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Mother Earth News waste oil heater (mother earth news is a magazine for those who might not know. Amanda bought me a subscription for Christmas bless her heart) December 29, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — housedouche @ 6:26 am

That’s right, I’m building a MEN waste oil heater plans circa 1980.  Actually, there’s a guy online who worked out all the bugs of the original MEN heater and simplified the design substantially so that’s the one I’m building/built.

Now I’ve been obsessing over this for the past several days and spent hours reading up on it.  I love to obsess I guess it’s a Moore family trait.  I was fascinated by this because at any given moment I have 10-15 gallons of used motor oil on my property and they only let you dump 5 gallons at a time at the local vato zone – what a pain.  ALSO, this used motor oil burns so hot and completely it puts little or no soot into the air like wood does, AND it’s slightly less messy than wood AND it requires a lot less storage space than wood.   AND, most important of all, it’s cheap – the heater body is made from an old gas water heater tank, which I just happen to have laying around.  Oh and one more thing, the MEN heater stands vertical instead of horizontal so it takes up less of my precious garage floor space.  Oh and I just remembered another sweet feature – it’s quiet!  And uses no electricity.

Sure it would be easier to just pipe out a natural gas line to the garage and flick a switch instead of collecting filthy dirty used motor oil but isn’t this fun?  And cheap?  I’m still looking for reasons why this hasn’t really caught on much.  Convenience maybe?  I dunno.

Now I built the heater and tested it out today.  First of all check out these two links. This is the original MEN heater design.  This guy, bless his heart worked out the bugs and made the thing a lot easier to build, operate and clean.

Here’s some step by step pics though if you care to know:

It begins much like the first wood burning heater I did, in fact, this is the same picture but instead of cutting a door hole, I’m cutting a smoke pipe hole.

As you know, (or don’t know) gas water heaters (as opposed to electric water heaters) have one burner at the very bottom of the tank and then a pipe running up the length of the tank to let out the exhaust from the burning natural gas.  The hot exhaust gas also helps heat the water a little bit on its way out too.   In a waste oil heater, this pipe serves as the air intake – and who would have thought that you could have a pipe directly over a flame and no smoke or heat would come out of it?  That’s because the rest of the thing is sealed so the only place for fresh air to come in is through that pipe so the fire sucks in air through that pipe directly above it and the incoming air actually spreads the flames out towards the sides of the tank and makes a bigger flame and radiates more heat – A sweet design feature.

Also, I deviated from the plans slightly and decided to use the bottom portion of the pipe as a pedestal for the burner.  This guy and MEN say you need a pipe but what do they know… I sealed the bottom of this pipe (pictured below)  so no fresh air could get in except through where it’s supposed to.  

Next, you’ll see my method of centering the copper tubing in the pipe – not bad eh?  

And here is my version of a burner cause I haven’t been able to machine (or have machined) a 6″ diameter inverted cone aluminum burner with a 12 degree angle yet so I was thinking maybe this 14″ dutch oven lid would have a similar effect?  

Not so.  I thought bigger might be better but I couldn’t get the thing to get hot enough to perpetuate a flame of used motor oil.  After some thought, I have a theory that I’m fairly confident of that the burner’s just way too big so all the heat gets dissipated throughout the lid/burner and keeps it from getting hot enough to vaporize the oil and get it burning good and hot and clean.  I did get it going with some charcoal bricketts though and the thing thew some pretty good heat but not the white hot heat roger sanders was talking about.  Plus it wasn’t the cleanest exhaust either so I really need to get the burner he recommends.

– This is peeping down the air intake hole at the top of the heater.  You can see the brickettes I was using to vaporize the oil and get it burning good and hot, but not hot enough.

Here’s my oil supply tank.  A $6.00 bucket I got at lowes so I can see how much fuel I’m burning and make sure it’s burning optimally and not using too much oil.   That weird thing around the rim is a paint strainer.

And hee’s the whole setup and true to form I added a few design features of my own that serve both a practical and an aesthetic purpose – the floor grate fins on the pipe to scrounge a little bit of heat from the exhaust before it leaves, the old doorknob handle and that sawblade not only looks cool but it provides a peephole so you can check on things.  Doesn’t work very well though.  That peep hole is too small I think.  A decent sized piece of glass would be much better.

And here’s my oil control valve and oil filter I had laying around from one of my dune buggies.  No sense fussing with clogs when you’ve got a perfectly good oil filter around.

Oh and that round thing you see partially covering the air intake is actually an important feature.  You gotta choke it back a bit if the flame’s too small or too much air will rush in too fast and blow out the flame.  Also a feature this roger sanders guy pointed out.

I did away with that oil filter.  That thick cold oil wouldn’t flow through it fast enough.  I also discovered that an 8″ frying pan with the handle cut off works quite well and makes the thing get hotter than blazes.   See?  red hot.  I need to add some cooling fins (floor grate) on there to dissipate that heat.  That’s just too much.   Here’s a video

Here’s how you light it.

And this is what it looks like when it’s burning good and hot.


Tall bike project December 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — housedouche @ 5:26 pm

I’ve been wanting to make a hipstery tallbike for some time now and finally got some time to do it over Christmas break.  I had to make the two steering columns line up so they wouldn’t bind and stuff but after spending an entire evening attaching the two bikes I realized that this put my center of gravity too far back so the thing will wheelie up and dump a person at the slightest provocation and that ain’t gonna fly so I attempted to modify the frame of the lower bike but ended up just ruining it and that’s a real shame because it used to be a perfectly good bike.  Problem is, the lower bike is smaller/shorter in length than the top bike and had I built a tallbike before, I would have known that this would be a problem.  But, I had a feeling it would just turn into a huge cluster and some wasted time and materials but that’s the cost of not doing business and I’m still having a lot of fun figuring it out.  I really get into this sort of crap.   So tomorrow I will start shopping the DI’s again for a frame that’s closer to the size I already have and that should fix the whole center of gravity issue.

Now, I did consider buying a U joint from a 1/2″ socket set and just welding one or two of those in the steering column  some where but you see, I’ve got a very long bolt that I fabricated that goes from the top set of handlebars down into the bottom part of the bottom bike’s steering column so if I were to do a U-joint, I wouldn’t have a way to attach the top steering to the bottom steering.  I’m sure there’s a way but I haven’t taken the time to figure it out.    I’m also sure there are plans for this sort of thing online but I haven’t taken the time to sort through em.

Anyway, here are some pictures.

This was my attempt to modify the lower bike so I could get the steering column to be more straight up & down but I think all I did was destroy the bike.  I don’t know.. I might be able to get it to work, in fact I might even be able to lengthen it so it’ll be more stable.  But I’m really considering finding another bike at the DI or at one of those bike swap places.  Will update later.

K check this out.  I had to buy a “new” bike from the DI and it was only 10 bucks!  And it was the right size!  

This is all I have for now but all I need to do is hook everything up – chains, sprockets, BRAKES…


Wood burning stove made from an old water heater tank and a few other scrounged items

Filed under: Uncategorized — housedouche @ 3:57 am

Youtube isn’t cooperating tonight so I don’t have a video for you but here are some pictures.

It was freakin cold that night but as you can see, the first step was to remove the outer shell and then the insulation that’s between the tank and the shell.

I welded some little feet on there that was some scrap wrought iron I scrounged from a jobsite.  No sense wasting perfectly good metal!  And here I’m cutting a hole for the door.  The torch was a lot quicker than a cutting wheel but not quite as pretty.    Below you’ll see all kinds of minerals that came out of the tank – that’s the water you bath in and sometimes drink folks but don’t worry, it’s just minerals.  

Next you see that I’ve taken a big ol truck strap to stretch a floor grate around the tank.  These are cooling fins like you see on a lawn mower so the aim here was to retrieve as much heat as possible from the fire so it doesn’t just get wasted out the smoke pipe.

And here’s me cutting some angle iron with all the proper safety equipment.

Next, I welded the angle iron to support the blower I got for 10 bucks at a new habitat for humanity home improvement thrift store they just opened in salt lake.  That tubing you see will be used to create more surface area for the smoke to go through and thus transfer more heat into the air and less out the pipe.

Making the door with the piece I cut out and some door hinges I had laying around.

The semi-finished product

I don’t know if I like the looks of all that sheet metal on there but it does serve some purpose.  Mostly the piece that’s attached to the 3 smoke tubes – if the stove isn’t really really hot then the air rushing past feels cold coming straight at you so that piece of metal makes the air go out the sides so it’s still scavenging some heat from the smoke but not enough to feel warm.   For example, if the air in the garage is 32 degrees and the air coming from the stove is 42 degrees, why, that air is still warmer but 42 degree air still feels rather chilly.

It gets hot in there all right.


Basement pretty much finished December 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — housedouche @ 9:56 am

First blog post EVER!  So be patient I know it’s kinda crappy but check this out.

Here’s a couple of before & after videos.

Ok all these pics are taken from the same spot in the room so watch the progress!  

Now for the bathroom check it.  That crap all over the walls is actually old tile adhesive but yea, the whole basement was as nasty as it looks here for sure.

Not bad eh?  Matt did all the tile bless his heart.  He just loves that tile.  And the day we started it went on sale for 58 cents a square foot!  Now that’s cheap.  A buck a square foot is cheap but 58 cents shoot you can’t beat that.

Check out how we changed the layout

That wall with the sheetrock torn off is where the arch is now and that wall where my brother is is gone.


And finally the finished product – that weird long pantry shortened, the furnace hidden, the new opening leading to the living room, that weird wall in the living room gone and the old entry to the living room blocked off by the furnace room and the fridge.  A much better layout now.  What were those people thinking?


Hello world!

Filed under: Uncategorized — housedouche @ 9:37 am

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!