Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Suited and Booted

Not my usual style...

Monday, 5 November 2012

Finding image size of web image

Find image, right click (in Windows/IE) and choose "Properties"

That will bring up the URL of the image and the image size in pixels.

That way, you can check an image is suitable for pasting into a Forum post.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Back in Harness

Another few days of indentured labour back in Wales and although it's colder this trip, it's not as wet! As usual I need to post some piggy pictures from the ranch for my friend Pod, who's very partial to her piggie updates.

No longer piglings....these girls are now fully-fledged porkers of epic proportions

 These girls have shown me a whole new meaning to the term 'heavy troughing'

 Left to right: Pork, Ratty, HM and Pod

We needed to move the pig house to give them a little more shelter...this involved the first test drive of my new wellies and my first 'out of welly' experience! As Eco says, I'm not fully initiated until I need to stand one one leg and pull a stuck welly out of the mire.

The pig pen is now far bigger now they need more room to manouever.

Piggies....love 'em!

Monday, 20 August 2012

MiniTour of Wales

Another trip to visit Eco and do a bit of supping, planning, measuring, fettling and elecktrickery.

Not much to report other than La'al Piggies are not so la'al anymore!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Shed Upgrade

And there are times when you just need a little 'restorative' at the end of a busy shed session.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Eco's Home Brew


And for those who have been waiting anxiously for 'pork'nography...

Four little piggies enjoying their tea.

You should see what them thar piggies have done to Eco's front lawn!!

Cute little pig. Go to stroke her though, and it's like running your hand over a pot-scourer! Training begins soon for land-clearance and root rootling.

But the best part of the day...a trough full of pig-nuts and rolled barley.

Back in Wales at Eco Tipis

Ah.....it almost feels like I'm back home. Variable weather here but we are managing to get some work done about the place. My plan was to get some solar panels and the inverter and control relays installed in the 'Toy Shed' and despite a bit of rain and some stiff breeze Eco and I managed to get the panels up on the roof today. Not the perfect angle of tilt, but enough energy available to provide maintenance charging for the machinery batteries and to provide a bit of illumination when the natural light isn't good enough.

We chopped up some lengths of 1x1 and 2x2 timber and fabricated a rough frame to hold my old 12Wp TF ally-framed panels. The trailer makes a cracking outdoor work-bench!

The assembled panel array was then pushed up the ladder by Eco while I pulled it up onto the roof. A bit of drilling and screwing and we had the array fitted and the cabling installed.

Angle of tilt probably only 12 or so degrees rather than the optimal 32 degrees, but that is more than compensated for by the amount of energy they will provide on hazy and overcast days.

While I was up on the roof, I could look down on the plantation which we cleared on my last visit. The black sheeting is down, the willow rods are in and they are sprouting nicely. In a few years time, this will be a managed coppice for fuelling the wood gassifying boiler.

Three pendant light fittings, some 1mm T&E cable and a box of clips and we had the lights up and running. One of my old Exrider DC24 88AH batteries is providing a primary supply for the inverter and the dual charge controller can charge that lighting battery and has a set of auxilliary jump-leads to charge the batteries on the Pasquali tractor, Ecorider or any other battery that needs charging. Ultimately, the system will also provide a battery charging facility for the electric pig fencing and for topping up battery systems for other functions around the site. We have been discussing low voltage water pumping systems and lighting for the communal facilities as well as other electrical subsystems around the place. Needless to say, the possibilities will keep expanding.

Looking down the 'telegraph pole' shed support, the little black box is the 300W inverter. Below that in the grey box is the dual split charger module and inverter control relay. To the left of the pole is a 6 way strip...the top plug is the 'sense' signal for the inverter control relay and the second plug is the lights feed. The two-gang switch above the strip allows the two left hand lights in the main storage/work area and the single light at the other end to be switched separately. The Exrider battery can be seen at the bottom and the curled up grey cable at the bottom of the pole is the charging leads for the auxilliary batteries.

As with any project like this, the proof of the pudding is in the eating...and I had a feeling the eating would be pretty good as all the design and prototyping for this set-up had already been tried and tested on The Toolshed back home. In fact, the dual regulator and the panels came from the original prototype.

When it got a bit darker last night (I started on the lights and battery last night...the solar panels were today's job), I 'christened' the system.

Dark and misty....about 9.30pm. So ready to test...Let there be light!!

We saw....and it was good!

Late at night, yesterday....foreground illuminated by the camera flash...the white spots are raindrops, caught in mid-air. Down the bottom of the track, you can see the lights shining in the shed :o)

Full test tonight with all 36W (2x 11W and 1x 14W). Can't wait to get the full effect!

Hopefully, the Pasquali will have enough charge tomorrow to start without hand-pulling.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

More Shed Pictures

My new girl, Gertrude.

The Shed in all her glory. No, it doesn't really list to for'ard....just some funky perspective going on with my camera! Top left: Water tank now lagged with 75mm foam insulation (need to paint it!). New concrete foundation for en-suite chicken coop. The chickens you see are Gurtrude and Fifi-Talouhla. Solar panels making plenty of power right now. Don't really need the heating on at the moment!

Retrotecchie - Lord of all I survey....well, the fence and beyond the fence is mine! Roses and foxglove are property of Mrs RT. You can just see Rosemary (aka Goujon) the White Peking Bantam through the gate. Omelette is broody so probably in the coop.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Shed Upgrades

So...starting to think about Tour 2012 which will possibly happening in a few months time. In the meantime, there's lots to to at RT Mansions and some ongoing planning and work for Eco-Tipis over in Wales.

We had to move the contents of our warehouse at work. The empty unit over the way has been leased to us as a storage area for a 'nominal rent' by the landlord, but he has just leased the unit to a new tenant which meant we had to clear all our stuff out. We minimised what we really needed to keep and have rented a couple of containers at a local self storage centre, but we had rather a lot of old junk which we kept on the premise that 'it may come in handy one day...'.

Two weeks of panic and 'everything must go' and I was given the opportunity to help myself to any old stuff I wanted or it would be taken to the dump.

Loads of old timber....neatly sawn up and added to my wood shed, some nice stock-steel (I have a project in mind) plus a load of old random cable, conduit, panels from office furniture and a load of hardboard sheet, plus three 8x4 sheets of 75mm foam insulation board.

It's suprising just how many 'little jobs' I managed to find to make use of the several car-loads of 'crap'!

The Toolshed now has, er, for want of a better word, a shed! A little bit too 'basic' to call it an extension I suppose, but a couple of sheets of the Hyfloor Insulation board, ten minutes with a measuring tape and a saw and a few noggins of inch batten and a tube of sealer, and I now have a 'lean to' on the back of the Toolshed, for storing the 'outdoor' or 'gardening' tools. The concrete base of the shed extends to the back fence and I decided that it was just the right width to store the mower and the other gardening tackle like spades, forks, strimmers, rakes, etc.

The roof of the 'shed' also makes a nice 'shelf' to store the ladder! I doubt the roof is structural enough to take my weight (although I suspect it just might....I don't weigh much) but it's certainly man enough to keep the rain out. A door will follow in due course!

The floor of the Shed proper is made up from 4" x 3/4" planks, nailed to the timber bearers. The walls of the shed are then sat on the floor and screwed together to make the structure. All well and good, and a pretty solid floor, but the gaps between the planks are really handy for dropping screws and small items through, and also letting in the wind from underneath. Over the years (and I've had the shed for six now), the planks have warped and buckled and been splashed with all manner of paint, timbercare, oils and other gunk so were starting to look pretty manky as well as not helping with keeping the winter out.

I replaced all the loose nails with screws, hammered in the nails that looked sound and then laid a hardboard floor over the planking. All tacked down along each plank at six inch intervals with 20mm panel pins, and frame-sealed around the edges. A coating of dilute PVA adhesive to seal the surface and render it damp-proof, and I could then tile the floor with washable vinyl tiles. I had a couple of packs left over from a job in the house, so I threw them down to see if I likes them. I did, so I bought enough to finish the job and now I have a pretty smooth, waterproof and airtight floor. That should keep the shed much warmer in winter, or at least stop the wind whistling up through the floorboards and chilling my bits!

Et voila! Smooth, level, easy-to-clean shed floor, and now all the very dark planks are covered with light-ish tiles, the shed is much brighter and cleaner looking. The new shelf on the right runs from the front of the shed by the door to within a few inches of the back. There is a small gap so that I can stack the folding chairs in the corner.

The gap was one of several fortuitous little coincidences that sometimes just 'happen' in life. The shelf is actually a tall office cupboard door. When I measured the internal depth of the shed and then measured the cupboard door (originally intended as a general stock of constructional chipboard) I figured it would make a nice 'almost full width' shelf.

I had the Camping Gaz two-burner stove with griller sat in the corner by the door on a fold up camp kitchen thingy. That now sits stably on the new shelf and blow me if the hole where the door-knob/lock mechanism used to be isn't exactly the right diameter for the gas pipe! And the 22mm x 22mm timber I used to make the legs came from work too, as did all the screws.

Total cost for the lean-to shed and the flooring and shelving....£24 for the extra vinyl tiles. Bonzer!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Happy (or Hoopy) Towel Day

Sass that hoopy RT....there's a frood who really knows where his towel is

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Tour Lives On

Well....not strictly the Tour, but another chapter. I decided to go and spend a week in Wales over at Eco's place, helping out on the grand plan. As Eco says, he "builds castles in the sky"...I helped to "engineer some of the foundations to stand them on!"

Plus got fed, beered, roosted and worked.

Eco's Mini Digger

Eco loading the dumper truck

All good fun, and a complete switch-off from my normal life. I may have been physically tired when I got home, but I was mentally refreshed. There may have been some liquid refreshment consumed too!