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Chris McClellan

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since Oct 24, 2013
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Recent posts by Chris McClellan

Mud here. The top priority of the projects is to send folks home with skills and confidence to attack their own projects. There are some projects that we will strongly encourage folks to get into because they involve what we consider to be essential skillsets, like basic metalworking and cutting down a tree. We will expect everyone to participate in the safety trainings because we don't want anyone hurt including us. But the projects that will take most of our attention will be the ones that participants agree as a group are most relevant to them, and there will be time to focus on something that excites a few of us as a breakout group, and some projects we may just not get to depending on the size and inclinations and existing skillsets of the attendees. The lack of glass recycling in many areas is something that has been bothering Paul for a while so he keeps hoping someone will get excited about it and use the lab to come up with amazing solutions, and maybe we will, but first skills first.
6 days ago

A fun useful project we built from mud and junk in an afternoon.

3 weeks ago
March 1-3
Ojai CA

Join Uncle Mud and Ray Cirino and Leah Gage in magical Ojai California for an adventure in wellness. A year after the disastrous Thomas Fire came within feet of destroying their homes folks are still suffering from smoke inhalation--not because of the fire, but because the old inefficient wood stoves they depend on to keep warm are so dirty you can see the air you are trying to breathe. We will be building super clean burning, efficient Rocket Mass Heaters to replace them using scrap metal and "cob" made from the local sandy clay soil. This is a hands-on workshop. We will learn how to use the tools and materials and theories by cutting and shaping and sculpting working Rocket Heaters. We will feed ourselves from the local bounty of this working Permaculture farm with the help of Ray's 11 foot tall dragon pizza oven "Sparky" and other amazing solar and rocket powered gadgets. We will see how biochar produced in Ray's cookers is regenerating the soil, then soak away our work in a rocket heater powered hot tub. We will camp and dance and drum, practice yoga and healthy mindfulness with Leah, explore the river in search of hot springs, peek at hand made tiny houses, poop stink-free in a biochar composting toilet, and generally have a great time. Some of us might not even go home until Monday or Tuesday, but if you can come early you can join us Thursday for a tour of LA's best aerospace junkyards in search of real rocket parts to incorporate into our rocket heaters.  $399 fee includes the workshop, camping,  fresh vegetarian-friendly food, and all the fun you can manage. A limited number of participants will be able to build and take home their own portable "Cottage Rocket" heater for an additional materials fee of $350. Email for more information or to register.
1 month ago
We have a "Cottage Rocket" design that has the benefit of being able to build it somewhere convenient (like an ATC) and taking it home. We are also planning on building a "skiddable" natural cottage for Wheaton labs. Zoning and code issues is usually a "story time" conversation/lecture at my workshops because while it isn't "hands on" like most of the workshop it is still important to know what you are dealing with. We think "shop skills" are an important part of the ATC so we are looking for projects that 1) give opportunity for instruction and practice with tools you might not normally get to work with and 2) create an artifact that long after we leave is something Paul can use to demonstrate permaculture principles. It would be a little easy to leave Paul with dozens of half useful rocket heater cores in the process of teaching welding and rocket heater principles so instead we are trying hard to come up with good useful unique projects.
2 months ago
Mud here,
I felt like there was an important communication breakthrough that occurred during this time period. One evening the folks Paul had assembled from far and wide to help with the Allerton roof rescue were sitting there after a lovely dinner taking turns explaining why the rescue couldn't or shouldn't be done or was too dangerous or not worth it, and what we could do instead. After much repeating himself Paul was able to get us (okay get me) finally to understand that we were not trying to make this building perfect or do something better instead, we were trying to get that particular building experiment to the point where it would do its one main job testing whether you could build--with a couple hundred dollars and materials native to THAT land--a structure you could over-winter in while doing all the other stuff you need to do to set up a Permaculture Homestead. Not a forever home, not perfect. Not even particularly good. Just good enough, for cheap, from the stuff that was there. Oh. Five years into its projected ten year lifespan for one comedy reason and then another this building had yet to be sealed enough to test, and this right here right now was our best chance to make this happen. And it did. No one fell. The roof didn't collapse. We even got the doors to shut properly. On to the next thing! PEP here we come.
Miles, we designed the bun warmer for instant gratification so you sit directly on the barrels and they warm you quickly. The mass is your ass.
4 months ago
The uncoated Liberators are designed to get up a little above 900 degrees (f) which is a bit wussy for a rocket but really good for a UL listed woodstove and about as good as it gets if you don't want to melt things. I'm not thinking they intend the mach 2 to get any hotter, but the UL listing includes 12' of horizontal exhaust for a thermal bench install.
4 months ago
More progress on the CottageRocket and WorkshopRocket front. We've been hosting monthly builds. Last  weekend we built 8 heaters with folks from as far away as Eastern NY and Western Michigan. Yesterday I installed this lovely code approved, insurance approved workshop rocket in an upholstery shop in Ohio. It has a "tall" radiator bell on top and a "double" radiator bell (stratification chamber) next to it to get as much heat out as possible. The client plans to loosly fill both with bricks for more thermal mass. Dragonheaters suggested that and I'm not sold on it as a able to send the stored heat into the room in any meaningful way. For this installation in an outbuilding our code guy wasn't concerned about UL listing, just that the "kit" was installed according to manufacturer's instructions. Now I just have to sit down and write the instructions.
4 months ago
The liberator is holding up well. I got to visit their factory last month on my way home from Wheaton Labs.  They are in the process of UL testing and EPA testing their Mark 2. I also got a mini while I was there. It's a 4" and heats pretty well for being so small. Both are ceramic coated on the interior. I will be interested to see how that changes the game--hotter or lasting longer. No data yet. Their new pellet hopper is pretty cool too. Unfortunately all the pictures I got are of the Mark 1 and my mini is in storage with my Mother Earth News Fair stuff so I will get more pictures in Texas in February.
4 months ago