Sunday, December 29, 2013

Shastoration Sunday

The trailer project continues. I took some time off this week and made some good progress. We ordered the aluminum skin from California and it showed up in three big boxes. It's not ready for skin just yet, but we have it sitting on the shelf. The house and trailer wiring are finally finished.
The electrical cabinet contains three fuse panels and one inverter charger. In total there are four AC circuits and five DC circuits.
 And there was light. All of the lights are DC LEDs so they draw very little power.  

I replaced the standard bulbs in the main house light with LEDs and rewired the original kitchen light for two LEDs also. Although not shown in the picture, we saved the original 1960's glass sconce for the kitchen light. You can just see the remote battery monitoring panel mounted on the front of the fuse door there in the closet. I picked up a cheap car battery to test out the systems. Eventually we will get use a sealed AGM type for camping.
Most importantly, the refrigerator works. So now when the world ends and we have to pull it into the middle of nowhere, the beer will be cold.
The next step is to trim and insulate. Since we will be using lots of spray foam for insulation, the interior trim will need to be completed so nothing leaks in or deforms the panels.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Big House News

With our munchkin, the blog posts and general photo worthy activities have really slowed down. We love our house, but with the three of us things have been getting tight. If we have a second one, then we are definitely too small. It's amazing how much stuff kids have. Our options are either move or add on. Since the Roe Circle Country Club is the most exclusive club in Kansas City, we really don't want to leave. That puts us back at adding on. There is no good way to add on to the house without completely screwing up the lines and general layout. Fortunately we have a big garage with power, water, and gas. For the past couple months we have been running through various options with Studio Build and finally have something that works.
The general idea is to "drop" the addition onto the garage and link the two from the upstairs hallway in the existing house. The addition will have a master suite, 4th bedroom/office, and a laundry/storage room. The window layout hasn't been finalized so just a few are shown.
The 4th bedroom faces front with the laundry room at the right of the front windows.
Siding will be horizontal stained cedar.

The master bedroom faces the rear and patio.  The master bedroom hopefully will have a wall of built-in closets and some type of cool headboard with some more storage. The master bath will have a walk in shower, tub, water closet, and dual sinks. The current plan has a wet bar with an ice machine and coffee maker between the master bedroom and bath.
Eventually we will move the laundry into the addition. This will allow us to make a true half bath and pantry down in the kitchen where the laundry currently sits.
Depending on the weather, the tentative start date is February 1. Stay tuned for plenty of updates in the coming months.

Monday, November 4, 2013

1965 Shasta Compact Project: November Update

After months of wiring, the trailer is getting to a point where we will be making some visible progress soon. In case you forgot, this is what the profile looks like.

The wiring in and distribution out all come from this side. The wiring doesn't take that long, but the drilling and fishing the wires through the aluminum tube takes forever. Grommets have to be fitted and glue into place everywhere the wires run through the frame so they don't short from vibration.

The frig is installed. The one we wanted, and built the cabinet for, was out of stock indefinitely, so a little modification was needed to get the larger model in. The wall was cut out and one of the front structural member was removed and needs to be relocated. 
From the front the fig fits like we meant it. The original plan was to have some walnut trim around the refrigerator. As you can see, this model completely filled the space.

Not a ton of progress here other than a couple reading lights in place. After wiring is complete and tested, we move on to trim before spray foam and skin.

Funny, the past 6 months have been spent pulling wires to and from this cabinet. A few dozen more connections and I can close this up. 
Keep in mind this trailer is 12ft long tongue to bumper. For power we have a 30 amp shore service, 2 90 watt solar panels, and 200 mAh of sealed batteries running to a 1200 watt inverter charger. That powers 5 AC outlets, a TV, and LED base lighting, and on the DC side, 2 outlets, a refrigerator, 2 reading lights, 1 main house light, a kitchen light, and an automatic fan. That is more power than you would find in an airstream 3 times as big. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mid-Season Garden Status

We are right in the middle of tomato and pepper season. So far it has been a very good season. We have been warm and relatively wet. Actually more than relatively wet, I have only watered 3 times. I have managed to can tomato, jalapenos, and pickles. This is just a portion of yesterday's haul. The little red peppers in the lower left are funny. We don't get enough sun to grow full-sized bell peppers so I planted a miniature version. They are exactly the same as a regular red bell, just small. This picture doesn't even include all the Anaheim and Poblano peppers that need to be roasted and turned into sauce. Currently we have peppers, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, basil, and beets. Pretty soon it will be time to start fall lettuce and spinach.
Our tomato selection this year has been pretty spectacular. Most if not all of these will be planted again next year.
- Striped German (pink)
- Wasipinicon Peach (yellow)
- Cherokee Purple (black)
- Black Krim (black)
- Sungold Select (orange)
- Black Cherry (black)
- San Marzano (red)
- Money Maker (red)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Wait, Project Started AND Finished

Well with the trailer, various house projects, garden, and a baby, we have more than a few unfinished projects around the house. One of the projects is to get the side deck usable for coffee, reading, etc. Earlier this spring I planted some night blooming Jasmine (don't ask me why), and it was really in need of transplanting. That was motivation to build a screen/trellis to provide some privacy. The back planter will get one as well to block the air conditioner. Sam is refinishing the chairs and sewing some covers. The table will also get a new top.

The boards are offset opposite front to back so we can thread the Jasmine up as needed. I'm surprised, these were only in 4 inch pots to begin with and they got quite large. Given some space, they should cover the screen by the end of the season.  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Shastoration Thursday - Mood Lighting

The electrical wiring on the trailer is in full swing. Most of it is probably pretty boring unless you are an electrical engineer or need to ride out the zombie apocalypse. One thing important in the apocalypse is to have low draw, dimming lights. I mounted remote controlled LEDs at the very bottom of the benches. When they are off you can hardly tell anything is there. There are pretty cool and can do a full range of colors and brightness. At night it will be nice to turn the lights down and relax.
 Or you can do a disco dance party with flashing lights.
The benches have been trimmed in 1/2 inch aluminum angle.

And wiring continues.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


A not-so wordless Wednesday post.
Trailer is moving towards the finish. Electrical has started in earnest.

 The garden is in full swing. The tomatoes and peppers are loaded.
 Winston is getting big and mobile.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Mid-Summer Updates

Hard to believe that next week is fourth of July and the summer is half over. It has been a busy summer so far and seems like we haven't spent any time at home.
We took at trip to Alaska and spent some time at Denali national park. The snow was just melting and temperatures were mild.
This is a view from the cabin we stayed at.

Winston went for his first snowmobile ride. 
He was a pretty good sport and just hung out for hiking. Everything was brown when we got there and green when we left a week later.
We took nature cruise to Kenai Fjords national park, saw a glacier, and lots of humpback whales.

The tiki party was a big hit with Park Ranger playing the back patio. 

 We also attended a 60th anniversary party for Sam's grandparents in Wisconsin. Winston got to play with all the cousins.

The garden is is full swing. With the rather cool and wet spring moving into hot weather, the tomatoes and peppers are very happy. 
I harvested some of the garlic this weekend. If there is one thing we can grow it is garlic. This is a new type called Spanish Rojas that produced some giant heads with just regular looking leaves.
The wildflowers are in full bloom. Last year we had lots of bees, although about a month later, but I haven't seen many so far. 

Father's day consisted of bacon, the zoo, and gin and tonics. I would say it was very successful. The KC zoo has two baby orangutans. Winston pretty much just watched the other kids and ignored the animals. 

 Oh yeah, we still have a trailer. It is finally into the wiring stage. The revised plan is to try and get it skinned before snow.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Early May Garden Tour

This week we have hit 80 degrees a few times. The garden is in small but full swing. I ran out this evening to get some pictures, oh yeah it is snowing. Well as you can see the tomatoes are growing big under their buckets. Thank god the cucumbers are still inside.

Garlic is looking healthy. If we can grow anything it is garlic. I planted these in October and even with the cold snowy winter, they look great. 

We also have lettuce dialed in. Lettuce has been producing for about a month. Here is a shot of the lettuce under the hoop house in the snow. I cut everything completely back on Sunday. Four days later we are back in business. I have three lettuce varieties that really work, parris island cos which is an heirloom romaine, rouge d'hiver which is a red romaine lettuce, and black seeded simpson which is a good general purpose lettuce. I also started spinach inside and those add nicely to the flavor. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Anybody There?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, not much going on here. Spring has sprung and the yard is starting to look green. Garden preparations are well underway and the garage and hoop houses are full of seedlings. It has been cold and snowy so not much has happened with house projects. It also seems that any intention I have of working on the trailer is foiled by a growing little boy and his refusal to sleep or let mom have any sleep. Even so, there has been a tiny bit of progress lately.
The upper cabinets are hung. I took the afternoon off on my birthday and hung cabinets. Funny what passes for relaxing activities these days. This cabinet over the kitchen counter will have sliding doors.
The other cabinet over the curb side bench will have a top hinged door. This upper cabinet will hold the stereo.

The bench framing has been completed. These will have hinged tops for storage and be skinned with walnut plywood too. The other recentish activities have included installing the shelf framing in the closet.  
As I have been saying for months now, I'm a few hours of work away from starting electrical. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spring is Here, Let's Get Planting

After the big snows last week, we finally have gotten a break. Yesterday we hit 60s with some decent rain and it really smelled like spring. The vast majority of the snow is gone and with all the rain and upcoming warm weather, I'm sure the trees will start budding out soon.
I have been diligent in seed starting with lots of lettuce and spinach planted in early February. Fortunately, first of March meant the bulk of the seed starting. I have all the tried and true varieties and a whole bunch of new things to try. I have started far more tomato types than we even have space for, oh well. If they take, I will be a good person to know come the first part of May. Everything this year is being first sprouted in a damp paper towel in the furnace room and transplanted into soil blocks in the garage. The majority of my seeds come from Baker Creek seeds in Mansfield, MO. They are close to us and their seeds do very well in Kansas City. The other seed houses I have are Jung and Pinetree seeds. I really, really like the Jung little leaf cucumber and Pinetree's spinach has germination rates much higher than anything else I have tried.
 This is the improved seed starting setup. I bought the taller covers so I can keep the humidity up much longer than the old short versions, as the plants get bigger. Previously when the seeds outgrew the short covers, they got cold, dried out, and really didn't do well. The tall covers are the way to go. Last year I cut an old blanket to hang around them to keep the temperature up. It gets held up with Velcro on the underside of the cabinets. This year I glued aluminum foil to the inside for improved reflectivity. Maybe it is the placebo effect, but the plants really took off after the foil installation. A couple of these have seed heating mats underneath. I moved offices recently from one with southern exposure to one with eastern exposure. To compensate I bought a 2ft 4 tube t5 grow light. It just got installed and is really bright. I moved all of the citrus, bonsais, and random vegetables to my office. If they take off I can see getting a 4ft T5 setup for the garage next year. Yeah, I'm the weirdo with a grow light in my office.
Saturday I spent a good portion of the morning working in the garden. The worms were up at the top and the robins weren't far behind. The far hoop house has some left over lettuce and kale from last fall. It will shortly be planted with peas. I had a research project with the lightweight aggregate association send some wrong material recently. I can't use that material for research so I am amending all the beds with expanded shale aggregate. It holds moisture well and keeps the soil loose. Sometimes it is handy to work with the aggregate companies on research.
This bed will the the lettuce bed for the year, or at least until it gets hot. I planted month old starts of spinach (space F1), leaf lettuce (rocky top), and head lettuce (parris island cos romaine) this weekend. There are more started in the garage for staggered planting in a month. The black milk jugs are filled with water to help store some heat. Afterward it was buttoned up with six mil poly and spring clamps. I have to say the cheap PVC hoop houses with plastic and clamps really do a nice job. They don't cost anything to build and the plastic lasts a couple years. I just stick the PVC into the ground so it is easily moved.
For dinner tonight we had 50 clove mushrooms and pork tenderloin in the slow cooker with kale from the garden. The young, early growth kale was wonderful. It was probably the best kale I have ever eaten and would be on the menu 3 times a week if it stayed that good. Next fall/winter I will probably plant an entire kale bed just for a couple meals through the winter.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

First Harvest of the Year

It has been pretty quiet around home this winter. I have traveled a bit, but that's about it until now. The sun is getting stronger and the temperatures are starting to warm up. The lettuce I put in the garden late October has been growing lately and ready for the first harvest. It's a couple salads worth.

The first round of early seeds have been started. It is mostly spinach, leaf lettuce, and head lettuce with some wild flowers for the bees thrown in. Most of the seed start won't begin in earnest until March. This year I am starting all the seeds in paper towels in plastic bags placed on the furnace duct work. Once the seeds germinate I am transferring them to soil blocks. So far these have been really simple. My mix is 2 parts starting mix with 1 part manure and enough water to hold everything together. The germinated seeds are dropped in and covered with a little perlite. I'm keeping my fingers crossed but so far everything is doing great. 

I have room for 4 or 5 trays under the lights. Come the first of March I will need all the space.