Kerosene and the ghost of Y2K

Well, I think I’m pretty much done on buying kerosene for the rest of my life. Last time I bought kerosene was here. That was an awesome deal.

Was tooling through Craigslist (when? When will I learn??) and, lo and behold, a fella selling 14 5-gallon drums of kero. For those of you who went to public government schools, that’s 70 gallons. Or, if you’re in a country that never put a man on the moon, 265 liters.

20170801_101755The fella was asking way, way, too much for the stuff so I made him an offer. Wound up getting it for $200…a tad under $3/gallon. (ok, fine….$2.86/gallon).

I  love kerosene…it burns hottest of the liquid fuels, keeps forever with no special treatment, is safe to store, and has a nice market of stoves, lamps, and heaters out there.

My anticipated use? Well, it’s winter for a good chunk of the year here and it would be nice to keep the house toasty in the event of a power outage. Most likely these will go into storage with the last batch of 5-gallon drums I bought. There they will wait until the day when it’s dark, cold, and dreary and I shall have light, heat, and hot food.

Here’s the interesting part… I met the guy, a rather old gentleman who, sadly, was dying of cancer, and as I was moving the cans out of his rather neat and nicely stocked garage I asked him why he had so much of it. His reply was that it was his leftover Y2K stash. Apparently he’d gone long on Y2K stuff. I suspected as much as I looked around his garage and saw the rifle cases, cases of ammo, etc, etc. All the hallmarks of someone who is on the same page. We chatted a bit about the Y2K thing and about how we’d rather have it and not need it, etc, etc. I thanked him for the deal and assured him it was going to a home that shared his concerns and mindset.

I also told him that if he had any other Y2K leftovers he wanted to sell, to please keep me in mind.

So for those of you who wonder how you meet like-minded individuals, there’s another example.

I did the math to figure out how may gallons of kerosene I have in storage and I think I may have actually gone a tad heavier than I planned. I’m going to have to contact a few of the LMI and see if they want some…I don’t think I really need more than 100 gallons for any forseeable emergency.

 

Gas pains

Friend Of The Blog ™, Harry Flashman, over at Self-Sufficient Mountain Living woke up to find the gas pumps dry and no one knowing when the fuel will be back.

Listening to the CB radio on SSB , I heard two fellows talking about gasoline shortages up here in North Georgia. One of them had gone to Cornelia , and on trying to get back, he found there was no gas to be had at the Ingles in Cornelia, nor in Cleveland. I assumed Ingles, which is a big grocery chain here, had simply messed up their order or had some kind of dispute with their supplier

When we went into town today, our own Ingles had no gas. I didn’t think much of it, until the next station down the road had no gasoline either. It turned out there was not a drop of gasoline to be had at any stations in our county.

Since my kids were here, I haven’t followed the news with anything like the attention to detail that has been my habit. That’s why I didn’t know that the pipeline that brings gasoline to Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama had “gone down.”  In town people were saying the pipeline was out of service and might not be up until next week.

What is the natural consequence of a good’s level of scarcity increasing as demand stay constant? Shortages and price increases.

Gasoline is something that you really do need. You can talk about how you’re going to be grid-free, ride your solar-powered golf cart around, run your life on propane, etc, etc, but in the real world gasoline is right up there with money, ammo, and food.

148848_slideI try to keep enough gas on hand for a) generator usage, b) barter/aid, and c) GTFO. All told, about 60 gallons. It’s all in 5-gal. NATO cans and treated with PRI-G.. I routinely use, in my vehicle, gas that is two years old and I’ve never had a hiccup. If you treat your gas, seal it up in a good metal can, and tuck it somewhere shady, it’ll last a good long time. There is a school of thought that says that you don’t even really need to use the additives..the gas will keep just fine. Maybe. But I’m willing to pay a couple extra bucks for snake oil to make damn sure that when I need to throw my gear in the vehicle and go, go, go, the engine goes ‘vroooom’ instead of ‘whirwhirwhirwhir…’.

Don’t cheap out and get plastic gas cans. Don’t cheap out and get bargain “NATO-style’ cans made in China. Don’t cheap out and get metal Blitz cans. Spend $50-75 per can and get the real deal. Here’s why:

When you show me any other can that can handle that sort of action, then I’ll consider it. until then..I’ll pay the money for the peace of mind.

When i bought my first motorcycle helmet, I complained to my buddy how expensive they were. he said, “What’s your life worth?”. Same thing for the gas can. What’s it worth to have 5-gallons of perfect gasoline on hand when the lights are out, the storms are raging, the hordes are coming, the waters are rising, the kids are crying, and the city is dying?
 

 

Gas can fillup

Im trying to fill the few empty gas cans I have before the ‘winter blend’ of gasoline hits the streets. There’s a couple gas stations around town that will, in winter, have blends that are free of the MTBE and other nonsense, but that gas is labelled as snowmobile gas or some such. Personally, I have no problem with buying untaxed gas since it’s mostly for use in my generator or other gas appliances anyway…but, you never know when that 5-gallon can is going to have to go into the truck rather than the snowblower.

Speaking of gas cans, I should probably suck it up and order another package of them from Lexington supply. Fifty bucks a throw isn’t cheap, but when you absolutely need fuel for your generator to get you and your family moved to safety in your truck…well, fifty bucks is gonna seem like a bargain.I hate the plastic gas cans, and the Chinese knock-offs (I’m looking at you, Sportsmans Guide!) are bad news. If youre going to drop a grand on a quality generator, even more money on the critical equipment to be powered by that generator, and the trouble and expense of storing all that…..why would you cheap out on gas cans when the difference is about $25~ per can? Do it right the first time, man.

I skip using the nozzles altogether on these things. For me, they just never seem to work right. I buy a handful of these funnels by Blitz, and para cord one to every other gas can. Works awesome. Dose the can with some PRI-G, fill with gas (in that order..so the gas mixes with the PRI-G), attach a weatherproof tag with the date of fillup, and you’re good to go. The stuff will be good for the next year or two. (I generally try to rotate every year.)

What about the Scepter cans? What about ’em? I don’t trust plastic cans for stuff that can explode. I have faith in the metal ‘euro-style’ cans.


When you show me a plastic can that can handle that sort of action, then I’ll consider it. until then..I’ll pay the money for the peace of mind.

How much gas to store? Depends on what you plan on doing with it. First and foremost, to me, gas=distance. If I think that its, say, 300 miles to a rally point, safe house, friends homestead, or other safe location, then I want 600 miles worth of gas. (Yes, I want that big a margin of error.) Assuming 15 mpg, thats 40 gallons or 8 fuel cans. In a perfect world, I’d get to my safe zone with just four cans used. But the world aint perfect, it’s doubly unperfect in a disaster…which is why I want a huge margin of error for detours, idling in traffic, turnarounds, switchbacks, and out-and-out getting lost)

Same story for the generator…calculate runtime per gallon, figure what your average need will be, and then factor in a whopping margin of safety.

Anyway…today was the day to get the empty cans filled before he changeover to that enviro-friendly crap. If you live someplace where they do a similar switchover, you may want to think about getting your stuff topped off.

Autumnal tasks

Today is, as I understand it, the first day of fall/autumn. This means, of course, that winter is on its way. Don’t kid yourself, though…fall can get pretty damn cold and nasty long before the ‘official’ start of winter occurs.

So what’s getting done around here now that we are officially in fall? Run the generator to make sure it works. Ditto for the snowblower. Get the winter emergency gear put in the vehicle. Drag the winter clothing and gear out of storage. Make sure the kerosene heaters are ready to go, etc, etc.

I don’t mind the house getting cold in the winter….I prefer it that way, actually. What I don’t want is frozen pipes. So…kerosene heaters. If the power goes out I can put one in the basement to keep the pipes from freezing and keep another one upstairs to keep the rest of the house from freezing. If your’re going to go that route, though, you absolutely must, must, must have a carbon monoxide detector. Preferably more than one. And make sure you have fresh batteries in them. You just can not take chances with that sort of thing. I prefer detectors that have a numeric display so I can actually see if things are getting worse or better in terms of air quality. In addition to that sort of thing, I also keep a huge CO2 fire extinguisher handy for the fueling process. (And these precautions are also in place for the generator as well).

Which reminds me, I need to go fill a couple jerry cans and treat some gas. The winter blend of craptacular MTBE/oxygenated/’envirofriendly’ is going to be all thats available soon and that crap is not friendly to the small engines. (And, by the by, if you’re going to store fuel, I highly recommend the PRI-G product.)

Propane and propane accessories

I found one of these while straightening up the other day. It’s an adapter that lets you fill the small 1# propane bottles from a larger tank. It seemed like a useful item to have since we have several devices here that run on those small bottles…most notable a small heater, a couple Coleman lanterns, and a camp stove.

Propane is great stuff, it’s just damn awkward. As someone pointed out to me, with a gas or diesel powered device I can borrow fuel from a neighbor if I have a five-gallon bucket. Borrowing propane from a neighbor is far trickier…can’t exactly tear off a piece of your 20# tank and say “Here, get it back to me when you can.”

Of course, an adapter like this lets you take your empty to your neighbors barbecue (or vice versa) and get some fuel that way.

I think that if I were going to live out in the sticks and have to have my own source of power, propane would be very attractive. The only thing I don’t like is that I’d have to have some guy drive his propane truck to my little hideaway once a year and fill the tanks. On the other hand, I suppose I could mount a tank on a small trailer, bring it into town to be filled, and then bring it back to my little hideaway and then hook it up, leaving the tank on the trailer year-round….probably violate a dozen DOT and zoing regs, but I like to think I’d be living somewhere where ‘zoning’ was a quaint notion that never really caught on locally.

Back in the Y2K runup I did wind up buying a few dozen 1# bottles of propane. I’ve probably only used one or two over the years, but as long as the bottles themselves are protected from rust and banging around they should last quite a while. It’s just another layer of redundancy…we’ve kerosene for lighting, heating, cooking in an emergency and also the option of propane for the same purposes. Add in the gas-fueled generator and we’re looking at around three different ways to skin the same cat. (And while I generally find Ragnar Benson’s books to be pretty lame, I will give him credit for bringing up “the rule of threes” in his ‘The Modern Survival Retreat‘ book.

Even though at the moment I’m living in town, I think it’d be nice to have a buried tank in the yard to run the generator and a few other goodies. Unfortunately, I doubt I can get a 500# tank past the city codes. On the other hand, a couple 100# tanks shouldn’t be a problem. (By the by, excellent graphic showing relative tank sizes.) My Honda EU2000 has some aftermarket kits to let it run propane, natural gas, or gasoline…..it’d be nice to have options.

Link – The Little Can That Could

Wonderful post about the history of the jerrycan.

During World War II the United States exported more tons of petroleum products than of all other war matériel combined. The mainstay of the enormous oil-and-gasoline transportation network that fed the war was the oceangoing tanker, supplemented on land by pipelines, railroad tank cars, and trucks. But for combat vehicles on the move, another link was crucial—smaller containers that could be carried and poured by hand and moved around a battle zone by trucks.

I’ve given up on anything other than the ‘NATO/Euro’ style cans for gasoline storage. They are more expensive, and sometimes hard to find, but I believe they are worth it.