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The Waki Way .co.uk - Living full-time in a motor home

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LIVING IN A MOTOR HOME: FAQ's

We always seem to get asked the same questions about living somewhat off grid in a motor home, to which the answers seem to spark a dozen more questions! So (to give our voices a rest!) here's the answers to our most frequently asked questions...

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The Wood-burning Stove

Posted 27/1/2014

Recycled Gas Bottle StoveRecycled Gas Bottle StoveWe now have a beautiful little wood burning stove installed courtesy of Ryan’s engineering skills. In The Waki Way spirit of recycling it is made up of an old gas bottle body, a saucepan base for a hotplate, exhaust pipe flue, and BBQ grill grate. It also features a motorcycle gear lever door handle and a circular rear intake vent with tent peg adjustment.

It was a large job and Ryan spent the week grinding, cutting and welding our assortment of objects and every day I was amazed at the wonderful little stove taking form!

Although a lot of it is recycled, we still had to purchase a lot of materials in order to fit it safely inside the motor home. We went to a stove shop and bought a 3 foot length of 4 inch flue to act as insulation for the pipe to go through the roof, a 1m length of door rope and adhesive, and also some stove paint to give it a nice finish. We also bought a piece of lead flashing for the roof to seal around the flue. 

The gas bottle was of course empty but, to be sure, Ryan opened the valve and left it open to the air for several days before filling it up with water to remove any residual gas. He then cut 

Recycled Gas Bottle Stove

out the door and welded hinges onto it, cut two holes in the back for the flue and the intake vent and cut and fabricated a drawer for removing the ash. We’d had an exhaust hanging around from one of our old cars so Ryan welded it in place to become the flue ready for the garden test.

Before you go rushing off in a scrap-heap challenge frenzy, here’s our disclaimer: We cannot be held responsible for any accident you may suffer if you decide that you would also like to make one for yourself. You are in charge of your own actions. Gas bottles are very dangerous and should be treated with maximum respect, if you’re not sure it’s safe then don’t do it!

Also be very careful about the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in such a small space. People have died bringing BBQ's and the like into their tents etc for warmth. The stove is properly sealed, we have plenty of ventilation and a monoxide alarm just in case.

It was the moment of truth as, although it certainly looked the part, we didn’t really know if it would work. Thankfully it burned very well indeed! We got it nice and hot so the paint bubbled and could be scraped away easily and tested it with the kettle on top to make sure it could also boil water.

Recycled Gas Bottle StoveOnce happy it worked and with his pyromania satisfied for the time being, Ryan got back to work and welded some metal strips inside the door to create a lip for the door rope to go on to, included a baffle to stop the flames from reaching up the flue and made the grate from an old BBQ grill. He added the vent cover with its tent peg adjuster and the gear lever door handle and went shopping for a large saucepan (I certainly wasn’t prepared to hand over one of mine!). He carefully cut the top off of the bottle and saucepan and welded it in place to create a rather beautiful hot plate.

We’d kept a space free by the door in the motor home especially for it where we had boxed in the wheel arch as a plinth. The area around the stove was protected with some aluminium sheeting held approx. an inch away from the cupboard next to it and around 3 inches away from the wall behind. The base of the stove actually remains quite cool as we kept it the standard bottle base, but to be sure we also mounted it on a metal sheet. Ryan also decided to raise the stove off of the wheel arch plinth so we had some storage underneath and it 

also makes the stove itself easier to access.

It took some tricky measuring to work out where the flue hole needed to be and (after re-cutting some teeth on a very blunt 4 inch hole-saw with the grinder!) Ryan cut the giant hole in our roof!

With me inside and Ryan on the roof talking through the hole we worked out how high the flue would need to sit and I marked it on the exhaust pipe so Ryan could weld it together and finally seal it. He then gave the finishing touches of sanding it smooth and painting it and the flue with the black stove paint.

Recycled Gas Bottle StoveHere it is (left) in situ on its plinth, which still needs panelling and a coat of paint. It may be a little lumpy in places but overall I’m over the moon with our stove! It gets the place roasting hot very quickly where the gas heater only ever made it warm. In fact we’ve had the roof vents and windows open to cool off! We’ve already noticed a reduction in heating costs and efficiency. A mere 5 pieces of coal put in before bed keeps us plenty warm for the night, and there’s generally a couple of glowing embers in there still by morning.

We made a quick visit to our local army surplus store Millar Tree in Bedford and we bought 2 little ammo tins at a reasonable £10 each to serve as coal and ash storage. We’ve been storing the kindling and lighting materials stacked up behind the wall sheeting, and now also have the shelf in place above for logs. I wanted the logs to be stored up high as, should we gather any damp ones, the rising heat will make sure to dry them out. The shelf was the one purchased so long ago from Cambridgeshire Wood Works and has been waiting patiently to be involved! We just need to get something in place to secure the logs whilst driving. We’re thinking some sort of flip up panel to box them in so watch this space…

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About us:

My name is Sarah and in 2011 my husband Ryan and I decided to buy and re-fit an old motor home - we named it Waki and now live in it full time in the UK!

We live neither on or off-grid, rather somewhere in between, and are not the first and I dare say not the last to choose this way of life... read more>> 

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