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Mike in AL is using a 1/2“ ram pump to fill his pond.

Mike messaged me on eBay asking for recommendations on pump sizing and compatibility with his site. He was wanting to pump spring water up to a pond higher up on his property.

We ultimately decided on one of my 1/2“ pump kits that will be more likely to operate on low summer flows. He still has the option of adding a second pump for additional options throughout the year.

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“Ram Pump Kit” For Sale On Amazon Now & High Barriers To Entry

I’ve been selling my ram pump kit in the 1/2″ size on eBay for a few weeks now. I’ve made a few sales but talking with a colleague enlightened me to the importance of selling on Amazon.

There are more barriers to entry on Amazon. First my old Amazon selling account was shut down due to inactivity. I started it years ago to sell some college textbooks. It was easy to setup a seller account then.

So I create a new Gmail account specifically for a new amazon account. Then began the hoops I needed to jump through for validating myself as a person. This included a snail-mail PIN code, and a freakin video chat with an amazon representative proving my ID was valid (and correcting a few things I had wrong with the dates because they use an international format).

Finally creating the listing was not at all intuitive. My brand name is still “generic”.

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Steiner Manuals That I Have Found So Far

I bought a steiner 430. I tried finding a manual online. No such luck. The Steiner Turf page where the manuals should be is still under construction at the time of this post after being bought by Doosan.

These are the PDF manuals I have found or have been sent to me so far, Use the manual that’s for your specific model and serial number. I can’t be held responsible for the use of any of the files either correctly or incorrectly. You will need a PDF viewer to view these files, I recommend Foxit:

If you don’t see it here then I don’t have it. Please don’t ask. Contact Steiner Turf for help getting the support you need.

For additional parts diagrams and ordering you might try my preferred parts store, Messicks

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7qt Tub Storage

This is what storage in my shop looks like usually. I’m using an old merchandise shelf from our hospital that’s 24 inches deep and I’ve decided to use sterilite tubs that are about 12 inches deep (7 quart) as my standard small sized storage format and the merchandise shelving is just not working. It takes up too much floor space and I always seem to stack things in front of the boxes because it’s a flat surface and you know what flat surfaces collect… things.First I tried building a wall hangable cubby design out of plywood, the time costs were high and reusability low. It also consumes more plywood than you would expect.Then I decided to use shelves instead, for time and money reasons. First I thought to just use utility shelving boards at Lowes, they come in 11.5″x8′ boards. Barely deep enough if even. I would still need to buy shelf brackets, and enough to prevent sagging, probably 4 per 8 foot board.Then I wandered over to the shelving section to look at shelf brackets and having used ClosetMaid stuff before I figured while I was in the isle I would check it out. While the dollar cost might be a bit higher the other factors would win out. I was able to use a horizontal hanger rail and have to level it only once and then use vertical hanging brackets hooked into the horizontal rod.So I’ve decided to dive into the ClosetMaid system of organization for my standard small sterilite tubs and this is what I’ve come up with. I did bed to spend some time spanning everything out to be perfect but it just works.Thosethose are 8ft racks and there’s 11 tubs per rack so I can fit 33 as you see in the picture, I spaced the vertical uprights so that there would be one tub on the end and units of 3 tubs in between each upright.I bought all of the eight foot sections that Lowes had so that’s what I was able to put up.I’ll get more 8 foot sections and shelf brackets for the rest of my tubs. I imagine I need about three more shelves for the small tubs that I have a bunch of and I will use a deeper 18″ ClosetMaid shelf for my medium sized 15 quart sterilite containers.I still have these to sort:And a few more scattered about.No I’m not sponsored by ClosetMaid, but if they want to help out I wouldn’t turn it down. This stuff is expensive.


I have gotten 3 more shelves and hung the box I already made in the garage side of the shop.

If you want to replicate the spacing the brackets are spaced in from the ends of the wire rack in the 9th full slot (8 empty complete holes) and the center supports are spaced evenly in thirds.

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Knockdown Portable Bed Frame (Camping/Guest)

I built this for vehicle camping (not backpacking) at sites that were lumpy and potentially wet. Ultimately I succeed in building a bed that was both comfortable, and dry. The dry function of the bed is more than just bulk water from rain, it’s also about body sweat because I sweat a bunch. All other common camping pads are blow-up and if you’ve ever slept on a blow-up mattress then you might have experienced some of the moisture I’m talking about. This elevated bed allowed plenty of ventilation and moisture-wicking ability providing a better-than-ground experience. There are a few improvements that I would implement in a second build. I’ll attach plans to this post at a later date so you can build it too.

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Building A Bridge

I needed a way to cross this stream that my waterwheel is built across a little bit upstream, primary vehicles across the bridge were my Deere 314 garden tractors along with foot traffic and a wheelbarrow. I built this bridge using this most simple construction method, sadly(fortunately) the stream was short enough that I couldn’t build a more complex bridge. A flat bridge with no handrails also presented the cheapest construction method and because I didn’t need handrails I only made it wide enough for garden tractor tires to fit.

Originally I wanted to build a Da Vinci bridge lke this one: but even that would have been too long.

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Pretty Good House P1, How much insulation is enough?

Building Science is something I’ve been interested in for many years now. Below I’ll go over how that intersects with my current and largest project to date, a Pretty Good House which is a house almost as good as a passive house but trades off some of the ridiculous insulation and glazing for a reasonable operating cost (utilities)

My wife and I are adding a ~1000 sqft living space over a garage behind our business. The only source of power we’ll have is electricity, I don’t want gas/oil/propane inside the structure for indoor air quality reasons and general safety. So we heat with electricity, which can be expensive in a zone 5  borderline 6 climate where we live. To mitigate the costs of heating I’m building a super insulated and super airtight structure. The airtight portion is by design, there will only be a few openings in the entire structure where bulk air could leak through while the rest of it is sealed. Don’t worry about ventilation, I’ll have a heat exchanger which I’ll go over in a later post.

The superinsulated specification is a bit more complicated. Because I wanted to maximize the available floorspace in the second story above the existing structure I determined the insulation must be outside the 2×4 studs (2×4 again to maximize floorspace). To reduce my contractor’s construction quote it should be somewhat standard construction practices for the area. For this I decided on rigid exterior foam panels. My desire was for an R40 wall. Conveniently there is a guy somewhat local that sells reclaimed foam, the best $/R foam he had was 2.5″ Polyisocyanurate panels from an old commercial building. So I loaded up a borrowed trailer (Thanks Lynne!) and my truck and 7 hours of driving round trip I had my insulation. This was $16/sheet and I needed about 82 full sheets for 2 layers around the entire perimeter. The reclaimer threw in some additional sheets because many of the sheets were not perfect (either cracked, chewed, missing pieces). All in all I had 6*16 or 96 sheets total.

These were installed 2-layers at a time with staggered seams, furring strips and 7″ long screws.

Yielding a nice thick efficient wall

*Note the insulation is slightly compressed by the furring strips.

Below is a table showing all of the layers of the wall and their r-values along with a total of about R-40. This is a rough approximation and does not consider the effects of windows, doors, or the thermal bridging effects of the screws/nails/studs/headers and assumes one complete stud-bay. A thick build-up of polyiso has a higher effective R-value. New virgin polyiso has an R-value of 6 or 7 but as it off-gasses it becomes less effective. I used this data to compile my totals, other similar tables are all over the internet.

Wall Build-Up
Vented Vinyl Sheathing 0.61 0.61
Polyiso 5″ @ R5 27.5 27.5
Sheathing 3/8 osb 0.45 0.45
Wood 2×4 3.5
Dense Pack Cellulose 12.95
Drywall 0.45 0.45
Effective R Bare Wall 40.4695838

In future posts I’ll go over a bunch of other factors that make this a pretty good house like site orientation, floor and ceiling insulation, windows, doors,  and HVAC.