Letter Re: Ethanol and Aviation Fuels

Mr. Rawles;
I am the manager of a county airport in the South. Which leads me to a piece of information that I want to pass on to you.

Each day we are required by our brand Quality Control people to draw a sample of fuel from each of our tanks and refuelers. The purpose is to check for contaminates. Once that is done that fuel is poured into a waste drum that has to be disposed of later. We have both 100 low lead for prop planes and Jet-A. Jet-A is a high quality kerosene that works well in diesel engines and in kerosene lamps and heaters. Most larger airports have recovery tanks on their fuel systems that allow them to save this fuel, but some of the smaller airports simply have to call an oil recycler and have it hauled away. For those who are good scrounges and are willing to approach people on such matters this might be a source of fuel for off road use. I would advise the precaution of running this fuel through a filter prior to adding it to a tank since some times an old barrel is used for holding this fuel till pick up. I would request that the "no attribution rule" be applied here.

As for ethanol: I have a book in my library titled Making it on the Farm. This little book covers in great detail how to build a still and make your own fuel. I got mine several years ago from Buffalo Creek Press in Cleburne, Texas. Thanks again and keep up the good work. Long Life, – Name Withheld By Request

My Grandfather’s Wisdom

My paternal grandfather, Ernest Everett Rawles (1897-1985), was a largely self-educated man. Coming from a pioneer family (his father and grandfather came out west by covered wagon in 1857), he had a profoundly practical outlook on life. Ernest grew up on a 6,000 acre sheep ranch near Boonville, in Mendocino County, California. There, he lived life at its basics: The change of the seasons, hunting and trapping, hard work in foul weather, lambing, shearing, and the constant state of war with the predators that annually killed dozens and sometimes hundreds of lambs. It was hard life, but it had its satisfactions. The following are some brief quotes drawn from his oral history:

“I liked growing up on the ranch. We ran livestock on the land, and cut quite a bit of timber. We had horses, cattle, pigs, and Merino sheep. Lots of sheep. Two or three thousand at a time were run by the various members of the family. [To protect the sheep] we had to contend with the coyotes, mountain lions, and bear.”

“People had their jealousies, just like they do today, but for strangers passing through, people were a lot more hospitable. Visitors would often drop by unannounced and uninvited. People would come in from the coast, sometimes they’d come into the house when no one was at home [expecting our return later in the day]. Of course my dad was a politician [so he knew a lot of people.] I can remember we’d come home after a trip in the buggy, and there’d be a barn full of horses, and the chores done, and dinner on the table. That was just the way they did things in those days. They generally brought their provisions with them. If they didn’t, then on the way back they’d bring provisions. People were more cooperative [back then.]”

“Boonville was a very isolated community until about the 1920s. One young fellah wanted some adventure, so he got on a tan oak bark wagon, and went over to Largo, which is on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad. He went down as far as Cloverdale. Then he got on a train, and went back up to Ukiah. From there, he hitched a ride back home. That’s a triangle of about 30 by 30 [miles.] When he got home, he said, ‘By gosh if the world is as big the other way as the way I went, she’s a whopper.’ That’s about as some of the people got in those days. They hardly got on the other side of the hill.”

“You’ve got to understand that we had a big ranch but we only got money once or twice a year out of it. The money wasn’t very free. All the money you got was in gold coin. I remember I was nearly fifteen or sixteen years old before I saw much paper money. It was all gold and silver. They didn’t have any greenbacks that I remember. My dad would take the wool and mutton to sell, and he’d come back with some tobacco sacks full of twenty-dollar gold pieces. He used to drive three or four-hundred head of sheep down to Cloverdale. They only brought about $2 a head. A big four horse load of wool taken over to Ukiah would pay for the groceries and clothes for the next winter. That was the big trip of the year, when I was a boy. That was when the money came in. That was the way that we used to get paid for things. Gold and silver coins. As kids, they used to let us play with the gold coins now and again. That was quite a celebration.”

“We used to go work in the hop fields. We got paid one cent a pound for picking hops. You’d work your tail off to strip a hundred pounds. If you worked long, long hours–get out there at daylight, and head home at dark, you’d pick about 125 pounds. Finally, they paid us a cent and quarter. [$0.0125 per pound.]”

“We used to say that if you saved just ten percent of what you earned, you’d never go to the poor house. That’s one of the first lessons I learned, and I’ve tried to do something along that line since. And I’ve never gone to the poor house.”

The Corn Belt Alternative–Ethanol Compatible Vehicles

I emphasize versatility in survival planning, particularly in the area of alternate fuels. I have mentioned in several previous SurvivalBlog posts that prefer diesel-engine cars, trucks, tractors, and ATVs because they can be run alternatively on either biodiesel and home heating oil. For those of you readers in the Corn Belt, you might also consider buying a gasoline engine vehicles that is compatible with Ethanol. (Ethyl Alcohol or “corn gas.”). The most versatile (but rare) will run on 100% ethanol (E100). But many will run on a 85% ethanol/15% gasoline blend (E85).General Motors of Brazil makes large numbers of E100 vehicles, because E100 is the dominant fuel in that market. (Where it is produced locally from sugar cane.)

There are a wide range of current and recent production E85 ethanol compatible vehicles, from makers including

• Daimler Chrysler
• Ford
• General Motors
• Isuzu
• Mazda
• Mercedes
• Mercury
• Nissan

Note that many of these are only available as special “fleet purchase” vehicles, so you may have to hunt for a fleet trade-in.

For some good background on E85, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E85.

Many U.S.gas stations already use E85 ethanol compatible pumps and tanks. See: http://www.pei.org/e85/.

Be sure to look closely at the vehicle specifications of a prospective purchase before you buy. (A buyer’s guide in PDF is available for download from the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition.) In many cases you have to look at specifications right down to a particular digit in the VIN number to be sure. OBTW, some vehicles have a special sticker inside the gas cap door, indicating that they are E85 compatible. That is the quickest –but not surest–way to check when you a wandering around a car dealership lot. Since big four wheel drive vehicles are currently slow sellers, just putting the word out at a couple of local dealerships that you are looking for a used 4WD that is E85 compatible is almost certain to get some commission-only salesmen motivated to doing some legwork on your behalf.

The bottom line: If you can get get an E85 ethanol compatible vehicle for the same price or slightly more than one that is gasoline-only, then why not get that extra versatility? Some day, post TETOWAWKI, that versatility may make difference between a vehicle that is still viable/mobile and a very expensive immobile lawn ornament.

OBTW, distilling your own ethanol is not rocket science. (Just ask anyone who has lived in the Ozarks.) I will cover “at home” ethanol fuel distilling in an upcoming post.

Letter Re: A Source for Storage Barrels

Everybody’s referring to 55 gallon barrels. I can’t lift something as heavy as a 55 gallon barrel full of fuel. I’ve always bought the steel 17 gallon barrels for fuel. I CAN pick up one of those full of fuel (if I have too) :-[ They have the same size holes on top as the 55 gallon barrels and they will stand up in the back of a Bronco or Blazer. Regards and please keep up the great work! – The Army Aviator

Note from JWR:

Many of the widely read blogs have a featured “Blog of the Week” or at least a fairly lengthy “blog roll.” Please recommend SurvivalBlog to the editors of those Blogs. Just a brief e-mail to the editors of the various popular blogs, such as James Lileks, Little Green Footballs, Hugh Hewitt, Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, The Belmont Club, Blogs of War, Bill O’Reilly, et cetera–would go a long way toward increasing the readership of SurvivalBlog.  Many thanks in advance!


Fed Boss Successor Ben Bernanke–Bearish for the Dollar and Bullish for Precious Metals? (SAs: Economics, Contrarian Investing)

I’m not the first to observe that the upcoming scheduled departure of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan will have some substantial effect on monetary policy and the economy.  The man anointed for the top slot is Ben Bernanke, a Federal Reserve governor and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Just who is this man, and how is how likely to change the Fed’s policies?  The best indicators are probably some of the statements that Bernanke has made in speeches in recent years. These include:

“Like gold, U.S. dollars have value only to the extent that they are strictly limited in supply. But the U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost. By increasing the number of U.S. dollars in circulation, or even by credibly threatening to do so, the U.S. government can also reduce the value of a dollar in terms of goods and services, which is equivalent to raising the prices in dollars of those goods and services. We conclude that, under a paper-money system, a determined government can always generate higher spending and hence positive inflation.”


“Each of the policy options I have discussed so far involves the Fed’s acting on its own. In practice, the effectiveness of anti-deflation policy could be significantly enhanced by cooperation between the monetary and fiscal authorities. A broad-based tax cut, for example, accommodated by a program of open-market purchases to alleviate any tendency for interest rates to increase, would almost certainly be an effective stimulant to consumption and hence to prices. Even if households decided not to increase consumption but instead re-balanced their portfolios by using their extra cash to acquire real and financial assets, the resulting increase in asset values would lower the cost of capital and improve the balance sheet positions of potential borrowers. A money-financed tax cut is essentially equivalent to Milton Friedman’s famous ‘helicopter drop’ of money.”


“Although the Federal Reserve does not have an explicit numerical target range for measured inflation, FOMC behavior and rhetoric have suggested to many observers that the Committee does have an implicit preferred range for inflation. Most relevant here, the bottom of that preferred range clearly seems to be a value greater than zero measured inflation, at least 1% per year or so.”


“The essence of constrained discretion is the central role of a commitment to price stability. Not only does such a commitment enhance efficiency, employment, and economic growth in the long run, but — by providing an anchor for inflation expectations — it also improves the ability of central banks to stabilize the real economy in the short run as well. An important and interesting implication is that, under a properly designed and implemented monetary policy regime, the key social objectives of price stability and maximum employment tend to be mutually reinforcing rather than competing goals.”

and lastly, on asset bubbles:

“[I]t’s extraordinarily difficult for the central bank to know in advance or even after the fact whether or not there’s been a bubble… The central bank should focus the use of its single macroeconomic instrument, the short term interest rate, on price and output stability. It is rarely, if ever, advisable for the central bank to use its interest rate instrument to try to target or control asset price movements, thereby implicitly imposing its view of the proper level of asset prices on financial markets.”

As we transition from the “Mr. Magoo” Greenspan era, to the “Helicopter Ben” Bernanke era, be prepared for some changes. Bernanke appears predisposed toward easy money policies and inflating his way out of problems. We should anticipate a more rapid rate of inflation for the dollar.  That could be bearish for the dollar’s rate of exchange with many foreign currencies. The dollar index may very well resume its five year slide. Meanwhile, look for a boost in the prices of gold and silver, which have traditionally been hedges against weak paper currencies. Don’t worry about those Black Helicopters. Instead, watch the skies for Federal Reserve helicopters. 

An Architecture Student’s Lessons Learned, by “Mr. Whiskey”

As an architect for the last 30 years or so, I have been applying some important lessons learned in college that have an eerie resemblance to the survival mindset of those of us who think we just might be in for some hard times, and much sooner than we think. Let me explain.On the very first day of class, on my very first day of college back in the 1970s, I found myself in a design class with other new students who knew absolutely nothing about the profession or business of architecture. But we were there to learn, and our first assignment was to design and build a ‘Survival House for an Egg’, or SHEG for short. The rules were simple: design pure survival for a fresh chicken egg, no restrictions on materials used, no weight limits or minimums, the SHEG could be any size or shape provided it cleanly fit into an 8” x 8” x 8” box, the SHEG would be subjected to a severe external stressing event (to be determined on test day), it had to be opened by someone other than yourself, after testing, using only a matt knife, could be any color, style or texture, and the project was 30% of your final semester grade. It was also pass/fail, ‘A’ or ‘F’. No teamwork allowed, you’re on your own. Each student will present one SHEG for testing in one week at 1:15pm, rain or shine. No class until then. No more questions. Good luck. The professor then went on vacation, I think. The goal was made clear. We were to design and construct a house for an egg to survive unbroken through an unknown catastrophic event. Easy enough.
We all complained about it. “How can I design for an unknown?” we asked. Isn’t design meant to be for planning, for known occurrences, with foresight and thought? Isn’t that what we’re here for, to be taught how to know what to plan for? All good questions, indeed. Many classmates assumed a weight-applied stress from the top. Some assumed a violent shaking, and a few others a sudden impact. But they were all really, totally inappropriate assumptions for this assignment. This job was for one thing, and one thing only: get that egg to the other side of its impending Armeggeddon. (Sorry).
Many of us worked day and night, testing and retesting for something, we knew not what. Some of the new students made friends quickly. Others kept to themselves, me included, and just plugged away on our SHEG’s. Then test day came. We were all nervously waiting with our designs and our futures in hand. The professor arrived looking tanned and well fed. We were asked to walk up the stairwell and place our designs on the north parapet wall of the buildings’ roof and stand beside our SHEG’s. The stress event our designs were to withstand would be a baseball bat hitting the SHEG off the parapet, seven stories high, and onto the empty asphalt parking lot below. A judge on the ground would open each SHEG as it rested, determining whether the egg was intact or not. The judge would then crack the egg to be sure no hard boiled cheaters were among us. Your neighbor previous in line will hit your SHEG off the wall. No one touches their SHEG from here on out. Then it started to rain. The professor hit the first one. WHAM. Off went someone’s desperate attempt at survival design into scrambled oblivion. Then another. And another. It was terrible. The professor was laughing. After 30 student tries, not one had yet passed. Then someone succeeded. Everyone cheered. Another round of failures, then it was my turn. I mumbled a silent prayer. My neighbor in line gleefully grabbed the bat, wanting desperately to send my SHEG off the edge in a yellow splat of frustration, just as his had done not one minute earlier. Off it went, down and down, then BANG. The judge opened my SHEG and discovered an intact egg. I had passed. Life was good. I was only one of three success stories that dark day. Three out of 72 students. There were many tears and much gnashing of teeth. Many of my fellow classmates claimed their SHEG’s were hit harder than someone else’s. “Not fair!”, they cried. Some couldn’t believe they really got an ‘F’ for the project (their very first academic failure, in many cases). One student made it to the ground with an intact egg, but the judge could not open the SHEG with the knife, so he failed. Several others failed because they missed the deadline to present their design by just minutes. A few just gave up in total frustration and did not submit any design at all.
You probably are wondering what miracle material or ingenious new packaging design I used for my success. As my classmates’ designs were flying to pieces on the pavement, as the paper-mache was dissolving in the rain, as the high tech plastic spheres with spring loaded shock absorbers and half-chewed bubble gum cushioning were splattered into oblivion, my SHEG survived. I just used a basic cut-in-half cardboard shoe box packed as full of simple, basic saran wrap as I could possibly make it, then I wrapped it all in duct tape. Mission accomplished. Survival.
And oh, the lessons learned. They keep coming back to me in spades, almost with every decision I make now. If you can envision the egg as you and your family, think about this:
1. You really only need a fairly limited space to protect your egg. You can spend a lot of money, or not, but make sure you cover the basics very deep, and pack very well.
2. Your egg is all you have. If it breaks, you fail.
3. Use mostly locally obtained and inexpensive materials to the best of your ability.
4. At least show up to the party with something. You never know, you might get lucky.
5. Your neighbor will probably be glad to see you fail, so pack your egg as tight and failure proof as you can. And his basics will probably not be your basics, so keep your basics hidden from view.
6. It will rain.
7. There will probably always be some fat guy standing close by laughing at you.
8. Say your prayers.
9. Whatever hits you will most likely not be planned for, so pack the basics deep.
10. Survival is pass / fail.
11. Teamwork is OK, but ultimately your egg is your responsibility.
12. Life is not fair. Some of us get hit harder than others.
13. If your egg breaks, it will not be pretty, so pack the basics deep.
14. Duct tape is good.
15. Don’t pack so well that the rescuers can’t get in to save the egg, because it may not be the end of the world yet.
16. No matter how well you plan and build things, someone can always, always get to your egg and crack it if they really want to (if they have the right tools).
17. Don’t hard boil your life. It’s too short and the stress can kill you. Simplify.
18. Terrible can always get worse.

British Government Plans Drastic Measures for Potential Asian Avian Flu Pandemic

The Times of London reports that planners in the British Government are anticipating shutting down or curtailing traffic on their Underground system, and detailing dedicated security for health care workers, in the event of an influenza pandemic. See:  http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0%2C%2C25149-1853843%2C00.html Just some food for thought and ground for further research (FFTAGFFR.)

Eskimo Sod Huts–60°F Inside and Minus 50°F Outside

SurvivalBlog reader “KonTiki” sent the following article excerpted from the Duffy’s Law web site: http://www.duffyslaw.com/current14.htm
The following is from a collection of random notes from the 1913 book My Life With The Eskimos by Vilhjalmur Stefansson. For serious research, one should read the unabridged edition.

Eskimo Housing
Eskimo houses were constructed with a hole in the roof to allow in light. The hole which was most often left open was covered with Bear intestine. The base of the house was five to six foot thick made of earth and sod and tapered and thinned out towards the top which was about six foot square. The top had about six inches of earth on it. The center of the house was about nine feet high and the walls at the edge were about five feet high. The opening on the roof was about three foot square. 3 or 4 lamps burned continuously and one of the most important duties of the wife was to make sure they didn’t smoke or go out. The entrance to the house was a twenty to forty foot shed-covered tunnel about four feet lower than the floor of the house.  The cold air in the tunnel would not rise into the house which was kept warm by the four lamps at a temperature of sixty to seventy degrees Fahrenheit even when the outside temperature was fifty below zero! They would sit with only shorts on in the house. So they would be bare below the knees and above the waist. After five months Stefansson began to enjoy the boiled fish they would eat for supper. The entryway and the hole in the roof were kept open most of the time, but especially during cooking. The only time the entryway would be covered would be to prevent a baby from falling into it or puppies coming in from outside and this was only rarely. Stefansson would usually sleep next to the tunnel entryway to get more fresh air. Each corner of the room had an elevation for sleeping that was covered by skins as was the floor. The houses at first smelled bad but soon you realized that it was the cooking of food that gave the smell to the house. The lamp is a half moon soapstone about two or three inches deep kept almost full and the wick is a powdered ivory (walrus), sawdust, dried moss ground in the fingers, manila rope from the whalers with a strand taken and chopped into tiny pieces. The wick is made from the powder laid in a strip which the oil soaks. A piece of fat is suspended over the flame and when the wick dries the flame gets brighter and hence hotter and more fat drips into the half moon lamp bowl which then fills and wets the wick more which cuts down the height of the flame and this works by itself for about six or eight hours.  The open center of the house was like a club pip on playing cards it was twelve foot square with an alcove in each corner which sometime would lead to another house. The entire compound accommodated 23 people.

Letter Re: A Source for Storage Barrels

Hey there! Congratulations on the site. There is not a day that goes by that I do not read it. As such, I just thought that I would tell you to check out the following website… http://stores.ebay.com/The-Barrel-Company (The Barrel Company, out of Nevada). After checking it out, if you desire, you may want to put it out on your website. I get all of my 55 gallon steel and water barrels from this site. I provide you with this information not because I have any personal relationship with this company but simply because you can get CHEAP, HIGH QUALITY barrels from here. Originally, I purchased new barrels from this site, but then began purchasing their used ones. Due to the price, it was just as easy to clean the barrels myself. In terms of the steel barrels, I found these to be great upon receipt. Again, I clean them but find that the 55 gallon steel barrels need very little cleaning due to the fact that the food products were in a bag liner. To date I have purchased ten 55 Gallon Plastic Water Barrels and three 55 gallon steel drums. No complaints what so ever. Again, this is simply food for thought and I thought that you may like to pass this information on to others through your website if you find it helpful. (Note: If purchasing used drums that it is important that you clean them). Take care and continue the good work! – “Mc”

Letter Re: OPSEC Precautions When Dispensing Post-TEOTWAWKI Charity

I can’t remember if you covered this scenario in your Patriots book so here’s a thought. In a SHTF or a TEOTWAWKI and we are giving away Charity to a small refugee group with OPSEC being done. The refugees move on in their quest for a better place and run into a “foraging group” of folks. A”foraging group” will most likely want to know where the little band of refugees got some of their new stuff. Any ammo that was given in charity more than likely will be liberated from the refugees along with pretty much everything else they have of value. In an effort to save their own skins the refugees will more than likely tell the foragers where they got this stuff from. They will probably all be killed anyway. That’s my point of this email. We have just created a very potential future threat to our retreat and it’s inhabitants.

If you have to give out charity [during a “worst case” situation with widespread lawlessness] I would suggest no charity be given anywhere near your retreat. Have a predetermined spot away from the retreat. Then, with the appropriate warnings as you gave in your book, send them on their way. Waiting till they are out of sight before moving back to the retreat. It sure seems like a big effort.

Handing out charity in front of your property is simpler but really bad OPSEC. That’s a NO-NO in my thinking. Another idea is to not hand out charity at all to passing refugees. This will be difficult to do. You might not even see any if your retreat is off the natural drift lines of refugees. If you do see refugees and they haven’t seen you then just let them pass and be gone. Charity with your neighbors should be easier since they should be part of your retreats OPSEC anyway. If not, it’s a good way to bring them into the fold. Mutual support will make it more secure for everyone in question. – Larry in Kansas

Letter from Mr. Bravo Re: .40 S&W to 9mm Conversion Barrel for a Glock Model 23?

The first source I would use for replacement pistol barrels (not just for Glock) is http://www.kkmprecision.com/index.asp. Kevin’s company produces arguably the most accurate barrels available, and that is only a part of his superior capabilities as a firearms designer and manufacturer who is well regarded at the highest levels of military purchasing. He actually produces some of the specialty pistol barrels that are retailed under other brands. Go to the source for the best value.
I know him personally as a good and honest man, and BTW I would also consider him my first choice for a custom rifle. -Mr. Bravo