E-bike fail

So actually I’d consider this project a bit of a fail and a success. I was able to mount the motor on a bike frame and even get a decent tension on the belt. At 18v there was very little torque, so I put a second battery to make it a 36v pack. Doubling the voltage would then double the current, thus doubling the torque. That still didn’t do much, so I swapped the sprockets on the bike front to rear to again double or triple the torque (and slow down the speed). With that it was able to move on level ground, but on the second trial run the sprocket came off the aluminum pulley (it wasn’t a well fabricated part). I also managed to short out my battery, DOH! Worse, it was my 3.0aH battery that new is $100. Fortunately I had gotten it for $13, but it doesn’t make me feel a TON better. At some point I will try taking it apart to see if I can fix it somehow. Not sure if it is a fuse or if the circuits are fried.

Still, at this point I’d have to get up to 80v or more [… click to continue reading this post]

New project – electric bike

This past Saturday morning I was surfing Youtube before I was ready to get up and came across a nice electric bike add-on. I thought about it and I have all of the components needed. I have a treadmill that isn’t being used (and won’t be any time soon due to my wife’s foot issues which are what are prompting the desire to make this), a couple kids bikes they have outgrown (not to mention the two adult bikes), an Arduino and a variety of components including a high amperage MOSFET knowing at some point I’d want to control a high draw device. I started disassembly on Saturday and some machining of a pulley and rod, though after I did the math and saw full power would be 40 miles per hour and figured I’d need to re-do this work and use a larger step-down pulley. Part of that math was finding out the RPM of the motor using a strobe disk from here and then calculating the RPM using the gear ratios.

The metal working is a bit time consuming since I don’t really have the lathe set up for using, plus everything in the garage is jam packed [… click to continue reading this post]

Vehicles – almost an expensive lesson learned

So my wife’s car has been making some grinding noise for some time now, a couple months maybe? I had isolated it to the water pump, but figured so long as the water pump was working no big deal right? Eventually I knew it’d seize up and then I’d be forced to replace it, but in the meantime it was working just dandy. A week or two ago I was out with my son and we were killing some time at home depot. When we were done we still had about 10 minutes left so I started the car and he played some candy crush. We hadn’t been inside too long so the engine was still a bit warm. After 5 minutes or so the engine was up to temperature, but no heat was blowing. Fearing the worst I start poking around in the engine compartment. The water pump is still spinning, nothing too out of the ordinary, but I did notice some red liquid that had obviously been slung in a few areas. It was a bit oily feeling, but not like a real oil. I had no idea what it would have been, particularly over in that area [… click to continue reading this post]

Refilling propane tanks safer with the Flame King refillable tanks

So I recently came across this Flame King refillable tank adapter and I figured it was worth checking out. As you can see in the video it is pretty easy to use, even easier to get a completely full tank with no chilling needed. I also like the stand to get the tank in a usable position, and I LOVE the lever actuated filling! I am thinking about hacking it to fill the disposable tanks; as it comes it only fits the flame king refillable tanks , which aren’t exactly cheap. They aren’t terrible though, so I think it is worth having a couple.

Here is my Amazon link to the Flame King adapter with current pricing:

Here is what I like:

Easier to assemble and use (uses the outside threads of the tank with a hand wheel, vs the left handed threads of the Mr. Heater refill adapter which you have to get pretty tight (otherwise, when you tighten the disposable tank it loosens the adapter if you don’t have it in tight) The tank is meant to be refilled. There are a TON of people on my original video commenting that it is unsafe or illegal [… click to continue reading this post]

Working on a reloading bench

For some time now I’ve been having fun experimenting with shotgun reloading and different combinations. But, since I am EXPERIMENTING using a bunch of different hulls, different wads, different powders, and even different case lengths and gauges, it is more than a little bit of a mess in the basement. My reloading table is about 6′ wide and already has my dillon 650, my single stage press, and my powder measure on it. It is a bit small to hold 3 more shotgun presses! It was great for what it was intended; my dad built it for me after I graduated from college and at that time I had only the dillon. He designed it so it wouldn’t take up too much room in an apartment and so it could fit through standard sized doors so I’d be able to use and move it. In the last 10 years though my reloading has expanded. So, its time to get some additional space built.

Looking for ideas I found this cool bench that uses changeable inserts so things can be interchanged and stored out of the way when not in use. I thought that was a great idea, so right now [… click to continue reading this post]

Ice rink getting some use

We recently had warm weather and rain which helped to melt and smooth out the snow that was on the ice rink (that I hadn’t had a chance to remove before that rain came), now its frozen again but warm enough that the kids can be out there for quite a while. The last couple days the kids have been out there for 1-2 hours a day skating, sliding, and playing. I’m not sure we quite have got our money’s worth out of it yet, but we are starting to get there. Just in time for this coming week’s weather in the 40’s , nearly 50’s . Doh! A week of that won’t help my ice conditions. I don’t know what happened, December was MUCH colder, now January is much warmer. Doh! Thats okay, we’ll use it while we can, do other stuff while the weather is warm.

Not all is lost though, melting the top will let me get out some of the sticks and leaves that recently fell in, melted down 1/4″, then froze in again. Plus, I am enjoying the warmer weather for getting outside and (attempting) hunting some squirrels. Not that I had any luck, but [… click to continue reading this post]

Shooting and hunting – post Christmas catch-up

This year we went out of town for Christmas, and while I am not exactly the most popular blog in the world, I’d still rather not announce to the whole internet if I am going out of town until I am back. Anyhow, preparing for Christmas the pole barn is coming handy, it now houses my daughter’s trampoline she got for Christmas so that she’ll be able to use it even with snow on the ground. Up here you need to take the mat off or it can rip from the snow, so that wouldn’t have been much of a gift if she couldn’t have used it for 3 or 4 months.

After our trip to Missouri at Christmas I still had 5 or 6 more days off, that was really nice to be able to have a relaxing time after all that travelling. Particularly since the day we got back was at 1pm, but we barely had time to get out of the car before we had to leave for a doctor’s appointment (sadly, after 9 months of my wife being in pain every time she walks we are still no closer to an answer). Just before Christmas I [… click to continue reading this post]

Snowblowing the road

It is interesting to see how the road changes with the weather. We have had a lot of snow the last couple weeks, probably 10″ or more. The common part of the road has been really good the whole time, but it hasn’t looked like anybody has plowed it. I think the snow had just been being pressed down into even layers. However, we have recently been having some warmer weather, and with that the road has turned to garbage. The snow is softening up and is now turning into ruts instead of a nice even layer. There have been a couple spots that I thought we might get stuck in. My wife’s grandparents will be coming over soon and I am concerned that the ruts will freeze solid and make the road hard to traverse. Tonight I just took the tractor out and snowblowed a 9-10′ wide path (down and back). It wasn’t nearly as fast as a plow would be, but I have a snowblower and not a plow. It is nice being able to clear the 1/2 mile back to the house without issue and be self reliant in that way. For most people a plow would [… click to continue reading this post]

Some recent non-prep non-homestead activities

With the exception of putting the snowblower on the tractor a couple days ago and putting the snow tires on the car tonight, I have some other activities I’ve been working on. My son has had a toy/kids guitar for a while but has wanted to play it. We got the app Yousician (which is pretty awesome!) and I got a fairly cheap, but so far decent, guitar off Amazon (this one for $50 shipped in case you are curious). Each day the last couple weeks I’ve been doing some practicing, figuring I can help the kids and my wife learn better if I learn it as well.

More interestingly, I put up an ice skating rink this week. I was wanting to last year, but it was warm until super late last year, plus I didn’t necessarily want to put all the money into it last year. I did pick up the 2×10’s last year. This year I waited until almost too long, but ended up buying a 30×50 tarp locally and using 2″x2″x24″ stakes to hold the boards up. The rink ended up about 25’x40′, I was limited in width by a tree on one side and a [… click to continue reading this post]

Feeling a bit more prepared – PTO generator

Two weekends ago I went and picked up a 12kw pto generator I had been eying on Craigslist for a couple months. It had dropped in price from $1400 (which I thought was high, but fair if you were going to buy a new one), to $1200, finally to $1000. For that I got the generator (about $1400 new for a 12kw, $1000 for a 7kw), pto shaft ($75 used to 200 new), a 3pt carryall the generator is mounted to ($100), and a full house disconnect / transfer switch (knife style rated to 200A, the guy told me $500 new and I believe it). My tractor has 19hp at the PTO, good for about 10kw continuous.

Last weekend was my preparing for winter weekend. Part of that was verifying the suicide cord was wired right, then shutting off the power to the house and running the house off the generator for a few minutes. I could barely tell when the well pump kicked on (here we have shallow wells and therefor only have about 1/2-1hp well pumps). I had previously checked the starting amperage (using a cheap Harbor Freight clamp on multi-meter) and it peaked at around 30 or [… click to continue reading this post]

Pole barn nearly finished

So first real quick, on my last post I said we finally had an answer on my wife’s foot. Turns out that isn’t NECESSARILY the case. Before we got that news we already had a visit scheduled at the University of Michigan medical school, so we followed up with that. Good thing, the DR’s there said that the diagnosis given based on the evidence in the MRI was “quite a leap”. Symptoms, sure, but they aren’t sure that is the CAUSE of the pain. Unfortunately, they aren’t exactly sure of the cause, so we’ll be continuing with the foot issues after 7 months :-\

With that out of the way, this past weekend brought some more work on the pole barn. I got the side walls sawed off to match the roof line and got most of the rake trim installed (I installed the 12′ trim piece, but have 2′ left on the 14′ long wall). At this point I have left installing a single panel on each side and trimming it to fit, getting that last 2′ of rake trim, and a couple pieces of corner trim. Then, putting up a tarp for a door and I am good [… click to continue reading this post]

Wife’s medical issues – finally an answer

So after 7 months of foot pain for my wife, we finally have at least one answer. Turns out she has an entrapped nerve, that particular one is pretty rare to be entrapped and it typically only happens to marathoners, so it never occurred to anybody to check for it. Unfortunately, the foot doctor who did an MRI of her foot did NOT include the ankle area or we would have seen this 7 months ago For the last 7 months my productivity has been a bit limited to be available to help out, spend time with my wife, etc. For the next 6 weeks that will be worse since the doctor has put her in a cast to hopefully let the foot heal itself. The alternative is surgery to cut the nerve, but the doctor was saying she may always have some pain then and may not be able to run, so we are trying the non-invasive options first.

We aren’t really sure what this means for us yet, but I am hopeful since we at least have a plan forward. Even if the cast doesn’t fix it, we have something that should at least make it bearable for [… click to continue reading this post]

Floor is poured, pole barn 90% done!

It hasn’t exactly been super smooth, but I am getting pretty close to done. Last weekend I took off 2 days to make sure I could get the floor poured. Saturday was spent finishing digging footings (I had done 3 during the weekdays the previous weeks but needed to leave the 4th unfinished so I could get the tractor in and out). I got up my form boards and then moved the dirt/sand around to hold them in place with. I also leveled the main slab area as best I could and filled it in quite a bit. I had a lot of spots that were 7″ or even more for what was planned to be a 6″ slab. I didn’t have THAT much extra concrete coming, so I filled it in with the excavated dirt from the footings.

I also borrowed the neighbors truck and trailer to take back the 18′ and 20′ pallets from the trim and roofing, then bring back rebar. I know a slab of this size (14×14) probably doesnt NEED rebar, but it doesn’t hurt. The pallet racking I’ll have up could have several thousand pounds on it. If I’m working on the tractor or [… click to continue reading this post]

Need to get a floor poured soon

Its Oct 2, soon it will be pretty cold (in fact, it has been unseasonably warm lately), so I REALLY need to get moving on a concrete floor for the pole barn so I can get the sheet metal up on the pole barn. I have been waffling back and forth as to whether I’ll hire it out or do it myself. Either way, I need to get my booty moving on it so I can get it done!

My plan with the concrete floor is to make it 5-6″ thick with rebar in at least part of it. The tractor doesn’t weigh that much, but if I have to jack it up I’ll be putting all the weight in one small area. Plus the pallet racking will definitely have some weight to it all concentrated around the edges.

I decided concrete over dirt or gravel for several reasons. The pole barn is already over-budget, but it is built to last quite a while so the extra $500-1000 for the concrete floor will be a small expense 10 years from now. Since I’ll be using it store stuff on pallet racking I need a smooth floor to make sure I [… click to continue reading this post]

Pole barn status

I am officially keeping stuff dry with the pole barn! Poles are up, rafters set, and roofing is on. I even have 2 walls up using a VERY heavy automatic pool cover, essentially a 100lb tarp about 20×30. It is big enough to go roof to ground with several feet left over, wrap around 2 and a half sides of my 14×14 pole barn. I have the sheet metal for the walls on my trailer in the pole barn to keep dry (and to get it out of the way of the driveway). I need to figure out what I’m going to do for the floor, gravel or cement, and hire it out or do it myself.

The roofing took quite a while as I had about half the sheets backwards and had to re-do them. But, I got it done right, and I got it DONE. So, the rest may take a while, but at least I’m getting some use out of it. I still need to saw off the overhanging 1′ of roofing and purlins, but I figure that is best left to when I’m about ready to put the walls up to help keep rain from blowing [… click to continue reading this post]

All my free time has been spent…

For the last few weeks all my free time has been spent working on a pole barn, or catching up on other things due to spending time on the pole barn. My wife’s feet have been killing her for months now and the doctors still aren’t sure what is wrong, so that has left some additional things for me to do or help with. So I haven’t exactly been posting a whole lot. I have gotten a lot of the process on video to add later. I wanted to at least let everyone know WHY I haven’t been posting much.

So far I have the area cleared (which took most of a day on the tractor), all 4 posts up (and this was a challenge because I am using 6×6 and those things are HEAVY!, glad to have the tractor), on Monday we got up the headers and started on the rafters. I finished up the rafters on Tuesday or Wednesday and started on the purlins. I have 2 or 3 more purlins to take care of, then I need to figure out the trim on the ends, order the roofing and trim, and get started there. I should at [… click to continue reading this post]

Picked up a box blade & pole barn work started

I got a pretty good deal on a box blade today, $225. It is only 48″ so I’ll likely want a larger one later, but now I can finally get a load of gravel brought in and work on my driveway a bit. I also plan to try it out in the woods using the rippers as root rippers. The box blade will work decently for leveling an area too since you can more easily move a volume of dirt (though the 4′ won’t be able to move a lot). I think what I’ll do is be on the lookout for a 5-6′ box blade, pick that up, and then sell the 4′ one (hopefully for a profit).

I also got started digging holes for the two posts for the pole barn. I felt pretty smart in that I used my stump bucket to dig down 2′ to make for that much less digging. The sand here makes it pretty darn hard to dig a hole because it is like sugar and won’t stick in the post hole digger very well. It also starts collapsing in on itself. I hope it stays long enough for me to compact it, get [… click to continue reading this post]

Video – clearing brush with the Kubota compact tractor

I decided to do a bit of clearing to open up some of the front woods while the family was gone for the day and also decided to make a video about it. It has been much too long since I’ve made a video and I thought this would be a good one.

Now, I’ll admit I was a bit rough on the tractor. I don’t typically run it that hard, though I do on occasion. The folks on ar15.com were getting on me about it a bit. Well, a bit of damage is inevitable in the woods, even when I’m not being too crazy. I had taken the bush hog out to help clear some areas of woods, but to help the maneuverability I took the loader off. Well, it turns out the loader helps protect from brush a ton. I poked a stick into the grill and cracked it, as well as bent the front brush guard (which didn’t do much). I got the tractor to help improve the land as well as snow blow, so I am going to have some wear and tear on it I’m sure.

Most of the time the brush clearing I [… click to continue reading this post]

Truck is back together (well, pretty much)

So the up side is that I replaced the shock, have the new fuel filler neck on, and the bed is one. The downside is the bed is on with 4 of the 6 bolts (2 had the threads a bit mangled and it felt like they were stripping out the holes. Being an off-road truck, I figured 4 should do it anyway until I can fix these bolts or get a couple more. Also, it turns out I forgot to take off the plastic deal that holds the fuel filler neck in place. Last seen it was on the old rusty fuel filler neck. So I walked the path I took and found it on the trail. Smashed into a couple dozen pieces because it got ran over. Whoops. Oh well, the filler neck can rattle around a while, it will take a while before I get tired of it. Heck, I think I only go through about 5 gallons in 6 months.

The bed went on very easily, I used a strap across rear of the bed on the tie downs, then a chain near the tailgate on the bolted on tie downs that look like they were [… click to continue reading this post]

Truck – some done, more to do

So I got my parts from Rock Auto a couple days ago and started working on the gas tank straps on the truck. Since the truck is operational per my last post, I decided to do the work in the driveway rather than the yard. Much better, now I can use my creeper and be much more comfortable. So I expected the tank straps to be terrible, everything else on this truck is super rusty (what do you expect from a 1995 Dodge Ram from Michigan?). As I crawled under though I saw the bolts for the old pieces of the tank strap had a rubber cap on them, they weren’t rusted at all! The nuts came off pretty easily; I wish all the bolts on the truck had those rubber caps on them! The rear strap was easily accessible and I got it on no problem. The front strap was a bit more jockeying around, I had to loosen the back strap and push the tank over to get the T of the strap into the slot of the frame. It took probably 10 minutes or more but it eventually went (in hindsight, it probably would have been easier [… click to continue reading this post]