Thursday, August 5, 2010

I'm Home!

Made it back to the ranch without any trouble and had new sneakers on the front of the falcon so that helped a lot. Having them balanced sure helped the ride to. As you can see the falcon was packed as tight as I could get it and believe it or not I managed to bring everything I wanted to bring including the Coleman electric Ice chest and portable Swamp cooler. RN came up with the ice chest and my uncle and aunt donated the swamp cooler since they are moving and won't need it anymore.

I only had to stop every 50 miles to let Pepper catch up on the way home. I think she got a good workout. ;)

Actually there was just enough room left in the back seat for her to ride back.

I did have a BIG problem when I got back though and that was that the propane had run out some time after I left which means the fridge shut down. I'd put a new bag of ice in the freezer the night before I left and when I came in there was signs of a dried up puddle on the floor where it ran to when it melted. All of the meat in the freezer had gone bad as well as everything in the ice box so now I have to figure out what to do with all the bad stuff and get the fridge cleaned up. Considering the amount of propane used by the ice box and only the freezer working like its supposed to then I may scrap the idea of using it period. Its nice to have ice handy all the time, but might not be nice enough to warrant paying for the propane just to keep ice in the freezer and what little else will fit in it.
This is the fridge RN gave me and it only pulls 43 watts of electricity which would allow me to run it full time from the batteries and solar panels after I get all of the panels online. Of course it doesn't have a freezer though so it won't help there. More than likely it will become my refrigerator and I'll turn the icebox off after I get it cleaned out and cleaned up. It won't cost anything to use the electric ice chest.
This is the little swamp cooler and I tried it out last night. It does a very good job of cooling this place down (at least at night), but it uses a good bit of water so it looks like I'd better get the 275 gallon tank refilled soon.
I got the three largest solar panels temporarily wired in yesterday afternoon, but found that they didn't have diodes to keep the panels from draining the batteries at night when they weren't charging. I had the one panel that was no good so used the diode from it to put in one of the 30 watt panels and then robbed two more from the smaller panels so until I get replacement diodes for them I won't be able to use those two. No big deal though because there are plenty of other panels to put online when I get the time.
I plan to mount most of the panels I brought back on the rack in this picture. I made it a while back with the casters on it so it can be swiveled around as the sun rises to get the max out of them all day. If I start forgetting to do that then I'll probably just leave it facing south all the time.




UPDATE


My attempt at getting the fridge to work well enough to keep a small amount of perishables evidently failed. What I did is completely block off the lower part of the icebox with 1 inch of foam insulation which should have cut the space down that the refrigeration system has to cool. It still only maintains 60 degrees. As you can see I've now taken that another step by putting a block of ice in the small ice chest in it as an attempt to get the temp in there low enough to keep cold cuts and the like in there. I figure at the constant 60 degrees in there before the ice then the ice should cool it on down and probably last several days while doing it. I guess time will tell on that.



Pepper the Mountain Goat

Pepper now thinks she's a mountain goat. Note the paw prints on the trunk of the falcon. Yep they're on the top and hood to. I think I have a nice quiet place picked out for her in the west 5 critter field!

45 comments:

  1. You scored big time! Good to know the Evap works great, and the cooler looks good too. buddy you are gonna be a great place for people to stop off snd check out to see how to make it a go on the cheep. Welcome home

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  2. Well looks like your staying busy! I will be in Terlingua in a week or so and looking for free wifi..is the Legion my best bet?

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  3. I tried one of those little fridges once, problem with mine was that it only cooled to about 40 degrees below the ambient temp. 40 degrees below 100 or even 80 ain't really cool enough to keep meat and other perishables.

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  4. What a shame about the fridge/freezer. The swamp cooler is great though.

    For ice I'm getting one of those little portable ice makers to run off the inverter. Ice when I want it for drinks and no fridge.

    Bob, that's a fact about those small fridges.

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  5. Welcome back David, glad you had a safe and productive trip. Better get some diodes, and get those panels hooked up. Then you can hook up a bunch of lights and glow at night, giving your neighbor more to complain about :)

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  6. Nick, I'll have to get more panels wired before I can use the evap along with the Coleman cooler. With the cooler and this lap top running at the same time there is a slight voltage drop. Running the evap will sure cause a drain. Once I get all of the panels wired it should handle the load of all three during the day, but I'll have to shut down the evap at night and not use the laptop a lot. When I went south to get stuff to clean the fridge with earlier I got more distilled water to redo the other two batteries so hopefully they will come around and it will help the over night situation.

    Frann, there are places down south that have free WiFi Big Bin Motor Inn is one of them and there are others, but I'm not sure where they are. The legion would be a good place to though.

    BfA, you are right. Its 92 in here right now and the cooler is only down to 50. I doubt that I'll be keeping any perishables in it though. Mainly drinks and stuff that don't have to stay real cold.

    the desert rose, do you have a link to one of those?

    Dizzy-Dick, Yeah I need to get the other panels wired in. I have the fridge going again and now I'm thinking about working on the panels in the shade and then put them up when I get them ready. I may wait until in the morning when its cool to clean the fridge since its pretty hot in here right now.

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  7. Glad you're back, true about the fridge if it's like the one's I used in the semi it's only good for about 40 degrees below the ambient temp.

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  8. That is what I call Gettin-er-done. See you are as busy as me. Good to see the Panels working out. How bout that wind genny, she still serving a good purpose? I finished upstairs and will be taking pictures and updating soon. Let you know. We're watchin.

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  9. Glad to see you getting some more power going. How does that solar panel rig hold up in high wind?

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  10. Hmmmmm.....got ya a cooler what cools pretty good but uses too much water and electricity. What ya do is "Harley" rig it like ya did the alternator generator. Change the pump to your little 12 volt jobberdo and replace the kilowatt eat'n fan with one them little 12 volt ones. Less water, less elect. and less cooling. Experiment...it works. Let me know the results 'cause that what I had in mind for my boondocking.
    As for the frige, clean it and use it. I use right at 5 gallons propane a month, but naturally, in a big expensive rig like "da house", I keep it on super cold.

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  11. Here you go. I'm probably going to go with this one as Danby is a great company. Their refrigerators are great.

    http://www.fullhouseappliances.com/dim1524w.html

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  12. BUDWEISER KID, I could probably rig up a small evap cooler pad and pump for the cooler chip & fan to pull air through. That should drop the air to about 15 degrees below ambient. Not sure it would be worth the trouble, but I might rig something up just to see how it would work.

    Tigger, long time no hear.;) I'll try to remember to start watching your blog again.

    Scavenger, unless the panels are laying flat on the ground the wind will flip them over so I'm assuming the same would be true for all of them being on the rack. With that in mind I plan to weld on a plate at the swivel point so I can stake it down to keep that from happening. If the wind is blowing the other direction then that shouldn't be a problem and I doubt that it would from the sides either. I'll probably add some extra weight to it though just for safety's sake.

    BB, the swamp cooler only pulls 48 watts total with the pump running and the fan on low. I wouldn't call that a power hog. Even on low it blows about 4 times the air of the 12 volt fans so I don't plan to change it. I've already got 250 watts connected temporarily and when I get all of the panels mounted and working I'll have about 600 watts so the 48 is just a drop in the bucket. I'll cut it off at night and use one of the 12 volt fans in the window by the bed to be able to sleep. (After about midnight that is.)

    the desert rose, If I'm not mistaken that little ice maker pulls 1524 watts so that would pull more than the RV's ice box running off of an inverter rather than on propane. That would be way more than I could handle. For me it looks like if I want to keep ice around here it will be running the icebox on propane for keeping ice and a few frozen items and the little Coleman to keep drinks cool. I probably won't be able to keep any perishables at all in either. :(

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  13. That's just part of the product number, 1524 can't be the watts because the other brands pull in the 200-300 watt range which is a lot but for ice I'll do it lol. You won't run it all day. Probably similar usage to a microwave which pulls 2-3+ as much.

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  14. I really like this one, it makes round cubes that last longer.

    http://www.wineenthusiast.com/portable-ice-maker.asp

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  15. the desert rose, some times companies use the wattage of a product as part of a model number so I sure hope you are right. I didn't find any product specs on that site. The other one looks good and the 200 watts could be usable especially since its a part time deal.

    As a side note I think I've figured out how to get full use out of the fridge, but I'd only be able to use a small part of the fridge. I'm going to try it and if it works I'll post pictures. At least if it does work I'd be able to keep a small amount of perishables in it.

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  16. I'm intrigued by desert refrigerators where you take two clay pots of different sizes with sand between them and keep the sand damp to keep perishables fresh through evaporative cooling. A friend made one and veggies were still fresh after more than two weeks. Would not work for things like meat and dairy that should be kept cooler. Works great for drinks in cans/bottles if you don't want them ice cold.

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  17. Evidently my little experiment with the fridge didn't work as planned because it is still staying at 60 degrees after running all night and its a nice cool morning. I guess when the weather starts cooling down it may work better though. I may have to start keeping a block of ice in there to keep it cool enough to keep cold cuts and the like in it.

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  18. tffnguy, any fridge works more efficiently if all the space inside is accounted for. Wad up newspaper and stuff it tightly in the empty spaces between the items you are trying to cool. This works for freezers, too.

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  19. For many years as a child I remember my parents had an old fridge that you put a large block of ice in the top and it would last about 3-4 days depending on how much beer was being consumed. In today's world of technology I would likely use one of the 5 day Igloo coolers and just buy a bag of ice a week.

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  20. Marlene, I'm a step ahead of you on that. I've added an update to this thread with a picture of what I'd done. Logic says it should have worked, but it didn't.

    Scavenger, check the update on this thread. I've added a block of ice in the upper part of the fridge that should lower the temp and should also allow the ice to last several days because of the refrigeration. Of course what should have worked didn't so I wouldn't bet any amount of $$$ that this will work. I'll just have to wait and see.

    Buying 2 to 3 bags of ice a day gets expensive around here and I'd about bet that it will be cheaper to refill the propane tanks every couple of months instead of keeping on buying a bunch of ice. I may resort to just keeping the fridge going to keep ice on demand for drinks and a small amount of frozen foods rather than having to chill a bunch of drinks at a time and and then keep buying ice to keep them cold. Then I may buy a block to put in the electric Coleman cooler to help keep it cool enough to store cold cuts and so on. It won't cost me anything to run it so other than having to buy a block of ice every now and then no big deal on that. Besides... I like drinks with ice in them.

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  21. The fridge is down to 47 degrees this morning. Lets see if it will hold that in the heat of the day. The freezer is working a lot better to. I don't think that 47 degrees is cold enough to store perishables though, but its still a lot better than the 60 degrees it was holding. The ice seems to be holding up well to. Dale's wife (Rhonda) sent me a link to a site that actually makes sense on how to trouble shoot and fix those type fridges so maybe there is hope?

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  22. That's a huge improvement. You want to get the temp down around 38 to keep bacteria down.

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  23. the desert rose, it is a big improvement and will probably let me store cheese for maybe a week, but far from what I'd like it to be. I'm sure I can do better than that by using a metal or plastic container to hold the ice rather than the ice chest. That insulates the ice too well and only the top of it is allowed for the cooling process, Problem with using something that isn't insulated would probably be condensation though and of course the ice wouldn't last near as long.

    Nick, like the desert rose said. It needs to be a good bit colder. I'd settle for 40 degrees and would probably eat anything stored in there at that temp before it had time to go bad.

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  24. yeah, I wouldnt trust mayo or chicken but it looks like itll work for an ice box type situation.

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  25. Found you blog while searching for Blogs out of Terlingua. Ive been a big fan of "John Wells and The Field Lab" now for sometime. I may be planning to go off the grid sometime in the future, also I was reading in your blog about the "American Legion Post" having some problems. Im a veteran also and I hope everything works out for you guys.

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  26. To keep your mayo from spoilage use a clean utensil when removing a portion. Do not dip back into the mayo container if the utensil has touched anything else like a slice of bread or stirred a salad.

    When sailing offshore a quart jar of mayo lasted a couple of months unrefrigerated following this method.

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  27. Hello Mr. Smith ... glad you are home ... love to watch you conquer all of your challenges, too :)

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  28. Captain, As far as I know the septic system will get done. I hope so anyway!

    the desert rose, I know some people in Washington state that leave mayo setting on the kitchen table all the time. (never in the fridge) I'd doubt that they do all of that though. I'd never do it though. I don't use mayo much anyway other than for potato salad so no big deal there. I don't buy milk, but I do buy real butter and figure it should do pretty good at 47 to 50 degrees? Problem is that in the heat of the day the temp in there goes up to about 55 degrees.

    MC, when I added the app to show which blogs I follow yours didn't show up nor did a couple of others. Have any idea why?

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  29. One can buy individual packets of mayo, ketchup, ranch dressing, mustard, etc on the web for around $7 bucks a case of 200. No refrigeration needed. Not very "green" but you never know when Pepper may want a little mustard on her Milk Bone.

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  30. Heehee ... thank you ... but why do you wanna follow me for? Other than the fact that you like me alittle bit?

    Hmmmm, no sir, I don't know why it's not showing up ... I've been added onto other people's blog roll thingy with no problem, so I don't think it has anything to do with my settings blocking it.

    You say a couple of others haven't shown up either? Only thing I can think of is to try again, and again.

    ((( hug )))

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  31. I need to get you a butter bell :)

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  32. You might have added them to Blogs I Follow and not your blog list. That was an issue for me.

    I thought about suggesting a butter bell, mc, but it only holds a stick or so. Do you know of larger ones?

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  33. Andy V, I hadn't thought of that, but when I go to restaurants that have packets like that I'll start collecting them.

    MC, of course I like you. (Even if you decided against moving down here.) Traitor! ;)

    And what the heck is a butter bell?

    the desert rose, I had it set to list all of the blogs I follow, but it didn't list all of the blogs I follow for some reason??? I may have to see if I can add the ones that don't show manually.

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  34. Ah so... With as hot as it gets here I think I'd keep it in the fridge anyway. If that will keep it good then surely a 50 degree cool place would do it.

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  35. Made. Me. Laugh. Moshe.

    To get more comments, you gotta MAKE more comments, silly boy.

    (( hug ))

    Mr. Smith, you know dern good'n well if I moved down there with my girls you'd worry yourself crazy.

    Let me figure out where I'm supposed to settle, and my visits down there will be much more pleasurable.

    Who knows ... I still don't know where it is I'm supposed to settle ... shoot, maybe I'm supposed to stay right HERE a little while longer ... I don't know.

    I love my butter bell ... I like it soft, and not hard ... but the desert may be problematic.

    Goodness, that sounds bad ... there I go sticking my foot in my mouth again ... sorry.

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  36. I'm going to let that one go right on by. lol Good to hear things are settling in, how's Pepper been?

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  37. Nick, last time I tried to visit your blog I got a password to fill in and couldn't post.

    MC, you might be right. First time I saw you rescuing vulture pups I might loose it. ;)

    MC, Think I'll pass on your other comment to!

    Dale, see the latest addition to the pictures on this thread.

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  38. try www.offgridterlingua@blogspot.com


    I shut my domain blog(offgridterlingua.com) down for a while as I am totally redoing it due to the fact I dont want to pay for the pro series anymore and it changed my blog drastically.

    So all I have is blogger now.

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  39. Not sure what I did, but when I checked the temp in the freezer this morning it was down to 0 That's a ZERO and not an o folks. :) the temp in the icebox part was down to 42 degrees. Not sure what's going on, but I hope it keeps going on! If so I may take the insulation out of it and see how it does cooling down the whole thing again.

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  40. Funny how things just work sometimes; hope the freezer stays fixed. Boy, Pepper's just learning new things all the time, isn't she? ;)

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  41. Oh Yeah Abby, She is really catching on to a lot of stuff. Maybe she's picking up the fox trot or some other dance and we can start touring? :(

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