Butte Metz

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since Jun 19, 2022
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Recent posts by Butte Metz

The whole systems eventually fails to function as a series of its components fail, rather than as a consequence of the failure of any specific components by themselves.
3 weeks ago
I have not seen much mention of this except oblique mentions here.

It is called the failure cascade.  

In robust systems, you can lose a lot of things before a failure happens. In your food system, if you do it wrong, and not even 'wrong' just not accounting for failure, your failure is a straight line.  

That old chestnut saying for the want of a nail the war was lost.  

This is because there was not a robust system in place to account for that.  

Yes people say one is zero and 2 is one.  But it fails to really clarify exactly the deeper meanings of the failure cascade.  

As a recent personal example:

I had a typhoon hit my house.  I have solar power as the backup and it can provide about 75% of my overall power needs if I manage it right.  However on the day of the typhoon, I am home.  Strike one.
I am using power as I am home.  Using the PC, and cooking in the instapot.   The shore power went out.  So my system, went to battery.  Cloudy weather, my system was only making a few watts of power.    It was quite dark.  But since I had no alarm that notified me of the shore power going out, I ran down the battery to a very low level, once I realized that the shore power was out.    Now I was still with lights, because I have a separate backup battery system of lights using those outdoor solar flood lights.  Except the panel is outside and the floodlight is indoors.  So my failure cascade was stopped because I still had light, and gas stove.

But this was only because I had a robust system.  I have since installed an alarm that sounds when the shore power is out.  Even still I was one step away from being in the dark except for a cell phone light.  

This is only a example.  Bigger systems are more prone to failure because vertical integration is more efficient, yet less robust.  Power, fuel, food, all these systems are being deliberately chipped away now.  So while a few system failures does not a societal collapse make, a cascade of failures on the other hand brings it all down.  

It is not the thing that you think will fail that brings everything down.  It is the cascade of small things that brings it down.

this applies to personal finance, on the small scale to entire societies on the big scale.

1 month ago
My little hand wood planer was not up to the task, so I outsourced a batch to a wood working shop and it was bout 2 bucks a board to run thru a commercial planer.  I do not have enough budget yet to buy one of those.

Here is the results.

90% HDPE recycled pellets and 10% shredded PP used microwave food containers.  the PP plastic thins out the HDPE as I am using a blow mold grade that is quite thick and gummy.

4 months ago

Rus Williams wrote:https://preciousplastic.com/en/machines/

Here's a video. While I recognise that plastic for many falls under the heading of toxic gick, it's also true that plastic is incredibly useful, and that this effort has many permaculture halmarks. Turning the problem into a solution, waste is an unused resource, small and local solutions. It's also totally open source with blueprints, this is a mature and realistic project that anyone with a modicum of skills could make happen.

I know I've posted this before, but I really like what this guy is doing.

Found Daves videos almost 5 years ago now.  Followed the videos, built a shop from scratch and it provides a living.  Not getting rich by any stretch of imagination, but not hungry either.  
5 months ago

K Eilander wrote:

C├ęcile Stelzer Johnson wrote:I would like to build a machine that turns plastic waste into small chips. I could then sit at my local transfer station and pick the garbage to chip it. While the extrusion machine is above my ability to build at present, I'd love to resell these chips for such construction. If nothing else, it would save a lot of money for my town by seriously compacting the trash they have to deal with. Are there any better designs out there? How closely should the various plastics be sorted or commingled?

Most of the shredder designs I've seen use lots of lazer or plasma cut blades, which makes them a little hard for the average person to construct.

Sorry to break it to you, but there is no 'low' cost way to make plastic flake.  Best I was able to do is 150 bucks in laser cut parts and a 300 dollar hoist motor + machining, bearings, chain flex coupler, a length of 1 inch tubing, hex bar, and sheet metal hopper.    Which after all that I sell locally in the Philippines for 890usd.  No I will not ship overseas, not here to sell product.  

If you looking at setting up at the transfer station, you gonna need some horsepower and equipment.  think complexity and expense of a small rock crushing plant.  They will literally provide you with a mountain of plastic, and you will need to process it in truckloads at a time.  The little precious plastic machine I described above will get you a couple pounds for your molder, but that is it.  20 min before you need to let the motor rest or it will over heat.  

My big shredders start at 5hp and go up to 18hp.  Even there you will be hard pressed to process truckloads.  It took 2 days for my guys to process 800 kilos of preshredded PP food containers with a 5hp machine.  

But no fear, I started in a 1 car garage with some hand tools, and knowledge of where to get stuff made.   I got 5 people in the shop as of this month.  I literally had bout 100 bucks to start out with.  I just started building machines for others, and earned enough to build some for myself.   If I can do it on a third world tropical island, you can too.
5 months ago
I do build plastic shredders which is my main income source.  Not a easy thing to build.  I started out making the Precious Plastic v3 design.  Sold a lot of them.  I have a fair amount of metal fabricaiton experience and a metal fab shop, so getting the laser cut parts and building it was pretty easy for me.  

Shredding plastic, you really do not have much way around the expense part.  It simply is not very easy to build a low cost plastic shredder, and I have devoted several years of my life thinking about it full time.  

At this point, I do not even bother making cheap machines because they break and people complain.  

Smallest decent plastic shredder you are looking at at least 2000 USD.  You can 'shred' cheaper but either you get a machine that breaks fast, or a tiny output, or a plastic flake that is useless for molding.

So far in the last month I have processed well over a ton of lumber, plus the extra time spent shredding and processing PP and HDPE plastics.  

I ended up needing more plastic that I could buy locally, so I had to buy a ton of recycled plastic HDPE pellets from a shop across town.  It was double the cost per kilo vs raw trash plastic, but I did not need to hire a guy to spend days cutting it down, shredding, and washing it.  

At present making plastic lumber for store fixtures at the local mall, and a big batch of molded plastic containers.  

The new injection molder is almost done.  Only the lathe turned parts awaiting delivery from the machine shop.  Big delay with the pneumatic cylinders coming from China.

Will post a new thread on that, once the whole process is sorted out.  That project uses scrap plastic appliances, shredded dishes, and plastic crates as the feed stock.
5 months ago

Daniel Schmidt wrote:I came across a similarly designed injection molding machine a few weeks back. I love the idea of recycling being done locally instead of the current situation that has numerous inefficiencies. I figure having more ideas for different methods will help motivate more people in this space.

I am familliar with the Action Box molder, but I personally prefer the other design from a production standpoint.  The way it is designed, it is very hard to put a mold in a clamp, and remove the mold.  One needs to have access from more than 2 sides to set up the spacers, stop blocks that make it a repeatable process.  by that I mean you need to have a way to put the mold in the machine, clamp it, fill it, and repeat over and over, exactly in the same position for the mold opening to mate with the machine perfectly every time.  Also double pneumatic cylinders may be a bit of overkill vs a single sc100 cylinder
7 months ago

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:I like the concept. I have seen a number of companies start up on similar concepts.

One problem they ran into was that the plastic lumber would sag in summer temperatures (e.g., saggy picnic tables). It seems to need more structural support. Have you run into this problem?

Of course that dosn't apply to ground contact applications, where the plastic lumber is evenly supported.

I have not seen that with HDPE,  but my guess is that it was recycled milk jugs which is LDPE.  The two plastics can mix, but LDPE has a much lower melt point.    HDPE like mine will not start to soften until well above 150 degrees.  
7 months ago

Briella Ac wrote:This is awesome, never heard of this before! Good work

 thank you fro the kind words!

So to update, Last Friday I passed the 600 kilo mark for amount of plastic turned into 2x4 boards.  I have a limited power supply so I can only run one of the 3 plastic extrusion machnes at one time in the shop.  

I also have been working on getting some more plastic molding jobs.  Me and my helper made a thousand shampoo bar cases from discarded plastic washing machine cases, and discarded plastic food containers last month.  Now another eco company is asking for 12,000 shampoo bar cases so we have to come up with better molding.  

I found this awhile back on YouTube.  He had a near exact copy of a hand operated molding machine I designed almost 5 years ago.  It is too small for my uses, but then I found this new machine he designed:

I downloaded the blueprints, which were lacking in a formal layout, but there is enough measurement information to replicate the machine if you are on a budget, or like me living in SE Asia where shipping would be expensive.  Not to mention buying Chinese parts from the USA is kind of dumb.    I still have to import the Pneumatic cylinder, and valve, but the rest I can make locally.  

The Aluminum extrusion is very expensive, but 1 inch steel tubing and some epoxy paint would build the frame for less than 18USD in materials.  The metal plates he has, I could either sent out to laser cutting (and wait 2 weeks) or I could drill and cut in the shop to make in a few hours.  The rest of the bits turned on the lathe at the local automotive machine shop.

Anyways, check out his video.  As far as the DIY molders out there, It is pretty good.  It is not quite as powerful as my personal DIY hydraulic injection molder made from a log splitter, but it has the ability to keep a constant pressure on the mold.  Which is not easily done with the log splitter.  You need to keep pressure on the plastic going in so it does not shrink, much the same as home DIY aluminum casting.  

If anyone has questions on how to DIY their own machines, let me know.,
7 months ago
Hi guys,  Long time listener, first time caller.

Sharing my permaculture/homestead/prepper/survivalist/etc experience.

I am in my mid 40's and have always been interested in the whole self sufficient lifestyle.  At least since the 1980's as a child.  I had grand visions of going to the woods as a 1800's trapper guy and all that even then.  

However life got in the way.  Military service, truck driving, Iraq war contracting, Africa work blah blah.  A long travel for a Wisconsin beekeepers son to go.

Along the way I ended up on the tropical island of Luzon.  Somewhere in the suburbia/shitheadville that is Manila.  After the USGOV work ended, I settled down with my bride and built a home on the tropical island.

This is what I call my third (maybe fourth?) attempt at the whole permaculture thing.  The thing is, I am a hardcore libertarian, freedom-ista, so this was a trip of cognitive dissonance, but a education in the school, of hard knocks.

Fast forward to 2022 (my how time flies eh?)  I have managed to get my little house in the gated subdivision (looks like anytown USA) on the tropical island with the 365 day a year growing season.  

No debt, cause I took insane risks with my life in Iraq to earn the big bucks.  Bought a small house in suburbia on the tropical island.  Tropical island, cause I was preparing to buy a homestead in the USA and saw the prices double in 3 months on a property I was looking at near Phoenix.  Damn 2005 housing bubble eh?

So I bought on the tropical island here.  50 grand for a house and lot with a 5 year mortgage was like buying a Suburban in the USA at that time with lousy credit.  So I bought the house from the developer.  

I had in mind a umm earth-ship kind of thing.  Not exactly the hippie earth-ship look however.  I mean come on, tire house?  Looks like cockroach heaven to me.

So I got a all cement/steel constructed house with bout 1000 square feet of floor room.  My neighborhood looks exactly like somewhere in the USA.

But there is the rub.

It may LOOK like the USA but it sure as hell is not the USA.  House construction materials aside.  

So fast forward to 2022. I have owned my home for 18 years already and debt free for 13 years.  

BUT...  It took the current COVID issue to really dig down deep and get the ol' house in order.  

I managed to get a solar install job for a 28kw project.  I earned enough on it to start in earnest my earthship home finalization.  

The hardest thing about doing solar is calculating return on investment.  But in actuality it could be applied to a lot of the whole permacultre things in our lives.  It simply is not quantifiable to put all the numbers in a spreadsheet and say yes or no to certain decisions to things.  In regards to the current inflation and food issue (and WW3) issue, we can not simply plug numbers into the spreadsheet and find the answers. Math has no final answers.  

So to start, when I started on my prepping thing, I had y2k, 2008 market crash and covid january 2020 to give the experiences of past attempts.  I finally decided after a lot of trial and error that I needed a more holistic (how I dislike that term) approach.  Maybe it should be called the overall approach.  So after the covids I resolved to get my house in order.

I must say, 2400 watts of solar panels is covering most of my power use.  Not all.  Mainly cause I need more battery to store power for overnight,.  I   started a vertical garden on my balcony.  Basically the space of a one car garage and am growing more greens than I an eat,  Not making all my calories in the house, but a substantial amount of grocery has been replaced by home grown.  It is incredibaly liberating to finally get to the point where the end goal is in sight.  My home providing all my food, all my electric, all my water and not having a monthly bill to worry about.  Well I still have bills, but the more I get the house situated, the less I need to depend on the 'system' to earn cash to buy from others (while giving the rent seeing gov a commission they did not earn) and that is completely liberating.

I can share some of the small things I did to get to this point, and you will be surprised (or maybe no) but they involve the belt and suspenders approach to permaculture.  I am not where I need to be, but I am way farther ahead than where I was.  The end goal is not needing to use $$$ in the first place.  But I am getting there.  let me know if you want me to keep posting some of the tropical island adventure (and misadventure) here
7 months ago