Progress with the cast iron in the electrolysis tank

I’ve been running the electrolysis tank on the old cast iron Dutch oven for awhile every day and am seeing some great results.  It still needs some more rust removed but the water was so nasty and rust colored I decided to start over with some clean water.

At the end of each day the Dutch oven has come out of the tank and scrubbed with a brush made for washing drinking glasses.  The crud and rust that has come off after each scrubbing has been impressive.  

The cage had a lot of rust built up on it when I removed it and dumped the water.  Most of the buildup came off easily with a wire brush.  While it was out we went ahead and hit it with the power washer.  Hopefully tomorrow the cage will go back in the tank and we will fill it and see how it does with fresh water and sodium carbonate.

This picture of the cage was taken AFTER it was quickly attacked with the wire brush.  The bottom two steel bands looked just like the top one when this Dutch oven went into the tank. 


This was taken at the end of the first day of removing rust from the Dutch oven. You should have seen the water at the end of day 3.  That heavy number nine wire is suspending the oven in the tank and off the bottom.  The negative connector goes on that wire.  


While there is a lot of carbon on the bottom of oven in the next picture it is far better now than at the beginning.  When we started the entire bottom and most of the sides were covered with it.  


And finally here you can see the inside of the old cast iron.  You can see the bottom of this old cast iron again!  When you compare it the picture that was taken at the beginning you get an idea of how much rust was removed.  There is still more work to be done, but I am satisfied with my setup.   The battery charger has been running at 2 amps during the process so far.  We could kick it up to 10 amp but I’m satisfied with doing this slow and easy.   

  

The Dutch oven is out and I’ve dropped in a rough and rusted number 8 skillet.  After an hour in the tank I found this on the top of the water.

Starting seedlings with grow lights and seedling heating mat

The seedling heating mat is plugged in and and the seedling trays are being brought up to growing temperature.  Today a bunch of our frost hard and moderately hardy plant will go into the seedling flats and get covered with sand.  A few items like our tomatoes will get started as well but will be protected from frost when they get moved into the garden. 

The pre-plant has been added to the seedling flats.  After the seeds are in and covered it will get watered with straight water through burlap until the seeds have begun to sprout.  Once they do the grow lights will get turned on and we will begin to water with constant feed.  

Kale, cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, collard greens, spinach, eggplants and lettuce will all get started today.  

Electrolysis tank for removing rust from old cast iron

This project is one that I’ve been wanting to complete for some time now.  We have several pieces of old cast iron cook ware we’ve acquired that have a problem with rust and decided to try removal with electrolysis.   

An old plastic 33 gallon barrel that my brother gave me was perfect for the tank after cutting one end of of the barrel.  A local welder fabricated the cage for me using rebar and flat material.   I requested the flat steel to be used to increase surface area during the electrolysis process and to make it simple to clean up.

For our purpose we are adding one tablespoon of washing soda per gallon of water.  The electrical current is being provided with an old two amp charger.   Currently the old Dutch oven I’ve got in the tank has been there for less than two hours.  It has a long was to go but there is defiantly a noticeable difference in the amount of rust.  

My cage can easily be removed from the barrel to make cleanup and water changes as simple as possible.


Here you can see the flat steel bands that serve as my sacrificial metal.  It is easier to clean than a bunch of round rebar.  With a putty knife I’ll be able to quickly knock off the sludge that develops during the electrolysis process


Here ís the old Dutch oven that shows the level of rust before going in the tank.


The negative connector is attached to the wire suspending the item to be cleaned.  The positive cable is connected to my sacrificial metal, for my instance it is the cage I had made to fit inside my barrel. Do not use stainless or copper in any part of your build!

Time to plan the 2017 garden!

I had an order of seeds from Mountain Valley seeds arrive recently.  This weekend we will be sitting down and planning our garden for this year.  Once we have decided what we will plant I’ll begin setting up the grow lights and getting everything ready to start seedlings.  

We are going to plant less of everything this year.  We had too much and couldn’t keep up with everything which made the garden suffer as a whole.  Much of what we plant will be a 1/3 to 1/2 of what we had last year.  

Making a small batch of sauerkraut 

This head of store bought cabbage weighed 2 pounds and 11 ounces and filled a quart and pint sized jar once shredded.  We didn’t add any additional spices to this batch, just salt.  It will be placed in a dark pantry closet and checked weekly for 3-4 weeks until ready. 

Ideally the salt shouldn’t be coarse but we had this already and it didn’t have iodine in it.  In this picture below we added the salt and worked it into the shredded cabbage by hand. 
Shredded cabbage and salt
The shredded and salted cabbage is being added a little at a time to the quart jar and packed with the wooden packer.  If you look you can see the water that is being pulled out of the cabbage at the bottom of the jar.  The shredded cabbage needs to be fully submerged in the brine solution for the fermentation process to occur.  

Salted shredded cabbage being packed into mason jar
Here all of the shredded cabbage has been added to the jars and then covered with a cabbage leaf.  A glass weight will be added will push all the shredded cabbage under the brine solution.

Boot sole repair with the Sew Awl kit

My boots had the toe area of the sole coming off and in need of repair.  A Shoe Goo repair worked temporarily for a week or so.  I’ve finally broke out the Sew Awl kit and made a more permanent repair.  It doesn’t look like professional work, but my little home repair saved me a trip to the city and dropping them off and waiting a few days for them to get fixed.  We shall see how well, and how long, my repair holds up.   

Being able to repair our own items, such as this boot, is an example of skill set I think is worth having.  I’m far from skilled at it, but stuff like this set difficult to learn and is a terrific skill set to have.  
Sole repair needed on this boot

Harvesting Georgia Jet Sweet Potatoes from Grow Box

After receiving a good hard frost we decided to dig up our Georgia Jet sweet potatoes.  We are tickled with our harvest that ended up filling a wheel barrow.  Not sure what the total weight as we just didn’t weigh them.
  They were growing in a 4 foot wide and 15 foot long grow box that was filled with a mixture of sand and sawdust.   Digging them was very easy, we used only our hands to sweep the sand and sawdust out of the way to expose the sweet potatoes. 

You can see the outline of the growbox in the picture below.  As you can see, they grew like mad.  Next year I will prune the vines as they grow beyond the box.



This was the average size of what we harvested.  They grew easily in our sand and sawdust and weren’t mishappen.



This is the completed harvest here in the wheel barrow. Not a bad haul for a 4 x 15 foot growing area!