Vacuum Sealer Project: FIRESTARTER

The simple vacuum sealer. One of my favorite appliances made for home use. I’ve always wanted to have the ability to vacuum package my own stuff since I opened one in the 70’s.  It might be survival supplies, clothing I want to stay dry and compact, or something good to eat.  Around here seems like the sealer gets used for non-food items as much as repackaged food or snacks.

Sometime in 2016 I started to update our fire starting kits.  In the past my fire starting kit included military surplus matches/trioxane fuel bars/toilet paper packet, flint/steel/char-cloth/extra cloth/in a tin, Bic brand lighter, a Doan Magnesium Firestarter, pine heart wood, magnifying glass, and wildcrafted tender that was constantly in need of replacement.

I always use the lighter first.  All the rest of it backup or an aid when the flames needed a little help.  The updated kit for everyday fire starting is very small, natural fibre tender, lighter and WetFire if the fire needs help.

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The survival fire starting kit has more options based on the many fire starting failures and successes I’ve experienced over the years.  I know what does and does not work for me.  There is nothing like suffering as a motivator.  If at all possible I won’t do without a heat source.

The updated kit is set up to be self contained within an individual survival kit or pack.  All of the items within the kit are vacuum sealed individually.  Each vacuum package is over size to allow the package to be reused after opening.  The length is long enough to allow the end to be rolled up then held closed with a rubber band included in each package.

Not sure if this would work I tested to see if this would be enough to keep out rain or a dunk in water.  Part of a paper towel was placed into the package.  The torn edge was rolled then held in place with a rubber band.  The sprayer on the sink set to high, water blasted on the package from every angle for a minute or so with no leak.

A similar test was set up for dunking.  The same package used to test before was used for this test, nothing was changed on the package at all.  The package was held underwater in a drywall compound bucket for about thirty seconds to a minute.  I held it down by hand and moved it gently in the water to simulate a quick immersion in a body of water. Thinking as if this was in my pocket and I fell into water somehow and was able to get out quickly.  Again, the result, dry.

Wouldn’t it be great if I’d filmed it.  But no! It was an after thought.  Not so much as a photograph.  Getting used to that now.  Better off doing your own testing for sure.  The packing material rolled tightly along with the compression of the rubber band worked much better than I expected.

The contents are mostly modern.  I’ve eliminated the old time flint-steel and military surplus trioxane/matches/T.P.  The kits may still contain military surplus like a Doan’s firestarter  or folding knife since those seem to last forever.

Added UCO matches to the standard book matches and Bic lighter.  Anyone who has not seen the testing done on the UCO matches should see it then make up their own mind.  If it gets down to lighting a fire with matches I think those are my best chance of getting it lit.  They are the only match I know of that will still be lit if I manage to drop it in water.

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Various types of tender.  A tin of pine heart wood with a high pitch content, cedar and hardwood shavings, alcohol prep pads and WetFire cubes.  Magnifying glass and fresnel lens.  Swedish Fire steel purchased on sale with either a Camillus military stainless four blade folder or a Victorinox Pioneer knife.

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All of it packaged in a waterproof vacuum sealed pouch made at home.  It measures roughly 5 1/2″ x 8″, 1lb 3oz or 540g. The kit will never be a problem to keep on hand.  The last addition to the kit was a by accident item.

A friend came back from a professional convention and handed me several nylon carry bags.  I looked at them, they had cord configured into a backpack.  Didn’t think much of the flimsy things so I set them aside.  About an hour later a thought smacked me in the head like a hammer.

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I grabbed one, folded it a few times, it fit the fire starting kit profile.  Like it was planned that way.  The thought that hit me was how useful the bag would be in gathering all the small stuff needed to start a fire that is difficult to transport without loosing valuable resources.  The thinking was what if the fire starting kit was the only survival item I had on my person a way to carry things would be very helpful.

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Sure the bag is made of imported nylon and cordage.  The thing is, all it has to do is work well once for a short period of time.  If the bag is not overloaded I have confidence it will hold lightweight items for a few days until help arrived or conditions changed.  The already made kit and the bag were added to another vacuum pouch then sealed.  That way the bag can be retrieved without having to open the fire starting kit if its not needed.

Don’t forget the tear notch!  Must have the tear notch no matter what your preference!

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Tear notch samples

This video was filmed in early 2017 after getting all the items together.  I noticed after making the package in the video I had left the knife out.  That’s what I get for not making a checklist.  It was not filmed but the knife was added as soon as I moved some of the stuff visible to the right in the video.  The knife was covered by some it.

This is a kit I never want the need to use it.  Because if I do need to use it, it means something has gone wrong. -13

The video.

Homemade, Do-It-Yourself, S&W J-Frame Moon Clip Holder – Carrier.

Uh-oh, another, thought I’d done this already! What the hell is going on in my head!

On topic!  Here is my Works-For-Me moon clip carrier.  Cannot believe how well it works!  For me.  Thinking mostly everything is in the video so I’ll make some brief notes here.

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S&W 642 J-Frame size.

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I had everything on hand for this project.  The medicine bottles, specimen tubes, hot melt glue and small screws.

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Tools required, some type of saw that will saw brittle plastics.  A way to drill.  A screwdriver.

 

 

The reason I didn’t make the specimen tube shorter (2″) is because the bullet part of the round came into contact with the tube lid.  In addition, the bottle seems to be tapered, so the further the rounds were inserted the tighter they became.  To much for a quick release.

 

 

Next ones I’ll make will use larger stainless screws.  So far I have not had any problems with these at all.  Currently I’m experimenting with bat grip tape wrapped around the bottle.  So far the results are promising but time will tell.  Let me know what you think.  Thank you for checking out my stuff.  -13

 

Here’s the video.

Vacuum Sealer Project: Pill Pack for Medication

This Preparedness – Prepper – Hiker Vacuum Sealer Tip may get you arrested.  Sensational title but true.  Those of us who take multiple pills whether they’re prescription medications or supplements often use those multi-dose/day pill containers.  Doing so could get you arrested, maybe prosecuted.  Prescription medications are supposed to remain in their original container according to the law as I understand it.

There are all sorts of possibilities which is why the only advise I ever give anyone is, seek the advise of legal counsel and medical professionals before you do whatever it is you’re up to.

I made these pill packs originally for backpacking/hiking trips and as a way to carry a small amount of vital medications on my person at all times.  Ever miss your ibuprofen, antihistamine or whatever because you didn’t have it with you?  Yeah me too but no longer.  Plus it helps save money buying in bulk and having to not throw out medications stored improperly.

I make up a new pack/s every time I have to open bulk meds.  Usually fill one or two of the individual pouches and then put the rest in a larger pouch for long-term storage.  I always include the name of the drug/supplement, type/concentration, lot number and expiration date.  I never separate this information from anything I place in these pouches until I’d consumed the contents.  It’s very important to keep them together.

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Things I find helpful to have on hand, a red sharpie makes it easier for me to see the marks so I can line them up with the heat sealer portion of the vacuum sealer.  A funnel helps with precise placement of the pills.  I have a short extension of soft plastic tubing but couldn’t find it for the video.  It’s good for reaching to the deepest part of the pouch when trying to get pills that want to grab the pouch material instead of slide.

To make the pill packs I use an 11″ vacuum sealer roll like the rolls in this link.  2 Pack – SimpleHouseware 11″ x 50′ Commercial Vacuum Sealer Rolls Food Storage Saver Compatible to Foodsaver Sous Vide (total 100 feet) To make the template I used microsoft publisher then converted it into a downloadable PDF file located here.  PILL PACK DIVIDER INDIVIDUAL DOSE TEMPLATE  When looking at the template the top  and bottom two boxes are larger than the center boxes.  They’re larger to account for the various size factory sealed edges.

I laminated my second printing for durability because the first one was getting beat up from use, and also added a grommet to hang up or bind with other similar items.

Expired meds shown in the video are kept past their expiration date if preserved correctly following the DoD Shelf Life Extension Program.  I would include a link but the government has removed them.  Not sure how you’ll get that info now I don’t have anything to share at the time of this posting.  Research it maybe you’ll find something.

Everything else I think, is in the video.   Check it out. -13

 

Wow over 10,000 views on my compost sifter video! I can’t believe it!

I can hardly believe the numbers.  I’ve been messing around over at YouTube getting things in order over there, trying to understand things better and clicked on the wrong button.  It went to the first page of my videos.  When I was checking out the views on the videos listed I couldn’t believe how many views my compost sifter had.  It’s really exciting to see that there are many people interested in composting and possibliy organic gardening.  Really hope my video inspires and lifts people up.  -13

Dash Cam: Compilation 1 What better to do with my Dash Cam video?

South Florida Driving 101.  Experience all that driving in south Florida has to offer. Heart pounding cut-offs, pedestrian-zombies, package-twine-mattress-haulers, crisscrossing-panics.  Get your South Florida Driving safety education from the experts in rude, incompetent, insane, dumb and dangerous driving.  All for free.  Just ride along with us.  For this ride you don’t need a seatbelt or insurance and rear-seat drivers are welcome to.

Great title and funny text for my new and sure to continue video project.  Why didn’t I think of this before now?   To think of all I’ve deleted of such good footage of horrible driving is disappointing.  The close calls, the laughs, the anger, the mayhem.

No more.  I’m going to starting running several cameras while I’m on the road and outfit my friend’s car since she drives everywhere down here and always has great stories.  We’re going to capture them on video if we can then add them to the project.

The idea came to me once again while I was listening to the jingles on iMovie and YouTube audio libraries.   It seem to me there were a lot of good jingles under 2 minutes that would be perfect for featuring the madness we all see when driving.  I feel the time is perfect for making these videos because most things only last seconds and 2 minutes is not too long to watch.  Also many videos need to be repeated and slowed down so we can see the action.  It all seems like a perfect fit.

This video is my first one of the project.  I had a lot of fun editing this one with the many transitions, slow motions, text, all of it.  The beginning is my favorite with the animated map and water splash type opening.  I think it’s really cool what can be done with iMovie, a dash cam and some old iPhones.  Welcome aboard, hope you enjoy the ride! -13

Vacuum Sealer Project: Another easy-open packaging video!

Another video about how to make your vacuum sealer packaging easier to open with a pattern notcher.

This goofy video was totally inspired by the Jingle track playing with the video.  When I was making a longer version of a video with the same topic I was searching through iMovie’s sound library for a little intro sound.  As I was listening to the tune this video idea popped into my head.  I thought it would be cool to try to communicate similar information in the 36 seconds it takes the tune to play without a voice speaking over the track.

I went back to my improvised shop set up in the living room and recorded this in about 15 minutes and spent about an hour editing.  It’s kind of silly and dumb and totally low-budget but I actually like it and it was fun from beginning to end to make.  Have fun hope you enjoy it. -13

 

Vacuum Sealer Project: How to make your packaging easy to open

Several years ago I packaged an emergency kit in vacuum sealer packaging.  Tested it, and was completely shocked to discover how tough the packaging is and how difficult it can be to open without using some other instrument or object.  Attempting to open one of them by hand-only proved impossible to do without assistance.  It also made me realize how important and useful the tear-notch on freeze dried meals made for backpacking could be.

An individual, with an injured hand and/or dentures/front dental work would be at risk for not being able to open the package without assistance from an object or the tear-notch.  With a tear-notch it may be possible place part of the package underfoot and tear with the uninjured hand.  I know this for sure, I cannot do it without the tear-notch.

The first experiments with nothing more than a simple straight cut with the scissors worked fairly well.  I noticed though when I decided to cut a “V” shape into the margin on the packaging that it was easier to open and the tear didn’t seen to veer off like the single cut did.  Sometimes when I was testing the single cut way the tear would not always follow into and open the package, it would follow the margin and made it just as difficult to open.

I like the V cut over the single cut because it is more visible and easier to use.  There are a few things I don’t like about the V cut.  First it takes two cuts to make, that is a lot of cutting when making multiple packages and more than one tear-notch for each package.  The cut must be more accurate to ensure that the two cuts meet at the V point, if they don’t it may create another more difficult package to open.  It works great but it’s much more time consuming and requires a certain degree of accuracy unlike the single cut.

Not happy with either of those things I searched for another more efficient way to make those notches.  I was trying to think of what to search for online when I remembered something I had seen in a sewing supply catalog I had but couldn’t remember what it was.  Lucky me I had kept the catalog and found it.  The item is a pattern notcher.

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A, Style-45N, 1/16″ x 1/4″ Pattern Notcher. Turns out it works perfectly for this purpose.  It cuts the perfect notch for getting the package open plus all one needs to do is put the margin edge of the packaging into the notcher until it stops then close the notcher with your hand and done!  Wow what a really fantastic solution!  I can quickly and accurately place the notch and make the cut in seconds then move onto the next pressing homesteading project.

I made a short video about my experience and demonstrate the way that “Works for me”.  Hope you find this information useful. -13

 

Video Projects: YouTube channel, have you subscribed yet?

If you haven’t’ subscribed yet you may want to if you’re into organic gardening, homestead living, animal husbandry, austere medicine, homestead fire prevention/protection, do-it-yourself and stuff about everyday life.  Go check it out, don’t forget, it’s free.  If you really like it share it with your friends or those of like mind.  Not much there yet, but more is on the way. -13

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdgl0U8gZkQylbQlivtOi5A/

Video Projects: Organic gardening, my homemade compost sifter experience.

After the marathon style cut and paste the other night I noticed that I never wrote much about my experience and had only made a video.   So, now I’m feeling kind of motivated so here it goes.  I’m into organic gardening, that requires compost, lots of it if you’re into producing a large amount of food for canning/storage purposes.  I found a great local source for horse manure, fresh, steaming, shoulder-level piles of it.  Moving 5 pick-up truck loads of horse manure by hand and wheel barrow will make you feel healthy.  That’s moving all the organic material more than three times.  Once at the point of collection, back at the homestead into the compost pile and then again before it gets used.  One shovel and wheel barrow at a time.

A little sore after all that an individual needs a way to sift all the unwanted trash and unprocessed organic material so it doesn’t end up in your garden-of-plenty.  Being on the low budget, do-it-yourself kind of mindset I decided to check out YouTube for some inspiration.  Lucky me I found it.  I cannot remember what I searched for but do remember the first video I watched on a homemade compost sifter made by Desert Garden Prepper with a Harbor Freight cement mixer.  It was so creative the way the parts were machined and reconfigured into a compost sifter.  Completely motivated by that I couldn’t wait to make my own.

I wanted to make one like Desert Garden Prepper had made but don’t have the tools or knowledge to weld.  That made me look at other mixers.  I remembered one I had seen a Lowes store and when I looked it up online the instant I saw it the crazy idea came into my head that one of those blue barrels would fit onto the end of the mixer.  I felt like I knew it would just fit.  Imagine how shocked and surprised I was when it fit so well.  I almost couldn’t believe it but it was right in front of me so I had no choice.

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Since the barrel and mixer fit together so well without modification it made it easy to mount it in place with simple lock hasp and lynch pins.  Okay that gets the barrel to the mixer and it turns.  That leaves the barrel and how/what to do with the waste and out-feed.

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The barrel was a little bit of work.  It came with a ring lid which is what I wanted so I could have a factory formed edge meet with the mixer.  On the out feed part of the barrel, the bottom, I used a jig saw to cut just inside the rim.  That removed the bottom.  Next I had to make a way for the material to pass through and be sifted.  This involved using a 5″ circle template I printed off my computer to mark the circle cutouts in no particular order.  I tried to space them as evenly as possible to retain as much structural integrity and strength as possible.  After marking the holes I drilled pilot holes then used a jig saw to cut out the circles.

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Once the circles were complete I lined the inside with 1/2″ hardware cloth and bolted it in with stainless steel bolts and locking nuts.  At first I was going to make two, one for 1/4″ and one for the 1/2″.  After lining the barrel I realized that all I had to do to make this barrel sift smaller material was to just put the smaller size cloth inside the barrel with the 1/2″ cloth and use bolts and wingnuts to hold it in place.  A real easy and quick change over requiring much less storage space than two or more barrels.  Most everything goes through the 1/2″ screen anyway so a change over is rare.

The other part of the sifter is where will the waste go and how will I move it.  To solve that I had the barrel set at an angle to dump waste into a wheelbarrow.  The barrel rest on two casters affixed to a scrap of pallet spring clamped onto the wheelbarrow with a cardboard scrap underneath it to keep out processed compost.  The spring clamps seem to provide enough holding power yet will give away if there is any real stress applied.  I’m hoping that if there is some type of problem it will pop apart and not damage anything.  On one end of the pallet scrap I have a hole drilled to hold one of those green garden stakes sold at local nursery’s.  That holds a piece of cardboard which acts as a deflector to keep the unprocessed materials out of the processed materials.

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I noticed when first using this sifter that the materials were passing through so that not all or even most of the material was getting sifted.  To solve that I decreased the angle of the out flow to reduce the speed at which the material reached the out feed end of the barrel.  So far everything seems to be working well because I’ve put much more through it that the original 5 manure loads.   After watching several videos on YouTube I do not think this would be good for sorting worms.  I believe the weight of the organic material would slam down on top of them and cause trauma to the worms every turn they made.  Just my opinion though.

I really like how it works, the portability I can process every where I can plug into electricity, plus it’s either an organic material processer or a cement/soil mixer.  It will be interesting to see how long it last and how good the idea was over time. -13

Construction Zone: Why I’m back on WordPress

I came back to wordpress to blog because I was not getting the hits on blogger.  I also found it hard to find things, people, information.  As I have been copying my information over the last few hours, I noticed I have received more views in that short time than all of the last six months on blogger.  I wonder if I didn’t do something over there that would have brought more traffic.  It doesn’t matter my focus and expectations are much different this time from wordpress.  Time will tell.  -13

Firefighting Cart: Mission – grand tour

This is the last update on the firefighting cart project.  I have all the parts in place.  Well on second thought, almost.  I unexpectedly want flat free tires since the ones on it won’t hold air.  So this may not be the last update, time will tell.  Otherwise everything is mostly like I planned it.  I don’t currently have any tire tools so I can’t check or change out the valve stem core so that will have to wait, for now it’s “fill ‘er up!” with air.  This video is different in a few ways.  First I remembered how the old surf and ski documentary’s if that’s what they’re called, would run the music credits at the beginning of each song instead of at the end in the credits where its hard to figure out what’s playing if it’s not familiar.  There is much more detail from the action featured to the text that has cost or important project details.  I also tried to make my videos as concise and information filled as I can so you make the most of your time when watching my videos.  I hope you find this project, informative and inspiring.  Don’t forget to make fire prevention and protection part of your homestead everyday life.  Thank you for checking out my blog and videos! -13

 

Helmet Project: Update complete!

After nearly 2 months of sourcing materials and ordering new suspension liners the firefighting-rescue helmets are up to date!  I’ve constructed sweat band liners with a thin foam pad that uses elastic to hold it in place.  Ratchet covers with another thin layer of foam with snap closures like the originals.  Crown pads with a layer of foam with Velcro holding it onto the original pad.  The double fold bias trim I made was difficult to finish and make look good due to the thickness, its easy to see it in the crown pad photo.  Not perfect but will work just fine for our needs.

At first I was reluctant to add foam of any kind.  I ordered some any way to test it then decide if I’d use it on my project.  After doing a burn test on the 1/8″ foam and watching the product be almost completely consumed by the flame turning into a thin black stream of smoke with no dripping or melting of any kind I decided I would be willing to take the risk.  What sold me was there was no dripping or melting, plus I would have all of the foam be completely enclosed in Nomex twill.  Plus I could easily blow out and snuff out with a bare finger the open flame emitted when freely burning.

The end result is I have a much more comfortable helmet.  And a bag full of extra replacement parts in case I need to clean them, or replace them for some reason.  I like the fact that I can now outfit a completely new or unfamiliar Phenix First Due 1500 in a matter of minutes and be back in service quickly.  I can use this on any of the 1500’s and from the looks of it maybe all of Phenix Helmet lines.

Thats all for now on the helmet updates.  I will be searching for new 1 x 4 Reflexite Helmet Strips to replace the seeming good old ones.  The old ones reflect light perfectly it’s the typical edge curling I always see with aging reflexite helmet strips.  Look at any helmet that has had them on for more than I’d guess 2 years and you’ll see the edge curl.  I really like those things except for that pesky fact.  I’ve also learned over the years to buy a sheet of them not just what you think you will need.  They will come off unexpectedly and end up in your hair or other weirdness sometimes so it pays to be ready.

I think the Scotchlite brands works as well to reflect light, they just don’t have the same
eye appeal to me as the way the Reflexite strips do.  The appeal to me is the sort of electric feel they have when I see them as opposed to the more dull look of the Scotchlite brand.  So, soon I’ll do a search for replacements.  I think that’s all.  -13