Letter from “Fred the Valmet Meister” Re: Low Compression / Low RPM Stationary Engines

Jim: I just discovered these cool “Hit and Miss” gas engines made in the 1920s and 1930s by Maytag. They were used to power washing machines. Very simple engine; maybe one horsepower. You start it with a foot pedal that leverages a gear to spin the crankshaft to get it going. What a wonderful little engine for a remote location.  These could be used to power the washing machine or even run a small generator to charge up a bank of 12 volt batteries. I noticed that there are currently several for sale on eBay and they even have leather …




Letter Re: Power Outage Alarms

Jim, Thanks for keeping up the good work. I have inadvertently discovered a great power outage alarm. We were bought a carbon monoxide detector a while back. Whenever the power is cut, or the unit is un-plugged, it WILL wake you up!   I don’t know how long it continues to go off because it is so loud, I get it stopped right away. This is an item we should all have, too, just to detect the carbon monoxide. – Sid




CIA’s “Q” Department Invests in Mobile Solar Power Project

This story is fairly novel, and serves as food for thought and grounds for further research (FFTAGFFR.) If the CIA finds such technology appropriate for Third World living conditions, shouldn’t we also, as individuals–for the event that the U.S. economy is somehow, someday plunged to that level? See: http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20051018/ts_csm/aplugandplay_1




Flexible (Amorphous) PV Panels

I just heard that Global Solar flexible amorphous photovoltaic (PV) power panels (See: http://www.308systems.com/) are now available through Ready Made Resources. Amorphous PV panels are superior to he monocrystaline for many applications. Their greatest advantage is that they allow “graceful degradation.” A bullet hole through a monocrystaline panel usually means that it is history. A comparable hole through an amorphous panel (depending on how its individual cells are wired) usually means just a 5% loss in power. Be advised, however, that monocrystaline panels have an almost indefinite useful life, whereas amorphous panels lose some of their efficiency over time.




Lister Low RPM Engines Still Made in India!

I have been a fan of one and two cylinder engines for many years. I grew up seeing these old timers putt-putting away at the county fair. Stationary engines still have a surprisingly large hobbyist following in the U.S. and Australia. Steam engines dominated from the 1860s to 1890s. Then came several different styles of one and two cylinder gas or diesel engines. They were eventually supplanted by higher compression (Briggs and Stratton style) high RPM gasoline engines. Because of their simplicity, low compression/low RPM engines still have considerable utility for grid-down survival use. They were common on most American …




Letter Re: The Importance of Practice Weekend

Jim, We are living on our “retreat” now in the Quachita area of Arkansas. After a terrible storm yesterday and a power outage that is still going because Entergy [the local power utility company] has so much going on with the hurricanes, I can wholeheartedly recommend that everyone turn off their power for a weekend and make a list of things they haven’t thought of. Hubby and I have decided on more things that we should get. The generator is getting a good workout and we now know how much gas it consumes per hour and can plan accordingly. A …




Letter Re: Multi-Fuel Carburetor Kits

Excellent blog, sir. I read it every day. I’ve also read Patriots several times, I’m on my second copy. I live in Illinois. (I know, I know, I’m working on it.) I wouldn’t even ask how low Illinois was rated, if it were me doing the rating it would be near the bottom for many reasons; gun laws, high taxes, corrupt politicians, terrible roads, and overcrowding anywhere near Chicago. High insurance rates of all kinds, high crime rate, and the weather stinks. There is a pretty long growing season, more than some of the western states you discuss, and there …




Letter from “The Army Aviator” Re: Dual Fuel Carburetors for Generators

Dual Fuel Carbs for generators generally aren’t available any more. Also, Onan references below also include Kohler’s. Onan Generators 4.0kw to 7.5 kw are a good selection when combined with a Trace SW4024 inverter package. I run my generator two hours a day and have electricity 24/7. (Generators are best run with a full load for maximal service life and fuel economy.) I’ve noticed that many people think of having a generator and when the grid goes poof, cranking up the genny and life goes on. That dog doesn’t hunt. They usually use a ton of non-essential electricity.and that simply …







Letter Re: AA and AAA Batteries by the “500 Pack”

I should point out that the battery offer by Botach is a high risk issue. Botach is a scum sucking bottom feeding scammer! Check the comments at subguns.com and Sturmgewher.com – They have a horrible reputation. I can also attest personally that they and have ripped me off (on an expensive rifle scope deal) as well as two of my associates (various rifle parts). I strongly encourage folks to slit their wrists before buying from Botach! – A.M. JWR Replies: Don’t hold back, A.M., tell us how you really feel! (Seriously, I appreciate your advice. I’ve removed that post.)




Letter Re: EMP Protection

Jim, I have been thinking about EMP damage to circuitry. Am I correct that it only damages computer-chip circuits, or does it also fry transistor type? It won’t harm old type ignition (with points) systems, right? If this is the case, a generator would become just as useless as anything, unless it is stored in a metal cabinet of some kind, right? How air-tight would it have to be to be effective in EMP suppression? (would it need to be totally welded, or just tacked good enough to keep it together? I am a welder, and am thinking about making …




Truck Frame-Mounted PTO Genset for Chevy/GMC Pickups

A regular SurvivalBlog contributor sent me the URL for a company called RealPower. They make a truck frame-mounted power take-off (PTO) genset for GMC/Chevrolet pickups. (If you have a 2001 to early 2004 GMC or Chevy truck with an Allison 1000 automatic transmission, then you have a PTO gear. Note: From March 1 through late 2004 Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks were not built with PTO.  After January 1, 2005, PTO became optional.) Obviously these are not designed for continuous duty, but if you have the budget for a spare generator, then this might be a viable option. My first …




Letter Re: Wind Generators

Hi James, First of all, chalk me up as another Patriots fan. It truly is the definitive work on preparing for just about anything. When I found out that you had started the blog, I was ecstatic! I found this site on wind power today, and thought you might be interested. Scroll down about halfway and look for the section on home built wind power. They detail building an alternator from scratch, carving your own blades, and control circuitry. I don’t have a retreat or anything like it just yet (I’m stuck in the city with a 300-1000 mile bugout …




The Lynchpin: The Power Grid

The level of severity for any survival scenario will be tremendously greater if the power grid goes down (“grid down“) for a period of more than a week. Consider the following: If “grid down” most towns and cities will be without municipal (utility) drinking water. If “grid down” for more than a month there will likely be huge outflows of refugees from cities. If “grid down” there will possibly be mass prison escapes. If “grid down”, virtually all communications will go down. Telephone company central offices (COs) do have battery back-up. These are huge banks of 2-volt deep cycle floating …




Islands of Light in the Dark

There will possibly be “islands” of power remaining if the grid goes down for an extended period. Logically, these islands will mostly be near hydroelectric dams or wind farms in rural areas. These localized islands could have their power restored in a few weeks, while it might takes months of even years for power restoration in other areas, depending on the severity of a full scale TEOTWAWKI-type infrastructure collapse. Finding where these islands are will take considerable research. And even if you find a potential “island”, don’t count on it. Circumstances may dictate that power is not available, or that …