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high desert. small house.

Days 209-212: Wrapping up the Service Entrance

Monday, 2/8
First project – build out strut to bridge the gap and connect the topmost clamp of the service entrance mast.  Then back to our insulation work for some seam taping.  All of the insulation has to be buttoned together before we can run the electrical wires throughout the house.

Distance to be bridged for the top clamp to connect to the strut.

The distance to be bridged.  The plan was to either (A) stack 4+ strut beams to butt up against the conduit or (B) build some kind of wacky contraption with elbows and washers that would articulate to match the offset angle.

Strut thing

Note toothed channel on the rightmost strut nut – when tightened these viciously bite into the curled over strut ridges as you can see on the left.  The result: SOLID PERMANENT CONNECTION.

Close-up of extended strut assembly

Close-up of the final clamp solution.  As you can see we went with (B) wacky contraption and utilized 3/8″ hardware for formidable strength.

Tuesday, 2/9
Used up the insulation tape and ordered some more (this is what we’re using).  After a quick trip to the electric supply depot for the service entrance conductors it was installation time.

Double furring strip. See previous post for description.

Double furring strip at the cross beams.  You can also see the seam taping work under the cross beam and in the top right corner.

Conductors installed in the service entrance mast. We decided on 2 gauge, stranded copper wire.

Conductors installed in the service entrance mast. We decided on 2 AWG, stranded copper wire, primarily because it was the smallest sunlight resistant THWN rated wire locally available.  If sunlight resistant 4 AWG had been available, we could have legally gotten away with that for about $30 less.  For fun we calculated that with the 48 amp tankless  water heater running for an hour a day along with other loads, the 2 AWG would pay for the $30 difference in 11 to 25 years.

Weather-head and conductors. In order to get the weather-head in place, Brian had to go higher than ever before on the ladder. Scary!

Weatherhead and conductors. In order to get the weatherhead in place, Brian had to go higher than ever before on the ladder. Scary!

Side story –
I think it was on Sunday this past weekend that we had our first ‘organic’ fence test.  The white dog showed up just beyond the cholla garden, saw our dogs and came over to the fence boundary.  Both dogs noticed but didn’t appear to care.  Five minutes later, Trooper decided it was a problem so he charged down the hill, barking his head off, heading right for innumerable chollas and the barbed wire.

Remaining calm, I used my best, non-emergency-sweet-indifferent voice to say, “Trooper, easyyyyyyy”.  Lucky for us and our wallets, he did not crash into the barbed wire.  In fact, he came to a stop a few feet before it, walked up to the white dog and greeted noses between two strands of wire.

Once satisfied with his understanding of the white dog, Trooper peed on a few things and started to head up the hill.  Cue Sydney….she then charged down the hill!  Once I said the same thing to her, she turned right around and came back.  Phew!

With both of our dogs back up on the building pad and behaving, we prepared to get back on the ladder.  Then, to our GREAT surprise, the white dog slithered under the fence at the point where he had greeted Trooper and started to come to the building pad.  Very quietly and calmly so that they didn’t notice the white dog had crossed the property line, we loaded our dogs in the car and then scared the white dog off.

So here is what we learned – I have read that barbed wire is not at all suitable for dog containment.  Clearly, if motivated, Trooper or Sydney could make it through the barbed wire.  However, they lived the last 5ish years with an invisible fence and are very good at understanding boundaries.  They are also ‘velcro dogs’ and tend to chill nearby when we’re outside.  We are not worried about them disappearing on the property, escaping through the barbed wire and getting lost.  For our dogs, barbed wire is okay as a containment fence.

The barbed wire is good for preventing people at trespassing, fine for keeping our dogs in and decent at keeping other animals out.  We’re not particularly worried about deer, javalinas or woodrats visiting.  Our only trouble spot appears to be where the white dog wants to enter.

Coincidentally, the afternoon of the white dog event, one of the friends we helped move offered to give us their cattle panels they didn’t want to take with them.  So now we have 5, 4×8 panels that may help us block the white dog.  Since we don’t have enough of them, another tactic is to use some rabbit fence and attach it to the barbed wire.

Why doesn’t the dog catcher remove the white dog?  It’s unclear to us…but part of the explanation lies in the fact that several of our neighbors fawn over it yet nobody takes full responsibility – it lives outside and appears to be mostly unfed.  It attacked Trooper, Sydney and me when I was walking them to the property a few weeks ago.  Two dogs on-leash and a human carrying a bag of raw meat encounters off-leash, untrained, poorly mannered, hungry dog.  It was a disaster.

Wednesday, 2/10
The drill arrived!  Hurrah!  It is very powerful and makes the other drill look like a wuss.  Also, Brian connected the meter base to the breaker panel with 2 AWG conductors.

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Alien monster attack or conductor-filled weatherhead? You decide. [The white tape marks the neutral.]

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This is a tool Brian had from doing network installs. It came in REAL handy when he needed to strip the ends of heavy cables. This tool is like an alligator clamp that cuts cable jackets to a precise depth with about 5 spins.  That dial on the nose adjusts depth.

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Once the jacket is cut around the cable, you can peel just it off.

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Meter base wiring complete. White tape – neutral

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Panel supply wiring done. Conduit grounded. Service entrance complete.

Thursday, 2/11
The bulk of the work window was spent brainstorming ways to weatherize the mega hole that penetrates the house behind the electric panel.  Brian purchased a few different types of pipe insulation with the idea of jamming it in above the PVC conduit as a sort of roof.  The final solution is close at hand but not entirely clear yet.  The breaker panel receives a direct drip from the roof so whatever happens it really has to work.

Once tired of that project, Brian started installing outlet/switch boxes.

First switch box installed - We used a piece of paneling to get the box flush with the finished surface.

First switch box installed – we temporarily mounted a piece of paneling scrap to ensure the box is installed to be flush with the finished surface.

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