Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rocks, rolling, and heavy metal

Well, it has been a bit since the last post hasn't it?

Until the last week or so, the weather has been terrible on the weekends. But I did a few things. I have been looking for low power lights that will actually light up a room. I have been hoping to find LED lights that would fit the bill. While the good ones are still darn expensive, they use very little electricity (looks like between 1/6 and 1/4 of an incandescent), come on instantly (no delay like a CFL) and should last a very long time. I saw an ad for Lowe's with a new LED general lighting bulb, so I decided to pick one up and compare it to some other lights.

I forced my camera to take pictures with pretty much the same settings even though there were different lighting conditions so I could make a comparison.

The light in the upper left is a 40 watt incandescent. A bit red in color, but overall pleasing light. Bulb gets too hot to touch almost immediately. Most of the electricity it uses is turned into heat.

I did not have a 40 watt equivalent CFL, so I compared a 60 watt equivalent. The CFL stays much cooler, but took about 5 minutes to get up to full brightness. The light is rather harsh, and it is a little too large for this fixture, and pokes out of the top. The CFL is in the upper right.

I had a 40 equivalent LED bulb that I had bought previously. It only used about 6 watts. The light was a bit more yellow than I wanted, and it didn't light up the fixture vary evenly. So most of the light was thrown up toward the ceiling and very little was cast downwards. It came up to full brightness almost instantly, and even after a number of minutes was only a little too warm to touch comfortably. This is the one shown in the lower left.

In the lower right is the new LED bulb. I was quite pleased with it. It used about the same amount of electricity as the other LED bulb, but it put out the light in a much more even pattern, and the color was a bit better.

Three weekends ago, the weather was lousy and Dad did not feel well. So I worked on assembly work on the columns that we have been working on, and on some of the supports we will use for the electrical wires above the ceiling.

Then last weekend was looking like it was going to have very good weather for getting some outside work done. I called Adam, and he told me he could be available for helping put the generator in place, and moving dirt and gravel. We agreed that Saturday afternoon should work fine for him to come over and help. Dad and I decided to take vacation on Friday and Monday, so we would have a good long weekend to work. Thursday evening, we had snow! Obviously, this was not what I expected from an early spring. It was pretty, but I would have been happy to have had dry weather.

Well, while that melted off, we worked inside Friday morning. We worked on putting supports up in the joist space for the electrical wires, and I made notations of where I was going to change the wiring routes on my plan. Here are some of the supports up in place.

Then Saturday we headed out and started figuring out what duct work I would need for the ventilation system. Adam came over in the morning to see how things were going. He hadn't seen the place in a while, and thought we were making good progress. He said that some things had come up, and he wouldn't be available that afternoon. I told him that the ground still seemed awfully soft, so I figured if we waited till Monday, it would work out better anyway. We walked around the property and discussed the work that I wanted done. He suggested getting some landscape timbers, and making a box to pile gravel into for where the generator would sit, rather than just trying to keep gravel in place on the ground.

We got the wood for the box around the generator, and some of the duct work for the ventilation system. We cut rebar from some of what was left from forming the walls of the house, to use as spikes to hold the timbers in place.

We took the pieces of duct work into the hobby room and assembled the long pieces. I probably still have a dozen or more pieces of metal duct to get.

We also worked on getting holes cut in the two big pieces of Hardie panel left to put on the front. We needed the holes for the wiring boxes for the front lights. We started with a hole saw, then dad finished cutting them on Monday.

Sunday we did quite a bit of planning and then baby sat my niece.

Monday we got out to the property early. Dad and I started by assembling the box for the generator pad. As we were finishing that up, Adam came up the drive and dropped off the forks for his Bobcat. He went and did some grading while we finished the box. When we were done with that he came over and lifted the generator. We put pipes through holes in the base so he could lift it properly. Then when he got it over to the pad, we put out pieces of wood and he set the pipes down on the wood and helped us roll the generator into place. Then lifting one end at a time, we got the wood pulled out and set the generator down into place.

Adam got the area around the well filled in, and graded out.

The backfill around the house, had settled quite a bit. So Adam dug up more dirt from the property, and buried the house again. As Adam was working on this, we found places where the drainage material had been pulled out of place, or ripped by the settling. We took the drainage material that I had left, and patched over those areas before Adam backfilled over them. Our friend Bob wanted to see how things were going, and so he came out on Monday. We put him to work. He was a big help in getting the drainage material patches in place. These pieces were large, and needed more than two people to get them put where they needed to go.

Adam brought the east backfill back up to the roof level.

On the north side, all the water flowing off the roof, had settled the ground a lot, and also had been cutting valleys in the dirt. I decided I wanted better drainage for most of the roof, especially near the vents through the roof. So we took drain tile, and some of the gravel I had from the last load that was delivered, and put drainage material down to guide the water to where I wanted it to go. We took more drain tile, down the hill, and back into the woods.

We added drainage before Adam backfilled the north side.

Now last year, when we fixed the pipes that had broken, Adam also dug up some dirt for backfill. He dug in an area back in the woods and over the winter it has gotten a lot of water in it. I now had a pond and Adam wanted to get more dirt from back there. So he formed a nice little wall, and I had a proper looking muddy pond!

 The deer have been enjoying having this nice watering hole.

We took most of what was left of the gravel, and filled in an area around the vent and electrical pipes, and an area in front of the solar array.

It will help keep the mud from being so bad in those areas.

Adam said he is going to do some more backfill work tomorrow. I'll have to see if I can make time to stop by and check on the progress.

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