A warm bed and cold buns

I head on up to the homestead.  My schedule at work has changed again.  Chris, who I started working with at Smoky Hill quit so now instead of shelving books I will be back making coffee at the coffee shop.  So, the anticipated extra days up here lasted for one week and now I will have different days off so will be back to coming up for a couple of days a week.

Brrrrr, it’s still cold.  The -14 degrees came and went but it’s still about -2 outside.


I get here and I learn that the chicken waterer works really well.  The heated base worked in -14 degree weather so the cats have water.  Sandy rigged up a carrier with some silver insulation inside and the cats are all still here.  They are still piling into the carrier.  It looks like a keystone cops movie when they all come piling out.

With anticipation I open the faucets and I am relieved to learn that all the pains I went to with the pipes is working.  I have running water, hot and cold.  Hurray!!  It was minus degrees all last week so now I can relax and know if the weather gets bad everything is ok.  Unless it gets -20 for a few days in a row I think it will be ok.  It does depend on electricity to keep them warm but it’s pretty good up here.  The electricity comes and goes sometimes but I believe it’s because they are putting in new lines and occasionally have to turn it off.  Hopefully they are not working in minus degree weather so that shouldn’t be a problem.

I left the wall heater so it would keep the house about 65 degrees (usually 60 but since it was supposed to be below freezing for days I figure a little extra is ok).  I run upstairs to check the bedroom temps and it’s warm upstairs.  Hot air rises so I guess that makes sense.  I wasn’t sure what the insulation is like up there but it seems to be the same temp or a couple of degrees more than it is downstairs.  The floor has vents for the heat to rise and that is how the upstairs is heated (except for the electric baseboard heaters which I hope I never have to turn on because they are expensive).  One thing about this house is I have the propane wall heater, the propane fireplace, the wood stove, electric baseboards in the bathroom and bedrooms, and the electric heater in the kitchen.  Unless the electricity goes off, the propane doesn’t work and I have no wood I should be warm.

I find out that with the propane heater, even if it’s 60 some degrees, the toilet seat still feels like an outhouse.  It is in the furthest part of the house on the opposite end of the room in the add-on part of the house.  The wood stove is at that end of the house but I need to have someone come and check the chimneys and clean them and make sure it’s good to go.  I have no way to know if they were cleaned while the previous owner lived here or not.  The bathroom is partial outside wall and partial inside.  It’s -2 out so I guess I can expect it to be a little cold.  It’s a good waker upper.

Hmmm, what will I do today?  My friend calls and asks if I want the polka dots.  The polka dots happen to be some cool things we found at the Re-Purposing Store.  They are moving (my old studio mate – see previous moving blog) and don’t want to take these with them.  This is a great store.  One day we were driving around 47th and Monaco and we saw a big fenced lot with a whole bunch of stuff in it.  We saw these colorful round objects and my friends says, “those would make great planters.”  There happened to be a guy in there and the gate was open so we drove in and asked him what all the stuff was.  He said it was stuff they buy and they think up ideas on how to reuse it and sell it.  We went to their building on 45th and Monaco and they all sorts of cool stuff.  Wooden barrels, vinyl billboards (great for lining ponds), old tread that would make cool edging for garden beds, and tons of other stuff. Was fun to roam around figure out how you could reuse the stuff.  This was their start.  Now they are sort of famous.  The guys who thought this up have been on the Today show, they outgrew their other building and have moved to a warehouse.  They now have so much stuff from all over the nation that they have online auctions and sell in big lots.  Anyway, the yellow and green things my friend got to make planters are old plastic tubing dishes.  They are used to put an innertube in and to snow tubing.  Several times I have meant to go there and get some for myself.  With the weed problem up here I quickly agree to go get them from her.  They will serve me for two purposes.  They will make great planters and they kill whatever is under them.  I can put them in different places to kill out the weeds.  I need to repaint them.  They were yellow and green but my friend repainted them white.  I’ll find some fun colors to repaint them again.

If you want to check out their website they’ve got some amazing fun stuff.  http://www.repurposedmaterialsinc.com  They have some old gym floors that I would love to have some of the wood; also some old barn wood.  I’ve always wanted to get one of the vinyl billboards and make a pond.  They were folded inside/out so you couldn’t see what the ad was.  It would be fun to use it and have the ad be the bottom of the pool.  Now that they are somewhat famous I don’t like that you have to buy some stuff in big lots by auction.  I rather liked going to their warehouse and roaming around finding cool things to repurpose.  Their prices are a little higher now too.  If I can go to Home Depot and buy wood at the same price it’s not as fun or exciting to buy it from them if it costs the same amount.  Part of the fun was paying to reuse something and getting it for a lot less than new would cost.


I’m sitting with the little fireplace on.  I’ve really been enjoying it.  All of a sudden it goes out.  Hmmmm.  I try to relight it and the pilot light lights easily but it won’t stay lit.  What could the problem be?  I’ve never had propane appliances so I have no idea.  I will try to go online and get some info.  The doorbell rings and it’s Sandy.  I tell her about the fireplace and she immediately says “Oh, it’s probably the thermocoupler or since it’s ventless maybe it’s not getting enough air.”  Well, alrighty then.  I show her how the pilot light lights but won’t stay on.  She says, yeah, that’s probably what it is.  She says Poulsen’s may have one or she knows another place that usually has stuff for heaters, etc.  After she leaves I go online and it does seem that that may be the problem.  I find the model number of the fireplace and look it up online.  I look up troubleshooting and it says there could be two different reasons.  I could be dirty and dusty, or it could be the thermocoupler.  I look up the diagram and what Sandy thought was the thermocoupler is the ignition wire.  Hmmm, there is no other wire that the flame can touch.  The diagram shows the thermocoupler should be right underneath the pilot tube.  I stick my head in there and there is a wire that runs to the gas valve but it feels like it’s welded onto the pilot tube.  That must be it though.  I decide I will tackle it in the morning.

I get up and putter around and decide to start on the fireplace.  I do more reading and it talks about the pilot light flame shooting straight out or curving up.  It should go straight out.  Whether it goes straight out or is curved I’m not sure how it will heat the thermocoupler since it appears to be stuck to the side of the tube and nowhere near the flame.  I get the shop vac and suck all the dust out (or as much as I can since I don’t have an attachment that will let me really get down in the small spaces).  I find the little hole in the pilot tube.  It suggests using canned air to blow it out but I don’t have any so I try using a straw.  I blow into all the holes they tell me to and try to light it.  I notice the flame is curved and not straight and I think that is the problem and not that the thermocoupler is bad.  It says if the flame is curved it is just dust or something blocking the hole.  I let it cool off and stick my head in there again with a straw and blow harder into the hole.  It’s kind of hard because it’s small so I hope the air can get into the hole.  I try the pilot again and this time the flame shoots out straight.  Well, that’s progress.  The pilot light stays lit and I can turn it on again.  It burns for about 10 minutes and goes out again.  Hmmm.  I go over and the pilot flame is curved again and won’t stay on.  I let it cool down and do the whole thing over again.  I’m still getting the curved flame so I try blowing in the pilot hole again.  Maybe there is still some dust.  I try lighting the pilot again and it’s still curved.  I hold it in for at least 30 seconds.  I slightly blow into the fireplace and the flame goes straight again.  I turn it on and it’s been burning since.  Hurray – I think it needed a good cleaning – go figure (see previous filth blogs).  It appears it’s an air problem and not a thermocoupler problem.  I’m glad because the space where the thermocoupler goes is very small.  If I ever need to change it out it will require some long needle nose pliers or something that I don’t have on hand right now (note to self, get some tools).  The instructions I found online say to turn it off if not to be used for a few days so I guess I will start turning off the pilot when I’m not here.  I’ve had the pilot light running since I bought the house (my don’t fix it if it’s not broken mentality).  I was a little freaked out (or at the least cautious) at first with all the propane and pilot lights.  Gas is not my favorite thing not ever having been around it.  Now, I’ve had to light and relight them several times so it’s not a big deal.

Wow, what should I do now?  I thought it would take me all day to run into town to Poulsen’s and get the part to fix the fireplace.

It’s very windy out today. It drop the 48 degree temperature down to the 30’s so nothing I can do outside.  I decide to catch up on my gardening blog.  It’s the last episode of the apprentices so I wrap that up while listening to the Broncos on the radio.  It’s also that time of year when it gets dark that 5:00 feels like 10:00.  It’s too late to start any painting.  I decide I need to make a cup of tea and read a book.

The next day it’s really windy and much colder.  I do some cleaning and change the cat water and decide I might as well hit the road.  The pilot light on the fireplace is still lit.  Hurray.

It’s time to start thinking about getting the rest of the painting finished.  Yeah, right!





About pbodwell

Master Gardener; Nat'l Award Winning Photographer; Garden Writer; Artist - art books, print maker, hot glass, wire jewelry designer; sometime quilter; new homesteader; bee keeper; very crafty; Baseball fan, enthusiast, and researcher; all things vintage
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2 Responses to A warm bed and cold buns

  1. acroteria says:

    Repurposed mat’ls website is interesting, thanks for posting it. Good thing they’re in CO otherwise I’d be buying all sorts of things I don’t really need right now.

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