10 Sept 2017

Still around – and still waiting for my composite parts to be painted(!)

During the morning walk I saw this unusual trailer. When I first saw it I thought that it used a hydraulic motor to drive the winch instead of electric. Looking closer though I couldn’t find any hydraulic lines running from the pump to the winch, so that wasn’t it. Turns out the winch is a traditional electric setup, yet the battery it ran from also operated a gas(!?) engine which drove a hydraulic pump. I followed the lines back down the trailer to a piston at the front, so, okay it’s a tilt trailer, but that’s not the most interesting part. That was the hydraulic motor at the back end of the trailer driving a drum upon which rides the trailer bed itself! I had no idea such a thing existed. Well that’s one way to load your broken race car back onto the trailer!

In other news, we’re been considering solar panels. I’ve ignored the idea up until now for what might seem like a lame reason. In the home improvement store chain “Home Depot” there are these really annoying salespeople pushing leased solar installations. My logic is that if they’re pushing that hard, it must be really good for them, which means one way or another, it’s really bad for me, so I ignore them. Recently a coworker had a system put in, but he purchased his instead of leasing. After talking to him I’m wondering why I didn’t consider this sooner. The short story is that over 25 years, the owner (at least in Southern California) will save approximately $120,000. Yes, really. The reason the salespeople push the zero-cost lease so hard is that they reap everything over and above the installation cost (or around $100,000 per customer over 25 years)… incredible.

Somewhat related, the pond is up and running; here’s a short video of the fish in their new surroundings, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8Sx3o2s4rM

Thoughts have turned toward putting a cover over the filter and pump equipment, and also over the pond itself. How the above relates to this is that – me being me – I’m considering doing the solar installation myself. One issue around here is our “soil” is sandstone, which can be as hard as rock in areas. There is no access for heavy equipment where the panels would go and I don’t relish the thought of digging 24″-diameter 5-ft deep holes(!) for the solar panel mounts (6-12 of them depending upon mounting style). Thinking about the shading over the pond, I started wondering (channeling Jeremy Clarkson, “how hard could it be”) about building one to support the panels and have them do double duty as pond shading. Such a structure would be a fairly big deal though because with 20 40-lb panels, plus wind-loading, it’s not something to toy with (the consequences of having 800 lbs of expensive panels crashing into the pond would be a bad thing). Still, I know a structural engineer and will ask him if I could make trusses from chain link fence railing that would be strong enough to support it – I don’t see why not. The issue with digging holes would be simplified because there is access (for Bobcat-size gear) around the pond, so we’ll see.

Or I write a really big check and it just all magically gets done.