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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Shipmate Stove

More adventures from Uniberp :
Browsing CLFS (craigslist for sale) Friday morning (day off from wrk) the 5th item was a Shipmate wood stove for 200. I bought it for $208. It's old but works; I fired it up the first day and burnt my fingertip All needed parts included. No stove holder or removeable grate shaker handle.
It's this model:
There was a full page ad in the Sunday paper from a company that wants to set up a propane export facility at one of the Port of Portland's terminals. It was all about jobs and how clean burning propane is. No mention, naturally, of how dangerous it can be. It's not dangerous if it's handled properly, but any time you have a long term operation there are going to be times when somebody slips up. It's pretty remarkable that our industrial operations maintain such a good safety record.
     Propane is a popular fuel. We use it for barbeque grills and propane torches. When burned it is very similar to natural gas. Stored it is much different. Compressing propane with a modest amount of pressure turns it into a liquid, which is why a bottle of propane can supply you with enough fuel for a whole season of grilling. Natural gas doesn't like to be compressed. Squeezing enough into a tank to have a useful supply requires very high pressures and very strong tanks.
    Another difference between propane and natural gas is that natural gas is lighter than air so when you have a leak it drifts off into the atmosphere and is dispersed. Propane, however, is heavier than air and when you have a leak it sinks to the ground. If you are outside this usually isn't a problem, any little breeze will quickly disperse it.
   However, a propane leak in a closed space, like the hull of a boat, can cause a disaster. Because propane is cheap and compact it is often used as a fuel for stoves on boats. Because everything contained tries to escape, and people make mistakes, like forgetting to turn on the bilge blower before they light the stove, occasionally a boat blows up.
   No such problem with a Shipmate stove. I visited some folks in New Mexico 40 odd years ago who were living off the grid. They had a cast iron, wood burning cookstove. The lady of the house claimed she could boil water in ten minutes starting with a cold stove. I think that would take some practice, but people are, if anything, adaptable.

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