Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 Reflections

I ended my 2017 roughly as I started it: On an ancient tractor, moving snow.  But, at this end of the year, the tractor is mine, and I've worked on it enough that it's running quite a bit better!  And I can take pictures of it from above!


Another year, another trip around the sun, and time for more reflections and resolutions.  Since I have more interesting projects going on in my life now, I've decided to break the end of year into two posts - an "end of year reflection" and a "resolutions and plans going forward" post.  This week is the reflections, and next week, to start 2018 off, is resolutions and plans.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Solar Shed Part 17: More Insulation, and Cutting Foamboard Cleanly

Winter is here - and that means an excuse for more shed insulation!  I've added under-floor foam insulation as well as a nice set of window plugs this winter!


If you're not familiar with my office, I took a Tuff-Shed and insulated it fairly well.  I've got rock wool in the walls and ceiling, plus a complete (and gap taped) layer of 2" foamboard inside that.  Then my walls.  It's well insulated - on top, and in the walls.  But the floor is totally un-insulated (because the shed was delivered whole), and my windows aren't particularly well insulated either - they're double pane windows, which is awesome, but a vinyl framed double pane window is very, very poorly insulated compared to the ~R23 of my walls and ~R30 of my roof.

So, being me, I set out to solve these problems and document how the solutions work - as well as some potential gotchas.

Under the floor is tricky - I only had some small access holes.  I went with a local foam insulation provider to blow foam in.  The window gaps are easier - I can just build myself some nicely insulated plugs.

So, read on to see what I did, and how it's been working!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Building a Cheap Extended Run Tank for my Kipor/McCulloch Inverter Generator

One of the most interesting things about my solar powered office is that the entire office is a machine, it's a very obvious machine, and I don't have an instruction manual for operation.  It's something I'm learning as I go - and last winter involved an awful lot of learning.

Last winter, I ran my generator a lot, which means I had to refill it a lot.  I learned, early, that I lack a gas can suited to filling my generator.  All the new EPA legal stuff is awful to actually use (seriously, EPA, consistent gas spills on the ground aren't better than some gas vapors in the air), and I tended to make a mess with any can I used, because my generator doesn't let you see the gas level through the strainer, and by the time you can see it, you'll overfill it by the time the nozzle drains.  Annoying, wasteful, and I wanted a better solution for this winter.

An extended run tank solves this problem for the most part, but those kits are seriously expensive - a good chunk of what I paid for my generator.  Forget that.  They're simple enough.  I built mine for about $35 (I had the tank laying around).


Curious?  Keep reading!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Tesla's $0.07/kWh Megachargers look entirely reasonable!

At the start of last year, I did some back of the envelope math on electric long haul trucks.  And, recently, Tesla announced one.  We don't have exact numbers ("Under 2kWh/mi"), but their numbers are compatible with what I came up with last year (1.43kWh/mi).  I expect they'll come in slightly under that (my money is on 1.3kWh/mi), simply because they don't have significant cooling drag to deal with, and can improve the aerodynamics slightly over a big diesel on that alone.


What I want to talk about this week, though, are the Megachargers.  Which, I assure you, are not the latest enemy for the Power Rangers - or the lastest "Mash all of them together" big robot thing.  They're the devices that will cram 400 miles of range into the trucks - in half an hour.  Oh, and for an energy cost of $0.07/kWh.  For megawatt class charging.  I know my way around power rate schedules, but that's iffy from grid power.  Does it pencil out?  If it doesn't, how can they make it?  How feasible is this, really?  Keep reading to find out!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Ford N Series Sediment Bowls (suck): Sealing a 9N/2N/8N Fuel System

If you have a Ford N series tractor, you probably know about the sediment bowl.  And, if you've tried to replace the original sediment bowl with the currently available option, you may have realized that it is an utter and complete piece of crap.  It leaks from everywhere that it possibly can, perhaps a few places it can't conceivably leak from, and it's quite unlikely that the fuel shutoff valve actually shuts off fuel.  Which, of course, is the whole point of a fuel shutoff valve.

It looks like this, and I've managed to beat one into actually behaving, not leaking, and actually shutting off fuel - even though it didn't start by doing any of those things!


Interested?  Read on!