Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Engine Shed Moves

Mid August is a time for reflection on what you have achieved in the year so far, and to focus the mind on what needs to be done before the Autumn arrives.

Saturday 18th was the 7th anniversary of us living here in suburban Redhill in our 102 year old house, and for the first time in those 7 years, I had finally got myself organised and was ready to move my equipment into the new workshop.

Saturday afternoon was wet, but it presented the opportunity for us to work indoors in the new engine shed and workshop, have a tidy up and generally get things ready for moving the heavy engine gensets into position.

The new shed is approximately 200 square feet, ship-lapped on the outside, then a layer of exterior plywood, up to 3"of Kingspan insulation and then lined with OSB (oriented strand board). This type of construction is fairly simple, uses relatively cheap materials and gives a high degree of insulation to make a comfortable building.

On Saturday afternoon, Adam and I finished the insulation panels on the inside of the engine shed ceiling, and cleared a lot of space so that the engines could be re-sited. The old Lister engine in the picture had been in the garden shed for nearly 2 years, and when we disassembled the rotten old garden shed, it remained in place on the old shed concrete base. Now it was just in the way - right in the middle of the new workshop floor - so finally had to be moved toa better location.

On Sunday, Adam (left) and I shifted the Lister gen-set from its old position in what had been the old engine shed to its new position on the much larger engine shed.

Here we see one of the 4 foot wide insulated wallpanels removed from the back of the workshop, and the engine & genset being lifted through the gap into the new engine shed. Lifting the weight of the engine with the engine crane we were able to manoeuvre the engine baseplate on metal rollers and get it into position.

Also visible is the new work 8' bench, which Tim assembled from scrap roof timbers that we found in a neighbour's skip. These lengths of heavy timber, formed the roof of a 120 year old house, and made ideal heavy duty runners for the workbench.

The bottom shelf of the workbench is also used to store the bank of 36 sealed lead acid batteries which power my inverter system. The battery bank can be recharged directly from the Lister genset, and will provide about 1 day's worth of back-up power, before the generator has to be run again.

The engine shed will contain my two generators, a wood fired boiler and a large insulated tank that acts as a thermal store.

Beyond the engine shed floor is a storage area for firewood and the vegetable oil for the engines.

The workshop is 11' x 10' and the engine shed with woodstore is 9' x 10'.

It might as well rain until September...

The UK weather has been very poor this summer.

July was incredibly wet with serious flooding across the UK at the beginning and end of the month. A boating rally that I visit in Henley on Thames each year was abandoned early because of the risk of flooding.

The meteorologists say that the jet stream winds failed to make their usual diversion north in the mid-Atlantic, and so all the low pressure systems have been arriving in the UK - blown in from the west.

The weather did however pick up in early August, and I managed to get some more work done outside, helped by my friend Tim - this time to the new patio decking, put down in front of the new workshop.

Tim came across from central Southern Ireland, and reported that it had rained there for 56 days. We were lucky that we had fine weather for our construction work.

The solar water heating panel has now been installed on the workshop roof, and is contributing on sunny days.

The workshop has been fitted out with a new workbench and space for my homebrew-power battery and inverter equipment. The Lister veg-oil powered generator has been moved into its new position in the engine shed - behind the workshop.

The decked area provides somewhere to sit out in the evening, away from computers and televisions, and we now have a wood fired chiminea, which acts as a focal point and some welcome warmth on these chilly August evenings. We burn offcuts of scrap wood that were left over from the shed and decking.

Last weekend, with the help of my nephew Adam, I completed the insulation of the workshop and the engine shed. Not only does this make it warm in winter and cooler in the summer, but the plasterboard backed insulation in the engine shed helps to absorb the engine noise.

The aim is to have the veg-oil generator set re-installed by the beginning of September.

There will be plenty of time to work on this during the Bank-Holiday weekend at the end of this week.