Electrical Gauge Specifications and Conversion Table

Lately I’ve been working on a backup lithium power station for those situations when the grid power goes out. You might (or might not – if you watch mainstream media) have heard that many countries have been having great difficulty with their power generation lately and have been losing power multiple times in a day – or have even been without it for a string of days in a row. This is precisely the situation I want to avoid by building my own power station because if you rely of third parties for your essentials such as power, water and gas you are at the mercy of the controlling authorities and utility companies.

Throughout the process of building my own Power Station to power the house I needed a lot of different cable specifications and ratings to be able to ensure it would perform correctly. These include: Cable Gauge (AWG, B&S, mm2) Cable Area (mm2, CM, MCM), Maximum Current, Maximum Surge Current, Maximum Continual Wattage, Cable Diameters with and without insulation, Heat Shrink Sizes, Wire Stripping Guide, Cable Resistance, Cable Weight, Crimping Tool Recommendations and Bootlace Ferrules. It includes both Metric and Imperial measurements for those that need it including conversions between Celsius and Fahrenheit.

Below is the electrical diagram I designed to help me with this project, since I couldn’t find all the information I needed on one website. The image is designed to be printed, laminated and hung as a quick reference guide while working on electrical projects.

Electrical Gauge Specifications and Conversion Table
Electrical Gauge Specifications and Conversion Table

All the information in the table above has been checked to the best of my ability multiple times over to ensure they are correct, however there still may be errors so do your own research as well as I’m not an electrician.

If you find any errors let me know in the comments below.

Insulating Camping Pot Handles

Have you ever been camping with a new pot and burn yourself on the metal handles due to the lack of heat insulation rubber? Or perhaps you go to grab it and discover it’s extremely hot and you drop your meal all over the ground?

DIY Project
Fig1. – The results of heat shrink wrapping the handles.

Well not any more! I recently devised an elegant solution to partially fix this issue using heat shrink electrical wrap as an insulation material on the handles. Not only does it look slick and fits extremely well once shrunk but it can come in a multitude of colours and it’s almost impossible to get wrong!

To get started all you need is:
• Metal pot handles, which should be between 0-4mm thickness and may be difficult to remove
• 1m+ (3ft) of any coloured 6mm heat-shrink wrap (Depending on the thickness of your handles)
• A heat gun or open flame (Maybe an oven?)
• Scissors to cut the tubing to size
• Pliers to hold the hot handles

You can buy different thicknesses of the shrink wrap but 6mm is the best bet because it shrinks down to 2-3mm diameter. This is also a good choice for size because you need to be able to get it around any bends that may be in the metal unless you want to do some blacksmithing.

DIY Project
Fig2. – Sizing the tubing for the handle. This was a test so don’t actually put the tubing over the hinge!

Once you’ve removed the handles, measure the tubing by eye and cut pieces to size. It may be easier to do it in a few sections if there’s multiple sharp bends. You can then simply overlap the sections to provide thicker coverage. Once you’ve got a few cut sections of tubing you now have to slide them up the handles into position. You can be rough with it as the tubing is resilient and it may be difficult to get it around some bends.

DIY Project
Fig3. – The first application of the tubing complete.

Once a section is in position you can heat it up to shrink it. You shouldn’t do overlapping sections at the same time in case the outer wrap shrinks first and distorts the inner one – but instead finish one layer at a time letting it cool between layers. Use the heat gun until it’s snugly fit around the metal and don’t forget to use pliers to hold the metal. An open flame is harder to control and provides variable heat output so be careful not to put it too close to the flame. Even if you put it in the flame, nothing happens if you pull it out quickly, however if you leave it in the tubing will start to form bubbles.

A point to note is the direction that the text on the wrap is facing. If you wish to try and hide it, ensure it’s facing down. You can see on Fig7 where I got it wrong and the text is facing up, but overall it’s not terribly noticeable.

DIY Project
Fig4. – Shrinking the tubing.

(Yes, I did mine indoors over an open flame, but as I said it’s pretty hard to get wrong if you follow some basic guidelines. I’m sure it would be even easier with an actual heat gun)

When you’ve got it looking how you want let it cool down before applying any additional layers as adding the tubing while it’s still warm may start to shrink it early. You can dip it into water if you’d like to help cool it faster, also known as quenching in blacksmithing (but that’s a little different). If you use the water method, ensure it’s dry before adding more layers. It’s cool enough when you can hold the handle without burning yourself, at which point you can begin to wiggle the next layer of tubing into position.

DIY Project
Fig5. – Cooling the handle faster than air drying.

Then simply repeat the heating step again until you’ve got a handle with a lovely looking layer of wrap over it.

DIY Project
Fig6. – The comparison between un-shrunk tubing and shrunk tubing.

You can apply the same method for any and all of your camping pots with metal handles although some are extremely difficult to remove the handles on such as my stanley pot below (fig.7) which also had a sliding mechanism I had to remove.

DIY Project
Fig7. – My stanley cup with the tubing completed.

Now for the results which is quite a fair improvement over just bare metal. You can definitely hold the handle for longer and feel about a 40% reduction in heat leaving about 60% heat. So with an additional layer you will feel about 36% of the heat down from 100%. You could probably add up to 5 layers if you wish, but each layer will become harder to slip on, but after so many layers I’m sure you won’t be able to feel much (if any) heat. Additional layers will also ass a bit more weight if ultralight backpacking is your thing and where every gram counts.

Below is an estimate of heat felt compared to number of layers:

0 Layers: 100% Heat
1 Layer: 60% Heat
2 Layers: 36% Heat
3 Layers: 21.6% Heat
4 Layers: 13% Heat
5 Layers: 7.8% Heat

If you wish to remove the tubing all you have to do is get some scissors and slice it up the side and peel it off. It won’t leave any sticky residue (Unless you melt the stuff over an open flame) and you won’t be able to tell it was even applied.

DIY Project
Fig8. – Letting a handle cool prior to putting them back on.

I only tried this on stainless steel and aluminium but it should work exactly the same for all other metals including titanium, copper, brass etc. Let me know what you think and if you tried this on your pots.

Estwing Sportsman 14″ Hatchet Oiling

Recently I’ve been looking at a small lightweight hatchet to buy for my INCH bag and came across this little gem. It’s a 14 inch hatchet, weighing 1.86 pounds (0.84 Kg) made of 1055 steel and it looks like it would cut small branches pretty decently.

Estwing Axe Oiling
Fig1. – The unmodified axe.

I picked one up knowing the only real flaw was the coating on the handle with the intent to follow the guidelines of the user below, who recommended stripping the coating and applying your own.

It requires a bottle of neatsfoot oil and a couple of sheets of sandpaper to get the desired result of a weatherproof, better feeling handle which will cope well in damp conditions.

Estwing Axe Oiling
Fig2. – Fiebing’s Neatsfoot Oil and the Axe.

The whole comment from Amazon is quoted below:

This is the real deal!
December 31, 2012
A. Swenson

I don’t write many reviews but this little gem deserves one. Proudly made in the USA since 1923, this is the same fine tool your granddad bought, with the same high quality forging and rugged leather grip. Properly used and cared for it will stand up to several lifetimes of hard use. I recently bought a spare from Amazon and this review is based on that item.

A couple of observations/recommendations: I note one reviewer whose hatchet handle rotted. Well yeah. As these come from the factory the handle is given a glossy varnished finish and the stacked leather grip underneath is very dry. It looks nice when it’s new but the varnish will crack and chip with use, and then the grip will absorb water like a sponge, ruining the leather. Thus, knowledgable sportsmen have long looked fondly on that glossy factory finish and then taken a couple of sheets of 100-grit sandpaper and sanded it off. Mask off the metal part of the shaft of the handle, no point in scratching that up, but do round off the sharp edge of the metal washer at the base of the handle to make it more comfortable in use. Be sure to get all the varnish off, the leather underneath will look almost white when you’re done sanding. 100 grit is fine, there’s no need to finish with finer grades.

Then get a bottle of Fiebing’s Neatsfoot Oil (available at Amazon!) and rub it in. If you didn’t get all the varnish off you’ll immediately notice light spots where the oil isn’t soaking in, stop and sand those off. You’ll be amazed at how much oil that leather grip will absorb, my new one has taken at least an ounce of oil and it’s still sucking it up. It will take several applications over several days to do a thorough job — the idea is to completely saturate the leather grip — just slather it on with a fingertip at first and then rub it in after a couple of days’ applications. Put some on the sturdy leather sheath they provide while you’re at it. The neatsfoot will give the grip a nice antique brown finish and a slightly sticky, non-slip feel, and once the grip is thoroughly saturated it will be nearly impervious to the elements *forever*. I have hunting knives and another old Estwing hatchet that were given this treatment by my dad and grandfather before I was born — that was a long time ago — the grips have turned black over the years but they’re still as sound as the day they were made and they’ve seen a lot of weather over the years.

Then get a Lansky “puck” dual grit sharpener (also available at Amazon!) and sharpen the blade. They come dull, probably for product liability reasons it will only be as sharp as you’re capable of making it, but it will take a fine edge with a little effort. Then avoid chopping it into the ground, rocks, or what have you — it will take you several patient hours to put the initial edge on the blade and all that effort will be wasted if you whack it against a rock. The blade should never touch anything but the wood it’s made to cut.

Learn to split kindling safely by taking a 1-2′ piece of wood 2-3″ in diameter, holding it by one end pointed away from you and resting the other end parallel to the ground across a larger piece of wood. Split the far end by chopping through it sideways into the chopping block and then giving the hatchet and the wood a deft twist to split it lengthwise (a glove on your off-hand isn’t a bad idea). Repeat with each half until you have enough kindling. Whatever you do, don’t try to hold a piece of kindling on end and split it lengthwise lumberjack-style, that’s a good way to lose a finger or chop yourself in the knee.

Guys, this is a tool every manly man should treat himself to and learn to use! There’s darn few things in this world that are the same high quality they were 90 years ago but this is one of them.

Estwing Axe Oiling
Fig3. – The stripped coating.

Following his comments to the letter I went ahead and stripped the handle of the current coating with sandpaper which took a few days sanding for about 30 minutes per day. I covered the metal with duct tape to prevent scratching it up as well.

Estwing Axe Oiling
Fig4. – Applying the oil.

When the handle was coating free I massaged oil into the handle for about 20-25 coats, applying 3 or so per day. The oil was readily absorbed and looks great on the handle, giving it a deep, rich appeal.

Estwing Axe Oiling
Fig5. – The last coat applied but still wet.

After the last coat was applied and left to dry it has a lovely leather feel to it compared to the tough plastic feel previously. I definitely recommend giving it a go if you own one!

Estwing Hatchet Amazon Link

Estwing Axe Oiling
Fig6. – The completed axe with the coatings.

PVC Pipe Cache

Lately I’ve been getting into DIY prepper projects such as making my own char cloth and modifying my gear to better serve me. But this week I’ve been buying and cutting PVC pipe to store valuables inside which I can then bury along roads or notable landmarks to preserve my assets if I need to leave. The locality and reasoning for burying caches won’t be covered today – only the process to create one of these pipe caches.

PVC Cache
Fig1. – The pipe cache using 100mm pvc.

You can select any sized pipe you wish, I’ve tried with 10cm and 4cm piping and it turned out well in both cases. I would recommend 10cm piping if you are storing a lot, or 4cm if you are storing specific items such as silver and gold coins. The completed cache should be waterproof and store underground indefinitely without degradation.

PVC Cache
Fig2. – What you will need.
PVC Cache
Fig3. – The priming and bonding agents.

• PVC pipe of any size and length you want, but it has to have a stopper end and a screw end with a screw stopper (unless you want to break it to access it)
• PVC Pipe Stopper
• PVC Pipe Screw End
• PVC Pipe Threaded Stopper
• A PVC pipe cutting tool such as hacksaw or specialized PVC cutter
• A file and sandpaper or disc sander (or cement) if you used a hacksaw
• PVC bonding primer
• PVC bonding glue (Either normal or pressure rated)
• Small Paintbrush for applying primer or two if the glue doesn’t include one
• A permanent marker which can write on plastic
• Ruler or Tape Measure
• Heavy object to hit the glued pieces together

1. Firstly cut the pipe to the size you want ensuring it will fit everything you want inside. Generally there will be slightly more room than the volume of the pipe (without the ends on) to play with.

PVC Cache
Fig4. – Cutting the pipe.

2. If you cut with a hacksaw or other blade ensure the surface is flat and free of burrs. Use sandpaper, disc sander, a file or cement to square it off and clean up the edge. Cement acts as an unlikely disc sander if you rub it backwards and forwards along it and flattens it slowly if you keep it at 90 degrees. You only get minor damage to the cement. Once the ends are square and clean from any debris, burrs and dirt continue to step 3.

PVC Cache
Fig5. – The burrs on the cut pipe.
PVC Cache
Fig6. – The smoothed cut edge.

3. Apply the primer to the surface of both joining surfaces. Paint the inside and out of the join ensuring you don’t over-paint the section other than what will overlap. You don’t need to be swift with this step.

PVC Cache
Fig7. – Applying the primer.

4. (MAKE SURE ONLY THE END YOU ARE CONNECTING IS ON THE PIPE – Otherwise you will hammer them together and then realize it’s impossible to pull the un-glued section off) Prepare the pieces and have your heavy hammering item nearby. Apply the glue to both surfaces quickly being careful not to apply too much or too little glue, then quickly push them together and then hammer them together with your heavy item so they are snug.

PVC Cache
Fig8. – Applying the glue.

5. Repeat steps 3-4 to the other end but ignore the comment in step 4 about only having one end connected.

PVC Cache
Fig9. – The fairly clean bond on the inside.
PVC Cache
Fig10. – The very clean bond at the bottom.

6. Let the glue dry for 24 hours and you will have a completed PVC cache!

PVC Cache
Fig11. – Testing the fit of a silver coin in a 40mm pipe.
PVC Cache
Fig12. – An unglued 40mm cache.

Char Cloth Attempt 1

So recently I tried to make some char cloth for use in fire lighting with flint, however things didn’t go exactly as planned when the entire can started to melt in front of me…

Preparedness Categories
Fig1. – The melted tin can.

At first I thought, how hard could this be? Put some cotton into a can, drill a hole and burn it a little but apparently there’s a few more complications than this, but hopefully it’ll teach you a little more about doing it successfully if you run into the same problems.

Preparedness Categories
Fig2. – Smoke coming from the tin prior to it burning through.

The first mistake was the use of an aluminium can which prior to this I didn’t know that aluminium has a low melting point of about 660.3°C (1220.54°F). Even then I’m pretty sure those cheap metal tins off eBay that often come with tinder in them isn’t even aluminium but some sort of aluminium alloy. I’m not even sure if this cheap gas burner can reach those temperatures as the highest I’ve recorded mind getting to using isobutane is about 450°C. It is quite thin walled which makes it easier for the heat to just burn straight through it, at least I will fix this on my second attempt by using a proper steel container.

Preparedness Categories
Fig3. – The orange-hot base of the tin prior to melting.

Looking at figure 3, it gave me an idea to do a photo shoot of just the smoke sometime as the patterns it creates could create some wonderful and intricate artwork if blown the right way. I’mm add this to my to do list of photographic experiments and find a way to make smoke a little more interesting to look at as an artform.

Anyway back to the topic at hand, I’m certain that the char cloth was destroyed during the melting of the tin, however I tried to light it anyway and got a glowing orange ember which randomly seemed to wander around the char cloth a little before extinguishing after a few seconds. I’m not sure if this is normal or whether char cloth is supposed to have a flame once lit instead of whatever you call that orange ember thing. (Pic below)

Preparedness Categories
Fig4. – Three glowing parts after using a flint rod on the cloth.
Preparedness Categories
Fig5. – The ruined char cloth.

I only realized after salvaging the char cloth that they shrink to about half their size, which means I have to double the cutout size to get a decent tool for firelighting which will also fit nicely in a survival kit. The cloth also crumbles more readily than a lantern mantle which is a nuisance, but that could be a sign I “overcooked” it to the point it’s useless. Overall it was a valuable learning experience and I’ve got a few more things to buy before attempting creating char cloth again such as a better can, cotton which I’m sure is cotton instead of a questionable t-shirt which “claimed” to be 100% cotton.

Mounting my Buttkickers to the Obutto Revolution

Now that my buttkickers have arrived and been tested it’s time to mount them onto my obutto r3volution for what some people call the ultimate 4D experience. No this won’t be a 4D cinema where water is shot from the ceiling when the characters on-screen get wet, although…..
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