Three Letters Re: Request for Advice on Backup Power for a Well Pump

In regard to the gentlemen asking about his well pump: There is a product called Generlink that is a lot easier to install than a transfer switch. Most well pumps are 220 volt but there are always exceptions. The web site for the item is and I have heard some electrical coops will install them for free. – Gene in Walla Walla

A single-load transfer switch can be added to the well-pump line. Cost is about $100 from Northern Tools. Depending upon your local regulations, this may require the services of a licensed electrician. And if your well pump is 220 volts, you will need one of the more expensive generators – the small, cheap ones don’t put out
220 volts.
If you’re going to all that expense, it’s probably foolish to limit yourself to powering only the well pump. Might just as well choose a loadside transfer switch ($250 – $500) which will allow you to power the freezer, lights, etc. If you know what you are doing (and local regulations allow) you can install one of these yourself.
If your well is not very deep, you might look into a 12-volt pump with a deep-cycle battery and solar charger.
That’s what I have here – but it only has to lift water about 2 feet. A pump such as the Shurflo used in campers and motor homes would work (< $100) – Irv


I saw the letter today asking about back-up power for a well pump. I had the very same issue myself. We are the very last house on the power line and thus our power goes out more than most. I did the illegal/dangerous “run things off a generator with a male to male plug” for a while, but could not power my well pump this way as it is 220 Volt. So, realizing that it is dangerous and illegal to continue with my then current methods, I resolved to install a transfer switch. I am no electrical genius but it really wasn’t all that difficult – just time consuming. It all worked out fine and I think (I didn’t really keep track) that I spent something between $500 and $600 on the entire set-up. The transfer switch alone was about $200, the new box another $100, as I recall, so the parts are not cheap. However, if you do this right you are practically set up for a battery back-up or other alternate power source as well.

Before I did anything, I contacted the local code enforcement officer and asked for his advice. He was really quite helpful. I also went to a local electrical supply house – not a big box store – as these guys know a lot more about the codes, requirements, etc than they do at Lowes, Home Depot, etc. In any case, I have attached a photo of my project when it was almost done. As I said, it cost a fair amount of money and took me about a month to do off and on (I do have to work you know!), but it was a LOT less than having someone else do it.

I ran a line to my garage for the generator (must be three wires and a ground for code) and ran that into the transfer switch which I mounted next to my main box. Then I installed another smaller electrical box to the other side of that. I ran 60 amp service from the transfer switch to the new box and wired up as much as I could without disrupting the house circuits. Then all in one Saturday morning I ran the wires from the old box to the new for the circuits I wanted to power from my generator – refrigerator, freezer, well pump, kitchen, office and family room – and installed a 60 amp breaker and wired it all up to code as described by the inspector and the guys at the shop. I had no problem with the inspection because I talked with them FIRST and called and asked questions occasionally when something was unclear. However, now when I run my generator I do not have to worry about frying some lineman or one of my children if they go look at the funny male plug that fell out of the wall . . .

Also, it is easy to tell if your well pump is 110 or 220. Just look in your electrical box. If it runs with a circuit breaker it will be a two-pole switch (the kind with a bar across to throw 2 switches at once), not a single pole like the rest of the stuff in your box. The only other two-pole switches you might have would be for an electric dryer, electric stove, electric heat or other special 220 VAC items.In any case, the box should be labeled. Best Regards, – Tim P.

P.S.: I too have done business with The Pre-1899 Specialist and have received excellent information and a couple of fine rifles as a result.

Letter Re: The First Survivors–Concerning Spiritual Preparedness


In previous pieces I have written for SurvivalBlog, I have told of ways to prepare Field Kits, and of Shooting Skills, and other preparedness information. In today’s article I will write a little about spiritual preparedness:

The first acting “survivalist” was probably Noah and his family. (Note: I do not take credit for being the first person to come up with this idea). Under God’s direction he built a “Bug out Vehicle” of sorts (Genesis 6:14-16). God gave them a way of escape, and direction to store the things they would need for the coming threat ahead as well as the future of the earth. They gathered and stored food stuffs, grains, water, tools, and raw materials (Genesis 6:21).

They gathered the various types of animals on the earth at that time, and of the animals God gave man for food – He had them gather seven pairs (male and female) instead of just one pair (Genesis 7:2-3). God was their protector through the devastation of the earth, but they had done their part by preparing what would be needed in their future.

Another type of survivor (in a spiritual sense) comes to mind. When Jesus Christ hung on the cross some 2000 years ago, there were two thieves who hung on crosses near Him. One believed that Jesus was the Christ, but the other did not. The one who believed was told by Jesus that “today shalt thou be with me in Paradise” (KJV, Luke 23:40-43). This second thief realized that Jesus was the Son of God. He feared God, and believed that Jesus was His Son. He professed this with his mouth, and being his last day on earth – he repented. Romans 10:9-10 (KJV) reads: “9) That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10) For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

The thief had no time left on earth to “earn” his salvation, but the Bible says that if we believe and we repent – we can be saved. Our best “works” are not able to save us! (see Isaiah 64:6). Fortunately, God loved us enough to send His Son Jesus to die for our sins, taking our place on that cross! (John 3:16)

The believing thief was a “spiritual survivor”. The Bible says he will live eternally. You the reader have probably made plans and preparations for surviving the hard times ahead, but will you be an “eternal survivor” as well? – Christian Souljer

Odds ‘n Sods:

The ‘Worst case’ bird flu pandemic may have been underestimated. And it is now known that H5N1 can attack other organs — not just the human respiratory tract.

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Yevgeny Primakov’s view of the Iranian situation.

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SurvivalBlog reader RBS mentioned this article about the prospect of an inflation-proof “forever” postage stamp. If these ever get issued, then I’m stocking up!

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By way of Gold-Eagle, Jason Hommel comments on both the rapid expansion of the silver ETF and the threat of Bolivian silver mine expropriation

Letter Re: Junk Silver Bags–No Need to Inspect and Count 10,000 Silver Dimes

Hello Jim,
I am hoping that you can verify something for me about the [U.S. circulated} 90% silver [coin] bags. I just received my order of a $1,000 face [value] bag from The Tulving Company of California. I believe that I saw their name [mentioned] on SurvivalBlog a number of months ago. They have great customer service and the product came faster than they had promised. What I received from them came shipped in a plastic paint pail and inside was a flour sack, cloth bag, full of dimes and the weight printed on the UPS sticker showed 57 pounds. Sounds good, I think, but the bag inside has no markings and wasn’t sealed or sewn shut. It was just closed with a zip tie plastic fastener. Is this right, or should I be concerned? I am considering purchasing additional bags from them and my wife brought up that maybe I should ask a few questions instead of just accepting this as being appropriate. I really want this to be fine because I don’t want to have to count out all these dimes! Your insight would be greatly appreciated by my family! – S.C. in Washington

JWR Replies: Yes, The Tulving Company has been mentioned several times on SurvivalBlog. Tulving is a reputable dealer, from all reports. Don’t worry that the bag wasn’t sealed. In fact, most $1K bags are NOT sold sealed or sewn. Typically, dealers run any pre-1965 silver coin orders that are large enough to be sold “loose” or bagged (rather than in rolls) through a mechanical coin counter. A quick visual inspection will show you that all of the coins are pre-1965. (Scan for any rims that show a copper streak–which would indicate that any post 1964 clad copper coins got mixed in.) There is certainly no need for you to count 10,000 dimes. As long as the bag weighs at least 52 pounds, then you got your full 715 troy ounces of silver. (BTW, that +/- 715 ounce figure also applies for circulated silver quarters and half dollars. But because of their different specifications, silver dollar $1,000 bags contain around 765 ounces of silver.)

BTW, the quick way to gauge the value of a $1,000 bag versus the spot price of silver on any given day is simply to multiply the spot price by 715. Thus, at yesterday’s spot silver price of $13.85 per ounce, your $1,000 bag of dimes is worth $9,902.75. (Or just think of it as 9.9 times face value.)

Letter Re: Recommendations on Compact .223 Rifles


I came across this .223 rifle made by Kel-Tec that folds down to 25″ and would fit into some backpacks. Let me know what you think. – G.C.P.

JWR Replies: The Kel-Tec SU-16s are reportedly fairly reliable and accurate. It is nice that they use standard AR-15/M16 magazines, which have become ubiquitous in the U.S., the Philippines, and several other countries. However, I have heard that SU-16s have three significant detractors, the first two of which concern the stock:

1.) The stock is relatively fragile and hence not suited for vigorous field use. They might suffice for target shooting, but I have my doubts that they would not stand up to the vigors of a worst case survival situation where you might have to repeatedly jump to a prone position or perhaps even use the buttstock as a weapon. (“Buttstroking” an opponent.)

2.) It is difficult to get a consistent “cheek weld” on the stock to allow accurate shooting.

3.) As currently shipped from the factory, SU-16s do not come with a flash hider. Yes, they can be retrofitted, but that is a +/- $100 gunsmithing job.

If you want a compact .223, I would instead recommend a Rock River (or similar) M4 carbine clone with a 16″ barrel. (Commonly called an “M4gery.”) They are very compact when broken down into upper and lower halves for backpack carry. Re-assembly and loading takes less than 15 seconds. They are also relatively compact once assembled–that is if the stock is in the collapsed position.

If absolute compactness is a must (such as for vehicular defense), and you only expect short range shooting, then you might opt for an Olympic Arms AR-type pistol. (Note: for these pistols to be legal in the U.S., they must be assembled on a special “Pistol” designated AR-15 lower receiver. If you want both a short barrel and a buttstock, then in the U.S. such a gun must be federally registered as a Short-Barreled Rifle (SBR). For example, you could register an M4 receiver as an SBR and then re-assemble it with a 11.5 inch barreled upper receiver group. One captivating alternative for those of you that prefer HK designs, is getting one of the new semi-auto Vector V53.223 (HK-53) SBR clones with a collapsing stock. Sadly, these too must be registered as SBRs in the U.S.

Two Letters Re: Folding Fighting/Utility Knife Recommendations?

Mr. R.:
I read SurvivalBlog regularly – great site – and have been a contributor. It’s worth every penny. I would strongly encourage folks to check out Smokey Mountain Knife Works. I’ve gotten both CRKT and Cold Steel items there at very deep discounts. They’ve had both Kasper and Steve Ryan folders and fixed blades on sale at less than half their sale pricing elsewhere, both CRKT produced versions of those gentlemens’ customs. The Ryan Plan B fixed and the Model 7 folders are knives to have. They’ve had both full-size and compact Pendleton Hunters from Cold-Steel – not just a great knife but they come with adjustable Concealex sheaths, and once again, at prices almost too good.
Browse at Knives Plus for their Blade Clearinghouse. Spyderco has a new line of outsourced knives – the Byrd Line – and their Raven and Crows are the real deal; all metal folders that are very well-made, tight, and sharp. The Raven and Crow are less than $20, for what is essentially a $40 to $50 knife.
I’ve been “prepping” since ’97, filling in the edges as I go, and for “tools” these two sites are way ahead of the pack in choice and performance for price. Trust me – I’m a doctor, and there are no better prices to be found. – MurrDoc from NM


Dear Jim:
I carried a folder for years, but after taking a partial-contact knife class (with dull training blades) I am convinced that a fixed blade is much preferable Bottom line – have you ever tried to open a folder while being tackled or hit? Having done some well-padded half-contact sparring, I can testify how hard it is to pull off fine motor movements with an adrenaline dump, and under attack.

In a dynamic assault you just pull a fixed blade and go, not, “pull it, lever the folding blade open, and then make darn sure it’s locked before fighting, so you don’t cut your own fingers off!”

Just like gun fighting, to get a good idea of what really works you must do a realistic combat simulation – Gabe Suarez has some of the best insights here:

It might even be legal in some of the semi-free states to carry a fixed blade!

Granted, a fixed blade is tougher to carry – but there are options. I like inside the waistband, appendix carry, clipped to the top of the pants, behind the belt.

Knife fighting is scary business! The more I learn about Close Quarter Combat, and how the bad guy who initiates has the advantage, the more I want to be well armed and trained. – OSOM – (Out of Sight, Out of Mind)

JWR Replies: I agree that fixed blade knives are definitely superior for self defense. The problem is that most people don’t have the discipline to carry a sheath knife daily. It is quick and easy to put a clip-back folding knife you trouser pocket every morning. I do just that, every day. (Except of course when I take a commercial airline flight.) But it takes far greater discipline to transfer a sheath knife every time your trousers go in the laundry, or every time that you switch from work jeans to “church” pants. There is the added complicating factor of societal acceptance. A clip-back folding knife elicits hardly more than a second glance–at least outside of big eastern cities. But a sheath knife is a whole ‘nother matter in many social situations. They are also banned from carry in many U.S. cities and counties. IMHO, the practical compromise between the two approaches is to carry a fairly large folder with a very positive automatic lock. (Such as found on most “liner” locks.)

BTW, training is crucial. Close quarter training is available from Front Sight and several other qualified training organizations.With the right training, drawing and opening a folder becomes a fluid, almost automatic reflex. Perfect practice makes perfect.

Odds ‘n Sods:

A web search turned up this old article by Grits Gresham about Idaho’s famous back country solitary “Buckskin Bill” (Sylvan Hart)

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The high bid is currently $110 in the SurvivalBlog Bandwidth Fund benefit Book Auction. Please e-mail your bids before May 30th. Thanks to Kurt and Angie Wilson of Survival Enterprises for sponsoring this fund raiser!

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A site that tracks the intrinsic (base metal) value of U.S. circulating coinage and circulated silver coinage.

Letter Re: Request for Advice on Backup Power for a Well Pump

Can you or one of the gang offer some advice? We live in a nicely secluded area, but are all electric. We have a well. Our well man says it is impractical and very costly to install a hand pump on our present well setup.
What would be a practical procedure to utilize a small generator to power the water well when/if the power goes down for a week or so, for short
term use. Do we need an electrician to hook things up, and exactly what? I realize, long-term, greater expense will be needed, and it is in our priorities to so accomplish. However, a viable, practical short-term procedure is what we seek. Any and all input appreciated. – IcePick

JWR Replies: You need to make a couple of inquiries: First, ask your well/pump man if your pump is 120 VAC or 220 VAC. If it is a 220 volt model, then you will need a special generator or you will have to retrofit with a 120 VAC pump. Next, you need to call several local electricians, and get them to put in competitive bids for installing a proper bypass breaker panel and cabling it to your generator. I’ve seen people describe improvised”Jerry rigged” male-to-male extension cord generator hookups, but these do not meet NEMA code and are potentially hazardous–both for you and the hapless power company linemen attempting to restore power to your community. Perhaps some readers have some recommendations on a particular switch/circuit breaker arrangement that is safe, meets code, and is not overly expensive.

Letter Re: Advice of Shotgun Shells and Shot Sizes

Dear Mr. Rawles:
To amplify on some of your points is a recent reply to a reader letter, here is some data; Number 4 [bird] shot is .13 inch in diameter.
Number 4 buckshot (BK) is .24 inch in diameter and weighs 20.5 grains. (one pound avoirdupois is equal to 7,000 grains, 437.5 grains is equivalent to one ounce.)
OO BK is .33 inch in diameter and weighs 53 grains.
We have several levels of power in buckshot loads. Lets look at 12 gauge 2-3/4 and 3 inch shells.

2-3/4 inch standard OO BK has 9 pellets at 1,325 feet per second (FPS) at the muzzle.
Low Recoil 2-3/4 inch Magnum OO BK has 9 pellets at 1,125 FPS at the muzzle.
2-3/4 inch Magnum OO BK has 12 pellets at 1,290 FPS.
3 inch Magnum OO BK has 15 pellets at 1,210 FPS.

2-3/4 inch number 4 BK has 27 pellets at 1,325 FPS.
3 inch number 4 BK has 41 pellets at 1,210 FPS.

These velocities may very a little from one brand to another.

The 3 inch Magnums offer more pellets per load, but they recoil very heavily and reduce the magazine capacity. If I lived in an apartment, a mobile home or my exterior walls were thin or if I had other people living in my home, I would consider using no. 4 or no. 6 bird shot to reduce over penetration. You could always have the first and second shot to be bird shot and the last two or three shells buckshot. If I lived in a rural area and thought I might need more range and penetration then use OO BK or OOO BK and possibly shotgun slugs. Use the shotgun with buckshot at 30 yards and under, use shotgun slugs at 50 yards and under. There are specially choked and rifled barreled shotguns that will extend these ranges but the usual short barreled and bead front sight riot shotgun will be doing very good to achieve consistent hits at these ranges.

I load my 12 ga. house gun with (5) 2-3/4 inch Magnum OO BK (12 pellets) in the magazine with a empty chamber, and 5 more of the same shells in the buttstock shell holder. Close by I have a ammo belt with 20 shot shells (bird shot,buckshot and slugs).

As a comparison – if fired from a rifle the 22 long rifle with a 40 grain lead round nose has a muzzle velocity of 1,255 to 1,280 FPS.
Each number 4 BK pellet will have a little less energy than a 22 long rifle bullet and each OO BK pellet will have a little more energy than the 22 long rifle bullet at the muzzle. Consider several people with veering levels of skill firing at a target with a 22 long rifle all at the same time, at close range this buckshot ammunition is very effective. Thank you for your work. – Campfire

Letter Re: A Company That Advertises on SurvivalBlog–and One That Ought To

Mr. Rawles:
Concerning an advertiser on your site. I have done business with George over at The Pre-1899 Specialist and have had outstanding results.
Without getting into specifics I bought from him and the Post Office managed to damage my order severely.
I notified George and as always received a very swift and positive response.
All was made right and I couldn’t be more satisfied. All was sent as advertised and in perfect (except for the gorillas at the USPS) working order.
The prices were great too. I am looking forward to doing more business with George in the future.

I also found Don Stott at Colorado Gold in your investment page. Don is very straightforward, professional and his prices were reasonable as of when I placed my order.
He isn’t a paid advertiser but maybe with a little encouragement he might consider it.
Keep up the good work.- Bucc.

Odds ‘n Sods:

Mike R. recommended this site about Ancient Turf Homes

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The high bid is currently $98 in the SurvivalBlog Bandwidth Fund benefit Auction. Please e-mail your bids before May 30th. Thanks to Kurt and Angie Wilson of Survival Enterprises for sponsoring this fund raiser!

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I just added another 30+ U.S. Army manuals to my mail order catalog.

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The Bush administration has released its “National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Implementation Plan

The Memsahib’s Quote of the Day:

“The three most important things to look for when searching for a church home are doctrine, doctrine, and doctrine. If your main criteria are ‘programs’ and ‘outreach’ to this or that niche group, then in my opinion you are starting your search the wrong way.” – James Wesley, Rawles