Thursday, May 8, 2008

Air and the importance of breathing.

No, not kidding. :)

In the strict sense of the word, survival means staying alive, and that can be summarized in the “rule of threes”:
You can’t survive;
3 minutes without air.
3 hours of exposure to low temperatures.
3 days without water
3 weeks without food.

Give or take a bit, that’s pretty much it in terms of minimums for keeping you alive.

Food, water and shelter I’ve discussed, and its air, the most precious need, that I’ve overlooked.

Most of the time hard core 80’s survivalists can be seen with a gas mask and chem suit near by.

My actual location not being a place a nuke or chemical bomb would be dropped on, I thought that worrying about that mad little sense.

Yes, stupid me.
No matter where you live, you need air, and it is air (water being a close second) the most overlooked point in preparedness.

Due to resent events, the importance of air has hit me like a ton of bricks in the last few weeks.

In lest than 60 days, millions in my country understood the importance of breathable air, due to two non related, mayor events.

The first incident occurred as a result of the tension between the farms and the government here in Argentina.
Right in the middle of the negotiations between the two, after 30 days of strike by the farmers, The city of Buenos Aires was covered with a thick mantle of smoke, that came downwind from a strategically calculated series of bush fires, over 400 spread through half the province of Entre Rios and the Delta Islands.

Most of us think that these fires were cause the supporters of our president, to create tension between the population and the farmers, since they found out that city dwellers didn’t blame the farmers as they expected, but took sides with them against a government that by now has clear signs of dictatorship.
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People in Buenos Aires, trying to get by as they go through their day.

The smoke made it very hard to breathe for weeks, and even though you still go on with your life it was hard on your lungs, eyes and skin, some days it is still a problem today in the capital district.

The second incident started just a few days ago in Patagonia, due to a supposedly inactive volcano in Chile(right next to us).
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Chaiten Volcano. Spreads ashes from Chile to the Atlantic, all across the continent.

The towns nearby didn’t worry about the thing, mostly due to it being sleeping without any signs of activity for over 7000 years.

Then came Murphy and his ironic laws and…

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People from Futaleufu evacuating the region

It’s the end of the world as they know it for these people. Not only do they have to evacuate the towns.
Their animal will die, along with most crops, and it will be along time before they can go back.

The toxic ash in the air forced them to evacuate quickly, many just leaving with the clothes on their backs and leaving the rest behind. Probably to be stolen by a few opportunistic looters.

Water became toxic and bottled water has now sold out in the region, a single liter costing several times what it used to.
Same for disposable surgical masks, like the ones doctors use. They went for 0.75 cents before the volcano erupted, now they cost 5 bucks each.

To avoid even greater problems, they will deny the toxicity until the smoke dissipates.
They did that with the bush and garbage smoke in Buenos Aires and they are doing it again with the volcano.

So yes, you need to do something about it.

What to do?

Your Air Purifying Arsenal

The disposable masks are what I saw most often. They don’t offer much protection but they are better than nothing I suppose.

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3M masks, your bare minimum

At least, try buying the best ones from 3M, they offer some with small carbon filters in the middle that should be better than the regular ones.

The best thing would be a full face mask, with disposable filters ( keeping some filters in stock) that offer eye protection too.
The ones without the eye protection leave eyes exposed, so since you bother to buy the real deal, go all the way.
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Face masks with disposable filters. A much better option.

Keep in mind that small children need special masks to fit their faces. Make sure the mask fits every family member.

Another great piece of equipment to have is a home air filer-purifier.
The important part is the filter here, you want a HEPA filter to get most of the stuff out.

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Inexpensive air filter-purifier with HEPA filter.

Now, the best thing would be a to have an air filtering system installed.

Someone that knows about AC can get it done for you, and while not cheap, it’s less expensive than most people believe if you look around and buy the components yourself.

You’ll be needing a ventilator that provides 20 renovations per hour, and the frame where the filters are installed. A metallic air duct may be necessary to reach the house.
This works by keeping the pressure inside greater than the one outside, so the particles don’t get in through doors, windows and other cracks or vents.
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HEPA filter

This may sound like a bit too much, but if you are building and have the opportunity to do it, it may be worth it.

Fires, natural disasters, terrorist attacks… and yes…dumb politicians messing with people or a darn volcano going off. :)
It can all affect the precious air you breathe.

Grated, the chances of you needing food and water are greater than the ones of you needing to purify air.
Still, remember…
You can go for 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water
… but air…


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Grip upgrade for those old revolvers

Older Colts and S&W revolvers, those vintage 38’s, are excellent pieces as spares and to loan.

They are cheap ( or at least used to be), I can still find them around for 150 USD or so.
They fire 38 special which with good ammo is still a respectable caliber, and most importantly, being revolvers they are excellent for giving to people that need to defend themselves but aren’t very gun savvy.
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Shot with DSC-P41

Many prepers and survivalists have a few of these old 38s around, maybe buried somewhere with a box of shells, a roll of bucks or some precious metal coins.

If you just started prepping and you are in a tight budget, you can sometimes find one of these Colts or S&W 38s ( 357 magnum would be even better) if you look around gun shops or pawn shops for a while.
It’s not ideal in my opinion, but a 38 revolver is still a weapon to be respected, and light years away from being unarmed when someone is trying to hurt you or your family.

Problem is, in spite of their good mechanical construction and overall good trigger pull, their ergonomics are awful. Bad enough to be a problem when point aiming during a stressful situation and for the follow up shots.

I don’t know what was wrong with people’s hands in the 50’s and 60’s, but these grips are too thin, the fingers go too high for a comfortable grip.

Replacement grips aren’t always available for the model, they are hard to find, and in my case, they are more expensive than the weapon itself.

A few days ago a friend of mine phoned me, telling me that he moved permanently to his farm and needed a gun.

We went to a gunshop and he picked a Bersa Super 380 ACP. It’s a 15+1 version of the single stack 7+1 version, popular in USA these days.

It has adjustable sights and mate nickel finish.

I tried to convince him of something better, perhaps a Bersa 9mm which is what cops here are being issued these days, but he fell for the little Bersa.

Problem is, it will take nearly a month before he gets his gun, and he needs one now.

He already heard noises many times at night, and some cows got stolen.

So again, he sheepishly asked “Can you loan me a gun until I get mine?”

Which brings us finally to the point of this post: Good old guns that are perfect for those with little skill but that have bad grips.

Self-Soldering Rubber.

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What I used here is something called self soldering rubber in tape configuration.

In case you are not familiar with the material. This is NOT regular tape, electric tape, or tape of any kind. It’s just what the name says, a long band of rubber that solders onto itself when in contact.

This tape has no glue, just a thin film that separates the roll and avoids contact, otherwise it would solder forming a rubber disk.

This material is used to create a rubber cover on high tension electric bars.

You start rolling it around the surface, applying a bit of tension so it stretches ( and thins) overlapping it a mm or two.

Once you apply the volume or rubber you want it forms a solid mass that cannot be undone, you’ll have to cut the grip to remove it because it solders into a uniform piece of rubber.

Making the grip.
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I wanted to make a shape kind of similar to the Tyler-T adapters. Something that fills the huge gap behind the trigger guard (keeping the finger from going too high) and one finger grove for a better grip.

First, you apply 2 layers of fully stretched rubber where you’ll be working(maximum point before it actually brakes, a thin layer).
I did only half but you can try covering it all.

This will he the foundation of the rest of your work.

Once these layers are done, I started filling up the gap behind the trigger guard, going all around the grip with the tape, stretching it on the back for minimum girth, and barely stretching it at all, with minimum tension, when going behind the trigger guard so as to fill that space up without getting to thick behind. You can also add some small pieces of rubber to fill it up more.

Now the finger grove.
I cut 3 small pieces of rubber, the size of the grove. Removed the film and pressed them together for a few seconds. Then I placed it on the grip and covered it with some layers of thin (stretched) rubber, shaping the final form of the grip.

That’s it. In a few minutes the grip solders completely.

The material is durable but bore cleaner softens it and makes it sticky, so its better to be careful not to get to much cleaner on the grip. I cover the grip with a rag when cleaning the gun.

That’s it folks. It’s really easy and it does improve the grip significantly, which translated in better accuracy and quicker follow up shots.
The self soldering rubber tape is available in hardware stores and it’s a great material to have around.

I use it a lot. For guns, for making rubber rings on plumbing, along with many other uses.

I kept 4 rolls of this stuff and already used it all up.

Need to buy some more. Take care and happy Labor day.