Archive for September, 2010

Making ice cream or aging batteries – they have similarities

Serious Eats took after making ice cream without any special equipment. The problem is one that is very similar to how you keep your lead acid batteries from sulfating. How do you keep those crystals from growing into “something more akin to a wet concrete with shards of broken glass.”

With ice cream, you need to agitate it while it freezes to keep the crystallization under control. With lead acid batteries, you also need to keep the electrolyte stirred to keep the crystals from growing large and hardy.

In the quest for making ice cream without the usual equipment, Kenji experimented with the chemistry – much as lead acid battery manufacturers do for their product. After that it was materials prep – like batteries with the red lead paste. Then was the final construction phase and technique. Flash freezing was the key for smooth ice cream.

If you want to make some ice cream in your RV in small amounts without specialized equipment, ice, and rock salt, you might check out the recipe for Real Ice Cream Without the Machine ยป.

Then you can put on your physical chemist’s hat and think about how crystallization is important in your RV experience whether it is ice cream or lead acid batteries or, come to think of it, the cooling process your refrigerator uses. The absorption refrigerator in RV’s often fail because the ammonia solution crystallizes and blocks the flow that carries heat out of the fridge. What else might there be like this?

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Strange places, alien landscapes (and cultures) – Kawah Ijen Volcano

Can you imagine a lake whose contents you could use for battery acid? Here’s a photo gallery and description of Kawah Ijen Volcano – Indonesia: Boating on a Lake of Sulfuric Acid – July 2008.

Kawah Ijen is one of the most incredible and surreal places I’ve ever visited. It’s the site of a labor intensive sulfur mining operation where miners collect and carry huge loads of pure sulfur up from the crater floor along a steep, rocky path amid clouds of sulfur dioxide gas, all for the equivalent of about ten dollars a day.

It is also home to the largest lake of sulfuric acid in the world. I wanted to explore this volcano in the most extreme manner I could think of… By taking a small boat out onto the acid lake. The ph of the lake water is 0.5, similar to the strength of car battery acid.

Drop a soda can in the lake and watch the bubbles as the aluminum reacts with the lake ‘waters.’ End your boating trip cutting out the areas of your pants where acid from the paddles dripped on them to avoid acid burns. And then there’s the sulfur mining operations where up to 100 pound baskets are manually carried up the slopes of the crater for processing sugar on Java.

It is one thing to note the incredible places on the planet. This one has people working there to take advantage of its special mineral resources. See also Mount Bromo and Kawah Ijen Volcano Walking Tour; Kawah ijen Tourism Service “a lake made of 36 million cubic meters representing a solution of sulfuric acid and hydrogen chloride, the most powerful existing acids.”; more photos; information; smells like sulfur (more pictures); wikipedia;

It is a tourist attraction!

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Lightweight Tinkertoys

PVC pipe is inexpensive, lightweight, and fairly rigid. That makes it an excellent structural material for RV accessories. The problem is that the plumbing section of the local hardware store doesn’t carry some of the joints needed for things like boxes. FORMUFIT is one answer. They call themselves “Tinkertoys. For adults.” and focus on furniture grade PVC fittings, connectors, and accessories. Besides fittings no plumber would ever use, they brag about the glossy finish without the branding and embossing you often find on plumbing fittings.

It appears these folks are just getting started. The ‘plans library’ is listed as “coming soon” and the tips and FAQ sections just cover the basics. Prices seem to run around a buck a fitting plus shipping. With corner T’s, swivel T’s, end caps and other such fittings, your imagination might be your guide.

You probably wouldn’t want to make benches, step stools and other load critical items out of PVC but it might work well for storage boxes and light shelving. Let your imagination be your guide!

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SNU September Newsletter

The September 2010 Newsletter has been posted – Links to photo galleries and additional information mentioned in articles in this newsletter can also be found there, too.

September Rally at Obsidian Dome

Thursday September 23 to Sunday 26 Obsidian Dome the SNU will hold a rally at Obsidian Dome. Obsidian Dome . As a special treat we will have a Salads and Sundaes shared meal on Saturday evening. So bring your favorite salad, ice cream, toppings and assorted condiments. Friday’s shared meal will be our usual whatever you wish to contribute. Check the link for details, including the link to the page for GPS coordinates to the rally site

Time to renew membership for 2011

You can pay your dues online or print out the form and send it along with your check to the SNU 714 Terra Ct, Reno, NV, 89506

Topics in the September newsletter

Rally at Rocky Point -|- September rally at Obsidian Dome -|- Proposed 2011 SNU Officers -|- Newsletter Review -|- Stampede Campout -|- From the past, a 1996 SNU rally at Lahonton -|- Reminder – Region XII Rally in Hemet, CA -|- Renew your membership

For the latest on the Sierra Nevada Unit, check the website homepage.

Check Zephyrs and find out what else is new on the


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A gathering at Eagle Lake

The group tried out a new location for a rally at Eagle Lake this year. Instead of the campground at the north end of the lake 30 miles north of Susanville, a dispersed camping and fishing access area was chosen about 5 miles farther along Eagle Lake Road. The access road down the point is rather rough but the BLM does at least fill in the major holes.

SNU Rally at Eagle Lake, Rocky Point August 2010 — See the photo gallery!
Wednesday started with near record heat. Thursday and Friday were gusty as a front came through. Saturday was drizzle all day. Sunday was cool and quiet.

It’s the typical afternoon gusty winds that are blamed for the lack of water sports on the lake. It’s the alkaline waters that are considered the barrier to invasive fish species. It all makes for a special place.

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