Wasteland Survival Skills

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This topic contains 45 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Anonymous 1 year, 1 month ago.

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  • #24195

    Mouse Wizard

    Finally someone asked.

    From Anon 411:

    @Mouse, You keep talking about “wasteland survival skills”. Are there any books specifically on those skills? Or are you just pulling our leg with that phrase? A quick search on Amazon shows only fiction book. Anybody know of such books?

    Anon was responding in the “Scientists Declare Climate Crisis” thread where I postulated:

    Folks, you’re standing at the edge of a meadow, looking uphill at the trees, and focusing on this tree, or that tree. Meanwhile, that rumbling you hear is the avalanche heading your way from above the very thin line of trees.

    That avalanche is composed of four interacting predicaments:

    • Climate Chaos
    • Economic Disruption
    • Resource Depletion
    • Social Disintegration

    The whole band is building to a crescendo. Interlocking triggers and feedback loops between natural and human systems will kill most of us. If you plan to come out the other side of that bottleneck, you’ll need supplies, fortitude, luck, and wasteland survival skills. Get cracking.

    First, background:

    In regard to the crisis, everyone is talking about one or more of the above predicaments. The problem I have with that is that talking won’t work, and neither will action. A predicament, by definition, has no viable solution. It’s going to run its course.

    Picking away at the foundations of climate change doesn’t have any effect on the next polar vortex, fire event, flood event, or hurricane. If there is a dark organization dedicated to one world government bent on eugenics they’re pretty incompetent given the trends in population over, like.. .ever. Believing in abiotic oil doesn’t change the fact that we’re about out of potash. Saying warming trends are based on falsified data won’t bring back the 50% of plankton we’ve already lost. Economic trends are downward for all but a few, and it’s something most on the left or right seem to agree on, but with different solutions in mind. Trickle down, tax and spend, we’ve tried those enough to know they’re both pipe dreams. And of course the actual conversations we’re having today demonstrate how far down the social disintegration path we’ve already gone. Yesterday I saw a hand-made sign in the back window of a car that said “Civil War 2020.” That’s not viable. As soon as it’s dangerous to go to work people will stop going to work, but they will have stopped shopping long before. US economy collapses dragging the rest of the world down with it. Likewise, if China’s economy collapses the US will fall in short order. Everything is intertwingled.

    There are no viable solutions to the above predicaments. That’s why they are predicaments. Predicaments will run their course.

    Community is key:

    This particular set of predicaments will interact in strange and unpredictable ways. Eventually everything will grind to a halt. At that point, you need to be in a physically contiguous, geographically defensible community capable of pulling together to grow the food necessary, provide basic law and order, cut off / defend against those outside that want in, and provide enough social interaction that it’s a better solution than a bullet to the head.

    There will be such communities scattered across the landscape. Between them will be a lot of wasteland.

    Topsoil blowing away because the crops didn’t get planted or there weren’t the fertilizers or herbicides available to make it work, or the powered irrigation sprinklers aren’t powered anymore. Burned out cities. Droughts and wildfires or flooded out areas with buildings rotting into the ground from the mud and mold. Radioactive plumes from last ditch nuclear exchanges, or something as basic as nuclear power plants improperly shut down. Toxic plumes from failed retention ponds of manufacturers, frackers, or whatever. A multi-spectral wasteland.

    Some communities will last longer than others, for whatever reason. If you’re not in a community you’ll need to cross the wasteland to find one. If your community fails you’ll need to cross the wasteland to find another one. There are areas where they are likely to be or become. Getting there is the issue.

    Hence wasteland survival skills. Acquire them. Teach them so they can be passed down. And don’t forget the skills necessary to be an asset to a community, especially if you don’t have the strength, fortitude, or desire to be a farm laborer. But you can’t get there without crossing the wasteland.

    What are those skills?

    Well, living off the land is a non-starter even today. So you’ll need to explore and push forward carefully, preserving your ability to fall back and try a different path. This means good land navigation skills in a world of hand-drawn maps. A good compass will be precious. Paper and ink as well. The ability to transport, without fuel or animal support, significant quantities of supplies. Planting caches along the way, then going back and re-supplying, and pushing forward again. Using the supplies at your current bug-in location to provide a chain of re-supply points across the wasteland to your intended destination.

    Before you go, you need a clue about where to go. Otherwise it’s a pointless endeavor. How that clue will be acquired is unpredictable at this point.

    As you go, you need to scout the terrain forward very carefully. Monitor for radiation without benefit of batteries.  A Kearny Fallout Meter will be pretty much the only viable option. You’ll be checking it every day at noon, giving yourself enough time to backtrack to the last clean location.

    You will need good binoculars, a spotting scope, and the ability to sit in a high point all day and just scan for activity before proceeding. Deer hunting (especially bow hunting) references talk about that surveillance skill a lot. Know what a tailings pond or retention pond looks like from a distance. Consider each the source of a toxic plume. Which way does the water flow? Where are the most likely natural points to find clean water? The ability to read the land for that information will be essential.

    Trapping will be viable a couple of years after the humans deal with their overshoot by dying off. Small animals will come first because they’re close to the bottom of the food chain. Traps are heavy, as are the tools to maintain them.

    You will need to be quiet and stealthy. Night travel is a non-starter unless you really like falling into holes and such. Camouflage with native plants in the current season will be necessary. And make sure you know how to make and repair footwear and clothing using salvaged materials. Small animal skins are not very durable. You’ll need tools for that as well. Scissors are multi-purpose, but needles, not so much. Know how to make needles and various threads from natural sources.

    One of your most precious items will be stainless steel water stuff. A distiller. Filters have a life span. Steel: much longer lifespan. Multi-generational. Heavy. Takes time. Requires a fire. A stealthy fire, yet powerful. An extended Dakota Hole fireplace becomes a basic rocket stove. Another skill to pass along. Steel water bottles will also be precious after the plastic ones rot away. A steel shovel to dig the hole, and for caching. How deep do you plant a cache?

    How you haul all this stuff depends on the terrain and available pathways. You can re-purpose abandoned bicycles into human-powered carts.  A one-wheel Chinese wheelbarrow if you’re going single-track, a two-wheeled cart is easier to handle but not on a single track. The ability to build this depends on tools. More weight. Hence the cart. Having the tools and the experience of doing it before makes it possible to do it again. Tools will be a precious hand-down to multiple generations.

    If you make it to another viable community, just the fact that you got there will be a story to tell and you’ll have invaluable intel for their leadership.

    So get the skills and the tools. Two sets of tools; one set in cache (floods and firestorms and such). This will take time and a lot of trial and error. If you’re old, your sole purpose in acquiring the capabilities will be passing them on to someone of appropriate age and fitness. If you’re young, get fit. Acquire the skills along with your intended community-valued skill set, whether that’s permaculture, carpentry, chemistry, whatever. A whole ‘nuther set of tools will be needed for whatever choice is made.

    Get cracking. Time’s a-wasting.

  • #24200

    Mouse Wizard

    I really need to acknowledge Category5 over at Dark Green Mountain Survival Research Center for pulling me from depression to acceptance with his fine words about the problems we face and the community-based solutions needed to get through all of this. Without him I would still be flailing around, lost in the details and losing ground. Thanks to him I’m prepped, I’m bugged in, and I’m training my children now.

  • #24202


    @Mouse, You bring up a lot of good points and I’m going to have to mull over these points before I can answer. However, you did mention bicycles as freight carriers. Here are a series of very good articles on that one point.

    The Incredible and Efficient Use of a Bicycle as a Bug Out Vehicle (Part 1)

    The Incredible and Efficient Use of a Bicycle as a Bug Out Vehicle (Part 2)

    The Incredible and Efficient Use of a Bicycle as a Bug Out Vehicle (Part 3)

  • #24205

    Crow Bar

    Dont necessarily agree with everything, but a pretty good post!

  • #24211

    Mouse Wizard

    I guess the point I didn’t really emphasize is: Get bugged in to a community as quickly as you can, because it takes time to integrate. The Wasteland skills presume an environment where nearly all of the ammo is gone, the batteries are all dead, etc. If you’re navigating wasteland prior to those conditions, feel free to take advantage of available tech. But have the no-tech skills ready to pass on.

  • #24212



    What you describe sounds a lot like a Mad Max world. I suppose something like that could occur some few years after a grid down situation.

    I’m not sure I have ever seen an article or book on the environmental hazards that you mention. There are shuttered nuclear reactors around, but I wonder how long that takes to do. Can that be done with resources on hand in a couple of months, or does it take years and include shipping nuclear waste to established storage facilities? Does the nuclear power industry even do any contingency planning for this scale of disaster? Probably not and almost certainly haven’t stockpiles of supplies to sustain the technicians for the time needed to actually perform such a shutdown. And what about planning for the technicians families? If most of the existing nuclear power plants now in the US were to not be shut down safely and developed toxic plumes (that lasted thousands of years) there would be very little livable land left in the US. There was a book written in the early/middle 1980’s on the subject of safe places after a disaster. I think it was by Mark Skousen, but I don’t think I have that book anymore and a search on Amazon doesn’t find anything.

    You describe a world without electricity. Heck, you describe a world of subsistence living, slow starvation. That’s the road back to medieval living where little to nothing is left of our technological civilization. Given the environmental hazards that you mention it’s the path back to the caves. Darn few caves in the US! That must not be allowed to happen! See my articles at https://www.theorganicprepper.com/category/preppers/the-information-specialist-series/

    So the solution is to establish such a community as you describe. I have some 50 pages of notes I made on that subject some years ago. But turning that into a useful book would take a good bit of effort. Establishing such a community now, before disaster strikes, would take money and be difficult to achieve given the lack of privacy today and the need to remain a Gray Man. Also, such a community must support the saving of knowledge as mentioned in my articles, otherwise what’s the point? It’s a shame that this forum doesn’t have a “files” area where people can upload files of useful content.

  • #24213

    Mouse Wizard

    @ Anon 411:

    Shutting down a nuclear reactor is a standard, well-rehearsed process. The problem is the spent fuel cooling tanks. If they dry out then zirconium fires could result. The problem is minimized by the fact that most of the spent fuel in the tank is cool enough to be pulled out to dry storage. The “hot” fuel can then be re-distributed in the water so there’s no real need to circulate the water through a cooling unit. Hot fuel also cools down fairly quickly. From people I’ve talked to, and others have posted, it’ll be a problem solved for the most part. Just pull the cold rods, which are the vast majority, and lay them on whatever horizontal concrete surface is available once all the dry casks are used up. The entire plant will become a dead zone but not the surrounding area.

    Remember that the technicians and operators of a power plant live near that plant. They don’t want their communities destroyed by a zirconium fire, so action will be taken to prevent it and damn the regulations. This can be done with resources on hand and fairly quickly.

    However, there is always the chance of human error. A few plants are bound to go bad, but not enough to wipe out life in general. The radiation plumes from those few plants are what I’m talking about. If you’re still cautious, take a look at a map of reactor locations and simply choose to be west of the Mississippi river in the US.

    Civilization will come back, as humans are a very inventive lot, and a lot of libraries are going to be intact because people like you will take special efforts to preserve that knowledge. It’ll take a couple of generations after the die-off before “points of light” capable of manufacturing critical things such as batteries, solar panels, greenhouse glass, and rubber tires emerge and distribution networks start to form again. The only reason this will be sustainable will be the substantially reduced population. Migrations toward the poles will have to take place because the warming pulse is baked into the cake at this point.

    • #24232



      “a lot of libraries are going to be intact because people like you will take special efforts to preserve that knowledge”. I take that as a compliment, thanks! I wonder though how many people really are saving the maps, books, etc that I recommended in my articles. Through the comments on those articles I’m sure 2 other people are saving that info. That makes THREE with me. THREE! I’m just a retiree living on SS. I don’t have any hardened Panasonic Toughbook laptops or tablets. I wish I did but even used ones are a couple of grand. Even if I had ONE, what’s that prepper mantra “2 is 1, 1 is none”. I’m diligent on seeking out and storing this stuff. I have about 2 TBs now. But realistically, what are the chances my collection of data survives a TEOTWAWKI event and gets into the hands of somebody that knows what to do with it? Small. You can bet that several billionaires are saving this kind of data. I’ll bet several have full backups of archive.org, maybe LOC, maybe Hathy Trust and other stuff. It strikes me as unlikely that a billionaire has the same use of that data in mind that I do. Any reasonable person would assume that a billionaire would set themselves up as a king, or worse, if they had this data. That’s not going to help us preppers one bit. I would feel better if I knew 1000 preppers were storing this data. Better still if it was 10,000. Sorry to burst your bubble on libraries surviving Mouse. I wish I was confident that they would.

  • #24214

    Mouse Wizard

    Finding and integrating with an existing community that is highly likely to be viable post-collapse is hard.

    Creating a community like that from scratch requires a billionaire, or at the least a few millionaires, to make it happen. I’m pretty sure that would wind up as some kind of feudal thing and that’s unpredictable. Not sure I would want to participate.

    Best to scout around for viable communities now.

  • #24217

    Crow Bar

    Mouse is correct about the power plants and the people who live around them.
    Have good friends who lived in the shadow of a cooling tower. No kidding, from their back window see the steam clouds. They moved but not for the plant, but two neighbors were real A-holes.
    But a lot of the plants workers lived in the neighborhood. They are very motivated to make sure them and theirs dont get irradiated. And they are mostly too old to bug out.
    The question is, have some of them sat around and thought up a way to keep the power going, at least locally?

    Wasteland does bring Mad Max, desert wasteland (or CA) to mind.
    But unless there is some major weather pattern change, we get up to 22ft of snow a year, and a good bit of rain too.
    Loss of the grid for a prolonged period of time, say a year or longer, the population would see a serious decrease.
    Living in caves? No.
    I look to my Amish neighbors, and we all would have to adapt their kind of lifestyle. They can read, write, speak at least 3 languages, make a lot of things by hand, are dang good carpenters, know all about horses, and making things by hand.
    Us English (as they call us) know we are going to need them for survival. And they may need us for self-defense.
    Upside, myself a more than a few neighbors have differing skills, and we all have a lot of books on various skill sets.

  • #24220



    You have mentioned Amish neighbors before. There is supposed to be an Amish community in my state, although probably a small one. Or maybe they are Mennonites, I don’t know. Any idea how I might find them?

  • #24221

    Crow Bar

    Off the top of my head, nope.
    Every Amish community is different. They seem to have a given date that they follow to. I.e. they set a date sometime in the late 1800s or early 1900s and any technology prior to that date, is allowed.
    My community is not allowed to ride bicycles. But the one about 120 miles West of here, is. That community also can have glass windows on their carriages. The one I live amongest, they are not.
    Some will have a landline and could be listed in the white pages, if those still existed, and people still listed themselves.
    Long of the short, I have no idea unless they somehow had a business listed in and was posted to the Yellow pages.
    Do we even have the Yellow pages anymore?

  • #24224

    Josefina Arenas

    The Amish have survival down…laundry hand washed and hung from a reel clothesline out a window, hand tools in the carpentry shop, animals and crops raised year round.  It would be good to study the Amish.

  • #24226

    Crow Bar

    And they hang their cloths outside, year round!

  • #24244

    Crow Bar

    I recall an article about how some billionaires were buying up those decommissioned missile silos and turning them into their own private bunkers.
    The guy who was speaking about potential disasters was approached by a few who had a question: How do they keep control of “the help?” Especially security, as the billionaires knew they did not have those skill sets or were not physically able. Some kind of device to shock them into obedience? Or some why that only they can get access to the food and keep “the help” dependent on them.
    The guy was floored.

    Personally, we moved into a rural area, and got to know the neighbors. For the most part, of those we know, we are known as good people.
    As with any community, there will be those one offs, the A-holes. When SHTF, it might get worse. But, if you can put out a sense of calm, of cooperation, and even provide leadership, I think some of that stress and crisis can be avoided.

  • #24258



    Ambition, power and loyalty (of “the help”), or lack thereof, is the root cause of most human conflict and has been for thousands of years. That’s why I say ruler-less anarchy will never work. I’m always surprised when somebody here says something that sounds like they favor anarchy. In my opinion you can only have a society of equals (under the law, anyway) in a civilized world. That is the very reason I push for restoring civilization after it fails.

    Where there is no law there is no restraint on the evil that people do. That is expressed in the comments of most every article Selco writes. Without civilization there is no law.

  • #24262

    Crow Bar

    I dont think civilization will be completely gone.
    Just a new or old version of it will come around. Something like the old West of the late 1800s era.
    A full on total collapse, it might take a generation or two before might even get back to early 1900s like lifestyle.

    Yeah, people who call themselves anarchists are real bad news.

  • #24427

    Mouse Wizard

    I agree on the 1800s lifestyle, but remember that that lifestyle included having supplies such as flour shipped in to the store, even out in the old west. It’ll take a while to get through the bottleneck, and then build up enough people and horses to make that lifestyle work, so I wouldn’t be looking for that to happen within the next generation. Maybe two or three generations.

    We’ll be long dead.

    Hence the need to codify the knowledge and pass on skills, so they can be passed on to those who will have actual need for them.

    • #24438


      I’m unclear what you mean when you say “codify the knowledge”. Do you mean like start a list of important things needed (more than just skills). Like “how to purify water”, “how to spin thread using a spinning wheel AND detailed plans for building a spinning wheel”, same for making cloth, etc, etc?

      If this is correct then I would like to see (or help make) a list of these items.  Start with a list of the most important things (gadgets) needed. Start with the top 100 (or 200 or 300 or however many there might be). Then document knowledge sources for each. In the case of “how to purify water” I would start here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_filter  print or save this page to a PDF, go to every important link on that page, like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filtration and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_purification and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portable_water_purification and print or save to PDF all those pages. Then go to all the pages under “See Also” and save, then try to find every article or book under “References”. From this you can figure out the real world things needed and start searching for detail construction drawings (most difficult to find).

      I have spent much of this year finding these kinds of pages, building an outline thereof, and the books referenced there, but nothing on determining gadgets and the construction drawings of the gadgets – of the large subject of engineering.



  • #24429


    Yeah but you need to have the skills to codify… what happens if they lose ability of higher language then a total reset until archeologist finds key or such.


    I have extensive library in print frim how to get stuff from ground and water to processing methods and equipment all the way up to micro circuitry along with most of the tools.  somethings  will  be lost and some will not unfortunately most of the saves will be in life taking   as conflict is part of human nature along with greed and avarice. In 2 generations there will be almost no advanced chemical processing glass to make  stuff it will.have to be relearned right now in all of the Americas there is one family that knows how and has place to make custom chemical glass ware. They die it’s gone generations of knowledge..


    Even now with education system in us old guys schooling was probably the pinacle of education even now look at crap they teach. That is with language working. New engineers are lost if not in cad or using laser  and GPS you think they could.figure out even some of the simple old ways if they had to? I know a few could but those are the rare and the best of them in a hard scrabble life those people surviving will be a rare thing if at all.


    Think of it this way a vehicle mechanic would be useless once fuel.gone. fuel has life expectancy of 2 years (diesel)  then what use is that skill? You think by 3rd Gen there would be one person who could fix an engine?  Though I bet there will still be metal workers like blacksmith and gun smith because that would still be useful. So tell me how long before someone could.make even a 1950 car?  Or the kitty hawk?


    • #24441


      “what happens if they lose ability of higher language” Well, you have to have books to teach a person to read and math starting with arithmetic, and so on. Basically you need all the books to home school a kid on these hard but required to rebuild a civilization, subjects. What this really means you have to have enough people in your community (a survival group is too small) to allow for a school and experimenters, builders, etc.

      The store of knowledge (library) and skills must be the CORE of the community. The most important part of what the community is about. Yes, you got to grow food, and have warriors, etc, but protecting and passing on the knowledge must be the most important MISSION of the community!!!

    • #24447


      I would love to see a list of the books, articles, etc. you mentioned.

  • #24430

    Mouse Wizard

    @namelus, No need for auto mechanics when all the cars are rusted out, stripped heaps. Same for most all other modern skills. By the time stuff like that becomes important it’ll be done a whole different way, generations after the collapse.

    I’m talking the skills needed for being an asset to a self-sufficient community, and the multi-generational tools that go with them. Think panel saw as opposed to circular saw. Basic chemistry for black powder, matches, etc. Bee keeping and candle making. Spinning cotton and wool. Making wicks and thread. Hand hewn wood and the ability to convert it into structures, furniture, carts and wagons. How to make a compass needle, or a sewing needle. Stuff like that.

    That’s what we need to pass on.

    I don’t think we’re going to lose the ability to speak a common language.

    • #24443


      I agree 100%!!! See my comment to you (Mouse) above.

  • #24431

    Crow Bar

    Well said gents.

    I would comment more, but right now I am making a dinning room table using as little power tools as possible (a corded drill), dowl pins, and wood glue.

  • #24432

    Mouse Wizard

    My family’s focus will be on woodworking. Going into the third generation now, so plenty of old-style tools in the box, including totally manual drafting tools. Still need to update a few, though. This winter’s side gig will be to locate, evaluate, and copy on vellum the plans for critical items like spinning wheels, looms, pedal-powered lathe, all the standard furniture categories, and so forth. I have 60-year-old vellum drawings from grandad’s furniture making days and they’re not fragile at all. Amazing how Lead on Vellum lasts.

    • #24445


      My family used to be in the construction business. I still have the totally useless to me now hundreds of house plans my father and I drew on drafting paper. Got rid of the drafting tables but I still have the tools: scales, triangles, T-square, pencils and lead, erasers, compass, protractor, french curve, templates, etc. And the skill of mechanical drawing and drafting.

      I would help with drawing plans for these gadgets, if there was some way to coordinate the work.

      I fear that most of this kind of drawing will have to be reverse engineered.

      A pedal-powered METAL working lathe has got to be at the top of the list for machine tools. I know you said wood, but metalworking is very important too.

    • #24452


      For the lathe yes bit without steam power will not get enough rpm and torque to have lathe work. The tools for lathe can’t be made as metallurgy will not be there to support it. Think of the drill bit you know what goes into making a good steel drill bit? A stainless steel.one? A coated cobalt one?


      Think but a cryo forged  5 fluted barrel for a firearm?


      At nest I could see us get to muskets  as support systems would nor be there for even the lowly screw. After we cannibalized all the old steel.it would take a long time to make any if quality.  Look up a ulfbert viking sword they still can’t make one today that’s a sword no moving parts made at 600ad.


      To make crucible steel is not easy we have found away to do it here but it is a hard thing for a few lb of finished. I know why legend had it the steel.had is weight in silver for payment. We cheated with trucks to get things forge but to mine  and make 20 lb of high quality steel to 5 guys 2 weeks. We drove over 500 miles total to get all items, anthracite coal, iron prills, proper clay to make ceramic crucible.  Coal had to be dug washed and dried,  iron found mined and melted in manual blast furnace. Clay dug washed and shaped. Then iron needed to.be purified to get carbon content down. Then hammered and shaped. All mining was at known already machine excavated places or it would have to find and make diggings.


      We already had forge, tools, skills knowledge of where to go, all supplies as food. We did not have to camp at sites to work them. And roads where there already. We have a manjolo already (water hammer)  clay and coal have to be certain quality and coal had to be broken down into small pieces to burn. Iron was a bitch to.mine and we had high quality steel tools you think cutting fire wood sucks you have no idea how tough mining was. All this for a few bars of steel not even end product.


      More coal to work the metal. More metal for the tools required, case hardening and quenching. Can’t imagine how to prospect for a dig site and build infastructure to get there in mountains. Imaging blasting and building a road by hand and ox cart how many people would that take? That’s assuming  you could find and use to make simple tnt and fuses without killing yourself. You get picture now don’t you?  Think of a steam engine and how tough that would be to make and operate. Do you know where a working steam engine is or would you have to build from scratch?


      Basically  after a wasteland event first gen would fight over what’s left by gen 3 there would be either way tougher human or we would not be recognized as previous society.





    • #24454


      What we need to find and preserve is a list of the locations of all these required resources. Where are all the iron and coal (and what type of coal) mines and the clay you mentioned and so on. A list of all oil wells and known reserves of oil and the others. Surely our government has such lists. It seems likely that there may even be such lists published in a book every so often. Not sure how to start looking. Could start asking here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_School_of_Mines

      Certainly, one day survivors could work through all the existing steel, but there is a lot of steel out there now. In a couple of generations a great deal of it will have turned to rust. Don’t know, can rust be reworked into good steel?

      One easy to reach source of steel would be railroad rails. A group could gather hundreds or thousands of those and store them in rain proof barns. I would hate to salvage those rails before there is any hope of getting trains running again though. High on my list would be building or restoring a steam locomotive. The biggest problem with steam that I see is how to build a steam pressure gauge from scratch! The very earliest steam engines, before they made pressure gauges, had a tendency to blow up their boilers! Very near the top of the list of construction drawing to acquire is steam pressure gauges.

  • #24434


    Not so.much lose a common tongue but an example will be like pigeon  English or English as second language  ask someone who speaks that to read a book and translate it into action the results are not the same as proper English.  Higher english the technical stuff will be lost, many abstract ideas that affect how things work will become lost.

    One example will be how do you explain things in geometry to someone without proper English skills? Physics ?  There is a reason the countries like England did not allow conquered people for centuries to learn such simple things as a comprehensive scope of language. If you can’t explain an idea how do you share it? Improve on it?

    Also there is a distinct lack of read and do many of new generation this is not a mode they possess,no YouTube and you have mindless idiots who top searches on homedepot is how to change light bulb and how to read tape measure.


    As for things like powder there is powder recipe 1/3 each and the Queens recipe which is almost lost secret to make same thing but much more powerful. Think local chef vs a celebrity chef it’s not the ingredients but the skill combining them and how it’s done that makes results between I can’t eat this to this tastes like ambrosia.


    Most knowledge is so compartmentalized that few can make a complex item from true raw. Example make a steel knife from iRon you find. that is simple imagine something as complex as a radio.


    I can make ground up chemical compounds to rarified substances but even with knowledge if I had equipment and raw materials in quantities I needed it would take YEARS to make some things. I stock alot of what I call starters and know where to get more from common items but to do some things would take a workforce  of 100s of people let alone support staff. These things will be lost because by 3Rd gen it will be like a fairytale that we had great metal.birds that could fly.  Metal tubes that could wipe out a country with a push of a button  from 1 years sail away in less than an hour.


    I think other than basics all we could hope to carry through is our art and our warning of which path not take. We all have heard the cautionary tales from the pas in many forms and look we are still here arent we?



  • #24450


    Lots of good points on here.  I tend to not worry about the what if’s. But I do worry that I might not be prepared for the right event as we don’t really know where we live what that might be. Could be civil unrest, hurricane, collaspe of society, EMP, riots. Like I said so many things can happen.. Do I have food stocked, yes, ways to protect ourselves, yes. Is it going to be enough for protection, who knows,  Hardening our doors and windows, yes, will it work, don’t know.

    I really think skills will be the big question.  If we have an EMP for example, do we know how to garden the way they did say 200 years ago.  Must be sure to have the right tools as having a tiller that runs on gas.. Might not be able to get the gas to run the tiller.  Remember hand plows back in the day.  So many ifs and lack of skills could be our nightmare if we don’t have them.  And yes having a comuity come together then everyone could put their skills together and maybe survive and have a better chance .

  • #24456


    The point has been made here that after 2 or 3 generations knowledge will be lost. Well, it is our responsibility and that of our children to not let that happen! That plan has to be made, NOW before the civilization ending disaster (what ever it is) happens. I discussed this somewhat here: https://www.theorganicprepper.com/after-the-end-of-the-world-restarting-civilization/

  • #24459

    Crow Bar

    What assumptions are we making here?

    80-90% die off?

    Will librarys still be intact?

    Will people recognize the importance of reading, writing, math? I am talking about old school, paper and pen (or even slate and charcoal), real mathmatics? With no modern inputs?
    That is all well and good, as long as the basics Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) are met.

    Looking around our current society, do we really want to bring back some of those technological miracels that lead to Facebook?

  • #24461

    Mouse Wizard

    @anon: The literature and references you’re looking for are completely dependent on the skill set you have in mind. Most people will have one primary skill set and a secondary skill that acts in a supporting role. Carpentry and Sharpening, Farming and Husbandry, Chemistry and Pottery, etc. For the “dropping down the curve” time period there will be maintenance and repair of various items, including solar systems, and building stuff from salvage, like solar hot water systems.

    The literature stack for each is unique, and most folk with specific skills have their own set already, because they spent years (and in some cases, generations) acquiring and refining those skills. Most small towns have libraries which will probably be abandoned since they’re government-based. It would be good to have a household dedicate one of its members to opening and maintaining the library again, and seeking contributions of skill-set literature to store and pass on. Can’t predict where these libraries will be, just as we can’t predict which communities will form and thrive, but we can work out general areas where such support is likely to emerge. But that would be after the community has stabilized after reforming itself from BAU dependency to independent sustainability. Again, no predicting any of that.

    So each of us is really responsible for refreshing our skill-set, re-orienting it back to its non-electric origins, acquiring the long-term tools necessary and of course maintaining our individual libraries.

    But don’t forget; all of that is worth nothing if you can’t get to the sustainable communities.

    Hence Wasteland Survival Skills:

    (In no particular order) Cart building. Fire making. Land navigation by compass. Observation and mapping. Caching. Camouflage with native materials. Signalling and encrypted message passing. Trapping and Snaring. Water purification. Radiation detection. Primitive cooking. Primitive camping and structures. Knots and lashings. Sewing, leather-work for shoes and such. First Aid and basic medical under primitive conditions. Sanitation on the trail. Archery. Swordsmanship.

    I use YouTube a lot to train my kids, followed immediately by a subject-specific field exercise. Most last half a day or less except the ones that require a lot of walking. Periodically there’s an integrative exercise. A person typically has to practice the skill three or four times before they become competent, and then once a year to refresh the memory lest it be lost to other shiny things in this crazy life we have these days. Stuff that involves muscle memory (generally the martial arts) requires regular practice essentially forever.

  • #24463

    Crow Bar

    @ Mouse,
    I agree with the more linear skill sets (e.g. chemistry and pottery or even brewer). Could be argued a Farmer has multi-disciplines.
    That is one aspect I have tried to look at myself objectively, do an assessment where I need to improve, or if I cannot gain those skills, whom is around me who can.

    I always think of the Certified Network Engineer, or Windows Security Expert, and what post-SHTF skills they have that can be of value? Can they teach math?

  • #24466


    No those careers are the muscle and if they don’t they starve as they have zero value in post electric world.


    As for library I can only talk about ours it is an entertaining thing with little of real value other than kids books to start reading skills. Alot of stuff is now on micro film and computer which will be useless. The micro film is mainly periodicals which for most part is useless in post electric world.


    Think of the energy and resources required to keep a working age child in school instead of working on insert the blank family enterprise. Look at pre industrial revolution and think why kids where used and not schooled and what it took to make higher education that will be able to use advanced educational materials that would fit the local resources. It’s daunting and can’t be a single person or family thing that is why it’s not in our group.


    We decided that it would be apprenticeships, after equivalley of grade 10 the kids would get a try at each of the main professions here and between aptitude, need of group and availability they would get assigned a 3 to 6 year apprenticeship and the master would decide when they are ready. There would be ability to cross train but doing it this way would allow for a lot of one one one time and still be worth the food required to keep them. Somethings in post electric world would require cross training ie medical would require chemistry and herbalism and farming for next Gen to be self supporting unlike now. Make and build it stronger not weaker. Also to help offset cost kids will get school in am then be assigned to working with adults. All but most young can do manual labors which will be required.


    Also there will be more kids as forms of birth control will basically vanish.


    It is also how much stuff from now you have built to last, building houses and such will cost tremendous effort and supplies. So now it cost cash but in future it will be alot more. Think you have an asphalt roof lasts 5 to 10 years how will you fix replace roof?  New place how will you make a floor?


    Yeah a metal roof twice to three times more but if you buy right kind can last 25 to 50 and some over 100 as long as no physical impacts and you can have replacement pannels. Used stuff that leaks still can be repurposed to animal shelters and barns. Costs now but compared with what it will cost later you decide.

    This goes for siding, heating,washing, electric systems, tools ect one is none but crap will be soon worthless.


    People ask why I bought solar pannels for$3.50 a watt instead of the $1 a watt (we distribute solar) the way the expensive ones are built and how they last. Original pannels from.the expensive company are still at 100 percent rated output after 20 years service. The cheap ones start at 90 percent and drop 5 percent per year if you are lucky. At 20 years it’s basically scrap and no buying extra pannels won’t help you as it is the solder that decays over time causing cascading failure.


    But no matter what you will have to eventually trade and have  others that are not of your group come to see you and provide items and skills so how do you do this ? What do you do for genetic additions to not have inbreeding of both humans and animals.

    There are ways but you need to full scope plan with may fall back and contingency plans and no way you can do it alone.


  • #24481


    My perspective is different. My health is not all that good nor is my physical conditioning. I just did 4 months of physical therapy to improve my walking. The plan was to move on to a gym for more improvement. But my heart decided to act up again, so that is on hold until the heart settles down. So, walking through the wasteland hunting for a functioning community to take me and my library in is a non-starter for me.

    I’m a collector by nature and my last job was in software development. So I have collected tens of thousands of books in PDF. Its free and easy to do, just takes some time and money for storage devices. Ok, computers, tablets, etc. won’t last 2 or 3 generations, unless you plan for that and implementing such a plan, stockpiling Panasonic Toughbooks, won’t be cheep.

    What I would like to do is found or join a group that sees that the library must be core to their future existence. They don’t want to live in a medieval society without electricity (at least on a small scale). I also try to practice a grayman lifestyle. I don’t really want to find a rich man patron as most such people see employees as expendable and replaceable. I don’t see anyway to start or find such a group without going public in some fashion. But traveling would be difficult for me so I don’t see that as much of an option. I suppose I could write a book, but I’ve been told that a book with a lot of links is a non-starter. Maybe a fiction book with the main character doing what I would like to do. Won’t be easy to write. Would cut into my collecting time.


  • #24485

    Crow Bar

    Sorry to hear that Anon.
    You are doing what you can for everyone else. That is very self-less of you.

    I see it as we are going to have to have something like a split between school and working at home for the kids to make sure everyone can plant, harvest etc.
    I have seen it suggested that once a society has met all their basic requirements and have a surplus of food, is when other people within the society can pursue other ventures like advance science, the arts, etc.
    Knowledge is power.

  • #24486


    The basic fact in a shft situation the very young dies and the very old… I am entering the second. I do best yo keep in shape bot gravoty loves me and I like to eat. I bring different skills and have work around stockpiled for my health issues but if it goes long enough i will propbaly die from current issues. Difference  is not when meds run out but when my stock of work around are gone giving me a decade plus.


    Pdf is ok but printed is king. I too have pdf and videos but a comp won’t last over a decade with heavy use and power will be more scarce till it vanishes if not a minor issue.

    Uses to keep you valuable is skills and being able to train young, why have a working age adult do it un less jo choice?  Old guy can still pull guard duty and do other less physical chores. I have an exit plan  for myself before certain events transpire to nicely die at my own choosing instead of some of the  ways you can go when medical fails here. That is my way of dealing with the unavoidable I am not suggesting it to others just sharing.


    • #24488

      Crow Bar

      Namelus said,

      I do best yo keep in shape bot gravoty loves me and I like to eat.

      Right there with ya!

  • #24503

    Mouse Wizard

    Yeah, I finally had to bite the bullet and substantially alter my diet. I was about to run right off the cliff. It sucks.

  • #24731

    Mouse Wizard

    Low-Tech magazine has just released the second volume of their web site as a printed volume. This accompanies volume 1 and has quite a few interesting articles. This one may be a keeper.

    • #25099


      I bought both volumes. I have read two articles and both discussed non-intuitive solutions to problems. Keepers.

  • #24735


    Primative technology just put out a book.

  • #24874

    Mouse Wizard


    • #25005

      Mouse Wizard

      I just got this in. Hardbound. Good paper. Good content. Well worth it as a library asset.

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