Tag Archives: Lewis projects

Ham Radio Tower Progress Report – July 21, 2017

Last night my husband attached the 1st section of the tower to the base plate on the pad we made. You can see that there is a base plate on the bottom of the section that is now bolted to the base plate on the concrete form. This is so you can lay the whole tower down if needed.

He’s going to put the 4 ten-foot sections together on the ground, add the antenna propped up on a pole, and pound stakes in on three sides for guy wires. Once the whole thing is together and cabled, he can test it to make sure all is working as it should. Then our good friend, Dave, will bring over his equipment to pull the tower up into place and we can tie the guy wires to the stakes.



This is a better picture of the base plate on the bottom of the 1st section. There will be another bolt to hold the base plate to the concrete when the tower goes up. There are four sections of the tower, each 10 feet tall, plus the antenna, which is square – 9 feet on each side.  The whole tower is about 45 feet tall.

This will all take some time, and I’m fighting with my husband about trying to do too much at one time in the sun. I’ll take progress pictures as we work.


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Ham Radio Tower Base – Take 1

Our friend, Foy Brown, is helping us get a hole large and deep enough to put stakes and grout slurry in for the base of the 45 foot ham radio tower we bought recently.

He has a compressor and a rock drill, but when I went out there to check on them, they were using all kinds of shovels, picks, pick axes, etc. They THINK they can get the hole deep enough, though it’s one rock after another, making them fight for every inch.


Foy said, “Don’t take our picture sitting on our butts in the hole.” :0)  My husband is sitting on the form they’re going to put into the ground when they can get the hole deep enough.

You can see how close the tower is going to be to my greenhouse. I’m not happy about that, but the tower needs to be at the highest point of our land 60 feet away from the closest power pole, and this was the spot. If my husband had found the tower first, my greenhouse would probably have not been built…

The tower will have strong guy wires attached to stakes going into the ground, so we would have to have catastrophic weather to cause the tower to fall on my greenhouse. If we have super bad weather, it’s more likely my greenhouse will lift up and try to wrap itself around the tower.

Since it’s hot outside, rather than overcast as we had hoped, I’m checking on them every half hour or so, bringing cold water and babbling at them so they have to rest a bit.

If we can get the form into the ground, the next step will be buying lots of bags of sac-crete to mix up in our wheelbarrow to fill the form.

More pics to follow as progress is made.

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Metal Wall Hanging Progress

I finished the basic color blocking yesterday and then started on the LOTS of shading needed on the piece.  The size is about 3 feet across by 2+ feet from top to bottom.


Here it is with the moon attached. I did a lot more shading this afternoon, but will wait until tomorrow to take more pictures.

I took Amber out to the shop with me, but she was finding a LOT to eat that she shouldn’t. I spent more time taking things out of her mouth and trying to find ‘safe’ things she could chew on, but she wouldn’t settle. I ended up taking her back to the porch and then going back out to do some work on the piece.

I have no confidence that what I’m doing is going to work. I’ll just keep on keepin’ on and hope for the best.

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I Know it’s Summer, But…

Huffington Post

According to the Heat Index Chart I have on my computer, it feels like 121 degrees F. outside right now. Needless to say, I’m typing at my computer instead of spending a lot of time out there.

I told you that we had a couple of things we had to figure out (the hard way) the other day – the hole for our ham radio tower and our riding lawnmower quitting suddenly.

  • My husband went out again this morning to attack the area he wants the hole for the tower. This time he was able to make a bit more progress, breaking up rock with the shovel. We’re waiting, at this point, for our good friend, Foy, to come with his compressor and rock drill to help us make real progress.
  • We figured out that we needed a new belt for the riding mower. We got one this morning. My husband installed it, and we were able to get the rest of the lawn mowed. The key to remember is when you’re bringing the blades up, move the lever S L O W L Y so it doesn’t throw the belt off.
  • I’ve been trying to learn how to cool off my new greenhouse so that I – and my plants – don’t burn up out there. I’ve read a tone of things, and there is fabric shade, more ventilation, and adding humidity – but the main thing I’ve come away with – living in Arkansas – is that the summer will be my season off to plan, organize, gather materials, etc., rather than to actually try to plant anything in the greenhouse. I’ll use it to start my fall plants and mainly my spring plants. So I’ll switch my thinking, quit trying to do the impossible, and start reading up on when to start seeds for my fall garden.
  • I have learned that there is no easy way to empty and clean Amber’s kiddie pool. The best I’ve come up with, so I don’t completely soak my shoes, socks, and pant legs, is to put on my husband’s big waterproof boots, bring out the car washing broom and the Simple Green, and have at it.

At least we’re making progress on how to – or whether to – attack each problem…

Going out to paint on our new metal wall hanging now!

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New Metal Piece

This is the latest piece we’re trying to make in the shop.

My husband has done his part, cutting out the pieces (he cut the moon out separately so that it could be mounted above the rest, making a bit of a 3-D effect), and adding a hanger.

Now it’s my turn. I’m intimidated by this one, because of all the shading. I’m concentrating on doing just the color blocking right now, and then will take a lot of time trying to study the piece on my computer for the intricate shading.

I just hope I can do a reasonable job on it.

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We’ll Just Find a Way

Abraham Lincoln – Zen to Zany via Cathy Ruggiero


We’re ‘finding a way’ on several things around here lately.

  1. We’re trying to dig a hole to act as a base for my husband’s new-to-him 45 foot+ ham radio tower and antenna. He’s called all around trying to find someone who will drill a hole for us. We had someone give us an estimate of $1500! Someone else came over and told us they couldn’t get their equipment to the place we need the hole.

Finally, we called an acquaintance of ours who has helped us do weird things in the past. He’s going to bring over an air powered rock drill that takes a big compressor to run it to drill several holes as deeply as we can through our rock in a 3×3′ group. We’ll put 3 foot stakes at different angles into the holes and then put grout the consistency of slurry in the holes to hold the stakes and our pipe where they are. My husband built a 3′ x 3′ box form for concrete.  When we get that over the pipe and stakes, we’ll start mixing sac-crete in our wheelbarrow and fill up the form. We figure about 20 sacs of sac-crete if each one makes 1 cubic foot of concrete.

Today, my husband went out with a shovel to start the hole for the drilling. He wanted to get the dirt out down to where the rock started. He soon came back to get a pick axe. He swung that twice and was done.

He then decided that at least he could mow the high weeds that would clear a path for the dig-the-holes project. He got that mostly done, but the riding mower was complaining when he was almost finished. We took it back to the shop to discover it had thrown a belt. My husband got that back on.

I was going to take the mower out again to mow the yard. I got to the spot where I wanted to start mowing, but when I pushed the lever forward to engage the blades, the motor started making a bad noise. We ended up pushing it back to the shop to be looked at later.

2. So now we have to ‘find a way’ to get the riding mower working again.

It makes me a bit afraid to start anything else….


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New Work



My husband found this design on the net and we both liked it. I found the source, but not the name of the artist.  We both liked it a lot and we’re in the process of trying to make it.

My husband used the CNC table and the computerized torch to cut this out. The piece is about 3-1/2 feet wide and about 2 feet from top to bottom.  The piece is so much work for the torch that it overheated. We had to stop the cutting process and wait for the torch to cool down, and then start it up again, fingers crossed it would remember where it was in the design. Thankfully, it did. My husband still ended up having to cut out parts of it by hand.

He made the blue moon separately so that we could mount it on a spacer. We’ll attach it to the main piece through the back with a screw to give the piece more of a 3-dimensional quality.

I marked the metal yesterday.

If we can get our a/c fixed today, I’ll start the painting soon.

This will be a really difficult piece to paint. There is a LOT of great shading on the piece, making the sun look 3-D, for example, and the rays look curled up and wavy. I’ll give it my best shot.

This is the first piece we’ve seen in quite a while that got us excited about cutting out and making something.  If it turns out all right, we plan to hang it on the wall in our office.

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Greenhouse Progress




Welcome to the greenhouse!  We have a door and an inside and outside now.  Come in!


This is the exhaust fan end of the building. As you can see, there is a lot of work to be done to stretch and staple the film on.  The plans we got say, essentially, ‘wad it up and staple it.”


This is the outside. You can see we need to gather up excess film. I plan to fold up the largest pieces to hopefully use if we need repairs.  We also need to get rid of the excess black weed barrier sheet on the exhaust fan end.


We cut 4×8 sheets of plywood lengthwise to make 8 x 2 foot ‘tables.’ We also cut up two of these to make the tables 12 feet long. We put 2×4 on the edges underneath to keep the tables from sagging in the middle. We put the plywood on sawhorses.


We’re really amazed at how sturdy everything is. It’s not all completely level, but life is never perfect. You can see the mounted exhaust fan in this picture. We’ll add some electricity to the greenhouse and a thermostat so that the fan comes on to air things out when it gets too hot inside.


Here you can see the opposite side table. It’s a nice “U” shaped space with storage for tall stuff in the corner and lots of place to put things underneath the tables. I’ll have a wonderful amount of space to grow seeds in their various stages until they’re planted either in the square foot garden, the tomato planters, or in the flower planters.

We worked on the film on the exhaust fan end this morning. I’ll take more pics today to show you.


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The Greenhouse is Coming Together!

You are looking on the latch to the new door to the greenhouse!


We got one doorway up and the other doorway that will actually hold the exhaust fan up, but not finished yesterday and last night. There is an ‘inside’ and an ‘outside’ now!

Since we were working around rain showers, I spent a lot of my time sweeping the water off the black weed barrier. It had accumulated in large puddles. It’s raining even harder today. My husband is out in the shop doing ‘something,’ while I used the rain to do two loads of laundry, get a chicken chili in the crock pot for dinner, put sausage balls in the oven for our lunches, and cut up some leftovers to add some extra goodness to Molly’s dinners this week.


This is the doorway on which we’ll add diagonals and then horizontal pieces to hold the exhaust fan. We got a thermostat control for it, so we can control when the fan goes on and off.


I’m excited. When we finish the 2nd doorway, I think it’ll be time to think about how to tackle the issue of putting the film on the greenhouse. We’re using one sheet that goes over the whole thing at once. We’ll use 19″ strips of wood, wrap the film around them, and then screw them into the wood foundation on one side, and then stretch it over the greenhouse to the other side. I have no clue what we’ll do about the ends of the greenhouse…

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Last Night’s Progress on Greenhouse

After installing two pvc straps for each rib of the skeleton during the day yesterday and painting the pvc pipe to keep it from giving off fumes in the sun that deteriorate the film we’re going to use, we got the skeleton up right before dark!


I wasn’t sure how difficult it would be to put the pvc pipe skeleton up, but I stood in the middle, holding the skeleton up as high as I could while my husband took the ribs one at a time and slipped them into the straps on one side of the greenhouse. Then it was easier to get them in on the other side. We then went all the way around, tightening the screws that held the pvc straps.


We’ve put in one session out there today, working on installing the door at one end. We decided to take a break, and then the rain started. When we have a chance to catch our breaths and the rain stops, we’ll do another session. It’s starting to come together!

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Greenhouse Progress – Friday

Yesterday we put the 10 foot pieces of pvc pipe onto the ‘spine’ we had made previously.  Today we went to Yeagers and got 1 x 2’s and 1 x 4 x 12’s and a paint brush. When we got home from Lunch Bunch, I started painting the pvc pipes and connections while my husband created my door!

The film people warned us that if we just used the film and the pvc pipe, the fumes from the pvc in the sun would cause the film to deteriorate. My husband scoffed, but I took them seriously. They said that if we painted the pvc pipe with latex paint, it would solve the problem.

I spent 3 hours (2 sessions) out in the hot sun painting the white pvc pipe beige. It didn’t matter what color we chose. Apparently the latex paint barrier stops whatever the chemical reaction is between the pvc stuff and the film. I got really hot and tired, but I finally got two coats of paint on the side of the pvc pipe that will touch the film.


Here you can see the pvc pipes coming out of either side of the spine. This is what I was painting today. UGH.


Here’s another view of it. After I cooled off some, my husband was raring to go again, this time wanting to screw on the pvc pipe straps on the outside edge of the foundation on the 1×2’s my husband screwed on there earlier. We put two straps on for each end of the pvc pipe, screwed in loosely, until the ‘great pvc pipe raising’ we’ll do later this evening when the sun goes down some. I’m picturing standing the pvc pipe on end, one of us holding the pipe complex while the other one puts the end of the pipe in the straps and then tightens the screws. When one side is in, then the other side should go in more easily, with our bending the pipes down to go into the straps. Wish us luck, please.

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Greenhouse Progress – Thursday, June 1st

Last time I showed you where our wonderful tractor guy, Eric, cleared some land for our proposed greenhouse.


This is the foundation of the greenhouse. It will be 12 feet wide x 14 feet long. You’re looking at it from the west, looking east.  We put down two sheets of black 4 mil plastic sheeting that we hope will keep the weeds from growing. This will be the floor of the greenhouse. When we get a bit farther, we’ll put rocks and bricks around the bottom to hold the sheeting in place better.


My husband made four of these stakes. The pipe is solid and 2 feet long. Then he welded on heavy angle iron, and then drilled a gazillion holes so that we could attach the foundation wood at whatever level needed for the structure to be as level as possible. Since the piece of land isn’t flat, and we run into solid rock at different depths for each stake, this is quite a process. We drilled as deeply as we could, then poured some water in the hole, and then used a sledge hammer to get the stakes in. Then we screwed the wood to the stakes after leveling it and making sure the corners were square.


This is another view.


This picture is taken from the south, looking north. We’re going to put the door on the north end and an exhaust fan on the south end.

We’ve had two sessions of work today, although we don’t have a lot to show for it, picture-wise.

We bought a sheet of plywood, lots of 2x4s, and lots of pvc pipes and fittings today. When we got home, we took it all out to the shop and cut it all up into the lengths we needed for the greenhouse. We cut the plywood sheet into strips 8 inches wide. We’re going to screw these pieces to the inside of the foundation wood you see here so we’ll have wood to the ground all around.

We made the ‘spine’ of the greenhouse that will go along the top of the oval we’ll make with the pvc pipe. We’ll attach 10 foot sections to the spine, bend them and attach them with straps along the outside perimeter of the greenhouse.

After we cut the pieces, we put it all in the truck again and carted it to the work site. My husband was wearing shorts and we have lots of briars out there, so I emptied the truck, putting things in piles around the foundation.

We rested, and then a wind came up and rain threatened, so we rushed out to the site and I started moving the stuff I had put in piles onto the black sheeting to keep it from blowing away. Everything is battened down now, but – BOY! – did I get my exercise for the day with all the pulling and hauling of supplies!

Things have calmed down outside now. I’m not sure if we’ll try to do another work session tonight before it gets dark or not. I can tell you that I should sleep well tonight…


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Bird Bath – Almost There

Plumbing is a LOT more complicated than it might seem. After having the hummingbird bird bath together and apart again several times now, fighting leaks, we THINK it’s a go this time. I’m not feeling ANY moisture on the bottom side of the tub. The timer came on as scheduled and the little waterfall was making its pretty noise this morning.


I’m going to check it one more time and then will start putting in decorations that I hope will make the hummingbirds happy when they arrive.

I’ll take more pics later today.


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Hummingbird Bird Bath – Try # 4

They say, “The third time’s the charm.” Apparently, we didn’t get the memo because we’re on “TRY # 4” to get the plumbing on the hummingbird bath not to leak. We got it back together again, hooked it up and ran it for awhile, only to find ANOTHER place water was seeping out. I logged about 7,100 steps on my pedometer yesterday with all the back and forth to the shop yesterday working on it.

We took that apart and put pipe dope on it and stuck it together again. We turned the water on again and didn’t see any leaks this time. We were going to check it again in half an hour, but then it started to rain. Until everything is dry again, we won’t know if we’ve been successful this time or not.

I’ve taken all the decoration out of the tub twice thus far. I’m not going to put anything in there until we’re sure we have the leak problem fixed. (I did get some nice-looking greenery to add at the store yesterday :0) )

Here is how the system looks now, as we test the plumbing –


If all goes well, I’ll plan to add decorations to the tub tomorrow. I’ll take pics when the decorations are in. Meanwhile, we hung up a feeder in case we have any hungry hummers in our area.

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The Hummingbird Bird Bath is Finished!

The actual hummingbird bath is now finished. I’ll add plants on either side of the bath on the railings, plus a basket of flowers for the table, hummingbird feeder hanging above somewhere, etc., but the main project is finished.


I gathered things from around the house to put into the bath – a ceramic bath tub with a lady in it, three glass hummingbird feeders that were prettier than they were practical, shells, a frog, some aquarium decorations, some rocks, and some bricks – both for the decorations and in the middle for the hummingbirds to stand on, if they wish.


Here you can see the ‘stuff’ I’m hoping the hummingbirds will like. I can see myself changing things from time to time, which will be half the fun of the bird bath!

I LOVE the sound of the water. I really hadn’t thought of that, and I find it very appealing and relaxing. Between that, and the wind chimes from the back porch, it will make a great spot for us most of the year.

When the hummers come, I’m hoping they really like it. I’ll try to get some pics if they do.




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Phase 2 – Hummingbird Bird Bath Project

We finished the plumbing part of the hummingbird bird bath project today!  We had ‘gooed’ the drain pipe fitting last night and let it dry for 24 hours. We had to cut another hole in the bucket lid to accommodate the pipe coming from the bottom of the tub in a straighter fashion.  This set up will allow the bird bath to sit quietly when the pump is not on. When the pump IS on, the water recirculates from the tub, down into the bucket and back. The only water we’ll need to replace is from evaporation from time to time. We’ll put a timer between the pump and the electrical hookup so the water will be on in daylight and off at night.


Here we have the water on, making a kind of waterfall for the hummers.  The place we ‘gooed’ last night is good. We still had some drips from the place where we attach the pvc pipe to the side of the tub. Tightening the screws more got rid of the leaks. A happy thing we didn’t expect was the NICE sound the ‘waterfall’ makes!


Here’s a close up of the basic tub and waterfall.

Phase 3 will be gathering ‘stuff’ to put in the tub – greenery, rocks, bricks, fun decorations, etc. I’ll take pics again when I’ve gotten the decorating started.

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