Mixing ash with your garden soil?

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Technical & Discussion

Wood AshWhat to do with your wood stove ash?

Well I usually rake it into my garden as it seems a waste to throw in the black or brown bin. But this was only after a bit of trial and error. At first I didn’t mix it in and it then formed a grey lump which looked a bit like soft concrete. It turns out that this is caused by the calcium in the ash which usually makes up 25% of wood ash.

But I was reading a book last night which gave me a bit of a fright, it said that in general trees absorb heavy metals from polluted soils and these will remain in the ash after burning.  Understandably this led me to doing a bit of  extra research, and from this the main points of note are:

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Confused. When does Summer begin?

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Technical & Discussion

DaffodilsThe days are getting longer and warmer. The daffodils have been and gone, briefly acting like a natural form of roadside artwork. It’s the time of the year when the central heating can be turned off and the boiler (and your wallet) given a well earned rest, and perhaps a service.

But is anyone else confused about when the seasons begin and end? Most countries in Europe consider Summer, for instance, to be June, July and August.

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Fresh or dry. When is firewood easiest to split?

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Technical & Discussion

Comparing firewood for choppingI always considered that immediately after it was harvested was the time to split wood. This is for the simple reason that splitting the timber opens up the pores and allows the timber to start drying quickly. Waiting for the timber to dry first before cutting will take the seasoning process longer. But when is it easiest to split firewood?

When is it easiest to chop wood? The honest answer is I am not sure, because I have usually always chopped my firewood as soon as I obtained it (or bought it pre-chopped). But I have tried chopping large wet, green timber and found it hard going at times. If I allowed it to dry out it might have been easier. When timber is seasoned properly and dried, shrinkage cracks open up. These presumably would make the timber in question easier to chop?

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By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Technical & Discussion, Uncategorized

kindling for timber fire
Kindling for timber fire

Lighting a fire is a skill. Some people have it and some don’t. A relation of mine for instance can light a coal fire with rolled up newspapers. On the other hand, other people I know, find it difficult to light kindling. But its an easy skill to acquire, especially with the right materials at hand and a bit of trial and error. However, if you have no kindling it can be impossible for anyone.

Types of kindling. Softwood is usually best for kindling as it lights easily, burns quickly and is relatively straightforward to split into small pieces. But interestingly matches are made of hardwood as this burns more slowly.

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US Carriers: More than the rest of the world combined

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Technical & Discussion

US aircraft carrier
US carrier ref. usmilitary.com

The US are moving naval forces into position for a possible strike against Syria. So it is a good time to remind ourselves just how much more striking power its aircraft carriers have compared to the rest of the world. In total there are 22 aircraft carriers in service around the world. This excludes amphibious assault ships, as although they might carry aircraft they have a different role, see more here. Of these 22 carriers in the world, the US operate 12. Read more “US Carriers: More than the rest of the world combined”

Computer Software: The crazy craze for updates

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Technical & Discussion

Crazy software updatesIs anyone else fed up by software continuously updating itself? It would seem that computer programmers no longer spend time checking their software for bugs. Instead software seems to be shipped with errors for the first customers to identify and alert the publishers about. The errors are then fixed with downloadable patches.

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Has an access road changed the source of the River Liffey?

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Technical & Discussion

Liffey BridgeThe source of the river Liffey is in the Wicklow Mountains, 14 km west of the Irish Sea. But rather than take the direct route to the sea it instead follows a circular, and longer route, of approx. 135 km, to join the sea at Dublin City.

Maps and books place the source of the River Liffey as a peat bog close to the Sally Gap. While, historically, this may have been the correct source of the river, the access road to the Kippure telecommunications mast may have changed the situation. Either side of this access road are drainage ditches, which intercept water flows from small streams within the peat bog. The upper part of the drainage channel then discharges to a tributary of the River Liffey, lengthening it. As all these tributaries occur in a peat bog with no tree cover they are easily followed on Google Earth, and measured.

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