SHTF Vehicles

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In my last column I wrote about buying land as a hedge against both currency collapse and the very real possibility of roaming mobs of violent thugs in a SHTF scenario. Several readers brought up the issue of transportation: What kind of vehicle would be good to have in bad times? Here are some thoughts on that:

First, what do you need the vehicle to do?

It makes a big difference whether you plan (and are in a position to) stay put vs. needing to get far away from where you are in the event of major unrest. If you plan to stay put, then things like range and carrying capacity will probably be of much less concern than ruggedness and simplicity. Conversely, if the vehicle is going to be your “bug out” machine, it better have enough room to carry you, your family and everything that’s essential to you – as well as long enough legs to get where you’re going without assuming you will be able to stop for fuel along the way. The latter you can crutch some by keeping several five gallon jugs of treated (with fuel stabilizer) gas on hand and ready. If the S does not H the F then just recycle the gas (by consuming it for daily driving or in your outdoor power equipment). But if it does, you’ve added 40-60 percent to the range of your vehicle; even if it’s a real hog, that ought to get you another 100-plus miles down the road and that should be far enough to put you and yours away from the worst and most immediate danger (inner city/suburban mobs who will quickly and easily overwhelm civilian law enforcement, possibly for days or even weeks).  But on the former – room for what you need and the people you intend to carry – you’re pretty much stuck with something sizable. My recommendation would be a large wagon of some kind. They don’t make them anymore, but a really excellent choice would be a ’90s-era Chevy Caprice or Buick Roadmaster/Estate Wagon. These RWD, V-8 powered machines will take 7-9 people (or four and lots of stuff)  and are much physically tougher than currently available, FWD-based wagons. They also have the virtue of being inexpensive. A scan of the online classifieds turned up several for well under $10,000. Another – newer and more plentiful – option to consider is the Ford Crown Victoria. Cops like these big (six passenger) RWD/V-8 sedans for good reason. They are also cheap buys on the used market. It might be smart to acquire such a vehicle and keep it handy for just-in-case.

And if you plan to stay put? Hopefully, you’ll be staying put on your spread in the country. In which case, the desirable vehicle will be as tough and simple as you can deal with. Others who have written on this subject have pointed out the vulnerability of anything modern – that is, anything controlled by an ECU and which has a transistorized ignition system, which means pretty much any car built since the early ’80s (for computers) and most anything since the mid-’70s for electronic ignition. Reason? Two of them. First, the more complex the vehicle, the more likely it is to eventually develop a problem – and the more difficult it will be to fix, especially in a SHTF scenario, when you might not be able to run down to Advance Auto or the dealership for a new ECU or MAP sensor. The other reason is that computer-controlled/transistorized vehicles can be rendered inert by an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), which you probably (hopefully) know does not require an actual nuclear detonation. In fact, the military and civilian law enforcement have the capability to use EMPs – in addition to the possibility of some foreign entity. Is it a likely scenario? Probably not. But if there is an EMP burst, your later-model vehicle could become lawn sculpture in the blink of an eye.

Here’s where an “antique” or “classic” vehicle comes in. I don’t mean a restored ’66 Mustang 289 Hi-Po. I do mean something along the lines of a solid, good-driving ’60s or early ’70s-era VW Beetle (Mark I, old school) or pick-up such as a Ford F100 Ranger (or equivalent GM/Dodge) or perhaps a simple, tough older SUV such as a same-era Jeep, International Scout, Land Rover, Chevy Blazer or Ford Bronco (the original, not the “II”).Vehicles of this period don’t have computers – and their ignitions (if factory) are points-type, which aren’t bothered by EMPs.

The downside to the latter is they’re already popular collectibles, so the supply of good condition affordable examples is almost nil. But old VWs are still both abundant and cheap. You can pick up a very decent (solid body, good-running engine) Super Beetle from the early-mid ’70s for $8,000 or less.They are incredibly simple to maintain, too – for example, an oil change involves just three quarts of oil and cleaning a reusable screen.

VW also made a Bug-based model for a couple of years (1973-1974) called The Thing. It is basically a civilian version of the famous WW II Kubelwagen used by the Wehrmacht and Afrika Korps. Like the Beetle it’s based on, it is rugged, excellent in poor weather (the air-cooled engine heats up quickly) and surprisingly good off-road (the engine sits on top of the drive wheels, aiding traction; the wheels are tall and skinny and the car has a lot of ground clearance). If you can find one, it makes a great SHTF car.

I personally also recommend a dirt bike or dual sport (can go on paved roads for extended periods as well as being capable off-road) motorcycle, such as the Kawasaki KL/KLR series, the Honda XR/XL or the Suzuki DR series. These bikes get phenomenal gas mileage, for openers – as much as 70 MPG or more, depending on the size of the engine and the tires you choose (knobby tires will hurt your mileage on paved roads) and will go almost anywhere, road or no road.  They are an efficient way to reconnoiter your land – or to get away from undesirables out in the boonies. There is a reason why (like the Ford Crown Vic) cops and the military also have these bikes. 

Ideally, choose a model that is air-cooled (much simpler, no radiator to service or leave you stranded in the event of a leak) and which has a kick starter – because batteries may be hard to come by in a SHTF scenario. An ATV can do similar service, but they’re width makes them better in fields than in deep woods and most of them are not really usable on paved roads for trips of any length. But a dual-sport motorcycle like the Kawasaki KLR 65o (or the Honda XL500/XL650) can literally go from one end of the country to the other.

That’s my 50 cents on this topic. How about yours?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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49 COMMENTS

  1. I’ll disagree here with the whole Get out of Dodge scenario.
    If you’re not where you want to be when/if the SHTF you’re toast. Freeways will be gridlocked and even if you get out of the cities first, rural people will block roads and defend them to keep city dwellers out of their area, human predators will block and ambush travelers as simply as blocking bridges, cutting trees, scattering caltrop devices, sniper fire, etc…

    If you have more than several hours to drive to reach your destination, you need to go before the SHTF or you need to go truly mobile ( dirt bikes/dune buggies ) vehicles that can bypass traffic jams, cross open country and avoid ambushes, rather than rely on paved streets.

    The East Coast/Atlantic States and the Gulf Coast states, would become nightmares with the kind of population densities you see there, in fact you could probably write off everything East of Little Rock, Arkansas, and South of Little Rock, Arkansas. Texas is a special case because it’s so big, but I’ve lived there in the past and the big cities, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin are also toast – they’re zoos now, forget about it if food deliveries and water is cut off.

    As someone who has driven through those areas the only place far enough to be somewhat safe is Maine because of distance and hard winters. I keep hearing of the Appalachians, and there are still some tough mountain folk there, but it won’t mean squat against millions of armed desparados. Forget about getting out of Dodge after the SHTF – if you see it coming, go now.

  2. What do you guys think about a Willys Jeep? Many years ago, my college roommate had one (I can’t remember the model year, but probably somewhere in the 60’s) with a deep water fording kit and we took the thing into 5 feet of flood waters, up 45% inclines for short distances, through a foot of mud, pretty much anywhere we wanted. He had it painted camo and it looked pretty awesome, always turned heads when riding through town. I yearn for a SHTF vehicle like that. Thoughts?

    • Buildings were evacuated in the NYC area. I did not feel anything in NJ, but that was probably due to me driving at the time. I was thinking of the SHTF articles here and thinking what would happen if there was any serious disruption to are daily lives.

      I remember the black out that darkened most of the Northeast including northern NJ and NYC. The image of people in front of an ATM was priceless. (no power, no money)

  3. I’d avoid the 1970s VW Super Beetle. It has a strut front suspension versus the earlier Beetle’s simple torsion bars. The older beetle is almost an ORV stock. The first vehicle I ever saw out on the sand dunes was a ’63 stock Beetle back in summer of ’67. The owner had put Michelins on it, deflated them to 12 psi for a wider footprint and gone up a 20 degree grade (in 1st) and then just started roaming the dunes. (I was hiking. But I flagged the guy down to find out how the heck he was doing what he was doing!) It turned into a small industry, thereafter, called “dune buggies.”

    You can buy a Street Legal dune buggy for around $5000, half that for a non-street legal version (check your local Craigslist). They’re even lighter than the Beetle, but run the same engine, trans, steering gear and front axle as the Standard Beetle. Cheaper than a Beetle and hugely cheaper than the very collectible VW Thing.

    They don’t have a heater. But neither does a bike. And a bike can’t pull a plow. A dune buggy could – in 1st – but you’d probably have to find a way to get some weight over the rear axle.

    FWIW, a buggy is a pretty inexpensive SHTF sort of vehicle. They’ll freeway drive if you want, at 28 mpg. But they’ll go OR in 1st and 2nd and make it down trails that a heavier 4WD pickup couldn’t.

    Check ’em out.

    • I don’t know about the consensus, but given the relatively high percentage of alcohol in E10, I think it’s especially important to keep any stored fuel in a tightly sealed container, topped off as much as possible, to limit the possibility of water contamination. I always use Stab-Bil, too. My experience so far – storing treated fuel in tightly sealed, topped-off containers kept in a dark place (workshop) – has been ok. I store about 30 gallons at a time for about six months at a time. The fuel looks good to the eye (still clear, not amber), smells right – and I haven’t had any issues when using it.

      That’s my 50 cents.

  4. If the primary purpose is Bugging Out, it’s hard to beat a big 4×4 truck or SUV, with a Bull Bar for pushing things out of the way. And barring EMP, a modern truck is just fine. It’s one thing to focus on a truck that you can keep running indefinitely in a low tech environment. But if the main job is safely taking you on that one crucial ride that gets you out of Dodge….well, make mine a 2012 Ram Power Wagon.

    • EMP or massive solar flare rendering a modern vehicle with an ECU inoperative is an old wive’s tale. Read up on it.
      My choice for best SHTF vehicle – and I have had to evacuate 4 times due to emergencies – is a mini-van. Low profile, relatively good mileage, real spare tire, remove as many seats as you don’t have family members and it will hold a ton.

  5. The more I think about this subject the more I think a dual sport bike might be the only true usable vehicle for travel. In the scenario we’re talking about there is going to be ciaos everywhere. All the highways and roads will be parking lots/trash dumps. The passable roads will be equip with road blocks and check points. Not even to mention the goons in the woods ready to ambush you. Travel by roadway would be suicide!

  6. 116/126 chassis Mercedes 300SD, 70s-80s. Maybe even the TD wagon. Anything electronic is already broken, and possibly replaced, by mechanical parts. If memory serves, there was even a rare extended range version with 2 fuel tanks on the S classes. And of course, don’t forget the trailer hitch attachment. I see them as pretty much as indestructible a car as you can find. And $5’000 gets you one that’s pretty well sorted.

  7. Hi Eric,
    I’m really enjoying your site and articles on LRC.
    My question is what is your opinion on my 1989 Chevy Suburban?
    It has the 6.2 diesel engine and is 4×4. The 6.2 was designed for fuel economy and not power, so I think its range would be decent. From my understanding, with the mechanical injection pump it would be mostly impervious to an EMP. Of course the biggest benefit is that I already own it! Right now it just serves as a 2nd vehicle/longboard locker, so I know it can fit tons of bug out supplies.
    Thanks and keep up the good work!

    • Hi Matt,

      Thanks! And – the Suburban sounds like a great choice. It is tough, it can carry lots of stuff – and the diesel is an added plus. Older models like your can be made to run on “homebrew” diesel too – a real plus in a SHTF scenario.

  8. I’ve got a 1993 GMC Vandura 2500 conversion van. It’s a great bugout vehicle.

    Standard Chevy 5.7 v8 (tbi) makes for easy parts availability, 33 gallon tank, rear seats fold down into a bed…and I’ve got the $70 walmart/goodyear wrangler M&S tires on it…I’ve actually taken it light off road and it does really well. It’s got a roof rack and plenty of room.

    I bought it with 96000 miles for $2500, I’ve now got 125,000 on it from doing family trips, camping and weekend driving. I’ve got 4 young kids so it’s really ideal for my situation.

    Gas mileage is pretty poor unless I’m on the highway(18mpg when I’m gentle)…but it has so much room I could easily load 5, or even 10, 5 gallon gas tanks if need be.

    It already had a tow kit when I bought it that I use when camping, but I’m entertaining the possibility of a brush guard and winch…any thoughts?

    As far as electronics go, I’ve always had a different mindset in terms of reliability…of course it’s always model specific…but TBI is better than a carb in my opinion and electronic ignition has always seemed more reliable than old school stuff…so I kinda disagree with the article on that point.

  9. What would be the price of fuel in such a scenario or is it up to people to stockpile drums of fuel ahead of time? Seriously a pushbike would be a cost-effective, low-maintenance vehicle. Unless you’re presuming people are rarely going anyway and be living a fortress/farm.

    • Fuel would, of course, be scarce and expensive. But you can run a 250 cc dirt bike almost forever on 25 gallons of stored (treated) fuel. Good like with the pedal bike in the woods, up steep inclines and then back up rutted fire roads with 8-10 percent grades….

    • I agree with Gil. If the S Really HTF, a reliable supply of fuel for any motorized vehicle could be a problem.

      I recommend a steel-framed, rigid fork mountain bike or “cross” bike (like a mountain bike, but with larger wheels). Older Trek 800-series mountain bikes/700 series cross bikes are particularly nice, but there are many other comparable brands. These bikes are strong, simple to maintain, and can be fitted with a wide variety of trailers for extra carrying capacity. Nice used models of these bikes can be had for $200 or less if you know where to look.

      • Having a pedal bike as you describe would certainly be good to have; however, if you need to cover long distances or go through rugged terrain, forget it. In that case, a small cc off-road motorcycle is the ticket. Does it use gas? Yes, but hardly any. Many are capable of 70-plus MPG, so if you have a few 5 gallon containers of treated fuel stored up, you’ve got fuel enough to operate a small motorcycle for a long time, provided you are careful about how often you use it.

        • There was a pretty good write up on the bicyle subject over at survivalblog not too long ago. What the writer suggested was a heavy duty bike (essentially like what Mark describes above)with a handlebar extension (like a pole strapped to the handlebars) to allow you to load the bike down with your stuff and walk along beside it without having to bend sideways.

          Actually from a load bearing standpoint, with saddlebage, basket, etc. you could move a lot of gear that way and down narrow paths through rough country (after all, the Viet Cong did it quite successfully).

          But unless you are in a true TEOTWAWKI dystopia like Mad Max or The Road (both scenarios being highly unlikely), Eric’s evaluation of limited range is quite valid. Plus as Gil pointed out in a previous post (give credit where credit is due, even to a clover), most Americans are so out of shape and overweight, “bugging in” is their only option. Non-motorized overland travel will be fatal for a lot of them. A bicycle won’t do them a bit of good other than a potential trade item.

          • IF it were TEOTWAWKI then people will learn to get fit or die in the calamity. When people find food is scarce and they have to do a lot of activity to live then the flab will practically fall off.

          • If commerce is so damaged we are in a ‘fuel on hand’ situation we aren’t going to be doing long range travel other than the one-way fleeing for elsewhere kind.

            If I really need fuel conserving motorized two wheeled travel I think I’ll take one of my two stroke motors and put it on one of my bicycles. As in leaf blower/chainsaw type motors.

            I’ve taking road bikes on dirt trails since I was in the 5th grade.. even my canondale has held up to trail riding.

            Besides the bicycles I now have what could be one of the ‘last of the V8 interceptors’, an economical little car, and what History Channel’s top gear has declared to be “half truck”. Destroying a decent V8 example in the process.

            I think we are looking at two situations for SHTF. Peaceful economic collapse where people just get poorer and poorer but remain about as civilized as they are today. The other is where the entitlement crowds get violent and go for street level plundering of anyone who has something.

            The mad-max post EMP world I doubt is going to happen unless of course there is war on US soil.

            • We’ve lived in the rural country on several acres for about 8 years now and one of the reasons I advocated a small cc motorcycle for a SHTF scenario is that it would enable me to traverse the land, cross-country, efficiently and quickly. In fact, it already does! (I own a 250 cc Kawasaki dual sport.)

              A pedal bike has its uses, for sure – and having one of those, too, would be good. But as someone with a little experience “out in the sticks” and who has been riding small cc dirt bikes for a long time, I can personally vouch for a few things:

              With such a bike, you can easily evade/outrun almost anything. Cars – and standard motorcycles – cannot follow you when the pavement ends.

              No pedal bike can climb up an 8 percent (or much more!) rutted grade, off-road – not for long, anyhow. And certainly not at any kind of speed. A dirt bike can.

              You can easily carry 100-150 pounds of cargo on a small cc dirt bike or dual sport – and still be capable of 60-70 MPH. Imagine trying to cover 20 miles (or even 5 miles) on a pedal bike weighed down by another 100-150 pounds of cargo…!

              I don’t anticipate a “Mad Max” SHTF scenario; I don’t think it’s likely, anyhow. I do think major disruptions of consumer supplies – such as oil and gas – are entirely possible. Also major economic – and thus, social – upheavals that my mean staying within an orbit of your home for several weeks, perhaps months.

              Having some form of powered transport will still be important during this time and I can think of few things less expensive to acquire – and more economical (and versatile) than a small cc motorcycle.

              Hence my recommendation!

              PS: Two strokes are fun but much less reliable and more maintenance intensive than four-strokes; plus you have to think about two stroke oil in addition to gas…

          • Gil, some people (those who were already semi-fit) could possibly get fit provided they had enough food (protein being the operative here) and the clean water to sustain them (diarhea being their bane) long enough to do so. The 350 lb. middle aged Type 2 diabetic is pretty much doomed (no meds, poor circulation, etc.). Those of us who still split wood, walk miles each day, climb lots of stairs, etc. stand a better chance than couch potatoes to be sure. But one Hellfire missile from a Predator drone and all preps are worthless. The biggest worry we have is from the state.

            Eric, you make a of sense with both the 250cc size of the bike and 4 stroke vs. 2 stroke. But in either case engine oil will be a necessity athough I expect we could figure out a way to filter and recycle for the 4 stroke. I was thinking, in my case anyway, of commuting (hence 400cc or more), since power plants will be a key element in keeping social unrest from spreading (turn off the electricity these days and see how long the cities remain civilized). But since I live in a rural area, even a 250cc dual sport would allow me to evade just about any threat (official or criminal) as long as there’s no fence in the way (and I do carry a Leatherman, so unless I’m being shot at….).

            I liked Brent’s suggestion of field expedient motors on bicycles too. Seems to me that’s how Honda got started after WWII.

            And Gil, by the time we got back to a horse and buggy economy, probably 80 – 90% of the population would already be gone, not to mention that most of the hydrocarbon based fuel would have been long gone before that. Storing enough fuel to carry your through to that point would probably be impossible unless you were already independently wealthy. Which would present other problems for you….

          • Who knows? Fatsoes have fat store to last them while they find food. After all, people who have lived a traditional tribal lifestyle until relatively recently then put into modern lifestyle turn out to be endomorphs and find themselves fat and unhealthy in a short amount of time. Hence (younger) fastoes may do okay if there’s a reasonable transition. On the other hand, ectomorphs will probably be in big trouble as they cannot store the necessary fat for lean times.

            • It’s not just that they’re fat. Fat people are also usually weak and fragile and have little endurance. They also tend to have major physical problems, too – such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, joint trouble and so on. Not only can’t they take care of themselves, they’re often dependent on doctors and medicines that may not be available in a time of disruption. In bad times, being fit is an essential. Being sedentary and obese is a rich man’s luxury only.

          • Here’s a kick-ass take on SHTF bicycles:

            http://survivalcache.com/survival-bicycling-part-2-ultimate-bug-out-bike/

            He talks about mountain bikes with five inch wide tires capable of going over snow or loose gravel. It’s an interesting concept, it has it’s pluses and minuses, but over-all, I give it thumbs down.
            At the same time, I wouldn’t mind having one. Especially seeing as how after this Winter it looks like the Midwest is the ‘New’ North Pole.

            Maybe I should be looking at SledDogs.com?

            • I’ve got a sense of doom about the coming winter hanging over me like an anvil on a string. It is still very chilly here at night. High 30s. Days so far have been mostly in the 60s, with a few in the ’70s.

              And it’s almost mid-May.

  10. See what ya’ll did! I went out and bought another gun today dammit, Walther P22. Thought I had all the bases covered, but realized during the last thirty minutes of work that I don’t have a squirrel gun. I do now though. Looking for an ankle holster. Ideas/suggestions?

    • Cross Breed Holsters just came out with their first ever ankle holster. Their products are very well received in the marketplace, so you might want to check out their offering.

        • Three years,… I wonder how the Walther P22 and the ankle holster have worked out so far? Nice looking plinker, btw.

          My “squirrel gun” of late has been a box live trap. The bastards Love my container garden. Maybe they will Love the park up the street, a bit more? And, I’ve turned into a darned good live trappin’ amateur. Might come in handy some day? Five squirrels, in five days.
          Just call me ‘Subsonic” they never saw or heard it coming while they licked the peanut butter. ..It’s crazy how they didn’t even seem to care they were trapped, they just kept on a licking that peanut butter like they were Clover hitting the empire-loving crack pipe. Heh, I guess they’re americans?
          Oh, I’ve veered way off from SHTF vehicles. Pardon me.

          I always kind of liked the older F-150’s.
          But just like Chevy’s, they’re gas hogs, for the most part.
          However: A straight six ain’t exactly bad.
          And, sooo easy to work on.

          • For the real SHTF vehices by choice: I’ll take a 50’s Dodge Power Wagon nicely cleaned up with extra fuel & a camper and an older Honda XR400.

    • I have a neat little “survival” .22 rifle that is collapsible, with all the parts (barrel, magazine, trigger mechanism, etc.) fitting into a sealed, waterproof plastic stock.

      Also, you can get subsonic .22 rounds that are more quiet than the regulars – a good thing if you want to keep your plinking low profile.

      • Dude, I got a new style Walther. The barrel is already threaded for an attachment that screws right on to instantly fit a suppressor. No mickey mousing at the machine shop. Purchased the barrel attachment already. Suppressor will come later. I will experiment with different ammo like you suggested.

  11. I’ve done a little bit of research on the EMP thing and it’s not quite as dire a prognosis as was first believed. It seems that the initial thoughts on EMPs and vehicles were just guesses, and that it’s much more difficult to fry a car with an EMP than initially thought. I can’t recall where I read about this, but it was pretty recent info.

    It’s not that an EMP won’t hurt a modern, computerized car, it very well can. The more computerized/electronic gadgets there are on it, the more chances something will go wrong and the engine won’t start/run. If you’ve ever had a car not start because something else electronic, seemingly unrelated, is broken, you know what I mean. However, an electronic ignition itself isn’t necessarily a huge handicap in an EMP scenario.

    The reason is that most cars’ bodies form a Faraday cage around the engine and passenger compartment. The engine is protected somewhat by the hood, fenders, bumper, firewall, etc. absorbing and redirecting the EMP away from the sensitive bits. It’s similar in concept to the reason that if a car is struck by lightening, it tends to keep running and operating just fine and can usually start up just fine later on. Your electric windows may not work, but the starter usually will.

    This is not foolproof, but should further reduce concerns about an unlikely scenario (EMP) to begin with.

    As for the wagon idea, very good thought. My family used to have an old Roadmaster sedan (not wagon) and regularly got 30+mpg on the highway. They can be pulling 70mph and be barely pulling any revs. They are very durable, too. Anyone else see the American Top Gear episode where they put a Roadmaster up against a Fiero and a Cutlass? It’s a travesty of a show compared to the original, but that episode was good for a laugh or two.

    • Sojourner I tend to agree with the faraday cage effect of the auto body. Many years ago I read an article in one of the ARRL books on how to essentially eliminate ignition noise in a vehicle for amateur radio applications. The inverse would also be true for all the grounding and shielding: any pulse would essentially disperse in the body.

      The real threat of EMP to modern electronics is if the pulse somehow makes its way through the junctions of the various CMOS devices. The junctions are very sensitive and as little as 80 to 90 volts of electro-static discharge can damage these devices. Keep in mind that when you slide across a car seat in December and get zapped when you touch the door, that’s in the order of 3500 volts.

      If you were to add secondary shielding (thin aluminum like flashing should do) over the ECU, wrap the cable bundles in an overbraid and ground each shield (on one end only) I am confident that would harden the vehicle electronics pretty well. I’ve also wondered about those old ground straps you used to see hanging down under cars in the 60’s. That might help as well.

      • Faraday cages are considerably misunderstood, though a car does provide some degree or shielding.

        A faraday cage, however needs to be grounded. It can’t have gaps (especially for higher frequency signal… if the gap is as large as the wavelength or larger, it simply becomes an open window). When security intallations require shielding, they don’t just put up screening… They call in specialized engineers to refine the entire structure. In fact a lot of the details of shielding are classified (see TEMPEST).

        Aside from that, while EMP is certainly a real effect, it’s not something that’s likely to happen far from a nuclear blast or similar event. Enormous energies are involved, which dissapate quickly over distance. If you’re close enough to be strongly affected by the EMP you probably have a lot more problems than just your car not starting.

        • Amen Reverend Jay! 😉
          Back when I was still in Uncle Sam’s Airplane Club, we had honest to goodness Faraday cages comprised of fine mess copper screen, all connected and grounded as you describe to protect sensitive electronics from interference. As I pointed out, I believe you could achieve acceptable results with shielding the wiring harness and grounding the vehicle, although I’m hot sure how well those surface ground straps people used to hang under their cars would work. Perhaps better than nothing. But the whole process would be an expensive and labor intensive ordeal.

          I completely agree that if we have thermo-nuclear air burst in close enough proximity to our vehicles to take out the electronics, walking home will be the least of our worries!

  12. I’ve really been considering a KLR 650 Kawi, but as you pointed out, they are electric start and electronic ignition. But they only have one carb and one exhaust (vs. 2 ea. for the Honda XL650, more to break). For EMP you could always keep a spare set of electronics in a grounded metal box, but that does add some expense to the prospect (although having spare parts for anything if you can find a deal on them isn’t a bad thing). Some folks might find it a bit extreme…..

    I passed up an older Yamaha 4 stroke 400 dual sport last year for cheap and I’m still kicking myself. It too had electronic ignition, same EMP problem, but it was air cooled and kick start. The trouble with bikes of the vintage to still have points and condenser is they are now so old that their suspensions will suck (especially off road) and their gas tanks and fenders most likely will be steel (don’t dump it unless you’ve got a couple of spare parts bikes for sheet metal). In a high stress G.O.O.D. situation, taking a spill will be a very big possibility, so I would prefer plastic tanks and fenders.

    As to storing fuel, I’ve used Stabil to successfully store fuel for over 2 years and it ran okay in my tractor and mowers. I’ve read good things about PRI-G and the manufacturer claims it will even restore old, bad fuel. I plan on trying it. Does anyone have any hands-on experience with it?

    • I would not eliminate something from discussion due to having a battery.

      With a solar panel, wind generator or micro hydro electric generator you would be able to generate small amounts electricity.

      If you are able to plan ahead and have the room, then you can generate much of the electricity you need for daily needs. You may need to cut back on some luxuries such as AC or an electric drier, but you do not need to remain in the dark.

      • Agreed –

        I think the ideal thing is to have a variety of options available. Having a truck/car, etc, is great – and it’s also great to have something like a dirt bike/dual sport that literally needs almost nothing except a little fuel that you can just get on, kick to life and go.

    • While I have no direct experience with the additivew you mentioned I have heard of people converting old/bad gas into useable fuel with some of that octane booster they sell at your local advanced auto part stores.

    • RE: “I’ve read good things about PRI-G”
      I’ve Got to get some of that stuff. I keep reading about it, too.

      This is a great thread, btw.

      Every time I see a Subaru 4×4 I think of ericpetersautos.
      Those things Really Do go unnoticed.

      Ha! Except, since I’ve read about them here, I notice them all the freaking time.
      If I didn’t like my truck so much I think I’d get one.
      Sometimes I’m tempted to trade for one, but hell, the trailer hitch is the only place a Subaru can carry a motorcycle… or, can you get one in sideways?

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