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Re-purposing common machines and artifacts

Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4234
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  62
Re-purposing and multi-purposing manufactured items is a far more environmentally sound approach than recycling things for their resource value.

One of my most commonly used phrases is "highest and best use". When considering what to do with a particular resource, l always ask myself- "What is the highest and best use for this item?" Many items which have become obsolete may be obtained for next to nothing and put to a much better use than scrapping.

I hope to use this thread to examine various uses for commonly scrapped items which are more valuable transformed and re-used . This relates closely to something Paul posted recently where he ranks recycling, reuse,and refusal. Instead of making this about pop cans and clothes pins, let's make it about bigger and more expensive manufactured items. I will give you a few of mine first and then let's all describe an expensive item that could be re-purposed.

Oil tanks----- The type of oil tank commonly seen in residential use are the aprox. 250 gallon ones with elongated oval ends. When these are no longer needed for oil storage, they are useful as either containers of various sorts or they can be chopped up for their heavy guage sheet metal.------------from a previous posting entitled Free metal fasteners for your post and beam building -------------- There are millions of used oil tanks which need to be removed from residences across North America. Where I live it costs about $150 to remove your standard oval tank. These tanks must be drained and cleaned. While most of my competitors clean up these tanks and then toss them into the scrap bin, I have made good use of the very thick sheet metal which they are formed from.

Post-and beam construction requires lots of metal fasteners in I,L and T shapes. The metal in oil tanks is quite a bit thicker than some of the commercially available fasteners and it's a waste product. Using a very light grinder with super thin cutting blades I have chopped many tanks into useful shapes. It helps to lay everything out ahead of time with a marker since certain shapes leave scraps which naturally lead into another shape. Wear earplugs, goggles, thick leather gloves and a good mask. The cut pieces can be edged with doubled up course sandpaper bent in a U-shape so that it does two edges at once. Wear gloves!

Most tanks have a portion near the bottom which is rusty since moisture accumulates within. I never use this crappy metal since there is an unlimited supply of perfectly good stuff and it's better than free.

Plate glass----- is abundant and very often free. Great for greenhouse walls (use only tempered patio door glass for roof...safety) Cut into squares or rectangles you can make tiles for kitchen counters and floors. I've cut glass using a simple wheel type cutter and dressed the edges with sandpaper. 5 min per sq. ft. tile.

Tractors----- This is gleaned from a thread in HOMESTEAD entitled Stationary Engine from retired tractor--------- In searching out old tractors I've discovered that many "parts tractors" have a good engine and transmission but are not economic to fix up completely. Some have sustained steering damage, some have lost their body metal and many go cheap because they have bad rubber. A decent running Ford 8n in my area goes for $2500 with attachments. But a perfectly good unit with bad rubber and no toys goes for $500. This is much less than I would expect to pay for a 20+ hp stationary engine. I could see mounting an old tractor on concrete piers and using not only the power take-off but also utilizing the suspended rear wheels as power sources. The wheels would be suspended a foot off the ground with the front anchored in concrete as well. ----------- no need to rewrite the whole thing here

Other obsolete farm equipment ----- Farm equipment bone yards contain equipment with salvagable wheels, augers, tanks, flails, etc. which can be utilized for innumerable projects.

Scrap vehicles----- quite often vehicles are no longer roadworthy but they can still be useful on the farm. Scrap busses and trucks make cheap storage spaces. A garage on wheels never needs to be liscensed if it stays home. If you hear banjo music when you pull into the driveway, it's time to stop collecting old vehicles.


Big pipes and tanks----- Anyone building a rocket stove, water storage or various mixers and animal feed storage and distribution should check the scrapyard.

Buildings----- A building in the wrong place has a negative value. You can charge to dispose of it. Movers are always glad to give an estemate before you commit.

Mobile Homes ----- Live in it while you build, turn it into a barn or storage later. Earth berm it if you want to hide it. Demolish it and the steel frame makes a great base for a cottage or for a mobile sawmill. Mobiles often go for free. I've charged for disposal. They make a great scaffold if a pole barn is built around them. Beware of banjo music!


Tell us about other scrap machines or other things which have become obsolete and how you envision re-using those things.


QUOTES FROM MEMBERS --- In my veterinary opinion, pets should be fed the diet they are biologically designed to eat. Su Ba...The "redistribution" aspect is an "Urban Myth" as far as I know. I have only heard it uttered by those who do not have a food forest, and are unlikely to create one. John Polk ...Even as we sit here, wondering what to do, soil fungi are degrading the chemicals that were applied. John Elliott ... O.K., I originally came to Permies to talk about Rocket Mass Heaters RMHs, and now I have less and less time in my life, and more and more Good People to Help ! Al Lumley...I think with the right use of permie principles, most of Wyoming could be turned into a paradise. Miles Flansburg... Then you must do the pig's work. Sepp Holzer
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6652
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
137
I've seen a lot of nice utility trailers made from the rear end of a dead pick-up truck.

A lot of wood stoves made from retired drill casings. Ten times the thermal mass of a steel barrel.

Old culverts converted to feed silos. Also feed troughs.

marty reed


Joined: Dec 09, 2010
Posts: 120
you could use a trailer house fram and a cheap tractor (power unit) for the saw mill and have pully system the pull the trees to the mill where the wheels are and use them to lift the log and put it on the mill you could use them to pull the log back and forth to make cuts wail the pto runs the saw

you could us the tractor unit to power a pellet mill that might be useful to you

Jay Green


Joined: Feb 03, 2012
Posts: 587
    
    8
I once saw a real nifty chicken coop made from an old bus that someone had earth bermed up to the windows.

I, personally, have not turned any old machinery into something new but have purposed several smaller items for re-use in new ways over the years.
Ray Cover


Joined: Apr 11, 2012
Posts: 132
Location: Missouri
Around here a lot of those oil tanks get used for large BBQ grills by organizations like the lions club or church groups.

I suppose if you cleaned one up good you could make one heck of a vrtical smoker out of it for a restaurant.
I have seen tractor tires used for flower beds.

I actually have an old FG 20' sailboat that I have considered gutting and turning into a methane digester.

There are a number of things you can use old hot water heater tanks for.
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4234
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  62
Ray Cover wrote:
I have seen tractor tires used for flower beds.



My dad's "friend" Ken Johnson, started making those awful planters in the 70s. They didn't sell very well so he gave them to every friend and aquaintance around Lucknow Ontario. Within a few years, most had sagged on one side or collapsed completely. The ones he painted looked far worse. The paint may have helped to seal in the benzine that leaches from old tires. 30+ years on one of Ken's creations is spotted occasionally. He's pretty old, so this blight on the landscape will live on in his memory.
Joel Russ


Joined: Aug 15, 2014
Posts: 56
Location: Western Canadian mountain valley
    
    3
Dale, hi. I'm new to this forum (and glad to be here) but have been on land for a long time. The topic you raised in this thread's OP is one I've been interested in. I started threads on a couple of other forums about this. One is on SufficientSelf.com, another on ToolFools.com/forum. Tried starting one on HomesteadingToday.com, but there was fairly low interest - surprised me! - there.

The one on SuffcientSelf is at: http://www.sufficientself.com/threads/upcycled-repurposed-projects-many.11661/

That one, on a pretty obscure web site, has had more than 30,000 views... Unfortunately, although people contributed a few things to that one, I was pretty well driving the content of the thread.

I've seen a lot done with used-and-adapted motorized equipment in Mexico and Cuba. I've seen similar stuff in pictures on the web, from India and Africa. And a lot was done wih it, as seen in some old stories and photos, in the Depression era in North America and other parts of the 'developed world'. Early issues of Mother Earth News, if you ever come across a pile of them, showcased projects like this built by the the magazine's editorial staff and people that the mag's articles focussed on.

Occasionally you find something like this featured by a member-contributer to WeldingWeb.com or some similar site - though much more frequent is some "bad-ass", gas-guzzling, fast motorized hobby vehicle or something related to these. Sadly, this is even true of the Australian sites focussed on that country's famous "shed culture" - which, only a generation or two ago, was more agriculturally focussed. So many people with the necessary skills are oriented to frivolous distractions.

Do you know about FarmHack? Mostly young eager ag students trying to create prototypes or DIY equipment appropriate to commercial farms at the eco-conscious, low-capital end of the scale (opposite of the industrial farm). Open-source. FarmHack.net In particular, have a scan down this page of equipment and tools that have been prototyped or are being built from readily available materials including re-purposed componenents: http://farmhack.net/tools

Anyhow, though I've done some very intensive searching over a couple years using Google Images, it is a real chore to locate web material about these projects.

Glad you started this. Maybe something will come of it.
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4234
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  62
Whenever I think I've invented something new, I go to Google Images. So far, nobody has posted a chainsaw mill like the one in my head. I'll build and post soon.

I have gathered two free hot tubs to use as water storage and as a wood fired tub. I want a dozen more for various projects. I have decided that the price of the others was too high. I now have an ad running for pool and spa disposal. I'm charging a minimum of $150 per unit.
Joel Russ


Joined: Aug 15, 2014
Posts: 56
Location: Western Canadian mountain valley
    
    3
Vive la re-purposing common machines and artifacts thread!
Joel Russ


Joined: Aug 15, 2014
Posts: 56
Location: Western Canadian mountain valley
    
    3
If they can do it over there in India, Dale, I'm pretty sure we could do it here.

http://bizzbug.blogspot.ca/2013/03/rural-inventor.html

True, this is for tilled-land field cropping, and not all permies go in for that - but many homesteaders or small farmers do, and permies do too (under some circumstances).
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4234
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  62
Joel Russ wrote:If they can do it over there in India, Dale, I'm pretty sure we could do it here.

http://bizzbug.blogspot.ca/2013/03/rural-inventor.html

True, this is for tilled-land field cropping, and not all permies go in for that - but many homesteaders or small farmers do, and permies do too (under some circumstances).


I hope that bike is belt driven. This could kill a transmission. My tenant has given me an old alternator to use for harnessing a small amount of the hydro potential of my waterfall.


[Thumbnail for 20141108_142614.jpg]

Joel Russ


Joined: Aug 15, 2014
Posts: 56
Location: Western Canadian mountain valley
    
    3
Dale Hodgins wrote:I hope that bike is belt driven. This could kill a transmission.

So far, I have not been able to find another article about this man's project which is more explanatory (and has close-up pics and maybe diagrams). I'd like to see just how he put it together.

Dale Hodgins wrote:My tenant has given me an old alternator to use for harnessing a small amount of the hydro potential of my waterfall.

So, will you use a pelton wheel with that alternator?
Bill Bradbury


Joined: Apr 18, 2014
Posts: 155
Location: Richmond, Utah
    
  10
This deck was poorly built and the EIFS wing wall that it was attached to completely failed due to a roof leak. We removed the deck boards, planed them and after rebuilding the deck frame and wing wall oiled them with roesewood oil and re-installed. The handrail was a mess, so it was completely revamped with repurposed 2" square steel tubing, offcuts from local industry all 4' 7 1/2". Since the handrail is almost 100' long, it had to be installed in sections and welded in situ. Then painted there as well. The ss cables are unfortunately not repurposed.


[Thumbnail for IMG_4016.JPG]

[handrail-and-deck.gif]

Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4234
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  62
Joel, No, probably an underpass water wheel. I will pursue a larger grid tied setup eventually.

Bill, the reuse of that steel is much better than it being recycled.
Joel Russ


Joined: Aug 15, 2014
Posts: 56
Location: Western Canadian mountain valley
    
    3
Bill: the old deck plate was abysmal - new deck looks very good. Great use of the square steel tubing, and you were smart to find a way to re-use those particular lengths. Wish I was coming across that kind of material in those usable lengths, but it doesn't happen too often.


On another tack, here is another page of examples of repurposing, reconfiguring, or invention-from-scrap in India. "Rural Indian vehicles" (scroll down the page)...
http://ourdelhistruggle.com/tag/rural-indian-vehicles/

I find this sort of thing fascinating, as it's a very savvy and diligent repurposing of components and materials. Let me know if you like me posting these things (hit that Like button!) - I've been chasing ones from the developing-world and elsewhere around the internet for a couple years. But some people may feel they're irrelevant to our North American situation, I dunno.
Joel Russ


Joined: Aug 15, 2014
Posts: 56
Location: Western Canadian mountain valley
    
    3
Here’s a link to a post Paul Wheaton made about five year ago, giving a picture of (and a link to an article about making) a gas-powered leaf-shredder/grain-thresher. The guy used a repurposed weed-whacker, trash can, and some metal tubing (etc):
http://www.permies.com/t/2036/homestead/small-home-scale-threshing-machines

Here’s a Youtube vid showing the machine featured in the pic and linked Instructables article, in action…


Paul’s original post led to a thread with more permies posting about other homemade small grain threshers, so it's worth reading.
 
 
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