Prepping: Bike & Fix-It Shop Basics (Pt. 2)

Breaking:  A Wuhan Update

Before we jump into the lighter stuff, two quick notes.

First the daily numbers: Cases:  69,266   Deaths: 1,670

Cases are up almost 86% from a week ago; deaths are up 105.6% – more than doubling.

Second is a follow-up to the research paper we posted Saturday, (previous post) showing an association may exist between COVID-19 with ACES2 receptors, targeting lungs and testicles.  From a very smart medical professional:

“Probably not related but it flagged my association meter: Chinese ingredient contamination caused the recall of millions of doses of ARBs(Angiotensin Receptor Blockers) BP med especially Losartan.”

You may not remember the story (it was last September), but as USA Today reported at the time “A recall of common blood pressure medication losartan has been expanded for a fifth time after manufacturer Torrent Pharmaceuticals found a possibly carcinogenic impurity in more batches of the drug, federal health officials said.

Coincidence?  As the good doc with the great memory said “…Probably not related but…”

In both casinos and Life, it’s interesting how “data clusters.” Truthfully, we prefer casino data clustering (runs of luck) to the kind of thing “in the wild” in today’s world.

Fix-It/Bike Shop Part 2

Last weekend, looking ahead to the post-collapse world, we covered how to set up a local “Post Collapse” Bike Shop Because, if the “S ever HTF“, people would still need a way to get around. And it’s an easy start-up if you plan far-enough ahead.

Bikes are a great way to move both people and light goods.  If they don’t have a bike, you could set up a rental system based on modest contributions to your welfare.  Things like a bit of food, or some commodity you might need.  Beer-based-barter – the Post-Collapse BBB.  Toothpaste or baking soda, perhaps.

One thing we didn’t get to last week were a few simple add-on’s that can greatly increase the usefulness of a bike in an urban situation.  Trailers and baskets, is what we’re talking here.

Either one is a major increase in carrying capacity, because anyone who has ever done serious biking knows there are only about four choices when it comes to bring groceries home on a bike:

  • You can carry a canvas bag with you.  Under normal riding conditions, they’re way more useful than plastic.  The latter tend to rip while you’re going down the road.  Main drawback of any bad is that if you carry one, you’re usually have it slug over the left handle bar.  And they swing around a good bit if you’re on a winding track.  The heavier the contents (two half-gallons of milk, say) the more torque the swing produces and the worse the ride.  Ask me how I know…
  • The second option is to put the “cargo” into a backpack.  This isn’t a bad option, except if it’s hot out.  Then, if makes the riding comfort fall apart quickly.  In the winter?  Not bad.  Summertime, though?  Not for me, thanks.  Which gets to our next choice which is…
  • Front Baskets:  This work out great, will carry a couple of half-gallons of milk and they aren’t too spendy.  For $20-bucks, you might try a Retrospec Bicycles Detachable Steel Half-Mesh Apollo Bike Basket with Handles, Silver.
  • The Rear is where heavy items go.  $49 bucks will get something like the Pure Cycles Urban Rear Bike Cargo Rack, Silver.

This rear carrier is not a “total solution” to the post-collapse “MSA” (move sh*t around) problem.  This could be dramatically improved with a 2-foot-high box made of lightweight materials, like a wood frame covered in 1/8th inch plywood.  It would come up to about the middle of the riders back, but my, oh my…what capacity, you’d be talking.

Speaking of the “MSA” problem, most people (young, still convinced they’re invincible, but the realization will come, trust us…) never think about moving groceries by hand.

Sure, they are $57-bucks, or so, but a couple of SUPENICE SN7504 Durable Utility Folding Shopping Cart, Double Basket, Medium Size with 360° Rolling Swivel Wheels, 66 lbs Capacity carts mighgt be real useful.  In the event there was anywhere close you could go to trade or buy goods.

Might toss in a couple of hand trucks, too.  Again, depends what kind of collapse we’d be looking at, but I can think of lots of scenarios where a Milwaukee 47109 600-Pound Capacity Hand Truck ($59) might be useful in the after-mess.  It’s one way to “walk a load of lumber home” several miles without a vehicle…  Of course, a solid garden cart would work, too.  So would stealing a large Radio-Flyer wagon.  Improvisation equals survival.

On all these things, especially with bikes, though, the real art is in the loading.  You want to balance things so you don’t do much of any work except for loading and balancing.  Even up to a hundred, or more, pounds the idea is to use nature (balance!) so you do the high-value “work.

Bike Shop & Ceiling Rigging, II

I neglected (oh the shame) in the first part of our bike hanging discussion to mention some of the “fine points of rigging.”  After living on a sailboat for better’n than 10-years, I make the mistake of assuming people already know how to set rigging so it provides pleasure –  not pain.

To learn to think like a rigger, consider this picture:

Notice how the line from the top of the leaf blower pulley comes down at a fairly sharp angle?

OK, this means that a piece of equipment on the pulley can only go up as far as the  white horizontal line before becoming entangled in the other line.

Here is the solution (called in sailing): a Turning Block.  Same problem (in the circle here) but because the angle of the lead is much less acute, equipment can be moved higher without interference:

TB Means?  Turning blocks – they don’t add a lot of friction, but they give you a lot more “working space” for equipment overhead.  Mentioned because this is NOT one of the things commonly taught in the hollowed-out shell of an education system that once taught “Shop” and “Industrial Arts.”

Any old salt will tell you the drawback to a “turning block” is they require reeving (threading onto a line) whereas a snatch block pops open to allow it to “snatch” a loaded line, such as a jib sheet or spinnaker line.  (Lines  on ships run sideways, Halyards pull things up and down.  Your trivia adder for the day, lol.)

With the coronavirus shutting down a lot of Chinese manufacturing (and leaving us to wonder about “good from there” perhaps getting back into American Making isn’t such a bad idea, right?  Using “sky space” in a shop will clear the decks for action in a manner of speaking.

To review, then:  So far we have cleaned out a garage by getting a lot of stuff off the floor and up into unused overhead spaces.

If you have a garage that has been plasterboarded for appearance and to meet building codes, an option would be to take down some of your plasterboard, leaving a wide-enough clearance so you could get a couple of bikes up, depending on whether the garage is insulated.  If it is, leave well-enough alone and frame up a simple bike shed.

Which Shop Direction Next?

Assuming you’ve got bikes down pat, have a bike stand to work on them, a bunch of links, brake pads, a lifetime supply of Allen wrenches and so on, the next add-on (if there’s fuel to be had) might be a small engines shop.

Similar tooling to bikes, but you’d want to have a dozen assorted small engine carbs on hand, be able to sharpen a chainsaw,  sharpen and balance lawnmower blades, and maybe put in a hoist of some description because now you’re into larger gear.

The trick tools here are Torx wrenches, an assortment of fuel line sizes, garburetor screws (there are 5 or 6  I’ve run into so far, so get the kit with all sizes), and rebuild kits.

Not saying this will happen, but I’m already thinking (depending on future virus reports) whether it’s time to stock up on the carb rebuild kits that can keep things like leaf blowers and chainsaws going until China comes back online.

Fencing is another thing to keep an eye on when you go to Tractor Supply.  Notice which fencing comes from China, then think ahead two years.  Time to buy a few hundred feet of “field wire” now to enclose gardens?

My “communications” shop is good to go.  Although still light on a few components – FET’s and such.  Again, as long as the net is up, keep an eye on pricing and try to remain (thinking) a month or two ahead of the curve.

For “absolute worst” we’ve topped off our welding supplies.  More 0.035 FluxCore for the wire welder, more light rod for the stick machine, and full tanks on  the gas rig.  I’ll have to run into down and refill the shielding gas tank, too.

Other shop emphasis might include sharpening (saws, tools, kitchen implments, drills, etc.) or specializing in fencing.  Besides fence posts galore, a two-man augur and preserved gas is useful.  We’ll circle back to fences in a second.

Post Collapse Diesel Use

I get a real kick out of reading “wannbe prepper sites” that “discover” that fuel stabilizers are an easy to monetize website articles.  Problem is, most don’t offer the real nitus-gritus when it comes to real world use.

That said, here are a couple of “lessons from the farm” so you won’t have to make the same mistakes:  When you store fuel (with stabilizer, of course) don’t forget to put a big garbage bag over the top.

Unfortunately, unless someone told you “Hey!  Get 65-gallon plastic bags and some long bungees!” you’ll probably get rain on your barrels and yes, plastic or no, the caps do leak.

Next “Gotcha?”  Well, that’d be the mistake I’ve made assuming the rotary diesel pump would last five years.  They don’t.  Especially if you leave them in the diesel tank.

Which gets me to an oddity of air:  When you open a barrel, get out what you need and put five gallons more in a diesel jug with a good lid on it.  Don’t leave the pump in.

If you do, the air will enter (and leave) the tank as temperatures go up and down.  And in the end?  You end up after a few years of this with two inches of water in the bottom of your diesel.  For “polishing” this contaminated fuel, there’s no substitute for a half-dozen old   Cribari of  Carlo Rossi ,4-liter wine jugs.  (We find  Pisano and  Sangria bottles work best, lol.)

To review:  In two simple articles, we have set up a “recovery oriented” bike shop, which can expand into small gas engine work and maybe some welding.

If you have a 5 or 6″ Augur on your tractor power take-off, have I got a business for you!

Fence Work

You’ve already got enough field wire if you’ve been paying attention.  You will also want to lay in good T-posts in advance.  What’s good?  Well, T-post comes in different weights.  1.0 pound per foot, 1.25 pounds per foot, and 1.33 pounds per foot,

The best fencing would go no more than about 12-feet between  wood 4-inch (treated or cedar) posts.  Then space evenly a T-post every two feet for Big Animals though I’ve lazily run 8-feet in places for field wire fencing 4-foot high.  You’ll need a gate, too.  And a water source.  See how this prepping for  after can be a bit daunting?

Preppers don’t talk about laying in sup0plies of de-wormer for farm animals and such.

One last “investment-grade” item for “life after” is barbed wire, or just “barb.”

Usual roll length is a 1/4-mile, which is 1,320 feet, but that’s all too simple so it’s sold as 80 rods of wire.  Confusing, but I’ll take rods to millimeters any day!

The next decision is what size?  If you’re making a once-for-a-lifetime fence, 12-1/2 gauge 4-barb is the only choice, unless you can find better.  Likewise, 4-barb is much better animal (and human) repelling, unless your deer have bolt cutters.

A wire staple at every wood post, which you sink in at least 2, but 3-feet’s better.  Wood posts go in during the fall so they’re well settled (“set”) before spring.  You want fence work done by March, mid-April at the latest, or you’ll be hip-deep in bugs and maybe snakes. You’ll also sweat like a pig here in Texas before May’s out.

Any animals will already have missed a month or two of good grazing if you’re south of the Mason-Dixon. and not done by May Day.

Citified people often think of “we-all out he-ah” as “hicks in the sticks” but it’s a place operated on common sense and tradition.  For some insights into how serously fencing is taken, refer to the “5-Strangs” A landownersa guide to fencing in Texas.”  Fine pice of work in 21 pages from Texas A&M AgriLife and James D. Bradbury PLLC..  Take a while to load due to the good pictures therein.

Whew…lots of “old farmerly, fix-it shop” stuff to think about.  Any questions, send them along.  I don’t have all the answers, but I have a brain which is damn-sight more’n can be said for a lot of folks here lately.

With 73F and clouds today here in the Outback, a tough choice between the leftover rack of baby-back ribs BBQ’ed last night or an all-day pot roast in the crock pot.  More Kona while I think it through…don’t disturb me – it’s a big decision.

More tomorrow…

Write when you get rich,

37 thoughts on “Prepping: Bike & Fix-It Shop Basics (Pt. 2)”

  1. I have a variant of one of these:

    I use it more as a handcart for tools as I do as a bicycle trailer. My main complaint is the tires don’t hold air particularly well, and there isn’t much room to maneuver an air pump head. It appears to be in-stock on Ebay, but the Ebay shortcuts fill up half a page.

    It makes a good fencing tool cart on soft ground. No point and tearing the place up with a diesel when the ground is saturated and the fence needs work. It is easier to drag a half-a-mile than a wheelbarrow, but it is still pretty heavy for cross-country. One of the single wheel deer hauler rigs looks appealing, but I’ve never tried one.

    On fencing, 6-wire barbed wire or hog wire is the way to go with the wild hog populations out of control. Place the bottom wire no more than about 4 – 6 inches of the ground. The feral hog’s cape is armored, but they won’t intentionally drag their bellies over barbed wire. For serious hog infestation, 6-wire barbed wire with hog wire over the top may be required, and rebar on the ground at invasion points. No kidding.

  2. George

    “Trailers and baskets, is what we’re talking here.”

    At the local Ace hardware store I like to visit they sell several models of open frame metal trailers. They are about three feet long by eighteen inches wide with one foot high sides. The body sits on wheels about eight inches high. For those who cannot build a trailer these store bought trailers could be pressed into service behind a bike. There not cheap but appear to be well made.

  3. Lots of good read — as always, but you left out marauding bands of havenots with guns. There is a limit to ammo in every household ;-(.

    “Eat, drink, and be merry” while time is on your side, imho.

  4. very good insights and advice on the use of overhead space. It is often unused here in the state of Mizzery during summertime since it brings the invasion of the mud daubers. These nefarious invaders slinks their way into the smallest cracks and crevices to build their Adobe dwellings. the use of repellents around entrances only attract scoffs from these ne’er do wells. The more aggressive will flaunt any countermeasures and build in the open in shows of direct defiance. Frequent inspections of air intakes on field equipment and AC units are necessary.

    Even though thoughts like your recent posts bring to mind that old shed, used to be an outhouse, full of long handled garden tools belonging to my dad and grandfather. They will likely find themselves being put back to work. Which gives me another idea for a post shtf side gig.


    • One of the reasons I put in Lexan (polycarbonate) sheeting to keep out the bugs and let in light was I too hate mud daubers. I have yet to see one make it through the lexan.

      At the suggestion of our friends Gaye and Survival Hubby over at I mixed up a mess of clove oil and water a couple of times a season and place it in a spray bottle.

      Once a week, I go around spraying around doors and the roof overhangs (sometimes putting in some cedar oil, too) and my bug guy., Alvin, sprays the inside the house Orkin brew around the shop and power center.

      The result is a generally bug-free shop – which here in Texas in the summer is a pretty good deal.

      A few drops in the swamp cooler which keeps the shop about 80F even on hot days, and it’s really pretty workable, till I get too bored or hot…lunchtime, for example.

      • We use a lot of diatomaceous earth. Put it in an old fashioned puffer and puff the floorboards. I like to mix cinnamon in eith it to.

        Collect old cigarette butts separate the tobacco and soak the tobacco.. I grew some Carolina reaper peppers and ghost peppers grind it up real fine. (wear a mask with those) the nicotine pepper juice I use in the garden.

  5. Bikes need good, puncture resistant tires and tubes. When I used to go ghetto biking, I’d get a flat almost every time until I upgraded to the Armadillo tires. It sucks when you are miles from the car – or home and the bike gets a flat. As an added protection I also bought the puncture resistant inner tubes. No more flats.

    Continental Gatorskins are good.

    Specialized Armadillos are good.

  6. I went to a bike (a men’s bike) for my transport needs for a couple of months once, groceries where the hard part.
    If you put the box (or laundry basket or milk crate) on the back you have to swing your leg over the load to get on or off. If it’s too high you can fall over getting off or you have to lay the bike down to get off it.
    A woman’s bike (with room to get off without swinging a leg) or baskets that mount low on the rear (either side) work well.

  7. Hello George,
    Do you have another link other than the one you posted on Saturday about the Losartan and the Wuhan ? You were right, the link is now dead. Hopefully, you have the article elsewhere that we can receive.

    I have been prescribed Losartan for 3 months. Started at 25mg, then 50mg, then 100mg. I believe some of the medical profession is receiving bounties for offing us older people. Look how much it saves the government on Medicare, and Social Security, and how much it makes the guys that own big chunks of the drug companies.

    Same thing happened from another doc that prescribed Hydroxyurea. Further research shows Hydroxyurea can cause Leukemia. I think some of the cures are actually not meant to cure, but instead to further de-population per your well written articles. Ever wonder why Kissinger and Rockefeller and Bush lived so long? They must be taking some top-secret juju from the witch doctors meant to prolong life.

    • “Ever wonder why Kissinger and Rockefeller and Bush lived so long? They must be taking some top-secret juju from the witch doctors meant to prolong life.”

      It’s in their “genes,” and I’m (for myself!) the best example. Never took anything, never cared, and yet, if someone looked at my face and said that I was 50 years younger than I am, people would accept that.

      You cannot escape your genetic inheritance, FWIW ;-), all else is just a plain “business model” for some one else to make buck!!!

      • You can avoid damaging your genetic inheritance through misuse of drugs – legal or otherwise. Same with stress. Avoid conflict at work or through lawsuits. You can optimize health with appropriate supplements and seasonally appropriate exercise. Lastly rest and live your own schedule – not the one the rest of society dictates.

  8. 7 Billion people will die…
    in the next 100 years!
    That’s an avg. death rate of 191,780 people dead every day!
    So, calm down and play golf

  9. I think electric bicycles are the way to go. Parts are available for converting regular bikes into electric ones.

    With a little bit of ingenuity, an electric regenerative system can be added when going downhill recharges the battery extending operational life.

    An electric bike, can act as an “assist” going up hills, or ferrying heavy loads.

    • I assume with solar panels and an inverter, one could recharge these bike batteries readily?

      Wondering how they’d perform carrying a 300# sack of …stuff on the seat? Reviewers never mention their body weight. But seems like a great transportation mode.

  10. Hi George, May I suggest your readers and you purchase or download Horace Kephart’s Camping and Woodcraft book. It was my favorite book when I was in high school in ’57-’58.

    This was fist published in 1916. So, it has first class advice on living out doors in primitive conditions. Horace spent considerable time camping in the Smoky Mountains a rugged yet very beautiful area. I have never seen the stuff he wrote about. He was a real survivalist bridging the gap from Pioneers to the present.

    Later today I have to do some scanning and will send you a copy of an advertizment from the Feb 2020 edition of Natural Awakenings magazine, free here in our libraries. It is a promotional piece about using a manufactured pure copper probe to sterilize your nostrils. Copper kills viruses and other bugs on contact. So it could be an excellent measure to stop Corona Virus even if you have been beside someone who has it. Soon as I scan it I will send it over. Seems to me anyone who is handy with tools could make their own for themselves and family. Best to you and E.,

    Roger in Tucson

    • That is a great suggestion, but readers may wish to carefully read the Zon reviews as some of the copies of this work are terribly done and chock full of errors (and coming from ME no less!)

      An alternative read: Nessmuk’s Woodcraft and Camping
      Woodcraft and Camping

    • Kephart’s book is seminal.

      Everyone with a vintage Boy Scout Handbook and a set of Foxfires should also have one…

      I strongly suggest buying a published copy. AFAICT, ALL the POD (print on demand) reprints are garbage.

      Be aware, Kephart’s work was a two volume set. While McMillan published the first “unified volume” in the late 1920s, both the single and double volume sets persist to today. Caveat emptor…

  11. Interesting read George, in my machine shop metal fab business over the 40+ years I have been in business during recessions doing the type of work you are talking about is what kept the doors open and still does today! Even if times are bad people still like to keep their lawns mowed or what ever and if they can get their mower, chainsaw, etc. fixed for 10 or 20 bucks as opposed to buying new they will. again good heads up article

  12. I got a Jorvik trike recently, it came with two baskets so holds plenty of shopping….
    if a motor or suitable ewheel crops up at the right price it has more than enough room for the gubbins of a little tesla switch to power it, (got plans scattered around my system for many such things)……….

  13. Been in agreement toward your conspiracy theory for a while trying to recoup from ace induced stroke and the hospital prescribed pain creators

  14. if you can find a way to transport that shop to town -‘/., you would be in business for all kinds of reasons / ,,,,,,Location,Overnight,Vocation,Entrepreneur. as in the wild west a town,a hotel, a blacksmith,a banker=====success and we have to have a meeting place at the SALOON ,

    • george could be found at the saloon turning card tricks in his favorite card game while his hired help run the bike shop.and his wife will be giving george secret signals on the card holdings of the gamers while delivering drinks and receives high tips that make george smile in a devilish way,,,,LOL

  15. LOL! I read the PDF on fencing law called “Five Strands”. It had some useful info and pretty pictures, but the lead photo with the title had SIX STRANDS on the fence!

    It has good info on Texas law and it’s probably rather similar here in NM too. I saw no reference to electrifying. I do wish it had more info and specs on building a low maintenance fence that won’t break the bank. There’s no such thing as a “lifetime” fence, unless you don’t have much time left.

    Generally, I like the idea of six foot fences, but they’re expensive. Out here, pipe fencing with mesh and electrified strands is best, but costs. Electrifying has the dual advantage of dissuasion and potentially being an early warning alarm.

  16. Dear Mr. Ure,

    Thank you for posting the losartan story link. Time will tell if the mag parent co’s indenture by loan to an august investment fund billionaire, holder of a Munch “Scream” pastel and former “junk bond king” right hand, firms the current course edit.

    It does appear somewhat curious the article throws a privately held Indian pharmaceutical company under the bus, but not a larger Indian government one that uses the same medicinal ingredient now under the microscope. The pair have tangled in the US court system before and the state entity has received funds to raise the flag on good deeds from a defunct presidential foundation.

    Perhaps there’s fodder in old salty dog yeller rags for a “Cat’s Meow” sequel? Sad to say, facts that appear to seep up from the publicly available web abyss would seem to support the notion that Western regulators approved a Chinese company patent half a dozen years ago for the medicinal ingredient extraction process that is now found to be more dangerous than what preceded. It’s like a chill wind blowing across the state of Vespucci’s namesakes that the product fail tests originated from labs in three EU nations. Straight this way to the egress; non-binary, women, and children disembark first?

  17. I’ve a gravel driveway and a gas welder. After pricing welding carts with suitable wheels (they really need to be 16 inch or larger) I bought a half-trailer full of junk and impounded bicycles. $20 for a couple dozen 16-27 inch wheels and a wealth of tubing, just seemed like a reasonable investment, to me.

    Am I going to use any of these parts to make a bicycle trailer? Perhaps. I’m a lot more likely to make a field cart or small buckboard to which I can attach traces or linkages, to convert it to bicycle use, though, and fill tires with expanding foam…

  18. CORNAVIRUS.. from vitamin C protects against coronavirus.. Sunday night, otherwise would have given you a call.. I paid twice, and we had a happy go lucky conversation, never finished telling you about being a consultant to Bucky Fuller, ,or why the Polaris finally flew. But, review the article and make it available .. My computer is messed up, hacker removed my ability to use Amazon, or eBay, and I need to get some Potassium Iodide, and 20 brown bottles with eye droppers.. I hope the club can fix it this Thursday. Going over to the Web Bot forum and see if someone will buy the stuff, cash refund (or silver) plus 2 bottles of a very interesting anti viral.. Got you by ten years, and a bit of advice… stop trying to grow up..

  19. Much prefer woven wire fencing with on strand of barbed wire on top if doing 40 acres or less. Cost is a little over a thousand more but containment of the stock is much better.

  20. A couple years ago I was biking the pumpkinvine trail near Middlebury, IN.
    There is a large Amish community here and they were out in force on that beautiful day. I quickly noticed that most of their bicycles were equipped with folding rear baskets like this one:
    With no cars or trucks, the Amish rely heavily on their bicycles. The folding baskets work well for them – they may also work well for us “English.”

  21. Bikes are great … until you have a flat tire and find out that ALL bicycle tire tubes and replacement tires come from … OVERSEAS – Asia!! MOSTLY CHINA!!

    Not a single bicycle tire tube or tire manfacturer left in North America.

    Your bicycle is going to be great … for about 3 months … but once it’s tires go flat and can’t be repaired anymore it is just another fancy piece of curved steel (or aluminum). (dito the pull behinds for bicycles)

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