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Coatsville Update

Our three Miss Kim lilac trees, planted last spring, now in full bloom. Our big lilac bushes in the back yard were fading out by the time we returned home from MT (two weeks ago).
They smell amaazing!
The most symmetrical of the three.
The blooms are tiny and delicate, with a wonderfully sweet lilac scent.
This Columbine hybrid didn’t bloom last year, as it was newly planted. Wow!
Our Japanese Kwanzan Flowering Cherry is past bloom, and had just created a carpet of dropped blooms on our arrival home.
It hasn’t rained in Utah yet this spring. The driest on record (137 years)- April is Utah’s rainiest month, we should have 2-3 inches and a few year’s back we even saw 5 inches in one April storm. This is out of an annual average of 12-14 inches, which means devastation as we head into the hottest year on record. We returned too late to save our three year old tree out front. It was doing so well, and I’d finally brought water to the parking strip because of it. The City has assessed it, and will remove it and then at some point, replace it. So now we are years behind for any shade out there…
The tree out front is an example of why I’ve slowly converted everything to Xeriscape.
Step carefully or you may get a bee up the pantleg.
The yellow Iris bloom before the other colors of Iris.
They are taking over, slowly outcompeting the colorful hybrid Iris.
One of many Columbine hybrids in full bloom.
Another Columbine hybrid variety.
Last year I put in these steps, and all the grasses and 3 Hugel planter areas.
More Iris!
The big veg Hugel planter, with lettuce and Chard self-starting from last year.
The Trumpet Vine pergola awaits this year’s explosion.
Upper pond, with last year’s grass splitting into 25 tufts softening the hill above.
The goldfish are all happy to have us home, and the Lilly pads are beginning to surface.
The sunroom has given up its plants to the deck for the summer.
Out front the Purple Ohio Iris are beginning to bloom. Note the uncut tuft of hedge at center?
That tuft of hedge holds multiple nests of Praying Mantis!
Velvety purple Iris smell a bit like grape Bubble-Yum.
Blooming ground-cover at the entry path.
Lillies of the Valley in the shade of the porch.
I was welding up a set of these metal planter boxes for a neighbor with a welding business, and headed over to his shop to help him lift a heavy steel project. I stepped out of his shop (a shipping container) and turned my ankle. It is likely a #2 sprain on a scale of 3. An eventual realization of torn ligaments, swelling, bloody bruises, following an initial shock with nausea and cold sweat and spinnies while laying on the grass spitting expletives, followed by the hopeful denial of trying to walk it off and realizing that it really was as bad as it seemed and retreating inside for ice-packs and elevation. This was more than a week ago. I am just now able to get around and do some light-duty gardening. I washed E’s Montana-Muddy car last night, but will have to wait on the Montana-Muddy truck- as I’m sore again today. Most of the mud is already gone, as the cars were jet-washed by intense rain and sleet over the mountain passes on the way home.
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.
8 shorts from the end-cuts bin at Wasatch Steel, cut on my Evolution metal miter saw and welded up. This bench holds the Mass Heater from the previous post at the correct height to align stovepipe from the J-Stove.
All this pretty metal will be under the Mass Heater.
Spray-painted in “Oiled Bronze”
The rear ladder is a guard for the J-Stove, as I’ll store lengths of wood under the bench.
Each leg has a large nut welded within, and a bolt to adjust height to align with the J-Stove vent pipe.
E spotted 3 boxes of this stone veneer at 1/8 price.
Enough to cover three of the sides (short ends and this long side), all but the side facing the wall. I’ll cover the top with native flagstone.

Hooray for the learning curve. This iteration of a mass heater weighs in at just over 100lbs, and took a day to create.

simplicity. Mold form is a plaster hardy-backer board that is an aspect of the form, rather than the previous pop-away mold form. An external frame holds the thin board in place and will absorb the liquid pressure against the form. The seams are sealed with drywall paste.
The stovepipe ends are added in with AL tape and drywall paste on the bottom, and a salvaged board with a routed hole holds the top pipe in-situ. AL vent pipe taped together makes an “S” in the stove, using two straight flexi pipe connected to the stove pipe ends, the straight flexis meet at a short flexi forming the bottom curve of the S.
The drywall screws poking into the interior will help anchor the walls and the aircrete. This is my maximum size possible with a 3’x5′ panel; 14″ x 36 “floor, 13″ x 14″ front/back, 16″ x 36” sides.
Two days of curing in 75 degree temps, an inch or two of shrinkage at the top- and so I poured an un-airated concrete & perlite backfilled with cured aircrete “stones” from the demo’d mass. This will make a nice hard top for the form, and I may grind it flat for a reveal of the red aircrete backfill stone and white bits of volcanic perlite.
Rolled up in the old rubber pond liner to retain moisture in the desert wind, and build heat for a better cure. This form I can easily move into the studio for the weekend snowstorm, and has about 1/4 of the footprint and 1/3 the weight of the demo’d mass- so the trip to the ranch will be easy. Now I just have to weld up the little bench it will sit on to align with the J-Stove.
After a week of curing. At least 300lbs. The mold is unscrewed and pops away clean. Some settling and a bit of layer separation at the bottom where I had technical issues with the first few mixes and they collapsed as they cured. A lot more red dye in those first mixes.
I back poured some collapsed areas with quickrete/perlite- the gray area…
The underside is the bench seat, and it came out smooth and strong.
The bench was an easy weight reduction of 40lbs. The mesh caused issues of a hollowed out collapse in the body of the form. It deflected the mix in a few other areas as well.
And the narrow bit of wall sawzalled off like styrofoam (embedded with rebar). Still over 200lbs. WTF? you might ask. Well; too big is too big, and a fail is a fail.
I ripped the top layer of aircrete & mess away without too much trouble, exposing another layer of solid concrete back-pour into a big gap.
Salvage the expensive bits. This bit of stovepipe is worth more than the all the concrete.
Sawzall weight reduction so I can expose the bottom. The venting system was flawless.
Easily tipped on its side now, this would have been the top.
Stovepipe salvage complete.
The is the Gorn’s stash of throwing boulders for lobbing at Captain Kirk.
All tidied up for round two.

First, lets remember the J-Stove / Rocket Stove project: https://youtu.be/V2q4g-5P8Js

To capture the heat from the J-Stove, a secondary stove pipe connects into a separate mass, the pipe then exits the mass and rejoins the main J-Stove stove pipe to flow out the chimney. This is the mass form I designed and made. It will warm to a few hundred degrees durning a 40 minute burn of the J-Stove and radiate heat for 8 to 12 hours.

The side vent of the stove fits into the hole pictured below- the mass form is upside down and will have a welded metal platform to align it with the side vent.

This is the mass heater form / mold, inverted for pouring in the mass. It will have stove pipe connections and tubing added, along with rebar and expanded metal to add strength to the mass of aircrete (foamed concrete). This form provides a large mass and a bench for warm seating.
The holes are where the tubing will enter and exit, and the L shape is the bench. The form is made of one 4×8 sheet of Laminated 3/4″ MDF. It is screwed together, then hot glued, then silicone sealed along all edges and some exposed MDF was taped over as well to create a water tight form that could hold hundreds of pounds of aerated concrete.
The fins under the seating ledge provide support for the concrete weight it will bear.
It has to live through the pour, holding hundreds of pounds of liquid concrete, then after the concrete cures it has to be able to come apart and knock free of the internal mass.
The form had to wait a bit on the order of two 6″ long sections of 4″ diameter double-wall pellet stove vent that fit into the enter/exit holes. I thought I had the right pieces already…then tape on the flex tubing and add in a rebar cage with expanded metal to carry heat through the mass.
Another layer of expanded metal is added to bolster the seating platform (remember, the form is upside down / inverted for pouring.
All connections have to be secured from the outside, and water tight.
Hats off to the Honey-Do Carpenter for the aircrete cannon and aircrete recipe- just add warm water and a bit of shampoo (and my air compressor) for foam too thick to shave with. Then I use a “barber-pole” drill bit to lift the concrete mix from the bottom of the bucket into the foam laid over it, until all the concrete is suspended in the foam. It seems impossible, but it works.
The aircrete mixing station: 17 five gallon buckets will fill the form- at about 1/3 the weight of concrete. So about 300lbs, should have been 275 but the first three buckets were a bit off. Nora is next to the drill with the concrete mixer attached (black), the silver spiral between Nora and the drill is what I used to blend the concrete into the foam.
The main mass of the form is more than half full. I’m using a red dye in the aircrete.
This is all very tiring, and I’m only half convinced it will work- the form could blow out at the sides/bottom, the aircrete might not set, and even if it does the thing is a lot more massive than I had conceived.
4 hours after the pour is finished and not even beginning to cure out.
I wake up with a dread that the form has popped overnight, and the concrete never set, and it all flooded into the pond and killed all the fish and ruined the pump and waterfall. Now, 5 days later, and after 3 nights below freezing wearing a foam cap, it is solid and curing toward a respectable hardness.

I’m letting it cure into next week. There has been some small shrinkage/settling that will need another round of pouring- I may use a fast setting concrete to make a stronger platform for the mass, then I will remove the form. If all that is successful, I’m going to cut it down in size quite a bit. This is designed as the ideal form to have at the ranch that can fit into the back of the pickup, but it is too heavy to move without at least two more strong guys and a bit much for a 500 mile trip in the back of the little pickup. I’ll remove the bench and bevel an angle into the body of the mass, dropping around 100lbs. If all that works out, it will travel up to the ranch sometime this fall for installation and testing.

I found this armoire for free, just a few blocks away. It had seem some hard use, but two days of Danger tinkering and she is ready to travel to the Montana ranch (she’ll nearly fill the bed of the truck).

3 Part Armoire. Mirrored Door. The biggest triage was making new interlocking boards between the drawer section and the closet section. Simple in theory, but it needs to align perfectly so when they seat together they seal tight. I had to wait for E to come home to help lift the closet on and off to set the pieces.
Steel wool carrying beeswax with orange-oil loosened black grime and paint splatter. It wiped away with a sacrificial microfiber towel cut into sections for degrees of yutz.
Both inlay panels are intact and cleaned up nicely.
Fleur de Inlay with flaming grail.
The door hardware is intact. Twist the hoop and now the latch catches and releases. I have an old skeleton key at the ranch that will likely fit the lock.
The center rear panel is new birch, still debating whether to stain it. The side panels just needed their tops and bottoms trimmed to fit and lots of fresh staples. A piece of oak is just behind the bottom edge of the door, securing the wall to the floor. The weight and pressure of the door had shattered the old bit of wood holding things together there. It was a few hours of fiddling to get that one detail to come together.
Also added in; a clothes hanger rod. This took some new supports for the walls.
The bottom of the drawer needed reattaching, and a side wall dovetail connecting to the face board had split out and needed glue with a long clamp overnight. The lateral runner bars needed resetting, and I added a back bumper strip to act as a stop.
Last week’s triage was repainting a portion of the bathroom door. First, removal of hardware.
I stripped the door down to the wood, removing old stinky lead paint. Then repainted and reassembled and rehung. This was necessary after using Costco’s mild bleach cleaning wipes around the door handle for a few years- it melted the binders in the paint.
There is a blizzard at the ranch, and here it will drop into the 30’s with rain and wind- so we moved all the deck plants back into the sunroom. The fig tree is blocking half the room, and I can hardly open the door. The sliding glass door is completely blocked as well. Things got big this summer!