Saturday, August 29, 2020

Just A Little Off The Top

 When I moved in the plum tree in the back yard was a mess. It was also inconveniently located relative to where I planned to rebuild the hantavirus shack, so I wasn't entirely too concerned about it. However, given that getting around to replacing the hantavirus shack is going to happen in its own time, I decided that I'd at least try to give the plum tree a hair cut and see if I could get it growing a bit lower towards the ground.

Well, there's less of it now, and it's less tall, but it's still not really as low as it should be. Ideally a fruit tree should be pruned to stay within fruit-plucking height, and this is quite a bit higher than that. Maybe it'll sprout some branches further down and I can lop off the stuff growing above it again? Dunno.

What I do know is that I definitely removed quite a bit of it.

The pile here is maybe 5x5ft and maybe 4ft high. It's fairly well compacted since I needed to chop up the branches fairly small to get through my side yard. I'm sure glad we have municipal yard waste pick-up here!

Unlimited Power

 Generator finally came in, and I got it assembled and filled with oil without any difficulties. I opted for an open frame generator since they're a bit cheaper and lighter for an equivalent power output at the cost of being a bit more noisy than one with more bodywork and sound absorbing panels. Even though this one is advertised as being relatively quiet, it sounded about as loud as I'd expect a generator to sound, but since I'll be using it primarily for emergency power here at home and not being That Guy at a campground the noise isn't really a big problem for me.

The open frame generators also don't come with wheels as standard, so I added the wheel-and-handle kit, and I also opted for the make-things-cozier-for-rats-to-hide-in generator cover so I could store it outside and keep the weather off it.

I also ordered a 10/3 30a extension cord that plugs into the RV socket on the generator, but I waited until it arrived before putting in that order to make sure I got the matching plug. In my case, that meant getting an L5-30P cord and an L5-30R-to-TT-30P adapter. Then I tossed on some of the usual suspect 5-30 12/3 extension cords so I could actually distribute the power throughout my house and not just a few feet from the inside of my garage door.

Eventually I'd like to build a small generator shed at the side of my house to put this generator in, and install a transfer switch to power a few circuits in the house directly, but space around my panel is a bit cramped so I'm going to wait until at least after (or simultaneously with) getting my HVAC upgraded so that I can shuffle things around to make room more easily.

Of course, that also depends on how frequently I need to use it. If I only need it once or twice a year I might not honestly bother with that, but on the other hand if I start needing it more like once a month I'll start looking into installing an actual whole-home backup generator in roughly this same space here. Time will tell.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Monday, August 24, 2020

It Really Sucks

 So my bandsaw is equipped from the factory with a dust collection port. I do not have a dust collector, which is a roughly fridge-sized box that takes 240v of electricity and turns it into noise with the side effect of sucking dust and chips out of whatever's attached to its 4 inch pipes Absent this dust collection, the bandsaw has a tendency to produce a cloud of fine wood dust when sawing that then covers every surface in the shop, much to my annoyance.

But while I do not have a dust collector, I do have a shop vac. While this also turns electricity into noise, it does so at a much slower rate, only sucking in dust via a 1.75 inch inlet rather than the 4 inch inlet more characteristic of a proper dust collector. However, with that deficiency in mind, I decided to try to see if it would be useful to adapt the dust collection port on the bandsaw to the hose on the shop vac.

Enter: a plywood monstrosity.

This monstrosity was born into this world with a few deficiencies.

  1. The plywood it's constructed out of is kind of half rotted and water damaged and falling apart.
  2. The plywood it's constructed out of was never actually good in the first place.
  3. The 4 inch hole is tapered. This is because I cut it out with a jigsaw, and when you cut out curves with a jigsaw the blade deflects towards the outside of the curve while you're cutting.
  4. It's also just kinda ugly.
However, all those issues aside, the one thing it does do is actually work. I hooked up the shop vac and cut a few test boards and I was mightily impressed to find that pretty much all the dust got sucked up by the vacuum, despite its anemic relative performance when compared with a dust collector. I had initially hoped that it would at least collect the fine dust that tended to spread through the air a lot, but it even collected the heavier dust that usually settled around the base of the machine. Sweet.

That said, it still had issues, so to address those I did what I probably should have done in the first place and 3d printed an adapter out of black PETG.

The J-shaped cutout is to allow the bolt-and-threaded-insert to clamp down onto the outside of the dust collector port without causing stress risers in the plastic that might shatter it later. It also probably lets in a lot of air but if that becomes a problem I'll just slap some duct tape on it.

Long story short, I'm quite pleased with how this turned out and I expect that this'll make my use of this tool a lot more pleasant.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Early Re-Tirement

 A few weeks ago I was using my band saw to saw up some wood from the pallet that my new desk came on. For reasons I have yet to fully diagnose, the blade exploded on me during one of these cuts, a most unfortunate happening. I luckily had a different blade I could use to finish the cuts, though it was a thin, fine tooth blade mostly intended for making curved cuts in thinner material rather than the heavy duty ripping blade I had been using.

Anyway, I ordered a new ripping blade off the magical internet delivery machine and went to install it when I noticed that one of the tires on the bandsaw didn't look quite right.

That right there is what we in the industry would call gibbled, right and proper.

Luckily band saw tires are a consumable item so I ordered a replacement set off said same magical internet delivery machine and waited for their arrival. Then I waited for the weather to cool down enough so that I could install them. Then I finally got to installing them.

And wouldn't you know it, when I measured out the wheels I correctly noted that they're 14 inches in diameter and an inch wide, so when the internet showed me a half billion listings for 14x1 band saw tires I just hit the "buy" button and didn't give it a second thought. However, it turns out that Laguna, the manufacturers of my particular machine, saw fit to buck the trend and spec a 14x13/16 tire for their band saw. Lovely.

Thankfully it's easier to remove material than it is to put it back on, though in this case removing some high durability urethane that's designed to not be shredded to pieces by the band saw blade running over it hundreds of thousands of times was by no means easy. That said, I did manage it, and got the new tires installed without too much fuss.

As I understand it, the orange makes it go faster.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

More Ups, More Downs

 I took The Crimson Ghost on a ride through Santa Teresa County Park this morning. I had initially planned to do a figure-8 loop to catch the Rocky Ridge trail and the Stile Ranch trail, but due to the fact that STCP is a maze of twisty trails all different, I ended up taking a wrong turn at Albuquerque and getting all mixed up.

Basically what happened was I took a left up Mines trail near the beginning, which I thought was the way I wanted to go, but in fact I actually should have gone straight and passed the bottom of Rocky Ridge on my way to loop around to the top. As a result, when I finished the "loop" part of the ride, I found myself at the junction of Rocky Ridge trail and proceeded into it, not realizing I'd arrived at the bottom of the trail rather than the top.

I rode up for a while, occasionally thinking to myself "gosh, this trail would be fun to ride in the other direction" until I got to the top and checked my map, and realized that yes, indeed, it would have been much more fun to ride in the other direction.

Properly oriented now, I headed back down Rocky Ridge, through all the rocks along the ridge that had made the climb so slow and challenging.

When I got to the bottom I considered swinging up to catch Stile Ranch now that I knew where both it and I were in relation to each other, but the slow climb up Rocky Ridge had taken quite a bit out of me and the heat of the day was starting to set in, so I left that one for another day.

The good news is that both my new dropper post and the top tube bag did a great job of doing their respective jobs, and I had plenty of fun on the trail despite my occasionally unreliable sense of direction.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Cozy and Quiet

 One of the challenges of carrying tools and spares on the bike is figuring out where to fit them. The other challenge is keeping them from rattling around constantly and scuffing against each other. I wasn't satisfied with the arrangement I came up with on The Crimson Ghost so I got a tube strap and top tube bag to replace the pouch I had down near the bottom bracket that was interfering with where the bottle cage usually goes.

Of course with the pump and CO2 just loose in the top tube bag they would have rattled around like the dickens, so I stitched up some cozies for them out of some fleece I had left over from making my sound panels.

I left the edges of the flap square for the one with the pump and didn't really like how they looked, so I rounded them for the one for the CO2 cartridges. On the other hand I got the length spot on for the pump but ended up almost short for the CO2. But they both work so whatever. Blissful silence!

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Drippy Edges

 Finally got around to picking up some drip edge from the Home Despot to finish up the roof repair I started a while back.

I would have preferred to nail it in from the top rather than the face, but with the shingles already in place I didn't really have a lot of options. The important thing is that the water coming off the shingles is going to go into the eavestrough rather than behind it, and a nail hole or two isn't really going to be an issue in that regard.

At some point when the roof needs redoing, hopefully not any time soon, the drip-edge can be installed properly once the old shingles are ripped off. But that's a tomorrow-problem, not a today-problem.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Incremental Upgrades

 Yesterday I took the bikes out to stretch their legs, and as I was kind of expecting Rabbit Season didn't have enough juice left in its poor battery to start. The battery is still the original from 2016 so it didn't owe me anything, and it had been going a little soft since the winter. I boosted it and rode it around anyway, but I decided it was time to just swap it out.

So swap it out I did; I nipped down to the battery store and got a replacement for both Rabbit Season and Scooty-Puff, opting to go lithium this time. I've been having good luck with the lithium battery in Orthrus so I figured it was worth a few extra pennies to keep the trend rolling. Plus they're way, waaaay lighter.

On the unpowered bike front, I swapped out the dropper seat post on The Crimson Ghost. The one it came with was a RaceFace Turbine, a model that was not known for its trouble-free operation. For me, it sometimes worked and sometimes didn't, and I got tired of trying to figure out what magic incantation would make it behave, so I just decided to do the simple thing and swap it out for a shiny new OneUp dropper.

The installation was nice and easy, and the new dropper works flawlessly. Let's hope it stays that way.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Dent in My Forehead

I am not a tall person by any measure, but nonetheless I have found that one too many times my head has contacted the chandelier in my bike area.

So I replaced it with something with a bit more clearance.

Naturally the wiring had been half-assed by the previous owner. Here's a list of boneheaded fuck-ups:

  1. No strain relief clamp on the new wires entering the box.
  2. Fixture ground wire left just swinging in the breeze, ground screw on fixture mounting bracket left completely untouched.
  3. White return wire from remote switch not marked with black electrical tape.
Anyway, I didn't think to pick up a strain relief clamp when I was out, and installing it would have meant crawling around in the attic, so I left that deficiency to fix at a later date.

In the meantime, I found an appropriate place to put the cheap, ugly chandelier.

Ups and Downs

Since I took the week off this week, I decided to start things out energetically by dragging BlackBirb, my XC bike, out to Mt Um to see if I could reach the top on dirt (I could), and then subsequently reach the top of Mt El Sombroso (I could not).


I did find out that the trail from the top of Barlow to Mt Um peak is really nicely made and a fun ride. If only Barlow weren't so awful...

More writeup and photos in the link above.

Saturday, August 1, 2020