Sunday, 26 May 2013

More Metal Fettling

Eco has an Ifor Williams drop-side trailer which is really great for occasional fetching and carrying duties and for carting machinery about, but we got a notion to make some modifications to it to enable us to cart logs and brash about the site and to foray further afield for supplies of burnables.

We removed the headboard and used the two mounting sockets to take a new front crossmember so we could add additional 60x40 sockets to accept brash bars. We fabricated these from 50x30 in two parts so we can use a half-length to provide log supports or use them full length to support a load of brash. We also chopped the side angle sections of the trailer base and welded in two more sockets. We now have five sockets along each side of the bed to take ten brash rails.

Leftmost brash bar half length, slotted into original corner post socket. The one next to the wheel is slotted into the new intermediate socket we welded in. By removing the brash-bars and refitting the original post sockets, we can convert back to a drop-side box trailer in a matter of minutes. The extension sections are also 50x30 box, with a 60x40 socket section welded to one end so they simply slide over the lower bars.

We should now be able to stack logs and brash to about half a metre high, lash it down with ratchet straps and then add the extension bars to enable another layer to then be stacked on top. All good stuff.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Assorted Pics of work so far this year at Eco Manor

Steel wheels for Squeaky Joe. 6mm steel plate for the hubs and the reinforcing fillets, 4mm steel plate for the rims and 75mm x 50mm x 6mm unequal angle for the teeth. These should provide serious traction over boggy ground infested with purple tussock grass.

Diameter 370mm (rim), 520mm tooth to tooth. 16 teeth staggered in 2 rows of 8, 45 degrees apart. Offset between opposing teeth, 22.5 degrees. Think Bodecea or Ben Hur....positively medieval!!

Our solar-power battery charging station down in the toy-shed is still working a treat, with the exception of a blown inverter for the shed lights which needs remedial work.

The sun is making the occasional appearance...that helps matters!

One of our biggest problems has been starting machinery with duff batteries or that have sat for weeks or months unused and have gone flat. We have fitted all our vehicles with Anderson connectors which allow us to charge anything from the solar, or jump-start pretty much anything from anything else.

Shown above is the dumper truck, sporting a second-hand Exrider battery from my old solar power system down in Surrey. Not all that good, but will start the dumper happily if it has been plugged into the solar charging for a day or two.

We recently finished organising the drainage culvert across the track to the toyshed. Now water which used to pool in the yard or simply make the ground into a bog is now draining nicely into the drainage ditch behind the toy shed. Even after a month of no rain, we still get a trickle as the surrounding high ground is still draining water through the rocky layers, After a day or so of really heavy rain, we possibly see several tens of gallons a minute. But it's going where we want it to now, so we are rather pleased with the results.

Pretty clear and clean too. I'm going to do some quality testing on the water, and then perhaps use it with a slow sand and ion exchange filter to see if we can produce high-quality potable water.

Year 2 of our short rotation willow coppice has been planted out. You can see last year's plantings on the left which have been pruned to provide our rods for planting this year.

After about 3-4 weeks since planting, the new rods are already producing buds and hopefully sending down new root growth.

All Hands On Deck

Well, Mrs E decided to go and visit an old friend of hers this week, so we have been left to our own devices. Only, Mrs E has been complaining for some time that now the weather is improving slightly and she can get out on the deck to tend her plants, she was a bit worried about her safety owing to the lack of handrail around the edge. One other important design criteria is that we need to let the dawgs out for a bask and a bit of fresh air, but don't want them escaping when we are working out and about on the site.

Cue this week's project.

We raided the wood-store for some 2" x 2" and 4" x 2", set up the saw bench and cut our materials. The drop from the end of the deck is about four feet onto rock, so we opted for a 1m high handrail with some pretty solid corner supports and intermediate posts manly enough to hold up under accidental slips, trips or tips.

Eco fitting the intermediate post on the front edge of the deck.

As rain began to get really heavy yesterday evening, we abandoned work for the day, but had at least finished the uprights.

Today, we had threat of rain and a few drops here and there, but mostly a chilly wind. We decided that as the weather was no worse than yestreday, and possibly looking to improve as the day progressed, we would crack on and try and finish the job.

2" x 2" handrail support braces fitted.

Looking pretty good so far.

4" x 2" D profile capping rail fitted to support rails. Takes my weight perfectly satisfactorily with very little flexing, so should make a nice strong guard-rail.

Fitting the handrail on the corner posts. All joints mitred and eased for a good-looking finish.

Once the railing was finished, we used galvanised stock fencing to provide a dog-proof and reasonably sturdy infill for the framework.

Just a little tensioning of the stock fencing and a little fine adjustment before fitting the lower fence rails in position.

And of course, being the consumate professional I am, I was wearing proper PPE....hi-vis jacket, steel-toecapped working boots and rigger gloves. Only, when I'd taken my gloves off to do some delicate work (hammering in a blardy great staple), that was when I whacked my thumb and drew blood!

The finished article. More solid than a solid thing, pretty dogproof and hopefully wil meet with Mrs E's approval upon her return.

 Just the horticultural nick-knackery to sort out now.