Rufus Laggren wrote:Been looking at methods/machines for roads and berming. But no experience. Just a question from what I've read in the last couple days:
Do you think a back blade (no box) on a tractor would work better than the box? Survey/mark the contour on the low side, keep the blade about the same depth as the low-side wheels, tilt the high side blade down a bit for cutting... End up w/a swale a litte deeper on the high side. No box sides so would cut into the high ground easier (no riding up); tilts more to cut deeper on the high side to offset the tractor's yaw (lean) on the slope; angled to continuously deposit the cut earth in the direction of the mound on the low side. A big enough tractor to operate a blade wide enough to cut the full width of the swale (after taking account the blade angle). If the blade could be offset to the (high) side it might make the cut easier on steeper slopes. If slope was steeper, more than one pass would probably be needed to cut the bottom of the swale all the way across its width. Not sure about trimming the contour flat-level after roughing in; maybe would self correct after some time if the rough line was pretty good?
It seems for building purposes a swale can be considered a quite narrow (or wide, depending) road cut across the slope on the contour. So some of the same tools and methods seem plausible.
A backblade by itself can work if your ground is soft enough. I use a box scraper because it has rippers that will loosen the soil, remove any roots, and will lift out rocks. Keep in mind that a tractor can't work on much of a side slope.
I use Pex and copper and find they both have their applications. I own my own Pex crimpers and they were not even close to a grand. The 1/2" crimper was $120 and the 1/2, 3/4" combo that uses a pair of vice grips was $60 @ HD. When I had all my trenches dug, I put my poly pipe water lines on one side, a separate poly pipe on the other side (3 feet apart) for future wire runs of UF cable. I put a few inches of fines over the pipes then ran 4 pair direct bury phone line down the middle to help locate later if needed. My advice to anyone is to throw as much pipe and cable as you possibly can into the trench before backfilling. Saves a lot of headache later.
I bought a Country Living mill and mounted it to an exercise bike / ten speed hybrid. I scavenged a stationary exercise bike and a ten speed bike from the county dump, chopped'em up and rewelded them together with the ten speed hub in front. I removed the rim and spokes and bolted a 4 in. V-groove pulley to hub. The mill is attached to a bracket in front of the handle bars so I can feed the mill as I pedal. A V-belt goes from the ten speed hub to the pulley on the mill. I never hooked up the front derailer ( now the rear), so it has five speeds. Low gears for a pastry flour grind, high gears for cracked grain like polenta. It works great. Burns carbs while ya grind them.
I have used red cedar for fence posts for years. I peel the logs after they have dried a bit. There seems to be a perfect range of dryness where the bark peels off nicely. I then char the end that gets buried. This helps preserve the sapwood that would otherwise rot away at the soil line and make the posts loose in the ground. Thinning trees from inside a dense stand will yield posts with the densest red heartwood and least sapwood.
The power that is obtained from any hydro installation is completely dependent on the flow and head available and is many times the cheapest per watt option compared to PV or wind. Even a small yield of 50 watts equals 50 x 24hrs =1.2 kwhs. If you have no head available but you have a large enough stream / river, you would get more power from a tethered prop style hydro unit then you would yield from any pump/storage/hydro scheme. There is just too much loss from energy conversion to make a pump/storage/hydro setup worthwhile. If your curious about hydro yields for different heads and flow , you can use the online calculator at www.powerspout.com
I use a Sunfrost fridge with a 720 watt PV system. It works great until we get into our cloudy winters. I plan on putting a small radiator inside the fridge and one outside and using a water/antifreeze mix and a 5 watt EL-Sid circulating pump. I have been using a 10 watt EL-Sid for my hydronic heating and it works great. I'll use a 12v temperature controller set a couple degrees colder than the thermostat on the fridge so anytime it is colder outside than in the fridge, the pump will turn on. You would need the same type of differential temp controller if you use a fan/air setup but I think it would be harder to prevent reverse leakage when the fan wasn't running.
That's a tough one. We have lots of western red cedar and it is extremely shade tolerant and alliopathic to boot. I remove all the cedars to create an opening in the canopy and then plant my desired trees ,ie chestnuts, in the center.
I grew painted mountain myself and got a pretty good yield. I found an antique corn sheller on E-bay that works great! It is the hand crank type made in the 1890's and cost me $60. The same design of sheller is sold new at Lehmans for $260. I laughed out loud with delight the first time I used it because of the way it spits out the cleaned cobs as fast as I could feed the corn in.
I have a small pond with a fountain for aeration that uses a 60 watt solar panel, linear current booster, and 12v submersible bilge pump. It works great and is a great demo for solar PV. You can shade the panel with your hand and watch the fountain slow down. It also provides automatic compensation for the need for aeration. More sun= warmer water=lower dissolved O2= faster pumping, more O2
If you google bone oil or destructive distillation of bones , there is some more detailed information. The material of the retort is not crucial providing it can withstand the heat needed for the destructive distillation of thebones (800-900 F ).
I'm in the process of making a steel retort from a piece of 8 inch square tube that will be heated on a propane burner. The bone oil will be collected in a water cooled condenser attached to the outside of the retort.
I will update after a couple batches .
Those old piston pumps are awesome. They are actually much more efficient than jet pumps because they are positive displacement. They fell out of use because of material cost (all that cast iron ) and maintenance. You could probably replace the leather piston packing with a teflon seal and lower your maintenance interval, but cutting out replacement leather seals is a simple matter. That's what interns are for, right ? I took my PDC there and was impressed by the simplicity and sustainability of using a vintage, maintainable technology like those pumps. It might be well worth it to locate several more pumps for spares before iron scrap rates take another jump.
Does it have a shiny ,reflective side ? If so it should work OK, especially if it is going into a downstairs ceiling. I usually use staples (rented staple gun) or 1/2" pipe clamps to hold the PEX up tight to the flooring for max conductance of heat through floor. Then I put reflectix suspended min. 1 in. below PEX to reflect the heat upwards. Its also important to keep dust/debris off any radiant barrier as it will impair its ability to reflect. I staple up 4 mil poly on bottoms of joists during construction to prevent this.
Check out Paul Stamets' book 'Mycelium Running'. It documents which mushrooms (mycelium) break down which pollutants. Oyster mushrooms ,pleurotus ostreatus, while not mycorrhizal, will break down many pollutants including hydrocarbons, TNT, PCBs and more. A friend and I used P. ostreatus and P. pulminarius in a mycofiltration project at a local park which had a boat ramp. The system used a series of pits that were filled with inoculated wood chips. A drain with grating was run across the boat ramp in order to divert the bilge water into the mycofilter. There was also a speed bump swale to divert runoff from the park/lawn into the system.
I've been thinking of a design similar to Nicks but using a pair of 40 gal gas water heaters for the heat exchangers. The gas heaters only have a 3" flue running through the middle, so I figured I would fabricate a manifold box to distribute the heat equally between the two. That would give me 14 sq. in. flue area and 60" of height for heat exchange. Of course, this will require a stout stand to support the 700 lbs. of water and tank. Whatcha think?
H Ludi Tyler wrote: How do micro hydro turbines work at all in that case? Doesn't a load diverting controller deal with the varying load?
A controller controls low voltage DC for battery charging not high voltage AC for your loads. It would only work if you had a 12/24/48 VDC load that never exceeded the hydro wattage output. A severe limitation for the infrastructure cost of the hydro system.
What's unsustainable about batteries ? Lead/ acid batteries are easily recycled for the lead content. Pumping water uphill as a battery is not practical because a small (micro)hydro unit can't independently respond to varying loads. Only AC hydro units that are 5KW or larger can justify the complex electro-mechanical controls needed to adjust the output to different loads. These units use cubic feet per second instead of gallons per minute. Modern Inverters do all that for you, but need a battery bank to draw from. If one considers all the copper, aluminum, steel, plastic, etc.. that goes into anything that is going to use the power created, batteries are just part of the package. Taken care of, a set of good quality batteries should last 8-10 years or more. If someone wanted to go way old-school ,they could cast and recycle their own battery plates indefinitely.
I've had really good success with all the wood chips that I've imported. Even the conifer. A number of years ago, I had access to a vacant piece of land on the outskirts of town and asked all the local tree trimmers to dump their chips there. Within the first season, there was about 120 yards of chips from many different species of tree. I only hauled a couple yards home at a time so before long most of the chips were 2-3 years old. When I dug into these older chips, they were full of worms, worm castings and some were so thick with fungal strands, it looked like wooden tempeh. The trimmings from spring that have a lot of leaves in the chips have enough nitrogen to get pretty hot, even the conifer.
I've used restaurant frier oil that was too hydrogenated for biodiesel and mixed it with wood planer shavings or sawdust. Just a dab will do ya. Also, I save all the candle butts and bits and melt them into a coffee can of sawdust. Works great!
I had this same issue this year. I built some hugle beds, seeded them with vetch, yellow clover , and radish, and then put a thin layer of oat straw over them. I couldn't believe the lush lawn that sprouted up. When the oats got 18" high, I took the string trimmer and cut them down half way so the vetch and clover could get some light. Now, after a month, I'll do it again. Good thing the yellow clover is a biennial. As long as the oats don't get a chance to go to seed, I'll be fine. Next year I'll be inspecting any straw I buy much closer.
Hi all, I have done some mushroom cultivation and read all of Stamets books and realized one could build an insulated room or use an insulated shipping container like they use for pasteurizing the compost for mushroom growing. The difference would be in placing pex tubing in/on the walls and ceiling so you could capture the heat generated but be able to load/unload with a loader without concern about moving/ breaking your tubing. You could even have overhead sprinklers/drippers to add moisture/pee/greywater/blackwater to keep the N/moisture/temps at optimal levels. Similar to phase 2 mushroom bulk strata rooms, you get heat/pasteurization all through the compost without turning.
I have grown Painted Mountain here in N.Idaho a few times, and it has always performed well. Carol Depp bred her varieties out of painted mountain which she thought tasted 'muddy'. Guess I like mud . After reading her book, I separated the ears by color before shelling and grinding. I have tried a few taste tests between the different colors but the only conclusion we have reached so far is that fresh ground blue corn waffles kick ass. I also made a couple batches of her skillet corn bred with the red ears and it was very good and a meal in itself. I tried to get some of her seed early this spring but I guess it wasn't available yet. Maybe next year.
Do you know how deep your well will be ? How much area will you be irrigating? Fish poo or any silt, slime, organic matter will clog soaker hoses very fast. Soluble nitrates from the fish water will pass through a drip system but you still have to filter the water with min. 120 micron filter first. If your watering individual trees, you could do a branched drain grey water type setup and avoid any filtering issues.
I have looked into drilling my own well and it looked like a 'cable drill' was the only low tech method that will go through rock. The Chinese used them to drill wells 1000+ feet deep centuries ago. Google ' cable drill well ' and you will see. You can find used cable drill rigs for much less than $12,000. They were the common way of drilling before the hydraulic / rotary drills became standard. Some drillers claim to get better yields from a cable drilled well because of the fracturing the occurs from all the pounding.
You can certainly grow blueberries from seed but they will not be true to type from the cultivar they came from. Also It takes a long time till your first yield. Root cuttings are much faster to yield and will be a clone of the parent plant/cultivar.
I helped build a friend's house here in N.Idaho and they wanted a grey water system but our county doesn't approve them. So, when I did the rough-in on the plumbing, I installed a parallel grey water system under the slab that we hooked up after the house was signed off.
I bought a Country Living grain mill about 10 years ago and it has worked great. It will crack corn or make pastry flour and everything in between. It is a manual mill, so I scavenged a ten speed bicycle and an stationary exercise bike, cut'em up, and welded them back together to make a five speed exer-grinder. The mill sits up front so I can add grain or fuss with the near empty hopper without stopping from pedaling. Last year, I bought an antique (circa. 1905) hand crank corn sheller off E-bay for ~ $80 and I laugh out loud every time I use it the way it spits the cobs out of the side. Its amazingly fast and the basic design hasn't changed in over a hundred years! They sell new at Lehmans for over $200.
Because the wood pulps instead of splinters, it is great for trailer decking and inside livestock barns/pens. It is usually milled wet and fastened down right away before it starts to dry , shrink , and move around.
When planting blueberry plants into a hugelkulture , I dig up some soil from around the native huckleberries that grow on our place and place it around the roots of the blueberries. I can not find a commercial mycorrhizael inoculant for vacciniums so I hope blueberries and huckleberries share the same mycorrhizael associations.
I leave my stumps in place unless they have roots in a roadway. I've found that if I take a chainsaw and cut the stump low to the ground and then make several plunge cuts into the top, it speeds up the decomposition (especially if I pee on them) . If the stump is fresh, I like to drill 3/8" holes around the top perimeter and inoculate them with an appropriate mushroom plug spawn.
Which brings up an idea had in the shower this morning. Heating water makes up a big part of energy consumption. Water temperature might be 30 - 50 degrees F above room temperatures. What happens to that energy once it goes down the drain other than keeping the urban legend alligators warm? What might be some ways to recapture the heat?
Three years ago, I built a waste water heat exchanger that removes the heat from the shower drain water and preheats the cold water going into the water heater. I get about 10 degree rise on the cold water inlet. Also, we use a branched grey water system like the style that Art Ludwig uses, so we do not try to filter the water at all. It works fine even in our N. Idaho winters.
I have the same issue. We use wood to heat ,but when we leave town , we use a propane water heater plumbed into the hydronic floor. The pump and thermostat only use 10 watts, but the propane bugs me. The only thing I've found that has the automation needed for a 7-10 day trip would be a dual-fuel (oil-wood) boiler that would run on WVO.
Unless you have a wind or hydro system with power to burn (pun intended), I would not use PV for resistive heating, including H2 production. Electricity is a high grade source of energy that is best used for things that can not use a lower form of energy. I prefer to use a biologicaly converted energy source over a technologicaly produced one. Green manure crops and poop =methane (gas) for stove and backup lighting. Wood or IR solar = heat :domestic hot water, hydronic heat . Ethanol (liquid) for transportation and backup generator . PV, wind, or hydro = electricity (lighting, electronics, power tools, etc..) By using the lowest form of energy for each application, you reduce your technological vulnerability.
Because of conversion losses, you will need more solar panel capacity then you will net from burning the H2. $$$ Methane would be a cheaper option if you can grow the biomass, which of course is condensed sunlight.
There seems to be a design decision split depending on how the heat is to be used. If you want slow release heat in a small house/ space, then a RMH or masonry stove is a good solution. But, If you want to heat water for hydronic heat distribution or DHW, then the designs to look at are for gasification boilers. These use refractory fire boxes and secondary burn chambers, most are downdraft types, and they are optimized for transfering the heat into the water. Check out www.greenwoodusa.com/resources.php I plan to build a boiler similar to the Tarm, http://www.woodboilers.com/wood-boilers.aspx, but using a fan induced draft for startup only. There are several great designs out there but I want passive draft and and low voltage controls. I know its possible, there just has to be more height between the burn chamber and the heat exchanger. Also, while these units are generically referred to as 'boilers', they don't make steam/ pressure, only HOT water.