Prepper Diary October 21: Sometimes the Old Stuff is the Good Stuff

An old Chevy pickup truck
Old vehicles with no computer chips or complex electronics should still work after an EMP strike or sun spot.

I was looking at my computer the other day and thinking about how I probably should throw in the towel and upgrade to Windows 10.  Then I started thinking about how hold my computer was.  I’m guessing it is circa 2012, which in computer years is pretty damn old.  But the truth is, it works just fine.

Now keep in mind, it was top-of-the-line when I built it, and I have upgraded and repaired it over the years.  It started off with 64-bit infrastructure and an Intel Core i7 CPU.  I don’t know if it has always had 16 GB or RAM, but it does now.  Somewhere along the way, the original power supply died and I replaced it with a nice 750 Gold model from EGA.  Just a couple years ago I upgraded to dual monitors and added a 1070 graphics card.  I replaced the original SSD that held the operating system with a 1 TB hard drive.  The other hard drives are in a RAID for data protection.  The only complaint I have is that all the USB ports are the older 2.0 ports, not the faster 3.0 model with the blue plastic tab.

But it just goes to show you, knowing how to build and maintain your own equipment means you can extend its useful service life and you don’t have to toss it and get another because of a loose wire or a single failed component.  One reason I want to build my own solar power system is so I can fix it myself rather than waiting days for a service man.

The Value of Old Cars

I have to admit, my truck is old, too.  It’s got 240,000 miles on it, and if it were a kid, it would be old enough to vote or enlist in the army.  I originally planned to get rid of it at 150,000 miles but there was just no way I wanted to pay $50,000 or more for a replacement. I bought a new set of tires for $1,200 and considered myself lucky.  OK, so it leaks a little oil, but every year that passes without a car payment is another $4,000 I can spend on prepping supplies or bank away for the coming hard times.

Old cars, especially those built without computer chips, are EMP proof and will still run even after an electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear explosion or sun spot.  They are also easier to fix.

Buying Quality

My wife tells the story of her parents who would vacation to North Carolina whenever they needed furniture.  They’d spend a few days in what was the furniture mecca of the U.S. and pick out their new furniture and then go off to the shore for the fun part of the vacation before they drove back up north.  Months later, the furniture would be delivered.  When her parents finally moved out of their house and into a smaller place, that high-quality American made high-quality furniture was divvied up between children and grandchildren, even though it was 40 years old.  You will never regret buying quality, her mom would say, and she was right.

Buy what you like the first time around and you won’t be in such a hurry to replace it with a bigger, better, faster, snazzier model.  It takes will power to resist the siren song of new and flashy, but do you really need the latest model?  No; you may want it but I doubt you need it.  Sometimes good enough is. And that’s a lesson you need to learn on your prepper journey.

Depression Era Thinking Has Value Today

My parents were definitely of the “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” mentality, probably because they were born during the Great Depression.  Some of it has certainly worn off on me, and I am delighted when I can cobble together a solution to some problem by using left over parts from my workshop, repurposing something, or McGyvering a solution.  Sometimes, good enough is. 

While I am not a hoarder or a pack rat, Marie Kondo would hate to be in my “warehouse” room or workshop, even if they are well organized, thanks to our impending move.  Those cabinets and pegboard walls of tools, the shelves of food, and the stacks of ammo cans are what brings the prepper in me joy.  Sorry, Marie, some of us want to stack it deep.

As we approach our big move, we have been donating things to Goodwill and Restore and giving things away to our kids, friends, neighbors and strangers.  I’ve given away hundreds of books, which were hard to part with.  Clothing has gone to people who hopefully need it more. Food has gone to food pantries.  Plants have gone to friends and neighbors.  Sporting goods have been sold our donated.  Housewares and furnishings have gone to Restore where they will find someone new who need them. 

Very little has gone to the dump, and much of it has been made with cheap fiber board.  Paying for quality usually pays off in the long run.

Preppers Love Old Technology

I was at an antique store along the highway in the mountains, and they we selling a number of old hand tools from some carpenter’s collection.  What they think of antiques, I think of as useful when the grid goes down.  Sure, I have a chain saw and power drills, but I also have axes, bow saws, a buck saw, hand saws, and hand-powered drills that you crank by hand. 

A treadle sewing machine
Treadle sewing machines work by foot power pumping up and down. The look old fashioned today, but they represented a big step forward when they were introduced in the 1800s.

I’m not alone in finding usefulness in non-electric tools.  Consider the value of a treadle sewing machine, a wood cook stove, a washboard and hand wringer for laundry, a kerosene lamp, or a cast iron Dutch oven in post SHTF situation where there are no utilities.  Technology from the 1800s may not be as good as digital programming, but it will beat doing all your work by hand.

I know I’m talking solar power one day and treadle sewing machines the next.  It’s not that preppers are against modern technology, they just like to have old tech as a backup.  It’s another example of the layered approach to prepping.

Do you have any old tech or any non-electric alternatives in your prepper’s tool box? Let us know in the comments below.

If you enjoyed today’s article, you might like Prepper Diary September 26: Stocking Up For the Dark Days Ahead or read other diary entries.


  1. “is another $4,000 I can spend on prepping supplies or bank away for the coming hard times.”

    Where do you put that $4,000… not in a bank ??

    I’m not sniping, just looking for info..

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