Austin Shackles

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since Jul 26, 2012
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transportation gear earthworks solar rocket stoves
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Several sorts of engineer, driver, gamer, fairly crap musician 'cos I never practice enough.
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Recent posts by Austin Shackles

Seem to have found red clay bricks, although of course they're a different size to those specified in the plans.  However I can work with that to get the internal sizes (especially the core) right.

Question for Matt if he's looking: how critical are the sizes of the spaces around the core?  I assume the hot gases come out of the core, under the top hotplate and then down the side.  I'm still not 100% clear on how the bench connects.  The lower layers look to have 2 openings for bench connection both at the same height?  I need to watch a build video

Also wondering about mortar for the shell.  I don't know if I can readily get fireclay in sensible amounts/for sensible money.  Is it viable to build the brick shell with normal sand-cement type mortar (I know that makes it hard to change it later) or does that mortar need some level of heat-proof-ness?
14 hours ago
This is the back wall of "downstairs" at our house, with the wood burner which was only a temporary installation, as you can see:

a couple of weeks ago we decided that it wasn't going to be cold for the next few months and hauled it out.  That left space to put a foundation for the Matt Walker stove, this is the shuttering...

and this afternoon we mixed up some concrete and set it in place:

Just to add, the fan hanging from the ceiling (and making a giant shadow on the wall) was about distributing the heat from the woodburner around the house better.
About 5 years ago Burra contacted me on facebook, having lost her husband to cancer some time before, and more or less said "you and me babe, how about it?" like in the dire straits song "romeo and juliet".  (there's more to the story than this, of course, but that's not really the point of this thread).  Anyway, I ended up moving to Portugal and we as a couple ended up moving from the place she'd lived at for the last 15-ish years and buying the place we live in now half way up Cortiçada mountain, which is in the district of Fundão in central Portugal.

The house was pretty basic and needed significant work to make it liveable; the floor was rotten and the roof bendy (although still strong) and prone to let in drafts and out heat in the winter.  We replaced the floor just in time to move before the first really serious COVID lockdown, and for the next couple of years worked on installing a shower and washing machine and planning how to make the lower floor which had traditionally been animal housing into a kitchen, bathroom, sitting area etc.

We had a small  wood stove which we put in to heat the place, but with the lack of insulation it struggled to cope in winter.  Adding insulation in the first floor ceiling (2nd floor if you're reading this in American ) helped a bit as did replacing the old tile roof with "tile effect" insulated sandwich sheets.  Yeah, not all that permie but those things are sooo easy to put up.  

The other thing that came along with Burra was "building a rocket stove".  This had been something she'd wanted to do for about 7 years by the time we got together, and this year we finally got started on it.
Specifically, it's this one:  
 which is Matt Walker's tiny cook stove.
A few members might have seen that we had a wildfire here last summer.   Looking at what's left, there's this clump of big eucalyptus which are non-native, invasive and a massive fire risk - they literally spread kindling all around the ground under them.   So, seeing as all the undergrowth has been handily cleared by the fire, it's time to convert the eucalyptuses (eucalypti?) into firewood.  They'll no doubt grow up again from the stump/roots anyway...
This is the next candidate for the chop:

Having assessed it, it leans in a convenient direction.  I did put a looong rope on it so Alan could pull on it just in case, but I was pretty confident of it dropping the way I wanted, and notched it accordingly:

That done, on with the felling cut!  The tree dropped exactly as I planned with zero fuss, which is always my aim.

And here's the stump.  Pretty pleased with this one, nice even hinge which broke exactly as planned, no kickback or barber chair or any undesirable effects.

30cm is about 12", so a tad larger than spec but these trees need removing.  This cluster almost certainly wasn't planted here deliberately, and has simply arrived from some windblown seed.  Unfortunately eucalyptus has commercial value: it's fast growing and was often used for making telephone poles and the like, and I reckon also for roof timbers, to say nothing of the paper industry that supports the bureaucracy.
For those that are interested: the saw I used is an Einhell GE-LC 36/35 Li-Solo.  It's part of the PowerXChange range which use interchangeable 18V batteries, this saw uses 2 for 36V.  I would definitely recommend it if you want a handy 14" saw.  Way less hassle than a gas powered one.
4 months ago
One thing I expect Alan Booker to mention but didn't hear, on the subject of heat management, is insulation.  Depending on climate and the specific building, (better) insulation can have a big effect on how much you have to heat or cool your house.

We live in Portugal where it can be pretty hot in summer, often reaching over 40°C (104°F) so mitigating heat getting into the house is important.  When we came here it had a plain tile roof, and although it had ceilings in the upstairs rooms they were just a single layer of boards.  Fitting some blue rigid foam insulation between the rooms and the loft space made a noticeable difference.  

This year I got some film for the windows: quite a lot of heat gets in that way.  It claims to reduce the heat transfer by 85%, and while I've not checked that you can sure feel the difference between the window with the film and no film, when the sun's coming in.  This applied even on double glazed ones.  I hope it will reduce heat loss in winter as well.

The latest thing is replacing the tile roof (it needed replacing anyway) with tile-effect sandwich panels.  It's not real hot right now, so the next impression will be whether the house takes less heating this winter.

None of this is even all that amazing insulation, but if you have no insulation to speak of, even mediocre insulation can have quite an effect.
Gonna vote with a failed exhaust manifold (header, in US terminology?) gasket.  Had a very similar sound on an engine years ago, and thought it was about to self-destruct :D
11 months ago
The difference is in the pints, but since a quart(er of a gallon) is 2 pints...

US pint is 16 fl.oz., but a UK pint is 20 fl.oz.  So a GB pint/quart/gallon is 25% bigger.   Hence for example a US gallon is 3.78 liters, but a UK gallon is 4.54 litres.

Cups are a whole other thing.  I believe, however, that the fl.oz are the same regardless, and hence if you know how many fl.oz. are in a cup, it should work out.

In some ways (although as a Brit I don't like to admit it) the US pint is more sensible, since a pint of water weighs a pound (16 oz.), whereas in the UK it's a pound-and-a-quarter.
3 years ago
Could someone who has this go out and try using it with only your left hand?  I have a friend who is shy one arm, and am wondering how effective this would be one-handed.

Doesn't matter if you *are* left-handed - my friend is perforce left-handed, after all.  I wonder if the blade angle will make sense.  The twist in the blade is probably partly for strength but also allows the blade to lie flat on the ground for weeding.
3 years ago
See, this is exactly the kind of coffee grinder I would like.  Proper grinder, not just a smasher like most of the cheaper modern ones are.

Some more nice techniques in this restoration, notably fixing the block of wood with bits of dowel, making little copper rivets and so on.

3 years ago
more from our friend the restorer.  

This one is interesting as it started out as a budget device and as such it's all made with thin pressed steel parts.  Different techniques to repair it.

3 years ago