GRAYnomad Nature Photography :: The GRAYnomad Chronicles :: #075



I guess the heading of this section of my web site is no longer that relevant, after all we are no longer "living on the road" are we? It's been seven years since we dropped anchor here at Wallaby Ridge. SEVEN YEARS! I'm actually struggling to understand where that time has gone.

Anyway here we are, homesteading and generally just hiding from the madding crowd. I go into the nearby small town less and less and the nearest large town hardly ever. What with drinking coffee and beer with neighbours, finishing the house, cutting firewood, clearing the land, and generally just doing "stuff" I don't have time for the claustrophobic agro of being in a town.

Site makeover

As you may have noticed the has had a serious makeover, that's something a website owner should do every few years but also in my case the site was not very phone friendly, too many small buttons to press etc. It's much better for phones now but I'm sure there are still many things I could do in that regard. If you are viewing this site with a phone let me know how it works, or doesn't work.

The thing that finally pushed me over the edge makeover wise was that I had run out of space on the server that was hosting the site, I was literally deleting files all the time just so I could upload a few new photos. So I looked around and found a host that was half the price and 20x the storage. I won't fill that up any time soon.

This makeover has taken over a month so far and it's still a work in progress.


Till next time then, and remember,

Sat 22 Sep 2018

The remote solar panels will of course need wires going to them, and their location is on the other side of the driveway from the shed so we need some conduit to run under the drive. I use some 50mm PVC pipe I have lying around, better than buying new conduit.

 The trench for the solar wire conduit is dug.

Sun 14 Oct 2018

Down at the range this weekend but the weather is atrocious, we won't be doing any shooting today.


Thu 25 Oct 2018

Some happy snaps on the way home from work.


Sun 28 Oct 2018

The new solar panels aren't working so well this morning.


I've started the roof extension that will cover the C4 container, this will give us a little more water catchment but mostly I'm doing it to keep the sun off the container.


Sun 04 Nov 2018

The TV reception around here is terrible, I hardly care because I watch so little TV, but Chris likes her shows so we break out the old sat TV, or rather steal it from Wothahellizat, after all we won't need it in the truck any more.

 The old sat dish on the lounge room roof.

The decoder box works at first then shits itself. I diagnose the problem as a blown PSU (power supply unit) and luckily we have compatible units at work, so I'll get one tomorrow and we should be up and running.

While coming back down the ladder I decide to jump off backwards from about the third rung, and I impale my backside on this.


Man that hurts and I'm down for the count for a while.

When I recover I return to a job I started some time ago, IE a tropical roof for the bedroom container. I'm using roller door "skins", these are just roller door material used to wrap the roller doors for transport. They are of no use when the door is installed and I get them cheap from the local shed maker.

 Most of the bedroom's tropical roof in place.

Fri 16 Nov 2018

Now that I'm working I can afford a few toys. I ordered this three-in-one a week or so back and it arrives at work today.

It's a 30" (760mm) slip roller, press brake and guillotine in one, hence the "three-in-one" name.

It weighs a tonne and I had it delivered to work so I could load it into the Cruiser with the fork lift, but that turns out not to be practical, so four of us just lift it in.


When I get home I'm faced with the problem of getting it out. Luckily a neighbour comes around for a beer and the two of (just) manage to get it out of the Cruiser and onto a trestle. I sling it from the shop crane and let the crane take some of the weight off the trestle. That'll do for now.


Sun 18 Nov 2018

The three-in-one is a bit precarious balanced on top of that trestle, the crane helps but really I'd like it on the ground. I'm by myself so if things go badly I could be in trouble, but it should be OK with the crane to do the heavy lifting (so to speak).

I attach my scales and take the weight.


Hmmm, 125kgs, not too bad but I wouldn't want it to fall on my toes.

I lift the three-in-one a few inches, remove the trestle, and lower it to the ground, all the time being mindful of the temporary job I did on the crane hinges a few months ago when I hung it.

When all is safe I check them out.


Oops, I had better to a real job on them before I lift this up onto it's new bench. Anyway it's safe enough on the ground for now.


Mon 20 Nov 2018

Well that didn't last long.

I turn up to work this morning and am basically told not to bother putting my lunch down. There's not enough work, someone has to go, and given the following staff list I think you can figure out who it is.

  • Owner
  • Manager
  • Owner's son
  • Me
  • Now to be fair for the last few few weeks we've done bugger all except re arrange and label the shelves, so yes there isn't much work, and I hated having to be somewhere and do stuff for other people every day. But the money was nice, it allowed me to buy toys like that three-in-one bender.

    But that's what keeps most people chained to the system, the constant need to upgrade and acquire. So I'm not all that unhappy to get back off the treadmill either. That said I was asked to commit to a certain amount of time, and I did commit to working there for two years (even though I get the pension in well under that time) so it made it worth their while to train me. It seems that commitment was only one way.

    The person I do feel sorry for is the owner's son, yes he has an outwardly rich Dad, and yes he will be given the flash Landcruiser when he gets his license next month, and yes he has a good job in an area of high unemployment.


    He is also trapped, I doubt he will ever go through that character-building right of passage so common to Aussie young adults, IE an overseas backpacking trip followed by a period of time on the bones of your arse living on the smell of an oily rag by the seat of your pants (to mix a few metaphors). Will he ever really learn to stand on his own two feet? Maybe, maybe not.

    However living in a overly-protected environment at that age does not a hard man make, and this country will need hard men if things keep going the way they are.

    So goodbye yellow brick road
    Where the dogs of society howl
    You can't plant me in your penthouse
    I'm going back to my plough

    Back to the howling old owl in the woods
    Hunting the horny back toad
    Oh I've finally decided my future lies
    Beyond the yellow brick road

    You like that? I just knocked it up, would make a good song eh?

    Wed 22 Nov 2018

    We have 13 solar panels I bought a few months ago, 10 of them have been hooked up and leaning on the container for a while now but it's time to properly install at least some of them.

    I originally planned to install 10 cantilevering out from the top of the aforementioned container, but decided that would poke out too far and in turn that makes the mounting job harder because of the increased wind loading.

    Also I want to have some placed separate from the house in a location that gets more sun, and if I used 10 panels on the container that only leaves three for the remote array.

    So by only using five panels on the container I solve all the problems. They are mounted the other way around so only poke out half as far and therefore have a reduced wind loading, and I now have eight panels left over for the remote array.

     Laying out the solar panel mounting brackets 1:1 on the bench.

     Steel mostly cut.

     Brackets all made.

    Thu 23 Nov 2018

    And speaking of the remote array, I've laid out all eight panels in a location near where I think they will get permanently mounted. In the background you can see the stainless steel post I talked about previously, around there is the most likely mounting location so I've placed the panels slightly out of the way so I don't have to move them to build the mounting frame.

     The temporary remote array.

    Fri 24 Nov 2018

    I start work on the panel install by designing the brackets on the work bench.

     Brackets are up and rails mostly installed. The cladding wall will have to be extended to support these and the earlier panels.

     Detail of a bracket.

    I can foresee that when I struggle to the top of the ladder with a solar panel balanced on my head it's going to be a bun fight getting it in place, and then with the steep incline it will just slide right off again before I can screw in some hold-down clamps.

    So I add some small tabs to the top rail, with these in place I can hook the frame of the panel over a tab and it will stay there until I can get things fixed properly.

    Also, should the hold-downs become loose one day these tabs should stop the panel from crashing to the ground.

     One of the solar panel holding tabs.

    Sat 25 Nov 2018

    The job is finished, all five panels are installed and connected to the system

     All installed and lookin' pretty trim.


    Thu 29 Nov 2018

    I've connected the blower to the forge with some plastic Ag pipe I had lying around, it'll probably melt five minutes after I light things up but we'll see.

    I can't do any blacksmithing yet though, I have to finish the house first. Anyway I've only had this gear for five years, it wouldn't do to rush things eh?


    Sun 02 Dec 2018

    The other day I noticed a dragon down at the creek, and I thought that if there's one there may be more. Worth a quick shoofty with a long lens I think.

    I was right, thar be dragons down that thar crik.


     At one point this fellow climbed over a log and caught the afternoon sun. I only got two photos before he scarpered.


    Mon 03 Dec 2018

    I've started building the bench that will house the new three-in-one machine.

     The frame for the new bender's bench is in place.

    Tue 04 Dec 2018

    Bench finished.


    I've made the timber top longer than the steel frame in case I want to mount another tool there one day. If I do, and it's heavy, I'll add some support.

    Conversely if I build a treadle hammer it will probably be mounted opposite this bench and I may need more room, in which case I'll cut this piece off.

    Thu 06 Dec 2018

    Time to beef up the shop crane a bit.

    I start by turning up two really strong 16mm (5/8ths) pins from a couple of old bolts.


    Yeah I know, a bit rough, but I'm still a complete noob at this machining caper. At least I can produce functional items with the lathe and that's really all I want from it.

    Then I weld a couple of gate hinge receivers onto a large plate and coach screw that plate to the door column. I also gusset the receivers so they are much stronger laterally and shouldn't bend like the previous ones did.


    This should be strong enough for any perceived load. I really only built the thing to handle about 100kgs which is the weight of my motor bikes.

    Another nice side effect of the new pivot arrangement is that I get a few more degrees swing with the crane because it's an inch or so more proud of the column.

    Now I feel comfortable lifting the three-in-one onto it's new bench. It's just sitting there now but I will bolt it down because you have to really swing on these things at times.


    Mon 10 Dec 2018

    Back down the creek, this time with my macro setup.



    Sat 15 Dec 2018

    For quite some time I've wanted a hydraulic shop press. They don't cost a huge amount to buy but I can still make one cheaper, so I bought a length of 6x6" UC (Universal Column) at the scrap yard. The first thing to do is trim the flame-cut end to be nice and square. To do this I blow the cobwebs off my old Hitachi 9" grinder.

    These grinders are dangerous as all heck but nothing else I own will come within a bull's roar of getting through this. Unfortunately even this massive tool (no smart remarks please, I'm referring to the grinder) can't make it all the way through, and just to reinforce how bad these things are the disc partly shatters.


    Anyway I eventually get the end cut off by finishing with a 5" grinder, it is small enough to get inside the flanges to complete the cut on the web. Yes I could use the 5" for the entire cut but it would take ages, the 9" makes short work of it, at least for as much as it could do.

    Now I just need to cut it in half...I know, I used to do Karate Budokan .

    Tue 18 Dec 2018

    I've decided where the anvil will go so have set the stump into the forge floor at that spot. Apart from making the stump sit firmer on (or in I suppose) the ground, setting it about 6" lower puts the anvil at the correct height for me.

     The anvil in it's final (I hope) location.

    Note the black stain? I soaked the hole and stump base in sump oil to discourage the termites.

    Now, moving onto the next building project, an awning over the workshop doors.

    This has been on the todo list for some time, I want it to give me a sheltered area to work with really dusty tools like the table saw. Yes the workshop is sheltered but I don't have any dust removal gear and don't particularly want any, it's easier with my smallish tools to just move them outside. But then if it's stinking hot or raining that's not so great.

    Hence the awning.

    Also it will allow me to load/unload a car out of the rain etc.

    Unfortunately no matter how I try I simply can't figure out an acceptable design that doesn't require three small trees to be removed. So I cut them off about two feet up their trunks, this gives me a lever that will help me pull the root ball out with the Cruiser.

     I try to remove the tree stumps with the Cruiser. Fail.

    Unfortunately the first tree I try just breaks before coming out. So I give up on this and simply cut them off at ground level.

    Wed 19 Dec 2018

    I've dug the holes and am ready to put the poles up. I'll be concreting them and normally would weld a piece of steel crossways onto the base of the pole to help stop it lifting out in a strong wind. But to do that I've got to muck around with the welder etc. So I come up with the lazy man's version. I just make a few cuts and bend out the RHS. I think that'll work.


    Tue 25 Dec 2018

    I can't help but feel that there's something happening today...oh well, no matter, nothing to do with me, I got stuff to do.

    The awning poles are in and I'm making a start on the roof purlins. The roof will follow the line of the existing workshop roof but it will be sheeted with steel as opposed to the fibreglass I've used everywhere else. Same profile, just steel.

    Why steel this time you ask.

    Well I answered an ad a few months ago for roofing sheets and after doing my sums told the bloke that I would take 13 sheets. I thought they were fibreglass but on arrival at his place I find that they were steel. No matter, steel is better on most respects.


    Thu 27 Dec 2018

    It's mid afternoon when I glance at the SOC (State of Charge) of the batteries and notice that they are nowhere near the 100% that is normal at this time of day. Further investigation reveals that a wire in one of the regulators had become so hot it had melted the plastic holding its terminal in place and this had disconnected the charge to the batteries from this regulator.

    So I have to disconnect the lot and take it out to the workshop.


    Luckily I'm a gun solderer and fixer-upper so after half an hour or so with the Dremil and then a soldering iron the regulator is back in business. I reinstall it but it's too late in the day to get a full charge now so I fire up the generator. I'm happy to report that we hardly ever use the gennie these days, just when we have 2-3 days in a row of rain or whatever...or a regulator shits itself.

    Sat 29 Dec 2018

    The awning is finished and what a beauty it is to, I can see many happy hours sawing and planing under this, safe in the knowledge that neither rain or sun can reach me.


    Mon 31 Dec 2018

    Man we had some wind yesterday. I didn't think much of it though until I went to go out the driveway and found this tree blocking my path, I get the chainsaw out of the back of the ute and trim enough to allow me to pass, I'll dice it all up for firewood at a later date.


    Then I see the trail of destruction over at our neighbour's. Gee we really dodged a bullet there.


    Still we'll all muck in and help, this won't beat us, we are a strong and caring community. WE WILL REBUILD.



    Date  ::   16 May 2019
    Name  ::   Tina
    Location  ::   4671
    Comment  ::   Wed 17 Jan 2018
    "So for some time I've planned to make a solar oven "
    Just thought I would remind you of that statement on this day 16 May 2019 - I can't find it !!
    Date  ::   28 Jun 2019
    Name  ::   Cejay
    Location  ::   gulnare
    Comment  ::   Hi Rob
    Hope everything is OK, haven't heard or seen much i.e. updates. Can't say too much I am even slacker myself. However we will be embarking on our longest trip (NT - WA) in about 10 days.
    Would love to catch up at some point mate.
    Date  ::   29 Jun 2019
    Name  ::   GRAYnomad
    Comment  ::   Yes, as usual I've been a bit slack, might be time to post a new issue. Good luck with your trip, get in touch if you find yourself over our way.
    Date  ::   01 Aug 2019
    Name  ::   Cejay
    Location  ::   Somewhere near Monto QLD
    Comment  ::   Turns out we went right instead of left, currently having lunch at
    Builian. Would love to catch up. Mob # 0474517503


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