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Bob Stuart

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since Aug 31, 2014
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Recent posts by Bob Stuart

Masks by metalworkers.  The Canadian Safety Supply Company (IRRC) use to sell my favourite dust mask.  It was mostly an oval of soft aluminum that could be easily pressed to fit any face.  There was a notch for the nose, and a big hole over the mouth, and a couple of bent-over tabs to hold a gauze filter in place.  Any soft cloth could be folded and used for the filter.  The mask sealed tightly around the nose, where most others fail me.  
1 week ago
I have no immediate plans to replace the water heater, I just got curious about my energy use.  I've usually set the taps to flush the cold water from the pipes fairly soon and continued to use that flow.  I should run the hot water on full to bring it in, and then really minimize the flow or use a container.  That will save both time and energy.  
1 month ago
When I'm doing a bit of washing, such as dirty hands or a few dishes, I tend to use a flow of warm water.  I got to wondering what wattage of an on-demand heater I'd need for my habit, in case there were large savings available by getting fussy about minimizing the flow.  I am rather appalled to see that I've been running something like 8,000 watts into my sink for decades.  That's like running five or six hair dryers flat out.  Thinking of it that way, I'm sure I'll do better.  
1 month ago
My usual reason for not doing something is that I'd rather work with someone else, so the available enthusiasm selects my projects.  In this field, I would include a trailer-mounted rig to convent logging slash and other biomass that emits CO2 on organic breakdown into biochar.  I'm thinking of an oven that can hold two SS containers at a time for continuous production without burning any carbon.
I'm also interested in building a wood stove as a low-pressure, solid fuel gas turbine.  Using only cheap materials, I'm sure it could run its own fan to work with a condenser and cool outlet instead of a chimney, but I'm hopeful that it could also put out 10% as electricity.  It does the work of a gasifier and engine, but it takes exotic materials to equal their efficiency.  A car turbocharger might work to spin a magnet.
The big project that I'd fund if I won the lottery is a permaculture robot.  Something produced by 3-D printing might be best, because we need enough to replace all the no-till farm equipment.  I'd aim for something shoebox size, with the ability to keep track of every plant within a plot, and plan for maximum production using AI from the 'net.  It would recognize, save and offer for trade the best seed, and harvest each plant at its peak while usually mulching the waste on the spot.  Weeding would probably be done with a nick from a laser.  The project could probably finance itself just from starting with a weeder that will zap anything not growing through a special ring.  Tomato picking might take some development.  The robot would probably have a little tool shed with a solar panel on a pole to recharge its batteries.  It could probably navigate using signals from the markers at the corners of the plot.  
1 month ago
That process still requires sorting by type of plastic.  Making batts should work fine with any film, and tolerate some paper contamination, etc.  
2 months ago
As a craft process, it would be very labour-intensive, but to put a dent in the plastic waste problem, someone might build a machine that produces batts that are about as easy to handle as fiberglas ones.  I'm wondering what the potential r-value might be.  
2 months ago
Since China stopped importing plastic waste, our local "plastic film" - usually polyethylene bags - goes to the dump.  I wonder if we could use it in place of other insulation batts by building up layers of bags and wrapping, etc, laying them flat but wrinkled enough to trap some air.  They would be held together at random points within the stack, perhaps using waste adhesive tape or local melting.  I'm thinking of just enough bonding to keep it flat with careful handling.  Is there any experience or data on this?  This pertains to buildings of any size, of course.  
2 months ago
PS - My last big chisel job was trimming asphalt shingles.  It happens.  That's why I have duplicate sizes, one razor-sharp, and one with a steeper edge and a few nicks.  Wood chisels are tempered fairly soft and tough.  You can test one against a known steel, and also check if the edge was overheated by comparing that hardness to the steel farther back.  Sometimes, a long, well-cooled grinding session is needed to get back to a good edge.  
2 months ago
I got most of my tools at garage sales, so they are a mixed lot.  The "Marples" brand seem to be the best I have, but they all work, the main difference being how often they need sharpening.  A used chisel will usually need work, and possibly quite a bit of it if the edge has been overheated by careless grinding.  Rather than just frequently dipping the tool in water, I make a little wet pad on a stick that can be held right on the blade and ground away with it.  When you have mastered sharpening, you'll probably grind different angles on duplicate sizes, with the sharper one used for finer work.  
2 months ago
I'm late to this party, but for winter exercise I put my bike on a stand that supports it just forward of the rear dropouts, with a tight strap over the carrier.  I have a bungee cord pulling a hinged bit toward the back tire to engage a generator.  I used the motor from a car heater blower and made a roller for it from plywood, turning it true with a sander after mounting on the shaft.  It has been working fine for years.  The stand was cobbled together from 2 X 4 scraps, and supports the wheel barely above the floor, for easy mounting.
However, as a heat engine, the body is only 25% efficient, and unless you are growing your own vegan  fuel organically, the upstream efficiency can be down in the single digits.  
2 months ago