resurrecting this old topic in preparation for a post-mortem. it isn't dead yet, but it's only a matter of time. we still use it regularly, and it still works well, but there are clear signs of deterioration. rather than try to fix it, I'm planning a complete rebuild. so maybe you could say it's in hospice, if you'll pardon the macabre metaphor.
over the ten years or so since I built this thing, it's probably been fired up around 300 times. because I was too lazy to address the issue, it always smoked back when there was strong wind from the south. and it took a bit longer than I would have preferred to heat up. and I didn't like the mess from bringing firewood into the sauna. otherwise, it's been great. certainly not the most flawless rocket in the world, but I don't feel too bad about it considering it was my first try.
the most obvious visible deterioration is in the first brick at the top of the burn tunnel, which split right in half. I was warned about this, but didn't have a great solution at the time, so I figured I would just deal with it. the brick is still in place, but the crack is getting wider with time. I noticed I could see flame behind it for the first time on Saturday, so it may be about to go completely. I can't imagine that my very amateurish cob helped things any.
I'm really curious about the parts I can't see, though. I bolted a top on the big pipe that's my bell so that I could clean it out, but I only ever opened it once a couple years after I built it. other than a rim of ash on top of the heat riser, there wasn't much to see in there. it's been ten years though, and I'm wondering what 300 fires have done to the steel.
not sure when I'll actually get around to tearing it down, but I've got a little bit more time for these things lately. maybe if there's any interest here, I'll be more motivated to get it done. I've recently been trying to track down materials for the replacement, but I've been doing that off-and-on since I built this one...