Letter from Mr. Coffee on: Longer Term Survival, Photovoltaics, Dog Breeds for Retreats, and Ballistic Protection for Windows and Doors

I have really enjoyed reading your blog the past five months of 2005 and look forward to reading it in 2006. Who knows what 2006 will bring? Something is coming and we all should continue to prepare as best we can.  The information you and your other contributors share is invaluable. Thanks for going to all the trouble of maintaining the blog every day of the year for the benefit of all of us.
I found the letters from Norman and Mr. Whiskey in your Dec. 21st and 22nd editions about the idea that things may not return to “normal” even after one year to be really thought provoking as well as depressing.  It is difficult enough to store food, water and fuel for one year. But to think those stored items will run out and there still aren’t supermarkets and gas stations to go to is mind boggling. I have started to think “long term” as a result. Thanks.
I also appreciate the material you shared on “Resources for Going Off-grid” (Dec. 28th). In 2006 I am going to investigate installing solar panels just to run a small refrigerator or my computer at times to be able to access all of the material on surviving that I have stored.
I enjoyed the information you and others have shared on “Best Dog for a Retreat”. I have an Airedale and a Rottweiler and agree that both are excellent dogs for a retreat even though both are large and do eat a great deal of food. They are [in effect acting as] my LP/OP. Especially the Airedale which is incredibly alert all day and all night). BTW, my SOP is to bring them inside my “Alamo” (my retreat house) after they have served their purpose of waking us up when strangers approach the house. I wouldn’t want to let them be shot and
I have come up with an idea that I would like to share. I know that you believe in steel plates to protect doors and windows in your retreat. What do you think about making wood “molds” and then pouring in concrete with re-bar reinforcement to make panels to protect doors and windows I have seven large windows, a back patio sliding door and front and back wooden doors in my retreat. Would three inch thick concrete slabs stop bullets? Just a thought.
Jim, thanks again for all your hard work and great information. It must be a great feeling to know that your blog may be helping thousand of people to survive the difficult times ahead. Your friend, Mr. Coffee

JWR Replies: Even if reinforced with re-bar, three inches of concrete will not stop repeated rifle fire.You will also find that 3″ thick concrete panels any larger than about 24 inches square will be very difficult to move. (BTW, if you do take this route, be sure to cast in some protruding loops of rebar to act as handles.)

If you are handy with a saw and a screwdriver attachment for your drill motor, the following is a lighter-weight solution that will provide better ballistic protection than poured concrete. It is a variation on Joel Skousen’s retreat door design: Make a framework out of 2x4s or 2x6s that will fit in each window frame. For each, cut two pieces of 3/4″ thick plywood (preferably marine grade, for your wet climate) that will go on the front and back, in effect creating a box that is four or six inches deep. Tightly fill each box with gravel that is 3/4″ or smaller (“three quarter minus”–but nothing smaller than large pea gravel) before power-screwing on the second plywood panel. Because the gravel will shift downward each time a bullet hits the ballistic panel, it will stand up to repeated high power .30 caliber FMJ rifle bullet hits in the exact same spot.  The beauty of using plywood is the bad guys will eyeball it and assume that it is vulnerable. They will hence waste lots of ammo, thinking that they are filling you with lead.  You can make a fake protruding gun ports with raised molding (painted black in the middle) in the center of each, and a small real gun port near the  off-center bottom of each panel. Paint some black squares and rectangles in a random pattern, to help conceal the real gun port.