July 1, 2015

Book Review: BUG OUT by Scott Williams

Filed under: bugging out — Tags: , , — Rourke @ 12:09 am

Scott Williams book BUG OUT – The Complete Guide for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It’s Too Late has been on my nightstand for quite some time. A review is long over due.


 Bugging out is not a major aspect of my preparedness system however this book has certainly provided some perspective. “Bugging in” should the SHTF is my main plan. BUG OUT really opened my eyes. I have realized that I have to consider the possibility that it may be necessary to relocate in the event of a crisis situation – and it is not just a matter of jumping in my 4×4 with the wife and kids and head’n down the road. Bugging out requires planning and research.

When I started reading the book Williams tries to break the the myths of bugging out in Chapter 1 – The Fantasy & the Reality of Living Off the Land. He makes a valid point discussing that it took a very long time for humans to go from living in the stone age to what is considered living civilized today. He suggests that it will not  be very easy for people to just “head for the hills” and return to a more primitive lifestyle. Over the years skills and knowledge to exist successfully in the wilderness has been lost by most. Williams expresses the need to educate yourself and be properly prepared to successfully “Bug Out”.

Chapter 2 – The Bug-Out Bag & Stuff You’ll Need to Survive does an excellent job educating the reader in what a bug out bag is as well as putting one together. Williams discusses topics from the different types of bags to consider, clothing needs, to specific tools that are useful in a bug out situation.


Other chapters include information on transportation methods, bug out location selection, making caches, and there’s a helpful checklist for putting together a bug out bag.

What is very impressive is this book provides detailed information on many of the best “Bug Out” areas in the United States.

Overall – I found this book a great read and very educational. As stated at the beginning – bugging out has not been a major component of my preparedness system. The author did a very good job opening my eyes to the possibilities of bugging out.

Right at $15.00 and Free Shipping (with orders totaling $35.00) from – it is a very good value.

By the way – the author Scott Williams has a great blog called I also interviewed Scott  awhile back – see it here.




August 5, 2014

Flashlight mounts for Mountain Bikes

Riding mountain bikes on trails is one of my favorite activities and it is something I do not get to do often enough. Riding at night has proven difficult in total darkness. In order to facilitate my riding I have used small bungee cords to wrap a flashlight around my handlebars. Does it work? Sometimes. Unfortunately a good solid bump will jar the light loose and then I find myself riding blind and trying to stop before I run into something.

While browsing around Amazon I came across a couple of mountain bike flashlight mounts. They were very inexpensive so I decided to order both and give them a shot.


 Shipping from China took about 2 weeks. The first to arrive was the SE Bicycle Attachment. It attaches easily via rubber webbing which wraps around the handle bar and then around the flashlight. This attachment method facilitates quick installation and removal.


The SE Bicycle Attachment cost only about $2.50 and was shipped free.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Next to arrive was the MECO Flashlight Mount. Costing less than $2.00 with Free Shipping.


The MECO attaches via a very secure polymer wrap around bracket with a bolt at the bottom. The polymer nut which tightens the bracket is pretty beefy and easy to tighten. The flashlight clasp creates a squeeze fit for any tactical flashlight around 1″ inch in diameter. When placing a flashlight in it – it is a very tight fit and requires some effort.


ABOVE: Both mounts installed I placed a flashlight in each. As stated the SE was quick to install however I had an immediate concern that the strap could pretty easily release due to a bump on inadvertent impact.


ABOVE: You can see the rubber strap holding the SE on. Throughout testing it never came undone however it takes little effort to release it from the bike.


ABOVE: The MECO above really excelled at holding the flashlight securely and pointing in the direction intended.


ABOVE: The SE worked however while riding any decent jolts or bumps would cause it to twist on the handlebars – thus changing the direction the flashlight was aimed. I found I had to constantly adjust the SE up to get back on path.

The MECO on the other hand was rock solid. It held securely even with the great of impacts and purposely trying to get t to move. The horizontal adjustment held in place as well(unlike the SE). Polymer teeth allow left-to-right adjustment and then the friction holds the light.


Overall the MECO is a far superior flashlight mount – especially for under $2.00. Both are cheap Chinese made items and I consider disposable. We have four mountain bikes in the Rourke household and I am ordering  several ore – including spares.

If you have a bike and want to illuminate the night – try out the MECO Flashlight Mount.


November 29, 2013


Filed under: Survival & Preparedness,vehicle — Tags: , — Rourke @ 12:46 am

The post below is an entry into the ModernSurvivalOnline Preparedness Guest Post Writing Contest.



The great debate on the survival sites and reoccurring themes in most survival novels, of which I have read many, address the questions of what is the best weapon or knife, and whether to bug-in or bug-out.  How much food should I store, what if I live in an apartment, or should I move to the Redoubt?  The answers to most of these questions generally come down to how old you are, can you leave your job and move to a new area, or in my case “Can I afford it”?

For me I have decided that I am too old to bug-out or move, so this is where I will make my stand.  I would also guess that some have made preparations to stay with family or at least a remote location away from urban sprawl.  If bugging out is your choice you will be leaving your primary place of residence, abandoning most everything you value to be looted and possibly have nothing to come back to.  This decision is easier to make if the lives of your loved ones are in serious jeopardy.  As they say in comedy, timing is everything, knowing when to leave is crucial.  These are all legitimate concerns not to mention having time to pack, your vehicle gassed up and ready to roll.

Using the survival book themes as an example, the heroes always find a way to get gas, avoid the parking lots on the Interstate by taking secondary roads, and blasting their way through the road blocks with unbelievable fire power.  Somehow I do not think this is realistic.  If you have more than a few miles to your bug-out location you may find it impossible to get there alive.

This is where the ultimate bug-out vehicle can save the day.  I can hear it now, this is so old news, I have heard it all, and how am I going to bug-out to my retreat when the roads are clogged with all the other panicked people trying to get out of Dodge.

Norm of This Old House likes the expression; “You can do most anything with a little imagination and an unlimited checkbook”.  Unfortunately I do not fall into this category, but some of you out there with your bunkers, thousands of dollars in guns, and NVG’s do, you are the ones to whom I am speaking.

So, what is the Ultimate Bug-Out Vehicle?


What you are looking at is a Railroad Maintenance Vehicle or Hyrail truck.  These used vehicles can be found for sale online.  One of these sites is .

Railroad Mantainance Vehicle[3]

 The many advantages of owning a Hyrail vehicle are almost too numerous to mention, the least of which is being able to avoid the local roads and interstate highways.  I would expect these vehicles to be “well used” and would probably need considerable maintenance to bring them up to some dependable standard.  But, the ability to transition off the road onto a railroad right-of-way cannot be overly emphasized.  There is one major caveat, this vehicle would only be ideal in a grid down situation if trains were idled.  Understandably modern diesel locomotives generate their own power, but can only run as long as they have the fuel to drive the generators.  In an EMP/CME event their computer controls would be toast. 

Railroad maps are available, even back to the early 1900’s, with a simple Google search for your particular state, .  Railroad tracks pass through wilderness totally void of people and not otherwise accessible by road or path, and roadblocks sufficient to stop a train would be very unlikely.  Tricked out with a .50 BMG you would be unstoppable. 

One word of caution, if you see the light at the end of the tunnel, make sure it’s not a train!



Prizes included in this Survival & Preparedness Writing Contest include:

First PlaceForge Survival Supply is providing an awesome Perry Blade Survival Knife. Value: $300+. Deadwood Stove is supplying the legend….the Deadwood Stove. Value: $180+. has provided one Hennessy Expedition Asym Hammock. Great sleep system! Value: $160.00.  Total Prize Value in access of $640.00!! 

Second has supplies one 90 Serving Emergency Survival Food Bucket. Value: $149.00. has donated an Emberlit Titanium Ultralight Stove. Value: $80.00. Author CM Cannon is offering a copy of his book All We Like Sheep. Value: $12.00.  Total Prize Value in access of $240.00+!!

Third has provided one Safe Room Locking Bar. Great home protection device. Value: $70.00. is donating another multi-book package consisting of 5 books of your choice from their preparedness library. Value: $75+. Total Prize Value in access of $145.00!!

Fourth Place: Austere Provisions Company is providing their very unique APC CORE Panel. Value: $50.  – is offering one 5W Folding Solar Charger. Value: $50. Old West Lawman’s Forgotten Memoir courtesy of Value: $20+.  Total Prize Value in access of $120.00!!

Fifth Place:  Two Grow Buckets Kits from Choate Machine and Tool. Each kit will make 5 Grow Buckets (Grow Bucket website coming soon! Call  (1-800-972-6390 to order). Author Archer Garret is providing three of his books – The Western FrontKratocracy Part 1, and The Nine of the North. Value: $45. Total Prize Value in access of $100.00!!

March 12, 2013

Guest Post: Bug Out Vehicles

Filed under: bugging out,guest post — Tags: , — Rourke @ 1:19 am

Bug Out Vehicles

There are an almost infinite number of choices when it comes to bug out vehicle options. You have your 4×4 trucks and SUVs, retired military vehicles, ATVs, Track/Trail bikes, and even mountain bikes. Rather than make any recommendations I am simply going to tell you about my choice for a BOV and my reasoning for that choice.


Rather than choosing a traditional BOV I have gone with the original SUV, a station wagon, a 1957 Chevy Belair station wagon to be exact. There are many reasons for my choosing this vehicle the first being my love of hot rods. I have been a mechanic and a hot rodder for years so I brought my career/hobby together with my preparedness. Second, is the fact that this car is a sound investment. Too many people sink obscene amounts of money into their BOVs, most of which have a low resale value and are constantly depreciating in value. Any amount of money that is put into my vehicle will have a definite return. Parts and performance upgrades are also readily available for this vehicle.  Nearly every single nut and bolt of this car is available from aftermarket vendors. The vehicle is also extremely easy to maintain so anyone with basic knowledge and a service manual can keep the car running for years. Space and seating is another of my reasons for choosing the wagon. There is no shortage of storage for equipment and personnel this rig. The seating arrangement also allows for defensive positioning of passengers on both the left and right side of the vehicle as well as the rear and that is a big plus for a BOV. The wagon is not as mobile as a 4×4 but I installed lift springs to bring the ride height up two inches and when you pair that with all terrain tires, snow chains, and posi traction rear end you still have a fair amount of mobility. If you are still worried you can always throw in a winch or a come-a-long.


In order to ensure the reliability and safety of this vehicle I replaced and rebuilt nearly every component of the old wagon. I also upgraded the braking system to dual chambered master cylinder and disk brakes. This can get a little pricey but again the car is an investment and should I ever need to sell it I would see my money returned. Even after all of the upgrades and rebuilds I still have much less invested in the car than I would have in even a base model new vehicle.


I have driven this car from coast to coast and raked up thousands of miles with only minor issues that could be fixed on the road side. In preparation for such events there are several items that I keep in the vehicle at all times.


Fan belt, Spark plugs, plug wires, cap and rotor, Oil, transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid, gas, filters, u-joints, hose clamps, tire plug kit, spare tire (1 minimum), bottle jack, battery operated air compressor, stop leak, RTV, thread tape, misc common bolts, points and condenser, Gumout, jumper cables, solar battery charger, heavy gauge bailing wire, zip ties, JB weld, heavy duty ratchet strap, service manual, and tools. It is essential that you perform all the common tasks such as tune ups, and belt replacements and note exactly what is needed to complete these jobs so that you can pack these tools and have them in the event of a break down. All of these items can fit in about 3 milk crates and with them I can repair almost any fault I may encounter short of a catastrophic part failure and that can usually be prevented and foreseen buy proper preventative maintenance and inspections.


Currently the car has a three speed 350 turbo transmission and gets around 16 MPH. I built a mild 305 for the car and I run a 600cfm carb on it. This gives it enough power to get up and move but is still fair on the fuel consumption. This winter I plan on swapping out the transmission for a 700R4 with an overdrive gear to push the mileage up a few miles per gallon.


Thanks for taking the time to read through my ramblings. I am sure that there are a lot of people out there who disagree with me but I hope there’s some out there who find this helpful or informative.

Air Assault!



The article above was an entry into the ModernSurvivalOnline Preparedness Guest Post Writing Contest.

Have something to share? You could win one of the following prizes.

First Place winner will receive:

Second Place will receive:

Third Place will receive:



November 14, 2012

Post-SHTF transportation: The Mountain Bike

Do a search for “bug out vehicle” and you’ll find everything from a small economy car to a monster truck suggested. Certainly there are numerous vehicles that can work in different situations. I recently picked up five mountain bikes for the family – mainly for recreation and exercise.


After having rode mine on pavement and dirt trails, I have been looking at them a bit different. A bike would be a great method of transportation when either trying to conserve fuel for a car or truck, or for when that fuel is gone. Spending as little as $80 will get you a mountain bike brand new at your local Wally-World. You can do that – but invest in a bike and spend a little more money (or maybe a lot more money) and get a quality built bike. The more money you spend generally the lighter the bike will be and the better it will perform.



Craigslist is a good place to find used bikes at steep discounts. Two of the bike I purchased I paid $100 each. These bike were 10 years old but brand names with good components (shifter’s, gears, etc). So far they have done great.



Parts should be durable and a couple of spare tires, tubes, and brakes are inexpensive.  My bike has a small pouch under the seat which can hold a few supplies. I have road with a small backpack with no issue. I haven’t tried it but I am sure with a heavy pack riding will be more difficult from the perspective of being top heavy – especially for trail riding. Saddlebags are also available which would really come in handy for transporting supplies.


It’s an option. Good to have options.


 – Rourke

October 30, 2012

Guest Post: How an RV Can Save Your Family in an Emergency

Filed under: bugging out,guest post — Tags: , , , , — Rourke @ 1:15 am

The Ultimate Bug Out/In Vehicle: How an RV Can Save Your Family in an Emergency


My wife and I have lived full time in RV’s for five years and have owned every kind of RV on the market. When an emergency strikes having an RV fully loaded and ready to go (or stay whatever the case may be) can be a lifesaver; literally! Think about it, you have a fresh water tank, full propane tanks, a toilet, shower, refrigerator, lights, heater and if you have a built in generator you also have air conditioning and the use of a microwave oven (not to mention full use of just about any other electrical appliance or tool you could think of).


Most RV’s have pantry storage where you can store at least a months worth of food for your family. Since your refrigerator runs on propane, 12 volts or regular shore power you can enjoy cold or frozen food while everyone else is eating out of a can. There is usually ample storage for pots and pans and kitchen ware. Normally there is space for hanging clothes, dresser drawers and space for blankets or sleeping bags and other camping gear.


Almost anyone can afford an RV of some kind. I don’t recommend purchasing anything new because like cars, RV’s take a big value loss once you take it off the dealer’s lot. Instead shop around for a nice used unit that will meet your needs. There is something for every family in any price range. You can pick up a well loved trailer or class C motor home for cheap in this economy. Look on Craig’s List or in the local paper or just keep your eyes open and you’ll notice them for sale all over the place.


5th Wheel RV

Not only will you have an instant mobile sanctuary, but you will also have something you can enjoy on vacations at the lake, forest or in your in-laws driveway during holiday visits. It’s nice to be able to get away in your own RV home away from home. You will need to use it in order to learn all the systems and become familiar with boon docking. Boon docking is when you live in your RV without any external hook-ups. You need to learn battery conservation, water conservation and propane conservation. Add solar panels, a charger, inverter and more batteries and you’ve got a stand alone mobile “off grid” power system.


Solar RV

If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, an RV is the ultimate survival vehicle because you can get out of town and not have to worry about trying to find a vacancy in a motel 300 miles from home because you are carrying your beds with you. It’s always better to sleep in your own bed anyway. You can park for free in big box store parking lots, many Wal-Marts, fairgrounds, friends driveways, strip malls, parks and a host of other places. We’ve saved thousands of dollars boon docking on BLM land, military campgrounds, state parks, city parks and many other places. The more creative you are the more money you save.


RV parked at a Wal-Mart

If you are waiting for TEOTWAWKI having your RV on your property is added comfort. If you decide to “bug out” you are mobile. If you decide to stay put, you have extra supplies, cooking facilities and a working refrigerator. You can even use it for putting up extra people if that’s in your plan. If you do go mobile, you can go in comfort and go quickly. Your food and shelter is with you as well as other essential survival and security gear.


RV’s usually have extra space for important things like books and games. Be sure you don’t forget to include these creature comforts as they will help your family pass the time and temporarily take their minds off whatever the crisis brings.  Most of our fondest memories revolve around family RV excursions. Our kids grew up traveling in RV’s and frequently talk about all the great times we had on the road and in the campground.

RV at the coast


We currently have a motor home that I consider the “mother ship” because it tows our 4 wheel drive vehicle. It has huge tank capacities for fresh water and waste water. The diesel tank holds 100 gallons and I can easily drive from Central California to Arizona or Oregon on one tank. Once we are where we want to be, we unhook the car and have a second vehicle at our disposal. Though this type of RV is not for everyone, there is a nice inexpensive RV for sale somewhere in your neighborhood and I’d rather have a fully stocked used RV than a bar of gold when the big event arrives. Just saying….  

Jim Twamley, Professor of RVing



From Rourke……

The above post was an entry for the current ModernSurvivalOnline Guest Post Writing Contest.


Grand Prize includes:

Dr Bones and Nurse Amy: Medium Trauma Bag (value $219 plus $15 shipping) and a Doom and Bloom(tm) Survival Medicine Handbook (value $35 plus $3 shipping) for a total of  $272.00!!


Grizzly Fire Starters:  Grizzly Survival Fire and  Stove ($37.95), along with a Grizzly Mini Survival Heater ($27.95) and to round this package out a  100 pack of fire starters ($119.00). Grand total is $184.90!!

 and also………..

Ready Made ResourcesCase of Mountain House Freeze Dried Food. Value approx $124.00!!


and concluding the Grand Prize package……

Prepper Press -Prepper Press is providing ANY 5 books that they publish. Your choice!!


2nd PLACE –

Deadwood Stove Company is awarding the 2nd Place Winner with a…yup, you guessed it….A Deadwood Stove!!!!

Emergency Essentials: New! Mountain House Just In Case……. Classic Assortment Bucket ($70 value)

3rd PLACE – – Mountain House Freeze Dried Food Bucket ($80 value) – CardSharp knife and a FrogLube Kit (FrogLube Kit – 4 oz Paste, 4 oz Liquid, Microfiber Cloth, Application Brush)

4th PLACE – Author Max Velocity is providing a copy of each of his books:

Contact!: A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival

Rapid Fire!: Tactics for High Threat, Protection and Combat Operations


5th Place – Emergency EssentialsNew! Kitchen Fire Extinguisher.  3” x 10”, fights flammable liquid and electrical fires, $20.00 value

January 10, 2012

Guest Post: Sailing for Survival


One survival option I have considered over the last year is a sailboat. Within the survival community there are two major camps, the bug-out doctrine and the castle doctrine. Needless to say each has many variations and are highly tailorable to personal needs and available options. I think for many families the castle doctrine is preferable, for solo young men probably the bug out. Being a young college student with minimal financial resources, I was mostly prone to bug out prepping, with the focus largely on skills (as I had a lack of gear or resources to acquire gear). Now as a young professional, I face the prospect of raising a family in a growing police state, one where what my children eat, are taught, and medicated would be controlled by the state. For us young preppers who see the writing on the wall and are desperate to to secure a viable future for our family, there is a perception that any survival prep would be woefully inadequate to sustain a family. Of course, the perception of an insurmountable barrier to providing for your family is merely that, a perception. In reality, we can all take small steps to become providers for our families. As I gain a financial foothold to begin my own homestead and family, I would like to share an option that began as an exotic fascination that may perhaps grow into a viable survival option, the sailboat.

A more detailed analysis could go in depth into the various nuances of sailboats and how they can be tailored to nearly any survival need, but I think as an introductory analysis it should be approached as simply as possible to encourage feedback and discussion. Let’s analyze how a sailboat can provide the basic essentials for survival: shelter, water, power, and food.

The first requirement would be a shelter. Living aboard a sailboat is not something that is difficult or even out of the ordinary. There are many liveaboards in the US already. Some live year round in their boat, only occasionally sailing to vacation destinations. Others live on board with the intention of sailing every available weekend. As a survival option the sailboat can be much cheaper than purchasing a house or land, offers superb mobility, and is as self contained as any homestead. A sailboat for living aboard, roughly 30 to 40 feet can be very reasonably acquired in a sailing condition for around $30,000 to $70,000. Sailboats, well all boats, sometimes get a bad rap for being a money pit that requires more money to operate than should be required. I believe this is a common misconception from individuals who buy boats just like that fourth or fifth car, to use ‘every now and then.’ Then complain when the motor (or sails) has problems after not being maintained or run for six months. A sailboat is just like any other vehicle or piece of property, it should be maintained and used to have utility. Using a sailboat as a home would help ensure that needed repairs and maintenance are kept up. Liveaboards who come from homes on shore to live on the sea, report that sailboat maintenance is not beyond the scope of home repair on land. There are certain things that should be done yearly (cleaning the hull and boat bottom) and some every few months (motor and sail check), not unlike a home. The ability to be truly mobile is probably the biggest advantage a sailboat has to a homestead. Is DHS coming for your food stores? Do you have ‘too many guns,’ according to the White House? The adage ‘fight or flight’ comes to mind. Of course many would like to think that fight is the superior option, who doesn’t like to be Rambo sometimes? But in reality, with a family in a world of uncertainty I believe the flight option offers the best security and preservation of lifestyle. Should an unacceptable scenario occur where you would fear for your family or lifestyle, one can always untie in the middle of the night and sail for South America.

The second requirement is water. Water procurement and purification is probably the premier survival issue in 99% of situations. On a sailboat: water, water everywhere…. Water procurement would the easy part, one would just need to take care to only fill tanks with (purified) seawater from offshore, and not near major ports or sea lanes. The purification and storage are the possible problems. To convert seawater into drinkable water, a sailboat must be equipped with a reverse osmosis system (referred to as watermakers). Watermakers do not run cheap and should not be considered lightly, as any water filtration system. The ability to turn seawater into clean drinking water provides an almost unlimited supply of the basic necessity of life. A basic watermaker system for a sailboat will likely run anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000. I consider this as a necessary upgrade to any sailboat and should be included in the final cost analysis of a survival sailboat. Of course in addition to the ability to purify the water, the ability to hold it is important. All liveaboard sailboats have clean water holding tanks that range in size from 25 to 75 gallons. For drinking and cooking this is plenty of water storage for almost a week. To keep the watermaker working, a power source is needed.

Generating power on a sailboat is no different than any other off grid power system. The bonus that sailboats have out of the box against a homestead is that they have a fossil fuel generator included in the function of the motor. With a battery bank, this is enough to power most needs during a short trip. Similar to onshore off grid systems you can (and probably should) supplement the generator with solar and wind power generation. Wind and solar generators are a familiar sight on sailboats and liveaboards, the prices for such systems can vary widely, but take the same approach one would take with an onshore off grid system. One must gauge their own power usage and tailor a system to meet those needs. One concern is those with high power needs would not have the space for the requisite battery bank to provide. Those with low power concerns could find a sailboat very attractive. Expect similar costs and concerns with power generation for a sailboat in comparison to a homestead.

The final requirement for a sailboat is food. Food is a mixed bag for survival minded liveaboards and sailing cruisers. The limited storage space creates a problem for individuals who are keen to store much of their food. This can be countered though by the relative availability of fish from the sea and fresh produce (often cheaper than in the US) from many cruising destinations. As a fisher and lover of fresh produce, I am more inclined to take the latter option over canned (you hear about BPA in cans now!?) stored food. Now given the smaller space on the ship you would need to acquire and use fishing, cleaning, and cooking skills. This is another important skill useful in many survival situations, remember practice makes perfect. The predominant cooling method in sailboats is the tried and tested ice box method of our grandfathers, still requiring physical ice to cool the box. I believe this would be a better option in a grid down scenario, where power becomes a premium. Coming from the bug out survival doctrine, this is not a huge change from the skills based food acquisition requirements for bugging out. The food requirement would require the least amount of initial investment but perhaps the most amount of skills investment.

After considering the four basic essentials for survival and the ability of a sailboat to provide adequately, I believe the sailboat should be considered a viable and worthy survival option to many along the costs of the nation. Pirate preppers, seafaring survivalists, please comment and discuss! Is the sailboat a viable survival option?






December 8, 2011

Guest Post: A practical, reliable bug out vehicle

Filed under: bugging out,guest post,vehicle — Tags: , — Rourke @ 1:02 am

by “It’s a secret”


A brand new Hummer or Jeep Wrangler, decked out with every available option may sound like the best, most capable vehicle in an emergency situation. The harsh reality is that they could be one of the worst. Don’t get me wrong, they are both very nice, with proven track records, but in an emergency, can leave you and your loved ones stranded.


The problem lies with the tremendous amount of electronics needed for the vehicle to operate. The average newer vehicle(especially within the last ten years) has several computers on board that control not only the engine, but also the transmission, the four wheel drive system, brakes, power windows and locks, and even the lights just to name a few. The fact is, computers have been used in vehicles since the early 1980s. The manufacturers have incorporated them in to more and more of the systems for better emissions, fuel economy, drivability, and creature comforts. The average vehicle has more than five computers, operating on their own network, sharing information back and fourth, making any needed adjustments for a seamless driving experience. A computer controlled transmission cannot shift until the computer commands it to do so. Before the computer can command a shift to occur it needs to look at various sensors located throughout the vehicle such as, engine speed, vehicle speed, engine load, engine temperature, gas pedal position, selector lever position, and probably a few dozen more.


With the ever increasing possibility of a terrorist EMP attack or natural blast from our sun, these systems will probably not survive. Imagine loading your survival gear and family into your bug out vehicle, turning the key, and nothing happens. The starter, fuel injectors, fuel pump, ignition coils, all receive their commands directly from the power train control module(PCM). Without a working PCM your vehicle is a 3200 pound paper weight.


There are several options for a practical EMP proof bug out vehicle. Obviously, many older gasoline powered vehicles were EMP proof. They had carburetors for fuel delivery, mechanical (points type) ignition, mechanical engine driven fuel pumps, no electronics what so ever. Automatic transmissions were also mechanically controlled and needed no electrical controls either. Older jeeps and pick-ups are great choices.  They are pretty easy to find, cheap to buy, and repair.  There is also my personal favorite, the old school diesel. Unlike modern computerized  fuel injected diesels,  the old school diesel has an all mechanical fuel injection system and no computer either.


My personal bug out vehicle is a 1983 ford F350 Pick-up 4×4 automatic with a 6.9 diesel. Vehicles such as this can be purchased cheap, repaired cheap, tagged and insured cheap too. This truck has two 19 gallon fuel tanks, plenty of room for my family and all of our gear.  I had to take care of some maintenance to make it road ready. New batteries, brakes, filters, belts, hoses, starter, tires and a front end alignment, all told I have about $2000.00 invested in a vehicle that can go anywhere no matter what.  There are a bunch of vehicles such as this available from most manufacturers. Ford, General Motors, and Dodge all made diesel pick-ups with mechanical fuel injection and no computers all the way into the early 90s. Ford used the 6.9 until the mid 80s before switching to the 7.3. The 7.3 was used up to the early 90s, General Motors was using the 6.5 during the same time period, and Dodge was using the 5.9 Cummins, all of which were strong, reliable engines easily capable of 300,000 plus miles. A word of caution though, while there was no computer needed for these engines to operate, some were equipped with computers to make certain automatic transmissions operate. Find one with a manual transmission, and you eliminated that problem as well.


In my opinion, a diesel has more advantages than drawbacks versus a gasoline engine. Diesels are built stronger with larger bearings, and heavier components, A diesel can run on many different fuel types such as vegetable oil, animal fat, and bio-diesel which can be home made a hell of a lot easier than home made gasoline. Getting past the smell of the exhaust and the rattle and hum of the engine are small prices to pay for an emergency vehicle that will work in an actual emergency.

October 9, 2011

Guest Post: “Building the Budget ‘Burban Batmobile”

Filed under: vehicle — Tags: — Rourke @ 1:54 am

by Wyzyrd

Yes, it’s a silly title. If I had called it “A 72-Hour+ Kit for your vehicle“, or

something similar, you might have just said “another one of those…” and ignored

it, completely. No chainguns, no rocket-launchers, some humor.  A disclaimer: Anytime I recommend

a particular item, the URL is the manufacturer, so you can see specs and compare.

Probably cheaper online or locally. I’m not shilling for any outlet, just showing

you my own picks, where appropriate.


I’m not a big “car guy”, so the first thing to think about for your Suburban

Survival Vehicle, IMHO, is “kinda-crappy-looking”.  I have a 2001 Kia Sportage.

It has never been detailed since I bought it, or had anything but the windows

washed. I (purposely) toss grocery store receipts, empty water bottles, empty

megamart plastic bags, and the occasional free grocery store real estate publication

on the floor.


It also has non-matching tires, (1 with white wall on outside, because I could),

its share of dents and dings, a roof-rack and reliable 4-wheel drive.  Take good

care of it mechanically, but the shabbier it looks, the more invisible it is. It

can, and has, gotten me out of flooded campgrounds and snowbanks. A good trade-off.

I’d like an older, non-computerized engine, but I guess I just have to deal.


Why the junk? There are 2 reasons: When I’m in the outdoors, I always have water-resistant

containers and dry tinder. When I’m in the city, my vehicle is ignored by thieves. (I go into

Northern VA and Washington, DC on a fairly-regular basis – this is a concern for me).

You want your new Batmobile to scream “Nothing to steal here.. move along..

Go look for a new BMW, Mr. Sleazebag-Robber”. Cool is  not your friend. Don’t paint

it in digital camo, or put your NRA sticker on it, either.

(I’m a proud NRA member, but ‘guns here! rob me when I’m gone!’ never seemed like

a great idea. Be invisible and ignored, instead.)


Now, it’s time to start “pimpin’ the lousy-lookin’ ride”. Your first trip is

to your local megamart. ( A lot will come from there. Go elsewhere/local if you

have objections to certain corporations, it’s ok…) Please note: if any of the gear I

recommend is illegal in your current area, DON’T carry it, or move. Obviously,

if you already have any of this gear in your vehicle, you don’t need to duplicate it.


On trip 1, you will need :

2 “seat back organizers” (yep, the ones that some bozo thinks will make a neat place

for your kids’ coloring books, etc.. yeah, right.. – from automotive aisle)

2 fanny-packs with attached belts  (luggage aisle end cap )

1 small fire-extinguisher (‘safety’ aisle)

1 ‘goose-neck’ crowbar (hardware aisle or Home Center)

1 2-4 socket 12-volt cigarette lighter extension (automotive)

1 roll of Duck Tape (yes, duck, not duct – it doesn’t stick to galvanized ducts)

I like the “Gorilla Tape” brand – my opinion.

A “spider wrench” that fits your tire’s lug nuts. If you have a vehicle built

since 1990, yelling “LOOSEN!!” vociferously will work nearly as well as the

lug wrench that comes with the vehicle. You want some real leverage.

A can of WD-40.


You’re going to hang the ‘organizers’ behind your front seats. Put the fire

extinguisher into one of the pockets, right now, where you can reach behind the

passenger seat and find it by feel. The crowbar goes right next to the driver’s

seat, preferably on your ‘strong hand’ side – a pry bar/lever/campfire poker/

window-breaker/attitude-adjuster. Don’t leave home without it….

Practice reaching for them. Now. Make it muscle-memory. NO kidding. Getting to

the crowbar or extinguisher without thinking can save your life in a serious accident.

You are now better-prepared to survive than 99+% of the other folks on the road.

Spend 3 minutes a month practicing and don’t become a statistic. Start thinking

of your vehicle(s) as ‘extended-EDC’. Finding these tools should be as automatic as

finding your knife.


Cinch up the fanny-pack belts, and hang them behind the headrests- you will be

filling these with the “essentials” over the next few weeks – multi-tool, flashlight,

fire-making gear, fishing gear, a folding knife, compass etc. Yes, you should

carry these all the time, anyway. Now you have 2 more sets. You might have passengers.

The “organizers” can become low-rent backpacks in really severe situations.


Plug in the ‘extension outlet’ (most of us have stuff that runs on 12VDC). You

will use the duck tape (and black pvc tape and masking tape, if you have them) to

wrap the cables, clumsily, at random intervals – even if you plug in a brand-new

GPS unit (that you ought to hide under a walmart bag or an old newspaper),

“frayed, bad-looking” wiring make it “not worth stealing”.


On trip 2, you’re going to get:

1 plastic “milk crate” (storage aisle) for trunk or behind seats

1 gallon windshield washer fluid

2 quarts appropriate-weight motor oil

2 quarts appropriate automatic transmission fluid (if you have an automatic)

2-3 quarts 91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol (pharmacy) – hand-cleaner/antiseptic/

kerosene-stink-free fire starter/alcohol stove fuel.

1 plastic gas can w/spout (no gasoline – THAT’S suicidal, but you might run out

someday, and need a way to carry fuel.)

1 gallon drinking water for radiator (Drink a bit so jug won’t break if it


A can of ‘Fix-A-Flat’ (or any brand) tire inflator.

Put these into the milk crate, stick in trunk, or behind back seats. Now, you have

most of the fluids your vehicle may need, and you will be happier if you DO break

down. You’ll be adding more, don’t worry if the crate isn’t full yet.


Third trip (vehicle tools) :

a) I’ll assume you have basic automotive repair tools – if not, get a kit that

has wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, jumper cables,  etc.

b) An ‘innocuous’ storage box. I use an orange ‘waterproof ammo box’ from a sporting

goods aisle. I use it as a stand when I need to spray paint something. NOT an obvious

shiny new toolkit that might be pawned for crack-money in the city.

c) The highest-wattage inverter you can find that will plug into your 12v sockets.

This turns 12VDC into 110VAC to run/charge your modern electronics. If you have

ever been stuck in snowstorm with a dying cellphone, you know this can

save your bacon. Do the tape-trick on the cables.

d) a package of “Singing Straws” (grocery aisles) – big, fat corrugated straws for kids

that make noise when drinking – insulation for wiring, hose/tubing splices, drinking

out of puddles, blowing on tinder, etc. A million uses, good in any kit.

e) a package of pvc electrical tape, a roll of duck tape to stick in toolbox,

a roll of annealed copper wire and a BIG bag of zip-ties.

f) Paper road/topographic map book(s) for at least your local state. Eventually,

your state and all surrounding ones. Keep in big zip-top bags in your

“organizers” – GPS may not always be there when you need it. Even a few year

old paper map is better than “Where the <expletive!!> am I?”  Your local

paper phone book is another good thing to keep there. You probably haven’t

used a phone book for years, but they send you one anyway. Maybe the emergency

is as simple as needing to use a pay-phone (remember those?) to call a tow-truck.

Dry tinder, if nothing else.

On your next few trips (Some depend on season  – or look online), you’ll want to pick up :

1) a tent – it can be a small ‘2-person’ dome. Shop right around Labor Day. This

won’t be your only shelter item, but many times more comfy than a trash bag in the rain.

2) The biggest “gym bag with shoulder strap” you can find on the luggage aisle.

Yes, if you have to abandon the vehicle and walk, you WILL curse my name.

If you DON’T, you will find that a flat bag with a zipper is easier to lean

over the back seat and access, and not a target for theft like a cool internal-

frame high-tech backpack. Black or dark grey is good. If you have to choose

between a military camo pattern and ‘Hello Kitty’, then “Think Pink”.

A realtime urban camouflage-tip: find the rattiest, most tattered  pair of men’s

underwear you can obtain. Dump leftover coffee on them a few times and let

them dry. Let a bit “peek out” of the zipper, and NO ONE will steal the bag.

3) Once “back to school/winter” season begins, pick up 2-4 “fleece throws” for about

4 bucks each. Combined with emergency mylar blankets, these can keep you (and

passengers) warm and take up less space than sleeping bags.

4) A box of big, heavy “Contractor” trash bags. One will be the liner for your

gym bag. You will find uses for the rest.

5) Some “Space Bags<tm>” or other evacuatable zipper bags- you’ll save space and

keep your gear dry.

6) The day after deer hunting season ends where you are, pick up a good set of

insulated hunting coveralls, preferably with a hood, on sale. Get one size (S-M-L-XL, etc)

larger than you normally wear, so it is easy to put on over your clothes. Put

it in its own bag to stay dry, and suck out the air to save volume. I have

had mine almost 10 years, and it has saved my rear on 5-6 very cold occasions.

7) The best first-aid kit you can afford. Add some “EMT shears” if there are none.

Consider getting a truly-watertight container for your first aid gear. A gauze

dressing that has been marinating in swamp water is not much use.

8) A 2-burner propane camp stove and 1-2 small gas cylinders. I do competitive chili

contests, so I have a few of these. One always stays in the vehicle. It sounds

like a luxury item, but, if you find yourself stuck after a snowstorm, etc., easy

hot water/food is a huge morale booster. Propane is often easy to find. If you

travel with kids, this becomes a high-priority item.

9) A 1-burner butane stove, and 1-2 gas cylinders. You may have to go online, or to

an Asian supermarket to get these. It is worth it. You still have to be very

careful, but butane won’t automatically kill you if you have to use it in

a semi-enclosed space. Propane will. Winter happens. Be prepared. Keep one in

your house, too, even if you have a gas grill outside.

10) Several “Dollar Store” or IKEA plastic shower curtain liners. Cheap, tiny

packages, and often handier than a big roll of plastic sheeting. Packages

also make good (cold liquid) drinking cups. A roll of plastic painter’s tarp  is good, too.

11) A case of bottled drinking water. Drink enough so it doesnt burst if frozen

and reseal.

12) Gloves! A box of nitrile exam gloves (many people have latex allergies- be safe), a

couple pairs of high-temp plastic and cloth work gloves (the cheap grey and blue ones)

and at least one pair of good leather work gloves. I can guarantee that you

will use them all, at some point.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of lists of other gear and food to store in your kit.

Fill that gym bag etc. with your personal choices. I won’t even get into personal

preferences on knives, multi-tools, energy bars, food (You WILL need food), sharpening gear,

firearms, cordage, fishing equipment and clothing brands.

“Gerber vs. Leatherman or MRE vs. freeze-dried” is too close to arguing religion,

for my tastes. Use what YOU prefer and YOU know about. You are going to be the one using it.


Some “Extreme” Tools to consider – Some take a bit of looking. Some may not be legal where you live.

Some are just very-seldom mentioned on lists, but extremely handy things to have.

(I do not recommend ever breaking Federal, State or local ordinances. Keep your hunting and fishing

licenses up to date, too, and respect fish and game seasons, unless you have no choice.

Public Service Announcement over.)


1) A small (Approx. 2 foot) garden spade with a D-handle. I like my Spetnaz shovel,

but this will make your life easier if you have to dig a hole vs. dispatching

‘zombies’. If you have used any e-tool before, you will understand. (any Home Center)

2) A real chopping-axe, not just a hatchet. I like the Gerber/Fiskars for price/size/

durability/edge-holding. Again, just my opinion, get your own favorite.

3) A wrist-braced slingshot and at least 1 package of steel ball-bearing shot and

a spare set of tubing/pouch. Get 2, and practice at home.

4) A machete. My current favorite is a tossup between the Cold Steel Kukri-style

(wins on size/weight/cost) and the Meyerco Sawback with handguard (I DID break a

couple fingers being dumb years ago…) The Meyerco would be a great pirate

cutlass in a hand-to-hand combat situation.  or

5) A Stanley “FuBar” prybar/demolition tool.

Very handy for dismantling things – the next evolution of the crowbar.

It can scare ‘zombies’ or turn an old pallet into lumber or firewood quickly.

6) 3-4 Stainless-steel “flan molds” (online or at a Hispanic market). These are

about 8 inches in diameter, 2 inches high with 4 spring clamps to hold them shut.

Fairly watertight storage containers for “All the little junk that gets lost

at the bottom of the bag” and they make great impromptu cooking pots.

7) An “Escape-Rescue Knife/Tool”  – one hand opening, a glass-breaker, safe seat belt cutter.

Clip it to YOUR seatbelt where you can reach it quickly in an emergency. I

have never been upside-down in a lake in a sinking vehicle, but I haven’t

had hand-crank windows for years (miss ’em). Guess what happens to those buttons if the

electrical system craps out?

8) Depending on were you live, a ‘kid-size’ snow shovel (No room for full-size

in the Sportage. If you live in South Louisiana, etc. you probably won’t need this)

A cut-down Dollar-Store broom is also not a bad idea in snow country.

9) A “minnow-seine” net. Approx. 3×30 feet, fine mesh. If you happen to catch

something bigger, and get ‘rescued’, feel free to say “I was catching bass

bait, officer, want some lunch??”. I never tried using mine as a hammock.

(Gill nets and cast-nets are not legal where I live, but quite useful as well.)

10) A net hammock. Sleep comfortably off the ground in warmer weather. Stick one

of those shower curtains over it as a tarp if you expect rain. Could also be

used as a game trap or a net for very large fish.

11) A (light-duty) trailer-hitch kit. I’m not sure if my vehicle can handle it,

but worth a shot.

(Note: I have not added this yet – next month, with luck.)

12) A box of Surgical Masks or Industrial Dust Masks. For First Aid safety or in

dusty/toxic  environments – Think lower Manhattan on 9/11, or even Burning Man.

13) A set of swimming goggles, or even a real SCUBA mask. Same reasons as #12,

and, who knows, you might want to do some spearfishing for food, some time.

14) A multi-pump air (not CO2) pistol and ammo (pellets and BBs). Again, get 2

and practice at home. I like the Crosman American Pumpmaster Classic for price,

availability and quality. The Chinese imports you find at flea markets are

not bad either. mmmmmm… squirrel…

15) If you have room, and access to an Asian market, etc, get a cheap carbon steel

wok. (not nonstick). You CAN cook in a tin can or a canteen cup, but why not carry the

most generally-useful cooking-vessel in the world, if it’s cheap, small and easy?

16) A set (or 2) of real, OSHA-approved safety glasses, or goggles that will fit over

your prescription glasses. I always get OSHA safety Rx glasses, and carry the

detachable side-guards in the vehicle.

17) A 12-volt air-compressor/tire-inflator. Cheap, light, small. Why not?

*18) An empty, resealable coffee can, with a full roll of toilet paper in it.

Even if you don’t like the other recommendations, keep one of these in every

vehicle.  You will thank me eventually.


My own “suburban batmobile” kit evolved over 10-15 years, several vehicles,

and set me back about $400 US, in total. Every item has been used, even if

just on camping trips. Many have been used in more adverse conditions, usually

‘surprise’ blizzards and blowouts or ‘the dotcom-crash’ in 2000. It has paid

better dividends than the 401k ever did.


Everything fits easily, and mostly hidden, in the back hatch area of a Kia

Sportage, which is not at all a big vehicle.


This is by no means the ultimate BOB-kit, and won’t keep you alive forever, but the

better-prepared you are for all the curve-balls life may throw at you, the more

likely you are to live through them in relative comfort. The vehicle should never

be your only prep effort, but it is an important one, for most of us. “If you fail

to prepare, you prepare to fail”.

August 31, 2011

Guest Post: Emergency Roadside Repairs

Filed under: guest post — Tags: , — Rourke @ 12:41 am

You’ve probably already read my review of the Paladin Go Bag and my use of it as an emergency roadside toolkit.  In all honesty, an emergency roadside toolkit is completely worthless, unless you know how to use it.  Today we’ll discuss a few problems which may occur while on the road, and how to correct them until you can get your vehicle home or to a service station.  These instructions can be useful in normal circumstances, as well as in a disaster situation.  At the least, they will save you the cost of a tow, in a disaster/bug-out situation these instructions could save your life.


You will find several safety warnings throughout this article, however, I’d like to start with a few disclaimers.  This is not an auto repair for dummies article.  If you know nothing about cars whatsoever, and can’t tell the difference between an alternator and a starter, stop reading right here.  Seriously, stop.  If you don’t know the basics of how a motor vehicle works under the hood, the information in this article, if used incorrectly, can seriously injure or possibly kill you.  The lack of pictures is intentional.  If you do not understand what part of your vehicle is being discussed, once again, then you should not attempt emergency repairs yourself.  I am a hobbyist, not a certified mechanic, so I can not guarantee the accuracy of this information.  Use common sense, and if something is beyond your capability, do not attempt it.  Furthermore, neither of these fixes are permanent, and the appropriate parts should be replaced prior to further use.


First Scenario: How to Temporarily Fix a Leaking Radiator/Hose


It’s bound to happen to all of us at some point.  We’re driving along the road, when suddenly the car is filled with the smell of antifreeze and you see steam coming out of the hood.


Important Note: Know the difference between steam and smoke.  If you smell smoke coming out of the vents or engine compartment, you may have an engine fire.  Stop the car IMMEDIATELY, turn off the engine, get out, and DO NOT open the hood, as this will only supply additional oxygen to the fire.


First of all, pull off to the side of the road as soon as safely possible and turn off the vehicle.  If you are unable to pull off immediately, wind down your window and turn your heater on maximum strength until you can turn the vehicle off.  The reason for this is that if your heater is on, heat is being diverted away from the engine and into the car itself, helping to prevent the engine from overheating.


Warning: Steam and hot antifreeze can BURN.  Make sure you have protection from direct skin contact.


Once your vehicle has pulled off to the side of the road and been turned off, open your hood, if possible.  You should use a glove or rag to open the hood safety catch, as there is a good chance the safety catch has been covered in antifreeze.  Leave your vehicle’s hood open, and allow the engine and radiator to cool.


When the engine and radiator are cool enough to touch, it’s important to identify the source of the fluid leak.  With the hood still open (and no-one near the engine compartment) turn the car back on, then slowly approach the engine compartment and identify the source of the leak.  This could be a radiator hose, or a hole in the radiator itself.


Once you have identified the leak location, turn the vehicle off and allow it to cool again.  Check your radiator fluid level.  If you have lost a significant amount, it will be necessary to replace the lost fluid if you have more than 5 miles to travel.  Distilled water is also an ideal emergency coolant for temperatures above freezing.  Make sure you use distilled water, as the minerals in spring water or drinking water may corrode your coolant system, but can be used in a pinch.  Just make sure you flush your coolant system after you’re done.


Now, time to patch that leak.  If the leak is in your radiator itself, there’s not a whole lot you can do without a welder.  If you carry a welder in your vehicle properly grounded to allow you to weld your vehicle, then your mechanical knowledge is vastly superior to mine and no doubt you already know how to fix this.  If you do not have a welder, it’s best not to attempt to patch the radiator.  You might be able to use epoxy to patch the radiator, but I have never tried it, and not only will the patch probably not hold, but will probably ruin your entire cooling system (radiator and water pump) should any of the epoxy come loose and enter the system.  Lead solder will not work, as it has too low a melting point.  Tape is going to melt and/or catch fire.


If your leak is in one of the hoses, you can apply a temporary patch using duct tape or electrical tape.  Make sure your provide plenty of overlap, and tape at least 1 inch beyond the extend of the hole.  It is important to note that this patch will not hold under high pressure, so it is imperative to follow the next step.


Warning: Do not attempt to open your radiator cap with your bare hand, as it may still be hot, and will burn you!


Once you have applied a temporary patch (if possible), the next step is to reduce the pressure inside your coolant system.  The cooling system on most engines is a closed system, meaning that the radiator fluid is under pressure as it is circulated.   Radiator caps are designed so that you can loosen the cap without allowing it to come off.  By loosening the cap, your cooling system is no longer under pressure and will not leak as quickly.  However, should your engine become rather hot, you will begin to loose radiator fluid through the top of the radiator, so it’s important to keep an eye on your temperature gauge, if you have one.  If your vehicle starts to overheat, turn it off, check your patch, let it cool, then add more fluid and keep going.



Second Scenario: No Start/No Crank


There are many causes for why an engine might not start.  However, there are also several methods for starting the engine in a pinch.  Here is a step by step on how to try to get your engine started.


First, you need to determine if the no start condition is due to a dead battery.  Do your headlights AND interior lights work.  If neither work, or are extremely faint, then your battery is dead, and will need to be jump started.  Depending on your transmission and fuel injection system (only manual transmissions work without electronic fuel injection normally work), it is possible to push start or drift start the vehicle.  Turn the vehicle on and put the vehicle in second gear, hold down the clutch, and get the vehicle moving forward by having someone help push or drift downhill.  Once the vehicle is going about 5 mph, release the clutch, and should the engine start, immediately push the clutch back in so the engine does not stall.


If both sets of lights work, or one works but not the other, you may have a short in your electrical system, resulting in one or more blown fuses.  This is an easy fix, even if you don’t have any spare fuses.  This is where a multi-meter comes in handy, as most automotive fuses have two terminals which you can use to quickly check for the blown fuse.  Just make sure your engine is off first.  Find the blown fuse, and replace it with another fuse with the same amp rating.  Make sure you place the blown fuse in the good fuse’s location, and don’t remember to replace the bad fuse once you have a replacement.  In the process, you will be disabling another part of your electrical system, such as the radio or power windows.  A small sacrifice for being able to get your vehicle started again.


If your vehicle’s electrical system is fine and you have no blown fuses, then the starter is most likely beginning to go bad.  Using an assistant, one person will need to gently but firmly beat on the starter with a hammer or large wrench while the other person attempts to start the vehicle.  Make sure the vehicle’s emergency brake is on, so that the person under the vehicle is not accidentally crushed.  This works by breaking loose the corrosion which may have been keeping the starter from turning.


Once you get your engine running, don’t turn it off, and drive directly to your home or other location you can work on the vehicle.


About the author:

Ken B runs a discount automotive parts coupon site,

July 2, 2011

Guest Post: Keeping your vehicle running when SHTF

Filed under: skills,Supplies,Survival & Preparedness — Tags: — Rourke @ 2:31 am

A reliable vehicle can be your lifeline.  Without it, you are very limited in how far you can travel.

I’ve read plenty of posts about bug out vehicles…but not many on keeping your bug out vehicle running for extended amounts of time.


Personally, I don’t have a garage with enough space to store an entire set of parts, including engine, for my vehicle.  Some people don’t even have garages.  I do however have tools to remove or replace just about any part on my vehicle.  I’ve also performed many part replacements myself.  I have the know-how, but don’t have the funding or space to store an entire set of parts.


In fact, I have a rather large collection of automotive tools.  Every time I buy parts online, I normally add on an extra tool which I don’t have, such as a socket set or a sparkplug gap tool, and use a coupon code which ends up discounting enough that the tool is free, and I even get some money off the cost of the parts.  I highly recommend if you do your own automotive work, look into what coupon codes are available to you on the web, and use those codes to help grow your collection of tools.  It will take time, but you’ll be surprised how quickly your tool collection will grow.  While you’re at it, try to pickup a repair manual for your vehicle.  Normally these manuals can be found on Amazon, or you can buy them from the auto parts store.


If you don’t know how to work on your own vehicle, now would be a good time to start learning.  There are many wonderful how-to guides and videos for everything from changing your oil to restoring an engine block.  If you have a mechanic friend, see if they’ll help you.  Chances are if you offer some cash or a nice homecooked meal for their troubles, they’ll help teach you how to do basic stuff.


So, how do I plan to keep my vehicles running?  Since ordering parts from the auto parts store will be out of the question, I’ll have to find (or barter for) interchangeable parts from compatible vehicles.  Fortunately for us, auto manufacturers will use specific parts in multiple vehicles.  This reduces costs by being able to mass-produce fewer types of the same part.


For some people, it’s easy.  For example, my Jeep Comanche is 100% compatible in the engine compartment with Jeep Cherokees from similar years.  For others, it might not be so easy.  For example, what’s compatible with a Ford Escape? Or a DATSUN?  That’s where the Hollander Interchange Manual comes into play.  This wonderful guide is commonly used by junk yard or used auto parts dealers to identify compatible parts.  While the new guide is rather pricey, you can find used copies on Amazon or eBay for relatively cheap.  You could possibly also find one at your local library, so that you can write down the information relevant to your vehicle.  Keep in mind, this is for the person with limited space like myself.  If you have the space, storing brand new parts is much more ideal.


So with that said, what should you stock up on to keep your vehicle running, if you have limited space?  My recommendations: oil filters, motor oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and if you can, gasoline (make sure you use stabilizer, and even then try to use your stores and refill what you have stocked up).  Next on my list would be wiper blades, brake pads and shoes, rotors, and headlights.  All other parts have much longer life on vehicles, and could most likely be used after a disaster with long-term effects.


Learning to work on your own vehicle can not only help you in the future, but it will save you money today.  Take that extra money and use it wisely…buy other supplies, such as food or ammo.


About the author:

Ken B runs a discount automotive parts coupon site,


June 24, 2011

Video of the Week: Bug Out Vehicle

Filed under: bugging out,YouTube — Tags: , , — Rourke @ 12:18 am

Great video talking about bug-out supplies and a unique method of organizing them on a vehicle. Check out AnalyticalSurvival on YouTube.


June 3, 2011

Thinking about bug-out vehicles

Filed under: bugging out — Tags: , — Rourke @ 12:45 am

I am in the process of looking for another vehicle after selling my previous “bug out” vehicle – a Chevy Blazer ZR2. My thoughts on what to get and what might be the best bug-out vehicle is beginning to change.

Previously – I had based my needs something that could haul my family of 4 as well as a trailer. Off road capabilities were always considered a must. Why off-road? I just envisioned blocked roads requiring the ability to take alternate routes as well as the ever possibility of severe winter weather (snow).

Generally – the off-road 4×4 SUV’s do not get the nest gas mileage. My previous vehicle only would get about 16 miles per gallon at best. With the thought that limited fuel supply will be available – and the distance to my bug-out location is approx 3.5 hours away – fuel efficiency is something to consider.

With the pre-stocking of my bug-out location to be the plan – the need to carry large amounts of supplies is not totally necessary. Although there is no way to predict any TSHTF event – economic collapse is what is truly on my mind and in my plans. I suspect that as collapse become imminent – the signs will be there and relocation will take lace without the need for concern for 4 wheel drive off-road travel.

I know – too many assumptions I believe.

Well – what other options are there to a medium to large size SUV? First – a pickup truck can make a lot of sense. A smaller truck – like the Ford Ranger – is capable of getting 20 miles to the gallon or more on the highway and can even be had with 4 wheel drive. Cargo space is good. Drawbacks are limited space for a family of 4 people.

Another thought is to buy an economy car. Yes…..that is correct – an economy car. Something like a Ford Focus or Chevy Cavalier. Why? Gas mileage. Being able to drive farther on limited supplies has definite benefits. Carrying the entire family is not an issue. Cargo space is very minimal. Subaru’s come with all-wheel drive.

Honestly – I can’t see myself standing in my driveway and called a Ford Escort my “bug-out vehicle”.

Important factor that I have failed to mention up to this point  – my budget. I am looking to spend less than $6000. Another important factor – I am not very mechanically skilled. It is what it is.

Alright – I have considered 4×4 SUV’s, pickup trucks, and the economy car.

I know right now I am going to get a bunch of emails and comments telling me that I should look at old and big ex-military vehicles as well as early model of the Bronco (or something close). Possibly. I also know that I will get emails and comments telling me that it is not a serious survival vehicle unless it it diesel. That is one school of thought.

This article is not for me to state what I recommend – circumstances are so different for each situation – not an easy task. For my situation – I am evaluating, considering, and determining. I think one key factor – versatility – is critically important. I am leaning back towards something similar to what I had before – maybe something like a Jeep Cherokee. Depends on what kind of deal I find.

Your opinions are welcome –


March 17, 2011

Guest post: BOV Considerations by Burne51

Filed under: bugging out — Tags: , — Rourke @ 12:45 am

BOV considerations by Burne51

In any bug-out scenario, your vehicle becomes, and remains until further notice, the place where you live, along with everything you own in the world. You may be the best-equipped prepper in your circle, or the smartest gal on the block, but when TSHTF, you may find yourself to be just another weary traveler looking for a safe place to land. In many ways, you’re a refugee, no different from Okies escaping the Depression Dust Bowl; or survivors fleeing a volcano or armed killer mobs or the authorities du jour, which may not be mutually exclusive.

It ain’t necessarily pretty. It’s pretty clear that if you can uproot folks and get ‘em moving, it’s fairly easy to keep ‘em moving, or herd ‘em into corrals of one sort or another. Then it’s hamburger. There’s plenty of good advice out there to stay away from crowds, don’t allow yourself to get swept up into camps, etc. There’s also a lot of evidence that this is already going on; forced relocation has been a policy of our government for quite some time. Ask an Indian.

If we’re talking vehicles here, I’m guessing we can agree that we mean ones fueled by internal combustion engines. We’re going to leave out discussion of backpacking, bicycles, horseback, ox-carts, sailboats and rickshaws, even though there is a lot of merit in thinking about those, and perhaps including them as secondary or fallback options. Suffice it to say that the amount of stuff you can haul decreases significantly when one loses fossil-fueled prosthetics and slaves.

If you’ve planted your flag, and are determined to live or die defending your very own spot on the planet, that’s nice. Maybe we can be friends, and maybe we can assist one another, and WPCTS (When Push Comes to Shove – an acronym I haven’t seen yet), maybe we can’t. Having, and retaining, the ability to maneuver in such instances strikes me as important.

We humans have been moving around this planet for a long time, jockeying for position and advantage, and dodging the Grim Reaper, and there’s no reason to think that’ll change. I haven’t studied mass migrations, or refugee behavior (from the perspective of either the refugee or from the agents who create refugees for their own benefit), or nomadics; and I’d welcome readings and discussion of those topics as it pertains to survival, specifically mine.

But there’s a long, honorable history, notably on this land, of whole peoples successfully living nomadic lives while remaining deeply attached – rooted, even – to the land, and I suspect we’ll be seeing more of that, and may well be better for it. There are better places – and times – to grow crops, or hunt and fish, or trade, or winter, or a thousand other nuanced things; and those places and times are not likely to all be the same, and moving from one to the other, when safe and appropriate, may be a good way to live … or the only way you can keep yourself and your loved ones alive to move the species forward.

Ol’ Remus over at the Woodpile Report (.com) is on-point this week, as he routinely is, in his discussion of guerilla gardens. “The alternative to living like a convict is to live like an escapee,” he says this week, and knowing where you’ve stashed food, or can grow, hunt, forage, and preserve it, and how to safely move between sites on whatever is your scale and timeline, will mean the difference between living and dying, between freedom and slavery. I’m amazed in my travels at how much unused land there is in this country, even in the East, and finding folks who’ll rent or trade you an acre for potatoes or Jerusalem artichokes (800 gallons of fuel alcohol per) or a couple of hives of bees; or free places to plant annual or perennial herbs for later harvest, is not all that difficult.

Which brings us back to the bug-out vehicle, AKA “your car” or “the daily driver.” There’s a whole big thread out there (try the Van Dwellers Yahoo Group to start) of folks who are now living in their vehicles full- or part-time. Many are conducting “normal” lives, going to jobs, socializing, recreating, etc. Many are older retirees, like Snowbirds and Workampers, driving huge RVs and towing cars around the country, who’ve already “bugged out.” What’s going to happen to that lifestyle? You might want to think about exactly how little you need in a vehicle, as well as how much you can cram in. What are your deal-breakers when it comes to vehicles: standing head room; full-size bed; a toilet; running water; nighttime A/C or heat? How much electricity is enough, and how are you going to get it? You may have to gut and rebuild the ridiculous interior of an old RV to eliminate horrid design and make the unit work long-term.

There are some significant advantages to making the move to vehicle-based living before a SHTF situation occurs, leaving aside the argument that it’s already hitting.

For one, it forces you to think, hard, about what you need and how to keep it safe, productive and relevant. Does vehicle-based living free up money that’s better used elsewhere? Instead of a mortgage (taxes; utilities; maintenance) in a suburb that frowns on agriculture, will car living enable a farmland purchase? Or just eating? Am I capable of, or interested in, owning a house or land? Do I have the money, or the credit, or the job/career, or the kind and level of responsibility necessary for “ownership”? Will that continue? Are those things even desirable? Am I better off as a fixed, or as a moving, target?

I’m very leery of adding any fossil-fuel-powered equipment to my life, from a number of perspectives. Anybody who’s looked at a graph of per capita energy use, or of Hubbert’s Peak, gets a sense that we humans are likely to be using far less energy than we have for the last couple hundred years, and that we Americans, as the most profligate oil users, have the farthest to fall. Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Back on topic: How many vehicles should I own, insure, maintain, equip? How many can I drive at once? I suspect Gary, whose video I saw linked over at M.D. Creekmore’s, owns even more than the two vehicles he’s shown us, plus his house, probably all with multi-burner propane stoves and toilets and swivel TVs. Gee, he must have a lot of money

If you only had one motor vehicle, from now until forever, what would it be? A pickup, van, car, SUV, RV?  4WD, 2WD? What engine, transmission, fuel? American or foreign; old or new? How do I find it; what does it cost to buy, fuel, insure and maintain? Can I make it last 2 years … 5 … 10 … 20? Do I have the necessary skills and can I get the parts? Can I live in it and with it for that long if I want to or need to? Moving and parked? This, like the endless firearms debates, is ultimately unanswerable by anyone but you; but it, too, is crucial.

What about stealth? Do I blend in or stand out where I am and where I anticipate going? Is it good to have folks telling you how cool your rig is, or would you prefer nobody noticed? Can I show up to work every day in an RV, or not leave the parking lot at night, without inviting nasty questions and snooping? Am I better off pulling a travel trailer with a “civilian” vehicle, or parking my Winnebago elsewhere and riding a bicycle or motorcycle to work? Can I work nights and sleep safely in the daytime, or park safely when it’s light and find other safe places to sleep? How does sleeping much, much lighter in a vehicle affect my health, alertness and judgment?

Can I park at a friend’s house (or plural …or WalMart) and use their electricity, bathroom, kitchen, and/or washer? For how long? What will the neighbors think? How about a 24-hour gym membership; I can probably use the exercise, and I could sure use a shower, and if it’s open at all hours, it’s a good place to park, right? What’s that cost these days?

What about range and mileage? Can I count on the next supply of fuel? Can I make my own, perhaps with friends, like a fuel alcohol or biodiesel coop? I can’t just turn the car out to pasture to forage, and it’s unlikely to heal itself when something goes awry, though I have seen it happen.

Do I have useful mobile skills, the equipment to use them, and reliable markets for them? How about tools for gardening or carpentry, or a small workshop in a Wells Cargo? If I stash my tools in a trailer or storage unit, or friend’s house, how quickly and safely can I get ‘em? Can I sleep in it? How does pulling a trailer affect mileage and maneuverability? What are my protocols for dropping my trailer? What happens if I lose it … the trailer, that is?

Am I likely to be flying solo, or with family or friends? If I’m in a group, by choice or chance, what about their gear? I’ve seen enough Westerns to worry about the weakest wagon, and I’m sure the Plains Indians made sure everyone’s travois were up to snuff. And what about defense, personal and group?

Does it make sense to become a migrant worker; if so, what’s involved? How do I move my wealth, and protect it on the road? I know what it feels like to have every penny locked up in a vehicle; it tends to induce paranoia, and to restrict one’s movements in order to keep the vehicle constantly in sight. Do you?

What about the rest of my stuff? Do I sell or dump it; is it worth anything? How about a storage unit(s)? Is it cheap, secure, 24-hour accessible, adequate? What happens to that electric gate if the grid’s down? Does it make sense to have several units in strategic locations? Will they let me store gasoline, alcohol, propane, food, weapons and ammo? Will they know or find out? Are the owners on site; can they be trusted?

Where and what sort of caches are appropriate? Does it really make sense to carry a half-ton of rice, beans and wheat berries? How about Operational Security, for us civilians? There’s some good thinking over at Analytical Survival’s YouTube channel. How long before I run out of gas – physically, mentally, emotionally, financially? Is that a realistic time line? What happens then?

Speaking personally, if not too specifically, I am living on the road now, with my wife, dog, and, currently, four cats. No, they’re not for dinner. We left what had been our home base for 25 years last July, semi-voluntarily, and anticipate moving again six to 10 weeks from now, with our next destination uncertain. We’re learning a lot; it’s stressful; it’s uncertain; and I don’t think either of us regrets the experience. Our current bug-out vehicle: a 1998 Ford Explorer pulling a home-built camper/utility trailer. Perfect? Hardly. But it’s what we’ve got. How about you?

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