Just More Stuff

Back in the swamp and as usual dealing with yet another life and death situation. This time literally life and death.

Two days ago I was feeling pretty good about my efforts at installing the fridge so I was considering leaving it running while I headed to town for a day or so. It was late in the afternoon so I had plans for spending the night, buttoning up the next morning then head out for some AC, shower (of course) and a WalMart run to stock up on “Refrigerate After Opening” supplies. A couple of hours before dark I decided to do a detailed inspection of the fridge. And boy howdy it’s a good thing I did.

When building the enclosure I followed the manufacturers instructions like a person possessed. If it said 32.4 inches wide the end measurement was 32.4 inches. Within 3 degrees of level became dead level. Seal and insulate is triple sealed and triple insulated. I went whole hildabeast (no offense to hogs) installing this thing.

The manufacturer clearly states that all baffles, enclosure walls, base, etc. may be fabricated out of wood, sheet metal or aluminum. I used wood and backer board throughout. In addition to foaming all joints, I sealed every joint with aluminum tape. Overkill, right? Not so fast. It wasn’t overkill by a long shot and very well may have resulted in me returning to a crater of smoldering ashes where the Taj McZiggy once stood.

My inspection was an in depth hands on type. I felt joints for leakage, touched everything than was accessible and even wet my hand to try to feel for air movement. Then I got to the chimney. At first all appeared well so I grabbed it. Well, maybe not grabbed, more like lightly brushed my fingers over it. It was HOT!!! As in, had I grabbed it I may have some healing blisters right now.

Now I expected some heat. Maybe enough to be slightly uncomfortable but this was beyond uncomfortable. And it was pointed directly at a 2×6 brace I had installed per the manufacturers installation instructions. Feeling the wood, it wasn’t blister hot but it was way to hot for any kind of mental comfort that I was searching for. After staring at it for about 3 or maybe 12 minutes a thought surfaced, “Oh shit!”.

I then went into a detailed review of the install which took maybe 90 seconds and arrived at the conclusion that I was hosed. And discouraged (again). And angry (again). But relieved. I was very relieved that in three days of running the fridge on generator and propane I hadn’t burnt down the shack with me and the Boy in it.

So, I went inside and checked the installation manual. Sure ’nuff, I built the enclosure just like they said to. Then I shut the fridge off, turned off the propane, loaded up and headed to town. Or maybe I should say campground since I don’t really live in town.

While in campground, I called the manufacturer, they wouldn’t even talk to me once they learned what I was doing. “That refrigerator isn’t certified for any install other than in a recreational vehicle.” What the hell? I told them to think of it as an RV without wheels. No luck there. Like talking to a democrat about gun control. Dumb as shit and twice as full of it.

So I set about finding my own solution to the problem. Which I’ll get into later in much more detail.

I got a late start out today while it was raining cats and socialists. The roads were slick as all get out but then everyone knows that democrats are full of it anyway. I rarely got over 15 mph so the trip in took nearly an hour and a half. Once I got here the place was soaked. Apparently there’s been over four inches of rain in the last two days with a lot of it looking to be sideways. The prediction was for less than 20 percent chance of rain so I’m guessing the weather forecasters are out at some bar yucking it up tonight about how they can be wrong 100 percent of the time and still not get fired.

Worst part is that I hadn’t put a tarp over the vents for the fridge so the sideways rain ran right in. The cooling unit and controls are soaked. So I can’t light it off until tomorrow sometime after I light off the air compressor and blow it dry. At least it’s not nasty hot tonight.

This morning I oozed out of bed and built some coffee. My Coleman stove was wet from the rain so when I lit it there was flame coming from everywhere except the proper flame place. Some compressed air dried it enough that I was finally able to get water going for coffee. Instant, oh yummy. Not.

Checking the fridge I decided it was dry enough, turned on the gas and started it up. And so it ran, and cooled, and ran, and ran. As far as I can tell, the burner hasn’t cut off yet after about twelve hours. I actually expected this since in the trial run it took nearly a day and a half for it to finally cool enough to cut off. For the trial I had it on one of the coldest settings but this time it’s on a warm setting so I believe it will cut off sometime tonight or in the morning. I wanted to get it to some steady state baseline before I modify the exhaust. This will let me know if the modification helps or hinders cooling.

I noticed that one of my foundations is washing out so I spent a considerable part of the day moving rocks, busting up three bags of concrete which had got hard from humidity and busting up concrete rubble. By the time I quit, you can hardly tell I was even there. I still have some rock to use but it’s not going to be near enough. I need to raise the area about eight inches which doesn’t seem like a lot until you actually start doing it. Then it becomes Mt. Everest. I’ll probably end up heading to the hog wallow with a wheel barrow tomorrow for some fill. I swear I need to buy some illegal aliens to do the work this American doesn’t want to do.

I pulled the card on my front game camera and settled in for the usual six hundred pics of brush moving slightly and nothing else. Then I freaked.

This game camera is about fifteen feet from the front porch of the shack. I’ve never got a picture of any critter other than Ziggy. Then I came to this one. It’s hard to tell but that is Mr. Bear hanging out within spitting distance of where I hang out. I checked the date and I was in shack at that time.

Keep in mind that there’s no bathroom in the shack. If the urge hits in the middle of the night you have to go outside and commune with mother nature, and a bear possibly. Now I’m all into this “it’s his home”, “he was here first”, “not all bears are bad.” I don’t give a rats ass! I don’t want to walk outside to take a leak and find a four hundred pound bear on my porch ready to go all jihadi on me.

So tomorrow I’m going to set up some early warning traps that will hopefully discourage him from hanging around. I have some mouse traps I’ll attach to stakes then glue a primer to the bar so it ignites a pack of firecrackers when tripped. Since the boy is deathly scared of firecrackers I’ll have to put them out just before dark. Hopefully no one will decide to come visit after dark.

Bears, Refrigerators and Winter Is Coming

In the swamp tonight. No clue what day it is. Think it’s mid August. August I’m pretty sure of at least. A huge “Thank You” to whoever bought from Amazon using the link on this page.

Been a lot happening so I’ll start with the refrigerator. It’s in the shack, on a platform, mostly framed and baffled in. I’m hoping to finish the baffling tomorrow, seal the plenum and light that bad boy off on propane. If all goes well I’ll be celebrating ice this weekend. If you want to know more head over to the Refrigerator page under Projects for so much detail you will be scratching your own eyes out. Sister Suzie has asked how it works so I’ll give a short run down on ammonia cooling.

Before I go on, a short explanation about names on this blog. In general I don’t use anyones real name here. Or maybe I do sometimes. The thing is, I mostly make up names for people based on how I’m feeling at the time or something about them I’ve noticed while interacting with them. All the names are intended to keep their real identity concealed and are meant in fun. Under no circumstances do I intend to insult, demean or otherwise offend someone. Truth is, if I don’t like someone, they will probably never be mentioned here.

OK, so let’s talk about bears. Or rather a bear. As in there’s a great big honking bear hanging out here that has me a bit on 6678edge. I’ve never shared space with a bear so I feel justified in admitting that I’m constantly prepared to run screaming like a scared little girl.

This guy is big! On his hind legs he is at least six feet tall and we’re guessing his weight in the 350 pound range. In the pic it’s hard to tell but he’s molesting a 6681feeder about seven feet off the ground. What’s not shown is that he knocked the feeder down and tore it in half to get at the corn inside. All this happened about 100 yards from the shack. Bears can run up to 35 miles per hour. I can run up to 1 mile per day with frequent breaks for snacks and water. Maybe a mile and a quarter if I have those guys that stand alongside the road and hand you water and energy bars.

So there’s this new bear in the hood that I have to figure out how to coexist with. Never let it be said that I’m not into diversity. My biggest concern is the Boy. By muzloid6684 standards he’s a freaking brilliant genius capable of inventing space travel, again. In truth, he’s dumber than a box of rocks and to stupid to run from a bear. Which means I would have a martyr on my hands to gather up and bury which I really, really don’t want to do. Thank god I never had kids. I probably would have kept them velcroed to the wall until they turned about 30.

I’ve been training him to stay in sight of the shack by liberally 6687applying the bug zapper (remote control) to his shock collar. But when he sees a pig or armadillo that doesn’t work all that well. Cranking up the setting will light him up like a Christmas tree but again, doesn’t always work. Obviously more work is needed.

Figuring I’d keep the bear at a distance, I bought firecrackers and bottle rockets. Or at least what passes for firecrackers these days. At the gas station I was perusing their fireworks and settled on some M100s and bottle rockets. Hey, vertical envelopment. When I got to the shack this afternoon, I lit off one of the M100s expecting to startle wildlife for miles around. What a ripoff! I can get more noise out of clapping two pieces of wood together. Are kids such wimps these days that they can’t be trusted to handle high explosives without losing limbs? Where do you go to get something that will lift a tree trunk out of the ground? This is obviously another area that the feds got into and screwed up.

So I have this pile of firecrackers that don’t crack and bottle rockets that probably run out four feet then glow feebly. I guess I could dump them all in a pressure canner, hide in the brush, then light it off and throw it at the bear. But then I would probably have a bear laughing his ass off while he ate me.

In other news, wait, there’s no other news. Refrigerator and bear. OH!!! Generator. Yeah! It’s screwing up sad to say. That lovely 30 amp extension cord that came with it went dead the other day. I’m not sure if it’s the outlet or the cord since I have now other cord to test it with. When I have time I’ll check the outlet on the generator for power and see which it is. If it’s the receptacle on the generator itself I’ll be taking it back for a refund this time.

Good news is my solar is working like a charm. More tomorrow. Maybe.

Back again tonight. Long day. Finished framing in fridge, hooked up 12 volt DC control power and fired it up off the generator. At last check one freezer compartment was at 39 degrees and still cooling so I’m getting excited. I filled some ice trays for the other compartment hoping I’ll have ice before I fall out tonight. In a few minutes I’m going to pack the refrigerator part with soda just to have some thermal mass to help keep it cool while I hook up the propane tomorrow.

If all goes well with the propane I’m going to run it at least two days then shut down and head to town for a day. When I get back I want to start it up on propane, run for ten days then decide whether to leave it running permanently. At that point I’ll be able to stay out here two or three weeks at a time and only have to go to town for material and food.

Since I’ll have to refill my propane bottles occasionally I can’t really say that I’m completely off the grid but I’ll certainly be a lot closer than I was this time last year.

With the end in sight for the refrigerator, I have to start thinking about my next big project. As hot as it is I really need to get ready for winter. That roughly translates into finish putting up siding, insulate and seal the shack and installing the wood burning stove. From experience I can vouch for how miserable spending the night in a drafty shack with no insulation is. Candles and sterno just can’t keep up. Besides, it’s very uncomfortable trying to get some rest in a sleeping bag with a 70 pound pit bull in it with you.

In The Land Of The Blind

The man who can make ice is king.

Good news tonight. Today I hooked up 12 volts to the propane fridge I had bought then connected it to 120. It works. I am now fairly certain that it will work on propane which means I can make ice once it is installed.

I’ll be loading it up tomorrow morning to take out to the shack. Installation is going to be a major effort. I’m starting a projects page for it. Check it out for updates.

Dang I Forgot To Give It A Title

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 compactIMG_20160805_135233786 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 IMG_20160805_181453017circuit 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’tIMG_20160806_141737870 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 IMG_20160806_102923838the 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 coupledIMG_20160806_185426219_HDR 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.

IMG_20160805_181425362_HDR
Light On
IMG_20160805_181433947_HDR
Light Off

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.

IMG_20160805_181512927

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.

IMG_20160806_162429701

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.

 

IMG_20160803_205117193
If I ever figure out how to operate this thing Ishimo will be the one begging for treats and sleeping on the floor.

 

Idle Thoughts

Well, didn’t make it out to the swamp today. Had to wait until I was sure that the remote for my charge controller was on the way which didn’t happen until this afternoon. No bad reflection on Renogy. Just how it went. I eventually contacted their customer service and had things worked out in a matter of minutes.

If anyone is thinking of starting a solar energy project I recommend at least touching base with Renogy to see what they can do for you. Frankly, the cost of solar is dropping so fast that customer service is quickly becoming a major factor to consider when making your buy decisions. I’ve already tested the water with Renogys return policy and have to rate it as excellent. Be advised that unless you purchase from Amazon through this site I get nothing from you purchasing from Renogy. I’m just trying to steer people toward a happy ending.

How hot is it? I found this pic in my camera which should answer IMG_20160713_164013512that. This is taken on my first floor porch in the shade. This was taken about 4 in the afternoon. What you can’t see is the Boy in the truck with the AC blasting on high. Anytime it goes over 100 he goes in the truck while I burn precious diesel keeping his furry butt cool. Now that I have enough solar to run fans I try to keep him in the shack in front of a fan but that’s a lot like herding cats. Seems that there’s always some exotic critter out there to bark at and chase.

I have a new in town project to start next trip in. I found this gopher turtle (tortoise) shell alongside the road a few months back that has been sitting on a post in front of the shack. I’m going to paint its belly IMG_20160428_121107206yellow, the top red, put a kenyan flag on one side, an ISIS flag on the other and a rainbow flag on the back. On top I will paint an owebowmao logo with a hammer and sickle overlay. I’m going to put it on eBay as the “ultimate baracka owebowmao post turtle tribute.” I think it will eventually come to be recognized as a fitting tribute to owebowmao fans and possibly find its way into the Smithsonian. I will list it in a 30 day auction starting at 99 cents with $175 shipping and handling. As with all things owebowmao you have to look at hidden costs and agendas. Post not included.

Not long ago I was headed into town for some silly reason like food or maybe water when I came upon a young turkey walking down the middle of the road. He seemed a bit unsteady on his feet so I thought maybe that he had found some fermented corn and was walking it off.

There’s feeders everywhere out here. Sometimes water gets into the feeders and the corn ferments. Once the game finds it they spend days hanging around to eat the corn and catch a buzz. Larger game such as deer and pigs relish it for the extra calories while smaller game sometimes gets falling down drunk.

Curious I began down shifting and fell in behind the turkey who at first was quite oblivious to me and the noise from my truck. Shortly though he looked back and was visibly startled to see me only about 20 feet behind him. So he sped up but didn’t leave the middle of the road. So I sped up a bit to keep pace while wondering how this would play out.

Looking over his shoulder again he seemed genuinely surprised to see me still there and really started pouring on the coal. It continued like this for some time with him looking back and increasing his speed every time but never attempting to leave the middle of the road.

I have no idea how fast we were going when he finally started flapping his wings and at times leaving the ground. Being so young he obviously wasn’t used to flying all that much but seemed to instinctively know that flying was his Shawshank Redemption.

The chase ended with him achieving lift off velocity and clearing the brush on the side of the road then crashing into a small clearing just off the road. I came to a quick stop to watch him crash in the clearing then look around to see if I was still behind him.

I often wonder what animals would say if they could talk.

“Wow, so that’s fermented corn! What is corn anyway? They say it tastes like chicken. I wonder what chicken is? Don’t matter. I’m drunk whatever that is. I’ll just walk it off. Yessir. Gonna just walk down the middle of the road here till I get home.”

“What’s that sound? Hmmm. Don’t see anything. No worries. Wait, it’sTurkey getting louder. Oh no. It’s behind me!”

“Oh crap! What’s that? It’s huge! And it’s growling at me! Walk faster. Walk faster. Don’t look back.”

“I gotta look back. Gotta look. Oh crap! It’s closer. Run. Run faster. There, that should do it……………… Wait, I can still hear it.”

“Oh no! It’s still there! Run real fast! Real fast. Why am I flapping my wings? I haven’t finished basic aviation 101. They say I can’t fly yet. Oh god. Oh god.”

“It’s still there. Oh god, get me out of this and I promise,,,,,,wait. I’m a turkey. Turkeys don’t pray do they? Who cares? Oh god, oh god, oh god.”

“It’s still there. I’m going to fly! I’m FLYING! I”M FLYING!!!  I’M CRASHING! I’M CRASHING!”

“Ouch, shit, crap! WOOF! I’ve crashed! Well, they say that any landing you walk away from is a good one.”

“Gosh. Where did all the dragonflies come from?”

 

“One day an old cowboy was out ridin’ fence and he saw a turtle balanced on top of a fence post. When he got back to the bunkhouse he told the other fellas that he saw a “post turtle”. They all asked, “What the hell is a ‘post Turtle’? And he said it was a turtle settin’ on top of a post! He then went on to explain that “you know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong there, he doesn’t know what to do while he’s up there and you just wonder what kind of dang fool put him up there to begin with!”

 

A Quick Update

Just a quick post then I’m off to the swamp for a few days. Just spent several days in town not doing much of anything except sleeping and healing up from bug bites.

Since last post I put in a Renogy MPPT Charge Controller that Plume sent to me. It’s great. With it I can run a fan, charge devices and still keep my batteries topped off during the day. At night I ran a desktop fan all night, about 8 hours, and the batteries were still topped by about 11 in the morning.

I ordered an MT-5 LCD display to go with the controller. It came in broke. So it’s on its way back to Renogy while I wait for the replacement to arrive. It’s pretty irritating to have to wait even more time but I do have to say that so far the customer support at Renogy is very good. In the meantime I’ll have to keep using my meter to monitor the system periodically.

Put on the snake boots and did a walkabout last week. I haven’t toured what of the property I can get to in over three weeks so IMG_20160722_081147737things had changed quite a bit. Things are drying out a lot so I’m able to see and get to more areas that have before now been IMG_20160722_081136281_HDRfar to wet to even try. What I thought might have been a spring fed pond turned out to be nothing more than an optical illusion. In truth the whole area is nothing more than a mud bog right now. I was able to get fairly close and take a pic but it’s still much to wet to even try crossing. After it dries some more I’ll trek in as far as possible and get some GPS readings and pics.

Another area previously off limits is opening up also. I was able to get about halfway through before the mud got to deep and I chickened out. This area is very interesting since the west side is the IMG_20160722_081907829side leading to the back of my property which I’ve never managed to get to. About 40 feet past where I took these pics is a stand of IMG_20160722_081921579_HDRpine trees. They’re to the right in the pics. Usually, where there’s pines there’s fairly dry land and the brush isn’t so dense. I’m hoping to get back to this area soon with the brush cutter and possibly discover the ever elusive westward passage to the back side of the property.

You just never know what you’re going to bump into out there. After IMG_20160721_160824698_HDRawhile you tend to try to get in and out as fast as possible but then something will happen to remind you that it’s time to stop IMG_20160729_133152627and smell the roses.

 

Make Up Yer Own Title

Another one of my projects has mixed results. I did a survey of the black plastic sheet and camo tarp plants and came away IMG_20160716_183959505disappointed. Both have been in place a little over six weeks so I was hoping to see scorched IMG_20160716_184055014earth underneath. Both had killed off a lot of brushlings but there were still some green underneath. I was hoping to move them this afternoon but it’s obvious they need more time.

A little over two weeks ago I added some translucent plastic I had left over from somewhere. Looking under it I was impressed with theIMG_20160716_184243153 amount of dead vegetation. It appears as if it is passing a lot more heat in and cooking the brush much faster. If I’m lucky it’s cooking the roots so I won’t have to keep dealing with rampant growth.

To help combat the brush I’ve begun to spread cardboard and tossing something like a pallet on top to hold it in place. This works somewhat but nothing like the tarp or two plastics. Believe it or not, IMG_20160716_184330309_HDRAmerican cardboard doesn’t work as well as Chinese cardboard. The Chinese cardboard is so cheaply made that a heavy fog is enough to collapse it thus smothering the brush. The American cardboard just hangs in there refusing to turn to mush. To me this is clear evidence that all those folks who say I’m not a globalist type of guy are wrong.

Got the skeleton semi finished and two 100 watt panels up and hooked up. Naturally I had to fabricate mounts since Grape Solar isIMG_20160718_083051045_HDR to dammed cheap to include a dollars worth of mounting hardware with their panels. IMG_20160718_114551994They also provide mounting slots which are 20.5 inches on center. Naturally nearly everything here in the states is built 16 inches on center. So of course the engineers who design their stuff would never think 8 inch on center mounting slots.

I’ve been running a fan, charging my lap top, and playing
the radio a bit. Everything seems to be working well,,,,wait for it,,,,except the 110 ah batteries only seem to be delivering about 12IMG_20160718_201048761_HDR ah before reaching nearly 50% discharged. I’ve been scratching my head, checking my battery calcs, IMG_20160718_201236571_HDRrewiring and checking everything a zillion more times and I still can’t get but about 4 hours run time on a small table top fan.

My charge controller tells me ball park how many amps I’m pulling from the batteries. My inverter with no load is pulling .5 amps. The IMG_20160718_201259263_HDRsmall fan is pulling roughly 3.3 amps for a total load of nearly 4 amps. So I should have at least 25 hours run time before I approach the 50% discharge cut off.

Instead after 3 hours battery voltage is around 12.3 volts with 12.24 being 50%. I don’t even have to take my shoes off to count 12 ah and IMG_20160719_122106190realize that it ain’t 110. Once I get back to town I’ll be burning up the internet trying to find an answer to this. I’m really hoping I don’t have to return the batteries since that will leave me stranded without batteries for a week or more as well as making me very angry.

I have the frame done for the last panel. It’s ugly as sin but sturdy IMG_20160720_181929044and once I get some painting done it will be beautiful since everything looks good in OD green. I also have a 15 watt panel I need to move and cut in as well. I’m hoping for something around a 20 amp charge rate during the day from the panels which will let me run fans while still topping off the batteries. I’ve seen a 15 amp charge rate with two panels so 20 with three should be well within reason.

Days later I’ve figured most of it out. Regarding the short run times above, never mind.

Enter Title Here

Wow, been a lot going on, where to start?

Last post I had the generator loaded and was bravely headed off into the world of light switches, running water and semi automatic toilets. After touching base with Mad Al Yankovic (no relation to Weird Al Yankovic) I learned that I could return the generator to the place of purchase. So the next morning I set off on the nearly 600 mile round trip. Later that evening and nearly $300 dollars later I pulled back into the campground with a brand new generator in the back. Many thanks to Al as I could have never pulled this off without his help.

The pig tails for my solar panels came in. Now I have to decide whether to mount the panels on the floor of the balcony, build a skeleton structure to mount above the balcony, or put in a full tilt frame and roof. Right now I’m leaning toward a skeleton just to get the ball rolling with a roof added at a later date. At least with the skeleton I expect it to leak so I won’t be disappointed when it does.

I bought a used 120v/propane refrigerator that appears to be in excellent shape. I had to transport it on its side so after unloading this morning we leveled it and are allowing it to sit at least 24 hours before testing the 120v for cooling. Right now it’s sitting in a friends shop in town under a camo tarp until we get back to it. I just hope we can find it when we get ready since camo hides everything.

These refrigerators were designed to go in RVs so they aren’t really easy to install as free standing. No problem, I called the manufacturer. They were incredibly unhelpful. I was warned that I had to do it correctly or the stars would come out of alignment, chaos would ensue, then the earth and all life on it would be consumed by a rogue super massive black hole. I’m thinking that possibly they overstated their case but I took their point to heart. Don’t hook a nuclear reactor up to it and not expect a melt down I guess.

I picked up a pair of led solar powered shed lights while Al and I were off the leash in the big city that promise “up to” 8 hours of light from a full sunny days charge. So I can expect maybe four hours at best which is OK since I’m rarely up more than a couple of hours past sunset when out in the swamp. A nice feature about them is that the panel to light cable is 15 feet long. With it I can pretty much mount the panel on the balcony then mount the light just about anywhere in the shed that I want. At some point I need to take all my solar lights apart, replace the leds with super bright leds which are 10 times brighter and draw much less current.

I also returned the charge controller I had for another. The one I had was giving me trouble with the buttons not actuating properly so I figure I would head off a failure. At some point I need to dedicate some dollars to a quality controller but hey, when you are boot strapping a project with only one boot you dance with what you brung.

I ordered two 110 ah batteries which are scheduled to arrive next week. Crunching numbers and doing battery calcs I’ve decided I should be able to charge batteries, run fans and power the 12v control circuit on the fridge during the day. At night I should be able to run the air conditioner for about four hours before I hit a 50% discharge level. There’s a very good chance I might run the ac during the day then run fans at night since I’m comfortable sleeping in 70ish temps. However I have several options available once I get the solar up and running so I’m getting a bit more optimistic about this particular project.

Back in the swamp and still a lot going on. Got the new generator unloaded, put together and ran for about four hours. So far so good but I’m still watching it with a suspicious eye. I started the framework to mount the solar cells only to realize that it isn’t large enough. I haven’t tried to put the cells up yet so I’m not positive that they won’t all fit. Naturally the mounting hardware I had bought wouldn’t work so I had to go back to town to exchange it for new material. Tomorrow I’ll find out if I can fit all the cells so I’ll know if I have to expand the frame or not. Since I dearly hate working with wood I’m hoping I can figure out how to fit everything.

My batteries were in when I got back to town so they were loaded in back for the trip out. On the way out I ran into McGuyver who wanted to see the batteries. We opened a box only to discover that the attaching hardware as pictured on their website was nowhere to be found. There were just two empty threaded holes in each battery. So back to town I went for the third time today. Need I say it? They aren’t a standard battery post thread. Thankfully the sweet young lady helping me solve this problem had no reservations about describing the low life idiots that would ship a naked battery with non standard threads and no fasteners. I was so infatuated that I bought some extra cable I really didn’t need but will put to good use.

Of course I got to the swamp just as it started raining. Not hearing any thunder or seeing any lightning I went ahead and unloaded in the rain. I didn’t want the new batteries which go for $200 plus each sitting around in soggy boxes and possibly shorting out.

I checked on one of my science projects and have good news to report. I started with a precision grade blue plastic toy bucket and wrapped it in precision grade fly paper in a precision grade manner. Don’t mind the wrinkles, you guessed it, they’re precision grade IMG_20160707_113950106_HDRwrinkles and worked out to my benefit.

I’ve noticed that the local yellow fly muzloids love that shade of blue. I have a blue Lowes bucket that they like to hang out on, smoke, joke and launch terrorist attacks from. So I decided to IMG_20160713_165944714_HDRgive them another mosque in which to gather. After about four days somewhere around 50 of the evil little jihadis had got themselves stuck which has to be some kind of world record for flypaper in that period of time. I need to check with Guiness on that. The wrinkles work well since they will land on it and strut around going “Dirka, IMG_20160713_165958836_HDRdirka, jihad, jihad!” hoping for some action then get stuck behind a wrinkle. Soon it will be time to send them on to aloha and set up another snack bar. It’s not perfect but until I can develop a final solution it’s the best I’ve found so far. Just think, if Hitler had gone after yellow flies he would be a national hero in every civilized country today.

Life Lessons

 

Okay, this month’s post is not going to be a rant about how the world is falling apart. Nor is it likely to really fit into the “Living Off the Grid” category. This one is about passing on information to the next person in hopes that they do not end up with the mess I have.

The topic is Blower Motor Resistors.

First let me state that I hate working with anything that greasy & oily. Give me a piece of wood and there is not much I can not do with it and I am in hog heaven, but I detest machinery. But because I am cheap, I have a grand desire to learn anything new, & it is very difficult to find someone you trust to work on your vehicle. I tend to do a lot of work myself. My newest endeavor into the world of auto mechanic is a blower fan that stopped working. I figured the blower motor itself was fine, there was sickening sound that you hear of metal on metal when a spinning object is about to die. My first assumption was that it was the control switch in the cab going bad.

IMG_4097 - Copy

I had lost the first three settings of the fan control some time ago. And yes, I should have researched the issue back then, hence why I am telling you all this in hopes that you gain an advantage from my stupidity. I finally lost the highest setting a couple of days ago. Not wanting to be without the mighty blast of northern cool air that usually baths me like the music of an Ice Cream truck coming down the street. I jumped into researching how to replace the control panel.

I quickly found out that the most common, and easiest to replace, problem when a blower motor stops running is a burnt out resistor. Now, if you are like me and have limited auto mechanics experience, but have computer knowledge. A resistor looks like this:

3_Resistors

Well, to my surprise, and a new lesson of the day, they come in other forms. My blower motor resistor looks like this when all shiny and new:

s-l300 - Copy

According the various YouTube videos I watched, these thing have tendency to burn out over time due to heat build up, use, and moisture. I learned I made two mistakes that I can determine from what I have learned from the videos and web forums. If you go back to image 1, you can see that to shut the fan off, the right most control needs to be pointing towards Santy Claus, North, or straight up to the “Off” position. Well, even on times when I was not actually using the heat or the ac, I would never move that control to the off position, I would just turn the fan control to the lowest speed. This was not good. This allowed the fan to operate, thus allow electricity to flow through the resistor and shortening its lifespan. So the lesson here is clearly, shut of the fan when not using it. Do not be a lazy bastard like myself who refuses to acknowledge the existence of that elusive far right control (it’s a lefty thing). My second mistake was not looking into the issue when I lost the first fan setting. This was the resistor telling me it is not feeling well, it could a check up, a little love. But I ignored it, which caused it to work harder, thus get hotter. The end result to all this is a welded mess of metal and plastic.

Removing the resistor from its location was easy enough. For mine, two small screws, resistor and wiring harness come right out. Now, removing the resistor from the wiring harness, not so easy. This was the results of tearing the resistor from its plastic male base;

IMG_4090

After the resistor itself was drawn and quartered, leaving the male base:

IMG_4091

which pulled right off of the female harness without a single cry of objection;

leaving the female wiring harness. This was the failure point;

Being that my beautful baby is working on her 17th year, finding parts tends to lead me to RockAuto.com because local auto stores tend to not have anything but the most replaced items in stock. Waiting a few days for parts to come in is nothing to cry over, but i could have saved myself having to replace the wiring harness end had I checked on why I lost fan speed when it was first indicated.

Hope you all benefit from my life lesson.

Love & Light

 

Living the dream.