Felipe goes green!

green

HAVING LOST ITS raison d’être, the gas-fueled water heater sits silent out back.

Even its pilot light has gone dark.

After four-plus years of wanting to go green (well, save cash, actually), we have a solar water heater that really works. Our first solar heater, some readers may recall, sat on the roof for about four years doing pretty much squat, occasionally squirting some tepid H2O.

But since that first set of panels was only connected to the gas heater — the theory being that it reduces the gas used to heat water — it did not have any practical effect on us personally.

We still enjoyed hot showers.

But I knew the solar panels were doing little because I’d climb the circular stairway to the roof now and then to open a valve to find tepid water coming out most every time.

That first heater, manufactured by Rotoplas, one of the biggest names in Mexican plumbing, had a 10-year warranty. Finally, I got off my lazy keister and returned to the hardware store where the Rotoplas had been purchased. I expected one of two responses:

1. Warranty? Ha!

2. Okay, but the warranty will be pro-rated. You’ll get 60 percent of your cash back.

Option No. 1 is common down here.

Imagine my shock when Rotoplas picked up the old heater and returned 100 percent of the purchase price, 10,000 pesos, about 665 American dollars these days. I used that money to buy another solar heater, a different brand, Solemex. Never heard of it. The Solemex cost 6,000 pesos, about 400 dollars, but I paid about 1,000 pesos to have it installed.

The Solemex did not work either.

The water it produced was blazing hot. It just did not deliver the water to the faucets in the Hacienda. Oh, it sputtered out some hot water now and then. On rare occasion, it even worked well. Sometimes no water at all came out of the showerhead. Nada.

You might imagine my irritation.

We even installed an inline pressure pump. The poor pressure remained the same.

But, to make a short story even shorter, the problem was not the solar heater. It was that the plumber who installed it was clueless. After returning twice, he finally figured it out, and now it works like gangbusters. We are hot and green!

The Solemex is connected directly into the house, not to the gas water heater.

A friend down the highway has installed a massive array of solar panels on his roof to generate electricity. He does not do solar water, but his electricity bill has mostly disappeared.

Maybe one day I’ll go green with electricity too. I feel like a hippie tree-hugger.

Heater
The new Solemex!

 

Geppetto’s magic

kitchen
Waiting for Geppetto.
work
Geppetto at work this week.
done
The finished product.

THE PASTRY workshop is finished. The final step, the installation of counters and a worktable, was done by an old carpenter we called Geppetto because his appearance reminded my child bride of Pinocchio’s pal.

Geppetto did much of the groundwork downtown at his shop. Then he and his son brought the bases here in a taxi pickup truck. The final work was done in two days, and we’re quite happy with it.

We had purchased about 15 feet of Formica at a building-supply store here in town.

Now we must move all related cooking gear from the house’s kitchen to this new space.

Before, last November.
Before, last November.
After, how it now looks.
After, how it now looks.

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You might recall that the solar water heater on the Hacienda roof was removed at about the same time the unrelated work on the pastry workshop got under way in November.

We purchased the heater four years ago, and it was never worth warm spit. This was surprising since it was manufactured by Rotoplas, one of the big names in Mexican plumbing gear. It had a 10-year guarantee and, to Rotoplas’ credit, they removed it and returned the full purchase price of 10,600 pesos.

solar

So we bought a new one, slightly larger, made by another company, Solemex:

newone

The hardware store manager told us they had sold just six of the Rotoplas heaters, and four were lemons. They’ve sold more than 25 of the Solemex and, he says, the owners are all contented customers.

Let us pray that we will be contented too. And it cost only 6,000 pesos.

* * * *

(For a blow-by-blow photo gallery of the workshop construction, go here.)

(For a taste of pastry production, go here.)

The storefront, cont’d

Trench for one of two new walls.
Trench for one of two new walls.

THE LADS started work on the storefront Monday morning, and they’ve arrived here daily at 8 a.m. Much progress has been made. Above is a foundation trench for one of the two additional walls that will box in the area that currently is walled on just two sides. The trench has been half-filled with cement. It’s drying.

Below is the excavation for the foundation of the half-bath that will abut the storefront. The bathroom, a john actually because there will be no bathing there, no shower, will be the only part that will reside outside the already existing tile roof. The john will have a flat roof and the water tank will sit up there.

Excavation for half-bath’s foundation.

There are some unrelated details around the Hacienda that the boys will complete too. One is to remove that brick grill you see in the bottom photo. It was here when we bought the property 13 years ago, and we’ve never used it. Another is to replace the red tile roof above the green gate (top photo). That’s almost completed. Fast work.

That roof over the entrance gate was installed just last spring by a different workman. He did a crappy job, and tiles easily slipped this way and that. The new guys are cementing them in place.

In the top photo, you can see an old-style fuse box high on the wall just under what will be the storefront roof. Two metal conduits are leading to it. There are only two fuses in there, and it’s where the Hacienda electricity comes in from the street pole. That will be replaced with circuit breakers and moved somewhere to the right, which is to say outside the storefront.

An ongoing photo album of the work can be seen here. It will be updated often until the work is finished.

Watching this is great fun for me. If only I didn’t have to pay for it.

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(Note: The previous, original post on this matter is here.)