Something To Keep In The Back Of Your Mind

Back in the days before all of the fancy electrical/electronic technology we have available to us now, there were still some pretty clever folks around who figured out how to get things done with a minimum of physical labor and way faster than doing things by hand, out of necessity.

Portable gas powered machines were actually quite common at one time here in the United States and that simpler than now technology still exists.

It’s getting harder and harder to find and the prices are reflective of that but if you are serious and look hard enough, there are still some of these machines around plus there is always the capability to modify some of the newer machines to make them run off of small gas powered engines.

As you well know, I still have that David Bradley Walk Behind Tractor.

It has been sitting out in a garden shed out of the direct weather except for about a foot or so of the handles. I cover them up with a tarp. Just for grins I went out about a week or two ago, put some gas in it and it fired right up.

The thing about those is that not only do they have an extra long crank pulley with an extra groove to run an accessory belt like a Power Take Off, they are self propelled so you can “drive” them to the job at hand.

You could easily use this same technique with a 3 horse Briggs and Stratton engine bolted to a furniture moving dolly and just pull it to where it is needed.

Maytag made a few million gas powered washing machines back in the late 1920’s and 1930’s and there are still a few of them around too.

You can buy rebuildable engines off of FleaBay occasionally or get on the internet and start searching. You can still get parts for them even.

This same fellow uses one of those to do his laundry.

Here is a video of a guy rebuilding one of them so it can still be done.

Back in the 1940’s and 50’s , magazines like Popular Mechanics had literally hundreds of articles in them with people coming up with clever little machines run by small gas engines.

As evil as those rat bastards at Google have gotten in the past few years, they do still have a feature called Google Reader and all of the old Popular Mechanics issues have been archived there.

Sometimes I spend hour after hour going through them looking for things just like what I am talking about.

The down side of this is that you still need gasoline, oil and V belts.

The good news is that these small engines are actually pretty miserly as far as fuel efficiency is concerned and if worst came to worst in a SHTF situation, you could make these little engines run on propane or still do some small metal fabrication projects using car batteries for welding and build yourself a Micro Wood Gasifier and convert them to run on wood gas. That particular video shows a small John Deere lawn tractor running on one starting at 5:50 into the video if you want to skip the intro stuff. Earlier in the video he shows one of the gasifiers he uses to run small engines with that actually has a clever little pipe you can open up and stick a custom made cooking grate over.

That’s a real twofer there.

Propane conversions are obviously way easier and Propane has the advantage of storing indefinitely, it never goes bad. You can buy conversion kits or in an emergency revert to the old Redneck method.

All of this may strike you as that crazy old bastard Phil’s mental masturbation again but if you think about it, most of the undeveloped world still operates in this manner every single day,

With the current availability of relatively inexpensive single and dual piston gas engines like the Predator engines sold at Harbor Freight for a hundred dollars when they are on sale, it makes building a brand new machine quite easy on the pocket book without the hassle of trying to find and rebuild some ancient lawn mower engine first.

With what we have seen so far this year with supply disruptions, rioting, burning of entire sections of major cities, forest fires and now Hurricane season being here, it may just pay to think about these kinds of things BEFORE you actually find yourself suddenly stuck in a world without all of the accustomed luxuries.

That bitch Alexa sure as shit isn’t going to help you do your laundry when the power goes out.

16 thoughts on “Something To Keep In The Back Of Your Mind

  1. Thanks fucker. I had other things to do but you just gave me a bunch more.
    And you had to put the time pit of the old Popular Mechanics in there too.
    Thanks anyway.


  2. From my comment on another blog:
    Be very careful running air cooled generators on propane. A small engine expert I talked to said that propane burns a LOT hotter than gasoline, so cooling is critical. Even then, plan on burning out the valves and have spare parts on hand.
    Conversion kits are available for my generator, but what I really wanted is dual fuel capability. I’ve since seen ads for such, and like everything in my preps, backup capability is its own wish list.


  3. Shit, my mom had a classic electric washing machine with a hand-cranked
    wringer as late as 1972, and a pedal-powered Singer sewing machine.
    A lot of that old tech lasted forever!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mr Leonard, We may going back to that! With the car companies and mandating all the electronic bullshit and safety shit in cars and trucks, you are going to see old cars and trucks being pulled out of barns and old junkyards and backyards and refurbished. Hell, all I need is an old Plymouth Savoy or an old Dodge Lancer with a six and a 3 speed. I don’t need GPS or Alexia or OFFSTAR snitching on me.


    • There is a kickstand on the front, just like a heavy duty bicycle kickstand. You just set the kickstand down and then pull back on the tractor to set the tension.
      It never gets super tight but it’s enough to run small things that aren’t a huge load on the belt. They also made a stand that slides in where the mower implement goes on the front if you want something more stable.


  4. I’ve racked over 200k miles on my 7.3 F250 running fryer oil. You start and stop on diesel, and short runs of 5 miles or so, or bitter cold don’t use oil. But I’ve avoided at least half of the 12,000 gallons diesel for the last 15 years or so. Yes it’s a lot of work running on alternative fuel, just like heating your house with wood would be.


    • Different Greg here. My F250 is gas (V10Triton). But we installed a woodstove in our new place last year. My electric bill for January the year before was $330. Last January it was $85. Found a young guy who’s a logger in season, and in his off time sells firewood at a price I couldn’t do it myself for. We’re stocked about two years ahead now, and yes, it involves some work and is messy and dirty, but that install will easily pay for itself this season.


  5. Pingback: Look into History: Popular Mechanics – Cedar Writes

  6. Way back when, waterwheels, and later, steam engines, were used to drive long shafts, off of which leather belts drove individual machines and equipment.

    I’m wondering why a similar arrangement, with a 6-12 HP petrol engine wouldn’t work? It does limit where equipment is positioned, but a small, highly efficient air-colled gasoline or water-cooled diesel as a power source would work. Then again, if one had a small, efficient single-speed liquid-fuel engine, use it to drive an alternator because it’s easier to run wire than a 30 foot steel shaft. But I do see your point on using the old direct-connect stuff.


  7. My Dad had an old GardenAid two wheel tractor when I was a kid. It inspired me to get the BCS 732 that I have now. I have sickle mower, baler, lawn mower, tiller, and trencher attachments. There are an amazing number of different attachments at the EarthTools web site. I got a diesel engine for torque and the fuel stores better.


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