I am sipping coffee and happier than a pig in shit. Why? Because this is the inaugural run of Betsy… my newly operational cook stove / garage heat source. I couldn’t be happier. It’s a genuine EMP proof, survivalist approved, zombie apocalypse endorsed, gluten free, dolphin safe, fully depreciated, homestead experienced, multi-purpose, cooking implement that heats the garage and also makes coffee. Plus it looks spiffy.
I spent $109 in parts and expect it to last forever. Win!
I’m new to cookstoves so I’m tinkering with it like it’s a nuclear reactor. Some initial results:
- The tiny firebox takes a while to warm up but consumes much less wood than I expected.
- When it’s first started a tiny bit of smoke escapes from the… OK what do you call those round things you open and close to peer into the stove? Anyway they heat up in a minute or two and then there isn’t even the tiniest wisp of smoke.
- The chimney / black pipe I assembled is rock solid and probably I fretted too much over it. It stays cooler than I expected, which is fine with me.
- It heats the garage but does so slowly. (The building is now 30 degrees warmer than ambient and still climbing.) I’m guessing I’ll need to start a fire an hour or two before I need to use the garage; which is about what I expected.
- Despite (or due to) the slowly warming thermal mass it’s a very pleasant heat. It’s a nice place to sit and blog on my AlphaSmart Dana.
- It’s on blocks so the floor is still cold. I might add a small fan in the future to distribute the heat better.
- I’m going to need a nicer chair. (I earned it!)
I didn’t plan on using the cooking surface but it impresses me and now I’m considering the opportunities. The metal gets hot much faster than I expected. Immensely faster than the stove itself. I imagine I’ll be able to make coffee faster than I can warm the garage.
As for the coffee I scrounged an old drip coffee um… coffee “pot”? (I’m not sure what it is, since it doesn’t seem to percolate but it has… parts.) It’s an aluminium camping thing; probably meant for a Coleman gas stove. I got it for free and at that price it’s a steal. The first cup of coffee came fast but was weak. I need to move the pot around the surface to keep it from getting too hot. The second cup was a lot better. I may upgrade to a cooler looking cowboy style coffee pot (mostly because I like the little glass percolator bubble thing). Of course I could just walk to the house where the automatic coffee pot is perpetually maintained and ready to go.
Looking at that big iron cooking surface instigates an uncontrollable desire to whip up some bacon and eggs on an iron skillet. It’s almost an obsession.
The oven is at 250 degrees and climbing. Hmmm… do I sense cowboy baked beans in my future? With bacon of course. The oven’s temperature doesn’t seem to fluctuate much but there’s probably a lot more heat on the top than the bottom. The thermometer in the door is (as expected) unresponsive but the junk I rescued with the stove included a “portable” thermometer that’s certainly usable.
All told it works like a charm. I’m not sure why I’m surprised, it’s not like fire is new technology. I’m relieved. Given all the ways a homestead project can go wrong… this one didn’t.