Sunday, January 27, 2013

Wintertime in the cold

 Since it is winter up here in the great cold northwest, I've been working on trying to make my boat warmer.  I started out long ago with my tea kettle stove, which looked like this:
 It is a tea kettle, as you can see, but with a piece of a coffee mug attached to the side and then computer fans attached to that.  The fans push air in and burn the wood that is inside the "combustion chamber" tea kettle and then it spits out the spout.  It spat fire out the spout, in fact, and that was very exciting when testing it out in the backyard of the house...
 But it was very hot for use in the boat.  I could get a nice cherry red off of the stovepipe and the tea kettle pretty much every time I used it, and it would burn up all the wood in about 2 minutes.  It was an intense and terse bit of magic.  Dangerous as well.
 The next modification was to cut a hole in the bottom of this and then put a propane burner inside the tea kettle.  I thought this would be more controllable and still warm, but in fact it didn't produce any heat at all, so I eventually took the whole stove and pipe system out completely.  I went up to Alaska without the stove, and survived.  I figured all would be well with the world without a heating system, I would just have to get a bit tougher and wear more clothes. 

Then I took the boat south, and in the great warm waters of the tropics I lost all of my tolerance for cold air.  As a consequence, when I returned this past autumn to the dreary sunless world that I live in today, I found an icy chill creeping up my spine and into my blood.  Jack Frost had his pruners out and was savagely attacking, so I got an old Dickenson stove and put it on the boat. 
 The stove is designed, as I have found through reading the manual, for "decoration" and not for heat, so I wasn't able to get the boat super roasty toasty (as I wanted) and there was another problem, that it was used and, in fact, badly misused, and broken.  It had holes in the sides and back, and a small firebox, and....  I thought, maybe I should make one if I want it just right. 
So I did.
I went to Z recycling one day and got a piece of square tube steel, 6" x 8" x 12", with the 12 being the tube direction.  I was looking for a slightly bigger tube part, but at this place you look around and find the most suitable scrap piece and live with it.  I also got some plate and the total was about 8 bucks, so that was nice.  Then I went to my dad's place and used his nice wire-feed welder to weld the plate to the back (sealing one end of the box) and then cut and weld a tube to the top and one to the bottom.  The top tube is the exhaust, a 3" stovepipe flue made of stainless steel that I found for the Dickenson stove a few months back.  The bottom tube is the stuff you can find at a hardware store for water or gas or something, and it was only 2", but I added a surprise.  Attached to the bottom tube is a few computer fans, to give this stove some high pressure oxygen and get it glowing with joy.  I had the hinges before the project, and then made the door out of the steel plate and a bit of stove sealing fabric, and it seals tightly.  The only thing this stove lacks is a window to see the flames.  I might add that later on.

So for the last few days I've been testing this out, and it has warmed the boat up to 75 degrees today, on a 43 degree outside rainy day.  I put the thermometer down low, so it is actually about 90 degrees up near the ceiling, and maybe 50 down at the bottom, so I have to figure out a better mixing fan, but I'm working on that. 
Just before I got all the heat working, I went on a small cruise over to Lummi Island for an overnight.  It was cold and clear and nearly windless, but pretty, and I was freezing cold the whole time.  I need more heat, more blankets and more clothes.  Hopefully the next cruise will be warmer.  Here are some shots from over on the island...


Anonymous said...

Dude! You can weld!
Nice stove!


Aidan said...

Good to see the blog back up and running. Good work on the heating!