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Hemmings Motor News has been around since 1954. We're proud of our heritage, but we're also more than the Hemmings full of classifieds that your father subscribed to. Aside from new editorial content every month in Hemmings, we have three monthly magazines: Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Classic Car and Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car.

While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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21 comments

Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

Posted December 15, 2008 11:31 AM by dstrohl

Last Thursday night we had heavy rain which froze on the trees and took quite a few of them down along with many limbs. Parts of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York have power outages with something like a million customers without power. Our home and shop are in the country and we have wood heat and water nearby so all we really need is light to get by.

You will have to excuse the third world construction techniques but this is what I whipped up in about 10 minutes. I can still work in the shop using this and then wheel it into the house and use it at night where it lights up one room very well and you can even read by it.

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#1

Re: Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/16/2008 2:15 AM

Well done. Self contained carbide lamps were common in the 60s when I was a kid, but I haven't played with the headlamp variety.

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#2

Re: Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/16/2008 11:54 AM

Surving?

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/16/2008 3:55 PM

You mean you've never surved?

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#5
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Re: Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/16/2008 4:07 PM

Only jury duty.

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#4

Re: Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/16/2008 4:06 PM

seems to me that you are overthinking the problem, for a few bucks, you can pick up some LED LIGHTS , and then place them around each room, wire them into an auto battery and then let there be light. This is a cheap and simple way to solve the situation. LED lights use very little power compared to other DC systems. I am building an off the grid cottage and this system works very well for my needs.

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#6
In reply to #4

Re: Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/16/2008 4:13 PM

Sure, except this is what Dave had laying around the shop.

dan

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#7
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Re: Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/16/2008 10:32 PM

The advantage of the calcium carbide lamps is they also generate heat (useful if you lack heat).

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#8

Re: Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/18/2008 12:27 PM

Some people make a big deal out of losing electricity... Living where it is common, you learn to cope. For cooking... Our barbeque is propane powered, with a burner on the side. We keep a spare full bottle so we are unlikely to run out. But when we do, we have a petrol powered camp stove out in the camping trailer. This works quite well since all gasoline is now unleaded. For lighting, we have a petrol powered lantern in the same place, and more candles than you can shake a stick at. Can you imagine someone telling our ancestors "Don't use that candle! It is open flame! You might burn down your house!" I have seen this line from "safety experts" before. All it takes is some common sense.

For heating, we use a wood stove anyhow, to keep the electricity bill down. Before I hear from the conservationists about harming the trees, the trees the wood came from had to be fallen anyhow... and it was free!!

Biggest problem I see is food. Especially if it looks like a long period of time without power, eat out of the freezer first. Just because you lose power does not mean that your frozen food is instantly destroyed. A freezer is well insulated, and your food will stay frozen for days.

Back about 1950, we lost power for about a week. We heated with fuel oil, so all the neighbors who heated with electricity moved in with us. That was back when neighbors were also friends and it was quite a party.

Enough of this foolishness for now

Sincerely

Bill

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#9
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Re: Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/18/2008 8:45 PM

Hello Sciesis2,

Biggest problem I see is food. Especially if it looks like a long period of time without power, eat out of the freezer first. Just because you lose power does not mean that your frozen food is instantly destroyed. A freezer is well insulated, and your food will stay frozen for days.

You need to move to the other side of the Gorge. We had our highest temp in two weeks, a whole 22oF. All most 8 inches of snow with more on the way. At least for now the trick is to keep your food from freezing. Dug up some carrots before dinner, the ground is froze about 2 inches down.

We loose power the generator comes out, the main gets pulled and the drier becomes the input socket. We have all the tents lantern and stoves but they get used camping. We use them for global warming This weather is usually February to April. Wonder what winter will bring

Brad

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#10
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Re: Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/18/2008 9:59 PM

Yea UV,

And we're 200 miles due north of you. We've been lucky to see 10F in the last month. We just snuggle down and ride it out.

Living this far north and having been off the grid for 10 of the last 15 years we have learned to prepare early and prepare well.

At least the snow this time is the powder variety. I lost a couple of sheds in last years heavy stuff. Of course winter is just starting. We still have that ole potential January thaw to look forward to. The weather people say it looks like the arctic air is going to be with us for quite a while, however.

I'm thinking (hoping snidely) that this stuff settles over the DC area and just ruins the Dem's big inauguration gala.

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#11
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Re: Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/18/2008 11:13 PM

Hello Shadetree,

Maybe Al Gore will be there with his shiny medal to keep him warm.

Unless we get some Sun Spots we may have a late spring.

Speaking of that I haven't been able to find current sunspot data.

Brad

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#12
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Re: Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/19/2008 2:37 AM

That is why I live on the west side of the mountains. I was born and raised in Klamath Falls OR. My sophomore year in high school, we went through a couple of weeks where the high temp was -10 degrees F. So I know where you are coming from.

After college, I moved to California. I would go back to K Falls once a year in the winter, and shovel my folks driveway just to remind me how much I hated the stuff.

I am curious... do you feed the house with 220 vac through the dryer plug? It only seems logical, to get both 110 vac sides... and a neutral back to the generator. It must be a fancy generator.

Gotta run for now...

Bill

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#13
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Re: Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/19/2008 6:17 PM

220 Gen set and 220 drier. Just an easier way to temporarily tap into the house system. Just a male plug to a male plug. A Honda key start, automatic control setting.

I liked K-Falls the last time I was there. Put in a RXR control building out in the big town of Bread. It was snowing when I left.

Brad

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#14
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Re: Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/22/2008 12:23 AM

If I did the "Male plug to Male plug" thing in this country, they'd take my Electrical Licence off me. It would be a bit hard making a living after that.

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#15
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Re: Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/22/2008 12:41 AM

Disconnect the main and it is privet paid for property. No It is not code, but nor is it a risk. The Cord is rated for 220. I could wire it into the main by code but the end result would be the same except the extra work to hook up and unhook. The wiring is up to spec for it.

Brad

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#16
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Re: Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/22/2008 4:50 AM

I get the feeling (from this and other threads) that in Australia, if you or I (not being licensed electricians) were to look at an outlet crosseyed, we would be cited for "intent". They are kinda picky that way.

Foot of snow here...

Bill

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#17
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Re: Surviving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/24/2008 1:14 PM

The intent of the law is so idiots don't meet Darwin, introduce somebody else to him or destroy real property. Thus limiting the government of a source of revenue.

The Government takes that as a licence to regulate your freedom and the lobbing electricians as a forced source of income.

As we remodeled this house all the electrical was upgraded to better than NEC. For someone too use this method to connect their own house they better know what they are putting the power into and what will give first and why.

If I wasn't so cheap I'd put a dedicated plug for connecting the generator but then I would also have to put in a forced lock out for the main to use it. (because some idiot would try to use it without first engaging their brain)

Foot of snow here too

Brad

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#18
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Re: Surviving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/29/2008 8:48 PM

There are plenty of good components available with fully insulated pins (check out RS Components) and then just install a manual change over switch.

The thing to remember with licencing etc is we use a minimum of 240vac over here and we have lower than usual incidence of fire and electrical incidents. Only 2 trades are licenced Electrical and Plumbing, but more recent items such as BSA certification helps to reduce but don't completely eliminate the incidence of shonky work in other building trades.

I have seen (and corrected) my share of "owner builder" electrical that occurs despite the strict protocols. Shonky owner builder work is usually simply disconnected by authorities when discovered, if the offender reconnects it then prosecution if likely. Unless a major incident occurs amatuers usually get away without prosecution. Licenced electricians, now that is another matter.

With what I've seen in both Australia and the US I can't disagree with regulation of lethal voltages.

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#19
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Re: Surviving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/29/2008 10:03 PM

Hello Emjay,

The scariest electrical wiring I ever seen was put in by electricians to code. 40 years before I helped to remodel it. The ceramic insulators kept the (now) bare copper wires from touching the wall and each other, but how they never started a fire in all the dust etc. I will never know.

As boys we played rough in the house but patched and painted the walls after body parts penetrated the plaster and sheet rock. That alone should have burn the place to the ground.

Brad

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#20
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Re: Surviving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

12/29/2008 10:33 PM

Some really old stuff is scary. Have you ever seen or worked with the linen insulated lead sheathed product. When I was called to "fix" a problem in an old house in Spring Hill Brisbane many years ago the landlord would not allow me to do any rewiring or at least pay for it. Nothing i could do would raise the insulation resistance to a safe level, so I reluctantly left it disconnected. I'm sure some one reconnected it after I left.

Apart from ancient stuff my scariest moments have mostly been at the hands of amatuers. One instance never leaves me. I had done some work for a leader of an ethnic group and he recommended me to many others of his former homeland. One such case was a quote for a rewire. I believe others had quoted and were dearer but Mr Tyro thought he wouldn't pay to have the job done properly even at the best quote. He knew all about this "tricity stuff" so he heads to Woolworths who sold this 3 core flex of substandard construction in 1.8m lengths. The stuff was just 3 cores of 23/.0076" (forerunner of 0.75sqmm) pulled through a loosely fitting thin tube. Mr Klev wanted to wire in his stove which he had moved, so at the end of each 6 foot length of stuff he simply stripped it and tied a knot applying "air insulation". Naturally a fire of sorts started. By sheer luck the cable which was of lower current carrying capacity than the fuse open circuited. Needless to say I recieved a call for an urgent rewire. What a job. Ol' mate who knew it all, had removed a wall (up to about 7 feet) with an axe between when I quoted and when I arrived to do the job. Now this wall just happenned to be a loadbearing external wall, so the remaining shatterred VJs were left hanging off the sagging top plate, yet the prick still wanted fittings installed in this shatterred remnant. All in all it was a bastard of a job, the only saving grace being that the afore mentioned community leader made sure I was paid.

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#21

Re: Surving a Blackout Using Vintage Auto Parts

01/14/2009 1:15 AM

This is some what nature's fault and we can't do any thing for this. Are auto parts are safe? You did the good thing and auto parts are really very important to our automobile industry.

Chief Enterprises | America's provider of Bosch Relays, Solenoids, Connectors, and Diodes

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