Everybody wants to save the earth, nobody wants to help mom do the dishes.  --P.J. O'Rourke

Friday, April 10, 2009

BMW Motorrad R1200 GS Sport

OTG week has thus far been concerned primarily with the requisite comfort and luxury products no self respecting militia-uh-"family campground" should be without.  Equally important however is transit to and fro said camp.  Sure, you COULD make do with a mere "Dirt Bike", but why settle when you could have a colossal 1200cc German dirt bike.  Weighing in at 500lbs. with a 100hp 2 cylinder BMW boxer motor, THIS is a Dirt Bike - like Crocodile Dundee's Knife is a "Knife".  I tend to view "traveling lightly" in the same vein as "light beer", that is something that should be avoided at all costs.  The R1200 fits the bill perfectly, it can be loaded up with another 500lbs of driver, gas, ammunition, pinot noir or whatever else you should require, and with a nearly 9 gallon gas tank it can take you there and back.

Esse Wood Fired Cook Stoves

If your OTG Kitchen Appliance needs  are somewhat more
traditional than the Razen Stove, ESSE may have what you
are looking for.  They currently offer two wood fired kitchen
stoves (Pictured Below).  They functional essentially like the
AGA range or any other stored heat cooker in that they are
designed to use very little wood and to eke out every BTU
in the Fuel.  They cost and arm and a leg, and may actually
be worth it.

Razen Wood Fired Cookstove

Being OTG whether by necessity (Zombie Apocalypse) or by choice (Wilderness Camp)
need not necessitate a life devoid of euro-style.  Looking to kit out your TeePee with
the latest in stainless and granite?  U.K. based Razen has the stove for you, and it looks
like it's actually a pretty well thought out unit.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

C. Crane Co. CCRadio

Another essential OTG item

Shortly following luxurious shelter, light, heat and a tub in Maslow's hierarchy of OTG needs is a good battery powered radio. You may be tempted to rely on a cheap K-Mart transistor Shower Radio, Hello Kitty radio or some other abomination, but I can assure you NOTHING sucks as much as trying to tune in a Red Sox pennant game in the fall, under a brilliant star lit sky, and having it fade in and out. There you are, you've got your campfire on, your drink on, the cicada's are singing and Don Orsillo is fading in and out in a battle with a mariachi station. Ninth inning, men on first and third, winning run at the plate, 2 outs, full count......AGHHHH. Well, do yourself a favor and get a good quality AM Radio, yes the price is usurious, but it's worth every penny. The CC Radio was developed by a company who's core business is bringing AM radio reception to Militiamen, Bush Pilots, Tree Standers and other hinterland dwellers.

BriteLyt Lanterns

Yet another OTG (Off the Grid) must have, the BriteLyt Petromax Style Lantern.  Maybe not for the Snorkel Tub, but you're gonna need some light in your Yurt, TeePee, Cabin, Tent, Airstream or Bunker.  Purportedly the brightest lantern in the world, the BriteLyt is solid brass and multifuel (capable of burning Diesel, Gas, Kero, Veg Oil etc).  Manufactured and supported in the United States, the Britelyt is apparently the lantern of choice for U.S. troops in Afghanistan.  Although it is also available in polished brass or chrome (left), I personally like the utilitarian flat grey of the military model below, lanterns aren't intended to be fancy.    Link www.britelyt.com

Swift Wind Turbine - Cascade Engineering

Continuing the Unofficial "Off Grid" Theme of the Week 

Originally Developed in Scotland by Renewable Devices the Swift Turbine is also being manufactured and Sold in the U.S. by Cascade Engineering.  Unlike most wind turbines, the Swift was engineered for roof top installation from the beginning and is intended to satisfy residential zoning ordinances.  To reduce objectionable noise in the neighborhood, the turbine uses a small diameter (7 feet), 5 blade ringed rotor (the ring is designed to help disrupt blade tip vortexes, a major source of noise).   To cut down on  noise within the house it it features special vibration damping roof mounts and because it's not mounted on a huge pole, you don't have to worry about it blowing over and landing on your neighbors house.  The Swift is rated for 1.5kw in a 31mph wind and Cascade claims that noise at any speed never exceeds 31db.  Cascade's web site has a neat little program that can help you determine if a wind turbine makes sense in your area.

More Info


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Snorkel Cedar Hot Tub

Being "off-grid" doesn't mean you have to live like Grizzly Adams or the Unibomber.
With these wood fired wooden hit tubs, you can get your soak on , in traditional Japanese 
style no less,  just steps from your yurt.  The water is heated by an underwater wood stove 
and though "fast" by wood standards, still takes some time.  Most people use these without
chemicals and change the water after a day or so.  Still I can imagine few things as nice as 
the luxury of a hot bath in the woods.  Hey-Now !

Navigator Marine Wood Stoves

These cute little marine wood stoves are made by the Navigator Stove Works on Orcas Island in WA State (right accross the bay from Bellingham).  Seems they have acquired the rights to the old Lunenburg Foundry patterns. Lunenburg had been around forever - think "Mayflower" , so it's a proven design.  Navigator updated the look with colorfull porcelain coatings and stainless rails.  Although they were created for use on sailing vessels, they are equally at home in any small space.  One of these stoves would be great in a cabin, tent, workshop or even an RV. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Kelly Kettle

The Kelly Kettle is an ingenious alternative to building a roaring camp  fire just to boil a pot of water for coffee or tea.  The basic idea behind it is that you light a small fire in the base using whatever is at hand (twigs, leaves,newspaper, etc.) and
place the kettle on the base.  The kettle is essentially a normal kettle with a Chimney in the middle, surrounded by a water jacket (see right).  Produced by the same Irish family for four generations, it should be pretty well de-bugged by now.  Bonus McGuiver tip: Use alcohol based antibacterial gel as a firestarter LINK:   Kelley Kettle

Colorado Yurt Company Platform Tents

The Colorado Yurt company makes these seemingly well sorted out Cabin Tents.  Designed to be set up on a permanent platform, these seem like a good solution for family summer camp housing.  Equipped with a woodstove and screening on all four sides, you could extend your stays well into the shoulder seasons. You could pull the tent down and store the tent, stove and whatever furnishings in a large storage shed, bunkhouse, cookhouse or other permanent structure, leaving only the platform exposed to the winter elements.  The plaform construction makes this is a particularly good solution for hilly or uneven terrain such as a river bank or lakeside setting.  And of course, the company makes Yurts and Teepee's should your tastes run in that direction.

Atari Tempest Arcade Game

In it's original 1980's arcade format, this was one of the most fun games out there.  Well, at least for me, because it was the only one which I could consistently get the high score.  Well, that and the fact that it's vector graphics were very crisp for the time.  The trouble of course is that Tempest's main controller was a spinning knob, making it very difficult to replicate the play on a PC or console.  If you have ever played it you'll know precisely what I am talking about, it's just not the same without it.  If you haven't played the game, you're in luck, even without the spinner, you can still get the idea via this Atari online flash game which absolutely nails the sounds and graphics.

Henry Beston's Outermost House

In 1927 Henry Beston from Quincy, MA moved into this little (20x16) cottage way out on the spit at Nauset Beach on Cape Cod.  What had originally just been a vacation stay turned into a full year on the beach, documented in his book, "The Outermost House".  The Nauset beach spit for those who have not been there is an extremely narrow barrier beach peninsula formed by sand washing down from the north.  Below we see the house looking towards the mainland over the great marsh, what we cannot see is the open Atlantic on the other side of the dunes.  The unique location, between the tranquil marsh and the open ocean really comes through in Beston's beautiful narrative.  Beston's patient and thoughtful descriptions of the weather, wildlife, people and place really capture the essence of this dramatic setting, it is one of my favorite books.  The house unfortunately is no more, having been swept out to see along with much of Coast Guard beach during the blizzard of '78

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Shack at Hinckle Farm - Jeffrey Broadhurst

Built on a 27 acre mountaintop location only accessible by off-road vehicles, I really like the design of this little off the grid retreat shack Broadhurst and friends built.  Clearly I am not alone as it has been featured in Architectural Record magazine, but it is a compelling example of what can be done with minimal materials and a little creativity.  Necessitated by the location, it is built for off grid living, with oil lamps for light and a woodstove for heat and hot water.  One especially nice feature is the windowed garage door ad a front wall.  Although I admire the purity  of the design, the practical side of me would likely do things somewhat differently.  First off, I would undoubtedly make it somewhat larger, with more space for food storage and a composting toilette.  Also have been stuck in the rain while camping, the interior needs to be large enough to accommodate chairs and a table inside.  Personally I would add some larger windows side and back, and somewhat more importantly, build a screen wall behind the garage door wall to keep the bugs out.  The above is not meant as criticism,  merely how I would modify an already good design to suit my needs temperament and climate.

The Forbidden Planet - 1956

This was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid.  Check
out the credits in the trailer below, just like the Star Wars 
opening credits, was that on purpose as an homage to the
58 Classic?

The Citizen Kane of Trucker Movies

Breaker-Breaker !  The apogee of 1970's trucker/cb/country music movies.
The song hit #1 in the U.S and unbelievably #2 in the U.K. ! SRSLY WTF UK?
After the inevitable LOL Cat's Movie (Pixar),  Can a LOL Trucker movie be
far behind?

Convoy - C.W.McCall

Sunday, April 5, 2009

2 Cycle 1962 Saab 96 Rally Car

In the 60's "Different" wasn't a merely a marketing catchword for Saab, with the model 96's unique styling and 2-cycle 3 cylinder engines, it was a statement of Fact.  As screwy as these cars seem, factory hot rodded 96's  were awesome Rally Racing cars.  Granted, the cars driver was the legendary Erik Carlsson, but none the less, the 96 won back to back victories in the competitive Monte Carlo rally in 1962 & 63. This is even more impressive when you realize Carlsson's rally car was powered by a modest 840cc 2-cycle producing 70hp.  To hear what one of these sounds like, check out the short clip on the right.  

Bonus Trivia FTW: Carlsson was married to Stirling Moss' little sister Pat.

Hey Man, is That Freedom Rock ?

Well Then, TURN IT UP !!

The 1970's Raleigh Chopper

I Blame the Raleigh Chopper (above).  In the day the Chopper was the Bike to have.  It's hard to overstate the effects of the introduction of the Chopper on Pre-BMX kids bikes.  Soon every bike had chopper motorcycle  like styling, with banana seats, sissy bars, gearshifts, high rise handlebars and all manner of gewgahs.  Thus the Chopper led to my bike at the time, the Schwinn Stingray.  Not a bad bike at all, but nothing that couldn't be improved with a bit more chopper motorcycle like features, like, say fork extensions.  At the time there was the "right" (read safe) way to do this, and then there was the twelve year old kid way.  This basically consisted of  removing the front forks via hacksaw from a donor bicycle, removing the front wheel lugs from your bike and then jamming the donor forks onto the now denuded ends of your bikes forks, re-attaching the wheel, and Voila ! you have just added another foot to your forks !  The sensible thing would be to permanently attach the new forks by welding, but who has time for that?  You have an uber chopper to ride !  Preferably down a steep, sandy hill.  Thus Raleigh's Chopper led to me experiencing the epic fail of my new forks and subsequent wreck which permanently embedded a small stone in my elbow.