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Jack Stove testing... "fuels" for thought

Posted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:03 am
by JollyRogers
I was looking through the forums here and noticed a topic about the White Box Stove. I had heard mention of this stove before in other forums but never really paid any mind. Last night I read the reviews here and found the web site where the stove is being sold.

All I can say is that it was eerily similar to the Jack Stove in look and basic design. It seems there were some issues with the White Box that needed clarified/addressed and I am concerned that when I start selling the Jack Stove people will think it is a knock-off of the White Box Stove. When one looks closer and in fact tests the Jack Stove I think the differences will be apparent, but I am concerned it may be difficult to relay those differences on the internet without directly comparing the two stoves. I also want to be completely up front about any issues the Jack Stove may have and how it performs. I'm not claiming it is the most efficient or the best stove in any category. It is just designed to be a durable, well rounded/multi-purpose stove that works well with a Heine Pot or the Jack Stove Cook Set.

So I will go over a few tests that I have made here in this thread as well as a few of the strengths and weaknesses of my Jack Stove. Please feel free to ask questions or offer constructive criticism as you see fit.

Issue #1: I never realized the extreme differences in performance based on fuels that are supposedly identical. Most of my initial testing was done with Champion brand Air Brake Anti-Freeze. This was my first mistake.
While it is labeled as methanol, it does have other additives, at very least a blue dye that leaves a blue residue wherever it burns or dries.
It also burns much slower and leaves something (maybe water) in the bottom of the stove when you burn a few ounces at a time. My muffin video was filmed using this fuel. It does not give off fumes or anything, but it is certainly not pure methanol. So I feel that the 27:55 burn time in that video is unrealistic and misleading as Heet or Denatured Alcohol will burn much hotter and not nearly as long. (I knew that would be the case with the DA, but I mistakenly assumed that Heet and the anti-freeze were essentially the same fuel.) I have also made some changes to the cook set and will be making a new baking video to reflect this.

I spent a whole day doing burn tests with all 3 of the fuels and comparing burn/boil times and the use of a windscreen. I also used Jack Stoves with 3 different sized holes to make comparisons. After 24 separate burn tests I concluded, thankfully, that my original calculations paid off and the original design, (shown in my videos), performed the best with no issues. The larger and smaller pilot holes did not perform as well.

In my testing I noticed very little difference between Heet and DA. Mainly the DA would boil about 30 seconds faster than Heet and burn almost exactly the same duration. So overall, it was more efficient. However, due to the comments I have seen about varying batches of DA and "bad fuel" I have decided to use Heet for all of my bench testing for consistency sake. I fell that the slight loss of efficiency is a small price to pay for consistency when marketing a product.

This created another problem...

Issue #2: If Heet burns too hot/too short then how will I be able to make muffins with this cookset without burning through 4 or 5 oz of fuel?

Well after spending the last week pounding my head against the wall I decided that the only way to do it was to find a way to mix the fuel based on the desired burn. Otherwise a complete redesign of the stove would be necessary. So that was my project last night. And thankfully, it was quite successful. By mixing 1/2 oz of water with 2 oz of Heet I was able to get a 27 minute burn. (This did extend the time required to boil by about 2 minutes, however. I think by adding another 1/2 oz of fuel this will extend the burn time considerably and provide more than adequate heat for the baking... I'll try that tonight).
I didn't mix a batch of fuel, as this had too much potential to create inconsistent mixes and other problems down the road I would rather not deal with. So instead I used my graduated measuring cup to add 1/2 oz of water to the stove before I added the 2 oz of fuel. This way the mixing is done in the stove and it should stay well mixed throughout the burn due to the boiling fuel/water mixture and I still have a fuel bottle full of full strength Heet for faster burns/boils. When I mixed 2 1/2 - 3 oz of fuel/water this way I did have some water residue left over in the bottom of the stove, but not much and it shook out quite easily.
The other thing I noticed when burning this fuel mix was that it takes longer to bloom and cold water can put your stove out if you don't wait for a good bloom. The flame burned with occasional yellow flame and a slightly smaller pattern but I didn't notice any soot on the stove or on the bottom of the pot after the burn.

So overall I was quite pleased with these results as my original idea remains feasible and no gear was added to the cook set to make it so. It would be very easy to mix fuel as needed out on the trail with the items included in the cook set.

Re: Jack Stove testing... "fuels" for thought

Posted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:24 am
by JollyRogers
Ok, been making muffins all night... all good ones too! The fuel/water mixture works great. Been getting 31-33 minute burn times with 1/2 oz of water and 2 1/2 oz of Heet.
Muffins are coming out perfect every time with just 1 cup of water in the cook pot. Sometimes 1 cup just wasn't enough with Heet or DA and the pot would run dry. After the burn there is water left in the stove, but it shakes right out, (not like it's going to rust! :D ).
Also using my new bail handle on the cook pot and a few other upgrades to the cook set. I would say this set it almost ready.

Re: Jack Stove testing... "fuels" for thought

Posted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:55 pm
by zelph
Deciding to use heet was a good choice. Seems to be the most consistent in formulation. I would think brake line antifreeze has something in it to prevent drying out of the rubber '"O" rings in the master cylinders for pumping the fluid.

Don't worry about others thinking you copied the WBS design. I saw that there is someone out there making an exact copy of the WBS and selling it. I copied a stove and made major improvements on it. It happens in this industry. ;)

Have faith in your product and go for it!!! Stand behind it one hundred percent. Work out the bugs before putting it for sale.

Lots of tests, lots of experience. :D Lots of pounding your head against the wall allowed you to come with the answer on how to bake with your stove. Painful way to learn :mrgreen:

There is a ton of information on this site that you won't find anywhere else on the internet thanks to stovers/stovies like yourself. Your experiences add to the knowledge base that exists here and we thank you for sharing them with us.

I like pots with bails on them. :D

Re: Jack Stove testing... "fuels" for thought

Posted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:36 pm
by JollyRogers
Thanks Zelph, your positive and encouraging comments have been very helpful in my stove and cook set designs. Also thanks to everyone here for their sharing of information and great ideas to help me through this process.

Connie D. - Just for you I went to Harbor Freight and purchased some of the Alumaweld sticks that I read about on this site in hopes that I can make a stove for you without rivets. When I get a chance I hope to be able to tinker a bit and make you a more "fashionable" Jack Stove. ;)

Well, back to work. That muffin video isn't going to make itself! :D