craig howard

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since Mar 06, 2019
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Recent posts by craig howard

 Here's how the last surface survived the rain:
mudstove3raintop by vwfatmobile, on Flickr

It survived the first rain better, actually with no damage.
Then I canned up another 23 quarts of sauce.
I think the expansion from heat messed with the cracks.
I put the top coat on too wet, got a few cracks when it dried,
then waterglassed it.

You can see the close part that didn't crack so bad looks good and smooth except along the edge.
The sides are holding up well due to the boiled linseed oil
but linseed oil on the top final coat can stick to the bottom of the pan when it gets hot.
Not so much after it has been on there for awhile but when it's fresh, pieces of the surface will come off with the pan.

Other problems include the water heater chimney being too narrow.
It restricts the airflow through the fire,
causes a smokey fire and creasote buildup.
Doesn't get hot fast enough.
I solved this by pulling the third pot and putting an extra chimney on the that hole.
No smoke and a hot fast fire when I need that.

Here are the measurements:
The base is 80" X 32".
The cook top is 46.5" long
and 29" wide, but I'll probably build it out to the 32" of the base.

The hole size is 7.5" for the back hole, which is too big for some of my smaller pans.
7" for the middle and 6.5" for the front hole.
Distance between the back and middle hole is 16" on center.
Which works great for the pots I use.

The distance between the middle and first hole is 13", which I think is too short.
Pots are too close together. It works but is a little crowded
Next year I'll probably pull the door and set it back with less angle so I have 3" more near the front.
Moving that first hole farther forward would also put it over the fire hole better.
Now much of the heat is on the door.

I really like the fire hole design on this one,..
but would probably run it farther into the stove next time.

So it worked great for canning and cooking but there are things on this 3rd one I would improve too.
1 week ago
 Oh C. Letellier
so maybe a nut cracker,..
like for walnuts?

Here's something old I found.
Probably and easy one:
whatisit by vwfatmobile, on Flickr
1 week ago
  Had to get this thing built because I have canning to do.
Used the wok to shape the front hole.
The taper allows several smaller pots or skillets to sit  and seal.

Starting a fire gets the cob to dry faster.
I used the wok to cook corn while working with the clay top.

Everything was coated with linseed oil. It got rained on twice without a problem.
You can see some of the chunks of clay stuck to the water heater.
That's because of all the linseed oil I used on the layers after they dried.

Notice back in the first pictures of the old stove,
the pots were sunk down into the top.
I got away from that this time.
The top on the old one was also stepped,
because of the height difference inside the stove to encourage smoke to go up.
This one has a flat level surface on top
and the pots sit right on top.
I was great to be able to slide a pot over to a hotter or cooler hole.
I don't have this top completely flat yet.
I'll put a final coat of screened clay and silica sand with 10% slaked lime.
Then coat that with waterglass at 3 parts water and 1 part waterglass.
Making it thinner helps it soak in.

Here's the waterworks:

Out the top is the green hose which will go to the outside sink.
And the redish PEX line runs hot water into the house.
mudstove3waterworks by vwfatmobile, on Flickr
To the left you can see the black hose going into the valve.
On this water heater the cold goes in near the bottom.

It's nice to go in after a hard days work on the mud stove or canning and take a good hot shower.
In fact the water gets so hot it has to be used.
Any more heat and the pressure release/overheat valve will open and throw it on the ground.
Good long hot shower and the dishes get done,..
and there is still hot water left.
Enough to catch a shower the next night.
4 weeks ago
They make a rubber "balloon" that you hook up to your garden hose.
Slide it down the sewer cleanout and when you turn on the water it expands to seal against the inside
then the water pressure comes out the end and shoves stuff down the line
and pushes water through the clog.
It won't remove roots but it will help make a path through them.
Then lye to dissolve maybe hydrocloric acid but not at the same time or they will expand because it's an acid/ alkalye mix.
Or copper sulfate to kill the roots.

Then dig it up and replace the clay tile with plastic pipe.
4 weeks ago
 South of town we have a USDA certified meat canner.
  He used to be a butcher.
Now he as a shed in his back yard.
 An incubator is required because a sample has to be at a certain temperature
for a certain time then given to the USDA inspector.

 He pointed out that the pressure doesn't matter,
it changes with air pressure.
He has to use a temp gauge in his pressure canner.
1 month ago
 Watching public TV and saw a stove they made
because people were spending all day gathering wood
then had smoke in their face while cooking.

I wanted to do some canning so I built one.
The first one I built sitting on the ground,
like in the show.
But I don't like to squat while cooking so the next year I raised and improved it.

Version 2 in it's hayday:

It wasn't just raised,
The chimney was searing hot so I swapped in a propane water heater for a chimney.
Thought I'd put another single spot on the side but never used it for anything
other than lighting the fire under the water heater to get it to draw.

After last winter:

So  it was either fix it or rebuild and make some of the improvements I'd like.

I started by remixing some of the stuff from the old one
and pouring it in a "form" made of some 7' magnesium angle iron I had.
Let it sit and get a little hard then
stacked 2 layers of urbanite level on it:

Under the water heater I'm using some concrete blocks I had.
The inspector stopped by and pointed out that the third layer
is more of a tub.
With urbanite around the edge and the middle filled with rocks and clay.
Those 2 blocks weren't supposed to be there.

One of the improvements is to make it taller inside.
I like to use a hoe to move wood.
Not much room for it in the last one.
So the water heater needed to sit higher.
With the tub in the middle I used a piece of metal stretched across it
to raise it and help support the 2 front legs
which were a little close to the edge of the blocks.
The legs will sit on the bricks.

Started on the walls when the inspector stopped by again and pointed out the ridge.
I was also going to make this one wider.
So there is space to set jars or food that needs kept warm/hot.
By setting the jars on the hot surface when canning
it prewarms them and makes it less likely they will crack when hot sauce is poured in.
I made the base wide but didn't take full advantage of it when I stacked the walls

Here it is wider, with the door set in.
Improvement #3 is the possibility to use a rocket stove in that lower hole.
I used regular steel in the last one and it rotted.
This time it's stainless that gets used to bridge the top and help support the clay/straw/sand while it's hardening.
The metal pipe to the right of the door gets pounded into the ground and the door rests against it when open.

Because the inside raises up toward the water heater
and the top is level
the front will be thicker than the back.

Lot's of mud to apply to the inside and out.
Any comments on possible other improvements are encouraged.
1 month ago
I planted about 105 hazelnut bushes.
Have 96 left.
Big variety.

I have one that is 5 years old.
Started producing at 3 years.
Got a few out of it last year, maybe 40.
This year it is so heavy the limbs are sagging toward the ground.
Another produced heavy the 3rd year even though it was small.

This year I have some 3, 4, and 5 year olds.
Some produce none. Others produce a few.
1 month ago
 I was picking catapillars out of my cabbage/broccoli.
Lookd over and a wasp was doing the same thing.
Going down between the leaves of cabbage and hunting them.
I encourage wasps and rarely have damage to my brocolli and my cabbage looks great.
It's red cabbage though,.. and I think that does better against the worms.
1 month ago
I had a bad maple tree here a few years ago.
It was at least 60 ft tall.
Made a throw bag and got some zingit.
Used it to pull a rope into a high crotch and used it to support lower branches while they were cut.

The last 20 ft of every branch was dead,
not safe to climb.

 I cut a chainsaw blade in half and welded some VW diesel headbolt washers onto the ends.
Made a two-person saw.
I cut the flat teeth and left some verticles toward both ends of the chain.
That way it would cut the sides then the flats in the middle would clear the wood.
All teeth is too hard to pull through the wood
Used my throwbag to get it up there and a friend or neighbor to grab one end.
Took a long time and I owed favors to several friends but it was fun.

Once all the dangerous limbs were down I climbed up with a chainsaw and cut bigger limbs part way through and climbed down to yank them with a truck.
It's not too expensive for that stuff since they don't need a bucket truck.

2 months ago
Oh that is just terrible to see.
Also saw a similar scene on the news tonight.
They were called locust but them looked like grasshoppers.
Villagers were being paid to collect them to be dried and ground for chicken feed.
2 months ago