The Triumph of the Pack Rat

When I designed mounting and framing for our new solar array (see Power Shift: The Plan in Place) I wanted red or yellow cedar 2X4s to build a sturdy, weather and rot resistant structure.

I immediately looked under the cabin at our lumber stash. An outfit in town builds beautiful cedar hot tubs. Occasionally, they sell their extra stock—odd lengths, knotted or otherwise imperfect pieces—at bargain prices. Since we still plan to build a sauna here someday, we go to these sales when we can. We’ve gotten some really good lumber that way.

I quickly found that I didn’t have the longer lengths for my main struts, which should be between 11 and 13 feet long. I began to think that I would need to buy some in town, but then I remembered another pile. I looked there, and quickly found more 2X4s than the project required in the lengths I needed! I recalled that we’d picked these up at a garage sale several years ago, when a family that had just finished renovating a large house moved away suddenly to take a better job.

I’ve spoken before about the valuable habit (obsession?) of hanging on to and acquiring stuff that’s not needed at the moment, but may be needed some day (see In Praise of Pack Rats). Once again, my pack rat tendencies paid off,  reinforcing the practice, perhaps dangerously. In this case I’ve saved money, time, and effort, better directed toward assembling the frame.

The solar panels arrived on the barge yesterday evening, and should arrive at the bay today or tomorrow. It’ll be interesting getting them across the bay, as their size, over 5 feet by 3 feet, will make excellent sails in even the lightest breeze. Wish me luck!

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