Wednesday, 23 August 2017

09:16 – It was 67.9F (20C) when I took Colin out at 0645, partly cloudy.

Barbara is leaving mid-afternoon to head down to Winston. She’ll have dinner with Frances and Al, stay with them tonight, and then head back tomorrow morning, making a Costco run on her way out of town. It’s WW&P for Colin and me.

Our LTS food inventory is at steady-state now, so we don’t need much. I did ask Barbara to pick me up a case of six #10 cans of coffee, a two-pack of mayonnaise, and another case of Costco bottled water in gallons.

Barbara just headed for the gym. When she returns, she’ll finish packing up the two dozen chemistry kits we assembled yesterday, and then label bottles for stuff we’re running out of. While she’s gone, I’ll make up solutions for those.


Email from Kathy, whom I hadn’t heard from in a month or so. All of the stuff they had on order has arrived, been checked in, and shelved. The propane tank and gas cooktop has been installed. She’s done her first pressure-canning run, canning up ten pounds of sausage that she bought on sale. Now she’s carefully watching the jars, halfway expecting the lids to pop or something.

Mike has proposed a Cunning Plan, which Kathy thinks is just bizzare. He points out that they don’t have a cold cellar, and he’d like to build one in the basement by enclosing a small area, insulating it heavily, and building a refrigerator into the wall, pointed into the enclosed area. Kind of like a 21st-century version of an old ice-house.

She asked my opinion. I told her that I’m not a refrigeration engineer, but it just might work. The refrigerator’s compressor would probably have to run for a couple of days to get the insulated area cooled down and there might be some problems with temperature differentials within the space, but keeping a well-insulated larger volume cool isn’t much different from keeping the interior of the refrigerator cool.

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50 Responses to Wednesday, 23 August 2017

  1. nick flandrey says:

    Or they could install a ‘mini-split’ system…

    n

  2. Miles_Teg says:

    A supermarket I used to patronise had a cold room for milk and the like. It was heaven on hot days…

  3. DadCooks says:

    I second @nick’s suggestion of a “mini-split” system. They need to check with some HVAC and refrigeration companies. The refrigerator plan will wear out the refrigerator in short order, partially because of the automatic defrost system in all modern refrigerators.

  4. Nightraker says:

    “Mike has proposed a Cunning Plan…”

    An interesting project. Basically, a DIY walk in cooler. Gasketing the door, 6 sides of high R insulation, wall covering selection and operating cost considerations. Might, maybe get better performance / cost with a largish window A/C unit instead of a fridge, which was designed / engineered for X cubic ft of the cabinet.

    But I’m just spitballing.

    Here is what commercial units cost: ~$6k
    https://www.webstaurantstore.com/13703/walk-in-coolers-refrigerators.html

    Might be able to pull a Mr. Nick and find a dead restaurant for a recycle at low cost, or DIY for less than half of a new unit price.

  5. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “Might, maybe get better performance / cost with a largish window A/C unit instead of a fridge”

    Good thought. I’ll suggest that to Kathy in case she doesn’t read the comments here. The nature of their basement means a window AC unit would have to exhaust heat into the basement rather than outdoors, but that shouldn’t be a problem.

    I don’t know what a “mini-split system” is.

  6. Greg Norton says:

    He points out that they don’t have a cold cellar, and he’d like to build one in the basement by enclosing a small area, insulating it heavily, and building a refrigerator into the wall, pointed into the enclosed area. Kind of like a 21st-century version of an old ice-house.

    I’d consult with a refrigeration company, especially if humidity was an issue in their area. They wouldn’t want to create a mold issue in the basement where none exists now, and money spent up front with an expert will lower utility bills later.

    Hockey works in October in Florida, but the arenas in Tampa and Miami are major feats of refrigeration engineering. Eliminating humidity is more important than temperature when keeping ice solid in the tropics.

  7. dkreck says:

    Most refrigerators have the condenser coils underneath and exhaust heat to the front with a fan. This accommodates units that sit back in alcoves in most modern kitchens. Cheap basic models can still be found with the coils on the back. I second looking for used walk in coolers or at least just the mechanics from one.
    A split has separate condenser and evaporation units just connected by two lines and control wire.
    Evaporation coils should always have a drain to outside to prevent mold.

  8. DadCooks says:

    My nomination for best video/story of the day:
    http://thefederalistpapers.org/us/phoenix-antifa-drilled

  9. Nightraker says:

    Speaking of recycling fridges and freezers, (we weren’t but I am now 🙂 ) the doorless cabinets make for a quick, cheap foundation for raised bed gardening when laid on their backs on top of concrete block. Drill holes for drainage, irrigation and fill with gravel / dirt to suit. Paint whatever if appliance white doesn’t fit your landscaping decor sensibilities.

  10. CowboySlim says:

    WRT to bottled water, LATimes business section today: “…Nestle being sued over its Poland Spring brand water; spring ran dry 50 years ago….”

    CowboySlim whose GE refrigerator has a filter replaced annually.

  11. Greg Norton says:

    WRT to bottled water, LATimes business section today: “…Nestle being sued over its Poland Spring brand water; spring ran dry 50 years ago….”

    I’ve always viewed the Zephyrhills brand as clever marketing. Technically, most municipal water in Florida originates from springs. Tampa Bay has a reservoir to catch rain and store river water, but it is a huge white elephant pork barrel project .

  12. lynn says:

    and another case of Costco bottled water in gallons.

    I got my Costco annual membership bill a couple of days ago. It is $60 now. Um, I am going to wait until I absolutely need it.

  13. Miles_Teg says:

    Talking about walk in cold rooms. Anyone here watch The Untouchables? One crim was so sensitive to heat his office was litterally a cold room. His goons must have had anti freeze for blood.

  14. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “I got my Costco annual membership bill a couple of days ago. It is $60 now. Um, I am going to wait until I absolutely need it.”

    I understand that Costco’s membership fees account for all or even more than all of their profit. What they charge for merchandise just barely covers their actual costs.

  15. Greg Norton says:

    I got my Costco annual membership bill a couple of days ago. It is $60 now. Um, I am going to wait until I absolutely need it.

    If you renew at the register, make sure to double check your bill before paying. Some of the cashiers will hit that “Executive” SKU without a second thought and make you go to customer service and wait in line for the refund if you don’t catch it before sliding the credit/debit card.

    I always check since we cancelled Executive after getting hosed in the auto buying program.

  16. Greg Norton says:

    I understand that Costco’s membership fees account for all or even more than all of their profit. What they charge for merchandise just barely covers their actual costs.

    Memberships are vital for Costco’s immediate cash flow and profit margin. Merchandise can sit on the shelves for a while until sold, but renewals are immediate liquidity.

    Markup famously used to be 3% on the food SKUs, but I don’t believe that to be true anymore, especially on their Kirkland brand products or name brand “organic” items.

  17. SVJeff says:

    Any opinions pro/con on a Camp Chef C-oven 2?

  18. SteveF says:

    All I know about covens is that several claimed to have cast spells on Trump for reasons that were not clearly specified but which I’m sure were good. Or at least sounded good if you were drunk enough. Or stupid enough, such as stupid enough to join a “coven” and think that you could cast “spells” which any non-deranged person would notice.

  19. Bruce Friend says:

    I have seen articles about using a window AC, insulating the room very well and replacing the thermostat with an external one to create a cold room. The one I remember best was in Zymurgy magazine a few years ago. Guy could get the room down to about freezing. Claimed it was pretty efficient too.

  20. Bill F. says:

    dkreck has good advice on the homemade walk in cooler. Using a refrigerator is a bad idea.

    Also, I would not use a window unit or comfort cooling system of any kind. These are made for warm entering air temps – the full load rating point is 80/67°F (dry/wet bulb). If the entering air temp gets cool (cooler than you would want AC for), the evaporator coil will frost. This means that a defrost system is needed for refrigeration temps (~45°F and lower). Either hot gas from the compressor or electric heat, there also needs to be either a timer or, better yet, a demand controller for the defrost cycle. Comfort cooling systems like mini splits or window units don’t have any of this, if the evaporator coil on your comfort cooling system frosts, something is wrong. I would not recommend backyard engineering to DIY, you can have bad failure modes.

    If you don’t know what you are doing – I would definitely recommend calling in a refrigeration tech. They may even have some older equipment they could re-purpose. But, it will not be inexpensive.

    Please note I said “refrigeration tech”. This is a different skill set than the HVAC guy typically has – although a good one could make something work.

  21. ech says:

    There are kits to convert rooms or spaces in a room into a chilled wine cellar. They will get the room to 50-55 degrees. http://www.wineenthusiast.com/storage/wine-cellar-cooling-units/

  22. lynn says:

    “As Harvey approaches, here’s how to prepare for inland flooding”
    https://spacecityweather.com/as-harvey-approaches-heres-how-to-prepare-for-inland-flooding/

    “With inland flooding from tropical storms, it can mean—in a few extreme cases—getting 30 inches of rain, or half a year’s worth, in three or four days.”

    Oh please, not again ! Tropical Storm Allison’s 35 inches of rain over 12 hours in 2001 was enough for a lifetime.

    There is a neat graphic on that website showing who got 15 inches of rain and who got 35 inches from TS Allison. My sister-in-law called me in the middle of the storm and said there was three ft of water in the street and the water was a only a couple of inches below her foundation. I told her to take the babies and go upstairs. If her downstairs got flooded, so be it, we would deal with that after the storm.

    My brother built a new home ten years ago about two blocks away from their old house. His new house is a pier and beam foundation that is five ft off the ground, effectively three ft higher than his old house.

  23. Bill F. says:

    Sending good waves (or thoughts, or prayers, or whatever) for you guys in Houston to get by with no issues from the rain (my brother lives there also). We had over 8 inches in a couple of hours a few weeks ago – not a pleasant event up here in central Wisconsin (but just another summer rain down in Houston or New Orleans).
    Our house is on a hill of clay and sand. I start getting worried with extreme rains about landslides. Flooding is bad – but a landslide can really mess up your day. Recent events in Sierra Leone for example.

  24. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yeah, let’s all hope our Texas friends dodge the bullet.

    I’ve never understood how anyone who lives near the Gulf Coast can NOT be a prepper…

  25. RickH says:

    Just finished the 9-book “Hard Case” series by Bernard Lee DeLeo. Very good book series. A series about a group of hard cases led by a UFC heavyweight fighter and Marine that fights very successfully against any incursion of anti-Americans, taking no prisoners of the guilty.

    Very entertaining series; in the later books there are some very lightly veiled references of political figures you might recognize.

    The ‘regulars’ here will really like this series. Available via Kindle Unlimited. Highly recommended. Start with Book 1 http://amzn.to/2wp7Nzx and continue. You won’t be disappointed.

  26. pcb_duffer says:

    I’d be very tempted to buy and install (and hopefully actually design into the plans from the beginning) a walk in refrigerator and or freezer. These sorts of things are amongst the first items to go in any restaurant sale. Just for giggles, the link below has a large variety of them, with different volumes, floors, etc. And if you’re planning for TEOTW, you’re going to need some way to generate a lot of juice. I’m not sure the various solar lash ups discussed here would cut it.

    https://www.centralrestaurant.com/Walk+In+Coolers+with+Self-Contained+Refrigeration-pl631.html

  27. lynn says:

    I’ve never understood how anyone who lives near the Gulf Coast can NOT be a prepper…

    We’ve got these huge signs on the freeways around here that are 40 ft off the ground and 30 ft wide. Today they are blinking “Storm in Gulf, Fill your tanks !”.

    I might just do that tomorrow.

    Hurricane Ike clinched it for me. That was an eye opening experience.

  28. Bill F. says:

    pcb_duffer – that is a good plan. But it still really needs a certified refrigeration tech to set it up. Also, the ones in the link are for outdoor use and would not work in the basement or house without substantial modifications (moving the compressor / condenser to a remote outdoor location – a split system). But, I would go that route if a system fit close to what I needed at the right price. Be aware that most of the big commercial stuff (warehouse vs grocery store) is still ammonia, which you really don’t want to mess with if you are not aware of the issues.

  29. Spook says:

    ”Any opinions pro/con on a Camp Chef C-oven 2?”

    Barely looked at one once, but looking at specs now, it seems to me that, for the money, two or three regular propane stoves (or make one liquid fuel) plus one or two folding Coleman ovens would be a lot less weight and storage space and would duplicate some of the critical components in case of some failure. Probably need a “distribution tree” or propane T fittings or whatever to use all this with a big propane tank, but all that gives you more options, too. Add one of the little propane lanterns, at the top of the “tree” ?

    Still, can’t deny that that big oven, set up on a nice stand or on a table, would be classy in a campsite or on the patio… or in your kitchen in a pinch. It’s just a lot of money for an item that could be useless altogether from one point of failure.

  30. pcb_duffer says:

    Bill F, you’re right, just plopping them into a random basement probably wouldn’t be a great success. (I’ll confess to a general ignorance of basements.) However, I’ve been in several restaurants where walk in freezers have been indoors, but in places that were specifically designed for them, and they worked just fine in those cases.

  31. Dave Hardy says:

    Can I just ask a really dumbass question here WRT to refrigerated rooms and spaces? What happens when the juice is cut off indefinitely? Pretty much the same deal as what happens when our regular ol’ fridges and freezes get cut off from it, amirite?

    Why not a simple root cellar, like in the old-timey days of yore? That’s likely gonna be our solution here for, wait for it….root vegetables.

    “… it seems to me that, for the money, two or three regular propane stoves (or make one liquid fuel) plus one or two folding Coleman ovens would be a lot less weight and storage space and would duplicate some of the critical components in case of some failure.”

    Agreed with Mr. Spook. We probably need to get some of that gear here; as it stands now, we have the PK Grill (highly recommended), our woodstove, and an outdoor “cowboy” grill. All run on either charcoal or wood. We should stock up on propane-related gear, I’m thinking.

    Off to El Banko tomorrow to deposit $ into the Princess account for her McGill tuition, drop off my DD214 at the local VFW post, do the dump run, and check in at the vets group. Friday AM I gotta get wife to the airport, have blood drawn at the VA outpatient clinic in Burlap, and then haul down to Keene, NH for an all-day pistol class on Saturday.

  32. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “Can I just ask a really dumbass question here WRT to refrigerated rooms and spaces? What happens when the juice is cut off indefinitely? Pretty much the same deal as what happens when our regular ol’ fridges and freezes get cut off from it, amirite?”

    Of course. But keeping stuff refrigerated frozen until the power fails puts it in statis, so basically the shelf life doesn’t start running until the power fails. That’s why I keep antibiotics and such in the freezer, and as long as I had a working extra refrigerator I packed it with canned meats and so on.

  33. Dave Hardy says:

    So for peeps on limited budgets, it doesn’t make a whole lotta sense to sink a few thou into a refrigerated space in the basement and hire a refrigeration consultant. Sorta like reading gun mags and the featured firearms in an issue all cost north of $3-4k.

    Almost not much sense in buying a $2-3k generator if the power’s only gonna be out a week or two, or conversely, if it stays out and there are no more chances of getting any gas or propane, either. May as well go straight to the year 1900 and don’t look back.

  34. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “Almost not much sense in buying a $2-3k generator if the power’s only gonna be out a week or two, or conversely, if it stays out and there are no more chances of getting any gas or propane, either. May as well go straight to the year 1900 and don’t look back.”

    We already had a 5KW Generac, but if we didn’t I’d have spent the money on solar. As it stands, we have 800W of solar panels, a charge controller and a spare, and a 5KVA modified sine-wave inverter. Around here, we average close to 5 hours per day of sunlight, which’d yield 4 kW-hrs/day. Call it 3 kW-hrs/day after line and inverter losses. That’s sufficient run our well pump for more than two hours per day, which is probably four times what we need.

    I still need to buy deep-cycle batteries, but we won’t need many of them for our limited needs. I’d like to have enough to carry us five days without sunlight without dropping below 50% charge.

  35. Ray Thompson says:

    not much sense in buying a $2-3k generator if the power’s only gonna be out a week or two

    Power here is very reliable. Longest outage was 8 hours when a tornado took out some major power lines. Most outages are less than a couple of hours. Lots of local capacity in terms of hydro, coal, and nuculer (Bush version). A generator would just sit and rust away unless I started it once every couple of months.

    Also have 25K gallons of water stored in a big cement pond. Definitely usable for bathing and cooking. Drinking after it has been boiled although probably not necessary as the water is kept very clean and disinfected.

    Have food for about a week which is good enough. A disaster that expands much beyond that I would just as soon die off with the rest of the scum. At my age it is just not worth fighting others for a barely sustainable existence.

  36. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “Also have 25K gallons of water stored in a big cement pond. Definitely usable for bathing and cooking. Drinking after it has been boiled although probably not necessary as the water is kept very clean and disinfected.”

    It may or may not be drinkable, depending on what chemicals you’re adding to it. If it’s just chemicals to adjust pH and chlorination chemicals, you should be fine. If you’re adding algicides or other toxic chemicals, you don’t want to drink it.

  37. Roger Ritter says:

    Another thing about generators that I never see mentioned is the maintenance cycle. I’ve seen generators that recommended an oil change every 25 hours of running – that’s barely over a day. If you’re relying on one for long term (1 week or longer) power needs, don’t forget to stock lots of motor oil for it along with the fuel.

  38. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Good point, although of course you’re far better off using dirty oil than letting the level get low. Although I’ve never tried it, I’ve been told that in a real emergency you can run the generator using even recycled vegetable oil.

  39. lynn says:

    Have food for about a week which is good enough. A disaster that expands much beyond that I would just as soon die off with the rest of the scum. At my age it is just not worth fighting others for a barely sustainable existence.

    I think that evaluation should be made after 2 to 3 months of the global disaster. I don’t trust the media to tell me which way is up and which way is down, much less the term of the latest disaster.

    And who knows, maybe you will get used to the new normal and like it ? Somewhat like it that is.

  40. SteveF says:

    Have food for about a week which is good enough. A disaster that expands much beyond that I would just as soon die off with the rest of the scum. At my age it is just not worth fighting others for a barely sustainable existence.

    I cannot comprehend that. I’m not criticizing it, merely stating my lack of understanding. For myself, I can’t imagine not having the drive to go on. Aside from self-preservation instincts (which I admit are not very strong in me) and watching out for my children or anyone else depending on me, there are all those assholes I haven’t killed yet.

  41. lynn says:

    Good point, although of course you’re far better off using dirty oil than letting the level get low. Although I’ve never tried it, I’ve been told that in a real emergency you can run the generator using even recycled vegetable oil.

    As a lubricant ? Maybe. As a fuel for a gasoline generator, no. Vegetable oil does not vaporize like gasoline does and the flame front will just not work inside the cylinder.

    As fuel for a diesel generator ? Maybe. Vegetable oil has not had the paraffins (waxes) removed and the new piezoelectric fuel injectors will clog up if the fuel temperature drops below 100 F ? 80 F ? 60 F ? 40 F ? 20 F ? I just do not know. An old diesel generator, sure, filtered vegetable oil will work ok, just remove the french fry remains with a cheese cloth.

  42. SteveF says:

    a target-rich environment, and few restraints

    It’s … it’s like a vision of paradise!

  43. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “As a lubricant ?”

    That’s what I meant, of course. SWAG, vegetable oil is about 8,000,000 octane, so it ain’t gonna burn in a gasoline engine.

  44. Miles_Teg says:

    “…there are all those assholes I haven’t killed yet.”

    Well? Get going now!

  45. SteveF says:

    Well? Get going now!

    Do you have any idea what kind of body count I have? That’s one bit of advice I definitely don’t need.

  46. Dave Hardy says:

    My personal body count came about due to a war so I can’t use it in the same way, but it has to be in the hundreds.

    I came wicked close three times in my work as a costumed thug for the state. Fraction of a second close.

    Nothing lately, though, and I doubt I’d be adverse to initiating a count here if need be.

  47. SteveF says:

    My civilian body count is around fifty, muggers and rapists. Might be a bit lower, as I wasn’t always able to stick around and verify their death and it’s possible some lived.

    Military may be about the same, but that’s guesswork, SWAGs, and bullshit. How is it counted if I call in artillery and everyone in the fortified sandbag thing is killed? (Killed with the spotting round, in fact. I’m not that good a forward observer and I know damned well that the crew doing the shooting was a bunch of half-trained monkeys. Chalk it up to dumb luck.) How many are mine if I’m in a team all armed with the same kind of rifle and we shot up an opposing group? How many are mine if I helped intercept a supplies shipment and the intended recipients were hungry and out of ammo and were all killed by yet another of the teams on the playing field? -shrug- Guesswork, SWAG, and bullshit says a total of 50 are mine.

  48. Dave Hardy says:

    Mine would be a certain amount of guesswork and SWAG and bullshit; I saw people get hit and drop by my fire (almost always via machine guns from the air, but several times on the ground when the air base perimeter got breached). Several I got with my M16. How many KIA and how many simply wounded and dragged off the field? No idea. As we all know by now, our own commanders made up figures out of thin air most of the time and the MSM was more than happy to comply.

    In any case I wish now I’d racked up my count in Mordor instead, where we had enemies at least as dangerous.

  49. nick flandrey says:

    “Another thing about generators that I never see mentioned is the maintenance cycle. ”

    my little gennie (which I bought for y2k and never ran more than a few minutes until 2004, and then after a few hours it got a break until 2005 or 6. For that hurricane it ran 8-10 hours a day for 14 days.

    No maintenance at all. None. (except cleaning the carb. with small motors you always need to clean the carb) Still no maintenance.

    I’ve seen used ones that ran fine with horrible looking oil.

    I’m not suggesting that anyone abuse a machine, and they will certainly run better and longer when following the service recommendations, but don’t let the recommendation scare you away from having one. And don’t panic if you can’t change the oil.

    n

  50. Dave Hardy says:

    Besides the generator considerations, I’d be concerned about the availability of parts and suchlike for solar arrays, thinking long-term. But then again, what does long-term mean for most of us on this board now? If the array or the genny can last twenty years, I guess that’ll do her, eh?

    I don’t think we’ll bother with either here, other than a small genny to run the well pump for a month or two, if need be. Meanwhile we’ll have a manual pump ready to go. Then we’ll be transitioning to roughly 1900 with some surviving tech and engineering gear and structures that might last a while and/or be rehabilitated.

    If it goes long term, say, twenty or thirty years and continuing, the radios/batteries will have run out, so no commo other than smoke signals and sneakerNET, and ammo will be worth a LOT. Probably will have had to start making black powder and using that in the relevant firearms, and meanwhile trying to resurrect old steam/boiler power plants.

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