pine Ridge... there are lots of people who come with cool untested idea or cool tested ideas but they are not experts.. then due to lack of experience the project fails and leads to people in the community believing they are stuck continuing to live in poverty. For both community moral and my own physical comfort this winter, cannot afford to experiment with this and make a mistake.
I am looking for someone who could come build a rocket mass heater in the newly built (not yet completed) light straw clay house. The finished product will be used daily by me and my family but will be shared regularly with the community local and abroad through tours, lectures and social media page like facebook. I am also committed to becoming an expert (at least informed enough) from your instruction so that I can replicate the project in other homes throughout the reservation. I have some (but not a lot) of funding to help cover travel expenses. Hopefully you are willing to donate your time, but am open to negotiation.
If you reply, please please be a real expert in building well functioning rocket mass heaters for very cold climates. (I had a builder out here last summer who built one for the pallet house we did but the family reports that it didnt work). I need something that works awesomely so I can show more people.
You're not the woman I met a couple years ago, who was running a school garden project? I feel like I've heard about Pine Ridge before, and not that long ago.
We are probably the people you are looking for, but we are not in a position to work at a loss. Ernie's permanent injury means travel is hard on us, and donating our time is a sacrifice. Ernie may feel differently about this one, but let's start with what we can do without unsustainable travel or time expenses.
We do sometimes offer pro-bono consulting and support for folks with a proven pay-it-forward mentality. We have done this for 2 different groups building heaters in Mongolia, for example, and one in Ecuador, as well as the occasional swap with other builders who are preserving traditional skills.
We might be able to provide you with plans or 'distance learning' support that would not cost us as much personally as the travel and time. Since you already have successful cob and straw-clay experience, it should not be too difficult to go over the rest of the details to make a successful heater.
Third option that comes to mind: we know a small not-for-profit run by folks who are passionate about creating opportunities for tribal youth and elders. If there is anyone else willing to donate to make this project happen, those donations could be tax-deductible.
Let's start by troubleshooting that heater that "doesn't work." Do you have project photos, or access to the site to take measurements? If we can diagnose the original problem, then coach you through building a better model in your house, then fix the original heater (once you know even better what we are talking about and how to fix it), that should establish some street cred pretty quickly.
I'm willing to put in about 4 hours in the next couple of weeks, donated time, from here. I'd like as much of the information as possible to stay on these public forums, to remain as a searchable resource for others. (If certain identifying details need to remain private, that's an exception.)
I grew up nearby, I know how COLD and HARD winters can be. And that was back when propane was 20-30 CENTS a gallon, not 2-3 dollars. There isn't enough firewood available on the northern plains to think about standard wood heat. A rocket that can burn bluestem would be nice.
Bump for a cause.
"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi.
"Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
posted 5 years ago
Extenuating circumstances prevented me from replying before. We do still need help. RMH we built does (pretty much) keep house warm but still getting smoke back problems and self feed does not work, we are stuck cutting wood pieces into tiny size to shove under barrel. This is the only way to prevent smoke back (although if wind is blowing just right even that doesn't help).
Hoping we can take this off line for background of project update and post publicly resolution/suggestions (reason for delay, I tried messaging you privately before but a message came up as I was about to send that no one checks the admin email).
I am flexible in time frame, there is not much we can do to change anything until weather warms and volunteers are available to come help make changes.
Hopeful for your response.
posted 5 years ago
the kids and i just got smoked out again…..really need to get some dialog going and see who can come help as soon as it warms a bit… I can't do this for another winter
posted 5 years ago
Have a look at this pdf file about wood burning.
It's not rocket stove specific but does explain chimneys.
The chimney may be a factor in your problem with smoke coming in.
A Guide to Residential Wood Heating