How to Read Erica's Plans and Diagrams:
Most of these plans are done using standard architectural drafting, old-school style.
(I was the last class
to learn conventional pencil-to-photo-print blueprint drawing, using a real old ammonia light-box, before my architecture department got computers. Ah, the good old days.).
Any general builder, framer, mason, or engineer should
be able to read these plans quite easily; the age of computers hasn't changed the blueprint language that much, although we now print them in a wider range of colors.
I use a lot of 2-dimensional templates and a standard color key for my more recent work.
So fire bricks will always show up the same size and color (beige) and smaller building bricks will be represented in their own size and color (brick red). Cob
is brown, wood
trim is light caramel (like Doug fir or pine heartwood), concrete
and cement-board will be grey, non-combustible insulation will be light grey or white, or white with a squiggly black line (a symbolic convention for black-and-white drawings).
Plasters, tile, natural stone, and other finish materials may show in a variety of colors, similar to their actual color.
We occasionally hear some confusion from folks who are used to the 3-d modeling or exploded diagrams more common for mechanics and furniture/cabinetmakers.
We do include detail drawings with marked dimensions for critical areas like the firebox. Builders may also want our book the Rocket Mass Heater Builder's Guide
for additional notes about clearances, allowable variation, etc Click Here to see the Wisner Builder's Guide at NewSociety.com
Architectural drafting conventions:
- Projects are shown from top and side views.
- Studs in the wall are shown as solid rectangles, and windows as lines, as if you'd sliced through the house about 6 feet up.
- Any cutaway view will be labelled, and there will be a line across the top view showing where we "cut" to give that view. Arrows pointing toward the line show the direction you're looking from.
- For the main diagrams, look for a scale key, just like on a map; you can use a piece of paper or compass points to take a measurement off the diagram, and compare it to the scale key.
- We generally include at least one detail diagram, with marked dimensions, for any critical area(s) like the firebox.
Builders' Notes: These plans give play-by-play details of the project
goals, how we designed and built the heater, and whether anything was changed in the first year or two for satisfactory performance. We don't publish any plan unless its owner has been satisfied with the performance for at least one year.
If this is your first earthen building project or first time using bricks, you may find new terms mentioned in a given plan, like "cob" or "thermal mass" or "fire clay mortar," without a lot of explanatory detail. Definitions are not hard to find on these forums at www.permies.com, on YouTube, or in the attached "Builder's Guide to MUD".
These plans are already pretty long (the greenhouse
one is over 40 pages, showing 3 or 4 different project layouts). So we decided to focus on the specifics of each project, noting its differences from a "standard" system as described in the Rocket Mass Heater Builder's Guide
(Wisners, 2016) or Rocket Mass Heaters: Third Edition
(Evans/Jackson, 2014). You may want to pick up a copy of either book, if you don't already have one.
In our limited free
time these days, we still participate on these forums and give free advice to rocket project folks and others. I will make these premium threads a priority.
If you want to start a whole thread
about your project and ask for advice or show the step-by-step, you can post a link to that thread here for others to check out as they work from the same plans.
I will check out those links as my time allows, too.
Baby pictures welcome!