Saving on Propane costs

Saving on Propane costs

I recently noticed that our propane costs have gone up a huge amount. I know the cost of propane has increased, but our usage is up as well. We use propane only for the stove and the water heater so we really should not use very much propane at all. In fact over the 15 plus years we have lived in this house I have pretty much ignored the propane bills and just let the truck driver stay on top of keeping my tank filled.

However I am paying the price for my inattention right now.

I started by setting back the thermostat on the hot water heater. There is no use heating the utility room any more than necessary. The clothes dryer does a good enough job with that.

Next I started checking for leaks. I mixed up a batch of soap and water and put it in spray bottle. I went around outside spraying joints. I started at the tank and worked my way back to the house. I checked the regulator vent as well because a broken diaphragm could be a big leak.

I finally found a joint that bubbled where the line entered the house for the stove. It had been repaired a few years ago and one of the fittings made a few bubbles. Snugging up the nut made the bubbles quit.

Next I checked around the hot water heater. It was relocated a couple of years ago when the floor was redone. Sure enough there was a leak where the copper pipe joined the shut off valve. I had to tighten the nut twice to get it to completely stop.

I had thought the smell around the hot water heater was just the kitty litter box but I guess it was the mercaptane in the propane after all. A couple of hours after I tightened the fitting, the air was much fresher smelling in the laundry room. I hope this will also translate in to lower propane bills as well.

Free Energy Machines

Free Energy Machines

All my life I have been fascinated by the concept of free or perpetual energy machines. I have studied the inventions Nicola Tesla. I have researched many proposed methods of producing energy form a vacuum. So far I have been disappointed by all of them.

Today I clicked on an ad for the HOJO motor. It is supposed to produce energy through eddy currents in an aluminum plate or something like that. It turns out they are selling plans that used to be available for free on the internet but where pulled when they were proven to be fakes.

I guess I still hold out hope for a perpetual energy machine because of a story my Grandfather Strawbridge told me. He told me that during his apprenticeship at a machine shop as a boy he helped his mentor build a motor that ran off virtually nothing. It was small but very powerful. He said even as a strong young boy he could not stop the motor from turning.

My Grandfather’s story takes the usual conspiracy twist that all free energy marketers add. He said one day some people in suits came to visit the little shop. When they left his mentor looked very sad and ordered him to destroy the motor and other inventions in the shop. My grandfather used a sledge hammer to demolish every trace of the inventions. He said his mentor never explained why.

Having heard this story all my life, it is easy to believe that there is some conspiracy to suppress free energy technology. However, I also believe in the power of free information exchange. Other than cave locations, I have not found much to be hidden on the internet. It would seem to me that if free energy technology really was available, there would be some people somewhere using it. And they would write about it on the internet.

I still hold out hope. For now I will just have to be content with fanciful stories of how the inventions of Marconi and Tesla have been lost or suppressed. I know that we have minds today equal to theirs. If it was possible to do once, it will be invented again.

Scrapping the ZJ

Scrapping the ZJ

There has been a burned out ZJ sitting in front of my barn for over a year now. I finally decided it was time to let it go.

The rear disk brakes are on my off road XJ. The engine (what we bought it for) is in Jenny XJ. The rear axle was sold to go in another ZJ. The transmission was sold for yet another.

It seems a shame to trash so many good parts, but there has been little interest in the body parts I have offered for sale. I have stripped off as much as I thought I might be able to sell and yesterday I loaded the rest on the trailer.

It is fun trying to load a Jeep with no rear axle on the trailer. I began by jacking up the rear and running my steel ramps as far as I could under the body. I then lowered the body on the ramps. I left the front axle in place with tires so that at least that end can roll.

I then set up my XJ at a right angle to the trailer and fastened my snatch block to the front of the trailer. I threaded the cable through the block and attached it top the rear of the ZJ. There are several holes in the rear bumper so it makes a nice place to adjust the angle of the pull by selecting different holes.

I used my battery charger to keep the battery up on my Jeep during the winching process. I then pulled the ZJ up the ramps.

Once on the wooden trailer floor, I put a floor jack under the bumper. This made the back roll as well as helped keep parts that were hanging down from dragging.

I slowly pulled the ZJ up onto the trailer. I often had to wait for the battery to recover before making another pull. Since the steering box has been removed, I used a long steel bar to turn the front wheels to line them up with the ramp.

Occasionally the whole trailer would slide toward the winch dragging the rear of the XJ it was attached to along with it. As more weight came on to the trailer, this became less of a problem.

It took an hour or so of maneuvering to finally get it in position on the trailer. Now I can strip the front axle and steering. Then it will be off to the scrap yard unless someone lets me know really quickly that they need a door fender or hood.

Update: pulled the front axle on the trailer. After the control arms and shocks were unbolted, the only thing holding it was the swap bar end links. I cut those with the torch and the axle rolled right out.

Update 2: I was waiting at the gate at Buff Salvage this morning when they opened at 8am. I was greeted by the friendly scale operator who helped fill out the form for a car with no title and sent me on my way to the track hoe. The excavator operator used hid giant thumb ot easily lift the ZJ off the trailer and drop it on a pile of other cars including what looked like a pretty nice Nissan ZX. The then used the bucket to squish the ZJ flat. He then noticed the axle that was left on the trailer and after a couple of missed grabs was able to pluck it off the trailer as well.

The return trip across the scales gave me a weight ticket which I took to the pretty girl at the cashiers window. She traded me a check for my paperwork. It was a quick and easy process.

Cairo, Il Flood and the Birds Point Levee blast

Cairo, Il Flood and the Birds Point Levee blast

One my way to and from Missouri this winter I passed through Cairo, IL. I found it an interesting little town. Actually, it seemed more of a ghost town.

There are huge ornate buildings that look as if the city was once prosperous and thriving. The fact that is sits at the intersection of two major US rivers, the Ohio and the Mississippi.

I did a bit of research and found that the town was expected to surpass Chicago in size and importance. It once had as many as 30,000 citizens and now has less than 2,000.

Normally on my route to Missouri, I only pass near Cairo and not through it. However on my most recent trip the bridge across the Mississippi River was closed. I found it interesting that there were no early warning signs, Just barricades at the entrance to the bridge. The UPS truck in front of me was caught off guard as well. We both used the abandoned state park to turn around and search our maps for alternate routes.

The flood wall in Cairo has a huge gate over highway 3. I found it a bit creepy to drive through with the kudzu vines hanging down over the road and the huge gate looming overhead.

I had not thought much about Cairo until I saw on the news that thousands of acres of Missouri farmland were to be flooded to save Cairo. At first, I was like many who wondered if Cairo was worth saving. However there are some very interesting looking historic buildings there. But as I thought more and looked at the map, the levee at Cairo not only protects the little ghost town but many small towns and communities in the area.

Also, I learned that the Birds Point Levee was designed as a fuse in the flood protections system. There is a second levee one mile behind it that protects the actually populated area. The area between the levees is the New Madrid flood way. It is designed to carry excess water during times of epic floods like his one. The Birds Point levee was built with holes in it so that it could be easily blown up to open the flood gate.

The fact that farmers have been allowed to use the area during times of no flood has made it seem inconvenient to blow the levee. However, that was the design all along. The farmers knew the risk and most have put only portable and easily movable supplies there. However since it has been a very long time since the floodway was used, some have become complacent.

The Corps of Engineers has decided that blowing the Birds Point Levee was the best way to protect not just Cairo, but the entire levee flood control system. Nature is a powerful force when it goes to reclaim its own from our developments. I think we tend to forget that between the so called natural disasters.

Tornadoes in Cleveland, Tn

Young Road
Last night possibly as many as five tornadoes passed through my home of Cleveland Tn in Bradley county. The power went out before eight pm but came back on some time in the night. I live in the southeast corner of the county. It appears the worst of the storms went north and west of me.

My parents who live north of me were without power until later this morning. Cell phones worked some but not reliably. My Verizon Mifi was always able to get a connection however.

Neither of our homes received any damage. However, just a few miles up Spring Place road, there was a lot of damage. An abandoned restaurant and a hair salon were destroyed. One end of the strip mall across the street was hit as well.

I have been listening to the emergency services radio part of the day and it sounds like there is damage all around the county. So far nine have been confirmed dead including one body found hanging form a power line.

I am thankful that a bubble of protection was placed around me, my family and friends. My dog did a good job of guarding the under side of the futon in the back room last night as well.

I am looking forward to seeing our community work together to recover quickly from the damage.

For lessens I learned helping with the clean up see the next post: Tornado Safety

Bar on Spring Place road
Hair Place on Spring Place
House of BBQ
Traffic backed up on Spring Place due to other routes being closed.