Thursday, July 29, 2010

Solar Sundays- Part V

The only bad thing about summer, besides the bugs, is that it ends too soon and often rather's time to be thinking about winter heating already. I've been running our prototype solar hot water heater continuously just to test it out, and it's all good, so am anxious to begin assembling the larger array that will provide in-floor heat to the barn this winter. The system will be mounted to the south-facing side of the cargo container, and I needed a way to secure the solar panels to the steel wall. To avoid drilling a bunch of holes through the otherwise waterproof box, I opted to hire a portable welder to attach some bolts to the exterior.
Working together, we were able to attach around 40 bolts to the container in a couple hours- a huge time savings for me! With my mom's help, we also removed all the decals, sanded down the rusty spots, and primed them for painting.
Using an airless sprayer, we sprayed the container with green tractor paint to make it look pretty (it's gonna be here for awhile, and we didn't want an eyesore in the yard). The sprayer was awesome- painted the whole thing in about an hour!

Here's the view from the south. With the old garage now gone, we have clear southern exposure for most of the day- great for solar heat gain this winter:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tile. Work.

After months of trials, tribulations and do-overs, the floor is finished. Rather than describing the ordeal in detail, let's just say that one should not choose natural slate stones for their very first tile job- I was too naive to realize what I was in for! But in the end, it turned out okay and should make for a stunning bathroom once the fixtures are in. The pillars are salvaged Douglas fir columns that we found at Better Homes and Garbage in Minneapolis. These are hollow, so in addition to looking cool they serve as chaseways for the plumbing vent stack and electrical wires going to the ceiling (A clever design element from our friends at Simply Green Design).
I cut the left over stones into smaller pieces for the base trim around the curved wall. Originally, I had envisioned an arched ceiling, but i took the easy way out and built a flat, dropped ceiling (and filled the space above with additional insulation). Who looks up, anyway?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hay loft trim out.

Last week, I got back to the interior finish work in the barn. The goal is to start on the upper floor (bedrooms and bathroom) and work my way down until everything is done. Putting up trim is a good sign, as it must mean the project is nearing completion. However, I quickly found out that curved walls + arched roofs = painstakingly slow progress, and I spent a solid week milling, finishing and installing all of the bedroom trim. The hayloft area is separated into two 'semi-private' bedrooms by a partition wall, so in addition to the baseboard trim, I had to cap the top of the wall and trim that as well. The curved sections of the wall were pretty tricky and required a lot of clamps and screws to make it work: But the finished product turned out pretty good, considering my limited skills. Finish carpentry is not my strong point.
The baseboard trim was also tedious, as I had to work my way around each of the vertical timbers. In all, it took around 125 pieces of trim, complete with curves and custom miter cuts, to finish the hayloft...yes, I'm really good at creating work for myself!