Spam (madbodger) wrote,

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The group house is humming along nicely these days. I borrowed one of the children again to fix the transmission on the tractor. It turns out a bright 3-year-old with small hands, who doesn't mind getting really filthy dirty, is really helpful for this kind of work. As it's the rainy season, and the roof barrels are full, we can take hot showers afterward and get all the grease and muck off ourselves.

A couple of people whomped up a heat exchanger from scrap sheet metal, now we can use the heat from the wood stove to dry clothes indoors, as long as there's someone willing to pedal the dryer drum. We've been doing this at night lately, and venting the warm humid air from the dryer exhaust into the kids' sleeping quarters. Sure enough, we have a lot fewer respiratory problems this year. I've been sleeping in there myself, enjoying the nice humid air, and plenty of warm bodies (human, feline, canine) to curl up with.

I didn't think we'd be able to get the corn burning stove to work without electricity, but I was wrong. A couple of the techie types had come up with a clockwork mechanism that works like a music box. The slow drive runs the corn auger, and the little speed limiter fan moves the air. I still wasn't convinced, as we simply don't have the metallurgy to make a mainspring that would go for long without winding. I was wrong. It doesn't use a mainspring, it uses weights. Cranked all the way up, it'll go for about 17 hours without attention.

The neighbors botched a batch of biodiesel, and we traded the log splitter for it. We never really used it, as it's faster (and actually kind of fun) to split logs by hand. Once you get the knack, you can split even a large hunk of seasoned wood with one good whack. Once we filter and fraction it, looks like we'll net over a thousand litres of somewhat flammable glop, which the turbine seems happy to burn, so we'll have electricity for quite a while. As a bonus, we recovered about 200 litres of glycerin, so we're set for soap and (ahem) personal lubricant for the foreseeable future too.

I'm a little worried about batteries, even though we scavenged several hundred from local cars and drained them so they won't sulfate. A couple of the chemistry types are trying to figure out how to synthesize battery acid, but we don't have anything useable yet. The lead, we can continue to scavenge, clean, and recycle, and we have plenty of solar most of the year. If we can get the acid issue resolved, we'll have sufficient power indefinately.

The internet seems to be mostly email, usenet, and LJ these days, and is filled with farming, repair, animal and child raising hints and stories. We're a little out of the way, but the packet radio link works pretty well and we're happy we can stay in touch with the rest of you.

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