Reports From the Manufactory

Looks pretty good actually. The rope light style gives it a fairly even light for the backlight style lighting.

Solar trailer #1 battery capacity has just been doubled!

Going from this:

To this:

With little more than an absurd amount of lead time on “made” “in” “USA” FLA batteries.

Sooo glad I have an engine hoist. Getting these batteries in there with the lid on could have been quite-literally a backbreaking endeavor. Not a problem with the nice hoist. Then built a new hold-down bracket and new wiring and now the trailer has a battery bank worthy of its size!

Some light electrical work this morning. Finally getting some SOOW cord turned into proper, fancy, quality extension cords. I love this stuff. Super resistant to everything, stays more flexible in the cold. I dunno why it’s so hard to find pre-made cords with this jacketing. Then again it’s hard to find actual 12awg 120v cords too.

Also some 10awg adapter cords for the solar trailers.

Then I finished up 2 of my new warm-white/cool-white accent lights for the home office remodel. Just gotta hang them up now.

Finally got the good news yesterday, was at the powder coater when they opened this morning!

It’s very yellow. The slate-grey colored parts look amazing too. It doesn’t really show up well on camera but they call it a ‘pearlescent gray’ and it has this very slight metallic sheen to it. I think I just found my new favorite powder color for equipment restoration too.

Now for the fun part: assembly. Then final step: installation!

I am so excited to see those once they’re up on the steeple!

After too long waiting for powder coat, and then way to long waiting for a day the wind wasn’t dangerous, it is finally complete!

I get all the fun jobs :smiley:

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Those are some nice looking crosses up there. Got any night-time pictures? Must look really nice.

And yes, not dangerous windy day. I sympathize.

Not yet. The sun hasn’t set yet since they went up :wink:

We’ve been waiting weeks for a not-windy day to get them up. Sadly, I had other commitments this morning and wasn’t able to help.

Yeah, the LA Regional Burn, we had some terrible winds all week until Saturday. Couple of days of wind warnings, up to 35+mph sustained, with gusts 55+mph (personally I think some 60-70+ gusts). That’s where you show the real desert dwellers from the amateurs. Even had some rain around midnight/1am one night, cold front coming through. I think up to ~0.5" of rain or so. Got pretty damp, that’s for sure.

It’s amazing what even a steady 15+mph wind can do, especially when it can easily end up with gusts of 25+.

Excuse me while I de-panic and remove the the boots from my feet…

“Burn” and “Strong, gusting winds” are… not terms I like to see together. I basically don’t sleep if it’s excessively windy anymore. That last year at 3AM some power lines arcing into a guy wire for a different power line lit our hill on fire… for the first time that year… my odd firebreak obsession seems justifiable. Power out (so very limited water to the tune of a couple usable gallons, and it was before we had the hoselines out because it was still below freezing at night) and hill on fire. Not fun. Fortunately the wind blew it into a corner away from us, and our local FD is decently funded. I contribute well in excess of our taxes to them, since I recognize a lot of them now…

At least the second time was across the road and it’s not too likely to jump…

35G55 will take down an awful lot of temporary structures.

Burn is the general term meaning Burning Man type event. There are strict rules on burn barrels, and everyone I saw had some kind of water/fire extinguisher next to theirs and kept the fires for warmth well maintained and contained. It calmed down some in the evenings, and during the day we didn’t have the burn barrels going.

The burn of the Effigy was moved from Friday night to Saturday night because the predictions were it’d still be too windy to safely burn. Had a good sized water tuck (or two, I don’t recall) there, fire folks in full fire gear including a few silver suits, big cleared perimeter, etc. The process/manual runs to dozens of pages in how, when, etc burning an art piece at this event might happen. Which those fire folks are all well qualified volunteers, not people we hire or what not. The local FD likes us, and is very happy with us in how well we manage the burn. Felt like maybe 10mph, maybe 15-18mph gusts the night of the burn.

But I do really understand exactly your concern, and don’t blame you. And those power line arcs. Yeah. You’d think power departments elsewhere would have learned from the California fires from power lines over the last few years. Don’t blame you in the slightest for keeping things mowed down, hauled out, and a good bare area as a fire break. Lots of the country could use more homes like htat.

Yeah, I know… just, still. “Burn.” “Wind.” eeeeep!

I know how much a random used wildland firefighting rig runs, and they’re alarmingly reasonable. Couple hundred gallons, run it around to keep it limber, fill the kids pools with it, and… you know, it starts seeming like a decent idea. Far less than a new car.

One of the lines involved is disappearing in a few years and I’m happy to see it go. The 19kV lines are too damned close to the guy wires. At least I’m reasonably convinced they can only arc when the wind is away from the house. But still!

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Yeah, get a reserve of water and keep a good pump and bank of batteries charged up for it (not difficult for you!) to power it and some extra hose, and you should be able to handle any small bits that blow your way. That and you’re good firebreak means you’ve got defense in depth.

Just the fact that you have any lines with any arcing is a scary thing. Can’t disappear/be fixed soon enough.

Night photos still pending. In the meantime I got to go pickup another ‘it’s finally ready!’ project:

Solar trailer type-2 is done at the powder coater! They have this hammered black powder that they tell me is really popular on trailers and outdoor equipment. Resists and hides well scuffs, road damage and such. I think it just looks great too!

Picture didn’t focus quite right but it shows the point anyway: turns out between the texturing and the thickness of the powder coat, the knurling on this handle has rather completely disappeared.

Oh. My. God. I had no idea what I’ve been missing.

I walked into Idaho Tool and Equipment a couple weeks ago and bought a new saw. A Fein Slugger 14". It might look a lot like an abrasive chop saw, but the difference is that where there would usually be a crappy stamped sheet metal base, there’s cast iron. Where there’s usually a poorly marked, hard to adjust, also stamped sheet metal vise there is a proper, machined surface vise.

and of course most importantly, carbide toothed blades instead of aluminum oxide abrasive.

After testing on a piece of scrap angle, I can confirm my suspicion that I will never go back. Of course I’d heard that carbide was better, but I had no idea how much better.

That is a cut fresh off the saw. No deburring has been done. The cut was fast, clean, straight, and amazingly enough, completely cold enough to pickup right after. Unlike an abrasive saw, where you can set grass on fire with a workpiece after a long cut.

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Spent an afternoon and some leftover diamond plate on a just-for-fun project. Some literal window dressing for the shop.

Cut, notch and bend the top and bottom pieces, drill for a couple dozen countersunk screws. Peeling off that plastic was quite satisfying.

All cleaned up and tools back in their place. It really makes the welding area feel a bit more cozy.

After no small amount of time, skill, parts delays, and occasional frustrated growl: Solar trailer 2-01 is now online and power positive!

We’re now in the early stages of testing a Midnite MN3024DIY combination charge controller/grid charger/inverter. It’s running off 4 Trojan SAGM 06 255 batteries and topped with 640 watts of solar panel.

It’s looking very promising! The inverter and AGM battery bank are doing everything the datasheets said they would. I’ve run a pair of 1500watt heaters off the inverter as a dummy load, and even tested starting my new carbide saw while running 1 of those same heaters. 1500 watts + a highly inductive motor starting up and the DIY took it in stride!

It’s got a neat display too. Upper numbers can be scrolled through with a bunch of data, and always on is the little energy monitor at the bottom that flips around displaying the various states of solar/grid power inputs, battery and inverter output states.

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Meanwhile I’ve also been running my well pump off the first trailer for nearly a week! Even with rain and clouds on and off it rarely stayed below 90% SOC for long while running water for the house.

Since the well house is on a separate branch from house power I put a power inlet and plug on there so I can run the pump off grid without fussing with transfer switches and circuits for the whole house panel.

Irrigation can take quite a bit of power since the pump runs constantly to keep up with the lines, but the inverter and batteries hum right along at 37% output.

Only thing that halted that experiment was that I needed to get it attached to the truck and ready to go power food trailers at a farmers market tomorrow!

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You’re doing excellent work here, love the reports!