15. It’s not you, it’s me.

Yeah, sorry. Been a few things going on up here. My day job is going to be a factor this year.  Between short staff and me finally getting a full plate (about $6M in 10 or so projects) of construction projects, I’m gonna be busy. Lots of time at work means little time here (and home). But, it supposedly helps those who have earned it, so I continue to do what I was hired to do.

It’s ‘planting and garden’ season as well. Spring clean-up and all that jazz.  3+ cubic yards of soil into a myriad of planters and raised beds. Seeds planted, stuff growing. Trees trimmed and/or cut to allow light into the greenhouse…(and greeted with over 140F in there yesterday afternoon.) Radishes I planted Sunday are already coming through the dirt, lettuce is pushing up the dirt right next to it and the carrots will probably making an appearance right after that. Tomato’s, lettuce and either broccoli or spinach are filling out the 2 trays nicely. Lot of other trays, pots and planters will be sprouting here shortly. (I’ve also got 14 of those kitschy Topsy Turvy hanging planters filled and waiting on sprouts. And yes, they actually work if you feed weekly and water daily…and no less)

Earth Day presentation and/or display of V2.0 on the 22nd at my place of employment. They registered over 450 people attend. While I wasn’t the top draw (the free apple crisp, ice cream and amazingly delicious chili pulled that spot with ease) I did have more than one conversation with folks about my stove.  Most were intrigued, some were impressed, a few amazed, a fewer were annoyed. All in all, it was worth the price of admission (free) just for the public opinion.

Since V2.0 is done showing off for a while, it’ll be changing places with V1.0 that’s already in the basement. I’m pretty sure all that can be done testing and checking has been tested and checked. It’s show time. Well, it’s May, and heating season is a few weeks off, so it’ll just be out of the way for a few months. V1.0 will be heading to the greenhouse to spend the summer. Come fall/winter, it’ll be ready for work with a water jacket for heating the 400″ of pipe under the 20tons of gravel that make up the floor. That, again, is a few weeks off.

V3.0 sets on the lift waiting for it’s base, fitting of the pellet hopper and extensive testing. Lots to go, but not lots to go. It’s ready to test, I just want to put it on a stand before I fire it up. Besides, it’s a few weeks before heating season comes around again. I might even have something else on the front burner by then.

Another project is adding a ‘lift’ of sorts to my shop/garage. Kind of a gantry system, with what will end up being about 100sf of covered area. Think ceiling mounted 12V powered, remote controlled 1000lb lift crane with a 10’x10′ ‘reach’. Will certainly help moving the stoves and materials (and even the motorcycle) around a lot easier than picking them up and carrying them. Best get that done before the attic stays at 160F all day.

That’s where we are, what we’re going, and where we’ll be going. There might even be a fall run to a large ‘green’ convention this fall….maybe. Regardless, we’ll be warm. And maybe, just maybe, if the stars align, you might be too.

14. Saturday afternoon

Got a little bit done today. Milled out the pellet ‘valve’ for V2. It came a bit smaller inside diameter than the feed pipe and it’s bushing. Only needed to mill out .06″, but it was enough that a hammer wouldn’t have worked. Shown below in open and closed positions. This will enable the pellet feed to be shut off. Before, you had to wait until it ran out of pellets, or scoop enough out to plug the tube. Now you just loosen the screw and slide it in. Added set screws to both sides of the valve to be able to secure it to the tubes. Wanted to make the pellet hopper removable, just in case you wanted to take it off for some reason.

I’m thinking about spring loading the pellet valve as well, so it’ll close on it’s own when released.  You’d have to wait until the pellets finished falling through it as you push it in, pushing past the pellets.  Spring loaded would just close on it’s own as the pellets got out of it’s way. I’ve also got some fusible links that I could use to act as a ‘fuse’ of sorts…to shut it in case something happened and it started a burnback. That hasn’t happened yet, but it might be a nice added protection feature if these ever went to market.

Burnback is when the pellets start burning back up the feed tube. Gravity is supposed to prevent it from happening, but that “other” stove has somehow managed to ignore the whole gravity thing and fill a few homes with smoke. Maybe I should sell him my idea, since he’s so adamant that he wants me to pay him a commission for using ‘his’ design. Yeah…I’m rolling my eyes.

Valve closed
Valve open

Still have to mill the outside of the air valve. Looks just like the pellet valve, but a 2.5″ one instead of a 3″ one. The fresh air intake pipe diameter,  much like the pellet feed tube, is just a bit off on what I need.  The outside of the air valve needs taken down to 2.25″. The mill will make short work of it, and the new software will make it all hands off if I program it right.

Almost ran into a problem with the last piece of body welding on V3. I figured that the steel between the front and back panels being 4″ wide, everything would just slide right in to include the flue stub. The 3″ pipe that I use for the stub is 3.5″ diameter….and I knew that would fit, but be tight with only 1/4″ on each side to play with. Then I remembered that I use double layer pipe…and that’s a shade over 3.5″ thick. Going to get tight in there, and I thought it might not work.  Welding it was interesting, but it’s all together. Had to run the MIG wire out nearly an inch before it touched the plate. Interesting welding that way. I might have to rethink that if I ever have to make these in bulk. Might be one of the first plates welded, then I can do it from the inside.

A bit tight side to side with the flue stub pipe.
Even tighter with the flue pipe.
It fits with both installed, but welding was a pain.

Started grinding the edges down…make them all nice and smooth. Going to take a while. Lots of edges to grind, and some need to be done with a hand file or maybe a Dremel. It’s also very loud. Like grinding on a large steel drum. Ear plugs and safety glasses will be a must.

That’s the extent of Saturday. Didn’t get started until noon, and spent more time on the mill learning the new software that I probably should have. Tomorrow is another day, and I’m playing ‘bachelor’ for the next week. Not sure how much will be going on, but if it happens, you’ll see it here.



13. Measurements and musings

Currently, the V3.0 is 43″ wide by 49″ tall and 4.5″ deep, not including the pellet feed tube on the back. Might end up a little wider if I put a heat shield on the front..to cover up the burn chamber with some fancy designed doodad. I’ll end up putting a shield behind the leaf on this one though.  V2.0 doesn’t heat up the pellet hopper, the center being mostly air space. V3.0 is just a’little’ bit different.

Pellet hopper will add another 16-18″ or so to the depth, depending on how long the rest of the pellet feed tube ends up. Probably not much deeper than 24″ when it’s all over. About the same as V2.0.

Height is another issue. V1.0 and V2.0 end up 60″ tall at the start of the flue. That only gives me 11″ from the base of the stove to the floor on this one…”pushing” it as far as clearances I’m guessing. V2.0 doesn’t get the ground hot underneath is, so I’m not going to scrap this one just yet. Yet.

I also need to keep at least 36″ above the stove for a safe distance, and to keep the total height under 8′ before you exit the room. (must have read it somewhere). A taller room, no problem, but it’s usually all “8’s”…drywall, plywood, 2×4’s, ceilings, walls et.al. It heats the ceiling, but not to the point of combustion. That would be kinda bad, dontchathink?

Like the first 2, we’ll burn the hell out of them before they go anywhere near the inside of the house. No sense heating a house that has the walls and roof burnt off.

I’m guessing this one will be as much self-cleaning at the other 2. I’ve dropped a few things through the top while working on it….and they all end up in the bottom. V1.0 and V2.0 drop all their ash right back into the ash chamber…no filling and fouling like some other design does. Clean your stove in 2 minutes. Rap the front with a hammer, slide out the ash tray and dump it. That’d be about it.

Oh, and we’re gonna call ’em V1, V2 and V3 from now on. Save the extra pixels for future burn tests. Hell, I might even come up names for them….like Gertrude, Hildegard and Flo. Who knows.

12 Still more welding

Ran out of 11ga plate, had to cut the 3/16″ stock into strips.  Just means thicker metal in a few of the combustion areas.  Nearly 20′ of 4″ strip in this one. LOTS more welding as well. But, when it’s done…..it’ll all be worth it.

(Oh, the things I keep telling myself…. LOL!)


11. V3.0 underway

Version 3.0 is well underway. While it’s a lot less ‘work’, it’s a lot more work. Welding on the leaf is a lot of internal, after it’s together welds. Odd angles, tight spaces…perfect ways to burn hands and fingers and get crappy welds.

More as it happens.