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Archive for September, 2013

PostHeaderIcon Discussion Among Preppers About Preparedness And Disaster Readiness

The ManOfMany Thingz came over for a visit and a discussion about the need for being prepared. Not just for an end of the world scenario, but for any sort of disaster than can and does happen all the time. Hurricane, earthquake, tornado, flood, blizzard, fire, job loss, power outage and other things that can hit us and take way our homes or source of income.

People need to be prepared. Most people go through their daily lives without giving even a single thought to any sort of disaster plan. But, even in grade school we had tornado and fire drills all the time. Why do we so soon forget this early training?

People grow up, leave the home of their parents to start a family of their own. They get their own home but forget the training they had as a child. No fire or tornado drills and no emergency food supplies put away.

There are many preppers out there. Most of the prepper community has received a bad reputation as being some sort of doomsday freaks. You imaging a gun toting wild man ranting about the end of the world coming so you better be prepared.

But this should not turn you off from being prepared for emergency or disaster.

Every single family or household should have a disaster plan in place. Especially if you have children you should practice a fire drill and a tornado drill with your family regularly. You should also have fire alarms in place and make sure to check the batteries often. Every family should have at least two weeks worth of emergency food rations and water. According to FEMA, a government agency which provides emergency and disaster support, you should have two weeks worth of water and food for every single member of your household. If you take medications you should also keep extra meds on hand and keep them rotated. Women also have needs that should be stocked up.

Most people simply wait and think this will not happen to them. Windham, New York probably did not think that their town would be completely devastated by a hurricane. They are about 150 miles inland from the nearest ocean. But Hurricane Irene wiped out their town and many homes and businesses are still recovering today.

In 12 months time New York lived through two hurricanes. This is a rare occurrence but somehow we got hit with two of them in a short time. People were still recovering from the first hurricane when just a year later the second one hit.

The strange thing is that it seemed like people were not prepared for the second one after going through the first.

All drinking water, instant meals, gas cans, batteries, generators, kerosene, portable heaters, gasoline, camping supplies and more were totally stripped from the shelves of all stores within 100 miles of us here in Upstate New York after each hurricane.

Camping supplies sold out after hurricane Sandy

It seems that people wait for the last minute to prepare for any emergency or coming disaster. Even with advance warning, people are flooding the stores on the day before the storm and for a week afterward trying to get needed supplies. In the mean time, preppers are sitting comfortably at home waiting it out.

Hurricane Irene destroyed my business and the home I was living in. My antique shop got flooded under 5 feet of water. It was a total loss. FEMA would not help me and insurance would not cover it because it was not located in a normal recognized flood zone. The beautiful old colonial home I shared with 4 other people at that time suffered intensive mold damage which drove me out of the place for health reasons. The place was not fixed up after the flooding and mold set in. The mold climbs up inside the walls and causes health problems plus damage to the house.

I was otherwise prepared well in advance of Hurricane Irene by having enough water, food, camp stove and fuel to survive an extended time without any utilities. I had actually planned to move into my survival truck camper if we lost power for a long time. My survival truck camper remains stocked up and ready to bug out at any time due to disaster, if needed. If I do not have to bug out, such as during the hurricane or a blizzard, I am all set for bugging into my truck camper to live in comfort until the utilities are restored.

Being a prepper I have lived through many power outages due to blizzard or ice storms in the past years. Often I remain in my truck camper in perfect comfort while others sadly suffer with no heat, food, water or power.

In the back of my car is a bug out bag. This is a bag packed with enough supplies to survive any foreseen emergency for three days. I have basic medical supplies, food, water purification methods and other survival needs. If you live in a colder climate you need warm clothes and a source of heat. My bug out bag is meant to keep me alive if I get stranded in winter or to get me home to my main bug out bag in case of emergency or disaster.

The ManOfMany Thingz has a bug out jeep which he calls the “SJ” which stands for Survival Jeep. His jeep is a self contained stealth bug out vehicle. He plans to bug in. This means that in the event of a disaster he will stay put at home. His jeep is decked out with everything he needs to get back home in the event of an emergency. It has tools, medical supplies, solar panel and batteries, AC power and much more. He can repair his jeep on the fly if something happens and get back home.

Be prepared! Get some water, food and other important supplies stocked up not to keep you and your loved ones safe in the event of an emergency. Practice a fire and tornado drill often if you have children. Make sure you have supplies on hand to survive loss of income, home or power.

PostHeaderIcon Building A Passive Solar Heating Porch For My RV

I spent the day yesterday building a passive solar heating porch for my off grid solar RV. I will use the natural energy of the sun to passively heat my RV during the cold winter days. At night heated buckets of water will give off heat saved up during the daylight hours.

The idea is to use a common technique to passively heat my motorhome with solar heating. By building a south facing porch which is enclosed in clear plastic like a greenhouse I can collect heat during the day when the sun is shining. Black painted buckets of water will absorb the heat during the day and release that heat at night after the sun goes down.

Black plastic sheeting on the back walls of the porch will absorb energy from the sun, further heating up the enclosed solar porch. This will also allow me to plant winter vegetables and keep some fresh greens on the table through most of the winter, if not all year.

I will build a fully enclosed room at the end of the porch for my old pot bellied wood stove. The old wood stove heats up water as well, which will be pumped into the RV and pass through a radiator with a blower fan to heat the inside of the RV.

The heated air inside the wood stove room will also be blown into the RV through a nearby window which will be free to open or close as needed.

Another advantage of the solar porch is that heat loss from the main door of the motorhome will be greatly reduced. By entering the porch through a separate offset door and then entering the RV through the main front door, heat loss will be minimized.

Having the better portion of the south facing side of the RV enclosed will further insulate the RV from the raging elements outside. Campers and motorhomes are not well insulated for winter and cannot be insulated much better due to the very thin walls. By enclosing one side of the RV I can keep some of the valuable heat inside where it belongs.

The whole porch will be constructed completely out of used pallet wood. I am gathering up free used pallets to use as building materials for my solar porch and greenhouse. This will bring the total cost of the greenhouse down to well under $100 when fully finished. The only cost will be the construction grade clear plastic and black plastic for enclosing the porch. Some screws and recycled pallet nails are being used as well.

So far I have the porch footings and floor framing up. I got a hand rail installed and started on the wood stove room. The ManOfMany Thingz from youtube came over to help out for most of the project. I am very thankful for all the help he gave me. I do not think I could have done so much alone with these heavy pallets.

Building A Solar Heating Porch For My RV

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PostHeaderIcon Announcing The Mr Beams Contest Winners

Finally the long awaited list of the Mr Beams contest winners. Three youtube members were randomly chosen to receive a Mr Beams motion sensing light package including batteries and a solar charger.

Sorry it took so long to announce the winners. Due to my car trouble and then youtube removing video responses it took me a while to compile the list of contestants.

All names of youtubers who submitted a video response or a text reply to the video were listed in a word file with a number next to their names. Then a random number generator was used to choose three winners.

First – everyone is a winner here.

Go to and enter the code OFFGRIDCONTEST to get 40% off your next purchase of Mr Beams lights. This code is valid until Dec 31, 2013.

This is an exclusive offer only given to people who follow The Off Grid Project and The DIY World.

Here are the winners’ youtube names:

Betty Bird


richard young

Paul Troiani


Congratulations to the winners of the Mr Beams contest. You will be contacted shortly and the packages will be mailed out to you.

Dont forget to enter the code OFFGRIDCONTEST to get 40% off your next purchase before Dec 31, 2013.

Thank you Mr Beams

PostHeaderIcon Free Pallets Temporary Heat And RV Improvements

Yesterday I got some free pallets to use for building materials. I also got some heat going in the old RV because it is getting very cold at night. It has been in the 40s for a week now. I also did some improvements to the off grid solar RV.

In the morning I went to the local wood shop where they give out free pallets. Most people take them to burn for firewood but I use them as building materials. The guys at the shop are happy that I use them and love to hear stories of my many uses for the pallets. So far I have made a porch for the old camper, a rain water collection system, complete chicken tractor, outdoor shower and other odds and ends with the pallets from these guys.

I filled up my truck with pallets and brought them home to make a shed for my fireplace. I want to have a heat source outside the RV in a closed porch and pipe the heat into the RV through a window.

I also dug my Mr Heater Buddy out of the old camper and got the hose ready for my RV. I ran the hose under the RV and into the battery box through the existing holes in the floor there. The Mr Heater Buddy sits nicely on my new homemade bench/battery box in the motorhome. This portable propane heater is not a long term solution though because it burns about $5 of propane per day. It can use a 20 lb tank in 4 days. A 1 lb camping tank lasts about 4 hours on low with this heater.

I installed a brand new dual cigarette lighter adapter into the side of the battery box to provide power for my laptop and other 12 volt accessories. I was running the laptop off a temporary connection I had rigged up into the lights of the RV. Now I can take this down and hook up my lights properly. The lights were flickering when the laptop was on for some reason. Its not a power issue, but rather some feedback due to the power supply. Its a travel pack.

In the afternoon ManOfMany Thingz from youtube came over to give me a hand on the off grid property a bit. He helped me get a nice desk area set up for my computer and monitor. Now I can work much better in the new solar powered RV. I was working with my monitor on a tray table and the laptop and printer on the floor underneath it. Now my monitor sits on the top shelf with the laptop and printer on the middle shelf. I have space for books and other items on the bottom shelf.

Eventually I want to build a permanent wooden shelf but need to get to work now. This will do just fine. It is a plastic set of shelves I had sitting in my storage tent since I lost my apartment in February.

Last night at 12 am, just before bed, it was in the 40s out and nearly 70 inside using the Mr Heater Buddy on low. I shut if off for bed though to save propane. In the morning I turn it on again to take off the chill so I can work on the computer a bit.

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PostHeaderIcon Misc RV Work And Starting My Waste Oil Burner

It suddenly got very cold outside. We went from 90s by day and 70s by night to 60s by day and 40s by night. It is strange that just a few days ago I had the air conditioner running in the off grid solar camper and now I am sitting here typing this with numbed fingers. It is time to get heat going in the new off grid RV.

One of the more important projects now is to get the RV insulated well for winter. There are a lot of gaps and places where you can still see outside. Right now when I get up in the morning the indoor temperature is the same as the outdoor temperature. There are too many drafts at this time.

I put up the piece of carpeting on the new battery box/bench yesterday. This not only looks very nice but it also helps to insulate the living area better and deaden sound more. I will also be insulating the insides of the battery box. The back side of the battery box is right up against the engine firewall which is just a sheet of metal. There is no insulation back there at all.

The motorhome also needs curtains on all the windows. The original curtains and rods were tossed due to being damaged from cigarette smoke, dust and mice.

Another problem I recently have is that the sun is not shining much anymore and when it does, I get about 5 -6 sunlight hours on the solar panels. The leaves on the trees are blocking the sun from hitting the solar panels all day. Plus the days are now shorter. In peak summer I get about 8 hours of full sunlight on the panels. In full winter I get more sunlight hours though due to the trees being bare, which is very helpful during the much shorter days.

I have started to work on a waste oil heater for my RV. I have an old cast iron frying pan I got for about $3 at an antique shop one day and am using that as the burner base plate for the heater. I have an old antique kerosene heater that I will use as the heater body.

First tests of my waste oil heater

I poured some vegetable oil into the frying pan and then tossed in a piece of paper. Then I lit the paper on fire and watched to see what would happen. My theory is that when the frying pan gets hot enough the fire will burn nicely.

At first it seemed like the flame went out but it was still burning weakly. Oil has a high flash point and takes a lot to get burning. With time the flame eventually spread a bit and got stronger. I put the frame of the kerosene heater over the frying pan and let it sit for a while. The frying pan got too hot to touch after a few minutes and the flame got stronger yet.

Homemade waste veggie oil heater

After about 30 minutes the heater body was too hot to hold my hand on. This is outside in a 5 mph breeze so I believe it would be quite hot indoors. The flame was burning strongly and kicking out a nice amount of heat. It is not a furnace yet by any means but it was putting out some heat. I do not believe it would heat my RV at this stage though. The paper was acting like a wick for the oil to burn. The only place the oil was burning is where the paper rose above the level of the oil.

I let the oil burn itself out which took a couple hours.

I have studied waste oil burners and will next try a closed burner idea I have been looking at.

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