Kenneth Elwell

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since Jan 01, 2018
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Artist/Designer, Maker.
Metalworker, Blacksmith, Machinist, Welder, Woodworker, Builder, Farmer, Composter,
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Boston, Massachusetts
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Recent posts by Kenneth Elwell

paul wheaton wrote:The plan is to put in two of the pipes.  Maybe one can be one inch and one can be 1.5 inches.  And then if drop a thermometer 20 feet down, we can see which pipe is warmer at the bottom.

I'm curious about the inner pipe size. Why so small? It seems to me that splitting the CSA of the 6" well casing closer to 50%/50% would make the air flow in the riser and the well casing "more equal" so as not to limit the flow by the capacity of the small pipe? Also the falling air flow would be more laminar/in contact with outer well casing for better heat exchange? A 4" inner pipe is close to 50% of the CSA of the 6". I'm sure my simple 50/50 CSA is over simplistic, and that there's some physics/mathematics calculations to balance the flow, like more friction in the outer space versus in the riser pipe...but my gut has me wondering where Goldilocks is.

Greg Martin wrote:
You may also find that the Earth's mass just keeps pulling the heat away such that it's hard to charge it up too much.  But there may be a bigger benefit, which is you will create a syphon which will suck the cold air from the air drop down into the 20' pipes where the cold will then be pulled away by the Earth's heat.  In that way there will never be cold air accumulating in the greenhouse.  You can always cover the black end of the pipe to see if the temperature of the earth at the bottom of the pipes actually heats up or if it works by pulling away the cold (maybe some of both).  

If using the Earth's heat to pull away the cold does the trick then you might want to have the pipe go through solar heated thermal mass like Willow Wonka's lovely trombe wall.  That way it will keep pulling at night when heat loss is the worst....that cold air will then just keep getting sucked down the pipes where the cold will get sucked into the earth.

As important as "charging the Earth's mass" is dealing with overly high daytime temperature inside the greenhouse, having a heat sink to do the cooling without directly venting it away to outside is great, especially if you can get a reward at night by returning the heat as you suggest, or even just settle for slightly lower losses to a slighly warmer Earth.

tel jetson wrote:

Eliot Mason wrote:I was astonished to learn that within the Portland, OR city limits fully ONE THIRD of the city is right of way.

and that doesn't take into account off-street parking dedicated to cars. I haven't done all the work to calculate it, but I'm confident the number would be much higher in my small town. easily over 50%.

in the United States, our built environment makes cars all but required in many places. in that situation, I don't believe it's wrong to be thinking about what sort of car is the least detrimental, but that can distract from more important things. things like minimizing one's own automobile use and supporting changes that make automobiles less dominant and easier to live without.

I think our current situation in the USA with shutdowns and work-from-home due to the Covid-19 pandemic will have lasting effects on ALL of this. The largest being remote work, so many companies have had to make the leap out of necessity, and found that productivity was still good, where before they were reluctant to try. My neighbor is hiring for a new position in her group, and got the green light to hire someone to do the job remotely. She may not go back to 5 days per week in the office herself, which is huge! She's <10 miles from her office, and a no-traffic drive of ~20 minutes is "normally" 45 minutes to one hour when done in rush-hour traffic.

Stop-and-go driving, idling at traffic lights, congestion, have we figured those in to this conversation yet? MPG and range per charge, both sort of assume "normal driving" like highway driving, or "city" driving, more or less "open-road" situations. Not the reality of the 5-15 MPH crawl in congestion most urban commuters experience on a daily/weekly basis. Electric vehicles don't "idle" per se, but the climate system eats battery life, so traffic congestion in the heat/cold will reduce range as well (ascetics excluded).

If fewer of us are on the roads, and less often, it will be a better situation for us when we are. At the end of March (beginning of the shutdown here in Boston) I drove home at 5:30 PM on a weekday and took I-95 (128 in Burlington/Woburn for the locals) and it was as if it were early on a Sunday morning!!! Smooth sailing. Normally I would avoid this 8-lane-parking-lot at all costs!

If fewer people need to be in "the office", companies will need less square footage, and do more hot-swapping of desks/offices. Will traffic be the same? Do desks=cars on the road? The office tower is still going to rent out all the space, no? Will this absorb the need for new office construction, road and parking expansion?

The question of +/- 10% emissions for gas vs.electric is irrelevant if you can move to a 50% reduction in driving (say 1 week work-from-home, 1 week commute to office schedule), which has knock-on effects for the other drivers on the road in reduced congestion, improved air quality, etc..

1 day ago
Anne, our dog is a <5# Pomeranian, so his “treats” need to be small... tiny really.
Half of a large blueberry with a slit in the flesh to slip the pill into has worked. It can be slippery, and he can also “miss” the pill! (He’s a good boi and gets it off the floor)
Molded cheese around the pill always works! It is irresistible, and a bit sticky, so the pill remains inside and also the “treat” rarely gets dropped. Softer cheese like American is easier to mold than a drier cheese such as Cheddar.
Soft stuff such as peanut butter or Cheez-Whiz has always been hit-or-miss, taken readily but easy to miss the pills.
All of our methods have a side benefit of it all being “stuff we would eat” so there’s no waste, or extra effort. (As we cook homemade special kidney diet food for him...)
1 week ago

Jonathan Fudge wrote:So, I have gotten some free wood chips delivered and it is made of some pretty big chunks. I would like much smaller mulch that can break down quicker, stop more light getting to the soil, etc.

I am considering purchasing a cheaper model of a wood chipper to put the cheapo mulch through in hopes to get it smaller and easier to work with.

Does anyone have any experience with this or know how to make this happen or if it is worthwhile?

Before we go back into the "no wood chipping" discussion... I live in a residential home that has 0.12 of an acre and have only the mulching in my paths that I want to cover. My goal is to cover my entire back yard with wood chips, to remove weeds from the property, and to focus on adding plants and trees that I want in my yard.


Jonathan, We have a Troy-Bilt chipper/shredder (Tomahawk? Super Tomahawk? model) It has flails in a drum that do the "shredding". It has a top feed for twigs and leaves and a side feed for "chipping"sticks, chips also enter into the drum, ALL exits the bottom. There are various screens with different sized holes for the exit, and the material stays in the drum to get more shredding until it becomes small enough to pass the screens. We have taken coarse wood chips and reground them for use as a finer mulch. It takes some time to do, since you have to be careful not to overfeed the machine. A half-full grain scoop at a time, a full scoop risks choking the machine... stalling, unclogging, restart... takes up more time than gentle feeding. We haven't done this in a long time...

Screening might be faster, depending on how fine you need and how coarse the chips are to begin with (yield, clogging). If you just need long twigs that slipped through the chipper removed, a manure fork can be fast, or a garden rake.

For our paths, we use DEEP wood chip, 8" deep. Soil is removed to make beds deeper, and replaced with woodchip. (Side note: the seed bank goes with the soil, and the chipped paths have fewer weeds, if any).
When I place the wood chips I rake them to level out the path, and this inevitably collects the larger and twiggy bits. On a new path, I work from one end and rake out each wheelbarrow load of chips as I go, and rake the coarse stuff forward and then bury it under my next load of chips. When I'm topping up paths, I do the same thing and either haul off the coarse stuff to the compost, OR I dig a small pit IN the path and bury the coarse bits in-situ and smooth it over...DONE!

I also add wood chips to our compost, and then I screen the finished stuff. My screen has both 1/4" and 1/2" screens, first makes fine compost (no chunks), next pulls out the <1/2" woodchip and leaf-mold, all the larger stuff plus stones and litter exit out the end and get re-composted.
That middle fraction of woodchip/leaf-mold makes lovely mulch for around plants and has a portion of the finer compost along with it.
3 weeks ago
My childhood home and my current home both have similar work triangles, distance between range/oven and sink = the same at ~4 feet, distance to fridge = the same at ~8 feet.
My mom's kitchen worked. Our current kitchen DOES NOT.
Why? mostly a peninsula next to the range on the side opposite the sink, which creates a narrow 'U-shape' with the range in the bend.
Mom's had sink close to the bend, then counter + range + counter.
Ours has sink + counter, then range close-by around the bend.
The "U" is only 12 inches wider than the range, however, so barely room for a second person at the sink, and they can't be there at all if the oven door opens!

In ours ,ONE person can cook, SOLO, and it can be efficient since it is like a "cockpit" you can just turn and step between sink, range, counter, and peninsula counter. It can be tiresome and frustrating to not have help or be able to help.

Drawers or pull-out shelves in lower cabinets are great. I'd prefer drawers, since they don't require opening a door(s) before pulling out shelf... but FAR better than hands and knees to reach way in back.
The carousel cabinet in a corner is okay, Mom didn't have one, so that deep corner was for the roasting pans and big stockpots used infrequently.
Lazy susans in the cabinets are also a good solution for "things hidden behind things", we even have one in our carousel cabinet...extra swivelley!

Storage of things... both near to where they are needed, and not "tangled up" in the work triangle. Someone getting a tumbler to get a drink from the fridge shouldn't need to disturb the cook to reach a cabinet, same with setting a table, or baking supplies/equipment.

I've always liked the idea of a swing-out-pantry. Double doors with narrow shelves on the inside open to reveal shelves that are hinged on a center partition, which when 'opened' show their reverse side and reveal fixed shelves at the back wall of the cabinet.
Nothing gets lost behind since the narrow shelves generally hold a single row of things.  

3 weeks ago

steve pailet wrote:....  Drawers are the best in a kitchen.  Nothing to get lost in the back of a cabinet. This in part of why I like the idea of the pantry and open shelves....

We keep our potato masher in a drawer, because occasionally it's fun not to be able to open that drawer.
3 weeks ago

AnnaLea Kodiak wrote:
I like the idea of planting trees, and integrating either solar or wind power...would there be a way to optimize it so the trees dont interfere with the wind or the sun?
I guess i'd have to figure out which direction the wind normall blows from, and put the turbine in front of the trees on that side. Same with the panels but in the south. I think this could be doable with some serious planning...and give me two value added things in a single spot.

For the solar, a site visit from a solar panel company to do an assessment would be a place to start. A ground-mounted array in a field allows "unlimited" space and a better orientation than found on most rooftops, and less shade from trees for more hours of production.
A ground mounted array usually would be high enough up to allow for snow to accumulate and have space to slide off the panels, so fruit trees 20-30  feet away might not be any trouble. Another option for solar might be the barn roof (if it is a large barn).

Some things to consider about the barn:
1.) If it is repairable, you might think of doing so. It could be invaluable storage space for all sorts of things that you might need (grain, hay, equipment, freezers). Another reason might be that a comparable new structure might not be possible due to modern zoning and building codes, however, your old barn is "grandfathered in" and repairs/restoration would be allowed.
2.) If it is not repairable AND you won't need it, find out if you are being taxed on it. Weigh the cost of demolition (may require a permit and fee) against the tax expense. There might also be an insurance liability that you could reduce.
Solar might be another good option, if it’s an open field. You could offset both power for that house, plus your own, without taking space at the large parcel.
Maybe a long way off, but rental income from house is a possibility, with quick access for maintenance and repairs.
If it’s already pasture, easiest to keep it up, and either hay or graze it.
Maybe the problem isn't "why" vs. "why", but not enough whys .
Which in this case would be an investment in trying to understand the problem oneself first, through examination/introspection, then asking for clarification/help.

Trace Oswald wrote:

Maybe you could design that and I could rent it from you...  I think you would just need one blade to dig in deeper on the way up.  I'm not sure bark has to be removed randomly the the video of doing it manually worked.  Maybe one strip up the side would do as well.

I think there is a method to the "random debarking" to me it looks quite regular... staggered cuts in both directions (circumference and elevation) which would lead to a uniform "bleeding" of the tree. One long scar is the sort of thing you see where a limb has torn off, or where a car crashed into tree, or a lightning strike, and the trees survive those.

Some combination of the limbing robot, and that chainsaw tool they got for peeling logs on the lab would be the industrial scale power tool way to do it. Although the man in the Northmen video does it quite swiftly with the axe and pole tool.
1 month ago