Warm and humid, possibility of rain, and flooding. Yesterday was part sun, part overcast, no real rain but some spatters. Today could be bad, depending on where you are.

Which is why my wife might cancel her Girl Scout camping weekend. We have one kid sick with sore throat, cough, and sniffles (but no covid), and the counties between here an camp are under flash flood warnings, with a weekend of rain in the forecast. I don’t think any one of those things would be enough, but all of them might make for a no fun, higher risk, weekend. They are supposed to be doing canoeing, and stargazing, and night hiking. Not likely during thunderstorms.

So I might be home, I might be working, I might be nursemaid. I’ll just be flexible and see.

Electrician is supposed to come by Saturday, and I’ve got some prep work to do, but not if it’s pouring down rain.

Yesterday I ran a couple of errands, and refilled some 1 pound propane bottles. That was interesting. I got much better results than the first time I tried it. We had a dozen empties after the big freeze, and my wife wanted to take a couple camping, so I got out the hose and got to work. I’ve got a hose/regulator/valve from amazon, which I’ve linked before. The chinese ones come and go, and brands are kinda ‘fluid’ so it’s hard to make a recommendation. There are lots of videos on youtube with techniques. I found that turning the BBQ bottle up side down, and holding the 1 pound bottle upside down worked the best. I could hear and feel when the propane stopped flowing. You just make the connection, turn on the valve, and after the flow stops, close the valve and remove the hose. Move on to the next bottle. Then, you need to release gas pressure from the bottles (you could use a propane torch with a valve, DON’T LIGHT IT, or just use a chopstick or other device to open the valve in the bottle. I let out a bit of gas, and then when you reconnect, more propane will flow into the bottle. I used a kitchen scale to weigh the bottles and monitor both how much I release, and how much got added. Starting with an empty bottle at 14 oz, I got about 3 oz fill each time, while letting off gas pressure reduced the weight 1/8 to 1/2 an oz. Do this a few times and the bottle will be at 1 pound 10 oz or more. That’s where I stopped, because a bit of that spattering rain started.

Now, messing about with propane is dangerous. I’m not suggesting anyone do it, and all my comments are for ‘entertainment’ and not instruction. Do whatever you do at your own risk. It’s NOT recommended to refill those 1 pound bottles. I definitely do recommend adding the brass screw caps to any bottle you’ve refilled or to any bottle that is partially used and removed from a device. Check them for leaks with soapy water (bubbles or foam mean it’s leaking.) Don’t store them inside or in enclosed spaces.

It’s also undeniable that refilling the bottles seems a whole lot less wasteful than just disposing of them, and cheaper too. Do what YOU are comfortable doing. I will refill the bottles at least one time, and more if the valve seal continues to close reliably. Keep in mind you’re venting propane gas as part of the process. Do it outside on a mildly breezy day, away from any potential ignition sources. Don’t breath the propane. Having watched the big bottle refill process many times, and seeing how much propane is released by that process, I’m not worried about what little gets released when you mount and dismount the little bottles.

I’ve got a bunch of the BBQ bottles. For a while I was buying them at estate sales whenever I saw them. They store indefinitely, as long as the valves are good. I’ve got conversion hoses and fuel filters for my Mr Heaters, the refill setup, and I think I’ll get a propane conversion kit for my Honda eu3000i gennie too, as that would give me another option for fuel. In addition to the BBQ bottles, the little bottles are very handy for stoves and lanterns and heaters (and hoses are available to adapt the BBQ bottles to Coleman stoves and lanterns if desired). Whether you refill them or just buy new, they are very handy to have around, and even handier if you can refill them. Add them to your stack!

One of the beauties of “camping” is that it lets you ‘stealth’ prep. I’ve got a bunch of camping supplies, and a family of Scouts, what’s suspicious about that? And because camping gear is all designed to sustain life away from your home, it’s great preps…( and it has deniability if needed – “oh that? We used to camp but we haven’t used it in ages…”) Like the old CB radio and the fishing gear on the shelf, it just looks like typical garage stuff at first glance. And that might become more important as time goes by.

So keep stacking, or you’ll find yourself lacking…

nick