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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Selling Junk Online

I'm a big fan of buying stuff on ebay.  I've gotten some good deals there.  But, when I checked their fees, I wasn't too impressed with the idea of trying to sell stuff there.  So, I googled "ebay competitors" and after checking all the results out, I found one that I liked.   It's at and it is free to list your items there.  The format is very similar to ebay, and you can receive payments via paypal.  I'm just getting started, so I have no idea how you get your money from paypal.  I'm not worried though, whatever I get in paypal credit will just go towards whatever I buy.

My very first item is listed here:  
I found two brand new video cards in a dumpster near my work.  They were both still in their original boxes with the driver CD and all.  Like a dummy, I pitched the boxes thinking that I was just going to scrap the cards out anyway, but I did save the driver disks.   If I had saved the boxes, I could have listed the items as "new" on webstore.  They are both new and were wrapped in static bags, but you can't list them as new without the original packaging.

Of course, I have sold many items on craigslist also, but it can be a pain meeting people to close the deal.  I almost wish there were Craigslist stores.  So, when you list something you just drop it off at the store when its convenient.  Then the person goes to the store to pick it up and pay.  I guess the store would have to charge a commission though ... and then the tax-man would want a cut ... ah, never mind.

Anyways, I see a lot of potential in this webstore site.  The market place is international there, and with corresponding variety of products always available ... and a lot more people looking at your products.  Ebay is still huge compared to some of these other sites, but sellers can sometimes build their reputations and customer base up on ebay, and then move to webstore for their repeat customers.

No matter what venue you choose, selling stuff online is definitely something that anyone can do. Just start with your junk/dumpster diving finds, and let your imagination take you from there.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Are you planting gardens or orchards?

Gardens are great, but they require constant effort to get anything out of them.  Then, every year you have to start over, cultivating, planting, fertilizing, and weeding.  Having a garden is a little like having a job.  There is a steady requirement for work, as well as a steady supply things you need, assuming all goes well.

Orchards are much different in terms of when you work, how you work, and when you are rewarded for that work.  Orchards require most of the effort upfront, planting all the vines or trees.   Then you are stuck pruning and watering for years before anything gets big enough to produce fruit.   I like to think of an orchard as a small business.  You can put tons of work into it and never really know if you are building up something that will reward you in the future.  Still, orchards can produce fruit years into the future with little or no additional effort on your part.

Unfortunately, we like to eat everyday, and so we tend to spend most of our time in the garden, aka job.  That's fine, but hopefully you can find some time in the day to work on a business venture that will produce a benefit for yourself years into the future with little additional effort.

This site is dedicated to any ideas on how to make money.  Some of them, while not a job, still fall into the garden category, constant work for any reward.  The ideas I'm really interested in however, are ideas on how a regular person can work on an orchard like venture.  Not everyone can buy up 50 rental properties for cash and hire a management company to rent them out ... or invent an amazing machine that pays royalties for life.  What are ventures that anyone can do, that once they are set up and running, will make money without any additional effort?  Please comment below with your best ideas for us all to share.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Smelting Aluminum

I'll have to admit that this was a whole lot more work than any money I ever got out of it.  Still, times are tough, and the price of metals are going up a lot faster than minimum wages.  At one time, I had a larger furnace to melt aluminum, but this one was a better design and easier to operate.  


1. squirrel cage blower (from a home A/C distribution unit for example)
2. metal ducting
3. 55 gal steel drum
4. wire mesh
5. fire brick (special bricks that don't crack at high temps)
6. silicon carbide crucible (the melting pot)
7. Four 50lbs bags of refractory cement (special cement that doesn't crack at high temps)
8. Refractory mortar
9. Various scraps of angle iron / bolts / screws


The wood burner-

1. Find a good refractory supply warehouse to get the firebrick, and refractory cements
2. Cut a hole in the side of 55 gal drum big enough to insert the metal ducting.
3. Also, at the top of the drum, make 2 1 ft. cuts straight down about a foot apart to open an exhaust port at the top.
4. Screw wire mesh to the inside of the 55 gallon drum
5. Coat the mesh w/ some of the refractory cement, but of course, leave the hole open
6. Bury the drum if you can, attach the ducting (running it underground about 4 feet)
7. Put an upwards bend in the ducting and set the blower on top.
8. Use more refractory cement to make a door for loading fuel 1ft x 1ft x 3in thick, with wire mesh in the middle to add strength and bolts stick out of the top so you have a way to attach a handle later.
9. Use heavy steel angle iron to build a square frame over the top to support the door in step 8
10. Cover the rest of the top of the 55 gallon drum (around where the door goes) with firebrick, but leave that one side open for the exhaust port.
11. coat the steel angle with firebrick mortar to protect it a little from the heat.

Furnace -

1. Build a foundation on the side of the drum w/ the exhaust port - ~3ft x 3ft
2. Build the walls up with firebrick about 2ft high, leaving one side open for door.
3. Build the door ... mine was angle iron hinged to a post w/ firebrick attached.
4. Build the 'top' (what holds the aluminum scraps while they are melting). It's going to be a large block of refractory cement with a depression to collect the liquid metal and a hole in the middle to allow the metal to drip into the pot below.
-make a cement form 2ft by 3ft by 5in deep
-make another wooden form that's 1ft 8in x 2ft 8in by 1.5in deep and cover it with plywood.
-place the 2nd form (plywood side up) in the larger form.
-set a short scrap of 3" pvc pipe on top of the smaller form
-drill 4 holes into to smaller form around where the pvc pipe is ... 1/2" from the pipe and equally spaced around
-set 4 bolts into the smaller form around the pvc pipe ... the threads need to be down, with the head of the bolts sticking up a couple of inches. These bolts will hold a steel plate over the top of the hole to prevent big impurities from dropping down.
-fill the form with refractory cement
-when the cement sets up a little, remove the pvc pipe
-when completely dry, remove the forms and flip it over
-drill holes in a 6in.x 6in. x 1/4in. steel plate to match the bolts sticking up
-put several washers on each bolt, and then attach the steel plate. It should be sitting off the bottom ~1/2 in.

5. Put the top over the walls of your furnace. There should be a gap in the back.
6. Build the walls up another 2ft with firebrick, but leave a 1ft wide window on one side. This is so you have access to clean out junk and slag that will accumulate on the 'top'.
7. Rig up a steel grate to prevent pieces from falling down the gap between the back edge of your 'top' and the back wall of the furnace.


Sometimes I used a bigger crucible and just tilted it to pour the metal rather than picking the whole crucible up. Also, if you want to melt copper, bronze, or iron, you have to pack coal around the crucible. Still just fill the 55 gal drum with wood, but adding coal right around the crucible will raise the temp there enough to melt copper, etc. But, only add clean copper directly to the crucible ... it won't melt over the 'top'.

For aluminum, you can bust up old transmissions or whatever and add the pieces to the top. Oils and paint burn off while it melts. You will need to regularly scrape out junk and slag that can block the flow of metal through the hole.

Additional notes:

 I designed the form for the "top" a little better than what I described above. On the clean out side, I had the side wall shaped like a ramp to make it easier to drag irony bits and slag out of the pool of aluminum. I also had a little lip around the edge of the hole to prevent  irony bits from washing into the crucible.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Crusty Golf Ball's Second Chance at Greatness

It all started with some errant shot on the golf course, and some poor golfer's ball ended up in the pond.  Well, really I can't say exactly, I wasn't there for that part ... maybe a squirrel stole the golf ball out of his bag and buried it along the stream.  No matter, this golf ball's destiny was not to be dug up by some archaeologist 10,000 years from now.  Nor was it to spend eternity there lost in the golf course's waters.  Nope, after only enough time to grow a few barnacles, it was washed out of the pond and down the stream with about 4000 of its buddies by a good ol' Texas gully washer ... a flood of epic proportions ... that we get every other year or so.

The mother load of deposited golf balls soon lay along a bend several hundred yards downstream.  Seeing so many, I wondered if they were worth anything.  Sure enough, people sell used golf balls on Craigslist all the time.  Some are worth up to a $1.00 each, but I planned to just use the crusty ones for my own driving practice.
If you can find a large quantity of golf balls, it is very easy to wash them up and sell on e-bay, craigstlist, or to a local dealer ( who will find you if you post on craigslist ).

Alas, it was also not the destiny of this one crusty golf ball to end up in the cow pasture behind my place.  The Texas Restaurant Association had much bigger plans for it.  They found my add on Craigslist and bought about 1000 balls from me for a whopping 10 cents each.  Then they sold them, ugly ones and all, for $20 each.  Wow, if only I could figure out how to get a markup like that?!?!

I could write more of the story, or just show the rest on video ... enjoy!
As you can see, our crusty golf ball was destined for a second life, and to make somebody $1000.