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Mel Tappan's Personal Survival Letter # 22

Issue No. 22

The Baker Mike Six Two

by Jeff Cooper

The good news was that a thousand BM-62’s had arrived in the US. The bad news was that they were almost all
sold and there weren’t going to be any more. (It might also be adduced that the $1000 price tag was part of the bad
news, but a good rifle cost about one-tenth the price of a good car in my youth- and it still does.)

The BM-62 is an update (not necessarily an improvement) on the BM-59. And, for those who came in late, the
BM-59 is deemed by those who know to be a ​VGT​ (Very Good Thing).

When the enormous US Army of WWII split for home in 1945-46, it left behind vast numbers of magnificent M-1
rifles- probably the best personal infantry weapons of all time. By various devious trade-offs following the war, a
lot of these wound up at the renowned Beretta armory in Italy, where they were converted into sawed-off, 20-shot,
.308’s. The .308 is not quite as good a cartridge as the .30-06, magazine feeding may be slightly less efficient than
clip loading, and there is a slight loss of power as a barrel is shortened- but these are not vital points.

The BM-59 came out as a VGT indeed- in one sense an improvement, due to its handiness, over the illustrious M-1
Garand. (​Please let’s not have any confusion with the M-1 Carbine, one of the conspicuous ordnance goofs of the
war. The ubiquitous handle “M-1” was slapped onto all sorts of things from bayonets to canteens. Today “M-1”, by
itself, means ​Garand.​ )

I acquired two of the 50’s (for $135 apiece!) just before our fiscal tailspin began, and I have been a Beretta-booster
-“rifle-wise”- ever since. A compact Garand is about as close to a general purpose fighting tool as one can find, and
that is just what the 59 is. The 62 differs from it only in detail.

The piece is 37 ¾ inches long and weighs 10 ½ pounds unloaded. Its barrel is 18 inches long and it feeds from
20-round box magazines that do not fit any other weapon. (Wouldn’t you think that the M-14, the FN-FAL, the G3,
the SIG 542, and the BM-59/62 would all take the same .308 magazines? If we all use the same cartridge why don’t
we all use the same mags? Funny nobody ever thought of that.)

The export 59’s came with just one 8-round magazine, and I had the devil’s own time running down two twenties. I
finally had a friend who organized a couple in Italy.
The new issue 62’s are being sold with just one twenty. (It is labeled “BM-59” but it is not to worry. Most 59 and
62 parts interchange readily.) No piece that feeds from detachable magazines is complete without a loaded spare at
the ready. Where does one get spares for his 62? Aha, we have the answer! Jim Holsomback, Angelina Arms &
Ammo Co., 320 South Second Street, Lufkin, TX 75901, has a truckload. He asked me to tell you.

The BM-62 is what we call a Phase II battle rifle- Phase I being the bolt gun and Phase III the sheet-metal
stamping. If I were to equip my own army today, I would go for a Phase III item, but if I were going to do my own
fighting personally, I would go for Phase II. Essentially the modern Phase III pieces are for soldiers, while those of
Phase I and II were for riflemen. There are important differences. Since I am speaking here to riflemen rather than
to soldiers, I assume that a Phase II item is more to the point.

We have now wrung out four of the new 62’s and we have depressing news. The ones we tested were not put
together with proper reverence. They were built in Italy, but it might as well have been Russia. No one of the four
we tried would stay reliably in eighteen inches at 200 meters -as delivered- and while we are not accuracy freaks,
we just cannot accept this sort of behavior as adequate. (Lest anyone lay this to my own personal shortcomings, I
must quickly state that we tested the four guns with four different marksmen and four different sorts of

I first suspected the curious little steel bottle that is fitted to the muzzle. This dingus probably has a purpose, but
one wonders what it might be. Flash suppressor? Recoil reducer? Recoil booster? Actuator? Inhibitor?
Group-spreader? My BM-59 has nothing like that on the front end, and my BM-59 has won some well-contested

It seemed to me that this thing might be causing gas eddies at discharge and opening up groups, so we cut it off (it
does not simply unscrew). Tilt. Accuracy was no better but now the piece would not feed properly due to
insufficient rearward travel of the bolt. Evidently this bottle is some sort of gas booster that the 59 did not need.
Why not? Puzzle.

Since three of our test guns had to be returned as delivered, we went to work on the fourth and gave it an “accuracy

First we found that the gas port was too small, so we opened it from .063” to .067”. Also we found that, when
forward, the piston partially obstructed the port, so we blocked it rearward enough to avoid this. These efforts
corrected the functioning problem.

We then tightened things up fore and aft. The front sight/ gas cylinder fitting was made solid, the forward stock
ferrule was glass bedded, along with the receiver, and the trigger group, to eliminate the rocking action of the metal
in the wood. A trigger job was added to reduce human error in testing.
This work was estimated (cut-rate) at $130. Now it shoots (4” to 7” at 200, depending on ammunition), and it also

It is possible that all four pieces we tested were “lemons”, for I have heard of samples that shot acceptably “out of
the box”. We believe, however, that the purchaser of a 62 should be aware that it may require quite a lot of attention
before it is serviceable.

The point is that it can be made serviceable. And the possible need to make it so should be regarded as an
annoyance rather than a negation, for the weapon, properly tuned, is distinctly the best thing of its type. And you
may not ever be able to buy one again.

The 62, unlike the 59, is delivered with its forward sling bracket mounted on the left side -for reasons of close order
drill, one supposes- but this may be properly replaced below. The rear bracket flexes either way -a bit of curiously
misplaced ingenuity- but then it seems evident that only about one shooter in seven understands the shooting sling.

The rear sight striations on the 62 are white enamel, and the deflection knob carries one arrow marked “S”. If your
Italian is weak, use your Latin. “S” stands for sinister (left) as opposed to dexter (right).

All rifles of the Garand family have a freely floating firing pin which continues forward after the bolt has locked
and tends to tap the primer of the chambered round- lightly. This calls for insensitive primers. One lot of match
grade ammunition we tried gave us “doubles” now and then, so we don’t use that kind anymore.

This multiple firing is not (necessarily) due to an overcooked trigger job. If it happens with your piece, just change
your brand of ammunition, or load with harder primers.

Excellent sights. Excellent trigger (sometimes as issued- always available with tuning). Full .308 power.
Twenty-shot magazines. Carbine handiness. Unsurpassed reliability. And good field accuracy when properly set up.
These qualities are only available in the 59/62. If you can find a good BM-59, snap it up. If not, grit your teeth,
smash your piggy bank, and try for a BM-62.

Two Cheers for the “Staple Gun”

To the best of our knowledge and belief, as they say in court, the US war establishment seems committed to its
Great Leap Backward in personal defense. The 9mm Parabellum (1908 vintage) is apparently our “new” pistol
cartridge. No big deal. We don’t fight wars with pistols.
We have, however, heard querulous voices asking “But if the Army is going to a 9, shouldn’t I do so, too?”

The answer is no.

The Parabellum is a “minor caliber” round and about 50% effective in stopping a fight with one hit. You can beat
90% with a major caliber.

Nonetheless, if 9mm ammunition is absolutely all you can get, as is the case in certain backward nations, there are
some good pistols around to take it, practically all of which are too bulky for such an anemic cartridge.

The exception is the HK “P-7”, formerly known as the PSP. As you know, this is a radical new piece featuring a
gas-delayed blowback action and squeeze-cocking single action. It is hardly bigger than a conventional .380, and,
except for its cartridge, it is a nifty sidearm.

We have had half-a-dozen P-7’s here at school, and we find them charming. They “dirty up” more quickly than
most autos and must be kept clean to avoid sticking. They wear the skin off the cocking fingers with extensive
practice, but a little vaseline can forestall this. Also, they get hot in action. But they are so neat, simple, and
compact that we put them first among the 9’s.

If you ​must​ (perish forbid!) wear a 9, wear a P-7, the GI handgun of the Bavarian Police.

Evaluating Retreat Property, Part II

What You Should Know About Water, Irrigation Systems, Wells, and Septic Tanks
An Interview with Bob McQuain

Q. After evaluating the land itself, what should you check out next?

A. Without question, the water situation- water is the bloodstream of a piece of land. Although knowledgeable
farmers and ranchers can utilize dry land for certain crops and grazing, it is virtually useless for survival purposes,
for without your own water source, you cannot attain any measure of self-sufficiency.
If you are buying unimproved land and need to drill a well, go to a couple of reputable drillers in the area and ask
them about general water availability and how many gallons per minute (gpm) the wells are registering on parcels
adjacent to the one you are considering. Many drillers now have this information on computer and they can give
you a readout -lot by lot and acre by acre- on the production of wells in the region.

And after physically inspecting the land, they can usually pick out the choicest drilling location, tell you how deep
they will probably have to drill and approximately how many gallons per minute you can expect. By the time you
are finished talking with them, you will also probably know which one you want to hire.

It is also a good idea to verify the information obtained from the drillers by talking to the county watermaster, who
has a record of all the registered wells in the area as well as a list of who holds water rights.

If there is any doubt about the availability of water on the land, go to the well driller that you’ve chosen to work
with and inform him that you are going to purchase the property but are doing so contingent upon your getting
permission from the seller to drill a well no deeper than “x” feet and/or at a cost not to exceed “y” dollars and
which will produce a flow rate of no fewer than “z” gpm. Tell him, “If I don’t get that flow rate (gpm) or the cost
exceeds the amount agreed upon, I will still pay you and the seller can have the well as is.

Put a limit on the amount that you are willing to spend (you pay for a well by the foot, $17 to $25 in our area
depending upon drilling conditions), but reserve the option to authorize drilling another 50-100 feet once your price
limit has been reached. Well drillers love water -they really do want to hit it- and nine times out of ten they will tell
you if they’re having difficulties and if cost is a problem, many will try to work out a compromise with you,
perhaps offering to drill to the depth needed at half price, etc.

For most, finding water is more important than squeezing the last dollar out of the transaction. Believe me, the
$1700-$2000 (the average cost of a well around here) that you will spend is cheap insurance against your being
stuck with a $30,000 piece of dead property.

Q. How many gallons per minute should a well register?

A. The more the better. For strictly domestic use, the minimum would be 5 gpm, but if you want to water a small
garden, you will need as much as 12 gpm. And if you plan to irrigate a large garden, pasture or field, the gpm
needed will increase in proportion to the amount of acreage that you plan to irrigate. For example, a 25-acre field
could easily require a 100 gpm or larger well, depending upon the kind of irrigation equipment being used.

Here in Oregon, as well as in many other states, most lending institutions will not lend on a house that does not
have a well registering at least 5 gpm, and those that will grant a loan on a property having a well producing less
than that amount may do so only on the condition that the buyer install a holding tank.
Q. If the property has an existing well on it, what precautions should you take?

A. I always advise the buyer to have a well test run. You can’t rely on the seller’s word that he has a 20 gpm well
and that he can run 14 rainbirds at the same time without any problem. If his well is as good as he says it is, he
should have no qualms about your having a well test run and you, as the buyer, have the right to request one and to
make the purchase of the property contingent upon the well producing an adequate gpm.

Sometimes a buyer will fall so in love with a piece of property that he’ll say that he doesn’t care what the well
produces- 3 gpm is OK with him. We try to impress upon him how important it is for a well to produce at least the
5 gpm required to qualify for conventional financing since he could get badly hurt later if he decides to resell the

And if I were representing the seller in such a case, I would recommend that he insist upon having a disclaimer put
in the contract stating that the purchaser is aware of the fact that the well is only a 3 gpm well and accepts same.

You should also have the well water tested for potability either by the county health department or a state-licensed
private lab. Because many older wells were not drilled deeply enough nor according to any kind of sanitary code,
their water can be contaminated by drain fields, polluted streams, irrigation runoff, etc. And have the water checked
for mineral content, especially for sulfur and salt.

I know of a family up the road from here whose water has so much iron in it that potatoes turn gray when they are
cooked in it, their sinks and tubs require constant applications of ZUD and WHINK, and they get their drinking
water from their neighbors because they can not tolerate the metallic taste. The iron isn’t harmful but it is a decided

Don’t neglect to investigate the well pump- whether it is a jet (surface) or submersible pump, how old it is, what the
condition of the pump motor is, etc. If one goes sour on you, you are looking at an investment of $275 to $700.
Many people don’t realize how important a pump is- you may have a well producing 25 gpm but if the pump isn’t
capable of moving that much water per minute, you will not get it. In actuality, your gpm maybe 10 or 15 because
of the condition and quality of your pump.

Most pump experts now recommend submersible pumps, by the way, since they last longer and seem to need less
servicing than surface ones. Also, they are the only kind of pump on which you can install a manual pump, an
important consideration for survival purposes.

Q. What about irrigation, Bob?

A. Just because you have a pond or creek running through your property doesn’t mean that you have unlimited use
of that water for irrigation or, possibly, household purposes. You must check with the local watermaster and see
what the seller’s water rights are and that they are current and usable and then have these verified in writing.
Remember that the newest water rights are the ones canceled first in case of drought such as the one here in 1977
and that lack of use over a five to seven year period may void a property’s water rights. Also, don’t let the seller try
to sell you the water rights to his land for an extra $1000 or so- they go with the property unless he gets his water
from an irrigation district, in which case you must deal with the district, not the seller. Incidentally, the current
condition of our streams and ponds is such that I wouldn’t want to trust their water for domestic use or even for
watering livestock.

Q. We are on an irrigation ditch here and that has been one of the biggest headaches that we’ve had. How can you
avoid the problems that seem to accompany being a member of an irrigation district?

A. If you think that there are problems now, just imagine what the situation will be in difficult times, when there
will be no ditch walkers around to protect your water rights. But to answer your question, the solution is to drill
your own irrigation well, which not only gives you complete independence from the district but can also be a
backup to your domestic well. If you do put a well in, however, do not give up any existing water rights; retain your
membership in the irrigation district- it adds value to your property.

Q. What about septic tanks?

A. If you are buying unimproved property, you must make the purchase contingent upon your obtaining valid septic
approval prior to the close of escrow. In the last few years planning commissions have become very picky about
issuing septic approval, which means that the county agrees that your particular piece of land qualifies for a septic
permit. You do not want to ask for your permit until you are actually ready to build, because once you get it, at least
in this area, you are given only a year to activate it.

And if for some reason you can’t build within that time period, the powers that be are likely to call for a
re-evaluation of the permit, or, if you install the system but don’t build and don’t use it, they may consider that you
have abandoned the system and demand that you make it conform to whatever code changes have been instituted
since you got your original permit. Needless to say, this is an expense and hassle that you want to avoid.

Never take the seller’s word that there is no problem as far as obtaining septic approval goes- only the county
sanitation department, which grants approvals, can tell you that.

And don’t let the seller try to stick you with the expense of obtaining septic approval; normally he pays for that. Get
valid written septic approval showing that your property has been approved and hold it until you are ready to build.

If the codes change, the state must notify you and give you so many months to activate approval; otherwise you are
subject to the new regulations and your approval can be subject to re-evaluation.
Q. How in the world can you look at a piece of land and tell if it will qualify for septic approval?

A. You can’t. The people who install septics in your area know what that particular county’s criteria are and your
realtor should be able to tell you if the property in question is likely to pose any problems. In most areas your septic
tank and drain field must be at least 100 feet from a creek or from a neighbor’s well and at least 20 feet from any
boundary unless you have an easement. Because it takes up so much space, it is the drain field, not the tank, that
usually poses a location problem.

When you buy a septic tank, do not make the mistake of scrimping and buy a PVC, steel, or fiberglass one and try
to install it yourself. Although a concrete tank is more expensive, its average life span is 150 years whereas you can
have immediate problems with other kinds.

If you can’t get approval for the standard tank and surface drain field system, there are now alternate systems that
can get approval, such as the sand one. As you might expect, they are more expensive- to the tune of $3000 to
$5000 more. But if you want to build on a piece of land and that is the only way you can get septic approval, it may
be worth the cost to you.

The sand system, by the way, is very much like a commercial sewage system. It has a tank that is similar to the
traditional septic tank but the waste goes through additional filtering before it goes into a ground filtering system.

Q. What should you look for when you are evaluating an existing system?

A. Find out where the tank and drain field are located. If the seller doesn’t know, check with the county sanitation
department, which should have diagrams on file, providing that the system is fairly new. If there are no records,
Erma Bombeck’s, “The grass is always greener over the septic”, is a good dictum to follow, and the drain field
usually runs beyond the septic away from the house.

If you see dark mud, black sediment, mushy ground, and/or a stream of water on the drain field and the area exudes
a distinct odor, you definitely have a problem with the septic or drain field.

Look at the area just above it, and if you see wet paper around, you have another indication of trouble, and when
you are looking at the house, the sight of a plunger in a bathroom ought to raise a red flag in your mind. If there’s
any question at all about the condition of the septic, spend $25 to $30 to have it pumped and checked out.

Incidentally, many problems with septics are created by city people who think that they can treat a septic system the
same way that they can a city sewage system. Large quantities of Clorox, for example, will kill enzymes that are
decomposing waste, and grease will not break down at all.
Q. What about the house and outbuildings?

A. Before we go into that, I should mention a couple of things about building sites. Only the buyer knows what his
unique requirements are, so there’s not a lot that I can say except to caution people to make the most efficient use of
the property so that they have useful land left over for ponds, gardening, outbuildings, etc.

And remember that the reason that many farmhouses are not built on that beautiful knoll at the rear of the property
is that the cost is prohibitive- you pay for roads and utilities by the foot. Practical considerations may force you to
forego that perfect view.

To be continued in the next issue-​ Conclusion: Evaluating the House and Outbuildings.

Ankle Sprains
by J. M. Browning, M.D.

A sprained ankle under normal conditions is merely a painful inconvenience, but when one’s survival is dependent
upon the ability to walk it may well be fatal. What is a sprain? The textbook definition of a sprain is a stretch injury
to the ligaments and joint capsule. (This differs from a strain, which is a stretch injury to the muscle/tendon unit.)​1
Not all twisted ankles are created equal- some are worse than others.

This brings us to the problem of differential diagnosis, which simply put means, “How do you know what is wrong
without an x-ray machine and a radiologist?” The answer is obtained by getting a careful and thorough history of
how the injury occurred, as well as by doing a thorough examination of the injured part.

A number of things may happen when someone “twists” his ankle. He may injure any of the structures associated
with the ankle, which can result in a sprain, strain, fracture, or a combination of these and the injury to the
structures can also vary in severity. The patient can have anything from a mild sprain to a rupture of the ligaments.

The first question you should ask an injured person is, “What happened?” and you will need some information
gathering skill to get beyond the standard answer, “I twisted my ankle.” First, ask the injured person ​HOW the
injury occurred so that you will get an idea of the mechanism of injury, which is important because it gives you
some idea of the amount of force involved in the injury and how it was applied.

The amount of force is a relative thing but an important factor, for the greater the force, the greater the potential for
injury. (How easily someone may be injured depends upon his age, sex, and general state of health. As a general
rule of thumb, young people tend more toward sprains, the soft tissue injuries, while older people will more often
have fractures.) Second, find out how and when the force was applied to the joint.
For example, a lateral force capable of stretching ligaments and opening the joint will most certainly cause injury.
Third, ask the following questions: When did the injury occur? When did the person first know that he was hurt?
Was the disability immediate or did it come on slowly? Was the disability secondary to the swelling? Was there
initially any deformity which was corrected by the injured person or a friend? What makes the injury feel better or

Each of these questions will give you a clue to the severity and type of injury. Generally speaking, the more severe
an injury the sooner a person will notice it and an immediate deformity usually signifies some form of dislocation
(a total rupture of the ligaments) and/or a fracture.

From the patient’s history try to determine exactly which way the person’s foot was turned. Was it inversion or
eversion? This determination will tell you which areas must be supported. Is the disability secondary to swelling
and edema or was it immediate? How long ago did the injury occur? How has it been treated up until now- with
cold, heat, splint, etc.?

Having taken a detailed history of what has happened, you should then proceed with an examination of the area.
The first step is to remove both shoes and socks (gently please!). Then just look! Compare one side to the other. In
most people, ankles are mirror images. See if there is any deformity (think dislocation/fracture), swelling (the more
swelling, the greater the injury), or discoloration (think: bleeding under the skin/ possible fracture).

Up to this point all you have done is look. Now have the injured person point (with one finger) to where it hurts the
most.​ What is located at that spot? On the uninjured side gently feel the ankle over the major ligaments. Take the
ankle through the full range of motion

Having examined the uninjured side, ​GENTLY palpate the ligaments on the ​opposite side of the ankle from the spot
that “hurts the most”. If there is pain, there is injury (think fracture if the pain is severe). Next, palpate the more
tender side. Again start with the ligaments farthest from the spot that “hurts the most”, which you should palpate

Besides having the injured person complain of pain when you palpate the area, you may also feel and hear bony
crepitation, which resembles feeling rice krispies under a layer of chamois leather. If you hear crackling, think

Having palpated all the ligaments on the injured ankle, ​gently, gently take the ankle through the range of motion,
stopping if there is pain. Look for abnormal lateral motion, which could mean serious ligament or bony injury.
Remember how far the uninjured side moved in each direction.

Sprains constitute the vast majority of injuries to the ankle, and they are of varying severity- mild, moderate, and
severe. The ​mild sprain is a partial tear of the ligament. There is no loss of function, but one does have mild
disability. On examination there is local tenderness and swelling. The range of motion is normal with no abnormal
motion but there is moderate pain on reapplying the stress that caused the injury.
A mild sprain is treated by cold compresses for 24-48 hours and after 48 hours hot compresses will aid healing. It is
best to elevate and rest the injured part; however, when a survival situation requires it, the ankle may be strapped
with tape. It will also help if the point of maxim tenderness can be injected with 1 to 2 cc of 1% xylocaine.

Moderate sprains constitute an actual tear of the ligament, but some ligament remains intact. The injured person
will give a history of a sharp inversion of the foot followed with immediate pain. On examination there is severe
pain, diffuse swelling, and tenderness (the foot may be held in eversion). There is no abnormal motion, but there is
severe pain on reproduction of the mechanism of injury.

The treatment of moderate sprains is mainly protective. Ace wrap and ice and elevate for the first 10 to 24 hours,
then re-examine. Hot packs after 48 hours are okay but not before. You can give the patient the same dose of
xylocaine as the one recommended for a mild sprain, but if you do, it is critical that the ankle be securely taped and
that the injured person use crutches ​without​ bearing any weight.

After the swelling is down, a walking boot cast can be applied for ten days to three weeks and the patient can bear
active weight on the cast. After the cast is off it is helpful to keep the injured ankle in a gibney boot for six weeks.

Don’t try short cuts on the length of treatment. Healing takes time and may take longer under survival conditions.

The ​severe sprain is a complete ligament rupture and may be accompanied by a fracture. There is complete loss of
function of the ankle. The history and complaints are the same as those for a moderate sprain. The patient
complains of pain and will often say that his ankle has been “out of place” but that he or someone else popped it
back in and that brought him some relief from the pain. On examination there is extensive swelling. Pain is quite
severe and the patient resists ​ANY​ attempt to move the foot.

The proper treatment for this type of injury is surgical repair. This would be something unavailable in many
survival situations, but if facilities were anywhere within reach, surgical repair could be undertaken up to three
weeks after the injury. It should go without saying that surgery should not be attempted by other than trained
physicians in sterile surroundings.

If operative repair is not possible for whatever reason, it is best to treat a severe sprain in the same way as a
moderate sprain but extend the time for each phase of treatment, up to 10 weeks. It should be noted that after so
long a period of inactivity, even if the ligamentous injury has healed, it will require a long period of rehabilitation.
1 ​
Basic anatomy- tendons join muscles to bone. Ligaments join bone to bone. The joint capsule is a tough fibrous
structure which surround a joint.

2 ​
The history and physical examination are the very soul of determining what is really ​WRONG with the sick or
injured. It will be referred to again and again; but its importance cannot be overstressed.

Supplies Needed For Treatment of Sprains

1” athletic tape, several rolls

Safety razor
Benzoin paint
Cold pack-good to have a few for when you are on the move, but other less-costly methods can be used in a stable
base retreat.
Crutches- adjustable aluminum ones are vastly superior to the do-it-yourself variety.
Casting material-
3” plaster No. 4
2” plaster No. 3
3” padding, 2-3 rolls
3” stockinette, bias cut, 1-2 rolls
1 walking heel

How to Apply a Short Leg Walking Cast

Have all material assembled and ready. Once you start you won’t be able to stop till it is done.
Materials suggested- experienced personnel require less.

A. Padding- Webril 3”- 2-3 rolls.

B. Stockinette- goes next to skin.

1. Bias cut- for patient, with large difference between minimum and maximum diameters of leg- 3”- 1-2 rolls.
2. Tubular- comes in various sizes. Use size that is snug but not too tight.

C. Plaster roll bandages.

1. 3” No. 4.
2. 2” No. 3.

D. Walking heel- 1.

II. Apply stockinette.

Goes over areas to be covered by far ends of the cast, i.e., toes to mid-foot and from upper calf to just below the
or apply from the toes to the knee.
III. Padding.

A. Start applying at toes and go up to a point four finger widths below the bony protrusion that can be felt on the
outside of the leg just below the knee.

B. Apply padding evenly. Each turn should overlap the preceding one by 50%.

IV. Plaster Application.

Dip roll in water (lukewarm to cool until you are very practiced at applying casts) and squeeze gently (do not wring
like a washcloth).

Starting just behind the toes, put two turns of plaster; then rolling in the same direction as the padding, overlap the
previous turn by 50%.

Roll plaster up leg, taking tucks with the left hand and rolling with the right. When you get to within ½” of the top
margin of padding, make 2 overlapping turns of the plaster and start down the leg again, going all the way to the
toes add plaster by starting new roll where old one left off). Keep foot at 90 degrees while casting.

Fold stockinette down over plaster so that it produces a smooth padded edge at the toes and at the upper edge
should be about four finger widths below the bony prominence previously mentioned).

E. Using the 2” plaster, cover the exposed ends of the stockinette to produce a smooth finish.

F. Let foot dangle over edge of table so no pressure is placed on cast for one hour.

G. Elevate foot and cast on pillows for 24 to 48 hours. Do not bear any weight on it.

H. After the cast has set 24 hours, apply a walking heel and use 2” plaster roll to hold it in place.

V. Point to note.

Check for pulses on dorsal surfaces of foot and behind the bony prominence on the inner side of the ankle. If there
no pulses, do not apply a cast but elevate ankle above the heart for 24 hours.

If patient complains of pain, pins and needles, pallor of toes, pulselessness, or inability to move his toes, the cast
be removed immediately or severe injury from lack of circulation will occur.
Medical Note
“Doc”, who wrote the article on poisoning in Issues 4 and 5, called me the other evening to tell me that he had lost
the sight in his right eye, perhaps permanently, and that his story might serve as a warning to his fellow PS Letter
readers and survivalists.

It seems that he was rounding off the front end of a Hi-Standard Victor with his Dremel Moto-Tool, in an attempt to
make it look like a Walther, and took off his safety goggles for a minute before beginning the final polishing with
jeweler’s rouge.

Since it was hot and the goggles were uncomfortable, he thought “jeweler’s rouge- I don’t need my goggles just for
that!” Seconds later, a tiny piece of steel lodged in the center of his cornea.

He was unable to remove the piece himself, as was his wife, and had to have an ophthalmologist drill it out.
Obliviously, under survival conditions, this would not be a possibility.

Had he let the piece remain in his cornea, he would have had a soft cornea, a rust ring that was toxic, and a lot of
pain and have run the risk of an infection that could have caused him to lose his sight in both eyes.

His point was simple: You cannot operate power equipment of any kind, regardless of how harmless it may appear,
without wearing safety goggles. And buy some spares since they are the kind of item that tends to get lost. 'They are
cheap insurance indeed.

by Paul R. Matak

Editor’s note: Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines camouflage as “concealment by means of
disguise”. To most of us, however, camouflage means “cammies”, the green and brown army surplus outfits that
have become a veritable uniform among the armchair survivalists and mercenary types, who seem to think that
these getups are appropriate for all occasions.

Unfortunately, this misuse has obscured the value that such apparel has when worn under the proper
circumstances and the fact that camouflage is a skill that requires both knowledge and practice. Not only could the
ability to camouflage be important in a survival situation, but it is useful today- to the hunter, the nature observer,
and the nature photographer, among others.

Because of the many popular misconceptions on the subject, we have asked Paul Matak to do an article for us. He
is currently a commissioned officer with the Phoenix Police Department and an NRA certified police firearms
instructor. He learned the techniques of camouflage during his 14-month tour in Vietnam where he served as a
sniper. N.T.

Camouflage has always been one of the basic weapons of war, whether it be an all-out conflict or small unit
operations. In a true survival situation, such as one that might follow a complete economic collapse or nuclear war,
you will be required to provide your own security, reconnaissance, and surveillance for an indefinite period of time.
In such a case, your success may depend to a large extent upon your ability to remain concealed from your enemy,
whomever he may be. This, in turn, will depend upon your knowledge and proper execution of the principles of

In order to understand the principles of camouflage and properly apply them, you must first have a knowledge of
the factors of recognition:

a)Position: An object is frequently identified by its position in relation to its surroundings. A high column standing
against the side of a house is assumed to be a chimney. A smaller structure located in the backyard of a home is
assumed to be a storage shed. Position is nothing more than the relative spatial relationship between one object and

b) Shape: Experience teaches people to recognize objects by their shape or outline. At a distance, objects can be
identified by their shape long before any of their details can be seen. For example, you can identify a person
standing on a ridge line long before you can determine the individual’s sex.

c) Shadow: Shadow can be even more revealing than the object itself, especially when viewed from the air. Such
items as tents, vehicles, and buildings all have distinctive shadows. In some cases it may be more important to
break up the shadow than to camouflage the object itself. This is especially true in any relatively open, even-colored
area, terrain with sparse vegetation such as desert, or snow-covered country

d) Texture: Texture is the ability of an object to reflect, absorb, or diffuse light and refers to the relative smoothness
or roughness of its surface. A rough surface casts many small shadows on itself and consequently appears darker to
the eye. A smooth surface, such as the roof of a house, reflects more light and will appear lighter in an aerial
photograph, even though it may have been painted the same color as the surrounding ground.

The almost total absence of texture results in shine, which is one of the most revealing errors in camouflage. This
alone can attract attention to your location. Shine is generally associated with the reflection of sunlight from
windows, optical equipment, nickel plated or smooth metal surfaces, and other almost textureless surfaces. Even
human skin, in direct sunlight, will reflect light. In addition, some substances such as certain plastics will produce
shine regardless of the degree of texture.

e) Color: Color is a factor in observation when there is a contrast between the color of an object and its background.
The greater the contrast, the more visible the object appears. Usually, color alone will not identify an object, but is
often an aid in locating it. Another consideration is the tone or shade of a color. Usually, darker shades of a given
color will be less likely to attract attention than lighter, more brilliant ones.

f) Movement: Although movement rarely reveals the identity of an object, it is the most important factor for
revealing its existence. Even though the other factors of recognition are not present, an observer will be attracted to
the area if movement is visible. An observer may even be concentrating his attention on another area but will not
fail to detect movement in his peripheral vision.
g) Sound: While not usually considered as a factor of recognition or as a part of camouflage, sound can not only
tentatively identify an object, but can also reveal its presence and location even if all other aspects of camouflage
discipline have been strictly observed. If noise discipline is not practiced, your location can be found even if you
are not within the observer’s field of vision.

The above factors apply both day and night, especially if your adversary is equipped with infrared or light
amplification viewing devices, even though no visible light is being emitted from your position.

The two basic categories of applied camouflage are cover and concealment. Cover is the act of totally removing an
object from an observer’s field of view, such as placing it underground or behind a natural feature. The term
“cover” also applies to that which affords protection from hostile fire as well as observation. Concealment is the art
of hiding, blending, or disguising an object to prevent its detection under direct observation.

Hiding is the concealment of an object by some type of screen such as a camouflage net or blind. In most cases, the
screen itself is applied so that it is as undetectable as possible when in position. However, in some cases, the screen
may be left visible if its only purpose is to conceal objects or activity taking place behind it. In this instance, you
would be more concerned with secreting the identity, number of objects, or activity behind the screen rather than in
hiding its location.

Blending is the applied use of either natural or manmade camouflage material on an object so that it appears to be a
part of the background. Blending is what most people think of when they consider camouflaging themselves or an
object. It is also one of the most difficult forms of camouflage to apply effectively. One cannot simply slip into a
camouflage pattern suit and become invisible; however, if you pay proper attention to detail and keep in mind the
principle factors of camouflage then you can blend into the background so as to go unnoticed, especially by an
untrained observer.

Disguising is the act of deceiving observers by placing or simulating objects in order to draw attention away from
the object you are trying to conceal or to give false or misleading indications. In doing this you must be careful that
the disguise is not so obvious that it appears as such to the observer.

Now that I have given you the basic principles of camouflage and described how the eye identifies objects, the
following is a generalized example of how to apply these principles when camouflaging yourself by blending.

Before attempting any camouflage, first examine the terrain to determine its basic colors, shapes and texture (i.e.
foliage and ground surface), and amount of shadow present. In a typical forest or tropical region with basic colors
of green and brown and a lot of undergrowth and shadow, a good starting point would be the current US Marine
Corps or similar camouflage uniform, including hat and gloves.

Since the basic shapes and shadows in these regions are usually narrow or elongated, you should avoid camouflage
clothing with a spotted color pattern. Instead, look for one with color patterns that continue or sweep around the
outline of your body, when viewed from any angle.
However, you will have to decide this for yourself after examining the terrain. Keep in mind that the uniform is not
the end product. You are only trying to match the basic colors and patterns of the terrain. Also, when viewing the
terrain, don’t just look at it as a whole or panorama. Examine sections of it at various locations that are the size of
your body.

Headgear, as long as it matches the terrain, is largely a matter of personal preference; however, I prefer the
camouflage jungle or boonie hat with its full 360-degree brim for reasons I will discuss later.

Gloves, aside from being camouflaged and not cumbersome, can either be full-fingered or have the fingertips
removed. In the latter case, you should apply camouflage grease paint to the exposed fingers.

If, because of the climate or any other reason, a current issue US or commercial camouflage uniform would not be
practical because of its light weight, a larger size may be worn over normal protective clothing. Another alternative,
which is sometimes better than an off-the-shelf uniform, is to make your own by cutting appropriately colored and
shaped material and sewing it on to your chosen clothing.

Your sewing doesn’t have to be neat as long as it is strong so that the sewn pieces don’t snag and tear off in the
bush. You may also choose to place the stitch ¼ inch to ½ inch in from the edge of the applied material. The frayed
edges of the material will aid in breaking up the outline of the uniform.

Once you have your basic uniform, the next step is to sew on strips of cloth or burlap to further break up the outline
of your body and cast a more realistic shadow pattern onto the uniform. The strips should be no shorter than 5
inches and approximately 1¼ inches in width and colored or dyed accordingly.

You give the hat a similar treatment, taking care not to obstruct your field of vision. The reason I prefer the boonie
hat is that the brim on the side allows the strips of material to hang away from your ear.

Once in the field, additional natural camouflage such as small foliage can be added to the uniform with elastic
bands or ties. This should be changed, however, to match the background if you are moving or before it begins to
wilt. Also, any areas of exposed skin should be covered with grease paint or with a mask.

All equipment should receive a similar treatment, taking care to break up familiar outlines, to use the proper colors
and to eliminate shine and noise.

The same basic principles apply when camouflaging larger objects such as vehicles, aircraft, or structures, but the
technique requires more thought and effort, especially if you may be observed from the air, and would require more
space than one article to cover properly.

Remember not to violate the basic principles and to practice the various techniques. You are only limited by your
On Choosing a Gunsmith- Postscript
by J.B. Wood

In Issue No. 20 of PS Letter, I commented on an offer that was included in another survival-oriented publication,
regarding the purchase and modification of a pistol. In a following paragraph, I commented that I was in agreement
with the thought that some aspects of the survival movement were becoming a “rip-off”.

The offer I referred to was in a flyer that I saw only briefly, and I didn’t even know the name of the publication or
the gunsmith making the offer when I wrote the article.

As it happens, some PS Letter subscribers also receive the other publication, and my remarks resulted in the
gunsmith, John Holden, getting a few pointed inquiries regarding the modifications he offers. I have since talked
with John and have examined a detailed list of his alterations to the Colt Mark IV Series 70 pistol. Some of his
prices are actually below the amount I charge for the same services, and I would like to state here that his offer is
not a rip-off.

Since I didn’t have complete information I probably should not have used this offer as an example. If you want
further information on these modifications the address is: John W. Holden, J & S Shooting Supply, 321 S.
McKinley St., Warsaw, IN 46580.

While the alterations listed are fairly priced, I still feel that the average survivalist does not need an extensive
reworking of the pistol. Among my own personal guns, a few have been throated, and one or two required a trigger
job. Otherwise, they are unaltered.

Editor’s Note: My apologies also to John Holden. He is most certainly not trying to rip off his customers, and as
J.B. pointed out, his prices are quite reasonable. John and J.B. may disagree on which particular modifications
they think that the Mark IV needs but they would both tell you, as would any other reputable gunsmith, that the
important point is to get only those alterations made which improve the efficiency of your pistol in your hands.

If you want further clarification on the question of .45 modifications, I suggest that you read the pertinent pages in
Survival Guns. N.T.
Survival Gunsmithing- Walther PP .22 Auto
By J.B. Wood

From an article I wrote many years ago, I have been occasionally quoted as saying that the commercial Walther
pistols have fit and finish that must have been done in the Black Forest by elves. There may, indeed, be elves in the
Schwarz-Wald​, but the quality of the Walthers is simply the result of fine German workmanship, and careful choice
of the best materials. The reliability and inherent accuracy of the .22 Model PP is about what you'd expect- perfect.
This assessment also applies to the PPK and PPK/S, as all three are mechanically identical.

I have done so few repairs on these guns over the years, that any parts list will have to be partly based on
extrapolation. A basic list would include the main items for almost any automatic pistol: Firing pin, firing pin return
spring, extractor, extractor spring, extractor plunger, and magazine.

Spare magazines you’ll have anyway, of course. Even in a Walther, a firing pin or extractor will occasionally break,
and any spring can take a slight “set” with age and heavy use. The extractor spring plunger is included mainly as
insurance against possible loss during disassembly. It’s small, and has a special end-shape that would make it
difficult for amateur reproduction.

As indicated earlier, the comprehensive parts list will have to include some items that could be categorized under
“remote possibilities”. But then, not even the elves are infallible, ​nicht wahr?​ So, repeating the basic items: Firing
pin, firing pin return spring, extractor, extractor spring (it’s also the safety spring), extractor plunger, magazine,
safety, safety plunger, ejector/slide latch, latch spring, magazine release spring, recoil spring, hammer spring,
trigger spring, grips, and grip screws.

The safety plunger is included for the same reason as the extractor plunger- it is small and easily lost. The safety
itself, the most expensive part in the list, is in the “remote possibility” class mentioned above, but I have actually
seen cases of breakage. When the safety is in off-safe position, the hammer impact is distributed over a full square
quarter-inch of flat surface.

In on-safe position, though, the rounded safety surface that shields the firing pin head reduces this to a thin
quarter-inch horizontal line, and the safety cross-piece is extensively skeletonized for passage of the firing pin and
its locking functions.

To exacerbate this situation, these pistols are equipped with a device that automatically drops the hammer when the
safety is applied. This is one of Walther’s least-inspired inventions, and it has since been incorporated in the design
of many other modern double-action autos, such as the Smith & Wesson and the Beretta.

I have seen several Walther pistols in which the repeated impact has vertically cracked the safety crosspiece. When
this occurs, the gun will not fire accidentally, as the crosspiece is still solidly supported inside the slide. If the break
is complete, though, the left section of the safety (the part with the external lever) will simply fall off.
Again, let me stress that just because I’ve seen four or five cases of this ailment in just over thirty years, it can’t be
construed as a chronic weakness. As a survivalist, though, you should be aware that since it has happened, it can
happen. Fortunately, there are two ways to insure that it won’t happen, and if you use one of these methods, you
can drop the spare safety from your list.

The first is a simple operational procedure. When the hammer is cocked and you apply the safety, restrain the
hammer with the other thumb and ease it down. Cancel the repeated impact and you cancel the problem. The
second method, and the one I use, is simply to remove the automatic sear trip from its slot in the top left side of the
frame, just behind the ejector/slide latch.

Removal of the hammer pivot will free the lever to be lifted out upward and toward the front, and the operation of
the pistol will be otherwise unaffected. With the trip lever removed, the safety will affect only the firing pin, and
the hammer can then be gently lowered by restraining it and pulling the trigger.

The combination ejector/slide latch is subject to considerable impact and stress in normal operation, and it’s
conceivable that it might chip or crack after years of use. Its spring is included for the usual reasons. The magazine
release spring, recoil spring, and hammer spring are in the same category- just in ease of age weakening. They
won’t break.

The trigger spring, though, has been known to weaken or even fracture on occasion. In addition to powering the
trigger return, this spring also has an extension that supplies tension to the trigger bar, and this is where any
weakening will first be apparent- the rear of the bar will fail to properly engage the sear. This is not a chronic
problem, but a spare is still a good idea for long-term use.

If you have installed a set of Jean St. Henri custom grips, or the excellent rubber grips by Pachmayr, you will
probably have your original Walther grips as a spare set. If this is the ease, be sure also to keep the original Walther
grip screws, as the ones supplied with custom grips won’t work with the Walther panels.

For those who want to cover possibilities beyond the remote, such things as the hammer block and its small spring
and plunger could be added to the list, along with the double action lever on the hammer, and its pivot pin and
spring. The former could be lost in disassembly, and the latter is subject to considerable stress, though I’ve never
seen one broken. The pistol will function perfectly without the hammer block, if necessary, but if this part is
missing and the gun is dropped on a hard surface, it may fire.

As you may know, Interarms is now making the centerfire Walther PPK/S in the US, but their .22 version is not yet
in production. So, any parts will be from their original German stock, and the prices will reflect this. Don’t blame
Interarms- it’s the poor relationship of the US dollar and the Deutschmark, and the import duties. The address is:
Interarms, Ltd., 10 Prince Street, Alexandria, VA 22313.
An exploded view of the Walther PPK is on page 311 of ​The Gun Digest Book of Exploded Firearms Drawings​,
Second Edition. Although this is the centerfire version, it differs only in having the loaded-chamber indicator and
its spring.

​ olume I: Automatic Pistols,​ in

Takedown and reassembly instructions can be found on pages 466 through 470 of V
my ​Firearms Assembly/Disassembly series. If unavailable at your bookstore or gun shop, these books can be
ordered from DBI Books, Inc., One Northfield Plaza, Northfield, IL 60093.

Survival Wheels
by Rick Fines

Motor Oils

The straight engineering facts pertaining to motor oils, related lubricants, and oil change intervals have of late been
the subject of some of the most ill-informed drivel ever to see ink. One widely-circulated magazine suggested that
pouring heated, used motor oil through a toilet paper filter contraption would somehow make the oil last “forever”
and a highly respected newsletter issued a variation on the same foolish theme.

If you want your vehicles to last a very long time with less than average repair expenses and problems, read on. If
you wish to buy into the pseudo-engineering hogwash circulated by the self-anointed geniuses of engineering, stop
now and run for the ​Mother Earth News.​

One of the more popular gadgets on the market that is supposed to save you from all sorts of evil is the Frantz oil
filter. The Frantz filter is similar to the many aftermarket filter assemblies which were sold from the 1930’s on,
before spin-on factory standard oil filters were common original equipment on automobile engines. The Frantz
differs in one important detail. Rather than a specially designed, replaceable filter cartridge, the Frantz uses a roll of
toilet paper as the filter medium.

The Frantz filter, as well as several similar designs, has been with us for a good many years. The last time this
author saw the Frantz being sold was from a tent on the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds. The literature given away
by the seller was full of glowing testimonials by all sorts of folk. The gamut ranged from traveling salesmen to
chiefs of police to catfish breeders to economists who echoed the same line: buy the Frantz filter and never change
oil again. Note, however, that none of the stories about the wondrous invention were authored by automotive
To put a basic fallacy to rest, note that motor oil absolutely ​does wear out​. Long before the basic petroleum stock
degenerates to various carbon solids and water, the additive package in the motor oil becomes exhausted and
useless. The additive package in modern motor oil contains many complex chemicals which are classified as wear
agents, detergent-dispersants and antioxidants. Even though motor oil may appear to be clean, note that the additive
package wears out in use. After it does so, it is unable, quite obviously, to do its job and to protect your engine.

With some very large stationary and marine engines in which crankcase oil is measured in the hundreds of gallons
rather than a few quarts, periodic samples are taken of sump oil. Chemical analysis reveals which additives are
worn out or used up in service, and the contaminants which are reaching dangerous levels. The additive package is
then chemically “sweetened” to make up for the deficiencies. Particulate solids are removed by large filter elements
not unlike those in your car. When the crankcase oil is worth some thousands of dollars to replace, these measures
are worth the effort.

In the case of any standard automotive filter, or any of the magical toilet paper element filters, the proper
description for the device is an inactive media filter. That means that other than removing particulate solids -the
lumps and big pieces- from the oil, no other task is performed. No chemical sweeteners are dispensed to replenish
the additive package, nor can the filter deal with the spectrum of damaging impurities which are not in solid form.

Acid and soluble resins are chief among the oil contaminants which are not touched by any inactive media filter
element. Resins, or “varnish”, may be observed caked on the parts of most any old engine in varying degrees. When
the soluble resins saturate worn-out motor oil, the resins will cover all parts with which they come in contact. The
result will be plugged oil passages, poor heat transfer, and inevitable damage to bearings.

Acid is quite another matter. One of the by-products of combustion is water. Along with other combustion
by-products, water reacts in the crankcase to form sulfuric acid. (With the increased sulfur levels in Diesel fuel
noted in the past year or so, this is a special problem in Diesel engines. Truck engine builders have issued bulletins
outlining revised oil change intervals to combat engine damage in recent months.) If the engine is operated on many
short trips and does not have a chance to warm up fully, the oil temperature will not exceed the boiling point of
water, and the water will remain in the oil to hasten the formation of acids.

Even if the engine operates on long hauls, some acid will wind up in the motor oil. As the acid concentrates,
primary damage is done to bearing surfaces and bearing shells. Neither the filter in your vehicle, nor the magical
toilet paper varieties, will remove any of the acid which slowly but inevitably concentrates in the motor oil as the
mileage is racked up. The only way to get rid of the acid is simple- change the oil.

There is one point which somehow eludes otherwise sensible people when the subject of running oil “forever” is
discussed. The same void in logic allows one major oil refiner to advertise that its synthetic motor oil is good for
25,000 miles between changes. Note that all engines use some oil, either through minor or major leaks or by oil
burning induced by varying degrees of wear in rings, valve guides, and cylinder bores.
If, for example, an engine required a quart of oil every 2,000 miles to remain on the “full” mark on the dipstick,
note that in 25,000 miles, some twelve quarts of oil would have been added to the crankcase. Yet few would
suggest that any work should be performed on an engine with such minimal oil consumption.

Given a typical sump capacity of four quarts, that means that even though the oil had never been drained, it had, in
effect, been “changed” several times. If the filter was up to the task of staying on the job of trapping particulate
solids for 25,000 miles, the additive package would have been sweetened and acid balance controlled in much the
same way as the large marine engines mentioned earlier.

The sweetening of the additive package by replenishment of consumed oil, combined with the fact that engines
seldom suddenly fail like light bulbs, explains why such seemingly common-sense engineering concepts like oil
change intervals can be the subject of so much silly advertising drivel.

Using the toilet paper filters, or not changing oil except every leap year, is rather like a human following a bad diet.
Poor diet seldom causes an individual to topple writhing in the dirt after a few months, but lousy eating habits do
substantially lessen life expectancy. In the case of an engine which might roll up 120,000 miles with nothing more
than routine attention, failing to change oil regularly might easily cut that life expectancy in half.

Oil filter elements should be purchased with some caution. Most elements for a given engine appear identical to one
another, with the only obvious difference being cost. Note that just because the filter cans look alike, the innards are
not necessarily similar. The best bet to assure that you are getting a filter designed with your particular engine
operating characteristics in mind is to buy exactly what the manufacturer suggests, right down to the brand.

In the life of an engine, buying the cheapest filters available, rather than the Ford Motorcraft or GM proprietary
brand, will not save you the price of a fair dinner and bottle of wine. However, paying for one unscheduled engine
overhaul will buy a lifetime supply of the finest filters on the market.

In a survival context, if your engine decides to go south when you least expect it, do not count on the Rube
Goldberg inventors who told you never to change your oil to help you solve your problems.

Oil change intervals have become something of an advertising consideration, rather than an engineering question.
The people who sell automobiles and oil have the correct notion that if they suggest a less frequent oil change
interval, customers will perceive that their product is more durable and economical than those which require more
frequent changes. For those of us old enough to remember the early 1950’s, a brand called Kendall used the slogan,
“The 2,000 Mile Oil”, when the typical change interval was 1,000 miles.

As a simple rule of common sense, never allow your oil to remain in the crankcase longer than the vehicle
manufacturer suggests. While some folk might suggest that some sort of ominous conspiracy is afoot, remember
that the paranoids do not have to pay for warranty engine replacements- the manufacturer does.
Bear in mind that the suggested change intervals are based on a theoretical, or typical, engine usage. Yours might
involve harsher conditions, many short trips, or operation on dirt roads or in sandy areas. Note that survival
conditions would likely take all of the foregoing into account. In those circumstances, oil and filters should be
changed far more frequently than the owner’s reference manual suggests.

If short trips are involved, plan on oil changes based on time, i.e. 45- or 60-day intervals rather than mileage
increments. In extreme circumstances like desert operations on non-paved roads in blowing sand, changes once or
more per week would not be excessive. The point to be made is that while the suggested drain intervals should not
be allowed to stretch past the time or mileage limits, do not adhere to suggested oil drain intervals if severe
circumstances suggest more frequent changes.

Most people who buy motor oil have at times been confused by the alphabet puzzle on the top of the cans. As a bit
of historical information, the more familiar SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) viscosity rating scale dates
back to 1911, and describes oils only in terms of viscosity, i.e., 10-weight, 20-weight, and the like. Following the
dramatic advances in lube oils made during World War Two, the American Petroleum Institute in 1947 adopted a
grading system to identify oils by the types of detergent-dispersant, oxidation inhibitors and other additives they

In the early system, “Regular” grade oils were straight mineral grade lubricants with no additive packages. (As a
matter of interest, running engine oil for unlimited periods, as advocated by some of the Mother Earth News types,
will yield a product similar to the circa-1947 “Regular” grade oil. The acids and soluble resin contaminants will be
a free bonus.

Specialization of lube oils continued, and in 1952 the American Petroleum Institute, in cooperation with the
American Society for Testing and Materials developed a more sophisticated rating system which is still in use
today. To put the alphabet jumble into perspective, here’s the current system:

SA = Straight mineral oil

SB = Inhibited oil
SC = 1964 warranty approved oil
SD = 1968 warranty approved oil
SE = 1972 warranty approved oil
SF = 1980 warranty approved oil M2C153-B, MIL-L-46152

While the older ratings are of historical interest, there is no reason for you to buy any oils which do not bear the
“SF” rating on the top of the can. A number of other letters and numbers may be present, but make certain that the
“SF” designation is among them. The “SF” label means that the oil in question meets the latest specifications for
engine protection.
Higher engine operating temperatures and stresses imposed by the use of smaller engines working harder caused the
previous “SE” grade to be superseded by the better “SF” grade of oil.

For the best grade suitable for use in Diesel engines, look to the API “CD” grade.

Motor oil may be purchased in quart cans, five-gallon pails, or in bulk. For automotive use, the possibility of
contamination of the bulk oil, or more likely the dispenser used to introduce it to the engine, more than outweighs
the small dollar savings derived from bulk purchase. The five-gallon pails are useful if the oil change is likely, as in
the case of this writer’s Diesel truck, to use the entire pail in one filling.

As we give some final consideration to those who suggest using motor oil “forever”, as is popular with the ​Mother
Earth News types, stop and use some common sense. If your vehicle uses five quarts of oil at each change, and you
change oil four times each year, your total annual bill for motor oil will amount to something less than thirty dollars
per year at retail prices.

The space required to store a five-year supply of lube oil will take up little more space or weight than a decent
television set. The storage life of canned lube oil is close to infinite. To put it another way, the purchase of a toilet
paper Frantz oil filter for your vehicle will likely cost about the same as the outlay for a three-year supply of the
best lube oil and filters.

For additional information, contact the American Petroleum Institute, 2101 L Street Northwest, Washington, DC
20037. Request Publication Numbers 1507, 1509, and 1551. If you have specific questions about motor oils, call
the API and ask to speak with Mr. Tiffany, who is a very knowledgeable petroleum engineer.