Sunday, December 11, 2011

Blog Hopping

I am going to share another link to a blog I just checked out.  It is a story of a family who had a dream, suffered set backs and generosity and are now living their dream on their homestead.
What I took away most from this story is that a home or homestead doesn't have to be a new, fancy house with lots of land.  A home is a place that is ours, a place to try out all the ideas we lie awake at night dreaming about, a place we are proud of.
You do not have to have a lot of possessions or the best place on the block.  As I read the blog I get thinking how much this author is like my own mother in law.
The blog is still relatively recent, but worth watching to see her dreams come to life.  Take a hop on over, tell her Kan-green sent you.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Blog Hopping

I decided to do a little reading after seeing a post on a homesteading forum where like minded people listed their blog addresses.

The first site I visited was  I have to say I am very impressed with how fast they managed to get their home built.  There were some nice pictures of the building process. 

Going back in the timeline on the blog I couldn't help but think that their situation was a lot like ours.  It took a year for them to sell their home.  We hope it doesn't take as long for us because making the payment on it and out rental is a burden. 

There was a section on the temporary housing, a FEMA trailer, shipping container, and yurt.  Sadly no pictures were included as it sounded like a good solution and I would have liked to see how they managed it.

I especially liked the section on gardening, in particular the lasagna concept.  Not many people are aware of this style gardening and in my situation it would be a good way to get rid of loads of limbs and brush.  Remember what happened the last time I tried burning brush which I believe was a major contributor to my ongoing health problems.

Overall I would have to say it would be worth your time to visit their blog and I would like to say congratulations on working towards your dreams.  Leave them a message and tell them Kan-green sent you.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What a day!

I wasn't able to round up any apprentices today but I have to get a roof on this cabin.  The good news is I discovered my framing nail gun was not broken but I had bought the wrong nails for it when I originally bought it.  Too bad I didn't get that figured out until after all the walls were framed.  It would have saved so much time.

We loaded all the lumber, generator, and all the tools and pulled out of the drive around noon.  I know, I should have started earlier but my two year old sounded like he was coming down with something so we let it warm up a bit first.  We had a couple of stops to make before we could head out.

After grabbing lunch we hit the lumber yard for nails for the gun and some brackets.

We got out to the land and got everything unloaded.  I had to fix a couple of mistakes and place some more nails in a few of the studs it was time to pick up the girls from school.  I stayed behind to continue working.  The plans called for doubled 2X6's at each end to act as ties and the start of the loft joists.

After getting those set I began work to prepare for placing the ridge beam.  I doubled up two 2X4's and set them atop the middle of the end walls and braced them.  I thought it would be smart to attach a short 2X4 at the top on each side of the ridge beam studs. 

After setting the ridge beam atop the supporting studs I realized my mistake.  If I was using a doubled 2X8 for a ridge beam it would've worked out great.  Since I wasn't I realized I had no way to nail the beam to the studs.  I had to cut off the "safety studs" and got the ridge beam secured.

I just started to figure out the angle for the plumb cut for the first set of rafters when my daughter advised me her Christmas program was starting in 30 minutes.

We hastily gathered and loaded the tools and covered the flooring and all our lumber with tarps.

I have to work a 24 hour shift tomorrow and they are calling for a lot of rain and/or snow for Saturday.  Hopefully everything stays dry and I can get the rafters up on Sunday.

Wish me luck, I need all I can get.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Prepping for a roof

As you may recall we obtained a load of cull lumber last spring.  Last week we retrieved the remaining lumber from the basement of our home we are trying to sell.

The lumber was a mix of 2X10 and 2X12's.  The plans called for 2X6 rafters.  This called for us having to rip enough lumber for 18 rafters.  The last time we ripped lumber we burned out the motor on my table saw.  We bought that saw about 10 years ago for less than $100 and it cut a lot of wood over the years.

The cabin roof is going to be 12/12 pitch.  On one side the rafters will be 12 feet long, the other side 8 feet since a porch will tie into it.  I am mainly concerned with getting the cabin in the dry before we start getting snow and ice.

We set up the table saw and rigged it so that the top rail of our trailer would support one end of the lumber as it came off the saw.  We improvise a lot around here. 

We got the lumber cut and we ended up with all the rafters I need and 2X4's I am sure we will use somewhere.  The are calling for heavy rain and/or snow this weekend so I must get out there tomorrow to get the rafters placed.

Wish us luck as we will need it and watch for my next post to see how it went.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Free Heat a Passive Solar heater

My daughter had a science project due and we never finished last years so we decided to try again.
The thought behind the passive solar heater is to reduce our utility bills and have something to assist with heating our cabin.

We started out with two Korean war era wood foot lockers.  the dimensions were 16" wide, 32", and 8" deep. We began by removing the lids which had been secured well with rivets which had to be drilled out.

Removing the well secured lids

We then had a huge decision to make. Aluminum conducts heat and cold extremely well. To test this for yourself take a hot can of soda, fill a basin with ice and spin the can in the ice rapidly. In a matter of minutes you will be rewarded with an ice cold drink. Our last project we gathered used cans. It was time consuming because each can had to be cleaned and holes cut in each end. The cans were then secured end to end in rows with silicone. As we were under a time crunch we looked for an alternative heat conductor. We looked at aluminum rain gutter which would have worked but it was pricey. As we strolled the aisles of the lumber store we came across sheets of aluminum ducting. It was flat but machined to form a tube 4" in diameter and came in multiple lengths. It was reasonably priced and although I would've preferred a smaller diameter we went ahead and chose it. We then needed to find something to connect the ends of the tubing to form a continuous network of tubing. We looked around and found flexible aluminum dryer duct and picked up some hose clamps to secure the connections. The remaining materials we purchased consisted of silicone caulking, flat black spray paint, liquid nails, thermometers, and panes of glass to fit our boxes. As this is being used for a school science project we had to build two boxes. One being the passive solar heater and the other serving as the control. The boxes were a bit deep for our needs so I started by cutting a couple of inches off all the way around. The boxes already had a 2X2" strips of wood running along the length and this gave us a platform to lay the panes of glass to when we reached that step.

We began by forming the ducting into tubes.  We then attached the flexible dryer duct to one end of one tube, formed a U shape and connected to the tubing beside it. At the opposite end of the middle tube, we used three tubes to fit the size of our box, we repeated the process by attaching the vent to the tube, made another U shape to attach the middle piece to the last duct. We made sure all of the hose clamps were all tight.

Forming the layout for the ducting

Drilling the air inlets
Next we drilled a 2" diameter hole through the base of the box in the bottom corner to serve as a cold air inlet. We then drilled a 2" hole on the top of the box on the opposite side of the cold air inlet.

In order to keep the entering cold air from escaping the tubing I built a box in the corner around the cold air
inlet and cut the wood on one side to slide over the ducting.   Use clamps until the glue has dried.

Add Silicone to seal any leaks

We cleaned out the sawdust from the boxes and then painted the interior of the solar heater with a couple of coats of black paint. We then attached a thermometer on the inside of both boxes near the hot air outlet. Once the paint was dry we laid out the ducting and put a nice sized line of liquid nails along the entire network of ducting. The ducting was then placed inside the box with the glued side down. The cold air inlet box was then put in position and clamped until the glue was dried. It is important to note the box's top came up to the level of the bottom of the pane of glass. After the glue had dried all of the ducting was painted flat black and once dry a second coat was applied ensuring all surfaces were covered.

Once all the glue had cured and paint dried we placed a bead of silicone caulking along the 2X2" strip of wood along the inside of the box and the glass was carefully laid in place. We then repeated the caulking on the top outer edge of the glass to ensure it was airtight.

Carefully place glass onto the lip inside the box
We repeated this step on the control box. Both boxes were placed in a sunny location facing south. The temperature inside the control box never rose more than a few degrees more than the ambient temperature which averaged in the low to mid 60's. The thermometer inside the passive solar heater maxed out at 140 f the first couple of days and ultimately burst due to the high temperatures we achieved in the passive solar box. The science fair ends this week. I plan on replacing the original lid to the heater to protect the glass during the summer months when not in use. The control box is going to be converted into another passive solar heater using the same technique.
The finished project

This type of heating device would be ideal in a bug out situation and you don't have to expend energy gathering fuel and there is no smoke to reveal your location