Camper is off the truck

January 15, 2018

Thank you Randy the youtube links helped a lot.  Unloading the camper took all morning as we were learning and could only lower one jack at a time.  Plus we were also dealing with slightly sloped ground.   I have to say lowering the jacks was a bit nerve racking as I was afraid I drop the camper on her “nose”.  The camper is down resting on wood pallets and I put the camper jacks down so they help stabilize the camper but the jacks are not holding the weight of the camper.

Mom got a great deal on her wood stove but the existing chimney needs a new liner to be safe and to code.  I don’t knock those that DIY chimney installs when they know what they are doing.  Speaking for myself I know enough to know I don’t know enough to install a chimney. Mom has a smoke alarm/ carbon monoxide alarm along with a mounted fire extinguisher in the kitchen to deal with any small fires.

It has been a little pricey for mom to relocate the  house water main shut off in the utility closet. As Mom is not physically able to jump in the crawl space and turn off the water main the valve needed to be moved for her.  I have never heard any one complain that the water main, gas main or breaker boxes are too easy to access.

Some good news I may have the materials to donate to Mom for making her shop a bit more weather resistant.  I forgot that I had aluminum fascia in my shop.  While this fix will not be weather proof it should be much more weather resistant than a hole in the shop roof.

The new wood floor should be finished so we can start moving in furniture. I need to make the shop semi secured, clean up the wax on the bedroom carpet.  Finish scrubbing the bedroom carpet.  Tape off the the interior for painting with Kill-Z and start painting the interior walls.  We want to empty Mom’s storage units before another monthly fee is charged.

Things are a bit crazy at the moment but it will all work out in time.


Uhg! the camper

January 13, 2018

Mom has an old 93 Chevy 1 ton dually and an Arctic fox camper on it.  Unloading that camper is becoming a major hassle.  Big problem is the camper jacks are motorized and have not been serviced, there is no documentation on how to lower the jacks and Mom used the jacks 5-6 years ago.  Needless to say there has been a bit of a learning curve and a lot of frustration trying to unload the camper!  I think I have a fix for lowering the jacks even if I have to disconnect the electric motors to drop the jacks manually.

The valves under the bathroom vanity leaked and the house shut off valve was in a crawl space that Mom would have a hell of time getting turned off.  While a bit expensive to re-route the turn off valve. Mom hired a plumber to replace the bathroom valves, install a new 24 inch bathroom vanity and new faucet.  The plumber also  installed new valves for the washer area.  There is a whole house water shut off valve in the utility closet next to the heater and hot water heater.  Mom has spent a good amount of money to get the the plumbing usable for her.  I get a bit manic about good plumbing because I have fought so many battles of bad plumbing runs in my house.

I went through and did some dry wall repairs on Mom’s house.  I added a mesh tape, a little spackle to cracks and tried out some of the dry wall texture in a can.  Not sure how it will turn out until we get some paint on the “repaired” areas.  Mom bought new chrome bathroom light fixtures, toilet paper holder and a towel rack that I need to install. Actually Mom has an electrician coming to install the new ceiling fans and new bathroom fan.  But I have been tagged to install the bathroom towel rack, ring and toilet paper holder.

Some good news, while Mom is replacing most of the carpet in the house she chose not to replace the carpet in “her bedroom”.  I ran my little carpet scrubber over some of the rug and used a bit of sudsy ammonia on some of the stains and the beige color carpet is really starting to look pretty good!   There is a spot that seems to be candle wax that was dropped on the carpet. Mom brought an clothes iron and I brought a heat gun along with paper towels and news paper to draw up the candle wax.  I’ll let you all know how that works out.   Using the sudsy ammonia on carpet stains along with a carpet cleaner seems to be working.  I have cleaned up several “rust” and spill sort of stains but I am still working on the high traffic area dirt.  My little carpet cleaner literally had a quarter inch of clay in the tank that was pulled out of the bedroom carpet.  The bedroom carpet is looking much better on this first run of using the carpet cleaner.  Oh, using sudsy ammonia and a scrub brush on pre-treating the  really dirty and stained areas is making a huge difference cleaning the stained parts of the carpet.   I think we might save the carpet via cleaning but I think we might have to deal with some dingy high traffic areas.  It is still early days and I was surprised about how well the carpet stains came up.

The Shop needs the gap in the roof closed off but we can start moving Moms stuff from my shop to hers and tarp the areas that might get damp.  Goodness knows my shop is not water tight.  I have a couple of ply wood sheets I could use to re-enforce Mom’s shop doors once cut to size.  This would be a great opportunity to test the ease of use of the Ryobi battery power circular saw.

Mom wants to move into her home and I want to help her as I’ll get most of my shop area back.  It seems or physical limitations are biting us in the butt.  not only that all the contractors are screwing with our time lines.  Not a bad thing unless you are counting on lag time for jobs getting done in a certain order.  Gosh I had a week or to to splash paint willy-nilly.  Nope, Mom is having new flooring installed.  Damn! got to rethink this paint walls attack. LOL

The weather has been glorious.  50 degrees F. in the daytime and above freezing at night here in the valley.  Next week might bet a bit cooler/damp with rain I can work through that kind of weather.

Our biggest problems right now is we need the floor finished before we move stuff in the house.  We want to paint before the furniture is in the house and we have to drop the camper off the pickup so we can start moving stuff into the house.

I have been thinking about things wrong.  I have the materials to make stuff at least safe and semi strong.  I can cut boards and plywood on hand to fix stuff.  It won’t be pretty but it should work short term.  Gosh I’m rambling on a bit.  I think there is potential but it will take some work.  What else is new?

Just an update on Mom’s house and I still need to explore the bunker….


Things are looking awesome for Mom’s home.

January 8, 2018

We are going to have to do a lot of cleanup, painting and fixing odds and ends, but it looks very doable!  We found a small wood stove that should heat the house safely and it will be delivered on the 10th.  Mom is getting the flooring  guys in for replacing the bad flooring.  Mom and I bought a new bathroom vanity and faucet for just over $100.00.  I donated a 2 gallon bucket of Kill Z to start the paint job on the house.  I see the tar and smoking stains on the walls  and while cleaning helps you need to seal the dry wall before you paint or those stains will bleed through the paint.

Speaking of paint True Value hardware stores have semi-gloss paint for sale this month at $20.99 per gallon.  This is great paint that is easy to clean.  Many latex paints tend rub off  dry wall when they are cleaned.  More good news is some of the blinds will fit the windows of the new house.  While Mom’s house windows seem to be air tight I have a lot of weather proof plastic and tape that will make all those windows air tight this winter.

On the vanity in Mom’s bathroom, I think it came from a RV salvage yard.  The good news is they installed all new plumbing hardware to make the RV vanity work.  So it should be dead simple to replace the vanity and the faucet to give Mom a great little sink, faucet and a small vanity for storage.  I’m no plumber but I can do some simple DIY jobs around the house.

We need to install a doggie door and Mom got a very nice doggie door on sale.  Also we need to start adding gutters to the roof to move the water dripping so close to the foundation.  I think I can install a gutter so that it feeds water to the stone planter beds in the front of the house.

I loaded the Kia Mini-van with 2 pallets for the camper to rest on and now the mini van is semi full of bathroom vanity and ceiling fans that need to be installed.  Once we drop the Arctic Fox Camper, we will have the 1 ton dually pickup to start moving stuff.  If we can unload stuff we are good to go!  Unloading a 400 pound stove is a bit beyond us but once it is at ground level we can maneuver that sucker into place.  Once the wood stove is in place Mom can get get plenty of dry fruit wood to burn via the orchards.

I do not recommend buying “kiln dried wood” as a replacement for seasoned wood.  Kiln dried wood simply opens up the pores of the wood while in the oven and when stored out doors that wood soaks up any and all moisture.  The pine is seasoning/drying after 2 months in the wood racks and seems to burn well after seasoning.  I will use about half of my wood stack on racks this winter.    It will be interesting  to see how Mom stacks her wood.

While I won’t claim success.  I think things are looking semi-positive. Now it is just doing the work and adapting.


Mom got her house!

January 6, 2018

We delivered the new 7.2 freezer (fits in a Kia mini-van) to Mom’s new house. Both out buildings need some work but look somewhat square. though not water tight.   There is a lot of lot of work to be done but the potential pay off is huge!  One  of the bedroom’s carpets is trash as it smelled strongly of urine. The kitchen needs a replacement floor covering.  The out buildings look much better than I suspected.  We can work with that easily. I need to walk Mom’s property and see what needs to be done.

I’m no land guru but I have learned how to make do with what you have on site.  I want to be focused but Mom does not know what she wants to do with the property.  In time I think we will figure it out.  Gosh mom can drop the Arctic Fox camper and we will have a ton dually truck to haul stuff.

I’ll give Mom my little shop vac to clean the fans.  I have compressed air, WD 40 and silicon spray to help restore fans or at least clean them up for the electricians to replace.  My cheap dead bolt locks did not fit so we will go to home depot for replacements of door knobs and dead bolts.

It was a “mixed bag” of stuff.  Mom tends  to be negative  and I tend to be Hyper-positive.  Give me a big pile of manure and I will start looking for a pony!  Or start I’ll start planting rose bushes.

I did my first batch of “bone broth”  Actually the broth is a lot like making stock to the next level. Make a stock using bones/carcass  and double the time until the bones literally crumble when pinched .  The broth liquid for beef broth should look at least “coffee” level dark.  A crock pot might be slower and you will need to make smaller batches it is very doable to make “bone broth” in a crock pot in 48 hours.

Good news on the fire wood the pine wood is drying naturally and burning better in  the wood stove.  I don’t think Kiln dried wood is good for a wood pile as the heat opens up the wood pores to dry and that wood is open to moisture out side the kiln.  So far it has been relatively warm this winter.  35-40 degrees F. is very comfortable in SW Idaho in January. At this point “if the weather stays the same” my wood stack will be good into next winter.  I was terrified I did not have enough wood going into this winter.   Now I think I’m good.  I have the old dry hard wood accessible and the drying pine working so life is good.

S. Lynn I owe you a phone call as Mom is getting close to your location.  How is the learning welding going?

Playing with the sno-blower

December 26, 2017

I have never used a sno-blower until this year and there seems to be a learning curve I did not anticipate.  I don’t think I setup the handle of the snow blower correctly though I followed the directions.  I’m about 5′ 6″ and I found myself hunching while using this blower.  The extension cord is a bit problematic as a thick 10 gauge extension cord does play out easily.  I still think the sno-blower was a good buy as it does a great job clearing snow once the “loose nut” behind the machine figures out how to use the machine.  While it was not pretty to watch me using the machine.  It was easy to cut snow paths over my bark paths without digging into the bark. Even cutting snow paths over grass was easy.

I suspected  that the rubberized blades will deal with the rock and wood paths better compared to a regular gas powered snow blower that is built to clear hard surfaces.  So far I’ll give the Sno-Joe electric snow blower a rating of 4 out of 5.  It is fast at removing snow once the operator learns how to work it properly.   I need to make a few adjustment to the machine but over all I think it was worth the $170.00 investment.  I’m not sure why it happens but it seems the more prepared you are for something the less likely that disaster happens.  Perhaps it because us humans “toss off” any disasters we are prepared for and get stupid when we are blindsided in a disaster.

I never heard of anything called “traction sand” but that stuff is the bomb!  It seems to be a very fine grain sand but it adds traction much better than most sands.  My tube D&B  sand is mostly about adding weight and that is good but if you want an alternative to salt for traction.  Buy “traction sand”.

I bought a little sled today so I can haul wood to the front porch.  While I used the snowblower to clear a path, using the garden wagon to haul wood can be problematic.  Hard work for those wheels to go through snow.   My ropes for clothes line drying  got snuffed with the vinyl siding so I’ll use those ropes on my sled.

I ask myself many time why?  I don’ try something outside my comfort zone. Oh I have gone through all the excuses of I’m not attractive or I’m disabled or I’m to poor to do it.

I’m somewhat prepared if things go sideways. I know my limitations but I can stretch to reach a new pinnacle  of what I can and can’t do daily.

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?”


Winter snow prep finished up

December 24, 2017

We are getting a couple of inches of snow and the temps are starting to drop at night into the low 10-20 degrees F.   Time to complete the last adjustments for winter.

The wood pile:  Moved a lot of very dry hardwood to the front porch wood rack.  I filled up the garden cart with dry hardwood and have one wood rack almost empty.  That empty rack will be stacked with the new pine wood from other racks which will let me get to to the old dry wood underneath the new pine fire wood.  It will take some extra effort to move the pine but having a mix of wood in the house and on the front porch rack makes the wood stove burn much better through out the day.

I think my biggest mistake on the pine wood was the assumption that a “kiln dried ” wood would stay dry and not suck up moisture from the air or from the ground.   As it has not turned off cold and dry yet this winter that pine really sucks up the moisture around it.  The kiln dried pine seems to be slowly drying out now.  As I move the pine to empty racks get at the older dried wood, the pine will be given time to dry out naturally and should be great for a hot fast fire next season.

The best things done this year for the wood pile was remove the leaky roof, build the simple wood racks and cover the wood with tarps.  The roof was rotting so it wood soak some of the dry wood and then all the wood around it soaked up the moisture.  Placing wood directly on concrete also allows wood to soak up moisture unless the concrete is sloped properly.  My concrete slab does not drain properly so I got wet wood last year.  With most of the leaky/rotted OSB roof removed the wood pile traps get southern sun and the space acts like a mini wind tunnel with the prevailing winds.  The wood pile still needs some work but I’m confident that heating the house this winter is very doable with the wood on hand.

Snow removal:  I sprinkled out a thick layer of snow melt today and the side walk in front yard and area stayed clear of ice build up.  Pre-treating your sidewalks with Ice melt makes shoveling snow easier as the Ice melt keeps the snow from bonding to the concrete.  We have had a couple of inches of snow fall on a couple of different days so no reason to test out the snow blower.  On the first snowfall my little battery powered leaf blower did a great job clearing the sidewalks.  For the backyard walkways I got the sand in a bucket (50 pounds of sand fits easily in a 5 gallon bucket)  I added a large cup to apply the sand along the side walks rock ways for traction.  I use sand as I did not find an Ice melt formula that did not hurt my dog’s paws.

All that is left to do is add a sand tube or two over the rear wheels of our vehicles for added weight and traction.  My Kia minivan has front wheel drive but those sand tubes seem to help keep the back tires on the road and keep the back end of the van from wanting to shift places with the front end.  I got Mom a little battery jumper pack and small air compressor to inflate tires for her Explorer for Xmas so she should be covered for any minor vehicle emergencies.  Also the little power pack can charge a cell phone, laptop and other devices.

I wish you all have a great holiday season with friends and family.

Woot! the splitting maul works!

December 22, 2017

I did not buy a traditional splitting wedge.  I bought one of those wedges that have a sharp point and a cross shape.   That shape makes this wedge very easy to start in the wood chunk but I don’t think it spits the wood as quickly as a traditional wedge.

I was a bit concerned when I got about 1/2  of the wedge buried in the chunk o wood and did not see any splitting cracks.  After a few more whacks with the 4 pound sledge hammer I started seeing the wood split.  This wedge never tried to break to the left or right if I did not hit it square with the 4 pound sledge hammer or the 6 pound splitting wedge. This wedge really buries it self into the wood before it splits the wood.  Good news the pine burns pretty good once it is dry or has a little help burning with the addition of hard wood.

I would recommend this type wedge along with a 4 pound sledge hammer or 6 pound splitting wedge to split a few big chunks of wood if you are disabled or not very strong.  It takes more time but not as much effort compared to using a regular maul and heavy duty sledge hammer but I can split larger chunks of wood.  A huge plus is I would not be able to burn those big chunks of wood unless I could split them into smaller sizes.

Mom and I did not do much in the way of Xmas lights this year because I did not want to drill into the new siding.  I picked up some hooks that are supposed to fit under the edge of the vinyl siding but my siding does not lift up and is to tightly installed to admit those hooks.  This is a good thing as the siding does not give the wind a way underneath to lift the siding off the house.  When Xmas stuff goes on sale I’ll add new lights and this summer I’ll get the clips that attach to gutters and along the roof line.

We are getting snow so we may have a “White Christmas”.  Mom bought a Ham for Xmas dinner. It’s strange  as I don’t have to cook Xmas dinner. I have a Prime Rib ready for New years eve and a couple of New York roasts to cook next year.  I can always find a special occasion to cook up a good roast or steak.  We got a little snow today but it is still somewhat warm and no freezing rain so that is good.  I put out a little ice melt on the front yard sidewalks to help with traction.  Other than that I’m not getting aggressive on snow removal.   Still early days but I suspect we won’t have a lot of snow or freezing rain this year.  If things go all sideways I can try out the new snow blower if not I can lay down sand to fill in the new driveways.   This is a win/win situation.

The house Mom wants to buy, got a lot of work done to get it appraised for her loan but it looks like it will early JAN. 2018 before the paperwork is done. The sellers installed a new tub faucets and shower/bathtub surround and a few other fixes.  A lot of people are working to get this house sold so I’m feeling very hopeful about the house.  Most of all Mom really likes this place.  She will have over an acre of land but still be in a small town and at most a 30 minute drive from my house.

Something to think about getting is USB powered devices.  I know why would you look up a fan or whatever to your PC USB ports as it seems silly.  Have you noticed how many items run on USB power connections?  Have you noticed how cheap those USB rechargeable battery packs are today.  Have you noticed how many small/ fold able solar panels charge up stuff via USB ports?  Heck most little solar panels or USB battery packs brag on how many times they can recharge an I phone or kindle/Android device.   I recommend you all start small and invest in a 10-15 watt  foldable solar panel cost about $50.00-60.00 USD and then buy USB power banks as cheaply as possible.  That will give you coms some light, possibly fans and a little bit of power that you are in control of, even if it is a bit iffy.

I spent $65.00 so Mom had a power pack that would jump here vehicle easily.  It also has a little air compressor and a couple of USB ports for charging.  I had a dying battery and I used my little jump RAV power almost daily until I could afford to buy a new battery.  Think outside the box on power. Even a small power bank that is rechargeable via solar is a good choice for energy.