Saturday, October 26, 2013

Yurt Report - Fire Test

Another update on the yurt.  As my shop mate Tim said, I liked it better when you were building boats.  Still, yurts is what you get for now.  This report is on the fire test, that is, on a test of whether I could build a fire in the yurt without choking on the smoke. 
But first, some outside views of the sixteen foot yurt with a skin on it.  This skin consists of big plastic banners that have done their duty.  They consist of a fabric substrate that is then coated with some sort of plastic.  On this, the graphic is printed. And when the date for the advertisement expires, they are tossed or handed off to some recycler. I got these from my friend Tim who got them from a neighbor. So yes, they're  recycled.
I don't know why, but this particular skin gives the yurt a decided third world look.  Maybe it's the ragged edge on the roof and the dirt on the white banner and the advertisement on the outside.  Looks like a place where you could buy used motor oil.

With just the white wall showing, the place looks a little more dignified.  Ropes that hold the roof and the wall in place courtesy of a friend who sold his sailboat.  Also ropes abandoned by fishing boats and washed ashore at Point Reyes National Seashore.

As I said, this is a test, the 16 foot yurt being a prototype for all aspects of the yurt technology. So far the test of the banners as a covering material has gone on for about a year.  I have already been using the banners as a cover for my kayaks.  What I found out is that the plastic deteriorates within a year, probably at the same rate as those ubiquitous blue tarps sold everywhere.   So I would probably use these plastic sheets only for temporary installations.  The amount of work to do a good job on covers isn't worth it given the short life of this stuff.  Still, for prototyping, they are just fine.  Beside the short lifetime of the banners, another major shortcoming is that they are heavy and stiff, especially in cold weather and getting them installed is quite a chore, especially for the roof.  The walls are not a problem.  There the stiffness is an asset. Plus you have to not be put off by whatever commercial message is printed on the banners. 
And now for the fire test.
The fire in progress with a bucket of water standing by just in case.
Here it is, the fire.  While the fire got going the yurt filled up with a good deal of smoke because the fire wasn't creating enough heat to generate a good updraft that would pull the smoke out of the smoke hole.  But once it burned nice and hot, the smoke was minimal, but that was with the door open.  I will have to do more testing, but I would say that with the door closed, you wouldn't really want a fire inside.  But then, having a fire would hardly be of much benefit. 
Also, this yurt is quite tall with 64 inch high walls and the smoke hole at about 10 feet elevation.  So this is a fair size space to dissipate the smoke. So for now, recommendations are, keep the sticks small to minimize smoke.  Get the fire going good and hot before you invite anyone inside the yurt, ideally, you would build up a good bed of embers first so any new wood on the fire would burn quickly without a lot of smoke.
Or get a stove. I ordered one and will report on that soon as I get it.
Shortly after sunset with some color remaining in the sky and the San Francisco skyline in the background and the tail end of Alameda in the foreground just past the yurt. 
Pretty much the same shot as the one before but with the sky just a bit darker and the yurt lit up just a little more. Either I stoked the fire or the sky got darker and the camera gave the whole picture a little more exposure.  In any case, the yurt is positively glowing.

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