Saturday, April 7, 2012

Older good used stuff

A lot of  folks who call themselves preppers seem to have an obsession for collecting new/better/best gear to ease their transition to life after TEOTWAWKI. I'm not going to knock the strategy, it may be the best approach for them.

But I'm more aligned with an approach that I call older good used stuff.

For example, I try to avoid dependence on the newest mechanical devices, especially those now inbred with electronic chips or other so-called smart features. Older good used stuff usually has fewer electronic frills. That's less to go wrong. And when something does go wrong, you can usually scrounge around to find or fabricate something to facilitate a fix. That's a lot harder to do if you've got to replace a specifically tasked microchip that's blown.

I paid about $5 for this older used
multi-band transistor radio a decade
ago. It remains one of the strongest
AM receivers I've ever owned.
For this reason, I wish I had at least one older, less electronically inbred car than I do. But it's not a perfect world, and I am on a budget. But what I do keep an eye out for are where I might find parts for what I have should I need it. Junkyards, indy garages, or a similar used vehicle under a tarp in someone's backyard are good starting points. And, yes, my vehicles are old enough that these sources are practical ones if normal supply chains fail. I don't feel the need to acquire spare parts stockpiles as I do knowing of potential suppliers down the road.

Electronics are another item I've thought about. Microchips are at the heart of a lot of the newer stuff, so I've become much more prone to give second looks when I see older good used stuff for sale that's assembled from individual components like resistors, capacitors and transistors. As a teen, I was pretty good at doing rudimentary repairs on some simple electronics, but there's much I've forgotten. Still, there's enough old engineers or repair techs around who could help me with repairs should an older transistor radio go bad if replacements weren't readily available. The only fix for chip-based stuff is often to replace the unit, or replace the specialized chip that's probably only stockpiled at some warehouse in China.

Older good used stuff may not work flawlessly, but that invites tinkering. Tinkering builds familiarity. Familiarity can lead to skills allowing you to do your own tweaking or repair. If we ever do find ourselves dealing with TEOTWAWKI, you're likely gonna be on your own. As much as practical, get stuff now that invites do-it-yourself servicing or repair, the kind of stuff you can keep running on your own if need be or with just little help from others in your close-at-hand community.

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