Saturday, 23 October 2010

Siberia to Syria, yurt heating solved.

Picture the scene, it's Friday, midnight, I've just arrived after a 100 mile drive from London and am looking forward to a weekend in the yurt and some fresh air and creativity, it's pretty nippy so as soon as I get into the yurt, a fire is started, loads of wood, big handfuls of coal, sorted, it's getting nice and warm.

30 mins later it's hit 50c, I'm outside, in the rain, in my pants, desperate to stop the sweat pouring off me, longing for a freezing cold duvet. It wasn't happening. 4am, the temperature inside the yurt drops to 30c and the door can be closed to keep the rain out and FINALLY I can get some kip.

Ok, so maybe wood isn't the way forward in temperatures above -15c, so I toddle off to the local manshop that sells coal, gas, paraffin, spuds, stuff like that, and buy 50kg of Taybrite coal nuggets (smokeless). The result? awesome, it takes a lot longer to get up to temperature, but once the coals are lit and glowing, they are utterly controllable and last for ages. Fantastic for a slow tickover though the day and though the night till morning. It's currently 5c outside the yurt and 25c inside, a nice cosy difference :)

I'm not totally sure what to do with the tonne of logs bought last month, maybe the weather will turn all Mongolian and the logs will be needed, who knows.

So, in a nutshell, if you're heating a yurt with a Prity FG15, use coal, it rocks!

The crown cover is holding out very nicely, no unravelling or fraying, the Toyota sewing machine did a fine job. For some reason, all the earwigs have abandoned yurt, there used to be loads of them under the bands that go round the outside to hold the covers in place, now there are none. Are earwigs migratory?

Monday, 18 October 2010

Rebuilding the crown cover.

Unfotunately, Mongolian webbing is crap, not a well known fact but there it is, it's pants. After less than 4 months outside, it has copped some UV damage from hell and has turned to powder, literally powder, you can pinch it with your fingers and it will crumble. Given that a large part of the structure of the crown cover depends heavily on nylon webbing, this is rather a big deal. The trim that stiffens the edges and stops the cover flapping had gone, and more importantly, the loops that held the ropes to keep the cover on the crown and the rain OUT of the yurt were beginning to snap.
Not being one to dwell on such things, I decided to buy some pukka UK sourced webbing from and spent a good few hours replacing every single bit of crumbling webbing on the crown cover. I hope no one reading this ever has to do the same, but if you are in the same situation, leave a message or email me and I can take you though the steps. It can be done with a standard home sewing machine and medium thread, no industrial machine is needed.
It all looks great now, lovely white cover with a black webbing trim. Sorted.

Next stop, the hunt for a decent leisure battery to power the smaller yurt appliances.

First nights.

Finally, last weekend and this weekend I got the spend a couple of nights in the yurt, and what a difference a week makes. Last week I made the MASSIVE mistake of lighting a fire in the woodburner before checking that it was actually cold enough outside to warrant a fire. In under 30 minutes the inside temperature was 40c and I was going mad with heat. Ended up sitting on the porch at 1am in my pants just trying to cool off and wait till the fire died off a bit.

This weekend was a little colder, so another fire was lit, and was going nicely (had jacket spuds in the woodburner oven, they were yummy!) so I shut it down to keep it going while a few other jobs were taken care of. Couple of hours later a friend tell me that she can hear the carbon monoxode detector going off in the yurt, this isn't good. The detector was indeed beeping like mad, I noticed that the smoke coming from the chimney had a strange plastic smell to it, so I inspected the wood and found that the offcuts that had been going on the fire were tannalised, the likely cuplrit for the fumes that freaked the detector out. Those bits will be outside use only from now on.

Anyhoo, once the fire had died, I felt safe to get some kip, except that it was still too hot, so I waited, then it got too cold, then it rained. It was like trying to sleep in a plastic cup.

I'm going to try some anthracite on the fire to see if it's any better at ticking over nicely and keeping the yurt warm over night.

Hot or cold, it soon pales into insignificance when you can fall asleep in your little round room that's lit by the moon.

Monday, 4 October 2010

New stove, all is well.

The Prity arrived on Thursday, I only got my grubbies on it Saturday and I am quite impressed so far. Weighing in at 132kg, the Prity isn't light, or small, in fact it kind of dominates the yurt a bit with it's 93sm height, but I'm fine with that, the requirements were control, heat and cooking, not aesthetics, and the Prity has all three and doesn't look too bad. It fired up in no time with a couple of pound shop firelighters and some bits of pallet. The instructions state that the paint has to cure during the first use of the fire, so I opened the crown cover to let the no doubt toxic paint fumes out. Once that was over, a couple of MASSIVE chunks of wood went on and it was time to see how it dealt with slow burn. It dealt very well in fact, after shutting off the air and leaving the fire to smoulder over night, the Prity totally consumed about a cubic foot of decent quality seasoned wood by morning, just fine ash was left.
The oven part got to 200c according to the internal dial, plenty hot enough to do pizza or spuds. The top of the fire is quite large, it would be nice if it all got hot enough to cook on because it could easily accomodate three or four big pans. Time will tell I guess.
Yet AGAIN the silicon flue that mounts in the crown cover, split. That's the second one now, I'm starting to suspect that the markings on the silicon should be ignored and that it would be better to merely cut the collar to 1" smaller than the flue and leave it at that. For now I have just pumped a whole tube of clear silicon into the gap to seal it against rain till next weekend. I'll see how it deals with heat later.
You really can't beat a night in a yurt, the owls hooting and a beautiful fire flickering away in front of you, it's mesmerising.