Category Archives: Projects

This will be for when I get a wild hair and try to accomplish another project

Upgrading to night sights on the Glocks

The Mrs and I have the same generation (gen 4) and model Glocks. When we bought them they both came with the standard sights that don’t offer any illumination in low light conditions.

We had a sight pushing tool already so just bought new night sights.  It’s an expensive tool now but cheaper ones can be bought for around $50.  If I were to start over and didn’t have the tool I’d likely save money and just have a gun smith provide and install the new sights for a fee. 

If you have one or can borrow one from a buddy it’s a simple process to push on a rear sight. The front sight does require a special tool to remove that can be bought for less than $10.  It too is an easy job to replace and there are tons of YouTube videos that show you how. 


Here is the rear sight removed and ready to install the new one. 

cast iron electrolysis tank

cast iron electrolysis tank for cleaning rusted metal

After acquiring several old rusted up pieces of cast iron cookware we decided to get a cast iron electrolysis tank.  Some of the pieces were large, like an old dutch oven, so we wanted a large tank to accommodate it.  We had a plastic 33 gallon drum that held syrup for beverages that would be ideal for our job.  Any container that is not made from a metal will work.  The contain must absolutely be non-conductive!

The sacrificial metal for your electrolysis tank

A quick search of the topic on YouTube will show you lots of different metals being used as the sacrificial metal.  You will find everything from pieces of rebar all the way to pieces of old scrap metal.

To maximize the surface area available to attract rust from the item being cleaned I elected to use flat stock material.  It increases surface facing the item to be cleaned.  It also is easier to clean with a scraper and a wire brush.

Our cage was made so that when it is dropped into the tank it does not touch the sides or the bottom.  Admittedly I don’t know if touching hinders the electrolysis process.  I’m absolutely a novice at this and you should do your own research.  With that said, I liked the idea of the solution being able to freely circulate around our cage.  That is why it was built to not touch the container any where inside the solution

Cleaning the rusted item at regular intervals

While running our cast iron electrolysis tank I like to stop it every day to clean everything.  My assumption is that using a brush to remove lose pieces of rust from the item being cleaned and the superficial metal will speed up the process.

I’ve been running the electrolysis tank on the old cast iron Dutch oven for awhile.  Every day when i stop it for a quick cleaning I 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.

Removing crud from the sacrificial metal

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.

electrolysis tank for cast iron
This is the tank we built to serve as our sacrificial metal in our electrolysis tank for cleaning cast iron

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.

cast iron electrolysis tank and cage
electrolysis tank for cast iron working on that rust

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.

cast iron electrolysis tank removing rust
electrolysis tank for cast iron

You will need an automotive battery charger

Fortunately an inexpensive 12 volt battery charger works well for electrolysis.  My go to battery charger is a dual amp capable of 2 or 6 amps.  There are models available for less than $25 that will work for your electrolysis system.

You do not need a big and expensive battery charger to remove rust through electrolysis.  However, if you already have one it can certainly be used.

 

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!

Building a few more seedling flats for seedling production 

Today the table saw came out and we quickly constructed a few more seedling flats.  It’s time to bump up a few of the vegetables under out grow lights, starting with the kale. They’re pretty simple to make and relatively inexpensive.  

The flats are 18″ X 18″. The instructions for building your own can be found on page 181 of the MGM book. We used the table saw to cut the two widths of the slats for the bottom of the seedling tray and a pneumatic staple gun to assemble each part. 

4 completed Mittleider seedlijng flats
completed seedling flat
conatucting a Mittleider seedling tray
Mittleider seedling flat

Grow boxes for an in garden green house

Our grow boxes and in garden green house is beginning to come together. We now have two 18 inch wide by 30 feet long grow boxes built from treated 2 x 8 lumber in our garden.  To those grow boxes we are adding the structure to allow us to grow vertically and support our in garden green house.   The grow box construction is covered on page 78 of the MGC.

  

Before mixing and adding our growing medium, sawdust and sand for us, we added our pre-plant mix to the bottom of the grow box.   Page 85 in the MGC book tells us to add one ounce per linear foot.  So to this 30 foot grow box we measured out and added 30 ounces of pre-plant fertilizer.  The grow box is now ready to be filled with a custom growing medium.

We utilized the free sawdust we were able to get locally to make our custom growing medium and sand.  Following the MGC book, we mixed three parts sawdust to one part sand.  This is mixed by volume and NOT by weight. 

One 50 pound bag of all purpose sand filled a 5 gallon bucket so we used that as our measuring tool.   After each bucketful of sawdust was added to our wheel barrow we added approximately 1/3 of a bag of sand.  After the 15 gallons of saw dust and 5 gallons of sand were in the wheel barrow we mixed everything with a shovel before pouring it into the grow box.   Each 10 foot section of our 30 foot grow boxes required 15 gallons of sand and 135 gallons of sand.  

   
   
Once the grow box is full and level we have to add our pre-plant and weekly fertilizer to the medium and mix it in thoroughly.  Page 87 in the MGC book calls for 1 ounce per linear foot of the pre-plant fertilizer mix and 1/2 ounce per linear foot of the weekly feed. 

  
The fertilizer can be mixed in with a potatoe for or a shovel, but we have an attachment for our gas powered weed eater and will be using it.  

Updates:

These are a little late in coming, but both boxes are now full and there is more progress on the green house portion.   Later today we will order the green house plastic to cover the structure 

   
    
    
   

Assembling grow boxes for fall crops

These 30 foot long and 18 inch wide boxes are being built for our fall crops.  We will also be building an in garden green house over these boxes.  This will allow us to extend our growing season by 12 weeks.

Once construction is complete they will be filled with a mix of sand and sawdust as our growing medium.   As that growing medium contains no nutrients for the plants we will be providing all of the necessary nutrients via an inexpensive mix that is applied on a weekly basis.

The PVC you see next to the treated 2×8 serve a few purposes.  They help hold the boxes level and in place once filled with our sawdust and sand  growing medium.  They also support the a-frames we will be making by heating and bending some half inch pvc.  Once the mini a-frames are in place they can then be covered with green house plastic to protect our fall crops.

Next to the grow boxes you can see our sweet potatoes growing like mad.
  

Sawdust for grow boxes and seedling flats

Sawdust for grow boxes and seedling flats

We needed sawdust to fill our grow boxes and made a  quick trip to Jamesport, MO to a sawmill.   This lumber mill makes pallets and will allow us to take the sawdust for FREE.   We just needed to bring a shovel and fill the truck ourselves.

They do not make pallets from walnut so this sawdust is safe to use. They have huge piles of excess sawdust and were happy to have us take some away. We will make a few trips here in the near future.

Sawdust for grow boxes
Sawdust for grow boxes

What sawdust is safe for grow boxes?

Any sawdust  made from trees of any variety in the United States except walnut is safe for use in your garden.  Walnut sawdust contains tannic which can retard the growth or even kill it if the concentration is high enough.  If the sawdust has any walnut in it you shouldn’t use it.

Can you use sawdust from plywood?

There are two reasons you should not consider using sawdust from cabinet shops.  The glues used in the process of making plywood can be toxic to plants and humans.

The second reason you shouldn’t use that sawdust from cabinet shows is that the particles likely either too large or too small for use in your garden.  If they come from a planer then they will be too large to permit proper drainage and will sour in your garden.

Sawdust made on table saws, radial arm saws or with handheld saws is too fine.  Sawdust that is too fine doesn’t drain easily and can result in compacting.  If your growing medium is compacted the plants can’t get water or oxygen to their roots and will die.

How to pick the right sawdust for your Mittleider garden

If you would like to see how to determine what sawdust will work in your Mittleider garden be sure to read this blog post.  There is even a video showing you the correct size and sawdust that will cause compaction.

But to put it plainly, sawdust from any source that isn’t a sawmill running a large circular saw isn’t going to work.

Can’t find a sawmill?

If you can’t find a sawmill locally that has the correct sawdust you can use wood pellets.  Pellets that used for heating work as do equine pellets.    For more information check out the blog entry on equine pellet sawdust.

My Mittleider Gardening experience

I’m thoroughly impressed by this simple and easy to use Mittleider gardening method and we will begin to transition from our traditional gardening method to this much more effective and simple Mittleider method.  

I will be referring to the Mittleider Gardening Course book (MGC) and sharing page numbers.   You can get the MGC in digital version or in paperback.   If you do get the MGC there is a new revision that was released in 2015.   You can get your own, in ether format, from Jim Kennard on his Grow Food website  The digital version, which is searchable, is $14.95 and the paperback is $19.95
   

Electric fence to protect the garden from rabbits

Our poor garden is being destroyed by rabbits.  Instead of building a permanent fence around it I’ve elected to try an electric one to deter the little buggers.  I don’t mind sharing but they’ve eaten ALL the green beans

Initially the electric fence will be about 2 1/2 feet tall. If I find they’re smart enough to start going over the top it will be easy to add insulators and additional wire to make it taller.  If I can keep it at this height We will be able to easily step over the fence and not have to bother with turning it off to gain access to the garden

The fence charger needed to be mounted some where that it can be protected from the elements.  Instead of mounting it under the beck porch and running the wire out to the garden I elected to mount it inside a plastic Cabelas ammo container I’ve had sitting around.  My thought process was this would allow me to place the charger right at the fence while cutting down on wire for myself and the family from running into accidentally.  Mounting it inside the ammo can will also provide an easy way to store and transport it.

The wire itself is five rows high.  To prevent it from shorting out on the grass it received some attention from the weed eater to trim all the grass and the application of Round Up to prevent the grass from growing.