Thursday, December 31, 2009

The sun sets on 2009

May the sun rise on a peaceful and prosperous 2010...

Repairing a path light

When night falls, darkness renders Searock formidable and dangerous. For this reason we are equipped with path lighting to render the darkness penetrable to all.

Here is one of our helpers who needs help...

...more than just a change of bulbs, the socket has corroded(click photo for closeup). Note the fragment of mica (just below the removed wire connectors) that formed the cap to the old socket where the pins of the bulb plugged in.

You can see it better below by comparing the new socket (bottom) to the old:

In the preceeding photo, the old socket has already been removed from the bracket and the new one put in its place using those 2 small screws. Below, you can see the new socket on the bracket (at right) wire-nutted to the conductor wires and silicone has been squeezed into the nut ends to seal the connection from moisture.

Now the socket and bracket have been re-inserted into the housing, and it's ready to have a new bulb put in:

Let there be...


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

Merry Christmas. The gift has been wrapped and given. Be sure to open it up.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Rack and pinion skylights

Rack and pinion gears convert circular momentum into linear momentum. As the pinion gear rotates, the rack is driven one way or the other in a linear fashion. I'm sure there are a number of fascinating metaphors and analogies this could inspire, cosmic, temporal, spiritual or psychological, but that can be your part of this blog. My part will be to describe what I did today:

The greenhouse skylights are operated automatically by means of a tube motor working off of temperature sensors and a computerized controller, rotating a steel shaft. A system of rack and pinion gears mounted on the shaft, which is attached to the rafters with pillow blocks, push or pull the skylights open or closed according to temperature settings in the controller.

The gears and blocks are fitted with zerc fittings to allow for grease to be pumped into the contact surfaces, to reduce friction and assure a smooth operation. This needs to be done once a year or so, because the grease gets old and dries out(obviously).

I decided to clean off that old hardened grease first, and oil the shaft, which is getting coated with rust.

(pillow block, before cleaning)

Here below are the cleaned and regreased racks & pinions in room 5:

When the skylights start making too much noise as they open or close, I can tell it's time to relubricate the gears and pillow blocks.
The pins at the bottom of the shaft are a safety feature to prevent the rack from exiting the pinion gear altogether, should the controller or the tube motor fail to stop rotation according to plan. Having seen what happens when things go wrong with rack & pinion gears, it gives me peace of mind and satisfaction to know these are operating smoothly.

Here's what the rack & pinions looked like in room 4 when I got up close:

And after cleaning and relubrication:

The view from up there:

Shaggy Mane

They start out poking up through the most inhospitable places:

Then they begin to flare out and air out:

They proceed to droop and get "shaggy":

and then melt into a black ooze:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Point Lobos

Looking north towards Point Lobos on a sunny December morning.

A cord of unseasoned oak

Dropped in our service yard, this pile of oak needed to be stacked along the fence and left to season for 6-8 months before it is ready to burn. Our current stock should last us through the winter, but come spring, who knows if oak will be available, what it's price will be or if it will be legal to sell it to burn in fireplaces? (Maybe if I buy some carbon credits?) I'd ordered 6 boxes of kindling to go with it, but kindling is not available since the cabinet and mill shops are shut down due to the economic slowdown. I'll have to come up with it the old fashioned way.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sunset, December 7, 2009

It's often the stormy days that yield the better sunsets. A few clouds put an accent on the brilliance that lays somewhat concealed just behind them. Not that the cloudless sunsets aren't glorious in their own right. But I like how the obscurity ends up serving that glory in spite of itself.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Quadruped caretakers


: Gideon


Abby (Absinthe):

This quartet.... 3 cats and a dog, are or have been on staff here, helping us in a variety of ways. Phoebe, Kitty Bumpkins and Abby, on rodent abatement duty, have done a fine job of getting the place under control. Abby brought her formidable skills to bear here for about a year, but has now moved on to greener pastures. Gideon is our vigilant sentry, announcing comings and goings, and keeping a friendly smile and bark for all guests.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Townsend's Warbler

This little bird flew into the greenhouse glass today, and, while momentarily stunned, was picked up by Angel. Angel brought him to show me, and as we were taking his picture and checking his vitals, he flew up into the tree above where I'm building a fence. Hence, I dubbed him fencefinch. But his actual ID is Townsend's Warbler. After a few more minutes catching his bearings in the tree, he flew away.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Closure on the fence repair episode

So, the wind had finished breaking off the base of three fence posts after some years of rot had weakened them.

Rather than remove the concrete, I just removed the rotted wood left embedded in it, leaving a post-shaped hole in a large, buried mass of concrete. The cavities were over 2 feet deep.

Rough redwood posts vary in their dimension, and the newer posts were slightly larger than the old, so I made adjustments accordingly. Once you start to slide the new post into the old hole, it has to fit right the first try. It gets wedged in quickly, and I treated each post with "copper-green" to retard rot and termites, so I wasn't going to be trimming these posts to fit after soaking them in poison.

The 2x4 rails are fitted into 2x4 holes notched into the posts. Here's how its done: layout the notch; score around it with a chisel; break out the top layer of wood with the chisel; plow out the rest with a drill and chainsaw...from both sides...

Here's a new post ready for the rail & fence sections to be re-fitted:

All finished:

Pacific moonset at dawn

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All saints

These 3 photos are from the Carmel River lagoon, where we have some friends we stopped by to see today as the sun was lowering in the sky.

This last is the view from the backyard, and it is dedicated to all saints, this being November 1.

Sainthood is commonly thought to be earned, an award for the few high achievers who make perfect grades in difficult extra credit projects. For those who do think so, I commend the quote I've recently added to the bottom of this page. Happy All Saint's Day.