Crimean Ovens

“Starting in 1861, the wintertime Union field tent hospitals of the U.S. Civil War often used subterranean heating systems known as Crimean Ovens. The system under discussion was basically a firebox, or oven, on the outside of the tent, with a shallow, brick-lined, sheet-metal-covered trough running down the center of the tent’s interior, and ending in a chimney on the opposite exterior side of the tent. The tents were placed on ground with slight inclines, allowing the hot air to naturally rise and escape out the flue.”

crimean oven

“Dr. Charles Tripler, Surgeon and Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac, writes in a letter of November 1861 the following description of “a modification of the Crimean Oven”, devised and put into operation by Surgeon McRuer, the surgeon of General Sedgewick’s Eighth Brigade:

A trench 1 foot wide and 20 inches deep to be dug through the center and length of each tent, to be continued for 3 or 4 feet farther, terminating at one end in a covered oven fire-place and at the other in a chimney. By this arrangement the fire-place and chimney are both on the outside of the tent; the fire-place is made about 2 feet wide and arching; its area gradually lessening until it terminates in a throat at the commencement of the straight trench. This part is covered with brick or stone, laid in mortar or cement; the long trench to be covered with sheet-iron in the same manner. The opposite end to the fire-place terminates in a chimney 6 or 8 feet high; the front of the fire-place to be fitted with a tight movable sheet-iron cover, in which an opening is to be made, with a sliding cover to act as a blower.

crimean oven 2By this contrivance a perfect draught may be obtained, and use more cold air admitted within the furnace than just sufficient to consume the wood and generate the amount of heat required, which not only radiates from the exposed surface of the iron plates, but is conducted throughout the ground floor of the tent so as to keep it both warm and dry, making a board floor entirely unnecessary, thereby avoiding the dampness and filth, which unavoidably accumulates in such places.

All noise, smoke, and dust, attendant upon building the fires within the tent are avoided; there are no currents of cold air, and the heat is so equally diffused, that no difference can be perceived between the temperature of each end or side of the tent.”

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Low-Tech Kite-Fishing in the Indo-Pacific

kite fishing 1908

“We set out to sea but kept close to the canoe occupied by the two fishermen. Off the island the old fisherman gradually played out the kite. As it swung in the breeze we noticed that the webbing just had enough length so that it touched the surface of the sea with every soft fall of the canoe as it rose and dipped. Presently there was an agitation in the sea behind the canoe and we could see several fish coming to the surface. Apparently intrigued by the tantalizing touching of the surface by the webbing, the fish were jumping for it. Finally one caught the webbing in his mounth and with a shout, the old fisherman neatly hooked it in with a hand net.”

Picture: Kite-Fishing off Pitilu (Admiralty Islands) as photographed in 1908 by H. Vogel of the Hamburg Südsee Expedition.

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Abandoned Flour Mill in Spain

Abandoned factories in spainLugares Abandonados is a fascinating blog documenting abandoned buildings in Spain.

There are quite some photo reportages about factories, and this one in particular is noteworthy: a forgotten flour mill with part of the machinery still in excellent condition.

The author does not reveal any location for any of the buildings on the blog.

 

An Engineering Exploration of Stonehenge

An Engineering Exploration of Stonehenge

The Britons worked out how the heavens move thousands of years before the Greeks started thinking about it. That is, in a nutshell, the story of engineer and author  Jonathan Morris.

His hypothesis originated from a solar renewable energy concentration system which he developed, using small fixed pieces of flat reflectors.

By chance, he discovered that the structural support of the solar energy system appears to be duplicated at Stonehenge, the enigmatic monument built 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. Every single one of the technical features required are precisely duplicated in size, height, location and orientation at Stonehenge.

Morris outlines his ideas in a novel (“The Broken Stone”) and a technical outline, available via his website: “Heavens’ Henge: A geocentric worldview“.

Medieval Fairs and Market Towns

medieval fairs and market towns

After quitting Soberton Down, we came up a hill leading to Hambledon, and turned off to our left to bring us down to Mr. Goldsmith’s at West End, where we now are, at about a mile from the village of Hambledon.

A village it now is; but it was formerly a considerable market-town, and it had three fairs in the year. Wens [large overcrowded cities] have devoured market-towns and villages; and shops have devoured markets and fairs; and this, too, to the infinite injury of the most numerous classes of the people.

Shop-keeping, merely as shop-keeping, is injurious to any community. What are the shop and the shop-keeper for? To receive and distribute the produce of the land. There are other articles, certainly; but the main part is the produce of the land. The shop must be paid for; the shop-keeper must be kept.

When fairs were frequent, shops were not needed. A manufacturer of shoes, of stockings, of hats; of almost anything that man wants, could manufacture at home in an obscure hamlet, with cheap house-rent, good air, and plenty of room. He need pay no heavy rent for shop; and no disadvantages from confined situation; and then, by attending three or four or five or six fairs in a year, he sold the work of his hands, unloaded with a heavy expense attending the keeping of a shop.

Quoted from: “Rural Rides“, William Cobbett, 1830.

Featherbeds, Rushlights, Brooms: The History of Household Objects

featherbed day

A very well documented and illustrated website on the history of everyday home life, housekeeping and domestic objects: Old & Interesting. A few examples:

Featherbeds were only for the rich in the 14th century, but by the 19th century they were a comfort that ordinary people could aspire to – especially if they kept a few geese. The beds, also called feather ticks or feather mattresses, were valuable possessions. People made wills promising them to the next generation, and emigrants travelling to the New World from Europe packed up bulky featherbeds and took them on the voyage. If you didn’t inherit one, you needed to buy up to 50 pounds of feathers, or save feathers from years of plucking until there were enough for a new bed.”

“For centuries in small cottages there were people who could not afford any kind of candle. For them a cheap alternative was a rushlight made from a rush dipped in grease, or a burning splinter of wood. These were held pinched in a nip like pliers or tongs on a stand. Nips were also called nippers or a pair of nips. They could be combined with a candle-holder for people who used both kinds of light, depending on their needs and budget at different times.”

“When you stop and think about it, you probably realise that brooms got their name because they used to be made of branches of broom, a yellow-flowering shrub – except when they were made of birch or heather. Many other shrubby plants have been used across the world for sweeping and brushing. Tie a bundle of good local twigs together, with a tight, narrow grip at one end, and you can whisk dirt away. If you attach the broom to a broomstick, so much the better.”

More: Old & Interesting