Dad’s Alaska

March 7, 2020 Saturday

Vodka:30

MUCH LATER…. As in two days later. Last post was on Thursday and it was short. The best laid plans etc. etc.

Thursday was spent thawing out a pipe that the heat tape had died on. Found out when I removed the insulation that water had run down the outside of the pipe for about six inches. The insulation was frozen to the ground. There was no was that the heat tape could generate enough heat to keep the frozen ground thawed. Hence dead heat tape and pipe frozen below ground level. Everything was just peachy keen. Used the jet heater to thaw the ground around the pipe then installed 4″ of foam insulation board below ground level and around the pipe. I carried this foam board out about 12 inches all the way around. That should help the new heat tape keep the water flowing.

Moved onto lowering the house. This entailed belly crawling 30 feet in the fine powdery dust that gets everywhere. It’s on your clothes, in your clothes, in your mouth, up your nose, sifting through your clothes into every crack and crevice that is your body. Whether you spend hours or minutes crawling through the stuff you end up like Pig Pen with a cloud of dust accompanying you where ever else you go. Anyway got the board out of the way that needed to be out of the way. This allowed me to remove the hydraulic jack as its’ holding capacity was replaced by one of the newly located screw jacks.

The next project was to extricate a hydraulic jack from the frozen mud. The boards holding it up collapsed where the rain soddened earth slipped away. I did not notice this event as it wasn’t supporting anything. I was much surprised to find the damned thing sticking out of the ground with all but the ram exposed. The ram and the fully extended screw top were buried nearly straight down into the frozen mud.. Frozen mud is only slightly less hard than concrete. I chopped at it with an axe, a shovel, a big screwdriver and hammer. Got out the propane torch and tried to heat the ground but this resulted in melting some of the plastic paraphernalia on the jack. As a last resort I decided to try to pull it out. All I accomplished was fully extending the ram. Still stuck. Getting the jack body out of the was allowed me to get back in with hammer and screwdriver. I loosened it enough that I was able to fling the thing back and forth violently a few times uttering choice words of wisdom. Suddenly it was released and I was sitting on my ass in the muddy snow. Since my time in the US Navy, I have found that certain choices of words seem to have an effect on inanimate objects. Like John Kerry, I served in Viet Nam. I didn’t, however, get three scratches that ended up as Purple Hearts and a ticket home. Never mind. Water off a duck’s back.

Along about 5:00 Friday morning with my gout ridden left foot hurting like hell, I took two pain pills on an empty stomach. A very short time later I was heaving my guts out. I had slept little Thursday night as the pain kept me awake much of the time. The entire day was a day of sick stomach and inability to hold down liquids or solids. I spent almost the entire day in bed. Then I noted that my blood pressure had spiked again and I had to force myself to hold down a sip of water and the pill. Later, I had some chicken broth and went to bed again. It was a miserable damned day. But HEY! I’m still alive.

Discovered on Thursday that the main reason for no running water in the house was that the pump had died dead. Installed the new pump today. Turned on the feed water to the pump, no water. Looked inside the 500 gallon tank and discovered that there was no water. This led to the discovery that one of the lines had come loose and that all of the water had run out under the snow. So it appears that the pump ran empty until it died from wearing out an internal thrust washer/seal/bearing in the pump. This seized the motor and the motor, it seems, went out on its’ internal overload. Chances are the motor is okay. The newly purchase pump is exactly the same pump under a different brand. You can buy parts for the new pump. Oddly enough, there are no parts available for the old pump. If the motor is okay, I have another nearly new pump for a fraction of the cost of the one I just bought. My silver lining for the day. Water pumps are a good spare to have on hand. Might use it for an irrigation pump this summer.

For over 2 years we have diligently been attempting to turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse. We have for various reasons had to abandon the work for periods of time. Still there are times that I am certain and I believe that we can do it and others when I wonder aloud “What the hell am I doing here?”. Today after discovery the missing 500 gallons of water, I was certainly wondering. There’s little I can do but shake my head in disbelief, shrug my shoulders in resignation and plow on through this mess. Water will be delivered Monday AM. In the mean time, I’m melting snow for the animals and for flushing the toilets. Both life and dirty dishes, as usual, continue to be a mess to clean up. See ya.

The front of the house when we arrived.
The front of the house now. Dug out and cleared for a new foundation to support the house and 4 new rooms.

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