Friday, August 9, 2019

Backpack strap repair

Got a classic strap blowout here. Whenever you put a strap in a seam and don't tie it to an adjacent panel, it's very likely to pull the seam apart eventually, as it's done here:

This bag actually had some bartacks to tie the strap to the back panel. Unfortunately, the seam allowance that the straps are in is very small (1/2") relative to the thickness (it's lined and seam-taped, so there're ten layers at one point) and one bartack completely missed the end of the strap. The bartacks also weren't installed in a way that transferred the load from the strap to the back panel, so the seam failed anyway.

Other contributing factors: The thread is shit, and there weren't enough stitches per inch. Also, the fabric doesn't have the tightest weave, which helped it fray at the end and pull out of the stitches after the main seam failed.

Took everything mostly apart on the blown strap and resewed it, and reinforced the other strap. This pack is a fully padded camera bag so it was nice to have the post-bed machine. I had started sewing it on a flat-bed, but it got too hard to keep the bag in place.

 Finally, sewing the straps to the back panel.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Digging in the dirt

I guess I forgot to post this last year... One of the reasons I haven't been sewing more stuff lately is that I'm trying to focus on various home projects. We have an old-ass house and when the dudes put in the central-air ductwork however many decades ago they laid the ducts on the ground. Well, there's no vapor barrier in the crawlspace (yet), so the ducts now have holes in them. And the crawlspace is so tight, I have to remove dirt to get to where I need to go to fix the duct (I'm not pulling up the floor). It's a slow, exhausting process, and I tend to do it in the winter because overheating is an issue ... and all the animals that might be down there are slower. So, here's a video of me hauling out some dirt:

Friday, June 28, 2019

J-beetles tree cover

We've been getting Japanese beetles real bad here in Mid-Missouri for the last few years. They love our li'l plum tree (to death). I bought some big-bug netting to make a cover for it and have been making improvements on the design each year. Third year's the charm: finally made a 3D cover. I was hoping to make a rough cylinder shape but the netting is barely too small at 8-feet wide. [It probably would've been fine, but I wanted to make it big enough to get under and for growth.] So, I made a three-piece box ... which meant a ton of edge binding. The frame is made of 20-foot aluminum tent poles.

Like, 50-feet of binding ... getting rid of all that Sunbrella binding that I never use and old bobbin thread.

Bye, beetles! You can eat everything else, I guess.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Float Your Boat, take 3

Third time's the charm. Our cardboard boat, Boata Boxxx, earned first place in the food bank's fundraiser regatta. We might have to retire.

We pretty much did the same boat as last year but refined the prow and beefed up the gunwales. We also had seven people paddling!

 Bike boxes are our favorite boxes. Gaylord boxes for the bulkheads.

 Green for speed.

 And we're off! Pulling ahead of the doughnut boat!

 And, crushing it.

Bye, boats!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

DIY rain barrel diverter

I've been working on a DIY rain barrel diverter for a few years now and have made two prototypes so far. Just got #2 up in my gutter lab:

Below is our off-the-shelf diverter. It does the job (though, this our second one -- the first one fell apart after, like, a year ... I think they beefed up the build for this version). But the extreme pain in the ass of pressing the hoses on each year has made me look for one with screw-on hoses.

Last year, I made a quick & dirty diverter from a soda bottle:


This got water into the rain barrel but was ultimately a fail. You can't easily clean it out and we have too much leaf litter falling into our gutters for that. And I misremembered how close soda bottle threading is to hose threading -- not that close.

So, version two. Goals:

> Made from inexpensive, easily obtainable materials
> Screw-on hoses
> Easy to clean out
> Easy to build

I'd say there are two kinds of rain barrel systems: ones where the overflow goes down the gutter downspout and ones where the overflow goes out a hose on the side of the rain barrel. The first kind requires a diverter, the second kind you can just run the downspout straight into the top of the barrel. I like the diverter system since most of our downspouts feed into drainpipes.

So, this is pretty simple. A large plastic peanut container, some smaller pieces of downspout screwed together where they overlap and attached to the container on the sides with screws, and a brass bulkhead fitting. And some gutter adhesive to seal around the downspout.

When the rain barrel is completely full, no more water can go down the hose so it rises and goes into the downspout. I probably should've made the lower downspout sit a little farther down so it doesn't have to fill up so much to start releasing water, but I wanted the upper downspout to be up high enough to get the bulkhead fitting out, and to be able to clean out any sticks that fall into the spout. I can probably get in there and cut the back part off if it becomes a problem.

We just had some rain. It works!


I like that it's clear so I can easily check for blockage, and there's room for another bulkhead fitting if I want to add another barrel.
You could probably say this is 100% efficient. With some diverters, some of the water is always going to go down the lower downspout. With this, all of the water will go to the barrel before the downspout, unless it's a super-heavy rain. Bonus in droughty spells with light rain. Usually unnecessary since these fill up very fast during an average rain.

Most downspouts are routed against a wall. This design wouldn't work so well with that since the downspouts are offset. You could use some curved downspout to get around this, maybe.

The way the RainReserve unit, above, works is that the opening for the lower downspout is smaller than the upper spout, so water running down the sides of the spout falls around the lower spout and into the hoses to the barrel, even though the gutter is still inline. You could do this with the peanut diverter by bending in the sides of the lower downspout. In the current design the two spouts are screwed together where they overlap, adding some strength to the unit. I don't know if this container is strong enough to support the spouts if they aren't connected, so you'd have to figure out how to manage that. I'm thinking you could cut flaps in the downspout and push them in to draw the water out, leaving enough material in place for stability.

Anyway, we'll see if it lasts the summer!


Sunday, March 31, 2019

LL out & about

El Yunque, PR.
Thanks, Dennis!