Well, it’s been 5 months since we moved into our Earthbag dome. So we decided to update you on how we are progressing. Work-wise, (i.e. finish mudding the interior and finishing the exterior) it’s been a really cold and snowy winter, so we haven’t made much progress in these areas. And the soil we’re using for the process, even though it’s under a tarp, is still frozen solid.
But we are happy to report that we haven’t been cold this winter due to the fantastic properties of using scoria in our sandbags. And we are also 3-4 feet below ground level.
Our potbelly stove heats the dome really well, but unfortunately, our Vogelzang Railroad Potbelly Stove is a piece of poorly manufactured junk. If we may rant for a moment… it should be called a “Pot Metal” stove, made in China. It started to fall apart after the first 3 months. This isn’t a post about the stove, but we feel we should mention the poor craftsmanship for anyone considering buying a Vogelzang stove for themselves… DON’T DO IT!
The Ash Door was the first part to break off at the hinge…
No way to get this welded back together… pot metal.
There is no seal around the Feed Door. We bought a length of fiberglass gasket to cement around the door, but then the door wouldn’t close properly. So we skipped this.
Next item that broke was the Shaker Grate. This broke at the hinge. So we have it resting over the middle hole.
The first thing we noticed when we used the stove was… a gap between the Feed and Burn Chambers. Seems it wasn’t sealed before being packaged and shipped. Annoying, but it wasn’t critical that a little stove cement couldn’t take care of. Notice the change in color also? Don’t know what that’s all about.
All in all, it heats our dome, and we hope it holds up until Spring. We plan on buying a new stove for next winter, and use this one somewhere else. We don’t recommend this product to anyone. I sent an email to Vogelzang’s customer service and, of course, received no reply. Must be the shame of an inferior product, I guess.
And, we bought this online, so we didn’t have the opportunity to look it over in person… lesson learned.
Okay, enough ranting.
Our solar panel setup is functioning well. We were fortunate enough to find 12 Volt 100 AMP batteries in excellent condition for $45 each. As opposed to spending $250 each. Our set up is simple, but we’ll have to expand when we get the addition two solar panels sometime this year.
We’ve been able to cook using the potbelly stove and our Coleman Camp oven on our Camp Chef Explorer Two-Burner Stove. We acquired another three burner stove with an oven, but we haven’t hooked that up yet until the kitchen is complete.
And eventually we’ll be using Biogas instead of Propane. The Biogas digester will be set up this summer. We’ll keep you posted on this experiment.
My wife has perfected her Batter Bread recipe…
Delicious Oatmeal Raisin Bread! We pulled out the Wheat Grinder and attached it to a makeshift stand to grind our own wheat.
So, after 5 months of living in our Earthbag Dome, we love every minute of it. And it’s only the beginning. Once it warms up, we’ll be able to finish the final coating, plus we’ll have time to build our Pit Greenhouse a few yards away. We got our seed order and plan on having a great garden now that we don’t have to spend the entire summer building the house, like we did last summer. We’ll be building our pit Greenhouse with our own lumber on the property using a chainsaw and an Alaskan Mill… but that’s another post.