Saturday, September 14, 2013

Catching up

In July I got fed up with the A/C constantly running.  The house would just not keep cool.  In the winter the heat was on a lot as well.  Time to insulate that lousy attic!  Damn, more money leaving my savings.

Here's a glimpse of the pathetically insulated attic with the walking boards removed:
Looks like the original rock wool and boy has it settled!  The space in the upper half of the attic, where the bedrooms are, was just as low.  No wonder the house kept getting hotter at night instead of cooler, all that heat was soaking into the living space.  Grrr!

Here's after the requisite 15" of blown-in to get us up to code, R-19:
Bales of insulation are used to contain the fluff.
Looks like it snowed but, man oh man, did it make an immediate difference with how often and how long the A/C kicks on.  This was definitely worth it and was less than two thousand dollars with no interest for 18 months all thanks to Home Depot.

Trailer Improvements

I finally got all the parts needed and installed to make our trailer more versatile.  I used an Anchor-Trax kit from, L-track (exact same stuff as Anchor-Trax and what I'll refer to it as) from, and cargo quick-nuts from  The L-track allows flexible tie-down locations.  The stainless steel cargo quick-nuts are flush mounted so they won't damage anything placed on them but allow me to securely mount my motorcycle chock.  Though they come with a lock-washer I also used blue thread-locker as backup.
The L-track is the silver and black bits on the perimeter.

Cargo quick-nut, top view.  The screw above threads into the center of the quick-nut.

Bottom view of cargo quick-nuts.

Motorcycle chock mounted to trailer using the cargo quick-nuts.

Mia ragazza aboard.

The L-track in use, holding the ramps from slipping away.

Centered and less than 70 pounds on the tow hitch tongue.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Productive weekend.

A couple weeks ago my good friend Brian brought my Type III engine back to my place.  As a box of parts!  It's okay, he was taking it apart carefully and seeing if it would spin and thus figure out where it failed after the Pikes Peak drive to the hotel.  After pretty much taking it ALL apart -- like, splitting the case open -- it turns out that the front bearing (the one behind the flywheel) spun, thus blocking off oil to it which caused it to friction-weld and stop the engine.  Everything else looks really good so damage was minor over-all.  Engine is wearing very well, or should I say, not wearing.  Regular oil changes with a full-flow filtering system really seems to help keep the engine in top shape...cuz I ain't easy on her!  I'll get pictures up soon...

Busy weekend for me, which is satisfying.  On Saturday we went to the Portland Auto Show to check out the new models and, for me, the exotics and higher-end cars.  Kind of disappointed with the Audi interiors, very mono-tone & bland.  VW has stepped up their game and they look better inside.

Insulated the furnace air return in the attic space.  Not difficult, just time consuming, particularly the taping.

It wasn't leaking air but as a precaution I sealed the seams.

Insulation, HVAC foil tape and 175W area flood lamp!

Done!  R6 foil-backed wrapped ducting.
The turn that goes down to the furnace in the garage.

Next, I replaced the tank guts in the master bathroom.  You'd think that would have been easy but the POs (Previous Owners) used Jacuzzi toilets and good freakin' luck finding parts for them, they SUCK!  I was able to find a generic 3" flap and squeeze in the water flow valve/regulator.  Now it doesn't leak nor waste water down the drain while filling the tank.

Lastly, I replaced the rear brakes on the Passat.  That was the easiest job by far.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sunshine, on my roof top, makes me happy!

Okay, yeah, I'm behind on my blog so here's a partial update...

Well, we are now a provider of electricity for the power grid!  The last week of December the SolarCity crew came to our house an installed our solar array.

Before (click on images for larger view):

View from the back-yard.
Street view, facing the front of the house.
Ignore the tangled cable mess, that's left-over from the cable.

They got it up in a day and, because our house is a little funky in where the meter and breaker box reside, finished the meter install the morning of the next day.

During the install:

Here it is installed and since the panels are below the peak you can't see it from the street - nice!


If you look really close you can see the second meter on the lower left side of the house.

The extras

Breaker box feed location is bottom left.

Two inverters -- yeah, we are pumpin' the juice!
Second meter is at the top left with the inter-lock below it.
And finally, the receiver that transmits our monitoring data.

Last week we passed the Washington County inspection (the whole system is permitted).  Today PGE came by, inspected and approved our system, and TURNED IT ON!  YA-HOO!!!

Our system is 8.64 kW DC using two PVI-3.8-I-OUTD-S-US-NG-Z Aurora inverters.  And that's about all I can really tell ya.  Look at the Residential site at for more info.  It cost us NOTHING, SolarCity too care of everything and their customer service has been fantastic!  We are leasing the system for under $60/month, will have a lower electricity bill guaranteed, and have the option to out-right purchase it at fair-market value after five years if we so desire -- which we won't because they monitor the system, insure it, maintain it, etc. so why would I want to take all that up when my life is busy enough as it is?  So far I'm a very happy camper...bring on global warming!