Not too long ago – two or three years, was it? – I picked up a half-dozen 55-gallon drums up in Tyler, Texas. It was a deal I couldn’t pass up: $5 bucks each and they’d already had a preliminary rinse-out.
Finally, with the old burn barrel sporting a gaping (coffee can size) hole where a combination of rust (and tossing in occasional small explosives for fun) had done its work. That burn barrel went to the Barrel Graveyard on the property. Then I went looking for inspiration.
We talked about “Happy Design” recently. And the ideal burn barrel in terms of performance, was probably this one, found on YouTube:
Or, if you don’t show graphics, see Smokeless Burn Barrel – YouTube.
Happy design on several accounts: Used common tools, only a handful of screws – and the way he did the screws from the inside (and remembered to cut off the resulting sharps on the outside) was stylish.
Logically, all-fired-up with the prospects, I started getting the tools out.
Then I Noticed the Clock…
Forget the fact that the 4 1/2-inch grinder is slower than the plasma cutter: Looked to me like the project would take over an hour. I’d already pissed-away more than that “idea shopping” so the next- best design was cobbled up.
The first step was to plasma cut the top off…which was pretty simple.
Then, the barrel is laid down and a series of “C-cuts” are made like so:
These are then pounded in an inch-and-a-half, or so. The idea is that you want a lot of air coming in, but you also want the remaining metal to act as air-deflectors. There are a couple of videos of this type of cut-up on Youtube and although not as graceful as the full-on “smokeless” version, the fab time on this was on the order of 10-minutes.
A quick scavenging session for something to burn and I was into it. Being careful not to get too much of the foul-smelling paint in my nose as the outside coating on the barrel burned off:
One this was roasted-off, it was time to load in additional fuel and see “What this baby could do…”
It was impressive! Not ideal, but among its attributes:
- It seems to burn a fuel load about 25% faster than a “normal” burn barrel. Note: The “normal” here is a 55-gallon drum with the top cut off and a couple of dozen AK-47 rounds through it about 12-inches up from the bottom. So, the additional air flow does something.
- Fab time was not more than 15-minutes, including cutting off the top.
Drawbacks? Doesn’t everything have them?
- Not nearly as good as the “smokeless design” in a cross wind.
- Not likely to last any longer than that conventional burn barrel because there’s no heat control. I reckon the “smokeless” would last longer if for no other reason than it could be made up – several at a time – and then just plug & play new pieces in as the old ones were consumed.
It was a great cool-weather distraction, and I may put a couple of more together and set them around the property. Use them for burning deadfall which is a never-ending joy of owning a tree farm.
The Veggie Room
Ever notice how working outside when it’s cold (mid-40s) is no big deal when there’s the prospect of playing with fire, ahead? On the other hand, I just couldn’t get myself psyched up enough to finish putting the last half-dozen sheets of polycarbonate on the north end of the new grow room off the studio.
No, with age 73 almost here, Ure is not turning into a pothead. He’s committed to getting a useable trove of veggies out of his “farmerly efforts” however. Nice, organic…and throughout the summer. Which is the why behind the grow room: Too damn hot in garden or greenhouse after mid-May, or so. Hence, the veggie room with a swamp cooler.
Elaine’s concerns about the panels blocking the view are not without merit. I’m pretty confident, though, that once I get a few loads of hydroponic Romaine coming out of here that her objections will fade. We shall see.
Tool Slut’s Notebook
A bunch of interesting projects have come along. Not the least of which is my half-hearted promise to clean up the metal-working end of the shop.
To begin this project, the first step was an inventory of what’s in the various piles. Falls (as it always does) into a handful of categories:
- Actual stationary and working tools: The big Jet metal lathe, the small (Taig), the box and pan bending brake, Vertical mill, oxy-acetylene rig, and some hand tools like the burnishing grinder (and wheels) and a propane torch. It’s there because it’s closer to the burn barrel near the door… (In hot weather, you can use WD-40 as a spray-0n fire starter…)
- Metal for Pending Projects: This includes everything from sheet to bar stock, to angle iron, to plate with a side order of ground rods and such. Along with this are carboards tubes of all types, too
- Stuff with No Home: Now we’re into it: Outside the door to my office is a collection of outside tools. This includes (battery-powered) string trimmers, an electric cultivator, battery and corded hedge trimmers, water shut-off tool, and oh, the list goes on. Faraday can, too.
The “Correct Answer” seems to be to find homes (for the stuff without one) and combine these with the other collections of stuff with no home – the yard tools which are next to the old Lexus in the carport under the screen porch. It’s almost (gulp!) like we could use a tool shed for such things.
Which sets me off on this morning’s quest to figure out the answer to this intractable puzzle.
A Personal Note
In case you hadn’t noticed, I have a major streak of ADHD. Had it my whole life. It has been a blessing and a curse. (As all gifts from Universe are!).
On the one hand, the rapid-fire (spray and pray) of ideas, one-after-another, has been a huge benefit in business, investing, and being creative in general.
Well, no one ever taught me (when young) that I should complete one project at a time). Looking at the scrapyard of steel out in the metal shop brought all this to mind.
I have more ideas than time. As a result, especially with many projects having fairly long lead times (to an ADHD person, a 1-
day hour delay on supplies is insufferable!), the project begins in a fury, gets parked while awaiting materials, and then when the materials show up, fury has left the building, and the perpetrator (moi) has moved onto something else.
The good news is that the piles eventually get big enough that something like the “burn barrel collection” provides fast-consumption of as many barrels as are handy – and sometimes with pretty interesting results.
I suppose it will be a balancing act right up to the end of life (in 20-years or whatever) but the sign “A clean desk is a sign of an empty mind” sure seems to apply out in the shop, as well.
If I don’t have 10-pounds of deli meat to make a sandwich, I mean what’s the point, right? Your experience may vary. You could have the misfortune of being “normal.”
Bitcoin Crash continues. $35,750 when I looked.
As my consigliere and I have been wondering: As BTC collapses and miners come offline (being unprofitable now for many) how long before a) the time to clear a transaction goes through the roof? And at what point b) then does the whole distributed public ledger stop working (or take a year to clear)?
See why we warned you from the start about Digital Tulips? Winter is coming.
Write when you get rich,