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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Fancee Feest Clone

I like simple stoves, I want it to heat my water up efficiently and quickly. I don't need it to have a ton of bells and whistles, just get the job done.

I like the pop can stoves for their simplicity but they just are not that durable and I also hate having to play with them continually hoping they work every time. So in my quest for the perfect stove I stumbled upon Zelph's Stoveworks. He has done some amazing things in the world of backpacking stoves.

My favorite stove for its simplicity is the Fancee Feest stove. It is very basic and you don't need a pot stand. Just plop the pot on top and light her up. No priming, no tweaking, nada.... The key with it is the fiberglass cloth that acts like a wick to pull the fuel up to be burned. This wicking action aids in making the stove more efficient and uniform.

Picture of Fancee Feest Clone:

Video of First Burn:

I decided to attempt to make my one myself, even though hindsight shows that I could have probably come out money/time ahead if I had just bought one from him, but where is the fun in that?

So far it is working pretty well. I am still not completely happy with it and will continue to tweak it. Today it was boiling two cups of water with one ounce of fuel in about 6-7 minutes and had a total burn time of 9 minutes. The stove has a three ounce capacity so it should even be able to handle group size pots.

Having built this one, I am starting to envy his Starlyte stove and may attempt a building one in the near future. Fire is fun...

Dual Purpose Prototype Stove

I have been trying to find a wood/alcohol stove that would nest inside of my current pot. I primarily use the IMUSA four cup aluminum mug and have not found any stove combination that fits inside of it nicely.

Recently, I was looking at Jim Wood's site and came across his Fire Bucket Stove System. I really liked the concept of a dual purpose setup that could be used with an alcohol stove or burn wood. My only issue was that it still would not nest in my pot. After playing with it for a while I came up with this design. It is two strips of four inch wide flashing that can be used separately as a wind screen or nest together for burning wood. Tomorrow will be the big test to see how well it works.

Wood Setup:

Alcohol Setup:

Video of setup options:

All collapsed and nested into pot:

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Old Setup - Pre 2009

I have gone through quite a few iterations of what I would consider the optimal backpacking gear setup. Historically I have been a ground dweller that lived in and under tents and tarps, but no longer. After having so many nights of terrible sleep and waking up feeling like I was 80 years old with arthritis, I decided to look for something lighter and more comfortable. For a ground dweller those terms seem to be mutually exclusive, where comfort means more weight and less weight means less comfort.

However, after doing research I found the world of backpacking hammocks. At first they did not seem to be a realistic choice, with all the options and complexity that goes into getting one of these setups. Not to mention I was really worried about how I was going to stay warm and dry in one.

My curiosity made keep contemplating them and I finally decided to get a cheap one to test. I got a Ultra-Light Travel Hammock from EMS for around $15 when they had a sale and gave it a go. I had it strung up in the yard within minutes and gave it a test. I played with it some more and decided that it was worth pursuing.

The only hangup I had for the Travel Hammock is that it really won't cut it camping here in New Jersey as is. It does not have a bug net to keep out the swarms of insects nor does it have a tarp or any way to keep it dry in our torrential downpours. But thanks to one of the best communities on the Internet, Hammock Forums, I found a myriad of solutions to resolve any of my hang ups.

My current setup is this:

Hammock: Modified Ultra-Light Travel hammock. I added a second layer to the hammock in which to hold a closed-cell foam pad.

Suspension: The stock ropes that come with the Travel hammock just doesn't cut it as they are too short to accommodate most tree distances, nor do they provide adequate protection from scarring the trees. I replaced each rope with 12 foot seat belt straps from StrapWorks and added two aluminum SMC descending rings on each side.

Tarp: I vacillated on how to keep dry and was always scared off by the cost of buying a backpacking tarp. I looked at building one but by the time I got all of the materials acquired I could have bought a pre-made tarp for the same cost. In the end I got a Spinntex Deluxe tarp from OES, it weighs less than 10 oz and provides ample protection from the elements. The best part about it, is that it does not allow moisture through like sil-nylon when you brush against it while under it.

My main insulation is a closed-cell foam pad that slides between the two layers on the hammock. For NJ weather it seems to be adequate and also a really cheap solution. When I went camping with the scout troop over New Years I used a pad and also sleeping bag over the top of the hammock. It was way to warm, I woke up sweating in 11 F. degree weather.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Nimblewill Nomad Little Dandy Stove

I have started to get into backpacking/emergency stoves. I spend way to much time looking and thinking about these stoves. So far I have five stoves ranging from canister stoves, alcohol, and wood.

What I really dislike about the canister stoves is I can never tell when I am going to run out of fuel. So I end up carrying an extra canister which goes against the ultra-light backpacking principles.

Alcohol stoves are great and super cheap to build and use. However, they take a lot longer to boil water than the canister stoves and I hate packing alcohol.

My perfect stove would be super light and have an unlimited fuel source, and it would be efficient. In addition I want it to take up the smallest volume of my pack possible.

With those desires I used the 'Google' and found Nimblewill Nomad's Little Dandy Stove. It collapses down to about the size of a CD case and can be used for wood and alcohol.

Stove Build Instructions

My first prototype used light weight aluminum flashing and was built exactly to the specs on Nomad's directions. It was super light, but in hindsight a little too light. The fire in it got so hot that the weight of the pot with water in it folded the aluminum.

Light Aluminum First Attempt

Light Aluminum First Attempt with a Four Cup IMUSA Cup

Light Aluminum First Attempt Video - First Fire

About 10 minutes into the first burn the aluminum buckled and dumped the boiling water.


After seeing how the aluminum flashing was not going to handle the heat and weight of the pot, I decided to use some light steel for prototype 2. In addition I also decided to adjust the size of the stove so that it better fit my pots. I shortened the width by about a half inch and the length by an inch. This picture shows the comparison between the new stove and the old one.

Stove is the correct size to be used as a pot stand/windscreen for the brass Trianga alcohol stove.

First burn with the steel prototype.

I was able to get three cups of water to boil in around twelve minutes during a fairly windy day using only a handful of twigs.

Picture of stove collapsed:

I am happy with the end result and how well it works. It is heavier than I wanted, I believe it is around seven ounces. If I decide to use this as my main stove I am going to build it with titanium and it should reduce the weight by half.

I am going to build another prototype of this stove and get rid of the holes in the side plates and trade the base plate with a steel grate. It should help with the efficiency of the stove and help it block the wind better.