How this came about: Since we began the Floating Empire project, one of our main goals has been to take the whole thing as far off grid as possible, to use little or no fossil fuels and to operate with as much self sufficiency as possible. In that regard, we produce the bulk of our power from solar, process our own water, and, in general, try to live as lightly on the planet as we can.
But heating and cooking was one area where we were less than green. Admittedly, using our kerosene stove and heater used very little fuel, but it's still a fossil fuel. We looked at a number of other options, but kept coming back to wood and charcoal as a greener option for heating and cooking. Our original design had an open hearth where we could actually have a small fire, but we never really used it.
But finally the expense, smell, and inconvenience of kerosene kind of got to us. We began to re-address solid fuel stoves as an option. There is quite a bit of deadfall hereabouts, and a lot of our Marina neighbors are in construction, so there would probably be a ready source of small, dry wood.
Here's the problem: Woodstoves, particularly for vessels, are expensive, and each has their own eccentricities. Prices ranged from around $260 for the Fatsco stoves to well over a thousand for other makes. We were leery of making the investment if we didn't know if we could live with wood as a cooksource.
So we, like all good Americans, went directly to the internet and found the cheapest possible wood stoves. These are barrel stoves intended for tents, and, on one level, Floating Empire is just a big tent. We found a Chinese (of course) version for less than $100 which included a stainless steel water jacket, so we went for it. If we liked it, we could always upgrade. If not, we'd not be out much.
The rather ubiquitous one we found is marketed in the US by TMS, and generally advertised as : TMS® Portable Military Camping Wood Cooking Ice Fishing Cook Stove Tent Heater With Water Kettle Teapot.
Okay, lets get real. This thing is a long way from military grade. It's a cheap stove made from sheet metal, apparently recycled sheet metal, with iffy welds, bad paint, and meh fitting parts. The price, was, however, right, so we gave it a whack.
|Here's the thing assembled|
|Checking for size. We modified the galley to accommodate the little beast.|
|With the first firing, 90% of the paint simply fell off.|
|Revealing numerous welded patches in the metal, most pretty well done.|
|A couple of coats of high-heat woodstove paint and we're good to go.|
|I mean, what the heck is this supposed to be?|
|This works much better as a catch. Not sure why they didn't do it this way in the first place.|
Then there's the water jacket:
|Probably worth more than the stove.|
In order to create a space for the stove, we extended the stepped hearth we had built for the kero stove and lined the whole thing with concrete board, then with tile to handle the heat.
|Tile and concrete board going in place.|
More stuff at Life, Art, Water, and over at Wild Shore Press. Give em a look.