Letter Re: Uses for CONEXes at a Retreat

Jim, You mention using CONEX overseas shipping containers as an improvised house. I have been planning on putting two 40′ containers parallel to each other, cut some openings between containers (to “open” up some room) and cutting holes for windows/doors-using the cut outs as shutters over the windows/doors. I bought “one way” containers as they are near perfect, not 7-to-9 year olds being sold cheaper-with holes, dents, rust and doors that won’t open. Forest fire and theft were my reasons for using all metal outside. Do you or any of your readers have any suggestions before I light the cutting …




How to Build an Inertial Well Slow Pump for Grid Down Emergencies, by TruthFirst

This article describes how to build an inexpensive, simple, easy to use pump that can pump water out of a residential water well from about 100 feet down. It’s called the “Simple Siphon” pump because its key component is a cleverly designed valve by that same name. (See below). Under ideal conditions it can bring up between 1/2 and 1 gallon per minute. I know this works, because I built and tested one on my own home well. If the power goes out, this pump can get you lifesaving water! Building the Simple Siphon™ Well Pump (SSWP) will require the …




Letter Re: Barns, Barn Designs, and Fire

Hello James, I have had the heart rending experience of watching my neighbor’s barn burn to the ground a few days ago. His livestock fleeing out of it, in desperation… I don’t think they all made it. This brings up many topics of discussion. In moving to the country, it is easy to use an old building like it was designed to handle new demands, (i.e.- specifically power consumption, hot temp equipment storage, etc…). Somewhere in your archives the topic of fire protection came to mind. I hate to admit, but it did not sink in like it did seeing …




Letter Re: David in Israel on Fire Starting

Mr. Rawles: David from Israel wrote in with some interesting suggestions on fire starting. The method that I use in severe weather conditions is to first dig a small hole, about 6 inches in diameter and about 8 inches deep. Facing into the wind, I dig a small channel into the side of the hole, about 2 or 3 inches wide and sloping up from the bottom of the small hole, about 6 inches long. Then I put tinder in the pit and arrange short twigs around the tinder so that the twigs look like a teepee. To make tinder …




Letter Re: Oil and Lubricant Storage in Retreat Planning

James, After reading your blog [post] on oil storage I heartily agree with most of your points. I stock synthetic [motor] oil for this purpose: it lasts longer! If a time comes when I can’t get oil I want what I have to be the best. I recently began using Mobil 1 Extended Performance [synthetic] and I’m not sure I can back it up, but I did notice a slight mileage increase over regular Mobil 1 in my 2000 F-150 4×4 Super Cab. Perhaps just a coincidence, but perhaps it actually lubricates a bit better than regular Mobil 1. I …