Peter E Johnson

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since Oct 13, 2023
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I recently found this forum, and a bunch of the PEP projects sound interesting to try.
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Northern Colorado (Zone: 3b/4a)
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Recent posts by Peter E Johnson

What tools do you already have, and what's your budget?

I've operated a few excavators, and they're nice for moving lots of dirt. I personally prefer backhoes, because they don't need to be trailered everywhere which makes them more versatile, and cheaper to operate. Doing backhoe things with my backhoe:

My lathe is probably my favorite tool. I think I paid $1200 for my old South Bend lathe.

I've had a drill press for a long time, but my magnetic drill press is amazing, because it's so much easier to drill things that don't fit in the press. Plus it runs really slow so you can feel when the drill bit starts trying to pull through, which prevents a lot of drill bits from getting broken.

I already have a couple of welders, but I'd really like a plasma cutter.

2 weeks ago
I got a chuckle out of this story. Apparently the potatoes that I plant and harvest by hand produce 5-6 times more carbon than the potatoes that get from hundreds of miles away. I know I breathe a little heavy when digging up the potatoes, but I never figured I made more CO2 per pound of potatoes than a tractor tilling, planting, spraying, and harvesting. Potatoes are my most reliable crop so that's what I'm using as an example.

Some MSM stories telling us all how evil gardening is:

Here's my translation from the new speak to common english:
We have paid for a scientific study that has proven, just as we paid for, that you having control of your own food supply is bad for the environment. Every time you plant a vegetable garden the polar bears die off, and many species go extinct. To solve this problem the mega corporations will take control of your food supply, and you can be a good boy or girl by eating the lab grown cancer cells and bugs.

Sorry if this is a repost of a similar thread, I haven't been on the forum much lately.
2 months ago

Tereza Okava wrote:People who pay more tend to respect their service providers more, in my experience.


The most infuriating job I ever took on was for an old couple that were "trying" to sell their house. The basement had flooded when they were in Arizona for the winter. The story was they didn't have enough money to fix the house, and they'd pay me when the house sold. They would find the tinyest little defects in anything I did to the house, and expect me to come fix them. The drywall ended up being a little wonkey in one corner, and they wanted me to tear it out, fix it, and repaint it, because it wasn't perfect to look at. As long as it passes an inspection for the new buyer it shouldn't have been a big deal. They were mad that I put a seam between a hallway carpet and a bedroom carpet. Looking back it was clear that never intended to pay me, and they were looking for any excuse to refuse to pay me. It has been about a decade, I've never received a dime, and they still own the house. I have a lien against the house, but I won't get paid until they either sell it, or die.

My advice is to charge more for your time. You can spend more time doing better work for fewer people when you charge more. I also make everybody pay up front. I'm done playing the I'll pay you when he pays me, but somebody else never paid him game. Escrow accounts are easy enough to set up, and if people want to fight over things in court the money is safely at the bank for any bankruptcies or other tomfoolery. The 100% paid up front into an escrow account has completely eliminated my difficult clients. I think people are typically difficult, because they never intended to pay you in the first place.
4 months ago
Do you have a volt meter? If both wires are hot I'd suspect it was accidentally wired up as 220V, and since most things are also 220V rated for Europe you wouldn't notice anything wrong.
4 months ago
My biggest problem with the idea of investing to get 7% instead paying off the principle on your 4% mortgage to get an extra 3% is that assumes the stock market always goes up. Then when the economy goes from a boom to a bust cycle and people lose their jobs they have to sell their stocks at a loss to try and keep their home. In the old days people invested and held their positions, but now banks pay millions of dollars to install their servers on the stock market floor to trade a few nanoseconds faster than other banks with their high frequency trading. They've basically turned the stock market into a casino that's way over leveraged with all the derivatives that have been referred to as financial weapons of mass destruction.

There are no energy poor rich countries, and whether we're actually at peak oil, or self imposed peak oil due to policy doesn't really matter. Energy is the foundation of our complex economy, and without abundant oil our economy is going to be much simpler, more local, and smaller. I view investing gambling in the stock market at this point to be about equivalent to picking up loose change in front of a steam roller. Germany lost access to cheap natural gas when the Nordstream pipelines were bombed, they're pouring acid in the pipes of their nuclear reactors so that they can never be restarted, and they're burning more dirty coal just to barely keep their grid up and running. It's bizarre watching advanced economies tear down good infrastructure before having a solid way to replace it.

The stock market can't exponentially go up forever without an exponentially increasing sources of energy. I personally think it's a much better idea to invest in your land/soil, access to water, energy efficient shelter, and energy independence with things like solar.
4 months ago

Stephen B. Thomas wrote:The batteries are in the bottom section, connected together. The upper shelf of the power station has this. I assume it's an inverter. I see no outlets/receptacles on it, however. Would someone please confirm this, then provide guidance on how to use it to connect a light to this somehow?

The red thing looks more like a DC step down convertor than an inverter to me. They use step down convertors to lower the voltage from the solar panels to the batteries, so it sounds like it's in the right place for that. I'm not very familiar with solar systems, but hopefully somebody here will have an idea for a heater/light that uses DC power.
4 months ago
There's a big difference between an attached and an unattached garage. My parents have both, and I don't think I've ever seen ice forming on the on floor of their attached garage. Just ice and snow melting off the cars they pull into the attached garage. I keep my snowmobile in their unattached garage, and it gets cold out there. I'm guessing the walls between the house and the attached garage aren't insulated so that area is able to suck a lot of heat out of the house. Just my guess of why people think that.

For reference a few days when I was in high school they were saying -70F wind chills when it was about -30F outside.(Wind chills affect 60F buildings less than uninsulated 98.6F people, but wind still steals energy from insulated buildings) Typically zone 4, zone 5 on mild winters, and zone 2-3ish on harsh winters.
4 months ago
I lived in a house with a really steep roof pitch to help slide the snow off, and the chimney came out of the peak of the roof. Looking back I'd guess it had 40-50ft of chimney. It always back drafted horribly when starting it from scratch. What I figured out was the large volume of cold air in the chimney was falling down as the warm air from the fire started to rise up. My solution was to run an electric space heater in front of the stove door for about 10-15 minutes before starting the fire, and it completely solved the back drafting issue. Unless I was being impatient, and didn't give the space heater enough time to clear the cold air mass.

When you say you're starting from coals; are you starting from orange coals, or black coals? It would be strange for it to back draft if you're starting from orange coals. If it back drafts with orange coals I'd make extra sure I kept my carbon monoxide detector up to date, because they do expire.

I've never lived in a house tight enough to cause back draft problems, but I can see how a lack of airflow seeping in would cause a vacuum inside the house that would suck air down the chimney. I don't know how you'd get a space heater to work with a top loading wood stove, but it should be pretty easy to try a space heater with a side loading wood stove.
4 months ago
I'd avoid the use of copper, because the sulfur in the wood will corrode it fairly quickly. Stainless steel would be a much better option.

With that setup you'll have a volume displacement problem between the two tanks if you want the RMB to have pure 50/50 antifreeze in it. If it takes 40ft of 3/4inch pex to go both ways you'll have a volume of V = pi * (.75/12)^2 * 40 = 0.49 cubic feet of fluid. 0.49 ft^3 * 7.5 gallons/ft^3 = 3.7 gallons per antifreeze purge. Which would only allow you to purge the system ~3 times before you're out of antifreeze. You could set the antifreeze system up to pump about three gallons out at shutdown and then three gallons in to the 10 gallon tank at startup to reuse the antifreeze, but you're always going to get some mix diluting the antifreeze fairly quickly. Your main water system would get a slowly increasing concentration of antifreeze, and I don't think you're suppose to flush glycol down the drain, and that would be a lot of antifreeze water to dispose of correctly. I don't know if your current oil heater is hooked up to city water, but pumping glycol into a boiler water system that is attached to city water would undoubtedly be illegal. Even though boilers typically have pressure regulators from the city water to the boiler that shouldn't allow backflow they still won't like it. I wouldn't do it that way.
4 months ago

j sigs wrote:
Peter, thank you!  I'm not sure Im following you 100%.  What would you suggest for a thermal mass?

Also, if the boiler is outdoors, and only burned for a few hours a day, wouldn't I need MORE antifreeze on the outdoor side?

Again, thank you for your input!  I'm not an engineer so sometimes the concepts don't jump right out at me as obvious.  Regardless, I thank you!

There's no way I could buy a shell and tube heat exchanger, cant afford it.  If I could scavenge one from the junkyard, possibly, but even then I don't really know enough about them to know what I'm looking for.   I've seen some built out of old electric water heaters.  I could possibly pull that off.

The thermal mass would still be the 300 gallon tank.

It sounded to me like you wanted to pump water out of the 300 gallon tank to the rocket mass heater which would require a lot of antifreeze to stop it from freezing.

Doing this project on the cheap is a good way to get the BOOMsquish. The only place I've ever seen a used shell and tube heat exchanger for sale was at an auction at a shut down oil refinery. They're not very common outside of heavy industry.

Edit: The MSPaint picture came out really small.
4 months ago