Friday, January 28, 2011

A Cabin in the Woods

There has not been much progress on the homestead this winter.  Its has either been too cold, to much snow, or we are to tired to get out.  We have not been totally idle as we have found a design for the house we like.  It is a passive solar design which is totally the way to go.  You know how I feel about our sun, might as well use it since it is going to shine anyways!

We had thoughts of buying a used travel trailer to take out to the land.  We thought we could pick up something cheap as it is always nice to be able to get out of the sun and relax after spending the day working.  We looked at several older campers and really became discouraged.  If it was in good condition it was to much money, if the price was good the condition was poor.  You know the routine.  I got to thinking about what it is we really need.  The first is basic shelter.  We also need storage.  A multipurpose building would be the better option.  I spent hours on-line looking at tiny house, shed, and cabin designs and I think we found the answer!

We are going to build a 12x18' cabin!  It will have a 4' covered front porch and a loft at either end.  It is relatively inexpensive and should be easy to build.  We spent a couple of days making the rounds checking prices at the big box lumber stores and let me tell you we scored big time!  I managed to buy most of the lumber I need to frame the cabin for $250.  We got a super deal on 2x12's that are 12 feet long.  It will entail re-sawing the boards into the proper sizes but considering we saved $500 I don't mind spending some time on the saw.

The lumber is "cull lumber."  This means there is something wrong with it and it can not be sold as #1 lumber.  It may mean the lumber has knots, cracks, is bowed, or cupped.  This makes no difference to me as I am re-sawing it.  Today my daughter and I managed to cut enough 2x6 boards to frame the floor and rim joists, the 2x8 loft joists, the roof rafters, and 2x4's.  Tomorrow we plan on building the beams that will hold up the floor joists.  If we can get some decent weather that lasts more than a day or two we can actually get the concrete piers poured and started getting the cabin erected.  Rest assured you will be with us every step of the ways because we will take pictures of the event.  That way you can take what you learn and build a cabin for yourself.

The cabin will be situated in the woods near a wet weather stream.  I am purchasing a couple of solar kits from Harbor Freight to power the cabin.  Those kits along with an inverter and a couple of batteries should provide plenty of power for lighting, TV, radio, etc.  We will use the cabin for rest and relaxation on the weekends, a place to get out of the weather while we are building or tending our blue berry plants, and when the house is finished it will be my shop and later it will serve as our store for selling our berries and the other items we produce.

Keep your fingers crossed that we have an early spring, I know we are ready for it.  Till next time...Michael

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Maytag Repair Man

Some time back I bragged up our front load washer.  We have had the washer for nearly 2 years without problems.  A month of so ago we began having problems with it not wanting to finish a wash cycle.  It kept flashing a code of F21.  I searched online for others having this problem and possible fixes.  I found a few discussions about it but nothing concrete. 

I put off repairing the washer, I had visions of hours spent lying on the floor trying to get my hands in tiny places only to have my attempt end in frustration and a need to purchase an expensive part.  After spending hours yesterday trying to wash a few loads of laundry and having to repeatably drain the tub my wife had enough and it was time to repair this thing. 

Prior to working on any electrical device unplug the device from the wall and/or turn off the breaker supplying power to the device.
I started out by getting my toolbox out.  I then took a look at the washer to see if I could determine how to take it apart.  By lying on the floor I saw three machine screws along the bottom edge of the front cover.  I used a long 1/4" socket to remove the screws as seen in this picture.

Removing the three machine screws with a 1/4" socket with an extension.

Once the front cover was off I found the drain pump on the right side of the washer.  By pushing on the washer drum I could hear water inside so I took a cookie baking sheet and placed it on the floor under the front of this drain.

Disconnect the power supply prior to working on the unit.

Notice the power supply to the pump.  It is on the right side of the pump.  Simply lift the plastic cover and remove the power plug from the drain pump.

Turn counter clockwise to remove.

18 months of nastiness was found.  Pull the filter straight out.

Notice the mold and mildew.  Do not forget to clean this with bleach.
Washing the filter.

Simply pull the top away from the bottom to clean the inside of the filter.

Spray a bleach solution into the housing to kill any mold or mildew.

Replace the filter into the housing.

Tighten by turning clockwise.

Keep turning until the green tabs meet.

Reconnect the power supply.

 What a weird place to find the service directions.  On the back of the front plate.

Replace the three machine screws at the bottom edge of the front plate.

Plug your washer back in and you are ready to wash.  You will want to watch for leaks.  Total time for repair was ten minutes and that was with me taking pictures of each step. 

As you can see it was pretty straight forward in fixing the F21 fault code on my Maytag front load washing machine.  The repair manual found behind the front plate has instructions for running diagnostics and also outlines what steps to take for each of the other possible fault codes.  You would think that when you purchase a front load washer that someone would tell you that you should clean the filter periodically.  We are going to clean ours each time we set the clocks forward or back for daylight saving time.  This is also when we change out batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. 

Good luck, I hope your fix is as easy as mine was!