Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Thinking about passive house but you already own a home; how about retrofitting it to passive house standards?  That's what this Sonoma, CA resident did.

Learn more about this passive house retrofit on ZDNet.

Monday, March 21, 2011


The Passive House movement is in its infancy in the US but it’s already a young adult in Europe.  It’s called 'passive' because heating or cooling these homes relies completely on natural resources...An energy recovery ventilation system provides a constant, balanced fresh air supply, a uniquely terrific indoor air quality AND reduces energy use and carbon emissions.

[Moving beyond conventional building principles.]

Learn more about this post quoted by Gayle Fleming at Ecogayle's Blog.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


We're just about ready to start moving dirt; I hope to be on the dozer by Saturday. Dad and I started out Saturday morning by installing track pads onto the new chain.

[New chain with track pads suspended from the bucket.]

Once we had installed 15-20 track pads, we laid out the new chains and inched the dozer forward leaving only a link or two exposed.  It took a stone bar, a crow bar and some serious effort to roll the links and track pads over the rear sprocket and idlers but we did it!  We set the pins in the master links and went back to work installing the remaining track pads.

[One bolt at a time.]

A lot of track pads and no power tools.  By the end of the day, we only had 10-15 more pads to install. 

[Almost there.]

Before we packed up and hit the road there was a brake line that needed to be removed.  I'll head up to the mountain during the evenings after work until I've installed the new brake line and remaining pads.  After all of is said and done I can assure you I've got a whole new appreciation for "sweat equity."

[All that's left after +36 hour of hard work.]

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

an example

WTTW PBS Chicago featured this Passive House in January.  Although frigid winter temperatures in Illinois are typically associated with high heating costs, this Oak Park family weren't worried about thier heating bill.  Learn more about this Passive House at Four Thick Walls.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


A big machine means big repairs - the dozer is due for new track chains.

[New track chains weighing close to 1000 lbs.]

First, have a look at the lot and check out the views; it was an amazing day on the mountain.  Although we've made significant progress we've still got some work leveling the building site and clearing more timber.

[A view from the northeast.]

[A view from the northwest.]

The weekend before last we broke down the tracks.  The track plates are in great shape; the previous owner replaced all the plates about a year ago.

[Track pads removed and sprocket exposed.]

The recent track pad replacement made it easy to turn the bolts.  To give you a little idea of how much work was involved, there are 32 track plates on each track and each plate had four bolts to remove.  That's 256 bolts that needed to be pulled and we still have a few plates to remove.

[Four or five of the 64 track pads that needed to be removed.]

After removing the plates, we replaced both drive sprockets weighing in at +100 lbs a piece.  Next came the two front pulley wheel assemblies weighing in at +200 lbs a piece.  At around 3:00PM on Sunday we were ready to start on the new track chains.

[One new sprocket gets mounted.]

Man handling track chain is no easy task.  Thankfully, Dad mounted a hydraulic lift to the back of his pickup to help move all the dozer parts into place.  Once the new track chains were laid out, we disconnected the old chain from the dozer and paired up both chains in the dirt.

[Dad torching and cutting out an pin in the old chain.]

As the anxiety set in, we moved the dozer inch by inch before quickly realizing that we forgot one very important detail; connect the two chains.  Moving the dozer along a disconnected track isn't as easy as it sounds and two chains should be connected with a pin before attempting to move the machine.

Working with come-a-long while using the bucket to lift the dozer off the ground we were able to connect the chains with a pin Dad had fabricated for the project.  Once the chains were connected, we moved the dozer onto the new chains.

Next weekend we'll roll the new chains onto the dozer and start mounting all 64 track pads and tightening their 256 bolts.  Anyone have a generator we can borrow?

[Telli checking out brother Barley.]