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Friday, July 29, 2016

mechanical v manual


MECHANICAL V MANUAL
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note: he has a few loose connections, primarily in his belief we can vote our way to freedom, but when he is on fire he is darn good.  Recommended reading:
http://johngaltfla.com/wordpress/2016/07/29/wikileaks-hillary-and-russia-revenge-is-a-dish-best-served-cold/
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As you all recall from the Great 2016 Chainsaw Debate, I am not one to entertain the notion of unneeded machinery for the sake of convenience.  Certainly not after the Apocalypse.  It is hard enough stockpiling items never to be seen again post-petroleum, such as smokeless powder arms and ammunition and rolls of thick plastic sheeting.  And you want to stock power tools that require spares and consumables?  It isn’t that it isn’t a good idea-I admit the allure of quick completion.  It is that only in a Super Slow Collapse ( like the one we’ve been in for near fifty years ) do you have time to prep in such an extravagant and thorough manner.  I don’t know how young you are, but to me the expectation of a leisure collapse has been the exception rather than the rule.  Until 1991 we had to worry about superpower nuclear annihilation ( Russia and ourselves might be down to a relative handful of  defensive nukes, the rest going from warhead to reactor fuel that gave all the idiots out there the confusing notion that nukes could power our civilization forever, but at one time there were enough to guarantee Nuclear Winter a few times over ) which could arrive at any time ( while in the service I remember thinking how screwed we were as there were only a few WWII era .45’s we used, rumors of a couple of M16’s locked away, and the food they had for the very small cafeteria.  Who knows if we even had very much fuel for generators ). 

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Since 1997 we lived under the threat of imminent power failures in a few short years.  Since 2005 Peak Oil was a sword hanging over us and since 2007 financial collapse was nigh.  And you think that your budget, after buying an armory, an ammunition dump, a stockpile of food for years, alternate shelter and warm clothing and all the other basics to keep you alive and not much more, can also include Tim Taylor Power Tools?  Mine certainly cannot.  Manual tools are more of a necessity than a preference.  Six whole years out of my 51 there hasn’t been a serious threat to my life from systematic collapse.  And during that time, despite record affordable prep supplies, all my money went to the ex-wife ( I was generously allowed to keep $5k a year out of $25k ).  I’ve rarely had the luxury of buying luxury or convenience. 

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And herein lies today’s tale.  My second foray into power tools this century, and once again a concrete proof of how silly they are.  The weather here, despite some years disruptions and diversions, is pretty repetitious.  We get rain in the spring, not a cloud in the summer, clouds all winter and that season can last six months.  Since I’ve lived here I have used a hand powered weeder ( you could call it a sickle, I suppose.  The C shape with closed end, kind of “CI” setting on a handle ) every year after the spring rains feed the weeds in sage cleared spots.  My first $18 tool lasted six years.  It had already been getting dull but the wooden handle broke and finished it off.  It would have lasted longer and I would have bothered sharpening it except when I clear the sage I leave a good six inches of exposed trunk ( I only cut at ground level when I cleared a path in for my trailer ).  The head is always hitting the exposed nubs no matter how careful I am.  I just have to accept it as a consumable item rather than a lifetime tool. 

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Well, this year I’m living in town and I can’t weed every evening and on the weekend mornings.  I visited one weekend and the weeds were a one inch carpet.  The next weekend I was down south visiting my dad.  So two weeks of rains went by and upon returning the plants were, no exaggeration, a foot tall.  I manually weeded as fast as I could but in the heat I could only do so much.  The New Old Lady harped on me until I let her buy me a mechanical weed-wacker.  She bought an electric unit, a 1,000 watt inverter and a few rolls of cutting cord, and I bought a new 12v battery ( those suckers went up almost 50% since my last one two and a half years ago ). 

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It STILL took three weekend visits to get it all cut ( I used the lowest power cutter to conserve the needed watts ).  Even with a good hat, already being hydrated and being in good shape, I can only do so much labor in the heat ( I’m acclimated to the cold.  The summer, not the winter, is my suffering time ).  Now, the inverter and battery are going to be an emergency back-up for the house here.  The power goes out almost regularly.  Their cost didn’t bother me.  And the electric weed-eater was only $30.  But cutting the half acre used $18 worth of string!  Every year, a mechanical cutter costs the same as six years of a manual tool, and that is in consumables only!  It was almost a requirement because of the fire danger, I’ll admit.  This is the driest its been in about seven years.  Not living there I almost have to do it this way ( almost-I could still work around it ).  It is really easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need mechanical tools.  I even did it as smart as possible, foregoing oil and gasoline, still able to use it as long as my battery lasts, but I’m not blind to the Six Times Cost.

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I suppose one could improvise a more permanent string using a thin metal coat hanger ( and wrapping ones legs up to avoid cuts ), and I’m not blind to the calories saved by using solar rather than food as fuel, but it is NOT a long term solution!  Like all power tools, you spend a lot more and you enter into a dangerous situation in record time where you lack the manual tools and the stamina to use them.  Forgetting the cost of the cutter, just in the string/cord alone, you could buy a brand new manual cutter every year.  I’ll still keep that tool, and keep using it but on a more limited basis, but only limiting myself to the manual use during another worse case scenario like foot high dry grass during fire season.  Damn town living is already making me soft.

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37 comments:

  1. Jim, buy the head that has the folding plastic blades for your weed eater providing it has enough power to run it. It worked much better at cutting the brush than the string does. I too got tired of replacing the string.

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    1. I read pretty bad reviews on that one.

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  2. Sounds like you've got the wrong tools for the job or are approaching the job wrong. There are metal blades for brush cutting that you can add to a weed whacker (that is mostly meant for soft grass type weeds when using string). I used the metal blades on my gas powered weed whacker to cut down 2-3 inch thick trees and all the brush surrounding them.

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    1. There are always better tools for the job. And they cost appropriately. I'm always trying to minimize costs, for obvious reasons.

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  3. “She bought an electric unit, a 1,000 watt inverter and a few rolls of cutting cord, and I bought a new 12v battery ( those suckers went up almost 50% since my last one two and a half years ago ).”

    “It STILL took three weekend visits to get it all cut ( I used the lowest power cutter to conserve the needed watts ).”


    Seems like it would be a less practical way to go about it Jim? Maybe it would have been worth it to bite the bullet and spend a little more for a good gas unit, and made shorter work of the affair. You can get the lower end Husqvarna's for around $200.00.

    I've too have always wondered why they don't sell the weed whacker cord in something that lasts, such as stainless steel cable, but maybe it's a liability issue? That, and they can sell more of the crappy stuff that breaks easier. You could probably just fabricate your own, but I'd wear boots, safety glasses (which you should be wearing already) and quite possibly leather chaps as well. Just don't wear them in a downtown Elko nightclub, lest you be mistaken for one the village people ;)

    I saw, and wish listed at Amazon, the aluminum scythe handle. But that's just the handle, the whole setup was $121.00. Still, if you're going to go that route, you want the metal handle.

    Seymour Mfg. SN-9 Aluminum Scythe Snath

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00002NCFV/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=2P9H5MHEI5D99&coliid=IMFXUGHY64T5W


    Can you just whack it down in the spring when the temperatures are more reasonable, and just spray down some round up to keep it from coming back? You're only doing a small area if I recall, enough to provide a fire break around the RV?

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    1. I really don't want to Agent Orange the place, in case I have to go back living there. As suck-ass as the current situation is, it's still an improvement from before.

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    2. “I really don't want to Agent Orange the place, in case I have to go back living there. “


      We are talking about waste land in which you grow nothing from nor collect rain water from right? In either event, I understand, it was just a suggestion. I probably wouldn't do it either, but I do plan on burying containers and collecting run off water. Still, you have no idea what someone else in the area might put into the ground, so I plan on filtering it, unless I can collect it straight from the sky somehow. And even then, there are no guarantees?

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    3. With a Katadyn filter, you could get ten years ( drink/dishes/cooking ) of water for $60, so why not filter everything. Not sure about other-than-bacteria filtering, however. A solar still?

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  4. Ok not to criticize but first mistake. You needed a Gas Mower to cut those sage stumps the first year. Then it would have been easy. I always have a junk mower that I abuse as a Bush hog.

    While manual tools are cheaper in the long run IF you have Power and the tools They can be used to eliminate work that would make a harder life after. As for cost buy used or rent .

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    1. I hear what you are saying-just remember how cheap I've had to do things. It would actually be advantageous to go back through the cleared areas and Maddock Pick all the stumps. Then the manual weeding is easier from the first clearing. But, again, it is getting out there NOT in the insane heat. I heard something about a global heat wave going on right now, but didn't follow up on it.

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    2. I needed a pole saw to cut some limbs that were too far up otherwise. They cost more than $200. The local hardware store rented me a Stihl 12' version for $30 for 4 hrs. Don't work harder, work smarter. Money isn't everything but sometimes it's the only thing.

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  5. "Damn town living is already making me soft."
    ==============

    Youngster, old age is going to be the death of you then. LOL
    I got 10 years on you and you better listen to what I say.
    There are big changes right around the corner for you and there's little you can do about it.

    When I was 51 I was swing through the 2nd story rafters, hanging by 1 hand and 8lb nail gun in the other, getting stuff done.

    Then I got old. Best I can figure it started getting noticeable about age 55. Now, it's been 2 years since I touched a nail gun. Maybe I'll sell them.

    Rather than make plans for tomorrow based on how things are today, consider how you will be in the future due to the inevitable (negative) effects of aging. If manually mowing weeds in the sun is difficult now try to think about it will be 10 years from now.

    And it's not just physical, it's mental too. 10 years ago I scaled 24' extension ladders with tools hanging all over me like a monkey on crack. Since then some knees have gotten old and quite frankly the idea of one of them giving out while I'm on a 6' ladder changing the dining room light bulb is not comforting. Last month we paid a young electrician $150 to change 5 light bulbs in our stairway lamp. There are things I won't even try any more because of what *might* happen of I do.

    Getting old's a how but there is little that can be done about it but to accept it and reluctantly try to work around it. I've mentioned this stuff to you before but you seem to discount it. I did too. Then it was in my face and there was no more denying it. I'm getting older, and so are you. Consider the future based in probability rather than past history. It's only wise.

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  6. Poisoning is for "other people's land". Glyphosate doesn't kill you right away, so we pretend it's harmless. It does make the guts of a 3-year old cow (eating dosed Round-Up Ready grains) look like a fifth-a-day-for-50-years man.

    I would ride my bike pre-dawn to be able to avoid working in the heat. The first 3 hours of the day and me working are the best ones anyway. Even pdx is 93F in the shade today. Arggh- time to make phonecalls at the airconditioned pub set at 66F. Wet shirt dries in less than a mile on the bike, then no more free cooling.

    Picked up RV waste tote on wheels at flea market for $1. It's 200+ pounds full (~33 gallons) and scoots like a hand truck on built-in wheels. Okay for grey water to garden or barbeque fire prevention (has garden house output!). Not for bathing/drinking water, ever, and wash hands after use.

    pdxr13

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    1. When the county was sniffing around my illegal gray water "septic", I rushed out and bought one of those waste totes. $90, and that was seven years ago.

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  7. Probably the best long term solution for the fire hazard would be to fence your lot. I know it would raise your property taxes, but if you put a good wire fence in, something like 5' tall, 2x4 no-climb horse mesh or chain link, you could keep chickens in there. Just build a coop for shelter, set up an automatic waterer with water you haul in, don't feed them, and they'll eat all your grass for you (don't know about the sagebrush). It might not work though, as I have no idea if you have mountain lions or bobcat that will jump the fence. If you design the coop right, the chickens can go in and out and the larger predators like lion and coyote won't be able to enter. I recommend American Game Fowl, the same ones used for illegal cock fights, which I DO NOT endorse, it's just that they have year-round hardiness. I don't know if it'd work for you, just thought I'd throw it out there.
    Peace out

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    1. I'd pay thrice for the fence, first materials and then a huge increase in taxes which would equal the fence cost soon enough. The county, even while Crying Po and cutting costs, is raising taxes. And these are good times ( relatively speaking. The mines are showing signs of economic distress but the rank and file still pretend all is well. Here at work I'm ;looking at a 20% cut in hours ).

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    2. I knew someone who would get room sized pieces of used carpeting for free and used it for groundcover/mulch in their garden.

      Now before you knock it because you think you'll have a psychedelic yard of various colors of shag......turn all the carpet upside down. The underside is usually a neutral color.

      Might not be pretty but it will keep the weeds down. And best of all, it's free.

      Idaho Homesteader

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  8. Get a cordless weed eater and 24-volts of solar panel (to charge an 18-volt battery), this way you can charge it for free. And toss the fish line cord and get a metal cutter blade. Problem solved.

    Cordless weed eaters are $60.00, don’t know about the metal blade price as I haven’t bought one.

    I use the fish line that I bought at a garage sale for $3.00 several years ago so NO I don’t spend $18.00 for ½ acre of land. That $3.00 spool has lasted me years and is still ½ of it there.

    You are very forward about not having much money (you point it out like it’s a badge of honor, but really it’s not) but you don’t seem to understand (or engage in going to them) that garage sales and thrift stores can save you a LOT of money. And with a bit of market savvy they can be a good income stream.


    As far as power tools I can tell you are not a guy that does much work James as you have only a vague idea on how they save you money, not cost you money. SHTF all of us are going to be busy doing all kinds of things and if a tool can save time it’s going to be a valued tool.

    I can (and sometimes do) charge my Milwaukee M-12 (12-volt) tool batteries from a 100-watt solar panel so I know I will still be able to use them in a grid down situation. I bought the 12-volt tools over the 18-volt tools just because they can be charged from a 12-volt panel. And being Milwaukee (very good quality) the 12-volt tools run most 18-volt tools into the ground as far as power.



    Not to be harsh, but you will not find any soft feelings on my part toward you for not figuring out how to make more money so you can buy things all of us (other then you) see value in. Most of us wallow in misery of our own making, change the dynamic and you change the misery level.

    I understand not wanting to slave away for 50-hours a week, I only want 30-hours or less. But where we differ is I have figured out how to make upwards of $35.00 to $45.00 per hour (sometimes more, and a few times less depending on the job) so I can buy things I feel I need. I don’t complain about things costing too much every other day.

    Instead of writing (on and on and on) about how hard and cruel the word is to you, get out and fix it as best you can.

    Chuck Findlay

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    1. I don't hold up lack of earnings as a badge of honor, but my ability to do things with far less money. I'm not interested in making more money, I'm interested in my writing. I work on that far more than I do a regular job. I only make it look easy. I also understand the whole earn/consume dynamic is dying. I don't cling hopelessly to it. I do mourn its passing however. Not too long ago it was a lot easier to work minimally and consume voraciously. Now that has switched-work harder with almost no consumption ( unless you count increased taxes ). This Frugal Survivalism used to be a lot easier. You all might see value in tools where I do not, but it is still my job to point out to you that they are no longer an option. You are blaming the messenger that the American Dream ( in essence what you are supporting. Earn lots, buy lots ) is almost a corpse.

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  9. "And you want to stock power tools that require spares and consumables?"

    Same thing could be said about guns and bicycles.

    Just as a bike beats walking (time and energy output), a chainsaw beats handsaws.

    Sometimes, it is wise to stockpile tools that will get you through the slow decline and the transition phase in order to free up time and energy for other pursuits.

    Idaho Homesteader

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    1. As I said, I understand the other side of the power tool argument. My main point is the cost, in this article anyway. I can attack power tools from several different angles. I could sing their praises, be accepted into the Legion Of Yuppie Scum, and actually earn money from this. Not what I think anyone wants.

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    2. "Not what I think anyone wants"

      You are an original. I'll give you that :)

      That's why I keep coming back. Your Luddite tendencies even teach me a new thing on occasion.

      Keep up the good work. You are always a pleasure to read.

      Idaho Homesteader

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    3. As long as I can keep improving, and still can add something new, I plan on keeping on. Sad but true, this writing is the best thing going on in my life outside family. And, I take "Luddite Tendencies" as a compliment :)

      Delete
  10. I have ancient plug-in tools bought at g-sales. Almost all have worked fine. The most they need is new brushes.

    Having multiples lets you work them hard until they get hot, then switch to a different one while the first cools.

    I have a slight shortage of 1/2" VSR corded drills and will pay up to $5 for more. 3/8th's inch chuck drills are "free pile" fodder. Battery models are mostly awful, except the high-lines of the best names (which are, Surprise!, rarely dumped functional or easily repaired).

    Running corded power tools is an acceptable reason to operate a genset (which can also charge your batteries at the same time).

    Great Grandpa's hand-cranked drills do nice work, but it's not fast and drilling metal is work. More display than production in the shop.

    pdxr13

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    1. Back in the '90's, when I had wives who demanded vehicles ( I traded up to non-demanding ones after that ) I saw all the Fords for sale used, and no Chevy's, and concluded which company was better. And how quick that changed!

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    2. Old Chryslers are the best, esp. 400/413 cubic inch motorhome engines. Too bad the boxes are deathtraps, or pre-pedestrian sub-standard refugee housing as soon as gas is not spewing from stations at almost no-cost.

      General Motors became Government Motors. Obama-Car; From EV-1 (everyone wanted) to Volt (no one wants). Oh well, get a Leaf for greenie city driving.

      Delete
  11. Came across a book that I thought might appeal to you James?


    “Is global capitalism on its last legs? Is the era of American leadership over? Has the West begun a decline into a new Dark Age? Does American civilization deserve to survive? These are the unnerving questions raised by the Great Crash of 2009. “

    “First, war is the natural order of mankind. The majority of human history is conflict between peoples. Peace is a parentheses. This stands in stark contrast to those (like President Barack Obama) who think that peace is the way civilization functions.”

    “But why has Mother Nature built us this way? Why are we built for violence and conflict instead of peace and coexistence?”

    https://www.amazon.com/Genius-Beast-Radical-Re-Vision-Capitalism/dp/1591027543?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1591027543&linkCode=as2&redirect=true&tag=fronmaga-20


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    1. Well, it looked like it was a "tech will save us all" indicative of that era of Peak Oil Deniers, and it got a third bad reviews. But for $4 after shipping I'll give it a shot. Something about it calls to me. Perhaps there is enough doom I can ignore the end "cure all" advice. I do that quite a bit with the Gore Warming books and still enjoy. Thanks for the heads up.

      Delete
    2. You bet Jim. Always proceed with caution on these recommendations, since the last one I gave you sucked and you hated it, but it looks like you already do that. I rarely ever recommend anything, but every now and then I come across something that looks like it might be right up your alley.

      I just ordered the book below for myself. It was written by an old timey dude back in 1945, that was said to have learned bushcraft directly from actual pioneers and Indians. It's said to not be a survival book so much, but rather it touches on the techniques that these hardy people actually used. I feel that it will have practical application in the post apocalypse.

      One thing that always cracks me up about these old reprinted publications, is that you invariably get some liberals in the comments section at Amazon whining about something politically incorrect that the author printed. They should just put a disclaimer out there warning them not to purchase anything published past a certain date.

      Wildwood Wisdom, Ellsworth Jaeger

      https://www.amazon.com/Wildwood-Wisdom-Ellsworth-Jaeger/dp/0936070129/ref=la_B001K8CVQW_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1469974287&sr=1-1

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    3. I buy enough crappy ones on my own, I certainly can't blame others if they don't pick the best. I think my intense reaction to yours initially was I didn't want anyone to waste money on it.

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  12. James,

    For your perusal, I want to give you a link to the most awesome substitute for a chainsaw that I have found. This thing is nothing short of amazing.

    https://www.amazon.com/Silky-Saws-Katanaboy-Teeth-X-Large/dp/B002GKB5PQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1470070407&sr=1-1&keywords=katanaboy+saw

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    1. I would get a smaller unit to minimize cost, but I'm amazed at all the max star reviews. Thanks.

      Delete
  13. Hey Jim! Look at the bright side. One-half acre of one foot dry grass is a LOT of fuel. You have a little oil well there! When push comes to shove, you can use it for heating and cooking by burning it in a small stove.

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    1. looking at the bright side dulls my paranoia :)

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  14. A goat, and a solar powered hot wire works well :-)

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