Archive for January, 2010

Shower Progress…

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Well in my last post I showed you the basics and mechanics of the shower.   The Can-Wall is about 5.5 feet high now, and is being topped with glass blocks.  Picture below…

GlassBlock1

Progress has been a little slower than one might like because after laying 3 – 4 courses of cans into wet mortar the stability is compromised.   It has to set and dry for at least 24 hours before more courses are added.  So now you’re probably asking “What is that blue thing with a plug sticking out of the wall?”  Well, it was decided that although this living space is temporary and utilitarian, a little splash of style was in order.   The next picture will help explain the presence of this strange blue thing…

GlassBlock2

Basically a blue-LED rope-light was embedded in the mortar between the glass blocks to give a nice ambient light that refracts through the blocks.  Once the final coat of stucco and sealant has been applied to the whole wall it will be seamless.   More to come…

Shower is coming along…

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Ok, so you saw the starting slab for the shower…  Progress has been made, the soda-can wall is about 3 feet high now, but needs to rest and set before any more height is put on it.  The plastic backer is up which will eventually be stuccod over, as will the can wall.  Here’s a picture of that…

showerpan1

The submarine periscope thing off to the side is the drain for the sink, I need to keep it out of the way so there is room for the cistern that will run all of this plumbing.  I am using an on-demand pressure pump designed for RV’s to provide my water pressure.  It’s actually providing very good water pressure.   Here’s a picture of the pump from Shur-Flow…

Water pump1

Don’t mind the dust, it’s an occupational hazard of mixing concrete and mortar indoors.   That is a 7 gallon water container that provides more than enough water for a nice hot shower.   A 70 gallon Cistern will be used for the water supply soon.  So you’re probably asking yourself “Nice Hot Shower?  Where’s the hot water coming from?”  Well There is a Nifty little device called a “camping shower” that provides on demand hot water with a flow rate of 1.5 gpm.   Not enough to run a conventional household perhaps, but more than enough for a shower and a sink.  So it has been adapted from something you hang on a tree, to provide on-demand hot water here.   It will be vented, I just haven’t installed the vent yet, technically this is supposed to be for outdoor use but others have used it in this way…  you can see the blue line coming out of the water heater is the water supply, I put a T connector on it to split it to the shower and to the sink…

Water heater1

The black line on the left goes to a propane tank, and the flex line on the right goes to the water pump.  The two knobs adjust heat and water flow, the ignitor runs on 2 D cell batteries.   No power required, just turn the water on and in 2 seconds you have hot water.  It’s a beautiful thing.   Yes the shower has been “tested” and although manuevering so as not to spray the whole interior was difficult, it was well worth the effort.   The water pipes in the RV froze solid about 5 weeks ago, and so showering has been creative since then.   More to come soon folks, stay tuned…  Oh, and here’s a picture of the can wall when it was a little higher…. Diet Dr Pepper tastes more like regular Dr Pepper!!

 

canwall2

Almost looks like someone lives here…

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Ok boys and girls, where did I leave off?  Oh yes, about 75% of the insulation done, no windows, no toilet.   Well all that has been completed.   The waterless toilet is installed and fully functional, if something of a power hog.   When the heating element is on (to keep the compost above 50 degrees) it pulls 330 watts.   That is pretty huge when you’re pulling all of your power from the sun.  As the building nears completion though, the temperature in here is staying much more constant so the thermostat doesn’t kick on as often.   Here is a picture of the semi-installed waterless toilet.   It is up on a couple of 2×4’s at the moment to give it an air gap between itself and the floor, as the ground is frozen right now. 

inside4

I’m sure you see the bucket of empty soda cans next to the toilet (which is going to be painted, by the way.  No, this color was not my first choice)  the soda cans are for a “can wall” which is comprised of soda cans, chicken wire and mortar.   It is a huge saver on the cost of the mortar or concrete, will work very well as a shower wall, and is a great way to recycle old pop cans.   I will, of course, post pictures of that process as well.   You can see the corner of the shower slab in this picture, but here’s a better look at it, it will be surrounded by can walls with an opening for entering the shower area.

inside3

So within a week I should have functional shower facilities, though it won’t be complete yet as the cistern has yet to be purchased, so the shower will be run off of 7 gallon water containers until that arrives.    Also the sink has yet to be purchased, there is a local store called “Re-Store” that sells salvaged building materials.  They have sinks already mounted on a cabinet with countertop all together that were taken from a construction or remodel project.   They only sell viable items, and sometimes you can find real gems there.   That is where the sink will come from.  Just doing what can be done to keep it out of a landfill.   This next picture is the heater/cooktop/entertainment, the wood burning stove.  It truly is a great heater, and puts out a nice steady heat that you can feel from anywhere in the building.   It has lift-off burners on the top to facilitate cooking if you need high heat.   One word of advice though for those of you who want to install your own wood-burning stove.  Don’t use galvanized pipe, it stops being shiny after your first real fire.

Inside2

And last, but not least, the shelves.   You don’t realize how important shelving is until you don’t have any and you have to keep your groceries in bags on a dirt floor.   Shelves are a beautiful thing right now.

inside1

Just a quick shout out to Z and everyone from Jonny be Good Enterprises…  More soon, stay tuned.

Still working on it

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Due to a slight delay in funds availability, I haven’t made a whole lot of progress lately.   Well, that’s not entirely true, the wood burning stove is installed and working, about 3/4 of the insulation is in place and the electrical is done.   I have moved in to the building in order to use the wood burning stove for warmth as propane is simply not economical enough in -20 degree weather.   I only use the propane heater now right before bed to help keep it warm overnight when the wood burns down.   I have not yet installed the windows, though I expect that to be next week.  At that point I will be able to finish the insullation.   I have also gotten the composting toilet, though installation is not yet complete.  I have to get an inline fan to vent the exhaust under power so that there is no chance of odor escaping into the building.   I have found that at -20 degrees F the router freezes and stops working, so in the mornings I have to go get my router (which is wrapped in 3 socks for insullation) and bring it in near the fire, warm it up, then go put it back in the utility shed.   I shudder to think what that temperature is doing to my solar batteries.  I think I’m losing close to 30% efficiency because of that.   I am working on some ways to heat the utility building during the cold part of the evening.  I do have some pictures to post but my camera is in another building and it’s cold, so you’ll have to wait.  More soon…