Blue Sky plans for the Cottage

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Now that I have the cottage on Kimball Lake, I want to add some of the "comforts of home". I don't want high-tech, power-hungry, electro-gadgets; I simply want some conveniences that can be accomplished in a low-tech, low impact, almost "back woods" manner.

Long term, I'm looking at improving the heating in the cottage, and adding filtered running water. And, here's how I hope to do it.


The wood stove gives off a lot of heat, but most of it just rises into the rafters and makes the loft uncomfortably warm. I'd like a simple fan, that blows warm air off of the stove, and into the main floor.

There are fans that need no electrical power, as they run off of "waste" heat, such as the heat coming off of the stove. These fans use a "Stirling Engine" design motor to convert a small amount of the heat into mechanical work. Stirling engines are easy to build; the simplest can be constructed from a couple of pop cans, a balloon, and a couple of paperclips. Commercial versions range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, depending on the required power. But, I can probably build a hot-air blowing Stirling Engine fan for about $50. And that should help distribute the heat a little more evenly.


There is a creek running somewhere in the back of the property. It meanders around and finally runs out into the lake, between my cottage and the Russel place. If I could get a consistent supply of water from this creek, I wouldn't have to "dip" water from the lake. But, to do so, I have to solve two problems: how to pump the water to the cottage, and how to filter the water.

There's another old technology called a "Hydraulic Ram Pump" that uses some of the energy in running water (such as the water in a creek) to pump a (significant) fraction of that water great distances and heights. Again, with about $50 in general plumbing parts, I can construct a self-running pump that I can place in the creek. With as much hose as necessary, I can run a continuous stream of water from the creek to the cabin.

Once I get the water to the cabin, I can pass it through a passive "Slow Sand Filtration" system to get clean water for drinking or cooking. If I elevate this filter, I can even have enough water pressure to warrant connecting to a faucet in the kitchen. Again, the device can be home-built for about $50, and should last a fair length of time.