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Offline RE

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More Firemaking Ideas: Hand Drills and Fire Cans
« on: February 21, 2012, 10:26:24 PM »


A while back Peter put up information about Fire Pistons, a means of Fire
Starting I wasn't aware of previously, and have since done a bit of research on.
Back in the 17th Century prior to the development of Matches, these were quite a
popular means of starting up a fire.



I've looked into buying one on the net, and there are some real nice ones made
of things like Bone, Antlers and exotic Wood,along with Aluminum ones the size
of a Pen and even transparent ones where you can actually see your charcloth
ignite! Prices on all pretty high though, even the most basic version is around
$40, and the really cool ones $75 and up. Due to this cost, I haven't bought
one of these yet. My old Cheapskate self in action.

I also pulled up a video of a fellow who made one from a a MagLite 2AAA
Flashlite, which was quite cool and seemed to work well in the video also.
Somewhere around in my junk I think I have such a Maglite Flashlite, but haven't
found it so far. It may be in my Storage unit back in MO.

The whole firemaking Theme got me interested in looking at all the other
methods, mostly Friction Based of getting fires going. On the Primitive Ways
website, I pulled up some vids of Dino Labaste doing the Fire Drill method,
which I have tried a few times and never succeeded with. You gotta have pretty
tough hands for this and mine are Age of Oil soft. However, I came up with an
Adaptation of this method which I think will work GREAT!

The idea is to use a Hand Crank Drill and put a piece of a Branch into the
Chuck, then start Cranking Away on the hand drill against a board. This will
spin the piece of branch much faster than you can actually do by hand, plus you
don't need to have a nice straightened stick to do it with. Just an Inch long
piece of branch will do. All you need is the Hand Crank drill, which are
available for around $25 on the net. You want this anyhow to drill holes in
wood.

The big issue I have with all these Primitve Fire making methods is they give
you just a very tiny amount of glowing embers with which to start your fire. If
you have ever been outside in the woods when its Raining, you know that even
lighting a fire with a long burning match is difficult. Unless you have a good
supply of dry tinder, getting any of the damp wood going is about impossible
before the glowing embers are doused by a raindrop.

In all the Primitive Firemaking vids I have pulled up, the firemaker is always
working in pretty Dry conditions. Even if its winter with snow on the ground,
its still basically Dry. You also know that when you really NEED to get a fire
going, its probably going to be Wet.

So, really you have to prepare for that eventuality, and really the only way to
do it without super duper waterproof matches or a Bic Lighter is to actually
keep a decent size fire going, even while you are on the Move. I am recalling
an old movie here called "Quest for Fire", where some Neanderthals who did not
know how to MAKE a fire went out searching for a naturally occuring fire to
carry back to their Cave.

A good Fire Can I think can be made from some Soup Cans, Tuna Cans and Coffee
Cans. the Interior soup Can actually contains the fire. By itself it would be
too hot to carry while there is fire burning inside it. So you Nest it inside
the Coffee Can sitting atop a Tuna Can the Soup Can fits to. Now there is a 2"
airspace, and while the exterior coffee can probably gets warm, it won't burn
you.

Inside your Tent, you can place this Fire Can on a Rock, and long as there is
decent airflow in the tent you shouldn't asphyxiate yourself with carbon
monoxide.

Once the Fire in the Fire Can is going decently, you keep it fed just by adding
in twigs and chunks of wood periodically. While on the move, you don't allow it
to burn quickly, you close up the venting holes in the can restricitng the flow
of oxygen. When you arrive at your next location, you open the vents, blow a
few times and get it roaring. You can then use this Torch to start a bigger
fire with even damp wood.

Carrying the Fire Can safely while its burning would be difficult but not
impossible. You would need some type of Hook arrangement off your Backpack
which would hold the can upright and away from your pack. Ideally of course,
you don't keep it burning while on the move, and only move when the weather is
pretty good. Soon as you see Clouds forming up, you get a Fire going BEFORE it
starts Pouring Rain down on you.

Fire STARTING is only part of the Game Plan here. Maintaining your fires and
not using more fuel then you really need to is important. Most of the time, you
only need a small steady fire to cook with, big Bonfires are a waste. You need
to have a way to shelter your fire from the elements, wind and water primarily.
A Fire Can is a good way to do this, though its dependent on scavenging the
metal cans of the right sizes. You could probably make a pretty good facsimile
out of clay though.

RE
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Offline Surly1

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Re: More Firemaking Ideas: Hand Drills and Fire Cans
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2012, 09:20:35 AM »
Been plundering around in the old Yahoo site to find some of the threads in which we discussed this stuff. Much like stumbling upon a buried library in a post-apocalyptic world. Found this that you posted:

Maglite Fire Piston Video Maglite Fire Piston Video
RE...

Of course, just getting an Ember Lit is only part of the process for getting
your fire going, so here is the rest of the process:



Now, thing is as you can see here he is making the fire on a dry sunny day, he
has a supply of charcloth or other tinder to drop into the Piston, and he has
still more dry tinder to blow into a fire.

Having been out in the bush more than a few times where it was raining heavily,
I can tell you that often finding anything dry enough to burn even if you have a
small amount of tinder in a pouch can be pretty hard. Fortunately if it is
Raining though and not Snowing, long as you get sheltered from the rain and do
not get soaked you are not likely to freeze to death before the rain stops and
you get dry enough conditions for making a fire this way.

Once real Winter sets in, everything drys up rapidly even if there is snow on
the ground, because subfreezing temps hold little water in the air and any water
not frozen sublimates off. "Freeze Drying". You just need to brush away all
the ice and snow and any wood is very dry.

Still, it is wise to remember that such techniques as a Fire Piston are not
going to work too well unles you have collected up the necessary very DRY tinder
which will catch fire easily, so it's not quite like starting a fire with a
Match or Bic Lighter. You might have to wait a bit until the conditions are
right to get your fire going this way.

Ideally here, you would set up your Shelter First. Said Shetler is protected
from Wind and Rain and therein you collect up good stuff to use as tinder. You
split a piece fo wood to get inside it where its still dry, even if its been
raining for a while. you shave very thin strips of the wood off as well as
drying out any real thin stuff you can find inside your shelter before risking
some of your stored charcloth or other super dry easy flammable fire starter.
You get a tiny little fire going INSIDE the shelter before risking any of the
coals for a Campfire Outside.

In a Blizzard, no way you will get a fire started this way. You have to be able
to outlast the Blizzard just by hunkering down in a Snow Cave. Only AFTER the
blizzard diminishes and you can go coolect up the necessary tinder and wood to
keep the fire going will your Fire Piston be useful.

If you are in a relatively fixed location with a good shelter, you should always
have some dry tinder around to make a fire. Also, you never really let your
fire go out once you get it going. You feed it with small pieces of wood and
always have some Coals to start a new and bigger fire as you need to.

The Fire Piston is the best method I have seen to date of getting fire going
with minimum effort. Way easier than Bow Drills. However, you should be aware
of the limitations here, it is NOT a Bic Lighter. Your best bet is to use it
early while conditions are right, then simply use the coals from smaller fires
you maintain to start new ones.

"...reprehensible lying communist..."

Offline RE

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Re: More Firemaking Ideas: Hand Drills and Fire Cans
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2012, 10:57:34 PM »
Thanks to Surly for digging through the archives at Reverse Engineering to find some of these posts.  I am about fresh out of time to do this kind of hunting around through much of my posting over the last 4  years.  Really, I'm having trouble just keeping up with the work in improving the Diner here for functionality and getting up those "Big Picture" articles I wrote in the Frosbite Falls Daily Rant while Jimbo and I still were sorta getting along. Not to mention the time spent lately over on TAE arguing with Ashvin over Conspiracy Theory ;-)

In terms of Publicly Available old stuff I wrote, you can find quite a bit on the Peak Oil message board by searching under my Reverse Engineer ID.  You have to search each Forum separately though which is a pain in the butt.  Here is a search done of the Open Forum which turns up quite a few gems from the past.

http://peakoil.com/forums/search.php?keywords=Reverse+Engineer&fid%5B0%5D=3

On TBP, search for Frosbite Falls

Anybody who finds old stuff they think is worthwhile is free to paste it up in the Forum here.  There is a lot of junk in there also though, obviously.

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Offline EndIsNigh

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Re: More Firemaking Ideas: Hand Drills and Fire Cans
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2012, 10:37:20 PM »
PRIMITIVE FIRE-BOW DRILL-ALL NATURAL


Going to give this one a try today.  I'll report back with the results!

Offline EndIsNigh

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More Firemaking Ideas: Bow Drill Fire
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2012, 11:12:03 PM »
Well I'm finally reporting back on the results of my bow drill fire making attempt.  I cheated a little and used a knife to carve my fireboard and drill.  I also used a cotton cord in place of natural cordage.  Trying to get my first fire going by primitive means using only natural material was, in hindsight, overly ambitious.  So I figured I would get the technique and method down before going full primitive.

For those of you unfamiliar with the bow drill method, it consists of four components.  A drill, bow, handhold, and fireboard.  The drill is a very straight piece of wood about 8" in length with a point carved at each end.  Think of a pencil shape.  The top should be pointed so it fits into the handhold, and the bottom slightly rounded to a small point.  The bow should be the length of your arm from fingers to armpit.  The string can be made of natural cordage (eg. rawhide, dried plant material) or man-made (eg. long shoelace, nylon string/rope).  The fireboard should be an inch thick and at least as wide, twice as much is best.  The drill is spun with the bow vertically on the fireboard, which lays flat on the ground, while the top of the drill fits into your handhold.  The friction bores a hole in the fireboard, eventually producing a coal that can be used to start fire with tinder.

Here's a photo of my equipment.  The stick at the top left is extra material.  In descending order is the bow drill, fireboard, handhold, and bow.

Bow Drill Equipment - Australia
Bow Drill Equipment - Australia

I used a native species for both my drill and fireboard.  It's the same type of wood used by the Aboriginal peoples of my locale and is called Xanthorrhoea, or by it's best known common name, blackboy.  If you'd like, you can read more about its' additional uses on Wikipedia.

The handhold is a macadamia nut shell, or half of one.  It fits perfectly in the palm and has a very smooth surface where it makes contact with the drill.  This helps reduce friction at the handhold end so all the friction is at the fireboard.

I'm not sure what species the bow is but I suspect it's a Eucalypt.  It's best to use something with a slight curve and gentle give.  You don't want it to snap.

I had been trying to start fire, or more specifically create a coal, over a few sessions but I just couldn't get it to happen.  Plenty of smoke and drill dust was created, but no coal.  I had a feeling my fireboard was narrow but hadn't been able to find any thicker Xanthorrhoea.  That was until recently when I spotted one off the side of a nearby road.  To get to it I had to walk through some gnarly scrub, which I wasn't keen on because it looked like prime poisonous snake terrain.  So I got my boots on and quickly grabbed what I needed and returned to safer ground. 

Back home in the garage I carved out the new thicker fireboard and drill and went to work.  The first attempt resulted in the board splitting at the end when I went to cut a notch in the new drill hole.  This is something to watch for if you try to drill too close to the end of the board.  I learned a number of useful tips in the following YouTube videos, which I highly recommend if you're trying this technique.

Ultimate Bowdrill Tips & Tricks (Part 1)
Ultimate Bowdrill Tips & Tricks (Part 1)
Ultimate Bowdrill Tips & Tricks (Part 2)
Ultimate Bowdrill Tips & Tricks (Part 2)

My second attempt was much improved as I quickly mated the drill with the board and then recarved the drill for the attempt at the coal.  By now my form was second nature from the prior experience which allowed me to completely focus on the pressure and speed of the bow.  As usual I had lots of smoke, but I also had more board to drill through due to the increased thickness, so the longer drilling created higher temperature, producing a coal for the first time!  The giveaway was a separate stream of smoke coming from the drill dust pile.  It was a great big coal too! 


Taking my time I transferred the coal to my tinder pile and blew on it until it erupted in flame....FIRE!  Finally all my hard work had paid off.  It was a great feeling.  Knowing that I could save my ass if ever I needed to was a big boost of confidence.

Here's the proof of my primitive firemaking.  A coal and the fire created by it.

Bow Drill Coal
Bow Drill Coal
Bow Drill Fire
Bow Drill Fire

Update!!!  Since the first success producing a coal, I tried again and managed to achieve a second coal.  This time I was outside in relatively windy conditions.  I wanted to test the technique in challenging weather and it was a clear winner.  I also recorded more video and have edited a pair of clips (see below).  Sorry they're so short, but the upload limit per file is 2MB and there's a corresponding limit to the files I care to edit.

In the first clip I'm using the bow to produce a coal (which you can just catch a glimpse of in the final frame).  The second clip is getting the tinder well on it's way.  You can see how windy it was and I barely needed to blow on the tinder to get it going.  I apologise for the poor lighting, but it was night outside my front door.  I wonder if any neighbours saw and now think I've lost my mind!
 
Bow Drill Coal Video
 
Bow Drill Tinder Video

Now that I've created a coal and a fire, I'm going to try producing the material without the aid of modern tools.  Creating a stone knife and cordage won't be easy, but I'll persist until I've had success and report my results to fellow diners.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2012, 03:17:13 PM by EndIsNigh »

Offline RE

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Re: More Firemaking Ideas: Bow Drill Fire
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2012, 12:44:49 AM »
Now that I've created a coal and a fire, I'm going to try producing the material without the aid of modern tools.  Creating a stone knife and cordage won't be easy, but I'll persist until I've had success and share again back here.

Along with the SMOKE I smell a Blog Article here.  :icon_mrgreen:

Goes up in the queue for probable Saturday Publication.

No problem these days getting a new Article each day for the Diner Blog. I may have to go to Two a Day pretty soon.

GO DINERS!  SAV AS MANY AS YOU CAN!

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Offline EndIsNigh

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Re: More Firemaking Ideas: Hand Drills and Fire Cans
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2012, 03:54:34 AM »
I've added a couple of videos from another successful attempt so go have a look at my post again if you're interested. 

RE, let me know if the bandwidth on these is a problem.  Each diner that views them will download from the website rather than a redirect.  I could set up a YouTube account if you think it's too much.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2012, 03:56:20 AM by EndIsNigh »

Offline RE

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Re: More Firemaking Ideas: Hand Drills and Fire Cans
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2012, 04:01:05 AM »
I've added a couple of videos from another successful attempt so go have a look at my post again if you're interested. 

RE, let me know if the bandwidth on these is a problem.  Each diner that views them will download from the website rather than a redirect.  I could set up a YouTube account if you think it's too much.

I don't think it will cause a problem at the moment, but overall I would say that with Videos particularly its better to place the ones that go into posts and articles on YouTube. You can store some here if you like for reference material, but anything that might get watched a lot is probably better placed on You Tube.

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Offline EndIsNigh

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Re: More Firemaking Ideas: Hand Drills and Fire Cans
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2012, 04:10:39 AM »
Bandwidth aside, the videos are very slow to load especially given how short they are.  I'll get YouTube going and replace the embed.

Offline RE

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Quest for Fire
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2012, 12:16:57 PM »
Quest for Fire by the Diner from Oz EndisNigh now UP on the Diner Blog!

Its a repost of EiNs post here in the thread so if you have been following this as a Diner you already read it. I did add some Pop Culture Hollywood stuff to it though so you might want to check it out for that.  :icon_mrgreen: Good one though for Newbies to see on the Blog as representative of the AWESOME information being passed around inside the Diner!

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Offline agelbert

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Re: More Firemaking Ideas: Hand Drills and Fire Cans
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2012, 08:33:03 PM »
EndisNigh,
I just read the article and watched the videos. I had no idea how to make fire but now I think I understand the procedure. The inverted "V" notch in the base board was a particular eye opener for me. Also the balance of hand pressure and bow drill speed must take a little practice but as long as I know the right color the dust should be, I should be able to "get it" after a while. We live and learn.
Thank you :emthup: :icon_sunny:
Leges         Sine    Moribus      Vanae   
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if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Offline EndIsNigh

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Re: More Firemaking Ideas: Hand Drills and Fire Cans
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2012, 08:46:36 PM »
I am glad you found it useful Agelbert.  I was pretty proud of myself with this achievement.

Your observation re: pressure and speed is spot on, getting the balance just right can only come from practice.  A common mistake is to apply TOO MUCH pressure, so it's better to start off light and increase the pressure if required.

Let us know if you try it.  I had a lot of fun finding the right material and practicing the technique and I'm sure you would too.

Offline agelbert

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Re: More Firemaking Ideas: Hand Drills and Fire Cans
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2012, 09:10:06 PM »
EndisNigh,
Okay. I'll let you know when I give it a shot behind my house. I've got some old shoelaces around so I should be able to scrounge up what I need. I have some furring strip wood that should make nice baseboard and drill material. I can get the bow, tinder and fibrous starter material out back (it's wooded). :coffee:
« Last Edit: August 17, 2012, 09:12:14 PM by agelbert »
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if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Offline agelbert

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Eco Small Holdings In Wales
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2012, 10:32:09 PM »


Quote
"Solutions Are Going To Come From The People"

NOTE: Raise the volume on this one!

The Tir y Gafel ecovillage aspires to be a replicable model for low-impact development in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Nine families lived there at the time of this filming. They are self sustainable: living off the grid, producing food, having built low impact houses using alternative energy sources.

They are taking advantage of legislation in Wales which allows low impact sustainable communities to go build eco-small holdings on open countryside. Under the TAN 6 Policy Guidance (Welsh Assembly Government), there is now a planning framework which accommodates low-impact development.

Think of it as getting a little help and encouragement from the government to live off the land. And bring the land BACK!

Using permaculture techniques, they are making marginally productive land into maximally food producing land. They are aiming for a 40% increase in productivity. They have plenty of volunteers who simply want to learn the techniques to be able to live this way.

Says one resident: "I don't think governments are going to provide the solution to the challenges. I don't think our economic system or our corporate structures are going to provide the solutions we need. I think solutions are going to come from people."

-Bibi Farber

This website has all the information on the development of eco villages in West Wales. www.lammas.org.uk/ecovillage/index.htm

This video was produced by The Guardian

More videos on co-housing here:
http://www.nextworldtv.com/videos/co-housing
Leges         Sine    Moribus      Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Offline pansceptic

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Re: More Firemaking Ideas: Hand Drills and Fire Cans
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2012, 10:45:59 AM »
RE, thanks for the brilliant idea of using an eggbeater drill to make fire! :icon_sunny:  I have several old ones, drills that were designed to be used by a strong man every day for years  :emthup:

You're also right about the fire piston being one of the easiest and most compact techniques.  Interestingly enough, it appears to have been discovered almost simultaneously by stone age H-Gs in Malaysia and in industrial Europe!  That said, flint and steel in a tinder box works about as well.  Or, full primitive, by the time Europeans arrived in N America, prosperous Native Americans were carrying a large pyrite, flint, and mushroom tinder; it works almost as well as flint, steel, and charcloth (yes, I've done both).

Finally, plains tribes who didn't have good access to flint, pyrite, and fungus tinder (or even wood for that matter) were still carrying coals from camp to camp.  They used a buffalo horn as container, with dried grass for insulation/moderator.  Several persons would be entrusted with tending these, as making fire was a difficult task for them.

 

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