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Charcoal burners in Cumbria - pictures
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Ty Gwyn



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
Posts: 4007
Location: Lampeter
PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 14 9:31 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote    

Thank`s interesting,

The Charcoal maker`s here`s comments of the kit would be interesting.

I would have thought the opening would have been better on the back,not facing the trailer hitch,bashing ones shin`s loading and unloading.

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 9980

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 14 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I haven't had a play with the retort, but we know Alan Waters quite well. He is a member of our Coppice Group.

I don't think the tow hitch causes any particular problems Ty Gwyn, and may be a useful stand for a container like a dumpy sack when pulling out the charcoal.

As I understand the retorts are far more efficient; they produce more charcoal from the wood as not so much is burnt as 'fuel' during the firing process. The gasses given off by the wood are used to fuel the burning rather than going up the chimney so less wood is burnt. The wood can be put in in full length rather than being cut up to fit snugly in the kiln. The main drawback is that they are expensive compared to a ring kiln.

Perhaps we will go that way one day when we can afford it. We have been on one visit to both types of retort shown in the article some years ago before we started charcoal buning, and are hoping to go on another one later this year.

I would agree with you Bulworthy that once people have tried British charcoal, they tend to stick with it. There is still plenty of room for expansion to oust the imported stuff for us charcoal burners.

Ty Gwyn



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
Posts: 4007
Location: Lampeter
PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 14 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Looking at them photo`s,if a base was placed across the hitch to support a dumpy bag,access would be further restricted,plus the hitch is to high to gain full use of a dumpy bag.

The principal makes sense,using the gases produced to increase heat,on a similar principal to a catalytic converter.

A scrap yard challenge is called for.

onemanband



Joined: 26 Dec 2010
Posts: 1473
Location: NCA90
PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 14 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Ty Gwyn wrote:

I would have thought the opening would have been better on the back,not facing the trailer hitch,bashing ones shin`s loading and unloading.


Looks like there's a door at each end.

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 14 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

IIRC some people use an old fashioned charcoal kiln and use old oil drums inside to turn it into a form of retort. I can't remember where I saw the details but I recall old waste wood placed outside the drums but inside the kiln was used to start the process off and then the gasses given off by the wood inside the drums was burn off before leaving the kiln.

bulworthy project



Joined: 27 Jun 2011
Posts: 188
Location: Rackenford, Devon
PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 14 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

We haven't played with a retort either, but it is hard to see how the cost of the retort on a trailer can be justified. The only people that we know of who have bought one have used grant funding.

From what we've heard they cost about 10k to buy and then they have moving parts to go wrong with the associated ongoing costs.

Our kiln cost us £600 second hand and it has nothing to go wrong except replacing a bit of box section steel every 10 years or so.

We would be interested in looking at designs for homemade static retorts though. If you could knock one up for less than a couple of grand that was fairly robust it might work out.

bulworthy project



Joined: 27 Jun 2011
Posts: 188
Location: Rackenford, Devon
PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 14 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

On another note, if they really are processing 1600 tons of wood into charcoal, that could make a major difference to the local market for charcoal.

That would be worth getting some grant funding for a big commercial retort.

joanne



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 7093
Location: Morecambe, Lancashire
PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 14 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Turns out I know someone who works with that group. My friend's daughter's fiancé, I've known him for years and years and I knew he worked with a coppicing group but wasn't sure were.

Funnily enough I was going to ask him about ordering logs for next autumn, guess I'll be buying Charcoal from him as well now

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 9980

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 14 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Yes, I think that Alan got partial grant funding for his retort. The big ones with the double burners aren't on a trailer, and I have seen them too. I don't think they have a door at each end.

It does make a small difference to the local market, but not as much as you would think. Alan works less than 20 miles from us, the other people with the big retorts 30-40 miles away, and we don't find we lose out to them at all. Yes, they have some outlets near us, but we have some near them; depends on who got in first.

If we got a retort it would be to increase our efficiency and to increase our production. I am sure the local market could take it as there are plenty of places within 20 miles of us that sell imported charcoal (excluding supermarkets etc. which wouldn't buy from us). We would have to try for some grant funding too.

I have heard of people making their own. I have looked it up on the internet, but not sure how effective they would be.

Barefoot Andrew
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 21 Mar 2007
Posts: 22780
Location: In the 17th century
PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 14 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Meanwhile, from the same Grauniad page:-

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/video/2014/apr/11/duct-tape-paraplegic-surfer

A.

bulworthy project



Joined: 27 Jun 2011
Posts: 188
Location: Rackenford, Devon
PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 14 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Mistress Rose wrote:
It does make a small difference to the local market, but not as much as you would think. Alan works less than 20 miles from us, the other people with the big retorts 30-40 miles away, and we don't find we lose out to them at all. Yes, they have some outlets near us, but we have some near them; depends on who got in first.

If we got a retort it would be to increase our efficiency and to increase our production. I am sure the local market could take it as there are plenty of places within 20 miles of us that sell imported charcoal (excluding supermarkets etc. which wouldn't buy from us). We would have to try for some grant funding too.


We don't see it as a bad thing to have more charcoal being produced locally. The more people that are making it and making a noise about it, the more that people are aware of the reasons to buy local charcoal.

We don't know how much charcoal Alan and Jo make, but 1600 tons of wood would produce over 200 tons of charcoal even using a ring kiln. That would effect the market quite a lot, potentially in a good way.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 34205
Location: yes
PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 14 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

will the retort also make part charred wood for burner fuel.?

iirc a product between charcoal and wet wood makes good fuel from sticks etc

bulworthy project



Joined: 27 Jun 2011
Posts: 188
Location: Rackenford, Devon
PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 14 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

dpack wrote:
will the retort also make part charred wood for burner fuel.?

iirc a product between charcoal and wet wood makes good fuel from sticks etc


It will you just don't leave the wood in so long. We see one of the upsides of making charcoal that you have a good supply of "brown ends" for the woodburner.

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 9980

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 14 6:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

You might like to have a look at the Hampshire Coppice Craftsmen's Group page on charcoal. http://www.hampshirecoppice.co.uk/charcoal
It gives instructions for use and the advantages of British charcoal and there is a link to the Hampshire charcoal standard.

Bulworthy, yes, if people become aware of British charcoal and its advantages it is a good thing. The more smaller outlets there are selling it, the better. Not only does it mean a good product is available, but it gives the supermarkets with their lighter fluid soaked imported stuff a run for their money.

We usually use the brown ends in the top of the kiln so they end up as charcoal or in the bottom for fuel. We do firewood as well, so we tend to have the really odd shaped or overlength bits that we can't put in loads for our fire.

Mutton



Joined: 09 May 2009
Posts: 1508

PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 14 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Historically charcoal was a major fuel - medieval and 17th century - and was carried out of woodland on pack horses. Much lighter than carrying out the wood of course. Mainly used for cooking - but in kitchens not barbecues.

Can also be used in a brazier for indoor heating once you have it well lit and glowing - very little smoke. Only safe in draughty period houses or canvas tents.

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