Construction Journal Entry Week of 8/4/19

8/7-9/19 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Wednesday through Friday.

My week was slipped a day because of the Blockwatch Potluck that I had to be home to host. I got a late start and called Earl to explain that I would not be stopping in to visit him this week. I had built a completely new hydraulic ram pump and I wanted to get it installed and tested today and I suspected that I was going to be short on time.

I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 1:35 in 93 heat. I brought my gear up in two trips and found that the temperature inside the cabin was a relatively comfortable 75. I knew that wasn't going to last and that the cabin was going to heat up as the afternoon wore on. Oh well.

I hoisted the flag, had my lunch and a short nap, and then packed up a bunch of gear and went into the woods to install the new pump. To my great delight, I succeeded in getting the pump installed and working just in time for my shower and dinner.

I started the pump installation by using an old U.S. Army entrenching tool to beef up the dam below the inlet strainer. The inlet pipe was just too close to the surface of the pond and I think that it had occasionally sucked in some air, which had stopped the old pump, and added to my frustration. I built the dam up so that the inlet screen was at least a couple inches below the surface and safe from sucking in air.

Next, I went back to the pump site and raised the pipe and pump up in the air. I did that by first throwing a rope over a big overhead vine maple. I securely tied both ends of the rope down, one on each side of the creek. Then I tied one end of a smaller (clothesline) rope to the bigger rope with a clove hitch and then pushed the clove hitch up over my head as far as I could reach. That left me with the clothesline hanging vertically right over the pipe near the pump.

By lifting the pipe and pump up out of the water and passing the clothesline rope under it, I could draw the other end of the rope up on the other side of the pipe and tension it until the bending vine maple above supported the entire weight of the pipe and pump. At that point, I tied a tautline hitch around the standing part of the clothesline and the pipe remained supported about chest high.

Next, I got my tube cutter and cut the copper supply pipe just short of the old ram pump and removed the old pump completely. Then, with my knife, I removed the burr from the inside of the cut on the pipe.

Water was gushing out the end of the pipe during this entire process, but when I was done, I simply pushed the tautline hitch up higher, taking the pipe with it, until the pipe was about head-high and the water quit running out the end. I needed to have the end of the pipe dry so that I could sweat on a male adapter.

With the pipe high and dry, I got out my soldering gear and proceeded by cleaning up the mating surfaces, fluxing the surfaces, sticking the adapter onto the end of the pipe, and then sweating the joint together with solder and a torch. After letting the joint cool to the point that the solder was solidified, I slid the tautline hitch back down slowly and let the water start flowing and hissing and in no time the joint was cooled so that I could handle it.

I raised the pipe again to stop the flow of water while I applied Teflon tape to the adapter threads and then screwed on one half of a PVC union. I chose PVC in order to provide a dielectric between the copper pipe and the galvanized pump.

Then I lowered the pipe back down to nearly the creek level and connected the new pump by joining the other side of the PVC union to the one on the pipe. It was instant gratification to hear and see the pump start working even before I had finished tightening the union. I lowered the pump onto the concrete block that I had placed in the creek bed and was happy to watch it pump. It wasn't really pumping, though, because the delivery spigot was closed and there was no hose attached. The pressure on the gauge slowly built up to about 50 psi.

When I attached the delivery hose to the spigot and then opened the spigot, I saw the pressure on the gauge immediately go to zero and the pump hesitate in its cycling. I closed the valve again and in no time the pressure went back up to about 50 psi. I learned that the spigot needs to be gradually opened so that the pressure in the pressure chamber stays up. That keeps the pump cycling.

As I gradually opened the spigot, more and more water went into and up the delivery hose increasing the head pressure as it climbed. In my case, since I am only pumping the water up about 20 feet, the head pressure is only about 10 psi, but I discovered that if I ease into it, that is enough pressure to keep the pump going. Once the delivery hose was completely filled, the spigot could remain wide open and I could back off and just watch in amazement as the pump kept cycling. It was a great sense of relief and joy to watch that pump go.

The pump was a little tipsy, though, and I was afraid that the compression tank would just topple over unscrewing the union as it went. To prevent that, I lashed a stick to the pipe feeding the compression tank and then lashed the same stick to the old 3" iron pipe that was lying over the creed bed and which had been used by the pioneers for their water supply. That really stabilized the pump. I took a picture of the final configuration.

Finally, I went up over the ridge and down to Andrew to confirm that the pump was indeed delivering water to the tree. I was delighted to see that the bucket, which had the end of the hose in it, was full and overflowing. The tree was getting watered again and should be from now on. I was a happy man.

When I went to bed, the temperature in the cabin was 80 but outside it was already down to 75. So, I opened all the windows and turned on the big fan in the living room window to blow outside air into the cabin. The ceiling exhaust fan had been running all day and I left it running all night.

On Thursday morning when I got up, the temperature outside was 55 and inside the cabin it was 65. That was going to make for a much cooler cabin during the day. When the temperature reached 65 outside, I shut all the windows again and turned off the big fan. Even at that, the temperature inside was 70 by 10 AM. Oh well. Summer is winding down and it will soon be Winter, which is my favorite season, with Fall, my second-favorite, coming even sooner.

Right after breakfast, I went into the woods to check on Andrew to make sure the pump had kept working through the night. I was happy, but not surprised to see that the bucket was overflowing which meant that the pump was still pumping. Andrew was getting a little too much water, though, so I moved the bucket over a couple feet so that the water would run down the hill a little ways away from the tree. Better too much than not enough.

Back at the cabin, I went to work on the projects that needed to be done for final inspection. I started by brushing the surface of the new tread blank to minimize the grit that might dull my planer blade. Then I used the DeWalt hand planer to flatten and smooth the surface of the blank.

Then I decided which edge would make the better tread nose and fashioned the nose. I started by stretching a chalk line near the nose edge of the blank. I positioned it so that there was about an inch of meat below the line at its skinniest point. Then I snapped the chalk line in this position and then darkened the line with a pencil and a yardstick.

Next, I used the Skilsaw to cut on the line to form the straight edge of the nose. Then I used the planer to round the nose. And finally, I used a scraper and a power sander to smooth the tread surface and the nose so that they are ready for varnish. Then I went in for lunch and a nap.

When I got up, I sanded half of the 2x6 railing material that I will use for the loft railings. That took the rest of the afternoon.

On Friday morning, it was raining cats and dogs. I finished sanding the rest of the 2x6s and then cleaned up all the sanding and planing mess and then swept the entire front porch. I brought the 2x6s and the tread blank inside the cabin to protect them until I can varnish them.

With the porch nice and clean, I took the camera and tripod out and made the last of the videos showing my ram pump experiences. Then, during a lull in the rain, I went into the woods again just to make sure the pump was still running. It was.

During the morning, I made a couple disheartening discoveries. First, while I was in the crawl space, I saw a little tree frog. He hopped away and hid too fast for me to catch him, but it mystified me as to how he got in. It was probably the same way that the occasional mouse gets in. I suspect they crawl in through the drainpipe and that the protective screens I had installed had probably been breached. One of these days I'll have to check it out. In the meantime, I hope the little guy can find his way back out.

The other discovery was a small puddle of water on the wood stove. The water had dripped down from the chimney which means that there is a leak up there. That will be a major job to fix, not the patching itself, but the job of getting my 79-year-old body up there to do the fixing. It's always something.

I left for home at 12:50 and as usual, happy about some developments and a little dismayed by others.

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