Sunday, May 1, 2016

Post 20 (April 28)-Butt Connectors

The front of our house, complete with trim around the tiny window, porch lights, and a mailbox that doubles as an illuminated license plate mount.

One of the challenging things about writing a blog is that I want to provide you with the most updated pictures and updates, but the moment I sit down to write the blog, inevitably the pictures are already outdated and we have more, really exciting things happening soon.  That very thought process, however, is what's kept me from writing a post for the past few months, and it's time to interrupt the thought train, and let you know about our progress!

Major Accomplishments:
  • Plumbing is complete--thanks Shane Letts! He even installed a very high-tech shower head for us (see picture below). Shane was able to retrofit a way to fill our 95 gallon on-board water tank using our city water hook-up and the easy operation of a couple ball-valves. He also had a great idea during early construction to use a water tank/system "dump" that is easily operated with a ball valve that can drain the entire system in case of contamination or freeze prevention, which he installed during the final wrap-up. 
  • Exterior siding is done (well, except for a tiny strip along the bottom.  In the picture above, you can see the tiny sliver of white house wrap that is still visible) See story below.* 
  • Batteries are installed in the battery tray that's nestled underneath the trailer and held together with unistrut.  Thanks to our neighbor Rich, we moved the tiny house back about 10 feet so that the tires sat on top of a mound of dirt, giving the three of us (Rich, Kacey, me) enough room to shimmy under the trailer and slide each of the 120 lb. batteries into the battery tray.
  • Electrical work will be completed next week.  Our electrician Zoran is an expert and we enjoy learning from him.  We have such confidence in his expertise and are so lucky to have found him.
  • Trailer lights are installed.  High priority because Kacey and I are going to show our tiny house at a Tumbleweed Tiny House workshop in Berkeley
  • Inverter is installed.  Special thanks to Jeremy C. at Wholesale Solar for his patience and expertise.
  • Mailbox, doubling as a license plate, is installed! 
*A Story About Our Exterior Siding: In Chinese literature, there's a story written by 胡適 called 差不多先生 (loosely translated "Mr. Good-Enough").  This story exposes the dangers of never doing a job to perfection.  Indeed, some of 差不多先生's last words are, "The living and the dead are just about the same." Philosophical reactions to this statement aside, 胡適 makes the point that living with a "good-enough" mentality is not likely to produce extraordinary results.  This tiny house project has opened our eyes to the areas in our lives in which we are "Mr. and Ms. Good-Enough," and the areas in which we are "Mr. and Ms. It's not good enough until it's perfect." Wonderfully (and frustratingly, at first), our areas of good-enough and never-good-enough don't really overlap.  Kacey is particular about every cut, the grain of every piece of wood, the location of every exterior screw.  I... am not.  When we first started our build, I found myself getting frustrated with his excruciating attention to detail.  I'm much smarter now.  As I look out at our tiny house from the kitchen sink of our big house, I'm so appreciative.  His attention to detail is creating a breathtaking masterpiece.

I'm that particular about different things--meals I prepare, in-person sessions I design, formatting of course materials, the tupperware drawer.  Just like me, Kacey found some of my "not-good-enough-until-it's-perfect" tendencies frustrating at first.  He's smarter now, too :)

I'm sure by now you're wondering, "Why on Earth is this post titled 'Butt Connectors'?!" As we were installing the trailer lights, we used butt connectors to connect the original trailer wiring to our more stylish LED trailer lights.  We wanted to get away from the traditional square trailer lights and opted for a sleeker look that uses less power.  Prior to this project, the thought that wires could be cut and spliced together with a $0.25 metal cylinder was unfathomable to me.  But, there I was, watching Kacey cut, connect, shorten and lengthen wire without blinking an eye.  It occurred to me that before the tiny house project, I approached life with a "if you cut a wire, there's no way to salvage it" attitude.  A year into our build, I'm learning that Kacey and I are connecting pieces of our lives together, trimming out the things and thoughts that no longer serve us, and working to lengthen this pretty special time in our lives.  If butt connectors could make our days just a little bit longer than they are, we'd buy them in bulk to preserve and cherish the home stretch of the biggest project either one of us has ever undertaken.  Thanks for supporting us along this journey.

Trailer lights.

Notice the trailer lights and the electrical box.

A good view of the hardware on the door here that 1) keeps the doors open and 2) prevents them from running into the porch lights and mailbox when they swing open.

The center view of the battery tray.  Hard to see, but batteries are connected (in series).

A bit easier to see the connections between batteries.

Now you can see the connection.  Connecting the + of one battery to the - of the next is called a series circuit.  It adds voltage -- for example, two 6-volt batteries connected in series results in a 12-volt circuit.  In our instance, we are connecting 8 6-volt batteries in series to provide us 48-volts to our inverter.  This is the ONLY way you would ever want to connect the + to the - .

Our installed shower head.  

Check our the sleek nozzle.

This little knob allows us to turn the water off right at the nozzle.  When we're working to conserve our on-board water during showers, this will come in very handy!

A shot of the pluming underneath.  On the right is the water tank.

This is the water pump box, the tube you see is the water out of the pump.

Another shot of the plumbing underneath the trailer.  

Kacey primed and painted the cover for the intake and exhaust for the hot water heater and bathroom exhaust fan vent.  Looks much more polished. 

The cover above will go here.  Kacey even pained the inside of the pipe on the left so that you didn't see white pipe inside of a painted vent.

The box that Kacey built around the water pump.  The bolts you see in the picture fasten directly to the trailer.

Another shot of the water pump.  The holes are for incoming (from the right) and outgoing water (to the left). There's also a serviceable particulate filter to keep dirt and sand out of the water pump. 

Installed inverter.

Zoomed-out view.  As you can see, it's installed just above the washer/dryer.

A profile view.  You can see it extends slightly past the 2 x 8, but not by much!

Exterior siding done except for a tiny sliver along the bottom.  You can still see a bit of white house wrap sticking out at the very bottom.

A close-up.

A view of the back, AND of the side that almost never gets pictured in the blog.  Proof that we're actually finishing the other side, too :)

I look at this photo with a smile.  You?