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Campfire Chat

June 16, 2019

Tools-DeWalt are ok, if you get a chance at a Milwaukee fuel set- jump on it.  Milwaukees cordless are all awesome, cordless saws-all’s will trash your batteries, break the connection between the battery cells (they can be repaired.. I think) cordless grinders and circular saws pull too much power to be useful.

We caught the water from a spring on a hill and used the water to pressurize a 2” line to a barn on the next hill, minimal power and had running water.  Bucketing  water sucks, build a spring development.

I follow several others that live similarly to you, I have never seen a wood gasifier. The Nazis used them, not like they are old freaking tech.   The process is not that complicated, shit look close at a pile of real ground mulch it’s not steaming, the heat from composting is releasing wood gas.  Wood gas, once filtered is an endless supply of fuel for a generator, it may have  issues but if the SHTF, I am sure there will be plenty.  A damn boiler would be better than nothing, but yet not a word from anyone…

I have never see anyone talk about machine tools like a mill or a lathe- if the world ended you could rebuild it with a mill and a lathe- make sure you at least have a buddy that has and knows how to use.

If you  can formulate this or parts into a question or something like it for your blog, I would be interested  in your thoughts.

Also, I appreciate thoughts on extended food supply issues, most prepared people talk about storing food, and growing a garden, I don’t see many with a cornfield, wheat or even oats.  They are wary to grow, harvesting, storing etc will make you or break you.    BTW, oats grow well everywhere, heavy rain or hail storm knocks the shit out of the heads and you lose it all right before harvest…

1) I really wanted to do a gravity-fed water system, but it doesn’t work for us for a number of reasons, starting with, we’re on top of the mountain, so all of our ponds sit below the grade the house is built on. Combined with that, our house is not built on a slab, but on a native stone and pier foundation, and we have two-foot eaves all the way around (see below), and it means I cannot set the water catchment tanks high enough to get gravity-fed, without interfering with the eaves. Additionally, since we’re on top the mountain, we get a LOT of high winds, anytime a storm rolls in, so a tower is impractical, for fear of hit blowing over and landing on the house.

2) I’ve read a bit on wood gasifiers, but it’s one of those things that is so far down my list of “Oh fuck, this needed to be done three months ago!” that it’s probably not going to happen.

3) At some point, I intend to build a spring treadle lathe for my woodworking (a hobby I discovered in the process of building the house). I’m not a machinist though, so a metal lathe and a mill are outside of my wheelhouse. I DO own an electric wood lathe, but I’ve actually never even hooked it up to the generator. It has been sitting in the garage of one of our people for something like a year and a half, because I don’t currently have anywhere to put it.

One of the things I like to point out to people, when they ask about future projects, or incomplete projects is, “the difficult thing about building a medieval village by hand is….it sort of takes a village. I’m capable, but I’m one dude.” It would be grand if all the folks in our clan could come daily and work on stuff, but everyone has jobs outside the home as well, so while they can help on major stuff (raising our house involved 45 people, none of whom were there for any reason other than frith), expecting them to show up and do stuff every day after work is unrealistic. So, I do what I can, when I can.

We do have a couple of guys who have been doing an increasingly good job of blacksmithing, which I’m incredibly jealous of. I can go and join them the evenings they do smithing, but then, I’m not getting my projects at home done, so….

4) Same with the gardening. My wife has a 6000 square foot garden, but between working, the blog, writing books, and my chores and projects around the farm, I’ve only got so much time in any given day. We have been talking about doubling the size of the garden, so she can put in some market crops for the local farmer’s market, and so I can raise some corn and oats (both of which we have a lot of seed for).

5) I went with DeWalt because I was familiar with them. Milwaukee also has a fabulous reputation, as you and others have pointed out, and I’ve heard good things about Makita as well. The only other non-DeWalt tool I have, I realized this week, is a Porter-Cable belt sander, because like the cordless angle grinder, I haven’t found a DeWalt belt grinder.


I read the post from the guy who said the survival tabs were 240 calories each and a tub was a 15 day supply and I was like, “No, fucking way! How’s come I’ve never heard of this shit before?” So, I went to their website, via the link in the post, and the guy who said that has his head up his ass. They are 240 calories per SERVING and a serving size is 12 tabs. So, basically they’re 20 calories each and it would work out to be a 3 day supply based on a meager 1,200 per day calorie consumption. It would probably be better and tastier to just pack Snickers bars. Figured I’d let you know so bad info ain’t getting passed around.

Now that it is mentioned, I do remember that. It was some ridiculous number you needed to eat. I tried it, and by halfway through was gagging, and looking for something to drink. I believe I came to the same conclusion you did: “I’ll throw a couple Snickers bars or Cliff bars in and call it good.”


I don’t mind the language I see Guerrilla gunfighter Volume II is not on the website? Is it available elsewhere?

Yeah, I pulled it down the other night, when I sent the manuscript to the printer for the pre-orders. Once those have shipped, it will go back up on the store site and on Lulu.


One gap in my knowledge is “what is the minimum battery capacity for a charge controller?” The user manuals don’t say, and the vendor doesn’t know either. (I asked.) They just assume that you have some big lead-acid wet-cell deep-cycle unit, but what I have are much smaller. Say I have a 7 Ah 12V battery: if my panel can produce 10A in full sun, is it going to damage the battery, or the charge controller?

By the way, I killed one charge controller, apparently by having the panel hooked up without a battery, if only for a few seconds (while I swapped batteries). I assume that the battery loaded down the panel, but the panel voltage got too high without it. Ideas?

I don’t know, sorry. I have read, somewhere, that unhooking the batteries, while the panels are still connected, is a bad idea, but I do it pretty much once a month, when I check my batteries with the voltmeter, and haven’t had a problem yet.


This is not a reply to anything posted this week, but a response to your general “get off your ass and get in shape” castigation.

There is a growing body of evidence that it just doesn’t take that much time to get and stay in reasonable shape, even at advanced age (I’m 71 – USA, disabled retired at 22 – and use a wheelchair)  and work out two hours twice a week.   Half of that is shoulder rehabilitation from pushing a wheelchair wrong for the last 50 years, but half is pushing hard and fast to exhaust each muscle I have left to what is called “momentary muscle failure.” Push each exercise till you simply have completely exhausted the muscle you are working out and go on to the next.

I found this article on a new study sprinting that I thought would interest you.  It’s not the time you spend doing it, it’s the effort you put into doing it.

I saw that Tier Three Tactical article last week too. I like it. One of our guys has agreed to incorporate it into his training, to test it for us.

Awesome work too, sir! Pretty hard for younger guys, even in their 40s and 50s, to bitch about doing PT, when someone like you is doing it! Thanks!


One of the fellows I mentioned before worked for a guy in NH, ( i was born & raised up in NH till we moved to WV), names Tedd Benson, who published a book, I bought one from this guy, he kept a few to sell in his truck, called ‘Building The Timber Frame House’, looks like a well composed technical manual. Has B/P’s for all the types of miter and scarf joints, floor plans, King Posts, purlins etc. What templates to make. Like I said I’m no carpenter, but you have to be brain dead not to appreciate and admire the craftsmanship and artistry goes into these timber frame structures. And the intrinsic value. Beautiful, just amazing to me.

Great book just for reading pleasure. Has some historical accounts in it. Mostly it is a how to manual. Written in a good natured tongue in cheek manner.

Benson’s book, which I usually refer to as “The Brown Book,” was my go-to reference, when I was actually building our house (yes, it’s a traditional timber frame). I’ve got pretty much every timber framing book published in English in the last fifty years, and it was the one I referred back to, again and again, even though I didn’t build any of his specific plans.


HVAC guy here, just to stick a bug in your ear, The mini splits use special magic Japanese inverter technology, I believe I read they can be picky about the sine wave they need. Can’t find where I read it but just a heads up. They’re great systems but can be fucking complicated to fix.

Thanks for the heads up! I’ll look into the sine wave requirements. I will say though, I take them with a grain of salt, since I’ve been told repeatedly that a modified sine wave will kill a laptop or cellphone, and all of our house is on a modified sine wave inverter, so….


Dewalt makes cordless grinders for their 20V line. I have the brush motor version. A buddy of mine has the brushless version and gets better battery life. Dewalt also makes a charger for their 12 and 20 volt batteries that runs off of 12 volts so you can charge directly from the battery bank instead of through the inverter.

So, I’ve been nagging the shit out of my local hardware store owner, about “Why the Hell doesn’t DeWalt make a cordless angle grinder!?” for the last four years. He kept insisting they didn’t.

Interestingly, I posted last week’s articles on Sunday, and on Monday, I had to stop and Lowe’s. Guess what they had prominently displayed for sale for Father’s Day? Yep. So, I texted my wife a photo of one, since she was out with the kids, shopping for Father’s Day for me. She came home with it. I promptly put it to work, since I was repairing the steel plate hangers for my range anyway. That thing is the heat….but it’s a motherfucker on batteries, to be sure. I ended up running back to Lowe’s and buying a four-pack of batteries (2x 2ah, 1x3ah, 1x4ah) and a battery/charger pack as well, just to dedicate to the grinder.


John, you brought up EMP. The only EMP weak link on the PV panels themselves are the small diodes that function as a one-way switch during low light hours. They basically stop the batteries from radiating your stored power from the batteries back through the panels and into the atmosphere at night. Most panels have a plastic box mounted on the back somewhere near the electrical connection point. If you pop the cover off of the box, you should see a diode. Usually they are press fitted, although occasionally they will be soldered in. Pop one out, write down the identifying info, then order spares. They are very cheap. When they arrive just twist the wire ends together, in parallel, and they will be safe.

A spare inverter and charge controller stored away in a small faraday box will seal the deal.

Thanks, boss! I seem to recall you telling me that, last time I was there and saw you, but I’d forgotten about it.


Not sure where my first attempt went, so I’ll try again – w/r/t rockahominy – I gather there is a very broad range of parched corn, and only a few are actually good. Which corn do you use for your rockahominy?

So, we have something like three dozen varieties of heirloom seed corn that we ordered from Baker Creek Seed Company, in Missouri (awesome company. We love their products, and highly recommend them. We even took the weekend to drive over there and hang out for their spring festival gathering this year. It was great fun, and their facility is beautiful).


Post & beam style. All with hand tools. Beautiful. They claimed the best way is to use lumber from trees on your land. How that wood grew accustomed to the weather and other environmental factors, providing the best wood and longevity for your structure, how it reacts better to the weather on your house.
Makes a lot of sense to me.
You should brag. That is the acme of self reliance. Must be pretty nice living in such a house you made with your hands. Every day you go to sleep, get up, look up and think I made that.

I’ve read that using site-raised timber is ideal, for that very reason. Unfortunately, our farm was settled and cleared in the 1820s, and was maintained as a farm until about 30 years ago. While that was very beneficial when it comes to rock-clearing (all the big boulders on the place have long since been dug up and moved to a pile along the creek bank), it’s a pain-in-the-ass for timber, since—with the exception of a couple dozen sentinel oaks and hickories, pretty much every tree on the place is less than three decades old. While I COULD use them to build a smaller timber frame—say, 6×6 posts—it wasn’t practical for the house, which I built with 8×8 posts.

So, while a few key pieces are site-harvested oak that I hand-hewed, most of it is timbers I ordered from an Amish sawyer a couple hours away. All of the timber in the house was harvested within 150 miles though, and all from similar sites as the house (ie on top of the mountain, exposed to the winds at elevation).


I want to set us up on Solar. I know exactly Jack Shit about it. Can you point me to the resources you used? Thanks in advance.

Man…..I would start with Backwoods Solar and Real Goods Solar, and then go from there. I’ve got something like 30 books on solar, going back to the 1990s, and while all of them were useful, I really just got enough of a general concept of how the shit works, by reading all of them, and then just felt my way through. It’s really not that complicated, if you keep the voltages low, so you don’t electrocute yourself (another reason I stuck with a 12V system. I’ve shocked myself enough times to know I don’t want to step up the voltage unless I have too.)


Interesting you mentioned that. I was at a class this past weekend. Holosun RDS on carbine went down, flickering on and off for 2 days of the class. I was originally EXCITED (I’m weird, I know) because I thought it was an Aimpoint T2, but was corrected yesterday. The guy running the Holosun had to end up pulling out his other carbine with a Vortex PST 1-6 to save the day because he needed precise hits and shooting the tube wasnt doing it.

Now, to be clear, it was raining both days, all day long. It was a low light vehicle class so there was lots of work on the ground, guns getting banged around, etc.

To be fair to Holosun, those conditions—real world conditions—can be hard on any optic. Hell, they can be hard on a rifle with irons as well. That’s why, when I’m teaching a basic rifle or pistol course, we usually break if the weather gets too shitty, if it’s only going to be short-lived. I’d rather have guys paying attention to what they’re trying to learn, rather than focusing on how much the weather sucks, or why their shit keeps breaking. They can push their gear to the breaking point on their own time.


That’s not the case in an applications class, like CQB or vehicle though, where the class itself is about working through the problems, in order to apply the fundamentals. I suspect any new optics manufacturer is going to have some birthing pangs, even after they’ve brought a tool to market. Hopefully, they’ll learn from the issues and continue to improve.


Thanks for a great read and as a licensed carpenter/contractor among other so called certs a bit jealous of the no building code/inspection thing,really need to find a unincorporated township ect. for a secondary/perhaps down road primary home.

It has its benefits, but it has its drawbacks too. As much as I despise government interference in my daily life and decisions, I’m not going to lie. There were a few times when I looked at something and said to myself, “Fuck, I wish I had a building inspector I could run this by, to make sure it isn’t going to fall down on our heads!”

The house has since survived sustained winds, for hours, in excess of 70mph, and gusts above 90mph, with less shaking and vibrating than any stickbuilt house I’ve ever been in, so…..


I’ve lived off grid on PV and wind for several years. The solar has been trouble free, but the wind turbine was replaced twice in the first year, a real pain in the ass. Look into a sacrificial diode protection device to protect your system from lightening strikes, they’re a lot cheaper to replace than a charge controller or batteries.


Kinda curious about your house design and the “traditional methods”. I know you’ve mentioned hand hewing vs a chainsaw mill before, which kinda leads me to think you timber framed or something like that?”

The last entry before this one said:

Hell, I live in a house that would not really stand out (well, other than that metal roof) in much of 14th Century England, and have been known to walk around in a kilt. I’m not judging that.”

So yeah, timber framed is a given. Maybe wattle and daub? Too bad he didn’t shoot video of himself building it.

It is a timber frame. The only metal joinery are the screws to hold the roofing metal on. It’s all mortise and tenon and wood dowels. It’s not wattle-and-daub, but the infill on the walls is light clay slip/straw, also called “light cob.” Basically, that means “washing” straw in a clay slurry, then packing it into the walls. It helps to mix some borax into the clay slurry, to help keep insects from nesting in the wall filling, but apparently it’s really not necessary, since there’s nothing for the bugs to eat (that’s why it is critical to use straw, and not hay). Instead of using removable forms though, for a little better structural integrity, we actually used hand cut wood lath, and then plastered with a traditional lime/sand plaster.

Ironically, as much of a learning process as the timber framing was, the lime plaster has been a much steeper learning curve. Between alkaline burns that put me out of commission for several weeks, after my first time plastering, to having to figure out how to proportion the sand to lime (when you read people who say to use a 3:1 sand:lime, they’re not bullshitting you. Don’t be lazy about it like I was at first, and guesstimate your measurements. Too much sand will cause the plaster to pull off the wall even before the stuff starts curing. I’ve been plastering for the better part of a year and a half now, and have finally gotten the base coat on all the way around. Fortunately, I think I’ve finally learned enough that the second and third coats will go much faster, and then the limewash finish coat should be cake.

The other interesting thing we did was, since I couldn’t source the more traditional horsehair, and my wife flat refused to allow me to use the even more traditional dried horse manure, I needed a source of fiber. Using straw, and chopping that up and adding it in seemed both time consuming and expensive, so I went to two of our people—one is a barber, and the other a hair stylist. I had them both collect hair clippings off their shop floor for a week each, and I mix that in with the plaster. It’s worked amazingly well, and has the added benefit that, if a forensics team ever has to investigate my house, they’re going to get really fucking frustrated, really fucking quickly.


Last soapbox, people generally admit that food production/ storage > guns when it gets down to the wire. People also admit that “leftist” preppers are better at food production/ storage than traditional preppers. However, people are also convinced that the hippie preppers will be DOA when things go to hell, for some reason…


I think both sides of that equation have things going for them, and both sides have giant, gaping blindspots. I love reading guys like John Michael Greer and Jim Kunstler. They, like my more Left-leaning permaculture friends though, will talk about “the starving masses that are going to occur when things finally fall apart and they can’t get groceries at the store. There fix tends to be “let’s get everyone to go green and grow their own food, then we won’t have to worry about it!” The problem with that approach though, of course, is that it’s a pipe dream. People that buy their groceries at Kroger are not going to suddenly decide to start growing their groceries, absent a catalyst for action. They seem fundamentally incapable of making the connection that “Fuck! I need to get some guns into the hands of my friends and family, so we can protect what we are growing.”

On the other hand, far, far too many of my gun-centric “prepper” friends and acquaintances still seem to focus entirely too much on store-bought items, even if they are savvy enough to know that they need more than guns and ammo and cool-guy gear. Their solution is “I’m going to order the big four, and a bunch of Mountain House. Oh, maybe I’ll order this vacuum sealed can of heirloom seeds too, so I can plant a garden later, if I need to.” Good luck with that.


Regarding the cordless tools, I’ve been using Milwaukee’s M18 stuff for a while, and it’s awesome to not have to worry about running power, or having to cut stuff near the shop and then move it out to build site. Can just toss the saw, drill, and raw materials on the tractor and work on whatever project I’ve got on location.

This has led to my almost total switch to cordless tools for my power tool needs. Moving the generator around is a pain-in-the-ass, versus just grabbing a tool and a spare battery pack. Before I started collecting the cordless tools, I used my traditional manpowered hand tools far more frequently than my cord-run tools. Now, I get the best of both worlds.

Added bonus? I don’t have to listen to the generator running.


You can turn a chest freezer into a fridge with this $65 device:
I’ve been told by those with this set-up that it uses 150-200 watts a day.

Those things are awesome! We found that using a chest freezer as a refrigerator was incredibly inconvenient though. Having to dig around to find stuff we used regularly, like the milk that has to sit at the bottom, so it doesn’t fall over and spill everywhere, was more of a headache than we were willing to deal with, in the long-term. I suspect, as a temporary fix, they’re probably alright, and if you had no other effective option, they certainly work.

What I have found though, as a benefit to those, is, set at the 20F setting, they keep everything in the freezer frozen, but they still reduce the energy consumption of the freezer immensely. I happened to check my battery bank last night, at midnight, and the batteries were still at 99% charge, even with the freezer being on the system, with the thermostat.


There was a really cool discussion in the comments on last week’s Solar article. It was entirely too long to post in its entirety, but I encourage you to go back and read through it, and the discussion on off-grid options.

From → Uncategorized

  1. permalink

    I’ve used a cordless circular saw (DeWalt) for thirteen years, professionally; so it gets a fair amount of use. 6 1/2″. Used it to cut finished plywood *(furniture grade) in cabinetry and they work just fine. It’s really old tech and it would sure be nice to have brushless and a titanium shoe.

  2. Jim Califwin permalink

    Exercising after accidents, or injuries is difficult. My patients are typically on pain relief meds like morphine& OxyContin. My recovery from a medical problem allows me to appreciate recovery or start a program where running is very restricted. If weight is a problem deal with it first. No fat ass excuses. If a year or 2 is needed get going. IN SHTF there will be enough losers, cry babies , killers, marauders. Be able to help others. Most of us know survival and tactics. A few of us know medical and weapons.

  3. permalink

    Timely discovery of a video which relates directly to DeWalt tools in general (and deceptive? marketing) and about battery usage and cordless grinders:

  4. LowKey permalink

    Regarding your water issues, two things come to mind that may work for you depending on your layout.
    First is a hydraulic ram pump. It uses a couple of one way check valves and the principle behind water hammer to pump water uphill without electricity. You do loose some of the input water as the motive force to pump the remainder against gravity. If you have a stream downhill from your house you could use it to pump the water uphill and into a holding tank (maybe a water tower?). You can buy them commercially or make them yourself from parts readily available at your local plumbing supply store.
    The second idea is to set up a piston pump powered mechanically by a windmill. From other things you’ve said it seems you have more than enough wind, but with the obvious possibility of damage from storms.

  5. Ken permalink

    The campfire chats are great, keep them up. However I would like to see more on the partisan theme as well.

  6. anonymous permalink

    Don’t place too much faith on building inspector expertise. Some are truly good, but many of them only enforce ‘The Code’ and any infractions of it are their only concern. I speak as a CAD draftsman who has worked for architects since 1986 and that has been a lot of our experience.

    THE POCKET REFERENCE by Thomas J. Glover has a lot of good information on . . . well, just about everything, lol. Not very expensive and worth referring to.

  7. Roseman permalink

    Baker Creek has been our go to seed company for many years. They are the best.
    They have a store thirty miles from here.

  8. RCPete permalink

    My electrical engineering background was more into integrated circuits, but I’m not really comfortable running 12V batteries in parallel. One with low voltage is going to suck current from the others. On the other hand, if it works, carry on.

    I’ve done a few systems, ranging from a 1 panel 12V to light the garage and run battery tenders, to a 3.6kW that officially is intended to power our 120V well pump. With some minor tweaking, it could provide spare power to the house, along with a 1.6kW system that was a portable prototype for the biggie. The smaller one is 24V, and the big one uses 8 golf cart batteries for 48V. I use water-miser caps (or similar brand) to help keep water in the batteries.

    Finances were good when the big systems needed to be built, and I went with integrated modules from Outback Power. Charge controller, inverter and monitor stuff all in one (expensive) package.
    I had to get county signoff on the big system, and with the engineering, a truckload of concrete, the system was expensive. I didn’t have the resources to drill the footings, so that got contracted out, but the rest was all my work. A tractor post hole digger and a shovel can get a tolerable trench if you have sufficient motivation.

  9. TS Adams permalink

    There used to be an old crabby guy that found old and new home built machine tool books and published them for years. I bought a set of 6 on building lathes, mills, drills, rollers, building and running cupolas for melting aluminum, iron and steel and building the sand molds and other interesting stuff that could give a devastated civilization a jump start and avoid the stone age.

    But they are in storage and out of reach but you might start a search on the net and I bet in 5 hours you would have all you need. Start here—

    But don’t settle for buying the tools. Learn how to build quality home machine tools and melt steel with home built cupolas. Then teach others—you’ll be worth your weight in gold. Good luck.

  10. Voltage is probably the one guy’s problem with solar. I’d imagine a controller will shut off power to the batteries when they’re charged, but regulating its supply is another thing. I’ll let electricians chime in more.

    As a machinist, I feel your pain on getting a shop set up. You really need cnc for production though, and no matter what that’s pricey. I’m still debating what all to get, but it takes a lot more to do well than a wood shop.

  11. DeWalt circular and reciprocating saws do not pull too much battery to be useful. I use a 7-1/4” circular saw and reciprocating saw hard, both cordless, daily. Both are newer 20v brushless and I do use 6 MAH batteries.

  12. Adam permalink

    RE: Water supply. You might look into a homemade ram pump. Two moving parts and can develop a substantial amount of volume using zero outside power.

  13. Howard Stukes permalink

    ….regarding the June 16 comment on spring water….the old plumber’s rule of thumb is “as long as your spring box is higher than your roof’s peak you’ll have enough water pressure to run a gravity fed system”….my system develops 26psi and my spring flows 2500 gallons a day….that spring was flowing when the Egyptians built the pyramids….that spring was flowing when Jesus Christ walked the face of the earth….and that spring will be flowing long after any of us are dead and gone….Bo in Ashe County NC

  14. SumDood permalink

    Regarding your comment “all of our ponds sit below the grade the house is built on”.

    You might look into something called a “hydraulic ram pump” with a web search, followed up with a look at a few of the videos people have posted (about hydraulic ram pumps in action) on YouTube (or use HookTube to bypass YouTube’s commercials and age filters, by using the URL for a YouTube video but with “…” instead of “…”).

    Here’s a start (just an unfiltered sample… I haven’t preselected any that I think are “good”):

    Hydraulic ram pumps work WITHOUT external power–all “muscle” is provided by Mother Earth, in the form of gravity… and YES, these will pump water UPhill. Essentially, you put a hydraulic ram pump BELOW grade of your feed source (a spring or a dammed up section of a feeder creek, perhaps), and it uses the pressure of the elevated feed water to pump a FRACTION of the flow reaching the pump to a significantly HIGHER elevation.

    As an example, a table I found at Rife Hydraulic Rams’ web site shows that for a pump 20 (vertical) feet below a water source, it will pump 9.6% of the flow reaching the pump to a height of 125 (vertical) feet ABOVE the pump–that is, 105 (vertical) feet ABOVE the SOURCE water. The other 90.4% (in THIS example) is essentially dumped at the level of the pump, but I suppose one could easily have the pump overflow feed into a pond at the pump level (20 (vertical) feet below the original source water level).

    Caveat: I am neither recommending nor discouraging the use of a hydraulic ram pump manufactured by Rife. I know nothing about them beyond what’s on their web site. I simply copied their table (an image file) from their site some time ago–and I’d send you the link if I knew the URL, but their site ( seems to be “down” as I type this.

    A hydraulic ram pump is dirt simple in design–just some piping and a couple of one-way check valves. Some of the videos I’ve seen show home-built hydraulic ram pumps made with PVC piping and one-way valves from the hardware store (OK, I think they also need an inner tube in the air chamber–and a pressure gauge and shut-off valve are recommended…). I suspect you could build a small proof-of-concept hydraulic ram pump for less than the cost of an ammo can full of 5.56… and even that may be enough pump for your situation…

    And it will pump 24/7/365, WITHOUT external power, as long as you have source water feeding into the pump. (If it stops flowing, you’ll have to manually restart the pump when the flow returns.)

    You may have to worry about a related problem… since even a small flow delivered.. Every. Minute. Of Every. Hour. Of Every. Day. NONSTOP… may supply enough to fill your target tankage to overflow (eventually).

    Sounds like magic, right? I’m shocked that I never heard of this concept before a few months ago–and if I were a homesteader myself, I’d be looking at my water sources to see if a pump like this would suit my situation. (Apparently, hydraulic ram pumps are a big thing in remote villages in certain parts of the world… I bet some of your 18-Charlie SF buddies have heard of them.)

    Another Caveat: I’ve never used a hydraulic ram pump, nor do I know anyone who has. All of my knowledge on this is “stuff I found on the internet”… but hydraulic ram pumps are A Real Thing.

    Yet Another Caveat: I haven’t researched this enough to know how they deal with freezing conditions at the pump.

    Hope you can find something useful in all of this.

    P.S. Clemson to the rescue:

    Click to access Lf13-home-made-hydraulic-ram-pump.pdf

    (and just a sample of what’s “out there” on hydraulic ram pump design and performance)

    P.P.S. I’m sure you can find everything you need with very little trouble, but if you want me to send you the performance table from Rife Hydraulic Rams, pop smoke and I’ll send it to your contact address.

  15. TheBohunk permalink

    Dumb question/comment time…….I dig back to my automotive tech school training and recall that deep cell batteries are designed for, of course, long cycles. This is why we put them in boats for your trolling motor, etc. They don’t last very long in a car where they are receiving a constant charge.

    So if you are putting deep cell batteries in your solar setup, aren’t you keeping a constant charge on them when the sun is shining? Of course they drain down at night, but it seems to me that more often than not, they are going to be receiving a charge.

    Is there something I’m missing here?

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