Sunday, November 27, 2016

Plans changing again

I had planned to put more barrel hangers together to hang barrels that as yet do not exist. Then I realized I'd be better just working with what I have. I can easily build more hangers. Well, that was part of the reason anyway. The other is I don't have sufficient hardware to hang more barrels. Thus, that can wait. Let me get these barrels hung better.

There are a couple of things I want to upgrade but I want to get the bus operational now rather than carrying out more upgrades. I've had my bus already two years and time is flitting past. One upgrade is to add a master breaker to my 120v plugin. That'll have to wait. I'm itching to get the bus operational.

Once it's operational, I have to sort through my stuff. I have several boxes with out of date papers, old tax returns and a whole load of other trash that needs to go the way of the dodo. Once all that is done, maybe I will take on some of the upgrades. The whole bus can be upgraded a bit at a time if need be.

My biggest failures so far are the woefully inadequate solar panels and my LED lighting. Combined
with a battery, they do actually work and power fans to ventilate the bus. His good that ventilation is, I'm not sure. As far as LED lighting goes, the supposedly bright LED lanterns are little short of abysmal.

Most of my lanterns have two or three settings aside from off:

  • Setting 1 - There's a dim glow over there. Is that where that lantern is?
  • Setting 2 - I can almost see the table the lantern is standing on!
  • Setting 3 - There's a tabletop. There's a pool of light around the lantern but I still can't see to read or do anything.
Now, one of these lanterns is made by such a prestigious brand as GE. The others, the manufacturers were so proud of their work they didn't bother putting their name to it. 

Sadly, all the manufacturers seem to have gone to LED lanterns these days. If somebody made a lantern that took krypton bulbs then I'd be interested. I know I'd get less battery life out of an incandescent light but on the other hand I get just as much illumination out of putting an unopened pack of batteries in a drawer as I get from these LED things. Indeed, the battery life would be better.

In the house I have been forbidden from bringing back any LED light bulbs. I bought 4 on Black Friday last year of which only one is still functioning. Given they haven't had but 90 minutes use a day or around 2500 hours out of their alleged 25,000 hour lives, that's abysmal. More do since they cost far more than a CFL equivalent. Indeed, in Lowes yesterday (the day after Black Friday) I saw huge boxes of those CFL lights at 89 cents each. I noted they didn't seem able to shift them. As my partner said, they're not worth having even if they were free.

It just seems to me that the world has been hoodwinked by the technology people. It has become normal now to buy an electronic gizmo then throw it out a year later and buy another. Not only is that very environmentally unfriendly but it's wasteful of money. The argument to ban incandescent bulbs was the carbon dioxide emitted by power plants. Rather than force power plants to clean up their act, in came compact fluorescent bulbs. How are these greener? Every part of an incandescent bulb could be recycled - metals, glass and the plaster. Compact fluorescent not so much - plastics are harder to recycle. Phosphorous and mercury rather more challenging but the glass and metals can be recycled. Coincidentally, a broken compact fluorescent bulb poses a serious health risk. Mercury is absorbed by the body and cannot be excreted. The first time you know you have breathed or ingested too much mercury, you'll be suffering the unpleasant  side effects and there is no cure. In terms of life, compact fluorescents do last a bit longer than incandescent bulbs. Then there're these accursed LED bulbs. They claim 20,000 hours life yet theurctrack record is so poor the European Union had to specify that they must last a minimum of 6,000 hours. I've not had one reach 6,000 hours yet. In terms of recycling, it's 90% unrecyclable plastic. Not very green at all and at a replacement cycle of one every few months, terrible for the environment.

Now let's return to those LED lanterns. Like all this technology stuff they seem to have been designed by somebody with Aspergers. All these extra light level options. Who in tarnstion needs them? Throughout history too much light has never ever been a problem. Why then do we have this ridiculous dim, dimmer, where the heck is the darn lantern settings? I fully intend to do a comparison between my lanterns and a candle and I'm not going to be betting on the lantern being brighter than the candle!

Remaining to be done on the bus...
A mount for the battery for the solar powered fans
Retitling the bus as a motor home
Replacing the existing barrel hangers with my new hangers.

Other than that, it's all upgrades. I'm going to say construction is pretty much done. The upgrade phase follows. 

Friday, November 25, 2016


Todsy I set to and tested my welds for strength. That was actually easier than I had envisaged. My original plan had been to attach a chain to the loop I'd welded then suspend the plate with the chain dangling down then attach a step to the other end of the chain and simply stand on it.
Life presented me with a simpler option. I took some of the hillbilly channel and cut it so that I had a point on one end. I suspended the steel plates between wooden blocks, passed the end of the channel through the loop then simply jumped up and down on the channel. Given that the weight calculations work out as follows, I think I have a good safety margin.

The barrel when full of water will weigh 125lbs.
The turnbuckle is good for 130lbs.
The chain is good for 520lbs
The connectors are good for 600lbs

The weakest point is clearly the turnbuckle which is itself strong enough to support the barrel all on one turnbuckle.

There are three chains in use. I've designed the system with redundancy in mind. One chain can fail without disaster ensuing. Thus, the designed stresses are as follows.

Each barrel hanger will carry 1/4 of the weight, i.e. 32lbs. In a sudden jerk caused by hitting a pothole then I'm guessing 3 or 4 times the weight will be exerted on the mounts. That's 120lbs.  Now I'm not going to say how much I weigh but I jumped up and down on that bar and I weigh over 120lbs. I'd say that my system is going to be safe.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Completed the hangers

This is my welding setup. It certainly saved my knees! Today I used it to weld 6 new barrel hangers. That should mean that I'll be able to hang nit just my two existing barrels but also the two planned barrels - whenever I get around to hanging the new ones.

It seems one little online group expelled me. I can't say I'm that bothered. I believe it was because they disliked my bringing reality to their unrealistic, rose tinted view of things. They were some little tiny home group. I only noticed they were not spamming me with announcements when I noticed how refreshingly  empty my inbox was. Such are online groups.
These are some of today's constructions. The welds look a little blobby but each unit had had 4 welding rods. Between rods, the slag was knocked loose with a hammer and brushed with a steel brush. 
One of my most persistent problems is my welding rod getting stuck. I use 1/16 rods and a 70a welder. It's annoying but just means pulling the rod off with pliers. 

People have been saying all kinds of nasty things about my welds. Thus I'm going to test my welds for strength. If they fail then it's an unfortunate coincidence. If as I suspect, they're fine then those online fools will be known to be fools. The plan is to pass the loop through a hole in a section of steel channel, attach a chain to the loop then attach a bar to the other end of the chain. The bar will be suspended and I'll stand on the channel which will be suspended a few inches.

The test above will test the hangers way in excess of their designed use. They're supposed to share the weight of a 15 gallon barrel between 4 hangers. I'll use 6 hangers for extra safety. 15 gallons weighs 125.18lbs. That divided by 4 is about 31lbs. Testing the welds by suspending my weight from them tests them to several times the expected weight. If each weld will support me then mission accomplished. If I have to redo some welds then better to find out in a controlled testing environment.
Well, that's part of my test setup. I'll do the testing tomorrow since tomorrow is Black Friday. There's no point in going anywhere tomorrow. The roads and stores will be absolute chaos with people rushing around and fighting over non existent bargains.

Once the testing is done, I'll look toward installing the new hangers. I'll have to get some 5/16 bolts since my existing hangers use 5/16 bolt holes. I'll use two standard nuts and when both are really tight will weld the bottom nut to the thread to ensure nothing can accidentally come apart.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Welding forward

I have been until now squatting on the ground or even kneeling on the cold, hard ground to do my welding. The last bit of welding I did though, I supported the work on a chunk of wood. Needless to say, the wood - somewhat inconveniently - kept catching fire and I had to pause to blow the flames out.

Going forward I located two wooden saw horses and placed a steel girder across them. This is the girder that was cut off the hillbilly rear shelf some 2 years ago. The girder has a nice flat area to work on. I can clamp work to it and not worry about it catching fire. The saw horses should be safe as the steel will conduct heat away and dissipate it.

I'm getting just a bit ticked at the people that tut tut at my welding. It reminds me of a conversation I overheard at work. A lady was on a phone call and said "it's no good telling me why I can't or shouldn't do things without telling me how I can do them. It's really not very constructive". Needless to say, everybody listening nodded their heads in agreement. I'm getting the same thing. People, particularly online people that might be trolls or indeed a cunning computer program such as Eliza.

My current plan keeps changing due to doubts these people/programs/trolls have put in my head. I shall have to build a test rig with which to test the strength of my welds. That will require a fulcrum, some calculations and a weight. I hope to test my welds to 300psi. That should be a safe figure that I pretty much plucked from the air.

Each barrel when full will weigh 125.18lbs. The barrel itself probably weighs 15lbs so I'll just estimate a total weight of 150lbs. Assuming hard braking will cause that weight to double, that would be 300lbs. I'll thus test each weld to 300lbs.

In fact, each barrel will be supported by 3 chains or 6 of my welded anchors. Thus the pull per anchor will be 25lbs. As each of the new anchors will be fastened by 4 bolts, each bolt will pull 6.25lbs. Assuming no chain breakage, in a hard stop the pull per bolt will be 12.5lbs. Of course being a CDL driver, I don't do hard stops. I plan my braking in advance and observe other people's regrettable driving.

So, I didn't do a lot today. I set up, ready to do my welding. I'll do that tomorrow. I'm not sure when I'll be able to get underneath to work though as there are still wasps and fire ants around.

Meanwhile, I hung up some of the mildew scented clothes I brought from Britain. They're hung in the shower of the bus. I figure a few days and the mildew scent will have gone. While I was in the bus, I measured up for a security grill over the driver's window. It seems I need two strips 27 inches long and eight strips 26 inches long. The annoying thing is the strips I can buy are 72 inches long. I can get  54 inches for two strips but have 18 inches totally wasted. That's quite frustrating.

The plan for tomorrow is to complete my welding for the chain terminators and maybe touch up those I've already done.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Wait for it....

I chatted to somebody at work about welding. It seems that my method of testing with a hammer is just fine and my welds look good.

I compare this with the baloney I read on a discussion group. All the things that I can't do with my welds, all the reasons why fault testing with a good look and a mallet won't work but no alternatives offered. Heck, people there even threw a wobbly over the weight of 15 gallons of water being 125.18lbs! Any engineer would immediately recognize that as 15 US gallons or would question why it wasn't their expected figure.

I have to say that it is really entertaining watching these online fools pretending to be experts. Indeed, when challenged with "For somebody claiming to be an expert, you seem to know surprisingly little", again, no question was ever asked. Instead the atta is continued with "Never said i was an expert and both my comments on water are correct, it just looks like a) you cannot take a comment on anything and b) you are always correct. Hope your welds hold as obviously you know that they will." Clearly this fellow is not an engineer.

Indeed, one comment I had on another welding discussion was so clearly asinine that I ended up posting: "Honestly, I think you're just blowing smoke out of your anus. If a weld will stand up to whacking with a hammer without chunks flaking off and without the work moving and as long as there are no visible cracks, it would take an X-ray to find faults. 90% of welding is not X-ray checked and it holds just fine. It rather sounds to me that you do not know anything about welding but are in fact one of those strange people (if indeed you're actually human and not some clever computer program) that spends their time trying to make people doubt themselves, their work, their God and tries to pee on everybody's sunshine." After that, I think they posted some other garbage but I had already given up on getting anything sensible from internet denizens.

Years ago the world split in two. Those that live through the internet and those that live real lives. I tried living via the internet but it was a bland, boring experience so I chose the real world. There still seem to be plenty people that believe the pap written online by various alleged gurus. According to online groups, my bus conversion can't work etc. what a bleating load of sheep!

Today I was reading various articles about social media. Some were in favor of it for job seekers, some were against and others were more inclined to dictating you you should use social media. I just hope that when the morons that posted garbage in my welding discussions have the common sense to delete their witterings before their employer sees them or perhaps their future employer.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Security bars done

Today after doing the months grocery shopping I finished the security bars for the front door. I need to do something similar but removable for the driver's window too.
I think they look quite good. Whether they will deter a determined villain I do t know. The casual creep I can imagine will just pass on it.
I also got on with brushing the slag off my welds and cut the welded steel into appropriate units. I decided overnight to add two supports to each barrel rather than to replace all 3 existing supports. It means more redundancy and I can check to see which chains are working best or worst or if indeed there's a difference between the systems.
The crap talkers made me doubt my welding. I'm thus going to take these into wirk and ask some of the welders there what their opinion is if my welding. I think it looks OK. That's the problem with these online groups. They talk so much absolute crap that it makes you question yourself a bit too much. Still, since they spoke crap about my welding, I'll ask another welder to look it over.

I need to make two more attachments and have cut some steel ready to weld loops to. Although I had a few minutes to do that, it was at the end of the day and I didn't want to feel rushed.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

More welding

Today I managed to squeeze in some work on the bus. The first thing done was to complete building the security bars for the front door. That involved riveting and as my long handled riveter is now broken, I had to use my hand riveter. It took quite some squeezing to work my steel rivets! It just wasn't worth buying another long handle riveter for something so trivial as half a dozen rivets.

Next, the bars were spray painted. Most of the paint is a rather nice, very hard Rustoleum black. The rest has been sprayed with bumper black since my black spray can ran out just before I finished the job. Typical!

Having done that, my attention turned to my next project. For a while I have been unhappy with the barrel hangers. They're essentially U bolts with zinc inserts attached to the subframe via two nuts. There's just no room on the thread for a second nut. I'd used stop nuts but was still not happy.

Today I took some of the excess chain and welded links to some steel angle. I'll cut the angle tomorrow and clean up the welds. The thought is that links welded to steel plate attached to the sub frame via 4 bolts per plate with two nuts per bolt and the endmost nut welded to the thread should be far more secure.

Meanwhile I had another jolly good fight on one of those iniquitous online groups. Basically it proved that nobody on the bus/camper/tiny home sites/groups know anything. Maybe that's unfair. Some probably do but there are a lot of fools proclaiming their ignorance while putting themselves forward as experts.

I posted my rather miserable experience of LED lighting, pointing out that LED lights are as horribly oversold as solar panels. I noted that every LED flashlight I've ever had has given up at or about the time it needed it's first set of new batteries, that out of 4 LED bulbs I bought for the bathroom, 3 have failed in under a year, that the LED bike lights I had were uselessly invisible and that all the 4 LED lanterns I bought for the bus combined are dimmer than a 40W light bulb. I let them run with a bit of prodding and repetition of what I'd said. The results were predictable. I had responses like...

1. Well, I have LED bulbs and they're great and I've had them for years.
2. You need to stop buying cheap bulbs.
3. Stop buying Chinese LEDs.
4. You're using them wrong.

Nothing that was at all constructive. Only one or maybe two other people echoed my experience with the bulbs as being terrible. Yet, I look online and found a beautiful article that echoed my experience. Quoting that got me the usual "that article is bullshit". I just find people's inability to see truth As being quite entertaining. If God himself turned up and declared that the oceans are filled with seawater I bet there'd be people ready to argue tooth and nail with him that they're not!

This is largely why I don't trust the internet for any form of research. It seems to be a concentration of stupidity.

Now the article echoed my experiences, namely...
1. CFL and LED bulbs do not last long
2. In order to get the same brightness as incandescent, the wattages have to be increased dramatically.
3. CFL and LED bulbs cost many times the price of incandescent.
4. Electricity saved is minimal.
5. Given the short lives of CFL and LED, the cost of lighting is now higher than ever.

Here's the article:

Tomorrow my task will be to cut the angle iron and to clean all my welds. I'll also have to figure out some way of testing my welds fir strength.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Back to work!

Today I got back to work on the bus. I started with the intention of finding my 3/16 rivets but though I found a few, I didn't find the box I thought I had. That was majorly annoying! In the end I found about 4 so I made progress on a new security bar for one of the windows on the bus door. I'd already attached bars over the third of the four windows.

Another plan is instead of using rope tie downs I'm thinking of welding single chain links to a thick sheet of galvanized steel. Then that sheet can be attached at all four corners using 5/16 bolts to the C section ribs under the bus. Finally, after having tightened the nuts as hard as possible, I'll weld the threads so that the nuts cannot possibly come off.

Meanwhile, I've been looking at the LED lanterns. The light produced is somewhat disappointing. I get more light from a 40w bulb in a standard lamp than from all of my 4 LED lanterns combined. Apparently 40W is about 600 lumens. One of my 4 lanterns is alleged to produce 300 lumens. All 4 should produce far more. The sad fact is, they don't. This is not really surprising to me. LED lamps produce light but it just can't compare to a real bulb.

I want to weigh my bus in order to be able to adjust tyre pressures etc. I'll have to finish packing up the construction stuff. Then there's a pile of medical books in the bedroom that I pulled out. I'm almost tempted to sell them in order to regain the space. They were part of a course I did in medical coding and billing that was alleged to lead immediately to employment but which never did. I call courses like that, scams. I shall never again attend another Midlands Tech course.

Monday, November 7, 2016

New thoughts on barrel hangers

My barrels are currently hung using cable grips which works pretty well. I am unhappy with the attachment of the cable gripper to the underside of the bus. They are held on using a single nut on each end of the gripper. In my opinion that's not secure enough.

I'd been idly thinking about other solutions, most of which involved a lot of welding. As I happened to be in Tractor Supply today to get two aluminum strips to replace some I messed up yesterday, I noticed a very interesting ring hanger.
Apparently it's good for 400lbs. It seems to take a 1/4 inch bolt so I can put two nuts on each of 4 bolts then, having tightened the bolts, I can gently weld the nuts to the thread. If I leave the existing attachments and add just two chains per barrel then I can be sure my barrels will not shift. Both attachment systems should work. It's worth the extra cost for the extra peace of mind.