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Old 07-03-2014, 10:28 PM   #151
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1952 Brick Traditional overhaul


And here are a couple of photos of the thermal mass base. I calculate that the base alone will take 247 bricks. So it looks like we will use almost all of the brick to make the mass box.

I really hope this works! If not, thank goodness that it is easily removed and so far fairly inexpensive.
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Old 07-03-2014, 11:30 PM   #152
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Well, that sounds a lot more like it. You'll have so much heat in there you won't know what to do with it all!
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Old 07-04-2014, 01:29 AM   #153
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These are Test 4 videos.

http://youtu.be/h_wztFp_LOU
http://youtu.be/63q-GRfRRHk
http://youtu.be/AiLB5ytE058
http://youtu.be/un1XLd8mQXE
http://youtu.be/kiS-UDKVjiA
http://youtu.be/Do3BC3QF3vI
http://youtu.be/Do3BC3QF3vI
http://youtu.be/Do3BC3QF3vI
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Old 07-04-2014, 11:37 AM   #154
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Wow, that looks amazing.
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Old 07-04-2014, 12:01 PM   #155
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Hi Melissa...well, you seem to be getting all the little stuff worked out nicely.

I think that two things will finish this off for you. Once you get some unbroken bricks for the top row that will help. I think that broken row is causing an irregular draft at the top of the riser. Definitely agree with you about the two to one ratio on the burn chamber/riser.

And then I expect you will be adding the insulation around the riser. And on top of that most likely the sloped circular section to let any ash fall back down inside the riser?

And something else that is occasionally mentioned - and you alluded to your bricks being damp - is that once the moisture goes there will be a noticeable difference in the burn temperature. Once all the water has been purged from the brick, all the heat will then exit the riser instead of some of it being consumed with drying the brick itself.

I really liked that little idea of having the small draft opening at the bottom of the burn chamber. Looking at the video that seemed to work quite well. I did see on one RMH where someone had made a plug to fit such an opening, but it seems to me that your brick idea is about 10 times easier!

I'll be looking forward to seeing what you do with the outer insulation layer...vermiculite/clay enclosed with wire mesh perhaps???

Absolutely fabulous job so far, and a big congratulations from me in making it work this well.
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Old 07-04-2014, 12:10 PM   #156
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These are the last videos from test 4.

http://youtu.be/fJyIkpO3H8Q
http://youtu.be/3Fc6qoj_YV0
http://youtu.be/_XPaRtc_leE
http://youtu.be/rynn5yW74bQ
http://youtu.be/LAXiGHvqJuY
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Old 07-04-2014, 12:34 PM   #157
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Hi Keith and all,

Thanks for the kind words. This is the most fun project that I have done in a long time.

The plan for inside the barrel at this point:

You see that the dimensions on the outside of the brick corners of the heat riser are right at 10". The plan is to use a 10" HVAC duct and to pack it full. I am not exactly sure of the material yet. There are a lot of options out there. We will definitely slope the top.

The barrel diameter is 14" so that will give us 4" of play to arrange the riser inside. Our plan is to move the heat riser as far back into the corner nearest the exterior walls of the greenhouse as recommended in the book.

This accomplishes two important things.
  1. This makes that "side" cool and forces the majority of the heat to the opposite "side" (interior of the GH).
  2. It increases the safety by having the cool "side" out. The corners at that point in the GH will be concrete backer board or some other fire-proof material.
We won't have any orchids over there so we won't be using the poly panels except to protect the backer board from the weather.

Originally, we were going to use a 12" duct but I think you will agree that in the research, this leaves only a 2" area and I think it will reduce heating efficiency. We really are trying to avoid using a larger diameter barrel in order to keep the footprint as small as possible. That is the reason that we are going for a taller riser as well. We have more options with height than with diameter.

The other issue that we are trying to work out is the radiant heat from the smaller diameter barrel. For safety, the book recommends the larger diameter barrel to prevent accidental burns to persons. You can see in Zero's rocket heater that the surface area of his gets incredibly hot (800F+). He solved this by putting fins to increase the surface area.

We haven't worked this out yet, because the cob/clay option is not available in the GH setting because of constant moisture. The fins may be an option, but we would prefer the heat move into the thermal mass for storage rather than radiate into a hot zone. However, if it performs efficiently that radiant heat may be beneficial. Adding the fins would be quite simple and would not take up too much room.


Thoughts?
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Old 07-04-2014, 03:53 PM   #158
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Hi Melissa:

Well, lots of things to consider here, but I think most of them are addressed easily.

Now the first thing is that your diagonal measurement is 10" on the brick, which leaves nothing right at the four corners to insulate. I have a possible suggestion there, and that is to cut the corners of the bricks off at 45, which would give you at least an inch of space to insulate. That should eliminate hot spots at the corners. A wet saw will do this easily in a matter of minutes. Or a masonry blade in an electric hand saw...but tons of dust with that option! And much slower.

I agree that with a 14" barrel, the 12" duct would not leave enough room as 1" all around is definitely not adequate. The 10" duct does indeed allow you 2" all around, and as far as I understand from all the latest information that may be borderline as well. If there is any way that you can find a 16", 17" or even 18" barrel, I believe that would help you very considerably.

A bigger barrel would solve the insulation problem and the heat problem that I think the smaller barrel will create.

Now as far as Zero's barrel getting to 800, when the system is working properly and you have a good fire going, many of the barrels will get red hot on top. So that has to be very likely over 800, but just as soon as the air exits the top of the barrel and heads down the sides, it cools fairly quickly.

But some of these guys (and gals) are pretty smart and they have that part all figured out already. If you aren't going to use the top of the barrel for cooking, then you can add some sort of insulation to the top to prevent accidents. I have seen a layer of cob put on top of the barrel and I'm sure there are other ideas as you don't want cob in your GH.

And to get the bulk of your heat into the mass - which I think would be your main intent for your purpose, you can build up your mass partly up the sides of the barrel in order to reduce the radiant heat into the greenhouse, and increase the heat into the mass.

Something else I just thought of, and I must admit I haven't seen or heard this mentioned anywhere before, so it may not work at all...but I wonder if you could put your system together using your 14" barrel first. If it gets too hot could you not sit another larger barrel over the top which would act as a sort of heat exchanger. This one wouldn't need to be sealed against the RMH as the smaller barrel would. Effectively, it would be the first part of your duct system after a fashion. I believe it would have the effect of putting more heat into your mass and less into the GH by direct radiation, by virtue of the fact that more of the heat would reach down to the bottom of your 14" barrel in the first place. Am I making any sense to you?
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Old 07-04-2014, 04:12 PM   #159
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Hi Keith,

Yes I totally get it. Instead of fins, you are using the barrel to increase the surface area but it is heated by the ambient air radiating off of the smaller barrel. It could also act as a barrier from any water spray. Interesting idea. I'll have to ponder that one.

We are going to keep an eye out for a slightly larger barrel. The ones we got were so cheap that we couldn't pass them up. $15 each.

Interesting ideas. And yes, cutting the corners would be easy to do. Zero had to do that in his design. We have a wet saw so that is no problem at all. The fire brick is actually so soft that I can run the edges on my concrete driveway and smooth out the rough edges. I could probably wear down the corners just by doing that. LOL.
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:11 AM   #160
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Here are some photos of the deconstructed J-Tube. This project is so deceiving. The concepts and materials are simple, however there are lots of details that need attention. It doesn't help that both of us are pretty stubborn and one of us (not me) builds projects in his head.

We had a LONG discussion about the barrel today AFTER we had cut them. That is never a good idea. And he confused me because he does figures in his head while I have to put them on paper. I knew that my number was correct, but he convinced me that I was wrong. My figure was actually correct.

Tempers flared because hubby had not read the book and had some really weird idea about the barrel placement. I have read the book and have done extensive research on the internet and I tried to explain how his idea went against the physics of the design. It did not go well. Finally, I pulled the book out and basically read aloud the paragraphs in question and stated that we cannot go off the path on that otherwise we will run into performance issues.

The good news at the end of the day is that the other cut part of the barrel was the correct size when added to the height of a full barrel. Hubby got the stripper out and I got to work on the paint removal and he went to get dinner. It was a tough day, but I convinced him that my design was proven and will work. No need to reinvent the wheel.
Attached Thumbnails
1952 Brick Traditional overhaul-rmh-final-burn-chamber1.jpg   1952 Brick Traditional overhaul-rmh-final-burn-chamber-top1.jpg   1952 Brick Traditional overhaul-rmh-final-burn-chamber-top.jpg   1952 Brick Traditional overhaul-rmh-final-ash-pit.jpg   1952 Brick Traditional overhaul-rmh-final-base1.jpg  

1952 Brick Traditional overhaul-rmh-barrels.jpg  
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:52 PM   #161
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Melissa, don't feel bad about hubby not agreeing with you.

Us guys (not ME of course) but most guys NEVER read instructions, or in this case, the book. We think we know it all, but of course we don't. I learned a long time ago that instructions are always written for a reason. A few minutes of reading saves hours of frustration sometimes.

If my memory serves me, I think it is page 28 of the book which gives the important dimensions for the RMH. Then follows two or three pages of describing the importance of those dimensions. Every time I go through that section, I notice something else. One thing is that there are both upper and lower case letters used for the various locations. The upper case are pretty much cast in stone and should not be varied, while the lower case are less important.

The other thing I noticed, is that as you go through the book, you might see statements which appear to contradict each other. That's where I run into trouble trying to get the small details solved.
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Old 07-05-2014, 05:34 PM   #162
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Hi All,

Okay, the wrong cut in the barrel turned out to be fortuitous. I got to thinking about the heat generation at the top of the riser (thanks, Keith). I asked hubby nicely to notch out the wrong piece so that I could basically build a bottom cross section.

My suspicion was correct. The burn chamber was just too long and we would have had to go up even more to get the draw based on the cross sectional area and it was just too risky. I don't want the heat riser to get so close to the roof that we have to remove a poly panel and replace with a fireproof backer.

So after reading and looking at a ton of photos from the permies site, the book, and other websites, I did a mockup inside the barrel bottom. I reduced the burn chamber to 14" and rebuilt the heat riser to 28". I clamped it together and while hubby trimmed all of the trees overlooking the GH, I prepped it for a quick test.

It took about 30 seconds to light. The rocket basically went off like a bat out of hell. It was so strong that it sucked the balled up newspaper right through the tube and I went chasing it to stomp it out. THAT was fun, NOT!

The heat riser immediately got so intensely hot that I could not video because I was standing by with a water hose. FYI, it is not a good idea to test on a really windy day near your yard mulch. But, it is necessary to test "in situ" per the book so you can get an idea of the performance.

Once the sun dips lower, I'll take some photos of the setup and post the exact measurements. We will go with this setup as it has a nice small footprint and the feed tube is still big enough to handle the fuel without blow back. There was NO blow back today and the only smoke was going up the heat riser (because of the extreme wind).

What was slightly disappointing is that our fire brick is poorly made. I purchased it from ATG (division of Lowes) and it seems that it cannot withstand the heat without becoming brittle and cracking. That is a big bummer, because fire brick is kind of difficult to find down here where it doesn't get that cold. I'm thinking that I'll have to break down and go to a fireplace shop (it will cost a ton). I'm going to research to see if adding the clay slip will retard cracking.

I won't video this final design until we are ready for install. Suffice it to say that it was a roaring success. So glad that I didn't have a visit from the fire department.

Photos later. Tonight we will lay more brick for the thermal mass.
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Old 07-05-2014, 07:30 PM   #163
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Congratulations Melissa! Now it sounds like you have had the real "rocket" experience. Quite something, isn't it?

For what it's worth, just about every firebrick I have ever seen (the insulated type) have been quite brittle. When you assemble the riser in place using the appropriate mortar, they should be OK. I can't remember if there's a section in the book covering that, but I think there is. If not, then it's on the permies site somewhere. Or one of the people mentioned in the back of the book will have it on their websites.

I know it's a pain to track all this stuff down, but it's one of those things that once you get it done, you'll remember it forever.

Fantastic job!

P.S. My local fireplace shop is actually the cheapest source of firebrick in Nanaimo.
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Old 07-07-2014, 01:53 AM   #164
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We did a few miscellaneous projects this weekend. Scored an awesome old sewing table (cheap) to use as the sink base. It already had the machine removed so all I had to do was to get the jigsaw out and cut the opening. I did this project by myself with no help from hubby.

After finishing the cuts, I realized that the person who decided to chalk paint it did so over the varnish. Well, we all know that won't stick. No biggie because I didn't plan on keeping the blue anyway. I sanded it down and primed it with Rust Oleum and the first coat of a rubbed bronze color. I decided to go ahead and sand and paint the potting bench base as well.

Then hubby got to work on the thermal mass. It is coming together. Also included a single picture of the smaller footprint rocket mass heater. It was dark so I'll post a better picture later.

Today we got the first big harvest from the garden. Lots of tomatoes, our first bell pepper, and cilantro. We had some big salads for lunch. It was a good weekend.
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1952 Brick Traditional overhaul-sink-base0.jpg   1952 Brick Traditional overhaul-sink-base1.jpg   1952 Brick Traditional overhaul-sink-base2.jpg   1952 Brick Traditional overhaul-sink-base.jpg   1952 Brick Traditional overhaul-rmh-mockup.jpg  

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Old 07-07-2014, 02:45 PM   #165
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Wow, that is nice, you did a great job on your sink cabinet. I like using old furniture for sinks, it just looks nice and is functional as well.

We have gotten much much pepper from our plant this year, so much I strung some up to dry outside. We have several more blooms on our tomato plant and one blame tomato about half ready to pick. I know when we pick that one others will put on quick. The soil here in East Tennessee is a lot different than West Tennessee, vegetables don't grow as well here. The sage is growing like crazy though.

Glad to see your RMH coming along so nicely, looks good.

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