WindTapper's Journal - Grassroots Green Energy Projects

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WindTapper's Blog

September 2013

Greenhouse Frame Plus Cat Hide-Away

Notice that the top of the frame has four legs shortened so that there will be a gradual decline going away from the house as well as having the sides of its roof declining to promote the runoff of rains.
The blue tarp in the middle of the "attic" covers a couple pieces of carpet remnants over boards that make a place for our cats to retire in safety. Neighbors report eleven foxes nearby, although some foxes might have been counted twice. Still, I have heard foxes screeming at night across the road, indicating territorial disputes in the creek there.
I have multiple tasks to perform these days, including shoring up our levy around the septic system, the shower rebuild, mowing the lawn, etc., etc., in addition to making the deer fencing-encased plastic covering for the greenhouse-cathouse. Needless to say I haven't had much time for building wind powered generators lately.
I have debated whether or not to continue this website's blog, but there are plenty of past entries for people to view and it costs approximately $18 per month to stay here. So, please have patience and we can both hope I can get back to building windpowered generators before the end of this year.

Unnecesary Worry -- Greenhouse/Cathouse Rebuild

Working on a problem as I went to sleep last night and working on the same problem when I awoke, I worried about making a peak to the roof in the middle. How would I make sure it did not sag on the drainpipe due to the weight of a 12-foot 2-by-4? I worked on a semi-standard roof bracing set of contraptions, in my mind, but never got it fully worked out.
However, this morning, as I was examining the holes in the drainpipe to see how to attach the deer netting and plastic, I realized that the drainpipe will sag in the middle as a matter of course. And so what? I will have two peaks, on the sides, with a trough in the middle.
Oh. I forgot to mention that I reduced the heights of the outermost (furthest from the house) two sets of pseudo-buttresses. I removed 14 inches from the middle two, and 27 inches from the two farthest from the house. That last measurement was supposed to be 28 inches taken off, but I couldn't make myself take that much. No matter. It is still 13 inches lower than the middle drainpipe, and had only about one and a half inches before it would hit the Chinese frame's peak.
I was working, also on the problems of attaching the netting with its encapsulated plastic sheeting at the very top, where it needs to be super strong as well as allowing cats to pass under it.
Again, I came up with a solution this morning in the wee hours: a jellyroll type of contraption, stuck with "pins" through the holes in the drainpipe. Piece 'a cake. This jelly roll might be a bit complicated, with foam sheeting used to protect the plastic from cats trying to use it to sharpen claws.
Did I say we have two cats now? They are lovin' it back there, and lovin' us and each other. We are happy these days.
Not enough sun for a picture today. Perhaps next week will be sunny.

Second Thoughts on Measuring Today

1. I was going to throw a line over top of the frame, or haul some of the deer netting over the frame and then measure the length I will need to cut. However, after looking at the last photo because I received a very gracious comment there, I am seeing now that the roof I am building is too tall for its context.
I think the height resulted from a combination of snafu's in the woods, when I was attempting to cut the locust post, which was very heavy before it was cut, and next to another log. The actual length I desired to cut was less than what I got. I wanted 101 inches, but got 120 inches instead. Then the black drainpipe adds a few inches, so, let's say, I got 2 feet too many. I cut or had cut all the rest to match the locust post. Now I must consider trimming all the pseudo-buttresses down.
On the other hand, the roof "joist" closest to the house is a rather convenient height considering that I desire a cat door up there as well as an overhang to send precipitation onto the house's roof from the greenhouse roof. But I do not want to send very much precipitation along that trajectory, for fear of wearing out the house's roof -- although the cat will wear a path, lol.
I had started out building a structure that inherently had an incline in its longest crossbeams -- an incline away from the house. Perhaps I will trim the pseudo-buttresses so they will also allow the entire greenhouse roof to slant away from the house. I must be careful, though, not to introduce an inherent instability regarding load-sharing by the metal frame for the weights of wood beams, rain, and/or snow.
Perhaps I could still take a measurement, closest to the house, then cut the entire set of three (7-foot wide each) deer netting sections because the incline will decrease the lengths needed slightly, rather than increasing them.
2. I am considering adding a 12 foot 2 by 4 to the middle of the top of the greenhouse. This would allow a better overhang over the roof and over the far end, plus hopefully add a bit of height to the peak of the developing gable. My worry is that the weight of the board will cause inordinate amounts of stress on the drainpipes. They are not as tough as they look. I am afraid that they will crack where they meet the tops of the pseudo-buttresses, or will be weighed down at their middles by the board, creating a pool of water on top during rain. Although, if I create an incline.... Let me think on this. I could end up with two pools, but they could be small if the incline succeeds....

Dear Diary -- Greenhouse Rebuild

Went shopping today to find a wider plastic than the 12 foot by 100 feet roll I had purchased at Lowes. Got my money back from Lowes and went to Sherwin Williams but they didn't have anything wider than 12 feet. Finally I went to an old hardware store where I found a 25 by 20 foot dropcloth piece of plastic, 4 mil. I think that will do the trick for Fall weather when I want to be able to still see the Fall leaves on the trees, not make an actual hot house, and still keep the rain off our porch deck.
Tomorrow I plan to actually measure the length of deer fencing I will need to cut. Then I will stitch three pieces that length together to form the first layer of the covering. I did not actually get the plastic -- ordered it. They said it would probably be a week before it comes.
The two seams will be approximately 30 feet long each, so I will have some time to accomplish that this way. I am hoping to lay out all three layers of the covering and roll them up with quicky ties to unroll the whole shebang across the top of the frame, eventually.
Probably, when the weather turns colder, I will be needing to use two 20 foot wide pieces of plastic -- each going in opposite directions -- in order to get more closure to cut down on freezing winds during Winter, but at least I will already have the two deer netting layers plus some experience with how they hang so I will perhaps be better able to figure out how to get everything secure for truly inclement weather.
All the natural contours and corners will be pretty well worked out by then due to gravity and I shouldn't have to redo the first layer or the outer layer of netting -- just the plastic layer.
The cat loves his little cathouse loft for napping and preening, plus anytime he gets scared he has a place to run to even if we have shut our outside door on him. Oh yes. I added a tarp over the little cathouse on the catwalks because it rained today. The tarp makes it a bit more complicated for him to figure out how to get around up there, but he manages. He is so cute, and 6 months old now. I think he will always have a boyish face because he is short-haired.
Toot-a-loo for now mes amies.

Greenhouse Progress Report

The last four pseudo-flying buttresses are installed onto the Chinese Greenhouse frame. Actually, the five 2 by 4's and one locust post are situated so they look like they will make an A-Frame, with their bottoms buttressed by the uprights of the banisters on our deck.
One thing I can say about this configuration is that it is the least wobbly. Actually, it does not wobble at all now when I try to shake or push a corner pole of the Chinese metal frame.
Adding to my list from the last entry:
6. The cat loves the catwalks which I moved in order to provide a clear shot for the cat to get up the locust post. He runs all over our roof now, going onto and off the greenhouse frame often. The result is that I must put in one or two cat doors, because if I don't, he will rip one for sure to get onto the roof.

Reflections on Structure

1. The black, perferated, flexible drainpipe making an arch across two pseudo flying buttresses is stopped from slipping down further on the left because the locust post is too wide where the pipe stops now. On the right buttress, there is no width problem at the pipe's bottom edge; however, at the top of the right 10-foot buttress, the corner of the 2 by 4 effectively stops the pipe from creeping downward. However, when I press down in the middle of the pipe, the buttress leans outward a bit.
Anyway, the weight of snow on the roof will be borne largely by the buttresses pushing down on the deck, rather than by the metal frame.
2. The two boards traversing towards and away from the camera are litteral catwalks. I used the locust post so our cat could escape when foxes come around, up onto the catwalks. However, the catwalks seem to me to be adding more weight than stability to the structure. I am seriously considering removing the two boards. If I do that, I will compare the sideway moveability of the structure to its relative stability now to see how they compare.
The weight of the buttresses might be contributing to its current stability because they both lean inward -- at present. With snow, the weight will still transfer to the deck, but the right side won't have half the weight of the buttress on the metal frame because it tends to bow outward and away from the frame entirely. Perhaps I should nail the pipe so it doesn't slip further down on the right, but then again, I like flexibility because you never know which side the snow will accumulate onto, or which way the wind will blow the snow off, besides needing some flexibility to allow for snow removal from below.
3. I have three 12-foot 2 by 4's to place -- one on each end of the crossbeams and one in the middle. Those would weigh less than the catwalks. The problem with the two side 12-foot boards is that I am not sure how far out I can reasonably place them and still not create tub-like effects when it rains. Tubs of water can weigh a lot. The idea is to make a non-tubbing incline away from the peak so the water never accumulates, not to mention snow accumulation with its resultant problems of removal.
4. I was planning to add four more buttress today, plus two more drainpipe peaks to the roof. How I will be able to, and how I should lean the buttresses is the next practical endeavor, besides figuring out how to manage all these additions, geometrically speaking.
5. Also, I am working on how to get the netting and plastic up over all the drainpipe peaks, as well as the tie-in to our gutter on the house end of the whole greenhouse. Planning how to prevent water from cascading down where I like to sit will affect how I plan the layout of the netting and plastic layers. I will probably lay out the whole set of pieces of netting and stitch them together with bailing twine, on the lawn, then roll it all up and quick tie it so I can thread it up top of the middle pipe and quick untie it to roll out -- like a carnival tent.

Greenhouse Update with old picture

Above is a relatively old picture of the progress on the new greenhouse reconstruction project.
I have been working to construct a pseudo-pagoda on top of my Chinese greenhouse frame because the original greenhouse was assembled on top of our wooden deck on the back of our house but it was not waterproof. The water fell onto the wood but did not evaporate, which then began to rot out the wood. I am endeavoring to make a covering that will allow precipitation to run off the porch -- a porch which is 10 by 12 feet while the original metal frame is only 6 by 8 feet.
I have added three 12 foot boards of declining widths to provide a natural incline away from the house while allowing a platform that is a foot beyond each side of the deck. This gives the structure a look of a pagoda that has only one level, except that I am currently joining two boards that lean inward and upwards -- joined by a notched drainpipe in the middle. The notches  in the relatively flexible pipe allow me to nail stops to keep it from moving once it is in place.
The board and locust post side boards give the possibility of a heightened roof at the center so that water will run off rather than pooling on the roof. The roof will be made of deer fencing covered by plastic, then encapsulated by another layer of deer netting -- at least around the sides to keep the plastic in place during windstorms.
Six pseudo flying buttresses in all, these will take the pressure from snowfalls off the relatively flimsy metal framework. The five boards (added to the locust post) will be 2 by 4's of 10-foot, treated lumber. If I attach the netting to crossbeams at the ends of the 12-foot, gradated crossbeams, the weight of the snow would actually pull upwards on the side crossbeams (not pictured here).
Needless to say, I spend time working out structural, load-bearing issues, in between trying out ideas, because a collapse could be bad. It is not very difficult to deflect runoff away from the porch, but snow accumulation is another, more complicated problem to make structural provisions for.
More pix tomorrow, weather permitting.

Fall Projects

Presently I am designing and building add-ons to the Chinese greenhouse frame that will hopefully give us a more waterproof greenhouse that will also house cats in its belfre at night in a secure manner.
The structure will be a bit like a pagoda, but much less weighty, having one or two tree-trunk access poles for the cat or cats to get from floor to loft quickly.
The second design is protection over top of our septic system. I have decided to design into the levy extension some poles onto which I can place materials that will let rainwater run off to its sides.
The third project is a shower rebuild. I am waiting to find out if the MAPS plastic sheeting company can put bullnose on the top edge of panels so that I do not have to have a third shade of wall covering in the form of narrow bullnose tile between the tile and the plastic sheets. The guy from Lowe's was supposed to get back to me yesterday but did not.
Meanwhile, I am off to Carter Lumber (which is closer to our residence) to get three planks for our back porch pagoda.
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