Construction Journal Entry Week of 7/28/19

7/28/19 Built a gravity-operated waste valve for my ram pump. Next week we'll see if it works.

7/30-31/19 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 2 days: Tuesday through Wednesday.

This was a short week because of an out-of-town house guest. On the way up, I stopped and visited with Earl. We had a nice visit and I proudly showed him my newest waste valve for my ram pump. He wanted to know how it worked so I promised to call him and tell him after I had installed it. While I was there, he proudly started his Corvette to show me that he had solved the electrical problem and that the battery no longer went dead overnight.

I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 1:45. I brought my gear up to the cabin in two trips, hoisted the flag, had my lunch, and in my eagerness to install the new valve, I skipped my lunch and brought the valve, a small shovel, and a bucket up to the pump site.

I had watched a lot of YouTube videos about ram pumps trying to figure out why I was having so much trouble getting mine to work. The new valve came from a YouTube suggestion. I also learned that if any air at all gets into the supply pipe, it will stop the pump. I suspected that this was causing a problem for me because my inlet strainer was so close to the pond surface that it would occasionally suck in air. That was why I had brought the shovel and bucket with me.

I set to work finding dirt that I could use to build up the dam just below my inlet strainer. Dirt was hard to find in the thick duff of the forest floor and I couldn't find any rocks. But I did get enough dirt to raise the pond level to an inch or so above the inlet strainer. I took that to be enough and proceeded on to install the new waste valve.

Then the disappointment started. The new valve didn't work any better than any of the others, in fact it seemed to be worse. I could only get it to cycle a half-dozen times before it would quit. Since the Mod #2 version was still up there, and since I had had better success with that one, I put it back on and tried to get it going.

Since there was a stiff breeze blowing, and since the mosquitoes were nearly gone, I hadn't put any bug juice on. That was a mistake. There was no breeze in the deep woods and it didn't take long for a horde of mosquitoes to find me and harass me as I sat there futilely trying to get the pump to work. A couple of times it cycled about 25 times before it quit, but that was the best I could do. Usually it would quit after only two to six cycles. I finally gave up after working on it for a couple hours. I think I am going to build a completely new pump and replace this one altogether.

Before I went in, I carried 5 gallons of water up to Andrew and filled the dribble bucket. I'll have to water the tree by hand until I can get a reliable ram pump going.

Back at the cabin, I installed the copper cap on the top of the newel post on the back staircase. Then, after dinner, I called Earl and reported my failure.

On Wednesday morning, when I got up, I took down the mosquito net tent over my bed. Even though there are still mosquitoes in the woods, I haven't had any in the cabin to speak of, so I figured it was time to put the tent away. I hope that wasn't a mistake.

The blackberries were ripe and ready to harvest so I devoted the first couple hours of the morning to picking berries. It was still cool, about 50, outside so the mosquitoes weren't out at the berry patch and the sun wasn't up yet. I picked two 24-oz Greek yogurt tubs full of berries by the time I depleted the patch.

Next, I went back into the woods and poured 4 gallons of water into Andrew's dribble bucket, which topped it off. Then I decided to move the eleven firewood rounds that were waiting in the sequoia grove and stack it down at the cabin. I got the wheelbarrow out and in under an hour I had all the rounds stacked at the edge of the upper roadway, away from the cabin. All of the rounds had colonies of small ants living under the bark. I wanted to keep them away from the rest of the firewood I had stacked next to the cabin. I took a picture of the stack before I covered it with a tarp. That, together with the wood I already have, should last me through the next winter.

After having my lunch and taking a shower, I left for home at 2:15 satisfied with what I got done in the two days but sorely disappointed with my ram pump, again.

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