Sunday, December 8, 2013

A New DIY Incinerator

A friend of mine gave me a new fire barrel.  He used a torch to cut holes in the bottom for better airflow.  The airflow on this thing is just right!!  Since I have had this barrel I have learned that just about everything burns.  The heat and flames from this thing are astounding!  Everything I have put in this thing has been reduced to ashes.  I use it to dispose of paper waste.

If only we could figure out a way to harness this energy...

How to build:

  1. Get a 55 gallon drum.   
  2. Cut five equally spaced 3 inch holes in the side wall of the barrel about six inches up from the bottom.   
  3. On the bottom cut a buch of 1.5 inch holes.  Sit the Barrel on top of some bricks.   
  4. Load it up.  Light it up.  

This thing would be a very awesome heater for outside events!

Clean Your Chimney!

Creosote Sucks!  Below is a pic of all of the crap that came out of my chimney this year!

I can't say it enough.   Wood heating is awesome... But if you have a Wood Stove it is important that you clean your chimney every year!
I cracked open my pipes this year and was truly amazed at the amount of build up in my horizontal flue pipe and in the vertical chimney pipes.  My horizontal flue pipe was 50% full of crap.  And when I pulled the cap off at the bottom of my chimney a 5 inch plug of soot and debris fell out of the chimney.

This stuff is no joke.  Creosote buildup can cause some pretty nasty fires.   Suggestions:
  • When in doubt clean it.  You don't want to risk a chimney fire.
  • Use chimney cleaner products throughout your burn season.
  • Get yourself a good chimney brush and flex extensions so you can clean your system at least once a year.
  • If you are building a new system make sure you have clean-outs positioned well in your system so that you can clean easily.
  • Burn dry seasoned wood.  Wet \ Green wood will cause more buildup in your pipes.
  • Burn your fires hot.
Cheers and Holiday Greetings to All!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Shipping Containers as Homes

I have been doing a lot of reading about shipping containers being used as building blocks for houses.  Wow!  What an awesome idea!  These things are made of steel, Weatherproof - made to withstand storms at sea, and made to stack 9 units or more high.

Ever since I read about this I have been wanting to build one.  The thought of escaping the mortgage game is very appealing to me these days.  I guess I have reached the age where I'd rather spend my time living than working.  I am guessing that a very rugged and sizable structure could be build for cheap by using these containers as the building block.

One thing is certain, housing will become more and more of an issue as the population rises and the economy changes.  People will always need a place to live.  Shipping Containers could be one way to build a home that is yours without spending the rest of your life in debt.

I will post links of interest that I find in my reading about Shipping Container Homes here...

Like and Time of A Renaissance Ronin  - This site has a ton of info.

ContainerBay  - This page has links to a bunch of container projects across the globe.

Want to Live in a ISBU Shipping Container - A great article with useful links and resources.

More to come...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My New and Improved Push Mower

I know.... I know....  It's stupid.  It's dangerous.  But its pretty awesome too!   I've been clearing some land around my place and this thing is great for cutting paths \ trails.   It cuts down small trees, vines, brush like no other.  There is no finer thing than turning something that was otherwise useless into something that is extremely useful and somewhat bad ass!!  I suppose I could have spent 10 grand on a real brush mower... But this thing is doing the trick quite nicely so far.  :)

I do not recommend you try this at home...  I keep telling myself that its only dangerous to the people standing in front of it.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Save Big Money on Detergents, Soaps, and Cleaners

I recently became irate over the monthly cost of soaps and detergents my household was using.  "Surely there is a better way."  I thought to myself.   I began to read articles people have written on the topic, and decided to do some real world experimentation.  The recipes below have worked for my household.  We are saving a good deal each month, and I hope that you will find these useful...

Dishwasher Detergent Recipe:
1 Tablespoon 20 Mule Team Borax
1 Tablespoon Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 Tablespoon of "LemiShine"
Put it in the dishwasher and run like you normally would.
(You can mix larger batches and store in a dry place.  I mix 2 cups of each ingredient and store in a plastic container.)

Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe:
1 Bar of Ivory Soap
1 Cup 20 Mule Team Borax
1 Cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
5 Gallons of Water

Instructions for Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe:
  1. Shred the Ivory Soap (or equivalent no-name brand) into fine shreds with a cheese grater.
  2. Warm up, but do not boil, a pot of water.  
  3. Drop in the shredded soap.  
  4. Stir slowly until soap fully dissolves.
  5. Put about a gallon of cool water in a 5 gallon bucket.
  6. Dump pot of hot soap water into the 5 gallon bucket.
  7. Add 1 Cup of 20 Mule Team Borax and 1 Cup of Arm & Hammer SUper Washing Soda into the bucket.
  8. Stir until slowly until all is dissolved.
  9. Fill the bucket the rest of the way up with warm water.  Stir throughly.
  10. Allow mixture to cool.  
  11. Store in gallon jugs, soda bottles, etc.
(Use approximately 4 ounces per load of laundry.  This recipe should be enough for over 100 loads of laundry!)

Fabric Softener:
Add 1/4 cup of White Vinegar to the load.

Liquid Hand Soap:
Heat up but do not boil 1 gallon a water.
Grate 1/2 bar of Ivory Soap or equivalent no-name brand.
Stir the grated soap into the gallon of hot water.
Once fully desolved add 2 more gallons of water to the mix.
Stir well, and allow to cool.
Store in jugs.  Refill your dispensers as needed.
That's 3 gallons of hand soap for under $1.00!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Reduced My Cable Bill... Bigtime!

I have been a cable subscriber for many years now.  Cable is the viable choice we have for Internet Access in the area we live in.  I was happy paying my $58 bill each month for Internet and Basic TV... But one day I came home and found a cable bill for almost $100 dollars in the mailbox.

"This can not be."  I said to myself.  But a quick call to my cable company confirmed it.  They had practically doubled my bill, and they did not seem to want to negotiate the price.  So...  I decided to make some changes.
  1. I bought an HDTV antenna.  No more paying for TV stations.  I get about 20 channels.  And the programming isn't bad at all! 
  2. I evaluated video streaming options...  Still thinking about it.  Services like offer streaming of TV shows etc.
  3. I bought a new cable modem.  (It seems that I had been paying a modem rental fee of $7 per month.  According to my calculations I have paid over 600 bucks in rental fees for a 54 dollar modem!)  The new modem will pay for itself in no time.
  4. I called my cable company and discontinued my TV service -  keeping only my Internet Access.
  5. I activated my new cable modem and returned the one I had been renting back to my cable company's local office.  No more $7 rental fee!
My cable bill is now $39.99!  I can live with that!

Now...The cable company keeps calling me to offer promotional packages.  Essentially they want to rope me in for some low price for 3 months, then jack the rates up again.  No thanks!  :)

Lessons Learned:
  • Never rent when you can own.
  • Never pay when you can get it for free.
  • TV is mostly just background noise in my home.  We hardly ever sit down and watch TV shows.  I can honestly say I do not miss cable TV at all.  Cable TV is so infected with commercials that it is difficult to grasp what you are watching.  In fact the things we watch now are more to our liking!
  • Beware any promotional offering... It is merely a ploy to get you on-board so that they can increase the price later. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Heating with Wood - Simply the Best!

For the past decade I have been spent my winters in a cold house that used heat pumps as the primary source of heat.  Let's just say that heat pumps leave a lot to be desired.  My gas logs were equally disappointing and costly to run.

I got tired of freezing last year and experimented with a rocket stove.  The rocket stove did a fair job of heating the room it was in...  But I still needed more.

This year I broke down and installed a wood stove.  Firewood is everywhere right now for free after hurricane Irene, so I figured this would be as good a time as any.  I installed a new 6 inch Duravent chimney.  (This was no small project as my roof is high and steep.)  I had to get some help with this because it was beyond the scope of what my ladder can do.

I built the hearth pad myself.  4 layers of cement board, a sheet of 1/16th inch steel, and concrete paver stones surrounded my a 2x4 frame stained with mahogany.

I picked out a Vogelzang "Durango" stove.  Caught it on sale for a good price.  I wanted a good free-standing stove... This one fits the bill perfectly.  I get some pretty good burn times out of this stove and it really cranks out the heat once you get it going.  Keep in mind that you need good seasoned wood to get heat from your wood stove.

One more thing to note...  In the stove pipe mounted above my stove I put a device called "Magic Heat".  This is a heat exchanger that captures heat from the flue gases and circulates room air through the heat tubes.  This device really boosts the performance of the stove setup.  I'm a really pleased with it.

The results speak for themselves...  Last night it got down in the 20's.  It was toasty in my den.  The rest of the house was about 70 degrees.  My heat pumps are OFF for the winter, which should cut my electric bill down significantly.  The stove will pay for itself quickly.  I am shooting for an electric bill of around 80 bucks (or less) per month this winter.  :)

All I have to say is... After a decade of runny noses and cold feet this thing is awesome!!  It adds some magic to the home, and seems to bring people together, and the comfort of wood heat is like no other.