The New Shed - Phase 4

Clearing away all the sod by hand took much longer than I expected. It was into September before that phase was completed. Around the sides it was a couple feet larger than the shed's footprint, but on the front I had to go all the way to the end of the asphalt driveway.

Then there was a stump and roots to deal with.

After digging away as much as I could, I blasted it with the garden hose to expose as much of the roots as possible. A chainsaw was used to cut away all the roots which could be accessed. A come-along was attached to the hitch of my truck, and cranked on to lift the stump so it could be cut at until it finally let go.

The ground was raked and cleared of any remaining organic material. Rocks and pebbles which surfaced were brought to the driveway side to be used as fill and drainage.

A check of where I needed the top of the shed/garage/workshop's floor to be showed that rather than digging down for my footing, it had to come up. Upon speaking with a supplier of stone, it was determined that it would take about one dump truck load of class A to provide the volume I needed under the concrete.

Spreading out the crushed stone took a while, even with some help from Jim and the purchase of a new rake and shovel.

The final levelling has to wait until after the form is built since the top of the class A has to be 9" below the top of the floor to allow for 4" of concrete, 2" of foam insulation, and 3" of stone.

I'm not an engineer, architect, or even a contractor, but I can do research, and I can make some pretty nice CAD drawings and do most of my own work. According to David Hewlett, that might make me a reno nerd.

The Entire Story To Date:

The New Shed - Phase 3
The New Shed - Phase 2
The New Shed - Phase 1


Fuel for the Fire

There was a sale on recently at an marine store I order from online. My wishlist there is several pages long, and whenever they have specials, I go through it to see what I need now that I can save a few dollars on. Among the essential items this time was a Contoure Heatmate 5200 stove/heater.

I already have a single burner butane stove, and a propane barbecue on the boat, so I was more interested in the cabin warming abilities of this unit than its ability to boil water. We are into the cooler days for boating now, and any time on a mooring would be much more comfortable with some economical, safe and portable source of heat.

Another reason for buying a unit like this now, is for home. It is not unusual to lose the electricity during winter storms for hours, or even days. A little heater would be quite appreciated at such a time. It would keep us warm, and cook food.

The issue, I have discovered, is what to use as fuel for the thing. It runs on non-pressurized denatured alcohol, but try finding something labelled as "denatured alcohol" in a marine or hardware store in a small town in Newfoundland. Doing a search on the internet turns up results that show even people in larger centres are having trouble buying the proper fuel. See also http://blog.bigsnit.com/2010/05/01/finding-denatured-alcohol-in-canada/.

So, I researched exactly what denatured alcohol is, and it turns out that you actually have a couple of choices for fuel in a device like this, ethanol with additives to make it undrinkable (aka methylated spirits), or methyl hydrate (methanol). The former pumps out more heat per volume, but the latter is much less expensive, however, it is more toxic. You can find methyl hydrate with the paint thinners and brake cleaners.

For food safe, you'd probably think that you can't do any better than called Fondue Fuel. A closer look at the description reveals that it "is a highly refined Methyl Hydrate that provides excellent, odour free fuel for fondue heaters and chafing dishes." Ok, so maybe it isn't as bad as I thought, in this more refined state. You can pick it up at places like Rona, Walmart and Home Hardware for about $2.50/500ml or $20 for 4L. Do not buy the gel versions for wick cylinder burners!

For a source of ethanol (ethyl alcohol), the choices are not as many, and the price jumps up a bit. The most commonly available product appears to be BioFlame Fireplace fuel. It is about $25 and comes in 3.78L jugs at both Home Hardware and Canadian Tire.

At marine stores you may find denatured alcohol products, like Captan Phab Marine Alcohol for a little over $20. Stright-MacKay has a 4L jug of fuel for $35.25, if you are willing to spend the extra coin.

Your choices and experiences will probably be different than mine, so I'd be interested in hearing what you use in your non-pressurized, wick fuel canister heater/stove.

Here is a review of the 5200 by Practical Sailor: HeatMate Takes the Chill Off - Alcohol heater-stove is a simple onboard heating solution. And a YouTube rundown on operation.