Thursday, April 24, 2008

Solar and wind power to irrigate the deserts by Walt Barrett

I have had this idea for forty years, and now I think its time has come in the light of the recent reports of food shortages worldwide. It remains to be seen if these shortages of crops are real or contrived, but either way it makes sense to me to irrigate the deserts near the oceans with solar power rather than cut down more forests and add to the growing carbon dioxide problem. Recent developments in the reverse osmosis membrane technology have nearly doubled the efficiency of these desalinization units. The same can be done with inland deserts that have a shallow water table of very briny unusable water.
The other side of the problem is what to do with the left over brine, but with the deserts as vast as they are it will be a simple matter to pump the brine into evaporation ponds on land that is now being wasted anyway. When the brine dries out it can be sold commercially.
Now, this sounds like a business opportunity to me – think about it!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

About an existing solar micro home by Walt Barrett

My friend Bryan Ebbenga has written to me about a solar micro home his friend built and I have included a link to his very informative site in this blog. My response is below.
Good Morning Bryan:
Thanks for sending me the link to your friends web site. Lamar certainly has the right idea. I see that the home faces south and the exterior construction looks very neat and professional.
There are several companies around the USA building a similar style and it is quite like the one I grew up in except my home was 20' X 24' with the same type of loft, and we had room for a small staircase to the two room sleeping loft.

I plan to mass produce a micro home and have two types in mind. One would be similar to the one I own now, but 20' X 24' in Kit form, and one would be long and narrow and low enough to ship assembled on a flat bed and still clear the over passes. Both homes are already pre-engineered to be totally off the grid. Next week I plan to start the platform for a 10' x 14' flat roof shippable unit just for practice so to speak. I'm going to build it on rails and then slide it under my deck to use as additional storage space and my vegetable oil powered backup generator shed.
This will free up a lot of space in my basement inventors workshop.
This project will help me develop the final techniques I will use in my assembly plant if we decide to move forward. I am still concerned if there is an actual market for these units yet, and where people will put them. I think the real market is in the southwest as the population races out of the freezing cold economically dead northeast.
I am using free recycled insulated tempered glass from sliding glass doors that have been removed as part of renovations projects. Friends of mine have been donating various types of left over construction materials. It's a fun project with serious consequences.
I believe that the upcoming horrific increase in fuel cost will advance this idea rapidly, and also force the re engineering of existing home in the cold climates. They will have to be divided up inside into clusters of micro living spaces that are more heat able with far less energy use. Large homes will soon be basically a thing of the past in the colder parts of the world. At any rate, we'll soon be finding out.
Happy Earth Day!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Energy Disaster Is Now by Walt Barrett

Who will solve the energy problem, not the politicians! I’ll be seventy-five in May, and have decided to speak out and say what I really think. I also proudly served in the Armed Forces during, and after the Korean War so if you think I’m being unpatriotic, that is your prerogative, but like the man said in the movie, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more!” And you should feel the same way regardless of your politics (an ugly business) and begin to seriously look at your energy options on your own, and not be waiting for the government or big business to solve your problems because it’s not going to happen on time. And yes, I am very opinionated, but I call them like I see them!
I am very angry because our grossly neglected energy problem is now killing our economy. We are looking at major serious inflation, increased poverty, and a lowered standard of living. If you think I’m an alarmist then you have not been to the grocery store, or purchased any type of fuel lately. It has finally hit the fan, or should I say windmill! Oil touches and effects the cost of everything!

Well for thirty-five years now we have been hearing a great deal about the energy problem, but what have we really accomplished? It seems to me that the problem has only gotten worse. My opinion about the lack of progress is that the average American has been depending much to heavily on the government to solve the problem. Well to me, the word government means politicians, and spineless bureaucrats more concerned about their jobs, and it seems to me that for the past thirty-five years that all the politicians have done is snipe at each other and constantly, meddle in the internal affairs of other countries, and raise taxes to pay for all of this nightmare! We also cannot depend on big business because until they figure out how they can use the Sun to gouge the most profits out of the working masses in this country, they are not going to touch the problem with a ten-foot pole. It’s kind of like the large pharmaceutical companies that won’t manufacture a wonder drug if there is not enough profit in it because not enough people are dying from that particular disease. So far, over the past years since the energy crisis in nineteen seventy-three there have only been a relative handful of pioneers who have been manufacturing and selling the various solar and wind energy products. In the meantime, China has been steadily plugging away at solar, wind and hydro power and is really kicking our Asses in the energy field from what I can see. Are the Chinese people better off than we are, of course not, but they are coming on strong. They are taking the technology from wherever they can find it, and they are mass-producing all kinds of energy saving products. As the kids say, Helloooooo! Are you getting my message? I suppose some clown will now suggest that I move to China, (that would be a typical attitude for some) but I’m not that stupid. I just want to make things better here for Americans. We can’t just sit idly by while our future is stolen! What’s wrong with that idea?

I think that the problem is that there has been no real strong leadership from our government at any level. Many people have criticized the Carter administration and ridiculed Jimmy Carter in the past, but he was spot on when it came to the energy problems. Unfortunately, he was ignored in the long run. Solar had a temporary flash of glory, and then died a very undignified death at the hands of Carter’s successors.
I have a favorite saying that goes like this. “When you fail at everything else, go into politics.” My experience is that government from the town level up is mostly run by amateurs that just go through the motions, and are more than willing to line their own pockets with inside deals at our expense. That leaves the few who are really dedicated to solving our problems virtually powerless. If you think I’m kidding just take a hard look around your own town, and see whose getting the best land deals, contracts, and the breaks from the zoning and planning boards etc. These are the folks that eventually graduate to State and to the Federal government so you see the situation we are working with here. If you combine that fact with the fact that the American public has always been apathetic, crisis oriented, and never really get concerned or take any action on anything until after the horse has been let out of the barn so to speak. I think that the only way to solve the energy problem is to never depend on the government, or big business to do much of anything. We each have to find our own best solutions to the energy problem. One of the main drawbacks has been the cost of building solar heated energy efficient homes. There is no argument that many of the solar solutions are expensive, but not all of them. One of the most obvious solutions is to build smaller homes. Now that’s a much less expensive solution. If you combine a smaller home design with more energy efficient designs like better insulation, LED lighting, passive solar heating, solar hot water and gray water recycling, composting toilets etc, you are making a very big start. We need more logic and planning in our home designs and factory designs, and should remember that simple is better – period.

Now having owned a company in the past that mass-produced solar hot water heating collectors I can tell you that on a DIY basis these units are not that expensive to build. There are also several designs that you can use depending on the climate that you live in. For instance, in Florida a simple thermo siphoning system that requires no electricity at all to operate is the most effective. It’s not exactly a new idea. People in Florida were doing it in the nineteen thirties. In the colder climates an antifreeze loop is needed. Again, a DIY system is not that expensive.
I think it is very important to stress that in the case of truly solving the energy crisis we cannot depend on some lone genius to stumble out of his garage one of these days with the magical solution to all of the energy problems. It is a major challenge and you cannot defy the laws of the physics of energy. A wise person who lives in a cold climate especially should be considering his or her options now. The main thing is that you have got to do your homework now, and start looking at your options before next winter. You have to realize that the potential for the colder northern states to turn into an energy disaster area is a very real problem. The folks who control the flow and cost of oil in from the Middle East hate us, and could care less how many people in the northeast freeze to death. I’m sure they are sitting there in their palaces right now wringing their hands with glee because they have succeeded in wrecking our economy with their high oil prices and the actions of the terrorists they are backing. So what did our government do? They went after the wrong guys! I will say it again; you can’t depend on the government to solve the energy problem. People who are controlled by oil companies and big business are not going to help you. As a matter of fact at the rate we are going in fifty more years we will be just a gigantic Banana Republic with millions of starving poor people roaming the streets like in Central and South America, except, in our case many of them will be freezing to death from lack of reasonable fuel supplies. This is because that the people who are supposed to be looking after the interests of the American people are too busy feathering their own nests, and working on re-election. As far as I’m concerned, campaign contributions are just a legal form of bribery, and that’s why the average American is getting screwed in this country. Greed and corruption brought down the mighty Roman Empire, and it will do the same to us if we let it. I’m telling you this because I feel compelled to make the point that we all have to work on our own solutions to the energy problem. It will soon assume gigantic proportions as the big guys steadily ratchet up the prices. You better start now to figure out how you will heat your home, hot water and run your vehicles, because by next winter it could be too late. Please don’t depend on the other guy to solve the problem. Now is the time to take the necessary steps to solve your own personal energy crisis that is coming soon to your neighborhood and remember that our pandering, emasculated, failures, out of touch, self absorbed politicians are not really going to help you, and we are far to busy fighting wars in other countries and sending foreign aid to be bothered helping our own poor in this country.
If you think this blog is important, please pass it along to your friends so we can get the message out.
Happy Motoring!


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another way to make money in the Battery Service business by Walt Barrett

Revised April 2008 and featuring an additional and very needed service for sealed batteries that are advertised as no maintenance batteries.
Here is an additional new money making service from Walt Barrett
You know, years ago I discovered by opening up dead sealed batteries and checking inside that they were low on water. Now everyone thinks that sealed batteries do not need distilled water added, but I have found from checking dead sealed batteries on our own vehicles that just isn’t true. Now, I propose that you start a service doing preventative maintenance service on sealed batteries that would consist of the following steps.
1. Remove the battery from the vehicle and clean it thoroughly including the posts and cable ends.
2. Place the battery on a test bench in dim light and shine a bright extension light on the rear long side of the battery. When you do this you will be able to see the fluid levels inside of most batteries. If the fluid is low, proceed to step three.
3. Using our special stop drill you will bore a ½ inch hole into each cell using the dividing lines on the top of the battery to go by. Add a tablespoon of our dry chemical formula to each cell and then top off each cell with distilled water. NEVER USE TAP WATER!
4. Place one of our specially provided sealing caps in each ½ inch hole you bored and seal the battery up. Now in the future you can easily check the water levels and service the battery without removing it from the vehicle.
5. Place the battery back in the vehicle, make sure the battery connections are clean and shiny and put then back.
6. Make sure the battery is bolted securely in place using the hardware provided.
7. Charge the customer fairly for your labor and materials. Remind him, or her to come back every two months for a quick health check up on their battery and ask about their other vehicles and equipment. Remind them how expensive new batteries are.
Never use any other chemical additives no matter what you hear or read. There are no miracle products, and not all batteries can be recovered. When the paste falls off the plates, the battery is junk –Period.
Never spend thousands of dollars to get into this business. It is a shoestring business. Anyone can get in and do it!
For those of you who wrote, your free training manual will be sent today.
Be sure to watch the training video on youtube. Just type in "chinadepot" in the search box.

More from oil lamps to the internet by Walt Barrett

I actually have very fond memories of the nineteen thirties and the nineteen Forties in spite of some of the hardships we endured.
The main point I want to make is that I’m not whining. I just want to present the facts as they were for many families at the time. It will help you see the future. The second point I want to make is that in those days we had plenty of fuel available in this country. We just could not afford to buy it! There is a good side to this story, and that is that we learned how to live without electricity, central heat and indoor plumbing. We also learned how to survive on very little money. Now the money thing alone is a valuable lesson because in these times we see many people that have no idea how to budget what little money they have. My Mother had a budget book that she kept faithfully and adhered to religiously. She is the one who showed me the basic rules of business, because, living within a budget is really just a form of business, just like running a shop, or a factory, and especially a City, Town State or Federal government, and it seems that many people have forgotten that. Let’s all say it again. You can’t spend more money than you take in! We can talk about that subject more later on.
I mentioned previously that I grew up in a micro home. It was twenty feet by twenty-four feet with a sleeping loft divided into two sections, one for me and one for my parents. There were no real closets and clothing etc was mostly kept in a few bureaus with heavy coats etc being hung on salvaged clothing racks. It certainly didn’t kill us! It did give me the incentive to try and do better financially, now that I look back at it.
We lit the house with oil lamps for many years. They do give off a very soft glowing kind of light, and at the time I didn’t think about it too much. I just thought that was what everyone else used too. There was no TV, radio, electric toasters, laundry machines, dishwashers, flushing toilets etc, and the bathroom was a small closed off area where you sat in a galvanized wash tub filled with just enough water that had been heated on top of the wood fired cook stove, which also was the heating system. The toilet was in the back yard just like everyone else’s was on our street, and you used whatever paper you could find, no luxury soft tissue or anything like that! Computers were science fiction!
When my Dad managed to find work he was often gone for long periods of time, and he took some pretty terrible jobs like clearing power lines in Vermont in January while wading up to his chest at times through ice cold swamp water. He would come home every couple of weeks or so and bring some money and food. He and his fellow workers would have to ride back to Vermont in the back of a dump truck in the wintertime, but he never really complained about it. He did often tell the stories though just to remind everyone how bad it was in the Thirties. My Dad lost his factory job in 1929 when the economy collapsed like it may do again in 2008.
We didn’t have much water because we had a shallow dug well that went dry for the entire summer. You had to drop a bucket down the well and pull it back up full of water with a rope, hand over hand. When the well went dry in June of July depending on the rain that year my Mom and I would each take a couple of those old style galvanized milk cans with the narrowed down neck and the carrying loop type handle on the side of the neck, and we would walk to a beautiful clear spring about a quarter of a mile from our home that bubbled right up out of the ground for water. My Dad had cleaned it out and sunk a large wooden barrel in it that stuck up above the ground with a cover on it to keep the dirt out. We would go there every afternoon when I returned from school and carry back the drinking water. Somehow I remember the water tasting better then and the air smelling cleaner. We did the laundry and other tasks with water captured in our rain barrels. My Mom said it was nice soft water. She taught me a lot. We used to go picking wild berries, and in the spring we would also gather the tops from fiddlehead ferns. They were liked spinach and the woods are still full of them. My mom knew a lot about plants and herbs. My Dad taught me to shoot a 22 rifle by the time I was seven. I would go out in the late afternoon and shoot three squirrels for supper. We would also go to the pond and catch yellow perch, clean them, and salt them in crocks so we would have food in the winter. After school I would empty the ashes from the stove and put them on the vegetable garden. Talk about recycling. Looking back, it wasn’t such a bad life, but would kids do it today? They might be better off if they did. By the way, there were no drugs in any schools I ever attended.
Well, enough of that for a while. Let’s take a giant leap forward to 2008. I have a vision of a super insulated but properly ventilated micro home with the actual size being based on the number of occupants. It may or may not be tied to the power grid. The electricity could be from solar, wind, or in a few rare cases small hydro, which would be really great because you could actually heat the micro home with free Hydro. Solar hot water, solar heat, a composting toilet, LED lighting, and a gray water recycling system would be a very good start. Now I would build this home on a piece of land large enough to grow a fair amount of food. I would salvage as many of the necessary materials as I possibly be could. As a matter of fact, I have already started to gather my stuff and it has been all for free so far. I have glass-sliding doors that I took apart for the glass. I have sheets of barely used plywood that was going to be thrown away from large construction site and my friends brought it home to me gladly donated by their bosses who have to pay by the ton to dump it in the landfill. Can you believe it! Personally, I think we need to start thinking more along these lines. My micro home is going to be for the two of us, my Wife Nancy and me. I hope to find a reasonable piece of land to put it on, but will build it here at my workshop. I intend it to be a model for others to copy. I would also consider setting up an assembly line to mass-produce them for low bucks. The trouble with all of the commercial micro homes I have seen so far is that the prices are off the wall! We need home for the not so well off folks who carry this country on their backs. Well enough for today. I just hope I can get more people thinking along the lines that I do. Not that my ideas are perfect, but the more people’s ideas we can gather now, the better off we are going to be in the future. Think about low cost building materials and smaller spaces to heat and cool, and cheap electricity. Try to save a gallon of fuel a day. It all helps.
In the meantime I have a business to run, so long for now.