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Walker Stoves Superhot J 8 Inch build experience

 
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I'm considering building using Matt's plans for the Superhot J 8 inch.  I have been looking for video and/or discussions of the experience of builders of this design, but have not had much luck.  If you can provide any links or just add to this thread with your experience, it would be appreciated.  I am particularly interested in getting some more information on experiences with the round core 8 inch I.D./10 inch OD core.
 
Rocket Scientist
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Hi William;    
Big Welcome to Permies!   And Another big welcome to the wonderful world of rocket science!
So your looking at building Matts 8" J tube core.
Any 8" J core will roar like a dragon.
I'm not familiar with the "round" core you mention.
Almost all Matts plans  call for ceramic fiber board and of course are square.

Building a RMH can seems so confusing and difficult ,before you have seen one in person and can talk to the builder.
After you build your first one , you will think back and smile about all your worries!
They really are so simple a caveman could build one...
I have built numerous J tubes and batchboxes.  I still remember my first... I worried about everything... I wrote Matt in person to get answers .
I bothered whomever was in charge of the RMH forum here at Permies with question after question....  I attempted to out think the master builders by coming up with "improvements"... Thank goodness they talked me down to earth and I followed a tried and true plan.
I stressed about this mysterious stuff "cob"  and how to make it...  Its sandy clay... that's it.
I had to locate and/or buy all these parts...   firebricks , clay bricks , 8" piping , large flat Rocks for mass  and sand, you need a LOT of sand!

I know its hard, but the best way to build a RMH is to compartmentalize the  project.   Don't overthink ahead of time.
Each issue you come across is easy to surmount as long as you are not worrying about 27 steps ahead.
If you buy Matts plans he is available for consult.   Whether you  buy Matts plans or not,  we are also available here at Permies to help you figure this out.

So tell us a little about your future build.
Are you thinking of a traditional piped mass with a solid rock and cob filing?
Or are you interested in the "bell style" with an empty stratification chamber?
What kind of building is this planned for?  A home , a shop, a greenhouse?
What size and shape is this building?  Is there a basement? Crawl space?  Solid slab floor?

Plenty of experienced rocket scientists hang out here.  
We are glad to help.    We like pictures...









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William Burris
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Thank your for the encouragement Thomas, I admit to be a little apprehensive about some of the details of the build.

I am in Southeast Michigan, just north of Detroit, heating season begins late September and runs through mid-May.  Typical winter high/low temps are mid-30's/mid teens.

Below are responses to your questions about the build.

"Are you thinking of a traditional piped mass with a solid rock and cob filing?
Or are you interested in the "bell style" with an empty stratification chamber?"

My thought is to  use a 55 gallon drum bell over Matt's round 8" ceramic wool core,  the heat would exit the lower portion of the bell and enter a fairly short mass (about 8 feet long),  Mass will be granular material washed stone or sand contained by concrete slabs, probably held in place by a steel frame.  8 inch round duct sealed with metal furnace tape running through the mass).  I expect I will do multiple burns during the day during much of the winter.

"What kind of building is this planned for?  A home , a shop, a greenhouse?"

Home, so I'd love to keep things, toasty warm, I will have a furnace to accomplish this goal unless our wonderfully noncompetent government allows or causes a collapse of the grid and/or natural gas delivery.  Then, contingency plans kick in, then I'll probably have to settle for slightly less comfortable environment.

"What size and shape is this building?  Is there a basement? Crawl space?  Solid slab floor?"
Size and shape sucks. Size about 3,400sf, 2 floors.  Main floor about 1,900sf, about 500sf over basement, 1,100sf over crawl, 300sf on slab.

Heater will be on slab in the northwest corner of the main floor, bad that it is in a corner, good that it is in a northern quadrant of the house, good that the main floor is a fairly open plan, good that even thought the plan is a fairly open plan it can be fairly easily partitioned off to reduce heated area if necessary,  Ceiling height varies from 8'3" to 9' on main floor, about 8' second floor.  Old house, insulation not great, lots of doors and windows, infiltration pretty high (not rebreathing a lot of CO2 though).

RMH will be near a return air, which is close to the furnace, I always run the low speed fan on the furnace when I'm heating to keep air mixed and minimize cool spots.  I have enough PV solar to run the fan in the event of a grid failure (unless of course it is due to an EMP, then we will have to see if things still work ... contingency plan #2).  The thought is to pull very warm air into furnace return air and distribute though the house via the supplies.

GOAL is to have backup heat if there are infrastructure failures, but also to minimize utility consumption ($ outflow).

Plan on building outside first with short chimney and no mass to test and burn off any paint or other nastiness, then disassemble and reassemble inside with mass. One last detail, on final install, chimney will exit mass in single wall stove pipe, take a 90 near the first floor ceiling and transition to insulated chimney, go through wall, take another 90 and head to the sky out side the building.

Looking forward to lots of comments and suggestions.

Thanks in advance to all of you rocket scientists.


 
thomas rubino
Rocket Scientist
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Hi William;
Over all sounds like a solid plan.
Your correct that old homes are very safe from co2  buildup.
My home is closing on 100 years now.  No co2 problems here!

So lets talk about your build.
You are calling your 55 gal barrel a bell.
It's not, here's why.
The barrel over your riser is  the start of your "transition area"  (changing gas flow direction from up to down to horizontal.)
A bell system starts after the transition area the same as a piped system does.
The barrel is an instant radiant heat producer.  Some choose to cover a part of the barrel with cob / brick /rock to restrict how much radiant heat escapes and increase mass storage heat.

Yes, you will want several fires a day . When its coldest  you may even find its easier to just keep it burning if/ when  you are home.
You will still use way less wood than your neighbors and  no clouds of smoke billowing from your stack!

Building a test rocket in your back yard is a great plan. We highly recommend it.
Your barrel will only come part clean over the riser.
A propane weed burner (flame thrower) works great to finish one off.
The method I use, is as a burn barrel . Toss in woody debris , and let her rip.
Paint comes off in no time and doesn't even smell that bad.
A long handle wire brush speeds up the process.
You can end up with  quite a good looking barrel.
Speaking of barrels, you really really want one with a removable lid.  
Much Much easier to inspect your riser and ash build up in just a few moments.

Now the most important spot in your whole build is the transition area below the barrel.
It must be large or you will have trouble with flow.
Nothing is as important as easy gas flow.  
Think big large flowing corners heading into your pipes or bell ,  nothing to "stall" the flow.


 Last but not least. Your single wall pipe should angle up to the window not go horizontal at all.




 
William Burris
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Thomas, thanks for the education of term "bell", also suggestion on smooth - large to small transition at bottom/or below barrel into the piping in the mass.  I had been thinking about taking an 8 inch pipe straight out of the bottom of the barrel.  Also, had been considering using some gas "B-Vent" for the chimney, because I had a bunch from a furnace install I ripped out (I'm cheap), but I'm guessing if I have an 8 inch core I should keep rest of the piping at least 8 inches in diameter.  B-Vent is only 5" I.D.
 
gardener
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Hi William,    Generally its best to keep the cross sectional area the same through the entire build, this way there isn't a bottleneck that will slow the flow of gasses down and cause potential drafting problems.
 
William Burris
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Hi,

Matt's Superhot J 8 inch riser only extends 24" above the core, guessing the riser to be about 34" total, depending on how you measure.  This seems a little short based on some of the stuff I've seen, like 1:2:4 ratio.  Any thoughts on this.  I want to get as much heat generation as I can out of my build.

Thanks.
 
Gerry Parent
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I don't want to put words into Matt's reasoning for deciding on 24" as the riser height but will guess that the ceramic fiber board from the factory was 24" wide and so practically that's what he used - instead of cutting and splicing another small piece on top for the ultimate ideal height.
I would also guess that since the cf board is already very efficient at maintaining and redirecting the heat back into combustion that this helped out as well with being able to have a shorter riser.

Also, Matt's core internal dimensions are somewhat smaller than a typical 6" system since he is using split firebricks around the feed tube area and so made the rest of the core fall in suit to accommodate them. He addressed this in one of his Stove Chats saying that a smaller front end (the core) is going to draw harder and therefore be more reliable to draft in more circumstances than a larger one.

With all the gives and takes involved, you can see why there are not any hard fast rules but rather guidelines to building a RMH. Each build is unique and there are so many variables that will influence the final outcomes yet still fall within a clean burning finished product.

Hope this helps.

 
William Burris
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Hi Gerry, Thanks.

Matt just clarified this for me, and I've just purchased his plans for this RMH.  He and I have been going back and forth via email.  I'm sharing our conversation below, with his permission, for the benefit of all.


William/Bill:
Considering  buying plans for the 8 inch J tube.  Does this design put out the most heat?

I have a few questions:
Have there been many builds of this design? I'm having trouble finding videos.
Is the flue pipe for the core just single wall stove pipe, either black or stainless steel?
Are ceramic wool and ceramic fiber blanket the same material
I'm thinking about a 55 gal drum bell, what are minimum and maximum spacings above the top of the core?
I'm thinking about building this so it can be moved fairly easily, with a small thermal mass (probably gravel), and will probably do multiple burns per day.  Any thoughts on this
Thinking about wrapping the core and mass with precast concrete slabs (like concrete countertops.
If you have links to any builds of the 8 inch Super Hot J,  please provide.



Matt:
Thanks so much for your interest in my plans.

The 8 inch J plans are the plans that put out the most heat. The 8 inch version is a larger version of my 6 inch J. The 8" will be essentially the same, with the exception of the upgraded riser style.

The riser pipe can be single wall black or stainless.
Ceramic fiber blanket, ceramic wool, super wool, kao wool are all names for the same type of material. Any are suitable here.

I have a few customers who have built portable units and are quite pleased with them. Gravel has a lot of airspace and doesn't make the best thermal mass, but it is easy and clean and better than nothing so may be a good choice for you. For portable units water is ideal since you can easily empty to move and fill when located, but of course that complicates things.

If you wrap with concrete make sure to use lots of insulation so that the concrete doesn't see too much heat. Concrete has a hard time holding up to the heat cycles seen in a wood stove like this, but if it's protected it can work.

Here's a video of the 6":



Hope that helps.

William/Bill:
Thanks for the feedback, particularly on the concrete slabs.  I'll have to do more research on that.  I think I'd be OK on the thermal mass, but may have to wrap the burn chamber portion of the J tube with brick or something else, and figure out some insulation adjacent to the bell (55 gal drum).

When you put the ceramic wool in the 10 inch flue does the compression where the edges meet hold it tight against the wall of the flue, or do you use some fasteners or adhesive?

I'm also fascinated by your cook stoves.  Not sure if I'm ready to tackle a masonry project yet though, my past attempts have fallen way short of professional quality. Hopefully brick would be easier that block work though.


Matt:
Sounds like you are on the right track. You have the right idea about perhaps trying something other than concrete in the hottest areas.

Yes, typically the ceramic wool at 1" thickness has enough "body" that when rolled into the pipe it will stay in place just fine.
The brick work in all of my stoves is really forgiving due to the use of non-setting clay/sand mortar. It means you can take your time, and redo sections or change things as you go very easily. I am sure you could build a great stove, even without much masonry experience.

Hope that helps.


William/Bill:
A couple more questions:
The height of riser seems a little short based on some stuff I have been reading, can you give me your input on this?
How can I incorporate outside air feed (if it is advisable)?  I hate the idea of  using heated interior air for combustion, but does pulling in very cold outside air lower the temp of the combusted gases canceling out what I think I'm gaining?  I have an old house with lots of doors and windows so infiltration is pretty high.

I read about ratios like 1:2:4, which would seem to suggest a higher riser, see this Permies thread -  https://permies.com/t/41234/Proper-dimensions-tube      Also, saw dimensions for batch rockets that suggested a riser height of almost 58 inches for an 8 inch riser -  https://batchrocket.eu/en/building

Batch rockets are interesting to me, but the build looks a lot more complicated. I think more than I want to undertake, but I like the idea of being able to load more wood, and various other aspects. Do you have any designs that are simpler to build than Peter van den Berg's?  Is your batch rocket heater core simpler to build?

I like the 24"  high flue in your J Rocket because I could just cut a rectangle out of the bottom of  a 55 gallon drum and drop it over the core, and perhap rise it a couple inches to get required clearance over the top of the riser, as I think  55 gallon drums are only ~34" tall.  Would like the option to easily cook or at least boil water on top of the drum.

Matt:
Great questions, I'll do my best to answer below.

1. The original rocket stove proportions were figured out by Ianto Evans who built using dense high mass firebrick which rob a lot of heat from the combustion zone and hurt efficiency. By using ceramic fiber for the core we increase temperature in the combustion zone exponentially, allowing for less time to clean combustion which allows for shorter riser heights. These designs are tested and perform far better than the traditional firebrick core.
2. Outside air brings a whole host of issues, in my opinion it's not worth the trouble. You will need to heat the combustion air prior to burning, so there isn't much to be gained by pulling in from outside, and there is much to lose due to complexity and pressure issues.

3. My batch core is extremely simple to build, but it's true that batch builds in general are more complex than a J due to the needs for doors and secondary air hardware.
4. I think you have the right idea, my cores offer much lower build over height due. Your idea of the drum sounds good, I think it would be a great stove.

Hope that helps.

William/Bill:
Thank you, this is very helpful. Really eliminates my major concerns.   Though l will have some build details I will want to run by you.

I have a thread running in the Permies forum regarding this build, is it ok with you if I share the our email discussion on that thread?  I think it would be helpful to others considering building your Super hot J 8 inch, and hopefully save you from having to answer these same questions for others.


Matt:
Glad to hear it helps. You are welcome to share our conversation, hopefully it will help others as well.

Good luck on the build, feel free to ask me about the build details as they crop up.

 
pioneer
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If you're going to play with Ceramic Fiber, use a protective mask built for the task.  Don't ask me why I say this. (cough cough)
 
William Burris
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Cough, cough.  Got it.
 
pollinator
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William,
Hello from Cleveland. I have built several rocket heaters with Deanne Bednar around the corner from you at strawbalestudio.org and heat my house and sauna and barn and several other buildings here with them. Matt's plans are a very good basis to start your exploration. Please build your test heaters outside while you are still learning about backdraft and flow and where there's a lot of heat and where there is less. Experimenting safely lets you push things, try to break it and understand it and fix it before you depend on it and before breaking would be catastrophic, like not waking up in the morning catastrophic.
--Uncle Mud
 
William Burris
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Hi Uncle Mud,  My plan has always been to build a test heater, actually (hopefully) my final installed heater outside for testing and burning in, then moving it inside adding mass and final chimney.  I was thinking  for the test heater to just build Matt's core and riser, with some stacked clay brick around it (no mortar), with 55 gallon drum on top, welded steel transition manifold to a very short heat exchange channel in a mass (probably sand contained by concrete blocks), then elbowing up to a chimney that terminates a couple feet above the top of the 55 gallon drum.  Everything sealed to prevent air leaks.  Do you think this would be sufficient for testing?  Thanks.
 
Chris McClellan
pollinator
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yes, but give yourself plenty of time to run it before moving it inside.
 
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