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  1. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    This is an excellent book about masonry heaters. I highly recommend it. It also tracks the use of fire by man in an interesting chronology. It covers Russian, European, and Scandanavian masonry heaters, as well as the hybrid type German and Austrian Tile stoves, going all the way back to the Roman hypocaust ( http://www.answers.com/topic/hypocaust ), one of the first attempts at taming wood heat using thermal mass (stone and water).

    http://www.amazon.com/Book-Masonry-Stoves-Rediscovering-Warming/dp/1890132098

    I checked a copy out from my local library and enjoyed every page.

    Marty, Thanks for the info. One question for you: From ignition, how long before you feel some heat?

    For the DIY'er. I've read several articles of people contructing these beasts. One potential problem is cracking of the inner core. Even the pro's have them crack, especially on the first ones they build. A store-bought inner core would reduce that sequelae. ;)

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  2. MrGriz

    MrGriz New Member

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    Marty, thanks for taking the time to share those details with everyone. It was very interesting. I can see that the best way to do something like this is as a part of new construction.

    The question was already asked, but I am curious as to how long after lighting a fire you feel the heat. How's the bread out of that oven?

    Thanks
  3. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    Is it true that masonry heaters can also help to COOL a house in the summer time?

    Marty, tell me about the pizza you cooked in that oven! Great posts Marty, I'm learning a lot.

    -Kevin
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    My last therapy for it cost me more than $25,000. I should have had a heater built instead.
  5. sgcsalsero

    sgcsalsero Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks Marty, I read an article last yr. about a dude who built a 1800 sq ft house w/ loft in Catskills, . . 16k for high efficiency furnace or 22k for the masonry stove, he put in the stove (p.s. house has geothermal to keep around ?45-50 degrees). All in all pretty cool stuff . .
  6. Martin Strand III

    Martin Strand III New Member

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    Dylan:
    Sure, I've got stories, but that's a different forum. I don't smoke and I can honestly report not all non-essentials in the above list apply to me and the figures are a pure quess. The list is for "you" to figure what your non-essential costs would be to see how fast $25K can disappear and make a similar investment in a quality heater more realistic.

    Wrench:
    The bake oven cannot be used when there is a fire in the firebox since the flame path goes directly through the bakeoven. I use a metal thermometer in the bakeoven after the fire is coals only. Depending on how much fuel was burned, about 20 minutes alter the bakeoven may be 450 - 750* F which sears in a few minutes or is OK for a thin pizza or fish but you can't sit and watch a ball game with a few brewskies or your meal will look like an indescribeable char. After a few tries one can cook just about anything from very fast to slow roasting.
    Like tile floors cool in summer, so does the masonry heater (holds ambient temperature a while) but it's cooling effect, if any, can't compare to its heating ability. If it's really hot and humid, you'll need the lake or A/C; a tile floor or a big cool rock doesn't do it.

    Castron:
    You got the drift "n'est pas?"

    MoHeat/Griz:
    Once the fire ignites, a 50 lb load of dry wood puts out an amazing amount of pure radiant heat through the glass doors and you'll get as much heat this way, just in front of the glass, as in a metal stove with a glass door. I can't stand closer than about 3 feet away from the glass without risk of burning the short ones. From a cold start, the masonry slowly heats and begins to feel warm in about an hour and builds in heat to 'hot to the touch' (w/o burning skin) over the next several hours. It stays very warm for 18 - 20 hours then cools. If the damper is left open, it cools faster.

    Aye,
    Marty
  7. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    Thanks for the update again Marty.

    I don't knock you at all for spending $25K on the masonry fireplace. It's your money, you earned it, and should buy what you enjoy. And I think from an investment standpoint it's not a bad deal at all, particularly if the home stays in the family for successive generations to take advantage of the savings.

    Kind of Off Topic, but here's a short blurb about life, stress, and keeping up with the Joneses.

    -Kevin



    A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to
    visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into
    complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee,
    the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of
    coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal,
    some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to
    help themselves to the coffee.
    When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:
    "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up,
    leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to
    want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems
    and s tress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the
    coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even
    hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the
    cup, but you consciously went for the best cups... And then you began
    eyeing each other's cups.
    Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in
    society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life,
    and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of
    Life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to
    enjoy the coffee God has provided us.
    "God brews the coffee, not the cups.......... Enjoy your coffee!
    "The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make
    the best of everything."
    Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the
    rest to God.
    Walt D'Allaird
  8. restorer

    restorer New Member

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    So, this is exactly how Gramp's fireplace worked. Why is his a heatilator and this is a masonry mass? I would say the total dimensions were 60 inches wide by 48 inches front to rear, and 60 inches high to mantle plus a masonry chimney 25+ tall. I seem to be missing something here.
  9. restorer

    restorer New Member

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    This is the reference I'm referring to. Am I wrong in questioning. The size and style seem similar. Hot short burn fires, losts of brick and concrete. fresh air vents for fire and looped air exchangers to create a positive draft away from the hearth. The front of the fireplace is stuccoed (plaster finish) but it was always warm to the touch, warmer than the room. Am I wrong?
  10. par38lamp

    par38lamp New Member

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    Anyone else look at a masonry heater and think "waveguide"?

    Call me a geek. :cheese:

    MoHeat - Thanks for the library idea on that book (The book of masonry stoves). St. Louis County has a copy reserved in my name now!
  11. smirnov3

    smirnov3 Feeling the Heat

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    Question about Masonry heater fuel:

    As I understand it, you can burn real junk (hay, wood chips, construction lumber) in there and get good heat out. Is that true?
  12. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Uncle Rich, The big difference is the design and length of the smoke path. Masonry heaters have several designs, but the Tulikivi and Marty's bad boy are both called "Contra Flow" designs. The smoke doesn't just go straight up the chimney, like your dad's fireplace probably did, but who knows, maybe it was a real masonry heater.

    The long, circuitous smoke path is essential to transfer heat to the masonry before it exits the chimney. At the top of the firebox the smoke is directed to each side, then it goes down a channel to near floor level, and then up another channel (passing contra to the downward flow, thus the name), with possibly a bit of additional circuity depending upon individual stove design.

    It is rare to find a masonry stove in North America, most people don't even understand what they are, but maybe your dad was really ahead of his time. Do you still have access to the house?
  13. restorer

    restorer New Member

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    This only adds to the confusion. I distinctly remember short hot fires, behind the face cover. Two maybe three burns a day. Huge mass of fireplace that was always warm.

    I brushed the chimney for him when I was 13-14, because my cousin who was three years older couldn't. Cleaned five or six outlets, with a pole and crush from the outside.

    I never remember any smoke from the chimney, but memories are memories, years can alter them.

    Anyone have a guess why this keep the house warm?
  14. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    UncleRich, do you have pictures available? Or access to the house now?

    I somewhat disagree with MoHeat as far as the rarity of masonry fireplaces in North America. They may indeed be rare in terms of the numbers built, but the designs have been around for a long, long time. Certainly there were immigrants who came from the old country who had the skills and knowledge to construct such fireplaces. It's possible your father had such skills, or acquired the knowledge prior to constructing his own. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Construction of a masonry heater does not look like rocket science. I'd love to take on the challenge of one, and perhaps will in a few years when I plan to build another home. Rest assured if I ever get there, I'll do a full write up for Hearth.

    -Kevin
  15. restorer

    restorer New Member

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    I am very sorry that I don't have access. The estate sold it in the Seventies. Still there, but a couple of times I asked to see something, or take some pictures, I was turned away. I know the chimney is still there, plus the stack and chimney way for the central furnace, water heater and an extra flu. My Grandfather was very knowledgeable about concert and masonry. He engineered a canyon bridge that was demolished in the 1970's except the terminal piers he built. They were too solid to be blown up as part of the replacement ceramony. He said the charges wouldn't bring them down. He was born in the US, but the family was from Germany/Austria before the turn of the 20th century. An interesting note: He installed an early NG furnace that had six zones, one thermostat, and he manually set the flow to each zone. The first buyer after him, couldn't understand the heating system and replaced it with three furnaces. I learned they paid as much each month as he paid each year for fuel.

    Really wish now I had been close enough to learn from him.
  16. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    UncleRich, well it sounds your grandfather (sorry, I thought it was your father originally) was certainly qualified enough to build a fireplace if he engineered bridges. He must have picked up the design at some point. Too bad the new owners won't let you come in and take pictures. That's pretty lame in my opinion, particularly with your family connection to the home. If I were the owner I'd see it as a wonderful opportunity to learn about the home and it's prior occupants. I know the man who helped his family build my home. He was just a kid when my home was built, but remembers a lot of great details. I'm always bugging him about things I've found or have questions about!

    Knowing your grandfathers cultural background would make examination of the structure that much more interesting to study. Notice that there are Russian fireplaces, Finnish fireplaces, and other cultures that lay claim to subtle design differences. The same is true of historic barns in North America. Every culture had their own manner in which to build barns adopted from the old country. Consequently there is a fairly rich history of European barn design and construction right here in North America!

    -Kevin
  17. Martin Strand III

    Martin Strand III New Member

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    Uncle Rich:

    This may help.

    From their website, this following is the official definition of a masonry heater. Simply, if grandpa's (or any other's) doesn't conform, it's not one. Hence, the Missouri "Stove" (http://www.dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub781.pdf) is masonry, burns wood, stores heat but, technically, cannot be called a "masonry heater". Beyond that, it's all semantics.

    Aye,
    Marty

    _________________________________________________
    "MHA Masonry Heater Definition

    A masonry heater is a site-built or site-assembled, solid-fueled heating device constructed mainly of masonry materials in which the heat from intermittent fires burned rapidly in its firebox is stored in its massive structure for slow release to the building. It has an interior construction consisting of a firebox and heat exchange channels built from refractory components.

    Specifically, a masonry heater has the following characteristics:

    - a mass of at least 800 kg. (1760 lbs.),

    - tight fitting doors that are closed during the burn cycle,

    - an overall average wall thickness not exceeding 250 mm (10 in.),

    - under normal operating conditions, the external surface of the masonry heater, except immediately surrounding the fuel loading door(s), does not exceed 110 C. (230 F.),

    - the gas path through the internal heat exchange channels downstream of the firebox includes at least one 180 degree change in flow direction, usually downward, before entering the chimney,

    - the length of the shortest single path from the firebox exit to the chimney entrance is at least twice the largest firebox dimension,

    (passed unanimously at 1998 MHA Annual Meeting, June 8, 1998)"
  18. Martin Strand III

    Martin Strand III New Member

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    Kevin:

    I like coffee and am currently enjoying same. I like your coffee quote too and I get the analogy, but it's yours.

    Here's mine:

    "Life and a Cup of Coffee
     
     
    When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the coffee. 

    A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full.  They agreed that it was.
     
    So, the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.   He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
     
     Then the professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "Yes." The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
     
     "Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf ball are the important things--your family, your children, your health, your friends, your favorite passions--things that if everything else were lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else--the small stuff."
     
    "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your soul mate out to dinner. Play another 18 holes of golf. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal."

    He added, "Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."  One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.  The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's  always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

    Aye,
    Marty
     
  19. par38lamp

    par38lamp New Member

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    After I posted this, I realized I used the wrong term. The word I should of used is "Transmission line"

    http://www.diysubwoofers.org/tls/

    The firebox is the woofer, and the channels behind the woofer are the smoke channels. When I looked at skeches of a masonry heater, I couldn't help but think they might make a nice, low frequency transmission line sub-woofer, LOL!
  20. Martin Strand III

    Martin Strand III New Member

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    Anton:

    Since the firebox gets so hot (1800* F ish), it doesn't matter whether one burns soft or hardwood. Any will do: construction scrap pine, scrounged wood, purchased hardwood, etc. There is no difference in creosote formation, which is virtually non-existent.

    Just don't burn garbage, painted or treated wood.

    Aye,
    Marty
  21. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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    Ahh, because it does bear some similarity to a microwave waveguide... but then again, it also looks like the back end of a Bose speaker.

    -- Mike
  22. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Marty, I once shared that analogy with a friend of mine who has a way of getting me laughing. Here's what he emailed back...

    "The lesson here is to put your balls first."
  23. Martin Strand III

    Martin Strand III New Member

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    Mo:

    “Take care of the (golf) balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities."

    You mean that part. Ah, yes.

    But see, the problem is that God gives men a brain and balls, and only enough blood to run one at a time.

    Aye,
    Marty

    Grandma used to say, "If it has testicles or wheels, it's gonna be trouble."
  24. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    LOL. That reminds me of a quote I believe Teddy R. is accredited with:

    "When you got 'em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow."


    For the record, I'm stealing your analogous story Marty. Along the same lines as mine, but a little more comprehensive.

    -Kevin
  25. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    That was Lyndon Johnson.
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