On the 15th we had our first night frost. But when the sun shines, it is absolutely beautiful both to look at and to feel the warmth on our shoulders.
What do I have to show for this summer?
- The solar system installation is almost complete
- The building pad is slowly taking shape and should be completed shortly
- The driveway around the house has been completed
- The trailer is still in one piece and no injury to report
Since I received delivery of the solar system in mid-August,
I first completed the power shed:
- I was given a door for the power shed. Thanks Marty and Joanne! That’s when I realized that I had built my door header 3 inches too low, so I had to raise the header a little to accommodate this door. Another lesson’s learned: When designing something for this kind of stuff like doors and windows, don’t just size for what looks approximately right, find out what the standard sizes are. Luckily, this one was easy to correct. I installed a new lock.
- And of course, I ran exactly short of 3 shingles for completing the roof on Sunday afternoon, so I had to wait to the following weekend to complete this and this is where I discovered that shingles are not all the same size. But anyway, it is completed; another lesson’s learned.
- I will need to paint that shed to protect it from the elements.
I also built the solar panels frame (out of 2 inch aluminum angle). It worked quite well thanks to my good old drill press. Aluminum being quite flexible, I had to stabilize it with two stays in the front. The two expandable stays that I had removed from the camper’s awning system worked perfectly for that once I added some brackets. I may have to add some cables to the back to hold it firmly, but for now it looks good.
The weekend of the 21st I was most fortunate to have my friend Tomek come with me for a weekend of hard labor. Since he is a tough worker, we really managed to achieve a lot. I completed the solar panel frame and stays and we installed the panels – See the pictures heading this blog and more in the gallery. No major problem with this part. What a pleasure to stand in front of the solar panels. We also buried the cable between the solar panel and the power shed, we installed the battery box in its final position and loaded the batteries into it. Next weekend, I connect the whole system and turn the switch on!
The building pad:
Did I mention 'delays' earlier? The construction site is going slowly but surely. Delays due to injuries (not mine), deliveries that did not happen, bad weather etc… Thanks God, I am not in a rush and I can do other things when this side drags. But it is slowly taking shape and I am learning what works well and what does not. For instance after we started filling the holes I rented a small compactor (the vibrating plate type) from Home Depot in Richmond Hill for the weekend. This was definitely not powerful enough for the job and it turned out horrendously expensive. That is one place I won’t rent from in the future. So last saturday, after Marty had leveled 5 truck-loads over the building pad, I rented a diesel driven double roller vibrating compactor from Bancroft Rentals. Good rate, nice guys and local. When I picked it up at the rental company the guy looked at my car and asked me with a blank face: “Are you going to pull this with that?” But obviously he is not familiar with my mighty Yaris! I must say that we tested it in the parking lot before we concluded the deal! In any case, the Yaris had no real problem pulling a trailer load that is just about equal to its own weight. We had to take it really easy, but we made it safely. Next problem was the weather: We had rain much of the night before and the day. In the morning we already had some pretty soft edges and by the afternoon, we really buried the roller in a mud hole and we needed the “Neighbourhood Muscle” with 4x4 and chains to pull it out. Once again, thanks Justin! That is when we decided to quit on the roller and dry ourselves over a beer.
See the pics of Tomek fighting with the double roller in the mud! Sorry I did not think of taking a pic of my Yaris pulling the roller.
For the weekend of the 29th, assuming the weather cooperates, I have an aggressive plan to get 7 truck-loads delivered this week, rent the roller again on Saturday, finish compacting what we missed last weekend, have Marty spread the next layer and compact it as we go. Hopefully that will be the last layer. So far the weather forecast is good.
Week end September 29th: So much for the plan!
I arrive in Bancroft on Friday 9 pm guitar in hand ready for playing music with friends at Ruby’s Roadhouse in Bancroft - John Foreman, a local celebrity, organizes an open mike there every last Friday of the month - Lots of fun and good company. Arriving at my place, I realized that the 7 trucks of sand are not there! Change of plan # 1: the next morning, I start working on finishing the solar system electrical connections. I call the rental company to tell them that I do not need the roller after all. (I am a bit surprised that they sound totally happy with that). Then around 10:00am a first truck comes up with a load of dirt! Great! Change of plans # 2: I call the rental company again and tell them that I will take the roller after all. That is when they tell me that it is broken down (again). This explains why they were relieved that I did not want it the first time around! I go see Marty & Joanne to see if they know of someone who would have one to rent around Bancroft. Marty was at work that day. Joanne with her heart of gold jumps on the phone to try and get me a machine but without success. Finally Marty saves the day and says that he can bring one tonight and we’ll be ok to do all the work on Sunday. On Sunday morning, Marty has back challenge and need to stay off work. So he downloads the compactor at my place so I can finish compacting what was already laid out and we will do the rest of the work next week-end.
Result of the weekend: Solar system is all connected on Saturday but I still need to install an electrical panel and a plug for the trailer. I buy all the stuff I need on Sunday noon, then get to work with the compactor. Mid-afternoon, I start putting up the electrical panel, and realize that some of the components are wrong. Too late to change them and I cannot complete the work today. Also, my new tester is kaput, so I cannot test the connections before firing the solar system on. So that will also wait till next weekend. Frustrated at first, but when I look at the achievement, not at what did not happen, I am almost there with the solar system, I have a new plan to complete the building pad next weekend, and life is good! Also, I am definitely starting to really appreciate some of the folks around here!
How am I doing through all that? Life has not been all work and no play. I took a few deserved breaks.
- On Labour Day weekend, I brought my kayak and went paddling on Lake Paudash in the morning. I explored an area of the lake that I was not familiar with and got disoriented between the islands and ended up paddling a bit longer than I expected, but it was a really nice day.
- I also managed to do a few evening bike rides around L’Amable.
- I took some weekends off! In August, I gave myself a couple of welcome breaks: One to go and visit my grand-daughter in Ottawa. It was great to spend the weekend with the kids and hold that beautiful baby in my arms.
- I also took a few extra days to briefly go and visit my sister on the west coast. I really enjoyed that quick trip to Portland and spending time with my sister and her family, meeting many new members of the family for the first time. You see, I missed the last family reunion a few years ago because of work and I really regret that one. So these trips certainly were the highlights of the summer.
- By the end of this summer, I have been feeling lonely sometimes and I miss my friends and family. So it was quite an excitement this last weekend to have Tomek volunteering to come and spend the weekend working with me. It came at a perfect time and made a tremendous difference. Thank you again Tomek I hope we can do that again sometime.
- I also just decided that I am going back home (Yes, that home!) to spend Christmas with my mom and sisters. I am really looking forward to spend two weeks in the family. It is the perfect time to go there. Work in Toronto will be at a standstill during that period. In Bancroft it will be at a stand still from mid-November to mid-March.