Sam Nelson

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since May 19, 2016
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Recent posts by Sam Nelson

I should have given more detail really.
I'm in the UK so termites are not really a thing over here I've got ash trees for the frame and the have been felled just over a year now have dried out quite a lot now. However the bark rather than fall off has dried onto the logs and doesn't separate of the internal wood easily at all. so is it strictly necessary if the wood is mostly dry already. The structure is going to be for a workshop so mess is less of an issue anyway.

I had in mind to use a raised pad under each post for the structure to sit on, so ground water and rising damp shouldn't be an issue.

I'm looking for the most efficient method and wether or not i can justify leaving the bark on.


3 years ago
I've been researching a round wood timber frame building and all the pictures online seem to have the bark removed.
This seems to be a lot of extra work for no obvious benefit to me. Does anyone have a good for and against list for this??


3 years ago

I've got some foot square oak beams i might use under the anvil. The rest of the structure will be made from natural, waste or recycled materials. I think concrete is not the most environmentally sound stuff but it will allow me to spend less time cleaning and moving things around and more time designing/building things to make the world a little more interesting.

3 years ago
Thanks for the detailed answer, however that is sum what bigger than i had in mind. My old forge /anvil used to be outside on a concrete drive way that started to crack after a year or so of hand powered hammering.
Putting the anvil on a wooden base/floor should stop most issues especially if I make the floor around it then also shock will go in to the earth rather than the floor.
I would like earthen floor but am concerned that i will leave grooves when moving heavy things on it.
3 years ago
I'm about to start build my workshop with the added compilcation of having a coke forge and I am stuggling to find a suitable flooring material that isnt concrete.

I need to the floor to be:
Smooth for cleaning
able to take heavy loads for shop machinary
able to take point loading without deforming Eg using engine crane with 1500kg on it without the wheels digging into the floor
Stain resistant
damp proof
Non flamable

I would also like but not need it to be warm and shockproof to resist cracking when hammering on it for many hours but i can work around this its just more work.

Any  Ideas??
3 years ago

Cristo Balete wrote:Sam, there's generating solar power to sell back to the utility company, and there's generating power to store in batteries in an off-the-grid system.  Not sure which one you are talking about.  The ability of solar power to work in different parts of the country is not a given.  Solar is all about location, location, location.  There has been so much hype about solar I think it's very misleading.  We've had lots of discussions about it on this forum, so there's lots for you to read.   Until Arizona settles its lawsuit about leased panels, and the possibility of homeowners being charged as a business for generating power, it's better to own panels.

Solar hot water is probably the least effective thing to get from solar, unless you are in San Diego where it doesn't get very cold in the winter, and it's sunny most of the year.  Panels can only get power between the hours of approx. 10:00 and 4:00 in the summer, and 10:00 and 3:00 in the winter.  What they call "sun hours" means nothing to panels.  It's the absolute direct sun on the panels that counts, and that's a very limited number of hours a day.  If it's overcast, if there's even a thin cloud layer, the panels cannot generate what they are capable of.  Every single day is crucial in a solar setup, usage every single day has to be kept track of.  If there's a 5-day storm, you've got to make adjustments to usage.  Unless you  have a backup generator, but that uses a lot of gas, so that cost has to go into the total.  A good, reliable generator is several thousand dollars, not to mention a separate shed for it, and separate wiring into the house.

Solar equipment is expensive, so just because you don't have a monthly bill doesn't mean you haven't paid thousands of dollars to generate electricity by buying solar equipment, including the inverters, frames, controllers, and a very large bank of very expensive batteries, one shed for the batteries, and another for the electrical equipment, and your ability to maintain it all.   You just paid the money all at once, instead of a monthly bill.  Amortized out it is likely to be more costly than paying a utility company if you have an onff-the-grid system.

If you want to be independent, and not have a monthly bill, depending on where you live and how much you downsize, you might be able to do that.  It's unlikely to be cheaper.

I agree with Joseph.   Solar it is something that we commit to, learn a lot from, and are more happy with the use of it, and are willing to maintain it and keep track of it,


K Putnam, if you get a $1500  check once a year, that averages out to a little over $100 a month.  What is your average monthly electricity bill?  Probably more than that once it's averaged, so it's more likely to be an offset of the cost, not $1500 over and above paying nothing for power..  And your rebates seem to have gotten you a good chunk of the payback, not the solar.    People in San Diego would have a very different story from those in Wyoming or Michigan.

I don't want to nit pick but i've just done the hot water thing in the uk so a bit different laws, tax etc. but the equipment to put solar panel with 2000l insulated thermal store with a natural loss of 0.25C a day and rocket  stove for winter production is the equivalent price of an average boiler and radiator system over here. in the region of £2000 installation costs differ due to skills required but if I can fumble my way though it and it works then most can.

Solar tube is the most efficient collection method of collecting solar energy, in the region of 98% of energy hitting the panel is collected by the water system. A good PV panel is down at 35%ish.

With a thermal store the 5 day storm issue is negated it has to be cloudy for a couple of weeks to empty the tank of heat and then you just turn the rocket stove on to heat water. being the uk its cloudy here alot but we still get enough sun for using solar

The rocket stove is the back up but man enough to heat the house by the heat emitted with out solar at all.

I haven't studied pv in detail yet but surly the less you use the smaller system you need therefore the smaller system you need and cheaper and making your payback time proportionally the same as a big system for someone who uses a lot.

We have a green energy incentive program here but its only here so the government can it try to meet its green energy generation targets by 2020 and will minimise the fines they receive when they fail. They are only paid to those who have there panels professionally installed by certified companies that charge 3x as much as an electrician would can do, so its just the government paying itself to give money out.
4 years ago
I am talking about hot water, and where i have moved i don't have a base line for what i use, started with as black a canvas as you can without a bulldozer. old heating system got condemned quickly so started from scratch. I don't use masses of hot water and heat the house with the rocket stove by itself no uhf was connected at this point.

As far as i can tell putting in boiler with gas and replacing existing pipe work rads. etc would cost about 10% less that fitting uhf and using rocket stove and solar tubes to supply a heat store to feed any hot water needs.

I don't think finances aren't important but the impression i get when people (generally not permie inclined people)  ask what the payback on this system you get the impression that they think it is the only thing that matters. It normally comes to a point in the conversation of, "yeah but a boiler cheaper and quicker to install easier to run has 'guarantees'. where as your thing is cost more to buy and install its odd, you did it yourself, will it work? and the payback is really long why would you do that?"

I feel like there is a deeper issue with the What the payback question? I don't know how solar products are marketed outside the uk but over here it is the main selling point and it feel like it really shouldn't be
4 years ago
This is my point there is no way of knowing what the "payback" period is and that any system that is a near to free to run is better than the conventional options. Yet a lot of people seem to associate renewable energy technology as getting this payback as a way to justify putting in a system rather than the actual benefits of generating your own needs so you don't have the reliance on what is fragile system at best.

As i said just working on hot water and heating for now. I'm using solar and rocket stove water heat as a heat source for heat storage tank which then heat and hot circuits remove heat as needed. Pv is a further down line project at the minute.

You could be right about the defensiveness thing. I've always tried to give cohesive answers when people question way i'm doing this strange thing. but normally they just nod and smile politely.
4 years ago
As a bit of brief background i'm renovating a house, everything except the walls more or less. When i try to describe solar hot water systems to people and everyone seems to ask, Whats the payback time?

I haven't worked this out and don't really want to. My aim is to make a bill-less system. So free heating and free hot water with these being the most energy demanding systems in the home.

My view of the whole thing has always been, whats the payback time on a new boiler based system?

Has anyone else come accross this

4 years ago

As long as the weight of the buoy/floats and plug and the remaining water in the tube is less that the weight of the water displaced by the floats then the plug will seal.

If you were to add more water and go over the weight of the water displaced then the plug would open until the two weights were equal.

One other issue i see is that at very low water levels in the tube then the wight of the floats and plug have to be overcome before the plug will seal but will not seal unless there is water in the tube, So the seal would have to be manually done until there is sufficient water in the tube to support the weight of the plug and floats.

4 years ago