It was a very long time ago that I was in Copenhagen and took part in this workshop, but due to a request I am posting this recipe here.
Ingredients: washing machine, bicycle, some stuff to make a stand.
Tools: angle-grinder, screwdriver, tire-levers
Ok, so this experiment actually failed. Why? Well, the drive belt didn’t work for a start. It kept slipping off. Perhaps a bike inner tube might work better – maybe even the one you removed from the bike, made smaller. Much experimenting is needed. Also, rigging up a way of securing the belt to the washing machine, without impeding on its turning would help.
If anyone manages to sort this out, please leave a comment.
So, as I mentioned in my last post, one of the projects I was involved in while staying at The Floating City was building a woodburner for the van.
This is how we did it.
- 1 and a half fire-extinguishers (or similar – one to make the woodburner out of and another to use for extra metal)
- Large hinge
- Sheet of metal
- Piece of wood for base
- Hot plate
- Nuts and bolts
- Bit of metal for the latch
- Bit of wood for the hadle
- Flue pipe
- Fire brick
- Angle-grinder, welder, spanners, screwdrivers, etc…
- Some very cool friends who know what they’re doing
- Learn how to use an agle-grinder. Cut top off fire extinguisher (see pictures below).
- Cut door out. You need it to be fairly wide so you can get wood in easily. Buffer edges of door – both the cut piece and the hole.
- Cut a bigger piece of metal the same shape as the door from the spare extinguisher (or whatever you are using for spares). This should be a couple of inches wider in each direction.
- Learn how to weld. Weld the two cut pieces together to make one door so the wider piece covers the gap when shut.
- Weld the hinge into place. Make sure it’s as airtight as possible (ours ins’t completely airtight, but the gap is tiny so it works just fine.)
- Make a latch from something that you can find. I used a funny bit of metal (pictured below) and used a bit of a wine rack to make a little wooden handle that you can hold when the rest of it is too hot. Attach your latch with a bolt and put another in for the latch to sit behind when closed. You will need to drill holes into the metal for the bolts to go in.
- Cut an air hole halfway or so up the burner. This is because wood burners apparently need air from higher up than coal burners do. Coal burners require air intake from the bottom, whereas with wood it’s better from above the door. I cut the hole with a small angle-grinder blade, but it was quite tricky and hard to neaten up as the buffer wouldn’t fit. I eneded up using a combination of things, including sandpaper.
- Cut a piece of metal from your spare extinguisher (or whatever) that covers the hole with a bit of space all around. Again I screwed ours at the top and attached a little wooden handle from the same wine rack, although if I did it again I would make the air-intake hole a little differently. The way we did it, you can have the hole open or shut, but can’t control the flow any better than this. Fortunately it works very well anyway.
- Cut a square piece of metal and a square piece of wood that is bigger than the metal to form the base. Weld or screw the burner onto the base.
- Find a flue pipe. We went around loads of scrapyards and asked lots of people before finding one on the wall right outside the workshop that was unused and exactly perfect. It’s around 4 inches in diameter. Cut to size – ours sticks out about 15cm above the roof of the van. You also need a bit with an angle, which we found in the hangar attached to a giant tank they are going to use to build The Floating City with (see last post). Fortunately they didn’t need this bit of pipe that was sticking out. Weld together the straight bit and the bend bit (if they are not already the same thing) and weld onto burner. You will first need to cut a hole in the burner the same size as the flue pipe and stick it through. This bit is tricky and worth taking time over!
- After searching and asking for help on the internet we decided to make a baffle. A baffle is a piece of metal inside the burner which directs the heat up the front, under the hotplate and then up the flue at the back. Without a baffle it is likely that the heat will just travel straight up the back of the extinguisher and out of the chimney – no good if you want to cook on your burner as we do! I cut the baffle out of the spare parts extinguisher and bent it into place. I had to cut it in an oval shape. I pretty much guessed it and it worked out fine so I don’t really have any advice on that front, sorry! Buffer it up to get the paint off then weld baffle into place. A few spot welds is fine, it doesn’t have to be perfect, just as long as most of the air is being directed. It’s important to make sure the space you are creating for the air to travel past the baffle is at least as big as the flue, or you will be restricting it and you might as well put a smaller flue on, which will effect how the wood burns.
- Put the hotplate on top. We got one off an electric oven, so it really is a proper hotplate! For some reason I don’t have any pictures of this yet, but I’ll take some for a later post. We didn’t bother welding it as after a lot of careful buffering of the top of the burner it fits quite snug and we’re still able to access the inside of the burner in case we need to.
- Give it a trial run to burn off the paint and check it’s all working ok before putting it into your van / living space. Buffer the last of the paint off when it’s all cooled down.
- Screw into place. You now have a cosy live-in vehicle. :)
While I was finishing the burner off, Pete was cutting a hole in the van and making a chimney. The flue pipe sits inside another, wider chimney which is welded onto the van. The space between the chimneys is stuffed with rock wool (the stuff they insulate lofts with). The flue is not fixed onto the van, so it is removeable, but it doesn’t rattle around at all while the van is in motion. A shame I don’t have any photos about this, but advice can be given on request. The finished look of the van has a little hat on top, which Pete made out of the same metal sheet we used for the base. Then he bent it round into the right shape (like a stereotypical Chinaman’s hat) and welded it.
So that’s it basically. I will try to take some more pictures of the finished article and add them to this post. Check back soon if you’re interested. Also if you have any questions you can ask them in the comments and I’ll add the missing info.
Please note that neither of us had any experience in any of these things before doing this. We just had some nice friends who knew a bit, a good workshop and some internet research powers.
Total cost: €2.20 (about two pounds fifty) for the fire brick. Everything else was tatted (found).
Teglholm (see end of my last post), is difficult to leave.
The size, location and, um, decor of the place had convinced me it was a squat. But no, this project is funded by the municipality. The project is called The Floating City and the plan is to build just that. What does this mean? What are the plans like? When will it be built? By who and out of what? Nobody seems to know, but they have funding, tools, a workshop and a bloody great big space to build it in. They also have buckets full of enthusiasm. What could go wrong?
The Floating City is like some kind of “accidental community”. The most truly open project I have come across. Whoever is here is a part of it. No questions, no expectations. It falls down in other ways – one person does most of the cooking and cleaning, three people (with conflicting opinions) do most of the building. They have three months left in this space before they need to find a new one, but act as though there is unlimited time and money. But still, it’s very open. The people are lovely and their enthusiasm is so contagious we are enticed into staying still longer. Just one night becomes a month at Teglholm and I start to doubt whether we will ever leave. Now when people ask when we are leaving and I say “tomorrow”, they just laugh. But I mean it. We will leave tomorrow. Really!
Reasons For Not Leaving Yet, Part One: The People
Jim, of course, was my friend all along. He has been my adventuring companion on numerous occasions and was a regular fixture on my sofa back home. Now he sleeps on a mattress opposite ours. I smile to see him meditating and I will never tire of his guitar playing.
We gave Linus a lift to Malmö, but only since returning to Copenhagen have I fully appreciated her genius. Another of my favourite Floating City musicians, no kitchen task is a chore with Linus there to serenade you. He’s full of interesting thoughts on gender, communication and language and she looks stunning in a dress.
Grainne does most of the cooking and cleaning. I haven’t worked out yet whether she has a mad passion for it or is over-compensating for a lack of welding and angle-grinding experience. She has single-handedly brought structure to chaos: labelled sponges for different kinds of spillage hang from a tiny washing-line above the sink. Small cardboard rectangles politely declare everything from which recycling goes where to where to put your gloves in the kitchen.
Grainne lives with Brian in a bigger, more impressive looking van parked near to our smaller, more modest one inside the hangar here at Teglholm. They are from Ireland and new to traveling this way too. They are also having difficulty leaving. Brian is a sweety. He has taught us about 12 volt batteries and gave us a basket of electrical bits we might need for the van. We now have light!
Rob has also stayed on much longer than expected. Initially his frequent (unconscious) sexism rubbed me up the wrong way, but we have grown quite close. It’s been something of a trade-off. He taught me electrics, I taught him yoga, he taught me angle-grinding, I taught him circus rope-climbing, he taught me welding, I got him thinking about gender… now he is my early morning yoga-buddy and yet another of my favourite Teglholm musicians.
Oh god, there are so many others. How can I write about them all? Red Martin I already mentioned as it was his super-friendly welcome that first made us want to stay. Black Martin (he wears a lot of black, the other wears a lot of red) and Jenny who we hope to see again; Monne and Sinni and Ask and Arild, all with their own loveable, huggable ways; Casey’s big hair, poker-face and non-violent communication. The list goes on…
Reasons For Not Leaving Yet, Part Two: Standard of Living
Rarely have I eaten so well. The food here is amazing and 95% of it is dumpstered/skipped. A typical breakfast: Banana porridge, two different kinds of smoothie, pancakes, coffe, herbal tea, fresh fruit salad and yoghurt. Dinners have involved pies, pasta, soups, stews, risotto, stir-fry and plenty of roast veg. It’s rare to have only one dish and there’s always plenty left even after the hungriest faces have been stuffed. Vegan cakes are baked often. Bananas are so plentiful they are used for everything – need something thickening? Sweetening? Bulking out? Binding? Stick a banana in! Living so well almost exclusively from bins is very inspiring. I have been skipping in England for a while, but mostly as a way to supplement my diet, and usually for bread. Now I am inspired to switch to a mostly vegan-freegan diet, with occasionally bought food. We usually buy oats, coffee and basics like pasta, rice and lentils – although I have seen all of those things skipped from time to time.
We have internet, a yoga/meditation space, a cinema room, a workshop full of tools, a hangar, five rabbits and a room full of mattresses. What more could anyone want?
Reasons For Not Leaving Yet, Part Three: Distractions
There is an emerging culture of giving ad-hoc workshops on anything and everything people might know about. Brian and Rob gave a workshop on electrics, then followed up by teaching us to build a bicycle-powered-washing-machine (a failure, sadly, but great fun); Rob also taught us welding and angle grinding; Grainne and Jim have both led vegan cake-baking sessions; Casey did a workshop on non-violent communication; I taught a bit of yoga and Pete gave a talk on Ontological Anarchism. A writers group formed. I explained how to give a “critical sandwich” and suggested a technique. Creativity ensued. We meet every couple of days, always sure this time will be our last. We are leaving tomorrow.
With our new skills we decided to build a woodburner for the van. This has proved to be an almighty distraction and has taken a lot of our time. Days spent in the workshop with barely any light. More on this next post.
After two days straight in the workshop I need a break. I cycle into town and visit one of my favourite writing places: Folks House or The Poetic Bureau. Other days I go somewhere closer, a cafe named Bertolletti, or a cycle round a nearby self-built area with a library, park and horses. For the first couple of weeks I went to the weekly yoga class and folks kitchen at The Youth House, or to the bath-house (sauna) in Christiana, but because we are always leaving “tomorrow” I never have much time.
Other people also have projects. Rob is designing windmills. Monne and Sini are making a skate-ramp-bar-tower-climbing frame with some kids from her school. Casey is making an igloo. Ole is always making something, but nobody ever knows what it is.
Some of The Floating City itself is also coming together. The hangar is filling up with huge poles and giant tanks, along with other random objects donated and picked up from scrap-yards. They are having a Building Festival 8th-14th February. WE WILL BE GONE BY THEN!