The following is a true story, only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Heat II

Last January I did a post about small DIY wood stoves with the promise of some methods for venting. Right after that I built several more stoves out of steel, messed around with some vent pipes and pretty much forgot about it. At that time I had no tent to use a small wood stove in and I didn't feel like throwing down the cash for the really nice lightweight vent that I wanted buy and show you.
new black iron model with removable heat exchanger

The whole kit, minus the cook top, after first test with light weight vent
  Well I finally got my shit together and built a canvas pyramid tent and got the stove pipe. I'll explain the venting and new stove ideas now and will go over the tent details in some later post. First: I chose to use steel (black iron) instead of stainless. Steel is way cheaper and lighter, it's also a lot easier to work with. ie easier to cut and bend. The cost of an entire 4X8 foot sheet of 26 gauge is about 35 bucks, stainless is about triple. Also it seemed the perceived radiating heat from the stainless one was less. I could hold my hand close to a red hot stove without really feeling hot. Maybe it was just me, but I asked a guy I've done contracted work with, that builds and refurbishes refractory and really high temp burners, and he seemed to believe there was some truth to it.
This is a three piece tapered vent, well used and holding up great. You can make it whatever length or #of pieces to fit inside your stove. three happens to be just right for my larger stove.

detail of a groove seam
 Second; I built a heat exchanger that "plugged in" to the existing stove design. The drum is the same size as the stove and has the same spot welded pockets, in the same places, for ease of construction. Both ends are capped and a baffle was added to the inside to trap the heat. I also added a cook top that will fit on either the top or bottom sections and  fits neatly inside with the vent and the legs. The idea behind the heat exchanger is simple, more heat for less wood. My thought was that if you had two people on the same trip the stove could be divided equally by weight. It would also be no problem to bring both pieces in a sea kayak. A canoe would be fine too, as long as your not portaging. Weight is not much of an issue and it might be nice to have a heated space on a cold, fall or spring trip. Kayaks are roomy but not roomy enough for my full blown canvas tent and stove.Third; the vent, stove pipe, whatever you want to call it. I could think of three methods to use  all of which work the same...get the smoke and flames out of the tent in a safe manner.
this is a four piece vent that fits inside the stove made from light 30 gauge snappy pipe 

detail of cut-out section for breaking down pipe to roll inside one another
  #1 is a stove pipe I built many years ago for my large wall tent and stove. I consists of tapered pipes that slide into one another. The seam is made with a brake and finished with a groove seamer tool. This is my least favorite method, getting the taper just right is a pain in the ass to layout. If you don't have a brake, groove seamer, or a stake, to hammer the seam together your not going to be able to make this. It is however, very strong and safe, but heavy, and looks like you might actually have some skills with metal.
a bit of wire will hold pipe together in the worst conditions
  #2  Is the cheapest and most readily available, but also heavy. The size of the opening on my stove is three inches to match three inch galvanized "snappy" pipe you can buy at any home improvement store. It snaps together with a snap lock that is formed into the pipe. If you cut the pipe into lengths that will fit into the stove they can be nested inside one another but only if they are un-snapped.  If you've ever tried to get a full length of snappy pipe apart it's not really possible without destroying it. Here's the trick, after the pipe is cut to length,  cut out lengthwise, a center portion of the female side of the lock. Leave a couple inches on either end so the pipe will still hold itself together. Since it's only locked in on the ends, it's not hard to squeeze it back apart.You will also have to crimp the raw ends so they fit into one another. If you don't want to buy a hand crimper for 20-30 bucks just buy short 2 foot pieces and use the portion with the factory crimpped end and discard the rest. I also drill holes through opposite sides after it's together so I can pass a little wire through the joint for safety. You can choose to use these or not, based on conditions, but if they're there you always have the option.
bam

this can be rolled either way... vent or storage
  #3 The nice, light, expensive, trick, vent is a piece of stainless shim stock. This one is much more expensive than the others (65 + dollars after shipping at Mc Master Carr) but looks really cool and is as fancy as you can get with a portable wood stove. The shim stock comes in 12 x 50 inch or 12 x100 inch lengths, is 304 or 308 stainless and is four thousandths thick. Don't bother with the 316, it's more expensive, The 316 is for corrosive resistance and will never have any benefit in this application.  My system only needs a 50" length  but I bought to 100" so I would have two, one for me and one for a friend. This system is cool because you roll it the long way to use as a pipe and the short way to store inside the stove. I cut the piece in half and then cut one inch off the long side to use as my rings to hold it together when rolled up either for storage or vent. Finished size was 11x50". The spot welded rings are just a hair under three inches so  I can slide it down over the stove connection and make it tight when the pipe is installed. You could use cable or some other means to keep the pipe from springing apart but that should be done before you ever get into the field so your not fumbling around when it really counts.
  I saw some guy on you tube with a piece of pvc to roll it up the long way, I found it completely unnecessary. The shim stock doesn't really have a lot of memory to it and can be rolled up free hand on a table. I found this out when I rolled it up in a real roller at 45 deg angles while alternating which side I rolled it on...flipping it over repaetedly. This is a technique used for forming tight cones out of sheet metal, it did't make any difference when I rolled up the shim stock into a long pipe and back to a tight roll for storage. Don't bother with the PVC, but definitely practice rolling it in the comfort of your warm home.
Stove and canvas tent on front of bike. Stove is strapped to a rack and the tent is in a handle bar bag. This combo is about 9 pounds, not ultra light but safe and super comfortable when set up. On the other hand I've never known winter camping to be light weight  

first test of heat exchanger and tent....in my front yard
  Back to the 11x50" size. If you make a stove in which the vent is going to fit inside, make sure it's large enough for the collapsed pipe. My stove finishes at about 11.250 inside, so I have a nice fit for the 11'' by 3"dia. collapsed pipe. This is important to keep in mind, the stretch out for a 3 inch dia pipe is 9  7/16 (3 x  Pi...3.141) and will leave approximately an inch and a half for overlap if your blank is 11x50. The stretch out for a 4inch would be 12  9/16 so if you make a bigger stove with a bigger vent, the shim will not work. Obviously you can make your opening whatever size you want based on what you can get at a hardware store but going to a four inch or greater vent will eliminate being able to use the shim stock.
is that hot enough for ya ?

removable cook top fit on the stove or heat exchanger
 Testing; I had my kids out in the newly finished tent and stove system a couple weeks ago when the temps were around the minus 10 F range. We were so warm we were wearing t shirts. I got the stove as hot and as red as I could get it with no ill affects to it's integrity. The tent didn't start on fire either.
cook top during first live action field test

light weight, heated , winter camping
            Hopefully you found this interesting or helpful.  Although I'm a professional sheet metal worker with a full shop at my disposal, anyone can can build a stove with readily available pieces and parts found in various stores, thrift shops and dumpsters. You can do a lot with a tin snip, pliers, drill and pop rivets.... have fun and good luck.    D Rider out

Monday, December 23, 2013

Solstice Chase

This past weekend was the Solstice Chase fat-bike race in St Croix Falls Wisconsin, put on by the good folks at Cyclova XC. This was a true...-fat-bike only-... race with  25 and 50 K options held on groomed x-c ski trails. Nearly 70 riders took the line, with both distances having roughly the same amount of riders, give or take a few.
The Venue, Big Rock Creek Retreat. St Croix Falls WI
  Honestly I could really give a crap if someone wants to try and ride their non fat-bike on whatever surface they choose, but this course had no place for them. It was very soft for a majority of the trail, and was a real challenge for all those participating.  This would be my first race of the fat-bike season and a good test of my unconditioned body. Tipping the scale a few pounds under the morbidly obese category I still managed a third place spot in the short race, finishing in about an hour and a half as the "real" men and women braved another lap. I my defense I initially signed up for the long race but had plans to be at an event/competition with my kids in the early afternoon so I had to opt out and be a good dad.
The Mayor comin' in hot 
   I mentioned the course was soft, this would be of great benefit for me as I have a little more experience than the average Joe out there. It seemed everyone including myself was running way too much pressure in the tires,hoping for a fast race. The only difference is, I stopped within the first few minutes to air-down.The two fast guys who would eventually beat me were off the front but struggling on the climbs. I struggled too but the few seconds I lost to let out some air brought me right to the front and into first place with a good lead until the midway point of the race.
Hells Yeah !  Penn Cycle in the house. There were four of us in attendance on race day, not like a race at Buck Hill, but still good to see some of my teammates 
 I was feeling pretty good about myself just before both of them passed me within a couple minutes of each other. We had just come out of some really grueling hills and were on a nice flat, fast section. All I could do now was ride smooth, not crash, attempt to stay with them, and at all costs stay out of sight of the fourth place guy. The two off the front were really fast, I lost sight of them within a mile of being passed. I was running scared now and praying another rider would not catch me. I rode smooth, didn't crash, and beat the fourth rider by 10 minutes. Ten minutes isn't bad, but the five plus minute shellacking I received from the leaders was a slap in my own face.
We had a little time to grab a snack after the race in a warm building near the finish
  I was reasonably happy with my finish and it felt good to get on the podium even if I did do the lesser of the two races. The guys at Cyclova are promising a repeat of the race for next year, check it out and celebrate the shortest day of the year!  .......they have food too.
I won the one of a kind trophy with place and date on the back side , as well as a really nice pair of thick wool cycling socks ....Thanks Cyclova XC
       

Friday, December 20, 2013

Deluxe Accommodations

Last weekend I met up with J Has to do a short overnight camp-out at The Wreck. Since I finished it a few weeks back I've been excited to stay in it but just couldn't find the time. Ideally I wanted to get my kids out there and have a dinner in it, as sort of a christening....that hasn't happened yet.
On our Way

Getting the place warmed up upon arrival 

after dinner, time to relax
  When the opportunity for a camp-out came up last Saturday I jumped at it. We met up about five miles from our destination so we could at least get some riding in before we were going to sit around for hours eating, stoking the fire, and bullshitting. This was the first time we've actually hung out. I know him through his blog and have met just a few other times. He's a good guy, fun to hang out with and I wasn't ax murdered while I slept so that's good enough for me. I did have him sleep outside The Wreck due to lack of space.
mascot 

almost like we're driving somwhere

view through one of the windows, JHas setting up for bed
  The Wreck is only big enough for an adult and a kid, or maybe two adults that are really friendly. He knew beforehand he would be outside and chose to sleep in his bivy sac. It was a restless night for the both of us. The Wreck is sitting at an angle in which I found myself sliding to the front of the car. Also there were several mice inside that were eating all of our food crumbs and chewing on the wrappers making a lot of noise. Outside, J Has was sleeping at a bit of an angle that kept him fighting to stay on his sleeping mat. As all bivy sac's do, the inside was soaking wet by morning. A terrible night's sleep is well worth waking up in a cool location.
Before

After
 As soon as I got up I got the fire going and J Has came inside to warm up. Once the interior was nice and warm we both made some breakfast and began packing our gear for the ride back to our vehicles. I tidied the place and we were off. The ride went well, but we both would have enjoyed riding longer. We had a little fresh snow, it was relatively warm and neither of us had any place to be for the day. Next time I'll ride a little further before checking in to my deluxe accommodations.      


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wednesday Night

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving the Imperial Fat-Bike Riders Group got together for a sewer tour. It went well but one of the guys in our group was not able to attend but wanted to do a tour soon. I wasn't about to go back to the same place one week later so I agreed to take him to a different sewer and throw in a tunnel I had never explored. I had proposed the ride to the rest of the group but none of them bit on it so I would just be Best in Schow and myself.


 Since I had already ridden the sewer several times in the last couple years we headed for the tunnel entrance first just in case we spent too much time there and had to cancel the second part. Although I had been keeping an eye on this one for the last couple years I never went inside since I was always alone and didn't bring a light. The entrance has been fortified by cinder blocks and wide iron bars and has gone through various states of repair and disrepair. It was in a state of disrepair on Wednesday night. After two years of imagining what I would find I was a little let down.


 The system had been filled with concrete from the bluff above. We were only able to walk down a couple hundred feet of passage until the solid concrete tapered the tunnel to a crawl and eventually down to nothing. The most interesting part of the system is a room off the side of the main tunnel. The floor is comprised of clean white sand coming from the roof. The room is full of bats, approximately 30, and has some sort of wheeled apparatus in it. We didn't stay long and were off to our next location. It was snowing so we were pretty happy with the new conditions but the wind was really starting to howl and the temps were dropping substantially.


       By the time we got to the entrance we were cold and anxious to warm up inside. This particular drain is not very long but fun none the less. The graffiti inside was completely different from a couple years ago and there was a lot more of it...people have been busy. Only a few of the pieces were notable,  must of the shit inside was the weird lettering that no one understands or it was just dip shits with a can of spray paint writing swear words or lousy representations of genitalia. We got to the end, a drop shaft with a steady flow of water coming down every square inch of  wall space, and headed back. Once back at the entrance it was much colder than when we started, we called it a night and parted ways.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fat-Bike Weekend

The Thanksgiving weekend was a much needed break from work and home obligations. My wife and I were off the hook from hosting it this time since we did it last year. That left the four day weekend wide open for playing. I made it a goal to get a ride in everyday, and that's precisely what I did.
Let's get  out of here and get some food
  On Wednesday after work I met the gang for a sewer tour that went well and was followed by a good meal at a bar that we were way to old to be at.
River Bottoms
  On Thanksgiving day I rode with a group of four guys that I normally ride with. We hit the river bottoms and saw dozens of people we know, all doing the same pre- gigantic meal ritual. As an added bonus, my mom took the boys for the night and Lynn and I were able to see her cousin's band Ruben play at Amsterdam bar and hall in St Paul.
Giant Ham...mmmmmmm  Thanks Milltown

It was good to see my wife get some use out of her fat-bike.  

Yours truly

this would be awesome if it went for miles...sadly it didn't, but it was fun while it lasted
  The next morning we headed down to Milltown Cycle in Faribault, to enjoy the "Black Friday" ride and eat some really freakin' good ham. The trails down there are a lot of fun and remind me of the way mountain biking used to be, a mixture of two track, single track, renegade trail, connected together by locals that know the routes.

felt like summer ...it was so nice

Beer stop #2 approximately 2 miles form beer stop #1
  On Saturday I rode with a big group that met up at The Angry Catfish in Minneaplois. There were at least twenty people on this ride at the start. We headed for the 'bottoms" but stayed off the typical trails that are normally ridden.  There were a few too many beer stops but the weather was absolutely perfect for a late fall day. The highlight for me was the campfire at the end of the ride at Woodside Flats. I brought along a bunch of stuff to make tacos which in turn helped me make some new hungry friends.

I left the group and cut across this lake to shortcut to Woodside Flats so I could get my tacos cooked. I was VERY nervous about this, riding several small circles out on the ice to test the thickness before fully committing and putting it in the highest gear and cranking across. My logic...Speed defies gravity , I would either skirt right over the top of anything thin or go full speed into my watery demise, ounce I got that bitch rollin' it was not going to stop quickly.  

Nachos go great with tacos, these ones were cooked on a rock . It worked perfectly....accept for the ash, the sand and burning your hand when trying to remove one.....that still didn't stop these guys
  The last day of the long weekend I got out for one more short ride with my youngest son Big D. He's always the one that wants to ride when his brothers are busy with the video games, coloring, or reading. He and I headed out a couple hours before dark to have a little cook out. Along the way we saw some deer, a raccoon, and found a cool bird nest on the ground.  We built a small fire, made hot chocolate, and cooked some soup.  It was a late lunch but it gets dark so flippin' early now it felt like dinner.
like father like son ?
 All in all, it was fantastic weekend of riding, relaxing, and socializing.     Disclaimer; No skinny tired bikes were injured (or ridden) during the making of this weekend.