Vertical Cement Application

Cleaning up the swamp cooler duct work continues. At this rate I might have it done by summer.

This is my first experience mixing and using cement and I’m pretty happy with the result. Here’s the problem, a large swath of concrete is missing and the original metal duct just rested up against dirt, further degrading the metal. I cleaned up the mess and prepared it to be filled with cement.

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First thing I did was to put some metal lath that is used for stuccoing walls. I folded it in on itself and shoved it into the gap using a few nails (nailed into dirt) to hold it back where it needed help. The metal lath not only will give the cement some strength but will give it something to stick to.

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I used 30 lbs of Quikrete quick setting cement. The cement sets in 10-15 minutes and, according to the container, is recommend for vertical applications. Since I had never mixed cement before it seems like a good first step was to read and follow the instructions. The container says to mix 5.5 parts of Quikrete into 1 part water and only mix as much as you can work with in 10 -15 minutes. Mixing that much water resulted in a wet powered that was pretty much useless. After some experimentation and wasting about 10% of the Quikrete I found I needed about 3x water than was called for.

Another 10% waste of Quikrete occurred trying to figure out how to actually apply the material into the hole. I finally figured out that using a wide putty knife and pushing it up, working my way left to right and top to bottom was the easiest way to apply it. Sometimes it would fall after I put in on and I tried to scoop up as much as I could and put it back.

It was hot and sweat and blood literally went into the making of this. There is a satisfaction to doing it myself..

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There’s a few next steps before I can permanently attach the duct work. The floor of the this concrete pit should also be solid concrete, but is degraded and it’s hard to tell where the concrete ends and the dirt starts. I will have to put about a .5 inch layer of cement down. I will probably use something like the Quikcrete Fast-Setting Self-Leveling product. Since it doesn’t require any trawling, it should be easy!

The other thing I have to do is to clean out the dirt that made it’s way down the main duct that runs from the cooler to the main air distribution point. I could hire a duct cleaning service, but why start hiring people now when I’ve done everything else myself?

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Emergency Cooling

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It’s been hot here. Unusually hot. This last week has been in the mid to high 90’s which seems about 10 degrees more than usual. This poses a problem for me. Last fall I removed the swamp cooler due to the duct work rusting out and making a mess and I haven’t yet resolved it. I realize it’s June and I should be prepared for the heat already, but I wasn’t expecting this much heat at once.

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I managed to get the old rusted duct work removed but I’m not yet done getting the cement casing cleaned up. I did get a MasterCool for free but needed to get it blowing cold air into the house. Getting this small amount of duct work made was going to be extremely expensive, one company quoted me $600 – $800.

The Lowes and Home Depot don’t carry duct work larger than 8”. Luckily I was able to find a local hardware store called Samons that carries pre-made duct work. Not being ready to permanently install the duct work… let me just say that if your a fan of duck tape, you will be a fan of my work.

I have a managed to duct tape the whole mess together and sit it on the cement hole. If there’s a strong wind it will probably blow the duct work away, If it rains It will probably fill the hole with water. For now I’m cool.

Riding My Bike Due To The HIgh Cost Of Gas

John Fleck posts today about a New York Times story on how the Saudis are afraid that by squeezing demand for oil they are going to put themselfs out of buisness.

While they are reaping record profits, the Saudis are concerned that today’s record prices might eventually damp economic growth and lead to lower oil demand, as is already happening in the United States and other developed countries. The current prices are also making alternative fuels more viable, threatening the long-term prospects of the oil-based economy.

It’s not your imagination, gas prices are higher than they were in 1918 when adjusted for inflation. Unless Saudis significantly reduce the price of gas and keep it down, the path is set to lessen our need and maybe one day eliminate our need for oil as a means of transportation.

My truck gets 15 MPG (when I’m lucky) and the last time I filled it up it cost me $68. When gas was about $2.50 a gallon, I looked at getting a Honda scooter that gets about 80MPG. Considering my truck is already paid off, the break even costs didn’t work out for the scooter nor is it likely to still work out to purchase a more efficient vehicle (I need to redo the math for current gas prices and I will publish it later). I still want to reduce my expenditures on gas so I’m going to burn fat instead of oil.

Assuming the weather cooperates, i will start riding my bike to work next week. I’m also working on resurrecting Project Maverick (my long languishing project car) and it will be electric. Both of these things I wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t for the high price of gas. Apparently I’m not the only one reducing my use of oil, Exxon is selling off it’s retail gas business because it can’t make enough money off it.

Finally my point is that once people get into these habits they are not going to fall out. The movement against oil has already started and will counter the oil producers greed.

Idiots Shouldn't Have Children

From Rio Rancho Observers’s Police Blotter.

Mark T. Marshall was arrested on three charges of child abuse after allowing his 11-year-old son to drive his large truck while he rode along side it on a bicycle. Marshall’s son was involved in a collision with a semi-truck, because he failed to yield to westbound traffic. Marshall’s 9-year-old son and his 6-year-old daughter were also in the vehicle at the time.

Transformers II: Revenge of the Fallen

The next transformers movie has a name and guess where it’s filming?

ALAMOGORDO, New Mexico -DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Pictures and director Michael Bay will return to New Mexico to film major sequences for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Governor Richardson announced Monday. The next installment of the box office hit Transformers is expected to hit theaters next summer.

Some details of the next film are apparently known, check out slashfilm for spoilers.

Garden Hose Quick-Connect Connectors

Camco hose quick connectors

Back in October of 2007, Cool Tools recomended Melnor Quick Connects for garden hoses. The quick connects are similar to quick connects used on air tools. I am a big fan of these quick connectors and I use them on all my hoses. The only problem with the ones recommended by Cool Tools is that they are plastic.

There’s a number of problems with the plastic connectors for which I don’t recommend them. If you leave them outdoors all year round they get brittle and they don’t take a lot of abuse like when your dragging your hose across the cement. Instead I recommend the brass connectors such as the ones made by Camco.

Another issue with these things is they tend to get dirt in them and expand and contract with the weather. Sometimes you have to bang on them to get them to move again, try doing that with a plastic part.