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Friday, February 13, 2015

frugal living 16


FRUGAL LIVING 16

UTILITIES
GAS
( before we start today, look at the above Amazon ad.  Tooblites are now free shipping.  Before they were $10 plus about $3 shipping and now, $10 even.  I'm ordering one a payday until I have a bunch )
One of the few nearly identical utilities on or off grid is gas.  Most folks have natural gas going to their homes, whereas off-grid types use propane.  Yes, a different set of machines ( I believe it is mostly just a difference in the line orifice size, but don’t quote me on that ) for the different gases, but as far as performance I’m sure indistinguishable ( and I’m sure the prices are similar, at least per BTU delivered, which seems about standard in carbon fuels ).  Not rocket science.  You buy five gallon tanks, like you would use for your BBQ, fill them and buy the size hose your appliance uses, then exercise common sense safety precautions.  Always cover the tank to prevent ice build up, don’t use open flame around the tank, don’t put the tank inside your dwelling, etc.  There are two sizes of hose connection.  One, the smaller, that RV’s use.  The bigger one which matches the size of the disposable canisters, as when you want to use a refillable tank to save tons of money ( a refill on a five gallon, which is over a dozen pounds of gas, cost $12.  A disposable tank holds one pound for $3- three times as expensive ).  I prefer the smaller connections.  The regulator is on the hose at the tank connection rather than on the appliance, and Wal-Mat sells the larger size connection hoses and if you’ve shopped there in the last eight years you know their quality is going to absolute crap so DON’T trust your life on the quality of their gas hose-in this case it is much better to pay a premium at the RV store.  Plus, the older, larger connection style means the gas regulator is on the appliance itself and those are usually crap. 

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So, you are either going to waste money buying propane appliances at Wal-Mart, or forfeit your life.  I’m serious and this is NOT sour grapes.  I used to love the Arkansas Mafia Mart.  I did all but my book shopping there.  Yet as they ran into trouble financially ( growth slowed ), they turned on their loyal customers.  You know, the ones who couldn’t afford to shop elsewhere.  It must be scientifically researched, because I’m running into everything lasting for less time, but also lasting exactly half as long as K-Mart, which is one of the world’s saddest competitor yet is offering less crappy crap.  Wal-Mart shoes, two months.  K-Mart, four to six.  Wal-Mart slacks, before seams ripping, five months.  K-Mart, ten months.  Same with propane camping stoves, five for Wally, ten for K.  My first Wal-Mart camp stove lasted five years and was used several times in the morning perking coffee, for bath water and for dinner.  It’s replacement, same brand but 25% more expensive, five months and it broke.  I was so astounded I bought another one.  Five months to break on that one, within weeks of its predecessor.  I tell you, this is precise engineering.  Expect only bad things at Wal-Mart.  I went from 100% of my shopping budget there to 20%, and that is only because some things they can’t screw up such as TP and it is still about the best deal.  Otherwise, Kroger gets all my food money.

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I hope I’ve stressed the importance of saving your life by avoiding propane appliances at Wal-Mart.  When their eye glasses pop a frame screw in the first two months, when their socks get holes in them the first half dozen times wearing them, no big deal.  Exploding gas, a little more, yes?  If you don’t have an RV center near by, I’m sure that there are mail order companies.  If you can’t salvage a stove top from an old RV, I recommend the Sportsman’s Guide mail order company.  They have an affordable cast iron outdoor propane double grill stove.  It is small and while a few prongs were broken from shipping, even with double wrapping, it is about the same price as the crap sheet metal from China-Mart and uses the small connector hose so you get much better quality.  They even sell the hose if you can’t get one locally.  Yes, I use it indoors.  I get plenty of air flow, as I’m far too precious to deny the world my presence by carbon monoxide death.  They also sell a propane heater.  I don’t know its performance as the last two winters here were mild and cooking/coffee heats the underground pit nicely enough. 

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But I can guarantee that it has got to be better than the whore monger Mr. Heater brand.  They have also turned into huge pieces of crap.  Excuse me if I’m a little pissed that a hundred dollar stove doesn’t last much past a couple of hundred hours of use.  Of course, it fails while it is fifteen degrees out and the temperature is plunging rapidly and only by the exclusive love of Baby Jesus do I have one in back stock ( at the time, the stove wouldn’t have been a good replacement because like all RV’s, there is a big ass vent over the stove and the cold air rushes in as the hot air sucks out of it but you need that vent uncovered for that wonderful air flow ).  As usual, being the fair guy I am, that was the second stove to only last a short time.  I don’t scream about corporate sodomy until I’m sure it is a trend rather than a fluke ( do NOT get me started on the worst shoes in the world from Payless Shoes ).  As a side note, since I know you are going to be going car-less, a five gallon propane tank fits perfectly in a four gallon milk crate you’ve attached to the bike rack ( I’d cover the tank with a laundry bag, as cars freak out and swerve vigorously to avoid you, perhaps thinking you have heavy military ordinance.  No need to get pulled over by the cops and being harassed ). 

END

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25 comments:

  1. Yes fair haired one, wally world does suck. I quit washing my socks,cheaper to buy new ones, avoid their boots like a plague, if you want good ones look for redwings. Expensive, but they last. I walk minimum 6 miles a day and bust hinny at a physical job and expect at least a year out of mine. You are also correct about orifice sizes for gas burning devices. But you can get by burning the wrong gas if you ventilate and do not expect the best performance. You can get a bulk adapter and eliminate the little bottles altogether.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Little bottles are no longer worth spit except bug out or emergency use only.

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  2. Just a few dollars in tools and you can make your own copper LP lines. You can find info on line for tube sizes and regulators etc, A decent cutter and flaring tool are all you need. Get fittings from most hardware stores or propane appliance stores. I find the tank dealer that sells the bigger tanks to gas suppliers as they usually will sell to individuals as well and the prices are way better. I understand the 20lb bottles because of the bike only transport but that same gallon of gas can be had for a lot less if bought in bulk. I'm lucky enough to have had a father that was in the lp gas business so I learned a lot from him. I own my own tanks (500 and 320 gal) and if need be I can keep me and the missus warm for two years. We do have a very small house thats insulated pretty good. If the power is off we have un-vented catalytic wall heaters that work without power. LP stores forever if you have no leaks unlike any other liquid fuel. No telling how long the great hairy one could go on with one fill on a 500gal tank. (400gal at 80% fill) My last fill was at $1.10 gallon.

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    1. I've put Big Tank on my list of Nice Ta Haves, but it is far down

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    2. If you want a big tank (ours is 400 gal) the propane companies supply them for free and they only fill their own tanks. The guy across the road got tired of cutting wood for heat and put a propane furnace in and bought a 400 gal tank from a guy on craiglist for $250, and it had 200 gallons in it! What a deal! We filled up (80%) last Oct for $2.19/gal.

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    3. Nothing wrong with a big tank...but. Two is one ands one is none, right? So what happens if something happens to your one tank? Just saying.

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    4. In the land of terminal cold we have 5 layers of back ups, enough to get us through an entire winter season. Layer 1 is the whole house, propane powered, forced air furnace which in the event of a power failure I connect my 400 watt invertor to my running truck and extension cord to the furnace after unconnecting from the grid. Layer 5 is a Coleman Blackcat catalytic convertor heater that runs 18 hours off a 1 lb propane bottle of which I have about 18-20 on hand at all times. I also have the adapter to connect the heater to the 20 pounder tanks of which I have 4. Also, because this is a small rural community the propane folks are about 3 miles away and can be here with a phone call.
      Knowledge and versatility are necessary keys to survival, I don't rely on 1 of anything.

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    5. That's why I have two and on the hunt for another. I keep the valves closed on the one not in use.

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    6. BS ( blind shooter- unfortunate initials )- okay, now I don't know how to respond. I'm still stuck on your initials. Tell me that was intentional.

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    7. Have no fear your hairiness, I was given that handle because of my thick eyeglasses. I did not let that keep me from doing very well in rifle competitions.

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    8. Okay, the guys at your range have a great sense of humor. I never would have thought of that one.

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  3. Last Oct I installed a ProCom propane heater, 10,000btuh, good for 300 square feet and I'm real happy with it. Here's the one I got:

    http://www.usaprocom.com/product_category.php?choice=1&sid=1&prod=21

    Got it at Menards for about $130 plus another $20 for the hook-ups to the outside wall. From the wall to the 400 gal propane tank cost about $1 a foot and included the regulator. This heater is wall mounted, about 14" wide x 18" h x 6" deep, has a built-in thermostat which took me about 3 hours to dial in and haven't touched since, and it stays a pleasant 68 degrees in here all the time and it's in the single digits outside right now.

    I also bought a Kidde smoke detector with a 10 year battery (yeah right, we'll see) and a Kidde CO2 detector. This heater is ventless but I leave a window micro-cracked all the time. I'm funny that way.

    Bought a Snicker bar the other day and though the package looked the same and it still cost $1.19 when I opened it up I had to root around to find it. They are quickly approaching the *miniature* size ones. Sizeflation is getting you right in the ass every which way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its tough for a brother to suppliment his diet with sugar anymore.

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  4. I will quote you on that... my in-laws bought a gas stove for their kitchen, and I helped with the conversion to propane: basically all it required was switching out the nozzles for each burner.

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  5. I've stopped buying Coleman products. Daughter bought a Coleman stove at L. L. Bean and it failed in 3 days. Good return policy so she got a different stove from a different company.

    I do a lot of outside cooking so the white gas stoves work well. Got an old coleman white gas stove from my dad that must be 40 years old, and still works well. Whisperlite backpacking stoves are good too and can use regular car gas. When on my boat i used it twice a day for 10 months burning gas mixed with 2 stroke oil. Once a month it needed to be cleaned, but was worth to be able use my outboard gas for cooking.

    Propane is nothing to mess with -you got that right. At home I've got back to cooking on a woodstove. Makes sense when you live in the woods.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another company cashing in a few quarters of profit by killing a reputation a hundred years in the making.

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    2. That's too bad. Old man Coleman would be rolling in his grave. He founded that company way back in the early 1900's. I got a Peak One Backpacking stove from them many years ago back in the 80's, and it never worked. But at that time this was rare, and their products were still pretty good for the most part.

      Just a tip to keep in mind when purchasing a stove, heater, lantern, etc. The white gas or Coleman fuel products are more efficient in very cold weather or higher altitudes, and burn hotter.

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    3. Still cursing corporations, Is there even an American gun company left that hasn't screwed us?

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  6. For shoes, consider tire sandals for the more temperate times of the year providing that your area will allow for this (i.e. you're not in the thorny Arizona desert). Kurt Saxon wrote a great article on tire sandals, but I was unable to find it again. Still, there must be some information out there on this subject, and old tires are plentiful enough now that you could easily stock up on a lifetimes supply worth.

    In times of old, many, if not most country folk did not wear shoes at all except in the winter time. Tire sandals would be a much improved step up from not wearing any shoes, and would stretch your shoe supply out for the times of the year when you really want that added protection.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That could work well. Even in winter, putzing about, I usually just wear fake moccasins anyway ( if ground is dry ). Also, the old timey shoe manufacture book is way down in price.
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1578989728/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
      Now $9, was $20

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    2. For me it's rarely the soles that wear out but rather the uppers. Generally it starts where the upper joins the sole, on the in side where the ball of the foot is located, and then gets worse and worse. In 2002 I bought 8 pairs of somewhat expensive hiking boots from LL Bean and the uppers wore out of all of them over the next 10 years in spite of my many cheezy repairs to them, yes, including duct tape. Now a days it seems you have to pay at least $100 a pair if you want foot wear that will last more than a year unless you're a cubicle jockey of which I ain't.

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    3. My last pair of boots were so comfy. Until the nails from the soles started poking through. First time that ever happened. Same time, hole through the bottom. It seems every pair is a new adventure in crap quality.

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    4. http://wemakecoolthings.blogspot.com/2011/05/tire-sandals.html

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    5. Thanks, Vlad. You're always well organized. I'm always well info overloaded

      Delete

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