Medrec Martin

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since Apr 16, 2020
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dog forest garden rocket stoves
Zone 6 - Upstate NY
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Recent posts by Medrec Martin

Gerry Parent wrote: you could line parts of the inside with cf blanket or coat parts of the outside with cob. If plans change in the future, both could easily be removed or altered to suit your new situation....
- The information you gathered from Peters batchrocket website all deal with batch boxes, not J tubes. Although many things overlap between the two, the 1' top gap can be much smaller for J tubes depending upon what your final goals are as Glenn pointed out.

Thanks Glenn and Gerry, really appreciate the constructive feedback, if it were up to me I'd name an ice-cream flavor after you guys   maybe something like 'Rocket Load'

Thank goodness, I was hoping it was a batch box thing.

I thought it was a bit counter-intuitive the way I used the mesh on the riser, I must have misunderstood and it's only meant for when used on the outside of the riser which makes more sense.  I'm hoping it will be ok to just let it melt as I used the bottom part to help stabilize the riser to the core.

Another reason I was leaning towards brick over metal is because I got the impression that it was verboten to insulate inside the metal barrel, at least that was the impression I was left with from a few videos.  I never did completely understand why.
Intuitively I think the brick version will exhaust better since the exit flue gets heated directly.

Lots of learning experiences here, heck it's the first time I've really worked with masonry.  Loving the process and definitely caught a bug.
1 week ago
Greetings!  I found the source for my original question re: elevation of core inside of bell and why I built this the way I did:  

" Placing the combustion unit higher within the structure as opposed to floor level results in the storage of heat at a higher temperature because the gases need to sink lower than where the combustion unit is located." []

This coming Friday looks to be cold enough to do a proper test fire with temps in the 30's, I'm probably the only person around here actually hoping for cold weather at this point of the year lol!
Getting closer to completion, here is the progress so far:

First few courses of brick done, the rest is dry fit to make sure I will have enough bricks. Also temp placed a 2'x2' stone to see how the bench will look.

I'm currently at a bit of standstill in that I'd like to not use the steel barrel.  I really want to use brick the entire way up, trying to wrap my head what considerations need to be taken.  
This part should probably be a separate thread but here are a few of my thoughts on it...  

My first concern is that too much heat from the steel barrel will end up burning my plants.
It will be awkward using brick as a base for the barrel to sit on with the current configuration and would prevent any future expansion when I eventually enlarge the greenhouse.
I do have another barrel on hand which I've been using as biochar retort, as such it has some holes for airflow near to where the two barrels would connect. Though I'm not sure that the small holes would actually effect anything as long as it's inside the bell area,  if not could plug with ceramic wool and cob over it?

I have enough brick to come to the same 3" height above the riser that the barrel would have been, however I do not know if this height will also work when just using brick.

"The gap between the top of the riser and the top of the bell should measure at least 30 cm (1'). In the vast majority of cases this will be sufficient, though more is better as the more the gases are slowed down the better the separation of hot and cold gases." [ - "Bell Sizing"]

Is that 1' minimum gap from riser to the top of the bell accurate? I would love some clarity on this.

My original understanding was that the metal barrel was necessary to cool down the gases enough but I've seen and read conflicting viewpoints on this matter.  

Any clarification on what adjustments needs to be made between using a metal barrel and full brick are greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your consideration.

2 weeks ago

Scots John wrote:I am no expert but assuming the blocks are for storing heat, am not sure if filling  them with insulation is a good idear?

Hey Scots, thanks for bringing up that point. The cement blocks are mostly a pedestal to bring it up to floor level and act as a thermal break.  
I knew that I wanted perlite for the wall on the right (against garage vinyl) just to err on the side of caution.
I thought about using different material in the rest of the base blocks. I was uncertain as it's below ground and  I'm building without a bypass.

Gerry Parent wrote:
Hi Medrec,   Scots is correct. Filling the brick holes with perlite is taking away at least half of your thermal mass and ability to store heat. It would be much better to fill with a sand/clay mix (and even stuff small rocks in there). The walls won't get overly warm so as long as you leave a gap between the blocks and the vinyl wall, you should be fine.

The exhaust entrance should be low as you mentioned. A small lip is helpful to allow ash buildup over time and not block the entrance.

Thanks Gerry, here I was thinking how many inches of perlite I should put down on the bottom. Does the cement block being underground as I describe make any sense or have I misunderstood something about thermal bridging?
I'm already building without a damper.  
1 month ago
Quick question, how low from the floor can I get away putting the exhaust flu? I figured 2 - 3 inches but the lower the better. Even though this is an 8" system the flu is 10" and will shrink down to 8" (as it exits the masonry and enters the room) with the addition of the an inner liner of ceramic blanket through the wall and outside. Thanks.
1 month ago
Progress! Tomorrow I can finally start (p)laying bricks.  Just dry stack tested and everything tightly fits into place thankfully.
What you see  here is 2 levels of cement block filled with perlite and a sheet of 1/4" hardiboard on top.
Found a great deal on used 10" ducting that I can use for both the riser (with ceramic fiber blanket inside) and chimney flu.
Opted to use corrugated metal roof in front of cement board to protect the vinyl siding.
I have some 2" thick 2'x2' flagstone squares for the bench top and possibly a backrest.
Clay slip perlite mix will be added across the entire floor area on top of the gravel.
More to come.

1 month ago
So I really hoped I would be further along at this point but at least I'm making some good progress.  These are the cement foam boards I was referring to earlier, it's to protect the vinyl siding from melting.  I didn't want to remove the siding so it's easier to return the wall to normal when I move. It also, along with wire mesh (more to be added,) is to help keep out the critters.  Before I transformed this side of my garage into a lean-to hybrid greenhouse in late fall, a large otter had access tunnels from where that barrel is buried.
That barrel currently has a a half barrel temporarily on top of it for now, but will be connected into another water barrel that will be elevated for proper thermosiphon.  Since I had to dig down for critter prevention I figured I might as well take advantage of the extra foot height for the bell.  

The corner square will house the core and will be using cement blocks filled with perlite (maybe a clay perlite mix.) The plan is to put down hardi board over the blocks, then ceramic fiber, and finally the base of firebrick.
This is at the north wall and on the other side I will make a proper drainage ditch since it is the lowest point of the greenhouse roof.

About using the baseboard, my line of thinking was that since I already have a bunch of it and it is good at radiating heat out, then why not use it in reverse. I pictured running it width wise at some height across the interior of the bench bell.  The problem is I'm not sure how it could impact the performance or calculate that into ISA for the bell from my 8" Jtube.  Since the back wall of the bench will be insulated inside with ceramic fiber, hence taken out of the ISA equation, I thought the radiator could compensate, but it will probably overcompensate.  I think it wise to play with that after getting the standard bell performing well.

This is my first "serious" build so please tell me if I am way off here, missing something, or need to clarify anything.  I just can't wait to get to playing with the bricks!

2 months ago
Thanks for you reply Gerry.
After further thought I believe my misunderstanding in terms of the elevation may have been in regards to raising the elevation of the core for better insulation air gap to the earth below. I probably wouldn't want the core so close to the xps concrete foam underneath (might melt it) and wonder if it is possible to get away with using cement blocks on top of the foam/concrete sheet and beneath the ceramic fiber blanket and base firebrick layer.   I'm a bit uncertain what temperatures I should expect there.
I also noticed today that there is moisture buildup in that area, so I will need to come up with something to prevent any water reaching the ceramic blanket.  I recall mention of avoiding getting the ceramic wet which would essentially destroy it.

On another note, I was originally planning on using urbanite and cob for the bench until I scored all the free bricks.  This requires me to rethink how I will be incorporating my use of water mass for thermal capture.
A year ago in preparation for this project I picked up a good quantity of copper alum fin baseboard.  I plan on using it to help radiate heat on the opposite side of my greenhouse and I'm wondering if I can't also use it in inverse - inside the bell.

2 months ago
Hello everyone!
I've crept on these forums long enough, I am grateful for all the inspiration found here.
I am in the process of building a rocket mass heater Jtube with a bell/bench.  I will update with pictures.
I have a few questions I hope to get some clarity on before I proceed.
The first question is in regards to heat flow into the bell.  I have dug down to put in insulation and have some flexibility in terms of elevation for placing the core in relation to the bell.
I thought I remember something in this regard but with all the information I've absorbed I can't recall if... is there any benefit to having the core higher or lower to the stratification bench?

My second question is about the core.  I already purchased enough fire brick to build the entire Jtube core, base, and riser which will be wrapped in 1" ceramic wool.  Since I already have the firebrick is it worth making a 5 min riser instead, and if so what would be the best use of the remaining firebrick that would have made the riser? The manifold and bench will be full red brick with a 55G steel drum over the riser.

Last question, for the base insulation.  I currently have 2x4's of XPS 2.5" foam/cement insulation boards (2" foam + 1/2" concrete.)   Do you think this is adequate to insulate under the bench and/or core? (Core will have full base layer in firebrick as shown in the book.) Or do you think I need to do a perlite concrete screed underneath as well (I have enough glass wine bottles as an option to incorporate into the cement as well if need be.)  Note: this is inside my greenhouse over a hard packed (tamped) clay floor.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
2 months ago