Generating Your Backup Plan

Most people recognize that generators come in different “sizes” and understand that bigger “things” require bigger generators. After that, though, eyes glaze when the discussion turns into techno-babble about kilowatts, horsepower, amps, and loads. Unlike many inconsequential topics, however, these things do matter when you’re thinking about backup power for even part of camp. Simply put, the size of the generator should be determined by the amount of power you want it to deliver.

Know What's Below

Where public utilities meet the properties they serve, knowing what's buried before you disturb the ground is more than a good idea: It is the law and violations are subject to significant penalties. After millions of dollars in damage and fatalities across the country, the reasoning behind the laws isn't hard to imagine. "Call before you dig" is what's required, and the established procedures serve to protect everybody, utility owner and landowner alike. But if knowing what's below is the law for public utilities, shouldn't that same idea apply to camp's buried utilities?

Is Solar Power Right for Camp?

Solar panel, or photovoltaic (PV), technology has seen some impressive improvements in the past decade, bringing high-tech into a price range everyday users are better able to afford. The question remains: Is it really practical for camp? Well, it depends. Following are a brief look at how solar systems work, a few possible camp applications, and, finally, their safety and care.

Building Miracles Happen: You Can Have it All

Over the years, we've spent a lot of print space talking about how to do any number of things, and mostly that's been focused on the nuts and bolts of the construction. We have not, however, spent much time talking about whole projects from beginning to end. That's mostly because they can get so complex that it's really easy to get bogged down in the details, which after all, is where most projects set their roots in success or failure long before the first nail is driven.

The Tell-Tale Heart and Your Floors

Over the past year, we’ve become aware of some innovations that may make carpeting a more suitable and attractive alternative than it has been before. Given the heavy soiling brought in with camp foot traffic, broadloom (big rolls) carpet required an awful lot of expensive care to keep looking good. Modern commercial grade carpeting (commercial grade is key) can include fibers that are inherently “the color” of the floor. That is, instead of being dyed, the fibers themselves are blue or green or red. This almost eliminates fading from sunlight or harsh carpet cleaning chemicals.

"If You Build It . . ." Revisited

Some years back, I shared a column with the readers here called, "If You Build It, Will They Come?" The premise turned that familiar movie line on its head, asking owners and executives to reconsider the wisdom of installing new features in hopes of building camper enrollment. The bottom line was that only the Disney machine has successfully implemented that model, because only it has the economic mass to take a large part of its park off line and redirect guests while that "something new and really WOW!" is built.

Bridges, Culverts, and Fords: A Ditch in Time — Reprised!

In my November/December 2011 column, we looked at roadway drainage, focusing mostly on how water gets from the road surface and then how it’s conveyed in ditches parallel to the roadway. Since we only brushed the surface on how water gets from one side of the road to the other, a more detailed look at that is in order.

Building Principles: Wastewater Treatment — A Primer

Over the years, we’ve peeked at some of the components to wastewater treatment, but we’ve never really taken the process apart to help explain what is really happening and what the objectives are. Shout for joy and dance a jig, because that time is now! No. Really! This is great stuff, and I promise to keep it clean.

Building Principles: Wisdom Overhead

American poet and diplomat James Russell Lowell is quoted as saying, “Compromise makes a good umbrella, but a poor roof; it is temporary expedient, often wise in party politics, almost sure to be unwise in statesmanship.” Beyond politics, that’s an exceptional concept and a worthy approach to many facilities topics. Even more to the point this month, it’s also been said that without a weather-tight roof, everything beneath is in jeopardy.

Kinder, Gentler, Softer Water

“Hey Culligan Man!”® For years growing up, the brassy, obnoxious holler would sound over radio and TV at least once a day. Growing up in suburban Pittsburgh, PA, we were bombarded daily with ads from outfits who wanted to treat our water. My dad was a pretty basic kind of guy who dismissed these wholesale as a lot of advertising hype looking to separate him from his hard-earned money. Even after I became an engineer, I didn’t have a very positive impression of the industry as I was working hard to help municipal treatment plants deliver safe, clean potable water to their customers.