Sunday, February 28, 2010

What we've got here is FAILURE! *

Another one of those days, but I did get something accomplished. That was getting my bed turned in to a bunk bed since my brother in law will be bringing me a couple of burn barrels and a welder that will run on my generator. First problem came when the charger I built kept dieing so I had to mess with that. Then wanted to check the voltage on both banks so disconnected the jumper cables from one bank and just threw them down. What a dope! Ever seen a set of jumper cables fry? Anyway I didn't notice that and it completely drained the main bank so I had to recharge it once I got the charger to keep running. Then I got the top part of the bunk built and couldn't get it through the door so had to dissemble it and bring it in here and reassemble it. It has been pretty nice here so far, but the wind is getting up some. Not sure I'll try to get anything else done or not, but I had intended to put up a clothes line. I can handle going to the laundry and washing, but that last 40 minutes waiting for the clothes to dry is a real DRAG! I figure I'll start washing in Study Butte and then dry the clothes on a line here. At least I could spend the extra time doing something worth while around here.

* Cool Hand Luke (1967)


Well Folks! That ain't fog you see  in the picture of the mountain. Its sand! We just got hit by one of the infamous Terlingua SAND storms! Not only that, but as you can see in the picture of the guest house the guesthouse won't survive this wind. Its a direct side shot. Not only that, but right after I snapped that photo my trailer took off like a schooner and rammed it tongue first ripping it up even worse.

The prop rod for holding the north door of the container open blew down and the door blew around and slammed shut mangling the post hole diggers that had also been leaning up against it to. Took all I could do to buck the wind opening it back to the container side and then trying to prop it back against the side of the container. I had to chase down my 5 gallon gas can, my bedding which had been on the trailer and the solar lights in front of here are scattered to the wind, but I'm smiling that old Luke Smile. ;)

Dale, looks like you'll need to get here early so we can build a couple more bunks for in here.

After the sand & rain

The end of another day!

Friday, February 26, 2010

More Exploring

Another one of those windy mornings to deal with. Don't look like I'll be completing any major projects outside today unless the wind lets up. I have plenty I can do in here (like clean this dump up and go ahead and start organizing stuff in the back storage area) If I start getting cabin fever I'll go out for a while and brave the cold cruel world for a while. I'd intended to take the trike to the Grub Shack to get block ice, but looks like that's out so I guess its the falcon and more gas being burned than needs to be. The trike gets 40 MPG city and I've never tried it on the highway so don't know what the mileage would be for that? I think the falcon gets maybe 18 on a good day. (highway)

Bill and Jackie had come over for the second time day before yesterday for a visit and they were wanting me to go over there and check out Bill & Karen's place. I obliged yesterday and they not only have a very large house for the area, but it is going to be something else when they finish! I thought I had a nice view from here, but the view out their back door and from the back porch is nothing short of breath taking! Absolutely beautiful. If ever invited over there don't turn it down!

This is the first morning I've charged the batteries as a full 800 AMP hour bank. Before I've always charged them in two separate banks of 400 each. Just wanted to see how this will work out and if it doesn't then I'll switch back to a main and backup. I still have two batteries that I'm trying to get to come around, but one is being very suborn and not wanting to take a charge. The other one is coming along ok though. Its starting to look like out of the 15 batteries only one is going to be a dud since Robert (the guy I gave the 8 volts to) Said all five of those were doing good. I'd have kept those, but didn't want to setup a 24 volt system because I don't have a 24 volt inverter or charger. It looks like with the one dud I'll either have to get another good one or live with an 800 AMP hour system. That will still pass the Big Bend Telephone requirements for me to get a phone and DSL when the time comes. I did talk to one of their field guys and finally nailed down exactly what requirements I'll have to meet to be able to get them to bring service in here. I should be able to make that fairly easy. According to him having a permanent structure isn't one of the requirements so once I can get the genny up and meet the other requirements I should be able to apply and have it in here within 90 days. He seemed to think the 500 watt wind genny was a little light on its own so I may have to come up with another genny or add some solar. I have a small 6 volt solar charger thanks to my bro in law that I can keep the one good 6 volt battery charged with to run the small 6 volt light over the computer. It is bright enough to allow me to be able to use the computer with only it and the solar lights. I guess doing that with 6 volts only I could still brag about having 1000 Amp Hours of batteries because according to Billy Bob I could claim the full 200 AMP hours of a 6 volt system.

About the Pyrex baking dish? Your guess is as good as mine. I was doing more exploring yesterday and this time it was the northwest quarter of the land. I stumbled across the dish partially burred but upright in the far north west corner. Must have been something left behind by a P.O. or maybe someone camping years ago. It had been there for a LONG time, but would have had to be after the invention of the microwave. I transplanted it to the location it is now. As near as I can figure who ever left it behind was either watering a dog or maybe they put poison in it to kill coyotes? It was about 50 feet in to my land and about another 50 feet on the other side there has been some dumping and camping many years ago from the looks of the trash there. Glad it wasn't on my land!

Maybe the second photo was a pet's grave?

For what ever reason I am unable to post replies or even post in the comment area of my own blog. I may start commenting on the other blog I started if I can't get this BS straightened out.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nice Day for a walk

Around the south west quarter of my land. Just decided to post a few pictures I took while exploring. Its been a nice day, but could have been warmer. Was a heck of a lot better than yesterday though!

My Blog now?

Been trying to post a reply to this blog all morning without success so you can click on the above link to read it. I may follow OGT's lead and move mine to because I have way too much trouble posting here from time to time! You can still reply here IF you can. Not sure what the problem with me posting is???

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


It appears as though the Air Force has a new secret weapon. Took the picture of a B-52 strafing this place yesterday and now we get hit by a snow bomb! Not only that, but it subjected me to what I think was by far the highest wind I've ever been in! (and I've experienced some mighty high winds being raised in west Texas to start with.) I wonder how effective it will be toward getting rid of insurgents? Sure is working on me because I'm ready to head a lot further south! (Maybe as far south as the equator!) Note in the picture of the snow that the guest house is still standing. I don't have a clue how because the wind was probably at least well above the minimum hurricane force. As near as I can figure the wind was blowing from out of the west north west and the guest house is east south east (down wind of the container). Maybe the container helped block some of the wind or the stakes being driven in to solid rock did the trick?

BTW I remember coming back from Viet Nam and stopping over in Guam where they were refueling the plane. It was a B-52 base at the time and one guy pulled out a camera and took some pictures of the B-52s out the window of the airport. An AP (Air Police) walked over to him and seized his camera, took the film out and then handed him his camera back with strict instructions NOT to take anymore pictures there. Hope I don't get busted for taking the picture above. ;)

I'm composing this offline because the internet here is hit or miss and its more on the MISS side than the hit side. May be a good bit later before I can update the blog. I'm probably going to be suffering from Cabin Fever in the mean time because I refuse to get out in this crap. (other than maybe a quick trip out to survey the wind damage.) At least I was able to make my morning coffee in here. I think its supposed to warm up a good bit tomorrow though??? Don't have a clue how much propane is left in the two tanks, but I sure hope they don't both run out today (or tonight!) 

Had to make a trip to Study Butte to have both propane tanks refilled and on the way in I was thinking "Now WHY didn't I bring the camera? The mountains were still snow capped, and looked beautiful, but I thought maybe they would still be when I get back. Unfortunately only the higher ones were and not near as much. You can still make out the snow on the far mountain, but its gone everywhere else.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mormon Tea

 I was sitting around here feeling like dead lice were falling off of me and couldn't get the motivation to do anything except try to take a nap, but not having any luck with that. So happens that one of my neighbors Bill of the (Bill and Caren) fame from John Wells site and first wedding ceremony he performed had stopped by some time back and pointed out an odd looking bush growing real near where the guest house is now. He said it was Ephedra (otherwise known as Mormon tea). I'd seen an episode of Survivor where Less made some tea from one of the plants to suppress his appetite and give him energy so I decided to try it myself. Seems to have worked because at least now I'm not about to fall asleep. I also have asthma and bronchitis so I figured I might get another benefit from it. So far I'm not running around the block or anything like that thank God because out here that could be miles! As for the taste it wasn't bad while drinking it. Would have probably tasted better with a little sugar and lemon though? The after taste wasn't so good though so a beer was called for to help with that.You can read about Ephedra on the link below where I found the Remedies For snip it. I don't advocate anyone else doing this. Just saying I did it, but then I'm said not to have good sense at times. ;) I've found quiet a few of those plants growing around here, but so far most are small. Looks like I'm going to start using my ice melt water to start watering them. Hay! I'm a Farmer now!

According to: Holistic

Remedies For:

Diaphoretic, bronchial dilator, diuretic

Induces perspiration, warms coldness, relieves wheezing, moves fluids. It is used for common cold, wheezing, bronchial asthma, bronchitis, and edema.

Useful for:

    Common Cold
    Hay fever
    Weight loss and obesity

Ephedra is used to treat asthma, hay fever, the common cold, and as a weight loss aid.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pappy and the Fire Pit

I was getting overwhelmed by trash so decided this morning that I WAS going to build a fire pit to deal with it. I decided to take it another step over the way other people build them and add quarter inch mesh in the center with the same for a top. Might be good because after I got the fire going good and deposed of most of my trash the wind started getting up. I guess it will be smoldering all day and I need to go to Study Butte to get gas for the charger and generator, Ice and call a special lady (granddaughter) who is having her baby today. Don't want to drown out whats left of the fire, but I may have to.

By the way... If you'll didn't know it was my great great er... many great grand pappy Fred tffnguy that invented the fire pit. He was being chased by a saber tooth tiger when he picked up a rock and threw it knocking the big cat senseless. It was then that he started thinking about other ways to use rocks and when he skinned the cat to cook it he thought I'll just pile up a bunch of rocks in a circle and build a fire in it. To this day that's where the idea of the fire pit came from. You believe me don't you?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Combo light & Doctoring Batteries.

Don't think I've explained exactly how I've been doctoring the batteries yet so here does. Like so many thing you find on the internet that is supposed to work and doesn't this ain't one of them. I don't own stock in any companies that sells Epsom salt or Distilled water, but did find out how to do this through various sites on the internet. The only $ I made off of this deal was getting 15 batteries (5 of which I more or less traded for info because they turned out to be 8 volt instead of 6 volt like I thought they all would be.) for 5 bucks each. Anyway what I do is heat up 1 gallon of Distilled water to about 150 degrees. It will work at room temperature, but not as well. I don't want it boiling or anything like that. I then dump one carton (about 16 Ozs) of Epsom Salt in the gallon container that the water came out of and carefully pour the heated water back in the jug. Needless to say not all of it will go back in the jug. I wear gloves when I do this because the jug will be hot. I put the cap on the jug and lightly shake it until the Epsom sale has dissolved and the water looks clear. I don't shake it hard enough to make the lid come off of the jug! With the caps off of the batteries (Now I am VERY careful here not to get any of the battery acid on me are my clothes when dealing with batteries) I've already ruined a good set of jeans and a good t-shirt by getting battery acid on them. The batteries will usually be pretty low and if not some of the acid will need to be removed. The trick is to get 1 quart of the solution in each battery (divided between each of the cells of course)

The batteries themselves. Well I go to a golf course and talk to someone there that can tell you who to talk to about buying old batteries that they no longer have a use for. In a lot of cases they will be happy to sell them for the recycle fee (which legally isn't supposed to be over $6) If they will deal then I buy the batteries and doctor them. Even if only part of them work then at that price I'm coming out good.

The Combo light is my drop light that I hung on the outside of the window so it acts as a porch light and lights up the inside here to. Reason being I'm seasoning the last two batteries I doctored. They need to be charged and discharged several time before they become fully useful again. The drop light is how I discharge them and I get the benefit of the inside and outside light at the same time.They are running off of a separate inverter than the main system. After about a week of charging and discharging them once daily I'll add them to the bank.

The picture of the wind generator is a picture of Old Genny without her tail feathers.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Old Genny

I guess I made a showing today, but didn't get near as much done as I wanted to. I guess that's about par for the course though. I finally pulled the plug on the generator and tried to put one of the new ones in, but both were totally wrong and wouldn't work. I wound up just cleaning it again instead and was able to use the hammer drill to drill through the rock and pound three stakes about 2 feet in to the ground .They won't go anywhere even without concrete. Also managed to pound a 9 foot base pole in the ground where all of the critters have had success digging. I managed to pound that sucker about 4 feet deep using the fence post driver so it ain't going nowhere either. The pole in the picture will only put the wind generator up about 15 feet, but where it is there are no obstructions to block the wind so I'd imagine it will do the trick. I don't want to put it any higher until I get the right pipe to put it on anyway and will be real lucky to man handle the genny up that high by myself anyway. Only managed to get one of the guy wires strung out, but hope to get the others finished also tomorrow to stabilize the pole. Hopefully tomorrow I can have the genny up and its early duty will just be to charge the new treated batteries and the others that I'll be treating pretty soon. Now that I have my digital volt meter fixed I find that it only takes the gas powered charger 15 minutes a day to top off the four bank batteries. I could stretch that to every three days, but I like to leave the lap top on all the time and use the over head light a lot, plus have several battery powered devices charging at the same time also.

Don't remember if I've ever posted a shot of my newer solar lights charging or not so here's how its done. I put them out early in the morning and bring them in just before dusk and you already know that those 8 do a pretty good job on lighting this place up when I'm not running the 120 volt light. I gave up 4 of my older solar lights yesterday to a guy I met at the Legion because he doesn't have any way to get electricity and only depends on a flashlight to read by at night and for lighting. When I went to Study Butte yesterday he was at the  Cottonwood store on his old Honda trail 70 and that's his only transportation. A 36 mile  round trip on it is about a 2 hour affair on the mountain roads between here and there. I wound up hauling his Igloo cooler back here so he could haul other stuff and when he got here I gave him 4 of my older solar lights. I've been leaving those outside since I put the others on the sealing anyway. Hope it makes life a little easier for him. Also offered him a ride in to town and to Alpine when I go. I could use the company and no sweat off of me otherwise.

It was a little cool all day so I spent the first part of the day in here tinkering with more junk trying to make the cell phone my home phone. Made a little headway on that and found another signal back toward Alpine that might be a better tower to try and use. Also found another back toward Marathon, but it wasn't that great. Its supposed to be a little warmer each day and to be in the 80s by the weekend so MAYBE I can start getting something done around here. (If the wind doesn't blow like hell!)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Kicked by a Mule

Got some shelves built today to help get the piles of junk out of the back storage area. I was going to build more but was running out of time and the generator fouled a plug before I had the chance to get started on the others.  Otherwise it was a beautiful day today (probably mid to high 70s) and just the right breeze to really make it nice. The day in general didn't go too hot though. Seems like this was one of those days when I should have just stayed in bed. I spent most of the day screwing up rather than actually doing much good. As I said the generator was giving trouble then the charger I built died twice and then wouldn't start after it died the second time. The filter in the old Harley tank is plugged again. Now it looks like a good bit of time will be spent squaring those two away before I get much else done tomorrow.

Then comes the MULE! My uncle mentioned keeping a shotgun by the door for taking care of prowlers which I seem to be having a problem with lately. (The coyote type). Anyway I hadn't shot my old riot shotgun for several years so decided to test fire it. I'd forgotten how bad the recoil on this thing was and instead of shooting it from the hip like I've always done I held it about 8 inches in front of me and pulled the trigger knowing I could absorbe the recoil ok. Didn't happen! The pistol grip hit me in the chest just to the right of my spleen and felt like I got kicked by a mule. My chest is still giving me hell. Did I say I should have stayed in bed today? Maybe tomorrow will be better?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Things are Look'in UP!

Looks like its going to be a real nice day! (If the wind doesn't get up.)

Had to fudge some on the lighting picture to give about the actual lighting level in here with just the solar lighting. The camera without the flash was just way too dark. Actually it is lighter than that looks because I can actually read the clock fine and with the lap top screen and the solar lights I can see to type. (Although it isn't easy) I have a small 12 volt florescent light mounted just over the computer screen though so don't need the big light to type with that. Its runs off of the battery bank also.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


With the really crappy (Cold, Cloudy and Windy) weather and the prediction of rain today and tomorrow I've been doing a little Google searching to see if there was another alternative to the monstrosity foam and foil dish I made  to get internet at first and then use the cell phone with. I tried using the tent for a phone booth with that yesterday and never had any luck. I was usually higher up with it sitting on top of the Falcon when it worked so that may be the reason. Anyway I came across a number of different things to do (including soldering tin cans together and adding an antenna inside them. Didn't have but one can that might work and no antenna hardware so that was out. I tried several other ideas and none of them worked. Then I stumbled across one video that told how to make an external antenna. Its supposed to be the correct length though so I need to do some more research to try and find what MHZ my phone uses and the length for that MHZ. I made it about the same length as the one in the video and it did work to an extent. I was able to place a couple of calls, but during the conversations the call dropped. Never the less if I can get this perfected for my phone the little pigtail looking antenna you see sticking up would beat the heck out of the dish. I also found out in my searches where most cell phones have a port on the back of them somewhere for external antenna or boosters so once I found that on mine I was able to make and use the one seen. There should be a small rubber plug on the back of most cell phones and that would be where the external antenna or booster would plug in. As is with the phone sitting where it is I can tell when someone is calling. Of course being able to talk for any length of time is another story until I can get it tweaked.

As for the dish I screwed something up last night while trying to rain proof the WiFi key and could barely get email or get on the net. I did brave the lousy weather earlier just long enough to zero it in and even got it better plus now it should be rain proof. I think I have it about as tweaked in as it can get and I'm happy with it because it is plenty fast.
Also decided to go Chinese on my solar lights to make it a little better in here. Haven't figured out exactly which way to do them yet, but I figure I'll use the newest and brightest 8 of them on the sealing like that. I wouldn't be surprised if it lightened it up a bunch in here. I may use some silver tape on the blue board above them about a square foot in area to act as reflectors to make it even lighter.I also wouldn't be surprised to see that I can even see to type on here without another light source. Just use the big light when I need it the most.

And... Last, but not least the old burner is back in here for the cold weather. It can actually be regulated down low enough to keep it from being blazing in 5 minutes! I'll use the other heater for the BIG gun when I need to warm the place up fast. Also it puts out some humidity while burning where the other one seems to just make raw dry heat. (which I figure is causing my nose bleeds?)
Added for OGT
Might make a good solar shower to? Paint the tank black in close it in glass and provide power from batteries. More than enough water for a shower. 

What do ya think?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Done & Not Done

I've got too much junk in here to show the whole thing because I'm trying to get stuff moved from the tent back in here and straighten up the back storage area so I can build some shelves in there. I could put that storage area to a lot better use with shelves! I'd intended to frame up the walls and sealing with 2x4 studs turned sideways to conserve space in here, but what you see is no frame work at all. I did frame up the false floor and then the blue board is taped to it and then again at the top. There was a half inch rim around the top of the container just perfect for the half inch blue board to fit in so I used that to put the blue board in and then taped it off to the sides of the wall. I cut some old shock poles to the length I needed for trusses to support it in the center from the walls.

As for the welder I'm still out of luck. I picked up some 1/16th inch rods in Odessa and set at 40 AMPs (the lowest setting) it will strike an ARC, but then kicks the breaker on the welder. Now I understand why John uses 30 AMPs on his welder because I think my generator is about the same output. Looks like I'm going to have to save up some $ and buy a small TIG like my brother in law has. It will stick weld beautifully on the same type generator. Those 1/16th inch rods sure go fast though!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Guest House

Got the Guest House built today. Of course it will probably be my house if any guest show up and they will sleep in here. Actually its not for guest though, but there's a real possibility it could be used because I have an aunt and older sister that sure do want to come down here for a visit. I needed a place to store all of the stuff in here so I can start building and since I can't pile stuff on the trailer I decided to use the tent I bought when I first came down here with the intent to live in it. I couldn't get most of the stakes very deep because of the rock so used the spare batteries and all the buckets of pig iron / hardware I have here as hold downs. I figure with all the batteries and pig iron there is at least 600 lbs in it to make sure it doesn't go anywhere. It may blow down, but I don't think it will blow away. I pretty well shot the day working on the new dish trying to get it tweaked right and a trip to the Grub Shack for ice, to pickup my mail and then putting up that 20 x 8 monster. Its the same size as this whole container in floor space terms. (nice and roomy since there aren't any partitions in it. Sort of makes me wish there wasn't one in here.)

As for the new dish it will take more tweaking because not only do I need to get it pointed in the right direction to get the best signal I also need to get the up and down attitude right and then the WiFi key mounted at the correct distance from it. I assumed that putting it where the satellite TV pickups were would work, but I had to move it a good bit closer to the dish. I guess that's the difference between having it focused at a satellite thousands of miles away and a WiFi server just several miles away?
Fogged in this morning. Everything on the trailer is soaked from dew and it would sure be nice if the sun would burn the crap off so it can dry and I can get started with the building. Not a mountain to be seen anywhere!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Going Home!

 Sorry... No pictures this time. I'm trying to get ready for the return trip and still have a lot to do. I've managed to accomplish a lot while here thanks to the help from family. With me being sick and not feeling much like working on the falcon my brother in law did most of the work of replacing the radiator hose and adding the thermostat so I now have heat in the old bird. Also got the exhaust leaks fixed on both sides rather then the one I thought was the only side leaking. Got a small dish that should improve the internet connection from my cousin, some cooking utensils I bought and was given by my sister, Food from my aunt and some I bought at wally world. Also got my mom's old microwave that had been stored at my sister's house. There is an 8 foot dish I could have for the cell phone hot spot, but just no room on the trailer for it. The generator/battery charger is finished and functional. I hope to get to Lowe's early in the morning to load up on the stuff to finish up the Iron Dungeon along with a good heater and spare propane tank so I will have a backup. The turkey cooker will be moved outside for making my morning coffee and to cook on until the tank is needed for backup heating. Hopefully I'll get back down there early enough to make a showing toward getting the place nice and cozy for tomorrow night. I'm feeling a good bit better after taking antibiotics. If I don't watch out the Iron Dungeon is liable to become a lot closer to a home.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Meet PJ

Meant for a little humor and to solve the problem of those much needed late night trips outdoors here is how I solved that dilemma. Meet PJ. The ladies would probably call theirs PC and I don't mean the computer type. After deciding to use a Jug (as in the J part of PJ) I remembered the movie with Tom Hanks "Castaway" and decided to decorate it like he did his ball. I really don't talk to it yet though.
And on another note... I froze my buns off for 4 nights there and never got sick, but come up here where its nice warm and cozy and I get sick. Its about time for me to get back down that way and maybe I can get to feeling better!So far even with feeling really lousy I have gotten the thermostat installed in the falcon so will have heat in it. Tomorrow will be to try and stop the exhaust leak where it will at least limp along quietly. I went to Home Depot Saturday and got one of the sun flower looking propane heaters and didn't open it until today. When I did someone had evidently bought a new one, stuck their old defunct one back in the box and returned it. Worst part is the store must not have checked it when they did. Anyway it took another trip back there today to exchange that. While I was at it I bought a backup propane cylinder so shouldn't have to worry much about running out of propane some cold night. I can also keep the turkey cooker outside where I can brew my coffee on it in the morning and even do some outdoor cooking.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Not Much, Just a Cool Link

Not a lot of news from here other than  the Generator/Charger is squared away now. Outside of that I've come down with something and feel like warmed over death. Its going to be real hard to get anything done.

See if you can figure out what is going on in this slide show. Just watch it and be amazed if you figure it out.

Slide Show