Wheaton Labs Tour Cooper Cabin

Paul’s property certainly has it’s share of beauty and charm. The area where the labs are located is somewhat on the side of a mountain, at least that’s what people from Kansas would call it, maybe in Montana it’s a big hill? A portion of it overlooks a steep slope down to a river and on the mornings I was there the mist and fog as you came out of Cooper Cabin was surreal and quite an experience.

Anyway, the tour continued with a visit to the interior of Cooper Cabin.

Cooper Cabin Interior

The front wall of the cabin has mostly glass so there is a lot of light coming in. The floor is finished in wood, although Paul hopes that eventually that will be converted to a Linseed Oil floor. I need to do more research on that – anyone familiar with that type of floor?

Batch Box Style Rocket Mass Heater and Cooktop

There are actually two experimental Rocket Mass devices in the cabin. The first is a Batch Box style Rocket Cook Stove.  Batch Box RMH’s have a door and have a different internal configuration for gas pathways and such. Paul is not a huge fan because they are not as simple as a “J-Tube” type (we’ll get to that in a moment) and typically require more “fiddling” to run well. If you are interested in listening to experts discuss it there is a podcast here.

The second is what would be considered a “normal” J-Tube style Rocket Mass Heater with a Cob Bench providing the “mass”.

Rocket Mass Heater

They are called “J-Tube” style because the wood feeds in vertically in the front (you can see the fire and wood feed towards the bottom of the picture above) and the burn chamber inside runs horizontally and then connects to an insulated vertical heat riser contained inside the barrel in the picture above. It is really a trip to watch flame burn sideways along the bottom of the burn chamber. The whole burn chamber is encased in cob and there is exhaust pipe that goes all through the bench to heat up the mass. Rocket Mass Heaters if running correctly burn between 1200 and 2300 degrees, burning up all the smoke, creosote and everything else combustible and then releasing some CO2 and water vapor that vents out the chimney.

The heater pictured above is in Erica and Ernie Wisner’s Rocket Mass Heater Builder’s Guide which is probably the most definitive guide on Rocket Mass Heaters currently available.

 

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