With the help of youth, we made marked progress today.  It is good.

I am in the process of increasing my solar array.  To that end, I bought more panels and assembled some piles of scrap metal over the past winter. Bought some junk.  Scavenged.  I even got a welder and set myself on fire a few times learning to use it.  Trust me – it is all part of making progress.  If you don’t get crispy, you get better.  I am getting better.  In fact, I have pretty much finished the basic structure and me and the ‘boys’ erected it today.  We enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment together.  We were all ‘boys’ playing with a BIG Meccano set.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe boys are recent guests and don’t quite ‘get it’ that acquiring the steel and all the stuff is the largest part.  90% of any job is the preparation.  The other 90 is clean-up.  Only 40% is the actual work (yes, I know the math is all wrong but it always is – so work with me on this).  For them, that ‘prep work’ was just already there.  In place.  Background.  For me, of course, assembling the structure was very much a later step in the process.  And it is a process that is, at this juncture, still only half done.  The hard part is yet to come.  Doing the hook-up.  But there is no question that taking a bunch of ‘bits’ and assembling it is Ikea-like, a ‘kit’ coming together as it should.  Everyone was pleased when the holes aligned and the bolt that was presented could be put in place.  Pretty simple on the surface – lots of thinking and planning and preparation so that it was ‘simple on the surface’.



The panel-holding structure for the actual solar array is 17 feet off the ground; say five meters.  It is made up of a rectangular frame of square tube and angle steel.  Some of it welded, most of it bolted.   In total it will present a frame of about 120 square feet, say 12 square meters. That frame will sit on top of salvaged steel scaffolding supplemented with steel legs and cables.  120 square feet can generate a lot of force in a strong wind and this apparatus will be on top of the hill and exposed to the strong Sou’easters in the summer (often in excess of 60kmh) and the even stronger N’orwesters in the winter.  We can get 100 mile an hour winds out of the fiords on occasion.  But 75 mile per hour winds are to be expected at least once every winter.

I am having to build for the worst.

That is not always easy when using salvage.  And NOT being an engineer.  So, I do what I always do…build it to specs that would withstand Godzilla in a rage.  Then double it.  And double it again.  And then hope it makes it through the 30 year rule.

Sal and I have done everything to the thirty year rule so far.  We build and use materials so that whatever we make will last 30 years.  Mind you, we started on the thirty year rule ten years ago so we are now working to the 20 year rule.  As physical work becomes harder, the standards fall accordingly.  By the time I am 86, we will be building with duct tape and bungy cords.  If I make 90, then we’ll simply watch it fall around us.  It’s a plan.

“So does that mean your solar structure will last 20 years?”

Not yet.  As I said, we are only about half way there.  I’ll keep you posted.        .



2 thoughts on “Progress

    • I currently have 640 watts of power and it is almost adequate in the summer. The new section will add 1440 more watts for a total of 2100. That will be more than enough in the summer, likely enough for the warmer part of the shoulder seasons but still somewhat inadequate in the dead of winter. Still, 2000 watts is going to substantially cut into the generator’s running time. I may have a whole season (July and August) without having to run it even for tools. And, without tools use, I could likely add two more months. So, on the shoulder seasons, I may just have to kick on the genset for tool-use. Winter will still require a bit of genset time.


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