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Author Topic: Tobacco Barn used as a kiln  (Read 1847 times)

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Online SawyerTed

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Re: Tobacco Barn used as a kiln
« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2018, 02:30:36 PM »
What I am working with is, indeed, a modern bulk tobacco barn.  

What Dr Wengert is discussing are air cured or flue cured log or frame barns.  I do in fact have 1200 bdft of white oak stored in a frame flue cured tobacco barn within sight of my house.  We actually have two frame flue cured tobacco barns and four log flue cured tobacco barns on our farm.  I'm very much in agreement that these are good for air drying lumber but will not serve well for a kiln.  Tobacco was a way of life on this farm and in this family for over 100 years.

After careful study of the drying schedules in Drying Hardwood Lumber (corrected, I referenced the wrong source originally) Chapter 7, I believe the modern tobacco bulk barn has the capability and controls for temperature and humidity to be a viable alternative to a purpose built kiln with minimal modification.  While the controls are analog they are fairly sophisticated.  For example the controls can be set for dry and wet bulb temperature control, temperatures can be programmed to increase/decrease by increments over time. Opening and closing of the vents is typically a manual operation.

The pine drying schedule contained in the Martin County document I originally referenced isn't viable.  However, if the guidance in Chapter 7 is to be relied upon (and of course it can), then the modern tobacco bulk barn can meet the temperature and relative humidity outlined for both hardwoods and softwoods I will be milling. Two hundred plus degrees is obtainable.

There are challenges that need to be overcome. These are the ones I'm aware of right now.

First is the square footage of the barn I'm going to use will be excessive for the amount of lumber I will typically load.  This will have to be managed.  The simplest will be controlling the airflow and heat through the perforated floor and directing that flow to the stacks of lumber.  Other ideas will include some type of baffling for partitioning.  Modification costs will be far less than purchase or construction of a purpose built kiln.

Tobacco is a summer crop.  Curing is normally a warm weather process.  Drying lumber in colder months may present inefficiencies too costly to justify.

Loading the barn will be a challenge as well.  Initially and until the feasibility can be proven, loading will be manual.  I envision kiln carts on tracks eventually.  

The modern bulk tobacco barn is well advanced beyond the old log or frame tobacco barns that were used extensively at one time - whether they were drying sheds for burley tobacco or the more common flue cured barns.
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Online SawyerTed

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Re: Tobacco Barn used as a kiln
« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2018, 02:58:41 PM »
One additional caveat-remember my business is very new.  The idea of using the tobacco barn is an alternative along the lines of a solar kiln. It is a low cost way to meet a need for the short term.  It isnt intended to be a high production solution. 
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Re: Tobacco Barn used as a kiln
« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2018, 03:16:58 PM »
Ted - 

Given what you have there, moving the air across the stack and baffling the excess area will basically duplicate what a purpose built DH kiln does, assuming of course you are relieving the moist air out of the system.  So, I don't see a difference there at all, warm, dry air, is warm dry air, be it from a heat pump, or a nuclear reactor gone bad.  

As you said the key is control and you have that in the system.  If it works well for you then including a PLC and some relays into the controls would not be a big deal at all.  Four functions, fan, heat, vent, and steam is all the PLC output needs along with two inputs - dry and wet bulb, which probably would have to be upgraded to digital, but is not a big deal to do.  

For winter use, just insulate over the outside of the unit and re-shell it. 
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Online SawyerTed

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Re: Tobacco Barn used as a kiln
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2018, 05:49:59 PM »
The first photo is an example of an old log flue cured tobacco barn. 

The following two images are of bulk barns similar to the one I am repurposing.  The barn loads from the end pictured under the shelter. The width is 9'8" and the interior length is 33'.  There is a divider down the middle that divides the barn into two "rooms".  The divider presents some loading challenges.  The vented end houses the burner and other controls.  

   br>
 

 

 
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