Category Archives: Rain Water

Ranch Re-Visited (finally) 6/17/2017)

Hello all.

Well, six months has passed since we departed Rebel Ranch, on not such good terms! ha.  It has been a while for a reason, besides life changes, we left the ranch with a sour taste in out mouth and were not too anxious about returning.  With some subtle inspiration from my lovely wife, we said we should take the time and make a quick run to see what we find.  We were prepared to stay the night, or just come back home if things were terrible up there.

We set out early Saturday morning and pretty much drove straight there, no dragging our feet.  The ranch roads were in pretty good shape, but what was amazing was the road into our place was pretty much grown over and you could tell not a lot of traffic had been through there.  It was pretty surreal heading up past our pasture area and getting our eyes on Rebel Ranch in six months.

We were absolutely blessed.  I mean, the only things that happened were the wind took it’s toll by tearing up our roof protection and strewing paper all over the place, but other than that, pretty fair shape.


We have this plastic storage shed that was outside, and apparently the wind had it’s way, throwing all of our stored burnable paper everywhere.  Also, pretty much everything that was under our outside kitchen got tossed around.

You can also see what the wind did to the tarps we had on the roof.  Thankfully, one of the tarps was ripped off, twisted up, and dangled off one corner.  This really saved that one and I got to re-use in on the roof.

The interior was pretty much just as we had left it, although a lot of mouse ‘gifts’ about…but thanks to having power the vacuum kicked right in to help with the cleanup.

We spent Saturday cleaning up the odd debris and then getting some shade time with Ruby.

The sun was a bit much for Ruby and it is fly season for sure up there.  Our dog cannot stand bugs landing on her! ha.

We also took in a quick outdoor shower, although the ‘garden sprayer’ we were using as a shower head didn’t make it through the winter.  The plastic piece that keeps it attached to the metal wand cracked from the cold.

Oh well, it was still a great shower, since temps over the weekend were at 100 or above.

Ruby got to check out some cows too…didn’t really get any pictures of her trying to talk to the bigger ‘dogs’ with horns.

All in all, a good time.  We got some more cleanup/repairs done Sunday morning and feel pretty good with the way things are now.  PLUS…our 1500 gallon water tank is full to the rim, that is the first time we had seen that.  Not too bad.

Not sure when we will be up again, but that feeling is there…at least as an escape from the city.

Returned For Some Work, Finally! (9/23/2016)

After a few weeks from some serious work, we updated some things this past weekend.  It has been a while.  Sheralee came into LV for a weekend, and then we kinda took a weekend ‘off’, just doing some maintenance type things for the next weekend.  This weekend we had a chance to get back to working on some projects.

It was a rough week for Arizona weather, and transiting to and from was not easy.  We were first hit by hurricane Paine, out of the Pacific and off the coast of Mexico.

I had made it up the weekend of the 9th, but we just did some small things.  I took some good pictures Saturday night, as the sun was setting.
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Very pretty.  Then we got up and went for a hike up the hill behind us.
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You can see the ‘compound’ in each picture.  What a great ‘relaxing’ weekend.  Then Sheralee came to the ‘big city’ for a weekend, which was really nice for all of us.

This past weekend, after the rains, I made it up Friday after work.  We headed out early Saturday morning for a materials run into Prescott.

Some things I needed to work on was repairing a malfunctioning water pump and miss-behaving chainsaw.  First up, was the pump work on Saturday, once we got back.  I had purchased a new Shurflo 3 gpm pump.  I decided to go ahead and create water pump v4.0.


This time I decided to stay away from Pex, spigots, and anything else that was permanent.  I found some great plastic adapters that thread directly on a Shurflo pump (1/2″ M) and change to a 3/4″ garden hose thread.  Brilliant!  Why didn’t I think of this before? doh!

Works like a champ!  So now, I just added on some garden hose extenders and off we go.

* No, the lighter is not needed for the pump to work. ha.

The lighter was used for Sheralee’s new ‘instant shower’!  This thing is awesome!
Basically, you head up the water using a common camping propane cookstove, then pressurize the tank, and off you go.  So nice!  Thank you Mario and Ainslee!

The real projects started Saturday afternoon, and Sunday.  We purchase the materials to finish out the 2nd container framing and complete the new wood floors.


In the other container, we went with large plywood pieces, 1/2″ on top of 1/2″ foam insulation.

Wood Floors Part II (2/20/16)

This time we cut 6″ pieces and are using a different stain.  We cut all the pieces Saturday afternoon.  What a fun job with 2 people and a small table saw. ha!

Sunday, I finished out the framing so we could lay the new floor.
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While I was doing this, Sheralee was staining  the first batch of flooring.

After she put a coat of polyeurathane on, we installed the first section.
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I will say this, IT LOOKS AWESOME!!!!  We were so happy with the say it was turning out.  Great color, great width for the floor.  Just awesome.  We continued on with the next section.

This new container will be our bedroom, with the TV, wall shelving, wood fireplace, and a 53″ TV for football! ha.

We are slowly re-working the other container that will be our kitchen and eating area.

I think that is it for now.  Hope to have the floor done next weekend so we can finally move the bed over and get that container insulated and warm for winter!

New and Rebuilt (7/1/2016)

Happy July!  It is here, whether you like it or not, and with July comes monsoon season in the Southwest.  As you will see later on…it did come down Saturday afternoon.

Glove retirement!  Yes, finally it was to put my faithful leather gloves to rest.  There is only so much duct tape can do.
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Water Pump Rebuild v3
So, we first started the long weekend by arriving early, and attempting more work on the water pump rebuild.  I realized that my previous week’s work, using all 1/2″ PEX wasn’t going to cut it.  Too many 90 degree elbows in the mix and just not enough volume.  I decided to go from the pump to the 3/4″ garden house, but found out that the 1/2″ adapters I bought to come out of the pump didn’t fit right, or thread right.  Luckily I had some spare 1/2″ threaded barbed connectors and could snuggly fit the PEX onto those. Turns out, that was a great idea, yes by Sheralee.  It was coming together, but darkness and the new threads slicing my hand determined it would be finished in the A.M..

Saturday morning when I got back to the pump, it seemed to all flow together.  We ended up with a different mounting, for the pump, and it works much better now.

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The pump idea works great….hopefully for quite a while.

Now came the start of our Saturday projects.  I would start removing siding and the 48″x24″ window, that would be used later in our container.   Sheralee started rebuilding our indoor Loo.

Loo rebuild
Sheralee determined there were a couple drawbacks to our indoor Loo build.  First is that it was large…roughly 44″ or so.  It also had a big material tub that without a lid let the moisture out and drying out the material.  So, she decided to make it smaller, taller, and our material will be stored next to it in a closed lid container.
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Unfortunately, I forgot to grab pictures of it finished…as it wasn’t finished until Sunday.

While  Sheralee worked on the Loo rebuild, I was tearing down some siding from the loft, and removing the 48″x24″ window.  The process went rather quickly, it helps having another container next to it to stand on. ha.

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Well, this was about as far as we got, because around 1:45p the rain came…and boy did it come.  We settled into the bedroom to watch it rain.  Here is a short video I took out of the patio door.

Then I took some follow up pictures.
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What a mess!  Good thing is though, we are very thankful for the rain…because it brings a tankful of water to use!  Love that part.  This pretty much took care of our Saturday.  The rain ended after a couple hours so we were able to get out and enjoy the evening, even with hot food and a good fire.

Sunday brought a sunny morning with some clouds in the afternoon…but no rain.  We clumped around taking care of our projects.  Sheralee wanted to rebuild the bed frame to make it thinner and put it on wheels, making it much easier to move around when making it and working around it.  I started removing the framing and insulation where I was going to cut the window opening.

Bed Rebuild
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What you see in the pictures above is the slimmer bed version, but we opted to go with a straight 2×4 connecting the bed posts, instead of the 4×4 blocks you see here.  The overall height of the bed increased, but man it is nice!

Next came the funnest thing, cutting holes in our container.
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Once the opening was cut out 50 5/8 x 26 5/8.  I framed the opening with 2×4 studs, and then framed the window opening with 2×8’s to account for the depth of the container.
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Then we finally mounted the window, caulked it, flashed it, and spray foamed from the inside.
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Overall, we are so so happy.  This will eventually be our kitchen window with a sink underneath.  We had to compromise on the height of the window and it turns out there are more short people in this world than big birds like me.  So, the window is at the top of my gaze, but I can deal with that.

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I promise to get pictures of the Loo rebuild for next week.

Sunday, we had some visitors around dinner time.  Obviously they were aware we were not having burgers.
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We finished our long weekend with some manual labor. We are going to try and divert water around some areas…well started with that.  Really a test to see what is possible.  By walking around in the rain Saturday, we determined the water will flow wherever we want it too.  What we really need is a back hoe, someday, but until then.  Testing is a must.

I think that is it for this time around.

Two Weeks Of Updates (6/3/2016)

It has been a little while since I have updated.  Basically two week(ends) of trips to account for.  Last weekend was Memorial Day weekend, a nice 3 day weekend.  We had a great visitor for the weekend, my daughter Katherine came up from Phoenix to hang at Rebel Ranch and check out all the things we have done.  It really was good times.

Sheralee and I drove up Friday after work and arrived about 8pm.  We got to see some deer, Sheralee’s first sightings I believe.  First a group of three (pictured) and then another group of three closer to our property.
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And no, since some of you will say it….these are not the eatin’ kind. As long as Costco still operates, these guys are safe with us. ha.  Saturday morning we got up and FINALLY, just ask Sheralee, took the top off the Jeep.  I think we have had it almost two years and this is the first time off.

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We went and picked up Katherine a little bit later in the morning, ‘cool wind in our hair’…that kind of thing.  Like a terrible father….I didn’t really get any pictures of the three of us.  I seem to take pictures of deer and Jeeps, but can’t seem to remember to grab one of us enjoying our time on the ranch.  doh!  I did get this dark grainy shot at night Sunday. hahahaha
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Next time for sure!  On Sunday we jumped in the jeep and drove North to the end of Ranch Rd. on Westwood Ranch.  It was some good times, and I do believe we found the ‘end’ of the road.  Just more desert/trees everywhere. ha.

Katherine decided to head back to the valley Monday morning.  After dropping her off and watching her go, we headed back up to the property to get a little work in.  We are in the process of changing our driveway, and one of starting points was first laying out the driveway, but then removing an old fallen tree and a Juniper.

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The last picture is right as we were heading out.  It is going to be a great driveway, and eventually divide our living property with our pasture area.

That brings us to this weekend.  Yup, we escaped the 110 degree heat of Vegas, for the 100 degree heat of N. Arizona…whoa.  It was warm up there.   We did a couple of really cool things, in our minds.  First, since it was going to be summer shower days again, Sheralee had a great idea to move our outdoor shower to a new location, which complete makes sense.  In the future we will have a guest cabin just north of our home, and that is were the outdoor Loo is, so why not situate the new shower (spa) near there, and that is what she did.

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Once we settled on a new location, she attacked the limb clearing with gusto.  She created a new path and new shower basin. The basin is the same as before, a pallet with some fake green grass, but it is surrounded by large rocks and then a whole is dug underneath, filled with smaller rocks, for drainage.

You can see from the pictures above, she then had to hall of that white rock, and pavers, up to our new shower location.  It really started to take shape.
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Not that easy to see with the tree shadows, but our pallet is in there, with our fake grass, the white rock and pavers, and our ‘spa’ chair.  Trust me, that outdoor shower is the best thing ever…especially on these hot summer days.  Nothing is better than a real shower after working all day in the dirt.

The week prior we decided, “why not use the water we have in our tank?”.  I mean we had close to 700 gallons sitting there, and more rain to come this year, why not use it instead of lose it….so that is what we did.  I had PEX coming from the current tank, after re-doing the valve and insulation…  I added a hose spigot to the cut end so we could connect a hose and draw water from our tank.

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We pumped that water up to our 65 gallon tank that we use to shower with.  Worked awesome and so nice to have all that water!  The 50′ hose goes from our tank to our shower for a nice warm/cool shower. ahhhhhhh

Sunday morning, Sheralee fortified our shower, adding in a wall of trees for future use, amongst company.  ha.  While she worked away at that, I finally tackled a project that I have had to do for a while.  Finish the bathroom vent conduit to the outside.
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The vent has been installed and working for a while, but the air goes nowhere.  So, it was time to add the ducting to the outside.

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Now we have a functional bathroom vent.  woohoo!  It works great!  We will be heading up again this coming weekend, if nothing more just to take an awesome shower. ahhhhhhhhh

Until next time.

Back On Track (or Rails) (5/13/2016)

After a three week absence, mainly due to weather in Arizona and Mother’s Day, we finally made it back to the ranch.

Last we were on the property, the annual road maintenance had just begun, how exciting.  Well, not sure how far that went.  With two weeks of good rain, the roads are back to poor condition in many spots.  It was plenty dry upon our arrival, but you can tell where deep ruts were formed in the road.  We can only hope there is more maintenance to come.

With those spring rains also came water collection for us, YAY!  I believe we collected over 400 gallons over the past two weeks.  Very exciting to see.  On Saturday we had a good shower come though where we collected a little more rain.  Nice to see, and we haven’t even hit the rainy season yet.

Three weeks ago we had ordered a barn door kit and materials to create a barn door (style) bathroom door.  We based the door structure on a 1/4″ piece of plywood and then went out from there.  While Sheralee was working on the final look of the door, creating the frame with some 2×4’s and that plywood, I had to work on the framing to support the barn door rail.

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I then worked on installing the rail for the barn door across the new studs I put in place.  The kit was great in then it gave you large bolts and cool threaded inserts into the wood.
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After the framing and rail were in place.  We worked on getting the hardware on the door and hanging the door.
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Overall we are very pleased with the outcome of the door. The look of the door really turned out better than we expected, and just for the record the design of the door was not the original idea, but that is what came out of Sheralee experimenting with different stains and whitewashing.   If I hadn’t mentioned it earlier, you would think the middle of that door was some sort rusted sheet metal.  Very cool looking.

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This is the final look of the door with the floor.  Looking good!!  Once we have our planked walls in place, that will be a sort of whitewash, it will look great!

Another project that we worked on was the material shed.  I had left it with only two roofing panels in place, so I finished that off and installed the gutter.

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The next phase of this project is to add water catchment off the one end to flow into the water tank that is there.  Should be pretty simple.

Another thing we did for the material shed was add a couple hooks for the pitch fork and a shelf for the compost cleaning supplies.
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The only thing left to do on this guy is the downspout to water tank, and that should be easy enough.  Can’t wait.

Oh..and we had another visitor show up Saturday.
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I like to refer to him as “Kaa”.  All of a sudden, there he was.  The gopher snakes up there seem to grow rather large…both we have seen have been this size, which I guess they can grow up to 6 feet in length.  He eventually slid under the tarp there, which I am sure is where there are rodents and lizards…his type of “to go food”.

I was coming around the other end of our container and saw him again, or another one just like Kaa…and that one slithered under the container to get away from us  biped mammals.  Good times on the ranch.

We are going up again over the Memorial Day weekend….can’t wait!



Bathroom Work Ahead (4/20/2016)

I went up on Wednesday this past week to get a little extra time working on some projects we are trying to wrap up.  Low and behold, my week ended up with talking to company HR departments and some interviews over the phone.  So, all in all, very productive end to the week.

The project I started with was sealing off the bathroom ceiling where we originally had our loft stairs when this was just our entry way.

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This was the opening where we climbed the loft stairs.  We had removed the stairs some time back and now working on finishing up, as much as possible without plumbing, the bathroom.  So, I had to add some joists, across this span, and add the sheathing in the loft, which will one day be an open deck.

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All in all, ok.  I had forgotten the joist hangers I was going to add, but have them on hand and will add  them in next week.  It is already sturdy enough, but I like the ‘overkill’ approach to things.

Next was adding some roof flashing and panels to our new material shed.  After I had gotten as far as the materials let me, because plans never go as we think, I went into town and got some water to top off our compost water tank, which I cleaned and moved for future rain catchment off this new shed roof.
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During the weekend, Sherlaee came up and added the finishing deck paint to our new ‘fudge factory’ shed!
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I will add the final roof panels and gutter this weekend, then work on getting that water added to our tank with any rainfall.

I wanted to add some stability to our rain shed, so I added some 4×4 posts and corner bracing.  This picture doesn’t show the final bracing, but it all turned out pretty good.  Eventually, when we find some free wood slats, we are going to connecting the posts with boards, leaving gaps for the wind to get through.  Should work out great.
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I believe one of the last things I did was finish the framing in the bathroom.  We decided to go with 2×2’s in one wall to give us a little more room.

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I did clean up the light switch thing, and it is much better now, once the framing was done.

Saturday we got started on finishing the bathroom floor.  We went with our plan of 1/2″ foam insulation and 1/2″ plywood, stained with our preferred floor color.

While Sheralee worked on the actual staining and polyurethane layers, I added the plastic and insulation.  The corner that doesn’t have anything will be our shower basin.
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On Sunday, after some final layers of polyurethane, we were able to get the floor put in and things back in place. These pictures kinda give you an idea of how it will look eventually.
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On Sunday, I was also able to finish one bedroom wall framing, and framed out our door way, which we will be installing a barn door this weekend.

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The space above the door header will be the pathway for our pex plumbing in the bathroom.

Since we are going to be dispatching a lot of Junipers this year…I wanted to have a place to store the larger pieces for use this winter.
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I wanted somewhere under some cover.  We had some old pallets laying around and I used those with some back and side walls.  It will work just fine this year.

That was it.  Sheralee really took into cutting down some major trees with her new bow saw, while our chainsaw continues to struggle.  I found out that the cover might have been taken off without the brake fully released….hence not fitting and working as it should.  I will take another look at that this weekend.  We also have more recoil starter issues with our generator, but I think we have another solution…using a drill bit and drill….we can start it without the pull cord…can’t wait to try that this weekend.  The biggest thing this weekend is finishing up the material shed and building our barn door for the bathroom.  That will be awesome!

Until next time!

New Solar and Misc. Projects (3/2/2016)

Since I was off the first half of the week last week, I decided to head to the ranch on Wednesday last week.  I could work remotely Thursday and Friday, and then get some stuff done after work and on the weekend.  Upon arriving Wednesday I found that indeed the batteries were not being charged by my little 40 watt panel, and the power for the fridge was off.  My first task of the day was to start the solar rebuild so we could get some ‘real’ charge on the batteries and give me power.

We purchased two new pieces of equipment, among miscellaneous items such as fuses, switches, bus bars, and new cables.  The two major (unplanned) purchases were a new Renogy MPPT 40A Charge Controller and a Renogy 2000 Watt Pure Sine Wave inverter were made to replace our blown charge controllers and the modified sine wave inverter we were using.  After doing research I found that a modified sine wave inverter takes more power to function.  So, my first task was to remove all of the previous components and wiring configurations.

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I then moved the solar panel input to the left wall and added a fuse on the input.  In the future, when I add more panels, I will want that wall to hold a combiner box so that all the individual lines come in to the shed and I combine them there in any configuration I want.

Next I added voltage bus bars at the bottom of the board, so that no longer will I be going to the batteries to add/remove any components.  I have one location now, a common bus bar.  I took the 4 gauge wires from the batteries and attached them to the DC voltage bus bars.

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It looks a little jumbled, but I have some loose grounding going on and some extension cords for now, but overall very happy with the way it turned out.  You can see the bus bars at the bottom, and the different switches for each area of power.

I think on Friday I added the A/C panel back to the mix, so we would have power upstairs to charge things.

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This is pretty much the finished configuration.  The shelf I added I will be extending on my next trip.  I also added a 110V outlet in the upper right hand corner of the shed that you can’t see.  A generator fed A/C sub panel will be added to the right side in the near future so that in case anything happens to the solar, we can power up the generator, plug it in to the box, and get power to some major appliances.

Oh, so back to my story…after completing everything, except the A/C panel, it was too late on Wednesday to get a charge back on the batteries, and I needed some cooling….not just for beer, but for food as well.  I had to head back in to town, yes hooked up the horses to the wagon, to get some ice for the night.  The next day refrigerator was back on and running normal.  Over the next couple of days I had a lot of charging on the batteries and running anything I needed to.  We are back on our way to power freedom, I hope.  I will know more tomorrow.

Another task I needed to finish, as rain was expected on Sunday, was the rainwater input.  Something I found out, that was kinda funny, is my first flush diverter I installed, you can see it here.

Well, I opened it up to clean it out and what did I find?  The oversized ping pong ball it uses to float and close the diverter was squashed completely. ha.  Something definitely happened over the winter.  I ended up taping it to a long piece of PVC and shoving it up there to divert all of the water.  I will have to cut that thing off and cap it so all the water flows in.  Since I added the Banjo inline filter, not sure how much I need that first flush working.  I got the last piece installed, so that we have that inline filter in place, and now just waiting for rainwater.

I am pretty sure my days all ran together, with a mix of work and ranch project work.  Another thing I wanted to work on was adding a PVC conduit for power lines so we could close up the wall behind what will be our bedroom closets.

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This will make it possible to put the back wall in place and still run power lines from the utility shed up into the ceiling where they will be routed to where they need to end up.  I think it turned out pretty well.

Another project I wanted to get one was leveling the new container, Crusty, somewhat to remove about 1.5 inches in slope.  This was fun for sure.  Using a little bottle jack there is somewhat a lack of stability when jacking up that think.  We had done it before on our first container, so no reason it wouldn’t work again.  I found that the jack would tilt left or right and the container would move that way as well.  Not good.  I finally got about an inch of slope out and that is all I wanted to risk.

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The next thing I did was to frame out the door opening to accept a 36″ house door we are moving from our other container.  I think it went really well and will be ready to move the door once we have the opening between the two containers.

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Now, some might notice the support framing above the door…and yes there is really nothing to support since it is a solid metal framed container, but I just couldn’t help myself. ha.  That frame is ready to go whenever we move the door.  The plan is to move that single hung door from the the other container to this wall.  Then we are going to move the patio door from the loft down to the other container, once we move the bed down to the main floor.

Today is Thursday the 10th, and I am heading out tomorrow afternoon for another five day stint.  I am hoping being up there for multiple days will help the progress all that much more.  We shall see.

Oh, thanks to my buddy Dave, we now have a webcam to test up at the property.  I am going to get it connected this weekend so that after I leave it will upload a couple pictures per day to a webpage I have running.  Very exciting!  More on that later.  Thanks Dave!




Wood Floors Part II (2/20/16)

We made it back up to the ranch early Saturday morning, a beautiful day once again.  First thing, of course, I check on is the solar…wha wha wha…and it is bad once again. Found a bad connection on the DC input of the charge controller…where I had melted wires/inputs on former charge controllers.  Same thing here…tried to put the wire back in and found it was fried.

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Kinda had enough of that.  What a disappointment.  I have been chatting with Renogy solar people off and on today, and think it is more than likely where my DC voltage is connected on the battery bank.  I will be getting a new charge controller and changing the DC input (battery charging side) termination on the battery bank, to a terminal all on it’s own.  Hopefully this helps it and helps our future charging.

Enough with the bad, decided to move on to other things.  I had to continue the water tank plumbing that I left off last week, due to my leaving the pex crimper at home. ha.

I started again with making the connections that I had already cut and sized.

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After the connections were made, we started making some water runs to get some water in the tank to ensure nothing was leaking.  We needed to be about 200 gallons, above the outlet to test the valve is working fine.  It took us 3 trips, one on Sunday morning, but we were able to finally get above the outlet and test the connections were good.  I then proceeded to wrap up the pex in insulation and insulation tape.

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After I wrapped the pipes themselves, I insulated the irrigation box that will house the valve.  Then I filled in and packed the dirt/ground around that irrigation box and the underground pipe that runs to the center valve (to be installed later).

I also worked on the water intake from after our downspout first flush diverter.  I wanted to add our Banjo line strainer to filter even more of the water flowing into the tank.

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I still have one more PVC/PEX connection, but overall I am happy with it and it is ready to roll.

On to the rock star of the weekend.  The final two coats of polyurethane on our new wood flooring.   After applying two coats last weekend, we came back to a good lucking floor, well that needed sanding…per the instructions.  Sheralee sanded the floor Saturday in preparation for the Sunday double coat application.

While I was off making the final run for water, Sheralee started with the floor.  It went really well, but then we had to wait some four hours until the next one could be put on.

While was applying the last coat, I got some pictures….and yes the polyurethane is wet, you can already tell it is going to be awesome!

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We are pretty sure this is our flooring method of the future.  Just seems so good, and easy enough to replace one flooring panel.

Almost forgot the pretty cool phenomonon we saw on a nice quiet Sunday morning.  Sheralee and I were up on our deck enjoying a cup of coffee when all of a sudden, we thought we saw campfires, her in one direction and I in another.  What was going on?  I thought we were going to have to talk to be people about ‘Private Property’ and what not…but alas it was something totally different.

By that time the wind and picked up to a breeze and it turns out that during this time of year, and seems to be a certain temperature, the male Juniper trees pollinate the air!  I guess this happens every year, but this is our first time noticing it.  It was just incredible to see, looked like little explosions…and it was only the male trees.  I tried to capture it best I could.

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Pretty cool!

We are off a weekend, for a true joining of two people, but up again the weekend after that…well until maybe forever! ha.

First Really Nice Weekend (2/13/16)

We are back at it again, hopefully full force now…if the weather holds up.  The weather this weekend was sunny and close to 70 degrees, just great…although it dropped to about freezing at night.  The wood stove worked great, and having a nice big fire outside didn’t hurt either.  We brought along our new weekend warrior to help out.  It was sunny, and warm, so that made life much better and bearable.

We finally had our second container delivered last week, “Crusty”.  Just amazing to see, and to see the future with our big plans.  We couldn’t wait to get started.

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While the ladies started unpacking Rusty, moving all of our tools/materials to Crusty, I started to drain the water tank.  We wanted to empty the tank and give it a cleaning on the inside before adding the new plumbing.

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I soon realized I didn’t want all of that water there, so I put a hose in the tank and using our mobile pump, pumped the water out into the ‘yard’.  That took a little while…but we eventually got it all drained.  Sheralee and Baylee suited up to head inside and give it a good scrub down.

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Turns out, the inside was really pretty clean.  We kinda had this thought that maybe there would be some ‘slime’ or ‘algae’, but nothing like that at all.  It was really clean, and UV protection, nothing should ever grow in there.  Once the tank was clean, we focused on the new floor in Rusty.

We purchased some 6mil plastic, 3/4″ foam board insulation, and 1/2 inch plywood.  This would be our flooring.  We cut all of the 4×8 sheets into 24″ planks.  While Sheralee and Baylee started the sanding and staining process, and ugly process to be sure, I started laying down the plastic underlay, then installing the foam board insulation.

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Before the sanding and staining began, we did a quick layout of the floor to see what paces would go where.
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While the wood work continued, I had to once again go back to the solar well, so to speak.  We are now on our 3rd solar charge controller, and again upon arriving at the ranch the batteries were not being charged.  We have dipped well below the 50% level of the batteries (again) and this is causing some stability issues.  The charge controller had been shorted again and I had a feeling that seriously deteriorated any charging ability.

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On this display, the solar indicator showed that there was not solar input, and the inputs themselves were compromised to a solid connection.  So, took the plunge and installed a new controller, added a circuit breaker between the batteries and controller (should have done that long ago), and re-routed our DC distribution again.

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Right now we are on a much more solid footing, but we have determined that by the end of the year we need to add two more batteries and two more panels.  The sun in the winter time isn’t strong enough throughout the day to fully charge us.  Two more panels will help with that.   By the time we left yesterday, we were at 90% on the batteries, and so looking forward to seeing the status next weekend.

Back to the flooring.

Once the plastic/foam board was installed and the staining was finished, we decided to call it quits for the day.  We were ready to nail the floor down in the morning and add the first coat of the polyurethane.

Sunday morning was breezy, but still the sun was out and it was nice.

We had to get the floor installed, and then get the first poly coat on.
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So far, it looked wonderful.  Sheralee set out to apply the first coat, while I worked on the tank plumbing, but unfortunately, Timmy made another mistake.  I forgot the PEX crimp tool at home.  doh!  So, the only thing I could really accomplish on this trip was digging where the irrigation boxes will go, and layout the future plan.

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I think the plan will work out great, and well insulated, on the pipe as well as inside the box.  I think the key is moving to PEX, brass valves, and insulating everything.  keeping everything out of the wind is huge!  Of course we don’t know the results until next year. ha.

Sheralee applied the first coat, and we had to wait, wait, and wait…and then finally, time to apply the second coat of the day.  I took this picture through the door screen, as it was all closed up, so the quality isn’t great, but you get a sense of what it ‘will’ look like.
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This coming weekend, we will do a light sanding, and apply two more coats Sunday…which should be the end of the flooring install.  So far, so good.   We saved a lot of money doing the floor this way, and will be rugged and able to replace individual planks.  We are excited for sure.

First Big Issue (1/30/16)

Well, finally made it back to the property after some heavy winter weather that made our roads impassible.  Sheralee and I headed up on Saturday the 16th to drop off some railroad ties/materials for our new container to be dropped off and located.  After stopping in Kingman to get the materials, we headed up to the ranch.  Well, what we found was an impossible road to pass, that had lingering snow and deep mud.

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This is our road off the main ranch road system, called Pipeline Rd, as it follows the old Arco Pipeline.

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You can see, just barely, that just off the main road we were in deep mud.  Truly no way to get to where we wanted to go.  So, after debating if we could get there, Jeep was out of the questions, we thought maybe on foot….carrying the railroad ties one at a time.  Well, for those of you that don’t know…railroad ties are frickin’ heavy.  There was no way we were going to get it 1/2 mile down that road of mud. hahahaha  So, we were lucky to get ahold of our container guy and asked if we could drop the ties/materials at his business location for him to use when he delivered.  Deal, and done.  We dropped it all off and headed home.  A very product 6 hour drive! ha.

On to this weekend.  Sheralee had business responsibilities this weekend, so I thought I would try and make it up there to see how everything is holding up.  There has been about two weeks of good dry weather, and just recently up to 60 degrees.  Why not give it a try.  If nothing else, it would be a good drive and I could hike in to the property to check things out.  Fortunately, the road to our property was just fine.  Didn’t kick up any mud until I was on our property/drive way.  There were just a few spots where the sun could never melt the snow and those spots were muddy.  No problem over all.

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Everything seems to be in tip-top shape.  Well….almost everything.  I did a quick scan, all good.  I wanted to check out if the water tank was trying to over flow, as we had a good amount of snow melt.  When I popped the lid….our water was gone.  Yup, GONE!  1550 gallons of rain water collected over the year…all gone.  I was floored, saddened, upset….you name it.  I couldn’t figure it out.

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Yup, below the bottom drain. uuuggghhh

I looked all around for any type of tire tracks or a hole in the tank…anything.  Anything to understand what might have happened.  On our 3/4″ PVC ball valved, I noticed the turn handled was half broke off.  I thought that was odd so I investigated further.  I noticed the whole ball valve turned easily, as completely loose…hence the water drained out from there.  I was floored….I figured if 1500 gallons of water were to be released, it would make a river flowing downhill, but that isn’t the case at all.  No trace of water running off.  I thought maybe a cow/elk came through and accidentally kicked it….but not tracks whatsoever.  Upon further inspection, I found the problem.  Our PVC ball valved cracked the entire length.

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You can see the crack here, and missing handle.  One theory is the cold caused it to crack.  Well, both theories revolve around the crack.  The other theory is that after I put the spigot in there to draw water off, I left it in there.  I think that the cold at night, and sun heating it during the day, caused that spigot to expand and crack the PVC ball valve.

Either way, all that water be gone, gone, gone!  So, back the drawing board on that.  I have ideas already, but sad to see the water go without using it.  Our first real disappointment.

So, we will re-work that idea to include more pex pipe and fittings, along with some sort of valve box (like with meters and irrigation) to line with foam insulation to keep it a little warmer.

On to the next little thing.  Found that the batteries were fully charged, but no longer being charged….turns out the 14 gauge wire running from the solar charge controller to the battery was pretty much melted.  yikes.

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I replaced that entire cable with a 10 gauge red wire and it is working great again.  So, that was about a 15 minute fix.
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Not sure what happened to the cable though…hmmmm.  Another mystery.

That was about it for my stay.  Emptied our house compost bucket, using the mobile water pump…works like a champ, and it was time to head home.  I really didn’t want to leave, it was a gorgeous day, close to 60 degrees out and sunny, but it is supposed to rain today and start snowing after 5p tonight.  Didn’t want to get stuck up there.  Hopefully Sheralee and I can make it up again next weekend.  Good times!