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  1. To continue my adventure in Bad Blacksmithing, I need fuel. To get fuel I had to either spend money (boo) or make a charcoal retort (yay), which sounds very self-reliant-y and xxxx until you realize you actually have to do it. I looked at different designs, watched some videos, and read some stuff. I focused on James Hookway's design for a charcoal retort that sent the pyrolitic gases to feed the rocket stove used to heat the wood being turned into charcoal. I even bought his plans because honestly, he thought of some stuff I hadn't and credit where credit's due. My neighbor got very excited about this project. A little too excited. He's an ok dude, just a serious pyro. And just when the weather again got very hot, he decided I needed to start building and I was baited with free material. I believe that is against international law---just giving somebody the xxxx they need to make something they weren't going to make until it was no longer 90+ degrees. So my neighbor and I dug out some lengths of 5x7 and 6x6 1/4" tube, which he then proceeded to cut (badly) with his new plasma cutter. Then I got to use the plasma cutter and I was better at it than he was but still terrible. Later I thought there had to be some tricks or templates and sure enough, the internet showed me how to not xxxx so bad at plasma cutting. I filed that away for when I get my own plasma cutter because, dang, they are cool. xxxx xx xxxx stupid hacksaw. I welded up the firebox and we assembled the rocket stove at my neighbors. My fab partner promptly named it, "Rocket J. Stove." It's moments like this that really sustain a marriage. My neighbor then gave me a stanky 55-gallon drum, lid, and clamp. It was only after I cut out the bits I needed to cut out that I realized the stanky drum and the lid did not fit. So my neighbor gave me another stanky drum, which was kinda annoying because these drums were pretty gross and the clamp for the lid that fit this one was rusted and would not move no matter how much bad language I used. Which was a lot. I called it a day, and sprayed the nut and bolt with Deep Creep. Then I had some cocktails. I got it all sorted the next day and cut the bits I need to cut, welded on a blow-off pipe, and of course, did more grinding. Do you know how easy it is to burn through the lid of a 55-gallon drum? I do. Then came the rockwool insulation and some wire garden fence that I tightened up by using ratchet straps on the outside. And I wrapped it all in some aluminum flashing. I said it was to protect the insulation, which is true, but really I did it because it's shiny. The assembled charcoal retort is named Burnie. Burnie was all assembled and loaded up yesterday. I fired up this morning. Four minutes (I timed it) from lighting a single piece of newspaper in the rocket stove to a roar. After about an hour we had the gases from the wood being pyrolized feeding back into the firebox of the stove. It was pretty awesome because I never think anything I make is going to actually work. After 3 hours, we were done. It took about 1.5 to 2 5-gallon buckets of scrap to feed the rocket stove. We had to do some adjusting because I had forgotten to drill some holes in the removeable stack as an afterburner---whoops. I also need to get some high-temp silicone caulk to use to seal everything. I used clay (per James Hookway's instructions) but that was less than stellar. Everything worked, but we had flames sneaking out. They were pretty, but the rockwool got pretty smoked in some places and I'd like to have a cleaner burn for the sake of breathing, which I am in favor of. Burnie got very hot. My non-contact thermometers hit their max, so over 888-degrees F. My neighbor kept saying next time I should fire up Burnie at night so we could see the cone of fire coming out of the stack. He also said he wanted to take off his clothes and dance around in celebration of fire but I said that he needed to be more mindful of boundries and I'd already been struck with hysterical blindness when I saw him dancing with his clothes on just a few days ago. So anyway...for this project, I had to weld a lot, which means I had to grind a lot, which means I was taking a lot of showers because I got pretty gross. Not only did the dust get everywhere, but I was sweating like people you read about in books. I was sweating so much because I was doing most of this work in my geodesic dome. I built the dome to shelter a small lap pool. Then I realized a pool is just a big bucket of water into which you throw money. Like a boat, which is a hole in the water into which you throw money. But I got rid of the pool and started taking down the dome when I decided to build my metal-working shop next year when we completely overhaul the current shop. So while the dome doesn't have a floor anymore, it still has a roof that is great for keeping the rain off you. It's also great at trapping the heat. And it was really, really hot. I'm pretty sure under my welding helmet my face was as pink and sweaty as a canned ham. And now I'm disgusted and hungry. I'll let Burnie cool over night and pop the lid open tomorrow to see if there's any charcoal in there. I'll update soon.
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