Monday, November 29, 2010

Without an 'H' please; thanks ...

Windy nights spiked the battery voltage.  I love making electricity!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful for Family

I hope our friends and family are having a pleasant holiday. We are, and here it seems to be very busy on the ranch. We even had to go attend to several auto break downs, all of which were electrical.That electric bike we took in for repair had a failed solder joint, we re-soldered it and added some silicone glue to act as a stress relief.

Elecric Bike Swich

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Transmission impossible

Lately I have been repairing things for myself and others. I made our slightly-used air compressor work, after some fresh oil and a carburetor rebuild.  Now we have compressed air which makes my air tools happy.  Air
Today I planned on doing a transmission R&R in a 95 one-ton Ford for a mechanic friend of mine, but when it came time to put the new transmission in, we found out that the other trans was just a tad different. So there was no way it was going fit. Luckily we found this out after only trying for a half-hour.

I've had a few repairs dropped off and one of the more interesting ones was an electric bicycle which has a main power switch problem. Bicycle
These have come a long way and have a 10-50 mile range.  In two years expect 100+ mile ranges.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Disembodied heads

Not much going on here.  Everyone is doing well, humans, canines, and birds.  Lots of wasps lately, but now that we have screened windows, it's a lot easier to deal with them than it was this time last year!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Sprocket Returns!

Sprocket finally came home last night, at about midnight.  We are very happy to have our family unit restored.  He was covered in thorns, but otherwise fine.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Casey found a flashlight in his truck.  Well, not in his truck cab, but in his truck's left front spring.  Apparently that was one of the noises we had been hearing in the suspension.  He found it when he replaced the wheel bearing today.  And yes, it still works -- it took quite a beating.


We skipped pot luck this month because I have a cold, but I smelled
Dori's chili cooking in the office today, and I'm sure everyone went
home with a full belly.
Also, Sprocket is missing.  We left him home to go feed the neighbor's dogs, and when we got back he wasn't around.  We have been calling him now for a while, and still no dog.  We'll go out and look for him after this post goes up.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Communications though outer space

Thumbnail image for IMG_0818.JPG
We have been running our satellite phone/Internet alot lately, well because its necessary to communicate. One dilemma is it has had trouble starting in the cold mooring (for me 40 deg f should not bother anything) in technical terms "the dog is not locking in on the bird" . So are good friend Danny from big bend tel came by, he had some novel advice "leave the phone on". As some of you out there already know we would love to, but our power system which does everything we need to do, does not completely power the 2kwh a day satellite. BBT is getting a 24 volt updated sat board for us to try soon So we are trying to work with big bent tel to do a 24 volt satellite only power system with our 100% free labor and as many parts as we can afford to donate. We are also going to try to work on some power management for the beast, the first steep of course is direct DC power.
So are friends, family and fans of this site will be happy we are improving our communications as soon as possible, or in west Texas time the next several months.  

Monday, November 15, 2010


Did the body bushings on our truck, the originals (pictured right) were no longer isolating the cab from the frame. Cab Bushing

I also replaced a faulty water pump and while I was at it I changed the timing belt.

Ford OHC

Friday, November 12, 2010

Looking back

Removed the bathroom wall forms today and the walls turned out great. Spent the rest of the day working online and refurbishing my truck. My truck project turned out to be a can of worms-- I thought it'd be a simple body mount replacement, but Ford's press-fit sleeves are one-time-use only.

Stumbled across some of of early photos from  
Woodgas Truck

imag0023.jpgWe can't wait to get back to our own experiments with syn-gasification. For now we have been doing consulting work on the technicals. Once we get a very much needed shop completed on our property we will be back to fabricating/experimenting. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

No news is good news

Not much to report here. 

We've been busy with house work, honey-do lists, web research, side projects, et cetera.

I saw multiple dust devils in the office parking lot, but they're so fast and capricious (read: hard to photograph) that I've never managed to get a good photo of one. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Home made walls

Today we poured two of our four bathroom knee walls, using gravel we got withing a mile of our home and a few bags of Portland cement. Using a 18% Portland mix and the project took 11 full mixer loads.

First two bath walls.
Tomorrow we will remove the forms. Once again my Toshiba is in disrepair and this time I am going to repair it myself and as soon as possible replace it with another brand.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

DC current did not necessarily lose the war.

When you work with alternative energy you tend to work with DC (direct current) and when you store electricity with batteries it's DC. So naturally you power as many things as possible with the DC current. Many installations use DC inverted to AC (at ~10% power loss) and only rarely are alternative, DC appliances or lighting used. I always stress to my customers the importance of DC power use in terms of reliability and overall efficiency. In our house, we are in the process of finalizing our DC wiring, and right now we are working on the DC lighting circuits. For this we are using a centrally located switching control that is operated by a wireless remote. I have used wireless switch controls before with good results, but this time around I am trying a new supplier and I will let you know the results. To be continued...

Until then


Monday, November 8, 2010

Recent Adventures


Once again, we apologize for being lazy bloggers.  We have decided to try to make a post everyday from now on, even if it's just one sentence or a photo.

Here are some snapshots from recent adventures:

IMG_4042.JPGYet another sunset photograph! I bet some of you are getting tired of these, but we never do!  The evening we took this photo, the radio host on KRTS Marfa named it one of the best sunsets of the year!  A few minutes after this picture, the sky became much more dramatic, with bright gold clouds and a pink & purple sky.  I like the sedate pastels of this skyscape, too though.


IMG_4053.JPGI love watching the wildlife, and at work we get a veritable parade of animals past the office as critters stop by for a drink at the troughs.  Quail, javelina, and lots of mule deer love to visit us daily.

Of course, hunting season is now open on mule deer, and the hunters are starting to pour in.  Poachers have already been caught on the Ranch, and I'm sure many more will follow.  We have two game wardens on the Ranch this season, and many people have asked for their number already. 

I try to let everyone know that while BOW season opened early this month, GUN season doesn't open until the 26th of November.  So anyone out hunting with guns, or hunting from the roads, is breaking the law.  Anyone caught breaking the law could lose more than just their license -- there are huge fines, and also anything used to break the game laws (guns, vehicles, and other paraphernalia) can be seized by the wardens.

Also, FYI, it is a longstanding and dearly held MYTH that property owners can hunt anywhere on the Ranch.  While this was never a de juro rule, it was a de facto rule early in the Ranch's existence.  Back then, the population in this area was much smaller, and a lot of the land was as yet unsold by the developers.  There used to be Hunt Parks that POs could utilize, but these parcels were sold to individuals a while back, and are now private property.  But these days, we must all follow the law of the land and hunt only on our own tracts, and always obey the hunting regulations.

IMG_1025.JPGCasey spent a weekend building this rack for his pickup truck.  Now we can transport long board and sheetrock more easily.  It's wonderful what you can do with a little conduit, a welder, and some ingenuity.  This is a great step toward finishing the house.

Casey and Arick spent an afternoon hauling gravel, and now we have gravel around 75% of our house.  It really keeps the dust down, and looks cool too!

Weather-wise, it's been getting cooler here.  The days still get up into the 80s, but the night drop down to the 30s and 40s.  Our heating system will be installed in the bathroom, so we have to get that project finished soon. 

My new chick-a-dees are doing well despite the late season.  The broilers are getting fat in their chicken tractor, though one is already limping.  Leg problems are common in this breed because they get so fat so fast, but I don't think this injury is related to that (of course, I could be wrong -- it has happened once or twice).  He will either heal up, or become ostracized by the other birds and probably die.

I did bring one of the new Brahma babies into our home last night.  This little girl broke the tip of her beak off somehow, and the injury was attracting a lot of attention from the other chicks.  I decided it would be better to take her home until the beak healed, than to leave her to be pecked by the other birds.  Sometime a small injury can become lethal, thanks to the nature of chickens to exacerbate each others' injuries.
I have decided to name this little pullet, since she is a layer and not a meat bird.  While all the layers are named Henrietta (just a nickname I've given to all my hens), I will call this little girl Buffy, the Buff Brahma with a Broken Beak.