Archive for February, 2010

Tennessee’s Eighth, and Conservative Ideals versus the Republican Establishment

February 14, 2010

More on Tennessee’s Eighth

I got some reactions from Donn Janes on my earlier essay on history and current events in the Tennessee Eighth Congressional District. His comments add great value to the discussion, so I thought I’d produce an addendum trying to take them into account.

The most important item is that I need to correct a crucial factual error. I described Donn Janes as one of “two Republicans [who] have stepped up…” to fill the seat to be left vacant by Tanner’s retirement.

Oops. Fundamental error… Janes is running as an independent, having explicitly divorced himself from the Republican Party and its many betrayals of Conservative standards and ideals. I registered as an Independent in Dickson County when we moved here, after decades as a Republican in Indiana, for the same reason. I should have been a lot more aware of the difference.

As if to scold me immediately for neglecting the best arguments for the parting of ways between Establishment Republicans and constitutional conservatives that has taken root in the last few years, I found a column by Alan Keyes posted Friday, February 12, in World Net Daily that distills the grounds for divorce. Some excerpts are reproduced here, but I strongly recommend the original article for the patient, scholarly and thorough dissertation that Alan Keyes, as usual, produces.

“In the days when my awareness of the U.S. political scene was just budding there were politicians in the Republican Party who openly identified themselves as liberals. For this sort of fact Wikipedia is as reliable a witness as any other:

“‘In the 1930s ‘Me-too-Republicans’ described those who ran on a platform of agreeing with the Democratic Party, or proclaiming only minor or moderating differences. A prime example is presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey, who did not oppose New Deal programs altogether, but merely campaigned on the promise that Republicans would run them more efficiently and less corruptly. …’

“’From 1936 to 1976 the more centrist of the Republican Party frequently won the national nomination with candidates such as Alf Landon, Wendell Willkie, Thomas E. Dewey, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Indeed, other terms for liberal Republicans include Nixonian and Rockefeller Republican.’

“If this take on the GOP presidential candidates of the 20th century is accurate (and I think it is) it confirms the notion that, for all their posturing in opposition to the Democrats on particular issues, the controlling powers of the Republican Party have no quarrel in principle with the New Deal worldview. On grounds that are at once aesthetic, practical and self-interested, they decry the excessive Democratic tendency toward openly populist egalitarianism. Yet, impelled by a self-adulating sense of noblesse oblige, they tacitly concede that the Democrats’ “liberal” agenda represents the higher ground of moral sophistication. What the liberal GOP elites reject is their frequent lack of sophistication in carrying out that agenda.

“In this respect, I suspect that the preferred candidate of the GOP elites in the 2008 election was … Barack Obama. He had all the outward appearances of cool sophistication, purposefully controlled moral passion and seeming respect for the ironically unselfish elite ambition benevolently to secure a position of unchallenged control over every aspect of human life. He seemed so moderate.”

Ouch. A better rebuke for my neglectful lumping of a conservative independent and a nominal Republican together was never delivered. Thank you, Doctor Keyes.

Stephen Fincher certainly impressed me in our telephone conversation as a conservative at heart, using the Republican establishment framework to get to power. That was a subjective impression, however, with no corroborating evidence.

As I said, Mike Pence’s interest in Fincher made me interested in him. However – always, the however – as I mentioned before, Mike and I are not in lockstep on several issues of importance.

I have not forgotten Mike’s embrace of a very McCain-like form of “immigration reform.” It was a rotten idea when McCain championed it, and it was no better with Mike Pence out in front of it.

I also do not agree with Mike’s tendency to go along with “anti-terror” legislation that has the effect of making America less of a fortress than a prison. If we want a safer country, let’s put the bars on the outside, not on the inside.

I have always harbored the irrational hope that  Mike was immune to the effect of cumulative exposure to the insidious, Inside-the-Beltway atmosphere he has been subjected to since January, 2001. Rationally, I have to admit that no one is completely immune to those effects – even Mike Pence.

I doubt that he has succumbed to the wiles of special interest like the United Autoworkers Union or the Sierra Club, but I can’t rule out that he may have been co-opted by an equally-powerful influence in his environment – the Republican establishment.

I described before, my phone conversation with Stephen Fincher. It would be reassuring to see the conservative, constitutionalist views I heard from him then, explicitly laid out on his Website. I would be especially impressed to see him step away from the farm policies that are the oldest vestige of socialism in American government, and that have done as much damage to the free market in agriculture as government involvement in health care has done, and will continue to do, to the free market for that industry.

My favorite civics text is by Libertarian P. J. O’Rourke: PARLIAMENT OF WHORES — a Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government. The author of this caustic, penetrating and hysterically funny appraisal of our “system” of government yields up the following observation concerning American “farm policy:”

“Farm policy, although it’s complex, can be explained. What it can’t be is believed. No cheating spouse, no teen with a wrecked family car, no mayor of Washington, D.C., videotaped in flagrant has ever come up with anything as farfetched as U.S. farm policy.”

If Stephen Fincher can convincingly break free of the web of obligation and obfuscation of current farm policy, emblematic as it is of what is wrong with the U.S. government, I, self-appointed mayor of Lower Danley Road, northeastern suburb of the unincorporated area of Bellsburg, Tennessee, will give him a serious, second look. As a farmer in a farming community, Stephen Fincher would be showing his allegiance to principle over economic and political self-interest by disavowing government farm policy, and the integrity required to take that step would be very impressive. As cordial and genuine a gentleman as Stephen Fincher is, I’ll have to wait to believe that when I see it in print.

The problem right now in Tennessee’s Eighth is the same problem we have had all over America as a result of going along with the Republican Establishment. The elephantine elite are distinguishable from Democrats/Progressives/Socialists/Economic Fascists only in style; not in substance. We who have followed this herd have swept up enough elephant dung to keep the compost heap going indefinitely. We don’t need any more.

Or, as Alan Keyes summarizes, in the piece cited above:

“People are now rising in opposition to the all-too-conclusive evidence of the Obama faction’s repugnant extremism. But they urgently need to ponder the fact that the phony moderation of the GOP leadership elites did more than anything else to put Obama where he is. Unless we look beyond the false alternatives they offer, we will only enable equally false election victories that will not put an end to the destruction of American liberty Obama represents.”

With apologies to Stephen Fincher, if I had to vote in the Tennessee primary today, I’d vote for Donn Janes.

Tennessee’s Illustrious Eighth — a Congressional District with a Colorful History

February 13, 2010

When we moved to hilly, middle Tennessee from the flatlands of Indiana, we moved to a congressional district with as many historical ups and downs as it has of the physical sort.

According to the Wikipedia page on the subject, both the recent and not-so-recent history of this area have been…. colorful.

Tennessee’s Eighth, carved out of the old Seventh, used to lump our rural home in Dickson County in with Memphis. As a result of the 1980 census, the legislature in 1983 left Memphis and most of Shelby County to fend for themselves as the new Ninth, and Dickson County in the Eighth, to face the future with most of Northwest Tennessee.

Tennessee's Eighth Congressional District

The Wikipedia list of US Representatives from the Eighth and its antecedents goes back to 1823, and lists party affiliations that include a Jacksonian Democratic-Republican, three Jacksonians, one Anti-Jacksonian, seven Whigs, a Know-Nothing, an Opposition Party (Whig spin-off) member, an Unconditional Unionist (not surprisingly, an artifact of the War of Secession, AKA up north as the “Civil War”), and more recently, fifteen Democrats and six Republicans. Talk about colorful…

The last time this seat was in Republican hands was 1973-75, when Dan Kuykendall was re-districted into it from the Ninth. Before that, the last Republican this area sent to Washington was in 1921-23 — so it’s safe to say that doesn’t happen every day. Given the generally Democrat history of the Mid-South, that shouldn’t surprise anyone.

That’s the history. In 2010, however, things could be different. At the end of 2009, John Tanner, the latest Democrat to hold the seat, and having held it for eleven terms, announced his resignation. Tanner, in the tradition of the culturally- and fiscally-conservative Democrats who tend to prevail in the district’s demography, takes credit as a co-founder of the “Blue Dog” Democrat faction of Congress.

Indeed, his voting record may be more conservative than Madame Speaker probably finds to her liking, if the account on his page on Wikipedia is to be believed:

“Tanner is strongly in favor of balancing the budget and paying down the national debt. He has been a strong opponent of the fiscal policies of President George W. Bush, voting against many of the tax cuts passed during his terms; yet, he was one of 43 Democrats to vote to repeal the estate tax in 2006. Tanner was one of the few Democrats in the House to vote in favor of CAFTA and has long distanced himself from the majority of his party on issues such as bankruptcy law and lawsuit reform. He voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment, the ban on “partial-birth” abortions, limiting death penalty appeals, and has voted against most gun control measures. On other issues he is more liberal: he often votes with his party on separation of church and states issues, and has consistently voted against the Flag Desecration Amendment. Tanner voted with the majority of his party to expand stem cell research and against renewing the controversial portions of the Patriot Act. He also supports affirmative action and public education. Tanner was firmly opposed to Bush’s attempt to reform Social Security.”

That sounds kind of moderate, for a long-term Democrat. Somehow, though, Tanner voted liberally enough to earn an 80% rating from the experts on liberalism at Americans for Democratic Action, based on his votes during 2008, the most recent year for which there are scores on their Website.

Wikipedia characterizes this voting pattern as “moderate,” but it might also be described as, “confused,” or, “expedient,” if one could see into Tanner’s motivations.

Only one member of the Tennessee delegation, Steve Cohen, who succeeded Harold Ford to the Ninth District seat that now includes Memphis, finished higher according to ADA standards than Tanner. Cohen scored 100% for 2008. Harold Ford has been in the news lately as a potential Democrat candidate for the US Senate in New York, so Cohen’s district is no stranger to liberal representation.

For comparison, even Senator Lamar Alexander, who is somewhat squishy on illegal immigration, and voted for the nomination of hard-core leftist nominee Sonia Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court, got a chilly 25% rating from the ADA.

Reporting from the other side of the political spectrum, the American Conservative Union gave Tanner a 13% grade for his 2008 voting record, an “F” in most grading systems that don’t pass everybody, and Alexander garnered  72% for the period, which was a low, low  “D” when I was in school.

Which makes one wonder: if John Tanner (80% from ADA; 13% from ACU), a founding Blue Dog, was a friend to the conservatives in Tennessee’s Eighth… did they need enemies?

More recently, the Eighth has had some color of another sort. The highest-profile potential opponent to Tanner from the (nominally) Republican side in the last few elections has been James Hart. To say that Hart has unconventional political views is to make a spectacular understatement. (See for yourself at his Website.)

Hart’s political orientation is a weird cross between an anti-government, neo-isolationist fringe that makes Ron Paul seem calm and conventional, and a white supremacy/eugenics theme that would be at home among hard-core, 20th-century Progressives like Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger.

The Tennessee Republican establishment has backed away from him at every opportunity, as he recounts at his site. The lack of more credible GOP opposition in recent years is perhaps due to a perceived invincibility on the part of the incumbent, as fortified by McCain-Feingold, the Incumbent Protection Act. Certainly, Hart’s frequent use of the politically-radioactive phrase, “favored races,” has done nothing to encourage the Elephant Party Elders to embrace him. He embraces their rejection. It’s that kind of relationship.

This phrase has earned Hart Favored Villain Status among progressive observers of Tennessee politics, despite the historical roots of Eugenics being firmly bedded in Progressivism.

Anyway, that brings us more or less to the present. Tanner is headed for a cushy Congressional retirement, perhaps doubling as a lobbyist, or maybe just as a gentleman farmer, or a coddled academic, and the vacuum must be filled.  Two Republicans have stepped up: Stephen Fincher and Donn Janes.

I haven’t made up my mind, yet, but so far, I like both, and I suspect that either would be an improvement of several orders of magnitude over recent representation of the Eighth in Congress.

In email correspondence with Donn Janes, he impressed me as a firmly-rooted Constitutionalist. His lack of association with the Republican establishment doesn’t put me off at all, considering how incompetent and/or deceptive that establishment has been in recent years, as I have described in detail in “Compassionate Conservatism,” and other Reasons Why the Republicans Lost, and elsewhere.

In this case, it is not Eugenics looniness that seems to repel the Elephants, but the suicidal stampede of the pachyderm patriarchy to embrace Liberal Lite over grassroots conservatism. If this is their reason for giving Janes a dismissive sniff of the trunk, I consider that a major positive. Janes’s Website lays out his beliefs in some detail, and I can find nothing there to disagree with. I see no effort at obfuscation or deception in any of it, and I am strongly inclined to believe that he believes as he says he does.

On the inevitable other hand, Stephen Fincher also strikes me as the real deal. Fincher spent fifteen or twenty minutes on the phone with me, in which I gave him a gentle grilling about several issues I see as definitive. His Website, as I have noted elsewhere, was a little vague in some details I was looking for, but he filled in a lot of that in the time I had with him.

I asked him if he would refuse to vote for legislation for which no justification could be found explicitly in the Constitution. He said yes. He went into some detail, leading me to believe that he is a strict constructionist, and not a blank-check-ist, as far as interpreting the limits on government power delineated in the Constitution. In other words, I don’t see him signing off on something under the cover of the horribly abused “general welfare” provision.

I asked him a question I’d like to see answered by all 535 members of Congress. I call it the “regulation without representation” question. In the event that a federal regulatory agency passed a regulation that violates the Constitutional constraints on government power, would you vote to defund the agency involved, starving it of the resources to enforce such regulation?

I proposed the hypothetical (but all too likely) example of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) re-establishing a “Fairness Doctrine” that would impose restrictions on First Amendment freedoms of speech and press. Fincher said that yes, he would do anything he could to defund the FCC in that case, or in any case in which regulators attempt to bypass the legislative process on their way to violating the Constitution. I think he meant it.

I would love to see our regulatory royalty deprived of their salaries, expenses and benefits while they re-think their ambitions for violating the Constitution.

What does Stephen Fincher think of term limits? He says no member of the Senate should serve more than two (six-year) terms, and no member of the House should be there longer than six (two-year) terms.

(I think membership in either house should be seen as just as much a matter of disagreeable obligation as jury duty, rather than a lifetime occupation from which one retires early and lives like a king at taxpayers’ expense. Take away the perks of power, make the retirement benefits much less luxuriant, and see if we still have self-important hacks and crooks of any party hanging around like a persistent fungal infection.)

The FAIR TAX – Is Stephen Fincher for it? Yes, if he can assure himself that we wouldn’t wind up with a grasping IRS collecting income tax AND a sales tax, he would support the Fair Tax, or a reasonable variant.

Does he agree with my standard for bill size – “any bill too big for a regular human to read before it comes up for a vote is too big to vote for”? Yes. He says the huge size of recent bills is nothing but a haystack for hiding needles from taxpayers, such as pork barrel, bribes for special interests, and unconstitutional power grabs.

I strongly suspect that Donn Janes would answer all of these questions pretty much to my satisfaction, as well.

Stephen Fincher does, undeniably, have more connections with the Republican establishment than Donn Janes, but they are of a conservative pedigree. Fincher told me he is in touch with Mike Pence, Republican Representative from the Second District of Indiana, who is chairman of the House Republican Conference.

Mike Pence is a solid conservative, and has become something of a kingmaker among the conservative Republicans in Congress and elsewhere. While Mike is more conservative and less Libertarian in orientation than I am, I know and respect him from a long-time acquaintance going back before his time in Congress, and I believe he, too,  is “the real deal” — honest, intelligent and respectful of his obligation to uphold the Constitution.

If he says Fincher is a solid individual who would faithfully represent the interests of Tennessee and obey his oath of office, I’m inclined to believe it.

I am also inclined to believe that of Donn Janes, although I have less, independent corroboration.

Where does that leave us? I think we have two, good candidates to go up against the one the Democrats pick in their primary. Which one will I vote for? I don’t know, yet, but I’m glad to have “an embarrassment of riches.”

That is  much more agreeable than a choice between a tightly-wound Eugenics fan and an invulnerable incumbent with a C+/B- grade from the premier liberal organization, and yet the ability to pass himself off as a Blue Dog moderate.

Trying to Trust Sarah Palin

February 8, 2010

I like Sarah Palin.

I loved her nomination speech at the Republican National Convention, but not quite enough to vote for the aging opportunist at the top of their ticket.

That’s right – even a magical, electric moment of optimism, wit and apparent willingness to speak the truth couldn’t make me vote for Mister Incumbent Protection Act; Mister McAmnesty; Mister We Shall Not Speak of the Flaming Socialist at the Top of the Democrat Ticket as a Flaming Socialist.

Why? Because I suspected it was an act. I had looked at McCain’s history, and I did not see any chance of this man undergoing the transformation that would have been required to turn him into a leader with more allegiance to the Constitution than to extending the trajectory of his career as a professional politician to the big chair in the Oval Office.

Sarah Palin, I feared, was his last-ditch effort to look like a conservative; to draw back the Republicans, Libertarians and Independents who had been betrayed by two Bushes and a Republican elite that decided Democrat Lite was the way to go. The Republican establishment types too-often found themselves in disagreement with progressives and Socialist Democrats in style, but not in substance. The party of Specter, Snowe, Collins, Lugar and McCain was not, and is not, my party.

If they belong, I don’t.

The headlong rush of Obama, Reid and Pelosi to socialist utopia may have been more leisurely under McCain, but it would have been just as steady and determined.

Like the decades-old fires that burn underground in abandoned coal mines and peat bogs, the socialization of America would have progressed mostly unobserved by those above ground, until the smoldering earth opened up and exposed the extent to which the country’s heart had been burned away by the federal government, and the fire could not be put out.

I watched with interest Saturday night, as Sarah Palin addressed the Tea Party Nation Convention in nearby Nashville. I was not won over, although I wanted to be.

She seemed a bit tired, as if she’d had some sleepless nights to make the appearance fit into her busy schedule. She seemed not like a tea party revolutionary, but more like a slightly exhausted Republican, trying to sound the notes that would make tea partiers respond.

Respond they did, standing to cheer several times, as she struck out at the Obama administration’s cluelessness on national defense, its apparent willingness to destroy the economy, and its utter disregard and contempt for the Tenth Amendment.

I hoped to hear her explicit pledge to support candidates and movements that were committed to all of the Bill of Rights, but that never came. Instead, I heard later that she went from the conference to appearances for Rick Perry and John McCain, neither of whom is a big friend of the Constitution in general, or of the Bill of Rights in particular.

Why, Governor? I would understand if, to honor promises made during the late, lame, lamented election campaign, you appeared briefly with such candidates — but not when you join them on the campaign trail and seem committed to their victory. Remember, a President McCain would have been that fire burning underground, but more slowly — advancing the restrictions on free speech, pushing amnesty for illegal aliens, and pushing for more taxpayer bailouts like the TARP boondoggle. And then the ground opens up…

On another, jangling sour note, the Governor told us that, if she were president, she would endorse expanded exploration and exploitation of American energy sources, and to begin immediately to build nuclear power plants, because they are, “carbon-neutral.” Oh, boy.

Governor Palin, if you’ve been too busy campaigning for McCain to keep track, “man-caused global warming” is a colossal scam.

The “science” that was supposed to prove it has been exposed as fraudulent. The underlying motivation of the Watermelons – green on the outside, but red on the inside – behind the Cap and Trade bills, and similar schemes is, and has always been, the accumulation of power in the hands of central government.

If Sarah Palin doesn’t know that, or knows but won’t say so, why?  Is she just another closet progressive, dressed up like a conservative?

Beats me. I like her. I just wish I could trust her.

A Wood Stove — Getting That Warm Feeling

February 2, 2010

We love wood heat. We’ve had wood stoves for most of the last twenty years, in four different houses. The mobile home we live in now is old and leaky, and takes two or three electric space heaters running most of the time on cold nights here in Middle Tennessee to keep it in the low 60s, if the outside temp drops much below 40. Fortunately, we are comfortable in the low 60s.

BREAK FOR IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE:

I am NOT a professional wood stove installer, a lawyer, a fire inspector, an insurance underwriter or any other kind of wood heat expert – just a smart-ass blogger. This is not, no way, no how, presented as a how-to or a recommendation on the following project; rather, it is simply an account of the way I did what I did, and is presented for entertainment purposes only. Got that? Entertainment. Okay, then.

This article will not cure cancer, shrink hemorrhoids with or without surgery, will not get you out of filing income taxes, and it will not make you more attractive to the opposite (or the same) sex, or make you smarter. Well, maybe you’ll get smarter, but no guarantees. As to the rest, forget it. Ain’t happenin’. Just read on, and enjoy it.

I’m glad we had this talk.

END OF DISCLOSURE

Trailers are apparently not supposed to have wood stoves in them, according to The Powers That Be. At least, they are not supposed to have stoves we can afford. We were able to afford a Vogelzang Frontiersman,

Vogelsang Frontiersman

especially after it went on sale last spring.

I thought we could install this stove in such a way as to avoid the hazards inherent in a trailer install, and I went about it with that in mind.

This is a little stove, and one of the few small enough that it would not continuously overheat our small living space (it is specified for “up to 1,000 square feet”).  The instructions that came with it explicitly state in several places that it is not to be installed in mobile homes. Of course, we installed it in a mobile home.

The rationale for the prohibition is apparently twofold: The stoves that are OK to put in a mobile provide for getting their combustion air from outdoors, via a discrete duct and connection between the outdoors and the firebox. Those stoves are all pretty pricey; certainly a lot more expensive than ours.

The Frontiersman has no such provision, but our mobile has plenty of infiltration leaks, including forced-air heat ductwork that is uninsulated, cracked and separated in several places. I have plugged many of the heating vents, but not all, and I still can feel cool air leaking up from most of them. This is definitely not one of those airtight, super-insulated mobiles from the last few years.

It’s a bit more “vintage,” than that. It also has inadequate windows, some of which are cracked or broken, and all of which need to be replaced. They are another source of fresh air, whether we want it or not. I’m not too worried about using up my oxygen, in other words.

The other concern is that this mobile would burn like a cardboard box if a heat source got close enough to a wall. Well, that’s certainly a reasonable concern, and one I share.

To reduce our odds of becoming flaming human sacrifices to the gods of global warming, we put the stove on a ceramic tile floor. In the spirit of over-engineering with which I approach most projects, I put a layer of ¼-inch cement board down over the existing ceramic tiles, and cemented and grouted in another layer of ceramic tiles over that. I covered an area much larger than the one specified in the instructions that came with the stove, as well. A sandwich of ceramic tiles around cement board seemed reasonable to keep heat from the bottom of the stove away from the sub-floor. Ceramic tile is obviously resistant to fire, and “cement board” is fiber-reinforced concrete, with high flame-resistance characteristics and good insulation.

Stove platform detail -- existing tile, below, cement board (not visible), new tile on top

Platform covers more floor area than required; also serves as entryway

To keep the walls of our live-in cardboard box from burning, I put over-engineered, home-built heat shields on the wall behind the stove, and between the stove and the living room where any furniture might go. The rear heat shield consists of a layer of Hardiboard cement board, same as the platform, up more than four feet from the floor, completely covering the existing wall, and a sheet of roofing metal mounted on galvanized steel, “Unistrut” channels, and four vertical runs of ¾” metal conduit.

The sheet metal screws into the conduit, and the conduit is clamped against the Unistrut. The cement-board-covered wall surface is separated from the sheet metal by about a 3 & ¾-inch air space. The upper and side edges of the shield are supported with galvanized steel angle with two-inch legs, about 1/8-inch thick. The steel hardware between the sheet metal and the cement-board-covered wall is intended to be massive enough to dissipate heat from the sheet metal that might otherwise be conducted to the wall.

The Unistrut and two-inch angle were surplus, salvaged from an old antenna tower. The roofing sheet metal was a gift from our nephew, who had it left over from a chicken house project.

Cement board (L), air space (C) and sheet metal (R)

Unistrut detail, rear heat shield

The heat shield between the stove and the living room space is another piece of roofing metal, bolted to cement board, and supported by more, 2-inch angle.

Side heat shield, inner view

Side heat shield, outer view

Both heat shields, early in installation

This morning I over-fired the stove, in the process of learning its preferences, and the stove top got to just above 500 degrees F, which is hotter than it needs to be, but (based on experience with previous woodburners), is not dangerously high. I closed the damper completely, and watched the stove for about two hours. The stove and stove pipe never got hot enough to glow, even in low light, but I kept the fire extinguisher and cell phone handy, being something of a pessimist. The curing stove paint and chimney sealant set off the smoke detector a few times, which is a normal part of stove burn-in. Otherwise, it was a non-event. The stove soon cooled back into the efficient operating range, according to the thermometer.

At the peak of the heat, the sheet metal on the side shield was just a little too hot to touch; on the opposite side, the cement board was just warm. The rear shield, which has the air gap behind it, stayed cool enough to touch throughout, and the cement board on the wall behind it was only slightly warm. The drywall above the heat shield was slightly cool. As I said, the stove temperature dropped back into the normal operating range in about 45 minutes, and stayed there for about two hours, warming the place up enough I had to open a window and a door.

The connection between the stove and the world is single-wall chimney pipe from the top of the stove to the wall, where it connects to a Simpson Dura Plus through-the-wall chimney kit.

The Simpson kit is a very conservative design, consisting of triple-wall pipe, and a thimble (the transition from the single-wall to triple wall, and also the means of penetrating a wall made from flammable materials safely) that offers a lot of thermal isolation between the stack and the wall materials.

The inner wall of this pipe is stainless steel. It is wrapped in high-temperature insulation, and another layer of sheet metal, surrounded by an air space and another wall of pipe. The piece of this pipe that passes the exhaust through the wall thimble is 9 inches long. There is no, single-wall pipe inside the wall. It stops at the inside portion of the thimble, seen below. The single-wall pipe comes from the stove on the left, and seals and is screwed into the transition piece from the kit. From there, it connects to the triple-wall section, and then to the tee, seen in the exterior shot. By the way, the sealant around the outside of the thimble is high-temperature silicone caulk, made for this purpose by Rutland.

Inside portion of "thimble," showing sealing materials

The black material at the joints between the single-wall tubing sections, and between the tubing and thimble, is Rutland stove cement.

It is applied inside and out at each joint, and along the seams of the tubing.

Simpson tee connector, on outside wall. Note un-melted snow in braces and base

This connects outside to a “tee” section (above) that, like all the chimney parts from here up to the storm cap, is also triple-wall. This is an important part of a kit by Simpson made for putting a chimney through a structural wall safely. What would be the vertical leg of the tee, if it were oriented upright, connects to the through-the-wall segment. At the end of the downward-facing (as installed, now, not as a letter “T”) end of the tee is a stainless steel cap, which is secured with screws. This acts as a cleanout access, since there is a straight shot up the tee to the storm cap from there. A piece of galvanized sheet slides into the bottom of the tee support, and serves as a barrier between this cap and anything flammable enough to be a concern if it came into direct contact with the cap. The flange of this sheet is visible at the bottom of the tee assembly in the picture. A chimney brush on ten feet of Fiberglass rod sections will reach all the way to the storm cap from ground level, eliminating the need for a scary, vaudeville ladder act.

The triple-wall chimney keeps the exhaust hot all the way to the top, reducing the condensation that becomes creosote, and also provides maximum draft, which improves the efficiency of the stove.

The triple-wall actually penetrates the building wall, and it passes through the thimble, which provides more layers of sheet metal and air gap between the hot exhaust gases and the wall materials. A note on the picture of the tee installed: The snow seen at the bottom of the tee support – un-melted by running the stove for twelve hours or so — is a good indicator of how effective the insulation is in the triple-wall kit. If it won’t melt snow that close to the exhaust, it probably won’t set the wall on fire.

Triple-wall chimney, standing proudly

The triple-wall stack, seen above, consists of three, 36-inch sections atop the 12-inch leg of the Tee. These sections, by the way, use a “bayonet-style” connection that twist-locks in place, tightly mating all three walls, the insulation and the air space without needing sealant.

I did not trust the screw-in connections of the tee and lower mounting bracket to hold the stress imposed on it when the wind blows on the chimney. Not that the brackets didn’t look to be up to the job, but I wasn’t sure the wall would hold the lag bolts I used to fasten the lower supports. I used the second (also included in the kit) bracket as an anchor point for the guys seen above. Sloping toward the camera, into the lower, right-hand corner of the picture, is a section of ¾-inch electrical conduit, of the same type I used on the rear, interior heat shield.

The other end of the conduit is clamped to a piece of steel angle which is bolted to a porch rafter. This serves as a “dead-man” guy, since it is rigid, and would tend to prevent the chimney from tilting toward or away from the wall. The wire guys are galvanized guy wire that is plastic-coated, and threaded through the holes drilled in the bracket for screws. The wire guys are a little slack, because pulling them tight would only increase the stress downward on the chimney pipe, without a useful increase in support to either side.

Rigid, "dead-man" guy, clamped to porch roof at right

Storm cap/spark arrestor

Between the dead-man and the wires, the chimney is supported in four directions. Sure, a strong-enough wind would still blow the chimney over, but a strong-enough wind would blow the trailer over, too. That’s just a fact of life in tornado country, and I can live with it. My objective was to make the chimney reasonably secure in most conditions.

You will have noticed the top of this stack has a cap, called a storm cap. It keeps rain from falling directly into the chimney, and a wire screen around the opening is supposed to keep burning cinders large enough to start a fire from getting out, as well as birds and other creatures from getting in. This is not a frill or an optional accessory, and it is included in the kit. Like the Dura-Plus sections, it uses a twist-lock means of attachment.

Carbon Monoxide detector -- cheap protection against a silent killer

Besides the wood stove accessories I’ve already mentioned or shown in photos – fireplace tools, fire extinguishers, etc. — there is another one, and it is required: a Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector. A subtle defect in the stove or chimney could let CO leak into the living space, which could be deadly. This detector is inexpensive, and runs on batteries, which is important, since one of the times when such a stove would get the heaviest use is during a cold-weather power outage. Along with smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, no wood stove install is complete without at least one CO detector. CO is odorless, invisible, silent and an insidious threat. Don’t leave yourself, your family or your pets exposed to that risk.

The point of this article is to relate my adventure in wood stove installation. I hope you have been entertained, but have resisted the impulse to be informed, per the “IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE,” above. Should you undertake to install a wood stove in your death trap of a mobile home (and I’m not recommending that! God forbid!), I hope you will do it safely, and that you will experience the same “warm feeling” I have.

May you know that, even if Mom Nature and Uncle Sam get in the way of furnishing the outside sources of energy that keep you warm in good times, you will have the means to do it for yourself. Safely!

The Woodstove Channel -- My favorite program!