Friday, February 10, 2006

The Man Post (by Troy)

Ok, here is some manly info for you manly-type men with man-related questions regarding life here on the mission. (Specifically Mr. Scott Meadows and Sir Declan Slater):

One oft-asked question is about the generator and inverter system that gives us electricity. The generator is manufactured by Lister Petter out of England. We run it about three and a half hours first-thing in the morning each day, and sometimes for an hour or two in the evening depending on our usage that day. While it is running, it provides AC power through a charging inverter to a bank of 24 batteries (not maintenance free) that are wired together to form a 48 volt total system. The inverter takes the AC in from the generator and converts (inverts) it to DC to charge the batteries. Depending on the load we put on it while charging, it seems to take about 3 hours to completely charge the string, and then the inverter switches from a "bulk" charge state to a "maintenance" charge. Once the generator is turned off, the inverter automatically switches to providing power from the batteries rather than from the generator. That is the only part that is "automatic". The generator is started with a hand crank and the power to the house and water pumps are turned on by throwing breakers. The generator must be manually stopped as well.

Our diesel is usually purchased at a gas station about 30 minutes away. We take the big truck loaded with 3 55-gallon drums and a couple smaller containers to fill up. The bill was around 350 dollars US on my last trip. This will hopefully be enough to last the month. The price per gallon was about $2.60 US, which didn't seem too bad, I assume that's still cheaper than in the States.
Our trucks are filled here with a manual hand pump from the diesel containers. Most vehicles here are diesel, and in certain places the fumes and smog are unreal. The smaller truck we use is a Mitsubishi L200, like a light-duty 4WD pickup with a crew-cab and a cargo cage on the back. The larger truck is a Mitsubishi "Canter", which is like a flat-bed married to a stake truck. The L200 is the slowest vehicle I've ever driven, but it climbs hills like a goat. The Canter drives like a forklift, but it's about ten times quicker than the little truck. Variety is the spice of life, even here.

The water comes from a DEEP well far away near a river bed. There is a pump that pulls water from the well to a large underground cistern here on the grounds. Then a separate pump pushes from the cistern to a tank on top of a hill behind the house. I believe that tank holds 300 gallons. Once it is filled, the house water is gravity-fed through pipes from that tank. The pressure is quite good, until the tank is empty, and then the pumps must be manually turned on (while the generator is running). Two people have been stranded mid-shower during my tenure.

One of my favorite tools: The power tin-snips. Million Dollar idea right there.

My neighborhood hardware store, complete with lumber yard. Rough cut by hand, of course.

Who needs cement mixers? Just mix it on the ground.

The tool shed, AKA Male Crisis Center, in need of some organization.

Haitian Home Security System.Yes,those are broken bottles on the top of the wall.(Not our wall)

Local auto parts store. Low on inventory, high on price. Just like a dealership.