Xander rewards Voices for his stellar mouse-killing skills. Soon we’ll be heading back to SLC, and Xander will lie on his back inside his crate and wail and wail, for 250 miles of a 530 mile trip. He loves the ranch.
Here we are about to gain Bridger Pass dropping into Bozeman. We followed the plow over King’s Hill pass, meeting it just as it turned around- just like last winter. This time the plow didn’t leave us facing more than a foot of fresh snow for 30 miles of unplowed mountain roads. The highway was mostly clear, save for wind-drifts, and I have upgraded the truck to the stickiest new Michelin A/T tires that have proved up nicely.
I put her in 4-wheel on the back side of the pass as the roads turned snowy, but turns out, clear roads here as well.
From the bottom of Bridger Pass we can see the Gallatin Range bordering Yellowstone National Park. We’ll follow the Gallatin river up through the pass, and that is where we’ll find a spat of winter weather.
Danger is as surprised as you are to see this contraption out of the truck and in place, with the old 300# wood stove moved off.
On the left is the J-Stove with its stainless steel barrel radiator, and on the steel bench is the mass heater. This will be their first time being connected, if all goes well.
While Danger test-fits stovepipe; The mass heater weighs about 130# and was lifted into the truck in SLC with an electric 1-ton hoist. To remove it, the steel bench was cinched to a dolly (flat) which reached the height of the tailgate of the truck. The truck was backed onto the concrete platform outside the kitchen, and the mass-heater was slid out of the truck onto the bench/dolly combo, then the bench and mass-heater were separately cinched. Then it was all rolled through the house. Once in position at the hearth brick, the dolly cinches were removed and the payload was tilted up and slid into position. E helped Danger by stabilizing the load as well as his mental stability.
Nora is so done with all of Danger’s stove tinkering. She had hoped it would all stay in SLC, but no, here it all is in Montana, and her big cast-iron stove is standing cold at her feet.
Butterfly on the main riser dampens the flow (it is open here), directing more heat into the secondary riser fitted to the mass heater.
Danger’s theory of on-site craftin’: bring bunches of stuff and fiddle till it fits, then return whatever is left.
Danger measured and measured and measured, making sure the steel bench would be just lower than the J-Stove. He welded big nuts with riser-bolts into the feet of the bench to raise it and align with the J-stove. Danger’s measures were high by 1/2 inch, and the J-Stove is now mounted on bricks and Danger is glad he put in 3.5 inch riser bolts, though it seemed overkill at the time.
Danger finds Lyle’s big wrench set and deploys the extension bolts.
The double wall pipe from the mass heater points a little bit down, as the concrete floated the tubing juust out of alignment- Danger thinks he can snug it together though.
Snugging the stainless steel pipe into the double-wall stovepipe. It all fits. Whew!
Danger recovers his mojo by making a creative solution to the too-long 8″ to 6″ reduction stovepipe coupled to a 6″ to 4″ reduction. He sleeves the 6/4 inside the 8/6 and it aligns perfectly to the T pipe on the stove, so he lines it with stovepipe caulk, then screws it together with self-tapping metal screws. This part is then calked and screwed into the existing 8″ stovepipe protruding from the wall.
The double-wall T connection with bottom dropout/clean-out is affixed to the stove.
Stove connected to mass heater: check. T connector bonded to stove: check. Chimney pipe connected to reduction: check. Now let’s tinker-toy it all together!
So close! I need just a little extra part of something…right there by the drill! (Left side mid photo)
All fitted out!
Now I loosen it all and seam inside the connections with stove pipe caulk. Then I wrap all the seams with heavy duty AL tape.
Time for a fire biscuit. Not for you Danger! Feed it to the stove.
I made a bunch of these little fire biscuits; formed of wood-chips (from the pet store), paraffin wax, a flat cotton swab, and perlite. They stay lit in wind, which is a must within the J-stove.
“My biscuits are burnin’! My biscuits are burnin’!” -Yosemite Sam-
Fire is go!
The fire will only burn at the bottom, within the stove, allowing long staves to slowly burn down into the beast.
Split firewood needs to be split small to fit in the inferno.
I brought all the piping parts to draw air from the basement, and set that up as well. The stove draws hard, and otherwise would pull sub-zero outside air through the house.
I added the steel throat, slung into the mouth of the stove at an angle to direct wood in and protect the firebrick maw. There are two air openings for the outside of the steel, pulling the air down to the low foot of the fire. There is another air port pointing down at the center providing air to a custom channel that leads to the base of the internal riser stack where superheated gasses are ignited. The stove is near to zero emission.
You might wonder; how can you split firewood down to size to fit the steel throat? Ask New Zealand, they have a great answer: this handy and precise manual kindling splitter.
The little mallet does 90% of the load, and the bigger mallet is the convincer for any stubborn bits.
E and I brought in a few wagon loads of broken discarded corral lumber, the Kiwi splitter made super-long staves of it- and it burned down nicely.
E makes fresh peanut butter cookies to keep me off the fire biscuits.
Xander and E both display symptoms of feline Stove-Syndrome.
After creating an air-baffle with rockwool around the air intake at the steel throat, we thought it might like some dressing up. E recommended “pressed tin” from Home Depot.
It matches the deepening bronze colors of the stainless steel radiator drum.
A tidy surround.
I had made an air-tight lid for capping the steel throat, and restricting the airflow to the draw through the tubing from the basement. It was dressed out as well, and I scrounged up this old ceramic insulator as the handle/weight.
Cap in-situ.
Like a fancy cake.
Well, this is all just getting a bit too fancy for the ranch.
Skinned all the way around.
Our near zero degree nights were pulling heat out of the mass in a matter of hours, leaving it stone cold by morning. So I made it this nice blanket of rockwool. That helped a lot.
The blanket got a temporary cap matching the stove, as the mass heater will eventually be skinned in stone and have a flagstone cap. Another tweak (not picutred): driving 28 giant corral screws through the mass heater (air-crete is similar to styrafoam in density, and screws jump right through it) to penetrate the interior piping, and sealing their heads with piping caulk. These became immensely hot, quickly transferring heat throughout the mass. This means less time burning wood to charge the mass, and much longer heat retention as the heat is more thoroughly dispersed.
80% less firewood. Near 0% emission. Immediate heat, with immediate feedback on level of heat desired with in-line butterfly and amount of wood. No carbon dioxide back-venting at night. No fire at night, so no danger while sleeping. No carbon build-up in the chimney. No smoke smell permeating everything in the house all winter. No visible smoke out the chimney, and little smell of smoke outside. Plus, it is fun to feed.
6-10 inches overnight at the ranch. E & I took Nora for a night walk in the storm and on our return the house looked storybook cozy.
I sat next to a Montana firefighter on a flight to Reno this fall, and described our big lovely pines by the house planted by my grandfather 75 years ago. She said they don’t pose a dire problem as the forests are up the hill and the corral and road make a good fire-brake.
It was in the 40s when we arrived, and we raked mountains of leaves from the yard, as the warm temps were fleeing in front of an arctic air mass. 10 degrees and less, with snow.
The storm breaks. Clear skies and no wind, so we head up top to walk the bluebird line along the county road. E has 6 frozen blue eggs of Bluebirds in her pocket from a nest too late in the season, and will add one more.
Mountain Bluebirds head to Mexico for the winter, but will return in March when it still looks about like this. This house is new this past summer, and spring will be its first occupancy. This bit of the ranch is delineated by imagining a line from the bottom L to top R.
This bird house marks the southern border of the ranch, on into the Little Belt Mountains.
Hawks are spinning up out of the forest, heading out to hunt on the blank wind-scoured highlands.
The forest runs out of cover, and the alpine highlands lead to the mountains.
Nora and E can hear “The Hum”, maybe it has something to do with the blurry shapes flying about that only the camera can see. Or there is frost on the camera lense.
Looking North across the winter moonscape of the alpine highlands, down and across to the Highwood mountains on the great plain of the Missouri river.
About 2/3 up the frame is all ranch land, the distant Highwoods seem to connect right into the alpine grassland.
Nora tells me how great her long legs and a long coat are. They just seem like a particular sort of fashion in town..
I sez to her, I sez, “What are yuh, 18 years old now? Time to get out from under my roof!”
I had some extra steel in the shop from building out the Rocket Mass Heater and decided to put it toward art’n. Yesterday I welded this cantilever base, bolted her back leg through the metal tube and welded a strap across the bronze between her feet to make sure she stayed put, then set her in the yard with a concrete footing.
She feels like she has always been here.
The aluminum figures around the ponds aren’t sure what to make of a bronze figure.

Sunday morning re-installation of Bonneville Upstream.

My friend Jed arrives with his handy trailer. This will make 21 fish he has helped me install.
Jed backed his twisty little trailer all the way inside the shop, all in one smooth line from the street. Impressive! The upright 2×4 is his steering guide.
I levitate the triple group of trout while Jed backs the trailer underneath.
Trout settle down, making ready for the next group.
Safety Comes When Man says, “Attach the hoist before freeing the sculpture.”
My neighbor, Chris, drops in to lend a hand. The three of us removed the trout months ago after their auto/ichthyes incident, and we will also put them back in.
Lashing down frisky fish for a ride through Sugarhouse.
We’ll be moving upstream about a mile, and trout need to move upstream to breath. This should wake them up from their long dormancy in the studio.
The Bean Whole fish transport; fueled by Jed’s craft-roasted coffee.

The rest of the morning was up at the intersection of 2100 S 1300 E, with the long turn lane still closed for street construction. This gave us a nice safe space to park and work from. The City’s public art coordinator, Kat Nix, brought hardhats and safety jackets for the guys, and pitched in with the work. The director of Salt Lake City’s Arts Council, Felicia Baca, also stopped in, joking around at how I used to be her boss back when I ran Global Artways for the City. After Jed and I had dug out the holes and installed the paired group into concrete footings, Chris made a quick trip up to help us lift the triple group into position and slurry in the concrete. Everything went swimmingly, and the trout are happily in the current again.

On-site at the intersection in the closed left turn lane. The spot just in front of the oncoming car is where they will go.
We have loosed the fish from their tie-downs, and they are ready to leap into place.
Kat keeps on eye on them while I get the fish food.
Professional fish wranglers, like Lion Tamers of yesteryear, know the essential function of a bristling manly mustache when confronting The Wild.
The pair-group jumps right into place and gets their treats.
The triple group jumps next, sassing for treats.
Jed and I stand about while the concrete cures.
They are excited to be back out in public again, among the rushing cars.
Once the concrete sets, we spread the soil and ground cover so everything looks tidy.
Another good day of fishing.

Yesterday the pair received stainless poles, today the triple got theirs.

Today I levitated the pole into position with my mind. Why didn’t I think of that sooner?
Triple with double poles. Welding took a bit more knowhow today; filling gaps between the sculpture and the pole by building up wide platforms with fat bead on the sculpture, then switching style for a strong connection to the stainless- all with the same too skinny rod, and always in an awkward crouch that makes running the foot pedal tricky.

This morning’s email had a message from the City; the shattered poles have been removed from the sculpture site and re-installation is game-on. Time to get the Trout on their new poles!

The shop becomes a fishbowl again. Time for the fish to sprout legs- stainless steel poles.
The clamps and rulers and sticks are how I establish Level & Vertical when the trout are suspended upright. Here they are suspended on their sides, with the stainless steel pipe aligned to the base of the stream hoops. I thread the pipe through ladders to establish Horizontal & Parallel from the upright measure of Level & Vertical.
Then the poles are welded in place. A bit more than half way around.
I welded the new pole to the original pole, after getting them to seat together. The force of the accident is apparent here, as the the old pipe is crushed up into the steambed form.
Almost flipped over enough to weld the underside of the pipe. The hoist was blocking the rotation, so down it came and the webbing was refit, then it lifted clear.
The pair is finished up and tied off to the float beam and its support leg, making space for the bigger group.
This rowdy bunch.
Rolled onto the side after establishing Vertical & Horizontal.
The force of the accident really pushed the bronze around. This is as close as it could come back, as the positioning of the trout are what hold the group together. The portion of pipe to the left will be cut at an angle to butt up the adjoining pipe in alignment with Horizontal & Parallel. Tomorrow.