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                  previous issue (#073)  chronicle #074
 The GRAYnomad Chronicles :: #074

Editorial

Yeah I know, once again I've been pretty slack with the updates. One reason is that I've been spending too much time on Farcebook, it's been fun but it also tends to raise the stress levels when you read about all the crap going on in the world.

Yes you can post every aspect of your day on Farcebook but really, as a method of recording your time on this planet it really sucks because there is so much BS on your timeline that you can't see the trees for the forest, or is that the other way around...waddeva.

Plus the ever-increasing big brother attitude of these social-media sites pisses me off, so I think I'll start restricting my Farcebook time in favour of this web site where I have control, I don't have the same audience here but so what. I may even shut my Farcebook account down, but probably won't as it does have it's uses.

I'm also using Youtube a lot these days, as mentioned before I've even got my own channel.

Now Youtube is no better than Farcebook in the censorship area so I don't know about that either, maybe I should host my videos right here as well. We'll see.

 

Till next time then, and remember,

Sat 30 Sep 2017

Man it's been dry around here of late, normally we prefer that because nothing grows and therefore nothing needs to be cut. But these days we have a garden to feed...


The garden is doing well, but needs water.

and that needs water, specifically water from the neighbour's dam. Unfortunately said dam is getting pretty low.


The almost-dry dam.

We are just days away from having to get water in for that. And also for drinking on Wallaby Ridge (thats Wallaby Ridge in the distance behind the dam) as there's just a few inches left in our tanks.

Meanwhile we've decided to pave the outside area where the clothes line is. We find some pavers on the internet, they are at the local saw mill so I drive down to pick them up.

We fork the pallet of pavers onto the trailer but that's too much weight for it so we then transfer half of them to the ute. The trailer tyres are still under some stress and the guy says I can use their compressor to pump them up some more.

While doing that we get onto the subject of jobs in the area, I say there aren't any and he responds by saying he can't find workers.

I put my hand up and offer to work for free for a day or two to see if I can cut it (joke, it's sawmill right ). He takes my details. (He never did call).


A load of pavers for the clothes line area.

Sun 8 Oct 2017

It's time to do the paving. I lay all except those that need cutting then summon my inner stone mason.


This area is currently used for clothes drying and it also holds the outside shower. In future I think it will be a camp kitchen for use in the summer when it's too hot for the wood-burner oven.

Sat 21 Oct 2018

A few days ago I finally connected the down pipe from the workshop roof into the main tank.

Just in time as for the last couple of days it's done nothing but rain. We are now collecting water and should not have to buy in any more again. Not that we have bought much, I think the last delivery was 2-3 years ago, but we were within days of phoning for another truck load.

We now collect water into the main tank, but that still needs to be transferred into the second tank from which we draw for our domestic use. That means transferring through a filter that has yet to be installed, so we're not quite out of the woods but getting close.

At least the neighbour's dam is now full so the garden is safe.


Our neighbor goes for a row on his dam.

Wed 1 Nov 2017

I've finally finished all the workshop cladding, I think it looks suitably rustic.

Sun 5 Nov 2017

More rain, but that's OK, the big tank is filling nicely but I had better get that filter in the transfer pipe fitted soon because without it we really can't transfer.


We have several ways to cook food, this is one of the most pleasant (scrub turkey is optional).

While it's wet I start on a project that for now can be done inside, the fuel storage shed. At some point it will grow and the project will have to move outside.


The first pieces cut and ready for welding.

Mon 20 Nov 2017

Tonight I go out hunting on a nearby property.

I've been invited by a friend that has spent the last few years clearing the feral pests from the place. It seems that he has done a good job because we don't see a single cat or dog.

We do however get a visit from the resident camels.


Some of the neighbours.


They are after my glass of Old Tawny Port.

Wed 6 Dec 2017

The fuel shed project is getting too large for the workshop so it moves outside.

Mon 11 Dec 2017

The garden has been going great guns. We haven't bought any vegetables for months and even though things are starting to wind down we still get a good harvest every day.


Today's harvest.

We've been experimenting with potatoes in tyres as well. They seem to be doing OK but I wonder about the temperature in that dirt.

While it's good to be getting all this (almost) free produce there is a hidden expense.

Because we have so much food and we aren't into canning we puree and freeze it. Weeks or months later we get, for example, some pureed tomato from the freezer and use it on a pizza, or maybe some pumpkin and make soup.

But despite being over 300 litres in size our freezer is no longer large enough. Facebook Marketplace to the rescue and we find a 200-litre freezer for just $80. We go get it, plug it in and job done.

Well not quite, the extra power it draws has tipped us over the edge with the solar. For months now we've been running just fine with only the occasional generator help. Now we pretty much need the generator every day, although to be fair it's not entirely the freezer's fault, our batteries are getting pretty old now and I don't think they are the full Monty any more.

So the hidden expense I mentioned will be another dozen or so solar panels and a third regulator and maybe even a new battery bank.

Ah, the old unintended-consequences trick.

Sun 17 Dec 2017

The fuel shed is in place and clad, I just have to trim a bit off the cladding.


What passes for a cordless grinder at Wallaby Ridge.

If that cladding material looks suspiciously like a roller door that's because I'm using "skins", the material that roller doors are delivered in to protect them, and the skin is actually made from roller doors.

I get them for $25 from the local shed guys.

Wed 20 Dec 2017

We have two roofs and two tanks but we only collect our domestic-use water from one roof and into one tank, however we draw from the other tank so the water has to be transferred. I've had a pump set up to do this for ages but now that the source water is off our roof and not town water from a truck I have to filter it because there's all sorts of gunge on that roof. Not to mention the fine fibreglass fibres that wash off as well because the roofing sheets are quite old.

So ages ago I mentioned this to a neighbour and suggested that a second-hand pool filter would be about right. Well bugger me if just the other day he spots one in town during the council kerb-side rubbish pickup and he nabs it for me.

It's not that large for a pool filter, probably off a spa I think, but that's good because it's a perfect size for my use.

I do have to buy a $95 filter element so it's not free overall, but this is a ~$500 filter PLUS an element so I ain't complaining.

It's now installed inline with the 32mm pipe I use to transfer and it seems to work a treat.


The filter in place.

Just in time too as the collecting tank is almost full and if we don't transfer soon the next rain will be wasted.

The filter housing does leak a little bit and that's probably why it was thrown out, but that doesn't really affect this application, or at least that's what I think until I notice that it still leaks after the pump has been turned off.

The leak is syphoning water out of the tank.

Bugga.

My first thought is to add a valve up on the pipe at the top of the tank where it goes over and down through the access hole (the pump is a submergable at the bottom of the tank). But that would be a pain to operate as I need a ladder to get up there.

I already have a cam-lock fitting up there to aid in removing the pump, I could break the syphon by undoing that, but same issue with the ladder.

Hmmm, break the syphon. How about I drill a small hole in the pipe, down inside the tank but above the high-water line.

Yes that will squirt water out when the pump is running but that water will go back into the tank so no big deal, and the tiny loss from the transfer will not be noticed. But when the pump stops the hole will allow air into the pipe and that will break the syphon.

I drill the hole, run the pump for a while and listen, yes I can here the hole piddling back into the tank, then I stop the pump. No leak and therefore no syphon, or should that be no syphon and therefore no leak.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Wed 17 Jan 2018

As mentioned above we don't use the wood-fired oven in the summer, and we don't have any other form of oven, so for over half the year we don't bake anything and we do miss our bread and pizzas during that time.

So for some time I've planned to make a solar oven using the fresnel screen from an old rear-projection TV but have not been able to find one...until today that is.

Facebook Marketplace to the rescue yet again. I ring the seller to get the dimensions but she has no idea (and presumably no idea how to use a tape measure as well), so I get on the web to find the specs for the TV.

I think it will fit in the back of the ute so I drive into Bundaberg to pick it up.

She assures me that the machine works but I say that I don't care if it does or not, she seems relieved as I doubt it's easy to sell such a dinosaur these days and her attempts to show it working were less than successful.

After much ado we manage to get it into the ute with just millimetres to spare, and I mean that literally.

However when I get it home it seems that either the ute has shrunk or the TV has grown, either way it won't fit through the rear opening, the same one it passed through an hour ago (and yes I did drop the tailgate).

After some time and some not-so-gentle persuasion we do get it out, I put it on the trailer for now, that's a job for later.

Sat 20 Jan 2018

Way back in the 90s I had a range of posters for sale, but when we hit the road 18 years ago I gave them to some friends to sell or do with as they pleased and that was the last I thought of them.

Until a few days ago that is.

I started thinking that if I still had them maybe I could sell a few and earn a little pocket money, but after all this time there's no point even thinking about it.

Then blow me down if I don't get a call from them saying that they plan to move house and do I want my posters back?

Do I?

Does the Pope shit in the woods?

So today I'm down in Brisbane picking them up, all 1200+ of them. Six different images and over 200 posters of each.


Early Cloud, Misty Lake — Blue Lake, Kosciuszko National Park, NSW


God's Portal — Natural Arch National Park, QLD


Millennium Dawn — Point Arkwright, Sunshine Coast, QLD


Paperbarks and Fog — Sunshine Coast Hinterland, QLD


Shearing Shed — Orroral Valley, Namadgi National Park, ACT


Bridal Veil Falls II — Gibraltar Creek, Brindabella Mountains, ACT

These are the raw images but the actual posters look something like this.

Hopefully these will be available for sale on my photography website before long.

Wed 24 Jan 2018

I spend a few days with friends around the Sunshine Coast, then head north.

On the way I drop into Bamboo World near Maryborough. As I enter I see the usual stuff for sale in nurseries.

But when I pass through that section and into the area where they showcase the bamboo I am blown away and have to go back to the car to get my camera.

My photos don't do it justice but the feeling when inside such a bamboo forest is quite...I dunno, almost spiritual I guess. I spend quite some time wandering and sitting just soaking it up.

I'd love to get some bamboo and probably will one day, all the varieties they sell are clumping so there are no real issues with it getting out of control. And they grow that large in just a few years it seems. But to start with they do need a lot of water I am told, so that's an issue for us.

Sun 28 Jan 2018

Time to dismantle the TV, I back the trailer into the workshop...

and get to work.


I thought I might be able to salvage all sorts of electronic stuff from the TV but really there's nothing I can use. I do get the four castors and a couple of speakers and I save the three lenses just because they look good.


The fresnel screen is the light-coloured one.

I might keep the plastic back as well, it's shaped like half a giant clam shell and that could be useful, but the rest it destined for the tip.

Tue 10 Apr 2018

We're finally back in whipper-snipping mode, well at least a little bit.

We stopped cutting the grass several months ago as it was raining so much it pretty much just grew behind you as you were cutting. But now it's got well out of hand with some weeds being as tall as me.


We've made a start.

That's a start, but according to my estimate we previously cleared about eight acres of our land and I wanted to increase that nother two or three. So we have about ten acres to go


Ten acres of this to go.

In future I think we have to cut regardless of the season, yes that will mean cutting more often, but it will be easier to do and the place will look neat all the time. Also there will never be a buildup of fuel for bush fires.

Remember I saved the back of the old rear-projection TV as I thought it might come in useful one day? Well here's the use I found for it, a roof over part of the garden compound.


The TV back is now a small awning in the garden compound.

Thu 12 Apr 2018

For some time now I've been picking up the odd road sign at the scrap yard — time to put them somewhere and the only somewhere I can think of is the wall above the new sink and bench.


The wall of signs.

Wed 18 Apr 2018

A few days ago a friend spotted this in the IGA car park in Gin Gin.


Son of Wothahellizat.

It looks like Wothahellizat has a little friend. As our truck is so well known all around the world I assume they knew of it but maybe not. Not that I care, they are free to name their vehicle as they please.

Tue 24 Apr 2018

We've decided to bite the bullet and buy new batteries. The cost will kill us but the current ones are around ten years old and not really cutting it.

Also at present the truck is powering the house via an extension lead, this works OK but it means it can never move more than a few meters from the house, not that we plan to take it anywhere for now but at least it should get a run around the block, God knows if it will even drive after all this time, I do try to exercise the engine, gearbox and brakes frequently but the rest of the vehicle has hardly moved in 4 years.

So we will not only be buying new batteries but also setting up a duplicate system in one of the containers...well not quite duplicate, there will be 16 new batteries and a new Victron battery monitor, but we can't afford to duplicate the inverter as well, so I will move the 3300-watt Trace out of the truck and install it with the new batteries. In return the truck will get the spare 1000-watt Sinegex inverter we have doing nothing in the kitchen.

That will allow the truck to still be serviceable, with everything working except the microwave oven, the smaller inverter will not run that.

We really need more panels as well, here's hoping I can get some cheap ones.

So, today I started clearing a space for the new batteries in one of the containers.

Wed 25 Apr 2018

I'm sitting on the patio quietly enjoying my afternoon home brew and what should just amble by but a large dingo, not so much as a by your leave and only about 10 meters away.

Chris saw three the other day as well.

So that explains the dog prints and poo we've been seeing of late.

Do we want dingoes around? Well until recently I would have said "No", we certainly don't want feral dogs here, but dingoes, despite being classified as pests, are pretty much as native as you can get and they are beautiful animals.

So I won't go after the dingoes, but feral dogs and especially feral cats and that bloody fox I saw with a tiny joey in its mouth are certainly on the hit list.

Sat 5 May 2018

Our 2000-watt generator failed today, it's always been a bit dicky but now it runs for a few minutes and then stops. And once it gets warm it won't restart.

Of course the weather is overcast and raining so we're a bit stuck.

I get out our old 1000-watt Honda, we've had that for over 10 years but many years ago something went wrong with it as well, it doesn't produce the full 1000 watts, I don't know what the output is but it's not the full Monty that's for sure.

But there's no choice, we have to plug it in. It won't really charge the batteries because we usually draw more than it can produce, but at least it will stop them from discharging as much.

We have a Trace 3300-watt inverter, had it for 20 years and it's a good unit, but it has one really bad feature. When you have "shore power" it shunts the AC directly through to the load and syphons off a controllable amount to charge the batteries.

This means that the shore power (IE the generator in this case) has to be capable of running the entire load PLUS charge the batteries. This is simply not possible if you have a small gennie and a large load.

So we have to really pull our head in and essentially only do one thing at a time, for example watch TV or use a computer, not both at once. Because with that load, and the chance of a fridge cutting in and then you use some water and the pump cuts in we overload the generator.

As mentioned we are going to seriously upgrade the batteries and I think we also need to look into getting another generator as well.

Tue 8 May 2018

It's getting cold as we move towards winter and almost time to light the fire. So I decide to split some wood that we've had stored out behind the workshop.

 

Sat 12 May 2018

I'm driving back from the gun club when I decide to do a little cruising around the nearby town of Biggenden. It's a nice little town and I've always liked it, but this time I just seem to "see" photographs of the old — often run down — buildings.

It's been years since I saw places with my photographer's eye.

Not only that but I've got a hankering to use the old Tachihara view camera again, I have a similar feeling that I had back in the 90s when I first took up large-format photography, that is the dislike of the constant feature creep of modern cameras. I fall into that trap a little myself, just recently I've been looking at the latest model X, but thinking that if I wait for the X1 I will get touch screen focusing, and then the X2 will have, yada yada yada.

This it the consumerism I often renounce, and yet here I was jumping right back on that bandwagon.

My Tachihara on the other hand...

is the same technology that photographers used 150 years ago, the design has hardly changed in all that time. No feature creep there, and I already own all the equipment so that appeals to my current no-buy-anything mantra.

Fri 18 May 2018

I've been building a bench for the new batteries.

Said batteries arrive today, quite by chance I have a neighbour in the car when the call came in that they are here so I have some help to load and unload them.


The new batteries on the floor.

That's about half a tonne of goodness right there, but they cost a fortune so we'll be broke for a while, broker than normal that is.

Sun 27 May 2018

One of my neighbours is real sick, he's been in and out of hospital for months now and his wife is at home by herself.

This has probably been traumatic enough but with the onset of winter she now finds herself without firewood. Even when hubby is home he's too buggered for that sort of work, and she can't do it herself.

So I went down today to cut her a weeks worth.

There's a moral here though, well actually two morals. Do stuff while you can, because you never know when you will be struck down by a dreaded lurgy. They are selling up and have just started fitting out a motorhome, that may never happen now.

And the second moral is to try and make sure you can do everything that needs to be done in your life. Now we can't all be plumbers and woodcutters and mechanics. But at least look at improving your skill and your fitness.

Mon 28 May 2018

I had occasion to go into Bundaberg today, we seldom go into the big town these days and while walking around the shopping center my reasons were re-enforced.

For the most part all I can see are dozens of brightly-lit gaudy shops selling crap that nobody needs.

I did what I had to do and GOOD (Got Out Of Dodge).

Tue 29 May 2018

Back onto the battery bench build.

 

Fri 15 Jun 2018

I'm always up at around 6:30, but normally sit right down at the computer with a coffee. This morning however I had occasion to venture out into the cold and was rewarded with this nice view towards "our" mountain.


The mountain view from the house.

Ya wooden live in the city fa quids eh?

Mon 18 Jun 2018

I've been working on the new battery bank over the last couple of days. It's just about to go live, maybe even tomorrow.

I need a ventilation hole in the container floor, this will allow a small fan to blow air up through a 90mm PVC pipe and into the battery box to clear any gas build up, so I get my 90mm hole saw, stick it in my high-torque drill and get started.

The trouble is the hole location is in a tight corner that I have difficulty getting into, this means I can't get a firm grip on the drill and when you can't get a firm grip on the drill with a large hole saw it usually doesn't end well.

No matter how careful I am the drill snags twice and nearly rips my arm off, I was lucky I didn't break a finger. There has to be a better way.

Well as it happens there is, in the form of my new magnetic drill. Of course the container floor is made from 32mm ply which is not known for its magnetic qualities, so I get a large plate of 6mm steel and lay that near the proposed hole site. Then I place the drill in position, flick the switch for the magnet and drill away.

Two minutes later it's job done, and no broken arms.


The magnetic drill has just been put to use.

Like a lot of tools, you don't use them often but when you do use them they can be a real life saver...well at least they save time and stress, and maybe an appendage or two.

Sun 24 Jun 2018

Just a quick update on the new battery bank.

It's all working but the wiring is still rough, that's because I want to prove the concept before I get it all looking pretty. So far everything seems to work, although it's clear that we don't have enough solar panels on the house, last night I charge the house batteries some more from the truck's batteries, and we seemed to get by nicely overnight, but the house panels are not up to the job.

But part of the rational behind adding the new batteries was to separate the truck from the house so, in theory at least, we can take the truck away on a trip or whatever.

So we still need more panels on the house, but for now the truck and house are still connected, albeit not as tightly as they were.

Sat 21 Jul 2018

I go to Biggenden every month and this time thought I would spend an hour or two just wandering around with a camera, something I've not done for years. No Pulitzer prize winners here but it's fun to just wander and snap off a few pics.



Comments

Date  ::   21 May 2018
Name  ::   Robert
Location  ::   Sydney
Comment  ::   Hi Rob,
Great to read the latest with whats been going on around your place, really miss it when there are such large gaps in your uploads.
I understand why.. but I have looked forward in reading your adventures all these years!!
Thanks for the current updates!!
Robert
   
Date  ::   21 May 2018
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Thanks for hangin' in there Robert, I reckon I lost 90% of my readers over the last year or so because I never updated. As you can see I've been making an effort of late, I hope to continue doing so.
   
Date  ::   29 May 2018
Name  ::   Rod
Location  ::   Perth, WA
Comment  ::   Wow, that makes me one of the 10%
Still lurking and appreciate the updates. Always interesting to read about how you are doing things.
   
Date  ::   29 May 2018
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Thanks for hangin' in there as well Rod.
   
Date  ::   03 Jun 2018
Name  ::   Mick smith
Location  ::   Harworth england
Comment  ::   How are you and christine? Just thought I would see what your upto never replied before Michael brother in law.remember ! Never forget trip we had . Up to port Douglas etc.
   
Date  ::   04 Jun 2018
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Hi Mick, heck, long time no see.

I was just scanning pics of that trip the other day, man that was a long time ago eh?

I guess you've retired by now. Still in the same area?
   
Date  ::   05 Jun 2018
Name  ::   Mick smith
Location  ::   Harworth England .
Comment  ::   Yeah , 70 in October !,!.still in same bungalow can’t get away! I’ve still got photos taken with your camera on that trip good memories specially that drunk playing pool in port doulas , brill.
   
Date  ::   15 Jun 2018
Name  ::   Warren
Location  ::   Canberra
Comment  ::   Hi Rob, I'm still checking in. Been following the Graynomads journey since the Southside camera club and have proudly on my wall 'stone steps' & 'fern & canyon wall'. I even purchased a Jobo processing system from you in your everything must go sale, I never did end up using it though. It's great to keep reading your updates, I still reread the motor home rebuilds when I need some wisdom for one of my own projects.
Regards
Warren
   
Date  ::   15 Jun 2018
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Wow, that's a blast from the past Warren. Good to see that the prints are still OK. After a hiatus of about 10 years I'm about to start selling again from my new photography web site. Dunno if there's a market these days but it's worth a try I guess and I now have about 15 years worth of new images from all over Oz.

I miss the old SSCC, thinking of starting one up here in Gin Gin, we'll see if there's any interest.
   
Date  ::   16 Jun 2018
Name  ::   Warren
Location  ::   Canberra
Comment  ::   The prints still look great.

The only way to know is to test the market I guess. Similar story for me, after break from serious photography of about 15 years I started shooting sports action photography in 2015 that I have basically been giving away via faceache. I have been convinced by various people I should be selling them so only this week stood up a website to see if anyone will purchase. Maybe it will pay for lens and camera services.

The SSCC are still going apparently, I looked them up about a year ago with the intention of rejoining...still haven't quite made it yet.

Cheers,
Waz

   
Date  ::   16 Jun 2018
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Got a link to your site?

And speaking of sites, yes looks like the SSCC is still a going concern but there have been a few changes, most notably it now meets on the NORTH side :)

http://www.southsidecameraclub.org

There's a great document there detailing the club's history.
   
Date  ::   17 Jun 2018
Name  ::   Warren
Location  ::   Canberra
Comment  ::   Haha, I'm currently having a couple weeks couch time due to a bit of knee surgery. After my last message I found SSCC website once again and am currently working my way through all the news letters. I read the history document, really brought back some memories, I might just drift down for July's meeting.

http://wodshots.com.au/ I don't have as big a variety of shots as I like, I lost a TB hard drive with all of my work prior to 2018. Lesson learnt.

Cheers,
Waz
   
Date  ::   15 Jul 2018
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Yeah that history doc sure did bring back some memories for me as well.
   

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