People in the South, near as I’ve discovered, don’t know exactly where the term “red-neck” came from.  But, at least in this part of Texas, to be a “red-neck” is right up with being a coon-ass from Loozy-anna. It’s more honor than insult.  Means you know a little something about self-reliance. Oh, sure, maybe escape and evasion, too…but let’s not focus on negatives, shall we?

One thing that sets a red-neck apart, as a separate branch of human development, is their ability to look at problems in a unique way.  Which is why you will often find  yards in the South littered with things like old water heaters, refrigerators, and old cars in the South.

People from “up north” and especially liberal snobs in the Northeast don’t take red-necks as “doers.”  But, the fact of the matter is the income levels in the South are far below the hoi polio of Westchester County, for example.  Or Mid-Town, or the upper 80’s…why the list could go on.  Down here, people working harder and longer.  Have to because the pay is lower.

As a prepper, though, you should know that just because someone has a few trinkets in their front yard doesn’t mean they are messy.   Just means, most times, they haven’t had time to get those projects done yet.

Projects?  Like what?

Well, old water heaters can be turned into dandy welded-up BBQ’s.  You see a lot of ’em on trailers around these parts, except on weekends when they are parked and there’s a party nearby.  Often at lakes, state parks, and so on.  Make nifty planters for the deck…why the potential is unlimited.

Andold fridge is a joy for the creative soul, too.  You can turn it into a locker to keep paint is, so it won’t freeze and be ruined over a winter.  Or, you can turn it into a smoker.  Or, spare shelving in the shop.  Or, if you need to finished sheet metal, there’s lot of it to be had plus doo-dads for other projects too.  Including electric lights, magnetic stripping, and an electric motor.

Oh, and that old Chevy on blocks in the front yard?  A prime source coveted of OCS Streel.  Common fact is that Old Chevy Springs (OCS) are about the finest knife-making base you will find.  It only requires a genuine red-neck a few minutes with the plasma cutter, a few hunks of wood from the scrap pile, and some time on the BBQ and at the grinder to turn out a totally custom, but very serviceable knife.  Design’s up to you.  You ain’t from around here, are you?

This Weekend’s Project

So it was in the spirit (more an art, really) red-neck engineers that Elaine and I were talking over how to clean up things at our back door.

I’ve mentioned the house door previously:  Our screen porch looks like the outside of a golf clubhouse, so we carried the theme as far as the door into the house which enters the dining room.  (I had gobs of fun making the sign.  Sometimes it’s like being a  Disney Imagineer around here.)

Point is, once you get off the golf theme and into the house, you’re in a South-Seas themed (like Trader Vic’s) dining area, all Tiki looking (well, except for the glass table and burgundy velour chairs…).  This include sgrass reeds and bamboo which Elaine carefully installed.

But there was this eyesore that bugged us both.

We like to keep potatoes over the a/c outlet by the back door  in the summertime because the pantry doesn’t have it’s own a/c duct.  Sometimes it can be 80-85 in there while the rest of the house is around 73.  Not good for ‘taters.

Elaine also likes to keep jug wine (Paisano or Sangria) cooled, but not cold.  Jug wine if a space-killer even in a 25 C.F. fridge…

We got our Problem…

So it was time to sit down with a “cold one” and rough out some ideas about how to tackle the ugly stuff over  the A/C outlet by the back door.

Here’s the “before” set-up:

You gotcher red wine and you got a sack of ‘taters.

What we need, therefore is some kind of “boxy-like” contraption:

Out of this and a visit to the wood pile, we figured a 2-hour project to gin up a wood grid and potato/veggie box.  The air coming out of the vent would be cold so the wine could cool nicely.  And the potatoes would be cold and we’d put a top of the box so as to keep light out, which make’s ’em stay fresh longer….A few holes to provide differential air pressure for routing the cold air…

In a fully extended version, the idea would be to have several of these units around the house.  Some would keep a back-up wine jug cold.  And the chilling time for cool beer is shorter than hot beer, so there’s a design to cool a couple of 30-packs of Rolling Rock prior to going into the ice before thirst gets the better of us.

Which all sounds dandy, but what’s this thing’s use in the winter if it relies on A/C?

We turn it into a “bread rising station” because it is a few steps from the kitchen and with the heat on, air flowing and a white flour-sack towel over it…why, it’d be perfect for raising bread. (Like we need more bread…)

And hour and 45-minutes later, the beast was on the “finishing table (*which is also my welding table, sheet metal table, gardening tool table, gas engine assembly table, and so forth…) outside waiting for a coat of paint to be finished.

A can of Kona Brown spray and a can of spar varnish were applied and into the house it came.

If I don’t say so myself, it’s a hell of an improvement on a jug of wine a 10 pounds of potatoes and 4 pounds of sweet potatoes sitting out in the open.  Mucho bueno.

What have you learned about red-neck engineering?  

If something ain’t working, change it!

Well, if you weren’t lost in the vapes of the weekend, you’d be thinking “You know, I have some extra heat (or cooling) that might be put to good use around my place, too...”

You’d also learn to look at everything around you as a problem waiting to be solved.

I’m sure you’ve seen pictures on Youtube where people have “red-necked a car together with duct tape” but that’s really an affront to red-neck engineers.

Engineering is graceful, blends with the environment, and best of all, it keeps the beer and wine cool.

If the crap ever hits the fan (…..wait for it…..) it’s this kind of thinking that will spell the difference between life turning into the IRL version of the Boy Scout  (which is the Either Scouts now, I guess) Handbook.  Or, absent some deliberate creativity, you’ll be just another victim of the millions that still won’t have a clue what happened.

If you think the lights could go out some day, don’t you think it’s time to start working on some basic container gardening and some basic industrial arts, plus being able to walk five miles and having 10 cases of water bottles laid back?

Not saying you’re a damn fool if you don’t.  I’m just saying if you want to see a damn fool, run & look in the mirror…

Write when you get rich,

george@ure.net

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