Len Ovens

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since Aug 26, 2010
Vancouver Island
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Recent posts by Len Ovens

Glenn Herbert wrote:The RMH is actually a subset of masonry heater, with specific combustion core features. It also usually is owner-built with less expensive materials, but this is not a requirement.

Yup, I try to stay away from saying the RMH is a masonry heater because there are some people who feel they are a different beast totally. I get less flack 
1 month ago

Brad Hengen wrote:I have seen barrels used over a barrel stove to steal more heat before it leaves through the flue.

not really the same thing as the ones I have seen exit higher than entrance and of course there is no mass.

I wonder, if a barrel could be adapted onto the flue exit from a standard wood stove, to act as a bell/strat chamber?
Something like Peterburg's three barrel bell, but using a standard UL approved stove vs an unapproved batch rocket heater.

There are two difficulties here. The first is that the flue and how it is run is a part of the "UL approved" part. Certainly the permit inspector
will expect it so. Secondly, without mass, the tin stove will get run at an idle because it will be "too hot". The bell will only make this worse
if it has no mass around it... that is if it is only made out of a barrel.

a bypass could be built in for easy lighting, then close it for the heat cycle.

if a large amount of mass was added to this, a small stove burned HOT could be used to cheat the local bylaws and such.

If you used the permit process either you would install as per stove manual and modify after inspection rendering it no longer inspected or
you install lots of mass and end up with a masonry heater which has different rules and probably gets rejected and you remove it.

Better to get a professionally installed masonry heater with bells and or benches that will pass inspection. A proper steel wood stove
will cost as much as $5000 installed properly and a properly installed masonry heater can be as low as $10000 depending on the available foundation.
Oh ya, foundation. Mass requires a foundation to carry the load. This is not that expensive if it is designed into the original foundation or even fitted
later if access is easy. It could be expensive if your floor falls through. Part of the reason for getting a permit is to get a mortgage... mortgage requires
insurance. If you ever use that insurance with a modified wood burning appliance the insurance is void.

So in my opinion, you either do the whole thing non-permitted or you make sure your inspector is happy with what you are doing. If you are able to do
something in a non-permitted context, a rocket stove or masonry heater from the ground up just makes more sense. A masonry heater can be made with
the same number of fire bricks as the rocket mass heater with the rest being clay or home made adobe. So the price if permits are out of the picture is similar
for both. I would suggest the skill level is not that different either.

I have no opinion on which is better between RMH and masonry heater, but Frankenstein heater... not unless you have more skill than average and just like to tinker.
1 month ago
Yup, I've built benches that way too. Old Permies post And found it worked quite well. I'm waiting for the next big thing... getting the smoke to go down hill. (which has also been done before) Where instead of a chimney, The flue is directed through the earth (such as the under the "umbrella" of a high mass annualized solar home) till it is chilled enough it flows out at ground level downhill of the dwelling. The weight of the chilled flue gases can pull the warmer flue gases in the right direction. Siting would be important as a hollow below could collect the CO2 and be hazardous. (don't go "rollin' in the clover)

Anyway, I have not had the time or the room to go much farther with this. I had hoped we would be moving to a larger chunk of land before now so I could build a high mass house heated with a high mass heater to try this out more thoroughly. Possibly in another year.
1 month ago

Timothy Hewitt-Coleman wrote:
Elon Musk is dead wrong about Mars!!

I am inspired by the phenomenally innovative work of, California based,  Elon Musk. You may know him as the founder and CEO of the ground-breaking Tesla Company. You may know that in spite of Elon growing up with the smell of mind-numbing bureaucratic paralysis in the Pretoria air, his thinking on electric cars and battery storage is proving to be hugely disruptive. His bold ideas will absolutely and fundamentally change the way we all live and work. This dramatic transformation will happen very soon and I am very excited to see it all pan out.
But I heard Mr Musk speaking the other day about his planned missions to Mars to build a colony there. I just can help feeling that that this kind of thinking is just a lot of crap,

The whole thought process is based on fear. If one has fear for life on Earth... life on Mars would be much more fragile. However, if he has the money to go... not my place to say no.

The point for me though is to look at my own fears and look to see how I can step beyond them so I can progress.
7 months ago

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:it looks like fiber now, at least 'spinnable' ... a pencil is my 'tool' for experimental spinning very small amounts of fiber

How does it "feel"? It looks rough, but that may not be an issue depending on how it is used.

How does it smell when mixed with human sweat? I have found that cotton handles sweat better than  plastic (whatever the exact name may be) which smells really bad after just a few hours of work. I have found that wool has less smell than cotton when used for socks. I am told buck skin (brain tanned skin) is even better and tends to keep feet from fungal problems even when wet. I am not sure that it is a straight chemical mix which determines smell, it may have something to do with how our bacteria we host digests things too.

Does it seem strong? I am not sure how much this matters. Wool is not very strong and that may be part of the reason it feels nice (has more flex).

It is probably too early to know... how does it handle water? Does it seem "washable"?
8 months ago

Christopher Baber wrote:Well, I didn't end up getting what I was looking for, but I found a wonderful little place with 2 creeks, in a forest.  It's about an acre, but surrounded by lots of large tracts, so I feel like I own hundreds of acres.

And it has a house.

From the picture, it looks wonderful.

9 months ago

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:
Something different is the banana fiber. I read about 'banana silk' before. But my hostess only knew about 'banana cordage'. That's easy to make of the fibers of the dead leave stems. Maybe for the 'silk' the same fibers are used, but they need a preparation like flax, hemp and nettles? Is here someone who knows?

The Barong Taglog is made of banana fiber.
I wore one at my wedding as happens. My wife is a Filipina and I felt the Barong would be lighter and cooler than a tux. All of the ones I have seen are sheer or mostly so (I wore a white t-shirt under). You can buy banana cloth at $55 a yard ( Banana cloth source ), but I am sure it is easy enough to make (easy being low tech not little work). Here is the school quick version of how it is processed.
10 months ago

Joylynn Hardesty wrote:As we do not have enough land for animals, I have been concerned about what to do about future clothing needs.

Lots of fibers to use. In this area, cedar bark was very common for blankets and hats and....

Now, I don't know how the feel of these fibers compare to flax. I am sure that people farm flax for very good reasons.

In our case, with the coming of the European people, the switch from cedar to wool was quick. I do not know if it was less work to process or comfort that made the quick change (durability?), but the fact that the change was made does say something. It may have even been ease of dying, one never knows what property of a raw material would attract someone to it.

However, With these weeds, I could wander along the highway and harvest my fabric without having to set aside valuable space,  then tend and water and weed as well.
Once the cordage like Sarah made exists, I imagine knitting, crocheting or weaving it into panels.

We await the results of your experiments.
11 months ago
I saw this and had to share it. It shows a number of different elements. The roof itself is made from adobe bricks. Their method of water management is interesting.... oh and it is a live roof. This method of building a barrel vault is also new to me, complete with their method of drawing the arc and laying the bricks.

1 year ago

Tracy Wandling wrote:Pretty much, Miles! Winter here is sort of just autumn, with a quick splat of winter, and then spring again! I LOVE it here. Growing up in the north has made me deeply appreciative of our fantastic climate here.

I have had to scrape frost off the car the last few days (-3 when I took my Yf to work at 615), but springy for sure. The deer seem to like my apple tree, but leave the pear and hazelnut alone. Some of that may be placement, though there is deer sign within 5 feet of the pear tree. I need to get our yard cleaned up and trim finished in the house so we can move out of the city.
1 year ago