Thursday, December 31, 2015

Runnin' On Jumper Cables, In Bear Feet.

   Bit of a cold-snap going on right now, this last day of 2015, but I was all prepared for sub-zero temperatures.  Loosing the power in the cold is a big worry, and I try and cover all my bases as best I can to avoid or limit the possibility. I've fixed more broken pipes and stuff around here than I can remember, and climbed the mountain enough times to chip ice from the notorious screens in the intake-pond, or weld up a broken penstock to last a life-time. I always strive to just enjoy the cold weather inside with my feet up in front of the fire, but for some perverse reason, no matter how ready you are, some goddamn gremlin throws a monkey-wrench into things. 
  I snuggled into my cozy bed last night, with a two cat foot-warmer, and drifted off to a wonderful sleep. For about an hour, when I jerked up in bed realizing the power had just gone off. I can't just lay there, I got to go do something. So I get enough clothes on to go outside and my parka on and a flashlight and off I head once again, for the generator shed. It was a beautiful clear night, the stars and moon were really something. Regardless, I'd a just a soon been back in bed, and this fact was brought home when I stepped onto the road out behind and got that cold north wind square in the face, and all the time I'm half expecting to get jumped on by the cougar or chased down by a wolf-pack or something.
   The pelton-wheel had shut it's self down, but there is plenty of water flowing so the problem wasn't with the screens up the mountain, not this time, but electrical. I thought, oh sh*t, the coldest night of the year and more on the way, a fried electrical part or otherwise buggered little doo-dad could shut me down for some time,  and being New-Years eve before the week-end, it will be another 4 days before any suppliers open up again. I was sure hoping it was something that I was going to be able to fix, and quick. I'll save you the whole story, but the problem turned out to be a 'link', or a connection of one of the main power cables in the generator, which developed a crack from vibration and had broken. Why it picked the coldest night of the year to this, I'll never know, and at this hour of the night my language was just atrocious as you can imagine, and catching my boot on a stick and doing that face-plant into the snow didn't goddamn help any.
I needed to get the electricity going before things froze up, get the shop lit up and power-tools working and have a closer look at this after a nice warm sleep. I stared at it for the longest time...then ran back over to the house (remember the stick/faceplant episode??) and getting the jumper-cables out of my pickup and clipping them between and completing the generator 240 volt connection.
It was kind of haywire I admit, but it got me going again, so I headed back over to the Lodge.
   It was after three in the morning by then, it was bloody cold, and I was looking forward to tucking my feet down between them cats at the end of my bed once again, and do some more figuring on this whole turn of events in the morning after a nice breakfast. Back at the the house I checked on things around and find the hot-tub is not working. There must have been some voltage issue or whatever who the hell knows, and has blown one of its many fuses. Again, I can't just leave it, I have to do some goddamn thing, fix it, or drain it, or its going to be froze by morning. My trying to fix-it attempt with a volt-meter was short lived, and climbing under there draining the tub, pump, lines and removing the filter I could have done without. 
   Finally, I get back in my bed. Until just about when it started to get light, my slumber broken when the bedside radio goes off, a sure sign of electrical system unhappiness. Sure as hell, the power meter on the relay panel is swinging wildly. So I run over there again to find that the jumper-cable temporary fix is working fine, but the other hi-voltage line from the generator has burnt it's connection off. Holy sh*t..., so I thought I was hard done by out here with one buggered connection, now I have two to deal with. I hooked the other jumper-cable across the connection and turned on the water and fired it up. So now the whole Lodge here, including the shop, guest cabin, and the hot spring caretaker's cabin were all being run by a set of Canadian Tire automotive jumper-cables.
(For readers outside of Canada, Canadian Tire is a retail chain popular with us Canadians.) 

I headed back over to the generator shed after breakfast to see what I could do about my predicament.

My jumper-cable repair from the night before, but it was working.

I got to work out in the shop and fabricated some new hi-voltage links. I found a piece of aluminium around and cut some strips out, drilling them, bending them, tapping threaded holes, and they might be better than what was originally in there.
Back out at the generator, my custom, in-the-bush made connections worked great.
Its good to be handy at sh*t if you want to live off the grid.

Now I had some time on my hands, and before the sun went behind the mountain I took one last trip this year down to the hot spring campsite to see what was going on.

I was surprised there was only a couple outfits camped. It was mid-day, so I'm sure there will be more on the way this afternoon for New Years Eve at the hot spring.

Brrr, time to head back and enjoy the electricity, especially the baseboard heaters.

Despite the gremlins, I did finally get a little quiet time in, lighting a fire, opening a book, and kicking back in front of the stove in my bear feet.
Happy New Year from the staff and cats at Hotspringlodge.

1 comment:

  1. Things seem to go wrong at the coldest time? It looks like you need to trim your toe nails. Casey