Archive for August, 2011

Trash to treasure!

I went swimming today and on the way to the pool I found a blue charcoal grill sitting by the trash, it was broken but not in terrible condition [the lid fell off when I tried to open it]

I knew I could use it so I set it aside and went swimming.

When I came and got it I got a better look at it and found that there wasn’t a whole lot wrong with it.  A rack was out of place, a screw came out, and a rivet was popped.

I fixed the rack, screwed in the screw and cut the rivet off and re riveted the joint. Total investment: about a nickel

Now I had a working grill! I gave it some thought and figured that charcoal wouldnt be the best cooking/heat source in a tiny home as it is expensive and inefficient [not to mention a fire hazard] So I put it up on craigslist. The price of this model new was $40 so I set my asking price at $15.  To move it quickly [so I wouldn’t have it sitting on my porch taking up space and not being used] I offered it for $10 if it was gone by the end of the weekend. Within an hour of posting it someone responded and came and picked it up.

They got a good cheap grill, I got $9.95 for the project. WIN WIN!

Total investment to this point:

1 welder

1 rivet

$190.05

Project yield:

1 8×16 ft tandem axle trailer

Pile of useful wood

1 keg of beer

1 blue charcoal grill to good home

I would include the pressure cooker but I bought that for me, I may buy another one later on for the prototype but for now I will leave it off.

Tip of the day: The average laptop consumes between 60 and 120 watts of electricity when plugged in. most netbooks are energy star rated and only draw 35 watts plugged in. By investing in a netbook, your power consumption can be cut in half or more. If you have a 75 watt solar panel you could run your computer, a box fan, and a light on the same amount of energy that a normal laptop uses.

Extra tip: if your computer is always plugged in, take out the battery. If you leave the battery in while the computer is plugged in and not charging the battery is still using its charge cycles and will wear out faster. Take your battery out and prolong your battery life!

Frugal Cooking Tip Numero Uno: Pressure cooker

We went to pick up the wood today and got two trailer fulls, good wood, tons of pvc pipe, and a few panes of glass that I can make into windows. No pictures because it was dark but just imagine two trailers with 2×4’s, 4×8 sheets, and red pvc pipe. We got several different sizes so I can use it for the plumbing too!

When we were driving around we also found a Keg of lone star. The beer is probably bad but I am going to use it to build a water purifier so that I can make pure drinking water out of captured rain water! I also found a pressure cooker at the local thrift store for $7. Today has been a great day!

Anyways, on to pressure cookers. They are probably the best cooking invention since…fire? Yea they are that awesome.

I just made dinner in a pressure cooker,  Beans and rice, a very frugal recipe and it’s actually pretty good.  I didn’t soak my beans [because I’m an idiot and don’t plan ahead] but dinner was ready in 45 minutes.

Here is a wiki on pressure cookers:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pressure_cooking

If I were to have soaked my beans they would be done in 15 minutes! crazy right?

You can buy a pressure cooker for $30-$40 or if you look at thrift stores you can find them for around $5-10

My recipe for beans and rice: [Feeds 2  ~$1 per person ]

1/2 lb beans, raw [your choice]

2 cups rice, instant [your choice]

3 cloves of garlic, crushed [I like garlic]

1/4 onion, chopped [I also like onion]

2 teaspoons of salt

combine beans, crushed garlic, and chopped onion in the pressure cooker, put it on medium high heat and cook until beans are done. soaked beans will take around 15 minutes once pressure has been reached [it starts to hiss] raw beans will take around 30-45 minutes.

DO NOT try to open a hissing pot. You WILL seriously injure yourself and probably the pot.  Instead hold the closed pot under running water until the hissing stops.  This is called crashing it and it will allow you to see if the beans are done without completely cooling the water. This way, If the beans aren’t done, you can seal the cooker and put it back on the burner and be back up to pressure in less than a minute.

After the beans are done use some of the leftover juice and use it to cook your rice.

Strain the beans, add the rice, salt to taste!

If your pressure cooker is spitting make sure you don’t have it more than 3/4 of the way full. If it isn’t add a tablespoon of oil to the pot to prevent it from foaming. If it foams it could clog the vent hole  and your pot could explode…that’s a bad thing, I always add oil to the pot beforehand.

Recycling is Outdated…UPCYCLE!

I woke up today and went through my daily stumble around the internet reading things that I think would interest me when i cam across this blog:

http://pamelahawley.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/recycling-is-outdated/

and it made me think of how true it is, only 25% of plastic bottles actually get recycled, then they are made into…wait for it…plastic bottles. 90% of bottles get to the recycling center in near perfect condition. If they were to be sorted, sterilized and relabeled, they could be filled up over and over again. If we were to implant an rfid chip into the plastic we could easily sort the bottles automatically into their respective piles for cleaning and refill.

Give that article a read, I liked it, maybe you will too.

here is a quick fact I also found while stumbling this morning.

For every 120 pounds of wood [around 60 2"x4"x8' boards] that we reuse [for building UpShelters, 
decks, soapbox derby cars, etc] we save 1 mature tree, 412 gallons of 
water, 4.7 cubic feet of landfill space, 5 gallons of oil, and 241 KW 
of electricity. Isn't upcycling fun?!?! [that's a rhetorical question, 
yes it's fun]

Our first real donation!!!

I got a call from a guy today saying that he has a bunch of used lumber that I could have if I came and picked it up, I love good people!

 

I went out to see the wood and found out it came from two old houses that had been demo’d.  There is also copious amounts of pvc pipe which is too big to use for the plumbing but it will work great as a heating tank for solar hot water! pvc is probably the easiest material to work with when building anything [and I have built my fair share of potato guns]. It can be bent, cut, screwed into, drilled and tapped, it can withstand over 100psi of pressure and its cheap as all get out. now the bad part about pvc is that it isn’t exactly green, ok its not really green at all. As a matter of fact the pvc will release toxic chemicals into the water, especially since it is being heated all day long…so don’t drink it, but who wants to drink warm water anyways? eww?

 

anyways, space is tight and I will probably end up storing the wood and pvc inside the trailer, cut and build the frame walls [storing them on the roof?] then when I have a good portion of the frame done I will un bolt the trailer from the frame, take the whole thing off, and install the floor. If I have enough time I will erect and secure the walls. After that is done I can continue to store materials inside the frame while they are being used.  Ideally I would get a shipping container and store everything in there, then build outside [there wouldn’t be enough space inside to erect an 8 foot wall] but alas I don’t have a shipping container, nor the cash to buy one, nor a way to move it around, Im looking into renting a space at an RV storage facility so maybe that will work out…but so far the apartment hasn’t said anything about the trailer so hopefully I can get the house [or at least a good looking frame] built before it becomes a problem with them. It seems to be that if nobody complains about it, the apartment complex doesn’t seem to care, so Im going to roll with that and keep things so that people won’t complain about them [be a good neighbor eh?]

 

Anyways, I’ll make another post tomorrow of what we reap, wish us luck and thanks for the support!!!

A second look at the trailer.

I went out to the trailer and took some pictures so you can see it and so I could get a better idea of where I can start. from what it looks like, the floor isn’t insulated, the ceiling and walls are barely insulated [maybe 3/4″ of fiberglass batting] the trailer structurally has very little bracing so when you push on the side the whole trailer sways.  I am debating on weather I should try to brace the current frame and add new siding or tear it down to the floor and build up, or take the whole thing off the trailer and build from the trailer up. I guess it will all depend on what donations I can get, for now it looks like an eyesore sitting in the lot next to the other trailer that’s out there. I need to call the local scrapyards and see what they will give me for the siding and/or the frame to see what I can start with. I doubt there is much value in it bit it is wired so there is copper wiring in it that is probably worth something.  There is also a greywater tank under the trailer that I am excited about. After I make this post I am going to make a post on craigslist to see if there are any good people out there that would be willing to donate their unused materials for a good cause.  More to come!

The little Hyundai Accent that could.

A little, lime green Hyundai accent had a 700lb trailer to pull, His name was Froggy.

He went along very well till the jack dropped out from under the trailer. But no matter how hard he tried, he could not get the jack to go back up into the trailer.

he pulled and he pulled. he puffed and he puffed. he backed and started off again. Vroom! Vroom!

But no! the jack would not go up!

At last he left the trailer and started up the road alone. Do you think he had stopped working? No, indeed! he was going for help.

“Surely I can find someone to help me,” he thought.

Over the hill and up the road went the little Hyundai Accent. Vroom, vroom! vroom, vroom! vroom, vroom! vroom!

Pretty soon he saw a Wal-mart standing on a side road. It looked very big and strong. Running inside finding a spanner and running to the checkout, The cashier looked down at Froggy and said:

“Don’t you see that I have a long line inside? I don’t have a barcode for the spanner you need. No, I cannot help you,”

The little Hyundai Accent was peeved, but he went on, vroom, vroom! vroom, vroom! vroom, vroom! vroom, vroom!

Soon he came to a second Wal-mart employee standing by the checkout. She was puffing and puffing, as if she were tired of working for her money.

“That employee may help me,” thought the little Hyundai Accent. he asked:

“Will you help me get a price for this spanner? This other employee hates her job too but she won’t help me and I’m kind of in a hurry, my boyfriend is stranded on the side of the road in a hot trailer and I just need this spanner!”

The second employee answered:

“I have just come in from a long, long day. Don’t you see how tired I am? Can’t you get some other employee to help you?

“WHY?!?!?!?!,” said the little Hyundai Accent, and off he went. vroom, vroom! vroom, vroom! vroom, vroom!

After a while, a manager came along hearing the fuss. he ran alongside and said:

“Will you help me get a price for this spanner? This other employee hates her job too and she won’t help me and I’m kind of in a hurry, my boyfriend is stranded on the side of the road in a hot trailer and I just need this spanner!”

“Yes, indeed!” said the manager. “I’ll be glad to help you, if I can.”

So the manager started back to where the spanner were, got a price and went back to the cashier.

Puff, puff! Chug, vroom! Off the little Hyundai Accent went!

He got back to the trailer and took the jack off, lowered the trailer back onto the hitch and got ready to go.

Slowly the trailer began to move. Slowly they drove up a steep hill. As they drove, the little Hyundai Accent began to sing:

“I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I think I can – I think I can – I think I can I think I can–“

And he did! Very soon he was over the hill and going down the other side.

Now he was on the flat plains again; and the little Hyundai Accent could pull the trailer just fine. He pulled it all the way back to Lubbock, one side road at a time.

And he went merrily on his way, singing:

“I-thought-I-could! I-thought-I-could! I-thought-I-could! I-thought-I-could! I thought i could – I thought I could – I thought I could – I thought I could – I thought I could – I thought I could I thought I could –“

Credit to THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD by: Watty Piper

So if you didn’t get it from the story we went to go pick up the trailer today, in our Hyundai Accent; A lime green hatchback one if it matters. Anyways we drove up to Amarillo to pick the trailer up just fine, it was a nice trip.

We picked the trailer up [Nice people I might add] and started back towards Lubbock. That’s when things got…fun? First of all, the car can only pull the 700 lb trailer at about 45 miles per hour, so we took a bunch of back roads. Then about halfway back to Lubbock the trailer jack drops and scrapes like crazy! we pull of and try to jack it back up to no avail, So I sit there in the trailer guarding it from getting towed while my girlfriend runs to Wal-Mart to get a spanner so I can take the jack off and we can go again. She had a “fun” time at Wal-mart…really… anyways she gets back and we take the jack off and put the trailer back on and go, slowly but surely back to Lubbock. 8 hours later [from what was supposed to be a 4 hour trip] we are now home and the trailer is sitting in the trailer area of the complex waiting until I can get a storage place to work on it. from what I can tell so far I am going to want to pull the entire frame down and start from scratch which is a bummer but it will be an experience.

A plus is that the guy who had it before me put in some ceramic tile which actually looks pretty nice, Im probably going to have to rip it out though 😦 bummer.

But hey WE HAVE A TRAILER!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

GOING TO PICK UP A TRAILER TOMORROW!

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Jumping jellybeans batman we have a bite! It’s a tandem axel camp trailer that has been gutted for some reason or another but I’m going to pick it up tomorrow!

wooooooooo I’m soo excited!

now I know what you are thinking, it isn’t pretty, I know, but it already has some form of frame that I can build on. This will save time and money having to get a frame together.

Also I can tear the siding off and sell it for scrap to get some starting cash for the project. I am debating the use of windows or just built in vents due to the whole “windows suck as insulation” bit

We will know more tomorrow! For now check out the pics!