tom Brue

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since Oct 31, 2012
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Recent posts by tom Brue

This is funny. Since we are sharing stories, I'll weigh in. I bought my rural property a few years back and got the same welcome. "well, watch out for this guy, but this other guy is OK", and so forth. And as others have said, do your own independent research on the matter. I've found the neighbors to mostly be helpful, but one if particular is quite full of bologna. He'll tell you a tall tale if you let him, but if you show him he's wrong, or at least why you think you're right, he's respectful enough. I'm a youngster in the community. I was 25 when I bought the place, and surrounded by older neighbors in the 50-60's at least. I think partially they are shocked to see a young man break out like this, bad also partially impressed.

Anyway, day one we got the "warning" not to go down to where the road turns to dirt after dark, as that's where the trouble lives. My wife was concerned of course. I just reminded her that living in the suburbs you are no safer, as crime and trouble goes where it wants to. All you can do is establish a boundary, and let it know that such activity is not welcome, and won't be tolerated. No, don't put up a "I HAVE GUNS!" sign. That just annoys most folks if they were already there and you moved in. How you treat your own property, and how you treat others will establish the appropriate relationship.

Knocking on wood, we've had no issues with vandalism that I can really site. There was once that someone used our driveway as a parking spot, then cut the neighbor's fence and stole stuff out of his barn. But they seemed to have walked right by my stuff and left it untouched. I keep things locked up or tied down. Crackheads will take what they can carry. Dedicated thieves will take it no matter what you do, as they'll plan an assault. Basically, just don't make it easy to abuse you, and often times folks won't try.

We are finally getting ready to build, and are a bit apprehensive about the risk of someone trying to steal the building materials. But hopefully maintaining a good daily presence until we are moved in will deter any sticky fingers.

If you're neighbors learn to respect you, they'll look out for you too.
2 years ago
Is anyone using solar dehydrators in the gulf coast or other very humid areas? I saw mention on one of the radiant heat designs (black metal over single layer trays) about the high humidities in the Midwest. Down here is Houston, the humidity is almost always around 80% or more. If you walk outside and the humidity is oddly low, it's a miracle blessing! Those are "sick" days from work!

Anyway, would the solar driers work if the incoming works ready 80-90% saturated? Would they just be less efficient? Or not dry fast enough? I'm wondering if it's even worth building one here.
5 years ago
Tilapia aside, the question was if I could create a mechanical mechanism from a solar driven source.

I understand the flow would be weak, so a turbine would not work. It would then have to be something like a water wheel instead, where the fluid is only lifted by the heating, and then energy harvested by fluid falling.

But now you're talking an open loop. As long as pressure was high in the system (water lifting) then cool fluid would not necessarily flow into the bottom of the solar collector, unless it was at a higher pressure than than the system.

Now I'm thinking on teeter totter tanks... The heated fluid free flows to a tank where as the tank fills it lowers and raises an opposing tank of equal volume. The raised tank is then allowed to drain into whichever system you are trying to circulate.

As the solar collector cools ( evening to night) the fluid from the hot barrels could be drained back into the solar heater for the next day's haul. Hmm, now I'm thinking of piston drive...

All in all, all of these systems are probably pretty inefficient, but if there is no other option (no city water/electric grid) they may be worth the toils!
5 years ago
I've been reading up on these solar water heating units, and notice a common theme. Everyone likes to brag that "no pump is required". This is because the convection of the heated water draws it up, and cool water flows in below.

But what keeps the heated water from over pressuring and trying to flow backwards into cool stream? Is everyone relying on a positive pressure on the cool side due to city water or a well pump?

What I'm trying to figure out, is if I used a passive water heater in a closed loop (with some way to rapidly dump heat so it circulates readily), could I use that to power something like a water wheel for mechanical gain, or maybe a turbine to lift water in a separate system.

I'm considering an aquaponics system and thought at first I could just use it as a lift mechanism to get water from my sump to the peak and let gravity run it back down, and it would get heated along the way to keep tilapia happy. But these systems can get up 130°F! That would cook my fish and plants. Hence the need for parallel systems where the water heater just circulates water to drive a pump of some sort which then would lift water for the aquaponics.

Did I miss something obvious? Friction and inconsistent flow seem to be the biggest risks. But I'm also wondering if it's a net loss, like putting a wind turbine I front of a fan, or trying to use the refrigerator to cool your house. Also I'd have to figure out how to rapidly dump the heat from the water to circulate, but I figure that be as simple as some shaded riffles to stir it up.

So what am I missing?
5 years ago
For small spaces, you might also want to consider pocket rockets.

Hehehe...I could take this so many ways (inappropriate). But for real, does that exist, or were you being silly too?
6 years ago

Adrien Lapointe wrote:According to Ernie and Erica Wisner (, anything with an exhaust smaller than 6" tends not to work very well. That has to do with the flow of gases.

Well everything can be scaled down right? I understand if you tried to choke a 6" inlet (or larger) down to a 4" that you would have flow issues. I also understand that as a result of the gases heating and wanting to expand that either you have to have a larger diameter exhaust, or a higher velocity in the exhaust. If needed I can certainly step up to a 6" exhaust. Like I said, my goal is just to see how small of a stove I can build and have it still be highly efficient. Heh, I'll probably end up just wasting a bunch of money on different size stove pipes and be left with nothing useful. That's how most of my experiments end up
6 years ago
Forgive my ignorance, but my understanding is that the ash content is little to none (ideally). Most designs have the cleanout on the chimney end. I suppose the idea is that the velocity of the gas going through the burn chamber is so high that ash is sucked through. Once in the chimney, as the gas cools the velocity drops and ash would fall out, depositing along the bottom.

Here is my planned design. I intend to build the whole system out of circular stove pipe of different dimensions and then insulate with vermiculite/mud. So let's say your feed tube is 6" stove pipe. Can you just drop vertical about 18" into a T fitting? The fire and heat would go one direction through the T. The other side of the T would just be a removable cap. When the fire is burned out, just pull the cap and rake out any ash that may be there. Does that make sense with the T pipe? So the beam of the T would be the bottom when put in the stove, and the post of the T would be the feed chute.

I know there are hundreds of proved designs out there, but I can't help by tinker myself to see what I can do. Referring to my first post, I intend to build a micro RMH. I'm going to model it all with movable insulation (sand) and then once I get the kinks worked out, I'll assemble the permanent setup. If in the model I don't see any ash problems, then I probably won't build in a cleanout in the burn box.

6 years ago
I'm sure this has been proposed before, but I didn't see it. I am wanting to build a smaller RMH to heat my 10x14 planting room. I was thinking a 4" x 6" insulated inner barrel, and an 8" outer barrel. So the wood feed inlet would be 4" into the inside of the riser, an inch of insulation on either side, and then down and out the 8" outer barrel, exiting into a 4" horizontal chimney to run the length of the room (14').

Will this work? Do I need more insulation inside the riser? I was thinking I could do a 4"x8" riser to give 2" of insulation on either side, and then a 10" outer barrel. From what I recall in previous readings (4 months ago, but I don't think much has changed), the key is to have the same flow area throughout the system to ensure you aren't choking anything back. Like I said though, I want to keep this as compact as possible, as I'm only heating a small space, and don't have room for much more.

I intend to run the exhaust through the bottom of a fish raceway for aquaponics in the future. I think the mass of the water would certainly work in place of a massive clay/cob bench. I figure if the water is getting too warm for the fish I'll have a bypass chimney that will just run outside the tank to heat the surrounding air.

I want to get started building this soon, so someone please tell me if this is a no go. Thanks!
6 years ago