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Len Ovens

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

Bryan Paul wrote:When using barrels for the stratification chamber, do they require barrel prep like removing paint, or are the temps low enough that they won't off-gas?

In the end it is your house and you will have to breath whatever fumes it puts off. Buy a canary  and if it dies while using the barrel with paint still on.... maybe get rid of the paint.
Personally, I would remove everything down to bare metal. Coated non-stick pans are designed to be heated and cooked in, but there are enough stories floating around of dead
pet birds from people cooking with them that we have limited our cookware to stainless or cast iron (or even turned steel in the case of one of our woks). It is probably less work
to remove paint first than removing the barrel later and removing the paint and reinstalling the barrel. I am sure that the paint on barrels is not of the high temperature variety
used for exhaust pipes or even engine paint.
1 week ago

Gail Gardner wrote:

Len Ovens wrote:Information online vanishes with time, I tend to "print" to pdf things I want to keep, but in the end, all hard drives die and even cd/dvd backups need to be rewritten every 10 years... books can last 100s, but even poor quality paper books will last the rest of my life.

Be aware that online books and those stored in an internet-attached device can actually be changed IN YOUR DEVICE without your permission. Ironically, Amazon chose to delete two George Orwell ebooks "1984" and "Animal Farm" from Kindle readers and got sued over it. https://www.pcworld.com/article/169408/kindle.html

So just be aware that if some other entity controls your e-reading device, they can rewrite history or outright delete things they consider inconvenient to have out there.

Good to know. Though I tend to download files with a web browser not an ebook reader. I quite often have to reformat them anyway or directly use the files from inside rather than read them directly. This makes it hard for someone else to remove things from my device without my say so. But my situation is not normal
2 months ago
If it is an appliance that is over about 15 years old, fix it. I have a 30 year old dryer. I know it can last another 30 years. I know a new dryer will last about 7 years at which time I will not be able to repair it and so the cost will be 100%.Some parts are hard to get or very expensive because they are rare. but often there are other parts that will work just as well or better. For example, a $9 changeover switch (4 position is what I used) makes a good dryer temperature switch. However, an Ardueno with a display shield and an 8 pack of 10amp relays can replace the temperature switch and the timer for under $50. The same combination would work for the washing machine too.
2 months ago
I like real books... but, as I have grown older, I have found I can read a well back-lit tablet or even phone without having to find, clean and use reading glasses (and I don't have to take them off to walk around either). I don't even need to expand the font.

Information online vanishes with time, I tend to "print" to pdf things I want to keep, but in the end, all hard drives die and even cd/dvd backups need to be rewritten every 10 years... books can last 100s, but even poor quality paper books will last the rest of my life.
2 months ago

Mike Jay wrote:I'm constantly amazed by the number of people who don't remember that the sun rises in the East, sets in the West and is South at mid day (in the Northern Hemisphere).  Granted the sun rises more Northeasterly in summer and Southeasterly in the winter but you get the drift.

Same is true of the moon regarding the direction of rising/setting/etc.

Yes that is true too, but my first thought is that north is already some steps removed from nature in the same way as a map is. I happen to love maps and consult a map even if someone has given me directions for a first trip. but after a first trip I don't use them again. I look for landmarks. It does not matter which direction a stream goes so long as one is aware the place they are seeking is up or down. A certain shape of mountain or tall tree could be any direction from me so long as I know where the place I want to get to is from there. So there are more than one kind of wayfinding.

  • Finding a known place for the first time.
  • finding a known place subsequent times.
  • Finding a kind of place by looking at nature.
  • Finding your way back from the above place.

  • I think most of us have learned about the first and second, The third Is useful for hunting, fishing or gathering and the forth is about remembering how one got where they are and probably the hardest. Maybe there are more kinds of wayfinding.
    4 months ago

    Brad Hengen wrote:

    I don't think you understood what I meant.

    Quite possible

    I mean modding a barrel to act like a bell/strat chamber. have it sit above the small stove, tightly surround the small stove with material for a heat sink, and support the barrel.
    you'd still have a UL listed stove, unmodified. 

    Hmm, "tightly surround the small stove" sounds like a modified stove to me, but so long as the new mass surrounding the stove was still the required distance from combustibles you might be fine anyway. So you use this mass also to support the barrel?

    all you doing is really modding the flue with the strat chamber.

    As long as the barrel system is sealed, and meets the distance requirements for single walled flue, it would pass inspection.

    and with a small stove, you could run it HOT to get heat from the barrel, and to warm the mass around the stove to radiate.

    I think if the mass was supporting the barrel and then you added mass around the barrel as well you would need to be sure of your foundation. Any mass worth having is going to be heavier than a fridge (or two).

    For $10000, I could install a complete GeoThermal system and still save money, then use a Valley Comfort stove as an aux heater when needed.

    My experience with Geo Thermal has been less than good. With geo thremal, yes you can spend $10k or less (I am thinking Canadian dollars so a masonry heater may be closer to $7k US as well) but after 10years (or 2 in our case... warranty? yeah right, didn't cover it) it needs to be replaced. With a masonry heater, 30 years down the road you still have a working heater. The firebox may need relining, but if it has been built right, that can be replaced without tearing down the whole thing. Plus the average person with just a little knowledge knows what is in the masonry heater. The geo thermal box.... is a box unless the owner is a refrigeration tech. and it only works when there is power around. I have a 35 year old dryer still working (with minor repairs)... a new dryer would be a 7 year appliance, just like almost all manufactured goods anymore. The 10 years replacement time is the rating for the more expensive commercial products, I suspect the home versions are closer to 7 years mean time to replacement.

    4 months ago

    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 
    6 months 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.
    6 months 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.
    6 months 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.
    1 year ago