Monday, July 2, 2018

Centerfire sale on Ammo. Rained all night. The little solar power system that couldn't. The old guns are still being used.

Monday morning here.   The humidity is very high, with the result that we had a lot of fog out on the mountain at sunrise. There's a reason they call these the "Smoky Mountains."

painting by Jeff Pittman

It rained all night.  Today is supposed to be thunderstorms and showers in the afternoon, then again at night.  We have had rain for the last week and a half, every day.  I spend a lot of time getting out of my Jeep and moving debris off the dirt roads I drive on.  The creeks I have to ford coming in the back way, through the national forest, are way up.

We have to go into town today.  Last week my wife went to see her doctor, and he was supposed to have called in the prescription she needed, but it didn't get done. We had stretched her supply out to the bare nub, because we wanted to combine her lab work and the prescription in one visit. We have a $35.00 copayment on office visits, so there's no sense in going up there just to "pick up" the prescription. But when we went to get the medicine at the pharmacy Friday evening, it wasn't there. That happens a lot with this office.  However, very few doctor's offices in North Georgia want to take patients who are elderly, so we don't have a lot of choices. The doctors here are not very subtle. You call the office and the person who answers the phone is very nice when you ask about coming to see the doctor. But then they ask you how old you are, and when you say 66, they say they are very sorry, but they are not accepting new patients right now. I think it has something to do with medicare. I actually have United Health Care, through my wife's retirement plan, but the age is the killer.

Centerfire has some good sales on ammo, including free shipping.  The two below are not particularly spectacular in terms of price, but they are both good for long term storage.

I can't get either of these locally, and usually order them from Cheaper than Dirt or Sportsman's Guide, but the free shipping makes the overall cost at Centerfire better, while it lasts.

Had someone ask me about storing fuel.  Most people know about fuel additives, there are plenty of them out there for diesel, kerosene, and gasoline. They add to the long term viability of the fuel you store. I got involved in long term fuel storage when I installed a solar power system here in 1999.

If you have a diesel truck and a diesel generator, like I do, here's the best way to go in my experience.

These are home heating oil fuel tanks. I use them to store diesel. Each tank holds 500 gallons.  Since my solar power system installed in 1999 was a complete and utter bust in terms of solar power, I am dependent on my generator when the grid goes down (which it does here with stunning regularity.)

(Note: the following pictures are all from 1999, which is why my hair is still black in the photos.)

With my two tanks, I just gravity flow the diesel down into a diesel can (yellow = diesel), (blue=kerosene), (red = gasoline).

Then I just take it over and fill the tanks on the truck.  Diesel costs a lot more now than it did then, but I still use it because it stores a good bit longer than gas will, and it doesn't explode. I don't want two 500  gallon above ground tanks of gasoline anywhere near my place.

The power system I had installed in 1999 had a bank of 8 purpose built deep cycle batteries, which were charged (supposedly) by the solar panels, and the inverter would kick on the generator automatically if the charge got low.

The inverter was a kind of super computer, that monitored the batteries, and it also switched the flow of power from the grid to the batteries if the grid went down. I could also use it to make that switch while the power grid was up if I needed to for maintenance purposes.

This is the solar panel rack. I used Siemens panels, German built and in 1999, the best quality you could buy. Unfortunately, the rack was fixed.  Solar panels need sun to work. In winter, there is very little sun here because though I live on a mountain top, higher mountains surround me on all sides. Short winter days and that sunlight blocking meant in winter, the system pretty much ran off the generator. 

Originally, I tried fixing the generator on a pallet, with rubber rockers to stabilize it, and pumping the exhaust outside of the outbuilding. That never worked, it just wasn't possible to keep the place from filling up with fumes. Then I tried rolling it out and firing it up when I needed it, but that was not practical, especially in bad weather. Eventually I wound up mounting it on the ground level, at the downslope side of the house. Noisy, but it does work.

I store flammables like paint, gasoline, and kerosene in a shack out away from the buildings. It's in the tree line, so shaded, and it's not air tight so fumes can't build up.  These days, I just use the generator.

This is a bit more primitive than my storage shack, but it gives you the idea.

There are all kinds of stabilizers for fuel on the market. These are just representative of the choices.

Doesn't hurt to keep fuel stored. Kerosene is great for back up heaters, and lamps.  Most power tools that don't use electricity run off gasoline, and as in my case, some trucks and generators do.

Some things about Appalachia haven't changed much:

I mentioned going to a gathering here recently.  Part of it involved doing some competitive shooting with whatever you had at the house.  It was just for fun.  At first, I was surprised at how many surplus guns I saw, but talking to people, most of them came from that department store in the next county that used to sell guns, though they've not done so for probably 15 years now. I noticed it was the younger guys, in the teen to twenty something range, that were using most of these and they got them from their fathers.  People here don't spend money on hunting weapons like they used to, so the older men have stepped up to the commercial hunting rifles and the younger guys, who aren't much into hunting, just use the old surplus guns. This is a huge generalization of course, but it seems to be valid. I wish I could have taken some photos for the blog, but  that would not have been well received. Everyone is ancey, these days, and I didn't want to cause any problems.

 I saw both MK. III and MK. IV Enfields. It's worth noting that the shooters I watched were all using commercial ammo, and to my great surprise they were not reloading it. I got a good many one time fired pieces of brass in .303, since no one wanted them. I didn't see any surplus .303 British being used.

I saw "American Enfield" rifles, the Model 1917. I'm sure those came from that department store, because that's where I got mine, and I remember they got several crates of them in and they went fast.

Of course, there was every kind of  commercial hunting rifle you could imagine, by far the most common being bolt guns, followed by the lever guns.  There was no range control to speak of, it was self regulated, and I didn't see any bad gun handling or acts of stupidity. But considering the fellows who were there, I would have been surprised  if that kind of thing happened.

So the old guns are still up here, and these guys were not collectors. It's been a long time since I've been to a "shoot" and I enjoyed it.

Thought for the day:

Hank Williams, Jr. knows whereof he speaks:


  1. That Kero-Klean sure is a godsend for wick type kerosene heaters. The gathering sounds like fun. I wonder if anything like that takes place around my neck of the woods. Trouble is around here there are too many mooks and yahoos out there who would likely mess it up for everyone else.

    1. There are people like that here, too. They just don't get asked to come to the gathering. It's word of mouth. A fellow I used to work with years ago gave me a heads up, and I went. It was a worthwhile endeavor, if only to reinforce the notion that there are lots of people up here who are good, solid, working people with conservative values. From looking around in town, you could come to believe that was not the case these days.

      I keep a good bit of kerosene, both for my back up heaters in the outbuildings, and because I have a good many of the old kerosene lamps. I don't use them anymore, because I have LED lanterns for times now when I need that kind of thing, but then again, backups to backups.

  2. Unless you live in the desert southwest, I don't think solar is all that practical or cost efficient. Neat old rifles.

    1. There are people who use it here, but they have massive fields of solar cells, or they have those that track the sun. They also have flat land not blocked by the terrain. I think the desert would be ideal for solar power. There used to be a guy who lived out in the desert, and he was even on one of those Discovery Channel or National Geographic channel shows about survivalists. He had a good blog, but I lost track of him.

      Those old guns were really, and I mean, really cheap back in the 80's and 90's. So somebody who couldn't lay out the hard coin for a Winchester or a Remington would go down to that department store and buy himself a surplus gun for fifty bucks. There are still a lot of those guns up here in this area from that period. I would guess that the department store sold thousands of surplus weapons until it was bought out by a New York Company and turned into a dirt cheap trash store for Mexican migrant workers. They quit selling guns.

  3. Just stopped by to pop my head in, and say Hey.

    1. Hey, Rob. Good to hear from you. Have a good fourth of July up there.

  4. So much for health care for everybody. Around here, they just say they don't accept medicare, but it's true, a lot less doctors will take it at all.

    Your photo of things not changing much in Appalachia made me think of our new next door neighbors. The owner of the house's granddaddy used to farm our land and he's been around a long time - our best neighbor. Anyway he moved and rented it to a couple from New Jersey. They're afraid to go outside because they think everyone around here has guns and shoots at anything and everything. Sheesh.

    Good info on fuel and fuel additives. It's a shame your solar set-up didn't work better. I've been dabbling in solar myself, but just with a small panel, solar charger, and two deep cycle batteries. It's a start.

    1. I think we might have that problem with medicare, except we have United Health Care administer it through the State Health Benefit plan that covers retired teachers. When we got old enough for Medicare, the SHBP still administered the health insurance, but they stopped taking the payments out of my wife's pension, and Social Security took them out of our social security payments. Confusing, but it seems to work ok.

      There are still a lot of oldsters alive up here that were born in the 1930's and have lived here all their lives. I enjoy talking to them when I get a chance.

      I think solar might be a viable application for running my well pump when the power is out, but I would need one of those systems that track the sun across the sky.

  5. It's too bad the solar panels didn't work great. That would be ideal being in the middle of no where.

    1. It would have been nice, but a lot of my projects over the years have not worked out. I read about something, try to do it. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. I think the solar power system was certainly my most expensive flop.