I decided to make this serious thread about how to stay mobile after the stuff hits the fan because after browsing and searching for a real thread
about it, I can't seem to find a real guide that gets all the information in one place. I'm NOT a mechanic but I'm fully capable of the job and work
in the automotive industry. I'll be discussing the basic approaches to remaining mobile and giving useful information about each method.
The Bicycle Method
The first method of remaining mobile is going to be a bike. If you're in good physical condition a sturdy bike, preferably a mountain bike can go a
long ways with very little upkeep. If you want to go this route you're probably going to want to build the bike from the ground up.
Starting with the frame you're going to want to choose one that's going to last, but not be too heavy. In my opinion the best material for this
purpose would be chromoly. It's fairly light, strong, and flexible to offer a decent ride over long periods.
Next up, we're going to want a good drive train. The pedals, crank, rear cassette, derailleurs, and shifters, all need to be top quality stuff. The
more robust the better. Just remember one simple rule about most bike parts, "cheap, strong, light, pick one". In this instance you do not want to
confuse a cheap and heavy part with a strong one. I recommend conventional pedals over clip-less pedals for your survival bike because clip-less
pedals tend to be troublesome and wear out.
Next thing we're going to need to choose is a wheel set, and tires. For your wheel set I recommend a high quality and sturdy wheel set. Look into
wheels intended for "all mountain" biking. They're strong, not too heavy, and should last you a lifetime if you're not actually riding aggressively.
For tires I recommend something with a harder compound and a more all around tread style. XC tires are great for this as they have a low rolling
resistance and can be used on the street if they're hard compound. It may look/sound goofy but this is probably the best way to go. Make sure that
you use thick standard inner tubes, no tubeless setups or thin tubes should be used.
The next part that you'll want to choose carefully is the fork. In my opinion avoid air forks and go for a sturdy coil sprung fork. Air forks can
and will break and are often built with weight as a concern over durability. The best coil sprung forks are going to be the ones intended for entry
level dirt jumping bikes, not the ones intended for entry level XC. XC forks that are coil sprung break easily and are overall considered junk. The
dirt jumping forks like the DJ3 are relatively light, have stiff enough springs, and a sturdy enough construction to last for years. They're also
pretty low maintenance. You can also use a rigid fork but that will pretty much take away any off-road prowess the bike has.
The rest of the bike can be setup in a way that's comfortable for you that does not make use of any overly weak parts.
The Bicycle Upkeep
What else do you need to remain mobile on a mountain bike? Glad you're thinking ahead. The biggest downside to using a mountain bike for
transportation is that it will require a high amount of food/water for your body, to keep it in top performing condition. So make sure if you go this
route that you have access to food and water readily and will not have to carry all of it with you. You will eat a lot of food and require constant
hydration if you're going to be biking for days on end. To that end, a bike is probably not a great means of long distance travel in a desperate
setting where food and water are scarce. The next thing you'll need to worry about is keeping your bike rolling. For this you're going to want a
stash of spare parts. I recommend carrying at least an inner tube and a spare cable that will work for any component at all times. I also recommend
a larger stash of just about every part except a spare frame to be stashed away at wherever you intend to call home. Inner tubes and cables, tires,
drive train parts, wheel set and the tools to fix a wheel set should be your biggest concerns/stockpiles. Overall the bike route rates very well if
you only need shorter distance transportation and have a reliable stockpile of food. If you want or think you will need to travel and may have
trouble getting food, it rates very low.
The Vehicle Method
If you're like most Americans you're going to have a little trouble letting go of the idea of owning a working car/truck. I also like this idea
because it allows for a higher speed, lower food/water needs, and allows you to actively obtain supplies over longer distances.
First thing's first. You need to choose a vehicle. You could go many different directions on this one but overall you're going to want something old
most likely. The older the vehicle the less electronics will need to be removed. You can get either a car or a truck. I'm going to make this from
the perspective of a truck because it offers more adaptability as opposed to a car's main strength which is going to be speed and handling on
pavement. I recommend going with an older American made 4x4 truck. You can choose your favorite brand but I recommend a Chevrolet c-10 from the 70s
or 80s to start (there's a reason for that). Those armored up SUVs may look cool and sound like a good bet but in the event of EMP they'd be
completely worthless with no hope of ever working again.
The first part any road warrior's vehicle needs is a good engine! For that I highly recommend a 350 c.i. generation one small block Chevy v-8. Make
sure you get one with a 4 bolt main block and re-build it from there. Why am I so partial to this engine? It holds the title of most common engine
on the planet, and in probably the majority's eyes, holds that title because it's the most reliable. Parts availability will be good no matter what
country you're in, and these engines will run a very long time. They're also relatively light weight (for a cast iron engine) and pretty powerful.
They're also compatible with a points ignition system which is a very important trait for an engine to have if it's going to survive EMP bombardments.
If you choose a ford or a dodge, you may want to choose this engine despite the brand difference and hassle you will have swapping it in. In a c-10
it's likely going to be under your hood already. I recommend the engine be built with as few performance parts as possible and with gas mileage in
mind. You're not going to get great mileage, but of the engines that will still be working on the day after, it's about the best anyone will be
getting. You want a good quality radiator, a snorkel, and proper protection from mud and waterproofing for the engine. Upgrade to a newer belt drive
if you can. Old v-belts are junk and the newer serpentine systems are much better. You may choose to upgrade to a 24 volt electrical system and dual
alternators at that time also. Whatever you do with the engine make sure that parts are as common as possible. Don't end up with a belt that
requires a mail order to replace.
Other engine options are the fabled bio-diesel. I would NOT go this route because even now in order to get a full tank of gas you would need to visit
many fast food places, and the bio fuel requires on the spot filtering to get the "gas" in your tank. The fuel for these bio engines would dry up
very quickly and since the only way to get more is to cook a lot of food (a rare commodity) it's not a reliable source for the long haul.
Ethanol is however an easy to produce fuel that would most likely be the best fuel source after it all settles. A gasoline engine can run on that
pretty easily which is why I chose to go gas instead of diesel.
The next thing we need to focus on is the drive train. The best transmission for our mythical road warrior mobile is in my opinion the Chevrolet
th-400 automatic. It's easy to drive, tough as nails, and doesn't have a clutch to burn out. It's a set it and forget it type deal and should last a
few hundred thousand miles if the fluid is changed at the right time. Yet again, parts are pretty easy to come by in the event of mechanical failure,
and they will easily bolt into a 70s or 80s c-10. Make sure you have a quality transmission cooler and a brand new torque converter.
4x4s have something called a transfer case. Get one that's gear driven and make sure it has the ability to use 2wd only.
The c-10 has a solid front and rear axle which is good for off-road and durability. I recommend that you trash whatever axles your vehicle has and
upgrade to rebuilt 1-ton versions. You're going to need to upgrade your brake system to make them work most likely so go through that and use
whatever you can to make it more reliable. Steel braided lines are a nice upgrade. If you want to enhance the durability of the axles themselves
even more you can explore custom skid plates, beefy diff covers, as well as swapping of the axles internal parts for much stronger aftermarket
versions. Make sure your front end has lockable hubs so that you can save the front axle from having to spin when you're in 2wd. That will help the
durability of the front axle. I also recommend a simple locking differential in the rear. Avoid limited-slip style differentials (they can and do
wear out) and air lockers (airlines are bad for the long haul). Avoid super low (numerically larger) gear ratios because they will be more likely to
fail than a closer to factory ratio. If you feel the need for low gearing explore the options of the many transfer case setups and do it there.
Everyone needs a good set of tires right? Obviously! For that option I recommend the closest thing you can find to a military all-terrain. H1 tires
are a good off-road tire that's not too unruly on pavement. It has a large size and you can get your hands on hummer rims, tires, and even the run
flat foam they're filled with. I recommend going that route. Pack a spare nonetheless.
You need to worry about the 30 year old suspension that's under your truck as well. I recommend going with a smaller lift suspension that includes
new springs. On the rear you may choose to have custom springs made because the stock suspension lift springs are normally very soft. That's bad for
carrying heavy loads of fuel and water. Make sure you have a new, strong, and completely rebuilt suspension setup. While you're working on the
suspension you're going to want to reinforce the frame around the steering box. It's a major point of failure on trucks that have been modified with
large tires/axles, so make sure it's reinforced well.
What else? Well, you can go as far as you want with this thing. You will probably want to install a larger fuel tank. You can buy these from
aftermarket companies or have them custom built by a good welder. You will probably be limited to 100 gallons or so unless you really start to encase
the truck in fuel (bad idea). A good winch or even multiple winches are a smart idea. I recommend using a pto winch setup which does not make use of
electronics and is much stronger than the electric winches. It's what the military uses and it's a good bet if it's setup properly. You're going to
want heavy duty bumpers for this and as many anchor points on the vehicle as possible. It's also a good idea to consider a roll cage. If you want to
get spendy you can have a roll cage welded over the length of the truck and have it tie in to a custom bed. This setup has many advantages but it
will mean that if you're worried about a fire fight you'll need to armor your fuel tanks. Bulletproof glass is also an option. Water recovery
equipment would be a good idea, just a big tank with a pump. One of the chemical spreaders that have a pump on the top can be rewired to suck rather
than spray and could be handy for recovering standing water quickly. Overall you want to lose weight on the truck not increase it though. So you may
want to consider trashing most of the original body and replacing it with something lighter. Lastly, if it has a circuit board trash it. Go through
the entire electrical system and get rid of any circuit boards and rewire the vehicle without them. Even old dash boards will often have worthless
junk in them that may prohibit the vehicle from working after it settles. The best route is to just build your own electrical system and gauges.
Obviously use mechanical gauges. You should also consider one of the aftermarket on-board welding systems, and a portable air compressor. It could
be handy in a world where AAA is gone and tow trucks are not operating.
The Vehicle Upkeep
Although the way of the road warrior might be the most popular idea it's also got the largest upkeep. You'll need everything that your car would need
at home plus access to whatever parts you can't build yourself. Using aftermarket parts can be a real pain during the repair phase so use them
sparingly, and if you're capable build as much of the vehicle as you can yourself. Take a welding class. Keep many spare parts including a stockpile
of ignition points as they do wear out quickly. Keep as many fluids and filters stocked as you can. You may want to sell these as time goes by
because petroleum products will likely be hard to produce after it all settles. Keep a stock of a few fluids and some tools with your truck at all
times. Overall the vehicle route rates pretty good despite it's larger upkeep. Having a working vehicle on the day after can open up a whole new
realm of employment or scavenging for you. It will make you a target but the idea is to build a vehicle that's not an easy target. Hauling supplies,
people, or even mail could be a means of employment for anyone that has a working method of transportation.
Hopefully you enjoyed the read and now have a better idea of what you're going to want tucked away in your garage after the stuff hits the fan. Keep
in mind that if you do not want to spend the money on a simple survival vehicle that you could adapt either method to a hobby for the here and now.
Mountain biking and off-roading are pretty popular hobbies so have fun with it, if you've got the cash. Feel free to make any good
edit on 18-8-2011 by Thestargateisreal because: (no reason given)