New Keg Setup

Hello Americans!

It’s been awhile. I’m still trying to settle on what I write about here.  I don’t want it to be all bikes but that’s nearly all I do. Quandary. Luckily Crotchtown Brewing has had an infusion of action lately.  My parents arrival into the Granite State has given the “brewery” some pretty regular customers as well as some investment capital and renewed interest in having available local brew at all times.  Dad wanted to know why I wasn’t kegging and my answer was mainly that I never wanted to buy the required gear so he solved that problem and just like that Crotchtown has entered into the realm of draught beer.

We now have a real slick 2 keg / tap kegerator that holds two kegs and the CO2 tank and regulator all inside the fridge.  Didn’t take long to get everything figured out.  Only real part that took a bit of figuring was carbonating the first batch.  There is a formula you can go by but there are a lot of variables in play so we slowly stepped our way up until we found the right temp and pressure.  Once you get that figured out its pretty much just rinse and repeat from there.  Second batch was easy-peasy and the third is currently dry-hopping in secondary with a 4th batch waiting in the wings…A vanilla coconut Porter.

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racking to keg > filling 40+ bottles

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kegerator innards

Just recently we even jerry-rigged a mobile keg setup that I think is pretty rad and should probably be the standard for homebrewers looking to be mobile with their ‘Corni’ kegs.  Dad came up with the idea.  Just take a simple igloo drink cooler…the orange ones with the white tops and the spigot on the bottom.  You know, the ones that had Kool-Aid in them at Summer camp.  Cut a hole in the top so the top of the keg can stick out and voila! An insulated keg holder with room for ice that has carrying handles and is ready to travel.  You can even easily drain the water out the spigot once the ice melts to reduce weight after its kicked.

deep cuts

deep cuts

glorious!

glorious!

Cutting the hole was a bit of a trick but if you have a drill and a jig-saw its not too bad.  A file helps as well to take care of any burrs after cutting.  Just give yourself an extra 1/2in diameter so the keg fits through easily.  Can’t wait to try it out.  What’s the next thing I’m going to that needs 5 gallons of beer?

Bike Packing!

Not too long ago I decided I wanted to get (back) into touring on my bike.  I was never really THAT into it previously but I had a bike that was outfitted for it and I did do one really big touring ride (130mi) up to Androfest many moons ago but that was it really. I never really prioritized it and those big trips take up a lot of time and energy.

Bike packing gear has come a long way since then and there are cool new packs and really well thought out ideas that make things a lot easier to do on just about any bike.  My RLT Steel was actually truly designed with that in mind so I decided I wanted to get some new gear and start adventuring. I needed some sort of ‘non-full monty’ type objective, something medium sized and repeatable semi-often that wouldn’t break the time and energy bank as it were.  I landed on swimming holes.

NH has lots of them so there are plenty of targets to aim for at varying distances and they don’t really require a ton of gear or planning.  Just a fun simple adventure to go for a swim and have a beer then ride home.

I made 3 main gear purchases to get me going.  I replaced my 10+ year old Chrome messenger bag with a new more standard roll-top backpack design to distribute the weight evenly to both shoulders on longer rides.  That messenger bag is still good to go even after all these years and miles and pretty constant abuse (It is going to be my new beach bag) so I obviously replaced it with another Chrome bag.

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I went with the Orlov (how could I not?).  Simple design, size I wanted…and after my first mission I couldn’t be happier with it.  Fits my torso perfectly, rides really well and the various compartments make sense for what I’m doing.  Looking forward to another 10+ yrs with this pack as well.

For the bike I went with packs from Revelate Designs.  I spent maybe a week or two bouncing around the web doing research and trying to figure out a pack solution to what I was trying to do now and what I might end up trying in the future.  Revelate has a solid rep and I liked all the different modular options they’ve designed.  Seems like they really have this whole game pretty well figured out.

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I decided a frame bag and a rocket bag (AKA saddle bag on steroids) would cover me for the medium type stuff I was planning.  I went with the Tangle and the Pika which are the ‘smaller’ packs in their lineup but still pretty decent in what they can haul.  I can’t speak to their durability personally yet but just looking at construction these things are BURLY.  They really have seemingly crossed every T and dotted every I with their packs.  So well thought out and easy to mount…I definitely feel like I’m benefiting from years of product testing and development with these packs.

So I mentioned my first mission earlier and I did indeed waste no time fully implementing this plan.  This past weekend I picked a location I knew fairly well from years past that wasn’t too far away.  Small little cove on the edge of some public land on Big Squam.  Towel, bathing suit, beer (w/coozie), ride essentials.  Easy-peasy, and that left room for a small provisions stop at the Wine’ing Butcher on the way home.

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Everything about the ride was perfect. No timeline, no set route, just a destination.  Weather cooperated, even the water was warm! I was expecting a quick icy dip but I was able to hang out and really enjoy a quality soak. #qualitysoak

I haven’t picked my next target yet but the possibilities are endless.  I live in the Lakes Region and there are rivers all over the place as well.  Even the ocean is in striking distance…C’MON

Attic Renovation – “Finished” !!

I put finished in quotes because I still have to install some trim and Gina wants to do something to pretty up the bulkhead door and for the continued reason that often times projects like this are never really completely done.  They haunt you forever…

Dad and I put the final parts of insulation in place and laid the final rows of cedar planks in this past weekend and the room is sealed and ready for use.  The insulation seems to be working well so far and the temps in the room seem to have regulated nicely.  We’ve had some cold days and warm days during the duration of this project and the temps in the space certainly aren’t like what they used to be.  You can really tell the difference when you open the new bulkhead door to the unfinished attic space.

I have to say I’m pretty pleased with how it came out.  This is by far the largest single DIY project I’ve undertaken starting in late January and wrapping up in late April.  It consisted of several phases and we hit very few snags along the way.  I really wish I had a true before picture of what this space looked like at the very beginning still with everything we had stored in it.  This very much seemed like an insurmountable task with all the crap we had in there.  But we were able to slowly pull a purge off and get rid of a lot of stuff we were holding on to for really no reason.  Long story short we are proud of ourselves.

Now we’ve got a much nicer space to store things, allow the cats to play / hangout, and a spare bedroom in a pinch.

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Attic Renovation – More Floor, Ceiling & Electrical

I kept debating on whether I should post on all these aspects again or just wait until they are all completely done….and then I realized I hadn’t posted in a while and work is still getting done so here are some updates.

The floor is completely done.  Went with vinyl planks because we like them and I know them.  I was a bit wary of going for the install solo because I have only ever done them as a two man crew.  But this room is (basically) square with very few special cuts required so I went for it.  I’m glad I didn’t wait because I ended up flying through it in about 4.5hrs total.  3hrs on day 1 to complete maybe 97% of it and then saved the final row that needed all the special cuts around the door etc. for day 2.  That is my tip with these…orient the rows to try to minimize any special cuts (lengthwise etc.) and if possible save them and do them fresh. i.e. not immediately after a full days work.

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I also finished off the electrical work I wanted to do by splitting the lighting of the two attic spaces into two separate switches.  Originally all the lights were controlled by one switch but with the spaces now split that seemed like a pretty big waste of electricity lighting the other space all the time when it didn’t matter.  I had picked up some electrical tips from Tony and based on some wiring diagrams I found online I figured I could handle it.

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I still always expect to get electrocuted and or fry something whenever I work with electrical though even when its something as simple as this.  I pulled it off and minus installing/wiring the switches upside-down at first there were no mishaps and everything works as intended.

Only thing left to finish now is the cedar planks and final insulation behind my pocket walls.  Planks have been purchased and we’ve started laying them in place.  I’m now into the time of year where I am balancing home owning with weekend ride time so I hope to finish the planks in the next week or two.  THE END IS IN SIGHT.

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Attic Renovation – Floor, Ceiling & Electrical

I was able to keep my momentum going even with my renovation partner on siesta in Aruba.  I needed assistance / expertise from Tony on the electrical stuff I had in mind anyway so the original plan for the weekend was to just rewire the attic fan to run off of a switch. For some reason whoever installed the fan terminated the Romex directly into a plug adapter so to use the fan you had to plug the Romex into an outlet.  Seemed kind of stupid and looked pretty sloppy.

Got that taken care of very quickly with Tony’s help and with the extra time that morning I talked him into making a HD run to get plywood sheets for the floor.  I had been on the fence as to how to do the floor and finally settled on a simple plywood base and finishing things with the vinyl planks I have used twice in other rooms that we like.  Both for look and easy pet clean up.  Our animals puke a lot.

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The plywood actually went down fairly easily and I only had a few issues crop up with the room not being perfectly square.  It was a huge bit of unexpected progress for the day.  I also got some good ideas from Tony on how to handle the apex of the ceiling by using 1×12 planks with a bevel cut to sit flush with the ceiling joists.

Lucky for me Tony has every tool under the sun including an old school table saw that makes quick and easy work of a 40 degree bevel cut down the length of a plank.  I bought the planks midweek, got help from Tony making those cuts and was able to knock that out as well Friday morning before heading North for a ski weekend.

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I rewired the small existing light bulb fixture into a little track lighting set to modernize things a bit and get some additional lighting in there.  It was a bit tricky installing the planks solo but I pulled it off.  Pretty pleased with all the unexpected progress and with how things are coming together.

Attic Renovation – Walls

or maybe I should say “Walls”.   They aren’t exactly fully built out or designed to really carry any significant load I just needed them to square off the room before the roof met the floor.  Now I can continue the ceiling planking down to the floor when I get to that part of the project.

It worked out nice.  The ceiling joists provided an easy place to mount studs at acceptable intervals.  Mounting to the floor was interesting.  I wasn’t 100% sure how the floor / ceiling of the kitchen was constructed and I didn’t want to go through pulling up all the rigid insulation on the floor in the attic to find out.  Soooo I made some assumptions based on the limited stuff I had seen and just went for it.  Whats the saying?…Measure 0 times, make some assumptions, start cutting / drilling.

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It wasn’t quite that reckless…they were educated assumptions.  I had to counter sink the holes a bit in the 2×3’s because the decking screws I had around the house that I thought were long enough weren’t quite long enough.  Luckily counter sinking worked just fine and an additional trip to HD was not required.

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We are nearing completion.  Really just two major tasks left: ceiling planks and then the floor. My build partner is heading to Aruba for a month though so things will be on hold a bit.  I’ve got a few menial tasks to address during that time…some more insulation, electrical, etc.  Pretty pleased with things so far.

New Bike Day!

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The very best kind of day. New bike day. I loved the Spot but no matter how much you love a particular bike there always comes a time where its just time to move on to the next thing.  So why the Niner ROS 9 Plus you ask? Isn’t 29+ just another weird format fad? Maybe. Time will tell but my path to this bike actually probably started a few years ago.

After Mark Tucker took a step back from racing he got himself a Carver Gnarvester 29+ rig and I was immediately pretty jealous.  The thing just looked FUN and the way he would describe how it rode just sounded exactly like how I want to ride all the time.  At the time there weren’t many 29+ offerings and it was just weird enough that I never really thought it would be a possibility for me.  Then in the following years the format caught on a tad.  Trek came out with the ‘Stache and Niner launched a 29+ version of their ROS among others.

I really liked the look of the Niner.  I’ve always been a fan of that classic steel look with the tapered steel fork.  It seemed like a sweet bike but I still never quite thought of is as an option for me being a ‘racer’ and all.  Just this past Thanxmas I was talking with Pog about him thinking about getting back into mountain biking a bit and I was telling him if he wanted to try and get a bike that he could theoretically ride all year and just be super fun it would be a 29+ rig.  He’s on the coast so he’d have enough float to ride sand as long as it wasn’t too deep, same for snow in the winter.  Low maintenance just get on and go type ride.  I even said, “If I wasn’t racing, I would be on a ROS 9+”

I had already been thinking about what my replacement bike would be and in the weeks after Thanxmas it started occurring to me that saying something like “If I wasn’t racing I would have this bike” was kind of stupid.  This is the most fun bike I can think of but I’m not going to buy it because of this other thing I do mostly for fun.  The days of me being concerned about the gear I have really impacting my ability to be competitive are over but apparently I hadn’t quite fully accepted that.  Luckily I came to my senses and now I’ll be racing on a super fun bike.

Of course I had to buy it the time of year that I can’t really ride it so now I get to torture myself just looking at if for awhile. Maybe I’ll post a ride review once I get some time on it.

Attic Renovation – Insulating

Work in the attic space continues! This is actually progressing quite a bit faster than anticipated. I’m breaking new ground on much of this work and while I had a plan it was based on little to no experience so I figured I’d run into all kinds of snags but so far so good.

After the door went in the next stages of my plan were to insulate the ceiling and frame up some mini walls.  Decided to tackle insulating first.  Can you believe I fit eleven 2in x 2ft x 8ft sections of rigid insulation in the Fit?  WELL BELIEVE IT because I did.

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Working with rigid insulation is actually pretty easy.  Cutting it was no problem.  Getting things to fit in my irregular not-square house got a bit interesting but we managed ok.  Just a bit of punching and smashing to get things press fit into place.  But end product came out pretty nice.  A few of the sections of ceiling needed a bit of finish work before we could insulate so we’re not totally done yet.

I was able to move some of the electrical that was in the way Sunday and we’ve got a plan to add some 2×6’s at the end of the room for an additional ceiling plank mounting spot.  Then its walls, ceiling planks, floor.

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