Ben Falk

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since Feb 02, 2011
Mad River Valley, VT
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Recent posts by Ben Falk

Has anyone done or seen a "zoned" rocket mass heater: e.g. one that can exhaust via one of multiple pathways?
We're thinking it would be doable (maybe) to have two zones in a greenhouse system: one to heat 100+ gallons of water for watering plants and maybe to hot tub in, and one to heat a 3-4 ton bench of cob.
I would think we could use a "gate" like in a dust collection system where we could heat the cob bench OR the hot tub, but not have to do both. Probably we'd need 2 gates to open one zone (flue) and close the other.
The main issue I can think of would be potential for gasses escaping at the gate into the space. Is a flue in positive pressure - pushing - or negative, pulling from vertical flue (ours will be 20" feet (and insulated for the last 8' which should provide good "pull").
Gates could be sliding sheet metal or the like. Or even typical stove pipe dampers. Thoughts?
6 years ago
Thanks Al..
I bought the book the other day and read much of it... Seems like 8" is well proven but gives bigger capacity...
6 years ago
Do folks think that going from an 8" exhaust flue in the mass/bench to a 6" vertical outlet flue through the roof would work?
I already have 6" vent pipe through the roof (double wall stainless/expensive) that I'd sure like to us.
Something mathematical in me is saying that if the whole flow has to stop down to 6", why do 8" at all anywhere in the system? Though, the air would essentially move slower through the 8", then pick up velocity as it moves into the 6" - doesn't seem to be a bad thing. It certainly would restrict flow a little though...

6 years ago

Chris Vincent wrote:Hey Ben! Just to be clear, are you using a RMH? Could you give me an idea of the size of the system ( pipe diameter, rough mass size).

Also how are you heating your water while avoiding as Paul puts it - 'boom squish'. Is your design open or closed and what safety features do you have?

One more - I'd you are using a rocket mass stove, are you using that for your baking and cooking?

I guess I had more than one left.... Have you experimented with bio- gas/ methane digestor to replace your propane?

RMH? Rocket mass heater? No, just a wood stove - i don't see the sense in an RMH for this climate when a woodstove can work so well. But i haven't used one much.
Boom squish? Not sure what you mean..
Our pipes are 1" copper with 2 pressure relief valves. There's a detailed plan in our book - way too much to email about non-graphically.
No experiments with biogas yet - this climate seems to make it very hard to get much unless you have LOTS of animals, or so I am told... makes sense though.
7 years ago
I've converted many cars and trucks to run on WVO and run my dodge ram 2500 and vd tdi wagon.
Establishing a relationship with a supplier is usually best. There is indeed a lot less oil now - especially due to biodiesel use.
About 4 years ago I put a coolant to veggie exchanger in the VW which works great - they didn't have these when I started veggie driving more than 10 years ago, so we didn't have the option.
Don't push it in the cold! A lot of people have issues because of that.
7 years ago
Nice video!
Great looking rice.

We so far have only planted rice and azolla (not really planted but in there). We'd like to try others but have yet to ID them.
Swales could work if you could keep enough water in them to deter the weeds.
No magic ratios I know of...
7 years ago
Hi there, Just seeing these other messages to me.

I would try to offer whatever fits what you do best and are uniquely positioned to offer. Not repeating what others already offer...
What are you or your site best suited to and uniquely so?
7 years ago
Here's a design challenge that seems almost inevitable to be something that people in some places must deal with. Maybe more:
Radioactive fallout from power plant failure or war.

Check this out:

Imagine having to remove the top 2-10" of soil and start fresh. Then having radioactive material fallout each time it rains.
Earthworks and supermedicinals?

7 years ago
For folks not keeping up on this on facebook - some of what's in the upcoming book:

Coldest stretch of weather in maybe a few years right now - enjoying how a good design returns value to you, once the system is established. We heat 1700 square feet on about 1.5 to 2 cords of wood plus all the hot water. We use about 10 gallons of propane for summer cooking and 10-15 gallons of heating oil if we go away a lot. Per year. So that's about 80 dollars of off site energy per year. The wood is "free" since we harvest it here. The wood cookstove which provides us with this affordable heat, hot water, cooking, baking and drying runs between 2 hours and 10 hours a day. It was -10F last night and maxed out at 0F today. Fire died at about 1 am. Made one fire at breakfast - lasted to about 10 am. No fire all day while out logging until 6pm for dinner. We'll burn two small charges of wood tonight, maybe three, and do the same thing tomorrow. This wood heating system is the smartest technology I've had the pleasure of using.

7 years ago
Steve Chappel's book on timber framing has taught me a lot. I also worked for a timber framing company full time for a bit. A lot of building for me has been teaching myself. Wait, a lot of everything for me has been that. Who is there to turn to anyway? Not many...
We have to teach ourselves most of what we need to know i think. Didn't mean to rant but that's been a constant theme, personally.

Taunton press has a lot of good building books. There are many on joinery. Law's isn't really on joinery as far as i know.
7 years ago