Sunday, June 24, 2012


I finally got over my fear of falling and went back to work on the cabin. It wasn't without injuries though. In the first photo you see the red X on the fascia board that I was trying to put up when I fell off the ladder and broke my arm. It seems that the same board was out to get me all over again because the wind caught it while I was again trying to put it up and the edge hit my forehead and cut a small cut on it. I did managed to get it up though (Without falling and breaking something else.) My wrist still gives me a lot of  trouble, but I've been able to use it even with the pain.
Next picture is of a screw up I made on the fascia board on the south side. I cut the board right, but then marked the holes that were supposed to fit over the purlins wrong and cut them out before trying to put that board up. Needless to say I had to cut the holes in the right place after discovering that. Now I'll have to patch over the wrong holes with something? Haven't figured out what with yet though.
Next picture is of the north side done right.
The door is now in it and this almost makes the cabin dried in, but not totally. It will have to have the roof coated with sealant before that is done.
Before I could add the fascia board on the front I had to come up with some way to hold the purlin on the front down because who ever added that back when the roof party was going on only screwed it down on the ends which was letting the wind lift the roof up in the center. As a quick fix when I caught that happening I used nylon straps to hold it down until I came up with the solution in the next picture. (Using plumbing strap to hold it down.) Once I got that taken care of it was time to get back to work on the cabin.
Next step will be to paint the cabin and then add a 4'x8' bathroom on the back. That should give me enough room for a toilet, shower and small vanity. The gray water from the shower and vanity will be plumbed to a catchment tank for watering plants and such while the toilet will go to the septic system. This is all going to take a while to happen, but in the mean time the trailer is connected to the septic system now.

After the bathroom is done I plan to start working on an 8'x16' screened in porch on the front of the cabin. I guess it could also be called a sleeping porch when its done. Again this is going to take some time, but in the mean time I need to brace the front roof overhang to the cabin to make sure high wind doesn't have a chance to rip the roof off. I think I already have that figured out though.

My neighbor Lee was a great help in getting some of this done yesterday and he also brought me a load of water since my tank was getting pretty low. Dave from the legion came down the morning before and helped out some also.

I still need to cut in some windows, but that isn't a priority right now as it can be done about any time.

RIP Ben Woods
Just read on John Wells blog where Ben Wood passed away. I hate to hear that and he will be missed. His blog is/was:

 An Older Texan Remembers... (Ben Woods)


  1. "Now I'll have to patch over the wrong holes with something? Haven't figured out what with yet though".

    Remedy: sawdust mixed with glue!

  2. Progress with a capital P, glad your getting around again, looks like a barn burner the next few days, stay cool, and hang in there. Yes sorry to hear of Ben's passing.

  3. Sissy, I've done that with wood before, but the holes are a little too big and its OSB board which doesn't take to glue too good. (At least not liquid nails. I'll probably just screw some small pieces of sheet metal over them. Thanks for the post.

    SUERTE, According to the forecast for today they've backed it off to be about the same as yesterday (which wasn't bad for a change). If so Tomorrow and Tuesday are supposed to be the HOT days. Sure wish I already had that little AC unit!

  4. Talk about blood, sweat and tears. It looks great!

  5. Wow, looking good. Your going toget spoiled living in that mansion. Sure beats the container, doesn't it?

  6. Good work. What kind of sealant will you put on the roof? White Elastomeric? What's the downside of using the RV for living space?

  7. Looking really good, sir! I wish I had a bone in my body that was worth a hoot at building stuff. I've worked in every construction trade you can think of EXCEPT carpentry. Give me a tape and level and I am worthless.

    Maybe some day.

  8. Tffnguy, a suggestion from Dunewalker in the deserts of western Nevada about your screened-in-porch on the front & the issue of the roof overhang on the cabin being vulnerable to wind & wind-driven rain. What I'd consider doing would be to install your porch rafters up against the underside of the front of the cabin, then bend that overhang down onto the new porch roof sheathing, overlapping the roof tin you'd presumably use to cover the porch area. When you screw it down it'd be wind-proof & water tight. Of course your porch rafters would slope downhill about the same angle as the cabin roof slopes, right?

  9. DD, yes it will beat the dungeon by a mile or more. I'll have to limit myself to keeping the temp fairly warm inside during the summer so I don't start thinking I need to keep it at 72 degrees on 115 degree days. Winter will be a lot better because it will be both cheaper and easier to keep it warm enough to hopefully keep the joint pain down. Of course I'll have to get it finished to pull this off and it won't be real soon doing it. Not likely that I'll see it this summer maybe next?

    rj, yes White Elastomeric and it will be shaken and not stirred. (Mopped on and not painted on with a brush, roller or sprayed.) ;)

    Drawbacks to an RV is this walls with not much insulation value HOT in the summer time and it holds the heat until very late making getting to sleep hard. Its still 94 degrees in here at about 9:30 even though it feels much cooler outside and wasn't a real hot day. It costs a fortune in the winter (in propane) just trying to keep it a number of degrees below comfortable. They rock N Roll in high winds, but with all that it beats the heck out of a dungeon.

    Chris, I'd never framed up any kind of building by my self before other than the It'll Du and most of that was using pallets. My grand dad, Step dad, and an uncle were carpenters and I did help my step dad some when I was a kid, but not much. I researched building on the net and you can do it if you research it. It isn't that hard.

    Dunewalker, One of my neighbor (Friend) suggested I build a car port in front of the porch. He also suggested sloping the roof down, but there's several problems with that. First is lack of $ and the second is I want a good view from the porch. (Not looking at a car or roof that I can't see the sky because of a low roof.) A flat Lexan roof might be cool, but I'll never afford that and I figure sandblasting from the wind/sand storms would render that useless for sky viewing in a hurry.

  10. Great progress David..!!

    I'd say get a can of "Rockhard wood putty"..mixes with water and hardens in 15 minutes. But just some pcs of tin tacked over those notches is cheaper.

    Tried to call you yesterday, but I think I used an old number ...972 area code.Magic Jack recording.

    Don't use any tools from "OGT"... not good for your health.


  11. Yeah BF, the 972 number is my MJ number, but I never use it anymore and can't get to the email address that it uses to get voice mail.

    I think it will be easier to just use sheet metal to patch the slots. May use beer cans to give it real class. ;) It won't be noticeable when its painted anyway though

  12. lol, you inherited a tape messure, now find a way to get hurt from it.
    btw no mention of the water mellon eating donkey that showed up?

  13. If you buy Home Depot's Elastomeric, don't get the cheapest Henry 287. I found that you end up using 2 or 3 times as much versus their 587 high solids version. One thing for sure - it works, water seals and stays flexible. One roof I have an equivalent product on was originally installed in 1985.

  14. "I think it will be easier to just use sheet metal to patch the slots. May use beer cans to give it real class. ;) It won't be noticeable when its painted anyway though"

    Lol, this really made me laugh...thank you I needed that :D

  15. A lot of progress being made Tffn. Glad you got the door in place and that the septic is connected to your trailer.

    Does this mean you are going to retire the It'll Du?

  16. Nick, If I'd have thunk I'd have taken some pictures of it, but I didn't so didn't say anything about you hiking up here with a watermelon eating donkey in tow. Why didn't you ride it? Next time you bring the watermelon.

    rj, I have access to half a 5 gallon can of it, but don't know which kind since it isn't here. I'm hoping it will cover the whole roof, but if not I'll have to buy another 5 gallon can.

    MsB, the It'll Du and shower complex may become a small green house. I wonder if roses will grow out of poop? I may also water proof it and use it for a 4'x8' storage building since I can't seem to get enough storage space.

    1. I road him home, I hopped on him at roberts.

      Ill bring cantelopes next time

  17. Brilliant - you must be feeling well pleased. Yeah, you still have loads ahead of you, but progress is progress :) Well done - and bless all those neighbours for lending a helping hand, etc.

  18. Nick, I'll try to remember the camera next time.

    Dani, if it weren't for family and friends I'd still be living in the dungeon or maybe even a tent.

  19. I got some used tin you are welcome to but you will have to come get it, most is 12 ft sheets like you have on the roof. Chuck C

  20. Thanks for the offer Chuck, but I still have a few sheets of the same stuff that's on the roof. More than enough to roof the bathroom.

  21. Hi, this is Greg. I currently live in Kansas, and am in the process of buying some land in Solitario area. I found your blog, and it's a good read. Thanks for the info and your progress updates. I have been researching/studying/planning/preparing to live off the grid, and provide a much simpler lifestyle for my family. Any great words of wisdom would be awesome! If all goes as expected, I hope to have my family fully integrated within 6-9 months. Have a great weekend! Greg

  22. What was the general cost for the septic system?

  23. Greg, words of wisdom are Don't Do It! The cost of living is HIGH, Gas is high and supplies are at least 23 miles away. (from here) a little cheaper groceries are 60 miles away. The nearest large Mall is 230 miles away. (Odessa) Its hotter than hell in the summer, very windy with a lot of sand storms.

    IF I could afford it this would be my winter home and somewhere up north would be my summer home.

    As for the septic system around $8 K, but I understand AG gives the county a break because of the number of them he puts in. Grants for the septic aren't just for the poor, but also for the middle class with an income under $?????,00 a year.

  24. If you guys did not have a challenge living there no one would want to read your blog! I think if you look at all your costs, the costs are not bad compared to everyone else these days. Everyone pays over $3 for gas but most of us pay 10 to 100 times more in property taxes every year (directly or indirectly through rent) to say nothing of mortgages. Granted the local stores take advantage of their accessibility but they have taxes and utilities and mortgages/rents to pay with low volume compared to a Walmart or HEB grocery store. Volume sales makes a huge difference. You guys can buy at same prices as anyone else for items on the internet although obviously they must be shipping sized. Plus you have internet. I think the key to life in the desert is a)adequate shelter with climate control and b)adequate water. Clearly the water issues are often underestimated and rain won't do it without a significant capital investment for storage.

  25. Hey Thanks for the info! I grew up in town over an hour east of San Diego in a town called Campo along the Mexican border. We would drive nearly 1 hour (over 60 miles) to do the CLOSEST shopping available. I understand and know what it is like to live out the middle of nowhere (just have not done it in a while). I'm just looking for some solitude, and a simpler life away from the rest of this crazy world! The funny thing is that my wife is 100% behind me. I'm planning my first trip out there in August to build my cabin. I plan to have all the parts pre-cut, and with a helper, should get the thing done in three days. I've almost memorized Lamar Alexander's book "Off the Grid." His website is Ton's of great info on his site and his book (also an ebook).

  26. it's official, signing contract for the land. I'll be starting out with a 1000 gallon tank which'll be connected to the gutters for rain collection. I'm not totally moving out there yet...just starting the build and set-up.

  27. and there is no school bus in terlingua,no papa johns,no domino's pizza,no WATER and probably have to get a donkey to get in and out of Solitario area


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