Thanksgiving Crafts

Here’s a twist for my blog topics. I have never been much of a crafter. I’m more likely to build something or even sew something. But my sister gave me a Cricut Explore machine and I have been learning how to use it. She visited for the holiday so I wanted to create a project with the machine. I’ve been buying reusable napkins for celebrations like birthday parties. It may not be much of a reduction in materials but at least uses fewer throw away paper products. All of the materials for these napkins I already had on hand. I was using up some scraps and materials that I purchased for former projects.
There are some tricks to the tools the Cricut has for creating designs. I pretty much mastered lettering for birthday party and holiday iron ons. A text box comes in with all the letters in a group but in order to move each letter the text must be selected and ungrouped. In a script font it’s best for each letter to touch the next. Then once the letters are perfectly placed they are grouped again by selecting them all with a box drawn by the cursor and the weld tool will make the letters flow together and uneditable so it stays together. In this case I wanted the T attached to the rest of the word so I used hearts to combine them. The other two hearts were for balance.

Thankful script
Thankful script

A page of these words was created in the Design Space application to cut out a dozen from iron on Cricut material. I learned that once the page layout is created it is best to select them all and use the attach tool otherwise the Cricut may move them all over the cut page.

I have a heat press for the iron on material. When transferring to multiple items it works better than an iron. The correct temperature can be set and a timer stops the heat after the necessary duration.

Iron on heat press
Iron on heat press

We made a dozen napkins for our dinner then thought about custom napkin rings. I had never used the Cricut drawing pen function before. The Cricut allows for layers in an image to be treated differently. Normally svg type files are used for this but I have been unsuccessful saving png to svg’s that work in layers on the Cricut. It occurred to me that I could use the same image twice. One as just the outline to be cut and the other on top of it to be drawn. I erased the inside lines on one image to create just the outline to be cut and imported both images.

Turkey clip art
Turkey clip art
Turkey outline
Turkey outline

Selecting each image as a layer in the Cricut design space allowed me to mark one as Draw and the other as Cut. Then I put several on one page and used off white card stock to draw them and cut them out.

We cut the inner roll from the Cricut iron on material into 1/2″ rounds to attach the ribbon and turkeys. I have glue dots which work better for easy stick ons than hot glue. Cricut makes these projects fun and relatively easy and there is always something more to learn to use on the machine. We had these customized napkins for our Thanksgiving dinner.

Napkins with cricut turkey and ribbon holders
Napkins with Cricut turkey and ribbon holders

We did a second Cricut craft while my sister was visiting. She suggested I make a luggage tag for each member of our family who will be visiting during the Christmas vacation. We are taking a short trip together and it will be fun to have a small memento. We found some simple ornaments at Target for $1 each and I labeled them with Cricut adhesive vinyl cut outs. I didn’t keep the letters even when sticking them onto the metal. I should have used the vinyl transfer paper that Cricut suggests for projects like this. Next time I may remember.

Christmas Tags
Christmas Tags
Posted in -Chronological Recent Posts, Crafts, Reduce Reuse Recycle | Leave a comment

Oh No! Broken Glass in Trombe Wall

Some of the plastic lattice trim around the Trombe wall glazing has been curling away from the house from the intense heat from the sun. I don’t think I used enough nails to tie it to the boards behind it. More nails seem to take care of the gaps. Although I was working on a siding project at the back door, I thought I would just use the nail gun to tack the trim down a little more. Of course I had just tacked the side of a window making sure the gun was pointed away from the glass. But when I moved down to the next window I did not alter the angle of the nails. I heard it before I saw it. Crack and the entire window broke into a million tiny pieces which is what tempered glass does. In minutes most of the window fell to the ground.

Tempered glass shatters the whole pane
Tempered glass shatters the whole pane
Minimal glass left in the frame
Minimal glass left in the frame

Being distracted in this way of course just led to more repairs. The snow has come and the back door siding did not get finished. But the glass was replaced while the weather was still favorable.
I cleared all the glass out of the channel with a flat head screwdriver. It fell out easily when poked. Dave swept most of the glass from below where it had fallen.

Broken glass cleared away
Broken glass cleared away

Then I removed the side and bottom pieces of the frame from the wall. They were stuck on with black butyl tape which in the heat of the sun was not that difficult to pry away from the wall and scrape off.
I had hoped I could slide the new pane into the top and side frame pieces but the hooks at the bottom were in the way. I just decided to remove the hooks. Then it was still too tight a fit with the center trim piece so we removed that too. It was just nailed in and after those nails were pulled from the trim piece we could reuse it.
That gave us enough space on one side and the bottom to reinstall the glass.

New glass installed
New glass installed

However without the hooks at the bottom of the frame the window has to be held from slipping down by spacers underneath. I used scrap 2×4 and longer pieces as levers. But will have to replace those with plastic wood that will not rot.
I was just really happy that we were able to replace the broken glass. The decision to use just one pane of the old double pane glass meant we had several panes left over to replace broken ones.
I don’t have firm numbers but the glazing on the Trombe wall has increased the heat we are experiencing inside. As the temperatures are in the 20’s and 30’s the heat set to 60 nighttime and 65 daytime is not turning on.
While the windows were still open and I could run a temp sensor to this inside meter the temperature under the glass got hot immediately with temps up to 130°. The inside wall heated up above the room’s temperature. It actually rose into the 80’s. As the room temperature fell with the outdoor temperatures the wall lost very little heat.
I need a wireless temperature sensor to record what is happening now that it is cold outside.

Right meter inside temps left meter under Trombe glass
Right meter inside temps left meter under Trombe glass
Right meter inside wall Left under a Trombe glass
Right meter inside temps left under Trombe glass
Posted in -Chronological Recent Posts, Maintenance and Repair, Solar, Trombe Wall | Comments Off on Oh No! Broken Glass in Trombe Wall

Our Green Home Tour on October 1, 2022

We were on the Metro Denver Green Homes Tour this year! We had a nice crowd visiting the house and while I showed them around inside, Dave showed them the Tesla roof and his greenhouses and urbanite retaining walls outside. We had some great volunteers who helped us greet visitors and participate in the tour too.

We had been on the tour in 2017 and any repeat visitors were glad to see the progress we have made since then. I had saved all the signs from the 2017 tour and made several more to point out new features. There were over 75 labeled features and over 30 signs to explain the energy saving ideas that we have used. All the signs helped people just go through themselves instead of waiting for my explanations. These were a few of the signs.

Net Zero
Net Zero
Floating Walls and Radon Mitigation
Floating Walls and Radon Mitigation
Radiant Heat and Boiler/Water Heater
Radiant Heat and Boiler/Water Heater
Wifi Monitoring and Insulation Composition
Wifi Monitoring and Insulation Composition
ERV Air Flow
ERV Air Flow
Whisper Green Bath Fan and Hydrostat
Whisper Green Bath Fan and Hydrostat

We were excited to see people who were interested in many of the ideas we had implemented. When I explained the Trombe wall and the fireplace boiler I realized these were not likely to be copied by anyone except if they were pursuing an Earthship. Today the Passive House movement really emphasizes tight construction and lots of insulation instead. The program from USGBC that I followed (LEED) currently has a larger implementation worldwide and emphasizes a whole house approach with points for healthy living features like fresh air, transportation, neighborhood amenities, water conservation, and energy efficiency as well as tightness and insulation standards.

Dave points out the solar roof
Dave points out the solar roof (Photo by Dave Bowen)

By the end of the day I had a scratchy throat due to constant talking. But a little lemonade at the expo later that evening really helped. I visited the vendor tables and enjoyed listening to the experts in installation and design. Especially this radiant heat expert.

Radiant Heat expert at the Expo
Radiant Heat expert at the Expo (Photo by Dave Bowen)

This year the home owners were thanks with Sustainability plaques or glass globes etched with the earth. A nice thank-you from New Energy Colorado.

Green Homes Tour Plaque
Green Homes Tour Plaque

I really enjoyed sharing our home and I’m looking forward to seeing more houses next year.

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Finish Patio Edging

It is fall and the weather is perfect for outside projects. Some years we enjoy fall weather all the way to December so a long fall is really helpful.

After several days of rest, reading and writing after our tour day I was drawn outside for projects. The main portion of the patio was laid last summer. But I didn’t have time to cut the edge tiles to fit. Before the home tour we moved old pieces of solar glass left over from the broken Trombe wall off the patio. It left a messy area that needed to be cleaned up so as I worked to clean it I decided I might as well fill it with tiles before it got dirty again.

I have been working on organizing the garage and need to get the table saw out of the way before it’s time to park a car in the garage this winter. Right now I have it in the middle to be accessible for projects. The rubber tile edging for the patio needed each piece custom cut and fitted. These are recycled rubber tiles that I bought from a Craigslist ad. They are too wide to use the mitre saw to cut (I tried that first) so I changed the blade on the table saw. I had two new blades for the job. One was a narrow tooth blade that can cut aluminum and plastic. I tried that and it just burned through the rubber. The second was a narrow kerf finish cut blade and that worked perfectly. The cuts across the 12 inch tiles kicked back in the middle of the tile. The solution was to turn the tile over and cut from the other side. The blade skimmed through the rest as I pinched the first cut together. It took three days of effort to cut and place the 92 edge tiles. Every day was in the low 70’s by 10 AM. Perfect weather.

The first section was at the wall edge that had the most mud and leaf debris. Before the tour Dave vacuumed the patio with the large leaf vacuum. I swept the edge areas and then used the wet/dry vac to pick up the rest of the debris. Then each spot for a tile was measured and cut to fit.

West wall edge fitted tiles
West wall edge fitted tiles

I didn’t cut off the black driveway mesh underlayment until I laid the tile so it is a bit ragged. Here is another section on the North side next to the herb garden edge that was getting cleaned up for the tile.

Cleaning debris from the edge
Cleaning debris from the edge
Herb garden edge fitted
Herb garden edge fitted

The East edge doesn’t have a tile or wall edge but it was still fairly easy to fit the edge tiles. I did have to cut away some unused irrigation hose that poked up above the ground and some electric wire that was no longer in use to have the tiles lay flat in the corner. I have a walkway made from the plastic fence edging from Repurposed Materials that provides secure footing up to the flagstone path. I just laid the edge of that over the edge of the tiles.

Finishing the eastern edge
Finishing the Eastern edge
East edge filled in
East edge filled in

The rest of the tile fits the South wall of the patio/pergola area. Several of the tiles had slipped away from the main patio enough to fill with dirt and debris between the tiles. So I removed those tiles and cleaned up around them too. Then they fit more tightly into the patio and I could cut the edge tiles more accurately.

Tile reset and edge preparation
Tile reset and edge preparation
South wall with tiles fitted
South wall with tiles fitted

I found that the fine rubber dust was clinging to my arms and face and it was important to wear a mask to keep that gunk out of my nasal passage and lungs! I still have some cleanup to do under the saw.

Rubber sawdust
Rubber sawdust

While I was out finishing the patio edges I re-stacked the faux stone on the edge of the garage wall that lost its stucco when the old front walk and partial wall was torn out. I had it stacked up in the past but it got knocked over. I’ll try to do a better job fitting the stone when I finally install it. I’m thinking of using outdoor cement adhesive caulk instead of mortar to keep it looking like dry stacked stone. This height just about covers all the damaged wall edge.

Wall faux stone
Wall faux stone
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Next Steps

This summer was the culmination of ten years of work on the house. We had to push to finish the major LEED features of the remodel because we had an end of June deadline for evaluation under LEED 2009 version 3. But we switched to LEED version 4.1 anyway because it was a free upgrade and obviously easier for Energy Logic, the company that evaluated us. Their expertise had kept up with the times.

Our formal award of LEED Platinum happened at the end of June but our project is still underway. Looking back it was a summer of repairs. The spa controls burned out and when I replaced them a pipe junction broke and the blower leak never did stop despite various fixes. We got the new spa cover but never received the cover lifter. Of course the cover is not functioning with no water in the spa.
We took a few trips in the RV and had some issues. In March we ran into a concrete pole and scraped the side. We waited for the repair shop from shortly after we returned home until after our RV trip to Indiana. That was mid-August.

The RV air conditioner also stopped working and I have warranty insurance with a $500 deductible. It cost $600 to find out that it was a wiring issue in the thermostat and the shop replaced it with a lower quality version without bluetooth. We left for a three week trip to Indiana and I didnt realize at first that it was the wrong thermostat. I complained when we returned home but they couldn’t connect me to the account person I used. I called with messages but didn’t hear back. Apparently they never sent the paperwork to the insurance either but I realized $160 of the charge was for a ”courtesy inspection” which probably was not covered by the policy. So the work didn’t meet the deductible after all.

I finally realized it would be easier to just replace the thermostat with the upgrade myself. In the meantime I learned about the air conditioner capacitors and a slow start capacitor I may install in the future. It takes the drag off the air conditioner startup that requires more watts than the running motor so that the inverter could run the air while driving. But the inverter stopped working on our way home from Indiana. I removed it while we took the RV to the body shop and realized that the power cord lug was so loose it blew the fuse. I bought a new tool to fix that.

We visited our daughter and family in Germany and got to see their new home in Wurselen in late August.
I left the off set toilet in the master bath mostly installed after the seal broke and sewer gas was leaking into the house. I still need to apply the base caulk.

Most of September I spent working on small trim and paint jobs and I fixed the Old Hickory couch support in the house and re-covered some kitchen chairs getting ready for the solar home tour.

Now the summer is over and the tour is over and there are a few weeks of lovely weather ahead of another trip to Indiana for a wedding. So I have a list of things to get done!

  • The edging of the patio blocks was left undone because every block has to be cut and fitted.
  • The back door siding was never finished and the weather has stripped the area of its air barrier membrane. There is a small piece of siding left for it.
  • The garage will remain cedar but it was only partially painted. I ordered Vermont Natural coatings paint but the wood has to be power washed first.
  • The patio door trim is peeling and needs to be scraped, the wood filled and repainted.
  • The reused baseboard needs to be washed and painted and installed.
  • Some areas of the house still need wood and log trim.
  • The workshop in the garage needs to be cleared to park a car for the winter.
  • The spa piping needs to be fixed and piping for thermal solar installed at the same time.
  • I’d like to set up the solar water heater collectors.

There are more projects left from the summer list but I’m relegating the indoor tasks to the winter list. These outdoor projects are the next steps. They should keep me busy for awhile.

Posted in -Chronological Recent Posts, Construction, Finishes, Maintenance and Repair, Patio, Planning, Solar, Spa | Comments Off on Next Steps

Metro Denver Green Homes Tour

Metro Denver Green Homes Tour
Metro Denver Green Homes Tour

This is a big deal at least for the committee that puts it together. We work from January through November to offer the tour to the public on the National Solar Tour day, the first Saturday in October. The tour is sponsored by the American Solar Energy Society and the New Energy Colorado orgaization.

New Energy Colorado
New Energy Colorado


Organizing the tour involves finding green home owners willing to have their houses open to the public on tour day; having sponsors and vendors who support the tour with ads and vendor tables; advertising the tour in newspapers, the radio and community bulletins; working with social media accounts to spread the word; designing flyers and logos; setting up ticket sales and attendance; recruiting and organizing volunteers to be docents at the homes and registration; interviewing owners and taking photos of the homes; writing and publishing a full color booklet with the featured homes, green home information and sponsor ads and creating a large paper map of the home locations.

There is a volunteer organizational meeting the Thursday evening before the tour to hand out materials and assign tasks for the day of the tour. We serve pizza and snacks and drinks. After the tour there is a two hour expo in the registration hall with food and music and vendors and the radio broadcasters from the local ”Fixit” show. And there is a lecture series in weeks leading up to the tour day.

All registrants also receive a monthly newsletter from Solar Citisuns, a user group sponsored by New Energy Colorado.

Solar CitiSuns
Solar CitiSuns

The 27th annual tour was a success with over 250 participants. It’s an honor to serve on the committee with an amazing group of energy efficiency experts. Next month we get busy reviewing this tour and improving the tour for next year.

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A Boiler/Fireplace Boiler/Hot Water Question

Another good question, this one from our volunteer guide, was about the specifics of our radiant hot water and domestic hot water piping. Could I provide a diagram about how it all worked together? I had never put both systems on the same diagram. I started with the diagrams I had of the fireplace/gas boiler interaction. This is the logic of how the fireplace boiler operates to send warmed water to the heat exchanger to transfer heat to the gas boiler water.

Fireplace Boiler Logic Diagram wo Storage
Fireplace Boiler Logic Diagram

The fireplace boiler water forms a closed loop separate from the gas boiler water in the radiant system. The fireplace water has some steel pipes while the rest is all pex, copper, or stainless steel. The steel pipes degrade the water so the stainless steel heat exchanger keeps the water systems apart and both boilers are piped to transfer the heat from the fireplace water to the gas heated water.

Brazed plate heat exchanger with plates expanded to show water flow

The gas boiler water is always routed through the heat exchanger even when there is not a fire. The return water should be at least 20 degrees cooler than the water that is sent to the flooring so the extra trip through the exchanger helps cool that water and improve the boiler’s condensing efficiency.

When there is a fire, the return water picks up heat from the fireplace boiler water and is warm enough to circulate through the boiler and on to the radiant pipes. I noticed that the previous fireplace boiler diagrams all had the storage tank which I removed some time ago. This is the diagram with the piping going directly to the heat exchanger.

Dibble Boiler Piping without storage tank
Dibble Boiler Piping without storage tank

There is an unfortunate error in this diagram. The expansion tanks are shown on the cold side of the pipes when of course they are on the hot side as they are meant to expand as the water in the pipes expands with heat.

I noticed that and fixed it when I was adding the domestic hot water loop to the old diagram. I made a few other changes to show the household hot water path and explained that when the boiler functions as an instant hot water heater the radiant heat is off while the water is being heated for household use. If needed, it automatically turns back on when water is no longer flowing through the separate pipes inside the boiler that heat our hot water.

This diagram also shows that the return radiant pipe water is connected to the primary loop and not to the secondary loop as in the old diagram. In the primary loop on the gas water boiler the water just circulates into and out of the boiler. It is the required primary loop size for the dual loop system to function. The secondary loop pump pulls the heated water from the primary loop and circulates it to the valves that are controlled by the thermostats and the valve controller electronics. In this diagram I include the hot water entering the distribution valves and returning to the boiler to pick up more heat. When the room is warm enough the boiler and the pumps will shut down. So one thermostat must always call for heat when the fireplace boiler is on. That is not difficult as the radiator fed bedrooms over the crawlspace of the house are usually colder than the slab area. So we send the heat there by turning up that thermostat over 70°.

Dibble Boiler Piping-Fireplace and DHW
Dibble Boiler Piping-Fireplace and DHW

Cold water that is heated for use in the house is piped to a separate loop in the gas boiler. This is an open system not a closed loop like the radiant piping. Water flows freely from the well pressure tank into the boiler. There is a hot water recirculation pump that pulls water from the pressure tank through the loop in the floor that is the “trunk” of our hot water system before we open a faucet. The water then flows through the gas boiler’s instant hot water piping and back to the hot water pipes.

The recirculation pump runs for 15 minutes after being signaled on by a remote control. But it also has a built in thermostat (thermo sensor) that shuts it off at 120°. If within the 15 minutes the temperature drops below 120° then the pump turns on again. So from the first signal to turn on the entire trunk is heated within in a couple of minutes and it won’t begin to lose heat for 15 minutes when the circulating pump turns off because of the 15 minute timer. The “twigs” in the diagram below are the shorter lengths of pipe that feed the faucets from the nearby trunk flow. Only the cold water in these short pipes needs to be replaced by hot when the faucets turn on. This wastes as little water as possible before the warm water leaves the faucets. The boiler keeps heating household water until the faucet or appliance is turned off. The dishwasher has its own hot water heat function that boosts the heat from the boiler and we usually wash clothes in cold water.

Structured Plumbing Diagram
Structured Plumbing Diagram

The Triangle Tube Challenger Combi boiler that we installed in 2012 is a very efficient use of gas to run our household heat and hot water. Right now the push is to eliminate gas use at the home level and electrify homes including electric induction stoves and cold weather heat pumps. It is something we will think about when our boiler stops being repairable. But we use much less gas for heat, cooking and hot water than an average Colorado home uses just for heat (Electric heat converted to therms). The figures were from a Colorado Extension report.

Gas Usage Comparison to Average 2021
Gas Usage Comparison to Average 2021

I spoke with a vendor at the Metro Denver Green Homes Tour Expo who used to sell the Challenger boilers but said his customers had reliability issues. I was hopeful that would only be true if the boilers were not maintained or fed the specific water ph and mineral content that was specified as we do. We have not had the problems but we do flush the boiler and the pipes every couple of years and we make sure the pipes have no air in them before the boiler is turned on for the year. The water is within the recommended ph and is treated for mineral content and carbon filtered. The calcium is suspended in the water with an electronic magnetic filter that keeps the molecules from clinging tightly together so less likely to be deposited in the boiler or pipes. So far that has kept the boiler reliable for us. I’ve read that the lifetime expectation for these boilers is 15-25 years so maybe in 5-10 more years it will have to be replaced. By then I hope there will be a much more energy efficient alternative.

Posted in -Chronological Recent Posts, Condensing Modulating Gas Boiler, Fireplace Boiler, Outreach, Radiant Heat | Comments Off on A Boiler/Fireplace Boiler/Hot Water Question

A Metro Denver Green Homes Tour You Tube Interview

We had a wonderful offer to help spread the word about the tour this year from Joan Gregerson, a local real estate agent who is savvy about energy efficiency in buildings. She recruited a few volunteers as home tour guides and developed some graphics for ads.
Joan also produces The Denver Green Living Channel, a video blog about homes and energy efficiency that features efforts by leaders, businesses and organizations in our area of Colorado.

She provided an opportunity to help advertise the upcoming Denver Metro Green Homes tour. She interviewed me about the tour and aired a video tour of my home that I narrated. Posted at:

Denver Green Living Channel 9/19/22

Thanks to Joan and several other media and press outlets contacted by our public relations committee members, we had over 250 participants in this year’s tour.

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Is the Tesla Roof Worth It?

We were on the Metro Denver Green Homes Tour last Saturday. It occurs each year on the first Saturday of October which is the National Solar tour day. We were a site to see the Tesla Solar roof and our Powerwalls as well as other energy saving ideas that helped us earn LEED Platinum certification.
Visitors asked us if the roof was worth the money it cost. I explained yes by asking what else is this expensive? Typically a higher end new car costs in the vicinity of our roof but our roof pays us back for the next 25 years at least while the new car just costs more money.

My second consideration was that our roof was 17 years old and had been through several hailstorms. It was time to replace the roof. A typical shingle roof would have cost say $8 a square foot, some are cheaper some more expensive. But a class 4 hailproof dimensional shingle would cost about $15 a square foot and solar panels cost about $10 a square foot, although panels are typically rated by watts not size. The Tesla roof is made of tempered glass tiles and designed to look like slate. An even higher end slate roof would cost $20-$25 per square foot and up. The cost for both a new high quality roof and 16 kw of panels would add up quickly.

Higher wattage panels are larger than lower wattage panels but take better advantage of space available. They require a long lasting roof installed under them or you risk having to remove the panels, install a new roof, and have the panels re-installed on the new roof. Tesla tiles each cost more for the solar than their plain roof tiles, but the average cost per square foot was estimated at $20 to install them. Installation on a complex roof might cost more.

Tesla solar roof tiles are rated as 72.67 watts. The tiles are fewer watts per square foot than the 400 watt panels but not by much. I can’t install solar panels to the extent that they can be integrated on our roof. They can’t be mounted all the way to the peak or around protrusions. Plus estimates of the actual cost per solar watt installed is about $1.80 for the Tesla roof tiles and the typical installed panel cost per watt is currently about $3 in Colorado. So it makes good sense to install as many of the solar tiles as possible. In Colorado that’s up to two times the yearly amount consumed by the customer for grid-tied systems. The solar tiles unlike the filler tiles, are not only an excellent roof but produce power so are much more valuable. A large area of our south facing roof is flat or nearly flat shown as light gray in the diagram. The garage roof points south and a small area points east but the rest of the roof faces north.

Tesla 16 kw solar roof
Tesla 16 kw solar roof layout

Our roof is slightly over 16,000 watts. it includes all the wiring and inverters to run our system. It would take 40 400 watt panels costing about $48,000 without the extra equipment to get that much power! So the articles that I read that say you can get cheaper solar and a new roof do not seem to make financial sense. Certainly you cannot get a slate quality roof and a full solar grid-tied system any cheaper.

I may have been one of the lucky ones who actually had a Tesla solar roof installed. During my research for this article I read that installation has been halted. No official reason but the guess is a shortage of the solar glass tiles and a booming business in panel installs. Our roof is version 3 and an updated version 3.5 is being developed.

My conclusion is that there is resistance to new ideas. Only when early adopters, and like the Tesla cars they are consumers with more money, start to spend on a new idea does it become mainstream. When we first bought a Honda hybrid in 2002 the articles about the cars discouraged purchasing the new technology. No shops can repair them, never save in gas enough for the additional cost, technology not sufficiently proven. Yet the same writers thought nothing of recommending the latest expensive bells and whistles on non-hybrid cars. Paying for those fancy technologies were what they knew. Luckily the car buying public ignored them and the cars became popular. I suspect the same will happen with solar roofs.

Rear view solar roof
Rear view of our solar roof
Posted in -Chronological Recent Posts, Energy Efficiency, Green Building Interests, Roofing, Solar | Comments Off on Is the Tesla Roof Worth It?

I’m on the Radio!

I was advertising the Metro Denver Green Homes Tour. Our house is on the tour again this year. We had our house on the tour in 2017 when we were about halfway finished installing LEED requirements and attempting to earn points for the Platinum level certificate. This year we are again on the tour having earned enough points for Platinum certification and to achieve Net Zero status.

After our house was on the tour I became involved with the planning committee. I have been working to coordinate volunteers and provide the materials and information they need to be docents for the homes on the tour. They assist the homeowners to direct guests to the energy efficient features of the homes.

I was available for the interview spot on KLVZ radio 810 AM today. I spoke with Adam from Bestway Insulation who hosts the “Fixit” show, letting homeowners know about improving their homes. Adam’s mom, Debbie, alternates hosting the show on many Saturdays and is the owner of the Bestway Insulation company.

I downloaded the station app and recorded the show when it repeated today. Then it was not straightforward how to export the recording to a music file. I finally found the share button on the file and saved it as a wav file because I read it preserves the best qualuty audio. I imported the file into iTunes and had iTunes create the mpg for export to other players.

Now I just have to be ready for the volunteer orientation on Thursday and the tour next Saturday.

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Chaffee County Green Homes Tour

The woman who heads up the Metro Denver Green Homes Tour also works with organizations in Chaffee County to organize a green homes tour near Salida and Buena Vista. She recruits members of the Denver team to spend a beautiful weekend in the mountains helping with the tour and this is the second year Dave and I have taken the opportunity.

Beautiful view
Beautiful view

We have a lot of storage space in the RV and John Avenson puts together a fascinating display of various energy saving ideas for homeowners. We carried the supplies in the RV storage areas and inside. We were pretty full of stuff!

This display was set up at the Farmer’s Market in Salida this year and the individuals who attended the house tour stopped by to pick up the information about the tour addresses. This year we also had an online registration to sign up and get the addresses through tickets. It was a bit more difficult to get the information out using the program than we thought. But it helped to try it at the smaller tour before our big tour October 1st.

Booth at the farmer's market
Booth at the farmer’s market

There were five homes to tour this year. The brochure gave a little information about each home.

Handout front page
Handout front page
Handout back page
Handout back page

This was one of the homes that was featured this year.

A home on the tour
A home on the tour

About 85 people registered for the free tour. It was a beautiful day with several other events happening at the same time in the area. The team felt the tour was a success.

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Colorado Average Home Gas Use vs. Ours

We are getting ready for the Metro Denver Green Homes Tour on October 1st. Our home was on the tour in 2017. Since then we have finished the LEED certification as a Platinum Green and Net Zero home. So we are excited to be on the tour again this year.

One of the sustainability issues that has become more prominent in recent years is the greenhouse gas produced by household use of natural gas and propane. Although these fuels are more efficient than electricity for heat they contribute more to the atmospheric pollution than central electric that is produced with renewable energy. So many green homes are phasing out the use of gas.

My neighbor and fellow Green Home Tour committee member, John Avenson, had the gas turned off at his home several years ago when he reinsulated his home with layers of polyiso. He no longer needed gas and uses mini split heat pumps when his solar does not produce enough during inclement weather.

Of course I was not aware of this issue when I planned for heating our home and hot water. We also found a used gas range top for cooking although the oven is electric convection. We use a combination instant hot water heater and boiler and radiant system to supplement the solar heat in our house. But how much gas do we use compared to the average Colorado home?

I was able to find averages by month on the Colorado State University Extension website. Their figures were just for heating but my figures are for all our household uses including hot water and cooking. The data was published in 2019 so it is probably at least 4 years old but unless lots of homes have become more energy efficient they are probably close to today’s average use.

I keep a record of our monthly energy use downloaded from the xcel website. I get annoyed that they keep changing the data structure so I have to fill in my spreadsheets by hand from more than one source on the site. I suppose they think they are making it easier. Well, not for me!

I graphed the data in Excel and I was only mildly surprised to see that for the year we average about 26% of the average Colorado household use. Our house at 2213 square ft may be on the smaller side of average but 74% less use is pretty significant. Red is the Colorado average, blue is our use for 2021.

Gas Comparison to Average 2021
Gas Comparison to Average 2021

This is one of the signs I will print and laminate for our solar tour. I have solar roof first year data that I want to post too.

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Inverter Repair

On our last trip when we were almost home we tried to turn on the inverter and it was dead. We were dropping it off at the shop for repairs to the body from when we scraped the side on concrete posts at a dump. I just removed it along with lots of other supplies and equipment. I discovered that the fuse on the power cable was blown. When I picked it up the short cord that attached it to the inverter fell apart. No wonder the inverter stopped working.

Blown fuse
Blown fuse

I had a replacement fuse but I was concerned about the quality of my wire builds. I used a vice to crimp them but I read the best crimps are made with a hydraulic wire press. Since I love tools and I will need to check other crimps I decided to buy one. It is an amazing tool. I wish I had known about it when I made the original wires.

Hydraulic wire crimper
Hydraulic wire crimper
Hydraulic wire crimper dies
Hydraulic wire crimper dies

Each set of dies fits a different guage wire. The dies have to be matched to the correct size. I found that the dies also will compact the wires to fit a lug back on after it falls off. The press has a knob that opens the hydraulic piston and the handle is pumped until the lug is firmly clamped. The knob turned the other way releases the piston. The wire was properly crimped and shrink-wrapped.

I reassembled the inverter and installed it and it worked! Then I checked the monitoring equipment that all had to be updated. Thats the problem with electronics they always need attention.

I realized the wifi reporting Cerbo was disconnected. Power to the device was reading 9 volts instead of 12. I didn’t remember where the wire was connected but I followed it to the battery compartment and discovered a broken neutral. That was easily fixed but I used the wrong type of wire (solid not stranded) so I’ll have to replace it eventually.
In the endless procession of RV repairs and maintenance this one was relatively easy.

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Trombe Wall in September

The Trombe wall is too effective in the hot sunny days of September. The sun is lower in the sky so the overhang is not wide enough to shade the front.

Blinds stapled to overhang
Blinds stapled to overhang
Partial shade from overhang
Partial shade from overhang

Even opening the windows at night and using fans to bring in more cool air only cools this heat sink of a house a few degrees. I’m going to have to find a solution for this problem.

John Avenson a fellow Solar CitiSun in Colorado has installed automated rolling shutters similar to those in Germany. I bet that was an expensive solution but it works! I just needed a temporary solution since there are only a few hot days left. My son was discarding sets of plastic blinds so I used them.

First I took all the narrow blinds and cut off the mechanisms. I used these short vanes to cover the 2’ overhang just to see if they would work for this. I tried using the nail gun to attach them but the nails went right through so I switched to the staple gun. They seem to be a good cover even though 2 ft is not enough in September.

I hung the largest brown set of blinds from the log trim on the largest area, they are not quite long or wide enough but cover a good portion of the wall.

Blinds on the Trombe wall
Blinds on the Trombe wall

Then I ordered black patio door window curtains. But when they arrived I thought I would use them outside. Hanging them from the overhang created shade on the front door and Trombe wall. So I hung another blind from the overhang too. I had a broken shade from our old RV that also provided the needed shade. These shades will not work in high winds though!

Shade curtains and blinds
Shade curtains and blinds

Next year I may try roll up blinds that can be installed in front of the wall panels. All this is temporary and will be removed when it gets cool.

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A Sunday in Wuppertal

Dave noticed a site in Germany on Atlas Obscura, a website devoted to unusual places and experiences. Wurppertal features a hanging suspension train that was not too far away from Wurselen by trains. Clare researched the route and we decided to take a lovely Sunday to visit this interesting sight.

We started on a regional train near Wurselen and changed trains in Cologne. We passed the love lock bridge fence over the Rhine River. Another famous and interesting site. I heard it has to be stripped of the heavy locks periodically.

Rusty Cologne Love Locks
Rusty Cologne Love Locks

We hopped on another regional train at Cologne and arrived within a short walk of the first suspension station. On the way we could observe the train set up and action. The train is quite old. It was an invention at the turn of the 20th century looking for a place to be built. The cities near Wuppertal decided to volunteer. The area was one of the first industrialized area in Germany. The first part of the train was completed in 1902. The train and track recently underwent refurbishment.

Hanging train track
Hanging train track
Train going by
Train going by

We soon arrived at the station and awaited the next train.

Arriving at station
Arriving at station
In the station
In the station

The train arrives on the other side of the station and empties the passengers then makes a loop to the pick up side. Once it arrived we got a close up look at the rail and wheel system.

Train wheels on track
Train wheels on track

The track went down the city streets and even through a building, then for quite a long time over the small Wupper River, a tributary of the Rhine. We passed a Bayer plant where aspirin was invented.

Track through building
Track through building
Track over the river
Track over the river

We left the train at the historic city center and strolled through town to a lovely outdoor ice cream parlor with large red shady umbrellas over the tables.

Ice cream treats
Ice cream treats

After our treats we walked to the main train station and returned to Wurselen. It was a perfect Sunday outing. The sign shows the stops we made on the hanging train.

Our journey Wuppertal to Ohligsmuhle
Our journey Wuppertal to Ohligsmuhle
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New Home in Germany

We were home from Indiana for a week and then off to Wurselen, Germany to visit our daughter and family. They purchased a new home last fall but had a long wait until the sale was completed. It is not unusual in Germany to sell while building a new house and have the buyers wait until completion. The home they found was within walking distance of their old apartment. They wanted to stay in town where the kids were enrolled in the Gymnasium (5th-13th grade). They wanted to be able to walk to transportation and shops. Row houses are very popular in Germany. Most main streets are lined with them. Both the row houses and the long yards remind me of the homes on the South side of Chicago where I was born, the grandchild of German immigrants.

Typical German row homes
Typical German row homes
Long yard
Long yard

Many of these house are quite old but their house is newer, built in 1996. It has a certification as an energy saving home with solar panels on the roof, and high quality German windows. It even has an underground cistern in the backyard in case of water shortages.

End row house
End row house
Balconies and solar panels
Balconies and solar panels

German homes are quite different from those in the USA. There are a lot of brick exteriors and stone and tile interiors with very little hardwood or carpet. There are several floors and the entry floor is often not the main living area. Another desirable German home feature is automated metal outside shutters for the windows. They completely darken the room when desired.

German metal shutters
German metal shutters
Exterior shutters
Exterior shutters

The front entry is on the side of the house beside the driveway. It has a deep earth-bermed garage that could fit two cars front to back. There is an old school house next door and the area will be developed as a park although the fate of the school is not determined.

Front door at side of house
Front door at side of house
Old school next door park behind it
Old school next door with park behind it

Across from the school and parking lot there is an independent grocery store that is so convenient that the family often walks over to pick up supplies for dinner.

Grocery across from the old school
Grocery across from the old school

In this house the entry floor is a one bedroom mother in law apartment with a full bath, living room, kitchen and central dining room. Inside this entry are steps leading to the basement and the main floor.

Front entry door
Front entry door
Basement with three floors above
Steps from entry to main floor

The basement has several useful rooms. One has a small workbench, another is a utility room where my daughter has her office, another is an office for her husband. There is a nice size room for the musical instruments that insulates the sound from the house next door. Another large room is the laundry room.

Music room
Music room
Laundry room with door to outside steps to ground level
Laundry room with door to outside steps to ground level

The basement also has a complete bathroom with a shower, sink, toilet and infrared sauna that does not appear to be working.

Basement bath with sauna
Basement bath with sauna

Both kitchens are complete. Germans often take all their kitchen cabinets and appliances with them when they move. They also usually take the light fixtures. Although the older couple also left several pieces of furniture and a few light fixtures for the family, some pieces were also purchased from them.

Apartment kitchen
Apartment kitchen in entry
Updated kitchen
Updated first floor kitchen

The main floor consists of a living room, dining room with a powder room, and a large eat in kitchen. There are large windows in each room so the shared wall is not noticed. In the corner is a specially built “Russian” fireplace. These are constructed with a labyrinth of chimney and heat sink surround that will fire up with a roaring blaze then bank for a long time behind the corner glass door.

Natural light from large window/door to balcony
Natural light from large window/door to balcony
Russian fireplace holds heat
Russian fireplace holds heat

On the third floor there are three bedrooms and a large bathroom. The floating vanity does not provide much storage so they found a modern cabinet that fits perfectly next to the shower. All the bathrooms have the same tile and tile trim. Another unusual feature is that all the bedroom doors have windows. This helps bring natural light into the interior hallway.

New cabinet perfect fit
New cabinet perfect fit
Interior doors with windows
Interior doors with windows

The largest garden house has cabinets and built in seating inside for entertainment. There is a covered patio outside. There are three other sheds in the yard and several large woodsheds. The owners had prepared for multiple winters before they decided to move so most of the firewood sheds are full. The large brick chimney in the background is attached to an abandoned factory that is due to be torn down and replaced with new homes.

Garden house for entertaining
Garden house for entertaining
Three stocked firewood sheds
Three stocked firewood sheds

During this visit the family was all working and attending school. So we spent our time enjoying the yard and the neighborhood and accomplishing a few little helpful projects. I installed magnetic screens on a couple of windows and fixed a stained glass light that needed one socket reconnected. I tested another light to be sure it was operating before they tried to hang it. I also laced some vinyl strips into the fence at the rear of the property. They wanted every other row of the wire fence covered for privacy from the park area. The fencing is sturdy wire on a concrete base with bolted uprights. It is a common type of fence there. I completed the whole area of fencing with three rows of vinyl. The building behind the birdbath is one of the garden houses.

Fixed light fixture
Fixed light fixture
Vinyl strips in fence
Vinyl strips in fence

We are happy for the family having such a nice place for the kids to finish their schooling and enjoy family times together. Getting such a large house with plenty of guest space was very thoughtful of them. We love visiting and seeing the changes in our growing grandchildren.

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The ”Region”

I was born in Chicago but grew up in Northern Indiana near the steel mills and oil refineries. The area was known as the Calumet region (near the Little Calumet River) and shortened to the ”Region” in the rest of the state. We were considered tough and worldly wise but our town of Highland was far from that. A couple of my cousins and my brother still live in the general area. So it was a good place to stop for a visit.
We happened to be there during an all class high school reunion and my cousin and I attended. Most of the classmates there had stayed in the area. My class of 1970 missed its 50 year reunion twice due to Covid but not many made it to this one. I was disappointed but the evening was in the high 90’s and 80% humidity and several locals understandably stayed home.

We had a break from camper living and stayed in the air conditioned house. Only had one morning to enjoy the patio when it was a little cooler.

Enjoying my cousin’s hospitality
Enjoying my cousin’s hospitality

We had a wonderful time visiting my cousin and her husband and getting together with my brother and sister-in-law for cookouts and dinners out.

My cousin took me to the Veteren’s Memorial in Munster to see the brick my sister placed for my dad. She and my other cousin also ordered them.

Memorial brick at the Munster Veterans Park
Memorial brick at the Munster Veterans Park

We had the rest of week three planned for another reunion. I went to high school for two years with a very small group of girls. Our school was so small it closed after our sophomore year. But we had strong ties to those memories and two of us traveled to camp near a few of the others at Cedar Lake. We tried to entice more of our classmates to join us but though that didn’t happen we had five of us. We thoroughly enjoyed a nice dinner at a Cedar Lake restaurant and a cookout at a lovely Crown Point farmstead built by one of the families.

Cedar Lake sunset at The Lighthouse Restaurant
Cedar Lake sunset at The Lighthouse Restaurant

Fortunately the hot and humid weather finally broke and we could sit outside comfortably. For some of us it had been 54 years since we had been together and it felt like yesterday. What an amazing thing time and life changing memories are.

Five out of twelve classmates
Five out of twelve classmates

We were gone quite a while and we missed our grandkids so we hurried home. We were on the road 11 hours the first day and 7 the next. I love travel in the RV.

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Indiana Hot

We had a lovely time visiting Indiana for three weeks and timed it perfectly for some very hot and humid weather. We drove the RV and stayed with friends and visited others first in Spencer. We were able to camp at a friends’ pond and picnic shelter site. Prettier and more comfortable than any campground.

Best campsite ever
Best campsite ever

We took several days to drive out camping twice in Kansas not far off the highway.

A Kansas campsite
A Kansas campsite
On our way in Kansas
On our way in Kansas

We met friends near Kansas City and stayed in my second cousin’s driveway near St Louis one night enjoying their company.
In Spencer we partied with friends and grown kids and grandkids! The families all doing well and so much fun to see the kids and kids of kids. And the greenhouse and truck farm business of some of these kids is thriving.

Harriman’s Greenhouse
Harriman’s Greenhouse

Our Spencer campsite came with this gorgeous sunset after a taco birthday party at the shelter. We also got to see a few fireflies.

Sunset in Spencer
Sunset in Spencer

We stopped by to see the changes made by the new owners of our homestead. They removed the brick wall and cookstove to install a much bigger EPA approved stove to heat the house.

Changes at our old homestead
Changes at our old homestead

We also visited a dear friend of many years and relaxed at her country estate in Bloomington. Then visited our friends in southern Monroe County who have purchased a home closer to their grandkids and will be selling their 40 years of building their beautiful homestead. They also took us to see the new house with all its renovations and we spent a last night with them at the old place

Our friends homestead about to be sold too
Our friends homestead about to be sold too

We spent a week in Owen County then were on our way up north to visit relatives.

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Difficult Offset Toilet Drain Repair

When we decided to insulate the knee wall on the east side of the remodel the toilet drain ended up too close to the wall. Unfortunately the type of offset fitting I bought was a ”bowl” type instead of an angled drain.

Bowl type offset with plastic flange
Bowl type offset with plastic flange
Slant type offset with stainless steel flange
Slant type offset with stainless steel flange

The problems with this offset were the plastic flange that first cracked and eventually broke off and the huge oval opening that I tried to cover with a new flange.

Bowl type elongated opening.
Bowl type elongated opening.
Another plastic flange
Another plastic flange

I had several plastic flanges for some reason and a bigger brass flange that I screwed to the original plastic flange during a previous repair. That one was too large and I couldn’t drill holes in the porcelain tile with my masonry bit. Even after adding mortar at the floor level the gap was still too large to screw down the flange. I did not know how to seal the flange to the pipe below either. The next step had to be removing the old flange fitting.

Fill in with mud bed mortar
Fill in with mud bed mortar
Old bowl type released more easily than expected
Old bowl type released more easily than expected

I cut the edge of the flange off completely with the multtool. Then I only had to cut out two sections and the fitting popped out. I cut the sections with both the multitool and the reciprocating saw with fine toothed blades. Then I used a hammer and chisel to split them off the inside pipe.

Once the fitting came out I vacuumed out the debris and prepared for the new fitting. I scrubbed the inside of the pipe with a gray abrasive 3m pad and sanded with wet/dry sand paper. When I placed the new fitting, the gap was still too large to screw into for the new stainless steel ring so I mixed up more mortar.

Not enough to provide underpinning for flange
Not enough surface to provide underpinning for flange
Mixing more mortar
Mixing more mortar

I found that a jar from a medicine I take fit perfectly in the drain hole. I filled in the gap but ran out of mortar before the top level and had to mix more.
It’s tricky to mix just enough mortar. I could have had another scoop to level the top but there is enough here to hold screws.

Not quite full
Not quite full
Gap filled
Gap filled

The trick was to keep the jar loose enough that it will pull out when the mortar is semi-dry. I did this by rotating the jar a little. Eventually I just pulled it out though I had to whack it with a hammer to loosen it from the damp mortar. It was a good decision to remove it because there was not enough space for the slant of the fixture and I had to carve away the front of the filled mortar. It took several fittings to get a close fit and then I leveled the flange and screwed it down. Notice the gold rag sealing out sewer smells while I worked.

Using shims to level
Using shims to level
Nicely leveled
Nicely leveled

I decided not to use a wax seal. They require an accurate placement of the toilet. When the toilet is moved around to contact the bolts the wax squishes unevenly. I ordered a Sani seal foam rubber seal instead. This is the gasket I used on all the toilets but after they are crushed into place over time they also cannot be reused. The last time I fixed this toilet I could not find one so had to use wax. They make such a mess and it was skewed and probably leaking when I removed it.

Sani seal toilet gasket
Sani seal toilet gasket

I had to use shims under the flange because when I glued the fitting it stopped before the flange hit the floor. I must not have carved out enough mortar. It was after 5 when the ring was shimmed and ready for the toilet. The flange was still within a half inch of the floor so I thought the toilet would still sit on the floor.

Even without water in it the toilet is heavy. I half dragged it over to the flange and lifted it on the bolts which were in the right place. I had used a set off washers and nuts to keep them secure while I mounted the toilet.

Unfortunately there was no obvious rag plugging the pipe at this point. I may have pushed it further down the pipe when I vacuumed. The toilet sat higher than I wanted but the floor is really out of level so I leveled the toilet with more shims.

Leveling front to back
Leveling front to back
Level side to side
Level side to side

I reconnected the water and flushed and thought, ”Oh no! Did I leave the rag in the pipe?” I looked around and the rag was not in the bathroom.

I notice it’s not a good idea to keep working after 5 when I’m physically and mentally tired. That’s when I cut my thumb on the table saw. It was after 5 with one more task before I wanted to quit. The thumb is healed except for the loss of feeling at the tip. It has a hard area under the scar that should go away in a few months.

Flange ready for toilet
Flange ready for toilet

I removed the toilet and tried to reach for the rag. Then I unfolded a wire hanger to reach further with no luck. I next tried attaching a fishing pole with a triple hook to hopefully snag the rag. No luck. Then I tried the snake and then the snake with the fishing pole. Still no luck. Should I call the sewer guys back?

Instead I ordered a 50 ft. endoscope. The ones that use wifi to display on the phone are not too expensive. I chose overnight shipping. So the next day I looked down the pipe. I had to tie the camera to the snake to push it far enough into the pipe. It still got hung up at the Y that joins the main pipe. I stopped working on the pipe to take the RV in for an oil change and the air conditioner repair but I realized that I used the same pipe when I took a shower. And Dave had been using main pipe without problems when he used the back bathroom. So if the rag was in there maybe it made its way to the septic tank!

After another day of getting ready for an RV trip I finally got back to the toilet install. I took out the tapcon screws and re-shimmed the flange to get it more even instead of level. Then I dragged the toilet back and lifted it over the bolts with the good as new rubber seal in place and definitely no other rag in the pipe.

After careful shimming to level again front to back and side to side the bolts were tightened. Now there is a reset toilet that is not rocking and leaking sewer gas into the house. And it appears to flush just fine. I still have to caulk it but I ran out of time. The caulk will wait until we get back from our trip.

Toilet reset
Toilet reset
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Mending Chair Seats

Kids can be inadvertently destructive. My grandson jumped hard on the Old Hickory antique couch and one section of the underlying webbing broke. Some of the other webbing was already damaged. I emailed the Old Hickory factory to ask how to repair the couch and they promptly sent me the instructions to mend the webbing. The material is rawhide that needs to be soaked in water to become pliable and dries to a stiff support system to hold the cushions. When wet it is wrapped around the frame in this order.

Old Hickory rawhide weave
Old Hickory rawhide weave

In addition to the broken section there were other sections missing just a cross piece or two. I wove small sections to make these repairs.

Rawhide leather soaked in water
Rawhide leather soaked in water
Partial repair
Partial repair

After the couch was repaired I had lots of leftover rawhide that I’m assuming I can soak again to reuse.

Repaired couch
Repaired couch

The kitchen chairs were also in various stages of disrepair. The kids like to pick at loose weaving and a couple of the chairs could no longer hold an adult. I tore off the worst seats before I thought to take a photo. The third seat was not as badly damaged but I replaced it anyway. After tearing off the seat which was stuffed with old Denver Posts, I cut 11/32 in plywood for new seat cushions. I tacked it on the wood rails with the trim nail gun.

Seat damaged
Seat damaged
Reed replaced with plywood
Reed replaced with plywood

A few years ago I bought a roll of outdoor material from a Craigslist ad. I used it to sew a new curtain in the old RV. It is light brown, my go-to color for decorating, and it has a nice heavy weight for upholstery.

Upholstery material
Upholstery material
Laying on the material
Laying on the material

On top of the plywood I used foam from a bed topper. I found that this high density foam was the same density as chair cushion foam so the bed topper was less expensive and I have most of it left over. On top of the chair foam there is a thick layer of poly batting. I purchased the batting at JoAnne’s. I used spray adhesive to attach the foam to the plywood and the batting to the foam. This is recommended in the instructional videos posted by Sailrite, the manufacturer of my walking foot heavy duty sewing machine. The material is stretched across the bottom and one staple is placed in the middle of each side. Then the corners were cut out to fold over and reach around the corner posts in the chair. After the corners are stretched and in place, the rest of the material is stretched tightly and stapled.

Stretching and stapling the batting and material
Stretching and stapling the batting and material
Material stapled and trimmed
Material stapled and trimmed

Somewhere I read that weed block material is a good substitute for the black material used to finish the underside of upholstery. I had some left from another project. The hard part was ironing out the wrinkles. The material is plastic and needs a cool iron and it holds the moisture from the steam. Most of the wrinkles came out anyway.

Stapled lining
Stapled lining
Finished chair
Finished chair

There are six Old Hickory chairs in the dining room. Four are this style and two have a different back. One of these had been newly re-woven when I bought them. I could not bring myself to tear off the good seat even though one piece had been picked away. My grandchildren cannot help themselves if there is a loose end. So I only recovered three chairs. The two with different backs have intact seats although old weaving.

Finished chairs
Finished chairs

I ordered Scotchguard for outdoor furniture and applied it to the seats. The material darkened a little bit but spills should bead up and not stain the new covers. I’m tempted to reupholster the backs too. Or maybe I’ll weave new backs someday.

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