Sundries For Survival, Part 1, by 3adScout

This article centers on logistics. This is not a list of what you need, but rather an inspiration to get us to think about a category of supplies that isn’t discussed a lot. Beans, bullets and band-aids are definitely key in survival but when you consider many of the items we will discuss in this article, they support our ability to raise, process or prepare food, ensure we can use our bullets if needed by having maintained and operational firearms and providing an ounce of prevention by supporting our health, safety and hygiene so we don’t have to use our band-aids (medical supplies). Having a deep stock of diverse sundries will enhance our ability to be prepared and to save time in a post-TEOTWAWKI world.

There is an old rhythmic poem about a nail that reads:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe the horse was lost,
for want of a horse the knight was lost,
for want of a knight the battle was lost,
for want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
All for want of a horse shoe nail.”

I use this old poem, when I teach disaster logistics. It is such a clear and concise example of how the need for something so simple can have such huge impacts. Applying this quote to a TEOTWAWKI events, we can see that, for the want of a sundry item such as a chainsaw spark plug; a CR2030 Button cell battery; a spare wick for a kerosene heater; or numerous other seemingly minuscule and obscure items, our battle to survive can be lost. For many preppers being ready for a disaster revolves around a bug-out-bag. Having a bug-out-bag should not be construed as being prepared, since it just simply will not have the depth and ability to provide you with the wide range of resources that will be needed to survive post-TEOTWAWKI. Additionally, many of us have the traditional “Beans, Bullets and, Band-aids.” Having food, ammunition and medical supplies definitely increases our chances for survival in a disaster or post-TEOTWAWKI world but the reality is that our survival will also hinge on a plethora of seemingly trivial items. These items only seem trivial until you need one and Lowes has long been looted clean.

General Eisenhower once stated that “You will not find it difficult to prove that battles, campaigns, and even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics.” Unlike the military, preppers will not have any logistical lines of support besides what they store before TEOTWAWKI or what they produced post-TEOTWAWKI with the knowledge, skills, equipment and supplies they had before the event. By applying a military logistics lesson to the realm of survival we can prove that disaster survival has also been successful or a failure based on logistics.

And Then Came Katrina

Let’s look at Hurricane Katrina in two ways, from an individual standpoint and from a government standpoint. From an individual standpoint if a person, who was advised to evacuate failed to evacuate, it is safe to say they probably did not have a plan, and a disaster supplies kit and that person became a victim and unsuccessful at being able to adequately supply for his everyday survival needs. I define being a “victim” as having to rely on FEMA, the Red Cross, or Salvation Army are for day to day needs. From a government standpoint, was the government quick and efficient at providing the right stuff at the right time in the right quantities needed, in the right locations? We all know that this was a dismal failure especially when we look at the Super Dome. That isn’t to say that FEMA logistics is a total failure in all aspects. Over the years, FEMA has developed “push packages” of food, water, medical and special needs items based on lessons learned in other disaster responses. The point here is that like many Preppers, FEMA is looking at the basics of food, water, medical supplies. FEMA relies upon the private sector and/or the military for the obscure needs that pop up during a disaster. From a cost perspective this makes senses but from a TEOTWAWKI planning perspective this assumes that lines of communication for ordering, information management systems to find the needed inventory and track it, and lines of transportation to deliver it are still operating. If you fail to prepare adequately as an individual, don’t assume that government will much better prepared.

Your Horseshoe Nails

So how do we go about identifying those “horseshoe nails” that could be our downfall during TEOTWAWKI? Planning. Start with a basic class of preps such as food. Pick a particular food, for example hard winter wheat. Ask yourselves some questions. One, to use the wheat that I have stored what do I need? Answers are perhaps a can opener and a grain grinder. As for the can opener, let’s say you have an electric can opener. Your “nails” are obviously electricity, and the electric motor and parts inside. In this case it doesn’t seem prudent to mold our preps around ensuring that we can use that electric can opener post-event. A logistically smarter course of action would be a less “logistical needy” alternative such as a manual can opener and perhaps some P-51 can openers as back-ups.

For our grinder to work what parts will or may need replaced? What routine maintenance do we need to perform to keep it operational? You may need to replace the burrs and you might lose a nut or, wing-nut. So, burrs, wing-nuts and, nuts become your “nails” for that example. Another example might be a Katadyn Vario water filter. What “nails” does it have? Most of us would quickly identify that it needs replacement filters. But looking at the user maintenance manual we see that there are other items that periodically need replacement to keep the water filter performing. There are also ceramic pre-filter discs, several “O” rings, carbon replacement packs and intake pre-filter strainers that will need replacing at some point. Looking at the user manual or maintenance manual of a piece of equipment is an excellent place to identify the requisite “nails”.

The more complex the device or system is, the more points of failures (nails) you may have. Think of a solar power system and the number of parts/pieces that go into ensuring that the system operates. The more complex a system is, then the more vulnerable it will be to disruption. It is our complex society that creates many added vulnerabilities to disasters. If you want to learn more about complex societies and disasters read Dr. Joseph Tainter’s  book The Collapse of Complex Societies, and watch a lecture with the same title, available on YouTube. Preppers should practice another age old saying of “Keep it Simple”.

One is None

Regular SurvivalBlog readers are no stranger to the mantra of “Two is one and one is none.” Having two grain grinders is basically a way of making sure you have the logistics needs in place to continue to survive if one is broken, a part is lost, et cetera. But there are certain devices that are going to require on-going replacement parts or will require maintenance to remain operational. Going back to our grain grinder example, having two is a good idea but both sets of burrs will go bad at some point. Now some people are probably saying yes, but I’ve used my grain grinder for years and I haven’t needed to change the burrs once. Post TEOTWAWKI may change a few variables. One, your grain that you use now may be cleaner than the grain you grind post TEOTWAWKI that doesn’t have the luxury of modern agricultural machinery to keep it as clean as we have today. A small rock or other foreign material can damage the burrs. We can also assume that we will be using said grain mill a lot more perhaps grinding grain for a community as part of a post-TEOTWAWKI cottage industry.

How a piece of equipment is going to be used post-TEOTWAWKI, not pre-TEOTWAWKI, must be considered when planning and putting away repair/replacement parts. I don’t shoot steel cased 5.56mm ammunition in my ARs today. However, I have put away a few cases of steel cased ammunition because it is inexpensive, but it will be the last 5.56mm ammunition that I use. Steel cased ammunition is harder on firing pins and extractors. Knowing this I have these extra parts stored.

Repair Spares and Loss Spares

Having a duplicate is great for a catastrophic failure of the first device but it should not be your only means of providing spare parts. Breakage of parts or parts wearing out isn’t the only concern but losing parts should also be anticipated and planned for. I keep several spares of certain parts now based on past experience of losing a piece during cleaning or maintenance. Think about cleaning an AR-15 and taking apart the bolt. There are several tiny pieces that can quickly disappear when you are in the woods siting on a log cleaning it. The firing pin retaining pin, a cam pin, an ejector roll pin and extractor spring just to name a few. A few other examples are mounting bar nuts for my chain saw and the ball nuts for Coleman lanterns.

Another benefit of laying in a good stock of repair/replacement parts is ensuring that you have them if/when the manufacturer stops making that particular model. Having deep stocks of repair/replacement parts can also be another source of barter goods.We can only imagine what a person post-TEOTWAWKI might trade for a firing pin for an AR-15 that only cost $15 today.

Besides repair/replacement parts and the equipment and supplies for maintenance of your equipment you will also need other types of sundries. I keep a very well stocked workshop. I have 5-gallon buckets full of various types of nails and spikes. This ensures that I have nails for any spontaneous projects and for TEOTWAWKI. This goes for all kinds of hardware. Recently I was adding some insulation to my pole barn workshop and was using a staple gun. I used a whole box of staples on just half the project. This helped me realize that I needed to increase my store of staples. For consumable items, like nails, I don’t think you can have too many in storage. My general rule of thumb is when I do a project and use nails or other consumables out of my stores, I replace them with double.

Other Logistics Sources

I also look for great deals at estate sales, auctions and clearance sections to pick up hardware for my storage. I was at an estate sale where they had two 2-foot-long by 1-½ foot high by 1-foot deep metal boxes. Each box was packed full of boxes nails and packages of other hardware. I picked up each box for $5. As I was going through the boxes, I found one package of stainless-steel screws that had a $5.99 price tag on it that was not even opened.If you look, you can develop a very extensive inventory of hardware very inexpensively. Buying second hand at garage sales, estate sales, auctions and flea markets is a way obtaining affordable spare parts for some of your equipment.

It is amazing how many Coleman lanterns I see at flea markets and auctions that simply have a missing glass globe and sell for $5 to $10. Stripping these lanterns of parts for spares yields easy three times the money in parts. You can do the same for gas stoves as well. There is also another great advantage of buying at auctions and estate sales. Many of the items from these sales are older and manufactured in the United States before the age of engineering everything for failure to keep the need for re-buying those products artificially higher. Something else to keep in mind about purchasing older made in the US equipment is that it may also have value as an antique that may go up in value over time. If you don’t read the SurvivalBlog “Tangibles Investing” posts found in the regular “Economics & Investing For Preppers” column, then you might want to start doing so.

(To be continued in Part 2)




42 Comments

  1. One technique that I use on parts acquisition is that if I buy at the hardware store, I buy three or four rather than the one piece i need. If I need a faucet for a plumbing project, I buy three faucets. Partly, this is because I live in the country and its a trip to the store, and partly because when something breaks it will be on Saturday evening when the store won’t open again until Monday. Either you have the parts to fix it or you do without. If that’s your water supply or power for your home, that can be a problem.
    Of course, that can lead to a cluttered workshop unless you stay on it.

    I like where this article is going. More please!!

    1. My grandfather was a product of the Great Depression. He was a total pack rat keeping anything and everything. Didn’t matter if it was new or broken, he kept it. As a result of poor organization and management, after he passed, almost everything had to be thrown away. Improper storage resulting in exposure to the elements and mice, squirrels, and chipmunks pretty much finished everything off. So, the rule with some of the things he had was 10 is none. It was very unfortunate. The end result was two large heaping trash cans filled up every week for the last couple years.

      1. So, having a bunch of stuff and extras means nothing if they are not monitored for condition and organized. Organized is one big word. Not knowing where something is or having stuff scattered throughout the property of a type of item does nothing but cause frustration and possibly more money if you cannot find the needed items. Example: Coleman lantern, keep lanterns, spare glass, fuel, and other parts in one place. So, when you need a lantern, you go to where they are stored and you have everything you need in one spot.

        1. INPrepper,

          Can’t agree more. If you can find it you don’t have it. Something else I have realized over the years is that it is important for others, like my wife, to know where to find stuff too. Thus good organization and marking of containers is important. Mouse and rodent proofing is also a must.

  2. Thanks for this article. It inspires deeper thinking about preparedness. We’ve been hit with unprecedented snow and wind the last couple of weeks. Store shelves were empty the first day. Facebook neighbors page…. Someone asking to borrow a snow shovel. Too many take too much for granted.

      1. “In TEOTWAWKI, cash will be toilet paper.”

        That is true but it is a million times more likely that we will have a crisis and NOT TEOTWAWKI. So prepare for what is likely and not what you dream about.

        To not have cash is to not be prepared.

  3. When is too much too much? How can Average Joe have the finances to have anything that will be required (and backed up with multiple spares) for TEOTWAWKI?

    I believe too many “Preppers” think (hope) that in a short period of time the event will pass and their world will return to “normal”.

    I can’t afford to have everything, but I can afford to have basics with some spares.

    1. Matthew,

      When you really think about it Preppers are not Average Joes. My income might be average but it is my lifestyle that allows me to afford and to make preparedness a priority. When I was in my twenties I bought guns, knives and survival equipment not fancy vehicles and tons of beer. For years we did not have cable, saving more than $50 per month. I’ve never owned a new vehicle, and keep my vehicles for as long as possible. I don’t buy or wear designer clothes. Basically we don’t play the “keeping up with the Jones'” game. We despise debt and avoid paying interest like the plague. We often buy used or discounted items too. I have been into survival for a long time and $5 here and $100 there have added up into a better than average level of preparedness. Part 2 will expand on this. Good luck with the preparedness.

    2. You can’t possibly know what’s abead, to be able to store everything.
      You need to develop “tribe”, so that what you don’t have, someone else in your tribe will. And visa versa.

      1. Deplorable silver stacker,

        I like the “tribe” idea but our first layer of security/survival should always start with the person looking at you in the mirror. If your tribe was organized enough that equipment was standardized tribe can Definately be a source needed sundries.

  4. Excellent article. I grew up on a farm a couple hundred years ago, and what you wrote about was very much a way of life on the farm. It was more than an hour to any kind of parts store/farm supply,,,,so it wasn’t a great option to not have it when you needed. A nicely stocked garage/shop/shed is not difficult to get stocked. I also spent some seasons as a commercial fisherman in Alaska on crab boats, and once again, an absolute necessity. Another reader commented on the cost of having spares/parts/pieces etc,,,,it doesn’t have to cost much or many times anything! I have had totes of hardware given to me for the price of helping with garage clean outs, yard sales, curb discards,,,and many times, just the effort of taking apart items that have been discarded. People throw away so much that is still serviceable or at least a good donor for parts etc. Organization is a must though,,if you can’t find it or remember you have it, then you waste funds on acquiring it new. Keep this type of article coming! (And I can show my wife I am not totally crazy for this.)

    1. Organization is right, I also try to keep an accurate ledger of our inventory. So I don’t have to go find it to know how much of what type we have. Hope the article is proof enough for your wife!

    2. Rat on! And ignore the comments from your wife/children/grandchildren/friends/neighbours/and anybody else you know! Without sites like this one, I do not know what I would do. I got a secondhand copy of your book, couple of weeks ago. I get my books from abebooks.com- by the way. Whatever you want- they can find it.
      The rest, is a little bit at a time.

    3. In many ways, my wife is worse than me. She keeps every single receipt and even partially used pieces of paper. The result is piles of paper to use for scribbling notes that are already half used. That is just an example among many things.

  5. Would argue that you should first set your priorities and then how deep. Some items, food prep, axes, sleeping bags, basic requirements to stay alive should be stacked deep. Others to make life more comfortable or for trade goods, can be less of a priority and when a chance appears to acquire them reasonably, and you have basics, then buy them. After that, then you can get the fancy survival materials. Have met a lot of “main stream preppers” that have firearms, knives, good camping equipment and a years supply of freeze dried food that supplies 1,000 calories a day and have no emergency heating or lighting equipment that does not require a $5,000 auto transfer diesel generator to operate and have 10 days fuel stored on site. Biggest mistake in my mind is to listen to those trying to sell you the most expensive and highest tech survival equipment. While a few can afford it, most of us would be better off paying down our debt, tightening up our houses, buying efficient wood stoves and safe chimnies and the equipment to take care of them, etc. In my mind, the biggest danger that most preppers face is the belief that having read the book or watched the video is an actual learning experience and that with the addition of supplies, they are ready. The point of the above post, the little details will kill you, should be considered very carefully.

  6. My Dad was involved in the biggest logistical operation of all time – the Red Ball Express from WWII.

    Reading in Wikipedia – “At its peak, it operated 5,958 vehicles and carried about 12,500 tons of supplies per day” incredible just to think of that!

    Dad, my thoughts are with you this week as I think of your Anniversary on Valentine’s Day. How I wish you two were still around.

    Just_AC

  7. Zade and all
    Regarding children
    One is a handful (because children are very good at finding things “to get into”)
    2 is 4
    3 is 9 and
    5 is “hello?”
    The rules work the opposite of prepping rules because they stimulate the others which stimulates others etc.
    Mom of 5 mostly well behaved children who are now all grown
    Mothering is not for Wimps.

    1. For what it’s worth, I swap out new laces right off the bat with 550 cord. I throw the laces themselves into my coat pocket, glove box or in a desk drawer so I have them as a “backup” but honestly the paracord seems to last longer than the boots do!!

      1. DUDE!
        You’re buying the wrong boots. The Military used to say, “take care of yer boots and they will take care of you.” A “good” pair of boots will last a lifetime- if you grow out of them, pass ’em down.

    2. Belts. (for the snowblower, lawn mower and my pants)

      Having had 3 belts, to hold up pants, BREAK this past winter and knowing TEOTWAWKI is going to cause rapid weight loss, something to hold up your pants so you can walk around and do what needs to be done is going to be essential. Go to the same sales referenced above for parts and keep an eye out for belts and suspenders cheap.

      I really like the idea of buying more than one when getting a replacement part for anything in my life. I will start doing that for anything that cost less than $20 and think about it for things over 20 (depending on that month’s bills) Thank you to whomever said that.

      1. When I shop at a thrift store or surplus store, I always looks for USGI web belts. They are made to last. I have the original buckle from boot camp, fifty years past. It will go on most any web belt and it is built to REALLY last.

        Carry on

  8. Thanks for the Coleman remark. I got spare regulator and pump repair kits at Walmart this afternoon with that reminder.

    I started collecting backup camp stoves for cheap a few years ago. Three Coleman fuel, two propane, and then I found an ‘only burned it once’ new dual gasoline/Coleman fuel for five bucks.

    Three stoves fit in a black tub with yellow lid…x 2.

    God Bless you all and keep the 35 degree temps coming… our 3.5 feet of snow is down to 12-16 inches now.

  9. Jar lids is my big hang up. If things stay bad for years a person will use a bunch of them in the process of putting up vegetables for winter consumption as well as canning meat. And your prepper friends likely will not have enough of them so if you have an over abundant supply, you can trade with them for whatever you happen to be short of. My wife is constantly griping at me for buying so many jar lids and just to rub it in she bought me a box of jar lids for Christmas as a gag and she and my daughter had a big laugh but I just thanked her and put the box in with my jar lid stash.

  10. My Grandpa (born in 1909) kept all the nuts/bolts/screws and other hardware and cut off the electric cords from anything that ever broke at his house. He also had a motley collection of worn hand tools that people threw away and he would rescue. He would only refill the gas tank on his pickup when he had enough aluminum cans to cash in…

  11. Good food for thought. The best prep is skills! Not the end of the world stuff – althought that would be nice, but the everyday fix it skills that we should all practice.

    No reason to have a ton of parts if you don’t know exactly what they are and how to use them!

    Most of this stuff has a sheft life longer than us and could also make great barter should it come to that!

  12. I have to restrain myself around the many items my neighbors throw away. One left tools and hardware that I was sorting just today.

    I will give away some of the hardware to men who run a local fixit clinic once a month. Which BTW is an excellent place to meet other folks of the mindset we share. These guys have tools and hardware I have never encountered. And skills that they willingly share.

    So generous. A friend calls it the “gift economy”, which I guess we could call what we do here. I am grateful to each of you for what you share, here and (I am sure) in your lives. Your generosity ripples far and wide.

    Carry on

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.