Before I get started I’d like to give a shout out to Crazy Al, Daring Dave, Mad Mary, Sister Suzie and Plume who all used the Shop Amazon link from here. Every bit helps and I really do appreciate the support.
Back in the swamp tonight. I spent the morning gathering material, or trying to, then headed on out. I had just spent about six days in town so I was in high spirits to be getting back out here. I didn’t really want to spend that much time there but it seemed like everything that could go wrong did.
The town closest to where my camper is has a very limited selection when it comes to buying material. I needed fuses for the solar so naturally I went to an auto parts store. Sure ’nuff they had fuses but no holders. When I asked about holders the folks at the store were genuinely confused. What sort of danged fool would buy fuses if they didn’t have holders to put them in? I didn’t even try to explain.
The roads on the way out were really wet and a couple of times I thought I might have to get out and lock the hubs in case I needed 4 wheel drive. I made it through but it was touchy in a couple of the puddles. When I got to the shack my rain gauge said it had rained nearly five inches since I was out last. After unloading I took a walk and found that some of the areas that were drying well were flooded again. Naturally it started raining when I was at the furthest point from the shack. I didn’t have much trouble convincing the Boy that it was time to head back.
Back at the shack I thought I smelled propane. Checking out the grill nothing appeared amiss so I chalked it up to imagination. Come dinner time I opened the grill, lit the lighter and was greeted by a ball of flame that virtually engulfed the grill. Turning off the propane at the bottle I retreated to the other end of the porch and armed myself with an extinguisher while I waited on the flames to die out. Turns out the pressure regulator is shot so the grill is DOA until next trip to town. That is if they are sold in town.
So I broke out the charcoal grill. Naturally the bag of charcoal had got wet at some point so the first thing that happened was the bottom dropped out of the bag. Now I have two five gallon buckets full of charcoal to store somewhere.
About an hour and six lighter cubes later I finally had lit charcoal. I could probably have started the charcoal with fewer cubes but I had absolutely no idea how to use them. Still don’t so I cooked enough burgers to last a couple of days.
My agenda for the next few days is to get the first floor wired for lights and run a line for the fridge. I have some 12 v Dc compact florescent which only draw 12 watts. It will be nice to have a brightly lit shack for a few hours at night.
I think I’ve figured out how to get the fridge out of the truck and into the shack in one piece. Next trip in I’m taking a battery so I can test it before I haul it out here. It requires 12 volts for the control circuitry so I’ll run that this trip. I’ll also put in a 120 circuit so I can run it off the generator whenever I have it running.
Naturally I’ll have to move everything in the shack to get it in place. Then I have to do some of that wood working stuff which I hate so much. I have to build a plenum to bring fresh air into the cooling unit as well as vent the exhaust outside. I also have to seal the cooling unit so if there is an ammonia leak it doesn’t come inside. To say that I’m nervous about this is an understatement.
It’s been a couple of days and I’ve made some progress. I have a circuit ran down the middle of the shack capped off in the back. I put in a light fixture in the middle that is currently occupied by a 13 watt compact flourescent. I was surprised at how much light such a small bulb puts out. It’s nearly to much for just hanging out at night and doing whatever swamp people do at night in their shacks. I dunno, maybe sharpen gator gigs or build hog traps. Anyway, I’ll be keeping an eye out for smaller bulbs for future use.
A second circuit, maybe 8 feet long is for a bulb over the solar stuff. Plumes charge controller has a set of programmable contacts that allow you to turn loads on and off at preset times. I have it set for manual activation right now but will be reprogramming it before I leave today. I’m going to have it turn on for two hours after sunset and then turn on again an hour before sunrise. Not a big deal but it will make a casual prowler wonder if there’s anyone in the shack.
Figuring I’d get the most out of this light I painted the area around it with some aluminum paint I had. The last time I used this paint it was all shiny and aluminummy looking so I figured I would get a semi mirrored finish. I guess storing it outside for nearly a year wasn’t kind to the shiny aluminummy part. It came out a dull gray with no shiny at all. Oh well, it will be a good surface to paint over when I get some new paint. It does reduce the light to a tolerable level so if I have a sudden urge to do swamp shack people stuff I can sharpen my gator gigs in comfort. I wonder if there really are gator gigs? Who in the world would be crazy enough to gig a gator anyway?
Speaking of gators I spotted this little guy while on a boondoggle yesterday. I’m guessing him to be about four feet long. I took the pic from inside the truck so you can kind of get a feel for how close to the road the swamp was at that point. I would have got out to get a better shot but I had spotted a slide that was huge. I’m guessing this guy is looking so sad because he is sharing digs with a gator at least twice his size. I wasn’t about to get out of the truck and possibly meet his big brother in person.
The brushlings have revolted and are in full tilt riot mode. It’s possible I’m going to have to concede defeat for this year, take down the grape arbor then hope for a good winter. A good winter coupled with some good ideas on how to control this mess. I will win this battle. I can’t see owning 30 acres and not being able to see more than 50 feet in any direction.
Back in town tonight. Spent most of the day reading about installing a propane refrigerator and printing parts of the manuals. I guess it’s as tricky as I expected. If I screw up venting it won’t work. If I screw up the exhaust I can start a fire. If I screw up the seal and it leaks I could die a horrible death from ammonia. If I screw up all three all that will be left is a blackened crater with a flaming puddle of fat that used to be me.
I was disappointed to find that the replacement display for my charge controller isn’t in yet. But there’s a tropical depression coming in with predictions of 5 to 15 inches of rain over the next three days so maybe I’ll just hang in town for a few days. It’s that time of the month so I have to do laundry anyway. Yuck.
I was happy that my order of ultra bright 12 volt LEDs came in. These bad boys only draw 20 mA each so they will be a welcome addition to my shack lighting scheme. They put out 3.15 lumens which sounds small and is. However for the battery load that’s well within the range of useful. Ten of them should put out about 2.5 watts of light which when spread out will provide a good night light level. I hate waking up in a totally dark place. Besides, they’re just a lot of fun to play with.
OK. Some more pictures. I’ll explain as I go.
OK. Stupid. But I am excited at finally having light. At least light that doesn’t recharge outside during the day or run off batteries. Gotta remember I started this winter with candles and sterno for heat and light. This is a big deal for me.
Bad pic I know. Not sure what happened. This kluge is my current control area. I had to use what fuses I had on hand so they are just hanging out. My terminal strips were all to small also and everything ended up wire nutted together.
My phone camera decided it was time to make a video then recorded a couple minutes of me walking around outside. I did get this shot of the generator shed which still needs walls and a roof. I’ve put one of my generators and the air compressor inside so finishing it is on the list. You can see where I’m spreading plastic around in an effort to establish some kind of beach head against the brushling wars.
That’s all for tonight. I’d like to thank everyone for visiting. Please feel free to comment. Suggestions and criticisms are all welcome. Comments like “You suck” aren’t so very welcome but I won’t delete them.