Tuesday, December 22, 2009

(10) Winter Projects

     First, I want to thank everyone who has commented on this blog. I appreciate any and all remarks.
     I titled this blog "Winter Projects" not because I am doing anything right now, projects in the "Realm" are near impossibe as I have to hike in, I guess I could pull a sled with all of the tools but then, not.
     I have been making plans for spring. Now is the time to consider and reconsider the things I want to do. After discovering Joseph Jenkins web site, I have decided to use one of his composting toilets in my cabin though I will build my own to save money. I didn't realize there would be no odor and the space requiement is minimal, let alone the valuable compost I will get as a result. After taking a few measurements at the cabin recently I decided a small addition was necessary to accommodate a toilet and shower area inside rather than outside. It is so very uncomfortable pooping outside in these cold temps let alone taking a shower. Though I have done it before.
     My initial plan was to increase the size of the cabin by 48 square feet to house the toilet and shower. More expense and a larger foot print. I measured and remeasured and decided by rearranging things inside I can fit both projects in the cabin, as is.
     By removing part of the counter that houses the current stove top, I can free up almost fifty inches of space. I will alot 25 inches for each, the toilet and shower. The lost counter space can be made up at the other end where the table currently resides. There will be room for the used twenty inch gas range i will get and still have room for some storage space I will lose at the other end. The table will be moved across the room to the South side. This will be very cozy, I realize, but very funtional and less expense.
     My other plan which I may have mentioned in an earlier blog was to redo the outside of the cabin. Removing the outer aluminum shell and adding more framing and insulation, relocating the windows and adding a hard shell roof with more insulation. These plans I have already confirmed and can now accommidate the new ideas in that project.
     Winter makes it possible to sit back and contemplate ideas then rethink them before you start a project when only realizing that is not really what you wanted. Saves time and money.
     My shower idea; While living on the boat all of those years, most of my showers were solar type, heating the water when there was no sun. Not feasible in frigid tempertaures. With space alloted for the shower which is small but doable I will install a six gallon water tank available from Todd Enterprises, to this I will attach the necessary fittings for fill and drain. To get water to the shower head; I found an aluminum heavy duty hand operated pump. I will attach a tubeless tire valve in the tank then use the pump to add pressure. The pump has a guage to monitor the pressure. Very simple, very nice. I fill the tank part way with cool water then add heated water; from the sun in summer and from the stove in winter. I can then poop and shower in the comfort of a heated cabin. In summer I can still enjoy an outside solar shower if I choose, the best of both worlds. The gray water will flow into a small reservoir of sand and gravel and will be returned back to the ground, clean.
     After much consideration about wood heat, I have decided that my cabin is too small to accommidate, as it requires too much space for safety. Since I am doing the shower and toilet and having to arrange things differently, wood is just not feasible. Actually that means less strain on my old back. I will only have to get wood for the firepit which I also cook on in the summer. I could do it in the winter but have not yet.
     The propane heater needs much less space for safety and has proved very economical so far this winter. I estimate I will spend less than sixty dollars on propane this winter and even less next winter with the addition of more insulation. Cost will increase a little when I am in full time.
     Until next time -Rick


  1. That's a lot of projects. I might be easier just to forget the trailer and build from scratch. By doing so, you can even build the new place allong side the current one, letting you take your time with the finishing touches, as well as keeping a perfectly usable "shell" for other uses.

    The website http://www.small-cabin.com/ has a lot of good info for taking such a project in bite size chunks.

  2. Rick,
    There is a snap on toilet seat lid that fits on a 5 gallon bucket. It with the bucket the "Luggable Loo" (brand name) is less than $20. We've been using the sawdust/compost method and it works very well. Rather than create a space inside the cabin for it we simply store it outside when not in use. Might be an option for you until your bathroom is complete.

  3. Will you post shower plans? I am very interested as I hope to start building my own tiny house this spring/summer. Had pretty much decided to do separate outside shower and toilet.

  4. Thanks E, When I get to that project which will be in the spring, I would be happy to detail the plans for the shower. Thanks -Rick

  5. Grant, Actually it sounds so but i spent two summers completely rebuilding the trailer. The aluminum shell will come off easily as I used all new screws, I can reuse the screws. The frame is all new and I can screw new 2x2's to the current ones allowing for more insulation. The roof is the same. After all, we are only talking about a hundred square feet of roof space, or so. I have looked at the small cabin site and commented there and yes there is a lot of valuable info there. My current building plan should take no more than 40 to 60 man hours, a project I can handle and look forward too. Thanks -Rick

  6. Mo, I have not seen that toilet lid. I will check into it. That would save me that much more money, plastic, easy to clean! Thanks -Rick

  7. Mo, I just found access for the toilet seat. That will save me time and money. Thanks, -Rick

  8. Came across your blog from the tiny house site...nice cabin/trailer set up, love your relationship to the land and the animals. Very refreshing. Your shower plans sounds interesting, but there are a couple low cost/low tech solutions that might work well for you...common lawn sprayers are essentially small hand pressurized water tanks. cut the end off the sprayer, splice a common sink faucet sparyer nozzle on the end and volia, instashower. Heat water when needed or place in sun to warm in summer. A commericial version of this idea is available, with the forgettable name of "hot jugz". A google search will bring it up. There is also something called a Zodi hot water shower system that is similar, but its pricey at 150 bucks. Only advantage is the tank is made out of stainless steel so can be heated directly on a stove. For a truly frugal shower type "most frugal shower" in youtube. Very low tech and low water consumption, would probably work as well.

  9. dr dave, Thanks for the info. I have used pump-up sprayers in the past. Most have been low quality and didn't last long. Good idea though and I have been researching other models since you added your comment. I may just get one of those and save even more money. Thanks -Rick