The Annual Masonry Heater Association Meeting at Wild Acres, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina was a fun & informative success. Some say one of the best ever. Fueled by this inspiration, I share a short report-back, announce a few workshops, and announce a special book deal for teachers.
Peter van den Berg presents at the 2015 Masonry Heaters Association Meeting, & Offers an Open Source Sketchup Model
For those unfamiliar with it, the Masonry Heaters Association is a guild of professional masonry heater builders who promote, shape regulations, educate the public, and further the expertise and professionalism of its membership. At their annual meeting in the Blue Ridge Mountains, they talk policy, see old friends, and build several state-of-the-art masonry stoves. All of which are deconstructed at meeting’s end. See what they are up to, find pros, workshops, and more at www.mha-net.org.
A highlight for me personally was getting to know more about stacking mortared bricks. We have a masonry core in the Mass Heater, but the stacking can stop there, as you turn to sculpting mud for the mass bench. The masonry heater is stacked-bricks-city, with the brick acting as both mass and smoke path. There were masons whom I learned from by watching, the artistry effortless, while they wasted no motions and no mortar to quickly tap row after row into sweet alignment; level and plumb. Looks easy. Isn't.
This year Peter van den Berg visited from The Hague to introduce his Batch Fired Rocket Bell. (He’s “peterberg” if you hang out at Donkey's forum). Peter (see Case Studies, Rocket Mass Heaters) has been a leading innovator, introducing the P-Channel and the trip-wire: Elegantly simple geometric ways to improve a stove’s efficiency. He has been working a lot with bells, and his heater has a bell around and above the heat riser, and two dead-end benches on either side, which are also bells. The large horizontally-fed batchbox allows for more wood to be burned at once, requiring little fussing. A vertical slot at the back of the box, at 70% of the cross-sectional area of the system, causes gases to speed up, yet pressure to decrease (due to the Bernulli effect) as they stream into the bottom of the heat riser, which is insulated with rigid wool. A rectangular L-shaped steel pipe pulls fresh air from the room, and dumps it onto the fire in its hottest zone. In a chalk-talk prior to the meeting, concerns were raised about the fire cooling itself down due to too-much rockety draft. Concerns about the benches not actually heating up were well-met. The heat was on, so to speak. And over the next four days, Peter and his workshoppers, improvising where materials were lacking, delivered his promise. This stove was a centerpiece of warmth, comfort, socializing, and measuring “arse value:” The body is the thermometer and the smiles are the gauge! When all was said and done the rocket stove did well in this arena of open sharing; of craftsmanship, expertise, knowledge, and a love for both innovation and tradition.
The Sketchup drawings are here. In the above-right image, a periscope viewer at the stove's top, peering down the heat riser, shows a mesmerizing ram's horn pattern. Hallmark of a good, clean burn.
You can see more, as well as read about the other masonry stoves and heaters at this and past year’s meetings here: MHA website News.