The Rains Have Returned

I don’t comment much about weather, but the subject came up in an iChat with a friend on the east coast.

Here in the Pacific Northwest we really only have two seasons, “wet” and “dry”. “Wet” lasts from sometime in September or October, until early July. Dry lasts from early July (usually the 5th or 6th!) until sometime in September or October.

In the 1980s “drought” years “dry” would sometimes last until November. I remember climbing “Outer Space” on the Snow Creek Wall over a weekend in early November around 1987 or so. It was cold at night but very warm… “hot” even during the day. Recently our weather has been unsettled, with either VERY wet years (in 1999 we didn’t really have a “Dry” season… until September. Last winter was the as dry as “wet” can be, with hardly any snow in the mountains and very little rain down here. Oddly enough the past few year’s “wet” started big, with some big October storms … these pictures were taken two years ago today. But then settled into a “very sparsely moist” rather than our usual full-on “wet”.

Well, the “wet” has returned to the Pacific Northwest. October has been more rainy than clear, and quite chilly as well. We had a brief little “Indian Summer” the past two days, mostly sunny temps in the high-60s F. Friday I drove the Jag down to the body shop for the bonnet ding to get repaired, and yesterday was spent hacking back the grass since the sun was out (making hay while the sun shines as it were.) Today however reinforces how brief that nice respite was. Rain, mist, fog, temps in the 40s & 50s F.

It will be this way, relentlessly wet, with only high winds and storms to break the monotony from now until January when the “storm season” ends, and then it will just be plain old rain. You can basically say “Rain, mixed with showers, with a rare sun-break, lows in the mid-30’s, high’s in the mid-50’s” if you were a weatherman from now until March. Sure, we’ll have a few snows sprinkled in there, and of course that one week in January or so when the sun comes out… just to keep us from killing each other. Sometime in April we’ll start to see more sun, and warmer temps, and the Jag will come back out of the barn now and then. Until then, you won’t hear me talk about it other than winter-time projects. (Like my plan to perhaps do something about the radio console once and for all.)

When the “Dry” season returns, I’ll comment about our reward for the crappy weather we put up with around here, until then, I’ll try not to say much about weather.

Stop me somebody…

before I buy this.

It is close by. It is cheap. It is legendary for reliability – one was the world record holder for mileage: 1.9 million miles(!). It is of course a Diesel. Not exactly the 300SD or 300SDL I’ve been looking for, but still. I bet it does 0-60 in at least 30 seconds! (downhill, with a tailwind!)

Update 10/23/05: I managed to show some self-restraint and didn’t bid. Final price wasn’t too bad. I did some reading on the model and it was the first really successful Merceded-Benz Diesel for export. It has ZERO collectible value though.

WVO Filtering Setup

I finally photographed the home-brew Diesel setup I built:

WVO Filter

The waste veggie oil goes in the top barrel. The sawed-in-half gas can acts as a funnel. The oil comes to me via the white 5 gallon buckets on the left, so they don’t pour into 2″ holes without a funnel. The gas can sits very well in the filler bung, so I won’t spill… too much. The top barrel has a bung in the side, through which I have a 3/4″ ID gasoline hose, which goes through a stop-valve, to a 15-30 micron filter, through another stop-valve, through a 5-15 micron filter, through the final stop-valve to the bottom barrel. The bottom barrel is equipped with a nice 10 gallons per minute hand pump. The whole setup is airtight, and is kept from freeze damage (thankfully only a slight possibility here in the Pacific Northwest) with one of those pipe-warming cords that winds its way from the top to the bottom. You will note the bottom barrel has a blanket around it for extra insulation. If we get a significant cold snap I’ll have to supplement the heat with a light bulb or something.

This whole section of the barn was built by the previous owner specifically to store Diesel fuel. The shelf there had four large fuel storage tanks on it when we first viewed the house. The guy owned a logging company and the barn was his workshop for the trucks and equipment. The floor below it is not on the concrete slab, but it is filled with gravel and oil-absorbent stuff. Pretty cool.

I only have about 5 gallons in the upper tank right now. It should start flowing on its own via gravity once I have about 20 gallons in the upper tank. Running the hand pump will also provide suction back through the system to boost the filtering. Can’t wait to get it running at capacity.

Stickin’ it to the Man by burning my own oil.

Some late night ramblings about Diesel cars and my home-brew fuel setup:

I’m halfway done building my fuel making setup out in the barn. I’ve been getting WVO-based fuel from a friend of mine all summer, while I slowly collected the stuff to build my own. (WVO = Waste Vegetable Oil… i.e. used french fry oil.) In the Spring I gave John as much of the left over Diesel from the old Bothell Genset as he could carry. I fueled my car out of it from January on, then bought/borrowed as many gas cans as I could find and filled them with the fuel. There was still close to 50 gallons left a week before we sold the genset, so I had John take the rest. Once the gas can supply ran out, I got filtered WVO from John. This I mixed 50/50 with pump-bought Diesel. The car runs great on it, and I get over 50 MPG. Not bad for effectively cutting my fuel cost in half! John just took a new job, so he connected me up with the Burger joint where he gets his free oil near his old job. I should have my two-barrel filtering setup done tomorrow, at which point I’ll be in the fuel business… personal consumption only of course. Just pick up 5-10 gallons a week from the burger place, and make my own.

The Jetta is the fourth Diesel car I have owned. I much prefer Diesels, especially turbo-Diesels to gasoline cars for everyday driving. They are reliable, and very economical. They don’t produce greenhouse or CO2 gasses. Yes, they are a bit “sooty” but modern CDI and TDI engines do an amazing job at reducing the smoke – mostly with VERY efficient injections systems and EGR systems (Exhaust Gas Recirulation.)

I guess now that gasoline is at $3.00 a gallon the rest of America is suddenly interested in Diesel cars again. I’ve been casually shopping for a new or used VW or Mercedes Diesel for almost a year, and in the last three months they have gotten virtually impossible to find or buy. I passed on some really nice MB 300 2.5, and 300sdl cars last winter. I should have grabbed them when I had them close at hand. Too bad the ONLY choices for new Diesels are either VW or MB, … or a gigantic full-sized pickup truck. Fuel costs have been rising steadily for four straight years but did Detroit pull their heads out of their SUV asses? Hell no.

VW is the lone seller of a full line of Diesels… from the Beetle all the way up to the Passat have a TDI option. MB only offers an E Class Diesel now in the US I think. I don’t make enough money to fork over big bucks for a new Mercedes though.

Anyway, once my fuel setup is done I’ll photograph it and post it here.

No Comment, just comments requested

Yeah, I know that this is a big week for technology… especially Apple. Unfortunately I don’t have any comment because I’m too busy working in the technology business to have any time to comment at the moment. =)

I may be looking for some geek help next week though. Sue left her gig at the Skagit County Public Defender and is now a consulting Attorney for a Defender’s association. She’s also looking to pick up some private practice in Snohomish, and maybe Skagit counties. She’s looking at putting an ad in the yellow pages, but I was thinking that whipping up a quick website and buying some Google Ad Words might be a better use of her money. Especially since the phone directory people want like $500 a month(!) and it seems like with Google you are getting something more tangible in terms of traffic for your revenue.

Especially since what she specializes in… Minor in Possesion, DUI, etc. If she was doing estates, civil contracts, etc a phone book ad might be smarter… I don’t know.

I never look in the phone book anymore… I look online. I am a geek though, so maybe I am not the right test group for the experiment.

Thoughts?

Cool, Hockey’s Back. 10/8/05

Watched “Hockey Night In Canada” tonight (a great benefit of living just south of Latitude 49… getting CBC TV.) Edmonton beat Vancouver 4-3. It was a fair game, but ended regulation time in a 3-3 tie. Overtime produced no winner so they settled it with a shootout. While some of the rule changes are for the better (mostly the strict calling of obstruction penalties, and the elimination of the red line for off-side passes) I loathe the idea and practice of the shootout to end a tie game. I both played and officiated Ice Hockey for a good portion of my life… and I love the game. That said I have a real love/hate thing going with the NHL. Last year was a fiasco, and I’ve felt Commissioner Bettman will sell out the game and turn it into a circus to achieve NBA-like “success” as soon as he can.

The shootout illustrates this well. It is a complete sellout to this idea that there has to be a winner. Some of the best games I have ever watched, played, or officiated ended in ties. I never had a problem with any of them. The only situation when a tie is unacceptable is playoff hockey, and then the only way to do it is sudden death… play until somebody wins.

The penalty shot has a place, but a series of them to decide a winner during a regular season game is silly.

On a completely unrelated note, Christopher & I participated in the Seattle Jaguar Club’s “Fall Colors Tour” today. I put 200 more break-in miles on the rebuilt engine. It was cool and mostly cloudy, but I managed to keep the top down all day. You can see my pictures here.