Thursday, July 25, 2013

Clever Frank; Saving $$$

Good Morning from Windmill Farm.  I don't know about you but I am really, really getting tired of all this continual heat, are you?  Supposed to be 103 degrees today-OMG!!!
This post is about Frank, the wonder guy.  He can build, make or fix anything, honestly.  When I first met him 45 years ago, his brother-in-law called him Mr. Fix-it and even at that age, he was making stuff.
His most recent projects have and will save us time and money.
1) Outside lighting.  Frank has installed a great deal of
night time lighting.  He can be obsessive about it, but most of it started out as yard landscaping, then some later for the main driveway.  Then it progressed to our back gate, near the shop, then to the side of the house.  Sorry to say, we do need it, farmers are very vulnerable to all kinds of theft as we have farm equipment, farm metals, tools, etc around.  So all these necessary lights cost money.  The solar lights that you can purchase do not give off enough light for our needs. The solar are fine for simple pathway lights and even then, you can barely get any light out of them.  Frank had an idea that he could change over the regular outside, high voltage lights with LED lighting.  But to purchase new complete LED lighting units cost $1000s.  So he took each landscaping and driveway light, cleaned them up; took the average 25-50 watt light sockets out and made these flat lenses with the LED lights he purchased on-line.
 I am simplifying it for what I understand, not all the light holders were the same so he converted sets that we already had, that had regular Halogen lights and made the lighting units and lights into LED. We had about 25 landscaping lights and 25 driveway lights. So 50 lights x 50 watts = 2500 watts = $$$ that are on all night long every day.  After he converted them all to LED, the 50 lights x 1.5 watts = 75 watts.  That is like having 1 - 75 watt light bulb on compared to the 2500 watts.  The front-street side of our house was always so very dark, so he took his stash of old lights and installed more lights around there, another 25 lights using 1.5 watts per light = 37.5 total watts.  The first month, we noticed about a $20 savings in electricity, now it is about $25-$30 a month savings.  He is moving on to changing over all the very large lights above the shop and garage to LED.  Instead of paying for an alarm system or having our house/shop/barn being broken into, not a bad expense.  I told Frank a 747 could easily land in our driveway now the lighting is so good.
  2) Plumbing Cart: Every time a yard or field  sprinkler breaks, Frank always had to bring out boxes of various repair items and various tools.  New gardens each spring, means lots of boxes of fittings, tapes, sprinkler heads, repair kits, tools that had to be brought to the location.  Even though we are a small farm of 5 acres, to go back and forth to the shop or garden shed meant lots of trips and time.  So he designed a mini cart to put everything he needed into one unit, large enough to include the lighting repairs and anything to do with watering.
He found this cart on Harbor Freight, on sale, free shipping:
Then he purchased two tool boxes at Sears, on sale-clearance; and on one of his trips to Mac's Hardware store, he asked if they had any bins or metal parts they were going to throw away. With those pieces he made the plumbing fitting holders on the top of the cart (which he made a top of the tool boxes and all across the back).
On the back section, he had metal shelving empty in his lean-to that he cut up and made shelving.  He had these plastic drawers already and I had the wire baskets in my garage holding junk so he installed them in the back for other items he may need as he gets used to using the cart.  Celli gave him the large wire basket that now holds all the "get the gopher" stuff  that is mounted on the front of the cart.
Frank doesn't just put a bunch of odds and ends together and they look like odds and ends.  He likes things to look nice, so he cut metal strips for molding, painted the metal sides of his shelving; put non-skid rubber matting on the top so the fittings don't roll.  It is truly an amazing unit now, has a tool drawer; he made labels for what is inside the drawers.  I think he needs to go into production!!  Another cost savings to us too.  As you all know, whenever you need to repair something, half the work is looking for a special tool or repair items you just KNOW you have someplace, but end up purchasing it anyways because it can't be found.  Why do you really think we have all that white plumbing parts?  Because we never could find the right size or elbow or whatever when we needed it that moment.
Frank is really a very talented guy and he says he really has fun thinking, planning and building these things.  Most retired people spend their days sitting in chairs, not Frank!!!  Great job honey.

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