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Offline OldKooT

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So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« on: August 19, 2015, 09:00:00 AM »
Let me start with a small rant :D

All over the internet you can find many opinions on what I call "high tech, off grid complications" Or "HTOGC" for those with a Military requirement for acronyms LoL

HTOGC: The resulting confusion and over complication of over thinking, off grid living.

Some background: I grew up a Nebraska Farm boy. On a farm that was homesteaded by my family many years ago. Even as late as the mid to late 1970's there was still a real need for "the old ways" Lets go back a bit further...My Mom now 75 years old, was born in a sod dugout. My grandparents had 80 acres they worked largely by hand and horse at the time. Up the road my Great Grandfather had an established farm of 220 acres and "tractors" But as "Kids", my grandparents had to start out the hard way...and many story's have been told of their experiences.

My early teen years through adult age were spent living in Wisconsin. We lived in a area with a large Amish population. I worked on Amish farms, I worked in Logging mills, A dairy farm, and many other jobs as a youngster. Again lots of older men and women around that I learned a few skills from.  So how does this apply to my HTOGC rant? 

Simple...today's concern about needing to survive without electricity, or "grid" is in my opinion far over complicated.

This thread is just a simple place to share a few of the ideas that are not new, but time tested ways to accomplish things that still work today. There will be no set topic, it will be random, and most likely disorganized because that's how I roll.

Next post: We begin.







Norm

Are you a prepper?  "No, whats a prepper? I am just a mildly OCD farmer"

Offline OldKooT

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2015, 09:09:27 AM »
Power.... we all enjoy it. We probably don't appreciate it enough, and we fear it's not working. Oh and we also pay dearly for it as well. What is the first thing people fear about a "collapse" of today's society? No electricity.

No gas/fuel is also a huge fear many express.  So we buy generators, we stock pile fuel and try to think of ways to make that all work in a off grid reality forced on us by some event.

There is another way... a way that is proven to work, as it's how things were done before we had power lines strung all over creation. Before we had fuel at every corner, and before 24/7 availability to whatever we want. I can't be the only man here who remembers when gas stations closed at 5pm, and seldom were open on weekends at all. When you still had milk delivered to your house?

Ok I promise the next post we will really start... I warned you it would be disorganize.
Norm

Are you a prepper?  "No, whats a prepper? I am just a mildly OCD farmer"

Offline OldKooT

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2015, 10:26:38 AM »
Before rural areas especially... had available power, how were things done? Every farm had a tool they valued greatly, it was called the hit and miss engine. Lets explore this a bit... Imagine having a somewhat portable engine you could hook a variety of things to while making your day much easier. Now lets apply that to today's off grid "complications"

Want to run a small generator to charge your batteries? A hit and miss can do that. In fact hit and miss engines generated power for much of the USA in local city "power plants" very reliably for many decades. They were VERY large, but the concept remains the same.

Want to pump water? They can do that as well... grind corn? Wheat? Need flour? How about saw logs? Mill lumber? Crush stone? I have personally in my life seen many a unique use of a old hit and miss engine.

The real benefit in today's off grid experience to the old hit and miss engine is the simplicity. They are very simple devices, they require only a understanding of how they work and obviously some fuel/air/water.

Fuel: These really are a multi fuel engine. A hit and miss designed to run on gasoline can run on gas/LP/Kerosene/ethanol as an example. Some modifications required to convert, but nothing that's near as complicated as say a modern Honda engine. They can be very fuel efficient as well.  Years ago I had a small 3hp Hit and miss I charged a battery bank with...it would turn a old Chevy alternator making about 60amps or so using just under a quart of fuel a hour.

A small collection of hit and miss engines could and does benefit a off grid experience immensely. You could have a entire wood working shop or machine shop running off one if you had the notion to do so. It was done for many years that way...

Much like a skid steer or a compact tractor can be used for a variety of tasks depending on attachments, well a hit and miss works the same way. Difference is the attachments are far cheaper, and in many cases easily home built.

A few examples: I have early 1900's Lentz grinder. I have grinding plates for it that allow it to grind wheat/corn/you name it. Fine or coarse it is rather versatile. It can make corn meal for the kitchen, or chicken/hog feed and all with an investment of about $75 and some elbow grease. Last year I used it to grind corn cobs and then heated our home with them in the corn stove.

I have waiting to be restored or working, a variety of old equipment a hit and miss can power. A few plans for the future include the following. A grist mill *$45 at an auction, the Letz grinder *$75 A log splitter *$100 off craigslist, a buzz saw *$45 at an auction. I have 3 different sized hit and miss engines, I have maybe about $250 invested in, that will all be running by winters end.

How about a Coleman Light plant? These were a mainstay of many a farm and when I was a kid it was the backup power for our farm. I still own it and it will also be restored and back in operational condition soon. It does still run, it just needs some love.

For the price of one small cheapo generator, I will have equipment that will run for decades, uses less fuel, and has adaptability to many uses and largely obsoletes a generator to begin with. And they weigh so much...no ones going to swipe them easily either LoL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UP8laDwgtcc Imagine this beauty in your shed pumping water, running a generator, the possibilities are endless.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38_-Dcr6w68  I have used one of these, and am looking for one of my own presently...handy, very effective, and well maybe someday a real deal off grid table saw if required.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fNoOj8v2tI This is a handy little tool if you burn wood. Way less fuel than a chainsaw and less work than a axe. I see these all the time at sales for less than $100 needing restoration. In many cases that equals some grease, sharpen the saw and get to work.

One other interesting aspect to this less complicated way of doing things off grid...it preserves history for our future generations, teaches them there are other ways...and it's a fun family hobby as well in all truth.

I doubt many of us would load of a new generator take it to a show and demonstrate it's usefulness. A old hit and miss engine and a few attachments can be a great way to meet older folks with amazing knowledge, show today's kids about the past, and in general not a bad way to spend a afternoon. We have a show here locally that often has 100's of these things doing all sorts off interesting work. But they also have a practical use...they can provide us with less complicated off grid values that make the idea of no "juice" much less concerning.

My grandfather had a still during WW2 He made the fuel for these old engines to run the farm. Self reliance right there. Try that with a modern engine...







Norm

Are you a prepper?  "No, whats a prepper? I am just a mildly OCD farmer"

Offline Sammconn

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2015, 10:28:25 AM »
I'll help you stay off topic then.

At our cabin, totally off grid. The simplicity is absolutely peaceful.
You want peace and quiet, shut it all down, nothing but the water and wind and birds...

Now, I have a hybrid electrical system, and satellite TV, so we're not totally out to lunch, and out of touch with the world.
We have a fridge, it runs on propane, but there is the option if an ice cellar for me, guys still use them out on the islands.
There also are fridges that run on 12 volts, would take a significant amount of solar and battery, but is also an option.

The old wood stoves, I remember an Aunt that had the stove/oven, ran coal and wood, hot in the summer, but you need to cook.

The HTOGC is a problem we all face, but don't need to.
Head out camping, with a tent, some sleeping stuff, some cooking supplies and food, and some matches.
Cook on a fire, throw the phone away, and just sit back and enjoy.
I just don't want to wind up missing a digit or limb.  I can sometimes get in a hurry to get results.
Sam

Offline nmeyer414

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2015, 11:21:21 AM »
norm, if i may add something to this.  i found this video from one of the ones you posted and thought that it being a tutorial would/could be really benificial as a tutorial.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUE4KwOsAIw
Nate

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Offline OldKooT

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2015, 11:53:33 AM »
Sam...that's exactly how I see it as well. My wife and family are avid tent campers. Off grid living is as simple as not trying to live like you do on grid, while off grid.

If you think about it... why does everyone buy a big expensive generator if they are worried about off grid living? I have a few myself to get through power outages but if I was truly needing to survive with no power grid I wouldn't be complicating things with technology. I'd do just the opposite. I'd use technology to make a old reliable way of life even easier. Modern Gen sets like my Onan use a cpl gallons of fuel a hour to run at load. They are nice machines but there are better ways if one is looking at a long term solution. Or in effect I see the need for a large gen set only deriving from the need for today's technology and convenience.

I'd just cut down on power needs overall to begin with. I think a old Lister Diesel 16/2 would be my choice for generated power. Utterly reliable, and very easy on fuel. They also do a fine job of heating water while they run, so a good time to shower, while your making juice. Charging your battery bank, making hot water, and running a well pump all at once makes sense. When your done, back to the batteries if you need juice. I have yet to score a old Lister engine to tinker with, but when I do I fully expect it will be a main feature in our "off grid" hide away from the world I fully intend to build. ( I can be a hermit at times LoL)

I already have a old cook stove that runs on wood or coal hid away in my barn. It's also on the list of things I fully intend to make use of. I have a antique but still functional compressor and cooling system I saved from the milk barn. It's designed to run off a old hit and miss, or say a Lister. It was designed to cool milk "off grid" but I am going to build a underground freezer out of it for the summer months. That same underground area will most likely also be used for other functionality.

In short I am just going to use what is already a well proven concept and see if I can improve upon it with a few select modern touches. But I feel the #1 simplest way to go off grid is to stop the silliness of a on grid mind set.

I envy your island place, the idea ya need a boat to visit is appealing. I may dig a moat, maybe that will suffice lmao


 





Norm

Are you a prepper?  "No, whats a prepper? I am just a mildly OCD farmer"

Offline OldKooT

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2015, 12:00:52 PM »
Nate.... good call TY for the heads up link.... They are fascinating machines aren't they? Having used many in my life I have a deep respect for how well they work, and how much work they save.

I look forward to restoring the ones I have stashed away. Practical hard working equipment that's cheap to use...and a fun hobby to boot.  Oh and EMP proof unlike modern Gen sets and such LoL
Norm

Are you a prepper?  "No, whats a prepper? I am just a mildly OCD farmer"

Offline KensAuto

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2015, 12:46:04 PM »
They are great pieces of history, and are a real hoot to listen to, even if only as a hobby.
I have a small maytag model, but have been keeping my eyes open for one a bit larger, in case i actually need one some day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGJIbZMLI7M
« Last Edit: August 19, 2015, 01:07:43 PM by KensAuto »
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Offline Wilbur

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2015, 01:20:50 PM »
I think this is a great topic (topics?)! While I like the idea of some of the old Listers and have now learned about the hit or miss engines, I have long felt a gasifier would be a great SHTF/Off Grid solution. Ultimately with the Lister and hit or miss engines we still need fuel of some sort (although I really like the idea of a still to make fuel!). With a gasifier the fuel is wood. Of which even in a SHTF scenario one would have access to (depending on your AO of course).

I am really looking forward to seeing more info posted! And I think you hit the nail on the head about seeing how some of the old traditional methods are really great. My Mom is from northern Maine (potato country) and with the rise of more corporate farms and very little industry many of the kids have left/are leaving. The drop in property values has been a boon for the Amish who have moved to the area in big numbers. They are really doing well and are about as self-sufficient a group as I have seen. I daresay a grid crash scenario would not hit them very hard.   

Offline husker77c

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2015, 01:34:16 PM »
What area of NE did you grow up in?  My family has been in NE for awhile also.  As to your hit and miss engines. I worked with an old school pipeline mechanic for a lot of years.  He used to collect old engines and every time an old engine and tractor show would come around he and I would go.  While I am too young to ever see these in actual use there was always demonstrations at the shows.  You are 100% right that they can do so many things.  I saw them do all the things you mentioned and probably more I don't remember.  Old school tech is the ultimate preparation.  It would be so useful for any type of emergency alps as well as being able to go off grid.

Also old tractors with the attachment to run the long leather belts to operate all the same machinery. Not as efficient as a hit and miss but who couldn't use a tractor?   Only downfall I can see is they can be kind of dangerous to start.  He told me stories of getting launched into the air while trying to start an engine with a huge flywheel.

This is the same guy who got me into black smithing.  As soon as I get a set location to live with room to get out my anvil and build a forge I will start a thread on that subject.

Offline Wilbur

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2015, 02:39:14 PM »
Also old tractors with the attachment to run the long leather belts to operate all the same machinery.

The guy I used to buy my chicken feed from when I was a kid had a sawmill run off his tractor with the belt you mention. He cut lumber like crazy with that thing.

Offline OldKooT

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2015, 02:40:11 PM »
Wood gassification has long peaked my interests. The Germans used it heavily during WW2 with pretty great success. And much has been done with it since. Probably not enough really. I think it has real potential as a stationary source of fuel for a gen set as an example.

I do feel fuel sources in a "crap" scenario are questionable. But having knowledge my for fathers ran an entire farm on fuel they cooked off of the land they owned is a positive step mentally. When I was a kid I drank some of that fuel...it was popular at the Army Air Base also I understand LOL

Ken...those old Maytag engines were always fascinating. Somewhere around here there is a bucket of Maytag parts that was here when we bought this place. If it wasn't for the obvious shipping costs I'd score you a larger olde hit and miss, they aren't too hard to find around here.

As for where I grew up in Nebraska. Broken Bow was my first home, and the family homestead is near a place called "Bixby" So a 15min drive from Sutton.

Latter today I may see if I can snag a cpl pictures for you all... if it stops raining

Norm

Are you a prepper?  "No, whats a prepper? I am just a mildly OCD farmer"

Offline Flyin6

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2015, 04:31:00 PM »
First I heard of this hit and miss engine

I really like it

I was working a lead on some old diesel engines, but harbor freight purchased them all

The railroads have huge refrigerated warehouses and they were powered by old perkins diesels, 4 cyl ones I think
So HF bought them all up, reconditioned them and are selling them to GP through their stores or catalog

kind of big and thirsty, but for a plan I was working on to have a survival camp with many families, it would have been the right size. Not electronic at all, but large and thirsty.

This hit and miss thing is really peaking my interest
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Offline husker77c

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2015, 06:04:14 PM »
Broken Bow is where my mom lives.  I graduated fe HS in Dunning. 

Offline TexasRedNeck

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2015, 11:07:06 PM »
Absolutely fascinating and I am anxiously awaiting more.

Now I'd love to be able to power a window unit with one...

I can live with sub freezing temps, its the triple digit high humidity stuff that kills me.
Kids today don't know how easy they have it. When I was young, I had to walk 9 feet through shag carpet to change the TV channel.

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Offline Sammconn

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2015, 11:12:51 PM »
Also the first I've heard of them. I'm thinking I may have seen one in the past, not knowing what it was, and passed it off as a steam engine maybe.

These things are really cool. Did a bit of research and very simple piece of machinery.
I just don't want to wind up missing a digit or limb.  I can sometimes get in a hurry to get results.
Sam

Offline Flyin6

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2015, 09:05:20 AM »
Also the first I've heard of them. I'm thinking I may have seen one in the past, not knowing what it was, and passed it off as a steam engine maybe.

These things are really cool. Did a bit of research and very simple piece of machinery.
Simple indeed

And simple means maintainable.

Now perhaps we are seeing why that NNK (Norm the Nebraska Knucklehead) was led here. To learn us of all these old ways which we have forgotten.
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Offline KensAuto

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2015, 10:35:24 AM »
A little bit of fuel, and a bunch of inertia. They aren't light, especially the flywheels.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2015, 10:35:55 AM by KensAuto »
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Online JR

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2015, 03:47:30 PM »
I think the flywheel is the key. Reminds me of seeing perpetual motion motors.

Did a quick craigslist search and they are all around here, some cheap, some not.
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Offline Sammconn

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2015, 04:19:22 PM »
Came across this site from a Facebook post.

http://offgridquest.com/

Spent a few minutes looking about, some interesting stuff. And seems to be a lot of topics in general.
I'll make no comment on validity of any of it yet.
I just don't want to wind up missing a digit or limb.  I can sometimes get in a hurry to get results.
Sam

Offline OldKooT

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2015, 07:29:05 PM »
A word of caution.... these old engines are a valuable tool when massaged back to like new conditions. Some are about impossible to buy parts for, so they become a true labor of love to restore. Hopefully if I get some time this fall I will compile a short list of desirable models for the topic we are discussing here.

My own personal plans are a pair of Lister Diesel's about 12 or 16HP stationary mounted in a building with say a 8kw or so Gen head on one, and a 5 on the other. One of the twins will also pump water when needed.

I also plan to scrounge up a Large 25hp sized hit and miss for sawmill duty, as well as assorted other jobs requiring more grunt than my little ones can manage.

My wife somewhere in our collection of junk has a flat belt powered butter churn. This along with the corn sheller, grinder, grist mill will handle most any food/feed type duties if required.

I figure worst case deal I have a host of fun antiques to play with LoL

 







Norm

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Offline Flyin6

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2015, 09:31:03 PM »
I'm gonna want to come out and visit to see all this cool stuff!
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Offline BobbyB

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So, Bobby...being the calculating trained warrior NCO that you are.  Take the appropriate action, Execute!

Offline cruizng

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2015, 09:40:10 AM »
That is why I love this site. Learn something new everyday! Hit and Miss Engines. Will have to check that out.

Thanks Norm.
Mike
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Offline Flyin6

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #24 on: August 21, 2015, 09:56:58 AM »
I just checked the Cincy Craigslist, but found none
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Offline KensAuto

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #25 on: August 21, 2015, 10:23:38 AM »
My former boss never found them on the net when he went back east for "trinket collecting". It was always knowing someone, who knows someone with one in the barn. There's plenty out there, just hiding in a corner somewhere.

The one thing i don't have, that I really want, is an old 60hp flathead....not too many out this way. I'm sure Norm knows what that is, but for those that don't, it's a mini v-8...smaller version of the more popular 80-110hp ford flatheads. They used them in early rods, tractors, even cabs in France. I rebuilt one for a guy a bunch of years ago. Very cool.
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Offline OldKooT

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #26 on: August 21, 2015, 12:19:31 PM »
Ken I agree on the "knowing someone" being how ya find these old Gems. Lord knows my barn holds some interesting pieces of junk likely valuable to someone LoL

As for the Ford mini flatty. Not only do I know what they are, I actually know where there are a few dozen. But they aren't for sale, as the fella that owns them is a avid early midget collector. But knowing you want one Ken I will keep my eyes open, I find the darnedest things at times. If I remember correctly, the 38-39 Models are the desirable ones. I guess I don't remember why that is.
Norm

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Offline KensAuto

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Re: So you want to go off-grid on a budget.
« Reply #27 on: August 21, 2015, 04:00:37 PM »
Thanks Norm. Yeah, not sure on the years, but every year has the cool factor.
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