GRAYnomad Nature Photography :: Chronicles :: Issue #080



SO, we go into COVID-19 lockdown eh?

Truth is that's pretty much how we live anyway and it will make almost no difference to us, but what I have done is get in a lot of building materials so I can get cracking with a few projects.

And that's what's happening in this edition, plenty of building stuff, just the way we like it here on Wallaby Ridge, although to be honest there's a little bit of wonderlust starting to rear it's head.

Till next time then, and remember,

Don't Dream it, Be it!

Thu 2 Jan 2020


I just put a new floor in a friend's caravan. There was not a straight line or square corner in the entire rig so I made a tick (or ticking) stick to transfer the various shapes to the marine ply I used for the floor.


First time I've tried this old boat-builder's trick and it works a treat. I've now made a second (smaller) one as well.

With one of these you don't need a rule or a protractor or indeed any measuring device to transfer an irregular shape.

Fri 3 Jan 2020

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— Want to practice your turns but you can't afford a speed boat?

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Note: Not to be used on a roof with a pitch of greater than 5° without the optional crampon attachment. Terms and conditions apply. Read instructions before using your ROOF WALKER. The famous GRAYnomad "No worries" warrantee applies, for no refund just return the product at your expense within 14 days from two weeks ago and chalk it up to experience, no worries.


Sat 5 Feb 2019

The Gin Gin Photographic Society opened our exhibition today. Here are my three entries, they are pretty large, the long ones are 5 feet wide, the middle one about 2x3 feet.


Thu 18 Feb 2019

I sold three images from the exhibition, the first photos I've sold in years. However I used to sell a LOT of photos. Here are three I placed in a boardroom somewhere in Canberra way back in the 90s.


The time for such things may have passed, but maybe I should look into that again.

Wed 18 Mar 2019

We've been off grid for about 20 years now and things have worked well. But recently I had a good look at my system and realised that there are some shortcomings and risks, this has become more of an issue lately because we have 1000s of $ worth of food in several freezers and a failure could get real expensive.

The issues I identified are...

  • We have a single inverter/charger — this is a top quality rig (Trace) but it's 20 years old and if any part of it fails we have lost both an inverter and a charger. I also need to fix something on it but at present can't take it off line to do the repairs.
  • We have to buy distilled water — I use flooded batteries and they need topping up with distilled water that we have to buy, and last time I needed some the shop was out of it. This is not a potential failure but a guaranteed failure because you always need to fill wet-cell batteries and if you don't you ain't got no batteries before long.
  • We have a single gennie — Quite apart from this being a single point of failure (like the inverter) it's too large (7500W) and inefficient for battery charging and also it's not reliable after an hour or so. I want to just have that be used for welding as it seems to be reliable for the short periods that requires.

So, to address this we have done the following...

  • Bought a second inverter, NOT an inverter/charger. 3000w sine wave, will be wired in parallel with the existing one on the DC side and be ready to swap over should the Trace fail.
  • Bought two Honda 2200 gennies. I did not want a single 3500W or similar because they are too heavy to manhandle and, once again, a single point of failure. The 2200 models are easily carried and can be connected in parallel to almost double the current. And if one fails we still have the other.
  • Bought two battery chargers, 25A each for a total of 50A. I can run them in parallel when I have a large current source or just use one if the available source it not up to providing 50A.
  • Obtained a solar still. I was going to build a solar still to generate our own distilled water, but when I mentioned this to a friend he offered me an old one he never used. It's missing a part and also not what I expected, nothing like the standard design which is common and simple, it seems to require a header tank and re circulating pump and I'm not sure I can use it yet. So I still might have to make one.
  • Connect the truck's solar system so it can be used as yet another charger. Our 6x6 truck has 10 solar panels on the roof, 4 batteries (but space for 8), and a 1000w inverter that's currently doing nothing all day. I will run a line underground into the battery shed so this system can drive one of the battery chargers. Maybe put it on a timer to give the main bank a sugar hit in the middle of the night.

 The new 3000W inverter and 25A chargers.

 Matching Honda EU22i generators.

I jury rig the solar still, it seems to work but it needs to run for a few hours I think before you really see a result. I also need to add a membrane to the rear of the unit as that has perished over the years in storage and my mate's place.

 The solar still.

As of tomorrow I will not be doing my volunteering "job" because I plan to hide away from the unwashed masses, so I should have plenty of time to set all this up.

Thu 19 Mar 2019

I went into my volunteering job today intending to pull the pin and self isolate for a month or more. But before I could do so we were told that the place will be closing down until after Easter. Problem solved.

The boss said the gallery will close for about 4 weeks but that after that she reckons everyone will be stir crazy and chomping at the bit to get out and about. I kept my mouth shut, I could easily "isolate" myself for months and not give a toss, and Chris hasn't left the property for weeks as it is, that's actually our preferred lifestyle.

Tue 24 Mar 2019

In these trying times some have been taking toilet paper and stealing sanitiser, others are mooving milk or buying bread, and yet others seem to have a penchant for pasta.


I'm stockpiling steel.


Thu 26 Mar 2020

Don't come a knockin' 'cause we'll be a lockin' and we'll be a loadin'.

As of 1400 yesterday we are in a self-imposed isolation. The gate is locked, nobody in and nobody out. Mind you for us that's about normal anyway

AFAIK there are no local cases of CV, but people are asymptomatic for days so you wouldn't know at first would you? So if you don't have to mix with the great unwashed why take the chance, I have about 300 projects to concentrate on, maybe the house will actually get finished. That's why I've been buying up all that steel and other stuff.

A couple of weeks ago a friend asked if I could use the old tracks from his 5-tonne excavator. At first I thought not, but then I figured that they might make interesting garden beds so I said yes.


Meanwhile it's time to replace the pallet wall I built a few years ago.


And yes that pole is leaning, but it's supposed to as it holds one corner of the shade sail I use as a car port and I lent it outwards against the weight of the sail.

The trouble with the wall is mostly that my "temporary" legs for the bench inside are made from untreated timber and that has allowed termites to access. They seem to be mostly happy living in the pine rails that support the pallets but are in the actual pallets as well. You can see in the following photo how the pallets are bowing outwards because the rail they are attached to has been eaten away where it attaches to the post.

 One of the rails.

 They are even into the styrofoam boxes.

 The bench leg they gained access from.

 They're not so much into the posts, but love the rails.

 This rail has been totally demolished.

I was just going to fix the problem but this enclosed area has morphed over the last year or so from an outside compound to an inside workshop extension, and I think it now deserves a proper weatherproof and secure wall. So I start pulling down the old wall.


Luckily I had to some extent foreseen such an event. When I added the roof last year the easiest way would have been to just fix the purlins directly to the top of the pallets, but I reasoned that this makes them dependant on said pallets and that in turn would make it really difficult to replace the wall should that be required one day.

So the roof is supported directly by the posts.


The pallets are totally non-structural so I can happily remove them without affecting the basic structure. A job I start today.

The wall is L-shaped so I make a start by removing one side of the L and mock up one of the new rails. The new wall will be all steel with the exception of the existing posts. They are old bridge timbers that aren't immune to termites but do seem to not be favoured by them. Anyway to replace the posts would be a much bigger job. Possible, but not something I would want to do.


To make working space behind the wall I've moved a lot of stuff out, plus there are a lot of building materials and salvageable parts of the old wall lying around. The place is looking like a pig sty right now but things have to get worse before they get better.

 The place is looking like a pig sty at the moment.

Fri 27 Mar 2019

Yep it's that time of year again, pardalote nesting season.

These darling little birds make their nests in just about any hole they can find, including car tailpipes. So we stuff rags into them (the tailpipes, not the pardalotes) so they can't set up house because that would be fatal to any subsequent pardalote family when we start a car. No need to remove them by hand, they blow out when the motor fires up (the rags not the pardalotes).


When I was building the shed two pardalotes dug a hole in the dirt of one of the post foundations, I couldn't backfill the footing for weeks until I was happy that they had upped stakes. I placed a piece of grass across the opening and waited until it was undisturbed for several days in a row.

Anyway, back to the new wall.

On closer inspection I do find some termites in the posts as well, so I spend half the day grubbing them all out then paint the affected areas with old sump oil, making sure to really soak the areas so it runs into as many termite hidy holes as possible.

I also give a liberal doss to the bases. I did this when I erected the posts in the first place and as noted the termite didn't gain access via the posts but via an untreated bench leg. But there's no harm in giving the post bases another doss of the black gold.


The new rails are C100 purlins. I pre drill the posts as they are really old and hard then attach the rails with coach screws.

 When I break a drill I revert to some old technology to predrill the hardwood posts.

Sat 28 Mar 2019

I made this from some old pallets.


Wed 30 Mar 2019

Ok I have sneaked out a couple of times. I did need another C100 purlin so went into town to buy that, plus got some Mint Slice biscuits while there.

A friend of mine who lives in town (Helena) has promised me some steel in return for helping her clean up in the back yard. Her husband used to work with steel a lot and there are all sorts in the yard that she has no use for so I can have most of it. I try to organise that today but says that she's not feeling well and will text me in two weeks.

Two weeks! Isn't that the quarantine period for Corona Virus?

Thu 31 Mar 2020

The old wall is down, look at all that junk. When the new wall is finished I'll make some shelving to store most of this, but before that there will be a purge.


Fri 03 Apr 2020

The new rails are up, look at those lovely geometric shapes, a true thing of beauty.


Now I start the cladding.


I like working with wood but man steel has it all over it for most building jobs (IMHO).

Sun 05 Apr 2020

The cladding is mostly finished.


Mon 06 Apr 2020

No change from yesterday, just though I'd give you a wider view.


Later: Got it all done except the "window" that will give me access to the generator compartment.


Wed 08 Apr 2020

I now make a start on the generator compartment. This consists of an "alcove" that is clad from the outside but open on the inside. Furthermore the floor of this alcove (on which the generators will sit) will be floating on its own post so there will be no coupling of vibrations from the gennies to the shed structure.

 The alcove framework is done.

 Here you can see the support for the floating floor.

 The gennies mocked up in place.

Thu 09 Apr 2020

The alcove cladding is under way, plus I had some spare flashing lying around so used that to trim off the end of the corro wall.


Fri 10 Apr 2020

All done.


And yes I will cut two holes for the exhausts.

I did have to buy the purlins I used for rails, but all this cladding is free corro a friend gave me, and I still have a long length left. So it was a pretty cheap project and it will transform that area.


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