Don Splitter

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since Aug 31, 2011
Ely and Minneapolis, MN Zone 3
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Recent posts by Don Splitter

Well...It looks like Karma has shown me yet another wonderful path. This one takes the place of moving to farm country in the Saint Croix Valley of Wisconsin. I'm mostly going to use this as a posting of my progress.

The 1st main Permie project is going to be building a greenhouse aquaponics system. I'm wanting to build the greenhouse big enough, so it can be both a "Zen Garden" and functional space capable of sustaining 4 fruit trees. I think this will be the biggest hurdle...I'll need to accomodate for growth for the trees, but I may train the trees to grow more horizontal.

Everything else is basically a wiiiiide open playing field of ideas. If there's anyone out there with suggestions. Feel free to post them.
7 years ago
Well, I've decided that trying to make my place up in Ely, MN happen as a full time home just won't work for the little wifey. So, I've bought a place in the St. Croix River Valley in Wisconsin.

There's a pond on my land that I have "frontage" too. This pond has been classified with "PNW" status with the Wisconsin DNR. I'm pretty much assuming this is because it's a spring fed pond. I also don't own this pond, but the gentlemen who does I don't think would like me to stock it. I have not had a conversation with him yet....

I don't plan on attempting to build a pond til' next spring. I've got a call in with the local DNR rep whom specializes in my county. According to the online can't dig within 500 feet of said water that is classified.

Is there anyone in Wisconsin who has ran into any issues with the WI DNR in regards to building ponds?
7 years ago
I've been mulling those over, but man....the price tag on those...I guess the biggest question is...are they going to be more reliable than a 1970's type farm tractor? I need simple and reliable. Load it up and move it functionality. I do like skid steers...very manueverable that's for sure...keep the suggestions coming.
7 years ago
So, I finally found and for the most parts have had my offer accepted on a good homestead. I know I'm going to need to buy a tractor, skid steer, or some type of machinery. I'll be building some more hugel beds...digging a "pump track" for mountain bike/MX riding, plowing snow in the winter, and just basically saving my back alot of uneccessary damage.

Any thoughts on what I should be looking for? The most bang for the buck is the key element...

Links appreciated also.....

7 years ago

What type of insulation is around the riser?

The insulation is "Roxul". Ernie gives it a good endorsement. It's much quicker than perlite.

What kind of brick is good to use? Look for brick that's rated for 2200 F. I have a Firebrick place here in Minneapolis, MN. All the bricks I bought were new.
The riser are "half" bricks

What is on the bottom of the barrel, holding it up? Sheet metal? It looks like a nice tight cut to fit the burn chamber.

That is another barrel cut to fit into place. It's the newer design that Ernie and Erica have came up with, and the design they recommended to us. It can be a pain in the ass to get the barrels to fit together. Otherwise go with the method described in Ianto's book.

What did you use to seal the brick where it meets the barrel base? That's Cob. I'll be cobbing in a bunch of local ledge rock into the base. What you see here is an unfinished aesthetic thermal mass, but the functionality of it is there.
8 years ago

Well after much wait, and wait, and waiting some more. The time was finally right for my mad scientist friend Tom and I to put Ernie, and Ericas plan into action. We made our ducting a little smaller after deciding the extra piece of bench just wasn't necessary. I'm also throwing in there that we in the back of our minds are hoping to maybe build these for clients once this version is tested through the winter. Keeping this in mind we decided to actually build a box instead of cobbing. Some people look at cobb as being too "hippy". What do you expect when most people just can't do anything else than marketing tells them to do. So, with a truck full of supplies... The mad scientist and I headed north to Ely, MN to begin a 3 day long 12hr day project

The Floor Plan

The Box is built..time for bricks

The Puzzle Pieces...coming together

We Have Ourselves a CORE!

The Mad Scientist, and Insulated Riser

Ernie, and Erica Manifold Option...Tight Tolerances!!

Little Dragon Fired Up, and Drying Out Mass and Cobb.

What!!! We're Out Of Beer, and Have More Gravel to Haul!

It was a loooooooong tiring weekend, and we worked hard, drank lots of beers, and worked some more. We kept cool heads when decisions had to be made, and had fun. Tom is a recent friend whom I met through a 20yr friend. The dude RIPS! and has the eye of the tiger when it comes to getting sh!t done. Especially watching him raise the cabin up an entire inch to make sure it was level! WtheeeeeFah! It's a solid build. We found ourselves stumbling around with a wheel barrow on very rocky ground looking for stones at 11pm at night to finish the mass off. I have some finish work to do, but my RMH is ROCKIN! It's pretty exciting firing one up in your house, and having it perform flawlessly off the bat.

Another Fine Northwoods Sunrise To Enjoy

8 years ago
Well... where to start. If you have Ernie and Erica booked for a workshop. You my friends are in for a friggin treat. I'm reporting in from our Rocket Mass Workshop up at my cabin in Ely, MN.

Ernie, Erica, Tom(my friend), and I drove up to my cabin packed to the hilt. Ernie is a giant PNW fellow, so it was "comfy" in my Element. The conversations were of epic proportions, and the views not too shabby. I took Erica and Ernie to a smoked fish stop, and for a lunch on Lake Superior. We managed to get up to my cabin with plenty of time to spare for more outstanding conversations(this time fueled by tasty libations). Early morning came early, and I somehow caught a nasty head cold. Matter not... a workshop is about to take place, and I had participants waiting.

I'm posting some pictures from my new friend Dan Gathier. One of the many outstanding people I had the pleasure of meeting.

The Gurus Erica and Ernie...Class is in session..Ernie looking for note passers

Tom and Don Splitter leveling off the platform

Tom and I starting to level and build....Note:The elevated base is specific to my floor which has no insulation

"I Ernie the great RMH wizard shall tell you great information, whilst these 2 jackasses figure out proper leveling"

Really listening intently, and surviving the heat...holy was hot!

The base of the burn tunnel, and the bridge...notice no continuous seams

Don Splitter, and Anders thinking.."holy sh!t these guys know alot about RMH's"

Proper dampening technique with 3 good sized logs in combustion chamber that your heat riser, or are you just happy to see me? RMH getting ready for take off

Erica busts out great drawings in the flick of an eye

Lunch time, and some shelter from the sun...did I mention it was hot!

The view from my deck!

Cob Time

Cobby Feet!

Anders, and his little man getting it done..."dad, get the hell out of the way... I got some numbers to gather"

RMH burning...that smoke is from paint. You want to see something cool.. watch the circular motion of the smoke!

The core of "my" RMH, and materials to be used...Masonry!

Mixing Perlite, and Powder Clay

insulated heat riser

Hey there you hot combustion chamber you.. I'm falling in love with your hotness!

Ernie coming to inspect the smoke leaking....troubleshooting in action

more troubleshooting...too tall of a gap at top of manifold.

Added elbow, and additional ducting to create more draft. Notice smoke is gone from around "mass"

Pre-Steam and CO2 you see smoke, and Ernie smoking his pipe.

And now you don't....steam and's a beautiful thing, and so is that smirk on Ernies face.

The End

It was a pleasure meeting all the participants, and really a pleasure to meet my 2 new friends Ernie, and Erica. I would need hours to write up all the fun we had over this long weekend, and even more time to try to summarize the great conversations. These two really are wonderful people. Do yourself a favor. Buy them a drink sometime, and start talking. You'll never be the same.

Big Hugs to both Erica and Ernie. It was a grand time!

8 years ago
I'm looking for some advice. I knew that I had pollinators up at my cabin, but I realized after this year I don't have honeybees, but I have bumble bees.

I wanted to use a single Warre hive on my property.

Does anyone have experience importing honey bees into the mix with native bumble bees? If so...I want to get a honey bee hive, and hopefully bring them into co-existence.

Any suggestions, or advice is greatly appreciated.

8 years ago
Wow! Lots of good info! I'm glad I asked this question. I'll use jars, and try the bury idea. I have a good assortment of seeds. My permaculture seed ideology is based off a spartan approach. It's not always -40, but seeing it's zone 3. We get some nippy weather up in northern MN.

Again... thanks for the advice!
8 years ago
Howdy! I'm looking for suggestions to keep my seeds up at my cabin through cold weather. (sometimes -40 below) I was thinking of taking the seeds and putting them in a cooler, and line the inside of the cooler w/ insulation to keep the seeds as warm as possible on a south facing side.

I'm looking for any suggestions or ideas. The seeds really need to stay up at my cabin vs. at my home in the cities.

toooooodle loo!
8 years ago