Creighton Samuels

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since Apr 14, 2013
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Recent posts by Creighton Samuels

Skandi Rogers wrote:It's a USDA zone 8 I would guess with a heatzone 1-2 WET and very windy, it probably never did have trees at least not on the west of the island looking at the satellite it's mainly rock on the west coast Not somewhere I would want to try to grow much to be honest, not much seasonal variation and cool cloudy summers coupled with high winds.

Great place for a small wind turbine, it sounds like.
18 hours ago

James Landreth wrote:It looks great, but I wonder how it will be affected by rising sea levels

Mostly high coastal cliffs and a peak at over 400 feet above sea level, putting it on par with my home state of Kentucky.  So while the current sandy beaches might cease to exist within a century, the vast majority of the island's landmass will be unaffected.
1 day ago
Yes, I noticed my error almost immediately.  Apparently the Irish nearly denuded their islands of native forests in the 16th & 17th century in the rush to build ships.  The island of Arranmore has roughly the same latitude as Nova Scotia, and since it's right on the ocean in the direct flow of the North Atlantic Circulation, it should have a marginally better winter climate.  I'd bet that seeing the sunshine between November and April is pretty rare, however.  So a permie that moved there could start their own deciduous forest, and be harvesting fuelwood in about 6 years.  This is just about the ideal region for a trained RMH builder.  If cut during wintertime, a lot of deciduous species will immediately start to regrow from the stump in spring, and faster than the original seedling because the new sprout will be able to draw upon the reserves in the root that the old tree no longer requires. And this island is not small, so it's probably got some good land available; for a permie's forest, not ag.  As the Duke has pointed out many times, land that can support modern mechanized agriculture is always going to be too expensive for permies to do well.
1 day ago

It's a beautiful island in all the photos, which are undoubtedly in summertime.  Notably, however, there are no visible trees so this island is very likely inside the Arctic circle.  If a trained builder of rocket mass heaters were to move there, and a suitable fuel source is actually available in this region of Ireland, that builder would have access to a large portion of Ireland in order to offer his/her professional services; as the island is only 3 miles from the Irish "mainland", 5 miles from an airport and connected by a daily ferry.

Since it's only 3 miles from shore, why did it take so long for the island to get a broadband internet service?
2 days ago

Glenn Herbert wrote:
I would see a problem with a system that is guaranteed to smoke back and possibly even send flames out the feed if the fan stops working or the power goes out.

Yes, I have considered that issue as well.  I'm thinking about putting in a small solar & battery system, just to run my fridge, anyway; and might make the forced exhaust vent a DC unit.  That would definitely increase cost, though.

I'm unlikely to ever go to sleep unless the fire is out, however; so back-drafting due to power failure isn't really a great risk so long as I have a well fitting cover that I can drop onto the wood-feed to suffocate the burn if necessary.
1 week ago

Glenn Herbert wrote:

I don't think you need to worry about moving the exhaust away from the house, as the exhaust will be well above outside air temperature and rise so it will not be a hazard for coming back into the space. I would locate it away from windows to be safe. I would also locate it at ceiling level to maximize draft. Is the walkout on the usual windward side, or the lee side, of your house? Any time the wind is blowing on that face, you risk reverse flow.

My walkout basement exit faces a huge copse of trees, on my back 10 acres.  So when there's wind, it's always on the lee side, because the trees effectively block anything from that direction.  That said, I do think that I have a solution to the backblow problem, with using a ground level dryer vent, that was mentioned by Erica on that video. The solution is to pipe another vent to the far side of the house, so that when the wind is on the side of the dryer vent, the wind doesn't produce backpressure through the RMH, but has a path of less resistance to the other side of the house.  Worst case, the vent pipe to the other side of the house would have to be full cross sectional area, but one could probably get away with less for that vent pipe.  Downside is that adding this additional vent is likely to 'whistle' whenever the wind blows, so it would have to be secured rather well to prevent resonation.

But, again, I'm not allowed to innovate yet, and I have no way of practically testing my theory in the backyard.
1 week ago
I know I'm not supposed to innovate on my first RMH, but I want to put it in my walkout basement as I finish it, and I want it to exhaust out the side of the house about a foot above grade level.  I might also be forced to neck the exhaust down to a smaller cross sectional area, and maybe even into the ground for 10 feet and away from the house, so that oxygen depleted air doesn't have the chance to sneek back into the basement via the walkout exit.  So with all of those factors, I would like some input/advice from the woodfire experts.  Ernie mentioned on one of his videos that he uses 22 pounds of dried wood each day, so since dried wood is pretty consistently 8600 btus per pound regardless of species, that would mean that he is using about 190K btus in a cycle.  First off, this means Ernie & Erica live in a pretty small house.  But what I don't know is how long it takes to consume this 22 pound charge.  If I knew that, I could calculate the power rating of a RMH well enough to know what size of an exhaust fan I would need to replicate the natural draft of a proper RMH.  The next question then would be, is the exhaust cool enough across the entire cycle that I can expect that it will not damage a normal exhaust fan, such as found inside a bathroom, or should I forget about that idea and just pay the money for a purpose built powered woodstove draft fan?

Oh, and I'm looking to build the mass bench out of standard red brick & mortar, and perhaps without the barrel at all.  I haven't decided if the insulated "riser" portion will still be vertical inside a brick column, or laid down inside the brick mass bench, since I shouldn't need the natural draft that a normal RMH produces. Partly because I don't want any hot metal surfaces on the bench anywhere, and partly because I won't be asking the Department of Making me Sad for their approval.

Has anyone tried something along these lines?
2 weeks ago

Nathan Allen Lewis wrote:If you all haven't heard of Living Energy Farm in Virginia (I think they branched off from Twin Oaks a while back)
They run a lot of motors and machinery directly off of 180V solar- no batteries, no inverters, no charge controllers I think.

It looks like they have replaced all the AC motors in their shop tools with 180 volt industrial DC motors.  That's a slick system.  Particularly the part about halving the solar array to get a nominal 90 volts DC for use with common household universal motors.  As an electrician, I can say that the big downside is that DC voltage that high is much more prone to arc-welding the switches closed, and are therefore much more prone to accidents and fires; which is why they are not more common than they are.  There should be a "pull-out" disconnect ahead of their 30 amp safety switches, that can be yanked out by someone in the event that the 30 amp switch welds shut.  A standard forktruck charging connector with a large loop of wire (as both a handle and current carrying conductor) would work well for this.  Also, only use fuses with high voltage DC, as normal breakers cannot be relied upon for DC; and industrial DC breakers cost a fortune.
1 month ago

Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:

It seems to me that the really permacultural and cheap solution is a raft or a canoe kind of thing--it's dead simple, really cheap, you replace the stuff as it rots (and it will rot, and quickly, but there's secondary functions that the rotting logs can be put have control over it, you have autonomy.

What you are describing here is building a shanty craft from wood, and would negatively impact her ability to access dock & marina facilities when needed.  A real sailboat, so long as it looks like it's been painted in the past decade and the engine (if present) doesn't leave a black cloud behind it, can be a cheap way to live because you don't appear destitute.  It's the marine equivilent of living in your van down by the river, except you're on the river.  It's a known and accepted lifestyle choice, and doesn't invoke thoughts (from marina residents, particularly) of a 'hard luck' case that might resort to stealing the brass fittings from their yacht to buy a meal.  The security that comes from living on a boat, from destitute people in particular, exists primarily from the fact that most destitute people don't have access to a boat; and for this reason, most marinas are high security from the land/hard side, but open access from the sea side.  With that in mind, if anyone is seen paddling up from the sea on something that looks like they cobbled it together from trash and found wood, that person is going to be regarded with great suspicion, and her ability to find odd jobs for cash or even make friends at that marina will be impacted.  Conversely, if a person comes motoring up in a tiny sailboat that doesn't look like it's about to sink in the next blow; that person is generally assumed to be exactly the kind of person that the OP is looking to be, broke as a lifestyle choice, and therefore not desperate. It's not fair, but life's not fair.

1 month ago
Well, I'm good on half of my Christmas shopping in one go...
1 month ago