Tuesday, June 12, 2018

West Texas

great sundown one evening
tin shack at Fustercluck Corner.

view down the long driveway to our gate.
small swamp cooler helps, but only if you sit right in front of it while it's running.

all recycled corrugated tin for the shack exterior.

Low sunlight just before sunset hitting 9 Point Mesa
This little 6,000 btu window unit saved our lives!!! The older I get the less I like the HEAT. I built the one bedroom with R19 insulation in all 4 walls, and even insulated the floor. So we have the one "chill room" that has the small window unit AC. Hung a sleeping bag over the door.

And this propane powered generator also saved our lives. Ran this genny 18 hours a day on the 104 degree says. noon to daylight.

Back home now.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Mini Split 12k btu heat pump AC install... just in time for triple digit temps.

I bought this Pioneer brand (not a car radio) mini split 17 SEER heat pump AC a year or more ago. Finally getting around to installing it, now that 105 summer temps are rolling into north TX (about 6 weeks too early). I got mine on Amazon, but plenty are on EBay, just watch out for high shipping costs.

Our spare double wide trailer house that came along with our main, newer "trailer house" makes a sweet man-cave/storage shed. Working bathrooms, half-assed working window unit ACs, and even has a metal roof overlay. It's a 1983 model that came to this property new in '83.

I'm adding this one ton heat/cool unit... because, they're cheap, easy to install, super quiet, AND....can be (depending on model)..Extremely Efficient with electricity usage.!

These mini splits have been very popular in the far east, India, and Europe.. But for some "strange" reason are seldom seen in the US. My guess is the HVAC industry and a couple other construction trades can make a little bit more profit $$ via the old system we've been using for 70 years in home and apt construction.

Minis use much less power (big energy Corp doesn't like that notion). Only need one power source -outside. No furrdowns, no return air chases, no interior registers or grills. No attic access, no attic equipment platforms. No big concrete pad behind your house. Don't require ductwork ... think hot 140 degree summer attic spaces with cheapo low RValue flex duct feeding each room, taped together with DUCT tape. (Usually leaking a good portion of your expensively conditioned air into the summer kiln that is your attic)
Higher end, rich folks homes may have better hvac components, but usually if the buyer-owner can't see it, the builder isn't going to spend an extra $500plus  for duct-board or round metal duct. If it works, most builders won't spend money here, only on granite tops, and stainless steel appliances. The things a buyer "sees".

My last job before retirement involved two high end, luxury apartment projects that we built. Early on, in the early development stage I noticed our open concept floor plans (perfect for mini splits). When I brought this up for consideration during a design team meeting, all I got was blank stares, and questioning expressions. Most, including the high priced multifamily architects, had no clue about mini splits.

They do make these units with 3 or more inside units tied to one single outside condenser unit. You only need condition the air in whatever room you are using at the time, versus the entire house. Much more cost effective for energy use.

Okay, rant over. Here are a couple pics of work in progress. Not completed yet!! All I've done is hang the inside unit so far.
Location is on center wall of double wide home
Bracket installed, unit hangs onto this. Hole for Freon lines, power line, and condensate tube bundle

Unit installed, trim board not level.

Opened panel showing removable filters. Bottom panel silently oscillates up and down to better distribute air output.

Lookey!! Outside wall of old trailer is made with real wood panels... not pressed sawdust. 

Updates forthcoming.

(Will get installation done, then call AC tech to handle startup. Comes precharged with Freon)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Meat Smokin' Time, again.

Trying some beef back ribs this time.
Used a light plain mustard rub to get dry rub seasonings to stick to the meat. And just used a generic grocery store rub mix. (Not that sophisticated here yet with smoking recipes).
Rib rack went in bone side down. Barely fit in this smallish smoker.
Trying to keep the temperature around 220 -230.
Not that difficult with a propane fueled smoker. But still hafta pay attention to it. I used Mesquite woodchips this time for smoke.
The wireless temp and timer monitor really helps to keep an eye on it.
At the 3 hour mark, I pulled the ribs out, added some soy sauce and other ingredients to drizzle over the bone side up, wrapped it in foil, and back into the smoker for another 2 hours. Bone side up. (Forgot to take pics).

Done....5 hours total.
Pretty damn tasty.....But I prefer pork ribs myself. More meat, and better flavor.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Multifamily Construction ...Memory Lane

Being retired, I admit I often wish I was still involved in building apartment projects. I have dreams about being in meetings, or walking around a project underway, and working on solving some sort of problem. Guess it takes awhile to get it out of your blood. (after 36 years)

This is one project that I happened to find some old aerial pics of. I've got more around here somewhere of other projects. (Mostly in TX, but also in MS, FL, KS, TN, GA...and Tx jobs were in Houston, Austin, Round Rock, Mesquite, Bryan/College Station, Dallas, Longview, Fort Worth, North Richland Hills, Hurst, Allen, McKinney, etc)

This was about 220 units, three story, Senior Living units located in Fort Worth, TX. The company I worked for pretty much left me alone and didn't try to micro-manage  me (can't stand that).  The economy was still a tad slow in 2003, and I was able to hire some top notch subs at fair prices. I called it the "dream team" of subs and suppliers. My field staff was very capable too. AND it was a nice flat open site, easy to get a quick start on sitework and slab pours.

Construction began the week between Christmas 2002 and New Years 2003 - not a great start time of the calendar for fast production. All these pics were taken around the 15th to 20th of each month.

Jan 2003 excavation completed with utility work and plumbing underway

March 2003. slab pours nearly complete. Paving next.

April 2003. paving almost done. Framing started.

May 2003. rough framing nearly complete. Roofing started.

Aug 2003. Roofs complete, exterior paint in progress. Fine grading started.

Oct 2003. Landscape in progress. Pool completed.

Jan 2004. Substantially complete.

Finished 2 months early on the schedule and doubled the expected profit on the job. My boss was happy, and the client we built it for was happy as well.... Me? I just got a paycheck and a decent bonus at the end. Then went on to other projects.

It would be fun to do another project. But I've moved too far from the DFW area to get involved in this again.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Learning to smoke meat.

I got tired of paying jacked up prices for BBQ brisket at our local BBQ eatery ($15 per lb),  so I got online, did a little research, and bought a propane powered meat smoker. Propane smokers allow for very even temp control, and I have always liked propane as an energy source. Propane never gets old, or stale. NEVER. (I even have a propane powered GMC pickup that I drive often, and a propane generator for emergency needs). Gasoline goes bad very quickly (thanks US Gov Ethanol laws), and ruins many lawn mowers, weedeaters, chainsaws, every winter. Small engine repair shop biz has been booming the last few years. (Tangent over).

$170 and free shipping... Amazon

Instructions said 20 minute assembly, but I stretched it out to an hour, or so.

Had to erect an OSB plywood windwall.  (And I'm sending the bill to Mexico.) It was breezy today.

Big Ol'  brisket at 13 lbs.($2.50/lb)... And then trimmed a lot of useless hard fat off. 
This thing measured 21" tip to tip. My grill grate is only 14". Chop Chop.
Just ignore those Ron Rico half pints.... another blog story. (About how I quit booze, almost)

I smoked the bigger half for exactly 11 hours at around 220 degrees. Got up at midnight to check water and chips, then back to bed. The wireless internal temp probe monitor woke me up at 7am, when it hit my 202 degree target.

Brought inside, wrapped it in foil and a bath towel. Left to "rest" for an hour or so on countertop.
It kinda falls apart when slicing (need better, sharper knife). And outside "bark" is a tad dry and too crusty on edges. But overall, for first try... not bad at all.
I will try wrapping with foil at halfway point, as some of the several YouTube vids I watched recommended. That might alleviate the extra crusty bark.
Also I went a tad heavy on the kosher salt.

I won't be able to figure starting weight vs final cooked weight until I smoke the other smaller piece of brisket. But I did trim off about 3.5 lbs of useless fat from whole brisket. This larger piece weighed in at 3.5 lbs cooked.

I'm not The Galloping Gourmet, for those who remember him from early 1970s TV...I'm just the Stumbling Gourmet.

See y'all.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A few pics from a trip out west. Deck replacement, etc

Took a trailer load of composite deck lumber down to our place in South Brewster County. The old deck had lasted 10 years but was sagging. Turns out I didn't do the greatest job of framing the supports where they attached to the main tin shack joists. That and a porch roof leak that dribbles onto these boards did add to the failure. But it's fixed correctly now, and composite decking is supposed to last many years. Even had to use special screws to attach to joists. Nice and smooth now, without warping, cracking and nail heads sticking up.
I took a helper along to assist, just had to keep several beers in an ice chest during all waking hours and keep him fed.

Pics not in exact order.


And finally locking the gate as we left. Hate to leave the place... but needed to get home and needed a break from my helper's constant chatter and moodiness.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Trailer Trash Make Over....and my Barbie Dolls..!!!

Metal skirting and fresh paint makes a huge improvement.

Now we are lacking handrail paint and fencing for a few ankle biter dogs.

Yesterday was my grandson's birthday whoop-de-doo. My wife cranked out another fabulous birthday cake. Shark themed party, obviously.
I had to donate one of my prized Barbie Dolls, and ripped two limbs off for cake decorations.

 I have a box full of Barbies from my wife's garage sale purchase years ago. I'm planning an elaborate art project using them.
Maybe while I'm stuck inside on a cold rainy winter day I'll get started. Hobby Lobby... here I come!!

There must be 30 or more dolls, never counted them.
Only see one Ken doll.... no wonder he's grinning like a Possum.

Trying to get free from things that keep popping up here and make a trip out west in a couple of weeks.