Play before Work, I always say. (But never actually do.)
Where is the Welder Review???
There’s a “dog ate my welder” story in here…
Today was scheduled to be a review of that Chineseum knock-off of the Smith Little Torch. That one retails on the Zon for (take a look). While the Chineseum was under $25-bucks – including shipping on eBay! They even copied the Smith manual which is really, uh, insulting.
Saturday, out comes Mr. Ure, ready to work and he sets up a couple of things on the welding table, like so:
Next step was to attach the mini welding torch to the acetylene and oxy bottles.
Before removing the hoses, though, a mandatory safety check. Oxy regulator looked like it was supposed to:
BUT the acetylene? Look closely and see if you can spot the problem:
OK…why are we showing 52 PSI on the gas regulator with the tank off and the hose bled?
Whoopie! This is exactly the kind of systemic failure Mr. Ure lives and schemes for!
Because, at this point, I shuffle over to the shelving unit adjacent and pull a dusty black box off the shelf…
“WAIT, URE. You’re saying you had a complete oxy rig as a spare with regulators and, tips, cleaners, strikers…EVERYTHING???”
Mean you don’t?
This was laid down in 2013. Even (thanks to the net still being up (give it time) I can show you what I paid for it. Campbel-Hausfeld WT-4000 series:
(OK,… So this overboard prepper stuff borders on compulsive and hoarder, but let’s not quibble. Gas welding rigs haven’t gone up much.)
Me being the son of a firefighter (and father of one, too, come to think of it) it struck me that I needed to closely inspect the hoses while I was at it.
The new rig only came with 12 1/2-feet of hose, and the couplers to extend them was missing. So those were ordered along with back-flash suppressors, too. (You’d gamble a fire and worse on unknown Chineseum without explosion arrestors? Braver than me, Bud….)
I can almost hear what Pappy would ask before such a test. “You sure you trust that Chinese micro welding rig and lines just 3-feet from your regulators?”
“No of course not!”
“Two sets of couplers will give you 37-feet which would be safer, wouldn’t it?”
OK, another order to the Zon.
Still, gives me time to mention a few things from the family welding safety notebook.
ALWAYS turn the acetylene gas on your rig off FIRST. If you don’t, and shut down the O2 first, the acetylene can get up into the O2 hose and that can lead to misery (or Missouri) or worse (if that’s possible) when sparked-off.
And if you even have good gas practices (not chili jokes), remember R-rated hose is chintzy. Pop the extra for T-Rated (all fuels) hoses just in case…
Remember the gas nuts have a scored filing in the middle of their nuts (bet that hurt!) so you remember “score some acetylene” when you go color blind. Meantime, even the semi-sighted can generally get red is for fire fuel, green is for oxygen.
We’ve given up trying to write a cogent explanation for why which some of the threads on are “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey” but others are not. Maybe Oilman2 could insert some offshore rig wisdom for us mainly electric sorts. (If you have to ask, you can’t go offshore, sorry.)
Fallback Fell Apart, Too
Our fallback story for this morning was to be a demonstration of the $250 TIG welder because I picked up bottles of Argon Friday. One bottle is 100% argon (for TIG) while the other is 75-25 argon/carbon dioxide for MIG welding.
The reason that didn’t happen? Well, by time I played “dances with regulators” (which F-500 companies also do), I was tired, grumpy, and was sitting down. So I sat down at the new “small projects workstation.”
Dare I begin building the model of our old airplane, the Beech Musketeer? No, best not.
As you’ll notice, though, I did lam up two thicknesses of harder blue stryo for build boards.
Even watched enough YouTube How-To videos to figure the build should take about 10-hours. That will be an interesting block of time to carve out.
For now, we retreat to something less fun but more important.
A Depression Fix-It Shop
William of the Radio Ranch admitted this week to having a similar vision to ours: Why not set up a local, walk-in Fix-It Shop for when either Asia cuts off our disposable goods addiction, or China decides to skip ahead to invading the West Coast.
While we can’t fight off too many killer drones, we might be able to fix a broken cord on a coffee percolator, which with power, might quickly become the biggest unit in the American arsenal.
Or, having a geared head lathe, maybe would could made new and interesting “accessories” for the gun club members. When, that is, home defense really does come home.
This set off a firestorm of additional thoughts.
If the gas pumps aren’t “talking to you yet,” perhaps an audiologist visit is in order?
With the Biden administration playing “Three War Monte” – stoking war odds between Taiwan and China, Ukraine backing Russia into a “first-use corner, and just waiting for Israel to pop Iran – which will likely generate a nuclear response, there’s no question that the Doomsday Clock is perilously close to striking.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists figured – in mid-January of this year – that the nuclear countdown clock was at 100-seconds to midnight. Which will be when the first mushroom goes off. Back-timing from there, we can almost see the clock having to be adjusted again – maybe before summer is out – given that Iran reportedly has enough 60 percent enriched uranium to build a bomb. A really crude, heavy, kluged bomb. But it’s still a what?
Israel has made it abundantly clear that Iran will never be allowed to attack first, and this leads to a second obvious nuclear battle.
The good news about China/Taiwan? Well, there isn’t much. Excerpt I have mental flashes of Michael Jackson’s “moon-walking” every time Biden walks something back. But with less style, fo sho…
Just as the US/NATO has been tweaking Russia harder than warranted – and now sending in missiles which will raise Russia ire even more – the odds of “mushrooms” for dinner on the evening TV news shows is escalating.
While China doesn’t have a viable reason for nuclear weapons on Taiwan, it really depends on how much China wants (or needs) to preserve the fine-pitch semiconductor manufacturing based on the southern side of the island. The U.S. is willing to fight, because we allowed far too much critical electronics manufacturing to move offshore, and because we now need Taiwan to make the parts to keep American industry working.
(Not to rehash the Friday notes on Three War Monte, with a side of gun-grab, but the character of the playing field here is important.)
Personal Industry in Collapse
If it’s not a little scary to think about, I’d propose we all do a little “class project thinking” and offer up comments (in the Comments section link below) to answer the question “What do you think you’ll actually DO in an economic collapse?” Day one, month one, year one kind of thing.
There are plenty of signposts: We can look at the two decades before on the onset of Depression (1) and see some ideas. A 1900 book, “The Home and Shop Mechanic” for example, includes fine points of working with (and repairing) steam-powered machines:
This book is one of many in the New Century Library of Useful Knowledge series.
Books like this were followed by the popular Shop Notes series (Popular Mechanics) and later by the Audel’s series. Between these plus having more recent compilations like Michael Geier’s savory “How to Diagnose and Fix Everything Electronic” we figure we’re in better condition than most for being ready to fix things.
My theme all year has involved not only do-it-yourself gardening, but also getting the tools, workspace, and knowledge so that you’ll be able to keep useful machines and devices working when we’ll need them most.
The novel One Second After offers one gritty outlook for America entering collapse. It’s a good starting point, sure.
But of necessity, books can only generalize to a region. What really matters most is how well you get on with your neighbors.
We’ve gamed out some scenarios – though none of it is fun – in an effort to see what kinds of help neighbors might need. And what life would be like.
A bit of “non-U.S.” travel over the years opened my eyes. Driving around the Blue Hills of Jamaica and along the coasts. Key take-aways were that people – even if wrecked on local ganj – would not go too far out of their way to mess with you. Provided there was respect. Hard to teach that Most people just want their space (and another toke, right?) and get out of my shit….
Another learning moment was in the old Church (1536, was it?) in Cusco – highlands of Peru – and gateway to the top of the Amazon once you descend into the jungle north and east of Machu Picchu.
Point was I spent some time watching a local craftsman – armed with a simple hand saw, a straight and a curved gouge – and a pocketknife, hand working the wood. That a chair would take several weeks to carve was not an issue. It was a quality thing. Pride in work.
Time Will Change
Measuring the “flow of time” in a Depression is different. It becomes more time versus reward; things are less “check-list” oriented. Instant will take longer – a lot longer.
Whoever doesn’t have a half-hour a day to begin at least experimentally attempting basic container gardening now, may in a year or less wish they had seen it all coming.
The role of the Fix It Shop in such times is hard to forecast. Will we be overrun by gangs from cities within weeks? Or, will there be a slow spread and a lot of gunfire while America returns to a time when almost all men carried guns?
In that world, what would be “in demand?”
When electricity is gone, the highest values (after food and water) that I can think of will be energy of all types. Solar panels would be more than worth their weight in gold. Which means investing in controllers, panels, not to mention a few rounds, some armor, and some trigger parts, might not be bad investments in such a world. Screw-on oil filters, ahem, anyone?
What is the minimal inventory of parts (passive and active) electronics that would provide for a robust clientele? We’re thinking basic land-working equipment repairs – the ability to make up hydraulic hoses, for example and maybe have a few dozen 5-gallon cans of fluid might be useful. Someone can always find something to weld out here “on the range.”
Seed exchange will be another key part. We have asked which would do you more good in the “just after collapse” world? A hundred dollar bill or a $40 package of a year’s worth of “survival seeds?”
A bag – maybe two – for the critical neighbors, but only if they have the means to grow. Which then circles back to why we put in rainwater catchment and the greenhouse this year.
Tool Library? Computer Cafe?
One good after-collapse idea that resonates in me is the notion of a tool library for local farmers and ranchers. Granted, our tools are not specific to the big heavy-duty farm equipment (a 65 HP diesel tractor with a stump grinder on it is a big-ass rig).
On the other hand, I’m starting to think in terms of tool library because they seem to work in urban areas. The 2012 Patrick Dunn Shareable article Building A National Digital Library is also still very much on point.
If the Internet goes away, who will have the (obviously password protected) drive with all the shop manuals for Ford, Kubota, IH, Massey, Long, Kioiti, Mahindra, et al?
Still, doing hydraulics may be worthwhile, too. Some hose, some pipe, a few bending tools and a big kit of fittings…
When you start looking at the work that will need to be done – and the lack of energy generally – it makes an interesting argument for instead of just focusing on getting seeds, lots of mulching straw and maybe a 3-0point rototiller for the tractor co9uld be bingo calls.
Don’t mean to go off into the weeds here. But other than having a number of workstations to choose from, what at the in-demand services likely to be and how would the commerce take place?
- General fix it
- DC power systems installation and repair
- Communications (HF radios)
- Sharpening service
- Gas power equipment repair
- Hydraulics shop with hose making
- Tool library
- Local “mini farm and hardware” store
- Water well and pump service
- Surveillance and interdiction drones
…you can see how the list becomes pretty expansive! (And, did I say expensive, too?
I think the coffee-hour takeaway comes down to this:
- No one will be able to know with certainty, until actual events, how the future will roll out in the next year or two.
- For now, our money is on:
- Depression based on wrong-headed energy policies. The hate people have turned their focus on energy as efforts ramp up to take down America. (See Tesla stock, lately? Liberals eating their own.)
- At the same time, the gun-grabs being promoted by the teary=eyed Lefties, won’t solve the problem. Criminals don’t follow laws and it’s an insult they can hold office when they can’t grasp something so fundamental.
- Drought and food failures will come too.
- What we don’t know is how our “three precursor wars” will play out. Lack of parts due to Taiwan falling? Mass government power-grabbing as in the Covid lock-downs except due to nukes in Russia-Ukraine or Iran-Israel? Pick your poison. N-100 masks this time?
Out here, rumor has it that some street signs may be “rearranged” if the sunshine cans get opened. But that doesn’t really answer fully our “Problem of the Day.”
What will we all DO, exactly – hour by hour – when things go horribly wrong?
I stared at the model of the old Musketeer and wondered: “Should we have kept it and made a run for Central America?”
Too late now. In for a penny, in for a flash.
Besides, should be a lot of welding scrap after.
Write when you get rich,