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since 01 January 2008

PART TWO

PART ONE

greenhouse courgette cloche les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

Back home from the UK, you can see how things have developed here. The greenhouse has been totally overwhelmed by a courgette plant and the tomatoes that I planted just before leaving have overwhelmed the shelving,

As for the cloche, there's just a mass of leaves in there. Heaven alone knows what else. Some serious weeding is called for now - once the unpacking has been done.


cows in road milking trap les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

The delights of rural motoring often inclide encountering what passes round here for a milking trap. You don't have to be in a hurry to drive around here, that's for sure.

But then again if you needed to go anywhere in a hurry you shouldn't be living around here


kwikstage quickstage scaffolding caliburn les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

But although the unpacking of Caliburn was completed, the weeding wasn't even attempted. Round at Liz and Terry's we had the "are we doing this roof then?"

A couple of tonnes of scaffolding went into the back of Caliburn (it took three trips) and we were off. Never mind indecision - I'm not quite sure about that.


kwikstage quickstage scaffolding erected side of house les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

Stage one was to take the roof off the lean-to at the side and run the scaffolding up from the floor inside.

It's an impressive piece of kit, this scaffolding and I am well-impressed with our purchase. It's heavy and solid and feels secure when you are up there on top of it. We'll have to get some more of this, that's for sure. I sense a business opportunity.


kwikstage quickstage scaffolding front of house les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

Stage two was to put the scaffolding up at the front of the house. To do this we had to knock out a section from the wooden fence that I built a few years ago and to take part of the roof off the verandah.

It didn't take us long to do that and it created something of a mess. Getting into my little room was difficult too so it was suggested that I sojourn at Liz and Terry's for a week os so, which was very kind of them.


kwikstage quickstage scaffolding les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

You can see what I mean about this scaffolding and how solid it is. It's chained to the wall in a couple of places and I think that even an earthquake isn't going to bring it down. It's not going to be a problem for anyone to go working on that.

Its width adds to the stability of course and makes an ideal working platform. Plenty of room to spread out and leave your equipment.


terry messenger on roof les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

And while I was still thinking about it, Terry got himself up on the roof for an inspection. He doesn't think it will take too long before we have the slates off.

"What are we going to do with the old slates?" he asked
"I want them to make a path" I replied. "Drop them down inside the house."


terry messenger on roof les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

And so "drop them down inside" he did. While I was busy sorting out the new wood, the new recycled plastic roofing tiles and the insulation, Terry started to strip the roof.

Another useful purchase I forgot to mention was a pair of ladder hooks. We drilled holes in my aluminium ladder to fit them and they hooked nicely over the ridge of the roof. That was a good £25 well spent. Who needs a roofing ladder at £189?


roof no tiles all removed les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

In the race between me sorting out all of the new stuff and Terry taking off the old slates, Terry won by a country mile.

And it wasn't just the roofing slates he removed either, but also four mouse nests (and a large quantity of very angry mice), three birds nests, two plants and also one partridge and one pear tree. By the time we had done all that it was 16:30 and in the words of the famous Arthur Naylor "it's not worth starting another case". We knocked off.


no tiles removed roof rear north les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

The rear of the house is exposed towards the north and this is the side that takes the brunt of the adverse weather (the prevailing winds from the west are blocked by the barn)

You can see that over the years the weather has given it something of a battering and it isn't before time that we are doing something about this.


new chevrons rafters on roof les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

The chevrons on the roof were pretty much "touch and go" so we took them off and replaced them with new.

And what with one thing and another, the bill at Brico Depot came to ... errr .... €1500 or so. Way over budget of course. I shall be selling my body on Boots Corner in Crewe if it keeps on like this.

I was impressed by the electrical set-up here. We needed to cement the rafters into the roof (and that involved resurrecting the Sankey trailer from out of the undergrowth and fetching a load of sand from the quarry) and so we coupled Terry's 375-watt cement mixer to my batteries and inverter. And that mixed the lot with no hiccup and no sign of the batteries going flat.


new chevrons rafters on roof les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

We fixed the remaining rafters to the front of the house, dismantled the rafters at the rear, cut the new ones to size and then nailed and cemented them in. We then sprayed them in wood preservative and then began to paint them in the brown stuff that I like that comes from LIDL (although that was after I took the pic). We also dismantled one of the new windows that we bought from Brico Depot to see how it fitted in.

That sounds like quite a lot and indeed it was. We were totally exhausted by 17.15.


new chevrons rafters on roof les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

The purpose of the next few photographs is to be some kind of pictorial record of the roof as it was once all of the tiles and laths were off and the old chevrons had been changed for new ones.

There are 15 chevrons in total for each side - at the far left edge of the roof the chevrons are doubled up. This is the edge that is exposed to the prevailing westerly winds and I imagine that the one on the extreme left is a sacrificial chevron to take the brunt of the weather while the one on the inside takes the weight of the roofing.


new chevrons on roof roofing ladder hook les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

The chevrons are set in cement at the top of the roof to provide support and to fill up any gaps that might be penetrated by the local wildlife that might fancy moving into the roofspace.

And I talked earlier about the ladder hook that I bought to convert my ladder into a roofing ladder. Here you can see it in all its glory and see how well it does the job. This was money well-spent.


new chevrons on roof inside attic les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

From the reverse angle you can see the stairs into the attic. They are going to have to be moved. And you can also see the attic floor, made out of old pallets. That's going to be replaced too.

Doing the roofing is only part of the job. Turning the attic space into some kind of comfortable living quarters for the coming winter is going to take quite some doing. It's not going to be as simple as you might think.


new chevrons rafters on roof inside attic les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

From round the back you can see diagonally across to where I took the previous photo. The attic space is roughly 5 metres x 5 metres give or take a bit and I can make a nice cosy room out of that. If it's well-insulated it won't need much heat either.

One of the issues that needs to be considered is the question of windows. The holes in the wall for where windows should be are not a standard size and one is really tiny. That will take some thought.


view across combrailles hills montaigut en combrailles les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

Right up on the ridge of the roof there is a spendid view right across the tops of the hills over towards Montaigut. It's a view I'm hoping not to see too often as I don't want to be up here again once the roof is finished and so this called for a photo opportunity.

The small hill with the clearing right in the centre of the image is just behind Grandsaigne and this helps to give the photo some kind of orientation.

And you can see the clouds beginning to draw in.


new chevrons rafters LIDL wood preservative les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

The reason why I was up on the roof was because we are now turning out attention to covering it. And you can't ever put too much wood preservative on wood that is going to be completely covered in, and I don't want to have to do all this again in my lifetime.

Consequently I spent most of the evening dolloping tons of the brown stuff on it.


roofing aspire recycled plastic imitation slate tiles les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

Today we started putting the tiles back on. The ground at the back of the house doesn't belong to me so we can't put a scaffolding up. This meant that yours truly had to sit perched on the bottom of that ladder hanging over a bottomless void while he built up the bottom few rows of the tiling.

As Terry was leaving he told me to put on the rest of the tiles for the first row of plywood, and make sure I do them straight. Well, I did my best, but in years to come people will be coming up here, looking at the tiles and saying "I wish I had a pint of whatever it was that he was on when he was doing that tiling"


space blanket thinwall insulation aspire recycled plastic imitation slate tiles les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

The roof is layered as follows -
 i.... the space-blanket bubble insulation that's hellishly expensive but worth its weight in gold
 ii... the counter battens. This is to make an air gap as the insulation works best like this.
 iii.. some waterproof plywood on top of the counter battens
 iv... a damp-proof membrane to inhibit condensation and water penetration
 v.... the recycled plastic tiles


rear of roof boarding les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

We are still at the back of the house and we have the boarding now going on at the top of the roof.

We are fitting it vertically so that we can work from round the side rather than over the top of the ridge and believe me, that is so much easier. When we reach the far side of the roof we can of course stand on the scaffolding.


rear of roof almost finished les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

All of the insulation is now on at the back and you can see that the waterproof plywood is on there covering it up. Most of the waterproof membrane is on too, and half of the slating is done. The last part had to be done by mauling everything over the top of the roof in the heat and that was tiring.

Just another couple of hours and the back will be finished, and won't I be delighted?


rear of roof now finished les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

With the weather being mostly cool and overcast with just the occasional passing shower, it was a good day for working on the roof and so with no misadventures and without any excitement we finished the slating off the back.

By 16:00 it was all done and I took a photo of it all now finished off before we knocked off. In view of the time and with the heavy rain shower that was passing there didn't seem to be much point in waiting around for things to improve.


inside the roof les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

A little later in the afternoon the weather did improve so I shinned up to take a pic of the underneath of the roof. It's all quite sheltered and dry under there so there are no problems with leaving tools and stuff up there. They won't be risking anything. That is a real sign of progress.

You can see half of one of the two little cheap scaffolding units that I bought ages ago for here. They really are cheap rubbish and I don't fancy anyone's chances on top of one of those but for this kind of thing - standing on them to lean over the roof to fasten the tiles, they are quite useful.


aspire recycled plastic slate tile roofing ladder hook les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

We talked a short while ago about my ladder hook and there's an even better view of it here. You can see how it bolts on to the side of the ladder and hoks over the ridge of the roof.

And you can also get a good close-up view of the recycled plastic slates. They really do look quite realistic and it's very hard to tell the difference between these and the real thing. I'm impressed with these, too.


front of the house well completed les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

We started on the front of the house this morning and Dave came down from La Chatre to lend a hand. If two pairs of hands work twice as quick as one then three pairs of hands work three times as quick and we had the insulation on and battened down in a matter of an hour or two.

And while I was looking for the camera they started on the plywood so I abandoned the photography and joined in. By the time 17:00 came around we had done half of that too. You can see how the battening creates an air gap that helps with the insulation.

Before we started anything though Terry threaded 6 strands of 6mm cable through some lengths of 25mm flexible conduit, two for each of the solar arrays that I'll be fitting and two more for the wind turbine that will be on the apex of the roof. Then we cut a channel through the wall, fastened the conduit in and cemented it down.


courgette greenhouse les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

I went into the greenhouse this evening to water the plants and this was what met me. Not a triffyd but a courgette plant making a desperate bid for freedom. It's taken over all of the greenhouse and it's heading for the door.

This time next week it will have engulfed Claude's house and by the end of the season it will have made it to Montlucon, judging by its present rate of growth.


front roof almost finished windows fitted les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

By lunchtime we'd done all of the plywood inculding the awkward bit of getting around the chimney and it's a good job I can wield a hammer with my left hand as well as I can with my right. "That's not difficult" said Terry.

Putting the damp-proof membrane on was easier than I would have thought, although being able to work from off the scaffolding rather than a "flying ladder" was a great help. The windows were comparatively straightforward to fit, especially if you have a battery-powered circular saw.


aspire recycled plastic slate tile les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

Although this photo doesn't look any different from that of yesterday, we have in fact fitted 10 rows of slates on the roof.

We might have done more too but it was a blinding hot summer's day and the heat was intense. With black slates made from recycled plastic and leaning on a black rubberised sheet of damp-proof membrane, Terry had resorted to gloves and I improvised a ladder-bridge to keep my body off the surface.

But the heat eventually caused us to knock off early.


aspire recycled plastic slate tile les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

The roof is now almost finished. It didn't take us too long to do that today. As I said, working off the scaffolding is easier than off a flying ladder and of course there were two of us nailing them down.

The only part that remains to be done is the bit to the side of the chimney. Seeing as we have to get up to there to treat the woodwork and put slates down the sides, that bit can wait until we have the scaffolding around there.


aspire recycled plastic slate ridge tile les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

The ridge tiles are the ordinary plastic slates scored down the middle with the groove filled with contact adhesive. They were screwed onto the front of the roof with the stainless steel screws and silicone-backed washers and left for a few minutes to catch the sun. Once the sun had caught them they were easy to bend over the apex and screw onto the back of the house. Those silicone-backed washers were quite a find, I can tell you.

The aluminium troughs you see on the roof are the mountings for the framework for the solar panels.


kyocera 130 watt solar panels on roof les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

Terry and I put the framework up on the roof today and then fitted three of the solar panels. They are all wired up and while the three on the roof of the Luton Transit were recording 1 amp in the early evening, these three were chucking out 10 times that. In fact, in the period between 17:30 and 20:30 I'd received about 20 amp-hours-worth compared to a minimal amount on the others.

Mind you the panels are situated right on the sunniest corner of the roof - the part of the roof where the sunshine lingers longest.


solar panels on roof les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

Solar panels are most effective when offered perpendicularly to the sun at the shortest day of the year. Here in central France that's an angle of about 68 degrees. Being restricted by the roof windows, the panels are having to overhang the apex of the roof as you can see. Setting them at 68 degrees would have stood them high up over the apex and this huge sail-effect catching the stormy north winds back-on and this would rip them right off the roof.

It's for that reason that I've been obliged to set them parallel to the roof slope.

They are fitted by saddle clamps onto standard B-size galvanised tube that is secured onto U-profile aluminium by standard tube clamp fittings. The channels have holes drilled in to let the water pass.


where the vegetable plot may be les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

It's late evening as you can tell by the shadows in this image. My shadow is just to the right of centre.

Somewhere down there in that lot are a Mercedes W123, a Ford Cortina and a Ford Transit van. That is where I'll be having my vegetable garden next year so some time over the winter I have to clear it all out. That will be a formidable task.


home grown potatoes les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

On the subject of vegetables these potatoes are grown with my own fair hands. The first of the season for me.

I've been having lettuce from my garden for a few days but today I'm starting on the spuds. Tomorrow it will also be the peas, beans and carrots, with courgettes planned for later in the week.


six kyocera 130 watt solar panels on roof les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

The remaining three solar panels are now on the roof and there'a a theoretical total of 780 watts of power. We also finished off all of the tiling around the chimney and sealed it, and some of the contorted poses that we found ourselves in had to be seen to be believed.

Furthermore you'll notice that the scaffolding appears to have shrunk. In fact I've dismantled the very top layer as there's now no need to go onto the roof.


aspire recycled plastic slates on rafters facade of house painted les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

To keep the weather out of the rafters I painted them with wood preservative and then slated them down the exposed sides. I've also cemented underneath the eaves to keep out the wildlife and that wasn't easy without a bricklayer's trowel. However an offcut of recycled plastic slate makes an acceptable substitute as I found out.

Once the cement had dried I started to paint the facade and I'm down to the level of the decking on the scaffolding.

Finally I xylophrened the two planks that I'm going to be using for the fascia boards on the house and put the first of two coats of wood preservative on.


painted front of house fitted fascia board guttering les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

Today I was in full flight painting the front of the house and it was 21:00 when I knocked off. Mind you, it was so hot at 14:00 when I stopped for lunch that I ate inside the house and stayed here until 16:00 when it cooled down.

As well as having done more than half the painting, I put the second coat of wood treatment onto the fascia boards and fitted then to the exposed ends of the chevrons, and finally attached the guttering.

Many people don't agree with fascia boards when doing roofing (especially round here) on the grounds that they just collect the water, rot away and then drop off. But that's exactly the point. If it wasn't for the fascia boards then the exposed ends of the rafters would collect the water, rot away and drop off and it's much more difficult to replace them.


scaffolding dismantled front of house painted les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

All the scaffolding at the front of the house is now down and the roof is now back on the verandah.

I've painted as much of the outside of the house as I can do right now. The rest will have to wait until I've tidied up whatever is lying about in the way. I can reach everything from ground level except for the little bit over the kitchen where I'll have to invent something to help me there.


inside the attic les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

That's all I'm doing on the outside of the house for now. It's time to turn my attention to the inside and particularly to under the eaves for this is where I'll be living this coming winter if I get a move on.

You can see how well this space blanket insulation fits across the roof and the chevrons. The first task will be to construct a 25mm void to provide an air gap and then I'll be filling between the chevrons with insulation.


inside the attic new roof lights les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

From the reverse angle you can see how effective the two roof lights are, with the sun streaming through the right-hand one. This was definitely a good move to fit them.

I've left the little scaffolding platform up here. I'll be needing to work at the full height of the roof and that's as good a tool as any in helping me to reach up there.


rear of house inside attic les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

You remember that I mentioned the other day that I had to face the walls under the eaves at the front in order to keep the bugs and the weather out. At the rear though it's not possible to do it like that so I've been ramming stones up underneath the insulation on top of the rear wall of the house from the inside and then infilling with mortar.

Then I can get cracking on the inside of the house. I want to be settled in before October.


stairs from attic down to first floor les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

These are the stairs down to the first floor. They will be going soon enough. They are far too wide, point in the wrong direction and lead right through the bedroom.

In any case I need to think about a bathroom. I was originally toying with the idea of building an extension but for that I'll be here for ever. If I reduce the size of the bedroom then that bottom corner where there is a window will make a perfect little shower room


stairs from first floor up to attic les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

If I turn those stairs to face the other way, narrow them somehow, knock down the dividing wall and move it to the left to make a landing, this will create a space about 1m40 by 1m40 right where I'm standing and that will be enough for a small shower cubicle, sink and wc. I don't need any more than this seeing as I'm on my own.

The advantage of putting it here is that the waste water will drain away down the slope without threatening the house. It should be fairly quick to build too,


old slates for recycling les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

Another first thing though was to clear up the bedroom and make sure everything is tidy.

This pile in the corner represents all of the slates that were on the house roof. I'm keeping them to use as a path between my vegetable plots when I move my vegetable garden. It's said that slugs don't like to crawl on slate and as I want to keep my vegetable plots slug-free then making slate paths will be a useful experiment.


bedroom looking through to bathroom les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

The wall just here is going to be knocked down and moved to the next beam closer to the camera thus enlarging the space the other side. The window through there will then be inside the little shower room. That's exactly what I need.

With ths stairs turned round and moving the wall there will be space for a useful landing and perhaps even a cupboard for storage.


taking roof off lean-to les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

After a brief period of rest we made a start on the lean-to at the side of the house.

And once we had the roof off (which didn't take long) we put the scaffolding up so that we could reach the edge of the main roof. After lunch we xylophrened the wood on the end of the main roof and then painted it with the LIDL wood preservative. Tons of the stuff went on and it needs it too. This is the westerly end of the house and the prevailing winds here are from the west, bringing with them all of the rain from the Atlantic


edging the chevrons rafters with half tiles les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

Once the chevrons had been treated "what to?...ed" we edged the roof with half-tiles to give further protection.

I then inspected the chevrons on the roof of the lean-to. A couple were quite bad so I replaced them with new and all of them now have two coats of xylophrene and one coat of LIDL wood treatment. And they needed the xylophrene too. One or two of them have some pretty big bug holes and galleries so they have been well-soaked in the stuff. They aren't too badly damaged so it's not worth replacing them. The xylophrene should do the job.


replacing the roof on the lean-to les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

And fitting the new roof on the lean-to is well-advanced after only one day's work.

This involved -
 i.... removing the scaffolding that was in the roof space
 ii... fitting the rafters or chevrons
 iii.. cementing the rafters in position
 iv... fitting some of the hardboard on the roof
 v.... going to Montlucon to get some more hardboard as we didn't have enough
 vi... fitting the rest of the hardboard
 vii.. fitting the damp-proof membrane (white this time as we've run out of black)
 viii. measuring up, cut, xlophening and putting the first coat of paint on the fascia boards
 ix... temporarily fitting a downpipe to the house guttering to take the water away from where I'm working

Phew!


fitting the fascia boards and guttering les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

This morning was shopping in St Eloy. I still have to eat while I'm working.

And in the afternoon I fitted the fascia boards to the chevrons, loosely attaching the guttering (until I can find somewhere that actually stocks the joints that I need to connect them permanently) and then, as you can see, I've made a start on the tiling.


slating tiling lean to roof aspire recycled plastic slate tile les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

For measuring up the tiling, seeing as I am on my own, I'm stringing a length of wire across the roof. The tiles are 38cms long so I'm nailing them to the roof in dead centre using large-headed galvanised nails. I'm setting the wire at intervals of 17.5 cms and edging the next row of tiles to the wire so that this row covers over the nail heads on the row underneath.

2x17.5 cms equals 35 cms of course and as the tiles are 38 cms it means that the nails through the centre of one row of tiles also go through the ends of the row of tiles underneath, so each tile has four nails holding it down.


slating tiling lean to roof aspire recycled plastic slate tile les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

And so I have 12 rows fitted so far.

There is in fact 2m95 of roof, and each row of slates covers 17.5 cms, so 12 rows means that I've covered 2m10. 85cms to go means 5 rows, plus the topping-out row still to do. After that I need to do the edging tiles, make some ferro-cement for the ridgepiece, and then fit the guttering as best as I can - depending upon whenever the bits come into stock at Brico Depot.


finishing the lean-to roof les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

With the fine morning weather I added the extra rows of slates and then did some cementing up and then cemented in the top row of tiles as far as I had fitted them. No need for ferro-cement though as I managed to get a very good and close fit of the top row of tiles. I also finished off the drainpipe for the house roof.

There's only the far corner left to finish now and it would have been done today except for the relentless heat of the afternoon beating down on that roof that drove me inside.


lean to roof now finished les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

And here we are. One roof, all duly finished.

Well, not quite. The guttering isn't attached correctly, but that's due to the lack of bits at Brico Depot.

I haven't fixed the facing tiles for the chevron at the rear side of the roof. The scaffolding didn't quite reach that far and I didn't fancy a full-stretch leaning over the side. I'll hack down the brambles in due course and put a ladder up to do them. But in the meantime, I dismantled the scaffolding and that was that.


base for battery box les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

It's now time to turn my attention to inside the house, and firstly the battery storage. A good few years ago I dug out part of the ground floor for just this purpose.

First task of course is to prepare a base. Brico Depot was selling some cheap concrete shuttering the other day and that seemed like a perfect place to start. The floor had to be flattened down before I could lay the shuttering.


base for battery box levelling sand les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

Second task was to lay an inch or two of clean dry sand and level it out properly. The purpose of this is to cover up any loose or rough-edged stones that might be protruding above the surface.

You can see that it's all been raked evenly across the surface and packed down into the corners. It needs to make a good tight seal (and no jokes about marine life either, please).


base for battery box damp proof membrane les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

And once we have our good tight seal we need a damp-proof membrane. This is to stop the damp rising from the earth underneath (and there is plenty of that, hence the suspended floor idea) and percolating into the battery box.

Ordinarily you can buy heavy-duty plastic sheet by the square metre for this kind of thing but that's something I've not been able to track down so far over here. So a large piece of decorators' sheeting folded over into two will have to suffice for this.


base for battery box topping sand les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

On top of the plastic sheeting you need to put another inch or two of sand. This is because you will be covering this layer of sand with compacted rubble and you don't want any jagged edges of the rubble piercing the plastic, otherwise you lose the whole effect of the damp-proofing.

Old stones and rubble is something that there won't ever be a shortage of around here. The rubble comes from old walls that I have knocked down (leaving the pillars in place of course) and stones seem to grow in the soil around here.


base for battery box concreting les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

And once you have the rubble packed hard down you then wander off and mix your concrete. Three parts of gravel, two of sand and one of cement gives you a nice respectable mixture. And all done by hand as well.

That needs to be fully tamped down into the corners and then levelled off with a large length of wood, like an old chevron, using a sawing motion so that it tamps down the concrete into the empty spaces and moves the surplus along into other areas where there isn't enough.


battery box sides breeze blocks les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

Once the concrete is down you can go ahead and build up the sides of the box. Breeze blocks (or cinder blocks for our American readers) are good for this.

My bricklaying is nothing to write home about but I can do breeze blocks. A nice thick mortar, a builders' level, a trowel, something to cut the breeze blocks with - that's all you need. A good thick row of cement on the concrete and then put your breeze blocks hollow side down into the cement. If the cement is thick enough you can tap down the breeze blocks until they are level. And then repeat.


battery solar panel wind turbine control panel les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

Now that the battery box is finished it's the turn of the control panel. There are three charge controllers on there. The charge controller for the 2nd bank of solar panels is on the right, that in the centre is the charge controller for the wind turbine, and on the left is the charge controller for the overload.

Normally when the batteries are fully-charged the charge controllers shut down the charging circuit, but that's a waste of energy. I'm having an overload controller that will divert the surplus current into a 12 volt water heater element. So that way I'll have plenty of hot water.

There's two bus bars on there - one for positive connections and one for negative connections. These are for connecting together heavy duty wires and cables. Bus bars range from sophisticated professional jobs down to flattened copper pipe and self-tapping screws, but for many years now I've been developing the "ring terminal onto long bolt with butterfly nut" for the ease of adding and removing different appliances and circuits. It works just fine so there's no reason to change.


mystery plant inside the cloche les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

And what on earth is this? I've made a start on eating my cucumbers and I put my hand inside the cloche (well, a few lengths of old concrete shuttering made into a deep frame and covered by a caravan window). This is what I discovered.

Maybe it's a melon, I dunno. There's all kinds of things in the cloche. However it's quite exciting to see it.



tristar charge controller record charge on solar panel les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

The solar panels on the roof of the Luton Transit that feed the power to the barn have been there since August 2007 and the most solar energy that they have ever received is 90.8 amp-hours, back on 22 April 2009. Bearing in mind that April is some 2 months before the optimal date for capturing solar energy, you would expect that figure to be broken some time in midsummer but as yet it's not quite managed it.

By contrast, the 3 panels on the roof of the house that are currently wired in capture a theoretical 21 watts more and although not angled optimally into the sun, they are situated in a much better location for catching the sun, so I had high hopes for these panels.

But not 120.6 amp-hours worth. When both banks are connected up 120.6 amp-hours on each will represent just under 3KwH of electricity in total.


temporary rainwater harvester les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

This is the new improved temporary rainwater harvester. Don't worry about the multicoloured pipework - when I have everything exactly where I want it I can change that.

The rainwater falls down the downpipe and initially into the part that's angled to the right which is a kind of sump. Anything that is heavier than water, like dirt, stones or concrete, will drop down into there, with the bend in the pipe to stop the dirty water splashing up.

When the sump is filled, the rainwater will go down the part that's angled to the left and into the rainwater collector where there's a plastic mesh filter to catch leaves and the like.


battery solar panel wind turbine charge control panel les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

Back at the control panel there are more changes.

The permanent wires have been run down to the back of the control panel and attached to the bus bar bolts at the rear as they won't need to be removed. I fitted some plastic junction boxes over the ends of the bolts where they protrude through the control panel to protect against short circuits if ever I drop a spanner across the ends.

You'll notice a fuse box, which actually comes from a late 1990s Vauxhall Astra. They have one heavy cable feeding in and 8 wires out, each protected by a maxi-blade fuse that can be as much as 100 amps. Just the job for the 12-volt circuits I'll be having in the house. These are fused as follows -
 i.... a 100-amp fuse for the big inverter
 ii... a 30-amp fuse for the downstairs lighting circuit
 iii.. a 30-amp fuse for the upstairs lighting circuit
 iv... a 70-amp fuse for the upstairs power circuit
 v.... a 70-amp fuse for the downstairs power circuit
 vi... spare
 vii.. spare
 viii. spare

The cable for the power circuits is 6mm - hence I use American 110-volt plugs and sockets as they are designed for high-capacity cable - and 2.5mm cable is used for the lighting. No risk of voltage drop with me.

The charge controller for the first bank of solar panels is now fitted, I've made a start on the wiring, and there are 6 batteries already in what will be the battery box.


front door now opened les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

And this here hole is where the front door used to be. The original front door that was here fell to pieces when I tried to open it after 20 years of being closed, and so I replaced it with another door, which I nailed shut and that was that.

But since I moved into the lean-to-that-will-be-the-kitchen, it's been pretty inconvenient not having a proper front door. Everyone and everything has to traipse through my little room and when I start bringing construction material and the like into the house it will be impossible. So first thing to do was to remove the temporary door.


window in door frame suspended flooring les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

I'm planning to put a suspended floor in here to protect against the damp coming off the floor so I'll be taking out the window in the door frame and moving the permanent front door up the frame in order to give me the required height.

But having seen how bright it gets in that corner of the living room when the door was opened, I've decided against using the solid front door that I was given and I'll be going for a door with glass in it.


temporary replacement door les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

I shan't be putting a real front door in until I know exactly where the floor is going to be. And so this is the temporary replacement front door, in the course of construction.

It's just some old 10mm chipboard that I had lying around and doing nothing, reinforced with some of Brico Depot's cheap concrete shuttering. It will do the job for a while


temporary replacement front door les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

And so now I have a front door that opens and closes when I want it to and it is even fitted with a bolt to keep it closed when I go out. That is definitely progress. It's not very substantial though. A good puff will probably bring it down, but let's not get talking about elitism or sexual preferences on my website.

But you can see from the photo what I mean about the light that's waiting to stream in through the door. Just how much difference a glazed door will make in that corner.


temporary replacement front door les guis virlet puy de dome france stand alone renewable energy farm solar panels wind turbines copyright free photo royalty free photo

From the outside it doesn't look very much but then again it isn't supposed to. There will be a definitive door there in due course.

You can see where I have the breeze blocks that support the scaffolding plank floor. That will be approximately where the suspended floor will be. And the windows up above can be moved to provide headroom for a full-size door - one that is glazed of course.


Work on the attic has started in earnest this afternoon.....


END OF PART TWO
 
PART THREE
 
THE 2009 PHOTOS MAIN PAGE


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