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the first wofati - allerton abbey- version 0.7  RSS feed

 
Tim Skufca
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Fabulous. Is there a way to graph when heat was applied and for how long?
 
paul wheaton
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Tim Skufca wrote:Fabulous. Is there a way to graph when heat was applied and for how long?


I think the really important information will come from the ten days of no fire.

 
Tim Skufca
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The rise in interior temps doesn't seem to always correspond to the rise in outside temps which would indicate there was a fire built inside. Any way to know when a fire was built?
 
Tim Skufca
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this data is great - what "contraptions" did you buy?
 
paul wheaton
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Len Ovens
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paul wheaton wrote:Daniel and Sharla had me buy these two thermometer contraptions.

Here are the results of starting to run fires inside, including getting it to 85 for the first time.


I put some comments There:
http://www.permies.com/forums/posts/list/560/45960#423258
That really could have gone here.
 
paul wheaton
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I just had an hour long talk with evan and sharla.

I think we need to shore up the insulation layers on the uphill and downhill sides and try again.

On the downhill side there is a hole in the wall to allow electrical cords to pass through. There is debate over whether is it currently plugged or not.

Both of the doors have no latches and leak around the edges. I would really like to find somebody with excellent woodworking skills to come and craft excellent latches for the doors and excellent wool-based weather stripping.

Sharla thinks there could be a lot of other micro leaks in the walls, especially the not-yet-cobbed uphill wall. She is going to search for gaps and fill them with wool.

And then there is the rocket heater. You cannot close the feed with a couple of bricks like you can with j-tube system - so that would be a place where air could continue to move through and out. Even more is the duct near the wall. It is 8 inch duct. When there is no fire, it acts as a rather significant heat exchange. Maybe it would be wise that when we choose to start the test, we dismantle the exhaust and plug it with wool for the duration of the test.

The glass is very cooling. We are talking about possibly adding something like storm windows, plus window quilts.

Evan has been making sure to get it up to 85 each day and 85 is very uncomfortable. So we are thinking that it might be better to get it up to 80 a few times a day.

---

The plan:

61) Add oodles of wool

62) Take a video of the doors and windows, trying to get as much detail as possible. Maybe somebody can come up with some really excellent plans for each, and then come here very soon to implement those plans.

63) We're gonna buy more firewood (yes, we could harvest our own, but right now I want the little bit of labor we have here focusing on permaculture stuff instead).

64) Make a plan for complete disconnect of the rocket heater exhaust when the time is right - and thoroughly plugging it.

65) Come up with a thorough plan for all glass to add "storm windows" PLUS window quilts.


Anybody have anything else to add to this plan? Anything we might possibly be overlooking?

Most of all, I would very much like to have somebody come by soon who has amazing superpowers in the world of woodworking. Somebody who can do amazing things with our windows and doors.

 
Dillon Nichols
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I'd kinda expect that a well insulated plug inserted into the feed and into the exhaust would be sufficient to very greatly decrease losses through the rocket system when it's not running, without the hassle factor of any disassembly/reassembly? This could be 'T' shaped so that insulating material matching the diameter of the tube goes inside, and then overlaps the orifice on the outside; anchor points outside the orifice would allow the plug to be cranked down a bit to provide a good seal. Making the orifice and plug slightly tapered would allow an even better seal...


As I see it, in a mass-rich structure like this, the purpose of the RMH is to heat the mass, so that the mass can provide a nice air temperature for the occupants. Overheating the air while striving to put more heat into the mass seems like a hint that less thermal transfer to the air inside is desirable; more of that heat needs to go into the mass directly. So, how does one design a RMH to do that? Can you just bury more of it in cob? I've seen old gas stoves which run 24/7 which use large insulated covers over the top burners; maybe something like that could be designed for a RMH? Unreasonably elaborate heat-exchanger systems to capture heat off the barrel and transfer it underground?

Or, to take a different approach, having the RMH in an area that can be closed off from the rest of the living space could allow more pleasant temps in the other portion.


Not likely of immediate use, but a narrow enclosed porch/glasshouse on each side could help out on the window insulation front without cutting off winter light. It would have the added advantage of serving as an airlock setup, so that less heat would be lost when the doors open. Wood could be stockpiled in this space, as it currently is under the eaves, cutting down on the need to open the outer door. Even doing this on only one side, this side could be used as the primary access, to get the airlock benefit. The other door could receive extra insulation in the form of hung blankets that would be in the if it was used frequently.


It would be interesting to know the temperature inside the mass at various depths; maybe in future builds sensors could be placed during construction?


Really enjoying the testing updates, thanks everyone!
 
Tim Skufca
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I certainly appreciate the purist approach to all elements in the WOFATI, but spending so much energy to use natural materials to weatherstrip the doors might be a bit silly. [every window in there has some sort of petroleum product in it] Using off-the-shelf weatherstripping and threshold to seal the doors seems to make sense. It won't require a master craftsman to install it. Pick up a couple used door knobs at HomeReSource to get a tight fit and you've seriously helped the situation.
 
Len Ovens
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Dillon Nichols wrote:
As I see it, in a mass-rich structure like this, the purpose of the RMH is to heat the mass, so that the mass can provide a nice air temperature for the occupants.


No, That is not correct. The purpose of mass is not to heat the air inside, but to heat the occupants. It is true heating the air is part of that, but to keep the occupants comfortable, the air temperature can be much less than in a non-mass home (or should be able to be less ). A good part of the comfort should come from heat radiated from the mass too. In the case of heated mass, direct contact of the body with the mass is also important. Cob furniture for example may help. The thing to remember too, is that the RMH, great as it is, puts out a lot less heat that the ground collects in a summer under the sun.


Overheating the air while striving to put more heat into the mass seems like a hint that less thermal transfer to the air inside is desirable; more of that heat needs to go into the mass directly. So, how does one design a RMH to do that?


Shorter barrel for one. The RMH in this wafati was designed to heat people not mass. However, that is what is there. Heating the air to heat the mass is not the greatest way of doing things, but it is enough to see what effect added heat might have. What I am seeing is that this is a huge piece of mass. It will take a lot of heat to bring it up to temperature... right now most of that mass is acting as a heat sink. In future it will radiate instead.

I am thinking this:
1) ground prep... dig the foundation out early spring. Cover with a tarp at least when raining. Let it soak in the sun heating the earth mass under. In the fall when the temperature of the earth is no longer able to rise or the rain is making things difficult, cover with tarp, cover tarp with straw bales, cover bales with another layer of tarp. Leave it for the winter. The tarp should be the same size as the outer limits the mass umbrella will end up being.

2) mass prep... all that earth dug out to make foundation should be spread out close by and treated the same as the foundation to soak up as much heat as possible. The thinner it can be spread during the summer the better... 6 inches or so would be nice. For the winter it should be repiled if possible before tarp and bales are added for best heat retention.

Next spring: Depending on the temperature under the lower tarp, start building early in the spring or cycle through another year of letting the earth soak up sun. A long temp probe that can read temperature 6 feet down would be nice. (deeper would be nicer) In an experimental situation, permanent temp probes at various depths would be really nice... but do cost.

3) build: This should start early spring as soon as snow or rain are not an issue. At night cover the ground with tarp and bales and tarp if at all possible. Certainly a tarp to keep any rain out should be a must. If possible leave the downhill side of the earth next to the building bare the whole summer (cover at night if possible) and add the umbrella in the fall.

4) for the next winter instead of finished the umbrella off on the downhill side, use the bales and tarp for another year. This will allow the lower tarp to be lifted for another summer of heat gathering if needed on that side of the house.

I think this would precharge the mass as best possible. The more lead time the better. The tarp/bales/tarp just left for a number of years if you have the lead time may do the job in a more passive way. It would also (with proper monitoring) help decide how big the umbrella needs to be without lifting a shovel.


Or, to take a different approach, having the RMH in an area that can be closed off from the rest of the living space could allow more pleasant temps in the other portion.


I think heating the mass is more important than comfort at this point. If comfort was an issue, that could be a plan though.
 
Jesse Grimes
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I can think of one big hole in the downhill wall for sure. Above the window is a 1 inch wide vent, which Ernie suggested I install to prevent pressure changes during a storm from breaking the windows. It is also designed to be used with a storm window. The storm window would have a vent at the bottom, and air that is heated between the storm window and house window would be allowed to escape into the house via the vent at the top of the house window. Heat inside the house would not be able to escape as hot air would not flow down between the two windows, this requires a storm window to be in place in order to work. Either a storm window should be built and installed for winter, or the air vent can be stuffed with wool.

Now, my thoughts on the current experiment: I don't think 10 days is near enough time, when what is needed is a conduction of heat from the air into the mass. The air has very little mass, and therfore can hold very little heat, even if it is 85 degrees and uncomfortable. So, say the air inside the wofati is capable of holding 1 unit of heat. The mass underneath the umbrella can hold 1000 units of heat, and is currently holding only 100, i.e. it's very cold. So even if the air inside the wofati is unbearably hot, you are still only going to be able to transfer at most 1 unit of heat, per day, into a mass that can hold 1000. After 10 days of blasting the heat, you may have only rasued the heat stored in the mass from 100 units to 110, still very cold. What you need to transfer a lot of heat into the mass is a lot of time, i.e. a while summer season. 200 days of warm air, warmer than the mass temp that is, moving through the wofati would raise the heat in the mass from 100 to 300, getting warmer. By the next spring, the mass may have lost 100 units of heat, but will gain another 200 over the next summer, bringing the mass up to 400 units, now it's starting to feel more comfortable all year round. These numbers are totally arbitrary, but I use them to illustrate the point that the transfer of heat from the air into a solid mass is a very slow process. Right now you have an incredibly massive heat sink surrounding the house, and it is very cold. I think that you are loosing far more heat into that big chunk of cold, than you are through any small holes in the insulated walls. I would wait until next summer has had its chance to charge the mass with heat before putting more energy/time/money into altering the umbrella. The design could be perfectly fine as is, it just takes a couple years to charge the mass.
 
nancy sutton
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Well, I know it's an impurity, but just for the sake of 'before' and 'after' comparison to judge the effect of leakage around door frames, etc., you might seal them with wide masking or duct tape...easy peasy... temporarily, mind you, just to assess the effect of the air flow!

And those windows had made me cold just looking at them... really, put something on them, asap. Over here in 'contaminated land' I'm recycling bubble wrap on double paned windows - really cuts down on the incoming cold. It 'magically' sticks perfectly well if window is just lightly dampened.. stays there til easily removed (and reused.) Come to think of it, if any could be scrounged 'in town', it could also be a 'test' of the effectiveness of window 'insulation'... again, easy peasy ... no need to wait, and easily removed whenever the insulation blanket curtains are available :)

(I know all forms of plastic, et al, are nasty, but burning fossil fuels is also nasty, even in earth movers... we can't let the 'perfect be the enemy of the good'... all of the time, anyway. Or maybe 'we' can?)
 
paul wheaton
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Hey Paul.

Cheap and fast bush kid solutions to these leaks:

1. Conduit fix: Wool. Stuff that conduit with wool. It can always be poked out later. Same with your rocket mass heater chimney when not in use. The wool could be stabilized (so that it doesn't fall down the chimney) by putting some in a plastic bag and stuffing that in the exhaust. then pack a bit of loose stuff around that to seal any gaps. Put a bucket over the chimney to protect the wool from moisture. Easy Peasy.

2.)Door seam fix: A strip of old wool carpet, non fuzzy side glued or screwed to a strap of wood. Screw the strap of wood with the carpet against the door to the door itself on the side of the door that it opens towards; have the strap of wood and carpet combo overlap the gap in the door seam so that it contacts the frame. The carpet seals against the door and frame, as a gasket, giving a much better seal and barrier than you have now (which is none). A strip of old wool blanket could also be used in place of the carpet. An old mountain bike tire's tube could be cut and used as a rubber gasket instead of the carpet or blanket.

A curtain rod with a blanket (a loop sewn in it to slide the rod through) to cover the door on the inside would be another quick and easy addition to further the insulating effect.

Also: Heating Strategy: I would personally put in a regular rocket mass heater or two and have the mass benches be directly against the walls you want to heat the most. You could put the second pass of the exhaust in the bench that is returning towards the riser and chimney closer to your wall than normal to facilitate more heat transfer directly to the wall. These could be temporary heaters (pebble style like in your office), that you take out later. Just get them built so that you can charge the walls with heat.

One thought I have about the WOFATI design that has been bugging my brain since I read this entire thread this evening (whew; what a marathon!): It seems that the way it is built, from what I can gather through all the photos of the present structural design and landscaping, the uphill side of this wofati is a potential frost catchment, particularly if someone was to build a similar structure on a big slope.
 
paul wheaton
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Ty Morrison
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That's beautiful. Way to go, one and all.
 
paul wheaton
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Brett Hammond
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Right on! Identifying and plugging air gaps in the shell is most important. Infrared cameras are getting cheap and can help find the less-than-obvious culprits.

It seems to me that warming the air to 80 or so once a day and then letting it cool down for the remainder of the day is more a test of R-value (assuming an air tight building) than thermal inertia. Perhaps a better, but more difficult test, of thermal inertia would be to keep it at a constant 80 degrees for 10 days or so, then put out the fire and see what happens.

A tight fitting damper in the stove flu will stop the chimney effect sucking the heat out of the building, and loss of heat via convection currents in the stove pipe. Insulated stove pipe from the damper upward, will prevent loss due to conduction through the pipe wall. I have heard of people installing dampers at roof height and using string or poles to control them.

I read that russian mass heaters with the exhaust gasses entering and exiting down and then through the bottom of the bells, create a natural thermal block to stop heat loss via chimney/pipe convection currents and eliminates the need for a damper. I'm not an expert on that, so I don't know if it really works or not.

Best of luck!
 
evan l pierce
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Another winter picture of the Abbey.
20160102_133953.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20160102_133953.jpg]
uphill side of Allerton Abbey
 
Ty Morrison
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Purdy. Ain't snow grand?
 
Hans Quistorff
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Notice there are no icicles hanging off the eaves. the thermal buffer is working.
 
Brett Hammond
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Beautiful photos, Evan!

Paul, per your concerns, I have been thinking of the door weatherproofing...

A doorstop is the strip of wood typically 1/4 inch by 1 inch, nailed to the sides (jams) and top (lintel) of a door frame to stop the door from swinging all the way through the doorway when closed. Typically, thin 1/4 inch wide strips of foam can be attached to the doorstop side facing the door so that when the door is closed, the foam is compressed and the door is sealed weather tight.

I was thinking that a more eco friendly solution than foam might be a very loosely twisted (or braided) thick wool rope glued to the stop, similar to the way fireproof rope is used to seal a wood stove door air tight. Or very thick soft rubber might work. It needs to be something that compresses to half its thickness or smaller to provide the best seal against imperfectly aligned surfaces. The stop also needs to be in the correct position all the way around as well.

You could make a modern style weatherproof threshold by stuffing an old bicycle innertube with some old rags, and nailing it to the threshold in alignment with the door stop (or slightly further toward the door opening side) sticking up slightly above the bottom of the door, so the door compresses and slides over it when closed creating a tight seal. But I don't think this would hold up against foot traffic too well.

In lieu of a modern style weatherproof threshold that uses very durable synthetic rubber, you could extend the wood stop across the threshold. I think for the threshold stop, since it will most likely get stepped on, I would make it much wider so it extends from the door stopping position, all the way to the edge of the threshold (i.e. a board rather than a strip of wood). This will stand up to foot traffic better and should be made of locust or other very hard, rot proof wood.

If you haven't already considered this, you may want to make the stop much thicker than the normal 1/4 inch to provide more surface area for weatherproofing. Perhaps 1 inch by 1 inch.

And you need a good latch that pulls the door tightly closed enough to compress the weatherproofing on the stops. A wooden "dog" similar to the metal dogs used on the hatches of ships might work, and only require a single round hole through the door for the shaft, which might not be too difficult to seal with wool and a cover plate. The dog could be carved so that it gets thicker across its width so the harder you twist it shut, the more tightly it pulls the door to the doorstops. That will give you a little more adjustability than a single position door latch, so you can dog the door tightly against the doorstops, even as the wood door and frame changes shape due to changes in temperature and humidity. If the door is a kiln dried, well sealed (waterproof) dimensionally stable door, this is less of an issue and a single position latch will do fine.

Perhaps I should visit a few of these historic buildings around here and see how they weatherproofed their homes.

Which reminds me, my Grandmother had a long tube of fabric filled with sand that she laid up against the door to stop the wind from blowing between the threshold and door, but that only works when someone is inside to put it in place.

Food for thought. Best of luck!
 
paul wheaton
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Brett,

Sounds like something that would be great to have you go over with me while we are both standing there looking it over.

I would like to avoid glue if I can.
 
Brett Hammond
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The same inexpensive staples used to nail down tar paper to a roof will work in place of glue. Preferably stainless steel, which are pretty common.

I'm busy through Feb, but will touch base then.
 
Len Ovens
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Brett Hammond wrote:
Which reminds me, my Grandmother had a long tube of fabric filled with sand that she laid up against the door to stop the wind from blowing between the threshold and door, but that only works when someone is inside to put it in place.


I would think it would work just as well placed against the outside of the door when leaving. One would want to use very dry sand so that on freezing it could still shape itself to the door/frame interface.

This wouldn't work around my house... I have too many people who are more likely to leave the door open, let alone remember to do anything extra after closing the door. That may change if we were living somewhere colder though. It is quite mild here. We have had snow this year (just this past week) which has almost melted again with a daily average of around freezing +2 (from freezing -2 to +5ish). Certainly Our 90 year old who is used to +30C (or more in Manila) is keeping doors closed
 
evan l pierce
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Thermal inertia experiment under way.

After 12 days of heating the Abbey to 80+ degrees, we plugged up as many gaps as possible, shut down the stove, and now we're waiting to see what happens.

The heating stage of the experiment burned up almost 1/2 a cord of wood.

Despite stuffing wool into every crack we could find, there were still places where one could feel cold air infiltration. Until the cob is done, it seems that the Abbey will be less insulated than we might like and the experiment may be compromised by this fact.

The thermo-sensors are still recording. After the indoor temperatures drop down to their pre-experiment levels I'll download the data and we'll be able to see some neat graphs.

The real test will of course be after the cob is done and the Abbey goes through a whole year. But perhaps this experiment will be indicative.
 
Len Ovens
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evan l pierce wrote:Thermal inertia experiment under way.

After 12 days of heating the Abbey to 80+ degrees, we plugged up as many gaps as possible, shut down the stove, and now we're waiting to see what happens.

The heating stage of the experiment burned up almost 1/2 a cord of wood.

That sounds like a lot as compared to heating a stick build to the same point but that is to be expected.

Despite stuffing wool into every crack we could find, there were still places where one could feel cold air infiltration. Until the cob is done, it seems that the Abbey will be less insulated than we might like and the experiment may be compromised by this fact.

Not from my point of view. A thermal inertia (high mass) design should suffer much less from air leaks than a super insulated box. In fact, part of the reason for using thermal inertia for heating is to be able to live healthier because of the possibility of higher air exchange. What I have seen so far of the data, seems to have proved this is true, though I will wait for the rest of the data before saying more.


The thermo-sensors are still recording. After the indoor temperatures drop down to their pre-experiment levels I'll download the data and we'll be able to see some neat graphs.

The real test will of course be after the cob is done and the Abbey goes through a whole year. But perhaps this experiment will be indicative.


Glad for the recording for sure.

Again from my POV I expect more than one year will be needed to get things to stability, though useful data will likely be available in another year.

My expectation of this experiment with the RMH is that the base temperature (or rest temperature) will have been raised relatively little. This is a lot of mass in that ball of earth which is still not perfectly dry, by the way. If, as I think, the rest temperature has not been raised much by the RMH, that means there is a whole lot of storage in that mass and when the temperature is finally brought to a comfortable level it will stay there through a full winter even with open windows.

As I already stated in another post, I think the Sun provides much more energy than we realize and that the heat put into a patch of ground by the sun during uncovered months is much higher than burning the trees covering the same ground in the same time. (it seems to me I read that burning wood as a source of solar energy is very inefficient)

My advice for anyone else building a high mass, thermal inertia warmed home, is to start preparing the ground at least one year in advance, maybe more. I feel there should be some manual labour involved to speed things up. Passive is the end result it is hoped, but active will help get there sooner.
 
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Another Abbey pic:



Stay tuned, the thermal inertia graphs will be here soon.
 
evan l pierce
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Graph from the first (aborted) attempt at the experiment:



Graph from the most recent experiment:



Blue lines represent indoor temp, red represents outdoor temp.

It seemed to me that the mass did warm up a little bit and continued to release heat for a little while afterwards, but I think even the 12 days of heat we pumped into it was miniscule in comparison to the heat of a full summer.
 
Tim Skufca
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When MUD was located in Missoula's North Side, the greenhouse had a thermal-mass system where the heat generated in the "attic" was pumped below ground through ducting. Unfortunately there was never any data on it's success, but it was understood that it needed about 5 summer's worth of heat pumped beneath the greenhouse to establish a new ground temperature. Like I said, there wasn't any data collection to verify this, but if it is true, WOFATI 0.7 has a long way to go to determine if the temperature of the thermal mass is rising. Perhaps the data collected should be in terms of months, not hours/days.
 
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The good news is that it is 50 degrees inside when it is 25 degrees outside. Much easier to get out of bed at 50 than 25.
Practical considerations for that climate is to put air tubes through the berm and a solar collector on the south side to drive heat through the berm in the summer. Air temperature well above 110 every day in direct contact with the dirt instead of having to pass through the insulation of the logs. The heat slowly works its way through the dirt toward the logs during the summer while the cool dirt next to the logs is still cooling the wofati during the summer heat. The radiant heat inside the berm traveling toward the logs maintains radiant warmth inside the wofati during the winter. the radiant heat traveling out from the inside of the berm prevents the cooling of the dirt next to the logs. My goal would be to keep the radiant temperature of the logs 65 to 70 degrees all year. They need to stick a compost thermometer between the logs so that the berm temperature can be monitored. I am guessing from the graff that it is probably about 45.

My factory built house holds a 10 degree difference with the outside so a 25 degree difference is pretty good.
 
paul wheaton
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Francesco Delvillani
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Fantastic....congratulation for your work
 
Gilbert Fritz
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What does it look like now?
 
Hans Quistorff
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Please ask guests staying there to post their experience and pictures here so tha twe who have been falowing this experament can learn the positive and negative outcomes.
Are the recording thermomators from last winter still in place? Did anyone try incerting the compost thermomiter between the logs to see what the earth temperature is in the berm against the wall?
 
paul wheaton
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At this time, I suspect that allerton abbey will not be ready to try the ATI test this winter.   Hopefully the structure can be finished in time to do the test next year.
 
Len Ovens
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paul wheaton wrote:At this time, I suspect that allerton abbey will not be ready to try the ATI test this winter.   Hopefully the structure can be finished in time to do the test next year.


Cool, things are like that. It would be interesting to know if the general overall inside temperature has gone up from last year sometime this winter. It did seem quite livable even with no fire BTW, so long as a coat/sweater is worn. A bit nippy on the hands maybe, but still livable. Using wood for cooking might be enough to keep the hands happy too. By this I mean using wood just when cooking, not having a wood stove for cooking that has fire in it all the time. I should add that this does not mean comfortable as I understand Paul uses comfortable.
 
Janet Branson
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Many hands of gone into making Allerton Abbey and it more hands and a natural builder are needed to finish it. The front wall was replaced with strawbale and before the interior front wall can be completed some boards need to be removed. Also, Erica says that the other sections of wall need junk pole 'x's wired to the exterior frame before it can be cobbed. The wall shown here has the 'x's tied in.
The-Abbey-under-construction.JPG
[Thumbnail for The-Abbey-under-construction.JPG]
 
Juli Anne
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We came and saw the wofati's and it was so cool! Definitely a whole different experience to see them in person!
 
I am going down to the lab. Do NOT let anyone in. Not even this tiny ad:
Rocket Canner Fryer and Forge - Draft Plans
https://permies.com/t/64465/Rocket-Canner-Fryer-Forge-Draft
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