Ottertail Country

Ottertail Country
Ottertail South

September 28, 2008

Nearly done, then I can shut up!!


Good news!
(clark)Kent Gabrielsen, known now as Superman to me, came up Friday to help with the boiler project. This is how the side of the outdoor boiler looked when Kent got here.

After an hour and a half or pipe joining, soldering, wiring, etc., this is how it looks. Ready to go when we get around to filling and firing the boiler!

I'm liking the view out here.....

Then we moved to the basement, where we cut and fit the plastic PEX tubing from the indoor boiler to the valve bank near the water heater, where the outdoor PEX comes into the basement.

Here is the start of cutting and fitting the parts for the "sidearm" heat exchanger, as they are called. It's where the water from the boiler will pass around another tube and heat the domestic water.

Here is Kent finishing up the cutting and fitting of the copper. He is getting every piece cut, prepped and put into place before soldering anything. This also includes the piping that supplies the water heater, which must include a tempering valve so that the domestic water will not be too hot out of the faucet.

The water heater water will now be at approximately the same temp as the boiler, which will be around 180°. The tempering valve will add a small amount of cold water to the hot water as it exits the tank to go to the faucet, making it about 120-130°. Here Kent starts the soldering process on the exchanger. I said to Kent, "It must be nice to look at all those solder joints to be made and not be scared....". He just laughed.

Kent, if you're reading this, please know how much I appreciate the help. You made the last part of this project seem possible. I owe you big time, buddy...

Here is the completed exchanger/tempering valve set up. All the copper in this view is new and none of it leaked..... go figure.

And here it is with a view of the valve bank that will control the whole process. I do need to add about 24" of PEX tubing, there is a fitting near the top of the exchanger with nothing connected to it. I ran out of tubing. It will run from the exchanger to the valve bank.

And here we see the completed indoor boiler with the PEX line in place to bring hot water to the boiler and take the return flow back outside. The valve bank will enable four different water routings:
1) Outdoor boiler heating only the house.
2) Outdoor boiler heating house and domestic water.
3) Outdoor boiler heating only domestic water.
4) Outdoor boiler water circulating into the house
and back out again, no heat to house or domestic water.
That will help keep outdoor boiler and pipes keep from freezing if we are away for a while and cannot fire the outdoor boiler.

Now this part I hate to write about, but in all fairness it should be dealt with. It may cost me my plumbing license however.
The first part of this project that I tackled was the lower portion of piping on the indoor boiler, as in the above photo. I did this all in iron pipe because it seemed like it would be easier than all that soldering (duh). I put it all together, and then did the cutting and fitting of the copper above the boiler with the zone valve, check valves, pump, etc. After Ken Parpart soldered up all the copper, I filled the boiler and discovered some slightly seeping leaks in the pipe thread fittings. Four, to be exact. Two quit leaking after a while, one did not leak when the system is hot, and the other just continued to weep... making me want to weep as well. I thought about leaving it to see if it would rust shut, and when Kent was here we undid the bolts on that flange in the photo and rotated the flange 180° in hopes that the tightening would make the leak stop. It did not.
Saturday we were supposed to have some guests over for kabobs, but we cancelled as I was feeling really poorly Saturday morning. I moped about most of the day, and late afternoon I finally got off the couch and slunk down to the basement to view the blasted leaking pipes. In a flash I decided to disassemble the threaded stuff at the bottom and try to tighten it up. I drained the boiler and started turning wrenches. I thought that as long as I had it apart, I might as well do it up right. I took every fitting loose that had a threaded joint on it (20 joints), cleaned them all up and started re-assembling with good quality pipe dope. By the time I was done, and had put the piping back in place, there was a 5/8" space between flange surfaces. The gasket is 1/8" thick, so that means that I lost 1/2" in the assembly due to each threaded joint being tighter by 1/16" on average!! No wonder it leaked, it wasn't tight enough.... speaking of pipe dope....
What to do now? I spent the evening scheming on how to fix the situation, perhaps I could make a 3/8" stainless spacer at work on Monday, add another gasket??? What a pain.

Sunday morning the answer became clear. The short stubs of pipe that connect things all increase by 1/2" increments in length! So I ran to the hardware and got one 2" long to replace the first one in the stack, which happened to be 1.5" long. I disassembled just the bottom parts, doped up the new part and started putting it back together. Soon I was putting in the gasket and bolts and finishing things up. I filled the boiler, bled the air out of the lines and pressurized it to 15psi. This is higher than it will ever run. NO LEAKING!!. I fired up the boiler and ran it up to temp just to make sure things were going to be working O.K.

So I've got the short PEX tube to install, a drain faucet to replace out at the outdoor boiler (we broke the handle, oops), some pipe insulation underneath, and then we can fill the outside boiler with water and build a fire!

The bees are still hanging around the Sedum. Today there were quite few, but they are almost immobile. You have to watch them a while to see if they are still alive. Not sure how they will get around in the cooler weather, but each time you go by there are either a couple more or less there.

These photos show some clinging to the stalks of the flowers, seemingly unable to move.....

I gotta go, Carlo


September 23, 2008

Stuff in Ogema and Wausau


I took a couple of photos as I left for work this morning. The flowering crab in the south lawn is looking kind of red....

Probably from these!

Bird heaven in a week or so..... maybe some patteridges will find their way to this tree.

Near the garage looking north.

Here are a couple of the new boiler. Mr. Haynes said "It looks kind of nice sitting out here in the woods...."

I got an email from Rosie and there were a few photos included. Seems she had the chance to get on stage in a round table discussion with some other women in Wausau, including the next first lady, Michelle Obama!! Rose looks like she's enjoying it....

I happened to watch the 10:00 news last night on channel 7 and saw her on there.

Good job, Rose!! Maybe you can get a job in Washington (after you get done with school...!!!).

I gotta go, Carlo


September 20, 2008

A good day....


Even though I spent the first 9.5 hours of the day at Marquip (it's Saturday), the day ended up really well.......

Here's what it looks like out our back door.....

Guess who came to visit us today.. Mr. Haynes!!! He brought us a boiler...

He was able to work that trailer around until the back wheels were up on the wood storage area, that made the trailer level enough that we could swing the boiler over to the footings without much trouble.

We got it lined up, the hoses in the right place and then we set it into place. It's finally here!

This stuff? It's just adventure #47 for this summer. I'll have to figure out how to get this stuff installed and soldered, then get the hoses hooked on and the electric stuff hooked up, then......

Some of you may remember that big Sedum plant next to the back steps. Well, it must be the last blossoming plant around cause it's covered with bumble and honey bees!!

Bother me tomorrow,
today I'll find no sorrow,

Doo, doo, doo, lookin' out my backdoor.....

I feel really lucky to have this view! And I just sampled an apple pie that Peg made this afternoon. I believe she has this process figured out completely!!


September 18, 2008

Late September


I visited the Wintergreen Palace this afternoon. Pat and Dan were putting in insulation, always a bad task. I just watched from outside and took some photos. The outside of the place is all done now.

Yes, sir, it's a hunting shack alright.....

As I headed home, I saw this tree near Ogema. Yesterday Peg and I climbed on our bikes and headed for Woodruff where Peg found a couple of twisted handle butter knifes for her mom. Then we headed north and stopped in Boulder Junction at a fishing tackle shop that has good stuff for fishing with a fly rod for musky and other large fish.

When I got to Ogema I noticed this place near the town hall. Nice wood pile. I'm noticing those wood piles lately......

These folks don't mind handling firewood. They even stacked up some arches leading to the garage and the house. A nice touch for an item that gets little attention, the humble 'wood pile'.

As I headed home from Ogema, I spotted this tree out in the edge of the woods. I like those that are surrounded by evergreens and other dark items.

Guess who locked himself out of the house today??? The hidden key was laying on the table in the house, because I had taken it out for Lucy to use while she was here. That meant I had to find an unlocked window and do some climbing.... doh!!!

I gotta go, Carlo


September 12, 2008

September in Wisconsin


I drove into the Marquip parking lot early this week and saw this truck.....

A closer look showed that this truck had really smacked something. As I drove past the side of the truck, I could see the antlers....

Hmmm.... bow season has not started yet, must be road kill. It's a nice sized buck, a 9 point with some remnants of velvet around antler bases, the rest recently revealed, still blood red. I had never had a good look at an antler at this stage of development.

Quite a sight. By the way, the truck is considered a total loss.......

A few weeks ago I was at the Palace to see what the guys had done. The outside was nearly complete at that point, and now it's all done on the outside. The inspections are nearly complete and they can start insulating and finishing the inside. Here is a Wintergreen young 'un, hanging around the Taj Ma Shack.

I don't have any current pictures of the outside of the shack, but here is a view out one of the upper story windows. A nice view.

I gotta go, Carlo

September 7, 2008

Oh, happy day.......


Saturday saw a trip to Marshfield Menards to get the proper fittings for attaching PEX plastic tubing to the furnace plumbing. Also got the remainder of the fittings that I needed and a new faucet for the bathroom and a shower control for that leaker we have now.... more plumbing work, just what I wanted. We had a rain shower Saturday which produced a first rate, double rainbow. They don't photograph well, so I did a couple of zoom shots, you get the idea of how bright it was. After the Marshfield run came a trip to Prentice Hardware for a pump, some spiral conduit and a couple more PEX fittings. Then I finished the prep work for the copper pipe soldering that was going to take place Sunday.

At 7:45 Sunday morning a knock on the door heralded the arrival of Ken Parpart. If you recall, this is the same guy that just put in the electric panel. That took ten and a half months to happen, the soldering I asked about on Wednesday, done on Sunday!!! Ken must like soldering better than putting in panels...... but I kid the Parpart.... We spent about 3 hours getting the pipes, fittings and valves all cleaned, fluxed and soldered. Any leaks? No comment. We pressure tested with air one last time, no leaks, Ken left. As he left, he commented that cold water is smaller than air, really hot water is bigger than air, good luck. I called Booghost and inquired about the proper way to fill system and get the air out. We discussed a few options and then I went about hooking a hose from the laundry spigot to the bottom of the boiler. Ran a bunch of water in there until it started coming out the drain cock just above the boiler. So I closed down all the drains except for the one at the return end of the main floor heat loop. Then I started feeding water into the boiler at full pressure and let the air get pushed out the drain. Drat, water dripping onto the top of the furnace! A dreaded leak!! Quick, drain the boiler til the water is below that point!!! Bummer... I almost quit and went upstairs, instead I looked at how to fix the leak. It was, of course, just above a check valve that wanted to hold the water in the pipe. At last the water dropped enough and I was able to re-heat the joint, add some solder and it held.

Ok, back to filling. I closed down all the drains except for the one at the return end of the main floor heat loop. Then I started feeding water into the boiler at full pressure and let the air get pushed out the drain. I hooked a hose to the drain cock so I could collect the effluent in a 5 gallon bucket. After much spitting, gurgling the water ran pretty much free of air pockets, so I closed the drain and the infeed line. I repeated this on the line the feeds the kitchen heat exchanger by the chimney, and then I did the final drain of air at the drain cock just above the boiler. During this process I had allowed about 10PSI pressure to build in the system. Now it was time to test some of the components, so I disconnected the wires that went to the actual burner unit. I turned up the thermostat upstairs, tripped the furnace breaker on and listened to the furnace pump start and the zone valve open. So far, so good. I turned off the furnace, reconnected the burner and turned the breaker back on. Then I hit the reset on the burner and "Fire in the hole!!!" We had ignition and the boiler gradually built up to 190° and the burner kicked off. The pump and zone valve were still powered on because the thermostat was still calling for heat. After a while the burner started again and re-established max temp. So I went and turned down the thermostat and the pump and zone valve powered off. I was done!! I cleaned up the furnace room a little and then wondered, "What do I need to do now?". I realized that there was nothing more I "had" to do today and I'm now feeling completely drained, emotionally and physically. I have been anticipating this day with both impatience and dread. This is all new territory for me, and now it's finally working. Lucy, you will be warm when you visit, even if the wood furnace is not hooked up yet. Now I need to find out why it's not here yet. But first I'm going to sit and stare for a day or two............

I gotta go veg, Carlo