Monday, August 29, 2011

Our Ongoing Quest for COOL-ness

This year’s bumper crop of onions brought us face-to-face with an issue we’ve known about for a long time. We need MORE cooler space. LOTS more cooler space!

In order to store vegetables for any amount of time, they must be kept cool. With the amount of vegetables we need to keep cool, a fridge won’t do. Several refrigerators won’t do. One walk-in cooler won’t do. We need ROOM!

Ok, no problem. We have a very well insulated room in the shop/garage.
A good-sized window air conditioner and a “cool-bot” and we’re in business. Right?

(Explanation of “cool-bot”…it is an electronic device that overrides the thermostat in the air conditioner and allows it to get far colder than originally intended.
This allows a window unit to act as a refrigeration unit for a small-sized cool room. While it won’t get quite as cold as a regular walk-in cooler, it would definitely get the temperature where we need it. Add a bigger a/c unit and make a bigger cooler.)

The unit worked fine. The problem was the condensation on the walls.
As everyone knows, wood (as in the studs) and water don’t mix well. We won’t even get into what would happen to the insulation!

Back to the drawing board, so to speak. Calculations were made for a major insulation purchase. But, the more Tom spoke with the “cool-bot” folks, the more he realized that we just didn’t want to take the chance with the wood in the building, no matter how much insulation we could buy. Now, what?

Walk-in coolers have REALLY increased in price since we put ours in seven years ago. That option seemed far too expensive. While this is a necessity, we do have a budget.

We have a friend that works in truck sales. He checked around. They had an old milk/icecream truck we could get for $400.00. Whee! We could cut the box off the truck and use the cooler space. Since it sounded almost too good to be true, we went to have a look. A note for the future: when you go to a place that is essentially a truck graveyard and they tell you that you need to go “out back….way out back”, be afraid, be very afraid. The truck was far older than Tom, needed a WHOLE lot of work, and wasn’t very big. But, yes, guys….I know…it was only $400! I know, ...what did I expect? *sigh* back to the drawing board again.

You would think this would be easy, right? There must be a place that sells used “reefer” trucks (that’s refrigerator trucks), right? They’re out there, but, did I mention we have a budget? Did I mention that we didn’t want to travel to New Jersey, Missouri, or Washington state? Did I mention time is getting short? …soon ALL the potatoes will need to be harvested.

An all out search began, Ebay, Craigslist, the Bulletin Board, everyone we knew…nothin’. Nothing suitable, that is. Too much, too small, poor condition, it seemed like the search might take forever!
Finally, we remembered a truck place along I-81. Let’s give them a call.

Long story short, today we bought a 26-foot “reefer” body. I know….it’s HUGE!
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!

While it is far bigger than we need for cool can never have enough regular storage on a farm. With a little work, we'll be "chillin' big time" real soon. If that doesn’t make us COOL…I don’t know what will!

It will be delivered tomorrow. That, I am almost certain, will be an experience to remember. (and most definitely worthy of its own blog entry!)

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