...and crafting a purposeful recovery

Look, listen, learn and fake it ’till you make it.

Learning is cumulative. It builds one lesson on top of another, slowly adding to one’s expertise and skills. It is incremental. Perhaps that’s why they call a college education a degree. Confidence also grows by degrees. As I mentioned many posts ago, I probably would not have had the nerve to take on the trailer restoration without first having worked on my 50+ year old Vespa. Prior to that I wasn’t very mechanical, having never so much as changed my car’s oil. Oh, my background contains some home improvement and going way back to my childhood, I stripped a lot of wire while working in sibling servitude to my older brother. But for most of my adult life I worked with my head, not my hands.

So the work on my Vespa and Spartan brought me to a place where, at 65 years old, I had enough guile and know-how to install a new HVAC system in my rental house in Pittsburg. The decision to do this myself was driven mostly by thrift. I had quotes to replace my central HVAC unit up to $11,000. I simply didn’t have that kind of cheese lying around. They say “necessity is the mother of invention”, but I will add that it is also the mother of imitation and, turning to youtube, I did a lot of that monkey see/monkey do kind of study.

No, I didn’t decide to hoist a 1,500 pound HVAC unit to the top of the roof. I went in a different direction, installing instead a mini-split system. The mini-split system is a hybrid of sorts. featuring an outdoor compressor as in conventional central HVAC systems coupled with a network of indoor air handlers. Pictures and captions will explain it best.

The Beast
The Beauty
This 12,000 btu interior air handler both cools and heats for year-round comfort.
Placing this 35 lb. unit from the top of the ladder was a bit daunting. Cables and tubes run straight out the back into the attic.
Here’s another and in this case I had to route the refrigerant lines and electical “controller” cable through the ceiling.
Holes had to be drilled through 3″ masonry walls to bring tubing and cable to the outside condenser down from the attic. I wore out a few bits.
Lines and electrical to power the condenser.
I had to splice into the old 220 line in the attic.
Ugh. What to do with this tangle?
Getting more orderly with vinyl gutter material repurposed as sheathing for wires and tubes.
Finished with a nice coat of paint.
The big grey electrical line feeds the condenser and the Romex distributes juice to the three interior atr-handlers.
Much better, but that line to the left coming from the master bedroom needs some attention. Notice the white tube. This drains condensation from each interior unit.

For those still reading, I realize the aforementioned has nothing to do with trailer renovating. However, as I mentioned at the outset, I never would have taken on this A/C project without the knowledge and moxy gained from restoring Sparta.

So, if you’re wondering, the skills and attributes are transferable. Get started!

The best part? Total out of pocket was about $4,000.

Post script: I purchased a Blueridge mini-split system from Alpine Home Products online and it has been working beautifully now for two weeks. Online and phone-based customer support has been great and I highly recommend Alpine. Also, special thanks to my bro-in-law, Jeff, who assisted me one day with some of the heavy lifting and those tasks made easier with two people.


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