scavenger stove

Back in October of 2013,

… we were hanging out with our friends Jacque & Bob, doing some “Dead End Squadding” – cruising the outskirts, hunting abandoned houses, ruined shacks, burned barns, and other such dead ends, investigating the histories and appreciating the beauty and interest we find there.

And, scavenging.

Jacque in the appliance graveyard
Widget & Jacque in the appliance graveyard

We usually just enjoy the places and take photographs, but when necessary, we’ll rescue some stuff …

Bob in the ruined trailer
Bob in the ruins

This particular “shed spread” was literally falling apart, and it seemed the owner hadn’t been around for over a decade.

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He’d been an interesting guy, judging by the half dozen giant blackboards that we found scrawled with diagrams and notes, buried in the collapsing trailer’s waist-deep piles of refuse. We sorted through moldy letters and notebooks, getting an understanding of who he had been and what he’d been up to out there.

Toward the end of our time exploring this dead end, we discovered an old woodstove –  rusting, cracked & missing a couple of legs, but functional looking nonetheless.

pulled from the wreckage
pulled from the wreckage

The thick iron firebox was weighted down with firebricks: it was a tricky walk back out to the road through the rutted fields with the stove between us.

 

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A couple of months later,

– we saw a post pop up in the Craigslist Free section that got us to get back out of bed, get back in our clothes, and go rolling through the alleys of South Minneapolis. It was for 16 Grolsch beer bottles, put out in the alley for whoever came by first to pick them up. Kristin brews beer, so those bottles were desirable – and we were both in the mood to go get them.

We were, indeed, the first vultures on the Grolsch scene, but as it turned out that other things we found along the way were the real treasures.

When we drive through the southside, we use the alleyways whenever possible, cruising for the wonderful free things that people often set out by their trash cans. On our way down toward the beer bottles, we scored a couple long sections of 6″ stove pipe, complete with elbows, a chimney cap, and a flue.

(And then, after we got the bottles, we found a shock-absorber-straining heap of landscaping bricks …)

 

Fast forward to today –

– we loaded up the car (with the dogs, Kristin’s dad Jim, and a bunch of tools) and headed to the Farm. It had snowed several more inches since our ‘Homecoming’ visit, so we still couldn’t get in with the car. We used the sled to haul our supplies up the hill, and got to work bringing heat to the trailer.

We didn’t know where exactly we wanted the stove to go. We weren’t sure if the stovepipes were the right size, or how they would work to meet our needs – we expected they might help some, but would require supplementation from purchased components – which we avoid whenever we can (both to save money and to avoid trips to the damn store).

In spite of all the uncertainty, the project flew along with grace and ease. The scavenged stovepipe pieces required only the slightest modifications to run where we wanted it to go – we merely cut one section down a few inches, and removed another short segment. Other than that, the already existing elbows all worked perfectly for where we wanted the stove to sit, and the window we wanted to run the chimney out of.

We took apart an old DIY trailer fender and used the sheet metal to seal in the window where the pipe ran out, and found a piece of thick plexiglass for the other side. Some old aluminum brackets I’d inherited from my dad’s basement junk hoard held the chimney in place, and a scrap of corrugated steel siding served as the heat-insulating spacer.

creating the insulating airspace between the cement board & the wall
creating the insulating airspace between the cement board & the wall

The stove was nestled into its new fire resistant home, among a couple of pieces of cement backer board (alley), a limestone tabletop (Craigslist Free ads), a granite streetcar paver block (road construction on Nicollet & 38th), and a landscaping brick (same alley cruise that’d yielded the stovepipes).

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the cementboard came from the alley pre-decorated, tastefully, with spraypaint designs
the cementboard came from the alley pre-decorated, tastefully, with spraypaint designs

 

the stovepipe mounting bracket was already at just the right height to attach to an existing screw
the chimney mounting bracket was already at just the right height to attach to an existing screw

We were done well before the sun went down; the project gone from zero to completed in a single day, thanks to a well-stocked junkpile, a lot of luck, and our shared love of scavenging.

 

the cementboard came from the alley pre-decorated, tastefully, with spraypaint designs

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4 thoughts on “scavenger stove”

  1. I was thinking about your heat/fuel needs and thought maybe you could use used cooking oil. might be able to get folks to bring their old oil in and use it somehow. i put it on the fire down the road and 2-3 gallons of peanut will burn for a long time.

    1. We actually have almost 5 gallons of used frying oil that came in a 55 gallon drum we scavenged. We were thinking of using it to make lanterns …

  2. you can buy oil lamps in most stored really really cheap. Probably $5/each. They will burn cooking oil but they’ll smoke and stink which isn’t too bad if they’re used outside i guess. the chimneys on those make the flames burn brighter and they’re more controlled. either way if you could start a trend in which you’re the recipient of your friends unwanted oily bits then you could do well with your oil-hoard in the future.

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