Pocket Rocket Mods.

David's picture

All last week I've been thinking on making some modifications to the pocket rocket. After I built it, I read that the metal bucket will burn to a crisp real quick. I read that after only two burns, the rocket could be toast. They didn't say anything about the environment in which they were using the stove, but it seems to be well known that if a fire is burning directly on sheet steel, it won't last long. So I wanted to devise a simple way to get the fire off of the bottom of the can. A quick rummage through my 'inventory', gave me some good options.

I came back inside with a wire spool and some thin brick. The wire spool (not 'spool of wire') was a heavy gauge wire that is formed into a spool in which barbed wire is wrapped around. I was thinking I could use this wire to form a grill that would keep the wood off the bottom of the bucket. The brick came out of an old bbq grill. I figured I could line the bottom and sides with this. Before I found the brick I was just going to toss in some soil to do the same job. But the bricks would make it more practical for removing ashes. And with that, I got to workin'.

I went ahead with the brick inlay first. I measured the inside of the bucket to get my diameter. I wanted to line the sides with the brick as well, so I made adjustments to the diameter so that the side brick will fit tight between the floor brick and the bucket wall. It's just common horse sense. The diameter ended up being 9-1/2". I made a template of the circle in a piece of cardboard. I then configured the brick on the floor to ensure the entire 9-1\2" would be covered. Placed the template on top and marked my circle. And with a bit of dremel and grinder work, I had a nice round circle of brick. With the leftover brick I had, I was going to line the walls but found out the I should have made my circle slightly smaller. (*Note to self: If you take precise measurements, you need to make precise cuts.) I simply failed to realize how much the radius of the bucket will effect the flat bricks. I could have went back and ground down all the edges of the brick, but instead I just lined half the wall. My theory is, being how the draft will pull the flames and heat to the flue, the opposite side shouldn't be getting any direct heat. If my theory is incorrect, and the bucket gets toasted on this side, then I accept full responsibility.

With the brick in, it was time to get working on the grill. The pre-formed wire had to be bent straight before I could begin to shape it into a grill. Did I say bend? I meant beaten. The wire is about the thickness of a pencil and I don't think a gorilla with a kung-fu grip could have straightened all the kinks in this wire. My hammer and railroad track made quick work of it though. I decided to form the wire into a spiral similar to a burner on an electric stove. It would fit snuggly inside the feed tube, held in place at the bottom by a few screws. It took a good long while to turn the wire into a decent spiral. Eventually I had what I wanted... a good-for-nothing spiral. Oh yeah, I made a spiral, and it fit snuggly, and it had good looking gaps to hold wood and still drop ashes. All was right as rain until I took a good look at it and came up with another theory. Normally, the wood would sit on the bottom and the draft would pull the flames sideways and up the flue. With my new grill, the draft would have to pull the flame down to get it out of the feed tube. I think it would be too easy and too convenient for the fire to simply burn up, and pull the draft from the flue. I could be wrong, but I didn't want to even take the chance. I didn't include the grill but I am keeping it just in case I'm feeling froggy.

After all that jazz, I put the lid back onto the bucket and prest'o- change'o, a new pocket rocket is born. I did put some ashes into any cracks around the bricks, for what ever added fire protection I could get, plus it helps to keep the bricks in place. I also want to coat the outside with a layer of oil to try and stave off rust. But it's all ready to fire up. I'll probably get around to doing that when ever we get a balmy day of -10C. If all goes well on that day, I'll look into getting more flue pipe and get a semi-permanent install. But it's lookin' real good. I'm happy.

I'd like to mention an additional benefit of having bricks in the bucket. Because of the added weight on the bottom of the can, I can now carry the stove by the bucket handle and the stove will not tip over. Normally, the 24" flue tips the bucket requiring two hands. The bricks solve that. It also occurred to me that this makes the stove even more portable. The stove is quite light, and can easily be carried around, even with a fire blazing away inside (as long as the draft continues in the right direction of course).

I really like this pocket rocket, and can see it being used in many situations. It could be used inside of any out building or shelter, including a tent. Easily toteable by hand, or rig to a bicycle trailer. Install one in a B.O.V. if you want. Although my flue is screwed to the lid, it doesn't have to be. Make the flue hole a tight fit so it can hold itself up,but still be able to be pushed into the bucket for more compactness. I'm sure I'll be dragging one around with me on cold days when I have work to do outside.

Woah! What is this!? Pictures! Yup, we finally picked up a camera. We should have pictures from here on out. Enjoy!


Rachel's picture

That's one snazzy build job! Have you thought of building a masonry type of base in the house with a hole in it for the rocket stove to sit in that would absorb the heat from it and protect from burns?

Oh, and congrats on the new camera! :-D

By Rachel
David's picture

Shoot! I dog-gone sure did think of a way to collect and store the heat! It's one of the major perks of a rocket stove, and I sure as heck ain't gonna let it go without it. But because the pocket rocket is only temporary, I'll probably just drystack a few masonry bricks around it. On my initial burn I had it sitting on a squat, little, metal table which I think will work out ideally.

What I plan is, I'll build a curved wall of stacked brick that goes around the stove and table. But at the front of the stove, I'll leave an opening in the brick wall at floor level. What I'll end up with is brick that provides radiation and a battery of heat, and an opening that provides quick heat convection. The opening at the bottom will be below the stove, and there shouldn't be any accidental touching of the stove. I hope it works that way anyhow.

By David
Criddles's picture

Now the pics really confused me! What is that for if you already have a wood stove? or is it just like a small transferrable type heater? At first when you said "pocket rocket" I was thinking it was a type of flying toy. LOL!!!

By Criddles
David's picture

Too funny! Flying toy? I just pictured myself spinning around with the pocket rocket in my hands, and then letting loose like an olympic hammer thrower. Add a bottle of whiskey and ya got yer'self a family sized molotov cocktail. The Finns would be proud.

But to answer your question..., the wood stove you see in the picture is in the basement of Patricia's sister house. The pocket rocket will go into the cob studio temporarily, until Spring when we are able to build the permanant rocket stove.

By David