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,