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Old 12-02-2009, 04:11 PM   #1
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Eric von Kleist's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Grundy, Virginia
Posts: 632
Year: 1985
Coachwork: ThomasBuilt
Chassis: International Harvester S-1700
Engine: 9L IHC V-8 Diesel 180HP
Rated Cap: 60
Wood Stove Installation

Well, I've had my wood stove installed and running for about three weeks now, and I must say it is an excellent solution to the problem of heating the bus. I wish I had installed one years ago for several reasons:

1. It is pretty economical -- so far, I'm burning about one big armload of wood per day (maybe a dozen sticks 3" square and 16" long), and so far all my
wood has been free for the gathering. I've spent about 4 hours every two weeks to gather, split, and cut enough wood for the next two weeks. This
summer, when I'm not in school, I'm going to cut and split enough for the whole of next winter. I didn't last summer because I didn't have a wood stove.

2. It keeps the bus WARM. Not just tolerably warm like the two 1500W electric space heaters that I was using, but honest-to-God WARM. Sometimes I
have to open a window to cool things down because I let the stove run too hot. I can bank the fire in the morning and go away to school for several
hours, and when I come back, the bus is still warm, and there will still be enough embers in the stove to start another fire -- very convenient.

3. Safety issues seem to be rather simply addressed.
a) I have external air-supply, so that all the hot air does not get sucked out of the bus, and so that I'm not burning all my breathing air.
b) The heat shield that I designed is phenomenal. The stove is 10" from the heatshield, but the heat shield never gets warm. NEVER. It is always
cool to the touch, even though other surfaces that are much farther from the stove will feel warm to the touch.
c) I need a CO alarm for safety -- and will get one as funds become available. I don't think I will put in a smoke detector, though, because I
generate a substantial amount of smoke from cooking and smoking and opening the stove to feed it, and I think those would trip it so often that
I would go deaf.

4. The installation required almost no modifications to the bus body: I didn't have to cut a hole in the roof, and I only had to drill 4 1/4" bolt holes
in the floor. This is a big plus for me because I am really skeptical of my ability to make holes in the bus (especially the roof) and keep water out
of them afterward. In the summer I could remove the entire setup and regain that floor space very easily. The window was not modified in any way,
so once I remove the chimney thimble that I made to fit the window, the window will operate as it did before.

My neighbor, who has lived in camper trailers at various worksites in remote places (Alaska, Montana, etc.) said the heat shield is the best he has seen. He wanted a wood stove for his current camper, but was concerned about the heat. After seeing how effective my heatshield design is, he is going to put a wood stove in before we start back to law school next semester.

Honestly, if you are considering a wood stove for your bus, it can be done fairly easily and very effectively.

Some advantages to having a wood stove - you can cook on it if you can't get any other power source; you can heat water on it when your water heater is without power; the dry heat of the stove is good at drying damp laundry hung in the bus if the weather has not cooperated for line drying outside; it's current carbon-cycle, not stored carbon-cycle (coal, LP, natural gas, electricity other than nuke.)
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Old 12-04-2009, 10:12 PM   #2
Bus Nut
Eric von Kleist's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Grundy, Virginia
Posts: 632
Year: 1985
Coachwork: ThomasBuilt
Chassis: International Harvester S-1700
Engine: 9L IHC V-8 Diesel 180HP
Rated Cap: 60
Re: Wood Stove Installation

Originally Posted by Smitty
Good to hear it's working-out well for ya Eric! You also have a good quality (airtight) stove, which plays a huge role in burning less wood, and maintaining an even temp throughout the day (because you can efficiently control the air intake).
Exactly. That's one reason I avoided a wood stove for so long. Stove efficiency goes hand in hand with $$, generally speaking. I just never could justify the cost in the summer time (when I worked fulltime and had $), or the expense in the winter (when I had free electricity where I was living, but no $ because I worked part time when in school.) There are some nice, and much smaller, marine stoves that are perfect for buses. Diesel powered cooking and heating stoves, too, which I considered for a while. None of them are cheap!

[quote[I'm not sure how much you travel (if at all), but how do/will you deal with your firewood needs on the road? (I'm asking for future reference). Will you just "buy on the fly" (locally), or have provisions to haul wood with you? [/quote]

Right now, I don't travel much. Right now, the bus is more a style of portable, fixed housing, because I'm in school and don't have time or $$ to travel. SOMEDAY, the bus will be used for travel...or a rolling law office! Toting wood cross country is getting to be a no-no, with pest infestations like the Ash-borer spreading in the country, so I'll probably have to buy locally at some point in time (hopefully, when I can afford the 4x4 conversion and go on back country camping trips... one day... but I'm getting there... )

You might look into an "oxygen depletion" alarm, as opposed to a CO one. Not a clue as to how expensive they are, but you'd likely burn too much oxygen before you'd have a CO problem.
I'll look into it. I just hate the thought of someone coming out to check on me after I haven't been seen for three or four days and finding me dead on the floor. I mean, the place would be a mess and I wouldn't have time to pick up, or put something decent on. I'd be terribly embarassed, terribly.

What did you use as heat-shielding? (sorry if you mentioned it elsewhere).

Thin corrugated galvanized steel roofing material. It comes in 12' and 8' lengths (maybe others). I used it to line one wall in my bathroom next to the shower because it was cheap and waterproof (it isn't really damaged by spray, like wood or fabric might be. You can cut it easily with tin-snips, and it's light and rigid longitudinally, but flexible laterally, so it can be used on both flat and curved surfaces. My heat shield has two elements, but I'm not sure they are all necessary.

Mounted on little blocks 2" from the wall surface is a 2' x 3' piece of 1/2" thick cement-board (backer board for tile). Mounted on blocks at 2 1/2" (snug against the cementboard on the face nearest the stove) is a double layer of corrugated roofing 50" long (length has to do with width of corrugations and overlap of panels) and 2' high. The cement board is basically located directly across from the stove, while the metal panels extend about 8" beyond the lateral ends of the cementboard. The whole thing is mounted 6" above floor level, at the same height as the bottom of the stove, and it runs up the wall until it stops at the bottom of the window, or about 4" taller than the stove height. The stove, which is 13" from the wall is now 9 3/4" from the heatshield on the wall. The corrugated roofing layers are reversed, so that you create a panel with seventeen 3/4" wide "tubes" or channels between the faces of the panels.

The idea was that the metal panels would get hot, and that convection channels between them would carry cold air up and out the top, cooling the panel. That may be what is happening, but I can't see much convection pulling incense smoke up the channels if I test it that way. The cement board was merely meant to be a non-flammable surface to protect the wall if the panels got really hot, but it may instead be acting as a heat sink for the sheet metal radiator panel. I can't tell. I will measure with a thermometer if I can.

The bottom line is that no matter how hot the side of that stove is (so far), at 9 3/4" inches away from it (from top to bottom of the panel), the panel NEVER has been warm to the touch. Always cooler than body temperature. I don't know it is slightly hotter than air temp, but it always feels cool.

BUT...the wood that covers the window post above the stove gets warm, and it's only 3" or 4" farther away. The wooden wall behind the stove is 21" from the stove but only 13" from the stovepipe (it exits out the back of the stove in an ell and goes straight up), and it gets pretty warm if I run the stove hot. Not so hot that you can't put your hand on it and leave it there, but it feels HOT. The whole time, the metal is cool to the touch. I leaned a piece of flat steel up beside the heat shield, and it got warm to the touch, while the sheet metal did not. Look at the pics of the install in the gallery. There are shots of the heat shield cross-section.

I should call NASA right away.
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Old 12-05-2009, 12:50 AM   #3
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Portland OR area
Posts: 180
Year: 1983
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Chassis: Carpenter
Engine: 8.3
Re: Wood Stove Installation

I agree Eric the thought of someone fining me in my Saturday morning traditional would be quite embarrassing! I like the corrugated steel look and the idea to place it so it has channels is a great idea especially if you have an opening at the bottom. Quick question did you get a certified stove or is it the old style? I have an uncle who raves about the importance of getting the right stove for the right situation. He's a wood stove guru and his brother owned Brass Flame wood stoves from birth till a few years ago. What you think? He claims a good certified stove uses 1/3 less wood to heat.
"grease buddy" and all around nice guy
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