Pulled in at 10:15 am with a pair of IBCs in the back of the pickup and a bunch of tools crammed in the back seat. I got the containers for $40 each on craigslist. Once I get them cleaned out, I want to use one as the keep’s water supply and strap the other one to the larger yard trailer for pressure washing and other water needs. The 55-gallon drums have worked well, but they require too much refilling and it’s difficult to gauge how full they are. These square containers have five times the capacity of a drum and you can tell the water level at a glance. They should be quite the upgrade.
I took a moment to walk around the grounds. The grass is really filling in nicely this year; I think all my mowing and collecting from last month is paying off. There’s a lot of sage (at least I think that’s what it is) growing in the wildflower garden where Jake and I cleared leaves, which adds some nice color to the area. There’s also a bunch of stuff coming up in the brick garden and around the woodshed foundation. I’ll need to fire up the weed trimmer soon and beat that all back while it’s still small enough to be manageable.
I hadn’t planned on coming up today, but I got an emergency service call from Jasper’s this morning because their point-of-sale server went down. As long as I was driving out to Pickett, I decided I’d keep going west. Besides dropping off the IBCs, I wanted to take care of a project while it’s still relatively cool out: upgrading the keep’s AC.
The poor little 5,000 BTU window unit we’ve been using the last few years was never meant to cool a space as large as the keep. I bought that back when I was living in an off-campus apartment that had no AC and even then it barely kept my small bedroom cool. On the other hand, since it’s little, it doesn’t draw too much power from the 20A feed to the keep. While it’s been much better than having no AC at all, I’ve been looking for a replacement for a while now. I found a candidate on craigslist this spring: an 8,000 BTU unit that actually draws the same amount of power as the current one. Sold! The only problem is that it’s too big for the existing opening. Time for some wall surgery.
My first order of business was to extract the current air conditioner. It was reluctant to leave its place in the wall as I had essentially glued it in there with expanding foam sealant. After scoring the foam with my utility knife and rocking the unit back and forth a few times, it finally pulled free. It looked pretty gnarly. The foam doesn’t do much to deter water, so there was a lot of gunk all over the AC unit and around the wall opening. Luckily, I had some gear with me to make the new opening a little better in that regard.
I pulled out all of the bracing 2x3s so I could start work on widening the wall opening. I traced out the new dimensions and used my roto-zip and small metal-cutting circular saw on the inside and outside walls respectively. After a successful test fit of the new air conditioner, I reinstalled the 2x3s and set out to make this new opening a little more waterproof. I took some angled roof trim and cut it to fit either side of the opening, screwing it in place from the inside. I cut some top and bottom pieces out, too, but I left some tabs on the outside edges so they’d line up with the first two pieces. It looks pretty decent from the outside and should help keep water and debris out of the wall cavity.
At this point, the new AC unit was ready for final installation. I screwed it in place and went back outside to seal everything up. I used two tubes of dark brown silicone (which matched the trim nicely) to seal every edge of the new trim to the walls of the keep and to the air conditioner itself. The new installation is now watertight and should look really nice once I finally paint the back wall of the keep. I brought along some trim for the inside, but I don’t have my miter saw with me. That’ll have to wait for another trip.
There’s a lot to like about this new AC unit. It sticks out of the wall almost three inches less deep than the small one did. It also runs quieter and the fan blower is much more powerful. I was getting cold just standing in front of it, so I’m sure it will serve us well this summer. I took a short lunch break of cheddar sausage wraps and chips and salsa. I’m glad I’ve got a stocked fridge and pantry up here.
I still needed to unload the IBCs, so I drove around the back of the pole barn and set them next to the trailers for now. They weigh about 120 lbs each but are relatively easy to maneuver. With my truck bed freed up, I pulled back around to the keep and loaded it with my tools.
There was still time to take care of one more project before heading out. I connected and placed the indoor and outdoor temperature/humidity sensors for the PuckaPi. The outdoor sensor is wired through a length of Ethernet and is mounted on the underside of the frame of the keep, while the indoor sensor is mounted right below my existing thermometer on the wall next to the closet door. I verified that they were both working and closed up the keep and was on my way out around 3:00. Short trip, but I’ll be very happy I made this stop when it his 90° this summer.