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Mel Tappan’s Personal Survival Letter # 5

Issue No. 5

Editor’s Note: The material contained in Jeff Cooper’s column this month might be termed “sensitive”. You will
not find it recounted in any books on learning to shoot, nor for that matter, in general circulation publications of
any kind. Developing the firing stroke is one of the techniques which Jeff teaches to carefully screened students at
his facility in Arizona, and it is one of those pivotal subtleties that makes the difference between the average gun
hand and a decisively effective practical marksman.

For this reason, Jeff joins me in asking each of you to regard the information presented here as “classified: for
your eyes only.” It is simply not the sort of thing that any of us would like to have fall into the wrong hands. MT.

The Firing Stroke

by Jeff Cooper

An essentially defensive weapon, the handgun is a means of stopping violence initiated by another. It will rarely be
out and ready, still less “aimed in”, when the need to fire it becomes apparent. Most often the decision to shoot will
be taken when the pistol is holstered with the hands unready and well clear. (The cocked, or “cowboy”, ready
position is used only in the cinema and in carelessly run contests.)

Thus the movements of the shooter’s body between the internal “Go!” signal and the discharge of the piece
constitute what we have come to call the “firing stroke” at the American Pistol Institute. Elsewhere it may be called
“the draw”, or “the quick draw”, but whatever it is called it is made up of a sequence of movements which must be
carefully learned and just as carefully practiced by the aspiring handgun marksman.

For decades “quick draw” has been eyed askance by conventional shooters -military, police, and civilian- not
because it is not essential to sound pistolcraft, but because it has been regarded as dangerous. As a matter of fact it
is dangerous, to the shooter himself, if he does not know what he is about.

For a novice to buy a gun and holster, withdraw to the city dump, and start trying to see how fast he is, is indeed to
invite a mishap. So we don’t go about it like that. We learn the moves in correct sequence, and then we have no

Until this year I could say that no properly trained pistolero had ever had a premature discharge on the draw; and
that, conversely, every drawing accident to come to my attention happened with an untrained hand. This year I saw
my first (and, I trust, my last) exception to this rule.

The shooter had been carefully schooled, but he was under intense competitive pressure in a man-against-man
contest and he simply drove himself a notch beyond the limits of his own coordination. Damage was minor, and
nobody's day was spoiled, but my absolute statement was invalidated. I don’t know how many thousands of draws I
have seen, but the one exception in that total is about as significant as one reluctant lemming in a migration.
The firing stroke is one fluid movement, devoid of any unnecessary motion, but it should be considered by the
novice as a series of distinct steps. These steps are first learned staccato -by the numbers- and then blended together

There is no need to try to be fast at first. If you are smooth you will be fast. The incentive to be quick will supply
itself if you ever have to draw for blood. The problem in a live encounter is more often to slow yourself down than
to speed yourself up, once your gun handling has been successfully programmed.

Step One

Facing your target, place your right hand on your pistol butt in a solid firing grip, except for the thumb and the
trigger finger. The thumb rides high, above the safety on an auto pistol, and the index finger points straight forward
along the frame. If you cannot comfortably place your second finger snugly up against the bottom of the trigger
guard, change your holster.

Simultaneously place your left hand “in grab”- about a foot in front of your belt buckle, palm vertical, fingers
extended, thumb pointing straight up.

Step Two

Break the piece clear of the leather, upward if you use a pouch holster, forward if you use a break-front. ​Do not
​ his is most
move it further than just clear. Do not depress the safety. Do not insert the trigger finger in the guard. T
important. Failure to heed can hurt.

(Note: At least one master marksman pops the safety in the holster. That is his method and he is welcome to it,
since he will make no mistakes. He does not gain speed that way, however, as others just as fast as he do not do it.
Leave the safety on until the third step.)

With trigger-cocking (“double-action”) weapons the trigger finger may enter the guard at Step Two. Three is safer,
however. (Note; with a cross-draw keep the muzzle below the supporting arm as the piece is advanced.)

Step Three

Advance the piece half way from the holster to the waiting left hand. Depress the safety. ​Keep the index finger
straight. (Except with double-action, where there is no safety latch and the finger enters the trigger guard.)

Step Four

Join hands and initiate counter-pressure, right hand against left. Now place the finger on the trigger. DAs
commence squeeze.) Keep the muzzle depressed about 15 degrees below line of sight and maintain focus on the

Step Five

Line up. Increase counter-pressure. Shift focus from target to front sight. Take up trigger slack, if cocked. If
double-action, press trigger about halfway back. (You can still check your complete stroke at this point, with
Step Six

Press smoothly, thumb against forefinger. Do not pull. Do not jerk. Do not milk. Press smoothly. Quickly, but
smoothly. If the piece is unloaded the muzzle will not dip and the sights will not twitch. If it is loaded you will have
a center hit. Stay right on target, locked-in for a second to verify your hold and be ready for a second shot.

That’s it. Practice it very carefully -by the numbers- until all motions are sure. This will take about 100 strokes,
unless you are especially well coordinated. Then put them together slowly, eliminating all traces of lost motion,
such as crouching, twisting, “slapping”, or “bowling”. Only the arms may move, though a slight dip of the head is

Try another 100 of these, preferably under observation by a coach. When arms and hands begin to ache, stop and
continue tomorrow.

Eventually you will develop a very smooth and very strong stroke, well within a second and powerful enough to
smash a champagne bottle with your gun barrel. Then you can try some live shooting.


The Snake Charmer

If you have read Survival Guns, you are aware that I am not overly fond of the .410 shotshell; however, it does have
its place as a foraging round provided that the gun shooting it offers enough advantages -particularly in terms of
size and convenience- over more effective arms. Quite recently a new gun has appeared on the market that may
offer just the right combination of desirable features to make the limitations of the .410 worth living with under a
variety of circumstances.

The “Snake Charmer”, as this new smoothbore is called, was designed with survival use in mind and, hence, it is
constructed entirely of stainless steel and high impact plastic. It is a break-open single shot with an exposed
hammer and it is intended to be used in the manner of a pistol, although it is provided with a vestigial shoulder
stock in order to comply with the current foolishness that passes for Federal law.

Barrel length is 18 ¼” -fractionally above the legal minimum- and length overall is only 28 inches. It takes down,
via the removal of one screw, to a size that easily fits into a modest tackle box, and the stock is equipped with a
sliding trap butt plate that will carry spare ammunition- two rounds each of 3” and 2 ½” shells. The chamber will
accept 3" loadings and that is what I would use for all purposes with either No. 6 or No. 5 shot. Rifled slugs,
although available, are useless for anything but noise making in .410.

My sample patterns extremely well- about 65% at 25 yards. It is obviously quite well-made for a gun in its price
range and the trigger pull is surprisingly good. My only real complaint is that it has no sights at all, not even a front
bead. For a shoulder-fired shotgun that would present no particular problem, but since it is used as a pistol, the bald
sighting plane takes some getting used to.
There is, however, enough metal in the barrel to allow mounting a threaded shotgun bead or even a pair of them and
I am experimenting with drawing twin lines converging toward the muzzle, then holding in such a way that they
appear to meet when you are on target. If that works out -as I think it will- I will have the lines engraved and filled
with black automobile enamel

Granting for the moment that the Snake Charmer is well-made, rustproof, and convenient enough to have with you
when larger smoothbores might be left behind, what -practically- is the value of the .410 and what can you expect
to do with it -reliably- under survival conditions? Does it have any advantages that make it worth considering for
the survival battery?

For one thing, the .410 is both light and compact, suiting it well for inclusion in a flight or escape kit. Also, it is
quite popular and, therefore, widely distributed. If you are planning a fairly extensive battery, you will probably
want to have at least one gun that will fire it.

Up to 25 or 30 yards the loadings of the .410 mentioned earlier will take grouse, quail, rabbit, and similar small
game with some certainty. For snake control (I herewith acknowledge grumblings and other rude noises from Jeff
Cooper) it is far superior to any handgun shot load. Pests such as weasel (particularly obnoxious on a survival
farm), skunk, and even foxes fall within its capabilities, if the range is not too great.

Recoil is so light in the Snake Charmer with 2 ½” shells that it might be an excellent trainer for very small (3-6 year
old) children who could probably fire it from the shoulder. Primarily, however, the role of the Snake Charmer is to
provide short-range smoothbore capability when conventional shotguns would be in the way.

On a tractor, in an ATV, strapped to a pack board, or standing in a corner of the barn, it is probably the best thing
available. I’d prefer it in 28 Ga. but then one would be faced with an ammo-availability problem. If you can afford
to add a Snake Charmer to your battery at $85 retail without sacrificing something essential, I would do so. If
nothing else, it would make a superb cache weapon

This is such a new gun that your dealer may not have it yet, but he can order one front the distributor: Bob Meece
Company, Inc., 1602 Stemmons, Suite D, Carrolton, TX 75006. M.T.

The Emergency Treatment of Poisoning, Part 2

by Mel Tappan and “Doc”

Editor’s Note: Please refer to PS Letter No. 4 for the beginning of this is article, which contains important
warnings regarding the use of information and techniques contained in both parts of this series. Neither portion of
this study should be regarded as viable without the other. M.T.

The vast majority of poisoning cases which are now handled in emergency rooms can be managed satisfactorily by
employing the simple supportive measures outlined last month. There are a few toxic substances which may be
encountered in the retreat situation, however, that may require, or at least benefit from, the administration of
specific antidotes.
To many laymen, the mere use of the word “antidote” implies that simply introducing the proper specific will
counteract the poison. That is a supposition which must not be made. Good, basic supportive care as outlined in
Part One of this article is absolutely essential whether or not an antidote is available.

Perhaps the most certain and rapid killer and one which demands a specific antidote is cyanide gas. I mention it
here only because a number of readers have expressed their interest in setting up fairly extensive chemical
laboratories at their retreats for the purpose of manufacturing necessary or desirable household products.
Hydrocyanic acid vapor might easily be produced inadvertently under such circumstances, since it can result from
the simple interaction between such common laboratory elements as hydrochloric acid and aluminum containers or
aluminum foil.

Unless you plan to have such substances stored at your retreat, you probably will not encounter this problem;
however, if you expect to have even a modest chemical lab or if you manufacture jewelry and use the substances
for cleaning and polishing gold, or have managed to make the NKVD hit list, you will want to know that Ely Lilly
and Company has a cyanide antidote package which is available commercially.

Unfortunately, the kit has a shelf life of only one year. It consists of amyl nitrate pearls which must be crushed and
breathed for thirty seconds every minute as well as sodium nitrite and sodium thiosulfate which are packed with
instructions for their use. Death from cyanide poisoning occurs within seconds or minutes and if for some reason
you must deal with it, you should keep the amyl nitrate pearls on your person.

Poisoning by nitrates, nitrites, and analine dyes are not uncommon and under survival conditions, for persons who
are particularly sensitive to them, toxicity from the first two may well be encountered since some packagers of
storable foods use them in large quantities as preservatives. The specific antidote for all three is methylene blue, .2
milliliters per kilogram of body weight given as an IV injection, over a five-minute period in a 1% solution of

These drugs produce a phenomenon called methemoglobinemia. If this condition is suspected in a cyanotic patient
who does not respond to oxygen, there is a simple test which may be conducted quickly and easily. Simply place a
drop of the patient’s blood on a piece of filter paper along with a drop of your own. If the patient’s blood appears to
have a chocolate color in comparison with yours, then he probably has more than 15% methemoglobinemia and
methylene blue may be administered.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is another likely prospect which benefits from a specific antidote: oxygen. Several
survivalists of my acquaintance have enclosed their gasoline-powered generators in closely confined, well-insulated
structures to reduce the noise level, and attempting to adjust the machinery while it is in operation or shortly after it
has been running poses considerable risk from this source. At least get the patient out of the confined area into fresh
air and administer pure oxygen if you have it.

Organo-phosphate insecticides are quite common on small farms and they are potent toxins. Their antidotes are
atropine and 2-pam in the adult patient. If he has contracted pupils and an odor of insecticide in his mouth,
atropine can be given slowly in a 2-milligram dose IM.

Overdoses of atropine, phenobarbital, and barbiturates, on the other hand, show just the reverse toxic symptoms
from the organo-phosphate insecticides. An easy way to remember these signs is to recall that the barbiturates come
from the belladonna plant of the nightshade family and that belladonna means literally “pretty lady”. Italians in the
Middle Ages felt that a lady with large pupils was a more attractive and desirable female, so many young women in
that era habitually poisoned themselves with the plant.
One of the earlier signs of toxicity is dryness of the mouth, an attribute which is utilized now in the preparation of
patients for surgery since atropine and similar drugs are often used as preoperative injections before general
anesthetics are administered. The effects can be reversed with a drug called physostigmine.

The other area which may prove to be a common source of poisoning for the survivalist and one which may require
specific antidotes is that of prescription drugs. The best source here is a ​Physicians’ Desk Reference.​ It is published
annually and it contains information on all of the currently available prescription drugs commonly used in the
United States. The entries include recommendations for specific antidotes where applicable.

The PDR is available only to physicians and I suggest that you ask your doctor to get a copy for you. If he is
unwilling to go to the trouble to provide you with a current edition, he may let you have one of his outdated copies,
and even that will be of considerable value, although new drugs are introduced every year and it’s worth some
effort to acquire the latest issue.

Some of the most common commercial preparations which benefit from antidotes are: amphetamines- counteracted
by Thorazine .5 to 1.5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight IM; belladonna alkaloids countered by
physostigmine; benadryl, atropine, potato leaves, Timson weed- also countered with physostigmine.

Heavy metals such as mercury are treated by “chelation”. The common agent here is EDTA. Unfortunately,
EDTA, as well as other chelating agents, have significant toxicity in themselves and diagnosis should be confirmed
before therapy begins. Since that procedure is usually not possible under survival conditions, the best course is
probably decontamination and support (see Part One).

Narcotic overdosage may occur either with street drugs or legitimate pain medication such as lomotil, darvon,
talwin, or methadone, and under the conditions contemplated here, it may be encountered with non-addicts as well
as addicts. In the case of non-addicts, respiratory care is more important than a specific narcotic antagonist. If you
can keep the patient breathing, the body will ultimately eliminate the poison. That approach is relatively simple in
an intensive care unit where the patient is simply placed on a respirator.

An extremely well-supplied retreat might have a “volume controlled respirator” hooked up to its generator;
however, an ordinary ambu-bag with a facial mask can be used. It would, however, require a group of people
working in shifts, since breathing for the patient is a very tiring operation and it could last for several days. The
specific antagonist for opiates and the primary drug used in narcotic antagonism is naloxone (its trade name is
Narcan). Normal dosages are from .01 to .005 milligrams per kilogram of body weight IV per dose. It is supplied in
.4 milligram vials, which is the usual adult dose. No respiratory depression occurs with its use.

Nalophrine (trade name Nalline) is a second choice drug since it can cause significant respiratory depression. The
dose is .1 milligram per kilogram. Please note that these antagonists are quite short-acting. Patients have been
treated for narcotic overdose with such specific antagonists and after reviving and apparently recovering, they have
been discharged from the hospital by eager interns, then once out on the streets, the antagonist wears off, the
narcotic is still working, the patient goes back into a coma and dies. Let me also stress again the fact that respiratory
therapy is also a must in these cases.

The category of phenothiazines includes Thorazine and several other major tranquilizers. Overdoses can be
countered by benadryl 2.5 to 5.0 milligrams per kilogram orally, looking for what are known as “extra pyramidal
reactions” (this one is too complicated to explain in an article of this length, so you will have to look it up in your
mini-medical library).
Benadryl is a relatively safe drug and can be given experimentally to anyone who has been taking Thorazine,
Navane, or any other drug which the PDR labels as phenothiazine, when an overdose is suspected. It may be
necessary to administer benadryl for as much as a week to prevent the return of symptoms. The tricyclic
antidepressants can sometimes give effects similar to atropine.

The signs of large pupils, dry mouth, and so on are the same and physostigmine is also the antagonist in this case,
but it should only be used if there is a cardiac arrhythmia or if difficulties occur with pulse and blood pressure.
Supportive care is extremely important in these cases.

The effects of several common drugs appear to be markedly abated by forced diuresis- certain techniques which
increase the flow of urine. Alcohol and amphetamines need acid diuresis; bromides, isoniazid, and phenobarbital
require alkaline diuresis as does “rosary bead” (these are a type of tropical bean commonly used in the manufacture
of rosaries).

Salicylates, aspirins, and so forth need alkaline diuresis and strychnine, acid diuresis. Alkaline diuresis can be
obtained with bicarbonates, 1 to 2 milligram equivalents per kilogram The only major problem with this type of
therapy is that the patient may become potassium deficient; however, that may be counteracted with a potassium
salt such as a K-lyte or Elixir of Potassium Chloride. Acid diuresis can be most simply performed with an ascorbic
acid or vitamin C- 500 milligrams to 2000 milligrams orally or IV.

Results can be monitored by periodically testing the urine with strips of Nitrazine paper. Acid urine is indicated by
a pH between 4.5 and 5.5. Always administer these diuretics with sufficient fluids to insure a urine flow of at least
.5 to 2 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per hour and, preferably, 3 to 6 milligrams per kilogram per hour.

The only remaining technique for dealing with poisoning normally employed in a hospital emergency room is
dialysis. It involves cleaning toxins from the patient’s bloodstream, usually by means of an artificial kidney
machine which filters the materials from the blood.

There is, however, a method known as peritoneal dialysis which could be accomplished without the elaborate
machinery in a survival situation by any reasonably competent person who is willing to spend the time to learn it.
Your mini-medical reference library will get you started if you are interested and your physician could teach you
the technique or refer you to the latest medical literature.

I think it’s appropriate that “Doc” should have the final word in this piece. He comments:

“I would like one more mention made of activated charcoal because I consider this treatment to be of great
importance in handling poisoning. Don’t use ‘anti-flatulence’ tablets. These are worthless. The substance which
should normally be used is called Nont-A- or any other finely divided ‘activated charcoal’.

You can mix this ahead of time to make a palatable drink with 30 grams of activated charcoal, 120 milligrams of
water kept in a dark mouth 6-ounce bottle with 7 milliliters of cherry syrup added just before use for flavoring. It
has a syrupy consistency and should be shaken before use.

I would like to point out that most of what is done in the emergency room can be done in a survival situation. Those
extra special procedures that are available in hospitals are usually considered ancillary. Adequate decontamination
gets you at least well on your way to solving the problem and it is often all that is necessary along with supporting
the patient’s vital functions with standard techniques.”
Several of the comprehensive medical handbooks such as the ​Merck’s Manual contain useful lists of antidotes and
additional information on poisoning; however, it would be wise to include a full-length text on the subject in your
library if at all possible. One of the standard texts and certainly one of the most convenient from the standpoint of
size as well as usability is the ​Handbook of Poisoning: Diagnosis and Treatment by R.H. Dreisbach, 9th edition,
Lange, 1977.

If this article is your first introduction to survival medicine, you may feel somewhat bewildered and inadequate at
this point, but please remember, the basic techniques involved are really quite simple. It is only the vocabulary that
is overwhelming. We have intentionally not translated this information into laymen’s terms in the hope that you
will be motivated to begin learning the necessary language and skills at a level that will be practically useful to you
should a major medical emergency occur when professional help is unavailable.

Survival Wheels
by Rick Fines

Editor’s Note: “Ross Lee” has resigned his position on the editorial staff of a major automotive publishing
company in order to devote his full time to writing and consulting on survival matters. Consequently, with this issue
of PS Letter, the “Ross Lee” pen name can be eliminated in favor of his true by-line, Rick Fines. If any of our
subscribers wish to contact Rick for consultation or to have him search for a vintage auto, specially equipped
military truck, or custom designed survival vehicle, he may be reached by writing: PS Letter, P0 Box 598, Rogue
River, OR 97537. M.T.

The subject of Diesel engines for survival use has generated considerable interest of late, particularly following the
introduction of the new General Motors V8 Diesel passenger car engine. This month’s column will deal with the
subject of Diesel advantages, drawbacks and appropriate applications.

Diesel engines differ from gasoline engines in a number of ways. While gasoline burners employ a compression
ratio of about 8 to 1, Diesels compress their fuel/air mixture at around 22 to 1. Instead of using a spark plug fed by a
coil and controlled by a distributor, the Diesel uses the heat of compression to achieve what is called autoignition.
Because of the tremendous compression involved, Diesels were for many years used in marine and stationary
applications where they could do their work at very low rpm and be operated for long periods at constant speeds.

As Diesel engine design improved, along with foundry techniques which permitted the casting of lighter blocks
which could hold the compression without breaking, some very traditional names in heavy truck engines, like Reo
Gold Comet, Hall-Scott, and Hercules became displaced by Cat, Cummins, and other Diesels. It is now rare to see
any highway tractor equipped with a gasoline engine.

Rather than supplying fuel to a carburetor at around 6 psi, the Diesel pumps its fuel to an injector which meters fuel
individually to each cylinder at around 1800 psi.

Gasoline engines run best on clean fuel, but will tolerate some trash with no great problems. Diesels do not run at
all on dirty fuel. Most large Diesels are equipped with two or more fuel filters with elements larger than found on
your car’s oil filter. If the fuel is not clean, the injectors or the pump may cease to operate. If the filters become
clogged and dirty, the engine will blow black and lose power.
Unlike a gasoline engine which misses and coughs when fuel starved, the Diesel simply gets to the point that it will
not accelerate beyond jogging speed. Gasoline engines will tolerate high rpm operation: often beyond “book”
specifications, with little more to be suffered than reduced engine life. Diesels, when overspeeded, frequently
register their protest by disassembling themselves all over the highway.

Diesel engines in whatever form, whether built by Perkins, Cat, Cummins, Guiberson, Mercedes, or whomever,
make more noise, smell worse, idle rougher, and produce less power per pound of engine weight than comparable
gasoline engines. With the exception of the new GM Diesel auto engine and the other small automotive types,
Diesels run many more hours between overhauls than gas engines, but cost far more to rebuild when teardown time
finally arrives.

The cost of Diesel fuel runs about a dime per gallon less than regular gasoline. The next sentence should be read
carefully: Diesel fuel is not easy to obtain. In fact, it’s damned difficult. Yes, I too have read the Mercedes ads for
years and I also know that all those truckers run on Diesel and have to buy it somewhere.

Before all the Diesel cultists declare that I should be quiet and crawl back into my coffin before the sun rises, I
should like to point out that this author owns and drives a ten-wheeler, ten-wheel drive Diesel military truck- an
M35A2, which is just slightly smaller than a Greyhound bus. After two days of calling and chasing, I was able to
obtain a case of Shell Rotella engine oil for the truck.

The list of Diesel fuel sources in the LA central yellow pages amounts to less than three column inches. By
contrast, the same directory lists more than seven pages of gasoline service stations.

Highway trucks do not fill up very often; take a look at the saddle tanks next time you see a trucker pumping
several hundred gallons of fuel into his rig. Most trucking companies have tanks and pumps at their terminals to
which the public is not privy.

Most Diesel fuel sources are located on the highway -often in the midst of dismal nowhere- or in equally dismal and
inaccessible industrial areas. If you happen to live next door to a source, great. Just don’t believe the Mercedes
advertising rubbish about how easy it is to obtain Diesel fuel.

Earlier, we mentioned that most all highway rigs are Diesel powered. A great many tractors used for city service are
still gasoline-powered, simply because the long-haul, constant-speed advantages of the big Diesels cannot be
realized in stop and start, city conditions.

Since most Diesel fans, at least in the automotive context, are familiar with the Mercedes product, an examination
of its development and history is in order. Somehow, the Mercedes Diesel has acquired a mystique and a devoted
following far out of proportion to the machine’s actual utility, economy, or reliability.

Mercedes developed their automotive Diesel in the 1930’s, with an eye toward the commercial market. Gasoline
was expensive and scarce, so the inherent economy of the Diesel concept was attractive for taxi applications in
particular. The early Mercedes Diesels were very rough, but lasted a long time. If the driver had a snatch block, the
1930’s product might have been able to generate enough power to pull the hat off his head.

The post-war products, like the 180D, were not a great deal better. They did last a long time, but when they broke,
they were likely to do the same thing to the owner when the repair bill came.

Now we have the 5-cylinder 300D. The kindest thing to be said for the new machine is that it still stinks, costs as
much as a new Cadillac and can be outrun by a ‘58 Studebaker. Something about a $13,000 economy car does not
make a great deal of sense.
We now have an American automotive Diesel to talk about. General Motors has made a great deal of puff
describing the V8-350 Diesel as “new”. Actually, the GM product is a “bitsa” engine; bits’a this and bits’a that. The
block is a modified version of the Chevrolet 350 gas engine. The crankshaft is a close copy of the crank from the
455 engine, and the injection pump is from Roosa Master.

The Roosa Master people have been building injection components for a good many years and their equipment is
the equal of any on the market. However, in a survival context, the Diesel presents quite a problem. A carburetor
-even a complex 4-barrel- can be rebuilt by any nominally intelligent person with a $5.00 kit, a can of carb dip and
a handful of tools.

If you try, on the other hand, to dive into the injection hardware of a Diesel, you had best have God, or at least the
bank, on your side. The Diesel components are simply not field-serviceable without complex diagnostic tools and
special equipment.

One very interesting thing about the GM product is that a charge of more than $800 is added to the price of the car
for Diesel power.

Even Mercedes puts their Diesel near the bottom of their line. GM claims no increase in engine life for the Diesel
over their gasoline engines. The Diesel adds about 180 pounds of weight to the car, over a conventional engine. The
factory claims a rousing 120-hp in a car with a weight of 3800 pounds. The horsepower to weight ratio -as well as
the performance- is about state-of-the-art 1950.

In an economic context, you buy an engine that costs $800 more, provides less performance, stinks, idles rough,
and lasts no longer than the standard engine.

In the survival context, both the Mercedes and the GM Diesels present parts and service problems such that we
cannot suggest them for use in any survival vehicle.

To those who want to own one no matter what, we suggest that you wait at least a year or two to allow GM to sort
out the unavoidable new model bugs. A great deal of time was spent on development, but no manufacturer can
anticipate the problems that will crop up in the field.

As a final statement on Diesels, consider the following:

1. No truck with an unladen weight over 12,000 pounds should be powered with anything other than a Diesel. In
this weight class and above, even the best gasoline engines have to be bypassed because of fuel economy alone. For
example, the author’s M35A2 gets about ten miles per gallon on Diesel fuel. The earlier M35 military truck, which
was equipped with a Reo Gold Comet gasoline engine, was lucky to turn three miles per gallon.

2. Any boat over forty feet, or any heavily-built boat over thirty feet with a displacement hull, should be equipped
with a Diesel.

3. Survival vehicles should be equipped with gasoline engines, for which parts may be had far more readily and
which may be serviced by owners with a reasonable tool inventory.

4. Diesels can be something of a bear to start in cold weather. Some really rotten evening when the slush is
freezing, the snow is blowing and it’s too cold for even the stars to be out, roll into a truck stop. You’ll find a lot of
tractors idling away all night long rather than risk not starting the next morning.
Engines with 22 to 1 compression ratios are not terribly enthusiastic about firing up when all that iron is as cold as
the ice on the windshield. The GM Diesel uses two batteries in conjunction with glow plugs to hopefully assure

One of the primary reasons that GM developed their passenger car Diesel was to have an engine available to meet
the ever-increasing smog regulations imposed on gasoline engines. The Diesel does a fine job against
standards designed for gasoline engines, but the bureaucrats are not likely to leave Diesels alone for long.

The best general advice is to buy engines designed for specific applications. Engines which cost more, provide less
performance, and were designed not for the application, but simply to slither through bureaucratic loopholes are no

Answers to Reader’s Questions

In the first installment of Survival Wheels, we said that reader’s questions of general interest would be answered in
the column. We now have a few which should provide all with some good information.

One reader asked about the advisability of removing the smog hardware on a late-model machine to achieve the
simplicity and reliability of pre-smog equipment. The answer is simpler than the work involved.

By removing the vast array of plumbing in the fuel evaporative control system, changing the induction system to a
simpler air cleaner drawing cool combustion air, and replacing the carburetor with something for the same size
engine from the 1960’s, a good start can be made. However, if a curious member of the constabulary pokes his nose
under your hood for any reason whatever, the result would be essentially as follows:

1. In some states, you might find your vehicle actually impounded.

2. You would most likely be required to restore the maze of plumbing you removed and pay some service station
attendant to certify that your machine was restored to its intended state of gas-guzzling sluggishness.

3. You might be faced with criminal charges.

Doing a full-scale deactivation of the smog gear is just a bit on the dangerous side, but a few things can be done
which will help quite a bit.

1. Remove the duct which supplies hot air from the exhaust manifold to the air cleaner. Store the part where you
can find it if forced to put it back on.

2. Drill about a 1/8-inch hole in your fuel cap to make certain that if your evaporative control system malfunctions,
you won’t be walking. Make certain that on your particular machine you don’t cause a vacuum leak by so doing- if
so, neatly plug the offending rubber line.

3. “Lose” the drive belt to the smog air pump. Keep it handy if legally forced to put it back.
After performing these operations -all of which are illegal- it may be necessary to re-jet your carburetor to make the
engine run still a bit better, but continue to appear “innocent” to the eye of at least the casual bureaucrat.

As mentioned in a previous column, these modifications will become increasingly difficult with each succeeding
model year. The goal of the EPA-types is to create an engine which is about as repairable as a burned-out light
bulb. Totally sealed engines are actually being discussed.

Another reader inquired as to the reliability of the popular aftermarket solid-state ignition systems. His
understanding was that they would provide a “hotter” spark and be particularly useful in starting wet engines or
older engines.

For several reasons, we do not recommend these gadgets. The first reason is that there are many brands around and
the quality of the hardware is variable.

Because of the many brands on the market, parts are therefore not standard items. On any piece of equipment for a
survival machine, both quality and ready availability of backup spares must be considered.

In terms of starting wet engines, if the ignition system is really wet, any spark -no matter how “hot”- will find its
way to ground before the engine fires. A better solution than changing the ignition system around is to carry a can
of WD-40 or LPS25 in the glove box.

If the ignition system is wet, pop the distributor cap and hose down the interior of the cap and the points with the
spray. Do the same with the plug connections. If the problem was in fact moisture, the problem will be solved.

As an additional help, carry a can of ether-based starting fluid along with the other can. If the engine becomes
flooded or cranks slowly, the starting fluid can fire the engine when gasoline won’t do the job.

If the engine is in good condition and properly tuned, the stock components are perfectly serviceable.
Some increase in spark plug life may be noted, but no survival machine should run spark plugs long
enough to notice the difference.

Plugs average only about a dollar each. They should be changed and discarded at no more than
10,000-mile intervals, and gapped at least at the 5,000-mile mark. Beyond that, make no more effort to
make them last forever than you would any other disposable item.

As most of you have noticed by now, we have no advertisers to please. Therefore, you will find no copy in this
column which pays back a car manufacturer for the loan of an automobile for a month or so, or helps a salesman
sell a full-page color ad. Please continue to send us your questions. You may be assured that they will be answered
as realistically as possible.

Reloading- Part 1
by Mel Tappan

Portable Tools
Reloading is a mandatory skill for survivalists. None of us knows how much ammunition in storage will be
“enough”, and even if we did, many of us couldn’t afford to buy that much factory fodder at today’s prices. Further,
the amount of practice shooting you will need to do with your chosen battery between now and the beginning of the
crunch -if you are to develop and maintain a practical level of skill- could cost several times the price of your guns,
unless you reload.
For example, you will probably expend about 1000 rounds becoming reasonably competent with the .45 auto pistol,
if you have good instruction; more, if you don’t. And you will have to fire at least 250 rounds per month to
maintain your skill. One thousand factory .45’s cost about $250 retail- roughly the price of a new pistol. One
thousand reloads can be assembled for as little as $35, if you cast your own bullets and scrounge scrap lead from
plumbing supply shops and tire weights from service stations.

Now, don’t misunderstand. Reloading is not a total substitute for laying in a supply of factory ammunition, but
rather an adjunct to it. Factory cartridges will store longer because they are sealed better and they will certainly be
worth more in barter because the person with whom you are trading knows exactly what he is getting. Also, you
need a source of cases and -given the other advantages of factory loads- they might as well be purchased in
assembled form.

Saving money is not the only reason for reloading, of course.

You can prepare special purpose rounds that are not commercially available and frequently solve accuracy and/or
functioning problems in specific weapons by developing your own careful handloads. Further, reloading for others
could be a useful, barterable skill both during and after the collapse.

The kind of equipment you choose should be determined by the volume and frequency of loading that you expect to
do. Most people tend to select a bench-mounted press- either a C- or 0-type such as the excellent RCBS “Rock
Chucker”, or a turret-style such as the Lyman “All-American”.

Either is quite strong and durable enough for even the most extensive needs of a single family under survival
conditions, but they are both somewhat slow if you expect to make reloading a business. The quality of ammunition
which they produce is of the highest order, however, and they have the strength to swage bullets as well as the
flexibility to full-length resize brass and remove the crimp from military cases.

Commercial use calls for one of the automatic progressive presses and I will cover these in a future article. I am
shopping for one of these now for my own use and the choice among them is not easy. A mistake here could be
costly because these machines are not inexpensive. They range in price from 10 to 30 times the cost of a good
manual bench press, but some of them are capable of turning out excellent cartridges at the rate of 600 to 1000
rounds per hour.

Whatever else you choose in the way of reloading equipment, however, you should also buy a good portable hand
tool that does not require mounting on a workbench to function. Aside from the fact that it is handy to take with you
to the range when working up new loads, or to allow you to enjoy the company of your family, perhaps even the
comfort of your favorite chair, while doing what is essentially a boring chore, the portable tool is especially
worthwhile for the survivalist.

A complete kit including several canisters of powder, bullets, primers, and dies can easily be built around it and the
entire outfit stored conveniently in a metal tool box against the time when you may have to run for your retreat- or
be driven from it.
Several portable tools are currently on the market, such as the old reliable Lyman 310 Tong Tool, the ultra-compact
Lee Loaders, and the well-made Pak-Tool. All of them are capable of turning out high quality reloads, but they
share one fault in common. None of them can use the standard 7/8 x 14 thread dies that the full size bench presses

If you select one of them, then you will have to duplicate all of your die sets -an expensive proposition- or else have
their convenience severely limited. Not only that, but the dies available for these portables frequently do not
provide features that you may need.

For example, they do not full-length resize pistol cases- a fact that may present problems with some auto pistols and
it almost certainly will in the case of heavy revolver loads. Further, tungsten carbide sizing dies are not available for
any of these portables, so that you cannot avoid the most laborious reloading chore- lubricating and subsequently
degreasing your cases. Finally, small-base resizing dies, which many autoloading and lever action rifles demand,
can only be had in 7/8 x 14 size.

Fortunately, the new Decker Hand Press eliminates all of these drawbacks and it adds a few plusses in the bargain.
In addition to accepting all standard-thread dies and most snap-in shell holders such as RCBS, Lyman, Pacific, and
C-H, the Decker requires no fixed support, even when full-length resizing large rifle cases. To test the strength of
the little hand press still further, I even made a few .243 cases from some .308 military brass using a set of RCBS
case forming dies.

Neither that nor full-length sizing several boxes of .375 H&H Magnums seemed to cause the slightest strain on
either the tool or its slightly out-of-shape operator. The exceptional leverage of the twin operating handles requires
very little effort, regardless of the task being performed, and the old saw, “even a child could do it”, certainly
applies here.

The high quality of the Decker tool is apparent even before it is used, and the excellent finish and precision fit of
both stressed and non-stressed parts are remarkable, particularly in view of its modest price.

The factory specifications are also comforting for those of us who are old-fashioned enough to expect our tools to
last. According to the maker, “The ram and bottom bracket are machined from solid steel bar stock. The main
support rods and pins are made to aircraft bolt specifications, SAF Grade 5, with a minimum tensile strength of
122,000 PSI. The lever arms are high carbon spring steel, C-1095, heat-treated to a Rockwell “C” of 45... Handles
are cast and heat treated aluminum alloy 346-TG; an alloy that is used for highly stressed aircraft parts.”

Some will regard the fact that the Decker press makes no provision for priming as a drawback. I do not, since I have
always preferred to seat primers by feel, using one of the better specialized tools for that purpose. The small,
inexpensive Lee “thumb-squeezer” would make an ideal companion for the Decker if maximum portability is a
factor. It is no longer than a lady’s lipstick and costs less than $4.

When not in use, the Decker press folds to a compact 8 ½” long, by 3” wide, by 1 ½” thick. Mine fits easily into a
Sears tool box together with the Lee Primer, RCBS dies (with tungsten carbide pistol sizing dies) in .308, .223, .45
ACP, .44 Spl/Mag., .38 Spl/.357, 4 pounds of powder in 1 lb. canisters, 1000 each large and small pistol and large
and small rifle primers, assorted bullets, molds, lead pot and ladle, Lee powder measuring scoops, bullet sizers, and
various other small odds and ends.

Such a self-contained unit is good insurance and quite convenient as well when you only want to run up a few
rounds and don’t care to set up a more elaborate production line.

So far as I have been able to determine, the Decker Hand Reloading Press is only available by mail from the maker:
Harold Decker, 1160 Manley Drive, San Gabriel, CA 91776. The price, postpaid, is $32.
Letter from the Editor
We are now beginning to build a backlog of articles from assignments previously made and we hope to get some PS
Letters out to you with less than a month intervening. But we know that other issues will continue to require
somewhat more than 30 days to produce because of the extensive research and product testing methods which we

For these reasons we are now numbering and not dating each issue. You will still receive the same number of issues
you subscribed for over approximately the same time span but they may not be spaced evenly at precise monthly
intervals. You will have them as soon as we can get them to you; no delays waiting for publication date when an
issue is ready to be mailed and no hasty, slipshod work just to mail on time.

Two in-depth reports on firearms will be upcoming in the next few issues, one on .223 assault rifles and the other
on four new .45’s: the stainless AMT Hardballer, the Detonics, the Star PD, and the Thomas. In response to an
avalanche of mail from those of you who are waiting for our test results, I will preview some of our conclusions

For survival uses, none of the new .45 auto pistols can be considered as a replacement or a substitute for the Colt
Government Model, suitably modified. Some of the new pieces may serve specialized, secondary roles in your
survival battery, but our basic recommendation for a primary defensive pistol remains the Colt and you should not
even consider buying one of these special purpose guns until you have acquired three Government Models for each
two adults in your family or retreat group. None of these new pistols appears particularly durable, and at least one is
so poorly constructed that it may prove dangerous.

Regarding the .223’s, we have included in our tests several models not covered in ​Survival Guns​, but none of them
has caused us to change the recommendations put forth there. Our strong recommendation of the HK-91 (.308) in
Issues 1 & 3 of PS Letter does not carry over to the HK-93, all five samples of which were plagued with serious
feeding problems. A more careful look at the new “181” series of the Ruger Mini-14 confirms the initial reaction
reported here earlier to the effect that it is not as desirable as the older model.

I urge those of you who want a Mini-14 to act now while some of the old models are still on dealers’ shelves. The
English-made version of the Armalite AR-180 is now available in quantity and our test report will give it full
coverage. There have been some minor improvements in the Colt AR-15 and a new, short CAR- version has been
announced for release by May.

P.S. We will also include a report on the Korean .223 ammunition now available in case lots from Federal
Ordnance (P.0. Box 581, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272, 213-454-6625). Preliminary reports indicate that it is of
good quality but our test sample has not yet arrived so I cannot personally confirm that fact.

I trust the people who have recommended it to me, however, and you may want to buy some now while it’s easy to
come by. As most of you doubtless know, there are presently no legal supplies of US surplus .223 for sale in this
country. Factory sporting ammo at $.28 per round or this lot of Korean military at $.16 ½ per round seem to be the
only alternatives at the moment.
P.P.S. The .45 ACP advertised by the same firm (Federal Ordnance) at $.10 per round is excellent. It was made by
Fabrique Nationale (Belgium) in the mid-50’s but the 2000 round wooden cases enclose hermetically sealed metal
containers and the ammunition looks and performs as if it were new.

It is non-corrosive but Berdan primed (not reloadable by conventional methods and tools). I have fired some 500
rounds from two different lots without a failure or a jam. It should store well in unopened cases and I would trust it
for defense use.

PS Letter No. 6 will contain Part II of my retreating article. I have been agonizing over this piece on small rural
communities as retreats for several months, trying to answer all of the questions you have asked in your letters and
attempting to summarize everything I have learned about practical retreats over several years.

I had been through eleven drafts and I still wasn’t satisfied that I had covered all of the critical factors involved in
what is doubtless the most important and yet the least understood aspect of long-term survival.

My wife, in her quiet, subtle way suggested that since this subject is the focal point for serious survivalists, it
deserved an ongoing column, not a 3000-word condensation. I objected that it might take too long to cover the
necessary material, because I feel strongly that prudence demands one have at least a rudimentary retreat before this
coming fall. She observed that when someone asks the time, I begin my reply with a description of how the wheel
was invented. We compromised.

I’m outlining all of the steps necessary to establishing the kind of retreat you can move to now, in the next issue.
Then we will have an ongoing column on retreating based on your specific questions instead of my concept of a
complete survey of the topic. If you like the idea, please send me your questions as soon as possible. If I don’t hear
from you, I’ll assume that you need no further information regarding retreats and will drop the column.

I have just finished a new book that I think you will find rewarding, ​Cycles of War​, by R.E. McMasters. A full
review will follow as soon as time permits, but for those of you who want to keep on top of things, I suggest that
you order a copy now (War Cycles Institute, P.0. Box 1673, Kalispell, MT 59901, $10, plus $1 for postage and

It is one of the best summaries of the evidence for near-term catastrophe I have seen. If you have friends or relatives
who are not yet convinced that the collapse is coming, this volume should persuade them. It will also aid you in
your own timing. Well researched and documented.

While we are on the subject of timing, let me comment that I get half a dozen letters a day asking when I think the
collapse is coming. I don’t know. Most of the hard evidence, the cycle theories and mathematical prognostications
indicate a climax in late 1980 or early 1981 but I have a strong feeling that it may come sooner. With Carter’s
genius for mishandling minor incidents into major crises, we are likely to encounter hard times before 1979 is
halfway through. In fact, the end game may already have begun.

Pressure on the US dollar in international markets has been so severe that more than one foreign government is
quietly considering dropping it as a reserve currency. Once that process begins, you can measure the viability of the
U S economy in days and hours.

To further complicate matters, it is rumored that Mr. Carter has been chosen to introduce the new international
currency, BANCOR, sometime between June and September of this year, probably the second week of August. If
you think governments are good at inflating their currencies by printing fiat money now, just wait until they get
their hands on BANCOR.
The first signs of Japan’s insolvency are also beginning to surface. The Wall Street Journal reports that more than
1800 companies failed there in 1977 and they observe that a recent survey by SANWA bank indicates that one out
of every ten firms listed on the Japanese exchanges is virtually bankrupt.

Unrest on our northern border is increasing with mounting fears that Quebec’s government will soon secede. U.S.
News & World Report indicates that Quebec is being evacuated at the rate of 3400 people per month.

In addition to the well-known fact that the social security system is bankrupt, many corporate pension programs are
insolvent as well. Daily News Digest (P.0. Box 27496, Phoenix, AZ 85061. $ 125 per year) reports:

Typical figures show unfunded vested benefits -liabilities without assets- of $751 million for Westinghouse, $684
million for AT&T, and $586 million for General Electric. Lockheed’s pension fund has $276 million in unsecured
liabilities- 66% more than the net worth of the entire company.

Finally, Commerce Department figures indicate a 1977 first quarter GNP of +7.5%, 2nd quarter of +6.2%, 3rd
quarter of 5.1%, and 4th quarter of 4%. According to the classic theory, three successive declining quarters in the
GNP growth rate indicates a recession. Given the other factors cited above, this one could be terminal.

No one knows, of course, exactly how resilient our economy is at this point, but certainly all of the factors
necessary for a collapse are now in place and there is no dearth of possible fuses in the current news. We may have
another five years, but I wouldn’t care to bet my life on another twelve months.

The front page lead paragraph for the first February issue of ​International Moneyline (25 Broad Street, New York,
NY 10004. $180 per year) summarizes the situation as many observers see it:

“The stage is being set for the greatest financial catastrophe of the twentieth century.”

Irreversible monetary, political and psychological forces are in motion which could bring about the total economic
collapse of the planet before the end of 1978, or in early 1979. M.T.

I would like to thank all our subscribers who have sent in their food storage lists and needs for my analysis and
suggestions. I would also like to apologize to those I have not answered yet. The problem is, I receive five or six
letters a week and seem to be able to answer only two or three.

Because I consider it a weighty obligation to answer your needs to the best of my ability, I cannot whip out form
letters and suggestions, but must analyze each individual family as a separate and unique unit.

Let me assure you that all letters will be answered, but it may take me as much as two months to catch up. Thank
you for your patience. B.P.
Bill’s Food Box
by Bill Pier

The Deadly Dream

Often I hear from customers who mention that they have their food supplies and are just waiting for the time when
they will need them. I try to explain to them that my experience has shown that this is foolishness.

If any of our subscribers are peacefully sitting back watching their quality year’s supply that they purchased from
me age, they had better wake up! This is a deadly dream that may come back to haunt them when the emergency
arises. You cannot buy the skills necessary to survive.

You can buy the tools -and that is what a year’s supply is- but the skills come only through study, practice, and
adaptation. Any tool is only as good and as useful as your developed skills. If you and your family cannot eat the
food you have stored or if eating it makes you ill, you may not have the energy to properly use all the other tools
you have bought and the skills you have developed. To paraphrase Jeff Cooper, “Owning a food supply no more
makes you self-sufficient in food than owning a piano makes you a musician.”

People seem to feel that they are going to switch their eating habits from store bought food to storage food without
any problems in either preparation or in eating. One of the famous myths that allows so many to fall into this
dangerous trap of complacency is the old saw, “If you are hungry enough you will eat anything.” This is not true.

It is true that most -and you will notice I said only most- normal, healthy people between 8 and 60 will, if it is
necessary, alter their diets to keep themselves’ alive. However, younger children, older adults, people with
illnesses, or people with special dietary needs, will often find it easier to die than eat strange tasting or looking

War-torn England, Ireland during the great Potato Famines, and other like circumstances have proven this to be
especially true when you add the factors of stress, disruption of living style, or other changes having great effect on
their lives. Therefore, if your family includes members that fall within the affected areas, you should take particular
care in choosing and learning to use your food supply.

Even if you have the ideal situation of no age, health, or physical problems, and live on a self-sufficient farm, you
cannot afford to ignore your need to learn how to use food storage. There is no assurance that someone will not
come and steal or destroy what you are depending on to keep you alive. It would not take much to wipe out your
livestock, crops in the fields, garden and fruit trees. Combine this with the loss of power to refrigerators and
freezers, and you will find yourselves eating out of your storage until you can get another crop grown and your
shattered farm rebuilt.

Store What You Eat and Eat What You Store

The above is the tried and true axiom of successful food storage. In the years I have been involved with food
storage, the biggest problem I have heard mentioned by those who have had to live off of their storage during trying
times, is the refusal of the family members to eat items that were strange to them.

How nice it would be if you could store a year’s supply of fresh bacon and eggs, steak and potatoes, and pie and ice
cream. Since this is not practical, you make adjustments- both in what you store and what you eat each day.
First you store a carefully selected program that provides the widest variety, highest food value, and is as similar to
current eating habits as possible. Second, you develop skills for preparing the stored items and integrate them into
your everyday diet.

I am not suggesting that you cook all your future meals from your stored food. What I am suggesting is that at least
once a week -more often is better- you serve your family some items made from storage products. This could be
homemade whole wheat bread, scrambled eggs or an omelet made from powdered eggs, powdered milk, apple pie
made from air dried apples, or any other interesting and tasty dish.

Do not be discouraged if at first things do not go well. Not only are you learning new skills, you are also finding out
how your family likes storage items prepared. You must realize that the recipes provided on the cans and in
cookbooks are basic rules that you build on to develop what is right for you and your family.

The failure of a new casserole or batch of cookies while you are learning to cook with dehydrated foods is a
disappointment to the cook and to those eagerly waiting to try the results, but in an emergency when you are
seriously living off of your food storage, that failure can be a real disaster- the loss of food which may be
irreplaceable at that time. My wife, Mary, has been using dehydrated foods for the last 9 years, yet when she tries a
new item she does the first batch according to the recipe on the can and then adjusts it to our personal tastes.

Speaking of recipes, that brings up a problem that you want to work out before an emergency: many of the air-dried
dehydrated foods that were packaged prior to 1973 had very poor or improper recipes on the labels. Due to the lack
of testing kitchens, food storage companies often used fresh food recipes, recipes provided by suppliers, or just
guessed at what seemed right.

This resulted in applesauce that looked like thin yellow soup, peas that tasted like B-B’s, and other abominations
that turned people off air-dried foods. Poor recipes still exist, but as the industry has grown, they have improved
and better known companies have excellent recipes on their cans. As you develop skill in the use of your storage,
you will be able to cope with poor instructions and develop the ability to correct problem recipes.

Remember -your cooking facilities may not be like the manufacturer’s test kitchen- you may need to adapt factors
such as time involved, cooking temperatures, and amounts of ingredients called for. The test kitchens involved may
have been another homemaker’s kitchen, which may be radically different than yours.

Another aid to cooking improvement is a number of excellent cookbooks that have been developed on the use of
air-dried foods.

You will also have to learn new terms used in the recipes- such as rehydrate, which is a fancy way of saying put the
water back or soak in water before using in the recipe. Some recipes are unclear on whether an item should be
rehydrated before using in the recipe. The only way you may be able to find the answer is to try the recipe.

How to Get Started

The key word here is “slowly”. Do not try to change cooking and eating habits overnight. The normal reaction a
massive change is resistance, especially if there are children in the family. Actually the best way to develop cooking
skills and taste acceptance is to introduce storage foods quietly -almost secretly- into your family’s diet.
This may seem overdramatic, but experiments have shown that most of the negative reaction to dehydrated food
comes because the people know that it is different. We have proven this with taste tests where store-bought milk
was put in two different colored glasses and customers were told one glass contained powdered milk and the other
standard non-fat milk from the store. They were asked to taste each glass and write down which tasted best. In all
cases the vast majority of the people wrote that the one we told them was powdered milk did not taste as good as
the one we said was store milk.

To prove this was all mental, we have done the same thing using only powdered milk and had the same results- the
one they thought was store-bought was chosen as the best. Therefore, if you can practice with your storage foods
when the family is not home, perfect your skills, and then introduce the foods into your regular meals without any
fanfare, you will find that the transition is smoother and easier.

I do not suggest you break into your storage to get the foods to learn with. First of all you will probably not get
around to replacing them, and secondly they will normally be No. 10 size (that's about 5/6th of a gallon) cans and
will hold too many servings for just occasional use. You should buy a selection of basic foods in the smaller 2 ½
size (about a quart) cans.

Choose those items you use everyday -corn, peaches, cheese, apples, green peas, butter powder, and eggs are good
choices- and be sure you get enough tight fitting lids to seal the cans after they are opened. If you want to practice
with freeze-dried foods, buy them in the foil pouches made for backpacking. The 2 ½ size cans hold enough to
allow you quite a bit of experimenting, but not so much that any will go to waste before you have a chance to use it.

Now comes the big step- doing it. A good way to practice is on yourself. On the day you are going to try something
new on your family, have it for your lunch. I suggest you start with corn or peas- they are highly acceptable and
almost foolproof to use. But do try them first before you slip them onto the dinner table.

You will find that your family may like a little more salt, may like them cooked a little longer or not quite so long
as the recipe calls for. You may want to add a little onion to the peas or some butter to the corn. Remember the
most important part of storage food preparation is having your family enjoy it.

As your skill and confidence increases you will find that you can prepare more and more dishes for your family.
You will also find that there are certain dehydrated foods that are not only delicious to eat, but also convenient.
Mary will never peel apples for apple pie now that she can use a can of air-dried apples that are already peeled,
cored, and sliced. Powdered eggs in baking are a cinch. Powdered shortening makes cutting in of regular shortening
a drag. The list goes on and on.

Actually you are using many dehydrated foods in your everyday cooking now. Those one-skillet dinners are all
dehydrated, the Kraft macaroni and cheese uses the same cheese you will find in most food storage programs, and
soup mixes, stroganoff mixes, and sauce mixes are mostly dehydrated foods. You use them and think nothing more
about them than that they are convenient.

Future issues of PS Letter will have columns on handy hints about how to use your food storage and how to make
the foods easier and tastier to prepare. I will provide information on specific food items and the best way to use
them. If you have any questions on using your storage, write or call me. If I cannot answer them, I will turn them
over to the real professional of cooking -my wife- to get the answers.