Laura Kelly

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since Dec 25, 2016
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Recent posts by Laura Kelly

Eric, when you say the part that fails is the burn tunnel and not the heat riser I have more hope.  I built my burn tunnel out of firebrick.  I'm on the fifth year of use now.  Curious about the acidity of the condensate.  I do farm blueberries. . . .
8 months ago

Julia Winter wrote:
Did you insulate your heat riser?  What did you use?   (It's possible the original metal is gone but your "insulation" has hard-fired to the point it has structural strength on its own, if you used something like perlite in clay for the insulation.)



I insulated, but just with loose perlite most of the way up, and then a perlite/cob mixture to cap it off  It is held in place with a stainless sheet wrapped and tied with wire.  When the steel goes, it'll go catastrophically.  But as I say, it still looks smooth and grey.  It was quite thick, which may give me a few years yet.  About 5/16".
8 months ago
I thought I read every post in this thread, but didn't see info on what you used for the vertical heat riser in the barrel.  Was it firebrick?  I have read somewhere on permies that brick is better than steel, even heavy steel, as it will degrade over time.  I read that a few years AFTER I built my rmh with a steel riser.  I've done my best to align mirror and lights to see what is happening inside my sealed barrel, and it all looks okay.  I have fired it up again for this season and it runs well.  The only issue I have had is the corrosion that happened in my pipe as it exits the cob wall of my house.  I had a gentle downward slope, as I had been directed, but neglected to add a tiny drain hole.  Moisture that collected at this low point as the pipe takes the vertical turn eventually rusted through and affected draw.  There just wasn't enough heat in the pipe by this point to keep it dry, and I suppose moisture made it in even in summer.  Anyway, I was able to just replace one section of pipe and all is well again this year. a tiny drainage hole doesn't seem to affect draw. I'm guessing that the insulated stainless pipe you chose for the exit pipe will hold up better.  I have 4 clean-outs and use them at least twice a year.  I get quite a bit of ash in the horizontal bench areas and some creosote, especially in the cooler exterior pipe.  Luckily I have a clean-out at the bottom of the exterior vertical, so I can clean it from the ground.
Laura
8 months ago
I posted a couple months ago about my steel pipe core RMH.  I did as Bruce Woodford suggested and used a mirrors and lights to peek up into the tube.  Couldn't see any differentiation in the dark, smooth surface.  Decided to cross my fingers and head into another heating season.  I have never seen metal flakes when I clean the pipes, and we really don't burn that much.  Maybe 3 rick a season.  Usually short burns, like hour or two at most, as it just doesn't get cold enough here, so I'm hoping that I've actually got two more seasons before I take apart and rebuild.  The barrel is pretty embedded, so its a job I'm not anxious to begin!
1 year ago
I have homeowners insurance for my hand-built cabin and rocket mass heater.  One company (Farmers) refused me because I had no other source of heat.  So, since we have electricity, I bought a small electric heater and had no trouble getting my home insured through State Farm.
1 year ago
I have been pleased with LED strip fixtures.  I found some that are 4500 lumens per 2 bulb, 4-foot fixture.  Timer turns them on for a few hours at dawn and dusk.  Wow the plants have taken off under it.  Seems SO bright compared to my older fluorescents.
1 year ago
I do have experience with exterior earthen plaster and exterior lime plaster.  I have a cob house with an attached strawbale walk-in cooler for our farm.  The strawbale cooler has cob infill, then earthen plaster, and then lime plaster.  It has been mostly done for 2 years, and even though there are some areas that still have only one coat of lime plaster, they are wearing very well.  I can see no evidence that the earthen plaster substrate is stressing the lime plaster.  The base coat of lime plaster was supposed to be covered with a finish coat all over, but is still only half done, as it has been so patiently showing no wear, that it keeps falling down the priority list.  However, I will say that the wall that has the second coat of lime plaster looks so beautiful that I do intend to add the second coat everywhere.  Then, the general maintenance plan is to "whitewash" it with thin lime solution every few years.  Earthen plaster is generally more forgiving and easier clean-up, but the weatherability of lime was important to me over the strawbale, as I have  fear of moisture seeping in during driving rain.  I do love plastering, and am now in the process of plastering over my outdoor cob oven.  With a good amount of screened horse manure, the earthen finish plaster seems to wear as well as lime.  One can always oil it for even more durability.  Then it is basically the same as the finish coat of my earthen floor, which baffles me with its durability.  However, the lime plaster is literally rock when fully cured in moist conditions, so is even MORE durable than well-prepared earthen/manure plaster.
1 year ago
Though I have not seen an ant inside my earthen floor, we experienced a subterranean termite "bloom" last spring.  I believe I brought in the colony myself in some firewood, and the next was built near my firewood storage.  All I ever saw of the colony was the relatively few adult winged members who emerged through very small holes (like 1 mm) that they chewed in the oiled floor to emerge to fine a new home.  When a new emergence began (they tended to happen late morning for several weeks in a row) I usually let a chicken into the house to make quick work of them.  But, if I wasn't around, then I would return home to see a small pile of clear wings (which the adults quickly shed upon emergence).  As our house contained no suitably moist wood for food, I suppose they died trying to find a new home.  I have no idea.  We shall see if I have another "bloom" this year.  The holes in the floor are so small as to be basically invisible unless I am searching for them, so it would be difficult to introduce borax.  Not sure what long term control options would work, but it sure can be entertaining to watch the chickens clean up.
1 year ago
I so wish I had seen this thread four years ago, when I built my rocket mass heater.  I had Ianto's book, and he allows that a thick steel tube can be used for the inside of the heat riser, so that is what I need.  I don't even know the nature of the steel.  Something over 1/4"thick and heavy from the metal salvage yard that happened to be exactly the correct length.  I thought I was so lucky.  Then I read of imminent failure.  It has been 3 years of use, now. Probably about 400 hours or so of burn time (zone 7a), and here I am about to enter the burn season.
So, the question is, WHAT SHOULD I DO?  Should I tear it apart for a complete rebuild?  I'm leaning towards trying to make it through another winter before such a big project.
Thoughts?
1 year ago
My husband and I have lived on our earthen floor for a few years now, and have had almost the same experience as Ardilla.
The oil finishing process is so key.  Straight linseed oil on the first coat, and slowly more and more orange oil solvent added with additional layers.  Hardwood floor finish is an interesting idea.  I know many folks choose to wax also.
With adequate oil, though, the floor will actually NOT get scratched even with a wire brush.  I've tried.  The reason I tried is because I have had to patch the floor in a couple areas.
During periods of high humidity and hot weather (I'm in Arkansas) the floor will soften to the point that if a person sits in a chair with pointy legs for too long, the floor will dent.  When I tried to dig out the dent and abrade the adjacent floor, I found I could chisel through the oil layer, but nothing but nothing would abrade it.  It took the sand right off of sandpaper.  Quite impressive really.
I had thought if I could abrade the oil layer off of the area surrounding the patch, I'd be able to blend the new patch in better.  But instead, I settled for washing any cob smears off of the adjacent oiled floor and oiling the patch to match.  As long as I burnished a few times during the drying process, I was able to prevent any cracking between old and new and the result looks good to me.
1 year ago