The Beach Was Wonderful

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Mike Kirney
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The Beach Was Wonderful

Post by Mike Kirney » Sat Jul 10, 2004 6:19 pm

So I bought a Skinner Steam Engine on E-Bay and on Wednesday I drove down to Fairhaven, MA to pick it up (about an hour's drive south of Boston, on Nantucket sound). I got to camp for two nights at Horseneck Beach. I love Cape Cod and I will definitely be going back whenever I get a chance. Here is my mighty engine in all her glory:

http://www.nrtco.net/~mkirney/towering.jpg

This one gives some idea of the scale of the machine:

http://www.nrtco.net/~mkirney/loaded.jpg

Here is full-length shot of my truck and trailer, loaded with its fascinating cargo:

http://www.nrtco.net/~mkirney/loaded2.jpg

By the way, yes I did build the truck cap myself. I had to sleep somewhere!

http://www.nrtco.net/~mkirney/campright.jpg
Last edited by Mike Kirney on Mon Jul 12, 2004 2:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
Trig IS fun.

paul skinner
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Post by paul skinner » Sat Jul 10, 2004 9:29 pm

Ok. I'll bite (and not because my names involved).

What is a Skinner Unaflow Steam Engine good for and why do you collect them/buy them?


And what's the dogs name?

Mike Kirney
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Post by Mike Kirney » Sat Jul 10, 2004 10:21 pm

Since you asked:

I only need the one engine. I will be using it to generate three-phase electricity to run my shingle-making machines. I want to use steam because right now I get unlimited firewood for next to nothing and once I'm in production I should be generating quite a healthy waste stream of my own (i.e. free fuel!). Three-phase from Hydro One will cost around $500/week, and could be much more. There are serious reliability issues with those guys too. Out here beyond the Wilno hills, we get power blinks a couple times a week and if there is a heavy rain or strong wind the power is guaranteed to go out for at least an hour and often for several hours. Oddly enough we were one of the first places to get our power back after Blackout '03. I looked into diesel but its even more expensive than the Hydro and then you have all sorts of parts/filters/oil to buy to keep it running for the 9 to 12 hours a day I would need it. Diesels are noisy and smelly too and to get the 25 kW I need I would have to drop at least $10,000 to buy one (with the generator head). The Skinner cost me $2200 CDN and I already have a spare three-phase motor I can re-wire for generating AC. I already have a great big wood furnace just sitting around rusting so all I really need is some belting, pulleys, some copper tube, a few fittings, and some kind of voltage control for the field. The dog's name is Ezra.
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Post by Mark » Sat Jul 10, 2004 11:48 pm

And with all the wood ashes, you could make some potassium nitrate, lye soap, or fertilizer perhaps.
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Post by Mike Everman » Sun Jul 11, 2004 3:13 am

And with the steam you can make clouds! Call me if one looks like Elvis or the Virgin Mary, 805-685-1029 x14
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Post by Mark » Sun Jul 11, 2004 11:54 am

Let's not forget steam bending. And for every clean-o-phobic Howard Hughes out there, steam cleaning.

http://cgi.aol.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dl ... otohosting

http://cgi.aol.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dl ... 24448&rd=1

An interesting recap, if only he had had more steam perhaps.

http://www.worldofthestrange.com/nlv443.html

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Mike Kirney
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Post by Mike Kirney » Sun Jul 11, 2004 2:20 pm

Mike Everman wrote:And with the steam you can make clouds! Call me if one looks like Elvis or the Virgin Mary
Haven't seen Elvis come out of my engine yet, but one time I saw Jimmy Carter come out of a bong.
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paul skinner
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Post by paul skinner » Sun Jul 11, 2004 6:13 pm

Good idea for generating power. I've wondered why more people don't produce home grown power with wind turbines, small water projects, and what you're doing. Wood burning + steam drive.

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Post by Mark » Sun Jul 11, 2004 9:37 pm

I saw a nice band saw machine for cutting large trees on TV today. It was only $30,000 dollars, yet you could cut some nice planks from a machine like that. I wish I had it to do some trees in my back yard. Think how many people would like to cut down a tree here or there; I once saw on the news, a guy cut some valuable trees, (two or three) down for a city in Utah and netted yes, $30,000 dollars for the lumber.
Wood is a wonderful resource if you can cut it.
Mark

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Post by Mike Kirney » Mon Jul 12, 2004 1:48 am

Principal Skinner wrote:I've wondered why more people don't produce home grown power with wind turbines, small water projects, and what you're doing. Wood burning + steam drive.
Thanks for the encouragement. Wood/steam co-gen only works in a rural setting because few people in the city have room for the equipment or the woodpile. Like you don't want your 30 hp boiler in the basement in case it, you know, explodes. My set-up is 200' from my house, although it is right behind the shinglesaws. It's hard to get really cheap firewood in the city unless you truck it in yourself. Wind and solar equipment is still quite expensive and neither makes a usable amount of electricity on a household scale. I figure the average modern Canadian family needs a minimum steady, reliable 10 kW of electricity to live in the level of comfort they are used to right now. I think 20 kW would be a better estimate so that there would be no 'peak load' days when the breakers pop. A direct photovoltaic conversion system to make that much electricity could cost well over $100,000. You would about 15 tiny windmills or one rather BIG one to keep the Playstation, fridge, washing machine, microwave, TV, A/C, vacuum cleaner, table saw, etc. all going at the same time. On the other hand, you can replace your electric hot water tank with a solar-heated system for a few hundred bucks and that will take a good 3 kW off your total household load. If you tossed your electric range and bought a wood-fired one, you could save another 3 kW. Wind is impractical for use in urban settings because you need a great big yard to erect your tower in and a 'battery room' for those windless days. Small-scale hydro requires a sizeable stream with a tall, steep grade on it somewhere to make any power. Most rivers/streams like that are public land and so are off-limits to amateur hydropower engineers. Once again, equipment costs can be outrageous for the amount of electricity produced. An urban homeowner could run a 25 kW diesel genset on veggie oil in their garage 24/7 for next to nothing but they might get tired of the noise and smell after a few weeks.
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Post by Bruno Ogorelec » Wed Jul 14, 2004 8:20 pm

Mark wrote:I saw a nice band saw machine for cutting large trees on TV today. It was only $30,000 dollars, yet you could cut some nice planks from a machine like that. I wish I had it to do some trees in my back yard.
Mark, there are considerably cheaper and simpler rigs you can build yourself for occasional logging. With the increasing environmental concerns, people who want to do stuff out of major chunks of wood -- like wooden ship builders -- have turned to natural logging -- doing only the fallen trees found in the forest.

This requires a portable, collapsible lightweight and simple machinery, so a number of designs have appeared that use chainsaws in cunning timber frames, which are able to cut big fallen tree trunks into neat planks. My plans never went that way, so I never researched the subject, but have seen several neat designs and read some articles on this kind of logging. Very interesting stuff and heartwarming.

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Post by Mike Kirney » Wed Jul 14, 2004 8:39 pm

Bruno, you must be referring to the Alaskan Portable Chainsaw Mill. It is essentially a metal frame you bolt on to the bar of your chainsaw then you push the whole thing down two planks parallel to your log and it cuts you a relatively neat slab. I bought one but I haven't used it yet because I discovered soon after that I live in an area where rough cut softwood lumber is almost as cheap as split firewood. The Alaskan method works but can be very strenuous and time consuming and it wears out your chain rather quickly, but if you just have a couple of trees to cut and you already have a chainsaw with a bar 16" or longer, then this is definitely the way to go. Mine cost less than three hundred bucks. For ten thousand you can buy a decent gas-powered portable bandsaw mill with a manually operated cutting head (i.e. you push it down the log with your hands and the re-set everything by hand and make another pass). Thirty thousand will get you a top-of-the-line portable bandsaw mill with a nasty diesel engine and full hydraulics.
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Post by Mark » Thu Jul 15, 2004 3:13 am

The one I saw on some home show had a lifting arm that set the log upon the rollers and feed mechanism. The band saw blade was only 1/8th inch thick so it didn't waste too much wood. Yet it really dispatched a long large log as it was fed into the band saw blade. They even used a metal detector and found a large nail or iron object which would have damaged the blade, they cut it out before the sawing. The show was one of those home improvement or home building programs.
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Post by jmhdx » Thu Jul 15, 2004 8:04 pm

Timber is a suprisingly enviromentaly sound fuel, you can only release the same amount of carbon as the tree has absorbed from the atmosphere in the first place. If it comes from a properly managed source its use would not contribute to global warming. Unfortunatelly all the coal and oil we have burnt is a surplus contribution and will take thousands if not millions of years to be re-absorbed by the ever diminishing forests that we have. If I read correctlly Windsor forest(the first ever plantation of trees for timber) produces a sustainable 15,000 cubic metres per year.
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Post by Bruno Ogorelec » Thu Jul 15, 2004 8:13 pm

I've long wondered why we're making such a fuss about global warming. Heat is not that difficult to get rid of. Paint Texas (or Chad) white and everything will be OK. Enough heat will be reflected into space to serve us for another century of profligate fuel consumption.

Of course, the weather patterns would change a bit, but there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Instead of using one big swathe of white (or mirror surface), have each country do a few hundred square miles, so that it's all uniformly distributed. Maybe we could tinker with the weather just a little bit, too, to make it easier to bear.

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