Mark Stephenson

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since Sep 21, 2012
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Recent posts by Mark Stephenson

I love the stove pictured. Very simple, attractive design, very efficient, small footprint. It burns to ash though.
I just made a similar one out of steel barrel and sheet metal as a test. I'm running it on pellets for now and still experimenting with cycle time to find the sweet spot when the pellets are fully converted to char and before becoming ash. I made a large ash pan at the bottom and I pull a stainless screen out from under the fuel tube to drop the burning coals into that then dump them into a bucket of water to quench. I'll change the design around in the next one and incorporate a water container instead of an ash pan to simplify that process.
I find these tlud's so much easier than j-tube or batch boxes in terms of achieving visibly clean burns throughout the cycle. I'm curious as to temperature differences between these and rockets, and what a gas analyzer would have to say about the actual noxious gas numbers though. Have any of you pros worked that out?
2 weeks ago
Thanks so much for all the advice. It's a lot to take in.

For now I'll be replacing the tubing with black to keep the algae out of that part of the system. I checked the tubing in the beds and it is clear so far, probably due to lack of light.

I'll definitely update at intervals or as things change significantly.
7 years ago
Hi again ElfN.

I like the dripping standpipe idea you describe in principle, but the tiny weep hole does seem very "cloggable". Since building this setup I've heard that flood and drain isn't really necessary at all for a healthy aquaponic grow bed. I'm wondering of just a standpipe alone is sufficient.

What do you think of the idea of solid color tubing to inhibit algae from growing in the tubes? From what I read, algae need light (except for some recently created genetically modified marine algae).

7 years ago
Thanks for the thoughts Elf Nori. You may well be right about that. After six weeks the visible tubing that supplies the top bed and the one that drains into the fish tank have algal growth. The root systems in the beds are just ramping up, and I could imagine them clogging the tubes at the end where the netting keeps the pebbles out.
I wonder if having solid color tubing would keep algal growth down. I'll have a look in the gravel and see if those tubes are cleaner than the visible ones.
7 years ago
After messing around with bell siphon designs and getting mixed/poor results I stumbled upon a very simple, reliable alternative, a hose. This has the advantages of using less materials ($), taking up zero space in the grow bed, and working flawlessly for the past six weeks. Check out my video:
7 years ago
Hi Alan. This was my question. Bryant was offering some help.

The bog lies in a "dogleg" shaped gap between granite ledges. It's about 40' across and 150' long. The property is at the top of a hill and the ground on one side of the bog is about 10' higher. Because the the hill is really just an enormous mass of granite, solid here and split there, there are lots of random pockets where soil has built up over who knows how long, and a pretty thin layer of soil sustaining shrubs and small trees all over. This also means there is a tremendous amount of runoff when it rains. The culverts in the driveway don't always keep up with the amount of water that flows with the rains. This is why I imagine that if I could dam the ends of the bog, it would end up being maintained without the benefit of a spring. The question of adequate depth to prevent freezing is another question. I'd say 4' would be maximum.

Thanks for the interest.
7 years ago
Hi Bryant.
Between the peat and the likely rise up the sides of the ledge, not more than four feet deep I think. We're within a mile of the bay so maybe not as cold as it gets inland, but still pretty cold.

My sister had a coi pond in inland Ct, and it wasn't more than eight feet in diameter, and two feet deep, but they made it through for years.

I see your point about leaky peat, but thought that a 50' long run might clog up eventually.

Thanks for the response.

7 years ago
I have some land in downeast Maine. Most of front of the lot is granite ledge with blueberries, huckleberries and small trees. There is an area that is about 150' long dogleg shaped peat bog that drains at both ends through culverts under my driveway which is a virtual mirror opposite of the shape of the bog.

I've plumbed the bog and it's about 2' deep but the ledge on either side is another couple of feet higher. Could I excavate the center and dump all that peat at each end to create say a 75' long fish pond?
7 years ago
Hi all. Sorry to arrive so late for this topic.

I have built a pretty large oven with a rocket stove as it's heat source. It burns very well but really can't heat the clay oven I built above it sufficiently. I've now added a chimney so that I can burn a fire directly inside the oven body with less smoke than occurs without a chimney. The upshot is that in my experience rocket stoves burn clean but not hot enough to heat a large clay oven, fires inside even large clay ovens heat well but are smokey even with a chimney. Maybe it's all a trade off or maybe I'm just too inexperienced, but it was definitely a worthwhile project.
Good luck all!
8 years ago
Hi Colin. I've been tinkering with this idea for a while as well. I began with an earth oven as described in Kiko Denzer's book and now have integrated a rocket stove into it. I'll be knocking version two down mid March and building my final (finger's crossed) design. Here is a link to my youtube vids FYI.

Good luck!
10 years ago