Bab Lab

The spirits run high as Bob’s Bab Lab produces a roaring Babington burner flame at Factor e Farm:

Our next steps are to put a shroud around the flame for flame continuity, and installing a water heat exchange coil in the shroud for hydronic heating, steam generation, and other applications. We are currently considering a CEB masonry stove – the CEB kachelofen – as a center of our CEB additions. We would like to use this stove for hydronic heating, cooking, drying, and soon as a steam source for combined heat and power.Any details on winding techniques for continuous steel tubing are welcome. We are considering a 100 foot coil of 1/2″ or 3/4″ heat exchange coil – which we are trying to wind in a 6 inch spiral. Also, details on a possible masonry stove design are welcome.


  1. Reto

    You mean Kachelofen? We just built a not so simple one (descrioption here, pictures here), although without the heating element (Heizeinsatz) to warm water.

    By the way, I know two systems for heating water in masonry stoves: heating elements and absorber elements. As I understand it: the heating elements are placed more or less directly in the combustion chamber. Advantage: higher temepratures, disadvantages: less efficient fire, because you cool down the combustion chamber, and the durability of the element ist reduced because it is directly in the fire (and how do you replace it?).

    The absorber (picture here) are placed around the combustion chamber with one layer stone in between. Advantage: higher durability, better combustion, disadvantage: lower temperatur. Not sure whether you can produce steam with this system. But this is probably only a question of the size of the fire ;-).

  2. Sasha

    Marcin, the correct word is kachelofen. I would love to be involved in helping with this as I have some experience in this area.

  3. Marcin

    Reto and Sasha and others – let’s do a development page for this on our wiki –

    Please read what I have there already, and let’s come up with a simple design. We are talking of starting to build this within a few days. Pictures will come as soon as we have something. This could be exciting to see this unfold in reality – based on your help. Hopefully, we can have an interchangeable Babington burner element in adddition to wood fire. It seems that this would not be too difficult.

  4. Fasahd

    Out of the mouths of babes. Vinay can tell you. I used to be a bit intimidated by some of the lofty knowledge being thrown about on our mailing list. I was afraid to voice my 2 cents for sounding stupid. Then one time I found my knowledge was actually quite practical. Brilliant students, their experience was from a dorm and had never been home owners. It had to do with stuffing a pipe with white bread to retard the water from flowing up to where they were trying to make a solder joint to no avail. Bread rapidly dissolves flushes right out but works quite well for just that moment or two you need it if ever you’re ever stuck in that situation. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m below others intelligence and sounding stupid and condicending, or if I’m being insightful. You have to fill a pipe up with sand to keep it from kinking as it is rolled and of course the softer the material the easier. If you have a 6″ width – 8′ or 10′ in length of PVC you can drill a hole in the side of it to stick the end of your tube into. Mount the PVC as if it were on a lathe and spin it with a protruding handle such as a crowbar. A weight on the tube near where it meets the PVC will hold it flush as you twist. A second person to help guide it and adjust the weight would help. Filling 100′ of tube with sand? I don’t have any easy answer for that other than working in shorter lengths. Straightening it out would probably make it easier. I suppose if you capped the ends you could use water instead of sand to keep it from crimping and collapsing. Then you could try out my bread trick 😉 Hope this helps.


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