March 2007 - Mach-5.
trying to get a stove to work without a fan - I drilled nine -10
mm holes in the bottom of a flask and used larger the holes than
normal in the throat – that was Mack-three. It didn't work
well without a fan but I later found it would almost work
with a 40mm PC fan. I was still using the wooden base shown on
page one. This base is getting very sad looking. Under normal use
the wood does not char but when you do things like let molten
metal run into it, things get ugly. It was only a temporary test
rig and it was time to make something more practical.
Because there is less restricting the air flow now - the little fan is perfectly adequate. It works just as well as the earlier models which use more powerful fans.
At the end of the session I poked an aluminium tube into the coals. I expect it to take a while to melt but it didn't. The tube just kept on disappearing. Some molten melt ran into the base but most didn't and I had to soak the flask in caustic soda to clean it out. The inside of these stoves appear to be capable of reaching around 1000 deg C (a guess). They can melt brass but can't reach the 1083 deg needed to melt copper – I plan to change that soon.
the stoves so far are based on the same model flask. These are one
litre flasks. There is a fair range of stainless steel flasks plus
other double walled vessels to choose from. There are cups (250ml)
, food warmers (400 ml), 500ml to 1.8 litre flasks, ice buckets
and so on.
The tin used is inverted so the hinged lid is on the bottom. This makes it easier to fix the flask in place and easier to install the fan. The fan is placed at the bottom to try to keep it away from the heat as much as possible. The flask end-cap was removed by drilling a small hole and popping it off with compressed air (water also works). The cap isn't used so it doesn't matter too much if it is destroyed. Five 10 mm holes were drilled through the two layers of metal. Sixteen - 3 mm holes were drilled in the throat. It is easier to add or enlarge holes than remove or narrow them so I started with fewer smaller holes than may be needed. It turned out my initial set of holes worked as is.
3 mm holes can be seen here. The large hole for the top of the
flask to protrude and for the fan were made with a nibbling tool
then enlarged using a grind stone in a drill press. It was just
trial and error till the flask had enough clearance for airflow
between the bottom of the flask and the lid of the tin.
the test burn, the fan was powered from a 12V plug pack. The stove
worked as well as any of the others. The small size of the
combustion chamber doesn't seem to be a problem. The flame
intensity seems the same as before but obviously it isn't going to
burn as long on a single fill of fuel (wood).
The battery pack and speed controller.
Ideally one would use hi-tech
batteries. Lithium polymer (and LiIon) have good energy density
(about 4 times better than NiCad) but are expensive, must not be
run flat or over charged and can exploded if mistreated. Nickel
metal hydride would be my first choice except for the cost. They
have about twice the energy density of NiCad. I would have liked
to use 10 AA sized NiMH cells to make a pack which can be stored
inside the flask. This would have left room inside the tin to
store a pot stand of some sort.
I took the cheapest option – Nickel Cadmium (NiCad).. The cheapest way I know to (easily) make a 12V NiCd pack is the buy a cheap cordless drill and gut it. K-Mart near me, sell a Chinese made drill for au$19. For this I got 10 - 1.2 AH cells – a charger and yet another spare drill body (which may be gutted for other parts one day).
cells had to be re-arranged so they would fit inside the tin. A
thin layer of fibre-glass made the assembly rigid. The glass was
molded around a plastic bottle which had
the same diameter as the flask (75mm). Something like the loo-fan
controller I made in 1998 should work as a controller but
would be overkill.
At full power my fan is drawing 100mA - so one charge should give at least 12 hours usage. On the lowest setting the current is halved so battery life would double. It would be extended even more by using a efficient (switched mode) controller.
is how it fits inside. The socket on the bottom of the battery
pack (right in the photo) is for charging the battery. The fan has
been moved to the outside to distance it from the hot flask. If I
removed the insulation then the space beside the fan (where the
matchbox is) could be used to stow a pot stand.
For longer hikes you'd want either better batteries or something like a small solar panel to keep it charged. The battery could also be a useful emergency power source.
A human powered version would not be out of the question but it is not something I intend to pursue at the moment.
When I've done reef trips waste disposal is a problem. Typically we go for two weeks and most rubbish is brought back with us. We're not supposed to bury food scraps on the island. The rules regarding dumping it in the sea or burying it on the reef flat change over time. I personally dry my scraps (expect fish scraps) in a mesh bag and bring them back to the mainland. A turbo stove is quite capable of incinerating stuff like this – even damp tea bags burn once the fire is hot enough.
One problem with wood fires when camping is finding dry wood in wet weather. I haven't done the experiment yet but I'm confident that these stoves will burn wet wood once they have heated up enough. If you keep some charcoal from a previous fire you can probable make more dry wood and charcoal for next time, I will try it some time.
A little later – Oops - I've just melted
I turned the fan all the way down and the flame tamed down nicely. The metal near the fan seemed hotter than ever and the fan started to make noise and stopped. The top of the flask was glowing a dull red but the flask which was visible through the fan was glowing bright orange. Remember the flask is double walled – imagine how hot the inner wall must have been.
I'll look at the damage tomorrow and maybe try putting a heat shield between the fan and the glowing metal. I bought spare fans in case something like this happened. A mack-4 style stove wouldn't have this problem.
Next day, Shield up.
I used the flask end cap as a heat shield. I ran stove for around five hours. So far so good.
Feel free to use the information here to build
stoves – even if it is for profit.
Fire is dangerous.
I do not recommend using them indoors without ventilation.
Be sure you understand what carbon-monoxide poisoning is.
People still die doing stupid things like running
combustion engines indoors – be very careful.