Tuesday, June 18, 2013

5-15 June, 2013 - Greenhouses, car repairs, pruning raspberries, solar power, and more.

It's been an expensive month.

Susan is painting the porch in preparation of putting the screen on it.  I have most of the framing done but still have some minor things to finish up (like trim).  The mosquitoes have been out in force the last week so we need to finish this project up.

The garden is a never-ending project.  Susan is pruning some of the raspberry bushed we have.  She cuts out the old, dead stalks to make way for the new (and productive) growth. 
The chickens must have heard us talking because they've boosted egg production this week.  We mentioned to them that one egg per day from five hens wasn't going to be tolerated.  We've been a little concerned about them since some of the hens are approaching eight-years-old.  Anyway, they've boosted production a bit so we're now getting three or four per day.  Some of the slack may have been due to moving them.
In any case, we splurged and bought some real "layer" food for the hens so they'd best keep production up!

We've been working on the greenhouse.  This one will be a small one (6 X 8 feet) in practice for the larger one we plan on building next.  I can adjust the radial arm saw to make angle cuts but then I have to replace the back-stop more often.
What I prefer to do is clamp a guide board to the table at the proper angle for the cut.  It's easier than replacing the back-stop and easier to get the precise angle I want.
The argument goes on forever whether a radial arm saw or table saw is best.  As usual it depends on what you're going to do with them.  When I bought my RAS it was a choice between a radial arm saw, miter saw or table saw.  I chose the RAS because it was the most versatile and easier to work with on construction projects.  I now have a table saw too which is nice but on construction jobs it can be difficult to cut the rafters and other long pieces of wood.  The table saw is really nice for finer work such as making furniture.   My next purchase will be a miter saw.
Here I'm ripping down a 2X4 into two - 2X2's.  I can buy the smaller lumber but a 2X2 costs more than a 2X4 so I make my own 2X2's for about half the price.  The table saw does a better job ripping but it's in another building.  I was only doing a couple of them so it was faster to just use the RAS.
I had to replace the blade on this one. That was another $20.00 expense.

We are just going to put the roof and end walls up for now.  The clear roofing was left over from a project two years ago but we forked over real cash (around $30.00) for the rafter boards.  The rest of the lumber was scrounged or left over from other projects.  It's still been a pretty cheap project though.  We're going to replace the roof on the cabin in July or August and I'll have some more clear plastic panels from the old roof.  We'll use them for the sides.

One thing saving us money is our solar power.  I run an extension cord from the cabin's electric system (solar powered) to the greenhouse project in the garden.  The extension cord was expensive ($1.50 per foot - it's a heavy gauge cord) but we've had it for several years.

Scott loves playing with my stuff.  He grabbed the cordless drill from another project and ran (to escape with his contraband goods) out to the greenhouse and began "drilling" into this stump.  I have the screwdriver bit on the drill but he managed to drill into the stump (it's old and partially rotted out) using it.  The grimace is from how hard he has to work to hold the trigger and make the drill run.  His hands aren't big enough to go completely around the grip.  He told me to "go away" (he didn't want to give up the drill yet!), so I snapped the picture and did some other projects until he tired of the drill. 
More parts for the car and lawn mowers.  I hit a rock and destroyed the blade mount on one of our power mowers so I had to buy another one.  I also bought a blade for the other power mower we have along with an oil filter for the Cherokee and another for the small generator. 
I did some judicious blade straightening on the rock casualty then re-sharpened and balanced it.  I was afraid I'd bent the crankshaft but then saw that the blade was bent rather than the CS.
I installed the new blade in the spare mower.  We normally use our reel mowers but we've had so much to do that we got out the power mowers to keep up with the grass.  (We've had lots of rain this month.)
More flat tires.  I finally took this one to the water tank and submerged it to find the leak.  It took  about three weeks to deflate so it was a very small hole.  It was punctured in the sidewall by something very small (probably wire).  I tried patching it but the patch didn't hold (didn't think it would but it was a Sunday and the parts store was closed so it was worth a try).  We bought a radial tube for it on Monday and that did the job.  The tube was about $13.00. 
It's also been making some growling sounds so I ordered a wheel bearing assembly while we were in town.  That was another $80.00 and another trip to town.  They had one of the more expensive bearing sets in stock but they wanted $130.00 my cost for it.  We decide to wait the extra day for the $50.00 savings.
We also put air shocks on the rear.  The springs on Cherokees are designed for ride rather than work and ours is often heavily loaded.  We got tired of hitting the axle stops and decided to install air shocks.  Those were another $75.00.  When I went to put them on the top mount bolts for the shocks were rusted in and broke off when I tried to remove them, so ... I had to drill them out (all four) and cut new threads.  I've always enjoyed having hot bits of metal falling onto my face while drilling out the broken bolts (NOT!) so it took a lot longer than planned.
I'm going to change the oil and filter on it today.  When I bought the filters, the parts store tried to sell me the top-line they have.  It would have been $17.00. I asked for the "econo-line"  (AKA - cheap), which brought the price down to $7.00 for the pair.

Our daughter loves her old Land Cruiser but the radiator's core is rotten.  I've tried fixing it but to no avail so we ordered a new one online for abut half the price the local part store wanted (we paid $230.00).  I put it in during the week so she is back on the road ... sort of.  She wanted me to check the tail pipe which was rattling on the rear axle.  I checked it out and found out that the top leaf of the driver's side rear spring was broken and letting that corner sag.  They're looking for some used springs.
Another of our kids hit a deer with his car so we had some minor repair work for it as well.  It wasn't a lot of damage but it will still need a grill and radiator.  We took it apart and the parts should be here next week.
Susan took Scott on a bike ride outside of Eureka.  It's an old railroad right-of-way that follows the river and ends at Lake Koocanusa that's been opened to walking and bicycling.  This is just one of the photos she took.  Last year they had a grizzly bear hanging out on this trail so she took her bear spray along just-in-case.  It's about 14 miles round trip.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

May 26 - June 4, 2013 - 33 foot Coachmen Motor Home and more...

We've worked in a couple of trips to Kalispell to stock up on stuff and make purchases for building projects.  We haven't been too good about taking photos though.  The weather has been yucky (rain, rain, and more rain) for the most part.

Scott and I have been burning brush piles.  We called the Forest Service for a burn permit and it was in our mailbox the same day.  They must have driven it down to the post office (about two miles)!  We tried burning the next morning but I'd get one torched then it would pour down rain and we'd head inside.  Fifteen minutes later the sky was clear so we torched another then it began to rain again.  We finally headed into Eureka to get some things we needed and gave up on working outside.  I was amused by the questions asked by the ranger to get our burning permit (typical questions such as if we had water available, tools, how many adults would be there, etc.) to ensure that the fire didn't get away from us.  Right now I don't think we could set the woods on fire with napalm.

In the meantime we've done a lot more cleaning up.  One more full load of trash to the dump.  Moved the lawn ornament (boat) we had in the play area for the grandkids to play on.  Tilled up a little more ground in the garden.

We purchased four-season tent form a local (Kalispell) mountaineering store.  It's a four person tent and set us back about $800.00.  We decided it was time to purchase some quality gear now that we have the money.  We got tired of tents shredding in the wind (Nevada), leaking, etc. so we looked for one that would take the wind and last a lifetime.  We got the four person size to have room for Scott as he grows up.

I tore down the small greenhouse we started on and am in the process of putting another small one together in its place.  This one will be of wood and a permanent structure (we'll be able to move it later if we desire).  Scott and I finished the framing yesterday (okay, Scott played in the dirt and I did the framing).

We finally purchased a set of air shocks for the Cherokee.  The rear springs are weak (made for a smooth ride instead of a work vehicle like we use it for) and we've been threatening to put overload springs or air shocks on it.  With the air shocks we can make adjustments for the size of the load and they were cheaper than overload springs.  I could have added springs from other project leftovers but I don't have time for that right now.

On one of our trips to Kalispell we went to the park with Scott and his mom/dad.  Scott's getting more and more "experimental" on the equipment.

He was laughing himself silly over going down the slide this way.

Susan was doing some drawings/artwork for one of her books and Scott found the markers.  He went running over to Susan and said, "pretty" then held out his hands to show her. his artwork.  At least he kept it all on his hands and not on the wall, table or other furniture.
He doesn't sit for long.  It's evening and we're watching a movie on the boob-tube while Scott does his gymnastics.
After our time in Nevada this year we decided that we need a larger RV so we've been keeping an eye on Craigslist among other places.  We answered this ad for an 84 Coachmen, 33 foot motor home.  The body/interior is in good shape as is the drive train.  The generator and batteries were stolen at it's previous home in Washington state by people who moved into it where it was stored.   When they were evicted they took the generator and batteries with them.  The starter needs work as does the carburetor.  The windshield wiper blades are gone as well.  Everything else appears to be okay.  I can do the mechanical repairs myself and the generator isn't a big deal since we plan on using solar power and an inverter for the most part.
We're planning on doing some volunteer work at Lake Mead this coming winter and they'll furnish a pad with all hook-ups if we want it.  We just needed more room for Scott. We gave $3,000 for it and it cost us nearly $300.00 to purchase permanent license plates but we'll never have to license it again.  It (and the tent) sure made a dent in our savings but will be worth it in the long run.  It will probably be stored in Nevada most of the time and we'll just drive while down there and use it during the winter.  It's much too large for use around here.  We have our U-Haul for that.
Looking forward from the bedroom in back...

...and back from the front.
Scott in place once we finally convinced him that he wasn't driving and Susan got to ride shotgun.

Highway 93 north just a few miles from where we turn west.
Susan has been working furiously to finish up some more books.  We can't get much done outside due to weather so she's been going full-bore on her writing.  I do most of mine form 5:30 am to 7:00 am before everyone else gets up.  Once Scott is awake it takes one of us to keep track of him although now that he's older he sticks around better.

On one of our trips to Kalispell we picked up our chickens from our daughter's house.  She kept them over the winter while we were gone.  I cleaned out the chicken house and put in new straw.  We read in the paper that grizzly/chicken problems are on the rise.  Seems that the bears are taking a liking to chickens and chicken feed.  We'll have to sleep with one ear tuned for the dog's barking.

Someone gave us a Pelican Canoe a few years ago.  The bottom had collapsed due to snow load and poor design so I finally got around to ripping out the interior reinforcement (that didn't work) and installed a thin-walled pipe (scrounged from the dump) and bracing from it to the seats.  That pushed the bottom back out where it should be.  For the bracing I used two, 1x8 boards braced under the seat.  I put two, 2x3x7 inch boards between the 1x8's to hold them apart and in place.  Now we need to go try it out!

Barbequed chicken last night.
This is Susan's Weed-Eater.  It's her favorite but we can't find parts for it anymore.  I put a new plug in it and cleaned the carb and got it running again.  Hopefully it will stay that way (running!).  I need to do my Homelite next because it has the brush blade on it.  It should only need new gas and a spark plug. 
The Echo weed-eater we bought a few years ago still works but we hated the head on it.  Instead of feeding a spool of string it used individual pieces about 8 inches long.  It seemed that we were always replacing the string and we used a lot more due to the 2-3 inches that never wears down in the head.  I took the old string head from my Homelite and adapted it to the Echo so now it has a "feed type" head on it.  I had to drill out the center bolt on the Homelite head then re-thread it to fit on the Echo.  Now I can return the universal head we bought at Walmart for $17.99.