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Glenn Herbert

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since Mar 04, 2013
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Glenn Herbert currently moderates these forums:
Early education and work in architecture has given way to a diverse array of pottery, goldsmithing, and recently developing the family property as a venue for the New York Faerie Festival, while maintaining its natural beauty and function as private homestead.
Upstate NY, zone 5
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Recent posts by Glenn Herbert

How sturdy is the floor around the stone enclosure? Could you add posts under the floor without interfering with basement use? A cob bench spreads the load out enough that a sturdy floor can generally support it. A cob/masonry bell concentrates the load enough that it needs its own foundation.

If you do want a radiator barrel for instant heat, that can probably go on the floor next to the stone box (with appropriate air space and insulation.) Then you can make whatever bench arrangement you like, ending with the stone box as the final bell before going up the chimney. There are airflow and other details we can advise you on if you want to go that route.

With the stone box opening 51" high and wide, you could actually recess a low bench partly into the opening for a cozy seat for two, as long as neither of you is extremely tall Then you could extend a bench to one side for more seating in the open. It looks like the hearth extends 25" in front of the stone box so a bench could easily be supported on it.

You mention wanting to integrate with your state-of-the-art hydronic radiator system; I think the safest way to do that would be to incorporate in the bell a 10 gallon or more water tank at atmospheric pressure, with float valve for makeup to keep it full, and run a coil from the hydronic supply (before the furnace) through the tank to pick up heat. Then route the pipe back to your furnace so it can come on if the RMH tank is not providing enough heat. With your individual radiator thermostats, the part of the house warmed by the RMH will not call for radiator heat, and remote rooms can be hydronically heated.
1 week ago
I have made handles from curvy wood several times. It can let you keep the grain within the profile and minimize the chance of splitting. One particularly good one was for a brush hook... photo when I get home...
2 weeks ago
The length of time the trees have been dead matters to the usability of the wood. After several years, it may be rotted and unusable, but within a year or so of death it should still be fine. If the bark has not come free from the trunk in spots the wood is probably good. Cut a tree down and check it.
1 month ago
How much rain or snow can you get in a short time? How sandy or clayey is your soil around the house? If it is well drained and you don't often get heavy rains, a french drain type of infiltration may work fine combined with surfaces sloped away from the house in all directions; if not, you need to slope the drain trench to a lower place where it can flow out to the surface.

A few layers of moderate sized stones that keep big gaps between them, covered with progressively smaller stone and gravel down to sand at the top, will keep the drainage path clear for you.
1 month ago
My father put in a hydraulic ram from our spring in the '70s. He used 3/4" black poly supply for about 100' with 20' or so drop, and 600' or so of 1/2" black poly from there to the house. It worked fine as long as the ram didn't get stuck in the up position, in which case we would have to trudge through the snow across a ravine and start it again before we could wash up for school in the morning...
1 month ago
Also information on your house would be important. How big is it, construction, insulation if any, how compact or spread out is it... And what size is the chimney and how tall is it, and interior or exterior. Is the stone alcove above a basement or crawl space? How easy would it be to get in and reinforce the floor?

With that we could advise on what size of system would be best.
1 month ago
I have driven fresh maple fence posts for a wattle fence, and had some of them sprout; but they didn't actually root and continue to grow. The sprouts died off after a season.
1 month ago
Solar hot water is very effective and efficient, and cost-effective; just not for electric use.
1 month ago
Exactly what purpose are these tubes manufactured for? You need insulated ceramic material; if the tubes cracked like that, my guess is that they are not insulated by themselves and would need added insulation. The cracked tubes, if still standing by themselves, will probably work fine once insulated. I would try them with a wrapping of fiber insulation before trying more new ones. They remind me of chimney flue tile, which is recommended to be sawcut before use in a RMH bell to allow for expansion.
1 month ago
Good article. I've done a fair amount of dry stone walling, and this has some information that is new to me, as well as a few different ideas than the practices I have learned, and goes into detail on some things that are seldom covered thoroughly.
1 month ago