Random thoughts on my day off...

Discussion in 'General Preparedness Discussion' started by Elinor0987, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. Elinor0987

    Elinor0987 Supporting Member

    364
    0
    Today was my day off from work and I had a lot of free time on my hands. I typed up a few things that have been on my mind lately:

    I've been reading on various sites on the internet for a while now about the possibility of a massive solar storm(s) that could occur in 2012. It is speculated that in a worst case scenario, the storms have the potential to knock out power throughout many parts of the U.S. and it could take months to fix everything. The worst part of it is that it is supposed to happen in December. It gets really cold here in the winter and I used to wonder what my boyfriend and I would do if we were still living in this apartment and had a power outage then. A wood burning box stove would be a great thing to have for a situation like that- except that if our landlord saw one in our apartment, he would have a fit. I already know he wouldn't allow one here, so that leads back to the question of how would we stay warm in during a power outage in the middle of the winter.

    After giving the matter some thought, it occurred to me that our charcoal grill could be modified to burn small logs of wood. It would provide enough heat to keep most of this place warm and rooms could be closed off to conserve heat.

    I don't have any pictures to illustrate the steps, but the concept is very simple. All that would need to be done would be to take the grill apart at the hinges. Then make a frame out of metal and place it between the top and bottom so that it would raise the lid at least 12 inches. The frame would have to be sturdy enough to allow the weight of a pot or pan on top for cooking and heating water. Cookie sheets, muffin pans, or any piece of metal big enough to cover the sides would need to be secured around it and any gaps would need to be covered. This can be done with aluminum foil or by soldering the spaces together. Another piece of metal would be needed for the door.

    The hinges on our cabinets and one of the knobs would work well for a handle, since they are made of metal. Since I would be raising the height of the grill, I would need to cut off about 12 inches off of the legs. This will keep the height at a reasonable level to cook on. I have a large piece of wood left over from a previous craft project (3’x4’), and if I cover it with aluminum foil and place it underneath the grill, it will protect the floor. A hole would have to be cut through the lid of the gill and a pipe secured to it to allow smoke to channel through to the outside. The gaps between the pipe and the lid of the grill would have to be covered as well. Food cans could be soldered together to make the pipe.


    A few random thoughts:

    After writing the above segment, I’ve decided not to wait until an emergency situation to piece together the heater. Tomorrow I’m going to the hardware store and buy the pipe, soldering wire, and metal sheeting to go around the sides and to make the door. I can hide the pipe and metal sheets behind the couch here and the landlord won’t have a fit over what he can’t see. I don’t need a soldering iron because in a power outage an electrical one would be useless anyway. I can improvise by holding a piece of metal to the flame of a candle until it gets red hot. Then it would be hot enough to melt the soldering wire. There’s metal shelves here that I can cut apart with my hacksaw to make the frame, so that will be one less thing that would be needed.

    It has been stated on this forum that the government hates cash money because it doesn’t leave a paper trail and is difficult to trace. After thinking about it, it occurred to me that there could be another reason why the government has contempt for paper currency- it’s easier to seize people’s assets without it. Think about it. With little more than a few clicks of a mouse, the government can freeze bank accounts, seize any money in retirement accounts and stock investments, structured settlement payments, and the list goes on. It’s much more difficult to seize a tangible asset than a virtual asset.

    Wire strippers and soldering wire are great things to have in a toolkit.

    In an emergency, those that take a proactive approach to the situation, prepare in advance, and know how to improvise have the best odds of surviving. This means that I should probably add some DIY books to my library or we’re screwed.

    Years ago I worked as a guard at a juvenile detention facility. On a few occasions I’ve caught some of the kids smoking in their rooms. They used a cigarette lighter made from 2 AA batteries and thin wire. I don’t remember exactly how they did it and tried to make one the other day by putting a safety pin between the two ends of the batteries and pressing them together to make a spark. It didn’t work. I found a few links on the internet on how to make a homemade lighter out of batteries. I’ll post them as soon as I find them again. It’s good to know how to piece one of these things together in case lighters run out of fluid. Some of them can be made from ordinary things that most people already have in their homes.

    I heard once that terra cotta pots used for planting make great knife sharpeners. Tomorrow I’ll have to pick one up and try it because the knife sharpener that I got from Wal-Mart a while back didn’t work very well. My mother had a black bar that she used to sharpen her knives to an extent that would make a chef envious. I think it was made out of some type of slate rock and have not been able to find anything like it in the stores.

    Window panels with the glass intact would make a great solar oven. It could easily get hot enough inside to cook or dehydrate foods if pieced together. I would recommend stripping the paint off of it first just to ensure that any lead has been removed before using. At this time of the year they are easier to find because of all of the home remodeling. Our tv stand has four large glass shelves and the glass is thick enough to withstand high temperatures without warping. These would be perfect for piecing together a box to make a solar oven. The added benefit is that during extended power outages, you wouldn’t have the extra heat in your house from cooking in the warmer weather since you’re using it outside.

    Does anyone know what the shelf life of summer sausages are? I tried to find some info about it but none of the articles I found gave a clear answer. Today I bought 2 16oz beef summer sausage with an expiration date of Oct 2010, 2 24oz beef and pork summer sausages with an expiration date of June 2010, and 2 16oz sticks of pepperoni with an expiration date of Oct 2011. I also bought some canned items but those would still be good after the expiration date as long as they don’t get too hot or cold. I tried to find shelf stable meats with the latest expiration date possible, but those were it.
     
  2. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

    4,350
    22
    You're thinking "outside" the box, and that's great! Those are the kind of people who get through SHTF-type stuff! You'll have to keep us posted as you make your charcoal grill stove. Can you take pictures and post them?

    As I read your post I was thinking "yeah, but what about a chimney/pipe for the smoke?", and you had that. Then I thought "yeah, but you better have the pipe on hand ahead of time", and you had that covered: food cans! Yeah!

    The solar oven made from shelves from a TV stand...yeah! Seems like that would work!

    I hope you keep sharing your thoughts, and that you get lots of days off with time to think! (And to start these projects!)

    The shelf-stable meat seems like a good idea too. I hope someone posts with ideas of how to extend it beyond the expiration date. They're probably already vaccuum sealed. Keeping them in a freezer until the power goes out for good would probably prolong it's useful life. But what about a place like a cold, dark root cellar?
     

  3. Elinor0987

    Elinor0987 Supporting Member

    364
    0
    Gypysysue- we don't have access to the basement because our apartment is on the second floor above the house. It used to be the attic and years ago someone converted it to two apartment units. We do have stairs that lead to the lower level but that exit is blocked halfway down because the owners have the door locked. I have a bunch of boxes of clothes there because the only thing that space is useful for is storage. If I rearrange everything I can make enough space to store extra food. It's the closest thing to a root cellar we have. The sausages are vaccuum packed in clear plastic, so keeping it out of direct sunlight in the hallway is the best place. Freezing them isn't an option because we only have one freezer above the refrigerator and space is limited. Those are just a few of the many reasons why I can't wait to get out of here and into a home of my own.

    This is one of the links that gives a tutorial on how to make a homemade lighter:
    http://www.wonderhowto.com/how-to-electrical-lighter-146844/
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2010
  4. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

    6,764
    108
    Before you go out and spend the money on a terra cotta pot, go to your kitchen cabinet. The bottom of a ceramic coffee mug makes a fine knife sharpener. You just need to learn to always hold the knife at the same angle with every stroke. It takes a little practice but once you've got the hang of it you will have that edge "that would make a chef envious". :)
     
  5. Elinor0987

    Elinor0987 Supporting Member

    364
    0
    Great idea UncleJoe!
     
  6. horseman09

    horseman09 Well-Known Member

    1,240
    4
    Elinor, it's always good to think and ponder, but some things can be dangerous and downright dangerous.

    First of all, using charcoal in a dwelling is very dnagerous. Of course, so is freezing to death. So.........before you do anything, I'd suggest you buy 2 carbon monoxide detecters and replacement batteries. Charcoal gives off huge amounts of carbon monoxide, so be aware and beware!

    Second, you refer to soldering. The melting point of solder is fairly low. I'd be concerned that your stove might collapse when it's hot. Have you considered pop rivets instead?

    Good luck.
     
  7. allen_idaho

    allen_idaho Well-Known Member

    348
    0
    Ok, if you are going to use this thing inside your house, make sure that you have a safe foundation to put it on first. At least some bricks or something. Otherwise, you are going to risk setting your floor on fire.

    And be sure to keep it a safe distance from the wall. The sheetmetal used in a grill is extremely thin. You run the risk of setting your walls on fire or even melting through the metal if you aren't careful.

    One more important note. Scrape any paint off of the outside of the grill before you use it in this manner.

    In Japan, most families living in apartments use kerosene heaters. They are cheap, economical, and provide plenty of heat. The downside, however, is that it can produce carbon monoxide and has led to the death of many the sleeping family over the years. But, with proper ventilation, it is still a viable option.

    One more question. Living in an apartment, where are you planning to keep these logs?
     
  8. Bigdog57

    Bigdog57 Adventurer at large

    541
    0
    Use a safe and proven method of heat - a propane heater. The Mr. Heater series are excellent - approved for indoor use, tip-over shut-off, add a basic CO2 monitor for extra safety. The little one-pound tanks only last about three hours on HIGH, but they can be hooked up to the larger 20 or 40 pound tanks. Keep the tank outside and run a hose to the heater. The Buddy Jr. will heat a room, the larger heater will do a small home or apartment. MUCH safer than burning wood or charcoal on scrap material!
    Also make sure the apartment is secure, insulationwise. Some bubble-wrap or other blanket insulation over the windows will reduce heat loss. Make sure you keep ventilation though!
     
  9. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

    4,350
    22
    Elinor0987, people have come up with some very good thoughts on keeping safe with your stove idea. But I think you're like us, probably limited in funds and propane or kerosene heaters might not be a viable option, due to expense. I would have thought of something "free"-ish like your woodstove/charcoal grill idea, and even burned up whatever scrap wood or even newspaper logs I could. Fortunately I've always lived where woodstoves are the norm.

    Storing enough kerosene or propane to heat for any length of time takes money, space, and could be dangerous, in an apartment. But it's not something I have knowledge or experience with.

    We have extended our firewood supply by going out with a bucket into our woods and picking up sticks and pine cones for days we only needed a quick morning fire to take the chill off the cabin. I see that as something thrifty you would probably do.

    So, the rivets, that's a good idea (from horseman09), and protecting your floor so it doesn't catch on fire (from allen_idaho), as well as the other ideas.

    Like you, we don't have the freezer space. We do have a root cellar, though, hand dug, about 50' from the cabin. You're using the best space you have, those stairs, and it's a good idea. I love seeing people doing the best with what they have.

    I hope you are able to get property/land, because it sounds like you'd make good use of it. Wish you lived close to us!
     
  10. Elinor0987

    Elinor0987 Supporting Member

    364
    0
    I agree that it can be dangerous, but charcoal wouldn’t be practical to use because in the winter it isn’t readily available then. The concept of the stove was for wood burning. After reading your response, I’ve had to rethink the plan. The stove wouldn’t collapse with a frame installed, but the metal that would have been taken from the shelves for it might not withstand high temperatures. Instead I could use the bars from our tv stand. It is made of a much thicker iron and would definitely hold up in the heat. Bolts and screws would secure the walls of the stove to the frame. Pop riveting the metal wouldn’t work because there would still be gaps between the metal where gases could escape into the living room. That was the purpose of the solder, but since it has a low melting point it would melt and leave gaps again. I have two four pound buckets of plaster of paris that could be used to seal the cracks. It wouldn’t melt in the heat. It might crack, but solder could be placed over the plaster to help keep it together.

    The stove wouldn’t be sitting directly on the floor. It would be held up on its frame and underneath it was going to be aluminum foil over a piece of wood, but since then I’ve decided that a thick sheet of metal over it would be better.

    I agree. I think four feet away from the wall is enough.

    I have room here to keep some logs, but not much. There’s plenty of trees around that could be cut when needed. The problem is getting them before everyone else does. I’m just trying to explore my options and think about what I would do if I lost power for weeks or months on end in the middle of winter. Kerosene heaters would not be practical unless you had a stockpile of kerosene to last that long. No one would be able to buy the kerosene in a massive power outage because the stores rely on electricity to operate the cash registers. This is assuming that the kerosene hasn‘t already been looted from the stores before you get there.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2010
  11. horseman09

    horseman09 Well-Known Member

    1,240
    4
    Elinor, it sounds like your emergency stove idea is coming together! The best crack filler for stoves I've ever found is muffler cement. It comes in a tube just like toothpaste and is even better than stove cement because it is easier to apply and is more flexible. You can find it at any auto parts store. Cheap, too.

    Good luck.