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campin, cookin, survival tidbits

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If by a mailbox oven, you mean a cardboard box oven, yes, I made one recently and used it twice during our fall camporee.

 

I wanted something that would be durable, so I started with the sturdiest cardboard I could find, an empty MRE box...if you haven't handled one of these, this is construction-grade cardboard, but you can still cut it with a knife (depending on the knife, see the "knife" thread). The only tradeoff is that the MRE box is fairly narrow, and will limit you to an 8" wide pan.

 

Cover the inside with the very heavy duty foil -- I used contact cement. I cut seven wire coat hangers to make the rack, and covered the entire outside of the thing with duct tape.

 

I didn't have to cut any vent holes at the top of the oven, since leakage around the door seal provided enough by itself. I didn't have to put the oven up on rocks or anything to keep the charcoal going either; enough air got in the bottom to do that.

 

These things will bake with very little charcoal, which I put in a round pan, right on the ground, then the oven right over it.

 

It worked great, although I am pondering how I can create a diffuser to spread the heat more evenly within the oven.

 

These things are a real help if your patrols want to use your dutch ovens for something else and you still need to bake. If you're pressed for weight, you can do all your baking in one of them, and bring fewer dutch ovens with you.

 

KS

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Our troop tents are freestanding domes, big enough for two Scouts and their gear. We got 15 of them earlier this year for $89 apiece. My main criteria to the Facilities/Equipment chair was aluminum poles and a full rain fly. They have front and rear doors and vestibules, and we've been in the rain with them, and been dry as toast. Easy to stake out with just six stakes, and the rain fly uses mini-bungees to hook into the tent stakes.

 

At our fall camporee, we had rain 15 miles out and moving our way fast on departure day. We had some condensation overnight, and deliberately didn't strike the tents so they'd dry naturally. So, when we got the rain warning, all our gear was on the bus, but the tents were still up. From the time the SPL gave the order until all the tents were bagged and on the bus, not more than 10 minutes. Teamwork played a big part, of course, but having uncomplicated tents was a factor, too.

 

KS

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Had a bit of insight on how to solve a problem. Was needing to rewarm some biscuts and boil water for the morning's breakfast. The problem was, didn't want to dig a firepit that would create a scar. The solution was to flip the Dutch oven over and elevate it a wee bit, then building a small fire on it's bottom. Hanging the boiler was easy, as was slipping the biscuts under the raised oven (the oven's lid served as a warming pan)....

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I've heard that Thompson's water seal is good for waterproofing canvas tents, tarps, etc. Anyone had experience with it?

 

I used to carry a sturdy but lightweight frisbee and paper plates to eat on. Line the frisbee with the plate and after the meal throw the plate in the fire and the frisbee with your friends.

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Is there a way to improve the operation of the plastic zippers on tents. Back when zippers where metal, I used wax to make the zipper easier to operate. Can you do this with the plastic ones? We retire many tents because the zippers are worn out. We get many years out of the tents, but is there a way to prolong zipper life?

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Dan, If you are refering to the nylon coil zippers found on many tents today, there is one thing I know of to prolong there life.

Establish a habit that no one enters or leaves a tent through a partially opened door. In every case I've seen, these zippers get damaged by overstressing the coil while going into or out of the tent when it is only partially opened.

 

Nylon coil is a good design because it operates easily at temperature extremes and rarely snags or damages surriounding materials. But it can be bent to where it will not interlock if misused.

 

I have had tents in troop use with this type of zipper last over 12 years without needing replacement.

 

BW

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Troop will get 10 years out of tents. It is not worth getting new zippers because of cost. I just do not like getting rid of tents that are fine except for zippers (yeah yeah I am thrifty (cheap))

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Silicone aerosol can help too, if the zippers haven't been abused but are just sticky or drag when going around corners. Try to find the stuff that comes with one of those coffee-stirrer straw things like on a can of WD-40, so you're not putting it where you don't want it. Really loosens those things up, and when it's dry, it's dry, unlike many lubricants. Shouldn't hurt the fabiric either. I used it when I helped coach/team parent youth football for my son's team, to slide thigh pads in easier, and those uniforms are all synthetic. No, we didn't spray our running backs' jerseys with it, although it was suggested more than once.

 

KS

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KS

Years ago I saw a metal US Mail box used as an oven. It was turned upside down with some sort of rack inside to hold the pans. I do not remember exactly how it was used. Looking for ideas.

 

Side note built one of the Sgt Rock backpacking stoves out of a dog food and cat food can and was able to boil two cups of water in just under 3 minutes using half ounce of HEET as fuel. Outdoor temp at 40 degrees F.

 

YIS

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Back to the zippers. I have been told never use any type of aresol around a tent it will destroy the water proofing.

KS you said it should not hurt the fabric, does anyone know for sure?

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Would not recommend an aerosol, not knowing the effect of the ingrediants. Have had good results with a squeeze bootle version of Tri-Flow, a teflon based lubricant.

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Iwouldnt try Thompsons - it's meant for wood, not fabric and IF it sealed, I doubt it woul have the flexibility needed in a fabric water repellant. I think you'd end up with it flaking off and making a huge mess - that is, assuming you didn't ruin your tent!

 

I was always told that the propellant in most aeresol cans can break down the water repellant on tents - the old style canvas tents that I grew up in.

 

One layer canvas tents were only "waterproof" if you didn't touch the canvas when wet. even the oils in your skin could break down the water repellant. Since the fabric was still "breathable" if your stuff was leaning on the tent wall, water would seep through instead of run off.

 

So many of the new, double layer nylon(?) light fabric tents are NOT waterproofed with waterproofing as I knew it - they are actually coated with a thin layer of plastic type stuff - thats why they have two layers - the inside layer breathes - which the outer layer can't do.

 

It would probably take direct spraying with an aresol can (and time) to damage the waterproofing on a newer style tent - but it's just good practice to teach the boys to keep the cans away.

 

On a side note, I have an old (1976) pop up camper with the original canvas. when I got it 5 yrs ago, it had been owned by a smoker - and we have allergies. in addition to cleaning it and getting new cushions and drapes, I completely soaked the canvas in Febreeze a couple of times, let it dry and then used some waterproofing that came IN AN AERESOL CAN to re- coat the canvas. I used two coats and have been in some real steady downpours and windy rainstorms and have never gotten wet. (and haven't re- waterproofed the canvas again after that, either)

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Still on the zippers, I agree I wouldn't want Scouts in the field spraying any aerosols around. The silicone treatment on the zippers should be, in my opinion, done by the QM and the facilties/equipment guy wherever troop equipment is stored/maintained, not by Scouts on a campout.

 

There are a tremendous number of silicone-based lubricants/waterproofers. When I suggest using one to prevent stuck zippers, I'm referring to the type that uses air (rather than propane or some other flammable) to propel a fine silicone powder...like to keep dresser drawers from sticking. Not Camp-Dry; flammable propellant, stinks for days, and reduces flame retardant properties of tent fabric.

 

Back to the oven, I hadn't seen the mailbox oven, but have seen plans for an ammo-can grill, same principle. I'm always leery, though, of combining castoff military anything with fire. There always seem to be paints, solvents, or other chemical residues involved, or unexpected surprises...like when one of the supposedly empty mortar round boxes one of my co-workers threw in a fire drum actually had some leftover charge bags in it. Don't know how many, and they didn't explode, but did burn ferociously for longer than any of us was comfortable with.

 

KS

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We often have a shortage of water on the track. (Currently in a 22 month drought). So to keep handwasshing hygenic and small in consumption I use a nylon dog bowl. One of the little ones that you water the dog with when on the daily walk. That and soap in a plastic mesh onion bag hanging next to it.

 

In a standing camp I use dishwashing liquid bottles full of antiseptic solution.

 

I carry potassium permanganate (condies crystals) for water purification (a grain in a litre x 30 minutes), first aid (stronger solution so that it's quite prurple) and fire lighting (condies + sugar both ground up and then friction using a spoon/knife and rock/board).

 

 

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Thanks, do not recogzise 'condies crystals'. Local product or name? Anyone have a local source or name for a product that includes or is potassium permaganate?

 

yis

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