So far outside the box you can't even see the box from here.
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Failed experiment or breaking rule #2
It's always fun to write about all my little projects that go well. Sure, I document the little tweaks and fixes needed to make things go right, but today it's about outright failure. Sometimes things do not go as planned.
This happened at a time when I had a huge surplus of waste vegetable oil. We had been running two old diesel Mercedes Benz cars on veggie. Then I sold one to my daughter when she moved to Rhode Island. We were only running one veggie burning car and my wife work situation changed so she wasn't putting as many miles on the car. The veggie was piling up.
Then I found this nifty design for a waste oil burning furnace It seemed simple enough. I won't go into the details of construction as I don't want anyone else to attempt to build one. The idea behind it was that there was a cast iron plate inside the stove. Once the plate was hot it would ignite veggie oil falling on it from a drip tube. The trick was to light a fire under the plate to get it hot then it should be a self sustaining fire.
Since I'm only a partial idiot, I decided to test the furnace in the yard instead of in the house. I rigged up a temporary chimney with some old stove pipe, heated up the fire plate, and opened the drip valve. It smoked a bit at first but settled down to a nice steady burn. Great! Worked fine.
Then I installed it in the basement and connected it to the chimney At first things were working great. The basement got nice and warm. Then there was a little factor I had not considered. Outside the tank of waste veggie oil stayed the same temperature during the test. In the basement, the oil in the tank got nice and warm.
The warmer oil thinned out and flowed faster through the drip tube. The oil flowed faster and faster, too fast to completely burn on the fire plate. Excess oil pooled inside the stove. Then the whole pool of oil ignited. Suddenly the stove took off with a roar like a jet engine.
At that point I turned the fuel off, but there was plenty of oil in the stove to sustain the fire for some time. A huge black plume of smoke poured out of my chimney. Then the smoke detectors on each floor started to go off one by one.
That's when my lovely wife came down to the basement to gently inquire about what I was doing.
There are only three rules that my lovely wife insists I live by. Rule #2 is don't burn the house down. She felt I was getting seriously close to violating that rule. At that moment I was standing in the basement doorway with an industrial sized fire extinguisher and didn't have time to discuss it.
Eventually the fire burned itself out. Doors and windows were opened to air the house out. From that little experiment I thought I learned that the veggie furnace needed a better fuel regulation system. My lovely wife on the other hand concluded that the veggie furnace experiments were over.
The veggie furnace currently sits in the scrap pile waiting for the junk dealer.
I live in an area of NH known as the Great North Woods. I'm in my dome-i-cile out in the county with my lovely wife and a varying number of family and friends
-part red neck, part hippie but all country. Experimenting and enjoying the adventure of life.