Shop windows – reducing the heat


I have a shop where I work on projects that need to remain relatively clean, or when I want to stay out of the heat during the summer (think 110F plus). It houses many of my tools and machines as well as my workstation (computer). I wanted to make sure that I had at least a few windows without sacrificing wall space, so I opted for 3 windows above the doors. They let in a lot of light which is nice, but also a lot of heat. The rest of the shop is insulated and an AC unit is in the back wall. The shop stays about 20 degrees cooler/warmer than the outside with the insulation. During the winter, the sunlight through the windows provides enough heat for daytime work without a heater, nighttime requires a heater to keep the shop above freezing since some of the machines are water cooled. The summer though is a different matter, the windows let in too much heat. The sunlight runs right across the side of my head in the morning, annoying to be sure and hot.

shop-window-coversMy cure? Acrylic inserts. I took some 3mm acrylic that I had and cut it on the laser cutter to a size the would fit in the window frame, but be able to be removed. I left the protective blue film on the acrylic after cutting, although I am thinking that window tint might be more effective, for now though this is working well.

Chickens and the Coop


Somehow we ended up with chickens, not a lot of them but enough (9). Through a series of incidents, we were down to 7. Then someone got the idea to get more. I am not opposed, since they really aren’t our chickens per se, and they do provide eggs which are much better than what you can get in the store.

When they first arrived from our friends, we had purchased two coops (kits) from CostCo, they weren’t cheap except for the actual construction. We expected more from a unit bought from CostCo. I guess CostCo thought so as well since they stopped carrying them after dropping the price to get rid of them. We spliced the two coops together and they worked well for about a month, then started to fall apart. They are also small. The claim was they each were for up to six chickens. I am not sure what types of chickens they were making that claim for, but it wasn’t for regular sized chickens, maybe for some extra small bantams or chicks. The runs were also tiny. So, when seven more chicks showed up at the house, something had to be done.

First, you cannot introduce new chickens with no protection for the new chickens without the possibility of losing a few. So, to ‘socialize’ the new chickens a enclosure had to be made for them to grow to the size and age where they could be introduced into the population. Then a larger more sturdy coop needed to be constructed. Talk about a big job. My wife set about designing the new coop. Raised off the ground about 18″ on blocks and 8 ft x 10 ft with 3 doors for humans to access for cleaning and such.


I made the comment that it was overbuilt for a coop. We got as far as framing, sheathing the walls, priming the walls with paint, and coating the floor with an elastomer that the weather turned nasty (60+ MPH winds) and rain. So we tarped it and hoped for the best. Well, it didn’t move. She did a good job on the design, of course it didn’t have any of the doors mounted so that helped with the wind loading.



My wife did a lot of research on coop design. One of the issues we are having is that we have one chicken that pecks her eggs after laying, destroying the egg. So in the new nest boxes she has designed a angled bed that will allow the eggs to roll out to an enclosed area where the chickens cannot reach. There are now six nest boxes instead of just four like the old coop. The chickens will only use two of the nest boxes in the old coop after the bottoms fell out of two of the nest boxes on one side. They don’t trust those boxes anymore, who said chickens were stupid.

Additionally, she designed a way to close the nest boxes at night so that the chickens don’t try to roost in them at night. During the day when open it gives the chickens an easy way to enter and exit the nest boxes without having to balance on the edge of the nest boxes.

My wife also wanted doors for the chickens to enter and exit that slid up and down versus being hinged. The sliding door gives a bit more protection from critters and say our dogs as it will not give as easily to pressure. It also reduces the need for a latch as needed on a hinged type of door. So, I have framed up one door using metal, it slides easily although the door needs a bit more weight to make it slide down the way it should. This design also allows for automation of the doors later on so they can open and close on a schedule automatically. Trust me, letting the chickens out at around sunrise and closing them up after dusk gets old quick.

We have started on the roof, but are waiting for some of the parts to come in that had to be ordered, but at least the rafters are up with a set of purlins to keep things in place.

The new run for the chickens is also much larger 10ft x 20 ft. I had a frame from a covered area that I used to have my MGB in for working on it. As the sun destroyed the vinyl side and roof, I thought it would be good to re-purpose the frame for a run.

 We did have an exciting moment the other day when bees choose the coop for a new home. At first it was only a few, and I smoked them out. Then the queen arrived. I didn’t take any pictures for safety reasons. The swarm was several hundred bees in size (at least). We had covered the rafters with a tarp due to rain, so the swarm was in the shade. I tried to smoke out the swarm again with no effect. Then I had a thought. Bees in this area of the country will not build a hive in an area where there is direct sunlight, The heat is too much. So I carefully removed the tarp from the rafters. After waiting about 30 minutes for the sun to make its way across the sky it finally got to the edge of the swarm. About a minute later there was a loud buzzing as the whole swarm took flight and left the property. Saved me about $150 to have to have them removed by a professional. Around this area you have to assume that the bees are Africanized bees, and while their sting isn’t any worse than that of a regular bee, they attack in large numbers which can be fatal, or just really painful. 

We still have more to do, this is the build that will never end. I am not the project manager on this one though, which makes my wife sad since that is what I do for a living.

Horse trailer refurbishment

horse trailer

We currently have two horses, both thoroughbreds. One was supposed to be a race horse, but was too slow or so goes the story. The other was a race horse who won or placed in every race until he was injured. They are both would not fit in the bumper pull two horse trailer we had, as they are 16.1 and 17.1 hands. The trailer was from 1978 and had been sitting out in the desert sun most of its existence.  So the task fell upon me to refurbish it so it could be sold.

  1. Replacing the floors. The floors were in bad shape, someone (not me) put flooring in that was not up to the task, then put plywood on top of that with a bunch of screws to hold it all together. Not something I would want to put my horse on, so it came out and was replaced with treated wood planks.
  2. The inside walls and back doors are covered thin plywood but the edging is welded in place. I was not going to go so far as to cut all that out and have to re-weld all that metal. So the inside got new rubber panels to cover the areas where a horse might hit or rub.
  3. The floor mats looked like an old door mat from my childhood. Those found their way into the trash and new rubber mats were installed.
  4. The lights and wiring were in a bad state, patch work had been done multiple times. All the wiring was torn out and fresh wire installed. Lighting fixture both inside and out were replaced with new units. Also, a connection box for the wiring was put into place for future needs and ease of maintenance.
  5. The hitch had been “broken for years” along with the foot. The old hitch was cut off and a direct replacement was welded on. This was done by a friend that is a certified welder, I wanted it to be safe for live animals and wasn’t taking the chance on my skills along. The new hitch came with a primer coat, so a new base coat was put on the clear coated. Not a bad job.
  6. The windows were all intact but badly weathered. A good cleaning and polish and they were clear again. Well as clear as the old blue plastic could be, ah the seventies designs.
  7. The vents were non-existent. The downside to this is that they do not make them in the right size anymore. Not to mention that the surface they are mounted to is curved. So, adapter plates were made to secure them to the curved surface.
  8. The bright work was damaged and loose in some places. So they were re-attached and polished. Some of the damage could not be repaired but was only superficial.
  9. The paint had suffered the most. So three days of rubbing and buffing and the lacquer finish brightened up. It still had some patina, but would bead water easily and would reflect the sun. Looked like some of the “vintage” paint jobs that are so popular now a days.
  10. The tires were not road worthy with a load and the wheels were sad. I was able to find a set of four new bias ply trailer tires at the shop that would match the setup of the trailer based on its build time. The wheels were painted after a good run over with a wire brush.

In all it took about a month to get the trailer ready for use by horses. While I was glad to see it go to a new home where it would be used, I was sad that we could not use it ourselves. Next time we should get smaller horses.

Harbor Freight Quick Hitch

Harbor Freight had their version of the 3 point Quick Hitch on sale again, so I stopped by to pick one up. They are relatively simple pieces of equipment and are suitable for tractors with up to a Cat 1 3 point system.


However they are not without their flaws. First of which, it the size of the top hook. These are cut from inch plate, but not to an acceptable tolerance, so some fgrinding and filing was in order. Second, the retaining bolts for the top hook interfere with connecting equipment that are Quick Hitch Ready. Fixing this was not much of an issue, only the time a a few materials were requied. i found some other solutions for this issue after a quick search, but choose my own solution.


I solved my problem by replacing the bolts with 7/16″ steel dowel pins and 5/16″-24 bolts. I took the top hook drilled and tapped 2 holes in the front of the hook for the retaining bolts. A little thread locking gel, and the top hook was in place with no interference with the implements. Now the third issue, how to mount the stabilizer bar.


A standard 7/8″ pin fit nicely, so I used it, a self locking nut, and a couple of washers to mount the stabilizer bar to the Quick Hitch.