Construction Journal Entry Week of 6/16/19

6/18-20/19 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way, I stopped to visit with Earl and Dana. She was up and about so we had a nice conversation about blood pressure medicine and side effects. Earl wanted me to give him a ride to his log cabin so he could check on it. He packed a few things and we took off. I had forgotten how deep into the woods it was and how overgrown the driveway was. Fortunately for us, there was a stiff wind so there weren't many mosquitoes.

After bushwhacking our way to the cabin, Earl told me that a key had been broken off in the lock. I worked on it with my multi-tool and was able to get the broken key out. But Earl didn't have a key that fit so we were locked out. We were running out of time before he had to take his next pills so we beat our way out of the brush and back to the truck. We got to his place about 8 minutes after he should have taken his pills. I hope it didn't mess him up.

I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 2:45. I was really disappointed to find a mouse in the trap under the sink. I didn't think mice could get into the cabin anymore but I guess I was wrong. I don't have any idea how to figure out how they get in. I'll just have to make sure to keep all my food in mouse-proof containers.

I had a bunch of gear and supplies, so it took me two trips to carry it all up to the cabin. Since it was so late, I had only a small lunch. I was eager to learn whether the ram pump was still running so I went into the woods and checked Andrew. On the way into the woods, I spotted a big pile of black bear scat in the trail. When I got to Andrew, I was a little disappointed to see that the water wasn't running, but I was very happy to see how well the tree is doing. It obviously liked the water that it got so far, and the ground was still damp around the tree.

I had brought a bow saw with me so when I proceeded on over the hill toward the pump, I stopped and sawed through one of the alder trees that were blocking the trail. That made the trail a little more walkable.

I worked on adjusting the spring on the ram pump trying to get it started but couldn't get it to cycle any more than a few times before it stopped. I gave up and took the check valve off the pump and brought it back to the cabin to work on it.

On Wednesday the weather was clear and very windy again. That meant few mosquitoes. I started out by working on the spring on the valve and I got it to where I thought it should work. I took it into the woods and installed it on the pump. Again, it would sort of work for a while and then stop again. The longest it went was 46 cycles before it stopped. Once again, I took the valve off the pump and brought it back to the cabin with no new ideas about what to do.

I turned my attention to the back stair rail system. I made the mortise and tenon joint for the upper end of the lower rail and got it installed. Then I went in for lunch and a nap.

While I was napping, an idea came to me about the ram pump. Since it worked pretty well the first week it was installed, I tried to think what was different. One thing was that in an attempt to straighten the pipe so it wouldn't trap air, I had removed debris from the creek bed so that the pipe could lie lower in the bed. Before that, there were some branches holding the pipe up so that the last 6 or 8 feet of pipe, with the pump on the end, was cantilevered up in the air. As a result, it bobbed up and down in a rhythm in sync with the cycling of the pump. Now, the pump was lying flat on the creek bed and was steadier.

So, I put some branches under the pipe about 6 feet from the end to cantilever the pipe like it was before. And, this time, when I started the pump, it kept going and it bobbed up and down like before. I was overjoyed. I stood there and watched it for 150 cycles and then left to walk over to Andrew and see if water was coming out of the hose.

Again, I was overjoyed to see that it was still pumping, and water was flowing when I got there. I stood there watching the water run out of the hose for a while and then went back to the cabin to get some real work done. On the way out of the woods, I checked all the giant sequoia trees and I rolled 11 big firewood rounds down the hill so that they are all now down at the wheelbarrow station ready to be moved to the cabin.

Back at the cabin, I repaired a broken stair tread on the back stair. A chunk had broken off the back of one of the treads, so I found two long lag screws and used them, and some glue, to re-attach the broken piece.

On Thursday morning, Dave called first thing and we had another excellent conversation. After breakfast I was eager to go into the woods to learn whether the pump was still running. If it weren't, I was going to take the valve home with me and try to invent an adjustable and more substantial spring mechanism. But to my great delight, I found that the pump was still going so I happily left it alone.

After thinking about it quite a bit, I have decided on a strategy for supplying some water to the tree even if the pump stops while I am away. The plan is to use a big 50 gallon plastic garbage can to store 50 gallons of water. I will drill a pinhole in the bottom of the can so water can drip out, but since the hose produces more water than can run out the pinhole, the garbage can will fill up in a matter of seven hours or so.

When the can is full, the water will overflow and spill out on the ground at the same rate as the hose would deliver it if the garbage can weren't there. But if the pump stops, the tree will get 50 more gallons of water in the time it takes to dribble out the small hole in the bottom, which might take a day or two. I think that will work.

Back at the cabin, I started work on the upper stair rail and made the mortise hole in the newel post for it. I also got a start on the tenon for that end. I left for home at 12:45 feeling pretty good about the week's progress.

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