Friday, January 29, 2010

Don't Flick your BIC!

Cause it won't light. Same for most propane lighters like pictured. Don't believe me? Well leave them out in the cold over night and then try to light them. You'll be real lucky if they do light. (Especially when you want to use them to light a heater!) I found this out the first and second nights I left the heater off and then decided to light it with the BBQ lighter just to find out it wouldn't light. I tried the BIC and the same thing. No Light! I assume the propane in them gets so cold that the pressure drops and there isn't enough gas coming out to light. (I didn't have any matches!)  I wised up after those two nights and started keeping them under the cover with me so my body heat would keep them warm enough to light. At first I did it with the BIC and wound up having to light the BBQ lighter with the BIC before I could light the burner. Might be a good idea to keep some good matches handy in cases like this. Nothing like freezing your posterior off just to find out you can't light the heater. What I had to do the first time was keep rubbing my hands together with the BIC in between my palms long enough to warm it up so it would light for me to be able to light the BBQ lighter. Then I could light the burner to warm the Iron Dungeon up.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Retreat & Regroup!

At this time I see only one option and that is to use this container for what its intended for (storage) and retreat to Odessa for a week to regroup. The falcon needs work, I need supplies and I'll take the trailer and charger along so I can finish the charger there, do the needed work on the falcon and load the trailer with building supplies for the trip back here. I WILL have  the supplies I need to have a warm place to sleep when I come back. I can also get a 10% discount on building supplies there so that will  help some. I'll also raid Wally world there to bring back some much cheaper food and other supplies.Hopefully by the time I return the nasty weather coming this way will be gone and MAYBE??? a little better weather to work in when I return. I'll be posting to this blog from there and my plans are to head that way tomorrow after it warms up to keep from freezing my buns off on the trip up there. No heat in the falcon until I get the thermostat changed and the last trip to Alpine was pure torture.

Monday, January 25, 2010

COLD Night! Cold Morning!

I went to bed early last night figuring I'd conserve on propane and cut down on having to charge the batteries so much. I turned the burner off and woke up at 3:00 and the thermometer on the clock said 30.7 degrees (In here). I braved the cold and lit the burner and then all was fair until I made coffee on it about 8:00. Then the damn carbon monoxide sensor started going off. I turned off the burner and cooled the place down by opening the door and then shut the door and lit it back up. It started going off again when the place warmed up a little and then I opened the door again. It just went off for the third time and I have the door open again.

Don't know how cold it got last night, but it had to have been PLENTY cold because the water in my 6 gallon jug outside was partially frozen and all of the gallon jugs were that way to. The sun is shining through the window now so maybe it will warm up in here some before long without the burner going.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

High wind again & Charger. (Not much Sand)

Welp... another brick wall. It wasn't just the tank filter that was stopped up the carb float valve was to. Neither of those were the real problem though. I cleaned the tank filter and the carb to and got the motor running like a top. Problem now is that the large pulley on the motor is too large and to keep the motor from stalling out I have to run the RPMs higher than I'd like to. That isn't the real problem either though. What the problem is that the pulley on the alternator is for a serpentine belt and the pulley on the motor is for a V-belt. With the motor revved so high when I connect the alternator to the batteries it puts such a load on the high revving alternator that it smokes the belt. I hadn't anticipated that. What I need is a V-belt pulley for the alternator and I have one, but I don't have a socket big enough to fit the nut on the alternator to take the serpentine pulley off and replace it with the larger V-belt pulley. Until I can get a socket to let me do that and a new belt then I'm SOL.

As for the wind... It was plenty cool out there this morning so I didn't do anything this morning besides make coffee and stay inside as much as I could. Made a trip to Study Butte yesterday and got the propane tank filld so I didn't freeze last night. When I did get out to finish up the charger I did as much as I could in front of the Iron Dungeon to block the wind and then grinned and bared it when I had to work on the side.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Charger and high wind again! (Sand to)

Worked in the high wind and sand storm all day, but I look forward to better days. I wanted to get the charger done and since the genny won't run the welder I built it as a bolt together, (see picture). I got it finished out side of wiring it up and getting the Harley gas tank mounted for it to run off of. Hopefully I can get that done tomorrow and be able to charge the batteries from it rather than the falcon like I've done for the last three days. Only takes 15 minutes with the falcon, but that's a pretty good waste of gas, Should take about the same time with the charger for a lot less gas and I can doctor and start working on the other 6 batteries after that.

Looks like it may be another COLD night in here tonight  because the propane take is nearly empty, but I didn't want to make the trip to Study Butte to get the tank filled. I'll tough it out until early morning and use the remaining propane to warm the place up before getting up. Glad I have plenty of cover!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ain't Happen'in


Didn't get much done today other than clean up the storage room some and load up a bunch of my hardware to bring over here. I'd intended to clean out the back storage in here and haul a lot of it to the storage room, but never got that done because of being too tired and ache after cleaning up there and loading the trailer. I didn't even get all of the stuff unloaded here so will have to get the rest of that off the trailer in the morning before I can load it with the stuff here that I want to take to storage. I did manage to change out the plug on my welder extension cord to  match the generator, but how anyone can get a 140 AMP welder on a 4800 watt generator to work is beyond me unless its a wire welder. My 1/8 inch rods just kept tripping the generator barker when I tried to strike an arc (even at 40 AMPs and that's as low as my welder will go. The generator is a 6250 Watt surge with 5000 continuous. I may have to try and round up some 1/16th inch rods and run it at 40 AMPs, but I like 1/8 inch rods @ 90 AMPs to add plenty of meat to the welds and get heavy penetration. Oh well... In the meant time it looks like the charger (start of the Transformer) is going to have to be a bolt together affair. I think I can pull that off. I may have to resort to a cheap wire welder, but I don't like wire welders!

The pictures for today or a fly by of a B-1 bomber on a training mission. They usually fly much closer as well  as B-52s. They generally fly very low and raise all kinds of hell (noise wise) when they do. I was already in bed last night and had to have been around midnight when one flew really close. (First time I've heard one at night) Rumor has it that there is a house in the area that has Air Force painted on it and it has a beacon that the planes use to direct them to their fake target. Supposedly a ranch just east of here.

The second one is today's sunset from my back yard.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Got Lights?

"Things are getting better. Things are getting better all the time." Excuse the quote from the Movie "The Postman", but they really are. The past two days haven't been that great because of high wind and sand storms though! I now have internet inside, but the small plastic mixing bowl I used for the dish is too small so the connection isn't that great. (Its just temporary folks! I'll come up with better!)  The phone is more or less a prop now. Guess it makes me feel better. ;) It may be at least 90 days before I get DSL and a real phone here. If we get a real good day around here without the high wind and sand then I plan to start the build on the alternator/generator to keep the batteries charged. I'll be setting it up where I can turn it in to my transformer later. (ATV/Battery Charger) Made a trip in to Study Butte today and took a shower and got gas and a few other things. If they had a bath for $2 instead I might have thought I was living in the wild west of the 1800s. I didn't find a saloon with dancing girls there either though. DANG IT! Hopefully I won't have to go back that way for a while. While I was on the way I stopped at the storage and rummaged through my hardware and then got what else I needed at the hardware store in town to add a light in here. Sure makes it nice to walk in the door, flip a switch and have real light. Of course I'll only use it when I really need it, but found a small florescent in my junk and its perched on top of the laptop screen so I can easily see to type now.

Oh... BTW... The bubble wrap over a single pain or even dual pain window does wonders for added insulation. Lets the light in, but it does hamper the view so when I have the window open or want to see out then I tack it up.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Night 2 & 3 (Its getting better!)

Well the living conditions are getting better anyway. I discovered that the battery in this lap top has gone belly up and the only way I can use this computer is either running off of the generator or inverter / batteries. I was bored with nothing to do and was determined to stay up late rather than go to bed about 7:30 or 8:00 to beat the cold and I did. (11:50 PM.) Beats the heck out of waking up at 1:00 or 2:00 AM and being stuck in the bed until sunrise to stay warm! I didn't have to beat the cold because I managed to get one of the two tarps up on the sealing, seal off all gaps going in to the back part and it made a world of difference. With the burner turned as low as it would go without going out it stayed comfortable in here until about 6:00 AM when I turned the burner up some. Didn't take long for it to get comfortable again. The Iron Dungeon is becoming more like a home. You're right Tigger) Sealing off the back part good also stopped the rainy sealing in the back part because I stayed out of there until I'd opened up the front door to let the humidity that had built up in here all night from the burner out.

Lighting is 22 solar lights from Harbor Freight and they put out plenty of light for me to see except for reading. I did compose some email last night after going out about 10:00 PM and drilling a hole through the front I built just big enough for an extension cord to go through so I could run this computer off of the inverter. I managed to see the keyboard from the light of the screen with one of the solar lights on each side of the keyboard. I'll go out shortly and use my home built dish to connect to the internet to publish this and send the waiting email in the outbox. I have the stuff to build the dish so it could be mounted outside where I could use this computer and be connected in here, but unfortunately this computer won't work with it so far. I may wind up pulling my desk top out of storage and try to get it setup on it and use it for internet to send mail and what ever else and use this one to do my offline work and transfer the data by flash drive. Don't want the desktop to drain the batteries by running it a lot.

BTW the picture is what I saw at sunrise yesterday morning. I had a write up all set to go, but lost it when I discovered the battery was capoot in this computer and took it off the inverter.

Heard my first cayote since I've been here and that was about 6:30. Sound real close and that could be a real bad thing for it! Can you say buckshot?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

First night in the Iron Dungeon.

Made it through my first night after getting the rest of the siding on and sealing up the front. Then building the back end to the Iron Dungeon. I didn't have time to get the multi layer tarp walls up to help insulate the steel walls. (More later) I Fired up the generator yesterday to use the power tools and while I was at it had the batteries on the charger. About 4:30 PM the genny quit so I figured it was out of gas, but then I checked this morning that wasn't the case. It turned out to be the low oil cut out so filled it with oil and now at 11:51 AM I'm on my second cup of coffee. (Electric pot) BTW my sister and brother in law decided to go ahead and leave yesterday and the trailer went with them so my first night here was in the Iron Dungeon.

I tried to fire up this computer about 8:00 AM after waking up about midnight. I went to bed to early because it was getting COLD in the Iron Dungeon. Anyway the computer booted and then shut off and would not come back on. My thoughts were OH NO it froze to death. Figured it might have gotten cold and condensation built up in it and shorted something out. I've seen that happen to desk tops before. It finally dawned on me that I might have put it in the carrying case turned on so I hooked up the inverter to the batteries and started it up. It booted just fine so.... That's what I'd done.

Now... for my incredibly lousy night! It was already 49 degrees in the Iron Dungeon by the time I decided to call it a night about 8:30. I decided to fire up the turkey cooker burner, but there was too much yellow flame (which normally means carbon Monoxide and I couldn't get the air mixture right.). I can smell it also you know. (After working in the HVAC field for about 30 years) Most people can't smell it though and that's why they die. My sister had brought me a monoxide detector, but it turned out to be a plug in type and I don't have electrical from the inverter in there yet so didn't want to trust the battery backup in it. I just turned off the heat and loaded up my memory foam mat with 3 quilts and a sleeping bag. I'd have frozen my posterior off if I hadn't done that because about 6:00 AM when I said to heck with it, fired up the heater and got up it was 35 degrees inside the Iron Dungeon.

I did survive the night though and now need to start putting up the tarps so this is it for now.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Well Maybe Tomorrow!

The trailer will be here until in the morning and then it should be moved out to the land. We made a SLOW trip to Alpine this morning because of maybe 200 feet of visibility at times.  (FOG) I found a USB WiFi key at ALCO, a 15 foot USB extension cable at another place and a large plastic bowl to use as the dish. Got back here after stopping at the land and putting up most of the other siding and will finish that tomorrow. Also did a few other odds and ins before coming back here. I built the dish, but could not get the lousy WiFi key to find any network around here so no chance of it working out there. Guess I'll keep trying. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to more or less finish up the cabin so I'll be able to live there after the trailer leaves. I'll have heat from a turkey cooker burner and propane tank and have a carbon monoxide alarm so should be safe doing that. Until I can get some sort of working dish the gizmo I built the other day will be the only way to go online or make calls via the cell phone from there.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tomorrow is the BIG day

Yep, tomorrow I'll officially be living on the land. Should be an interesting few days while I'll still have this trailer to rack out in. (On the land though.) Hopefully the weather will cooperate for me to finish up the living quarters before the trailer and my help goes away. Was sure nice to see my trike again and ride it even if it was only for a few feet. All depending on how things go I may not be posting much for a while.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More Potential Bad News!

I've seen on the weather where we are supposed to have another cold front come in and this time with a high probability of precipitation. This is NOT a good thing because now I'm wondering about parking this trailer out there and possibly getting it stuck. Also my help will only be here from tomorrow afternoon to Sunday morning so this could put a damper on being able to get anything done. At this point all I can do is hope the weather people are wrong on the precip!

And on another note I did get out to the land just long enough to build a makeshift microwave dish to try out the WiFi connection. It worked for a connection I hadn't intended it to work on, but not the one I'd made arrangements for. Hopefully that will be straightened out pretty soon. Also I decided to try my cell phone standing in front of the DISH??? or what ever it is and was able to place two different phone calls from my cell phone by aiming the gizmo back toward Study Butte. (18 miles away and behind the mountains!) Now I have an artificial cell phone hot spot from my land also. I had the gizmo on top of my car and had to be standing right in front of it for it to work.

Just took me about 15 minutes to make this thing out of blue foam board, aluminum foil and duct tape.

Free & Now Online!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Deep Cycle

Didn't get much done on the steel cabin today, but could have. I hadn't thought to try out the deep cycle batteries, but left the battery drill here even though I thought I put it where I wouldn't forget it. I wanted to get the door where it will close full time so decided to try out a little 400 watt inverter on a couple of the deep cycle batteries I'd doctored and use the moto tool to sand down the door jam to allow the door to close. I knew the moto tool didn't pull much juice and it worked like a charm so I decided to try the 2000/1500 watt inverter on the two batteries and then tried the saws. NO PROBLEM'O! Ran them like a big dog. I'd already spent a good bit of the day walking up and down the road clearing mesquite and other branches hanging over in the road which would have probably scratched up this trailer when it was being taken out there and was tired and cut up from that so since I didn't have the drill to put up more of the siding I COULD cut I called it a day. Now... the two batteries I spent the most time working over work fine so 2 out of 2 ain't bad. I expect to get about the same results on the other 8 so I should have an 8 to 10 battery system when I can get to the others. Not sure what I'll do with the other  5 - 8 volt batteries, but I'll figure out something.

I must admit that I'd been thinking about trying out the deep cycle batteries so stopped at the hardware store on the way out to the land this morning to buy some heavy duty copper lugs and larger wire to wire up the system. The largest wire they had was 8 gauge 3 wire with a ground so I bought 15 feet of that and a couple of the copper lugs to put on the inverter. (see pictures) While in the store a almost literally ran in to John Wells. He was there to get the parts to repair his solar still. Humm... solar Shower not still. I gave him directions to my land and he said he would pay a visit. I also ask him if I could post a link to the classifieds I'm setting up for the area and he gave the ok. Don't want to step on any toes around here! See his Blog at:
The Field Lab

Not sure what I'll get done tomorrow because I need to do laundry one more time before I leave this place and also need to start clearing out an exit route for this trailer when it decides to go back to Odessa because at this point it will be easy to back in, but hard to pull out of.  Maybe I'll work on that some and putting up the rest of the siding to?


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sealed In

I did go out to the land and got one piece of siding cut and two studs cut before the falcon started overheating. Seems that the sensor that is supposed to bring on the electric fan is bad. Anyway I got that one piece put up and then cut the blue board foam by hand and put it up inside so the container is now closed in where it should be a lot warmer in there. My butt is dragging and my back and knees are killing me and I also need a nap which I'll probably take shortly since I've been up since about 3:45.

From the picture you can see my views from out the door and window.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Going Soon Coming Soon

SIX more days here and I'll be out at the land with the welder, a generator that will run it, the trike, a place to hang my hat and be rid of the screwed up internet that just keeps getting worse around here. Its been totally screwed up again all day. I did make it out there long enough to swap the other front tire with the new one and put the old one in the trunk for a spare. I tried out my jumper cables on the inverter and it did the trick. The wire going from the inverter to the battery was just too small and that is what kept making the inverter drop out. Hopefully I'll be able to get the siding on tomorrow where I can start working inside without freezing my butt off and maybe actually get something done. I'll have to reload the trailer with stuff I won't need and take it to the storage because right now there isn't enough room in the container to do squat!

On another note, I've had a classic car parts classified going for a couple of years and it hasn't done well at that so... Its about to become a classified and chat a little like craigslist, but be specifically for the Alpine, Terlingua, Study Butte and surrounding area. It will be free and might help with finding, buying, selling and trading around here.
 Soon to come.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Build

After making it to Alpine without trouble I discovered I'd left the material list back here. I tried to remember everything that was on it and came close, but missed a few small items. I wound up with a much bigger window than I had intended to buy, but I think it will make it a lot lighter in there during the day. To my dismay when I got to the land and started trying to use the power tools through the inverter it either wasn't big enough to run them or is just bad. The only saw I had that did work was the one in the picture titled "Tools that worked". The other picture of the Tools that didn't work is missing my compressor and table saw. I couldn't use them and finally resorted to using the old hand saw which was not designed for carpentry work and there was no precision at all when using it, but it was all I had so I made do. At least I did have a working battery drill or otherwise I'd have been totally out of luck. Actually I still am because without the inverter being able to run my table saw or skill saw I couldn't cut the siding. What you see is as far as I could go. I haven't a clue how I'll manage to cut the siding? This truly turned out to be a project of Blood Sweat and Tears. The lumber has plenty of my blood on it from smashing my hand, cutting myself and crying out obscenities!

Oh BTW it will take removing a total of 12 - 3 inch screws to remove the front when I turn in the container. There were no modifications to the container at all! Best part is that the container doors can be closed and locked for security when I'm gone for long.

What a Rig!

 Picture of my latest eX neighbors rig. The small trailer on the back contains a Harley. He was in Viet Nam for 2 years starting the year after I came back. Great guy from Louisiana and after I told him about the bike rally here he plans to try and make it back for that. I told him how to get to"my place to be" so hope to see them out there then.

My plans for today is to beat it to Alpine Early and pickup the material to start building. Hopefully I can at least get a good start before the CRAPPY COLD WEATHER gets here tomorrow? I'll try to post pictures of anything I may be able to get done tonight.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Battery Doctor

Spent the afternoon out at the land working over some of the batteries and taking measurements to see how to go about building the insert. I think I have that about figured out. Ran in to a snag on some of the batteries though because I hadn't notices that 5 of them are 8 volt instead of 6. That means two different systems because my wind generator is just 12 volt. Hopefully at least 3 of the 8 volt batteries will be usable to make a 24 volt system out of. The other 10 are 6 volts so I'll have a higher margin for having bad batteries and still come out with a decent 12 volt system. I can probably get more of either kind if I need them though. I left the 8 volt batteries there because I doctored them with the hot solution I took out there in an ice chest. I don't know why it was after I'd used all of the solution on them that I snapped to the fact they were 8 volt. Duah! Anyway I brought 4 of the 6 volts back here and will make a run to the Study Butte store tomorrow to see if they have any Epsom salt. I think I pretty well cleaned out the Cotton Patch of that already. Will be a real bummer if I can't find anymore around here! Even if I were only able to get 4 of the 6 volts working it would put me over the 800 AMP Hour Big Bend Telephone requires to get DSL.

I was standing in front of the container when a car drove up out front and a voice said Are you from Plano? I said yep so a couple of my neighbors Bill and Jacky pulled in and we had a good visit. Then my other neighbors from  down the road (Robert, his wife and daughter) were driving by so I flagged them over and they introduced them selves to Bill and Jacky. We had a hell of a neighbor visit going there until it started getting dark and cold so the party broke up.

I love the land there as rocky as it is, but the neighbors are great to.

Friday, January 1, 2010

WiFi Booster

Since the internet has been so bad around here lately I decided to build a WiFi booster which is made out of cardboard covered with aluminum foil. Basically all it is is a home made Microwave dish. Unfortunately it isn't the WiFi causing the slow internet it is the internet connection its self. However, the monstrosity I built does wonders for the WiFi speed and when the internet is working right (like very early morning when few people or online) it really speeds it up.  I've always had to walk down near the cafe with the laptop on to get connected and then bring it back or otherwise it couldn't find a signal. Then the speed and connection was pretty slow. Now it finds the signal sitting right hear with a high strength. and instead of a speed of around 11 Mbps it usually connects from 36 to 54 Mbps. How it works is by magnifying the microwave signal and focusing it toward the WiFi antenna in the computer and then when the computer is responding the same thing happens again for the WiFi server. Now IF the internet ever gets back up to par around here this connection should fly! Of course if space is a problem then this is not a good thing, but one could be built where you could store it when you didn't want to be on the internet.

I plan to try and come up with an old satellite dish. (You know... the old HUGE ones) when I can and expiroment with it on the land. This principal also works for cell phones so if I could find a weak cell phone signal on the land then I should be able to point the dish in the direction of the signal. Stand in front of it and use the cell phone with a good signal. Should be good for many more miles.