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Small Cabin Forum / Member's Projects and Photos / Our 420 sq ft of heaven in Northern MN
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# Posted: 1 Nov 2015 15:24

I'm really liking your topic...Nice work and thanks for sharing. I cannot wait to get back to mine this month...

# Posted: 2 Nov 2015 01:19

Thanks. We are looking forward to getting up there over the Christmas holiday again this year. Might even get to stay more than a week if things work out.

We are really curious to see how much of a difference the added insulation and skirting will make.

# Posted: 3 Jan 2016 00:23

Jill and I just got back from a great 12 days at our cabin for Christmas and New Years. Great trip. Got lots done and did a bunch of relaxing. Will post pictures and more tomorrow.

Happy New Year to all of our Small Cabin friends!

# Posted: 7 Jan 2016 23:44 - Edited by: jaransont3

Took me a little longer than I planned, but here is the report out on our Christmas trip to the cabin...

We were greeted with 6-8 inches of fairly new snow, but a clear road into the cabin thanks to our great neighbors.

It didn't take long to chase the cold out and for Sasha to find her favorite spot. It helped that it was unseasonable mild for northern MN this time of the year. Highs in the mid 20s and lows in the lower teens...above zero!

One of the first orders of business was to go Christmas tree hunting...

We decided to go a little bigger this year. The dormers came in handy.

Another high priority was finally getting the windows weatherstripped. Amazing difference when you don't have 1/4" gaps around some of them.

We also got a threshold seal installed under the door. Closing the 1" gap helped a lot too.

These couple of changes along with the under floor insulation and skirting really made a huge difference in keeping the cabin cozy. We were able to keep it in the upper 70s to around 80 in the cabin at all times. Floors were warm enough that we could comfortably go barefoot..

Stove top was even hot enough for Jill to bake a cranberry cake on the top of it in our large cast iron pan with lid...

We finished up a couple of puzzles and got them decopaged and I made a some frames for them. Running out of wall space in the tiny cabin...

I have more to share, but need to get some sleep. Will post the rest of the story tomorrow.

# Posted: 8 Jan 2016 05:18

just so beautiful. I think you picked the perfect tree, and it all looked so cozy. I always enjoy your photos!!

# Posted: 8 Jan 2016 07:12

IMO, black spruce make the nicest Christmas trees.

# Posted: 9 Jan 2016 16:57 - Edited by: jaransont3

OK...on with the show/story.

I will start out with a few shots from my walks with the shotgun looking for grouse. (scared up a few but never got a shot off). It really was beautiful and peaceful out walking in the woods with all the snow and mild temperatures. Even the river wasn't froze over yet.

It was always nice to come back to the cabin, a nice warm fire, and a cup of hot chocolate. The dogs sure enjoyed the fire too...

We did get a bunch of projects done while we were there too. I added some cattail trim on either side of the doorways. These were cut out of masonite using a laser cutter at TechShop.

We got the rest of the wainscoting and trim up in the bedroom.

We got the bedroom walls painted finally.

We stained the ceiling joist in the bedroom to match the ones in the rest of the cabin and added matching false beams on the gable ends.

I built and installed a latch for the sliding bathroom door. No more dogs pushing it up to make sure you are OK in there.

and I repaired a couple of kitchen chairs so we have extra seating for guests. Will repaint them next trip.

We did burn through a lot of wood in the 12 days we were there. The empty side was just about full when we got there and it was 3 rows deep. I cut the wood short (about 9 inches) so I can load it in the stove endwise rather than crosswise. Will have to build a bigger wood shed if we expect to spend more than a month there in the winter time after retiring. Of course I could also invest in some better firewood. Most of that was balsam and spruce cut from the property.

As much as the dogs love it also tuckers them out. This was pretty typical after a day of running around in the great outdoors. Of course, Jill and I also sleep pretty good at the cabin.

I will finish off with a couple of pictures of northern Minnesota winter sunsets.

We are already looking forward to our trip back in the Spring.

# Posted: 9 Jan 2016 17:30

I see the dog bed in the left corner but the dog on the bed. Very much like our animals. They look pretty comfy.

# Posted: 9 Jan 2016 17:37

I like the picture frames you made! Your place is looking great!

# Posted: 24 Jan 2016 12:54

Well that was so entertaining...I just read through the entire thread! I need to finish drywalling and painting...I have been relaxing too much! Super nice...!

# Posted: 25 Jan 2016 16:52

Thanks everyone. It really is a labor of love. We so enjoy our time up at the cabin...even when we are getting projects done. Not too many big projects left now.

Only wish it was we could get there more often.

# Posted: 25 Jan 2016 18:14

I'm not sure how I missed this thread! You have a great looking place and you have done a great job. I have a lot of work that I need to do at my place but I don't consider it work. I enjoy my time there even if there is things that need to be done.

You have a place to be very proud of.

# Posted: 7 Jul 2016 22:41

Jill and I have finally gotten back up to the cabin for this week. 6 months between visits is too long.

Very relaxing and productive visit so far. Will have lots of pictures to post when we get back to Dearborn at the end of the week.

Feels so good to be back in our little slice of heaven up here in Northern MN.

# Posted: 8 Jul 2016 02:39

those are wonderful pictures.everything cabin life is and should them.

# Posted: 16 Jul 2016 23:14 - Edited by: jaransont3

Jill and I had a great week up at the cabin over the 4th of July. The visits are always too short, but we are planning on going back for the week of Labor Day. Fall in Northern Minnesota is always are favorite time of the year to be at the cabin.

Here are a bunch of pictures from our trip...

The wild flowers were in bloom...

...and attracting butterflies.

The loons were also active and plentiful. Love their calls...

One project was to expand the patio around the fire pit and make a stepping stone walkway to it. Mission accomplished....I did set the stepping stones into the ground after this picture was taken.

Built another section of fence to define the end of the parking area...and Jill planted more perennials.

We filled the wood shed also. Thanks to my brother, the left side is all Maple and Oak as he brought a truck load of logs from his place...should burn much longer than the balsam and spruce on the right side.

ANother big project was to get the deck back in place. I had dragged it away from the cabin last fall so that I could get the cabin skirted. Not only got it back in place, but also skirted it with some lattice to keep the dogs out and larger woodland creatures...

I also figured out how I wanted to trim all of the outside windows and got most of them done.

Also skirted the front porch with the same lattice...

Overview of the cabin...

Will see if we get any residence when we are back in the Fall.

Sunrise on the tree tops as I go for my morning run...

Sunset over the river...

Spent a couple of early mornings carving on the mate to the loon I carved last year.

Loving the cabin life...

We tok my mom fishing on Shannon Lake. Beautiful day and lake...not much for fish. <G>

Did get to watch a couple of bald eagles floating around overhead...

Lots of lotus flowers in the river...

and a beaver lodge...

Sasha and Karmann loved the deck being back in place. Built the bench in the background out of some extra boards.

Karmann waiting to ambush her sister...

Getting ready for another canoe ride on the Sturgeon River...

Love the slow lazy river for canoeing...

Lots of wild rice this year. Might have to try harvesting some when we are back in the Fall...if it is ready.

Some Mallard ducklings and their mom...

River flower...not sure what it is, but it is only about an inch tall.

More windows trimmed and painted. Still have to paint the window frames.

View down to the river from behind the cabin...

All packed up and ready for the next trip.

One last parting shot....we saw three of these guys flinging dirt along side the road to Shannon Lake. Crazy how fast they can move dirt. First time I have seen badgers in the wild.

Hope you enjoy the pictures.

# Posted: 30 Sep 2016 20:31

Jill and I got up to the cabin for the week of Labor Day. It is always are favorite time of the year. Fall colors were a bit late this year....just barely starting to turn on a few trees....still beautiful up there. are the pictures.

Couple of shots of the sunset over the Sturgeon River on our first canoe ride of the trip...

Large frog waiting for us when we came ashore...


Moon shot...

Abandoned beaver lodge on the Sturgeon River...

We had some great canoeing weather...

Finally got up on the roof and got the dormers and trim painted to match the rest of the cabin...

More canoeing pictures...

Karmann enjoying the great outdoors...

One small project was to build a simple cover for the propane tank from the left over siding...Before and After shots.

Typical... front of the fire (a couple of the mornings were quite cool with lows in the upper 40s F) while Jill cooked an apple crumb cake on the stove.

One of the big projects this trip was to run a new feed line from the cistern to the pump. The existing line had a leak in it somewhere and it sucked air. This lead to the pump not holding prime and the water pressure and flow being low and sporadic. The fittings are the new pass-thru for the 3/4" pex line and the cage end that I filled with rocks to make sure it sank to the bottom of the cistern. I drilled out the end caps to be a nice tight fit to the pex and then just tightened them on either side of the hole I drilled in the side of the cistern. Made a great bulkhead fitting without any actual connections in the pex tubing itself...

Bonfire. We love the patio and fire pit...

Sasha and Karmann's favorite spot...

Here is the cistern dug up and the new feed line (blue) run to it. Only connections are to the cage in the bottom of the cistern and the pump in the cabin. No leaks, great water pressure and flow, and it holds a prime! Now we can hook up the on-demand heater heater next time...

Got on of the main cabins gable and boxed in with new soffit and fascia...

Our "new" rocking chair that a friend gave us for the cabin. Still need to re-do the seat insert. I think I am going to install a piece of tin punched copper. It will go nicely with the other copper accents in the cabin...

The other big project was to get hte bathroom and shower more finished. I had hoped to get the tile up, but only got as far as getting the membrane install and the floor sloped to the drain. Tile next time for sure...

Couple of shots as we are getting everything cleaned up and put away until next time...

We laid some more pavers between the porch steps and the deck more walking directly in the mud and sand...

We got the windows and door under the porch all trimmed out and painted. Installed some new hinges and a latch on the screen door...

We even installed a couple more bird houses and a couple of feeders. So far only squirrels and a few blue jays. Hope to see more come winter...

Jill planted a bunch more perennials and lots of wild flowers...

Even got the new soffit and fascia painted...

One last parting shot of color...

Until next time. Hope you enjoy the pictures.

# Posted: 17 Oct 2016 14:34 - Edited by: abby

it must be so difficult to leave as it is truly so wonderful! I love it all. hope you have another trip planned soon. gorgeous cabin!

# Posted: 17 Oct 2016 15:30

Thanks Abby. It is really hard to leave every time, especially since we are so far away (834 miles). We are planning on spending Christmas there again this year. Already looking forward to it.

# Posted: 17 Oct 2016 16:16

Northern Minnesota is amazing beautiful Spent several summer fishing off the Gunflint Trail. Great memories and hopefully someday I'll get back there.

Nate R
# Posted: 24 Oct 2016 10:43

Great journal/log, I've enjoyed reading through the progress! Love the pictures!

Can you give some feedback on that woodstove? It doesn't look like it's still available, at least not that specific model. But I'm planning a similar size cabin, similar climate, wondering how it's working out for you with a stove that size in a space that some would say is pretty small for a stove like that.

Any overheating issues?
Do you have to re-load it in the middle of the night?

# Posted: 24 Oct 2016 15:47

Glad you are enjoying our little cabin adventure.

The Drolet Eldorado stove has been great. Much better than the antique cast iron boxwood stove that it replaced. It has a nice large glass pane in the door to view the fire. It keeps our cabin nice and toasty even with our -30F temperatures in Northern MN. It can be damped down to keep things comfortable when it is not that cold. Up to now, we have mostly burned balsam and spruce (not the best wood) in it. With that fast burning wood, it will burn about 5 hours or so. Not quite through the night.

However, with better wood (oak/maple/etc) it will go 6-7 hours so it depends on how late you sleep in.

The Eldorado came with a blower, but it is quite loud so we never use it. The only other thing about it is that there isn't a very tall lip to the firebox. Loading the wood cross-wise, the wood tends to want to roll out when you open the door. Not good. We decide to cut our wood short (9") so that we can load it in end-wise. Much safer and it seems like we can get more wood in it too. More chainsaw work, but it makes the splitting easier!

You are right that the Eldorado isn't available from Drolet anymore. It looks like the Spark is a very similar sized stove...just slightly smaller. About the same price as I paid for the Eldorado, but doesn't come with the blower. HTH.

# Posted: 3 Jan 2018 20:01

Wow! It has been over a year since I posted. Didn't seem like that long.

We have been back to our cabin several times since my last post. Most recently we spent 10 days over Christmas and New Years there. Wonderful trip, but very cold. High temp for the 10 days was 10F and the lowest we saw was -33F. The cabin stayed a nice and toasty 75-85F inside depending on where we were in the wood burning cycle with the stove. We burned mostly hardwood this trip (oak and maple) which was nice with the longer burn times. Still went through a good amount of wood.

We burned about 10 gallons of gas in our Honda generator. The rest of the time we ran off the inverter and the two GC-2 golf cart batteries. That system is still working great...even if the batteries are really heavy to be lugging back and forth to the cabin.

Last Fall when we were there, we finally finished the shower and got the EZ Tankless 101 water heater hooked up. It worked great last Fall with normal temps. It was great having on demand hot water and Jill and I even each took a few hot showers while we were there.

Unfortunately with the extreme sub-zero temps this last trip, the heater would freeze up due to the cold air coming back down the vent pipe and with no flow, the burner would not stay lit. For this trip, I simple pulled the vent elbow off the top of the heater and stuffed a rag in the vent pipe to keep the cold air from coming in and we went without instant hot water.

The problem is that right now the vent is nice and short. It leaves the top of the heater and immediately turns 90 degrees and goes through the wall to the outside and then another 90 outside and a short (3 feet or so) vertical run with a cap on the top. Here are a couple of pictures.

Most of the vent pipe is outside in the cold and it a direct path to the heat exchanger in the unit and the metal vent pipe is a pretty good conductor too.

The thought right now is to run a long vertical from the top of the heater, through the counter top and the ceiling of the kitchen and then turn it 90 degrees through the gable end wall in the loft. Once outside it will eb a similar set-up as I have now, but maybe with a shorter vertical run to keep it all under the roof overhang. With this set-up, the cold air will be much further away from the heater and I will have 8 or more feet of vent pipe inside the cabin to hopefully temper any cold air that does come in to above freezing.

Not sure I have any other options since the EZ Tankless 101 does not have a powered vent, so I don't think I can put in an anti-back draft damper in the system.

We will have to live with seeing the vent pipe inside the cabin and we will lose a little bit of counter top. We feel that is a good trade-off for having hot water. <G>

I will try to post some pictures form our recent adventures a little later.

Happy New Year everyone!

# Posted: 18 May 2022 21:12

Wow. I can't believe it has been over 4 years since I posted here. I realize we "lost" two years to COVID, but still. <G>

We have made significant updates to our little slice of heaven over the last few years and have enjoyed many visits there. Last Autumn we had the "misfortune" of having to spend 5 whole weeks there due to waiting on some service parts for our vehicle. It was glorious.

We have upgraded to fiber-optic ethernet service so Jill and I could both work remotely from the cabin while we were "stuck" there. For the first year after hooking up the high-speed internet we were still running off our Honda generator and small battery bank. It was kind of backwards, but it worked.

Last fall while we were there, I finally went on-grid to the small workshop that I built a few years ago and then over the our visit this past Christmas, we hooked the cabin to the grid service. It was really nice to just flip a switch and have power and not have to go out to the generator shed and start it and stop it a few times a day when it was -35F.

The Honda EU3000 served us well for 10 years and I am happy to have it as a back-up, but also really grateful for the convenience of grid power and high-speed internet access. It makes it possible for us to extend our stays and work remotely.

It is also going to let us install a PoE camera system to monitor the cabin and wildlife activity when we can't be there. That is the project for our visit next week. I will try to post some pictures of all the progress/updates we have made over the last 4 years.

# Posted: 19 May 2022 09:29

Wow nice thread here. It's good to see some of the cabin folks from a ways back posting. And it's nice to read about cabin adventures. As cabins aren't supposed to be just work.
Your place is looking great

# Posted: 19 May 2022 10:55

Question for you (seeing as how you're back and everything).

How has the hot water setup worked out for you? Did the longer vent pipe inside the cabin work for you?

I am looking at installing something nearly identical and normally would have opted for something more like your first install. Glad to be able to learn from your lessons there...

Also - how easy is it to drain that particular water heater? Are you able to just open the drains and walk away, or do you have to blow it out/antifreeze? We seem to have similar temps here, so I'm looking for any lessons learned I can before I dive into all things water.


# Posted: 25 May 2022 00:50

The water heater with the taller vent pipe has worked out great. I have not had any issues with the system freezing up on me since extending it up to the peak with the majority of the pipe inside the cabin and we have used the system when it is -35F outside. I will take a few pictures of the current set-up tomorrow and post them up.

As for draining the system, I do blow it out with compressed air, but have never flushed it with anti-freeze or anything more then opening the drain valves at the lowest point and then blowing out thru one of the drains.

# Posted: 9 Oct 2022 22:18

Hmm. I have a loft on my cabin and it is a bit dark. I wonder if I added a dormer to one side if it would help it be less hot up there.

# Posted: 10 Oct 2022 19:27

The dormers on our cabin are great. They let lots of extra light in, especially in the loft, even though we only use it for storage at this point. We can also open the windows in ours which really adds to the air circulation in the cabin, especially with the ceiling fan running.

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