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Archive for July, 2013

PostHeaderIcon Lots Of Construction At The Off Grid Solar Homestead

There was a lot of construction going on at the off grid solar homestead yesterday. Joe, a friend from NJ came up to help out. He works in construction and was a great help in getting some of the larger projects finished on the property. I worked on RV renovation and clean up trying to get ready to move into the old motorhome soon.

Saturday night TJ and I set up the LED disco lighting that I bought off herbsterplace1 from youtube. This is an LED light rope with different colored LEDs and a remote control so you can program it or use various preset programs. It is really cool and we played a few hands of UNO while the radio played in the background in the new RV. We also sat on the new homemade battery box/bench in the RV and played our game of cards. It felt good to use the bench that we build with our own hands. I just had the LEDs taped onto the walls for now but later I will install them properly.

The weather was nearly perfect all day Monday except for the humidity. There was a light breeze and the high was in the 80s with no rain.

Joe arrived in the late morning and he started working with TJ on the rain water collector, solar shower and building a work bench. Together they rebuild the whole rain water collection system and reinforced the struts. They also built it to take more panels and increase rain water collection.

In the mean time I was cleaning the RV closets and fastening some of the fixtures and window screens back in place. I found another old ant nest in the closet underneath a board that covers the propane lines.

My little Harbor Freight 800 watt portable generator got a good workout with Joe and TJ using it to cut wood with a circular saw while I used it to vacuum junk out of the RV. With a spark plug change, the little generator really performs well. I also read that you should burn premium gas in it for best performance, so I will change to that with the next fill up.

I also dug out the removable living room table that goes into the floor in the center of the RV living room. It sits perfectly with the new homemade bench. Without measuring the two, they make a perfect match for one another. Its like they were made for each other. I really like it. I washed the table up nicely and left it there. I think it will be very useful. With a couple fold up chairs I can easily seat 6 people around my table in the RV living room.

I used some Minwax wood hardener in a spot on the bathroom floor which was weak due to the ants. I is just an 8 inch round spot that gives under your feet when you step on it. I figured this stuff may help reinforce the floor so I dont have to cut and patch in a new piece of wood. It is supposed to seep down into the wood fibers and form a plastic like material with it. Well, it failed in my case. Now the floor is brittle and cracking where before it was just spongy. Now I need to repair it for real.

TJ and Joe reinforced the solar shower and finished it up by placing the Coleman solar camp shower on top so we can take real hot showers from now on. They leveled the shower stall off on the ground nicely as well. Now we have a real stand up solar hot shower in the off grid meadow. I still want to clean up an old 30 gallon metal drum and use it for showering but I need a water fitting for the shower head first.

I started working on the conversion of my RV electric control box but that will be a video all of its own. I removed all the 120 to 12 volt conversion circuitry and will wire in my solar panels and inverter to the original RV wiring. This will save me a lot of work and I can leave the original wires, circuit breakers and fuses in place. When I have the conversion finished I will upload the video separately and do an article on this site.

For the last project of the evening TJ and Joe build a very nice, rugged work bench so we dont have to work on the ground anymore. It is made up of all scrap materials. The frame was found in the forest and the top is made out of pallet wood.

Joe also gave me an electric fence tester and we tested out all the fence lines. I discovered that the fence ground is very poor and needs to be replaced asap.

A package arrived from Rich at Around The Cabin which contained some hard drive magnets for my wind turbine project, a fan for my RV, some balls for Baby cat and a couple 9 volt batteries. Thank you Rich. Every Monday night at 9 pm EST you can join me on for a live talk/chat show about The Off Grid Project, survival, outdoors and alternate energy.

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PostHeaderIcon TJ Evicted A Trip To Harbor Freight And RV Renovations

Today TJ got evicted from the RV, but then got moved right into the survival truck camper for the duration of his stay. We took a trip to Harbor Freight and Home Depot today for supplies and some very helpful items for The Off Grid Project. Renovation work continued full blast today with new walls being installed in the living room.

This morning we measured the RV living room for materials and wrote our shopping lists for a trip to Home Depot and Harbor Freight. This is a 45 minute trip one way, so things have to be planned properly in order to save time and gas.

At Home Depot we got some new white colored 1/8 inch thick wall boards for the RV living room. This replaces the water damaged wood look paneling that was in there before. We also got a 3/4 inch thick 4 x 8 sheet of plywood to make a new battery box for the RV. And we got some 1 x 2 and 2 x 2 framing boards to build the battery box and a solar food dryer.

At Harbor Freight we picked up one of those 800 watt portable generators for only $89 with a coupon. I got the extended warranty because the original one is only 90 days. That is not long enough for such a device. I picked up the extra full replacement 15 month warranty.

When we got back to the homestead, the first thing we did was to unpack the new generator and try it out. It is very light and so tiny. I cannot believe this is rated for 800 watts. It has a peak rating of 900 watts. It is a 2 cycle 63cc engine that needs a 50 to 1 gas oil mixture. The box claims that it can run about 5 hours on a single gallon of gas at half load.

I still want to get the big old generator going to power up larger tools and my air conditioner but we needed more power right now in order to finish the work on the homestead and get the RV finished before winter.

TJ was the first to try it out with a circular saw rated at 5 amps which equals 600 watts. Of course an AC motor has a larger surge rating, but the little generator ran it with barely a hiccup and TJ was able to finish his project with no problem.

Meanwhile I cleaned out the RV of all construction debris and tools to prepare for installing the brand new white wall in the living room. When TJ was done with his project he moved all his gear out of the RV. He has taken it over for his stay here. I cleaned out the old survival truck camper for him to stay in for the rest of his time here. It was full of my appliances from my old apartment. Now that I am off the grid, all my electrical devices and kitchen appliances went into the truck camper until I could get them put away properly.

Now TJ has his own private place to stay with a kitchen, table and bedroom. He will be more comfortable in there and I can work in the RV without disturbing him.

A couple packages arrived today.

A very large package came from Missouri Dave from youtube. This was a very heavy box loaded with some very nice snacks, including a gigantic bag of pistachios and two large bags of turkey jerkey. There was a pack of work gloves just in time for the work planned for tomorrow. TJ and I will take the truck to get a load of free mulch for the garden. There were a few packs of steel wool, which works nicely to block mice from entering your home plus its great for wood working, which I will be doing soon.

The box also had a bunch of bug repelling wrist bands, some disinfecting wipes, a box of energy bars and a huge box of contractor grade trash bags.

Thank you Missouri Dave!

Another package arrived straight from Amazon today. This one is from OhioPrepperOne and contained a 12 foot long cigarette lighter extension cord. I never even knew these existed. This is perfect for working in an RV due to the fact that everything is 12 volts. There were also two double cigarette lighter sockets to install in the new RV. There were sadly no cigarette lighter sockets installed in the whole RV except for right up by the driver. This package will greatly help in the new home.

Thank you OhioPrepperONe!

I put all the foam insulation back into the RV walls and then spray foamed all the gaps. There were a lot of poorly insulated places and areas with none at all. The spray foam will very much improve the R factor of the motor home.

I then cut the new white board for the RV wall and placed it in to see how it fit. Amazingly I got it right, even down to the whole for the wall socket. I did not yet attach the board to the wall. I will let the spray foam cure and then trim it tomorrow before attaching the new wall board to the frame.

It is getting very exciting now that I am down to the last days of repair work in the new RV.

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PostHeaderIcon BBQ And Another Guest At The Off Grid Homestead

On Sunday we had a BBQ at the off grid homestead. We also had another guest pop in for the evening to help out with some work on the off grid camper site. We installed the electric fence around the meadow to protect the chickens, went swimming in the creek and just had a general good time.

Sunday morning started out slow and lazy after the intense heat and work on Saturday. We had a nice breakfast in the old Coleman camp stove and slowly got moving. The guys finished preparing the garden for planting. Some finished installing the electric fence around the meadow. I worked on cleaning out the back side of the fridge some more and finished cleaning in the back of the new RV.

Bob accepted the challenge to eat some of my fresh garlic from the garden. He said that he eats garlic all the time so it should not be too strong for him. Boy was he surprised to find out that this garlic is HOT. You have to see the video to see his reaction. It sure was funny. I had to mute out a few expletives though. lol

In the heat of the day we all headed down to the creek for a cooling off in the water. It is about 50 – 55 degrees in the creek. The water is fast moving and running straight off a nearby mountain so it never really gets warmed up at all. There are nice, fat trout just watching us as we play. We have a rope hanging from a tree that we can swing off and fly into the water. Right under the bridge is a deep hole for swimming. We jumped in fully dressed, including our shoes. This helped keep us cool for the rest of the day.

In the evening it was BBQ time with some venison, hamburgers and hot dogs.

ManOfMany Thingz from youtube joined us for the evening work and a nice time at the BBQ. He showed us all the new improvements on his “SJ” (survival jeep). He has added some super bright LED light strips in the back of the hatch that lights up the whole area when you open the hatch and turn it on. Another light strip is in front of the jeep under the bumper for night driving or forest trails.

Herb from herbsterplace1 on youtube gave me a solar panel from Harbor Freight and a computer fan which we installed on the chicken tractor. The fan runs all day now and pulls stale air out of the chicken coop on top of the chicken tractor. This provides some cooling and fresh air for the birds during the daylight hours. It will also help keep the coop cooler for them when the sun goes down. Thank you Herb.

Some of us tested the electric fence after it was assembled, including TJ who had promised to do this with wet fingers if I ate the raw garlic. He kept his end of the deal and got a super shock he will never forget. Bob from camp herbsterplace also grabbed onto the fence and then did it again, and again, and again..

In all it was a very good day on the off grid homestead.

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PostHeaderIcon A Huge Surprise At The Off Grid Homestead

On Friday afternoon The Off Grid Project received a group of visitors. Herbsterplace1 from youtube and his gang came all the way up from Maryland to visit and help out on the off grid projects at the homestead.

After a very eventful and nerve racking visit that should have taken only 4.5 hours but turned into an all day affair, a new RV rolled into the homestead of the off grid solar camper. Herb and his family came over to help out with the projects for the weekend. They drove all the way out here in an old motorhome to help.

We did not get much done on Friday night due to setting up camper for the gang, but Saturday was a good, full day.

Friday morning though TJ and I worked on the projects and got the old RV fridge cleaned up to test it out. We had to get my old generator running so I could run my air compressor. Then we blew out all the dirt, dust and debris from the grill and tubes of the built in 3 way RV fridge. We connected a 20 lb propane tank to the RV and tried out the stove top first to purge the lines of air. All four burners work well and even the pilot light fired up easily. Then we tried the fridge and it fired right up.

We left the fridge running for a few hours to see if it will work and it did. After just a few hours the freezer was at 10 degrees F. This thing works well and fast on propane. Next we will clean it up on the inside. It sure is filthy inside.

Saturday morning Herb and the gang helped out on the property. We got the garden raked and turned over with a shovel. All the rocks and sod clumps were removed. A new solar heated shower room was built. The RV got a serious cleaning and some more demolition work done on it. Herb got his solar panels and solar power system put together to power his RV. His RV hot water tank was patched up with good old JB weld so they could have running water. My car was worked on to repair the exhaust and the loose wire on the fuel pump and lots more.

In the afternoon we all took a break from the extreme heat and went down to the creek for a swim. The creek water is cold, maybe about 55 degrees but it sure feels good after a hot day of work. We went in with our work clothes on so that they would keep us cool during the rest of the afternoon. That worked very well and we all felt much more energized.

I got a nice package from The Mr Krause, full of coffee, tins of fine fish, some toys for Baby cat, an electronic rodent repellent which will go into the RV, a bunch of DC motors and more. Thank you very much.

Doc Golres sent a spigot to use for the five gallon bucket version of the Berkey water filter. Thank you Doc. We will be putting the new filter together soon. Of course, we will record it.

It turned out to be a good day. Thanks to herbsterplace1 for coming out.

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PostHeaderIcon Mega Gardening Day Water Filtration And RV Work

Today was a huge day working in the garden and the wilderness meadow, trying to tame both. Living out in the forest, keeping your garden and the surrounding area in check is a big job. And it never ends. With the help of TJ we got a lot done today. I now have a water filtering system put together so I am finally separated from dependence on society. I also got some work done in the RV today.

Work started today at around 9 am. After the heat of the drive yesterday from Connecticut picking up TJ, we were both pretty exhausted. If you ever drove an old pickup truck in the summer heat you know that they somehow blow engine heat right into the passenger compartment through the firewall. I have driven a lot of old trucks and never had an exception to this. Anyway, with temperatures in the 90s, full sun and no AC it was HOT. We took a lot of breaks on the short drive just to rehydrate and cool ourselves off.

So, work started a bit later than it could have.

We put stakes in the garden beds at the corners so I could run string up the stakes for all the vine plants to climb up. I spent the better part of the day running string up all the stakes and then feeding the plants up the string and getting them off the ground. While I worked TJ mowed the grass in the meadow. Believe it or not it was so hot that it took us all day just to get these tasks finished. The sun this year is very intense and you cannot stay in it for too long without a break.

We also rewired the solar panels so that I now have 4 solar panels wired together in series to make about 100 volts DC. This gets converted by my charge controller into 12 volts at about 60 amps. This is the maximum amount of current that my charge controller can handle on the output side. I spent some time on the phone with Northern Arizona Wind & Sun getting advice on the best way to connect my panels because I still have 4 more unused panels.

I plan to set up another set of panels with two facing South East, two facing South West and the other four facing South. I will explain in more detail how I am going to wire this in a later video. But it should give me maximum charging current through most of the day. Right now I only get sunlight on the panels from 9 am to 5 pm due to all the trees surrounding the meadow I am parked in.

A couple packages arrived yesterday which I opened up and showed on video. It only got onto today’s video though.

Wayne Chadwick from youtube send a package all the way from the UK to help The Off Grid Project. He sent me some real English tea, which TJ and I promptly tried out and it was good. Thank you Wayne.

I also got some nice LED lights, a tea strainer, duct tape, terminal strips, an LED flashlight, a laser pointer, a cigarette lighter USB charger and some seed packages. The seeds came at the perfect time because I will be planting this week.

Thank you Wayne Chadwick.

Another youtuber named doc golres sent a pair of the Berkey black water filters. These things are awesome and are used by survivalists, preppers and families all over. They are the top name in water filtration. Each one of these can filter about 3,000 gallons of water. These filters are often used in pairs with two 5 gallon buckets to make a nice survival water filter.

I set one up in a homemade filter system for now using a sun tea jar I got for free just a couple weeks ago with a large plastic jar I had on hand. The jar fit the filter perfectly. We had run out of drinking water this morning so this filter was badly needed. I have been hand carrying gallon jugs of water from the home of my landlady each day as needed since I moved out here. Her well went bad a couple weeks ago and I have been buying drinking water since then. This morning I ran out and needed water fast. So I whipped this little filter together and it worked well.

Now I can say I am truly off the grid with no more need for outside drinking water.

Thank you Doc Golres.

When painting the RV living room walls, I ran into a block with the spikes that run out of the floor. These were the original seat belt mounts that went with the original RV sofa. The sofa had seating and seat belts for 4 people. That is pretty cool. But the sofa was a mess and got tossed out when I gutted the RV.

I tried prying, twisting and beating the metal rods out but nothing worked. So I got my old generator carburetor cleaned up enough to get it running again and got out my electric grinder with a cut off wheel. After cutting off one of the rods close to the floor and then cutting the second one nearly through, I hit it with a hammer and it fell right out through the floor onto the ground under the RV. This was a shock to me after nothing I had done before would move them.

I discovered that the rods were actually huge bolts with wide washers on them. Then two heavy wood screws were mounted into the floor from the bottom and through the metal washers to prevent the bolt from ever pulling through the floor.

Sadly with the years the screws came loose (to my advantage) and I was able to pound the bolts out of the RV floor and onto the ground. Now I can paint with no obstruction.

I talked to TJ today after his first whole day at the scene of The Off Grid Project and he said it was hot, very hot. He came here all gung ho about digging holes and building stuff and getting a ton of work done each day. The reality is that stuff just takes time and the heat slows you down. Its ok, we will keep plugging along and get done what we can. It is a great help having someone here on the project.

Thank you TJ for coming out.

Please donate to help keep The Off Grid Project going: Donate

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