(more) Specific Alternative Energy (etc.) Systems (wood water heater plan)

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I'm starting this thread because I seem to think that when it comes to the types of things pointed to in these two messages...

Could biomass help solve the Y2K energy crunch?

Do you think this plan is worthy to mobilize around?

...posted in this forum, what we need is simple and specific as possible directions on how to implement or utlize some of the smaller components of what the related Big Picture is all about.

That is to say that while I'm all in favor of the "realization and implementation of a more enlightened, societal-wide, practical approach to life," I don't have a lot of hope for or faith in society-at-large seeing things that way and having the prerequisite internal "paradigm shifts" necessary to bring about the changes entailed anytime soon. And while y2k may seem like some kind of opportune time to "advance the cause," I'm also not so sure it's a good idea to try to blend the two things together, in terms of things we all should add to our list of things to do, while we're at it.

And by that I mean taking on some kind of "sense of obligation" that says we should somehow strive to "wake society up" (even if that's "just" our community) to the changes we all ought to make in our lifestyles here at the "golden opportunity point" y2k may seem to be for that. Personally, I think that'd be a real good idea. Unfortunately, the majority of the people in my community don't even have Real Clue #1 about just what y2k may actually mean to us all. They're having a hard enough time seeing why they should even think about buying a few candles or extra flashlight batteries. Almost none of them who own small businesses have gotten the idea strongly enough to even look into fixing their computer systems, let alone give any consideration to the idea we should perhaps be thinking about things like emergency contingency plans. Getting them to think about things like that is a monumental challenge all by itself. And for me to even think of trying to convince them they ought to abandon every practical system they're totally enmeshed in (and have been all their lives), and to go the organic/alternative energy route instead (while they're at it), is simply beyond my capacity to imagine having any kind of success with at all. It's a great idea, but the reality seems to be getting the relatively simple and obvious idea of y2k across - to the point where people may be inspired to take action in the direction of preparation - is a more than big enough chore all by itself.

But I do think those of us who don't need a lot of persuading would maybe find some specific directions on how to put together some of those low-cost, "funky" (as Tom Osher put it), alternative systems valuable as can be... Hence this thread.

To provide a specific example of what I mean, here are some directions on how to put together one of the greatest little alternative systems I've ever seen (and used). They come from a friend of mine in Berkeley, California, named Kurt. I used to live on a little farm in northern Minnesota with Kurt, his wife Stephanie, and their daughter, Beth Ann. In the warmer months of the year we used this system to produce one of the greatest technological blessings mankind ever bestowed on itself: Hot Water.

These are the directions for how to build a water heater that uses a little bit of wood to keep that blessing coming. You'll still have to come up with a system to pump the water into the tank and to the shower or tub (or you could gravity feed/drain it into a bathtub in the basement, I suppose) but here's one great, funky, truly inexpensive component for our alternative personal infrastructures.

I always thought Kurt had gotten the plans from Mother Earth News or some such place. But a few months ago I wrote and asked him if he still had them... Here's his reply:

Date: 15 Jan 1998
From: "Kurt Kessner"
Subject: Re: Wood Water Heater


I don't know if drawings are necessary. I'm proud to say I made the whole thing up myself. Here are some ramblings that a handy person should be able to use to put the thing together without drawings. If a person isn't handy they're in trouble and don't need to even think about doing it. If they ARE handy, they should be able to figure it out.

Oh that reminds me, don't forget the pressure relieve valve. You don't what any steam explosions.

(Copyright Kurt Kessner 1998-1999)

The thing worked like a charm, was wonderful. So don't forget that steam release valve, and if you have any similar directions, or know their URLs, please either put them in this thread or make a new one and stick it under the corresponding catergory...


-- Bill (billdale@lakesnet.net), December 01, 1998



These old kitchen stoves also have a heat exchange unit in the burnbox in order to heat water in the stove cistern.

-- Mitchell Barnes (spanda@inreach.com), December 05, 1998.

Hi here is the simplest water heater that I have built and used.

I, my wife and 4 children, at the time, eldest 6, youngest a toddler, lived in a 1 room, 10'X24' cabin. I had a 55gal drum painted "Flat Black" on the roof. It was gravity fed from a spring, way up the hill. I filled it the previous night after use.

When I got home from work, about 10 hrs of summer daylight, the water was so hot I had to put a second hose bib (faucet) for cold water blending. We washed each child then rinsed each one. I was last and got whatever was left. Believe me, I always had a little extra just for running down my back for relaxation.

This was used in Oregon, just west of the cascades leading into the Willamette Valley. We used it into the fall before the wood stove was needed. Once we started burning wood, I strapped a soft copper pipe to the upper flew, out the window and up to the drum. If you install a check valve just before the drum on the hot water pipe and another check valve just before the down pipe gets to the stove, you have a free, self cycling water heater.

I always left the bung ( that's the large plug in a drum or keg) just setting in its hole, no pressure that way.

I hope this helps someone in some small way

If any body knows where I can find plans or information for a "RAM" water pump, please let me know.

-- Richard Bloom (rfbloom@uswest.net), December 22, 1998.

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