In my last post, Cleaning Solar Panels – Does it make much difference, I briefly mentioned the 11 foot telescoping squeegee that I used to clean my solar panels.   Basically the device looked just like this:

For the most part this device  works fine for my needs, but I was very excited to get an email from a reader with some additional feedback and comments!   Here is the first message I received from my friend Richard:

“This mail concerns a window washing brush that you might be interested in – possibly not interested at all.

Last year I bought from Amazon a bottom of the range telescopic window washing brush – extends to 3.0M (ten feet).

Here’s my Amazon Feedback Review…

It arrived about three hours ago and now lays broken in the garden.

On the plus side my conservatory roof is clean and half of my greenhouse roof.

On the downside the big weakness is around the operator handle – firstly the plastic hose pipe union kept falling out – not becoming unscrewed but just pulling out of the threads.  A generous application of PTFE tape helped a bit but not completely.  In an hour’s worth of use I have had to screw it back in three or four times.

That’s the hose end of the operator’s handle.  The join between the handle and the aluminium tube has fallen apart – just pulled out and it will take a “bodge” to get it back together – and I am in two minds about even attempting it.

It works – it’s far from perfect and I am highly suspicious of any rating higher than two stars.

If you buy one try not to hold the operator’s handle when using it – the weight of a 10 foot tube full of water with a brush at the far end places great stress on this piece – the design of the join makes it bound to fail sooner or later.

Caveat Emptor applies…

Well – the conservatory roof needs another clean and I’m reluctant to struggle with my old contraption. I shall make my own!

The traditional design is just about OK for vertical applications but once the operator tries to use it in a horizontal fashion things start to go wrong.

I gave the matter some thought.  Firstly there is no need to have it telescopic – full length at 10 feet and non-collapsible is acceptable for home use.  Secondly there is absolutely no requirement to have the water supply running up a hollow centre (center).  Neither is there an absolute need to have the water delivered through the bristles of the cleaning brush – close to is close enough.

My prototype is almost complete – the boom – a 10 foot plastic waste pipe – flexes a bit too much for my liking so I intend to screw a 2 Metre length of aluminium angle to it as a light-weight stiffener.

If it’s the sort of thing that your followers on nifty-stuff might be interested in I can send a couple of photographs.

West wishes”

 I was able to locate Richard’s device and review on Amazon here.   This device is significantly different from mine in that 1)  It is just a brush and 2) it is water fed.  Usually I hose down my panels, then run the sponge side of my squeegee over them, then hose them off again.   I actually don’t even use the squeegee side.

Well, I love DIY projects and was VERY interested in Richard’s design.   I have mixed feelings regarding the need for the unit to be telescoping / collapsible, but I’ll need to do some tests with my device in the full extended mode to see if having it always at length makes much of a difference.  I emailed back asking for more details and pictures and was excited to receive the following:

How to make your own long-reach cleaning brush

There are two issues with telescopic, water-fed cleaning brushes.  The inexpensive types are not very robust whilst the good ones cost a fortune. Secondly they can be very difficult to handle when used horizontally – the weight of water in the tube and the fulcrum point where you hold it make it very heavy to lift. And if you’ve bought at the bottom end of the market then you’ll very probably get very wet.

  • Take a 3000mm (ten foot) length of plastic waste pipe – about 32mm (1¼”) diameter .
  • Fix a relatively small and lightweight cleaning brush to one end.
  • Take water to the cleaning brush through a lightweight plastic pipe – the water does not necessarily need to flow through the bristles of the brush.
  • Route the water pipe outside the tube and fit an on/off tap in a handy place for operator control – flow rate and on/off.
  • The plastic tube will tend to bend so fix a length of aluminium angle to it as a stiffener.
  • This contraption does not telescope so it will need to be stored horizontally – against a wall or against the ceiling of a garage.”

Below are the images Richard sent over (plus my squeegee pic that got misplaced into the gallery) .

 

What do you think about this design?  Any ideas or feedback?

 

This is another great contribution from Ken.  You can see his other creations, the Dirt Shaker & Power Barrow and the HomeMade Rotary Trommel Screen.  He’s got an amazing gift and we’re glad he’s willing to share it with us!   From Ken: Read more

Upside down fire?  I know, it sounds crazy, but it really works GREAT!!!

One of the community members on BYC posted a topic called “upside down fire building for wood heat“.    I read through the thread and was pretty surprised by the claims: Read more

solar-panels
Part 1 of 2  of my decision process and subsequent installation of a solar energy system (see part 2, Solar Power Installation California Bay Area).

VERY long story short: We’re getting a 3.9 kw (DC) solar photovoltaic system installed on our house that should have a “payback” of 8 – 10 years.

Now, all the sordid details:  Read more

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Below is another great submission from Ken (creator of the HomeMade Rotary Trommel Screen).

From Ken:

“You may remember me as the builder of the red rotary trammel.  I later built a shaker screener because I needed to separate soil and larger stones from 1 inch stone I needed for a driveway.  I made it to screen a 3 cubic yard pile of dirt from an excavation.  I wanted the soil for filling low spots in the lawn, 1 inch and smaller stone for the driveway and the larger stone as fill to enlarge an area that needed good drainage.  Read more

save-electricity-unplug After looking at a $160 average electricity bill (thank you California tiered rates) I’ve been on  a quest to reduce our monthly spend on electricity.   My wife and I are going to achieve this in two main ways: Read more

Over the years since first posting the article on my Homemade Compost Sifter Screen Sieve I’ve received some really amazing comments by some incredibly ingenious site visitors.   A few have even been willing to submit their information for inclusion onto www.Nifty-Stuff.com including:

Automatic Compost Sifter – Screen
Sieve – Screen Shaker for Soil and Compost

Over the past few days I’ve been corresponding with another visitor of the site who has his own design.  He sent over a video (below) which really impressed me and I implored him to send me more information and pictures which he kindly did!   Below is the HomeMade Rotary Trommel Screen by Ken:  Read more

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We’ve had a lot of interest in the Automatic Compost Sifter – Screen post. One visitor of the site, Richard Buxton, posted a comment and sent a picture. I was so impressed I asked him to submit some more details so I could post it up as its own article. So, below we present the “Son of Sid”:  Read more

You may have read my post a few years back regarding my Homemade Compost Sifter Screen Sieve.  I’ve received some great feedback and comments on this fun little project.  One of them really caught my attention and with the permission of the inventor I’m going to post his amazing improvements here!  Read more

There is a 1.5 acre empty lot behind our house and every year theyd “disc” it to remove weeds for fire suppression.  I’ve heard about people renting goats and sheep for mowing down weeds and thought it would be fun to try, but I never got past the thought.  Read more

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