Wildcat Creek Brick Company

Monday, June 9, 2014

High water of June

In Indiana it seems like June brings storms, rain, and wind. A few years ago a big storm came thru in early June and with it floods. My old makeshift atv bridge washed away. Last June a big wind storm rolled thru at night and blew several trees down on my property. A few of which were likely over 100 years old. With that a massive oak fell onto my newly constructed bridge causing alot of truss damage. This June came 2+ inches of rain saturday night. No damage this time, but the waters came up to give my new dam under construction a good test.

                                                       This is with the flood gate open.

                                             Water is flowing very good down the canal.

                            This is near the lower end of the canal.
                      Where I am wanting to install the water wheel.
         This temporary wood dam will be replaced with a concrete one.

  There is about 2 1/2 feet of head at this point. Not alot, but with the water flow it should work out.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hydro electric project update

Ive been working off and on with my homestead off grid power project. Here are a few photos of the progress to date.

This was after some 2 or more inches of new rain a few weeks ago. The dam worked great. But after about 4 days it had undermined the gravel and had a blow out in the center of it. So Ive had to go back and make improvements.

Ive dug the trench all the way across back to the bend in the creek downstream now.

Looking to be able to raise and lower water level in the dam quickly, I built a gate. It can be raised and lowered by turning a threaded screw. It works good but I need to add some kind of sealing strip to control leaking.

It works well enough for now. You may have noticed I lined the side of the dam with concrete. This was because of endless small leaks I was patching and filling in. The dam so far is a single log lined with plastic tarp, filled in with rocks, gravel and sand. Then covered in a layer of concrete. Its sloped to deflect the force of the water on it. Because of the success of this I am going to add the same to the down stream slope of the dam as well soon. Hopefully it will be able to survive most floods.

Heres a .gif I found on the web showing how the gate on the dam works. Pretty simple.

This is a simple water wheel I put together to get started with. Later on there will be a bigger one if this project is successful.

I dont expect to power alot with any of this. Thats just not the scale of what Im trying to do. If I can get enough power out of this to provide free 24 hour barn and stall lighting that will be great. Maybe a radio and a small water feed pump too.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mushrooms and Trenches

Hi, here is a small update on my hydroelectric project.

I now have the in feed canal dug to the water table depth by hand.
It will need widened to fit the block lining so sidewalls don't collapse.
There is quite a bit of useful sand and gravel I have gathered out from the dig so far.
Its hard to tell from the photo, but there is a gentle downward sloping as i dig the length. Hard to notice. Inches of slope over many feet. But you can tell by the water gathering to one end. It doesn't lie. 

My girls were watching me work and went looking for mushrooms and found these. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Im back!

Hello everyone. Its been quite a long time since my last post here. Life is going well again for us here. 2012 was a bad year for me and my family. I had a heart attack in July and my son Daniel was killed in an auto accident three days later. 2013 was ups and downs as well. We found the long ongoing trouble for my wife Jackie was diabetes. With medication and now a surgery, she is doing much better. So my mind hadn't really been on projects alot and reporting them even less. But things have settled down and I'm back at it again! So hold on and here we go.,,

Ive added siding to my barn, still have more to do but its getting there. Pouring concrete floor in barn too. Added a yet to be completed horse stall to rear of barn. Began a hydroelectric project making use of the now dammed up water in the creek as my energy source. Made some needed repairs to my bulldozers fuel system and tracks. Bought a new to me flatbed trailer. Got my antique cement mixer working. Cut down several storm damage trees for firewood and logging timber. My bridge had severe storm damage June of 2013 that I had to repair. My son William is now in the US Army Infantry. I got a new job too.

Here are some pics, not in any particular order. More to follow soon.

 The Allis Chalmers HD5G is having a good day digging the water canal for the powerhouse.

 This is the start of my log dam for the hydroelectric plant.
 Maybe I can set up a gold sluice and look for gold also?
Firewood and fence posts on the same day.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Next day snow

Its amazing that these pics are one day later than the red barn roof pics I just posted.

We got about 11" of fresh snow.

With warmer temps its almost completely melted now. Just in time for more work on my barn this weekend.

Red roof barn

Last weekend I finally got the chance to begin installing the metal roof onto my barn!

I have never done this before. I had always used fiberglass or alsphalt shingles. With a bit of online research and advice from others that had done it before, I got the hang of it.

The weather took a turn colder the next day, so Im waiting for this weekend to get back on the roof to get more done.  Got a long way to go. What do you thing of it so far? I like the look of it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Maiden voyage across my bridge.

Everything went perfect. I drove my tractor, all 8000 lbs of it, across my bridge today. There was no signs of trouble at all. I had set up a crude measurement gauge under the bridge. I wanted to se if I could detect and measure any sag in the bridge as I placed a load onto the deck. If there was any, I couldnt tell. It showed no signs of any downward movement as I drove the tractor across.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bridge construction update for November 2012

     Here are a few photos of my recent work on the bridge across hurricane creek. I am backfilling the concrete abutment with fill dirt from the nearby hillside.
     It has been awhile since I posted any updates. Some other bridge info for you, the deck is made from pressure treated 4x6 12 ft timbers. That has been the single most expensive part of construction for me. Each board cost around $18 and there are 65 of them!
The underlying bridge beams are from trees I had cut down in the woods over the summer. Averaging 12" in diameter and over 40 ft long. They were a real handfull for three of us to drag across into place.


The old dozer is my Allis Chalmers HD5. Built sometime in the 1950s. It has served me well over the years. I hope to one day give it a much deserved restoration.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A clamp kiln firing.

Here is a link to a video I made of my clamp kiln firing last summer.


This firing took place last summer at the canal park in Delphi, Indiana.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Roof raising on my barn tower

A few weeks ago I was able to lift the roof to my barn tower.  With the assistance of my two sons Will and Dan. I am not wild about high places and came up with the solution to constructing the tower roof in place was to hoist it up with my jib crane.

Here is a series of photos that show the lifting of the tower roof.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My barn construction progress update for 3/1/12

A quick photo update of my barn construction progress for 3/1/12. The first trusses are set.

Maple Syrup

This past weekend William and I boiled down 30+ gallons of maple sap over a wood fire. The day was cool and breezy, but the fire kept us warm. Early on we decided to put a lid over the large boiling pot of sap in order to prevent smoke and ashes from ruining the taste of our syrup. It took us about 7 hrs to reduce by boiling the sap down to about 4 gallons of sweet water.

We finished boiling the sap indoors over the stovetop. The final result was about 3 and 1/2 quarts of very tasty 100% homemade maple syrup. YUM!!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Maple syrup and barn progress.

The weather has been very good for february here in Indiana. Because of that I have made some good progress on barn construction. With the help of my two sons, I have began erecting the roof framing. This excites me, to see the barn start to look like a barn.

We have took on another project this year. My eldest son William, my dad, and I will be collecting and boiling down sugar maple sap to try our hand at homemade maple syrup.

We have tapped 5 trees so far and will be tapping at least that many more soon. With the warm 45'F days and freezing nights, the sap is flowing pretty well.

For any of you that havn't heard of where maple syrup comes from, heres a simple web definition for you.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Maple syrup is a syrup usually made from the xylem sap of sugar maple, red maple, or black maple trees, although it can also be made from other maple species such as the bigleaf maple. In cold climates, these trees store starch in their trunks and roots before the winter; the starch is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in the spring. Maple trees can be tapped by boring holes into their trunks and collecting the exuded sap. The sap is processed by heating to evaporate much of the water, leaving the concentrated syrup."

I will post updates when we have collected enough maple sap to boil down into syrup. Ive been told it takes about 35 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. So thats gonna take a bit of time.