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Old 11-08-2006, 02:02 PM
nickydubs nickydubs is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 163
Default babington burner

In order to build a Babington you only need a few key things, designs differ greatly. That being said, this article documents the design that worked for me, many other documents on the ‘net have information on other designs.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Babington multi fuel burner design, these links describe the basics:



Armed with the minimal information I found in these and other links, I set out to build a Babington burner in the fall of 2005. I got the basics down then, but due to my living situation and my late start, I had no where to test the original burner, so it sat on the shelf until last month, October 2006, when it started getting cold. This fall I was able to get it running, only possible due to my new workshop space, which I moved into June of this year. If you plan on building one of these, you really need to be able to test it in a workshop or outside. This is because the burner emits a fine mist of fuel (whatever that may be for you) that will cover all surfaces in the room. Of course, this only happens if it won’t light, which should only be a problem in the beginning. Now that the troubles of my burner unit have been shot I operate it on the first floor of my home, unducted, with a CO detector, smoke detector and fire extinguishers nearby.

(pic 1)--http://www.frybrid.com/forum/vbpicga...p?do=big&p=136

My burner is built into an old, defunct, kerosene torpedo heater I was given by a friend. I decided to do it this way since the torpedo heater provides a compact, pre-built unit with many of the elements that are needed for the Babington. In the above photo you can see the main tank (yellow flat unit on the bottom) my second tank (blue thermos on a stick, used for testing different fuel blends) the compressor (black ball on the bottom left, salvaged from a broken refrigerator) and a lot of copper tubing that connects it all. The switches seen in the lower left are to control the fuel pump and compressor. The burner, as you may have guessed, is inside the metal tube. Below is a diagram of my plumbing.

diagram: http://www.frybrid.com/forum/vbpicga...p?do=big&p=141

Fuel system:
I use a small fuel pump, it’s actually a pump for a pond fountain. I’ve found Lowe’s to be a wonderful source of cheap pumps of varying sizes, the one I used is their smallest, costing about $15 when I purchased it. The only disadvantage is that it is a sump, not in line, so it has to be inside the tank and the tank must always be ¼ full. You can see the power and output of the pump coming out if the yellow tank in the photo above. You can also see my sump, which is built out of ½” copper pipe and fittings. The bowl under the doorknob, barely seen at the bottom of the following picture (apologies for blurriness), is a 2” copper cap, flared out by hand with a hammer and anvil. The auxillary tank is gravity fed, requiring no pump. Tubing is ¼” flexible copper tubing, the connections are made with compression fittings.

(pic 2)--http://www.frybrid.com/forum/vbpicga...p?do=big&p=138

Compressed air system:
The compressor I’ve used was scavenged out of a broken refrigerator, as I’ve mentioned before. Many people use these scavenged units as vacuum pumps, they’re very useful for tinkering projects. I have no clue how much pressure it exerts, or how long it will last as it gets quite hot after running for 30 minutes. Soon I will have a formal air compressor, and I plan to use it to determine the PSI needed to create optimal combustion. The inlet and output are both ¼” copper, and I’ve used a short piece of fuel injection line to connect the output of the compressor with a ¼” copper line. This line is ultimately connected to the doorknob, using various 3/8” NPT pipe fittings. My “blowhole” was drilled in the face of the door knob using a #76 (.020”) drill bit in a pin vise. I drilled most of the way through from the back using an 1/8” bit, then completed the hole through the thinned material with the pin vise and bit. I bought the tiny drill bit and pin vise at my local hobby shop, but they’re available online. The rear of the doorknob was drilled out and a brass fitting was threaded on and then soldered on to seal air leaks. If I had access to a machine shop at the time, I’d have made my own bulb instead of salvaging this, as it was a pain.

Combustion chamber:
This was the part I couldn’t quite nail down in my original design. There is very little documentation online describing this, so I fumbled about with a few ideas and settled on a 2’ long 5” diameter duct with an end cap. I drilled ten 3/8” holes around the radius about 3” forward of the doorknob and four 3/8” holes in the cap, which can be seen in the following picture. The Combustion chamber is suspended within the 11” diameter tube that was once part of the kerosene heater. This is for safety reasons, because it gets red hot within minutes.

(pic 3)--http://www.frybrid.com/forum/vbpicga...p?do=big&p=137

In order to start the heater, I perform the following operations in order:
Turn on fuel pump (if starting from main tank)
Open fuel valve
Turn fuel valve down until drip off of doorknob is correct
Turn on compressor
Light mist with MAPP gas torch
Fiddle with fuel valve until it runs right

This whole operation takes about 20 seconds. If it goes out for one reason or another it is able to relight off the ambient heat in the combustion chamber. In order to stop the heater all I do is turn off the compressor, wait 5 seconds, and turn off the fuel at the valve. If I do it in the opposite order it smokes a good deal.

Thoughts/future modifications:
Currently I’m running 75/25 WVO/kerosene. Runs great, I have yet to try straight WVO in it, but I have no reason to believe it would not work, as many others use this mix. This is because it was easier to trouble shoot with the blend, since it ignites more easily. If anything, I imagine I’d have trouble igniting 100% WVO, which is part of why I built it with a two tank system, so that I could start on 75/25 and switch to 100% WVO.
The ignition system leaves something to be desired. I did not incorporate one since I read many places that a spark ignition would not work with WVO, and I’ve been unable to find a glow bar type ignition that I think will put up with the intense heat. If you have any ideas, please send them along. I know many contemporary torpedo heaters use this type of ignition.
It’s noisy. I can’t do much about this. It sounds like a jet, but not as loud of course. Many would think the compressor would be the noisiest part, but I don’t find that to be the case.
The tank gets hot. This is a design flaw, the tank shouldn’t be so close to the burner. I intend to fill the void between the combustion chamber and the heater tube with insulation, I think this will help to shield the tank. As it is now I can’t run it for longer than 30 minutes without the tank getting uncomfortably hot.

Finally, some pictures of it running:


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Old 11-08-2006, 03:35 PM
canolafunola canolafunola is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 298

That thing looks like a roaring dragon!

No chimney exhaust to the outside??? I hope that's because you want to take a pic. I'd suggest replacing the compression fittings with flare fittings. And get that cooler fuel tank far away from the furnace!
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Old 11-08-2006, 05:13 PM
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VinDiesel VinDiesel is offline
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Enid, OK
Posts: 1,566
Talking Oh what fun...

'96 DODGE CTD 3500 SLT ext. cab LB
BOMBed 12 valve Cummins Turbo Diesel
'94 3500 custom crew cab LB
stock 12 valve Cummins- can't keep a flexplate in it, not even a fancy/expensive billet one???
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Old 11-08-2006, 07:12 PM
JimB JimB is offline
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Cincinnatus NY
Posts: 68

Nice job. This is my next project after I get my Samurai converted to WVO(almost done). I have been a member of altfuelfurnace for about a year but I think the Babington will be more suitable for my needs. I already have a building with a foundry in it and metal walls so I'm set to go. Plus I like to make stuff not just modify an existing unit. Thanks for the tips and pics. Keep us posted on your refinements.
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Old 11-08-2006, 07:56 PM
Greg Greg is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 459

The first thing that comes to mind is a scene from the movie "Bugs Life"....

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Old 11-08-2006, 08:11 PM
nickydubs nickydubs is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 163

it is not vented, i have assumed and will continue to that it does not need it. it burns extremely clean, and it's kerosene predecessor did not need to be vented. i figure the CO detector is all i need. the plastic tank is temporary, only for testing purposes, it will soon be gone.

i also was an altfuelfurnace member for a while, i didn't learn much and when i asked questions about my combustion chamber i got little to no response. there seems to be some good info. on there, but not much for the babington.

the other good article i found on the babington was over on the infopop forum, a "vertical babington". check it out:

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Old 11-09-2006, 09:40 PM
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cgoodwin cgoodwin is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 13,394

Vent it!
Nicky.....are you there.....wake up Nicky.....WAKE UP!

Will someone go and pull him from the room to one with air in it before it is to late.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.
-Helen Keller

I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.

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Old 11-10-2006, 01:41 PM
nickydubs nickydubs is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 163

i know i'm going to sound ignorant, as i am on the subject, but what's the problem with not venting it?

the kero torpedo heaters do not need venting, the wick style kero heaters do not need venting, unless they're not burning right. is it because it will consume all the oxygen in the room and replace it with co2? does pumping the co2 out really solve the problem of consuming all the oxygen? does burned WVO have a deadly byproduct that the burned kerosene does not?

i'm not opposed to venting it, i just want to know why.
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Old 11-11-2006, 01:41 AM
phil phil is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: CT
Posts: 2,328

Any fuel burning device should be vented. Gas stoves use very little fuel; even then commercial ones must be vented. Torpedo heaters are not designed to be used indoors. Kerosene heaters are illegal in many municipalities.

It's true, usually they will be okay if they are not vented, as long as they are burning right. When they are not burning right, unfortunately, you die.

In an extremely tight building, you might use up too much oxygen. This is a small problem, compared to venting carbon monoxide into the building. If it is a concern, you should also have an fresh air source for your appliance.
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Old 11-17-2006, 04:14 PM
Todd T Todd T is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: El Dorado, Ark
Posts: 192

I have a feeling any shop is going to have enough air leaks to effectively vent a Babington. What about these gas and propane vent-free heaters? So long as you have a CO monitor (or two for a backup) I don't see any problems.

Thanks for sharing. I've been wanting to see someone running WVO in a Babington. One question though... do you feel safe to leave it running unattended for more than a few minutes? I've heard it really needs full attention.

I've also heard it sounds like a jet engine running. I've moved from a large warehouse to putting together a small lean-to shop in an older neighborhood. I fear too much noise would create a stir among the neighbors.

How large an area does it effectively heat? Any thoughts of incorporating a coil for heating water or WVO? I'm designing a solar hot water system to provide domestic hot water and radiant heating. I need some means of supplemental heat on cloudy days.

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