thomas rubino

rocket scientist
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since Apr 14, 2013
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cat pig rocket stoves
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13 acres in extreme rural Montana 100% off grid since 1983. Solar and micro hydro. Summer time piggy farmer. Restoring 2000-04 Subaru outbacks wagons for fun and a little profit. Not quite old enough to retire YET but closing on it fast... until then I must occasionally leave Paradise "home" and run large construction cranes on union job sites across the inland northwest. I make (Well try) A-2 A-2 cheese, I love cooking with my wood smoker for everything! Would not live anywhere else but rural Montana ! My wife Liz runs "Rocks by liz" a successful Etsy store and we have a summer booth at the Missoula peoples market. We currently breed and raise persian cats but are about to retire all the girls and let them be happy kittys for the remainder of their days.Oh and my biggest thing is... I LOVE MY RMH !
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latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
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Recent posts by thomas rubino

Well, I'll take Mountains... ok, call them hills if you prefer.
16 hours ago
Hi Grey;
It should work for a day or two.
I suspect the beavers might want to plug up the leak... like, every night...

If you have the equipment and a long enough pipe to keep your alternator safely away from damage, give it a go.
It's a fun project for sure, but it's not likely to supply a reliable power source.  
2 days ago
Congratulations Glenn on an outstanding job!
The brickwork came out clean and square!
The plasma-cut artwork is over the top and creates a finished functioning piece of art!
That is the finest example, of a Dragon Tech door that I have seen to date, and I have seen them all!

With this build, you are no longer an apprentice! You have become a Journeyman Rocket Scientist.
When you unveil your next build you can claim the title of Master Builder and seek an apprentice of your own to carry on the craft!
Students like you make teaching fun!
Keep up the good work!
2 days ago
Three days ago it was 75F with brilliant sunshine.
This morning it is not...
2 days ago
Hi Arthur;  I agree with Thekla.
In a small area like you have,  an underground hugel  would be more labor intensive to build but would work well and have the added benefit of pleasing your mom!
Although parents are very tolerant of "the kid's crazy idea"  I suspect Mom would not be overly pleased with an exposed hugel. They are rather unsightly when first built.
At our home, we have switched to having raised beds. (getting old)  The hugel idea is so innovative that I wanted to try it.
I started by hand excavating 2' deep where I wanted the raised bed. Then I filled the very bottom with large soft split firewood pieces. Filling in all air gaps as I came up. Smaller brush and debris were added until I reached ground level.  At that point, I built my box on top. More wood products were added with nice compost filling the gaps, the final 2' is all good garden soil.    

In your case, Mom's current spot is very attractive as is, by putting your wood products underground it will look the same and mom will have a smile.
She can tell all her friends about her son's silly idea... in two years when that hugel is performing and her tomatoes and other produce are growing like crazy she can then tell her friends about her brilliant son and his awesome idea!

Perhaps, hand dig the whole thing, it's not that large an area or rent a mini trac hoe and dig it out in an hour or two.
2 days ago
Ahh, excellent that you have stone in the mass!
I highly recommend using the graded sand, you will like it.

When I built the mass on my studio rmh, I was lucky enough to have access to a large amount of slate.
I created a "cob lasagna" by layering the stone and filling any air pockets with cob.  I would place apx 4-6" or 2 layers a day.
Working alone, that was more than enough work and it allowed some drying time between layers.
Plenty of builds have had large amounts of cob applied quickly.

In my case, I choose to enclose the mass with clay brick.  
More mass, and I think it looks better, also cracking is a non-issue.
4 days ago
Hi Chris;
What mix did you use to make your cob?   Three-part sand to one-part clay?
Also, it appears that you used all cob with no solid rock buried inside.
All cob will work but it does not have the heat-holding capability of solid rock, and it cracks.
Fill your cracks with wet sandy clay (sand helps with cracking).

What "kind" of sand did you use?   Local free sand?
The first RMH I built, I used free sand from the RR, very clean (no rocks) but very fine.
My cob was constantly cracking, and I was constantly filling the cracks with new sandy cob.
Now I use only a commercial graded medium builder's sand, apx $15 at Home Depot.
This creates a superb cob mortar that resists cracking and also looks great.

I  suggest using large rocks and graded sand to finish your build you will be very happy with the results.
4 days ago
Hi Leo;
High voltage panels and MPPT controllers allow you to create maximum power in less-than-ideal conditions.
Low voltage panels rely on optimum position to gather as much energy as they can.
5 days ago
Hi Tiffany;
As Jordan suggested 10-14" wood fits best.
The Walker firebox is not very large, your wood will need to be split down to "cookstove" size. apx 2"- 4" in dia.

The core portion of the stove is best built entirely of IFB, if cost or availability is a problem then you could get away with using heavy firebrick on the floor.
The rest of the stove is built using solid clay bricks.
Be sure to install a bypass to ease cold starts.

5 days ago
In a former life...
Fluffy kept his claws sharp at all times while pirating in the Caribbean.
5 days ago