Browncoats Unite!

Browncoats Unite!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gasifier Woodstoves by Valcas1...

Valcas1 traded me this stove a while ago with the stern injunction to do a review of it. This isn't the most thorough review I have ever done, but I am happy to report that this stove passed 9 out of 10 of my marks.

My sister wanted to go for a walk in the woods today despite the howling winds and four foot drifts. I agreed as I needed to get out of the house.

When we reached the shelter, I realized I'd forgotten the potstand. "Oh well," I thought. "I'll just set the canteen cup on top of the stove."

I must say that this stove would perform admirably with a potstand. Without it...well suffice it to say that every time I put the cup on top of the stove (without the included but forgotten potstand) it tended to snuff out the woodgas flame, which increased the boil time markedly. Also, some of the wood I gathered wasn't the best in terms of moisture content, nor was it the best in terms of wood quality.
Oh well, it was fun, and we got our mint tea anyway. It just took a bit longer


I am confident that with the proper fuel, more experience and a potstand I could get this stove to boil water in under five minutes, from ice cold to a rolling boil.

General rating? Five stars.

  • Attention to detail: Excellent. There are no "snags" or rough or torn edges where Valcas drilled the holes and cut the cans. Absolutely zero, zip nada, nothing. He is a master at this.
  • Overall construction: Excellent. (See above comment). Heavyweight cans that will not easily fall apart. Hardware cloth grate is also very decent in quality and well trimmed to prevent snags.
  • Compactness: Good to Very Good.
  • Completeness of kit: Excellent. This stove kit comes with everything you need to start cooking with (wood) gas, minus your food and cookpot, and the wood you burn.
  • Ease of lighting: Fair to Excellent, depending on how dry your fuel is.
  • Completeness of burn: Perfect-beyond Excellent. There was literally a few fingersful of white ash and one or two tiny chunks left, out of two small branches that I burned. This thing burns hot, and clean. Better than my mini gasifier experiment!
  • Usefulness: Excellent in my locale.

Unless you are going hiking above treeline, I would recommend this stove to anyone who lives in an area with trees and shrubs big enough to burn. (Not hard as this stove requires sticks pencil to thumb thick and less than four inches long). The benefits far outweigh the downside of finding dry fuel. This stove would be even better for those of us in very dry, windy areas as you could easily use this in place of an open fire for cooking and even heating, thus circumventing the burn bans. The only bad thing about woodgas stoves in general is that the fuel must be absolutely bone dry, or it just will not burn. I don't know why that is but it is true; I have experimented with my own before, and it is the same way. Altogether an excellent stove that I will carry for many a year.

Thanks Valcas!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thai E-nep sheath/scabbard.

A while ago I wanted to make a sheath for this beautifully simple and utilitarian Thai e-nep knife that Tom sent me:

So I ended up (months later) with that pattern that my leather and woodworking mentor helped me develop, and all the materials needed to complete it:

Here's a pic of it mostly finished, minus snaps/studs, dye and wax:

And here it is after I gave it a coat of Fiebings Leather Antiquer and a heavy saturation of beeswax:

I love this knife and it's a real cutter, my favorite big chopper. Due to its size and relative thinness it excels not only at cutting through bigger stuff but also in the area of brushclearing.
With this sheath I will be able to bear it with pride, and more safely than my duct tape, electrical tape and cardboard contraption.
Thanks for looking,

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tendrils (a poem)...

by PMZ

Long thin tendrils
Of smoke and bark

Emphasize just how stark

This place is.

Stark, but beautiful too,
With nothing here but me
and You,

(and the trees, and the rocks, and the birds, and the ants)

And an innumerable, unfathomable need

For more
To Stay
Life is gray
On the Quay

That leads to Humanity's ship

Lead me not to the Ship
Let me slip

To the woods
To the fields
To the desert
To be healed

Of my unbelief
Of my pointless grief
May you be the chief

Of my life for a time, and soon we will fly


To the mountains
Primal fountains
Tryst Clandestine

Again I will run to the hills.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Weekend Ascetic:

Weekend Ascetic
by PMZ

When we sit down on a bed of moss
Beneath the spreading branches
Of a majestic, high-crowned oak
Covered in burls, the ground littered with acorns,
Squirrels chattering in the boughs high above our heads,
I often wonder if You care
Even when I know You are there

I first sensed You here many years gone
And I know that You sit beside me with your hand on my shoulder,
Waiting for me to ask you these questions,
Deep questions that garnish the pages
Of large leatherbound tomes,
Written in calligraphic, decorative script
With all the care the sages of the ages could muster.

I know that You are there, and that those who raised me are incorrect
In their assumption that houses of worship
Are the best place to meet You.

And I know
That every time I return
To the wilderness
Your hand will be upon me

And You will never leave

Sylvan Sanctuaries
Desert Dominions
Jungle Gymnasiums
Arctic Assemblies

For Your presence is not confined
To a building, nor is it captive
To our souls, that is to say
That You are not limited
By our imaginations
Nor by our collective consciousness
Nor by our need for companionship or fellowship.

And I thank You for these realizations.

So I will retrace my steps
Past the old pump house
Over the abandoned railroad track
Across the lock
Leaping from buttress to buttress
Hoping that one day I will understand You more

For by using Your creation for its intended purposes
I experience You.

Next week I will return
For another glimpse of Your face,
To gather the bounty of the woods,
To carve another spoon, and split
Some more wood for the fire
Upon which I will build a crane
And place the pot of water
To heat for the tea
Made from the bark of yet another plant,

To bake another tuber
In the coals,

To smoke some meat
Taken from a rabbit's body

All of which were put here by You, to be used by me, for Your Glory.

Thank you for this Suburban Wilderness
Which you have preserved for me
By means of the earthy wisdom
That you granted my forefathers
Old men with tanned, creased faces
Who wore smelly, sweat-soaked denim overalls
and long underwear all year long
Who bathed at least once a month
And who often roamed these woods, daring to ponder
The very same questions I just asked You.

Until Next Time,