Monday, July 09, 2012

The Leak Week, fixing stuff...

I like stuff. I own a bunch of stuff. Used appropriately, stuff can be a real blessing. Look at the old testament patriarchs, their resume often includes how much stuff God gave them.

The problem with stuff is that, in our current sin infested existence, it needs regular care, maintenance, feeding, proper storage in a cool dry place, and so on. And even with the best of care, it still breaks.

My VW sprang a leak at the coolant overflow tank and we had a little overheat problem on the way to church.

The pump on my primary biodiesel processer (a 55 gallon drum with a pump, nothing fancy...) sprung a leak where the motor shaft goes through the pump seal. It made a mess, although thankfully, not a big one.

Our well pump failed.

With some extra effort, I can compensate for one maintenance surprise in a week, but three really caused us to put everything on hold until we had things squared away. I learned (or was reminded really) several things during this escapade.

1.  Everybody should have some drinking water stored up. Nobody knows when their water is going to go out. Entire towns have lost water supply when something unforeseen happens. I recommend a one week supply as a minimum, and two weeks would be better. Plan on 1 gallon per person per day for the absolute emergency amount. That's pretty much drinking only and a light sponge bath. No laundry, no washing of dishes, no flushing of toilets, no watering of the garden, etc.

Of course, there would be nothing wrong with having 5 gallons per person per day stored up so you could flush some toilets and take something closer to a real bath, along with rinsing some clothes out.

You could just buy bottled water and then rotate the old stuff out occasionally. You could store your own FREE water in cleaned 2 liter pop bottles that you scrounge from your friends and co-workers. You could buy the 5 gallon camping jugs for not too much money. If you bottle/store your own water, put 16 drops of plain unscented liquid chlorine bleach in each gallon to prevent stuff from growing like algae and bacterial.

2.  We live pretty closely to the Dave Ramsey financial plan. The short version of that is, don't buy stuff on credit. Pay cash. If you can't pay cash, you can't afford it. Have an emergency fund of 3-6 months of living expenses saved up for a rainy day. Plan on regular maintenance costs of a house. We put a certain amount away every month for just such expenses. Then, when you need a new roof, or a new well pump, you're not put into an uncomfortable pinch. One of Dave's favorite expressions is, "Having money in the bank turns an emergency into an inconvenience."

Not only did we have money saved up to pay for a new pump, we also upgraded to a much better pump, and a much bigger pressure tank, so the new system is much better and (hopefully) more reliable than the old system.

3.  Keep some spare parts around for mission critical systems. My biodiesel system uses a certain kind of pump. Each of the 4 stations use the same pump. I always keep one extra new pump around for this exact eventuality. If I had not had that, it would have set back my biodiesel process by a week or two while I ordered a pump and waited for it to ship.

4.  If you are mechanically inclined, doing minor car repairs saves a ton of money. A new coolant overflow tank for the VW was thirty bucks from ebay. A gallon of the "special" VW coolant was 24 bucks from the dealer. Then a few gallons of distilled water (never use tap water in your cooling system by the way...) and the repair was done for less than 50 bucks. The dealer wanted almost 300.

Next time, I might even replace the well pump myself since I watched the guys do it. Since my well is pretty shallow, it really wasn't that complicated.

5.  Sitting around too much is bad for you. Conversely, staying physically active is REALLY good for you. I say this because two guys came out to replace our submersible well pump and get our water working again. Both looked pretty fit and active. Let's call them Dave and Bill. Dave was about my age and in pretty good shape.

Bill was harder to tell as far as age goes. He had worked outside a lot in his life, so that makes your skin age a little faster. But, however old he was, he looked STOUT! Broad back, narrow waist and forearms like Popeye. I'm talking muscles piled on top of more knotted muscles kind of forearms. The kind of guy who can crush a beer can with one hand while it's still full and unopened.

Yeah, it turns out Bill is turning 70 next year.

Turn your TV off, get away from facebook and twitter for half an hour and go for a walk. It will do you good. Really this is just another example of biblical stewardship and obedience. Respect your body for the amazing gift that it is.

Anyway, now that we are past our little maintenance emergencies, we can get back to working on the house the garden and other aspects of the homestead.

Finest regards,


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