Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Keeping Out The Brrrrrrrrrrssss

Time for another blog update. Twas a busy weekend.

As promised, here is a picture of the trailer in much better light. I measured it at 13ft long and 6ft wide to the beaver tail. Overall it is about 16ft long. Just the perfect size for what I want. I'll drop a new deck on it and rewire the brakes. Just on a quick look underneath I found one broken wire in the brake circuit. It appears to have brakes on both axles so that is a good thing.
We're coming into the season where things can get a might bit chilly. We also get this thing called "snow" that my family and friends from the south may not be familiar with. All together, wall like below can lead to a nasty case of the "Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrsssss".
Given that I'll be storing lots of stuff in here and using it for a temporary workshop, I figure I'd rather not freeze my butt off. A more regulated temperature and humidity environment will also be much better for some of the items to be placed in here.

So we start with one of these. It is a kit with a compressor, brad nailer, finish nailer, and stapler. It was under $300 and makes things go MUCH faster. I've used a compressor before, but not on a big project. Why the heck was I still pounding nails manually for big jobs? This thing rocks! I'll probably buy a framing nailer and a longer heavy duty hose to complete the set.
Also for the party we need a little bit of insulation. As you can see, it is a wee bit bulky. The insulation here is for the shed and the pump box.
After a few hours, the inside walls of the shed now look like this. The air stapler makes this process go very fast. It takes longer to cut the batts and press them into the stud cavity than it takes to staple them in.
Of course the international conspiracy of home improvement suppliers strikes again! I was out of daylight, just finished a package of 7 batts, and had 2 stud cavities left to go. The fiberglass poofs out to at least twice original size when you open the package. I'll wait to open another package until I've got some other stuff to do that can use the rest. Or maybe go by Lowe's and just get 2 batts.
The following afternoon, after getting parts for the next project, I got about half the ceiling done before I ran out of staples. I went through 1000 staples just doing the walls and half the ceiling. I'll do the center of the ceiling once I add some additional framing that is part of my nefarious plot for total world domination.
There you have most of what I got visibly done over the last week. I should be moving out there this weekend whether I've got the water system done or not. The RV has a freshwater tank and a pressure pump. I can't wait!

Feel free to leave comments and questions.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Back from Traveling. Back to work.

First off, a public service message: I don't even remember what they call it. "That's No Moon. It's a Cheeseburger!" would be appropriate. Do not attempt to eat a cheeseburger that is the length of a big steak knife in height and as big around as a hubcap!!!!! This is at "The Home Plate" outside Taunton, MA. Three of us challenged the humongo burger. None of us succeeded. One of the guys cheated by asking for his with no veggies or other stuff on the burger. He still didn't finish it. I made it through 3/4 of the burger and about 1/4 of the fries before I decided that I didn't want to hurt myself that badly.

In homage to a true American classic film - "That isn't a water tank."

"This is a water tank."
Did I mention there are two of them?

Each tank has a total capacity of 1500 US gallons. That is about 5700 liters for my international friends. To allow for expansion, I'll set the float switch to cut off around 1300-1400 gallons (~5100 liters) for each tank. These were the missing item that was holding up the pressure water system. These should be fun to get all plumbed in! I picked up some fittings and valves at Lowe's on the way home so I can start filling them. My pump puts out around 112gph so to fill both tanks would be a continuous runtime of around 25 hours. Needless to say, I'll be doing it in smaller steps of a few hours at a time.

The only factory installed fitting is the 2in female threaded outlet fitting a few inches up from the bottom. I will have to drill holes for the inlet, vent, and float switch in one of the tanks. I may put float switches in both tanks and wire them in series so they both have to indicate more water is needed before the pump turns on. Since the tanks will be plumbed together in normal operations, they should always equalize to the same level. Putting a pair of float switches in series means that a switch failure won't start the pump.

Each pump will have an independent shutoff vales mounted as close to the tank outlet as possible. Those are some of the items I picked up today. Since the tanks expand/contract a bit due to both the water level and temperature of the tank, I'll need a flexible section between the tank outlet and the buried hardlines running to the pump/filter cabinet. The flexible section keeps from cracking the hardline piping as the tank flexes.

They put large tabs on the tanks to allow tying them down. At 500USG in a tank, it will weigh 4000 lbs. What do they expect is going to move these tanks? About the only things I can think of are an earthquake or a bomb blast. In the case of the former, I want them to move a bit so they don't rupture. In the case of the latter, I think the location of my water tanks is going to be a long ways down my list of priorities. We don't get many tornadoes in Washington so I won't consider that one likely. If the tanks were going to be empty for a long period then it would make sense to tie them down.

I picked up a trailer today. It is a 16-20ft (I didn't measure and the guy didn't recall) tandem axle. The GVWR is probably around 10-12Klbs which is perfect for my needs. It needs a new deck and the wiring for the electric brakes cleaned up. The existing deck will work fine for picking up lumber, insulation, etc from the store and hauling light equipment around. Fixing the brakes is just a wiring project.

It was getting dark when I snapped this pic so I'll take some more tomorrow and post a couple of better ones.

Tomorrow morning, I'll pickup a 1-man auger at the rental place. Now that the tanks are in, it is time to dig the holes, install the fence posts, and get the pump cabinet built. Oh, I suppose I might actually put some fencing on the fence posts too. While I've got the auger, I'll likely also make holes for a mailbox and some new gatepost holes down at my back gate. Time permitting, I'll do a few more in locations I want near-term future posts. Friday I'm picking up a trencher from the same place. That is to trench for all the water lines I have to run.

I'll try to update as I do things tomorrow and Friday if I can still lift my arms after all that.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bart comes home

I've gotten a few questions about wildlife in the area. I can say with 100% certainty that there are deer. :D I've been seeing fresh scat every time I've been out there, but this is the first time I was there when they came down. I was actually driving some screws with a power drill when I turned around and saw them. Even when I was looking at them and pulling out my camera, they didn't spook. These are Black-tail deer.

I was able to get pretty close to them before they trotted off. Especially given that they didn't spook when I was using power tools, I think they consider people a part of the landscape as long as they don't get too close. It appears to be a doe and a couple of yearling fawns. They came back twice more before I left. I don't think they ever moved too far off. Their bed-down area is probably back in the trees on my place.

I'm sure there is a law somewhere that says if you have acreage, you have to own an old flatbed to help with chores and drive to town occasionally. It will also be nice to have a 2nd vehicle. If my other truck is in the shop, or I have one of those "oh @#@#$" moments and realize I need another tool/part while working on it myself - I've got something to drive to work or the autoparts store.

Everyone, meet Bart. Bart, meet everyone. Bart is a 1978 Chevrolet C30 1-ton dually. The rear axle is a full-floating 14-bolt GM corporate with the huge (and very desirable) 10.5in ring gear. While he was originally born with a 454ci (7.4L) V8 engine, a life-saving transplant was performed at some time in the past with a 350ci (5.7L) V8. The transmission is an SM465 4-speed manual with granny-low. The body is in decent shape, but a little rough.

Beyond the imminently practical uses and reasons for buying it, this is a big truck of the same age range as my first cars when I was a teenager. It is from a time when you could still work on vehicles and engines without needing $10K in computerized test equipment, a degree in plastics technology, or an earlier life is a midget acrobat to reach anything. It will just be fun to work on.

The biggest body issue is the wood in the flatbed. You can see it very well in the closeup. The good part is that there isn't anything particularly special about the wood in the bed. Most likely, I'll replace the wood with pressure-treated 2x8s while I decide what to do as a more permanent solution. I'm debating between 2 layers or 3/4in plywood sealed up with CPES and Elastuff120 (more RotDoctor stuff) and a topcoat of bed liner -OR- using some salvaged 4x12s with a stained/sealed topcoat. It is rough-and-ready vs. beautiful. The 2nd option would be stronger and beautiful, but a lot more work. I'd have to lightly sand the varnish each year and reapply a couple of topcoats. I'm not sure how dinged up the varnish would get in a year. I'm open to thoughts and suggestions. Please free to leave comments.

Earlier, I mentioned the lifesaving transplant of a 350ci V8 in place of the original 454ci V8. A 350 is a great engine. Probably the most common Chevy V8 produced through the years. However, the good Lord did not intend a C30 dually 1-ton to be powered by a 350. A 1/2-ton pickup or a 4-door sedan are much more common and acceptable applications for a 350.

So, Bart and I went for a little drive today. I found a 454 on Craigslist that ran before it was pulled yesterday. The same seller also had a TH400 (heavy-duty 3 speed automatic) transmission for sale. I bought the two together as a package. Since I was buying them both together, the guy cut the frame crossmembers of the motohome (being scrapped) with the engine and transmission still attached. That gave me a pair of good solid rails to rest the whole thing on the flatbed. Otherwise, they would have been resting on their oil pans. It made it easier for the seller and definitely easier for me. A win-win for all! :D

You'll also notice the tires and wheels on the flatbed. Bart currently has 16.5in wheels shod with old bias-ply tires. There is a bit of dryrot already starting on the sidewalls of the inner rear tires. 16.5in is an old wheel size and only a few manufacturers make radials for that size. The selection and availability is thus highly limited. The most common solution is to change over to 16in wheels. The LT235/85/R16 is an almost exact size match in width and overall height to the existing bias-ply tires. That is a tire size that is much more common and available in a wide variety of styles. Given that it is most often used on dually trucks, the most common load-range is E. That is exactly what I need. The seller, his brother, and I were discussing the truck and the tires/wheels in particular. The seller pointed out that he had a full set of 6 from the motorhome. I paid a grand total of $60 for the set. The best price I'd found online for a set of 6 used 16in wheels for a dually was $200-250. I consider that another big win!

Here is a closeup of the engine. The AC hardware will be making a very quick exit as soon as I get it on the engine stand. The distributor itself isn't damaged, just the cap. It got cracked as it was being removed. I'd replace the cap anyway so it isn't a big deal. This is the size of engine that is required for this size truck. Well, "required" by me at least. The guy I bought the truck from used it to deliver firewood. I'd hate to drive it with a 350/4-spd trying to deliver 3 cords of firewood.

I can't do a lot of construction here in the winter. Rebuilding the engine and transmission will be one of my winter indoor projects. Not only books, but also instructional DVDs are available for both the engine and transmission. I've never done it before, but it should be a good challenge to wrap my head around and get me off the computer for a bit.

That is about it for this update. Hopefully, there will be painting, installing of water tanks, and other more construction-related stuff next time.


Technical Difficulties: Please Stand By

Got distracted looking up some data and working on something else. Full and complete update coming Sunday night.