Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Larry and his Off-Grid Ham Radio Rig

Our compadre, Larry Barr, of ESSN fame, is improving his solar power portable ham radio rig. He talks a bit about it and renewable energy in general on his new blog at He's the Asst. Planetarium Director for Tarleton State University in Stephenville TX, and a fount of knowledge when it comes to electronics, mechanics, and related interests.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Wrapping the tank with insulation

Now that Dharam's fuel tank is ready to be reinstalled, we are wrapping it in two layers of Reflectix to keep the heat in the tank. New mounting brackets are being welded on the bus, and the tank, fuel filter and the lines will be hooked up today.

Tomorrow we are pouring the concrete pads for the wind tower, and remounting the PV panels on the south side of our newly repainted home. Dharam did a great job spraying and rolling the new paint.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Heat exchanger installed in Fuel tank

The heat exchanger has been installed in the fuel tank, the T's installed in the coolant lines, the tank has been painted and it's time to reinstall the tank.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Veggie-Bus Conversion continued

Once we removed the tank and emptied it of diesel, it was time to clean it. We scraped the outside of the tank, and brushed on a strong basic soap. After letting that sit we power washed the tank. For the inside, we put two gallons of muriatic acid, sealed up the tank, and rolled it over, and over, and end over ended it for a while to coat the interior. We then drained the tank, rinsed it, and put a gallon of Ospho in it and did the rolling and over ending again. Ospho converts rust to black primer, and we hope it will help protect the tank. The next step is to install the heat exchanger. I removed and tested the fuel sender, and it's right on the money. Pics can be found in our photo album.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Skoolie Fuel Tank Removed

In preparation for the installation of the heat exchanger, we removed the bus fuel tank. This was quite a chore, since it's been sitting in the elements for quite a few years, and the bolts and accessories were a bit rusted. Today we will clean up the tank, install the heat exchanger, and reinstall the tank. We will also install some of the electrics for his bus, including the shore power charger and transfer switch, the isolator, and the freshly rebuilt 150 amp alternator that Scott's Auto Electric rebuilt yesterday. It needed brushes and diodes, and Jim Scott cleaned it up nicely.

The engine is a CAT 3208, and when we are finished, will have 2 fuel tanks feeding two filters (the veggie tank and filter heated with coolant), then a manual 3 port valve. That valve will lead to an electric purge/lifter pump, then the bus injector pump. The return from the injector pump then leads to a sight glass, another 3 port manual valve, and then the fuel tanks. Total cost on the parts id projected to be less than $800.

Luray, Melvin, and Tim Martin are providing the parts and welding up the filter and the heat exchanger assembly. The fuel pickup line is mounted to the exchanger to ensure that the fuel picked up is hotter than the rest of the tank, preventing the need for the whole tank to be hot before switchover. We will provide photo's as we progress.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dharam arrives with his skoolie!

Last night our friend Dharam arrived with his school bus. We are helping him convert it to an RV, and will be converting the diesel to run on Used Fryer Oil (UFO). Dharam is a house washer by trade, so hopefully, weather permitting, Green-Trust will get a fresh coat of paint, and look a bit more presentable. Pictures of the bus and conversion will be posted as the project progresses. We hope to take Dharam down to Woodhenge to pick up a set of used deep cycle batteries as a house bank for his bus.

Dharam obtained his bus from a friend of ours, Greg Archambault, from Greg is bringing us a bus next month for our church.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Making Applesauce at Green-Trust

Linda and I are busy today cutting up apples and cooking them down on the wood fired cook-stove. We are only doing a half bushel this time around, Ida Red's make great applesauce. It's 35F outside, and 78F inside, so cooking on the stove is a great comfort.

We are also making apple butter and apple crisp today.

Cider Apple Butter

8 lbs. apples
4 quarts sweet cider
3 lbs. sugar
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon

The apples are pared, cored, and sliced, then cooked slowly in the cider. When this is cooked enough, sugar is slowly added, along with the spices. Keep cooking and stirring the sauce until the mixture is no longer watery but thick. Good apple butter should be a dark color and be thick enough to cling to a knife.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

We are cooking with wood, not gas.

Yesterday we finally got the chimney installed on the new Todd wood fired cook stove. It was the first nice day weather wise in weeks, and probably the last. We picked up the insulated chimney section from Evans & White in the afternoon, and Luray Martin came over and we went to work. 2 hours later the chimney was done. Then we went to Church (both my wife and I have kids groups, I teach the 5th & 6th grade boys, she has the 4 & 5 year olds), and when we returned around 8pm, we started our first fire. It was a bit smoky at first as it burned off the oils and coatings used in manufacturing and shipping, but it heated right up. The oven came up to 350F with no problem, the water reservoir warmed up, and it brought the upstairs of the house up from 68 to 74 in no time. This weekend I'm making chili and stew. More photo's can be found in our photo album.