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Travis Johnson

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since Feb 03, 2016
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Recent posts by Travis Johnson

I just read what I wrote, and I guess it is a little hard to follow, but when I am done, I will have an engine turning a generator that will make enough power to power (2) houses if I wanted too. It is a lot of power. As the electricity is being made, water will circulate through the engine, then into my boiler, and then into the house to heat my home.

In this way, everything will have warm water circulating through it.

Because I have radiant floor heat, as long as my control circuit is above 100 degrees, my main propane boiler will not come on. It does not matter how this water gets heated...solar, compost, or in my case, heated by the engine making electricity.

This means I can be 100% off-grid, and still power and heat my home at the same time.

This is a long term project, but one that is really fun. The best part will be seeing if I can get a diesel engine that has been sitting for 30 years to fire up.
2 weeks ago
So yesterday I went up to my shop where this reefer unit has sat since 1993, and dragged it down to the house.

That was kind of a nightmare because I had to slide it up an inclined ramp/walkway about 25 feet and I did not have my favorite laborer here...Katie.

But by using pipes, blocking, and pry bars, I was able to work it slowly up the ramp by rolling it along the pipes, and into position by myself. A refer unit would not seem to be too big bolted to the front of a tractor trailer...trailer, but working the unit up a ramp makes a person realize it is bigger and heavier than they first think. I would move it six inches, and it would roll back just as many. Finally I got it into position though.

It was under cover inside a building so the diesel engine is in really good shape. It is also entirely intact although the reefer unit was dismantled. This tells me it was kept because the engine was sound, but the chiller was broken...

Yesterday I was able to strip everything back to the engine. This meant unbolting all the chiller wiring and crap, and then pulling the chiller off the flywheel. I was hoping the reefer unit was seized and keeping the engine from free turning, but that is not the case, it was stuck.

But today I started working on the engine again and I am making significant headway now, the tearing apart is done, and the rebuild starts...

I did not need any oil to get the engine unseized, in fact I would not even call it "seized" but maybe "stuck". I threaded in some bolts on the flywheel, put a short bar between the bolts like a spanner wrench, and "chuff"; the engine rolled over. I worked it back and forth for a minute, and it was perfectly fine. I pulled the valve cover and everything is nicely lubed, like the engine had been running yesterday, not some 30 years ago.

I then got some numbers off the unit and started calling around. In the written word, this takes a minute to read, but it was about 2 hours of phone work, because NO ONE has any information on this. But in the end it seems it is a 1979, 4 cycle Kubota Engine. I got this information from a good friend of mine that owns a reefer repair shop. He told me to get the engine running and use it, because he never tears into the engines, they run forever, but rather the reefer is the part that breaks. That is good because this means this engine should last a long time, and is worth doing!
2 weeks ago
I had an epiphany a few months ago: we had lost grid power, and I was using my PTO back up generator. It was doing a great job, and the kids did not even know we were on back-up power, but my tractor and generator were really warm. Everything was at operating temperature, but what a waste! All that heat, and not being used. So I did some research online, and found out, there is a thing called cogeneration, which is making electricity, and then using the heat from the engine to warm a house.

I have 100% radiant floor heating so I was already set up for this to work. I also realized I had all the other major components too, like a diesel engine, a generator, a fuel tank to make it all happen.

So over the last few days I got the components together in one building. It is 12 x 24, and heavily insulated, and located about 100 feet from my house. I started with the fuel tank, having a 275 gallon oil drum, that I managed to get into the building, painted, and standing upright.

Next I brought in a wood/coal boiler. I have it, so I am going to add it into the heat circuit that way I can heat my house by:

Firewood
Coal
Propane
Diesel
Electricity...talk about options!

Next was the engine. I had several options for this, but in the end went with a 35 HP diesel engine off a tractor trailer reefer trailer. It operates at 1800 RPM, lasts forever, and sips fuel, perfect for a genset. Ultimately that will be married to a 83 amp/20 KW generator.
2 weeks ago
I love Dave Ramsey as well. My wife and I took his course last year and really learned a lot.

I do not always agree with him though; me and him really clash on insurance: I despise it, and avoid it at all costs, but I am okay with risk, and Dave Ramsey is an insurance salesman, so that is going to happen when there is that much disparity between two people.

Still, I retired at age 42 with a wife and (4) children...

It can be done for sure.

I ended up getting cancer, so my plans have been really thrown off, but I am approaching (4) years of retirement and managing to stay afloat. People with cancer often do not get that as they often are bankrupt after only one year.

So retirement may not be a forever thing for me. I might have to rejoin the workforce.

I qualify as a Disabled Farmer, so the USDA has a program to get farmers who cannot farm, back into the workforce. Part of that is retraining. At age 45...it was too overwhelming; oh it was great that I can do anything...go to college, get a new career, get paid on-the-job training; but WHAT TO DO?

I thought about a few things, but it all fell through, so in the end a college course came available so I took it; a 100% stab in the dark, and it is perfect. I am going to be a High Pressure Steam Engineer. This is perfect for me because it is NOT age dependent, it is a job that is in high demand, and it works well with Permie-Rated Stuff.

I will most likely be a freelance boiler operator, something they call Locums. When a boiler plant like a hospital, paper mill, sawmill, etc need a Boiler Operator, they pay a Locum to watch the boiler while the regular guys are on vacation, or it is a holiday, or something like that. So I will just float around, taking jobs as I need or want.

I know this is not what you wanted to hear, but I have lived the dream, retired at age 42, and yet while I did not see cancer wiping out my plans and money, it shows one thing: a person can go back to the workforce. It is not the end of the world...
2 weeks ago
Ironically moderation is not a difficult concept to comprehend...moderate in moderation.

Certainly without moderation this place would be a mess, and I recognize the hard work done by all the moderators, but equally it is easy to see how it can swing too far in the other direction on over-moderation too.

A person can give the messenger flack on this for sure, but I have just noticed that the moderating has swung a little too far in the past few months.

Now how that is corrected, is up for debate. Does it mean there are too many moderators? Perhaps, limiting the moderators would certainly reduce the amount of opinions and thus the potential for over-stepping their limits. But another answer might be to just point out that a problem is developing and to remind moderators to not overstep their control. Having tons of moderators, be less restrictive, would ease the problem s well.

The worst thing to do is bury a person's head and say "oh there is no problem here, the problem is with you."

Well not so fast. That would be like trying to run a business and if a person points out there is a problem developing within the company, to just fire the person. I have seen businesses do that, and they never get very far. That is the easy way out, and as we all know, the easy way is not often the best way to deal with an issue. That is because the problem is still there and just gets worse and worse.

All Chris and I are saying is...and nicely...not in a Swan Song is, "over-moderation is starting to be an issue". That is it, no drama, no ulterior motives, just us noting there is a problem developing.

I believe the fabled story was called "The Emperor has No Clothes."

Some people need to leave for sure, but I think a lot of good people are leaving too because of over-moderation.

That is a catch 22 because if you put in a coil and it is effective, it is probably going to draw down the heat in the stove pipe so bad that it starts getting poor draft, or becomes a creosote-maker; neither of which is good. Yet if a person maintains good draft, then the heat pulled is often not really worth the time and expense of doing!

As I said, a catch-22.

Sadly, there is no replacement for BTU's. If a house is cold, then it needs o be upgraded to a larger heating appliance, or a secondary one added.

It is possible that one area of the house is overheated, and another area underheated, at which a homeowner has to figure out a way to move the heat from the too hot area, to one that is too cool. That statement does not dispense with the first rule cited of having no replacement for btu's, because a person is just moving heat around better. That can take the form of duct work, fans, or in terms of boilers, plumbing and valves.
2 weeks ago
Me and Katie dressed up like we were in the 1940's, and went to some railroad tracks on a lake, where it was misty behind us. It was a lot of fun and we got some nice photos...

2 weeks ago
I never did the Swan Song, but I did leave here for about a month.

I like the place, and like the people, but especially the so many varied topics in which I can discuss things.

I have no idea what the drama was last night, but I left for awhile because there was a huge uptick in moderators citing the "leave room for other people's opinion."

What is that all about?

This is a forum, people state their opinions, and then the person that asked the question has the ability to chose what they feel is right for their situation. This is no different than if a person has a question, and they go to the local library to get a bunch of books on the subject, and they get an idea on the many ways possible to deal with the situation. A person would never tell an author, "leave room for other people's ideas", that would be silly, they are author's, of course they are going to be biased; everyone expects them to be!

Really what I saw happening with way too much frequency was, there are just too many moderators to regular people on this site. So a person reads what I have written, does not agree with it, and then cites the "leave room for other people's ideas" nonsense reply, and puts it on edit status. In my first 3500 posts that might have happened once, if that...in the past few weeks it happened three times or more...in a row. I am pretty dumb, but I can see patterns.

I read, and reread what I wrote, and it was not mean-spirited at all; a person just did not agree, so it went on edit-status.

An example was a thread about a dressmaker that was comparing apples to oranges. She was trying to compare a handmade costume to a factory-made costume, and I pointed that out. A person that sews, who also is a moderator, came on, read what I wrote, cited the silly "leave room for other people's ideas" rule, and put it on edit status. There was gobs of room for other people's ideas, she just did not agree with me, and had the power to eliminate my post.

That is fine, and if it happens once...twice...a few times over a long span...what do I care, it happens, it is no big deal. But when it happens again and again; then I lose interest in posting.

It just comes down to over-moderation; too many people have too much control over what is posted. Over the last few months, I have seen this really start to become a problem on here. It never was before that though.

B. Rey. wrote:

Travis Johnson wrote:

Because bedrock impedes water so it would end up being a swimming pool.



Yes it does, so with some good planning on the drainage you can have it fill a cistern naturally with rain water that's filtered through the gravel surrounding the home. Take that problem and make it work for you.



That is true...

I would think it would be less costly though to scrape off the topsoil and get the site down to bedrock, then shim the site level with crushed rock. I could do all that with my farm tractor and not have to worry about renting an expensive piece of heavy equipment. Then water would naturally drain, not to mention radon gas being pushed out, if that is an issue.
2 weeks ago