Randy Butler

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since Jan 05, 2020
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Recent posts by Randy Butler

When folks talk about using a clay mixture in their cob or mortar - is that the same thing as marine clay?  What I have locally is really heavy, gray and a bit slimy to work with.  Seems like it would be difficult to thin to a working consistency.
2 months ago
Chimney plan is to build one.  Sorry, that's my techie coming thru...  

Since I am effectively on bedrock, I plan to arrange some cement blocks to whatever footprint I need for the base of both heater and chimney.  When filled with rocks, rebar and concrete, that will provide a sufficient monolithic base at a level that will allow me to put the firebox door at a comfortable height.  The whole chimney (close to 30' tall) will be tile lined.  The base that is visible in the cellar will be concrete block, what shows from the first floor to the cap will be either brick or local flat stone (I think it's called gneiss).  Since the kids may want to someday put an additional heat source in, I think I'll run two 8" square flues all the way up.  Independent, but adjacent - each with it's own ash pit and cleanout door.

So the steel plate and insulated box - is that cast iron or mild steel?  And do I insulate with ceramic batt or board or something else?  Oh yeah - when I was at the junk yard last time they had a stack of 4x8 sheets of 4" thick stainless steel.  Probably overkill, huh?  I don't think I want to know what he's asking for them!

Sure hope I'm not monopolizing your time - but this information is awesome!!!
2 months ago
Hi Thomas

Yes, I think I have have plenty of clay bricks.  There isn't a new one in the three pallets (about 300 per pallet) - and I'm not sure there are any two with precisely the same dimensions!

There are a handful of hard fire bricks (not enough I'm sure) and the only concrete bricks/blocks will be for the foundation - just to lift the unit up to a comfortable loading height.

You say I'll need several #50 sacks of fire clay.  I found a source in Portland, ME but they only have a dozen different types and mesh.  Can you be a little more specific on the right one(s)?  And yes, I want to do this so that it lasts.

As far as sand goes, I wouldn't use the beach version around here - way too much salt in it.  But a four yard dump trailer of washed concrete sand is readily available.

I have yet to find a local dealer for Insulated firebrick or ceramic fiber board and blanket.  But the ones I have found on-line seem to supply blocks with ratings in 200 degree increments.  Is there any advantage to go much higher (some have ratings above 3k)?

Angle iron for internal supports is not a problem.  I have a small stash plus it's only a 15 minute drive to the scrap yard.

Now for the oven.  Neither the wife nor I care for the taste of smoked food, so it's definitely going to require a "white" oven.  That said, has anyone tried to slip an electric oven "casing" into the upper end of a bell?  It looks like self cleaning ovens hit nearly 900 Fahrenheit, - isn't that well above what I'd get after the riser?

As for camp size, the main area is open floor plan and just about the same dimensions as your shop.  But the insulation will be minimal.  There are two BRs upstairs and the central balcony between them leaves what amounts to a cathedral ceiling in 1/3 or so.

The other consideration - I'd like to keep the wood, ash, bark, etc in the (ICF) cellar.  Please correct me where I go off the normal path here but, my thought was to build the heater with firebox around 30" off the floor, that would put the top of the riser between 5 1/2 and 6 1/2' high.  Cellar is just barely 7' floor to bottom of upper floor.  Isn't the top of the bell normally about a foot above that?  And can it be higher? Could I make the bell top at 40" off the first floor and have a priority bypass for 1) oven; 2) heat; 3) bench (maybe)?  I do plan on a bypass for easier starts - even though some folks say you don't really need one.

Just how far astray am I?





2 months ago
Thanks for the warm welcome!

Foundation is no problem - the base will be sitting on the new 4" concrete floor which is sitting on granite bedrock.  If it moves, we're all in big trouble!  

I removed all the masonry, including the chimney, as the structure got lifted 3 feet for the foundation and a partial cellar, so I'l be completely rebuilding from scratch (but yes, I will be re-using the bricks).  Since we will have little people around, I prefer the batch box, and based on calcs I made from Peter VDB, I think I'm looking at the 8".  I do want heat as the primary use, but white oven for baking and bell(s) for storage are also on the list.  We are located near the very end of the power line and heavily wooded along the way - therefor I'm planning on continued outages.  One more reason for a multi-purpose appliance.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
2 months ago
Any RMH or BB gurus in Maine?  How about someone that built their own?  
I'm upgrading the 70 year old family summer camp on the coast.  We've had the old, crumbling concrete posts replaced with ICF foundation after excavating to ledge (or below), got more light by creating a full dormer (with lots of glass) across the SW face, and will be adding some rigid insulation to the exterior (there was none before).  Heat was provided by a sizable fireplace with Heatilator insert (long rusted out and sealed).  Now I want to use a batch box or RMH since I still have a ton of softwood that the Northeast storms topple.

I'm hoping to find someone up here that has experience building something akin to the Walker stoves or other efficient and flexible wood eaters.  

Anyone in my neck of the woods?

Thanks!
2 months ago