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Author Topic: Whats up with me  (Read 919 times)

sqlbullet

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Whats up with me
« on: November 13, 2020, 11:54:08 am »
Inspired by Woofr looking for some increase in content, I am offering this thread.

Over the summer the clan pooled resources and purchased 40 acres with a "cabin" in Utah between Duchesne and Helper.  I put cabin in quotes as in the midwest where I grew up we would call it a house.  Four bedrooms, two baths, living room, great room with kitchen, loft and a garage.  Total finished size is about 2500 sq feet.  Propane is onsite for water heating, range, and fridge.  The property is bisected by highway 191 which has year round maintenance.  From the turn off to the cabin is 3/4 mile of decent gravel road.  Snow should be manageable for the Suburban.  We also have the Kubota there if we get stuck.

The downside is currently the water is gravity feed from a 1100 gallon tank on the side of the mountain, and the electricity is only when the generator is running.  As an added downside, the water line from the tank to the house is not buried, so running water is really a summer only luxury.  Price has a municipal potable water fill station that charges about $1.00 per 300 gallons, so we can fill the tank for about $4.00 plus gas and time.  I picked up three 275 gallon totes which allows us to do so in two trips.  The previous owners were using a 125 gallon truck bed tank, and it was a several weekend event to fill the tank.  Oh..And no cell service at the cabin.  If you stand the right places on the property you can find cell coverage, but not at the cabin itself.

The plan...

A cell phone booster antenna has been mounted and combined with a booster and WIFI hotspot it gives us about 5mbps/1mbps down/up when the generator is on.  When the generator is off the hotspot works about 8-9 hours off it's internal batter, but without the booster it only manages about 2mbps/0.05 mbps down/up.  I have on my desk the parts to make a DC power supply for the booster and have a deep cycle battery that can keep the booster on when the generator is not running.  This will keep us in a usable internet speed 24/7.  Most of us are with Google FI, which will treat WIFI same as cell service for calls and SMS.  We are on the list to be a beta test for SpaceX Starlink, which should give us 150/50 mbps and would be better than we have in the city.  That is the proper long term solution.

Solar is ordered and en route.  Fourteen 370 watt panels, FM80 charge controller, Conext 4048 4KW inverter/charger and a fortress eVault 18.5 KwH LIFPO battery.  Battery got here on Monday, and the rest of the system gets here next Wednesday, save the inverter which is on backorder until December.  Since the snow has flown, we will probably stage the cells on a ground array once they arrive with the plan to move them to the roof in the spring.  This gets us into 24/7 power with the generator for backup.

We have procured a water right for domestic culinary and have put a deposit in with a well driller.  The property has year round running water so we expect to not be much over 100' depth.  The well will have it's own independent solar power for the pump and use a pressure tank via buried water lines giving us year round water.  We will use a pressure tank housed in a utility shed, heated by a propane radiant heater.

Short term we are installing two 30K BTU radiant heaters in the cabin to keep us above freezing when we aren't there.  Eventually that will be supplanted by hydronic baseboard heat with either an electric or propane boiler.  The final decision on boiler type will depend on how well the solar system performs over the cold months this winter.  If we are making enough power, the solar electric is the way.  If we are just scraping by, then a different choice will be made.

We have spent the last four weekends there.  The first two weekends we had water from the tank, though it did freeze the line second weekend so we drained the tank and supply lines in the house as well as winterizing the drains and toilets with RV antifreeze.  The second two weekends we carried in water and used one of the totes for backup supply.  Last weekend when we left we drained the tote as this weeks was not going to see temps above freezing much and I didn't want a 200 gallon block of ice to deal with.

Things I have learned/relearned.  I grew up in rural Indiana, so some of this was just remembering things.  Like how dark dark is when you aren't near any source of artificial light.  And how quiet quiet is for the same reason.  How nice a woodstove is when it's cold outside.  I also understand now why as an adult make I have to pee at 2:00 AM...It coincides with the need to toss another log or two on the fire.

Pistol and rifle range locations are picked out, but I have not made any progress yet on target holders or shooting benches.  The five year plan includes a machinery shed on the other side of the creek that will have on it's north end a shooting room that conveniently is 100 yards from the rifle range target stands.    And with a little creating trimming the deck will have a clear line to those stands too, 133 yards distant.

The final challenge is our beloved Suburban.  It is a 2011 LT that we have loved.  But, it has a couple of shortcomings.  It is a half-ton and it lacks a two speed transfer case.  Three totes full of water plus the weight of the trailer is right at the 7500 lb tow limit of the vehicle, and for pulling up a canyon from Price to the cabin the 5.3L engine works pretty hard.  While hauling water should be in our past in a few weeks when the well is installed, I still foresee many needs that will be right at the tow limit.  And without a low-range the 2.29 reverse ratio doesn't cut it.  For instance, to get the trailer into position to off-load water I have to back up a small hill.  No low range means I can't make it unless I get a run at it.  Getting a run as a 10' rise going backwards pushing a 7500 lbs 16' trailer inspires a bit of white knuckle even in this country boy.  It also struggles to back up the driveway the last 50' or so to the garage if it is loaded with people and gear.  I either pull in forward and we have to carry cargo an extra 150" or I make the people get out and then back up the hill.

Options...

Upgrade the existing vehicle.  It only has 100K miles and is in good shape.  The big upgrade would be a two speed transfer case.  Based on my research this should be about $500 at the junk yard and should plug and play.  T-case, TCU and the two speed knob in the dash.  I would rebuild the t-case before I installed it.  Not much I can do about being a half ton, but once I have a well that becomes (hopefully) much less of an issue.  Other changes would need to be a better clearance bumper front and rear and swapping out the city running boards with some that provide better rock protection (don't ask).  There are running board options, and some front bumper kits, but the rear is a real pain.  All the options I have found are just plain ugly since the factory rear quarter panels are actually part of factory rear bumper cover.

The downside to this option is most of these upgrades make no difference in the value of the vehicle to others.

The other option is to get a more capable SUV.  The obvious option is an Excursion.  I had a 2005 with the 6.0 Diesel and I loved it.  But the 6.0 was an expensive problem that at the time I didn't have the time (or knowledge) of how to deal with.  If current me could go back in time and spend an hour with 2011 me, I would still have that truck.  Instead of going to the Ford dealer for it's last round of repairs, it would have gone to a local diesel shop and gotten an aftermarket EGR cooler, a remote oil cooler and filter in place of the factory job in the valley and an aftermarket power side of the FICM.  Unfortunately my time machine is on the fritz.

Also unfortunately, everyone now knows how great the 7.3 and 6.0's can be.  Finding one under $15K without being into very high mileage is quite the trick.  You can find a 6.0 if it has no engine upgrades, but then you have $4-5K of engine upgrades to do.  And as a used vehicle with 200K miles or more, you don't know what other gremlins are lurking.

There is also the 6.8L V10 option.  These appear to be quite cheap, with decent options available for about $5k.  The cry of the purist is that a non-diesel Excursion will be wildly expensive to drive due to gas costs.  But, running the math myself, it appears they are about on par running clean.  The V-10's get around 11mpg (fuelly.com data), while the 6.0 gets 17mpg and the 7.3 gets 15mpg.  But, gas is cheaper than diesel by about 15-20% around here.  And the cost of a 5K mile service is nearly $400 of the diesel versus $130 for the V10.  So, $200-$250 more per 5K miles for fuel, but $270 less for service.  Plus $10K cheaper up front.  And the V10 appears to be a solid engine otherwise.  Plus, lots better options for bumpers, sliders, steps, etc as they are pretty much fully compatible with the rest of the Super Duty line of vehicles.  And Excursions are going up in value, and upgrades to bumpers, suspension, etc seem to be valued by the local market.  And I can always dream about doing a Cummins 5.9 swap, though I probably never will.

So, that's what has been up at casa sqlbullet.

Oh...And a couple of photos:

The first weekend after we closed on the property:



A view from above on the third weekend (Halloween 2020)



And a selfie in the snow(Nov 8, 2020):



Utah

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    NukMed

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    Re: Whats up with me
    « Reply #1 on: November 13, 2020, 03:42:24 pm »
    So... When do we christen the range? :D
    Freedom trumps fear.  Rights trump security.  Free will trumps order.

    RetroGrouch

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    Re: Whats up with me
    « Reply #2 on: November 13, 2020, 03:46:09 pm »
    The property looks beautiful.  Don't know what the wind is like in that canyon, but a small windmill/wind turbine could help with the electricity, but might be a bit loud in your really quiet locale. 

    As to the diesel/gas considerations, I tend to shy away from diesel after dealing with it during winters in the Midwest.  Adding alcohol to keep it from gelling in the cold, engine block heaters (more electricity needed at an off-grid location for you), replacing batteries in the winter, all combine to make me think of it as a warm weather fuel system.
    Arizona

    coelacanth

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    Re: Whats up with me
    « Reply #3 on: November 13, 2020, 11:16:52 pm »
    Oh my, what a beautiful setting.  Congratulations would seem to be in order for you and your clan.   :thumbup1

    Call me old school but I tend to think of solutions to most problems that are more twentieth century than twenty first.  The tech is tried and true, mostly off the shelf and generally rebuildable.  All things that eventually work in your favor.  Gravity feed from the 1100 gallon tank is a plus but freezing temperatures limit its utility.  Why not either bury the feed line(s) or insulate them to prevent freezing?  If the tank is in good shape and well maintained it might serve as the centerpiece for the water supply system year round. 

    How popular are mechanical windmills in that area?  I am referring to the standard Aermotor type common all over the west.  Looks like your property is in a canyon which may act as a natural funnel for prevailing winds and if that is the case and your well site is favorable it might be worth looking into as an alternative to an all electric system.   :shrug   As it stands now you're going to be using a lot of propane and once you factor the cost(s) of installing and maintaining a sizeable propane system into your equation it may be painful.  Bear in mind that propane tanks must be replaced regularly - by law.   :bash   

    How rowdy does that creek get?  Does it ever become impassable during summer thunderstorms or spring snowmelt?   :hmm   I tend to agree with Retrogrouch re: the diesel transportation option.  In some respects they are nice to have but just be aware that its an expensive option from start to finish and all along the way.  If I were you I'd seriously consider the F-250 Supercrew with 4wd , a 6.8L gas engine and the standard 6 speed automatic transmission.   You can usually find used ones around that aren't totally beat to hell and gone and they are fairly bulletproof as pick up trucks go.  The ride is not as cushy as the Suburban but it will excel everywhere the Suburban is currently falling short.   
    Arizona" A republic, if you can keep it."

                                                   Benjamin Franklin

    booksmart

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    Re: Whats up with me
    « Reply #4 on: November 16, 2020, 08:34:55 am »
    That looks quite nice.  Enjoy!

    sqlbullet

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    Re: Whats up with me
    « Reply #5 on: November 16, 2020, 11:33:03 am »
    I am pretty much settled on gas for the new vehicle.  I have a line on a '05 Excursion with the V10 at an auction that looks like it may get very cheap.  Auction closes tomorrow.

    The wind is not as constant as I would have thought.  In fact, it is still there more often than not.  Up on the highway it blows, but out little area ends in a bowl, so I think it fills with air and then deflect the constant blow above us.

    Burying the water line was been considered.  We even started digging the trench.  Has to be by hand as the incline is too steep for the kubota.  And I don't think I will live long enough.  A mini-X might be able to handle the grade, but I am not sure.  However, I do agree that I like the idea of gravity feed.  However, I grew up on pressure tank off of grid power that was out quite often.  Our solar should easily give 4 nine's of uptime, which works out to 52 minutes a year without power, and the well will have about 50 gallons of draw-down post power loss (37 flushes - how I think of water now after two weekends up there without water).

    Propane is already onsite.  The tank is leased for a very minimal annual fee, and that makes the swap out their problem not mine.  But, you are right, long term I will be looking to minimize propane use in favor of local generated energy.  As we add structures (garage, pavilion) we will determine if we need more solar capacity and add as needed.

    Drove down yesterday just to check it out.  Snow was about 2-3" anywhere the sun reached the ground.  The back patio, which this time of year sees very little direct sunlight, had 7".  It was 49° at 1:00 in the afternoon outside, and 41° inside the cabin when we got there.  We stayed about three hours, and one of the wood stoves brought the inside up to 62° in that time frame.  Roads were fine in and out.  Lots of snow mobile activity nearby.

    Thanks for the feedback.  It has helped a ton!  If the auction works out on the Excursion I will post of some pictures of the pig.
    Utah

    coelacanth

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    Re: Whats up with me
    « Reply #6 on: November 16, 2020, 04:29:14 pm »
    Sounds good.  Yes, leased is the way to go with propane tanks of any size.  We just reached the expiration date on ours last year and it was a chunk of change on top of the fill. 

    The Ford V 10 is a good engine but I think I'd only buy it if I just really had to have the vehicle it was housed in.  The 6.8 engines are solid and so is the last iteration of the 6 speed juicepumper.  I have a friend who has one and puts it through hell every year and the old beater just keeps coming back for more.  Its a hunting truck, a firewood truck, a sick animal to the vet truck, a help move something truck - whatever.  He's grown quite fond of that truck over time.  YMMV. 

    You might need to think out of the box a little on insulating the water line.  It can be done above ground in a way similar to how you winterize an outdoor water spigot in cold country.  A remote read thermometer would come in handy and some way to keep the air still around the pipe while allowing solar radiation to warm whatever thermal mass surrounds it.  The trick is to be able to predict what your low water temperature is going to be on over a given time period and figure out some way to keep it above freezing for that time.  I assume the tank itself has never frozen? :hmm   Its the kind of problem that intrigues me but I'd have to see the set up to make an educated guess about what would work.  I'll look around the web and see if I can find anything interesting for you. 
    Arizona" A republic, if you can keep it."

                                                   Benjamin Franklin

    sqlbullet

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    Re: Whats up with me
    « Reply #7 on: November 17, 2020, 10:15:59 am »
    Thanks.  I will try to get some pictures if the snow is melted off this weekend.
    Utah

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