February 5

Getting Dirty

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I spent the past week helping to install a 400 kw boiler. Sounds glamorous. I started by sweeping the floor, putting things away and cleaning up the shop area. We started at 8 with a 30 minute break at 10 and a 30 min lunch break at 1pm. We finished at 5:30. The old chimney stack had to come down. Metal had to be cut and welded. I got dirty and it was great.


Normally the supplier would have a team on site to install and commission everything. Normally. As it stands it is down to the three of us. To start we determine where to place the boiler based on the existing wood chip feed auger. The new boiler will burn straw as the main fuel with wood chips as the secondary fuel.

‘Can you run one of these?’ as he hands me a disc grinder and follows up with ‘Is that coat fireproof?’. As it was, I was in the deep end for sure. By the end of the first day I was at least a bit of help. As my dad used to say, ‘I’m not a fast carpenter and I’m not a slow carpenter….. I’m a half fast carpenter….

By the end of the week we had all the big bits set up and bolted down ready for the plumbers and electricians. As is always the case you start fast and finish slow. It is down to all the connecting up and such. It must be done right or it won’t run as it should.

Fifty years from now some other fellas will be trying to take this all apart and there will likely be some cursing and scratching of heads. Hopefully, they’ll say that they just don’t build em like this anymore!

Happy to say that the initial firing up with straw has been achieved and obstacles have been encountered. A sure sign that things are moving ahead. No one has ever encountered obstacles while standing still. Or without getting dirty.


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