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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ersatz Tires

Flat tires aren't as common as they used to be (due to better materials and construction), but they still happen at the worst times. Since spare tires don't get used very often they tend to get ignored, which means that there's a good possibility that your spare is going to be flat when you need it.

The “temporary” spare, AKA “the doughnut” that comes with most cars, is there to get you to the nearest repair shop. Most of them have a very limited life, usually under 100 miles. Doughnuts are also smaller and narrower than the standard tire, so they will affect the handling of your car when in use and put a lot of stress on the differentials of vehicles because of the difference in size (smaller tires have to spin faster to cover the same distance).

Since 2009, some car makers have decided to save even more weight and space by deleting even the doughnut spare, replacing it with a “repair kit” that consists of a can of sealant and a compressor. The repair kits are useless if the tire has anything other than a small hole in the tread, but they're cheap and save weight (and therefore gas). Basically, they've started shipping cars with a can of Fix-a-Flat instead of a spare tire.

So what do you do if you have a flat tire and your spare is dead? 
Or what if you have two flat tires at the same time (Been there and one that - got forced into a curb that took out both tires on one side of my truck)? 
  1. Look around and see if you can borrow a spare from someone. This may sound strange to urban people, but rural folks do tend to help each other and there's always a chance that you'll be able to find something that will fit your car. 
  2. If you're in a SHTF situation, salvaging a wheel and tire from an abandoned car might be your only option to get mobile again.  Unfortunately, not all tires are created equal; fortunately, this article will tell you what need to look for:

Tire Size
For emergency use, this is less important than you'd expect. Since the typical doughnut spare is a lot smaller than a regular tire, you can use any tire that will fit inside your wheel-well, and running smaller (a 14-inch tire replacing a 16-inch tire) won't be much different than using a doughnut.

Going larger or wider means you'll need to check the clearance on your fenders and steering components; you don't want a tire rubbing on anything. Here'show to read the information on the side of a tire.

Watch the weight rating! You'll want something that is rated for at least as much as the tire you're replacing, especially on trailers.

Number and Spacing of Lugnuts
Most standard wheels will have 4, 5, 6 or 8 holes for the lugnuts. 4- and 5-hole wheels are common on cars, 6- and 8-hole wheels are more often found on trucks and SUVs. Ford did make a 7-hole wheel for a few years on their F250 pickups, and there are some trailers and ATVs that use a 3-hole wheel, but those are the exceptions. Obviously, you're going to need something with the same number of holes as your regular wheels.
Spacing is a bit tricky, but there is a standard way of measuring it. The picture to the left shows how to measure your bolt pattern. This needs to be an exact match, but as long as you're working with two vehicles that are similar in size and age, you should be able to find a suitable wheel.

Center Hole Size
The hole in the center of the wheel is for the wheel hub, and there are two general types of wheels:

Hub-centric: where the weight of the vehicle is borne by the hub of the wheel. This style is common on cars, and these normally have a raised lip on the brake disk/drum around the hub that the wheel slides over. This needs to be an exact fit since the lug bolts are probably not going to be strong enough to carry the weight, and changing sheared lugs is a royal pain.

Lug-centric: where the weight of the vehicle is borne by the lugnuts. This style is more common on trucks and larger SUVs with 8-hole wheels. The raised lip is absent, and the hub hole diameter is less important. As long as the hole is big enough for the hub to go through, it'll work. If you have a 4WD with locking hubs, you'll know how big some of these holes can be.

Depth of Wheel
Unless you're playing with custom wheels this isn't much of a problem, but finding a donor wheel with the proper depth to give you room for the brake parts is important. Here'sa good link that explains the depth measurements. In a SHTF situation, I'd try flipping the wheel around and putting it on backwards (with the outside of the rim towards the vehicle) just to get moving again.

If money's tight and/or you really need to get out of Dodge
I know of at least one young man who buys temporary spares from a local junkyard for next to nothing and runs them on all four wheels of his compact car. He has to change them every week or so, and they are horrible for traction, but they get him to work and back. He's saving for a better car and doesn't want to dump $400 into tires for something he's going to be trading off in a few months.

Where there's a will, there's a way.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Prudent Prepping: Semi-Monthly Roundup

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping.

This is my way to wrap up several different ideas too short to make into a complete and separate post.

First up is a gift from the Master Chief who, after retiring from his last job, now has plenty of time to shop on the 'Net. He has given me several things, but none as small as this:

Nelson Rigg CB-PK30 Black Compact Backpack
From the Amazon entry:
  • The Nelson Rigg CB-PK30 Compact Backpack allows you to gain 30L of storage whenever needed
  • It packs down small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, giving you extra cargo capacity without all the bulk
  • Large enough to carry a full face motorcycle helmet, basketball, or a day's clothes, it's perfect for day-to-day use, day trips, vacation, travel, day hikes, school, camping, or shopping
  • Constructed from strong Tri-Max nylon with embroidery style stitching for added strength
  • Ultra lightweight with an integrated compact storage bag makes it easy to carry anywhere you go
This is not replacing my existing GHB; it's going to be the extra 'Share The Care' bag if the worst happens and I find someone in need of a backpack.
  • It weighs nothing and takes up almost no space.
  • The straps are thin and prone to curl into themselves with some weight in the bag -- in other words, exactly what you'd expect in a bag like this. 
  • The nylon(ish) material is definitely NOT waterproof or even water-resistant, but with a medium trash bag used as a liner, it should do in an emergency. 
As this is a secondary bag, none of these are deal-breakers. Plus, the price (free) was fantastic!

Baby Prepper Progress
I've mentioned that I have a new prepping group and my friends are getting serious about disaster preparedness. What's happening so far?

  • GHB's have been purchased and basics like clothes, small amounts of food and bottled water have been added.
  • Approximately half the group comes from places that have regular economic or natural disasters, so the idea of having extra food on hand is normal. Figuring out how and where to store everything is the next step.
  • Selecting Rally Points A, B, and maybe C is our next goal, since several of us travel quite far and in different directions on a daily basis. No one wants to be left out, and there could be several days' delay if the Big One (earthquake) hits us. After two in Mexico this month, we could be looking at a repeat of 1985-89 here in California.

Everything is proceeding much better than I expected, since I follow the old saying, "Plan for the worst but expect better".

The Takeaway
  • I have wonderful friends that do the nicest things for me. I'm truly blessed
  • There's nothing like an example to show people who you are. Luckily, lately I've been a good one.
  • Having everyone 'on-board' and working in the same direction for a common goal feels great.

The Recap

If you plan on buying anything through Amazon, please consider using our referral link. When you do, a portion of the sale comes back here to help keep this site running!

If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Firearm Records

You should have a record of pretty much anything with a serial number, but for now I'll concentrate specifically firearms.

I know of several cases in which firearms were stolen in a burglary (one involved a personal friend - in his case, guns from his father and grandfather) and there were no descriptions or recorded serial numbers, which meant about zero chance of ever getting those guns back. This happens a lot, so don't let it happen to you.

Make records, and make copies. In these days of digital cameras and flash drives and writable CD/DVDs, there’s no reason not to use them. My suggestions on firearms:
  1. Make a list of important information for each firearm such as brand, model, serial number, other identifying marks or numbers, etc.
  2. Take a picture of each firearm. If there are identifying/proof features on both sides, take one of each side.
  3. Label each picture as to what it is. Either put the serial number in the picture name, or keep the list together with the pictures. Preferably both.
  4. Make a hard copy of the list to keep with the other media, just in case something happens to the electronic copies. Paper and ink are cheap. 
  5. Make at least two copies: one to keep with you, preferably in a fire-resistant storage box or safe, and one in a secure off-site location (with relatives, safety deposit box, whatever).
Flash drives or other re-writable media are great; you can update them at any time. Paper records will have to be printed again when things change; again, paper and ink are cheap.

Don’t store your only record on your computer! In fact, you shouldn't leave any copy on the computer; once you copy anything on it to the storage media, securely wipe the files on the PC (laptop, tablet, whatever), just to be safe in case of viruses.

These records are good for more than just theft; if there's a fire, or flood, or a small SMOD, you'll need to be able to show the insurance people just what you have. These directions will also work on other things, like your computer or TV or power tools. But if, for some reason, you don't have an inventory of everything, at least make one of your firearms.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast #161 - We Are But Mad North-North-West

Erin's neighborhood was supposed to get its power restored this weekend. Now it's been pushed back until Tuesday next week.

  • Beth says it's always the right time to talk to children about firearms, and the new book "Safety On" by Yehuda Remer can help you with that.
  • A second suspect has been identified in a NW Charlotte homicide, and good news! He's not quite as awful as the suspect they have already charged!
  • Barron is on assignment and will return soon.
  • To be, or not to be: that is the question. Or perhaps the question is "to stay, or not to stay." And when the hurricane blows southerly, Miguel knows a hawk from a handsaw.
  • Our Main Topic is the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showing that more Americans than ever have a gun in their homes.
  • Tiffany covers a few of the Every Day Carry travel considerations that aren't usually discussed in the average concealed carry permit class.
  • Erin left the hurricane behind. But she has preps in place, so why evacuate? She shares her thoughts on avoiding troubles as a valid prepping strategy.
  • The Joyce Foundation Shell Group, States United, has cooked up a “Video Game” to oppose concealed carry Reciprocity, and gets the reaction from alleged Real People™. Weer'd has the audio.
  • And our Plug of the Week is for the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program.

Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here.
Thanks to LuckyGunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Blue Collar Prepping Transcript -

Why Evacuate When You Have Preps?
As I write this, I’m comfortably ensconced at Castello Sorrentino, enjoying the delightfully cool North Carolina weather. The reason I’m able to  enjoy it so much is because Hurricane Irma largely missed my part  of Florida, contenting herself with knocking down trees and power lines. This means I no longer have to worry about the safety of my family or the integrity of our house, and my evacuation has become a vacation. 

Despite all this, though. I’m still having trouble shaking the feeling that I am now 2 for 2 at being a gigantic pussy when it comes to hurricanes. After all, what kind of prepper am I if I chose not to reply upon those preps, but instead to run away at the first opportunity?

Friend of the show Josh made a great point last week when he posted this to the BCP Facebook group:
It occurs to me that training with a firearm and preparing for disasters are very similar.
In both cases you are gathering the tools and knowledge to handle a situation if it gets bad. In both cases your education tells you to leave the area as soon as it seems likely things actually will go bad.
And I believe this with 100% conviction. Just like concealed carriers 
believe "You win every gunfight you avoid", we preppers believe that we survive every disaster we aren’t present for. Sure, you might be able to out-draw or out-shoot a bad guy, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get through the experience unscathed. You might get hurt anyway, or be arrested and tried for murder by an overzealous prosecutor, or be harassed by the media and hated by your community. 

Similarly, if you rely on your preps to get you through a disaster you could have avoided, at the very least you’ve consumed those preps and need to replace them. Progressing up the scale of awful, take a moment to realize that “surviving a disaster” and “surviving a disaster unscathed” are two completely different things. If you’re crippled, but you lived, then technically you’ve survived…

Now I understand that there are some situations where people cannot evacuate. Perhaps you have a family member who cannot be moved, and evacuating without them would be the same as abandoning them. Perhaps you don’t have a car or the funds required to get out. Perhaps you have a job as an emergency responder, and it’s your duty to help those who didn’t leave. In all of these cases, I understand why you didn’t go, and I don’t fault you for your choice. 

But what gets me are the people who have the ability to leave but choose not to evacuate -- like my parents, who say “We evacuated once back in 2003. We were stuck in traffic, and the dogs were hot, and we couldn’t find a hotel that would take us and our pets. We’re just going to stay behind.”  To me, this is like saying “We’d rather risk death than be inconvenienced by an evacuation.” I don’t get this. I just DON’T. It’s like hearing the anti-vaccine folks talk and realize that they’re saying “Having a dead child is preferable to having one with autism.”

So I just leave at the first sign of impending doom, because the best prep is not gear, not training, but the ability to get yourself out of dangerous situations - and the best way to get out of dangerous situations is not to get into them in the first place. 

This is why I’m up here in North Carolina, enjoying lovely weather and power and internet, while my family are sweltering in summer Florida heat without air conditioning. 

Yup. They really saved themselves some inconvenience, didn’t they?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Post-Irma Erin

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
I realized that it's been a while since I posted a blog update on how I'm doing. I've been posting updates on Facebook, of course, but not everyone who reads this blog follows me there.

Short version: We're fine. We're all fine here, now, thank you. How are you?

Long version: I left Florida on Friday shortly after noon, and after twelve hours of driving -- most of which seemed to be spent in stop-and-go traffic in South Carolina, regardless of which road (interstate, US road, state road, surface streets) I took -- I ended up in North Carolina to spend the weekend with partner in podcasting Sean Sorrentino. I did some dry fire practice with Sean, met some really cool people, and then left Tuesday morning because I feel that guests,like fish, begin to stink after three days.

However, power was still out at home. It's not scheduled to be restored until this weekend, and so I'd be bored silly while sweating my bits off if I returned -- and the condition of some of the roads in Florida was still iffy -- so I decided to head west and hang out with some people in Tennessee because they'd indicated they would be happy to host me. So right now I'm in eastern TN through the weekend, hopefully heading home on Saturday or Sunday.

I've been speaking to my family every day over dad's cellphone. Mom, dad, dogs, house, they're all fine, just bored and hot. They can't even take showers to cool off because while they have water pressure, there's no power to run the electric sewer pump, so they need to be careful or else they'll cause the buried septic tank to overflow, which happened back in 2003ish. Believe me, no power + Florida heat + sewage smell = YUCK.

The house didn't take any damage from Irma so far as we can tell, but all the food in the refrigerator has gone bad, and likely all the stuff in the freezer as well. Fortunately there's enough canned food to feed everyone in the house. Yay preps!

Dad is currently in the hospital right now, and trust me, that's a good thing. He's been fighting pneumonia for about 2 weeks, and just before Irma he was diagnosed with COPD. He also has a tendency to complain and get in mom's way, so him being out of the house is good for mom's sanity, and because he's in a place with air conditioning and medical attention, it's good for him as well.

So as these things go, we were remarkably lucky. I still maintain that bugging out was the right choice of action, because (if for no other reason) I'm comfortable and they're not.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Prudent Prepping: New Recruits

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping.

Some people plan things well in advance, and some need a virtual kick in the pants to start preparing for emergencies. The recent hurricanes have been starting points for several conversations about prepping for the past two weeks.

Starting the Conversation
I never start with telling people that I'm a Prepper, but after talking about the local weather, the hurricanes, or the big earthquake in Mexico, I ask "What have you done to make yourself ready?" I usually hear that there has been little thought given to what could happen and how they will react.

One recent conversation started over lunch when I commented on the team logo on a sales rep's jacket. Their home state gets bad weather (snow, ice storms and tornadoes) and a comment was made about how scary earthquakes are and how freaked out having the building shake makes them feel. I was asked how I feel about earthquakes, and I said they don't bother me nearly as much as tornadoes, since you can't see earthquakes coming your way from the next county. It turns out that the rep's family had a 'storm room' all set up on the chance there was a bad storm. I asked the rep about any plans for a similar amount of preparation here, and was met with a blank state.

I gave them the link to the Get Home Bag posts here, with a suggestion to look at the First 72 Hours post at the top of any of my posts and then look up everyone else who writes here.

I also suggested a book I've had for a while:

The Disaster Preparedness Handbook 
From the description:

"This is the essential guide every family should have, study, and keep handy, in case the unthinkable should occur. Shelter. First Aid. Protection.With this book you can outline your survival plan."

Information is broken down into easy-to-read sections, with a space to write your own notes provided. While this is not the most detailed book on disaster planning, it is enough information in small bites for a young person doing their very first solo living, so that making and following a plan will be doable.

I was surprised to see how excited the rep became reading the BCP posts. They mentioned that their family still in the Midwest were also concerned with earthquakes.When I see them either this week or next, I expect to pass this book on and hear which items have been purchased.

And that is how I influence friends to be prepared.

The Recap
  • I always have a calm answer to questions about prepping.
The Takeaway
If you plan on buying anything through Amazon, please consider using our referral link. When you do, a portion of the sale comes back here to help keep this site running!

If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License

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