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Rocketstove Mass Heater in Western Pa  RSS feed

 
Posts: 12
Location: Hickory, Pa Zone 6a
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Hi, my name is Jay. I just learned about rocket stove Mass Heaters on the earlycj5.com board in their off topic section. If your up for a laugh, some of the responses are ...... well see for your self.
http://www.earlycj5.com/xf_cj5/index.php?threads/diy-rocket-mass-heater.127040/

We live in a 3000 Sq ft Victorian home in western Pa. We purchased it in 1990. The house was originally heated by a coal furnace, and was upgraded to a Natural gas forced air furnace in the 50's. We used this furnace the first yr. The fuel bills reached $500 for the coldest month. So the next year I installed a "U.S. Stove" coal furnace and plumbed into the existing plenum. The next yr we noticed the fire box had cracked, I tried welding it a few times then tried furnace cement but is kept smoking, ..... it finally wound up in the garage. So for the past 10+ yrs we have heated with a 5 panel gas radiant  heater in the basement and a small gas log ventless heater in the living rm. I was acquiring parts to build a double barrel stove to burn wood in the basement again, BUT now it looks like I will be building a RSMH.

The existing furnace pipe is 6" so that’s what I’ll be designing. After much research this is my plan. 6" rocket stove, 4X7.5 for Feed/burn chamber/riser, full size 55 Gal drum to sit 2" taller than riser. Brick and cob manifold to thermal bed. 1st run of 6" pipe 8' long to rise 1" to a half height 55 gal drum as bell.  If you mark the drum like a clock with 12 being away from the stove, the pipe will enter at 7 and exit at 5 into another pipe, rising another inch. Exiting behind the rocket stove, bending close so as to get heat and assist draft, then angling toward the exit, thru 18" sand stone wall to 40' house chimney. The space I have available is limited and can only accommodate an eight foot run for the thermal bed, so I hope the bell will help dissipate more heat.

I’ve purchased a couple of the dvd’s and I need to get a couple of books but are there any glaring mistakes. Let me know. I will try to document as I go. But I don’t have a hosting site since photobucket dumped all of its customers. One step at a time.
Thanks
Jay
 
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Location: Zone 6b
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Jay, if you have the pictures on your own computer, they are in Jpeg format and under 2mb, I suggest under 1.95mb, you can load them directly to our site under the attachments tab to the lower left of the type message box. Type your message, add your pictures. Please caption them. Welcome aboard and good luck.
 
gardener
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Location: Southern alps, on the French side of the french /italian border 5000ft high Southern alpine climate.
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http://batchrocket.eu/en/
 
Jay Whaley
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Location: Hickory, Pa Zone 6a
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I finally got started, This is the area I have in which to work. I have 12' from where the burn chamber will be to the far wall.
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1950's International furnace
 
Jay Whaley
Posts: 12
Location: Hickory, Pa Zone 6a
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Forgot to show the progress.
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duct work removed
 
gardener
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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I'm sorry that nobody caught this before you started work. A standard RMH in the basement is unlikely to give good results; It needs tending every 15-40 minutes depending on circumstances, and works best when in sight and sound of main living spaces. One exception would be a batch box which is a fill and forget for the hour it takes to burn a load.

Any mass heater in a basement will be much less effective than the same thing in the living space, as radiated heat will mostly be lost and the conductive comfort will be negated. Only convective heat will make it to the living spaces via warmed air, which is a poor heat transfer medium.

For a big old house, a 6" RMH is probably much too small. I think you need to do the work to move up to at least an 8" system. If you have a 40' chimney, you may have good enough draft that the existing chimney will work. I have a 7 3/4" J-tube RMH with bell, and a temporary 6" stovepipe only 12' high, and this works fine all the time unless there is a consistent east wind (rare except in spring). When I extend the pipe above the roofline in a few days, I expect it to work all the time.

Another consideration would be that a 6" batch box puts out similar power to an 8" J-tube, so you could get a boost there without risk. See Max's link to batchrocket.eu.

Finally, if a fire on the main floor is not practical, an arrangement with a batch box in the basement feeding a two-story bell extending up to the main floor might work. It would require some expertise to design, but could give the best of both worlds. I have designed such a system for my best friend's 200 year old house, cramped and cluttered with 6'-4" ceiling... unsafe to burn on the main floor.
 
Jay Whaley
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Location: Hickory, Pa Zone 6a
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Glenn Herbert wrote:I'm sorry that nobody caught this before you started work. A standard RMH in the basement is unlikely to give good results; It needs tending every 15-40 minutes depending on circumstances, and works best when in sight and sound of main living spaces. One exception would be a batch box which is a fill and forget for the hour it takes to burn a load.

For a big old house, a 6" RMH is probably much too small. I think you need to do the work to move up to at least an 8" system. If you have a 40' chimney, you may have good enough draft that the existing chimney will work. I have a 7 3/4" J-tube RMH with bell, and a temporary 6" stovepipe only 12' high, and this works fine all the time unless there is a consistent east wind (rare except in spring). When I extend the pipe above the roofline in a few days, I expect it to work all the time.



Thanks Glenn,
These are all valid points, and I have considered them. As I said I am currently heating my entire 3000 sq ft house with this,(See pic below) just about any heating source should be fine. When I was heating with a coal furnace I could make the wife open the front during a snow storm just to cool off. Convection heat flow works well in this house. The wet wall is right behind the current furnace and the 5 panel heater has kept the pipes warm even on those weeks of single digit temps we sometimes get.

I thought about going to an 8" system but the basement wall is 22" thick and only drilled for a 6" pipe. I also looked at the batch box designs, and so far I still prefer the "J" tube style

So as soon as I get the furnace into storage, I'll get started on floor layout.
Jay
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current heat source
 
Jay Whaley
Posts: 12
Location: Hickory, Pa Zone 6a
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I have my work area cleared and am ready to start. I'll bring the bricks up from the garage tomorrow. I've got the perlite and sand to start the base. ..... I can't wait!!!
Jay
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Starting space
 
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Was wondering how you are progressing ? And what part of Western PA ? I'm south of Erie off I-79
 
Jay Whaley
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Location: Hickory, Pa Zone 6a
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Robert Dearborn wrote:Was wondering how you are progressing ?



Slow unfortunately, I got the bricks moved from the garage to the basement but that's about it. Everyone here got sick over the Holidays. I hope to get going this week.
Jay
 
Jay Whaley
Posts: 12
Location: Hickory, Pa Zone 6a
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Got some work done today. Make the level base on the floor, then some bricks to test design. Will be building a 6" Jtube. tunnel dimensions are 6" wide and 5" tall.

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gardener
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Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
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Jay; I believe the recommended size is 5.5" x 5.5"  on a 6" J tube. Common practice is to make the height slightly more to allow for an inch of ash to cover the burn tunnel floor.  So a 5.5" wide by 6.5" tall would be a better size to aim for.    EDIT)  Looking at your newest pictures... You want to make your insulated base thicker to sit your core on . As you have it currently, you will lose core heat down into your slab...  i'm guessing with the age of your home that the slab does not have 4" insulation under it...  Use clay bricks to frame your area then fill with your perlite mix ... then level your core on that.  You will also want to use 4"or so of straw filled cob under your horizontal pipes.
 
Jay Whaley
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Location: Hickory, Pa Zone 6a
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Got the brick work started. I have the dimensions from "rocket mass heaters edition III" which states a 6" system should be 30 sq in. I tried laying out for 7.5" wide and 4 tall, but I didn't like the look. So it's 6" wide and 5" tall. As for insulation under, I'm not trying to stop heat transfer, the basement floor varies between 3 and 4" thick with clay below that so I am going to use it to expand my radiant heat area. I had to cut a hole in the floor once to service the pipes coming from the cistern. My basement was dirt, (clay) when it had a coal furnace. In the 50's the house was "modernized". They dug the dirt down about a foot and poured concrete, and nun to level. the main support columns are still sitting on 6x6 squares of dirt sticking up thru the concrete. The house has been here for over 100 yrs so I guess that's OK.

I do plan on attaching a cob bench, but to start I will build the stove portion with 55 gal drum, and vent it straight out. Run some test burns and tune the barrel. Then build and attach the thermal battery.

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Posts: 530
Location: Central Virginia USA
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The combustion area of the stove is a place where the highest temps are necessary, and finding ways to insulate that area under and around the fire box, tunnel, and heat riser will reward with better efficiency. I always used firebrick splits to line firebox and tunnel (only 1" thick) for durability then clay and lots of perlite to hold everything together, insulate, and seal it all

I will also second/third the idea that the batch burner design  will reward you more than words can tell,---- but if you really are impatient to get on and start doing something, at least leave enough room on the firebox side to expand into the batch burner design when you tire of the novelty of the RMH and the work/attention to keep it fueled.

I liked my RMH, but I love my new Batch Burner

If it wasn't the middle of winter and I wasn't already tired of all the changes I've been making, I would likely go straight to the double shoebox design recently unveiled--maybe next year--
 
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bob day wrote:The combustion area of the stove is a place where the highest temps are necessary, and finding ways to insulate that area under and around the fire box, tunnel, and heat riser will reward with better efficiency. I always used firebrick splits to line firebox and tunnel (only 1" thick) for durability then clay and lots of perlite to hold everything together, insulate, and seal it all

So you build the entire firebox out of split firebrick?In the book the design is to build the riser out of split firebricks and the rest of the combustoin area out of full sized firebricks. Why you put also the clay first and then the perlite to insulate?I thought in the book the masonry around the firebox goes after the perlite covers the firebox.I guess it works both ways?

I will also second/third the idea that the batch burner design  will reward you more than words can tell,---- but if you really are impatient to get on and start doing something, at least leave enough room on the firebox side to expand into the batch burner design when you tire of the novelty of the RMH and the work/attention to keep it fueled.


I liked my RMH, but I love my new Batch Burner

If it wasn't the middle of winter and I wasn't already tired of all the changes I've been making, I would likely go straight to the double shoebox design recently unveiled--maybe next year--

It is the batch box's height that prohibits me to build one so i am also waiting for the double shoebox design which seems smaller and simpler .

 
Panagiotis Panagiotou
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thomas rubino wrote:Jay; I believe the recommended size is 5.5" x 5.5"  on a 6" J tube. Common practice is to make the height slightly more to allow for an inch of ash to cover the burn tunnel floor.  So a 5.5" wide by 6.5" tall would be a better size to aim for.    



Looking at the book it states that depending on the height of the burn tunnel you also need to adjust the length of the feed tube opening to match the height of the tunnel.
 
thomas rubino
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Adding an inch of height to the burn tunnel is NOT in any books (although it was suggested here at permies) . This was a personal observation & decision ,after 3 years of constantly seeing an inch of fly ash laying in the bottom of the burn tunnel (which acts as an  extra insulator) I decided to increase my burn tunnel height to allow for this ash to stay there.... I am very happy with the results.     
 
bob day
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My first firebox was just clay and I only had enough bricks for the roof of the tunnel. As time went on and the firebox deteriorated I also got more firebrick splits and lined the firebox and tunnel to prevent wear.  As you may gather, RMHs are made both on the cheap, or with great expense , in numerous ways.  That's why it's so important to have a good understanding of the principles. I prefer the splits with an insulating mix of clay and perlite to get the fire hotter faster.  Some people say the larger firebricks hold the heat longer and increase the efficiency of the coaling stage. I use no firebricks at all in the heat riser. My original riser was cast from perlite and clay, and held up very well over about three years of use.  I recently remodeled and changed the size back from 8 inches to 6 using a one inch ceramic fiber blanket as a liner to  the original cast riser.

If you have the money, there are some now who are using a regular stovepipe two inches larger than desired, and lining it with the ceramic fiber.  They say it insulates as well as 5 inches of clay-perlite mix, and since the metal on the outside is not subjected to the intense heat of the core, it does not burn.

I was always under the impression that a square riser made with firebrick was measured by the number of sq inches, but there is now a thought that the effective CSA of a square riser is really measured as if the width of the square was the diameter of a circle.  This has to do with fluid dynamics and the corners acting as stagnant areas while primary flow is the circle in the center of the firebricks square.

The Batch burner does not have to be so tall. I simply  lifted my barrel a few inches to accommodate the 12 inch height of the batch box   The batch design basically just  puts the burn tunnel and firebox together and enlarges them, loads horizontally, adds a door and primary and secondary air supply.  The heights you see in many of the pictures are actually being built on a pedestal a couple feet off the ground for ease of loading, but mine works perfectly well on the floor.  I just have to get down there to load it, not much different from loading the j tube RMH

 
Jay Whaley
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Location: Hickory, Pa Zone 6a
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Progress is made. Feed tube is 16" burn tunnel is 24" and riser is 40". I had planned on it being 48" but when I finally pulled the 55 gal drum from the barn. is was shorter than I thought it was.

So now to fill in and around the burn tunnel and the gaps around the barrel support with cob. While I was cutting brick, I also cut in the "trip wire" and plan on installing the "P" trap. then wrap the riser in fine mesh hardware cloth and perlite.

Fire coming soon!!!
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Jay Whaley
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OK!
It's -3 deg F. So I decided to skip a few steps and fire up the stove. I keep a Nerf ball stuffed i n the end of the chimney pipe. When I removed it I had a terrible down draft. So I tried putting a heat gun on the pipe, but after 10 min it still  wasn't drawing. So I went out to the chimney and pulled the clean out access panel. After removing the dead Robin and snow I built a small teepee around a piece of starter brick. It caught and was roaring in less than a minute. Back inside I removed the nerf ball and lit a match, the draw sucked it out, so I put the barrel over the riser and started it up. put mud around the barrel to seal it while it warmed up....... -3 outside 70 in my living room, and the second floor is 68, it's usually in the 50's.

No thermal bench yet but we are warm!!!

Jay
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Did Steve tell you that? Fuh - Steve. Just look at this tiny ad:
Rocket oven documentary pre-sale now available
https://permies.com/t/90306/Rocket-oven-documentary-pre-sale
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