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.


  1. its dark out here and I'm using my home mede dish so this is going to be short. Got both walls double tarped and must have wanted a bed more than getting the sealing tarped because I built my bed. Maybe with the walls with some insulation value and not sleeping on the floor I'll have a better night. Don't look for many replies for a while until I get this place a little further along. Thanks for the compliments and posts. MsB I'm doing ok.

  2. Hey,
    That back door to the storage area looks pretty good. Just the thought of getting that bed made and you not sleeping on the ground will cause you to get a good night sleep and you’ll be tired. Did you get your burner figured out? Maybe a good brushing would clean those little holes and it would burn cleaner. Maybe a small tent heater would do you the best in that little space and maybe use less gas. Good to hear you had a good cup of coffee. Know that was good. We’r keeping an eye on ya. So be careful.

  3. Boy'n out on "da ranch" with fish'n pole in hand and a cup of coffee in da other. You got it made....come bout the end of February when it get warmer.

    Ya know if'n ya gonna be us'n that cook stove for heat, that detector needs to be work'n. Hook up the inverter and let'er rip.

    Did ya bust a bottle wine on the side The Iron Dungeon for ya went to bed??? Congrats.

  4. The Iron Dungeon is really starting to come together. From reading other blogs I have heard that the first night is the most dreaded but later becomes the most treasured.

    I am glad your hand is doing better. I think it's great that you built yourself a bed, that will give you a more semblence of normalcy and hopefully a great night sleep.

    Little by little you will figure it out. I am cheering for you!!

  5. Setting up a solid bed for a good nights sleep it very important; maybe consider building a canopy for the bed to contain the heat. Hey that is what the early settlers did. As for the insulation make sure that you have some for the ceiling as that is where most of you heat will end up. As for the heat I would still consider a small woodburner and stick the stove pipe out of your entry wall. When you need to leave for an extended time pull the stack out and lock her up. Maybe you only need another 5 or 6 weeks until it warms up but 30-45 days are a VERY LONG time when your cold every night. Not to mention you could get sick. Stay warm.

  6. I like savengers Idea of a wood burning stove. Im gonna check the internet, I know Ive seen home made small barrels stoves for under $50 you make your self.

  7. glad you're fully 'contained,' but bet you puckered up pretty good when that trailer went over the horizon!
    i used a 12v travel blanket (heated) back in the 80's when i used to make a potato chip all around western texas. i had two vans, one regular 6 banger chevy cargo and one of those 20' frito-lay type cutaway 'big box' vans, similar in size to your container. i stayed comfy while sleeping at roadside parks, just aiming the windshield of whichever van i was using at the sunrise, which really warmed up the interior in the mornings. that little blanket put out about 50 watts (4.5 amps x 12v = 54 watts) from the cigarette lighter socket. the human body generates about 100 watts, so you'd stay pretty warm that way, though wrapped up you wouldn't be warming the interior of the container much if at all. you don't have a windshield to point, so that's out for interior warming.
    an IDEA for you though would be to get a 'dual wattage' electric, oil-filled radiator heater with three settings (like i use every winter, and am using now). you'd use your inverter and batteries, run the medium or max. setting of either 900-1,500 watts with the gen-set for a while before you turn in, then turn it down to the minimum setting of about 600 watts using the inverter and battery bank, with the thermostat wide-open or mostly open, using good, regular blankets for body warmth. inside your 'iron maiden' (sic), the oil-filled heater should keep it pretty darned warm, and would slowly warm the metal walls of your unit. you're also talking about a difference of 1.5 times the amps used for major heat benefits - the 12vdc blanket taking about 4.5+, and the 110vac taking about 6+ on the lower setting (plus the inverter) or so times your total hours used. however, the watts used for overall heating greatly favor the 110vac heater plus inverter usage, giving off 10+ times the heat in watts. you could possibly use a combo of the two, but you know your power situation much better than i do. i'd use the radiator/heater at 6+ amps and maybe a heating pad at about 1-2 amps instead of the electric blanket. though with the thermostat on the radiator/heater, you could get by with much less usage at night. also keeping the inverter INDOORS, while keeping the batteries outside would give you the benefit of the fan (circulating air) and keeping the output heat of the inverter inside, but leaving the battery fumes (outgassing) outside where they need to be.
    12vdc blankets are about $20-30, 110vac blankets are higher and the oil-filled radiator units are about $40-60, as i got one at lowe's for about 40 bux last month. i use it to (entirely) heat my 400 sq. ft. bedroom every night of every winter, with an ultrasonic humidifier across the room since the permian basin air is so dry, and i only use the main house heat when the temps are around 20 degrees or less. if it gets any colder than that, i move upstairs to a guest room. your guest room is the 'millenium falcon,' so that's not helping you much. gas is more efficient in heating, as are open flame heaters on occasion, but both require some serious venting, which you don't currently have.
    just some miscellaneous ramblings. hope you figger out how to keep your butt warm. and soon. it's gonna get colder later in the month... jack b :-) in midland, tx usa and yes, i still have the brougham mini-motorhome out back..

  8. PS - SCAVENGER, be careful where you buy land in southwest texas, as you mentioned culberson and hudspeth, iirc, over in another post. water is a serious issue, and furthermore, since the water goes with the surface owner, and not the mineral owner, many out-of-state (and in-state) cheap-assed landowners have sold or are selling off their water rights to promoters, who are selling it ALL to california, through various schemes. some of the remaining water is deep, real deep. i know of at least one well, about 10+ miles from tffnguy that was drilled (by my s/o) to over 4,000' to find water, and they didn't get much if any.
    the pretty brochures of the land flippers talk about 'plenty of water at 100' or even less,' texans know to take the 2nd or even 3rd or deeper water down for quality and volume. the shallowest depth of water i'd (personally) take in the terlingua ranch area is about -350' (give or take) and comes out of the santa elena / edwards aquifer. my s/o's sons drill lots and lots of wells in the area, and they get up to $80 per foot - cased - on their wells. do the math...
    fwiw, i'm a hydrogeologist here in texas, but tend to use city water supplies except out at our ranch. even there we have a 'back up' water line with a pricing schedule in place.

  9. themacway - Thanks for the info. I am in no hurry to buy land and lately I have been considering more of the Terlingua area. I am aware of the water situation in the area and also have the maps with all the primary and secondary aquifers. There is water in the Dell city area but I was actually considering trying to farm the water from the air. Also I still need to spend time just checking out the land, people, and security situation. What I want is 40 acres of land with soil that I can dig down MORE than 3 ft; water would be a bonus but otherwise I will scavenge it ;)

  10. I'll try to do an update either tonight before it gets too dark or maybe tomorrow. I trusted the battery backup on the monoxide detector and ran the turkey cooker burner on low all night. Never got below 55 in there and the tarps on the walls helped a bunch. No sweating inside the living area (including the roof), but this morning it was raining in the storage area. I'm in the process of sealing that off real good now and hope to have the sealing tarps up before night so I HOPE that takes care of that problem. Got clothes, tools and other metal stuff in there that sure don't need to get wet! All in all I had a VERY GOOD night compared to the first one! Now I know I can do this and it will get better. Hopefully next month I'll stare the slow process of building my dream pad.

  11. What an awesome odyssey you are living. I can attest to the effectiveness of those 12 volt heating pads. I used one in the sleeper bunk of my truck while working as an over-the-road trucker in the late 80s, early 90s. They work great for very little energy. You cover up good, and all the heat stays under the covers, with you, where it needs to be. Good luck with it all.


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