First off, thank you for this opportunity as guest article-author on your blog, and and additional thanks to yourself, and the others out there (Janzen, Kahn, Stiles, Pino, etc) who have been very helpful and supportive of what I’m doing (in regards to my 100% independent tiny housing book, and video/tv show).
As for the “Tiny Yellow House” series on youtube, the vegetable oil space heater (woodstove alternative) that was briefly shown in Episode #2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmR3kx660gw is something that I understand you (as well as I) have gotten a ton of email questions on.
All in all, since its rather difficult to just blurt out every constructive detail of the heater, I’ve sent you a hand sketched diagram of it instead, that was drawn as part of my follow-up to the book “Humble Homes, Simple Shacks…” which I’m still working on as we speak…er…as I type. The sketch, albeit busy and detail laden, should help give people the general idea I came up with, and I’m sure there ultimately will be twenty better ways to build this thing. All in all, while using a multi-wick system (more flames = more heat), this veggie-oil heater gives off a rather decent amount of heat that should be adequate for well-sealed tiny cabins, or should at least prolong your season or stay in a cabin, depending on your climate, naturally.
As for a few other bulleted points on the heater….(in case there’s a lack of clarity in the drawings)
- It works on candle-theory heating, and is simpler than it seems (its not a drip-feed method (into a combustion chamber)).
- The heat reflector behind the unit is an old busted Sabian 18″ crash cymbal (one of many casualties from my drumming hobby/career)
- Since with the “Gypsy Junker” cabin, we were dealing with such a small airspace, instead of sucking up and utilizing all the cabin’s interior air for combustion/burning in the heater (its wicks), I cemented an outside air feed (two runs of copper tubing I had laying around) into the base of the heater. These tubes give the heater an air feed from directly outside, instead of wasting the interior’s already heated air. The cabin is probably drafty enough where it really wasn’t necessary, but it wasn’t much extra work, so I opted for the external air feed set-up.
- The front of the heater shown in the show, is actually its external shell, that spins around the heater (by a long-bolt handle) to reveal the cut opening in the heater’s main coffee-can body (the jumbo, caffeine-addict, large cans). By this opening, you can refill the heater with oil, when need be.
- For safety’s sake, I’ve also planned on installing a removeable fence/guard that snaps in place next to the heater, dividing it from the sleep platform area. The last thing you want to wake up to is the smell of roasted sleeping bag. Zero fun. Ok, second to last thing, as the smell of human flesh (yours) might take the cake. So, if building this thing, be cautious (Carbon Monoxide detectors and the whole nine yards…). Construct at your own risk! You’re dancin’ with fire, afterall.
- In the drawings, it was tough to illustrate, but when you make the vertical cuts for the stove opening, you actually do not cut the newly created flap/tab out (no horizontal cut), but instead fold this “tab” upwards to serve as a heat-radiating and absorbing “strike plate”. This way, instead of the wick’s heat being lost immediately up the flue, you’ve placed an steel obstacle in its way, harnessing and holding some of the heat you would have otherwise lost.
- With the fuel-can/wick holder (a low-cut coffee can), you can use anything you have on hand, as long as its low and gives you a large surface area for the oil, otherwise the oil burns down too rapidly, and wastes your wicks quickly. You’ll see what I mean through a little trial and error…
Anyway, you know that scene in “Raiders Of The Lost Ark” where the one villian opens the Ark of The Covenant, only to have his face melted away by its contents? Well, don’t expect that kind of heat, but by this method (and again, perhaps with some more experienced tweaking), this lil’ heater works half-decently. Its also made out of recycled junk, so you can’t beat the price!
I hope my keyboard yammerin’ helped at least a little.
Anything else that I’ve left out or forgotten, your readers can feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll gladly tell you what I know. ($2.99 the first minute, $0.99 each additional minute. Verbal Coupon Code: “Lady Cleo”). No seriosly, feel free to email and I’d be glad to try and help as best as I can.
Also, to anyone who wants to pick up my book, I’ll include some hardcopy plans of the stove, as well as some other diagrams/details, etc- that I wasn’t planning on releasing until book #2- as a thanks for supporting independent, broke, authors (in this case: me). I also am doing a few appearances down the road. As part of the CT Author’s Trail Summer Series (I’m originally a CT resident and still skulk around the state rather frequently) I was just invited down to speak at the Sprague, CT Public Library on July 29th (for anyone out in CT), and I’ve been invited to speak at a few colleges (NY, MA, and VT) and other events in the fall as well, on which I’ll keep you posted.
THINK: “Gallagher-meets-a Tiny House Seminar!” Bring a poncho!
Oh yeah, my retro-released kid’s book is up on my site too (with a cameo of my hokey VT cabin).
Kent, again, thanks for all, and thanks to the reader’s who took an interest in my little homebaker tiny-house videos.
Derek “Deek” Diedricksen
Author of “Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages…”
Host of “Tiny Yellow House” TV (in late May we shoot an interview with Jay Shafer of The Tiny Tumbleweed House Company, as well as a few other noteworthy subjects, so keep your eyes peeled).