Monday, May 30, 2016

The Barter System (Business Sign)

This is the sign I carved in exchanged for auto repairs, nearly completed.  Not sure its an even exchange but the important point is it is also advertisement for me for free.  If you are on the road that might not be a big factor but if you can exchange a little work or labor for something, that is still more money in your gas tank or food in your belly!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

REVIEW: Folding chair that is ACTUALLY for big guys?

Its like finding a mythical unicorn.   I am a huge guy, 6'4 and probably hitting the 300 mark these days.  If you are big like me, you probably know the pain of folding camp chairs.  I dont care how much walmart says their 'oversized' or 'heavy duty' chairs can hold 300 lbs or even, laughably, 500 lbs, they are full of it!

Sure they last a little while, but the minute i sit in them, i can tell they aren't gonna last.   After having the third different one snap under me, i was fed up and was determined to actually find one that was sturdy and truely worth the money.

In comes the Alps Mountaineering King Kong chair which i found through googling reviews, and happily finding it on amazon. I was of course skeptical, but it is rated not at 300lbs but 800lbs.  Thats a pretty bold claim, but i figure if they are fudging the numbers that high maybe the reality is it will support a big guy around 300.

So I ordered it.   The price was definitely higher than the 20 dollar jobs from walmart, at around $55 (62 now). Once I opened it I knew the difference though.  The thing is at least three times the weight of the cheapos.  If you plan to hike (who would take a folding chair?) this is probably not the one for you.  Since i use to camp out of my van and as my primary chair, I don't mind.

Thick as my thumb, strong plastic and metal screws.

The thing is sturdy, the poles are twice as thick as the others, and they added thick plastic pieces at strategic points to support everything, it doesnt just rely on the fabric itself stretching between the poles for structure.    The fabric is thicker too and seems well sewn.   It has cup holders and some pocket flaps, which are nice.  Its fairly comfortable, but the back is a little more erect than i prefer, if you want to sit up straight like a good boy you might like it :)  You also actually sit at a normal chair height, ive noticed other folding chairs are getting lower and lower to the ground, this one is easy to get and out of.  The arms don't feel like they are going to bend if you use them to support that maneuver either.

This thick plastic supports you, rather than just the fabric.

The biggest con Ive found is that the fabric they used is not very breathable, I sweat quite a bit.  Its not a deal breaker by any means but it would be nice if they added some mesh spots in here and there or maybe used a strong breath able material like tent fabric.

Ive used this chair now for about 4 months, and it is still in the same basic shape.  Putting my elbows on the arm rest have caused the cup holders to kind of lose some shape, as it squeezes them, but they still function.

Overall, i highly recommend this chair, I dont know if it can actually handle 800lbs but it definitely can handle my weight.

My Summary for the Alps Mountaineering King Kong folding camp chair:


  • Sturdy, easily holds 300+ lbs
  • Heavy duty fabric
  • Cushiony seat (quilted)
  • Sits high, easy to get in and out
  • Cup holders, pockets on arms and back

  • Very upright posture, similar to directors chair style
  • Non-breathable fabric, you'll sweat
  • Cup holders can lose shape, plastic rim may crack from resting arms
  • Expensive at $55-62
Alps Mountaineering did not sponsor this review.  But hey if they want to.. ;)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Van update!

Needed new one badly!

 (this is a repost of mine from cheaprvliving)

So after a fun day having the van shut down about 1000 feet from the mechanic, who thankfully came and dragged it in the rest of the way for me, I have an update on the van situation.

Those who were helping me in another thread may recall I had 2 issues, the engine and something making disturbing noise underneath.

The engine was fixed with a combination of issues, fortunately none major.  The positive cable on the battery was lose, so this helped with the battery not charging.  It wouldnt start because the pcv valve was bad, in combination with the other stuff.   I had them do a tune needed one badly.   While doing it, they found the distributer in bad shape, and even more shocking, one of the plug cables was not even plugged in at the spark plug end.   Just dangling.  All that fixed, the van started and ran much like it did before my break down, though the check engine light is still on.

I checked it, and it seems to be an ect sensor, engine coolant temp.  Ill have him check that out.

Now for the bad news.   The noise underneath wasn't mounts or universal joints as was suspected (hoped?), but it is something in the rear end.   I could see 3 mechanics faces go to the same kind of face you get when you hear the person in front of you had a relative die.   I knew I was in trouble at that moment.

He said he will have to take it apart and maybe it wont be an expensive solution, but it might.  Either way he didn't have the time to do that kind of thing today.

I am bartering a business sign for the work he is doing.    Im guessing the fact he brought up expense means that at least one of the problems may be so expensive he doesn't feel its worth it, so lets hope its one of the smaller easier fixes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bentwood rings are pretty cool

At the sister's, showing off my pine ring

The first 'prototype' of a bentwood ring, if you will.  Its made of pine, so not to impressive looking, but I'm saving the good stuff for finished products.   Bentwood rings are made from real wood, hand bent around a round object in layers.   They are extremely strong, stronger than something made on a lathe, and due to the finish, they are nearly waterproof.  I couldn't crack this ring with my hands no matter how hard i tried (could flex it a little).   I was impressed.  

The trickiest part is getting the sizing correct, but I am starting to dial it in.   Hopefully it will be another wood craft I can add to my handmade wood craft business at . Some of these rings sell on etsy for as much as $120+, tho i doubt ill ask for that kinda scratch.

But even if they do not sell, I enjoy wearing one myself anyway.   I love cherry wood so I will probably make one of those myself.   I actually have quite an assortment of domestic and rare woods to use with funky grain patterns, so I'm looking forward to seeing how they look in ring form.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Could you survive, alone?

Lately I've had the opportunity to watch an interesting show called Alone.  Its a reality style survival show, but a little different than the others.  It takes ten people and sticks them on  Vancouver Island....think rainforest, in the ocean, with more bears, wolves, and cougars than most places in the world.  The people film themselves, and are seperated from each other, hence the title Alone.  They can bring 10 items, get bear mace and a med kit, and a sat phone.  Here is the kicker tho, they dont stay for 7 days like la stroud, or even 10 like ed stafford.  Not 30.  Its last man standing, they have to out last the others and so they dont know how long to plan for.  Season one was like 50 days.  Prize is half a million bucks. 

Anyway, it got me thinking about how i would do naturally, and my internal prognosis was not good lol.

As a vandweller, i started out with a minmalist, prepper/self reliance bent.  Im naturally inclined to being ok with most situations, but i have definitely strayed from those prepper roots.  I started thinking, what if i lose my van, and the generosity of family?

Am i becoming reliant on others again, too much?  It bothers me, so im starting to get more into considering as a backup, sharping my primitive skills and preparing a one bag sort of scenario for myself.    I realize too that the greatest asset you can have is your own healthy body.  Im way out of shape, and i realized that if i had to hike a few miles now id be in trouble.  So thats gonna get shaped up too.

So what do you think your chances are if you had to survive with 10 items and a ruck, no van included?  What 10 items would you pick if you had to hop out of your vehicle in the middle of the boonies and hoof it?  Im considering what i would pick and having fun doing it...i will probably post what i came up with seperately.  If you know me, then you know ill try to find the cheapest way to do it too lol

Say what you mean, mean what you say.

Warning, slight rant incoming!  :)

I have always been an advocate of frank honesty and meaning what i say.  If I say I will do something, I will do it if I'm physically able to.  If I can't do something, or do not want to do it, I feel its preferable to simply say that I can't or won't.  This makes me reliable, and is courteous to others so they don't waste their time or become disappointed.

Seems like common sense, but Im not sure just how common it is, especially here in west virginia.  I notice repeatedly that here people say they will do something, when what they really mean is they might do something, sometime, perhaps.
I don't know if they believe its being impolite to honestly refuse, or they believe it is advantageous to keep the option open.

What brings this up?  Well its happened to me 3 times now with shade tree mechanics.  The most recent one was the garage nearby that wanted to barter a sign for repairs.  I've been there twice and a family member a couple.  I've shown him mock ups of the sign and confirmed he wanted to do it.  He'll call the second hes finished up the vehicle currently in the garage.

I never get that call.  The vehicle has been replaced with another and another.  I  stop buy but hes not there.  Frankly I feel like I'm begging for someone to do what they said they will do and it drives me crazy.  I shouldn't have to beg for a 100-200 dollars worth of work for a 3-400 dollar sign.

The mechanic before him is very good, but pinning that guy down is like trying to catch a bear.  Hes very nice but the guy will over commit to the nth degree and then dodge and duck those commitments.  I feel he just thinks its too impolite to refuse but its ok to flake out later.

I first experienced this phenomenon when i had an antique vanity and mirror I found when I moved into my cabin.  I literally was giving it away for free, posted on craigslist.  So many people said they wanted it, over and over.  They'd be there this and that time.  None showed, this went on for weeks.  Eventually I put it on the curb with a take it sign and it was gone in 15 minutes.

It baffles me, but I have seen countless times since.

My young nephew sold a fellow a car, he had just had a baby and needed one badly.  He agreed to take payments.   The guy never once brought him payments.  Every month he had to find this guy at his work and ask for it.  Sometimes he'd promise to bring it the next day and never did.  He still owes him half a payment on it, months late.   If it were me, id take the car back, they did have a contract.  But my nephew is a kinder kid.  It infuriates me that this person, who someone wanted to help, would not keep his word...even written word.

So here I am, facing the awkward situation of going to this guy again like a beggar, or just learning to fix it myself with no tools, or knowledge, or just drive till it dies on the side of the road, so I can find some work. 

Please remember, its ok to say no, it is not impolite.  And if you say yes, then follow through.  People shouldn't have to hound you to do what you should do.

Your word is your bond, people once understood that.