Loud or Quiet?

August 10, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

What is it about youngsters that they seem to think that anything "loud" is good?  Loud exhaust pipes on standard cars (the ubiquitous "Fart Cannon") or on modern two-stroke scooters/motorcycles.  Loud can be annoying - especially when it's an annoying noise that's loud!

Now if it is the sonorous tones of an old V8 or a classic car/motorcycle that is loud, it can be pure music to the discerning ear (even if it isn't to your neighbour at 06:00 in the morning...).

Now lets consider the effect of relative silence.  All sounds appear magnified - a sound that is barely audible in the day is REALLY loud at night - you can even hear snails munching their way through your herb garden at night!

A perfect example of this is one of our cats (that is sadly no more) had issues with the cat flap and patience, if his magnet didn't release the cat flap in time he'd resort to the tried and tested method of battering it down with his paws to get in.  This would usually work as either the cat flap would be forced open or we'd hear the noise and open the door for him!  This may be considered to be spoiling your cat but that little fella was smart enough to pick up something in the garden and use it as a battering ram - just glad cats don't have opposable thumbs...  He eventually got the hang of the "wait for the click" business and things calmed down - until (there's always an UNTIL isn't there?) one morning, although it was technically morning it most certainly didn't feel like it(!), at 02:00 we were woken up by the sound of an almighty BANG followed by a succession of equally loud BANGs.  It was just as if the little swine had finally found a battering ram and was playing "storm the keep".  Except it wasn't (of course!) but just in the still morning (technically) air when no sound was around, the noise made by a little cat's paws on a plastic cat flap was magnified to horrendous proportions.  And it echoed.  Boy did it echo.  (Sorry neighbours - again!).  I'm not sure what was louder, the human in a haze of sleep and desperately wanting to return to the nice warm comfortable bed stumbling around and walking into everything to get downstairs to open the door for the (now) happy and VERY friendly cat, or the original racket!

What does this have to do with stoves? The traditional burner on a (proper) stove is called a roarer burner...

Yup.  In an enclosed space they are NOT quiet.  At unseemly o'clock on a campsite they are also going to be noisier.  Thankfully, it's easy enough to "gag" it - first put a windscreen around it then put the kettle on!  Actually using the stove is going to cut out a lot of noise :)  Just don't put the whistle on the kettle at night eh? ;)  Depending on the campsite you may (of course) not want to muffle the stove...!  It is a pleasant noise though, unlike some nocturnal sounds...

Optimus No. 1 stove with roarer burner

Optimus No. 1 stove with roarer burner There are silent burners available although they are mostly to be found on the larger (basecamp) stoves as they are very sensitive to wind, both in the priming stage and in use.  If one is clever one could create a hybrid, using a silent burner on a 1 pint stove.  Or one could use one of the Coleman stoves (or a gas stove).  Or better still, you could just be smart about where and when you brew up!  Remember that although sound carries REALLY well at night, your stove is still going to be quieter outside than if you were using it in your garage as you don't have four walls and a roof to contain the noise :)

Primus No. 10 stove with silent burner

Primus No 10 stove with silent burner Notice the difference between the two burner heads?  With the roarer burner you get four "sheets" of flame which gives you the noise, on the silent burner, you have lots of little "flamelets" (like on a gas stove).

You might have already guessed that even if a silent burner isn't the best for use outdoors, it is ideally suited to use indoors!  Yes, that's right, indoors!  Perfectly safe, just need to exercise caution with the priming phase and make sure that any reflected heat (or heat transferred through the legs isn't affecting the surface it's on - yes, the COMMON SENSE rule applies here - don't put it on anything that might catch fire!

Oh, even if you aren't using your stove at night, please do remember that ALL SOUND CARRIES REALLY WELL AT NIGHT.  If you're on the same camp site as us and you disturb our sleep...

Obligatory animal/cute pic follows.  No it didn't get turned into lunch either as we didn't have the air rifle handy, it just got shot with a camera instead ;)


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