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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Scavenging for Fuel

A lot of people seem to have a lack of imagination when it comes to being prepared for a lot of things. One of the quandaries that seem most perplexing is what are we going to do for fuels after the major melt down occurs and there is no more power, no more fuel deliveries, the gas stations are shut down and there are millions of cars sitting on the roadside and hundreds of thousands of homes with no heat because their generators ran out of gas, and on and on….
There is a simple solution, and it really is a rather cheap solution as well. Of course, you need to remember that doing what I am going to say here has some danger attached to it, not to mention the fact that it is technically illegal. You simply steal or more appropriately, scavenge the fuels you need from others. In the face of an ultimate meltdown and it’s you verses the rest of the world, there won’t be any law enforcement. There will be roving gangs of thugs and nasty deviants that will be causing no end of trouble, and there will quite likely be some sort of military occupation to give you problems. Don’t forget about these problems either, they will be there simmering on the back burner, waiting for enough heat for them to come to a full boil.
There exists on the market a wide assortment of oil and gas rated pumps that are used for everything from cleaning out the huge underground tanks at the filling station to a home heating oil tank in the basement. All of them are quite expensive, and even a small one can cost you several hundreds of dollars. The reason for this is that they are explosion proof and some can even be submerged into a tank of gasoline with no ill effects.
One thing you can do is to take an aftermarket submersible fuel pump designed for an automobiles gas tank and modify it for multiple uses. There are different models on the market, but what you will want to do is attach a long nylon or poly tubing that is resistant to gas and attach it to where the feed goes on the pump in place of the gas line fitting. Connect two 12 gauge wires to the electrical connector and run them along the tubing, taping them with appropriate tape every 6 to 8 inches. Remember to make the tubing and wire assembly long enough to get you away from the tank you will be draining, just in case.
Separate the wires and tubing when you have a long enough assembly for your task. Wire in a double pole single throw switch near the end of the wires, and then attach a cigarette lighter style plug to the ends of the wire. Make sure the polarity is correct for the pump you are using as you don’t want the pump to run backwards. Place the end of the tubing into a fill container, and then submerge the fuel pump into the tank you wish to drain. Making sure the switch is in the off position, plug cord into your cars cigarette lighter socket. Another option is to use gator clips and a twelve volt battery for the power source. Turn the switch on and settle back while the pump does all the work.
Bear in mind that this setup can take a long time to drain a tank as these automotive fuel pumps really aren’t designed for high volume.
That being the case, here’s what I’ve chosen for my bag of survival tricks: a cheap drill pump and some tubing, with fittings. The pump I chose runs about thirteen bucks in most hardware shops, and it pumps 3.6 gallons of fuel at five feet of head, and will pump about 90 feet before it runs out of oomph.
Attach about twenty feet of tubing via a hose fitting to the inlet side of the pump. Attach another 50 feet to the outlet side the same way. If you are pumping gasoline, use one of those old fashioned hand drills as the power source to avoid risk of sparks and explosion. A battery powered drill will safely do the job in other situations. If a battery drill isn’t available a regular drill powered off a generator will be just the ticket.
Just remember that in dire straits you may not want to run a generator as you prowl around sucking your neighbors’ oil tanks dry. Those roving gangs of thugs just may hear you and put an end to your misery of living without power. Make sure you have one of those hand drills no matter what you think your prospects will be. They may not be so fast at getting the job done, but there is no risk of stray sparks setting the vapors off, and they make little noise. And as an afterthought, attach a mesh strainer to the pickup end to keep gunk from being picked up and deposited into your fill containers.
Remember also that there is great risk of explosion if you don’t do these types of tasks carefully and take all necessary precautions to prevent calamity from paying a visit. And again, I want to stress that you will most likely face the risk of being charged with theft, unless of course we do actually suffer the ultimate meltdown, and the resulting loss of governmental control and ensuing anarchy. Be careful and use your brains to think whatever course of action you chose through to the end.
Just as an anecdotal note here, during the great New England ice storm of 98 we were without power for over two weeks. I drained the heating oil out of the tank for our boiler this way and used that fuel in our Omni top hat heater. It never got below 70 in our home and I cooked our meals on top of the heater. How’s that for survival savvy?

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