Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pictures of the propane tank stove

     Ok I promised pics of the heater so here is one as we loaded it in the truck to go to its new home.

Here it is in the camper with a piece of roofing for a heat shield.

We had 4 inches of snow here at the house yesterday very unusual event. Where my son's camper is it got 10 to 12 inches of snow. We followed a snow plow when I was taking him home today. The vent going out the window is heavy duty dryer vent (the kind for running under the floor just 14$).Its set on 3 cinder blocks so I think it will be safe .

Monday, February 23, 2015

Old propane tank / wood heater

      If you have ever wanted a small wood heater and haven't wanted to spend a lot a lot . Or you have a small space and most store bought wood heaters are to big try making one out of a 20 lb old propane tank. We made one this weekend for my son . It cost 15$ and required no welding.

     Both of these are web pictures but the bottom one is identical to what we built . We bolted the door and vent on and used an old grill grate inside .This is going in a 27 Ft. trailer so it should heat it up nice.
     You could build a heater like this from any 20 ,30 ,40 lb. or larger empty propane tank do a web search lots of ideas available .
      Here is my BBQ smoker its nothing but a 200 gallon oxygen or propane tank .

    All we needed to make our heater was a sawzall and drill .A large hinge and exhaust flange and bolts and nuts.

     I have an old air tank that I think will make a nice medium /small wood heater just to keep in the shed just in case . I may make it a little more elaborate with a cooking plate and a small oven mounted on top.I have to admit I am now hooked on fresh bread and want a way to bake in any event !


Thursday, February 19, 2015

cordless tools are great till the batteries die !

      Every one has those cordless tools in the house or truck that are lifesavers . For years I have used Ryobi 18+1 tools drills circular saw , reciprocating saw and work light  oh yea sander .I have 6 batteries that are shot 1 works for less than half what it did when new. A new battery will cost 35$ the tools are old battery technology  I will replace with the new lithium ion ones some day. Right now I have tools that for all purposes are use less .

     As I have been helping my son at his place being without power for plug in tools and my cordless ones being useless it has been a problem .Today it was a high of 30 outside so I was bored ! Went on instructables and found several things on how to make a 18 volt cordless tool work off a 12 volt car battery. Now I know it has a cord but when nothing is available in the middle of the woods even a corded tool is great . I disassembled a dead battery gutted it to the leads and taped in 2 10 foot leads + and - crimped on alligator clamps to the other end . To test it I used a jump pack , popped the gutted wired 18 volt base in my circular saw snapped the clips on the jump pack worked great a little less powerful but very useable .Tested it in all the tools and was well pleased.
    Now this may not seem important but I had a 150$ worth of useless tools that now I can use anywhere I have my truck. It cost me 0$ and took less than 30 minutes to do. Using a jumppack makes it very portable on a job. I have a 800 watt inverter that I use/keep in my truck but that wont run a saw or drill .I would love to have a 2000/4000 watt inverter but hard to justify at this time that kind of money. Cost of 0$ vs 200$  is a no brainer .
    If you have cordless tools and no or dead batteries check out the   How to ,or Instructables sites !!!           or

Monday, February 16, 2015

Almost freezing rain and ice .

    The last few days we have had a cold front bring single didgets temps to the area. It has rained all day and been about 35 and tonight it will be 21 and I expect ice will be on the roads in some places. I am hunkered down in the house till this passes by Thursday when a heat wave of 45 will arrive .
     Sunday my son called and asked if he could spend a few days here till the weather got a little better. Sure I had tried to get him to come back when I was there Thursday. He was afraid he would use all his propane .He come in with everything to be recharged and laundry to do. Before I recharged the jump packs I checked them and they were at 12.7 volts which is 90 to 100 % . His other items we have topped up just because he is here . He wants to go back up Thursday but I may make him wait till Sunday so I can take him a second 15 watt panel and set up 2 separate charging stations for him. One will be for the radio and DVD player and the other will do his lights, phone,Mp3 player and have a good surplus for cloudy days. He could have stayed but he didn't plan on using as much propane and he doesn't want to ask me to buy him a tank .


Thursday, February 12, 2015

A little power goes a long way.

     Ok today is the 14th day that my Son (lab rat )  has been on his own .The results are in on propane and power use for his off grid trailer . Water is from a creek so nothing on that.

   It is winter and the oven has been used for 2 to 3 hour of heat a nite and cooking 3 meals a day.The tank was a 15 lb exchange unit from wal mart and lasted 11 days. If he had used the oven less for heat I could see it lasting 20 to 25 days. Now he is eating good solid home cooked meals not heat and eat can food . It makes a difference propane use .

     Now on power he has a jump pack,LED lantern, MP3 player, radio with rechargeable AAs, cell phone and a DVD player. He has been able to keep them all charged using a single 15 watt harbor freight panel. Today we talked and he has watched 2 hours a nite on the DVD the radio or MP3 is on most of the day. His cell has stayed full .Now the one problem we see is that the jump pack will not charge above the 80% reading with the solar panel . Now we aren't  sure if  its something in the jump pack or the low amperage from the panel . All in all for just one 15 watt setup it has provided a lot of variety .The only other power he has is a solar rope light from harbor freight and 2 solar path lights from dollar tree.
    I went up today mainly to bring my son to the house till Monday the next few nights are going to be in the mid teens and days in the 30s he said he was fine and turned me down. He asked if I would get him Sunday week instead .

      Here is a link to the rope lights they work good I had run them inside my son moved them to the poach said to bright to sleep with:) .


Monday, February 9, 2015

Updates on my son and around here.

     A friend of mine stopped by to check on my son Sunday and then informed me he was doing fine. Seems his solar panel has done good with the sunny days ,but he isn't sure how much propane he has used. Was told he has moved his bed to the kitchen end of the camper and hung a blanket up to stay warmer.The nites have been in the low 30s but days have been 55 and sunny. I will go up on Thursday and probable bring him back to the house for 3 days (forcast is for low teens 2 nites ). Also was told he needed a shower and to wash some cloths .

    While the weather has been nice this weekend I did a good BBQ business and was able to get some odds and ends done around the house and with both campers. I cant wait for a little warm weather for a weeks camping some where .

     Did catch a great deal on a riding lawn mower. My wife's sister told us her husband was going to sell his riding mower for 100$.For the last 4 years I have used my tractor and push mowed what it couldn't cut . There is a lot of push mowing and a bush hog isn't ideal for a smooth cut in the front yard . Called my brother in law to make sure he was going to sell it ( wives sometime sell husbands stuff before we decide to) and why so cheap. He said he was selling it, as for what was wrong he said needs a battery and a deck belt was squealing . Ok still a deal . Went and got it Sunday he told me it had been 2 years since he had used it. Looked great charged the battery , cleaned the jelly out of the gas tank ,add a gallon of premium gas, fired right up ,the belt was squealing because the bearings were almost froze 2 squirts of wd 40 broke them free by hand . This morning I cut the yard next door  used it this afternoon just to loosen the bearings .Just before dark I checked the battery with a volt meter 12.7. It looks like new for 100$ a gallon of gas and a little WD 40 , air in the tires should last many summers .

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A few lessons from the trailer in the woods.

      Went and checked on my son today to make sure he wasn't frozen, hurt or anything else. I put him so far out in the woods he has to walk a half mile to use his cell phone .To make it worst it is like the old joke uphill both ways :) .
     He is doing fine but the camper doesn't hold heat for long once the stove is off . He has had 4 nites of 20 to 25 degrees this week but hasn't had to use the sleeping bag yet .One day was rainy and the roof we had added kept it dry. The sewer pipe and hole is working but the gravity fed water proved to be more work than it was worth. I tried to tell him to just use a bucket and the barrel to store the water close in .

     The power situation was a problem ,seems the way I had him set it up wasn't working very well . I reset the solar panel and checked the wires found why it wasn't working , I had a connector that was letting power drain out of the power pack bypassing the blocking diode . I charged the power pack, dvd player and his phone with my jeep before I left. Gave him a to-do list and told him to call me Wednesday before I come back Thursday .

     Even though I am not the one living there I have learned a few things.
1 Insulation is very important
2 the simplest way is best
3 A little power is better than none
4 music or radio will keep you sane
5 knowledge of alternative  ways to do things is a must !
    Now if I was to have to fall back to the  Bison plan like I had to for my son . I would have a better insulated camper with a working heater . As far as power 4 100 watt panels would probable do for power and entertainment. I would have my jeep and inverter for backup power. In 2 months the county he lives in will be having a tax sell and I think I will be attending. The lady that holds my sons property bought 6 parcels for 900$ three have been reclaimed and she got her money plus interest at 12% back. She still has 2 1 acre lots and one 3 acres with a pole barn that she gets title on come October. I think I will take a chance on a few  say 600$ or 3 parcels if nothing else I may get a lot for storage and a MAN CABIN !!!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

His wants exceed his means.

      For the last 3 months my son has been living back here at my house .He got into some trouble with the friends he was staying with and had to run home to keep from getting his butt stomped. He told a female friend her husband was cheating and the girlfriend was pregnant. It was not my sons place to interfere he got a split lip and the windows knocked out of his camper for it. They threatened to do more so I stepped in, brought him home and let it be known it needed to be ended at that .
     My temperament is well known in the area so it cooled down to just dirty looks on the road if we passed .All this took place just before thanksgiving so I let him stay through the holidays. Over the last 3 months we moved the camper cleared a 1/4 acre fixed the windows, dug a septic hole ,fixed the stove, built a porch and metal roofed over his camper. Now most of this was low cost less than a 100$ the porch and roof was sheet metal I had given to me, the wood was from a friends shop of old packing crates.
    Now I didn't mind giving my time and parted with the scrap with only a little reluctance BUT then he asked for my 12 volt pump and 3. 15 watt solar panels my 12volt DVD player ,radio, lanterns and Mr. buddy heater.
      Ok I understand it would make life in the woods more comfortable . I DONT CARE !!!!! I worked saved and bought this stuff yes I have it stored and multiple's of most of it. He has always thought daddy survival stuff was a joke something he made fun of when I wasn't around .
      Now he is my only idiot son so I did help him. 1 15 watt panel my small DVD player a 9 volt transistor radio ,3 solar yard lights and 2 dollar tree lanterns .His water is gravity fed and for heat he can use the stove oven with bricks in it. He moved back up there yesterday will go check on him Thursday . Wednesday the low is going to be 24 will be a gut check for him .
      If he acted better I would do more. Till he matures this is more than he deserves , his wants exceed his means. I feel he has his needs met his wants are his own affair !!!