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Mel Tappan’s Personal Survival Letter # 34

Issue No. 34- August, 1982

Status Report on EMP

by Bruce Clayton, Ph.D.

I have been collecting information on electromagnetic pulse (EMP) effects from nuclear weapons in an attempt to
determine the extent to which EMP threatens survivalist communications equipment and power supplies. Nancy
Tappan has prevailed upon me to share my progress with PS Letter readers in a mutual effort to locate further

First, a piece of hard-earned advice. Do not place your trust in any expert or author who cannot show professional
engineering design experience in EMP protection. It seems to be a bizarre subject with the potential to confound
electronics engineers who are not familiar with its peculiarities.

This warning applies to myself and to this article, too. The EMP advice I offered in ​Life after Doomsday was
informed, logical, and the result of a lengthy conversation with a person highly qualified in radio electronics. It was
also dead wrong.

There have been many general purpose articles on EMP in the press lately, virtually all identical by virtue of the
fact that they have all been based on the discussion in Chapter 11 of Glasstone’s ​The Effects of Nuclear Weapons​.
Glasstone’s chapter consists of a general, non-technical discussion (for journalists) followed by a technical
discussion. In this case, the technical discussion is almost entirely opaque, and offers no practical information on
vulnerability or protection. The non-technical discussion includes virtually all of the information which has reached
the public.

In capsule summary, the danger is this: When a nuclear weapon is detonated in a situation where there is more air
on one side of it than on the other, a side-effect is the generation of a powerful electromagnetic pulse (EMP), best
envisioned as a thunderclap in the radio spectrum.

Ground bursts, where the air is all above the bomb, or space bursts, where the air is all below the bomb, produce the
effect. For practical purposes, most people concentrate on the space shots since the ground burst EMP is very
limited in range and would be the least of your worries anyway if ground bursts are going off around you.

In a space detonation (100 miles up or so, the figures vary) radiation from the explosion “shines” on the upper
layers of the atmosphere over a very large area, up to continental size. Theoretically, one large bomb set off over
Omaha could bathe the nation in EMP strong enough to knock out power grids, telephone systems, TV’s, radios,
and most electronic equipment from coast to coast.
As an example, the computer I am typing this article on uses scores of semiconductor chips for memory and logic
functions. Each of these chips normally expects to use about 5 volts DC, and consumes a few milliamps at most. If
the computer was plugged in at the instant of an EMP detonation, the wall current could easily surge to 40,000 volts
at 1000 amps for a fraction of a second.

Turning off the power switch would not help… the surge would arc right through it. Disconnecting the computer
from the wall power would be a good idea, but it wouldn’t be enough. The computer’s motherboard could still pick
up enough EMP energy to damage its electronic components.

Even if protected from physical damage by special equipment, if the computer was running at the moment of EMP
exposure, it might still suffer from “confusing” transient impulses which would require reloading the program and
starting over. No small problem, this EMP.

There is another version of EMP which is of passing interest. This is ​system-generated EMP, or SGEMP. The
radiation which generates the EMP in the upper atmosphere has a similar effect when it hits an electronics package
out in space. The radiation interacts directly with the circuitry and damages it or confuses its computers. This effect
is apparently that which Roger Speed refers to in ​Strategic Deterrence in the 1980’s (Hoover Institute, 1979), in
terms of “pin-down”. According to Speed, a Soviet surprise attack on our Minuteman missiles would involve a
preliminary bombardment of submarine missile warheads detonated in space above the Minuteman fields.

As I understand it, the SGEMP from these periodic explosions (one every five seconds or so) would make it
fruitless to launch the Minuteman missiles because of the effects on their guidance systems. Speed’s scenario
involves the use of about 300 SLBM’s to pin down the Minuteman system for twenty minutes until the Soviet
ICBM’s arrive from over the pole to finish the job. Each of these explosions would also create a conventional EMP
pulse as a byproduct.

Most EMP scenarios postulate five or ten explosions at most. Speed’s postulates 300 of them. Even protected or
naturally invulnerable systems can be degraded gradually by repeated EMP exposures. I am not at all comfortable
about the implications.

One aspect of EMP which is really astonishing is the degree to which our national and state Civil Defense
authorities are ignorant of it. I have been conducting an informal poll among Civil Defense personnel in California,
and so far I have turned up one, or possibly two, EMP-protected emergency operations centers in the state.

Most Civil Defense wartime communications links ​are not EMP-protected​. At a recent meeting of county CD
directors, the state radiological defense department was told in no uncertain terms that the directors would not
tolerate any further make-believe radiation reporting plans when everybody knew that the communications links
would be severed.

Instead they asked for plans that assumed from the outset that each county and city would be cut off and operating
entirely on its own. I think survivalists had better adopt the same policy.
My impression is that EMP is a subject not to be approached lightly or incompletely. It appears that very minor
flaws in protection can have disastrous effects on sensitive equipment. Here is my current list of information on

1. ​EMP Threat and Protective Measures, TR-61​, April 1980, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). A
general introduction to the nature of EMP and its effects on electronic equipment. Pretty simple. Discusses results
of tests to determine the susceptibility of AM, FM, CB, and HAM receivers.

2. ​EMP Protective Systems, TR-61-B​, July 1976, Defense Civil Preparedness Agency (DCPA). This is the winner.
Hands-on information on retrofitting an EOC (emergency operations center) to be EMP-resistant, including
schematics, exact parts specifications, instructions for building low-impedance grounds, and a list of EMP
equipment suppliers. (I have written to 27 of them. Some of their materials are listed below.)

3. ​EMP Protection for AM Radio Broadcast Stations, TR-61-C​, July 1976, DCPA. A little heavy-duty for most
survivalists, but full of good background information such as the admission that little is known about the effect
EMP will have on municipal telephone systems.

4. ​EMP and Electrical Power Systems, TR-61-D,​ July 1973, DCPA. Discusses EMP effects on commercial power
systems and the EMP delivered to consumers from such systems. Although heavy-duty electrical equipment
(motors) is said to be relatively resistant to EMP damage, this manual says the end-user share of the power system’s
EMP will be enough to blow out motor windings.

5. ​The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 1977, edited by Glasstone and Dolan, DOD and DOE. Chapters X and XI
discuss radio and EMP effects. This information is more theoretical than practical, and is very difficult to digest.

6. “CB Communication- Protection against Nuclear Effects”, by Eran N. Bauer, ​Protect & Survive Monthly​, April
1981, p. 13. A very superficial treatment which overlooks a few technical details which are heavily stressed
elsewhere. I wouldn’t rely on it too much.

7. Nuclear Weapons Effects On Communications Systems, by Robert Hendrickson, ​QST​, August 1981, page 44. A
good general introduction to EMP effects on HAM gear, intermediate in difficulty between 5 and 6, above.

8. “Electromagnetic Pulses: Potential Crippler”, by Eric J. Lerner, ​IEEE Spectrum​, May1981, page 41. A general
discussion of EMP threats and protective technology written for engineers. Contains some interesting observations,
such as the fact that the B-1 bomber uses fiber optics instead of wires in critical components to avoid EMP effects.

9. “EMP: A Sleeping Electronic Dragon”, by Janet Raloff, ​Science News​, May 9, 1981, page 300. Explains the
mechanism of EMP creation in lay terms.
10. “EMP Defense Strategies”, by Janet Raloff, ​Science News​, May 16, 1981, page 314. Part II of article 9 above. A
general discussion of EMP protective measures and our national vulnerability to an EMP attack. See also the letters
in the June 6 and 13 issues.

11. “Hazards of EMP”, by Duncan Long and Charley Meyer, ​Journal of Civil Defense​, December, 1981, page 10.
A general introduction with emphasis on “a few simple preparations” to protect your equipment. Read reference 2
before you put too much faith in simplicity.

12. ​Double-Electrically Isolated RF Enclosures,​ catalog Lindgren RF Enclosures, Inc., 1228 Capital Drive,
Addison, IL 60101. Footlocker-size to room-size containers for protecting sensitive equipment. Many construction
details are shown.

13. ​EMP Engineering and Design Principles​, by Bell Laboratories. This is a professional engineering EMP design
manual… a real find. It’s the only one I’ve seen so far that devotes an entire chapter to personal hazards from EMP.
Everybody else seems to ignore this subject.

14. ​Joslyn Electronic Systems,​ a catalog from the company of the same name, containing EMP surge-arresting
equipment. JES, P.O. Box 817, Goleta, CA 93017.

15. ​A Guide to the Use of Spark Gaps for Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Protection​, another publication of Joslyn
(above). This looks like a good introduction to the engineering of EMP protection, and strikes a nice compromise
between the simplicity of the DCPA manuals and the complexity of the Bell Manual.

16. ​Trans-Zorb Quick Reference Guide​, a catalog of General Semiconductor Industries, Inc., P.O. Box 3078,
Tempe, AZ 85281. A catalog and technical discussion of EMP arrestors which includes the only information
relative to protecting an “automobile onboard computer” I have seen.

17. ​EMP Transient Suppression Using the Trans-Zorb​, by O. Melville Clark, address same as No. 16 above.
General Technical discussion of the properties of the Trans-Zorb line of EMP equipment.

18. “EMP Threatens Comm, Power, Civil Defense Officials Say”, by Jeffery Rothfeder, ​Electronics Design,​ Oct.
15, 1981. Another good introduction, this time with some interesting interviews with FEMA officials about EMP
protection programs.

19. “EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse), ​Protect & Survive Monthly​, Issue No. 5, page 11. Reprinted from ​Electronics
Today International.​ Contains a diagram of the field strength of a one-Megaton ground burst (2kV/m at 12 km).

20. “A Fatal Flaw in the Concept of Space War”, ​Science,​ 12 March, 1982, pp. 1372-1374. Discusses SGEMP and
its effects on space stations and satellites.

21. ​Spikeguard Suppressors​, catalog of Fischer Custom Communications, Box 581, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266.
Especially of interest in terms of coaxial leads (antennas).
If you are interested in the Bell manual (No. 13), you may find that it is a little hard to get. Western Electric sells it
but demands a $35 minimum order. I bought a stack of manuals and have been selling them for $14.95. (Bruce
Clayton, P.O. Box 1411, Mariposa, CA 95338). I also have extra copies of Glasstone’s manual and Speed’s for
interested parties.

A final warning. In reading this material (and more) I have seen many simplistic statements about expedient
protection of radio equipment, and have found nearly all of them directly contradicted in other publications.
Grounding to a water pipe doesn’t work because the pipe acts as an EMP ​antenna​ instead of a ground, for instance.

What the survival community really needs is a protective design of a home fallout shelter EMP setup for the
protection of a CB, Ham, or scanner radio, designed by a qualified EMP engineer, and built and ​tested by the same
techniques used to test military and telephone command centers. Until we get this design, 99% of the articles you
see on EMP will be exercises in guesswork.

Let me know if you have material to contribute, and I’ll keep Nancy informed of further developments.

A Bayonet/Survival Knife
by J.B. Wood

Its original intended use was as a bayonet for the Swedish Model 1896 Mauser rifle, and it’s really strange that it
comes so close to meeting all of the criteria for a modern survival/combat knife. In fact, it can fulfill this function
with nothing more than a sharpening of the leading edge of the blade.

Made by Jerneolaget of Eskilstuna, Sweden, the bayonet is 13 inches overall, with an 8¼-inch blade. It is entirely of
steel, including the hilt and cross piece, and the quality of Swedish steel is well-known. The blade is single-edged
but has a dagger-like shape, with a shallow fuller (“blood-groove”) on each side that extends from the ricasso to
within ¼ inch of the point. The ball-tipped sheath is also steel, with an internal friction spring to retain the bayonet,
and a frog stud on the front near the top.

The hilt is oval, nearly round, and is finely knurled for a good grip. On the front side, the quillon has a downturned
tip, and the opposite end forms the muzzle ring. At the pommel-end of the hilt is an angled spring-button catch,
originally intended to lock the bayonet on the rifle. The interior of the hilt is hollow, a ¾-inch diameter cylinder that
is just over 4 inches in depth.
I’m sure that most readers will be familiar with the commercial and handmade survival/combat knives that have a
hollow handle with a screw-off pommel, providing storage space for emergency survival items such as fish line,
hooks, matches, and so on. Here, in this bayonet, we have an identical compartment, needing only a lid.

As an experiment, I made a plug of ¾-inch wooden dowel, notching it with a Dremel cutter to mate with the
spring-button on the hilt. It worked perfectly, and no reasonable amount of force would pull it out, without
operating the button. Another application then occurred to me: A longer notched dowel-rod, or any good straight
stick cut to fit, would make this bayonet/knife into an excellent spear.

When I have the time, I’m going to turn an end cap of steel, with a flange to retain a rubber 0-ring, and make the
hilt compartment waterproof. When pulled outward and turned clockwise, the spring button locks in that position,
allowing easy insertion of the end piece.

Some of the other features of this bayonet/knife are also useful. The muzzle ring can be utilized for attachment of a
leather thong to prevent loss, and the frog stud keeps the sheathed knife from slipping out downward when thrust
inside a belt.

It would also be a simple matter to punch a hole in the center of a belt at the carrying position to retain it securely.
The steel sheath would prevent injury in case of a fall, since the knife could not “punch through”, as can occur with
a leather sheath.

And now, the really good news: A Florida firm has purchased the remaining surplus stock of these Swedish
bayonets, and is selling them for $19.50, plus $3.50 for packing and postage. So, for just $23.00 you can have a
versatile, high-quality survival knife.

They’ve all seen some use, but they’re in very good condition, and the military collectors will be after them as well.
I don’t know how many of them they have on hand. If they run out, though, mine is not for sale. The address is:
Federal Equipment Co., Inc., 8101 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 406, Miami, FL 33138.

The Bug-Out Kit, Part II

by C.G. Cobb

There are two rules which you must always follow regarding your bug-out kit:

(1) ​Always keep it where you’re most likely to need it​. If you work in town at a steady job, keep your bug-out kit in
the trunk of your car, or behind the seat if you own a truck. If you’re located in a rural area, such as a farm or
homestead, and spend quite a lot of time around the house, keep it there, preferably at a spot easily accessible from
the places where you spend most of your time.
This could be in the kitchen, workshop, office, the entrance to your escape tunnel (I’m serious), or any other place
where you deem it wise to stash a bug-out kit. If you can afford it, assemble more than one. Those extra kits will
give you an extra measure of security and will be worth the time, money, and effort they’ll cost you.

(2) ​Always keep it fully assembled and ready.​ Take a check on it from time to time after you’ve assembled and
stashed it. If you’ve loaned the AR-7 to your uncle so he can shoot rats in his barn, and if you ate up your
emergency food supply during an impromptu camping trip, and if you used your sleeping bag during that same
camping trip and got it dirty and it’s at the cleaners when the balloon goes up, and you’ve been using your Sorel
Sentry boots to work in the fields during the past two winters and the soles have developed thin spots and a nice
little hole, then you are not prepared to bug out.

I may be a bit tardy in pointing this out, but better late than never: it is not the neighborhood sporting goods cache.
It is not a showcase for neat gadgets. It is not an extra closet. It is your personal bug-out kit. Be jealous of it. Be
possessive. Protect it from friends, strangers, neighbors, relatives, lovers, gas station attendants, or any pair of
hands besides your own.

Choosing Sanctuaries

Get acquainted with the countryside in your area. Go camping and backpacking often. Orient yourself to the
country. Use that compass and those topo maps of yours, and become proficient in their uses. Work at developing
and sharpening your wilderness skills, and at building your strength and endurance.

While you’re at it, you can be scouting out some good game areas preparatory to hunting season. You can also
locate some possible sanctuaries for yourself in the event of bug-out time.

Sanctuary could be your friend’s hunting cabin or your uncle’s farm. It could be a cave behind a waterfall, or a
mineshaft drilled horizontally into the side of a hill. It could be a forest pond where you’ve fished and gigged frogs.
It could be a good, little-known campsite near a year-round stream. It could be near a hidden spring which no one
else knows about. It could be a small, secluded valley which can’t be seen except from the air.

When you pick your place of sanctuary, pick more than one. If you put all your eggs into one basket, Finagle’s Law
will be waiting to disappoint you. You remember Finagle’s Law, also known as Murphy’s Law: If something bad
can happen, it will, usually at the worst possible time.

If your uncle’s farm is burned to the ground when you get to it, and your friend’s hunting cabin is occupied by six
gun-toting strangers, and you find a company of infantry bivouacked in your hidden valley, then you’d better have
some alternative choices.

Do your best to anticipate the sources of possible Bad Times. Try and determine where any trouble such as a mass
exodus might originate, figure the most likely course it will take, and then avoid those regions, if at all possible.
Generally speaking, the people who’d be fleeing from those trouble spots aren’t going to be well-prepared for
survival under the best of circumstances, and you can use that fact to your own advantage.
For example, if one of your sanctuaries is located at a mountain lake in the high country above the 8,000 foot level,
with no roads in or out, and the widest thoroughfares are well-used game trails, you probably won’t be having too
many visitors, especially during the winter. Living under those conditions is hard, but far from impossible if you
make preparations in advance. And you ​will​ be living, which is a definite plus during Bad Times.

Before I go any further, let me say once again that, if you’ve chosen your small town carefully, you probably won’t
have to escape from fear-maddened crowds of hungry people who are bolting from the cities. You and your fellow
townspeople, working in concert with a plan, can easily handle such situations. Your small town, if well-organized,
will be an enclave capable of withstanding some pretty fierce assaults from almost any source.

There are some exceptions, and they wear uniforms, and those uniforms may not be made in America. (But then
again, they might; if the people wearing them are engaged in separating you from your property, what difference
does it make?) I can think of some instances where you might have to leave on very short notice. So can you, if you
put your mind to it. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst- works every time.

Deliberately choosing sanctuaries in harsh, difficult regions will eliminate much of the competition. Think about it.
Most people will head for the nicer spots. Let ‘em. They’ll be fighting over them if things get so bad that ​you have
to bug out.

Your sanctuary should be little-known, hard to get to, defensible, and ​has to have a back way out. It ​has to have a
source (or sources) of water. That gives you some leeway when you’re poring over those maps looking for safe

Evacuation Routes

Here is where your bug-out kit gets thoroughly tested. Once that kit is assembled, and you have decided upon a
sanctuary, it’s dress rehearsal time. Military dress rehearsals are known as bivouacs, night problems, forced
marches, and -unofficially- are called various unprintable names by the personnel involved. When you are ordered
into one of those field exercises, it’s usually a big pain in the prat. When you do it out of choice, well, it ​might be
fun. Work on being positive about it, and things will go better.

The object of this particular exercise is to get yourself and your bug-out kit from Point A (let’s say your homestead)
to Point B (your sanctuary) safely. In this case, and for the purposes of the rehearsal, “safely” means passing
through the region between Point A and Point B without being seen, and preferably without leaving evidence of
your presence there.

In other words, try to get there without spraining an ankle, contracting hypothermia, or getting bitten, stung, or
whiplashed. Avoid taking midday comfort breaks in stands of poison oak. Use caution when crossing private
property, as the hazards can be formidable (dogs, bulls, and other livestock, not to mention suspicious farmers with
For best results from a dress rehearsal, consult your topo maps before setting forth. Outline your probable route and
try to follow it using the compass and the maps, when you’re in the field. You may find that the “best” route on the
map is undesirable when it actually comes to moving yourself and your bug-out kit across that territory. There’s
only one way to determine these things, and the best time to do it is before bug-out time.

Along the way, become familiar with the prominent landmarks which will be useful as guideposts. Also, and this is
very important, pay attention to what your bug-out kit is doing for you, and what it isn’t doing that it should, and
what it may be lacking. This gives you the opportunity to correct any deficiencies.

Take along a notebook and use it. Write down items of interest, such as interim campsites, sources of fuel and
water, places of abundant forage, places such as box canyons and narrow defiles (which can be potential traps or
ambushes), hostile landowners, natural barriers, obvious washouts (beware of these when it floods, and mark your
notebook accordingly), and last but not least, likely places to cache extra supplies.

I mention the caching of supplies because, if it comes to pass that you have to bug out, you will probably need some
extras to help you along and make your journey easier. The first and most important of these extra supplies has to
be water.

You can keep the canteens in your bug-out kit full of water at all times, but that water will go stale fairly quickly.

You can keep your bug-out canteens dry, but you may not have even the brief time required to fill them before
bugging out. The obvious answer is to stash water along your evacuation route. Along ​all your evacuation routes.
And if you don’t want the extra weight and bulk of a tube tent, shelter half, or backpacker’s tent, consider stashing
any of those items along your route as well.

Please note that, if you do cache water and shelter between Point A and Point B, you’d better include an
entrenching tool or other digging implement in your bug-out kit. (I like the older style entrenching tools with
wooden handles much better than the newer tools which hinge in two places.

The older tool gives you greater leverage and allows you to move more earth faster. A word of warning: get
genuine GI surplus, no matter what you decide on. Stay away from the imported junk.

You can store your cached water in 5-gallon plastic containers, such as those sold by SI. If you can find them
locally, fine; you don’t have to pay shipping charges that way, and the local price may be cheaper in any case.
Make sure, however, that those containers are new and have not been used to store hazardous or volatile substances
which may have left toxic residues. If you’re in doubt, go ahead and order from SI.

Buy the reversed pliers to help you open those containers, and stash one tool with each cache of water. Add a
half-teaspoon of household bleach to each 5-gallon container to keep the water fresh over prolonged storage. Wrap
the containers in heavy plastic film, in a tarpaulin, or fit one or two into a duffel bag before burying.
Place the opening tool beneath the water containers to frustrate treasure hunters with metal detectors. Bury them
near a recognizable landmark on your line of march (dead tree, rock pile, cliff face, or whatever), stand with your
back to that feature and face the cache, use your compass to determine the exact direction by degrees, and step off
the distance between the marker and the stash. Memorize the details, or ​encode them in your notebook (and
memorize them anyway in case you lose your notebook).

Now that you’ve found the best evacuation route to your sanctuary, find the alternates. You will probably need
them. The only law in force during Bad Times may well be Finagle’s Law, and you know how capricious our friend
Finagle can be. Find those other routes, walk over them, take copious notes, and stash your extra water.

Now that you’re familiar with your evacuation routes during daylight in nice weather- whoa! Come back here; I
know you don’t want to hear this, but it’s necessary. Consider it as a pound of prevention versus a ton of cure,

Now that you ​think you know your routes, try them out at night. Or in the rain or fog. Or under all of the above
conditions. This is where you find out if you ​really know your- hello? Hello? For the benefit of those who just left,
don’t say I didn’t warn you.

To be continued

Ing’s Things- Book Review

The Myrmidon Project​. Chuck Scarborough & William Murray. New York: Coward, McCann & Geohegan, 1981.
$12.95 clothbound.

This medium-length thriller has the standard grabbers we’ve come to expect: obligatory sex scenes, a James
Bondish hitman, a half-mad scientist, and a likeable fumbler who struggles to meet the ultimate challenge. The
action isn’t always believable, but it’s slickly done for the most part, and it keeps us turning the pages briskly.

What makes ​Myrmidon worth our review here is the gimmick. What if a video research genius develops a way to
generate animated scenes so realistic, they look like the real thing? We might get an electronically-faked John
Barrymore in the role of astronaut, which seems harmless enough- but we might also get faked newscasts, falsified
speeches by our most respected commentators, eventually perhaps state-of-the-Union addresses by Presidents who
in reality are dead or imprisoned. It’s a gimmick guaranteed to tickle any latent paranoia in our souls, because it just
might be possible in the near future.

In ​Myrmidon,​ network nabobs kidnap a tough, straight-talking commentator of the Cronkite mold and foist a false
image of him on our TV screens. His friends suspect a ruse and are soon pitting their wits and weapons against
network hirelings. We won’t tip off the outcome of this fictional saga, but anybody who’s seen image-enhancement
animation may have good reason to wonder aloud: “How long before they really do this to us?”

Well, we’ve always known the media massages us by massaging the news. Stay tuned. Film at eleven…
An Emergency Air Pump and Filtration System, Part II
by Dean Ing

In Issue No. 33 of PS Letter we showed how you can build a bellows pump for an emergency breathing-air supply.
This time we’ll show how to build a filter that can ‘scrub’ the air clean before you pump it into your shelter. The
system was designed against nuclear fallout, but folks in Yakima and Spokane needed such rigs when Mount St.
Helens polluted their lungs- and they might need them again!

We began with the quickest parts last month: the bellow pump, its conduit pipe, and the stale air exhaust valve. The
filter takes longer to build, so we’re describing it last; but you might want to build it first. Why? Because the filter
is the only part of the system that should be placed outside your shelter. The sooner you complete the filter, the
sooner you can emplace it and retreat into your shelter, sealing off the door with tape.

Basically, your filter unit is a cardboard box containing a mesh of some kind that will let air pass through, while
trapping particles of dust and ash. At the rear of your filter box is a conduit pipe of perhaps three-inch diameter,
leading through your shelter wall to your bellows pump. When you lift the pump handle, the bellows sucks air from
the conduit- and the conduit, in turn, sucks more air in through the front of your filter unit. If the filter elements are
suitable, the contaminants in the air will get no farther.

Your filter should be protected from the weather, placed where the air that reaches it will have ​already freed itself
from large ash particles. For example: if you’re in a basement shelter, you might place the filter box just outside the
shelter door on the basement steps. If those steps are outside the house, you should either make a roof over the filter
or consider placing the filter elsewhere- such as the crawlspace under your house.

The larger the contaminant particles, the sooner they fall to the ground. Very few particles of visible size will still
be afloat after passing through crawlspace vents to a filter twenty feet away. But billions of lethal dust motes will
still be suspended in the air; and these tiny particles are the ones we’re filtering out.

Perhaps the simplest and quickest filter would be a hefty cardboard box with a thick-nap towel or flannel shirt
securely tacked and taped across its open face. Flannel diapers would work too; but if the flannel has been washed
until it's fuzz is gone, it won’t trap much dust. Several thicknesses of flannel would trap a great deal of it, but might
let too many of the really tiny particles through.

We built a more ambitious rig, starting with a coarse fiberglass filter element from a floor furnace that will trap the
biggest dust particles. Finer particles call for a finer filter. Taped behind the fiberglass element is a piece of outing
flannel. The stuff that gets past those elements will be of microscopic size, and that’s where toilet paper comes in
Some of us recall engine oil filters that used a roll of toilet paper as the filter element. The oil didn’t pass down the
center hole, nor from one side of the roll to the other. It passed from one circular face of the roll to the other, and all
but micron-sized crud was trapped between the layers of paper.

But a bellows pump won’t suck air very quickly through such a tight roll of paper, so our rig uses four rolls in
parallel. Our four-roll filter is ​absolutely minimal;​ use more if you have the materials.

The coarse filter elements, taped to a shallow cardboard frame, are mounted onto the large filter box. The coarse
fiberglass element is taped to the shallow frame along one edge. The flannel filter element is taped across a big
rectangular hole in that shallow frame. To complete this coarse part of the filter unit, we need only to swing the
fiberglass element down in place and finish taping it flat over the flannel.

The shallow cardboard frame was constructed to fit over the front of the big filter box. Four large juice cans fit into
that front face.

Each juice can has only one end cut away, with triangular perforations punched near its other end. Rolls of toilet
paper are the fine filter elements; you’ll probably have to strip away some toilet paper before the rolls will slip
(smoothly, but not sloppily) into the juice cans. Take the stripped-away paper and stuff it tightly into the central
hole of each roll.

The juice cans containing the fine elements are taped in place. Make some tabs around the hole, which will help
secure the juice can when bound tightly with tape.

The filter box air outlet is a bean can with both ends removed, protruding from the side of the filter box near its rear
face. We could’ve put that air outlet in the rear. Either placement is okay.

The triangular holes punched in the juice cans are all oriented so that when the filter box lies in its normal position,
incoming air must rise up through those holes. This gives fallout particles one last chance to drop out before they
enter the juice cans to be stopped by the paper rolls.

Now the coarse filter elements in their shallow frame are taped over the front face of the filter box, hiding the juice
cans. All seams are double-taped. A conduit pipe is taped to the filter box outlet. In Part One of this article we
described how to make a conduit pipe from newspaper, with a cruciform stiffener of cardboard. The conduit runs
through a hole in the wall of your shelter, to your bellows pump.

We’ve made several models of this system. We find that the pump is barely sturdy enough; you could improve it by
taping an extra thickness of corrugated cardboard, or perhaps a hunk of ¼-inch plywood, across the pump face
which has the handle on it. You could also keep the pump from bouncing around while you operate it, by placing
bricks or other heavy small objects inside the pump between the inlet and outlet valves.

Don’t worry about the bricks reducing the pump’s capacity; the pump only pumps an amount of air equal to the
swept volume of the bellows. In other words, if the bricks don’t stick up far enough to touch the top face of the
pump, they won’t affect the amount of air it pumps.
You can get a rough estimate of the pump capacity by figuring the volume of the original box and dividing by two.
That’s because the bellows pump is rectangular when its handle is up (inhaling) and triangular with half that
volume when the handle is down (exhaling).

You’ll probably find, as we did, that the pump sucks so well, and the fine filter elements are so restrictive, that an
unstiffened conduit tube tends to collapse from the suction. That means you have to work harder to pump clean air.
So, if at all possible, build a bigger filter box than the model we developed. Use eight or even twelve rolls of toilet
paper. For that matter, you could build two complete filter boxes and connect them with a short conduit so they
work in parallel.

Don’t use small-diameter conduit such as water hose. A conduit pipe much smaller than three-inch diameter will
restrict the airflow considerably. Even three-inch stuff would make you pump harder, if it were longer than ten feet
or so. Could you use regular stove pipe? Sure; go ahead, so long as you tape it securely at every joint.

Mulling over this simple rig, a friend of ours once asked what to do if he didn’t have four spare rolls of toilet paper.

I told him to stay out of Mexico.

He fixed me with a pained expression and sighed, “I mean, what if I want a better filter? Surely this isn’t what they
use in hospital clean rooms.”

He was right; it isn’t. I recommended that he buy a good commercial fiber filter from some company like HEPA
Corp., Flanders, Inc., or Farr. They sell replacement cartridges for something over $20- luggage-sized elements
which must be set into a boxlike frame which you can build to fit. But be sure you put a coarse filter element in
front of that frame so coarse particles won’t clog that cartridge.

Such commercial cartridges let you pump easier, faster. Be sure to specify a cartridge that removes 99.7% of
particulates (a four-cylinder word for crud) down through the two-micron range- which means it’ll filter out most
bacteria, too! A Farr “Riga-Flow 200” cartridge is rated at hundreds of cubic feet of air per minute and, with a
coarse filter ahead of it, should let you draw enough air for many people.

Our demonstration rig, by the way, would barely suffice for two or three people. Engineering texts on ventilation
call for roughly a thousand cubic feet of air per person, per hour. As the texts admit, that’s a whole lot more than
you’d require. It’s our unsupported guess that you could get by on two hundred cubic feet per hour, unless you’re
breathing hard. But feelings of dizziness, drunkenness, or headaches could be danger signals warning you of foul
air. Remedy: pump more.

If each pump cycle admits one cubic foot of air, then four hundred cycles per hour might be adequate for two
people. Since it takes a few seconds to push-pull the pump through one cycle, you’ll be wise to choose a pump box
of large volume, and to use as many filter elements in parallel as you can.
It bears repeating that this system is strictly a last-minute rig. It requires pouring a lot of juice out for the cans, and
it isn’t anywhere ​near as good as a commercial filter cartridge. But our pump can be built in an hour and the filter
unit shouldn’t take you more than three or four hours. If time is very pressing, you might opt for a simple flannel
filter which allows faster pumping and takes a half-hour to build. Just remember that it won’t arrest the finest

Suggestion: collect the hardware for this system, including conduit pipe, from a carpet shop. Lord knows the price
is right! Then build a plywood version of this system using duct tape on the seams. It doesn’t take much time, and it
could keep you healthy when less provident folk are gasping their last.

If It Breaks, Will You Be Able to Fix It?

by Robert E. Kimball

Unless you have a fully-equipped and fully-supplied shop, with all the know-how that should go with it, many
things are going to break that you won’t be able to fix. So, at the outset, it should be said that any tool, system, or
piece of equipment that is vital to your survival should exist in duplicate, and with spare parts, at the retreat site.
Examples of such items are: well pump, well motor, electrical generator, guns, ammunition, tools…

Even if you don’t have a fully-equipped shop, and even if you consider yourself marginal in mechanical aptitude,
there are many things that you can fix and repair with a few tools, an assortment of repair supplies, and by
consulting appropriate repair literature.

One of the impediments to effecting successful repairs for many people is psychological. When something breaks
there is a tendency to get mad and upset. What’s needed to solve repair problems is a clear head. My advice, when
something breaks, is to walk away from it until you calm down and can think about it clearly. This is easier said
than done, but if you try to fix something while you are still upset, chances are you will only make matters worse.

Since there are some items that you won’t be able to repair, and since those items that you can repair will require
time and energy to do so, it makes good sense to practice preventative maintenance. The following guidelines
should help you to set up a preventative maintenance program.
1. When you purchase a new tool or piece of equipment, make sure that you get all available literature, owner’s
manual, instruction sheets, parts lists, etc. Read all material, paying special attention to recommended maintenance

2. Place all material in a three-ring binder for quick and easy reference.

3. Make up a maintenance schedule and place it in the front of the repair binder. The schedule should include all
items that need maintenance, what needs to be done, and how often. Provide columns for recording accomplished

4. When purchasing new items, select them on the basis of low maintenance and ease of repair. Purchase spare parts
at the same time, while they are still available. Also, purchase any special tools that might be needed to repair the

5. Understand the capacities and limits of all tools and equipment. The surest way to damage or break an item is to
use it beyond its capacity.

6. Label switches, circuit breakers, and shutoff valves, so that in an emergency you will know what shuts off what.

There are a number of reasons why things break. They include: wear, deterioration, misuse, overloading, and poor
design. In equipment with moving parts, wear can be minimized by proper lubrication. Dirt that gets into moving
parts will cause excessive wear. Some things deteriorate with time, and there is little you can do to prevent it.

Hoses, belts, gaskets, rubber washers- all will eventually deteriorate and need replacing. These are items for which
you must have replacements and/or the material from which to fabricate replacements. Using tools and equipment
for uses not intended in the design often causes failure. Using a long-handled shovel for a pry bar, for example, will
probably result in breaking the handle.

An example of overloading is using a ¼-horsepower motor when a ½-horsepower motor is required. The smaller
motor will burn out from overloading, or, if it has a protection device, you will spend most of your time resetting it.
Poor design is often not discovered until after you have purchased an item and used it.

I have a five cubic foot wheelbarrow that is poorly designed. The frame that supports the tray is made of wood. The
bolts that secure the axle to the frame can work loose, causing alignment problems. I added lock washers but it
didn’t solve the problem. If the frame had been made of tubular steel, it would not only have solved the alignment
problem, but also the fact that the wood is drying out and splitting.

Before you can fix anything, it helps to know what is wrong with it. Sometimes it is obvious. If your shovel handle
breaks, you can see what is wrong. You either have to replace the shovel, replace the handle, or repair the handle.
If, however, you discover that you have no water, any number of things could be the cause.

The pump could be worn out, the motor burnt out, the electricity could be off, there could be a short circuit or a
broken circuit, a relay may not be working, or worst of all, your well could be dry. How do you discover the cause?
The answer is in knowing how to troubleshoot.
Here is a checklist for troubleshooting:

1. Check the easiest things to check first, which will prevent you from taking apart a complex piece of equipment,
only to discover that the only thing wrong is that it wasn’t plugged in or the switch wasn’t turned on.

2. Re-check all the easy things to be sure you didn’t overlook anything.

3. Analyze what you know and what you don’t know. By a process of elimination, try to determine in what area the
problem might lie. Is it mechanical, electrical, or operator error? Can you isolate the problem to a specific part?

4. If the easy to check things are all OK, decide whether you have the knowledge, the tools, and the equipment to
check and repair the difficult things. If you don’t have what you need, you either have to get help or become very
creative at making do with what you don’t have.

5. If you have to take apart an item that you are not familiar with, make a sketch of the item or, if there is a drawing
in your repair binder, refer to it. Label each part on the sketch, as you remove it. Be prepared for spring-loaded
parts that will fly off in all directions when you remove a screw or clip.

Now, let’s use the checklist to troubleshoot a specific problem- why no water is coming from your deep well.

1. Is the pump motor running? If it is, you should be able to hear it when you are standing over the well. If it isn’t,
do you have electricity to the motor? Check circuit breakers or fuses. If you have a multi-tester and know how to
use it, check for electricity at the pump control box. Check relay switches to see if they are working. Check for
loose electrical connections.

2. If you haven’t located the problem, check everything in step one again, to be sure you didn’t miss anything.

3. If you still haven’t found the problem, analyze what you know so far. If the pump motor is running, you have
electricity. Either the pump is worn out or the water level has dropped below the submersible pump. If the motor
isn’t running but you are sure that you have power to the motor, then the motor is shot. There is one more thing to
check before you decide to pull the pump.

It is possible to check the standing water level in your well, provided it hasn’t dropped below the pump, and
provided you can gain access to the casing without dropping the pump, the motor, and the supporting piping into
the well. If the water level has dropped, the next thing to check is whether the pump is already set at maximum

The well driller’s report, which should be in your three-ring binder, should tell you how deep the well is, at what
depth the perforations in the casing start and the recommended maximum depth for setting the pump. The original
installer should be able to tell you at what depth the pump was actually set, although in my case the pump was set
lower than the maximum recommended depth, due to a miscalculation.
4. If you decide to pull the pump, do you know how and do you have the equipment and tools to accomplish it? Do
you have a spare motor and pump? If you know how but don’t have the equipment, you might be able to jury rig
something. A friend of mine did just that. He had a pump almost all the way out when he made an error and
dropped the whole works into the well. He had to call in the professionals to fish it out. If you have to set the pump
lower, do you have the extra pipe and pump wire that you will need?

5. Assuming that you succeeded in pulling everything out, will you be able to put it all back together? If you made a
drawing and labeled everything, you should be able to.

6. If you fail, what will you do for water? If there is water in your well, but you can’t fix the pump, and if you have
succeeded in pulling it, you might be able to haul up small quantities of water in a weighted container at the end of
a rope. And/or you could find another source of water, like catching rainwater that runs off your roof.

The water pump example demonstrates the importance of having two, or more, of everything vital to your
long-term survival. In the case of water, you need at least two sources so that if the pump goes out and you can’t fix
it, or the well dries up, you will still have water.

Hardly a day goes by at my retreat that I don’t have to fix something. Sometimes it’s as simple as pounding in a nail
or replacing a sheared-off bolt, and sometimes it’s as complicated as having the well pump go out.

Thread vehicles) Well Pump & Motor with

Twine Fishing line Relays
Steel Cable Rope String
Electrical Wire (sizes & Chain Tie Wire (regular &
types for your system) Duct Tape stainless steel)
Teflon Plumbing Tape Electrical Tape Fencing Wire
Wood Glue Rubber Cement Clear Plastic Tape
Solder Epoxy Filament Tape
Machine Oil Flux Silicone Sealant
Naval Jelly Grease Form-a-Gasket
Caulking Gun Parts WD-4O
Paint Brushes Paint Liquid Wrench
Rolls of Plastic Roofing Cement Wood Filler
Wood Screws Cement & Plaster Patch Paint Thinner
Bolts Sheet Metal Screws Tar Paper
Washers Lag Bolts Nails
Stainless Steel Hose Hooks & Eyes Machine Screws
Clamps Aluminum & Brass Solid Nuts
Sheet Metal Stock Wood (dimensional &
Extra Bits & Blades (for Metal Rod (plain & construction lumber,
all tools) threaded) plywood)
Plumbing Supplies (your Sandpaper Steel Wool
system) Electrical Supplies (your Gasket Material
Auto Parts & Supplies (your system)
How do you have enough parts and repair supplies on hand to fix everything that might break? If you have the
space and the money, you could put in a supply that would equal the inventory at the local hardware store. You
could easily spend $50,000 or more on inventory.

The way out of this dilemma is to be very selective and to stock as many cut-to-fit and multi-purpose items as you
can. Examples of cut-to-fit items are: piano hinges that come in 72” lengths that can be cut to fit as needed,
threaded steel rods from which you can cut bolts of any length; a roll of No. 14 electrical cord with a supply of
plugs and outlets, from which you can fabricate an appliance cord or extension cord of any length.

Another example is a supply of gasket material from which you could fabricate gaskets as needed by tracing the old
one and cutting out a new one. Examples of multi-purpose items are: tie wire, string, rope, tape, glue, and thread.
These are all items that can be used to fix many things and can be cut or portioned as needed.

The list of repair supplies above is not all inclusive. It’s a starting point. You will have to add items that I have
overlooked and items that may be special to your particular situation. I can’t tell you what quantities you should
stock of each item. All I can say is that I never seem to have enough of most of the items on the list.

Jeff Cooper has been in Israel acting as a consultant to Israeli Military Industries. He tells me that his suggestion
that a Galil be made specifically for the American survival market was taken favorably, and that as soon as he has
had a chance to test the prototype, he will give us a report. Jeff thinks that this could be THE survival rifle. NT.

The Homestead Retreat Water/Sewage System, Part I

by Eric and Anne Teller

Where does your water come from today? Where will it come from tomorrow if today’s source fails? Can you
count on your water supply in emergencies, or in case of nuclear conflict?

Besides the immediate needs of water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene, the typical homestead retreat
requires water for irrigation purposes, raising livestock, and fire protection. Just as important as having enough
good water is having the water available when and where you need it. And in the survival context, this suggests
some special considerations in the planning of the total water system.
Planning for an adequate water system must be one of the foremost considerations in both the initial selection and
in the subsequent development of the homestead retreat. The water system must be properly integrated with the
layout of your buildings and the overall site. Lack of forethought in this area will cause problems and complications
later on.

One must be realistic and careful in evaluating how much water is needed. You’ll want to plan and design a system
that will assure both the quality and quantity of water for what might be considered “normal” present conditions of

But care is needed to avoid the trap of assuming that the “normal” system can be continued during the crisis
survival conditions. Instead, alternate plans and a contingency system must be established and maintained to insure
that those living on your homestead retreat will have immediate access to adequate, safe water at all times.

At an early point in one’s planning, it is suggested that a perusal of commonly available government and
agricultural college publications pertaining to farmstead water supplies would be of value. Literature of this type
provides excellent coverage of the standard considerations for any type of rural and/or relatively self-contained
private water and sewage systems.

Several of these publications are listed in the bibliography following this series, and a rereading of Bob McQuain’s
article in PS Letter No. 22 will also help give necessary perspective regarding the evaluation of water availability
on a piece of land.

Since every homestead retreat situation is different, with widely ranging water needs dependent on such factors as
the number of people in a household, the amount of livestock to be cared for, the need for irrigation, etc., no hard
and fast rules will be stated here. Rather, the reader is advised to seek out information in the specific sources listed
in the bibliography.

When writing this article, Anne and I felt we couldn’t stress enough the importance of having sufficient water
ALWAYS available. With most of us today, water is simply taken for granted. Even if a city water main breaks or a
pump breakdown occurs at your rural home, it is usually just a matter of a few hours, or a couple of days at most,
before the situation is remedied and the unending flow of water continues anew.

It may be that we have to experience personally the frustration and difficulty of being without household water for
prolonged periods of time to appreciate having a highly reliable system. No one serious about survival can afford to
take chances with his water system. It seems axiomatic that when something is needed the most, it is most
vulnerable, suddenly disappearing or becoming unusable. If we seem to belabor the point of having back-ups for
your back-ups, please keep in mind there are valid reasons for this, many learned from personal experience.
When we moved onto our land here almost a decade ago, we thought we were blessed with a dependable source of
pure, ice-cold water. The homesteader who was here 70 years before us did his best to insure himself a permanent,
dependable water supply. Not content with the usual 10- to 15-foot depth of hand-dug wells common in the area, he
must have spent several weeks hammering out a well, going down through 22 feet of solid rock, chipped out layer
by layer. The broad expanse of broken chips still mounded around the well gives silent testimony to the gargantuan

Our first summer here, we pumped out and removed debris from the long-abandoned well. Standing at the bottom
in that cold, vertical tunnel with the pump going to keep it empty, I could see and feel the piercing cold rivulets of
water pushing through the cracks near the base of the well.

Our water supply seemed assured. Had not this well taken care of the pioneer homesteader, his large family, and his
numerous horses and cattle? Local lore told that it was a dependable well and our spirits were high the day we
installed the pump and felt ready to go on to the next homestead task, assured of plentiful amounts of fresh water.

Three years later, the strong pulses of water knifing through the cracks at the well bottom had been reduced to
droplets forming on the rock and dripping to the bottom one at a time. Our area was facing a drought. The
old-timers said they’d never seen it this dry before. Our part of the state was declared a disaster area; but it didn’t
help our water supply. We learned how precious water is when you don’t have it. The faithful old well was written
off. We spent agonizing days and weeks planning a system that would never fail us again.

We concluded that our water system must have as its main component, some sort of a large underground storage
tank or cistern/reservoir, large enough to take care of minimal needs for a period of several months, if necessary, or
to provide a great volume of water over a short period, as is necessary for firefighting.

Besides a large storage capacity, another criterion for our basic water system was that it must be accessible under
all conditions. Regardless of what the weather or threat from the outside environment was, we had to be able to get
at our water.

Finally, inasmuch as water is a basic necessity for a nuclear survival situation, we felt the water system must be
connected to our fallout shelter.

The conclusion of this line of thinking led us to build a cistern/reservoir, one which is completely enclosed within
our buildings, and, as such, completely protected from the outside, as well as being immediately accessible from

This cistern/reservoir forms the heart of our primary and basic reserve water system. With a storage capacity of
3,000 gallons, our cistern/reservoir lasts the three of us four months with no real inconvenience in daily living
practices. We know this because we’ve lived with this system on a year-round basis.

The overriding advantages of a properly constructed and integrated cistern/reservoir are hard to appreciate until
you’ve suffered the consequences of a less-dependable system. The hand pump functions flawlessly and a lifetime
set of replacement parts fit easily on a shelf in the storage building.
Located beneath the floor of the garage/workshop which is attached to the house and office, our cistern/reservoir is
always immediately available. Even if the hand pump should fail at a critical time, a removable cover allows ready
access to the water.

Additional separate outlets from the cistern/reservoir provide pressurized water powered by separate 12-volt DC
and 120-volt AC pumps. As we finish refining our system, we will also be able to maintain the pressure in the
household water system with the hand pump.

There are so many advantages of a proper cistern/reservoir installation within the principal homestead retreat
building that we want to list some of the prominent ones. We strongly advise these points be heavily weighed when
you design or modify your own system.

1. A large quantity of water is always immediately available. An adequate sized cistern/reservoir needs only
infrequent replenishing from outside sources, although prudence dictates the wisdom of keeping it filled for

2. In a properly-constructed cistern/reservoir, the purity of the water can be assured to a high degree.

3. Water is available either through hand or powered means or a combination of both.

4. The water is protected from radioactive fallout contamination without the need for filtering, etc.
​ The system is
highly invulnerable to sabotage, etc.

5. Naturally soft rainwater is highly desirable for all washing purposes. We definitely agree with authors Wagner
and Lanois in their book, ​Water Supply for Rural Areas and Small Communities​, “The collection of rainwater in
cisterns is not as widely practiced as its advantages warrant...”

Don’t overlook a cistern/reservoir for water convenience and insurance in the homestead barn if livestock are a part
of your plan.

Although usually associated with rainwater storage, the cistern/reservoir is in no way limited to utilizing just that
source. Our cistern/reservoir can be replenished from three sources, the first being our deep-drilled well from which
pure water is pumped into the cistern/reservoir. This way we always have a large supply of high quality water
available even if, for some reason, we can’t get to our drilled well (located nearby outside) or the well pump is out
of commission.
Secondly, during six months of the year, fresh, filtered rain water is directly piped into our reservoir, and finally, in
emergencies, water could be pumped in from one of the ponds. During one year of low rainfall, before we had our
drilled well, we did fill the cistern just that way. Under favorable conditions, pond water can be sufficiently purified
for household use.

As stated above, usable water for filling the cistern/reservoir can be obtained from a variety of sources, and we feel
that two water sources are the minimum to consider.

Dug wells are certainly a possible way of obtaining water in many areas, and they can provide a modest-sized water
reservoir of their own. However, shallow wells are too dependent on nearby surface water. These strata can and do
dry up during drought conditions. Considering the changing weather patterns of the last several years, the
possibility of drought must be taken into account. We cannot recommend dug wells as having any degree of
long-term reliability for survival planning.

For rural property the drilled well has become the standard for providing water. Our own well is bored down into
300 feet of rock. This well provides us with clear water of the highest purity via the combination of a hand pump
mounted on the well plus an electrically-operated pump jack. Simplicity was the guiding maxim when we chose the
pump jack over a more efficient submersible pump installed down in the well itself. The electric-powered pump
jack, sitting outside on top of the well, is immediately accessible for maintenance and repairs.

In most cases, the drilled well is still the best source for water on the homestead retreat. Even before the days of
electrical power, wind-powered water pumps were lifting water from holes deep in the earth throughout this
country, especially in the West. For obtaining good water, the deep-drilled well has the best record of proven
success in this respect. Unfortunately, however, that record is becoming tarnished.

Groundwater contamination from industrial, municipal, and agricultural sources is becoming a serious problem in
many areas. Indications are that we may be seeing just the tip of the iceberg. What is happening is that chemicals
plus soluble components from fertilizers and water-borne wastes leach down through the surface water into the
groundwater table. Because of the depth of most drilled wells, it has taken many years for the problem to become
acute, and now the situation is becoming a nationwide dilemma.

A great many people are still unaware of the seriousness of this because common water tests don’t even check for
these contaminants. In the Midwestern Corn belt, where we had an established homestead before moving to our
present location, nitrate contamination of the groundwater had become a serious issue. So, although we still
guardedly say that a drilled well is the most likely source for obtaining potable water, one is cautioned not to
assume that just because the water comes from a deep hole in the ground, it will be pure.

One might at this point ask if a drilled well could not meet all the requirements for the homestead retreat water
system. There are definite problems and limitations. It is difficult, if not completely impractical, to have a drilled
well within a building for the sake of protection and sheltered access.
The infrequent yet critical maintenance of deep-well equipment requires substantial overhead rigging to remove and
reinstall cylinders, pipe, rod, etc. It can be done, but special cut, short-length components would be needed or
special building modifications would be required in order to successfully raise and lower the pump equipment.
Such complexities are fraught with problems.

The other limitation of a drilled well is the commonly insufficient water volume and pressure needed for fire
protection. Water capacity can vary from less than a few gallons per minute to literally hundreds of gallons per
minute, with the typical well being closer to the lower end of this range. The capacity of one’s own drilled well
must be measured carefully and evaluated as part of the total water system.

The flowing or artesian well bubbling out over the top of the well head is perhaps the ultimate source of water. A
well of this type results when a drilled well is attempted and an aquifer is intercepted which has its source at a
higher elevation. The internal pressure causes the water to overflow the top of the well pipe.

When properly capped and controlled, an artesian well can prove a dependable source of low pressure piped-in
water without need for either hand or electric pumping. However, the typical artesian well still suffers the
limitations of insufficient water volume and pressure necessary for fire protection.

To be continued

Survival Gunsmithing- Armalite AR-180

by J.B. Wood

In the .223 military-style rifles, Mel chose the Armalite AR-180 over the Colt AR-15, and I entirely agree with his
choice. The direct gas blowback against the bolt carrier in the AR-15 has proved to be ammo-sensitive, while the
AR-180 has a separate gas piston, in an arrangement similar to the German G-43 and the Russian M-40 of World
War II.

For survival circumstances, when the quality and load level of cartridges might sometimes be less than ideal, this
system would be an advantage. Personally, in a purely subjective view, I just prefer the handling qualities and
operational features of the AR-180.
The spare parts kit for the AR-180 should include the following: firing pin, firing pin spring, extractor, extractor
spring, ejector, ejector spring, ejector retaining pin, recoil spring (2), gas piston connector, gas piston rod spring,
cross-pin C-clips (4), hammer spring, spare magazine.

As always, the firing pin and extractor are the two absolutely essential spare parts. No matter how well-designed the
gun, years of hard use can bring a possibility of breakage. The attendant springs for these two parts are on the list in
case of eventual age-weakening. They are both helical coils, and will not be needed for a number of years, but
they’re there for insurance.

The ejector is in the kit primarily for replacement in case the original gets away during complete disassembly of the
bolt. Its small roll-pin retainer would be difficult to find if dropped, and the ejector spring is in case of age-fatigue.
If this occurs, the symptom will be sleepy ejection, and perhaps an occasional empty case caught by the closing

The twin recoil springs that power the return of the bolt and its carrier have ample allowance for some loss of
tension with heavy use. The survivalist, though, must look some years into the future, and for him the term “heavy
use” may have connotations that are undreamed of today. With this in mind, a pair of spare recoil springs is

The gas piston connector joins the piston and piston rod, and it is not subject to wear or breakage. It’s included
because of its essential function, with the thought that losing it in the tall grass during a hurried disassembly would
leave you with a single-shot gun. The piston rod spring has allowance for some tension loss, but for years of hard
use, a spare is a good idea.

The cross-pins that pivot the hammer, trigger, and bolt latch have flanged heads on one end, and a rebated groove
for spring C-clips on the other, to retain them in the receiver. The safety lever and its cross-shaft are also retained
by a C-clip, and these efficient little grabbers are notorious for slipping and flying away as they are removed or
pushed into place. At least one spare for each part, four in all, should be kept on hand. Considering their tiny cost,
several more would be advisable.

There are two things that can help to prevent loss of C-clips: During removal, as the clip is gently pried sideways
out of its groove, hold a fingertip against the back of the clip (its closed side) as the screwdriver tip levers it off. For
replacement, grip the C-clip with a pair of sharp-nosed pliers while starting it into its groove.

Regarding the hammer spring, I must repeat myself with an observation from previous columns, that a
survival-defense gun is likely to be carried cocked and chamber-loaded for long periods of time. Under those
circumstances, some slight age-weakening of the hammer spring over the years would be inevitable. If the gun
eventually begins to misfire, a spare hammer spring would be worth its weight in gold.
Another repetition, and really an unnecessary one, is the listing of spare magazines. Whenever the news media or
the cartoonists want to snicker at survivalists, they portray us festooned with pouches holding spare magazines.
Well, there’s no such thing as having too many magazines, especially for a semi-auto. The last laugh, I think, will
be on “them”, and it will likely be a hollow one.

Now, let’s look at some of the parts that are not on the list, items that those who want to cover every possible
emergency may want to add. The gas piston tube is threaded into the combination front sight base and gas port
cover, and wear or breakage is not a factor here. With long-term use and the possibility of firing makeshift ammo,
eventual erosion could occur, and this could affect the balance of the gas system. The gas tube is often fitted rather
tightly, and replacement may be difficult.

The gas piston rod is not normally subject to breakage or wear, but any deformation can stop its operation. This
could occur only from heavy impact of sufficient force to break the upper handguard, so perhaps that part might
also be added to the “extended” list.

The hammer, trigger, and secondary sear are all well-hardened, and wear is not a factor to be considered. Breakage
is also not common, but chipping of the engagement steps is a remote possibility. If this should occur, re-cutting of
the parts could be done, but this would take some time and skill. Having spares ready to install would be an

The trigger spring is a round-wire torsion-type, and while breakage is unlikely, some age-weakening might be
possible. It’s an inexpensive part, and though it may not be needed, it won’t strain the parts budget. The same could
be said for the pivot sleeve that retains the spring and the secondary sear in the trigger. It might be added in case of
lose during disassembly or eventual wear that might affect sear engagement.

The AR-180 is not in the present (second) edition of the ​Gun Digest Book of Exploded Firearms Drawings​. It’s
possible that the current marketing firm may be able to supply this, and they would also be the source for parts. The
address is Mitchell Arms Co., 116 East 16​th​ St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627.

Complete takedown instructions for the AR-180 are on pages 206 through 216 in the ​Gun Digest Book of Firearms
Assembly/Disassembly, Part IV: Law Enforcement Weapons.​ This book, not previously cited, is the latest in the
series on takedown and reassembly that I’ve written. It’s available at your local gun shop or bookstore, and also
directly from DBI Books, Inc., One Northfield Plaza, Northfield IL 60093.