Sitting and Waiting-Part 2


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The first box

This is the follow up to the re-wiring job I was working on around the ponds. If you recall, I had installed the first run from the feed to the first pond by burying the conduit below ground but decided that I didn’t need to do that with the rest of the conduit as it could follow around the stone walls that surround the ponds. This made the project much simpler and hopefully quicker to finish.

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The middle box

I should mention that I happened to have a couple of boxes with two ground fault breakers in each. It was a bit of an overkill as using just one GFCI outlet would protect all the other outlets on that line but as I already had them, it didn’t make sense not to use them. I needed a third and sticking with the same design ordered and received an identical unit from Home Depot. I used this as an excuse for not getting outside to work in the heat on this project while I was waiting for the unit to come although in truth, there was plenty I could have done while I was waiting..

With the additional third box in hand, I managed to conjure up enough enthusiasm and energy to brave the 95 degree heat and get back out to the project. Luckily, most of it was in the shade and with an adequate amount of sunscreen and a good hat, I was ready to go.

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The final box

I laid out the conduit and before gluing it together, pulled the cable through as it was so much easier to work on 10 foot lengths. I finally glued up all of the joints and then made the connections to the GFCI boxes and mounted them on steel posts that I had driven into the ground. I raised the boxes to about 2 feet high off the ground to make it easier to make the connections but even so, sitting on a low stool working on this part of the work really played hell with my old and worn out knees and I was really glad when I was through.

I finally had all of the connections made to the boxes and turned my attention to the final connection to power up the whole thing. I had an outlet that I had installed many years ago attached to the house that worked out perfectly to connect to. It came off the main breaker box so I did not have to worry about electrical load on the circuit other than what I had just installed. I made the connections being sure to throw the main breaker that was the other side of the fence to that line before starting the work.

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The connection to the main breaker via a previously installed outlet.

All went very smoothly and then came the moment of truth. I closed the breaker and went to the first box to test the outlets and nothing…The second and third boxes were the same, absolutely no power. I panicked for about a half a minute and then my brain took over and I started to think of what I might have done wrong. I went back to the first GFCI breaker and noticed a reset button on the outlet which I pushed and saw a little blue light come on. “Could it be as simple as this” I wondered and tested the outlet again and success, it was working. I quickly reset all of the outlets and began plugging in pumps and filters and all of the things that each pond required to keep it healthy.

I should mention that it took me three days working a few hours a day to complete this part of the project. I hate getting up early due probably to my late night habit of watching movies or soccer games and consequently, don’t get outside until the temperature is already in the low 90’s. There are exceptions of course but one of the luxuries of being both old and single is the ability to set one’s own timetable on life. At least on the controllable part.

Now, I feel a lot better as I don’t have any long lengths of cable laying around stretching from pond to pond with the exception of the leads that come from the pumps and such. Safer for me and the dogs and I even got a couple of long lead chords back to use when I need them. I have one more similar project on the big pond that I need to seriously consider only this one will require more digging, darn it. Something for the future.

Another successful project.

Written 6/13/2018

Sitting and Waiting


Today it is raining but the forecast is that it will clear up this afternoon. That is good as I really need to get outside to continue work on my latest project which is to install permanent electricity to three of the ponds.

The first pond that I built more than 30 years ago was around 2500 gallons and actually looked very nice with a patio that surrounded the entire pond. It developed a leak and even by letting the entire pond drain down to nothing, I was still unable to locate it to make a repair. By then I was hooked on Ponding and I decided to rebuild the pond and at the same time, enlarge the entire thing. The end result is a 5000 gallon pond. I did this one right and it has a permanent electrical supply to it.

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5000 Gallon Pond

I spent the next 30 years messing around building other ponds and streams sometimes even rebuilding because of a change of heart or of different ideas. Because of my restlessness and having a very hard to please attitude, I never installed permanent electricity to any of the 3 other ponds for good reason. For example, the middle pond was actually 2 ponds in the shape of an “L” with water from the top pond filtering down to the bottom pond and then recirculating back to the top pond.
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The original “L” shaped pond

The smaller of the two ponds in this system developed a leak so I decided to separate them into two ponds which meant installing a Sanyo skimmer and another pump on the upper pond. I completely rebuilt the lower pond and installed a new liner and increased the depth to almost 4 feet. It too has its own skimmer box and pump. The electricity to drive the pumps was supplied by lead chords and temporary outlets and worked very well and I kept telling myself that as soon as I was satisfied with the ponds themselves, I would change the setup to something more permanent. Besides, I lived alone with no desire for any sort of company other than my dogs and reasoned that I would be careful as I worked the yard.

I had other water feature that I had built, one in the shape of a “Y” with two streams running into a small pond. This one actually worked pretty well but again, only had temporary electricity to drive the pumps. In a fit of madness, I decided to enlarge the pond at the end of the streams which eventually led to me taking out one stream completely along with the small pond. The end result was a 6000 gallon large pond, quite a bit larger than the 1000 gallon pond it replaced. I kept the one small stream and it still runs very nicely. Throughout all of this building and rebuilding, the electricity to drive the pumps was all supplied through the same system as outlined above, lead chords and temporary outlets.
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The New 6000 Gallon Pond

Human Nature being what it is and with everything running smoothly, I moved onto other things and although the thought would cross my mind very occasionally, I never seriously considered doing much about the electric supply to the ponds. Things were working fine so why mess with it. Besides, I had plenty of other things to do that seemed to be more important and anyway, I was not in the mood to dig trenches and bury conduit.

Then, a couple of mornings ago, I came out to check on the ponds and everything was very quiet except for the 5000 gallon pond, the one with permanent electricity, that was running just fine. I wandered over to the other ponds and both the “L” shape and the 6000 gallon pond were very still. None of the pumps were working. Luckily, the system can be down for a few hours before any problems are likely to develop in the form of oxygen deprivation and less dangerous but just as frustrating, muddy water. As it is still early Spring, temperatures would not be high enough to really cause oxygen deprivation problems.

I traced the lead chords as they snaked from pond to pond and quickly discovered that the very first chord was scorched where it connected to the next chord. Even as I watched, the next junction suddenly burst into flames. At least I knew where the problems were located and went to work in temporarily replacing the burnt out lead chords with different ones so as to keep the pumps running while I planned out the new permanent power supply.

As luck would have it, years ago, I had installed an outlet by the back porch directly from the Main Junction Box which also happened to be the one that the temporary supply is plugged into. I figured that I could come from that one and then run the wire through conduit to the first of the GFCI outlet boxes that I planned to install. I have two metal boxes that contain two GFCI outlets in each box that I acquired over the years. Bit of an overkill as a single GFCI would protect all of the outlets downline from it but as I happened to have the boxes, why not use them.

So, with a plan in mind, I went to Home Depot and purchased the necessary supplies and to start work on the project. This is actually a three phase project the first of which is to install the conduit from the supply to the location of the first outlet box about 45 feet away. The second phase will be to run the conduit to the second of the outlet boxes another 50 feet further along. The last phase will be to complete the run another 25 feet to the last of the boxes.

I started work on Phase 1 which entailed digging a trench to bury the conduit. This is the hard part of the project mainly because I hate digging and it takes more of a mind set to actually start the work than to do the work. I managed to convince myself that as hot as it was, I needed to get after it. The digging was pretty easy but it did entail swinging a pickaxe to break up the ground, something I haven’t done in years.

The next part of Phase 1 of the project was to lay out the conduit and then pull the cable through each piece before gluing the conduit together. The whole thing was placed into the trench and covered over, with sufficient conduit and cable exposed at each end to make the connections. And that is where we are today and it has just come on to rain again. It doesn’t look like I will be working outside today, darn it…

Look for part two of this thrilling instalment of DIY.

Written 5/20/2018

Life and Its Peculiarities


old man digging

Life is such a peculiar thing
as we go about our daily lives
for every action whatever it is
is needy enough to take our time.

How varied our tasks through the day
each important in their own way
to take up our time as we hurry along
trying hard to get everything done.

I used to think that when I retired
I would have more time to call my own
and yet in truth more busy am I
then ever when I was gainfully employed.

That is not to say that a slacker was I
as I went about my daily tasks
it’s just that now that I have more time
I pack more into every day.

Sometimes the work is very hard
when digging or building some project new
at others like painting, more tedious by far
hardly working my muscles except in my arm.

The work I do has a twofold task
one  is that it needs to be done
the other is to keep my body fit
and my mind active both as one.

And then at the end of each day
my dogs and I sit and relax
and watch a game on the TV
usually of soccer, my favorite sport.

To bed to refresh and recharge
ready to do it all over again
as with each day a new set of tasks
to keep me busy in the usual way.