Some Prepper Inventory Size Notes

In preparation for moving, I’m “running down the inventory” on various stored food & fuels. Along the way, I’ve noticed a few things about how long stuff lasts, and some of that may be useful in the future.

This will be semi-random order as I wasn’t planning on this, just realized maybe I ought to “take notes” ;-)


The gas I’d stored about 1.75 years ago start of the plandemic was smelling just a tiny bit funky, but not “varnish” yet. Started the 1 kW Honda generator and ran one whole evening on it (nominal run time 8 hours, I got about 7 as I had it partially choked to stay running). Figure “one fill per night” if running a TV some lights and a bit more.

This generator has always been a bit cranky when cold and loves having a bit of choke on some gas (high in ethanol). It is the OLD 1kW from about 30? years ago. I don’t know if the gas was part of the issue, or just that it’s 30-ish years old, was always cranky unless really warmed up, and maybe some jet has grown just enough more oxide in the orifice to push it over the edge. I’ll likely get a professional service / tune up on it at some point (first ever!).

It is about a quart fuel tank, so figure about a quart a day for minimal but usable electricity (MINUS the fridge… for that you need 24 x 7 operation so figure 1 gallon / day).

The other 6 gallons or so has been dumped into the Subaru that seems to think it is Just Fine, thank you very much.


2 gallons of Kerosene, stored since I did my Kerosene stove review (3? 4? years ago) were just fine. They have been fed to the Diesel Mercedes (which loves kerosene). Not much more to say about it other than it seems to keep nearly forever. The plastic storage container (those blue with spout kind) had “sucked in” as it was about a 5 gallon size and the 3 gallons of air, when cold, shrank. This put a partial crack in the top. It has been sent off to Recycle Land.

I think I’d really like to find a nice METAL traditional Jerry Can for storing Kerosene…. if they can be had.


I didn’t have any stored right now (other than in the car fuel tank). It tends to keep nearly forever anyway. I’ve stored it for many years in prior decades with zero issue. Only issue with Diesel is that I’ve never found a stove that burns it without putting soot on your pots. I have no intention of storing extra Diesel in the future. I’d rather have stored Kerosene (despite the extra cost) as it is cleaner, less prone to sooting, can be used in lanterns and stoves, and works in the car (essentially the same as #1 winter Diesel, which is not available in my area as we don’t DO winter here ;-) so I’ve never tested it as cooking fuel.

White Gas / Coleman Fuel

My “Dual Fuel” single burner stove and dual mantle lantern have been fired up. The stove has been my primary cooking appliance for about a week now. I used the lantern one night.

The lantern was found to have a full tank already. I’d guess about 2 to 3 years ago was the last time I fired it up. UPDATE: It smelled fine and worked fine. Used about 3/4 of a full tank in one night, that holds about a US pint of fuel. Call it about 12 ounces for one evening / night. I eventually emptied the remaining fuel out to measure it, and found that the gasoline in it was smelling significantly of varnish formation. Also the burn rate was closer to 1 cup per night and the tank size is 1.1 quarts I’m going to be using up the rest in the coming week. After the first burn of the lantern I decided to use up my candle supply instead, so set it aside. My guess at this point (to be proved up this week) is that you get about 1 full winter evening & night of light per fill. Call it a pint a night. UPDATE: A cup a night is “enough light” and a pint would cover a very long winter night.

This, of course, will vary dramatically with how bright you run it, and how many hours. For the one night I ran it, I was “nearly full power” (mostly as I would pump up to full pressure but then it slowly dims as the pressure drops, then pump up again, rinse and repeat), but on average not full power.

The cooking has taken about 1 cup / day. Maybe a bit less. This includes making regular coffee and one pot of beans that I simmered for about 3 hours. I’ve used it all week, which ought to be about 1/2 gallon by that estimate, but the gallon can of fuel feels like closer to 3/4 full. Only thing not cooked with it this week was a loaf of bread and a pumpkin pie, both baked in the regular oven.

I’d plan on about 2 gallons / month for cooking for a family, one for one person. More if you have a bigger tribe. Considering that they will also use Unleaded Gasoline (but I run them on Coleman Fuel normally as it runs just a bit better), storing enough “emergency cooking fuel” is pretty easy.

The Lantern uses a lot more fuel near as I can tell. Likely because most of the cooking is a 5 to 10 minute “fry something” or a 10 to 15 minute “boil or steam”; while the lanterns is run for hours at a time. If looking for a place to conserve fuel, this is it. Charging an LED lantern from your car battery would be a big win here.

I mostly keep one for “Heater with free light” use and the potential of “no electricity anywhere!!!” which I could likely cure with a hand generator or solar panel. But whatever… I just like playing with them and the nostalgia of the sounds and smells reminding me of sitting by one at The River when night fishing with Dad…

Wax / Candles

Wax just keeps forever. It just does. Only thing that can go wrong that I’ve run into in about 40 years of using it as an emergency light source is that candles will melt in the trunk of your car in the heat of summer. That’s why I created my “candles in a jar” (shown in another posting). Just stick a candle stub to the bottom of a 4 oz jelly canning jar, pour some “almost setting up” wax around it to the top, and put a lid on it. I’ve pulled these out after a few years in a trunk kit, found the wax has at some point softened enough around the edges to “flow” to one side with the tiny bit of air now all on the other side. Just use something sharp to lift the wick out of the wax layer, light and go. Works a champ.

So now I usually keep a dozen or so of these “on the shelf” and ready to go. The 8 oz. low wide canning jars also work, but harder to get the wax to burn all the way to the glass with just any old candle in the middle.

I bought 2 boxes of “stearic acid” candles from Ikea a decade or 2 ago. These also keep forever. They also don’t melt as easy, and don’t smell bad (they smell like Crayola Crayons a bit… guess why ;-) These have a Nice Big Wick (likely due to the viscosity of the stearic acid melt) and cut to the appropriate length make a great center candle for the poured wax jars. Assuming Ikea still have these, I’m planning on buying a couple of boxes again at the other side of the country.

OK, I’ve been almost entirely running candles for light this week. I had about 5 wide mouth pint jars of crappy cheap petroleum wax candles. These are about the thickness of my little finger and just short of the top of the jar. Each jar also had a box of matches on top. Tonight I’ll finally finish them off. I’ve also used up about 4 of my “1 cup” candles and 2 of the “4 oz” ones.

Realize I’m running these from sundown (about 5 pm) to a bit after midnight, and often running 4 or 5 in a room, in 2 rooms. I’m not trying to conserve them, I’m trying to use them up before the spouse gets home (she does not like candle smell…). So it looks to me like I get about 2 to 3 days off of the “candle in a jar” ones, and could likely stretch it to a week with the 8 oz ones. I get about 1 night / pint on the cheap commercial 6 inch or so candles. These slowly “pressure welded” to each other in the jars, but easily broke free as the contact was just a thin line.

In a real emergency you could likely get double that run time out of the stock with a little care.

My conclusion is that for True Minimal Emergency indoor light, “candles in a jar” are a great option. It is taking forever to use up this inventory, and I’ve set aside 4 x 8 oz. versions to keep just because I’m getting tired of candles! ;-)

Oh, and I had a cheap Walmart Pillar Candle, about 3 inches x 6 inches that I just left running each night, in the bathroom. Just enough to “go”… It has 1 or 2 nights more left in it.

Not a lot of light from any one candle, but just minimally enough to not be blind in the dark. 3 or 4 give pretty good lighting, and with a half dozen I can do decent cooking and such (where color, texture, and other details matter more).

Other Fuels

I’ve not yet gotten into my stores of Butane Canisters, Propane Canisters, Methanol (2 gallons ;-) and likely some other thing I’ve forgotten about. (Somewhere I have a cheap stove with wick that runs on glycol, you know, like anti-freeze… and there’s a jug of antifreeze in the garage.)

I may add a note here later if I get into them before the spouse returns and insists on a modern life style 8-0

The Methanol will likely be last. I had to go out of State to get it in the first place, so it is a bit “precious” to me. It is also in nicely sealed metal cans and never goes bad. My remaining 2 gallons of Kerosene are similarly stored. I’m thinking that’s going to be my “crossing the country a few times moving stuff” fuel with any left from each run going to storage on the Florida end.

IIRC, the “hairspray can” sized Butane ( 4 for about $10 at Smart & Final) run for a couple of days of meals each. I had run on them in the Flat Asian Stove for a week or three when the house electric stove died and I was tearing it apart to repair it some years ago. I think I’d change a can about every 2nd to 3rd day. Figure a 4 pack is good for about 1 week to 2 if you don’t cook much. Propane Canisters have about the same cooking capacity / pound, but hold about double the fuel. I’d figure on about 1 week each if being careful. 2 / week if cooking a lot of stored beans and rice ;-)

For more on stoves, see: or put “stove” in the search box at the bottom right of the side column.

What I’ve learned overall here, is that just storing a little bit of a few different fuels, I had a LOT more cooking time available to me than I was likely to need in any Post Quake Outage of a couple of weeks. OTOH, if 3/4 of it was crushed in the rubble and not reachable, I’d still be OK…

Oh, and I note in passing that the Webber and 20 lb Propane Tank have gone to a friend. That was the propane “deep stores” where I have the adapter to hook up a 2 burner camp stove to it and be set for a month or two. Planning on a new BBQ and 20 lb tank “at the other end” instead of trying to move the thing.

My plan ATM is to keep about 1 month of fuel for cooking and lighting available here, and find a place there to start ramping up storage as stuff is moved. Initially I’m planning that THE major “fuel storage” will be gasoline in the fuel tank of the cars at each end. In a real emergency I’m happy to pull the fuel line off the car and drain a gallon. Each end will have about 1 gallon of Methanol and 1 gallon of Kerosene in easy to reach cans. (Yes, I have a Coleman Kerosene lantern too ;-) and eventually I’ll add a couple of propane cans along with propane stove at the other end (or just get that BBQ with side burner…)

That ought to be more than enough for any minor “emergency” likely to pop up during a couple of months of being “Bi-Coastal”. Like “rolling blackouts” in California…


We started “running down the inventory” about 6 to 9 months ago. Remember that I’d stored close to a 6 month load at the start of this mess. At this point, everything that was in a “Food Pile” in the pantry area is no longer on the floor. It moved onto pantry shelves as the shelves were emptied of canned goods. I can’t really give much information about how much got used per unit of time, as it was mixed with a lot of “fresh from the store”. Just note that I’ve bought nearly no dry goods nor canned goods for about a year…

What I can do is state what gets eaten first, and what takes too long. I’d buy more of the former “next time”.

What’s Left Now?

That’s the bulk dry goods. Rice. Beans. Flour. Oats. Noodles & ramen packets. Instant Mashed Potatoes Etc. Along with the lesser interesting canned goods (so I bought too many green beans, not enough peas, and using canned potatoes in stews just doesn’t happen as long as you have fresh potatoes available. Ditto mashed fresh vs instant.) I’m down to my last gallon jug of Olive Oil and my last jug of Coconut oil.

Simply put, I’ll use Pancake Mix before making pancakes from stored flour. I’ve been buying a fair amount of Store Bread instead of using up all the stored flour (though about 6 months back, had run out of All Purpose Flour so bought another 25 lb bag…). I’ll use fresh butter before substituting OO or Coconut oil.

What’s gone first?

Fresh milk, butter, yogurt, fresh meats & fish, fresh eggs, cheeses, fresh vegetables & fruits. (Followed more rapidly than expected by canned fruit… something about that syrup ;-) Also cans of “meals in a can” like ravioli and stews. Ritz Crackers, cookies, snacks like jerky and trail mix, and chips all disappear rapidly too.

Knorr Sides (in those foils packages for about $1 each) and canned milk get used rapidly too. I’m going for more of them next time. I’ve only used one packet of the powdered milk (but only had bought 4 of them anyway. OK for cooking, but drinking not so much…)

In between was the canned meats. Folks may remember that I canned a dozen or so big jars of chicken legs & thighs. Due to fresh being available, it was only about a month ago I used the last of them. Tuna gets used up regularly, but not binged like cookies, nor left to sit like canned carrots. I still have some of the sardines to finish, but I’m down to about a dozen cans from several dozen.

I’m currently working off the last of the canned goods and trying to remember to cook that plain oatmeal (all the instant oatmeal packages, about 150 of them, are all gone now). Similarly, I need to make about 20 more loaves of bread and a couple of months of Chili Beans… I gave a 20 lb sack of rice to the Daughter already.

Oh, and I definitely overbought on Mustard & Ketchup. I’ve got 3 jugs of mustard left and one of Ketchup. Out of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce as it makes bland beans interesting ;-)

Some links on food preservation:

and how I store my stuff:

In Conclusion

So there you have it.

Next time I’m buying more “almost ready to eat meals like stuff” and less “beans and rice”. The Knorr Sides, Kraft Mac ‘N Cheese, and canned milk to make them, are a great easy fix and get used up readily. Canned meals too.

After that, the vegetables you usually eat the most and more fruit in cans. I’m also going to “put up” many more jars of chicken parts when settled in and set up for canning again. Those were a GREAT addition for making preferred meals needing chicken but without a run to the store. And a LOT more tuna, less sardines ;-)

Then clearly the “Snack Isle” is higher on the list. They are not just for variety to use a little on the side with beans and rice. They are a preferred food source (at least when folks here started “grazing”…) So I’m adding a LOT more “gorp”, trail mix, crackers, jars of jam for the crackers, cookies, pouches of jerky, etc.

It is likely that in the “final move”, the Daughter will get another dozen or two pounds each of beans, rice, and maybe flour. We’ll see. It isn’t worth the cost to move it. It may be that the next 2 or 3 months (while “bi-coastal”) has a lot of bean soups, chili beans, and “Curry Lentils over Rice” on the menu. Or maybe the “last load” will not fully fill the trailer and I’ll just set it all in anyway.

For fuels, what stores easiest, is easiest to use and with fewest issues is Propane, followed by the little Butane cans for the “Asian Stove”. Camping Iso-Butane stoves come next but are harder to cook on, have less control and pots want to fall off, and the fuel costs more. I’ve done near zero use of them “in production”. Alcohol Stoves work well, and easy. I’ve used one for years to make coffee sometimes even when at home. But harder to find fuel in California (other states go to Home Depot or Lowe’s…)

Gasoline / White Gas work well, but storage is more problematic. Not just the flammability issues if it is open or spilled in pouring; but for Gasoline, you get a year, 2 max, and need to rotate it before it goes all varnish on you. Gasoline is the cheapest fuel, and in an emergency can be extracted from your gasoline car.

Storing enough for a generator takes a lot of fuel and will violate most home insurance (that often limits gasoline on premises to 2 gallons). I’d rather have a small Diesel Generator but the smallest Honda I have found was 12 kW, which is about 12 times the size I need!

I’m very much of the opinion that a Survivalist Generator of about the size of the Honda 1 kW, but running on Diesel OR Kerosene, would sell to a LOT of folks around the world. I’d pay double the going rate of a gasoline version. I’m pretty sure there’s a way to make a 1 cylinder version that has an injection pump built into the motor / crankshaft. (OTOH maybe just the precision machining and good materials needed for the pump and injector makes it way too costly…)

At present, I’m planning to just bolt a 1 kW inverter into the car and have it run as “generator with really big fuel tank” at idle.

Sidebar On Towing

FWIW, I’m pretty much settled on one of two options as a Tow Vehicle. I can buy each used from about $4k to $10k depending on quality (and definitely able to make the run). I found a trailer shop nearby with new trailers of very good quality (Interstate) for about $10k. So for about the cost of renting PODS, I can get the rig to “tow my stuff” to Florida and start the move. Then, when done, still have the value in the rig (if kept, or just sell it to recover the cash).

The two I’m liking at:

The Dodge Durango, 2nd Generation, with the 5.7 L V8 engine. 8600 lbs towing capacity. (Smaller engine versions are about 5000 lb).

The Mercedes ML320 CDI or ML350 Bluetec. Both with about 7300 lbs towing capacity (the gas engine versions are about 5000 lbs). Available for about $7k to $14k for post 2001 versions (best years are after 2001 and to date, but I can’t bring myself to pay up so much for new…)

The Durango is much more widely available and cheaper, but will suck gas like crazy. Figure about 10 MPG towing.

The Mercedes Diesels are harder to find, especially equipped for towing and not in colors I don’t like, like red and black… They also cost more and are right at the line of lowest towing capacity I want to be using. However, they get 20-something MPG on the freeway so figure closer to 15 towing. A lot better on fuel, but not enough to make up for the higher prices.

Both available in 4 x 4, which I want.

Comments and Opinions welcome.

My intent is to make 2 (no more than 3) trips over about 3 months moving our stuff in a 16 to 18 foot long trailer. Camping a bit along the way as I like camping. Even if it is just pulling off the road at a paved park…

Sidebar On DaimlerChrysler:

The W166 platform was used for the ML 3rd Generation in 2011, the Durango 3rd Generation in 2011, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee WK2 in 2011. What changes is the motor / transmission set, the transfer case (with Jeep keeping 2 speed while MB & Durango sometimes are 1 speed) and body lines / interior.

I test drove a newer ML and a newer Durango and they road almost the same, even having paddle shifters in the same place. The jeep, for some reason, has relatively low towing capacity numbers while the Durango is the highest. You would think the same platform would stay the same, but it doesn’t. Seems to be largely driven by engine torque specifications and perhaps transmission fitted.


At present the leaning is toward the Durango just for overall lowest cost with highest towing capacity (so bigger trailer and maybe one less trip possibly) then sell it when done. (The Mercedes Diesel I’d want to keep… but that would be silly ;-)

Is it stupid in some way to say “Gee, a Travel Trailer that’s nice is 7200 lbs GVWR and the MB is 7300, so that’s Just FINE.” and would it be better to have the 8600 lbs for some added margin?

Realize this is for a hypothetical travel trailer I don’t own. First I’d just buy a box trailer to move the stuff, then sell it when done (rentals are crazy expensive in comparison here in California) with a MAYBE MAYBE MAYBE slow crossing the country RV-ing after that. Is it silly to plus-up the trailer capacity for a hypothetical and not just get the more efficient Diesel and get on with it?

(Current schedule has the first run between Thanksgiving and Christmas hauling about 800 to 900 cubic feet, so things are happening “soon”. We will have an official residence in Florida before the new year, though still holding the California place due to medical issues. Being “bi-coastal” yet again for a while.)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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33 Responses to Some Prepper Inventory Size Notes

  1. Ossqss says:

    @EM, could you rent a decent size U-Haul out of state cheap and plow that back and forth for less than $10k and reduce trips?

    BTW, you may want to reconsider the size of your Genny. You will be wanting AC in Florida in the summer if you lose power. Just sayin, been there and the portables pull around 10 amps or more.

  2. Ossqss says:

    Some food for consumption on older tow vehicles.

    I would also check out the early 2000’s Tacoma’s and Tundra’s. I think 01-04 Tacoma had better tow capacity, but will probably actually make the trip successfully, unlike the older Dodge :-)

  3. Paul, Somerset says:

    For powdered milk, do you use whole milk powder, rather than the skimmed variety, which is indeed disgusting to drink?
    I like to prep-store packets of whole milk powder and boxes of cocoa powder in order to make hot cocoa. One heaped teaspoon of cocoa powder, one heaped teaspoon of whole milk powder, sugar, cinnamon and ginger to taste, stir in a tiny amount of cold water to form a paste, then fill cup with hot water and stir. Quick and very nutritious in an emergency, and a little feeling of luxury which you don’t normally associate with dry, emergency stores.

  4. I have a 240 watt solar power generator which would run my tv and lights for 6 plus hours. If your 1KW petrol generator can only do the same I suspect you do not use LED lights?


  5. Pouncer says:

    Request for opinions:

    Starting from (not quite) scratch, I have two options on emergency lighting. One would be ordering a Coleman “dual fuel” lamp as Chief suggests, and owns. Two is ordering the necessary parts to restore a 1930’s vintage “Aladdin” kerosine mantle lamp that I’ve kept as a family heirloom. Grandma’s. “Milk glass” — very pretty.

    The Aladdin needs, at very least, a new mantle. $20-$30. Each. I may need a spare. I have a chimney but I’m not a zillion percent sure it’s the boron-glass (Pyrex style) safety glass original to the lamp. If I need to replace that, it’s another $30. There is an old wick in place and there are instructions for soaking such in new kerosine to get wicks working. Or I can buy a new wick for (guess what?) another $20-$30. In either case, new or restored, the Aladdin user’s groups recommend a “wick trimming” gadget, which (to my GREAT suprise) is only $10-$15. And of course the tank on the lamp needs a great deal of cleaning — free except for the elbow grease.

    As near as I can tell the amount of light per hour of use and ounce of fuel is about the same — once the mantle is heated, you’re golden. Kerosine, here, is more expensive than gasoline.

    So, restore Grandma’s lamp, or just secure a new “camping” gadget — About $200 ?

  6. E.M.Smith says:


    Good points. I’ve looked at “buy in Florida and drive back” but not thought about “rent and drive”. Interesting twist…

    As Florida is entirely unclear as to needs yet, I’m pretty sure my present Honda is not going to cut it. But will I arrive with an RV with a 4 kW Diesel Generator on board? So yeah, once settled in with actual hardware, everything will need a rethink.

    One “learning moment”: Spousal wagon with “scooter” arrived a couple of months back in Florida as “Florida Friend” drove it out. She arrived last week. Turns out “Scooter Battery Charger” was a “PFUNT!” as water had condensed on it inside a plastic pouch inside the car as it sat for about a month. I’m familiar with water condensing on masses inside insulating containers with temperature cycles… but really, less than a month INSIDE a car? OK, lesson learned. Florida humidity is not California dry…

    So yeah, I’m going to “learn some things against my will”… and I’m open to everything from a 2 kW inverter generator up to that 12 kW Diesel. What I have right now is “Minimal for California Dry without running the heater or A/C” and I’m pretty sure that’s a lower bound limit case in a “special” context. ;-)

    And thanks for the pointer to that article. Lord Knows I’m a noob on towing and cross nation moves.

    @Paul, Somerset

    I look on milk mostly as something used in making box meals or adding to tea. As such the “dry milk” is mostly “skim” (I can add fat in the recipe for meals). Canned is used for tea and such.


    I have generally used regular Incandescent Bulbs for lights as the LEDs cause insomnia. But in this test I had ONE 100W bulb on a dimmer at about 90W, plus the TV (LED and about 200W total consumption I think…)

    It isn’t lighting that causes the consumption size, but “balance of system” in most cases.

    In a Real Emergency ™, I’d use a lot less Incandescent and a lot more “curly bulb” and LED. (Sleep? Who can sleep in TEOTWAWKI anyway? ;-)


    I have an “Aladdin Lamp” in the garage that needs a bit of work. The Chimney broke a few decades back.

    These are SPECTACULAR lamps. I loved mine while it was working and the remains WILL make the move to Florida.

    Light output is incredible, the output is stable (unlike the Coleman flicker) and the only downside I can see is “kerosene smell” that is a LOT less than other fuels. (Note: Spousal ‘Vulcan Nose’ does not agree, which is the only reason it is not in service today… )

    But, back at “advice” from someone who’s done far more of this stuff than warranted and just tossed money with abandon at it for decades:

    The Aladdin is a labor of love, not “functional light”. Do NOT toss it out. (Heck, I’ll drive there and pay you WAY over what it is worth just to keep it out of a land fill… and yes, you can “take that to the bank” as a valid offer.) The simple fact is that LED lights are WAY WAY WAY more efficient than any fuel driven lights. You can get a cheap LED “Camping lantern” for less than the parts on an Aladdin. Including a weeks supply of batteries.

    So it comes down to your “Scenario” and your “Money in pocket”. IFF you just need some kind of “emergency lighting”: Get some kind of LED Bulb system and a way to charge it up. (Solar panels, wind gen, Gasoline Generator, hydro, inverter from your car, whatever..) But if you love history, your gammy, or Old Tech: Order the parts for the Aladdin and move on.

    IFF all you want is light: Get a LED lamp, battery, and solar charger.

  7. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – You need towing capacity margin for wind resistance. That enclosed trailer is going to add a lot more than 100 pounds of effective towing weight with wind resistance. Gravity is a factor on steep grades.

    My old travel trailer was 9,600 GVWR. The used F-150s that I was willing to pay for towed about 10,000 lbs. (New F-150s are up around 12,000+ now.) Anyhow that’s why I went with a used F-250, which was rated at 13,500-something. You need that margin for wind and grades (Gravity, doncha know).

    My current trailer is rated at 16,500 GVWR. It’s 13,990 lbs dry weight, so I’ll probably keep the weight at about 15,500. 1,500 lbs is still a lot of stuff. The RAM 3500 is rated at 21,800 GVWR. I’m comfortable with that margin because there’s a lot more frontage on the new trailer.

    Just me, but I’m not comfortable with less than about 20% margin, unless I had a short, relatively level haul to fetch some big-@$$ piece of equipment I was going to use. Then I’d go close to the max, but only then.

    So there’s something to throw onto the pile.

  8. Ossqss says:

    @EM, my though would be to rent in a close adjacent state, drive one way and do it over. No drive it back. Rentals in Cali are outrageous as I understand it due to them all being one way trips. OUT of the state.

  9. Terry Jackson says:

    A bit off the wall, but…. Just acquired a 2001 Country Coach Intrigue 40′ motorhome, single slide (but useable with it in) for the price of an entry level pickup. Nice diesel generator, 8 or 10KW, I forget. 110 gallons fuel, Cummins 8.3L engine, 32 gallons of propane for the stove and the Hurricane hot water heater. Two 8D batteries. I will have a Samsung residential fridge installed to replace the Dometic 12V/propane unit. Holds 110 gallons fresh water. Also has a washer/dryer. That ought to serve as a decent last resort abode for the better part of a month if required, and minimal water use. And it can tow 10,000 lbs. One advantage to the CC brand is their proprietary chassis with a semi-monococque frame and house, and a very tight turning radius.

    On your RV issue, H.R. is right, allow a notable tolerance on weight. The Transmission is the weak point on weight, and the next weak point is brakes, followed by trailer tires. Consider replacing all the tires and wheels with 17.5″ tires and rims. Why? Sidewall flex. Try backing into a right=angle parking spot, and get part way thru the turn, just where you start to straighten out, and stop. Go back and look at the tires, and notice the crazy angles on the sidewalls. Those occur on any sharp turn and lead to tire failure. The 17.5″ is much stiffer and will resist this, plus it is rated over 4000 lbs per tire, so overload is a non-issue. Oh,

    The Cummins 5,9 L is a wonderful engine, pre-emissions, 1994 to 1997. Decent mileage, long life, simple maintenance. Found on the Ram 2500 and 3500. They will get about 13mpg hauling an 8,000lb trailer to and from Alaska.

  10. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – I think I recall a few years ago that they were paying people to drive Y’all-Haul units back to California. If so, that’s why the rental prices are much higher out there.

    So perhaps what Ossqss is saying can be worked to some advantage. I dunno. Worth a few minutes of thought, though.

    But I think buying your own outfit, to keep or to sell when all is over and done, is probably the best bet.

    [Evil grin] Still, is it possible to get paid to move? 😜

  11. Simon Derricutt says:

    Oddly, my father-in-law has recently acquired a Mercedes M-class SUV. It’s an ML-270 CDI W163 from around 2000, with a replacement motor from a car that was a couple of years younger because while our local shade-tree dealer was getting it ready for delivery the motor that was in it died suddenly. A subsequent check-out with the Mercedes dealer showed that the engine control unit was badly-programmed and that revving the motor above around 2000rpm was likely to kill the replacement motor too. Thus maybe something to watch out for, given that Mercedes parts and service are pretty expensive. Total cost around 4000 euros so far including the somewhat-necessary official computer reprogramming from the Mercedes garage. There’s another fault in the rear suspension that will cost around another 400 once the part arrives.

    My FIL is however very happy with it, though I’m of course dreading the next visit to the Mercedes shop since there’s very little DIY repairs possible. You need the special tools and the manual to even diagnose what’s wrong. Still, the ride is quiet and it’s sure-footed on corners, with 6 forward gears with a high and low ratios (12 forward gears overall) and 4WD making it very capable, and 163hp being more than sufficient. So far (since end of September) he’s managed to avoid speeding fines, though that’s probably only a matter of time.

    Overall, a very nice vehicle. Kind of hard to call it a car, when it stands taller than I do – more of a pretty truck. Maybe not that good in an EOTWAWKI situation because so much relies on the computer working, and all the sensors working, and AFAICT if the sensors report an error it will sulk and refuse to go until the fault is repaired. Still, that probably applies to most modern cars.

  12. tom0mason says:

    New Metal Jerry cans _ or _ , and in California there’s .
    Unfortunately as you are in California you may(or may not) have restrictions on what type of Jerry cans you can carry in/on a vehicle. You may find this page informative .

  13. E.M.Smith says:


    Oh, and per full capacity of the 1kW Honda:

    I used it during actual emergencies to power: Enough lights for the house (roughly 9 to 13 W curly bulbs in living room, kitchen, (together enough spills into the hallway), bedroom and bath. Call it about 40 W total, or essentially nothing. The “entertainment system” that, at the time, was a big Sony tube TV and satellite dish. About 300 W, maybe a little less (sticker). And the Fridge, that’s about 700 W when it kicks on. So right at the rated limit of the generator. It did fine.

    The Honda has an “Eco-Mode” where it runs slower. It has a high efficiency alternator in it that feeds into an inverter, so rotation speed doesn’t matter to frequency output. All I’d notice was that when the Fridge kicked on, the generator would throttle up. When running lower RPM at lower Watts draw, it just runs a lot longer, so I only had the TV and 100 W incandescent on it a couple of nights ago simply because that’s all I needed and didn’t want to fuss with laying a cable to the Fridge. I likely had several hundred Watts available to me (but I don’t know the draw of the newer Big LED TV…)


    Good points, and a nice “rule of thumb” in the 20%. My intent is to go south on 101, then left on I-10. Possibly even 101 to 405 to San Diego and left on I-8. Very little hill climbing that way ;-) I’m also expecting I’ll do the drive at about 60 MPH just to save on gas costs. (Legal limit in California is 55 if towing).

    The loading of the box will not be anywhere near the GVWR of the trailer. Lots of “fluffy” stuff like clothes, dressers not full of bricks, mattresses, etc. on top of just a couple of layers of “heavy” boxes (books, dishes, tools…) so I’m not really worried about the “moving” stage. It’s the “after the stuff meander with a camper” where I looked at Airstreams (because their IS a dealer nearby and they are shiny ;-) and the “middle tier” was 7200-7800 ish. That’s where I’d be “up against it”. The actual trailer weight was 6xxx and something around 1000+ lbs of “cargo” available.

    But that puts a Mercedes ML “at the limit” with just minimal stuff loaded into the trailer…

    So, OK, figuring wind / hill climb, that likely means the ML is not an option for that use, and the Dakota is OK. About 1000 lbs margin.

    But since we don’t have said camper, it can always be a choice to go lighter and smaller (or just fly).

    I probably ought to check on the “paid to drive to California” idea. I think they might notice, though, if the 1 week to deliver it to California turned into 3 weeks… (1 week each: to Ca, load and back to Fl, unload and back to Ca to turn in). But maybe not… Then there’s that drive back to Fl to pick up another one… so twice the driving (at about $1200 / crossing so $2400 for the added round trip- figuring 2800 miles one way and 14 mpg is about 200 gallons at $3 each for $600 one way). 4 added round trips would pay for my own trailer, and I’d likely need at least 3…


    Interesting idea. I need to check prices in Nevada and Arizona… It’s about a 12 hour drive to Phoenix and about 720 miles. Call it 1440 round trip. At 14 MPG, that would be about 100 gallons. Present prices about $4 / gallon in California (most of the run) so about $400. That’s likely a high barrier to cross for a trailer rental. (IIRC they are “by the day” at about $30? something like that, it’s the number of days to make a few trips that’s the issue for me. As we are staying “bi-coastal” for a while, and it’s about 2 weeks even for a fast turn around “just drive” run, we’re up at about $400 to $500 per run, and 2 to 3 runs. All up, somewhere around $2000 including the ‘haul back’ from Az.)

    I’ve not ruled out renting a trailer, but in talking with the trailer shop about it, he opined that a “nearly new” trailer with $500 knocked off would sell fast and at $1000 off it would be gone instantly. So for a capital in up front, I recover 90% of it (minus tax) and knock off another 5% for selling. Also about $1500 to $2000. So what do I get? Complete schedule freedom. Can load at a leisurely pace as desired over several days while packing (no need to stage a lot of boxes in the house). Can take my time crossing the country (and save on gas). Plus: U-Haul only wants to rent small trailers at any reasonable price and wants you to drive a GIANT tow vehicle to get anything of real size.

    Note that “from the link per tow vehicles”:

    The 2005 Ram 2500 offers a number of great features for those that need to move heavy loads. This was the first year for the return of the Hemi V8 with 345 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque. But for hauling massive trailers, look for the venerable 5.9-liter Cummins diesel. It cranks out 325 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque down at 1,600 rpm. These engines have a good reputation for longevity and were built before today’s more complicated emissions control systems. So if towing will be a consistent part of the truck’s routine, going for the Cummins might make sense. A 2-wheel-drive regular-cab diesel can handle a 13,600-pound trailer. But even a Quad Cab Hemi can move 10,800 pounds. As a side note, 2005 was the year Dodge re-introduced the Power Wagon with locking differentials, a winch up front, and an ingenious swaybar disconnect system.

    That’s the same engine in the RAM based Durango with the 8600 lb towing capacity. It’s essentially a RAM Pickup with an SUV body on it, pre-2011 and post 2003. The 1998 to 2003 were based on the Dodge Dakota pickup so have lower towing capacity, and the 2011 to date are based on the same platform as the ML / GL & Jeep Grand Cherokee of the 2011+ era.

    And any “older” vehicle will have a complete checkup and fix up before setting out to tow…


    That is one of my concerns. While I have an incredibly reliable and affordable local mechanic who I’ve gone to for about 40 years now: My experience trying to get any car older than 2000 serviced when in Orlando was horrible. The DEALER could not even to a tune-up on a 4 cylinder carburetor engine. “They didn’t have a Dwell Meter” and when I offered the use of MINE he said “Oh, the one guy who knows how to use one is on vacation”… I found ONE mechanic about an hour drive away who was able / willing to work on things from the 1980s and 1990s. He is likely retired now.

    That was about a decade ago… so maybe the threshold has moved up to 2010 by now…

    Part of what argues for the Durango. There’s folks working on Old Mopar everywhere. Also that particular Generation was based on the RAM Pickup platform (2004 – 2011) so other than “body furniture” it’s mostly RAM pickup parts under the skin.


    The issue with Ca and gas cans is the nozzle. We are REQUIRED to have vapor saving nozzles with all sorts of Rube Goldberg ways to route the vapor coming from your car back into the can where it can never ever escape… until you fill the can at the gas station… (Sigh, the stupid, it burns – why they think the vapor recovery nozzle at the gas station is going to seal to the can is anybodies guess, but sane folks just pull it back so they can avoid over filling OR under filling the can. Then there is the vapor cycling with hot / cold daily blow / suck from the can. You either collapse the plastic jug, killing it, or you leave the nozzle loose and the vapors cycle out).

    A friend proudly showed me his NEW 5 gallon metal jerry cans. They are sold by “someone” as “Water Only!” – but are clearly just dandy for fuel… I can likely find out where he got them with some asking ;-)

    I wonder if anyone sells them in other States to locals? Hmmm… Next pass through Texas and Florida I’ll have to check out a WallyWorld or Autoparts place…

    That thetanksource store is a nice one. I’m likely going to cross L.A. on the run…

    @Towing Topic:

    Oh, and there’s also the option (at least until I buy something and close off options) of just getting a regular RV Diesel Pusher “up front” and have it both carry stuff AND be the tow vehicle. Total cost blows up way high (both up front capital cost and fuel…) but total trips go way down (bigger combined towing and interior capacities) plus I get to enjoy the RV ;-)

    So, as of now, given the cost and risk of repair options in Florida (and points in between) I’m thinking the ML is not likely and the Durango is most likely, with “just get a Diesel Pusher” somewhere in between. (Though one RV I looked at “bragged” that it had a 5k towing capacity… which seems a bit light to me).

    Oh Well… back to the lurking on Craigs List ;-)

  14. Pouncer says:

    Follow up on Aladdin: “You can get a cheap LED “Camping lantern” for less than the parts on an Aladdin. Including a weeks supply of batteries.”

    Oh my yes. And in fact I have several GOOD lanterns of the sort. (Aside from camping, I have at least three to keep the inside of the steel booth tornado shelter lit — since it seems to me any storm serious enough to require the shelter will take the power lines down too.) The light on a modern cell phone is adequate for many purposes.

    A lamp to light the living room is a different thing. A bank of your Ball Jar candles makes similar sense. and is also more economical.

    But — labor of love, for sure. If not for the lamp and the technology it represents, if not for the independence it provided farms before “rural electrification” was the infrastructure bill mid-century ago, it’s love the family who had it, and kept it, and passed it down. I suspect it will be difficult to pass down to my own grandkids a solar panel or battery bank or even an LED bulb.

    Which, may I suggest, could be a factor in your decision making about what to move cross country. What sorts of things will you take, just to have in the treasure trove your heirs will dig though in a decade or three?

  15. E.M.Smith says:


    I’m not tossing my Aladdin lamp. It will eventually get parts and restored. (I think it is just the chimney… but it’s been a couple of decades since I looked at it). I really loved that lamp, but the spousal nose objected… To anything kerosene really, so my set of regular kerosene lanterns is also unused. Just doing standby.

    I will be moving a few “Antique” computers. Original Mac Plus (2 of them) and an Apple TV (made for a year or two but now useless as everything is 720p or better and old “square format” just isn’t used nor does it get Digital Broadcasts… )

    Then there’s one Old School all mechanical Mercedes Diesel.

    Other than that, not sure what all would be of interest to them. Maybe my Apple IIe?

    Unfortunately, much of what we have bought for the last 30 years has been from the “Disposable construction” design era…

    The Lanterns are largely for nostalgia for me, too, and secondarily as long duration lighting once electricity is gone. For short term emergencies, we have LED equipped Mag Lites and such. But I’m not giving up the kerosene lamps. I like the look of the fire and the connections to history.

  16. YMMV says:

    I wonder how many preppers there are in Vancouver Canada? News reports say that all roads and rail lines to Vancouver are cut off due to flooding and mudslides, and so is all rail traffic, including the port. They don’t mention the roads to the US. The oil pipeline is also shut off.

  17. E.M.Smith says:


    Don’t know about preppers, but there’s some very prepared hunters in Canada. I want me one of them thar “Sherp” mobiles!

    Starts off slow with packing it, but then when they head into the bush it gets “WT?” as they drive the thing over just about everything including swimming it over water…

    Not fast, but it carried a whole camp along with guys and then packed all of it back out again along with meat from 2 mooses… (moosem? moosi? Moice?)

  18. E.M.Smith says:

    Says the lantern runs 5 hours on high with 2.5 US pints of fuel. I make that 1/2 pint, or one cup, per hour. On low it claims up to 20 hours. Or 2 oz. per hour.

    I guess I’m not pumping mine up enough, as this one has the valve wide open and I’m approaching about 8 hours of burn time with fuel to keep going… I think I’ll revise my estimate of fuel needed to about one quart per night for bright, one pint for just enough….

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    Interesting thread on using kerosene in Coleman gasoline stoves:

    Guy says with some preheat of the generator tube, it works fine. Nice to know…
    Another guy says an 80% K1 / 20% white gas blend works in a lot of stoves.

    Another link said the 533 (single burner large, not backpack) runs 1.75 hours on high on 1.1 pints of fuel. High will burn most foods… I think I only use it to boil water. One cup to boiling in seconds… about 45? IF not doing dry beans with hours to simmer, that will cover a few days of cooking. Same link claims 6.5 hours on low.

    Roughly 6 minute per ounce on high. 22 minutes / Oz on low.

    I’d guess that to be about one week of camp meals for one person (fast cooking or boil water and mix) per fill up or per pint. Figure 2 months from a gallon. But far far less if cooking things like dry beans and rice… one gallon per month would be better for planning purposes. Still not bad at all.

  20. gatorbait says:

    I’m in Central Florida and never run my freezer or refrigerator 24/7 in emergencies. That usually means hurricanes, so summerish temperatures. I run each 2 hrs on and 4 hours off. Wireless temp monitors in/on each indicate that’s plenty enough to maintain the desired temperatures.

    VERY informative post — thank you!!

  21. E.M.Smith says:


    My fridge cycles on and off on its own, so I’m not taking a constant load. I had an old monster GE when we moved in that ran constantly and sucked down somewhere around a kW or 2… Dumped it “right quick” for a nicer smaller Frigidaire that draws 700 W MAX when running, and only runs intermittently.

    So I’m not sure a 2 on 4 off would do that much for me, as it presently cycles on and off and isn’t on that often…

    OTOH, in a Real Emergency ™, I’d be using up what is in the fridge and about the 2nd or 3rd day whatever was left over would be moved into a small “office size” fridge that takes about 100W and is also only intermittent…

    For example, any chicken that defrosted from the freezer would be cooked or canned using a fuel based stove. Then it will store longer than it will survive ;-)

    I can do the same thing with various vegetables. Being able to do canning is a big win on several fronts. Prep before AND emergency response to freezer out ;-)

    But it is an interesting idea to manually cycle the fridge. I’ll need to find my Watt-Hour meter and do a 24 hour test both ways. I could well be that by cycling it, you avoid energy sucks like “defrost cycle” and / or just run the compressor longer in a high efficiency mode. I’ll have to test for it…

    HOWEVER: The Generator running at low load is wasting some amount of fuel just to keep turning and running it 24 x 7 is not as efficient as “run it 2 hours with full load then off”. So it’s quite likely that even if the Fridge is doing a Fine Job of cycling itself, it is not cycling the generator and it is likely a lot of fuel could be saved that is otherwise wasted running a nearly unloaded generator. Not to mention the noise all night long…

    One sidebar hint: In one long outage, we draped an old comforter over the fridge, side to side so the coils in back were still exposed. Sliding a hand under it from time to time showed it was helping to keep some of the cold in (as the surface got cold…). So adding an insulation blanket layer to a “coasting” fridge or freezer will help. Didn’t measure how much though.

    Glad you found the posting useful. That’s the intent anyway.

    FWIW, I’m now down to about 2/3 of a can of White Gas, and have only run about 2 fills of the 533 stove. It is just pretty darned efficient with fuel. Also, the Dual Fuel lantern was finally shut off last night at about 2 AM. STILL has fuel in it from a few years ago. I’ve run that thing long hours for 2 nights now and it’s still running. I know I don’t keep it running full blast, as I only “pump it back up” when the light starts getting dim, but still… I’m thinking a gallon of fuel could be made to last a month with a bit of economizing, in both lantern & stove. 2 weeks would be easy unless you are cooking big pots of beans or canning where you run the stove for an hour or so at a time…

    I’m coming to admire the virtue of One Metal Can Of Coleman Fuel…

    FWIW, my original guesses in the article about fuel capacity of the lantern and amount used the first night were way off. The Stove is a 1 pt capacity but the Lantern is one quart. The first night I didn’t use nearly as much fuel as I thought. Turns out shaking a tank gently is a poor way to measure fuel.. I think it is only about 1/2 empty even now, after two long nights of running.

  22. Ossqss says:

    When it is 95F and humid out, and you have no power, you will want to be pushing a portable all day long to keep things dry and reasonable.

    My Generac 4000 xl does just fine keeping a fridge and freezer working along with the 14k AC unit (can run the second portable I have if one of the fridge units is dropped). I venture to say they draw about 3k watts when in operation, which leaves room for a TV and lights etc.. You just have to manage start up carefully as they all draw much more starting than they run on.

    I get 12-16 hours of run time on the Genny with 4 gallons of gas. If need be, I bring out the big 10k unit and 50amp back feed cable to the whole house AC (roughly 33 amps) through my exterior RV receptacle (yes, you must flip the main breaker off) until it drops the temp/humidity down to an acceptable level and they implement the smaller unit. Big unit runs a gallon an hour, but worth the use to do whole house cool/dry.

    I don’t think I would blanket a fridge as it dissipates heat through its exterior sides/top on mine. That would just keep the heat in longer, IMHO.

  23. theferalferret says:

    Be aware that the many so-called 20 lb propane tanks are no longer 20 lbs of fuel. They have reduced the actual over time for many of the tank exchange setups. Be sure to check the tank label. Shrinkflation.

  24. YMMV says:

    Kerosene lanterns produce a nicer light than Coleman white gas, but too smoky for me. Plus the fire risk in some of the places I would be tempted to use them. The internet has several calculators to convert volume of particular fuels into other units. So just for curiosity, 1 fl oz of kerosene is theoretically worth 0.4138 HP hours, or 309 Watt hours.

    But how many Watts depends on how many hours. Aladdin Mantle Lamps are much brighter than flat wick lamps.

    How much kerosene does the Aladdin burn per hour?
    Typically, the Aladdin burns 3 ounces of kerosene per hour. This is based on a 60 watt light out put, under normal conditions. If the lamp is turned down, the fuel consumption will also be lower. Sometimes high elevations (above 4,000 feet) will increase fuel usage. Most lamps hold approximately 12 hours worth of kerosene.


    Therefore, an Aladdin lamp at full brightness would use 927 Watts of fuel.
    Is that quote referring to 60 W of light, or the light produced by a 60 W bulb?

  25. Beans says:

    Those tall glass “Jesus” candles that sell for about a buck or so (and you can get them without stuff on them, work great and are easy to store (vertically only) in a milk crate. Cover the tops with some saran wrap and seal with a couple rubber bands. Used them for camping and for hurricane/tropical storm outages.

    Propane lanterns are nice during the winter in Florida, but during the summer put out a lot of heat. If using them inside, well, they’ll heat the hell out of your area. Using them on a nice screened porch is the way to go.

    As to not having a/c during a power outage, it’s not bad for the first 24 hours if your house has decent air flow, like an old-school Florida cracker house (tall ceilings, vents to the attic, open attic windows, creates a constant flow of air from the ground out to the roof.) More modern houses in Florida tend not to breathe well and are generally fine in cold weather but suck in hot weather without a/c. With one thing. Florida is KING OF HUMIDITY. You will get seriously damp and cold in 40 degree weather, the type of cold and damp that just cuts to the bone. And everything inside the house, if open, will get damp. Being able to dehumidify (using a woodstove or fireplace or a powered dehumidifier) is a necessity.

    Don’t store your preps in the garage or a shed. Store them in the house, as the house’s a/c will dehumidify the air, and most houses are built 6″ or more higher than the garage, so unless you’re living below the street level, you won’t flood (usually.) But still, put your preps on shelves and anything on the floor needs to be on wooden blocks (just 2x4s) to keep moisture developing.

    Florida is a nice place to live, but weird. And buggy. So make sure any preps include pest control and pest repellant.

    Gas cans? if you’re going to store a reasonable amount and use a hand or electric pump to transfer, a portable boat gas tank works and they’re usually built a heckofalot better than ones for just storage. And you can stack them.

  26. Richard says:

    Water. Not just for drinking and cooking but for sanitation. You are going to have to pump it or store it as you can not depend on public utilities if the power is out. If you store it, you need tanks. If you pump it you need fuel. I am on well and septic so I only need fuel to pump. My solution was a whole house propane generator with a 500 gallon tank. This will run the well and then some though in an extended outage I will go to manual operation and use it only to run the pump. No need to use fuel to heat water for shower as the sun will do that just fine with one of those solar shower bags from camping store.

    If you have an RV, many of them have a refrigerator that runs on propane. Very low consumption if that is all you are doing. They do tend to get overwhelmed in high heat situations. A small solar panel with battery is most useful for charging small electronic stuff. I camp a lot without shore power and have about a dozen of such things ranging from toothbrush to Kindle. I use my 1kw Honda to charge up the battery in times of low solar output.

  27. Eric Wilner says:

    All very interesting!
    Having escaped California (to Tennessee) just before 2020 happened, I find the liquid fuel situation to be rather different here. I keep anywhere up to 30-ish gallons of Baptist gas (no ethanol; that’s a thing here, unlike California) in the barn, and burn through it a few times over during the growing season, what with keeping around three acres mowed. Ethanol-free gas still seems to work fine after a winter in storage. One of these days, I really ought to try it in the early-90s-vintage Coleman stove & lantern, that are supposed to work on early-90s unleaded gas.
    Come right down to it, the only time I’ve run into trouble with my rather casual approach to fuel management was a few years ago, when my chainsaw didn’t want to rev up; turned out that leaving it sitting for 3+ years with a half-tank of (already somewhat stale before that) regular gas plus 2-stroke oil resulted in dysfunctional fuel.
    And, I’ve dusted off the vacuum sealer and restocked on bags, so I’m set for packing dry foods (rice, beans, lentils, and whatnot) for better storage. Canned, and otherwise packaged, food is arranged so the oldest container is the most easily grabbed off the shelf.
    I’m starting to look at shelf-stable packaged meals as being a convenience (and, potentially, fuel-saving) thing, but have to ponder expiration dates. Which reminds me, I gotta check the dates on the next couple of cases of shelf-stable milk in the queue; it may be time to use those (in place of fresh bottles) and buy more.

  28. Liberty says:

    The 533 stoves are wonderful. Lost a 20 yr old one in a fire a couple years back, figured there was some shiny, new stove to get instead, but ended up just getting another one. 2 months on a gallon of white gas seems about right. The pump gets dry when used a lot, a couple drops of 3 in 1 oil every now and again is needed. Someone told me recently white gas is the same as naphtha, which is readily available in just about every hardware store in the country, but I have not checked this out.

  29. E.M.Smith says:

    Last night I went to light the Coleman Lantern and it was fussy about it. I usually light it with the top and glass removed just so it is easier. I could see some fuel “mist” coming out and got some small ignitions with small glow on the mantel and then they would go out again. Like when trying to start kerosene in it without a good prewarming of the generator tube.

    Yes, you can run kerosene in the “dual fuel” gasoline lanterns, just warm the generator tube enough before you light it up. I have one of the Kerosene version Coleman lanterns, it has a little “fuel cup” wrapped around the bottom of the generator and about a 1/2 tsp of alcohol is used to warm up the tube. There are videos on EwTube of folks adding a little cup around their Dual Fuel to make it tri-fuel… or just hit it with a bit of heat from a torch ;-)

    Anyway… I decided to just see how much fuel I had left and inspect the quality. Dumped it into a pyrex measuring cup. Almost exactly 1 cup (so I’d burned through 3/4 of the tank over 3 nights, or about a cup a night). HOWEVER…

    The fuel was a deep amber color, smelled varnish like (MUCH more so than when just opening the tiny little fill cap..) and didn’t seem to vaporize well. I think it was old GASOLINE not Coleman fuel in the thing, and it had started polymerizing (on the way to solid varnish as the end point).

    I dumped it and put in 2 cups of new White Gas fuel (doesn’t have any double or triple Carbon-Carbon bonds in it so doesn’t polymerize / varnish up in storage). Stove started VERY easy and with a cleaner light output.

    But wait, there’s more! The lantern had a tendency to “surge” on the old gas. Brighten then dim a little, then brighten and dim a little. On the new fuel fill it just purred along at a constant brightness, never dimming.

    Moral of story: Do not store you gear with gasoline left in it. Run it dry, put some Coleman type fuel in it, and run it dry again, of fill it fully with the Coleman type white gas.

    Other moral of story: It will run on old crappy gas, it just won’t be happy about it ;-)


    I had car A/C failure when in Florida about a decade back. Decided to just wait until I couldn’t stand it to get the A/C fixed. Never did get it fixed… OTOH, I was driving to / from work so the middle of the day OMG! hot and humid was spent in an air conditioned office building… Walking around the pond behind Team Disney a couple of times during lunch was FINE in winter, but mid summer a thing to avoid…

    I had not considered the impact of excessive humidity on the contents of a house… Hmmm… lots of stuff to go moldy fast… Gee, I always wanted one of those Honda 12 kW Diesel generators ;-)


    Yeah, the “tank exchange” folks only fill about 15 to 18 pounds. The rest is their profit margin.

    I did a “tank exchange” for the new tank, but then just get it filled up at UHaul (cheapest place locally) and they put a full 20 lbs in it, so it isn’t the tank, it’s the fill at the exchange things.


    As I remember it from when I bought my Aladdin, the 60 W is “incandescent bulb equivalent light”.


    The tall glass jar like Votive Candles are great for long burn time, but have a tiny little flame (to get that incredibly long burn time) so don’t put out much light. I tend to keep one of them “in stock” so that I can have ONE long burning fire source / night light going during any Aw Shit just in case my fire starters have an issue…

    Boat Fuel Tanks! My God Man that’s a great idea! And they don’t fall over when you take a corner ;-) Just add siphon.


    Unfortunately, I’ll be leaving my 4 x 35 gallon poly barrels behind in the move. They are my emergency water storage… OTOH, in Florida water is everywhere so mostly just need a good filtration system.

    @Eric Wilner:

    My old 1979 carburetted wagon (Mercedes 230T Grey Market) LOVED the Ethanol Free gas I’d get at WaWa. I didn’t like paying the extra $1 / gallon though. Found that mixing it about 50/50 with the ethanol gas was “good enough” and sometimes even 40% ethanol free was fine.

    For any storage gasoline, I’ll definitely be getting it.

    There’s a couple of big problems in storing gasoline. For that with ethanol in it, any moisture from the air getting into the tank will eventually cause it to separate out the ethanol on the bottom and the gas on top. Then, because ethanol is an octane booster, that gasoline is horribly bad octane and will not work as expected even if you to pull it off of the ethanol/water puddle.

    The other problem is polymerizing over time of the actual gasoline. This varies with the number of double and triple bonds between the carbons and any other active agents in the gasoline. IF you get something like pure hexane or toluene you have gas that just does not polymerize (thus storing “solvent” or “white gas” tends to work well). The crap mixes that go to the gas pump will vary a lot by region and gasoline origin along with refining methods used (hydrogenating the gas will prevent this and some refineries do a lot of hydrotreating). This is the major feature of “Coleman fuel”. A narrow “cut” of hydrocarbons fully saturated with no double or triple bonds left in it.

    In my experience, it takes a couple of years for fuel to start the conversion to varnish…


    You have to be a bit careful with the word “Naphtha”. Gasoline is essentially a particular “cut” or evaporation temperature of petroleum naphtha that has had various additives put into it to improve octane and such; BUT petroleum naphtha can come in different evaporation points and vary more in exact chemical composition. “Stoddard Solvent”, for example, was also sold / labeled as “petroleum naphtha” when I was a kid (I remember reading the label on the 50 gallon drum of it at the 76 Station where we bought it for our lantern…)

    Summary: Stoddard solvent is a colorless, flammable liquid that smells and tastes like kerosene. It will turn into a vapor at temperatures of 150-200°C.Stoddard solvent is a petroleum mixture that is also known as dry cleaning safety solvent, petroleum solvent, and varnoline; its registered trade names are Texsolve S® and Varsol 1®. It is a chemical mixture that is similar to white spirits. Stoddard solvent is used as a paint thinner; in some types of photocopier toners, printing inks, and adhesives; as a dry cleaning solvent; and as a general cleaner and degreaser. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) the Public Health Service, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

    Note that the vaporization point is about the same as Kerosene. Higher than the usual gasoline. There’s also a differentiation made between “naphtha” and “petroleum naphtha”. Originally naphtha was just any of the stuff that evaporated easily from various organic rich stuff.

    For the hydrocarbon liquid stream derived from the refining of crude oil, see Petroleum naphtha.

    Not to be confused with Naphthalene.
    Naphtha (/ˈnæpθə/ or /ˈnæfθə/) is a flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixture.

    Mixtures labelled naphtha have been produced from natural gas condensates, petroleum distillates, and the distillation of coal tar and peat.

    In different industries and regions naphtha may also be crude oil or refined products such as kerosene. Mineral spirits, also historically known as “naphtha”, is not the same chemical.

    Nephi and naphthar are sometimes used as synonyms. It is also known as Shellite in Australia.

    So “naptha” can range from very volatile gasoline like (5 to 10 carbon long chains) to kerosene like (10 to about 16 carbons long). “Solvent” can be almost anywhere in that range (5 to 16) and in various mixtures. The Stoddard Solvent we bought when I was a kid burned better in a Coleman lantern than did kerosene, so I suspect it had more “light ends” in it then.

    OTOH, Dad grew up on a farm with a red Kerosene Coleman Lantern, so knew how to prewarm to tube to get things going ;-) IIRC they got electricity when he was in his early teens.

    Petroleum naphtha is an intermediate hydrocarbon liquid stream derived from the refining of crude oil with CAS-no 64742-48-9. It is most usually desulfurized and then catalytically reformed, which rearranges or restructures the hydrocarbon molecules in the naphtha as well as breaking some of the molecules into smaller molecules to produce a high-octane component of gasoline (or petrol).

    There are hundreds of different petroleum crude oil sources worldwide and each crude oil has its own unique composition or assay. There are also hundreds of petroleum refineries worldwide and each of them is designed to process either a specific crude oil or specific types of crude oils. Naphtha is a general term as each refinery produces its own naphthas with their own unique initial and final boiling points and other physical and compositional characteristics.

    Naphthas may also be produced from other material such as coal tar, shale deposits, tar sands, and the destructive distillation of wood.

    But even given those variations, since the Coleman lantern will run on gasoline to kerosene (with prewarming the generator tube) that spans from about 5 to 16 carbons long. Pretty much every naphtha will be somewhere in that range.

    FWIW Diesel picks up in the Kerosene range with #1 Diesel basically being a kerosene with slightly better lubricity, and goes on up to heavy oils. Marine Diesel eventually grades into Bunker Fuel Oil as things become syrup like, and then goes to lubrication oils, greases, etc. with greater length and some get metals glued on to the hydrocarbon to make really good greases that are essentially a very very heavy soap like molecule. Modern #2 Diesel boils between about 250- 300 C and ranges from about 9 to 25 carbons long (note the overlap with Kerosene).

    So the “bottom line” is that “petroleum naphtha” ought to work in your Coleman Lantern but might, depending on the particular maker, be a little hard to start without warming the generator tube first.

    Personally, if I had a batch like that with more kerosene like character, I’d just mix it about 50/50 with White Gas and then it ought to have enough “light ends” to light up ok without warming (unless in very cold snowy conditions when everything is hard to light at enough “below zero”).

    I would be careful trying “white spirits” or “mineral spirits” in a lantern unless you have made sure there is no painted surface inside the tank AND that any seals are resistant to the particular solvent. (i.e. have a replacement seals and ‘pump cup’ kit and look very carefully inside the tank for surface coatings). This is the stuff used to thin paint, and clean up after painting… Though I note that we had used Stoddard Solvent when I was a kid. What is in it can vary quite a bit.

    White spirit (UK & Ireland) or mineral spirits (US, Canada), also known as mineral turpentine (AU/NZ), turpentine substitute, and petroleum spirits, is a petroleum-derived clear liquid used as a common organic solvent in painting. There are also terms for specific kinds of mineral spirits, including Stoddard solvent and solvent naphtha (petroleum). Mineral spirits are often used as a paint thinner, or as a component thereof, though paint thinner is a broader category of solvent. Odorless mineral spirits (OMS) have been refined to remove the more toxic aromatic compounds, and are recommended for applications such as oil painting.

    The major source of petroleum naphtha in a petroleum refinery

    The first unit operation (after being desalinated) in a petroleum refinery is the crude oil distillation unit. The overhead liquid distillate from that unit is called virgin or straight-run naphtha and that distillate is the largest source of naphtha in most petroleum refineries. The naphtha is a mixture of many different hydrocarbon compounds. It has an initial boiling point (IBP) of about 35 °C and a final boiling point (FBP) of about 200 °C, and it contains paraffins, naphthenes (cyclic paraffins) and aromatic hydrocarbons ranging from those containing 4 carbon atoms to those containing about 10 or 11 carbon atoms.

    The virgin naphtha is often further distilled into two streams:

    a virgin light naphtha with an IBP of about 30 °C and a FBP of about 145 °C containing most (but not all) of the hydrocarbons with six or fewer carbon atoms

    a virgin heavy naphtha containing most (but not all) of the hydrocarbons with more than six carbon atoms. The heavy naphtha has an IBP of about 140 °C and a FBP of about 205 °C.
    The virgin heavy naphtha is usually processed in a catalytic reformer, because the light naphtha has molecules with six or fewer carbon atoms—which, when reformed, tend to crack into butane and lower molecular weight hydrocarbons that are not useful as high-octane gasoline blending components. Also, the molecules with six carbon atoms tend to form aromatics, which is undesirable because the environmental regulations of a number of countries limit the amount of aromatics (most particularly benzene) in gasoline.

    Some petroleum refineries also produce small amounts of specialty naphthas
    for use as solvents, cleaning fluids and dry-cleaning agents, paint and varnish diluents, asphalt diluents, rubber industry solvents, recycling products, and cigarette-lighter, portable-camping-stove and lantern fuels. Those specialty naphthas are subjected to various purification processes which adjusts chemical characteristics to suit specific needs.

    Specialty naphtha comes in many varieties and each are referred to by separate names such as petroleum ether, petroleum spirits, mineral spirits, paraffin, benzine, hexane, ligroin, white oil or white gas, painters naphtha, refined solvent naphtha and Varnish makers’ & painters’ naphtha (VM&P). The best way to determine the boiling point and other compositional characteristics of any of the specialty naphtha is to read the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the specific naphtha of interest. Safety Data Sheets can be found on a chemical suppliers websites or by contacting the supplier directly.

    On a much larger scale, petroleum naphtha is also used in the petrochemicals industry as feedstock to steam reformers and steam crackers for the production of hydrogen (which may be and is converted into ammonia for fertilizers), ethylene, and other olefins. Natural gas is also used as feedstock to steam reformers and steam crackers.

    Basically, for a “white spirit” or “mineral spirits” you want to check the MSDS for what’s in it and try to find one with a vaporization similar to gasoline. Or once you’ve smelled enough different hydrocarbons over the years and trained your nose, a sniff or two usually tells me what’s in it ;-)

    Avoid ketones, acetone and other things with a double bonded oxygen off to the side. Also known as nail-polish remover and paint remover…

  30. doubletrouble says:

    Late to the party, & I haven’t read all the comments- apologies for any repetition.
    I’m in NH, & have been here for ~30 years. My observations/comments:
    Heat- we have 2 wood stoves & a large wood lot (oil furnace & heat pump also utilized)
    Light- my backup is a simple 75w solar s/u (HF) using (4) old truck batteries as storage. Not optimum, but for led lights they work fine- $$ are negligible. In the winter, I sometimes use 2 Alladin lamps for light, but they generate a lot of heat, unwanted in the warmer months. BTW, scented or unscented lamp oil can be used in them for those with ‘sensitive noses’.
    Power- 8kw generator for water pump & freezer/fridge. I only use the genny after more than 4 hours w/o power, then 1 hour on, 4 off to maintain the cold. I’ve been looking into the inverter generators- much quieter (a valid concern), & only run at speed under a demand. Fuel savings are considerable, but $$ are 2x (or more) of a conventional genny.
    Water- we catch rain water from the roof (400 gal capacity) until the temperature prohibits. We have small pond, & can get by by boiling or distilling what we need if snowmelt doesn’t suffice.

    We lost power & phone for just under 2 weeks (no internet then) back in ‘08 in an ice storm- the aforementioned preps served our needs well.

    A couple of good rifles, caliber matched to the need, & a shotgun take care of the tasks for which they may be called.

  31. E.M.Smith says:

    I’ve added some links to older articles to the posting, and I’ve put in an update to the fuel burn of the lantern reflecting the results of measuring the fuel (in comments above).

    As of now, I’m not going to finish my one gallon of White Gas before the spouse gets home. It feels like I’m a bit under the 1/2 gallon point. So about 1/2 gallon in two weeks, one gallon a month for one person. Though I did not use the lantern for all those nights when I was using up the candle inventory. For “only white gas” lighting + cooking, and / or more than one person, I’d figure on 2 gallons / month. For a single person cooking and “just sleep when the sun goes down” minimal lighting, I think I could make a gallon last 2 months “stretching it”. (Camp meals where you boil a cup of water and dump it on the freeze dried stuff, instead of cooking beans for hours… or simmering a stew…)

  32. Kneel says:

    “…plain oatmeal (all the instant oatmeal packages, about 150 of them, are all gone now).”

    Make pancake batter about 1/2 and 1/2 flour and oatmeal – about the same “grind” as instant porridge, or use a flavored instant porridge if you like. These are much more “stick to your ribs” and filling than standard pancakes – in the same way porridge is like that. And if you use your favorite flavored instant porridge, you get flavored pancakes you’ll love for very little effort and without needing to keep the fruit/honey/whatever to flavor them with.

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