Wood fired steam boiler?

Any steam Cooking /Distilling Device

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Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby Prairiepiss » Sun Dec 20, 2015 6:23 pm

Living off grid. Or at least trying to. Presents a few problems along the way. One being the lack of any amount of access electricity to use for hobbies like this one.

My idea. Build a wood fired steam boiler for direct steam injection. The steam will be used for cooking and mashing grains. Distilling alcohol and essential oils.

The equipment. I will be using an old style stainless keg for the boiler. It has a sankey valve on top. I will come off it with a 2" triclamp T. The side port will be plumbed to the still boiler/mash tun. The other port coming out the top will have a valve and a large jacketed or shotgun condenser. Basically when the valve is closed all steam goes to the still boiler/mash tun. With it open the steam will be recondensed and drop back into the boiler. There would be no restrictions and the steam path would never be blocked. With the valve open. It would be open to atmosphere through the condenser with it closed it would have a path through the still boiler/mash tun.
For the heat I plan to use a simi brake drum. Flipped big side down. With the axle hole pointing up. Make a door on the side to feed the fire. And a damper to control the flame. We started doing this for Dutch oven cooking. The drum being cast iron holds heat really well. The axle hole makes a good burner area. Tack a few little plates on it for stand offs. And sit the steam boiler keg on top.
I might possibly weld two droms together and make like a pot belly stove? But that may end up being to tall. I will have to play with it and see.

I have the keg 6 of the drums and some of the bits and bobs to build it. I don't have any pics at this time. I will try and get some with the stuff mocked up. So you can get a better understanding of my thoughts. It will help me also.

The only thing I have to work out is the condenser. How I will supply it with water. Without electricity. I may have to go a different route with it. Maybe feed that side into another tank full of cold or cool water. I don't want it to be too overly complicated. If I have to I will just bent the access steam into a safe place. Like an open air protected box or something. I would be wasting water if I did this though. That's another thing we have a shortage of. Good water. Well it's available. Just not easy to get and use to just waste. I have access to no less then 20 springs and a good well. But I have to haul that water to the homestead. And I only have approx 500 gal of storage space at the homestead.

Thoughts ideas are welcome and or wanted?????
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby Prairiepiss » Sun Dec 20, 2015 6:31 pm

Here is a pic of us cooking with a Dutch oven on one. So you can get an idea of what I'm talking about.
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby robb » Sun Dec 20, 2015 6:40 pm

A lot of interesting thoughts. I've often thought of how the old timers would regulate heat with wood. An art really. Could you put a tank on a stand and use gravity? Reason for a flake stand. Do you have wind for a windmill? Best to you.
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby Plaincrazy » Sun Dec 20, 2015 6:44 pm

I like where you are going with this, keep the pictures coming please :thumbup:
Prairiepiss wrote:The only thing I have to work out is the condenser. How I will supply it with water. Without electricity.


Only thing I can think of that requires no energy source would be gravity, 45 gal drum up high, drain into a pail and refill :idea:
Electric pump with solar panel and battery?
There appears to be an inverse relationship between tangible distilling problems and possible drinking problems...
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby yakattack » Sun Dec 20, 2015 6:49 pm

Sounds awesome. I'm actually quite jelous.

Now on to your problem.

I see two options.

One. Flake stand. 55 gallon drum or bigger should suffice.

Option two. Air cooled. There has been a lot.of advancements into the practical side of it.

Not sure where you are or what you have access to, but there are many ways to skin the cat.

Def keep the updates coming as long as you are able to.

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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby T-Pee » Sun Dec 20, 2015 7:08 pm

yakattack wrote:Option two. Air cooled. There has been a lot.of advancements into the practical side of it.

I was thinking the same thing, Yak. :thumbup:

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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby Kegg_jam » Sun Dec 20, 2015 7:44 pm

Big ole worm in a barrel seems easy enough. Wouldn't ya need electric for cooling fans on an air cooled condenser?
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby Prairiepiss » Sun Dec 20, 2015 7:46 pm

It would have to be a really big air cooler.
I think I would just vent it if I have to build something too big. I could do maybe something in the 55 gal drum size. But we will see. I can get a small water circulation pump. That uses very little energy.

But then again I have to also cool my still condensers anyway. So that will all add up to more then I will want to run. I will have the reflux condenser and shotgun product condenser to cool. I could change out and go with a worm and flakestand for a product condenser. But the reflux condenser will be the big challenge.
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby shadylane » Sun Dec 20, 2015 7:51 pm

Plan B
Move the still to the water
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby shadylane » Sun Dec 20, 2015 7:54 pm

Plan C
Use a small water cooled motor to drive the pump
And the hot water from the engine could be used as a 15psi boiler
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby Kegg_jam » Sun Dec 20, 2015 8:04 pm

Plan D

Generator that runs off bio-fuel
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby heartcut » Sun Dec 20, 2015 8:05 pm

Any plans for a rod pump windmill? Used to have them all over the Midwest for cattle tanks. Around 5k installed can get you 150' lift at 100 gph (or more) when the wind is blowing. Good for dishes, showers and condensers.
Low tech and will last longer than either of us.
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby Prairiepiss » Sun Dec 20, 2015 8:35 pm

Ok did I say the budget is almost nonexistent?
If I had the budget. I would just double up my solar system and run Electric.
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby john2674 » Sun Dec 20, 2015 8:41 pm

I haven't done ANY research on steam ,but could and inline steam engine or turbine be fabricated to provide direct drive or produce electricity to power a circulation pump?
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby moosemilk » Sun Dec 20, 2015 9:06 pm

Hydraulic ram pump for water If you have a source of water that has enough height. No power needed, regulate flow with a diverter so what you aren't using flows back or other needed areas.

I've read heating with wood is best done with two fires. You take coals from one fire and add to heat the boiler, or remove coals to reduce heat
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby bearriver » Sun Dec 20, 2015 9:55 pm

Haven't seen Goose Eye here of late. I bet he would have something worth saying here about them ole boys.
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby drmiller100 » Sun Dec 20, 2015 10:25 pm

Subscribed. I've been thinking on how to regulate the heat with a fire. Almost have to have a damper and sealed up stove.
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby moosemilk » Sun Dec 20, 2015 11:58 pm

bearriver wrote:Haven't seen Goose Eye here of late. I bet he would have something worth saying here about them ole boys.


I think it may have been one of goose's posts I read about how to heat with wood. Could be wrong though.

Edit: great thread here on heating with wood: http://w.homedistiller.org/forum/viewto ... 15&t=13499

Second edit: I think TB has some experience cookin on wood. Maybe he can pop in here.
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby DeepSouth » Mon Dec 21, 2015 4:48 am

The two fires idea is something we do when we cook whole hogs on the pit. Build a fire outside and shovel the coals in to regulate heat.
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby Kegg_jam » Mon Dec 21, 2015 6:00 am

Sounds like a good episode for survivor man.

Gravity fed from an elevated rain barrel. Maybe hand pump it back up as you go.

You get a workout and get to make likker.
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby drmiller100 » Mon Dec 21, 2015 7:43 am

With cooking, you are really just holding the cooking pot at a certain temperature. The BTU's to RAISE the foods temperature is really not that many.

With distilling, we need a LOT of btus on a continuous basis.

Coals give off a little bit of btus at a very high temperature. I think we need LOTS of BTUs at a reasonably high temperature.

I think moving coals won't work that well for distilling.

This morning I'm thinking I'm going to have a stove with gravity feed water, and use it to make steam with a copper coil (no solder). Then I'm going to run that steam into a heat exchanger inside my boiler.

I'm going to limit the energy of the system by limiting the amount of water which goes into the boil inside the stove.
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby raketemensch » Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:01 am

All of the air-cooled research that I've seen and been involved in uses fans.

A bank of CPU fans running at 12v might not be an issue, I don't know what sort of capacity our "number one" friend has.

I don't suppose there's a brook available?
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby BoisBlancBoy » Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:25 am

I love the whole idea and am going to be interested to see how you work this. I've got to say I like how you have implemented the truck brake drum!
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby Brutal » Mon Dec 21, 2015 9:49 am

Good to see you around PP! And what a great thread too!

Instead of a second condenser just route the waste steam pipe directly to your product condenser. Open the valve -steam straight to the PC, close the valve -steam forced through the cook pot or boiler.

A decent sized flake stand and worm seem like the right tool in this scenario. A hand pump can be used to add cool water when/if needed. You can add a hose to the side of the flake stand a few inches from the top to collect the hot water. This could then be manually added to the steam boiler if needed.
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby T-Pee » Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:29 am

I haven't seen a wood stove mentioned. Damper and regulation come stock.

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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby bearriver » Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:38 am

There are two wood fired boilers on craigslist in my area. Modifying one for a steam generator would be excellent.

It might be worth looking whats in your area.
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby DAD300 » Mon Dec 21, 2015 1:49 pm

I've seen wood fire under a steam boiler work.

Best was a long pit under the boiler where you could push wood/fire from one end to the other. Bad news is it becomes the job of a person for the entire distillation to watch the fire.
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby pfshine » Mon Dec 21, 2015 2:13 pm

Maybe a little time consuming to build but a bio mass gassifier could get you to where you want. You could use the gas like you would propane or run the gas to an old generator and use electric elements and a pump. Hell you could even use it to charge your batteries and run your house during long periods of cloudy days or storms. Gassifiers aren't hard to build and you can run them with almost anything. If I am remembering right you said you had several huge piles of sawdust on your property, that's a whole lotta electricity just sitting there. Animal dung, grass clippings, pond scum, moss mats, used grain, dang near everything can be used in a gassifier. Anyway just a thought.
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby Prairiepiss » Mon Dec 21, 2015 3:12 pm

Ok here is one of the drums. With both the legs I have available to build it out of.
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Re: Wood fired steam boiler?

Postby Prairiepiss » Mon Dec 21, 2015 3:15 pm

And here is two drums stacked like a pot belly stove. With One of the kegs.
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