Friday, May 23, 2014

My Turbo Cat II Stove

True statement about my husband:  the man can eat.  Dave can really put it away!  When we backpack, we bring a 2 liter pot, fill it completely with food, and he eats 3/4 of it.

Our typical powerhouse for backcountry cooking in quantity is the MSR Whisperlite, a random not-so-light pot, and assorted utensils.
this, people, this is what i have to work with...
Problem:  that stuff is heavy.  Even leaving the big pot behind and bringing a small MSR pot, it is still
3.82 lbs heavy, before fuel.

Enter the Turbo Cat II Stove.

revised cook kit - fuel bottle not shown (it's just a boring 12 oz soda bottle)

*1 sheet of aluminum dryer vent - $4.50 at hardware store
*1 cake pan - $1 at dollar store
*1 "grease pot" - $5 online
*Epoxy - $6 at hardware store
*1 PBR can (already in fridge)
*1 tuna can (already in pantry)
*2 paperclips (found in couch)
*Fiberglass insulation scrap (from shed)
*1 metal hanger (found in closet)
*Drill n' bits (already have it)
*Pot handle (from MSR kit)

Total cost:  $16.50

Total weight:  1.00 lbs exactly (saving 74% of previous cook kit weight)

Satisfaction of having built my own stove:  pretty darn high.

The Stove
This little stove runs on denatured alcohol.  Denatured alcohol can be found just about anywhere and it's relatively non-toxic, so you pour only what you need for a trip into an old soda bottle.

The stove itself consists of a burn cup (PBR can bottom) with a fiberglass wick enclosed by a vent cup (tuna can).  Holes are punched in the vent cup and closed with a sliding ring to limit the amount of oxygen available to the flame - resulting in a nice, long, slow simmer (try that with a Whisperlite!).

The Accessories
The windscreen is made of aluminum dryer vent.  The coat hanger pot supports bisect the windscreen, holding the pot above the flame.  The cake pan made a heat reflecting, durable ground cover.

The pot is a "Stanco grease strainer."  It's flimsy aluminum and isn't for gourmet cooking...  but for a single reheated meal, it's perfect!  Just replace the lid with a paperclip and save another ounce.

man that pot handle looks huge... gotta be a better way...
So, does it work?  Sure does!

boiling boiling boiling
I estimate ~1 tablespoon of fuel gets 2 cups of cold water to a hard rolling boil in ~5 minutes.

I won't be able to cook for both Dave and I with the Turbo Cat II - I'd have to cook three meals for Dave and one for myself.  But!  For solo trips, this is perfect for me.  Lightweight, simple, nothing to break, nothing to pump, nothing to prime, and the perfect size pot.

Many thanks to John Bednar for publishing his plans online - they were perfect!  I improved on his plans slightly by using a can opener that pries the lid from the can, leaving it intact.  This resulted in a perfect stove bottom (simply epoxied the lid of the can back on, instead of cutting another piece of aluminum).

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