Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Season of Repair - NOW!

Joseph Herrin (04-15-2015)

II Chronicles 24:5
[Joash] gathered together the priests and the Levites, and said to them, Go out to the cities of Judah, and gather of all Israel money to repair the house of your God from year to year; and see that you hasten the matter.

This present creation that suffers under the curse of sin is subject to decay, disorder, and injury. It requires continual vigilance to keep that which exists from falling into a state of disrepair. The act of repair does not receive as much honor or glory among man as does the act of initial creation or construction. Solomon gets much honor in his association as the builder of the first temple in Jerusalem, but how many men know of the devotion and labors of kings like Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah who initiated programs to repair the temple? Without men and women whose hearts are given to maintaining valuable and necessary objects in a pristine state everything in this world would soon decline into a state of corruption.

This fact is readily apparent as one looks at the sad condition of urban blight that has stricken some of America’s once proud cities. Take Detroit, for example. This city was once the 4th largest in America. In the 1950 census it had a population of 1.8 million people. By 2010 the population had declined to 713,777, a fall of more than 60%. With the collapse of the American automotive industry and a shrinking population, the taxes collected by the city of Detroit declined precipitously. Infrastructure was neglected. Repairs were not made in a timely manner. Police forces shrank and crime exploded. Those who had the financial means to do so fled the blighted neighborhoods leaving only the poor to deal with the increase of lawlessness. In 2012 the police union in Detroit warned visitors to “enter at their own risk,” comparing the city to a war zone. In 2014 the police chief of the city encouraged citizens to arm themselves.

Yet, the most obvious signs of the city having fallen into disrepair is the presence of urban blight. Detroit has become notorious for its 70,000 abandoned buildings, 30,000 empty houses, and 90,000 vacant lots.

Abandoned Home in Detroit

Abundant Life Christian Center - Detroit

It is understandable that when a city loses more than 60% of its population, and the majority of its tax base in a short period of time, that it will experience unabated corruption and decay. Yet, it is inexcusable when the same decay is due to a lack of interest or care. This was often the case among the Jewish people during seasons when the Temple was in critical shape due to neglect. There was a time when Yahweh brought the Jews back from Babylon and instructed them to rebuild the Temple which had been completely destroyed. The people began well, having laid the foundation, but they then put the focus on their own comfort and needs rather than the rebuilding of the Temple. For more than a decade no work was done on it. The Lord sent prophets to chastise them and to renew them to a sense of devotion to the work of rebuilding.

Haggai 1:3-8
Then the Word of Yahweh came by Haggai, the prophet, saying, "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies waste? Now therefore this is what Yahweh of Hosts says: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and bring in little. You eat, but you don't have enough. You drink, but you aren't filled with drink. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm, and he who earns wages earns wages to put them into a bag with holes in it." This is what Yahweh of Hosts says: "Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, bring wood, and build the house. I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified," says Yahweh.

I have found that in this life it is necessary to attend to both the physical and spiritual condition of our lives. One is just as likely to suffer decay and corruption as the other. I have been greatly reminded of this in the physical realm recently. The Spring time tends to be a good time to assess the condition of one’s physical infrastructure. The weather is warming up and it is possible to work outside again. The ravages of winter are past, and it is a good time to take stock of one’s situation. Even as people speak of “Spring cleaning,” it is also an appropriate time to attend to repairs.

1. to restore to a good or sound condition after decay or damage; mend:
to repair a motor.
2. to restore or renew by any process of making good, strengthening, etc.:
to repair one's health by resting.

I have made mention in past blogs of my solar auxiliary power project on my bus/motorhome. One of the final steps to complete the project was to install the solar panel tracking mount on the roof deck atop my bus. I received the tracker from the brother in Christ who fabricated it for me, and it is now welded to the roof deck and has a coat of spray paint on it.

The four solar panels I have will mount to this rotating base and will be able to remain aligned with the sun throughout the day. I have the electronics package to control the motion, but I had to figure out a way to achieve enough horizontal rotation to keep the solar panels facing the sun throughout the day. The electronics are designed to control the motion of two linear actuators, one which controls the vertical angle and the other the horizontal motion. My problem was that simply attaching the linear actuator to two points on the tracking base would only provide about 90 degrees of horizontal motion. During mid summer at my present location I could need as much as 220 degrees of horizontal motion to keep the panels facing the sun all day. After much research and considerable prayer, I came across one idea using a steel cable to convert linear motion to rotary motion.

I modified this and came up with the following design for my solar tracker.

(Click on Image to View Larger)

Using a series of pulleys and a steel cable I can use the 30" movement of this large linear actuator to achieve about 270 degrees of horizontal rotation. As the actuator extends it will pull the panels in a clockwise direction. As it retracts it will rotate them counter-clockwise. Once I came up with the design I was able to order the proper sized linear actuators.

I now have the linear actuators on hand. After fabricating a couple parts to use for mounting them to the tracking base I should be able to complete the final assembly and test the system out. Before I could do so, however, I experienced a problem with my battery back up system in my bus. I have three large AGM batteries located under my bed in the bus. They have been kept charged by the converter that is built into the bus which converts the outside 110 volt AC power to 12 volt DC current. I unintentionally load tested the system about 2 weeks ago when I plugged a rice cooker into the outlet at the back of my bus which is powered from the batteries through an inverter which changes the 12 volt DC back to 110 volt AC. Rice cookers are basically an electric heater and they consume a lot of electricity.

After the rice cooker had been running about 30 minutes I noticed on my battery monitor that the power was dropping rapidly on my batteries and they were not being recharged by the outside power source. I also momentarily smelled something like hot electrical wiring, so I unplugged the rice cooker and began investigating the problem. Evidently, a wire or fuse from the converter to the battery bank was not up to the load and gave out. I had used a smaller gauge wire there which had never been a problem as I had never pulled a heavy load through the batteries. I realize now that was a mistake, so I ordered some heavier gauge wire to run from the converter to the battery bank.

This got me reassessing some other aspects of the design of my system and I concluded that before going live with my solar panels on the roof I need to have a way to switch between charging my battery bank with the converter and the rooftop solar power. I have never been able to find a definitive answer to what would happen if both the converter and solar panels are hooked to the batteries at the same time and are both charging. Theoretically, one or the other would throttle down to keep the batteries from being charged too rapidly, but no specific data is available for the equipment and set-up I am using. So, to prevent any possible issues I decided to add a switch to my set-up that will allow me to choose between converter or solar panels when charging the batteries. That way they will never both be attempting to charge the batteries at the same time.

Double Throw Safety Switch

With this switch I can move the handle up and connect the battery bank to the converter in my bus for charging, or move the handle down and charge them with the solar panels. If set the handle in the middle, the battery bank will not be connected to either charging source.

I also got out last week and washed my bus. That is a large job as it includes washing the roof down with bleach water and then spending a few hours on ladders and on the ground washing the rest of the bus. I normally give it a bath twice a year which seems adequate in my present environment.

I have not driven my bus in a little more than a year and found that when I went to try to crank it a few months back that the throttle lever had rusted in two. I had it welded back together and I then reinstalled it, but could not get the motor to crank. I am not an automotive mechanic, so I will try to get a mechanic out here soon to get the bus running as it will soon be time to drive it to town to refill the propane tank. It is possible that some rats/mice chewed through a wire as I noticed what looked like a rats nest in the motor and there were rat droppings on the motor as well. That is not uncommon in rural areas.

Being Spring time, it did not take any time for the grass to begin growing again. I have now had to mow the lawn three times. I have used a 19 inch battery powered electric mower for the past two seasons. It makes the job a bit laborious as there is a large yard here to mow, but that is precisely why I have chosen this method. I need the exercise and I like cutting grass. I find it very therapeutic and a good workout. I had three batteries for my mower. Each one lasts approximately 30 minutes, and an hour and a half of mowing at a time is about right for my schedule. I can write and attend to other duties during the day and mow grass in the evening. It usually takes me three days to cut the entire yard (8-9 battery charges). So, on average, I am mowing the grass 3-4 evenings a week.

One of my batteries had quit taking a charge last year. The batteries cost about $120 each, but I acquired the ones I had with appliances that used the same battery system (mower, weedeater, chainsaw, tiller). My daughter suggested that it would be cheaper to purchase a gas mower, but I do not like storing gasoline, and electricity is a renewable resource as I can charge the batteries with my solar panels if I am ever in an off-the-grid situation. So a couple weeks ago I purchased another battery as well as a new blade for the mower. The new blade made a tremendous difference.

Greenworks Battery Powered Mower

Everything wears out in this world, or can become damaged. I have found it profitable to stay on top of things and to repair them promptly. As the saying goes, “A stitch in time saves nine.”

My main local transportation for a few years now has been a bicycle, or more recently my recumbent trike. I was very blessed to purchase a recumbent trike about 16 months ago and a couple months later to add an electric mid-drive motor to it. (A mid-drive is one that turns the chain rather than directly turning the wheel.) When I purchased the Catrike Annihilator, a customized version of the Catrike Villager, from UtahTrikes it came with 81 gears, or speeds. It had a 3 sprocket crankset up front, as well as a 9 speed external derailleur in the rear. In addition to this it had three more gears inside the hub of the back wheel. (3x9x3=81).

When I added the electric drive motor it replaced the 3 sprocket crankset up front with its own single sprocket crank set. This was not much of an issue as I still had 27 gears which is more than I have had on any bike. What I did not know is that the torque produced by the electric motor was too powerful for the internally geared 3 speed hub on the rear of the bike. Consequently, it gave up under the load, so I was down to 9 gears. This has been adequate for my needs as I ride mainly on level roads, but I have wanted to eventually replace the broken rear hub with a better quality internally geared hub and do away with the external gears and derailleur altogether.

There is a company that makes an internally geared hub that many people with electric bikes and trikes have used successfully. The company is called Fallbrook and they manufacture the Nuvinci hub. Their present model sold for bikes is the Nuvinci N360, but they made an older model called the Nuvinci N171 up until around 2008 that was larger, heavier, and also stronger. I wanted to find one of these hubs, as the next option for an internally geared hub was Rohloff which makes an even better hub, but it is also about $1,000 - $2,000 dollars more in price, depending upon the model one gets. German engineering and manufacturing is great, but it is also expensive. The Nuvinci hubs sell for around $350, which is still expensive for a bicycle part, but is not unreasonable when one is using their bike or trike as an automobile replacement.

My Trike and Trailer

Being in a repair mood last week, I prayed to the Father about repairing my trike and replacing the hub. I then got online and found a Nuvinci N171 hub already laced onto a 26" wheel, the same size my trike uses on the rear, and it was here in Georgia. It was also advertised as “brand new” even though it was manufactured in 2008. It came with a bike that had never been assembled. The owner was asking $350 for it, and that same day I received two financial gifts that together amounted to this precise amount.

The owner lived north of Atlanta, and I am a couple hours south of the Atlanta area. It would have been about a 3 hour drive one way for me. Joe Boes, a brother in Christ who is a good friend lives only about 30 miles from the seller. He agreed to pick up the hub and wheel for me and ship it UPS. Yahweh is very good! The hub arrived today.

Nuvinci N171 Hub with Wheel, Cables, and Shifter

This is one more repair project on my to-do-list now. It involves more than simply swapping out the wheel, but I will not bore you with the details.

I have one other repair that is even more pressing than these others. It is a repair relating to my physical body. Sunday morning early I was up before sunrise and walking a dog that recently entered into our lives here. I will share more about that in another post. I was putting her in Champ’s kennel so I could return inside when I stepped on a small round log that Champ had been chewing on. I twisted my right leg as I fell backwards. I ended up flat on my back with one arm in Champ’s water trough. I had to laugh at the comical nature of the sight.

When I fell I twisted my right knee and strained some muscles and ligaments. I partially tore the ACL in that same knee about 18 years ago and opted not to have it surgically repaired. I have just had to recognize my limits and stay within them. I was able to hobble back into my bus after getting back on my feet, and I have been pretty much in bed ever since Sunday morning, using a pair of crutches I kept from my last injury when I need to get about. I ordered a knee brace which I should receive Friday, and I hope to begin building back up to full mobility as quickly as possible. The grass won’t wait, and I do miss the exercise.

This is the first day I have felt adequate to do any blog writing. I am doing so propped up in bed. I have not been able to get the prisoner newsletters printed this week, but I anticipate being able to print them and prepare them for mailing this weekend as I am sensing definite improvement in the knee each day. Lawn mowing and riding my trike will be good therapy for the knee as the muscles will help tighten up the slackness where the ligaments and tendons have been stretched.

I have been making use of my downtime to do some reading which is proving to be profitable. I also have been thinking some about the subject of repairs, as this blog post reveals. It would be tragic if everything that broke in this world remained broken, and if everything that experienced decay and corruption went without repair. Our bodies, our homes, our vehicles, and all we own and deal with would soon be in a state of ruin and rendered useless.

I know a sister in Christ in her 80s who has had cataract surgery this month and is regaining sight that has been diminished for a considerable time. Another Christian sister just had her second knee replacement in two years. Though it is a difficult and painful process, the reward in regained mobility is worth the momentary suffering. Joe Boes has shared with me that he feels compelled by the Lord to keep his motorhome in a constant state of good repair and he drives it weekly. Another brother informed me this week of the repairs he is making to his home in a wilderness setting. Jeff Higdon, a brother in Idaho, has been granted a number of months off from his job due to a head injury received at work. He has been using the time to accomplish many home and land infrastructure projects in his remote setting.

As I hear from these other saints, and I observe my own life, I sense that the Lord is leading His people to make needed repairs now, and is providing them the means to do so. What is there in your life that needs repair? In this post I have mainly focused on the physical, but we must also attend to the needs of our spiritual lives. Are you procrastinating in correcting some area of deficiency the Lord has brought to your attention? I have a sense that the Lord is saying that NOW is the season to make repairs. We need to have all in order both physically and spiritually for the coming days. Stir yourself up. Do not permit sloth, or laziness, or indifference, or carnal pursuits to keep you from applying all diligence to setting all things in their proper order now. The hour is late. We never know what a day will bring, so let us set our hearts to stand in readiness at all times.

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

No comments: