Shed is effectively done…

Well the shed is done, everything but the metal roof is up which I will be finishing this weekend.   The power equipment didn’t all come in on Friday like I was told it would, no big surprise.  Went to pick up the solar panels and mounting equipment so at least I could get that done this weekend while I’m up on the roof, but the business closed early.  I just can’t get a break so it looks like I’ll be running on batteries for a few more days.   Come monday though I’ll be waiting at the door for the solar place to open as I can’t wait to actually power my laptop at home without running it off the Jeep.   *sigh*   Well, if they are sufficiently apologetic, I’ll put a link to their website on here.   That’s all for today.

Shower Progress…

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…

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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…

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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…

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…

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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…

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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…

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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!!

 

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Almost looks like someone lives here…

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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Still working on it

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…

Fully Online and Dried in…

Ok, so the woodframe building is completely dried in now, I’m starting to pour the first pieces of the slab for the interior floor surface.   I am doing the stove slab first so that the heat from the woodburner can help to cure the rest of the slab, as the ground is already frozen here.  I’ll include a picture of the first piece of slab, once all the pieces are in place I will top-coat them with a slurry of self-leveling concrete and concrete stain, giving me a solid, level, attractive floor surface.  (in theory)  Now that the internet has been installed in the power shed (utility shed now)  I will be able to update this site on an almost daily basis.  Stay tuned boys and girls…  Here’s a couple of pictures of where I am at with the wood structure.

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I still have to cut out and install the windows, and put on an overhang for the sides and in the spring I will wrap and stucco the building.   Here’s an inside shot…

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I am a huge fan of “expandy foam” to fill the little cracks and crevices.  Still have work to do inside, like installing electrical, plumbing, drywall, finishing the insullation…  I should have a busy weel ahead of me.  At least I’ll be working inside sheltered from the insane winds and coming snow.   Here’s a little pic of the beginning of the slab…

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Building continues…

Well I got a couple of emails asking why I haven’t updated the site in a couple of weeks,  well the first week was due to a foot and a half of snow and there wasn’t much time to update the site.  After the snow melted I was left with the most slippery mud I have ever seen.   I realized quickly that winter was coming faster than I was building so I decided to put up a quick woodframe structure that I could put a woodburning stove in.   The camper is drawing too much power running that forced air heater all night and all day when its cold.  It drains my batteries to about 54 percent by the time the sun comes up, that is waaaay too much power.   Here’s a picture of what I’ve been working on since then…  it’s a little farther along than this right now…

 

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Sorry for the Delay… Laptop failure

Well it’s been a few days since I’ve been able to update the website.  I experienced total system failure on my laptop.   I have gotten a new laptop and am back online.   To update you on the solar system, panels have been installed and tied in to the system through the combiner box and the door to the shed has been fabricated and installed.   I am working on the first phase adobe building now.  Below is a picture of the rough footings that I am digging for the building, and you can see the railroad ties in the background that I will be using for the foundation.  (Warning…  this is not to code, please do not tell code enforcement that I told you this was ok)   The dimensions of this first building are such that code does not apply so I am building this one as a “true” adobe.   No concrete footing, bond beam, or any of that.   I visited the Taos Pueblo and spoke to some of the native americans there about their pueblo which has stood for 1000 years and is still occupied.  They told me there is no foundation, just compacted earth and that with adobe the main thing is maintenance.  They re-plaster the exterior twice a year to keep erosion and water penetration out.   Their adobes are not stabalized (obviously) and yet for 1000 years those buildings have stood unaffected by time and weather.   I was so inspired that I decided to do my first building in a true adobe style.   The railroad ties for the foundation walls are more for my piece of mind, as I’m not sure I’m tamping the earth enough to prevent movement and they will help to distribute the weight of the adobe walls evenly across the earth.  This will help to prevent cracking.   I will be wrapping them in felt paper to help keep a layer of seperation between them and the earth, even though they are soaked with creosote it makes me feel better to protect them.   Here’s the pictures…

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I will update the site with more soon…  I need to recover some of my files from my old laptop, but will try to keep current with everything until that is done.

Panels Are Installed

Well I have installed the two 205 watt solar panels on the shed of the roof.   It took the better part of a day to do it because the mounting kit had no installation instructions.   Once I figured it out though it’s not bad, I could probably install more in half the time now that I know how.  Unfortunately I am not having the best experience with my supplier.  I was told on thursday to pick up the rest of the equipment friday morning and that everything would be ready.   I drove for an hour to get there friday morning and sat in the parking lot for 2.5 hours, they never opened.   No sign, no voicemail message, nothing.   They just decided not to come in after wasting 5 hours of my day.   Needless to say, there will be repercussions for this.   Here is a picture of the panels, installed.

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Also, the other day I was thinking to myself that my poor dog needs a friend to keep her occupied since the cats want nothing to do with her.   I have noticed since arriving that the desert seems to provide what you need.  Not what you want, but what you need.   I was sitting in the middle of the county road trying to get cellphone signal miles from the nearest house, and I heard scratching on the door to my jeep.  I opened the window and there was the cutest little dog whining and begging me to let him in.  I opened the door to get a better look at him and he jumped in the Jeep and into my lap and started licking my face.   I asked around but no one had lost a dog.   He’s a great dog, minus the chewing issue which we are working on and my other dog loves him very much.   I’m keeping him.  Here’s a picture.

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Adobe and Panels are here!!!

Ok, I ordered my first batch of adobe in the interest of time since winter is fast approaching.  Pictures of them are in the gallery.  For the first batch of 1300 adobes, the final cost including delivery was $2,345 and that included the pallets and offloading with a forklift.  These are fully stabalized adobes, meaning you can put them in a bucket of water and they will not lose their shape.  They are not moisture permeable, so should hold up even during the rainy season with no external plastering.   I want to keep the original adobe brick appearance on the first building at least.  The solar panels are in and I’m going to be mounting them today or tomorrow, the inverter and the rest of the stuff is still at the shop waiting for me to pick up.   I heard a mouse the other day, so meet the mousetrap squad…  First is Marduk a veteran mouser adopted from a local shelter…

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Next we have Gilgamesh and Enkidu…  they were inseperable at the shelter so I adopted them together to be the next generation of mousetrap squad.  Marduk keeps them in line…

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I’ll be taking some pictures as the installation proceeds and will update the site again soon.