Who runs Barter Town?
Ignorance Is Futile Exclusive:
Considering the US is facing something like a Quadrillion dollar bubble, why not prepare for tomorrows Barter Economy? But why merely prepare to have some extra food in the looming collapse when you can position yourself to become a ‘Mad Max Millionaire’.
Hardly anyone is preparing for anything. Many can’t, but many can yet they don’t… SHTF. Hyperinflation makes the paper money useless. You flee the stomped ant hill population center you live in to your off the grid exit…
With the right preparations you’ll be the epicenter of your surrounding community, therefore planning into your MMM future should include what you would want to best serve such a role. The goal of this post isn’t to teach you to be a master of all trades, instead it’s about helping you realize where the ‘money’ is going to be in such a scenario, and how you might capitalize on it.
So here is a comprehensive outline of your steps to becoming the pillar of the community in the Barter Economy (BE).
Biodiesel (The Key):
Biodiesel is the smartest thing now, and for the BE. Just about any diesel engine made since 1992 can run straight biodiesel that you can make in your garage right now for about $1 per gallon. You can literally make the 3 chemical components needed for biodiesel from scratch. As the epicenter of trade, people can bring you the raw materials for barter, reducing your potential labor load. Tractors can do to a field in a couple hours what it would take a human weeks to do. Therefore, they with biodiesel will be the epicenter of the area. Imagine that today you can literally get 40 miles to the gallon at $1 per gallon with biodiesel, and then consider how useful such a commodity would be under Mad Max. With the right catch, and ingenuity, you can get into biodiesel for even lower than $1000. If you’re not lazy in the hands-on sense, there could hardly be anything smarter to do even if we weren’t on the verge of collapse. Let me repeat that: you can literally get 40 miles to the gallon at $1 per gallon with biodiesel. Lastly, the raw materials used for making biodiesel keep almost indefinitely unlike refined petrofuel.
The more fuel you can produce for your community the less of the rest you’ll have to do. Fuel such as diesel will be at the top of the ‘food chain’ in BE demand.
A key ingredient for biodiesel, that can even be used for its own fuel purposes. Via a “Wood Gasifier“, you can make your own methanol. There are cars in the world that actually run on straight “Wood Gas” (methanol), with all of the equipment built right into the vehicle. You need this stuff to make biodiesel and for other purposes, but remember you can’t clean wounds with it (better suited for cleaning engines).
Has many uses. Obviously it can be made for consumption (so long as there is no longer an ATF to worry about), but its also important if you intend to be able to supply all energy needs. Biodiesel can’t power everything. You can also have it as an available medical supply, as without isopropyl and iodine, ethanol is where most will turn for cleaning wounds etc. So obviously you’ll want at least one good DIY still for ethanol production (seperate from a still for water).
Solar / Wind:
For comfort, obviously, having surplus solar panels and wind turbines hooked up would be ideal, but here we’re talking about usefulness not comfort. So the bare minimum should be ensuring you have the power needed to run your epicenter activities. One thing that would be good for a number of reasons is a solar / turbine system specifically tuned to maintain a decent sized deep freezer chest. In short, you’ll want to ensure that there is more than enough power in each sub-system to ensure availability of your key epicenter equipment.
You can spend $100 on a good Berkey filter, but this would be for personal scale. If you want to be the prime source of choice water then spend that $100 instead on my DIY design that will provide large amounts of clean water. You’re obviously going to need a good water supply to run it, so you’re going to want to be able to pump water from a well when there’s no rain to catch. If you look around there are some DIY methods for digging wells, but the depth potential using these methods wont always work everywhere. You can pump water by hand with a cheap hand up to about 20′, and there are windmill options. Don’t forget for $100 you can build a nice solar hot water heater.
DIY inexpensive high volume crystal clear Drinking Water Filtration
In terms of epicenter, you’ll want the equipment to be able to make large batches of food. If you have the facilities to make things like breads or maybe cheeses then the morale of your camp and community would be much higher. Trying to store enough rice or related in advance for such a role would require owning a grocery store now, so instead plan in ways of things you could produce then. Have lots of grain seeds on hand, and the ability to process the grain is key. You can always find locals to grow the grain crops for you, but you’ll need manual food processing equipment of all types (browse thrift stores).
This could be a deep issue, but small scale easy animals for this role that you could pursue now (assuming you don’t want large animals) are quail and rabbits. These are ideal survivalist types of creature anyways. Quail mature faster and eat less per pound of meat harvest than chickens, and rabbits out reproduce and out mature just about anything, and can eat just about anything if it comes down to it. The key is preparedness, so having any creature types in inventory is the key, but you could also save money now while preventing animal torture on your behalf by slaughtering your own meat (you do eat meat don’t you?).
Being able to trap food is better than spending the time and ammo hunting / fishing it. But as the epicenter you’ll want more to be able to make traps to trade. Trying to stockpile masses of mesh wire in advance would be counter-productive to other efforts, but the tools and methods are key to have now. You can get mesh on the way out (hopefully), but you’ll really want to already have ideas in mind of how to make traps without a good source of mesh wire. This is just an outline, but the info is all out there if you look.
The more chemistry you’re able to do the more services you can provide. Therefore knowledge, skills and equipment are all key. Look up a UK show called “Rough Science” to see some cool chemistry examples using rough materials and equipment.
This is important for food, water, chemistry and so on. Not only would you ideally have mason jars, but think of how useful tons of plastic or glass containers of all shapes and sizes would be. You likely currently throw out ‘choice’ containers daily. If you have a garage you could start tossing the cleaned out containers in an empty refrigerator box, instead of whatever bin you put out by the street. Imagine how many sturdy containers you discard per year.
In the old days, wars were actually fought and entire regions were hegemonically dominated over spices. As we now know, not only do spices make food taste better, but most have other notable great values. Many have antioxidants and / or other healthful compounds. A great many have anti-microbial effects, meaning food cooked with lots of the spices will keep longer.
In the BE, people will be growing their own vegetables. Many will have a decent enough set of seed types after not too long, so the key to your preparations on this front will be in having a vast variety of seed types so that you’ll have plenty more to offer while the others have averaged out their seeds with each other. I know for a fact that you can end up with 300 or more types of seeds with a limited budget over the course of a year.
If you want to be the local doctor this can be trickier. Having a supply of ethanol is key, but bandages is another problem. Having a doctor or EMT type in your crew is an obvious plus. Regardless there are some basic tools you’d need that can be done on the cheap. If you get lucky on Craigslist you could end up with some impressive equipment and maybe even the stuff needed for person to person blood transfusions. Beyond that just a get routine of trying to spot medical supplies on clearance and you could have a major health kit by the time the BE occurs. See also the Knowledge section below.
With a reasonable investment not only can you offer an invaluable service to those who come to trade, you can have better dental health now (which you’ll want in the BE reality). For about $150 you can get an ultrasonic “scaler”, which is the ultimate invention in dentistry. This device blasts off plaque and even nicotine stains without even scraping (scraping is unrecommended!). “Drill” type heads can even be attached to some of them, but to go the normal drill route you can get the whole setup with scaler and other items included for something like $500 on ebay.
Library / Book Store:
Knowledge is power, especially if there wasn’t such a nice Internet handy for use. Therefore archiving data from the Internet is key. There are endless webpages that go into great detail in all of the things that would set one ahead, and handy GNU programs can copy entire websites for easy offline use.With the new ‘Internet Kill Switch‘ measure in place these efforts could already be invaluable.
There are many ways to get PDF file e-books at all levels of advancement. Google Books allows you to download PDF’s of old public domain texts from the 1800′s that tell you how they used to do everything. For instance, search for “Yeast” and set the criteria to ‘free’. If you want to be the purveyor of knowledge you’ll need to be able to print, therefore you’ll want a good printer with large external linked in inkwells that are a smart investment anyways if you print often. SHTF, and you add printer paper to your list of desired barter items and they’ll bring the paper to you. Printers would even be ‘worthless’ to most should there not be power anymore.
To ensure your best operational capabilities you’ll need to be able to weld (and cut steel). Like most of the rest herein, Craigslist is your ticket to finding a good deal on a suitable welder unit. I suggest getting one over 200 amps as 90 amp units can’t weld very thick steel. The problem is in powering it. This feature (welding) will add significantly to your project estimate having nothing going in. If you already have a good diesel generator then you’re set, but otherwise you could go the woodgas route that has other advantages. One setup has a 10kW twin engine generator, but such a nice all in one combined system like that could be pricey. www.gekgasifier.com…
Every town needs a good blacksmith, and its possible to cheaply get a forge setup going that burns old automotive oil to power the forge (needs a blower fan). With no more gas stations there wont be much of a shortage of old spent oil for a good while.
Using the screen from an old rear projection TV you can literally vaporize aluminum cans or melt glass! The usefulness of such a device are profound when energy and ability is an issue. If I managed to get about 90 screens for free in 2 months using Craigslist, then anyone can get some of these (especially since I stopped chasing the free TV’s over a year ago). Imagine if if they were worth their weight in silver or better. I weighed a big lens from the middle of my stack and it clocked in at 6 lbs. 6 lbs. x $18 per ounce is $1728. And there are other useful things you get when you scrap out a whole TV, especially if you know anything about working with electronics. Get enough, and you also end up with many perfectly good TV’s (it’s true). Lastly you also get 3 high quality (glass) magnifying glasses perfect for starting fires. For getting lots of TV’s at once, call around to TV repair shops. That is the best way actually.
In the barter Economy, where supply chains may be cut off via marauders, bugs will be the scourge of existence. When you cant buy “Off” at the store you will run out eventually. Therefore you need renewable sources of insect repellents, to help people overcome this menace.
There are not too hard to find lists of seeds for such plants to be found online, and many herbs that have repellent properties of varying degrees, but one easy thing you can do is visit Asian markets to purchase live stalks of Lemon Grass.
Lemon Grass contains Citronella, and you can even cook with it like many Asians do. You can stick the stalk into dirt, or water to get them to start regrowing. I did this with root hormone and without, using both potted dirt and jars of water. There was a slight edge of root and plant growth with root hormone in water. In the potted soil tests there seemed to be a slight edge for the stalks that didn’t have hormone. But honestly the edge of difference was marginal regardless of how I did it, except that the potted specimens were slightly slower overall than the jar subjects. In any case, eventually you’ll end up with seeds.
So that is one clear example of such a useful resource, and there are many others for combating different pests. The real issue is that seeking out seeds (or trees) of this nature is key to providing the best possible service to your area.
The ability to ‘grow’ sugar is a crucial role in the BE. Sugar is needed not only for food but for the production of ethanol for fuel or drink. What many might not know is that Sugar Beet is how the non-tropical world generates sugar, and molasses. Therefore having a stock of sugar beet seeds will help ensure your MMM future.
Weaponry in the BE will be crucial for hunting and defense, therefore a local gunsmith will serve a special role. While you clearly will need plenty of firepower to defend your position as the epicenter, the focus in this context is usefulness to others. Therefore skills, tools, documentation and other related equipment to the role of gunsmithing (and bladesmithing) is needed.
Ammo in general will be an excellent item of barter, but while trying to outfit yourself as the epicenter trying to stockpile more than you intend for yourself could be self-defeating. For your own ammo stockpiles, seek out as much brass casing ammo as possible. You might even score a huge stockpile of empty brass casings of all different sorts on your next trip to an outdoor gun range, especially if you find one on state park property that isn’t attended.
In the BE, being able to reload ammo will be the only real long term solution to the ammo crisis. So basic reloading equipment is a good idea in general, but in particular there will be a need for gunpower, primer caps and bullets (slugs). Its not hard to find info on making gunpower from things like manure, or re-prime caps using even strike tip matches, but having little casts for making your own slugs is the real tool to have in advance.
From there the weapons themselves are the issue. It might be hard to budget a kit of spare parts for your weapons, just for yourself. So trying to have such for other weapons types borders on ludicrous. However, with the right tools and knowledge you can function as a gunsmith even without. The main things are any special tools that various weapons need, and a good array of tools in general. Shotgun News is a good marketplace publication where you can browse most of the usually inexpensive weapon specific tools you might want. You’ll also want a good array of cleansing devices, cloths, and large amounts of gun worthy oil.
For knowledge the Internet in general, the torrent networks and even Google Books have plently of resources on gunsmithing and bladesmithing.
For gun oil, don’t waste wads of cash investing in overpriced specialty gun oil. You’d be able to harvest it from automobiles. While any ideally only slightly used motor oil will do the trick, the best stuff you’re looking for is synthetic oil blends, or ATF transmission fluid.
“Ironically, the product that scores at or very near the top of just about everyone’s testing is also the most available, and the cheapest. It also has good migration, a good boundary lubrication package, is the right weight (thickness) for general firearms use, doesn’t oxidize over long periods of storage, and is compatible with a wide range of metals and plastics. In addition, it is recommended by at least one real degreed firearms engineer! Just what is this miracle elixir??…Dexron-type Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF). That’s right, plain ol’ ATF.”
“Motor oils: Generally good boundary lubrication (particularly the Havoline formulations), but very poor corrosion resistance and poor resistance to open-air oxidation. In addition, their pour-point additives often contain benzene compounds, which aren’t a good thing to have next to your skin on a regular basis! ATF is better on every count, even if it is a tad more expensive. (ATF is still 1/10 to 1/100th the cost of a specialty “gun oil”!)”
This thread is a choice place to read about alternative oils. A commenter there stated:
Been using ATF on my guns for years, even on my CCW that frequently rides in my pocket. No rust, things move like they should, and ATF is cheap.
…I used RemOil, Militec, and a variety of other gun specific lubes prior. I see no functional difference between them and plain old ATF except for price.
Motor oils can have additives that aren’t particularly good for you and are missing useful additives that most decent gun oils will have. Other than that they obviously do a good job of lubrication. The main disadvantage of motor oils compared to a good quality gun oil is that motor oils are typically do a very poor job of corrosion prevention.
If you like Mobil 1, the “L” in Breakfree CLP is the same synthetic oil that was used in the original formulation of Mobil 1 (Mobil 1 was reformulated when the supply of the original synthetic oil dropped). What Breakfree CLP gives you that Mobil 1 doesn’t is that the “P” provides some of the best corrosion protection on the market. In the tests I’ve seen, Breakfree CLP scores near the top while Mobil 1 scores near the bottom.
If corrosion protection isn’t an issue and you know that the motor oil in question doesn’t have additives that would make it a poor choice for an item handled & worn (for example, at least one formulation of Mobil 1, i.e. EP 15W-50, contains zinc dithiophosphate which the MSDS says has a low order of toxicity and may result in eye, skin, or respiratory irritation, also the aforementioned benzene found in some motor oils) then motor oil isn’t a bad choice.
On the other hand, there are choices available (such as ATF) that provide the same level of economy that motor oil does but that are a much better overall match for the application than motor oil is.
A gun oil elixer:
CONTENTS: Ed’s Red Bore Cleaner
1 part Dexron II, IIe or III ATF, GM Spec. D-20265 or later.
1 part Kerosene – deodorized, K1
1 part Aliphatic Mineral Spirits, Fed. Spec. TT-T-2981F, CAS
#64741-49-9, or may substitute “Stoddard Solvent”, CAS #8052-41-3, or equivalent, (aka “Varsol”)
1 part Acetone, CAS #67-64-1.
(Optional: Up to 1 lb. of Lanolin, Anhydrous, USP per gallon, OK to substitute Lanolin, Modified, Topical Lubricant, from the drug store)
This page is a must see. They did corrosion trials with different oils in different ways and you can see photo test results. This page is similar, but without photos. Neither test tested ATF fluid though.
Tactical Landscaping, Inc.:
With all you’ll be doing in your new job, the last thing you’ll want to be doing is visiting others locations to try and install Mad Max ‘security systems’ for them, but you might be able to provide them the right equipment.
Black Berries: Black berries are the ultimate perimeter defense barrier, that also provide a nice source of food. Once they get established, its like having nets of barbed wire as your fortress walls. You can get a good several hundred seeds from a little basket of berries. To do this crush the berries up into a sludge, add the sludgeand a little water into a deep jar, and allow it to sit for several days until the slime will wash off with water while clean seeds drop to the bottom. Next dry them out and (very important) freeze them for a month or more so that they’ll germinate. Next plant as many in pots as you can maintain, and / or visit your assumed exit property and plant them around the entire perimeter of the property. [The next big category in thise guide will tell you where to get pots should you intend to be a major supplier.]
True Mad Max: Then theres the more extreme true to the sense of Mad Max style ‘landscaping’. Barbed (or razor) wire is surely something of desire in perimiter defense, but why stop there when you can build massive walls using cheap and plentiful used automotive tires? The logistics of being in advance able to have enough tires to build your walls while also being a supplier of such resources could be a challenge, but one solution could be to buy the local auto junk yard in your desired exit region. Besides, this is Mad Max era we’re talking about afterall… Imagine all those spare parts and raw steel.
Gardening will be the new way of life in the BE, so having supplies to trade is another important area of concern. Attempting to invest currency into this facet, in advance, could be fiscally daunting, but there are some things you can do.
Pots: If you know a landscaper, you might just have your ticket to thousands of free planting containers of all sizes. Any landscaper with a decent operation goes thru a thousand or more of these per year. There exists no deposits on containers, therefore you might be doing them a favor taking these endless leftovers.
Locals: If you’re lucky, you can work out some potentially sweet deals with locals to dump truckloads of woodchips and even manure out at your exit location to have it all there in advance.
Center for Disease Control:
Should there be a pandemic, people will need somewhere to turn. Just stockpiling gas masks and filter cartridges wont be good enough, and trying to budget more than you’ll need isn’t wise unless you’re today wealthy, but there are natural solutions.
Elder Berries, garlic, onions (grow both Yellow Onions & Shallots), oregano, allspice, echinacea, capsicum (peppers), cinnamon, ginger, tumeric and others are all natural defenses to flu viruses. Elder berry, allspice and cinnamon come from trees. Elder berries are the most effective defense for flus, and luckily its the tree people from most climates will actually be able to grow. If you find seeds you’ll need to freeze them for them to germinate, and like most perennial trees they take years to reach high production so this in one thing you dont want to wait around to do. The rest you can grow yourself.
Beyond what you would grow, other things of importance are ethanol & vinegar for cleansing. [search Google Books for "vinegar"] The best method of administering ‘sambucol’ (elder berry extract) is via alcohol tincture made from vodka grade ethanol.
Stocking up on TONS of footgear (for economic purposes) would be a problem. Knowing how you might utilize available materials for this purpose is the solution.
Rubber: You can consider cutting up automotive tires to make sandals out of them. Although without electric power tools it could be massively difficult to cut the tires. I get the feeling a sawzall could make quick work of it. Lets see…
This site here is very descriptive and says to not use tires that have steel reinforcements. Then you just use utility knives.
Instructables.com has some pages dealing with this. This one talks about using steel radials:
I used an angle grinder to cut the tire. It was messy, noisy, and stunk, but I couldn’t face the struggle with a saw. It didn’t take long at all once I got the hang of it. It IS tough to find tires w/o steel nowadays. Once you are done cutting them out, go over the edges with a pair of cutters and clean up any wires poking out. Instant pain/blood on any part of the body touched with the edge otherwise. I think the steel is essential to the sandal’s success when it comes to the straps.
The smell of that burning rubber would be like instant migraine for me personally. Sawzall might be able to do it. But another comment in that page says to go to ATV shops to get used ATV tires which don’t use steel.
One way or another all of this is doable, but the important thing would be to actually build a pair or so now, so that you’ll know what you’ll need to be able to do it. Then you’ll need to ensure having the enablers in place in the BE.
Leather: Leather working tools will be a must, and luckily they are rather simple.. Sharp knife, cardboard & poster board for making patterns, round pointed needle, stitch spacer, ice pick / nails. Also look into water and wax hardening techniques.
Nothing says civilized like a good hair cut, and shave. Inherently in such a situation you’ll want to have a straight razor, and razor strap sharpener setup. But why not stock up on a few extra blades? There’s no telling what people would trade for a good clean shave. Then of course you’ll want some good scissors, and an electric shaver assuming you’re to have electricity to power it.
Blades & Bows:
Eventually ammo will run out, and reloading will become more and more scarce and futile. It will still be around, but people will cling to it for ‘special occasions’ of desperation. For everyday action blades and bows will eventually triumph.The specifics of mastery of these two categories go beyond the scope of this entry, but here are some thoughts.
Blades: Use the web, and archive data. There’s tons of sites out there providing all levels of detail for blade smithing. This category is on the same page as black smithing. You might also find some videos worth your while using the torrent networks, perhaps. Some sites I’ve seen have highly recommended automobile leaf springs for making knives and short swords.
Bows: For making high quality bows from wood you’re going to have to do some research. But a more heavy duty and semi-easy crossbows again automotive leaf springs are of particular interest:
I say if you have money just sitting in the bank then be smart and buy large quantities of all the things you know you’re going to use regardless. With inflation and everything else the price of everything is constantly going up, while the value of the dollar sitting in the bank is going down. In light of this reality the best investments you can make are into preserving the value of the dollars you possess. And it turns out that a great many of these sorts of things have great barter / quality of life value just in case.
Freecycle is how I got my first few rear projection big screen TV’s. But shortly thereafter I realized it has a more limited audience. I’m not even knocking it, except I was going for massive quantity of TV’s (for the Fresnel Lenses, etc). That’s when I found my way towards Craigslist’s Free section.
I say use both!! Freecycle’s only limitation was my absurd ambition. Going all out, I ended up with 90 big screens in about 2 months. In terms of big screens, I went on to figure out that TV repair shops are the best way to pull up and fill a whole 20′ truck in one stop: people take their old RP TV’s in for repair, and after getting a quote for as much or more than the TV is worth they leave it for dead. Dumps charge to dispose of them, so it becomes a loss for repair men who don’t have time to totally strip them down.
One thing about Freecycle is you have to maintain an about 1:1 request/offer ratio. That’s another key reason you want to use both services in unison. CL is so useful. I got 400lbs. of baking soda loaded into my truck for free one of the last times I was ‘on it’, about a year ago. Even having warehouse access, I still got so full of MM wealth in a matter of months that I don’t too often even get around to checking the free page ever. And that’s just free stuff. You could actually get real lucky and pick up a hardly used $2500 biodiesel processor system for $450.