*Goshin's Fallout Shelter (Day One)*
(Leave it to Beaver music playing in background)
(Goshin) "Well folks, I'm glad you could come down and see my falloutshelter!"
(1950's female) "Looks like a nice Job Goshin..."
(Goshin) "Ya know, This shelter is a real good idea!" If we should get a nuclear war, we could get a heavy nuclear fallout even though we was not anywheres near the target area.. so tigger and I got to thinking about it and decided we'd rather be prepared than sorry"
(1950's male) "ya know Goshin, this gives me an idea.. ya know how I was thinking of building a dark room? there's no reason I couldn't use one for that too!"
(Goshin) "well this would make a perfect darkroom as well as a fallout shelter.. c'mon in, let me show you around"
(More Leave it to Beaver music)
Improvised fallout shelters have been a recent topic of discussion.. We've read Cresson Kearny's stuff, and what little that can be found on the web about "Expedient fallout shelters"...
One Article In Kearny's "Nuclear War Survival Skills" shows two college girls that finished what looked to be a decent size shelter in a day or so...
For some reason this just didn't seem right.. I have dug a fighting position or two, as have many here....
So In Typical Rubicon Fashion we decided to Test it. "If you haven't tested it, it doesn't work".. in this case, It would NOT have worked!
We set "One day" as our goal... actually 7 of us worked 8 hours. But I'm putting the cart before the horse, so let me start at the beginning.
We met on Rubie-Q chat Thursday night to discuss plans... there was a LARGE turn out, and we got a lot of good ideas... Our goal was to keep this "So anyone with basic common materials could do it"...
This Morning we woke up to pouring rain. In Team SC, if it ain't rainin, we ain't trainin, so we loaded up and made the drive to Goshin's. Everyone was there when I got there, and immediately Jackflack and PaleHorse and a few others strung up a tarp over the work area. The rest of us laid out a 7x9 rectangle with string.
Kearny recommends a "minimum" of 10 square feet of shelter space per person, and preferably 20. Goshin's shelter is designed for 4 people, so we decided to split the difference and make it 7x9 (64 square feet). Trust me, with 4 of us standing in the string rectangle, you DO NOT want to live in 63 square feet for a minimum of 3 days, and probably more like a week or so.
So, Important lesson number 1. I don't see how 4 people could live for a week in 40 square feet, and you'd be MOST unhappy in 80 square feet.. even under dire circumstances.
We looked at some open holes in the area while driving in. In a lot of places in SC the first few inches of ground is clay.. then the dirt becomes more grainy, but is still not fun to dig... In Goshin's area up Upstate SC, the first few inches is loose red clay and loam... the rest (Down to AT LEAST 7 feet) is HARD red clay.. we're talking Mattocks here... and we won't even discuss the coal seam we hit at 5.5 feet...
Important lesson #2, KNOW the Soil conditions in your area BEFORE you start to dig!!!!!
Undaunted, we dug in (literally) and started digging... we're Rubies, we WILL triumph one way or another! We don't give up. The goal is a fallout shelter, By God a fallout shelter WILL be there!
It VERY quickly became apparent that we were NOT going to hand dig that hole.. not in a day, not in 3 days. We had to hack out every shovel full with a mattock..
So we did what any Rubie would do.. We bartered our skills for someone else's property.
Seems one of Goshin's neighbors has a bad drainage problem.. as in "many thousands of dollars to fix".. he didn't have thousands of dollars to fix it... So he rented a NICE BIG BACKHOE for 8 hours of meter time... Sierra noticed it on the way in to Goshin's and had stopped in to talk to the poor guy for a while.. Sierra has never met a stranger... within 30 minutes the guy was acting like he and Sierra were long lost buddies...
Problem: The Neighbor had never run a backhoe before, or done any major plumbing and was working alone and really not getting much done... in fact, he was tearing things up.
Problem: We were NOT going to dig our hole by hand in under a week.
Solution.. Sierra37 goes back over there and starts bartering "Plumbing skills" and "backhoe expertise" for use of the backhoe for an hour.
As we're hand digging the hole, the guy comes down the dirt road in the backhoe, sets the jacks, and in 30 minutes we had a 9x12 hole, 5.5 feet deep!
Sierra gives the guy a list of materials to buy for his project, and the man leaves to go get them (He's replacing his lines from the house to the septic tank, drain field, etc etc and didn't know how to do any of it... he'd already done some damage, and had already about given up.. so he saved us, we saved him... THAT is how life will be handled when TSHTF.. So learn that lesson as Important lesson #3!!!!!) Take advantage of any edge you can get.. DO NOT be afraid to ask, or to barter your skills for something you need!
OK... about digging a shelter hole: Important lesson #4.. Unless you live in sand, you are NOT going to improvise a fallout shelter in a day by hand... Forget it, put that out of your head right now! If you don't believe us, do what we did... go out and try it!
OK... Our Hole is now roughed out... We started squaring up the hole and building up the sides.. we want AT LEAST 6 feet of head room inside. Don't let the backhoe fool ya, we were in for 6 more hours of HARD digging just to square up the hole, berm up the sides, and dig the entrance-way.
While waiting on the neighbor to go buy his materials, Sierra and Marsha3 went and cut down a big tree with my Stihl... to about "Phone pole size"... They used my truck as a log skidder to drag the thing back to camp, and Jack cut it in half.. his new Huskvarna chainsaw is A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!!!!!!!! I own a Stihl, and I was GREATLY impressed with his saw!!!! VERY VERY NICE and VERY powerful!
While the rest of us Built up the side berms around the hole, Sierra and Goshin went to the neighbor's house up the road and Started working there. Jack ended up over there too.. but they FIXED that guys drain field in no time (It did require shoveling a lot of crap, literally.. but they got it done.. the neighbor was VERY happy.. he'd gone from "Not gonna be able to fix it in a week", to "Done" in a few hours... he's happy, we're happy.
Meanwhile, the rest of us finished piling up a wide clay bank around the hole, and dug out the entrance trench with a 90 degree curve to it to get into the shelter.
A shovel full of dirt is VERY heavy when you have to toss each shovel full out of a 5 foot deep hole! We dug in relays so 2 people were on a "light job" while another 2 were shoveling... This way we had a continuous amount of dirt being moved.
Important point! You may have a 7 person crew, but only 2 people at a time can actually work in the hole!!!! Shovels and Mattocks moving around makes any more than 2 people in the hole impossible.
We packed down the clay around the top of our hole, leveled it, and laid plastic sheeting over that.. then we laid stout beams around the hole on top of the plastic (Think "phone pole sized trees")
About this time, we got Duff40 away from her shovel, and she went to Kentucky Fried chicken and got us a very late lunch.. it's about 3pm now. The rest of us continued working. Lunch got back and so did Sierra, Goshin and Jack.
After we ate (and we were STARVING!) we started on the roof... We hand rolled the BIG logs up an improvised ramp, and onto the beams around the hole.
Once the logs were in their general positions, Jack notched out the ends so that the logs would sit on the side beams without rolling.
This is a LOT of work! The roof MUST be able to handle MANY tons of dirt on top to reach the 18 inches of required radiation shielding. If you wouldn't drive your car on the roof, then don't start piling dirt on it.. I can't stress the need for a STOUT roof enough!
You'll need to cover the whole roof with BIG logs... this is time consuming and a LOT of hard work...
by the time we got a roof on the shelter, everyone was staggering a little and "Drifting off". People that are not alert get hurt, and we'd all worked like dogs all day..I can't stress how much work this was folks... Anyway, I called a halt to the day and we covered the roof in tarps and enough dirt to hold it down.
We're planning to get back on it on the 25th to finish up.. so if you didn't make this Shelter building party, do your BEST to make it on the 25th when we'll be finishing up!!!!!!
There are a LOT of things you simply CAN NOT find out about shelter building from an article or book!! To see the snags we hit and how we worked them out, you have to participate! There's just no way to make you understand the raw work, skill and time it takes to put in even an expedient shelter.
What we've done so far would be considered "Expedient", but when we're done it will be a permanent shelter. There are things like how to put in Water drains, water proofing, Sloping walls so the sides don't collapse, and a 100 other things you just can not learn from an article... an article can give you "an idea".. but you HAVE to do it In The Real World before you can "really" learn the lessons...
What would we do differently next time? We discussed that while putting away the tools.. we couldn't really think of anything we'd do differently.. and we're ALL gonna have permanent shelters before long, because ACTUALLY BUILDING ONE, and seeing how well it's turning out got us all really stoked about the idea of us all having them!!
ACTUALLY DOING ONE, showed us that it CAN be done, and that WE can do it, so now we ALL want one.
DO NOT take an article's or book's word on how to build a shelter, or what materials YOU will need, or how long it will take. Every situation is going to present it's own problems that will have to be worked out on-site.
DO NOT think that you'll "build a quick expedient shelter" at the last minute.. you are dreaming! Get it done NOW...
Thanks to Everyone that worked so hard today! This is a learning experience that none of us will ever forget.. and besides that, we had fun doing it "as a TEAM!"
Again, If you live in the area, try to make it on the 25th.. there is till LOTS of important work to be done, and a LOT of skills left to learn!
Thus ends Day 1
Onward to day 2
All materials at this site not otherwise credited are Copyright © 1996 - 2003 Trip Williams. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for personal use only. Use of any material contained herein is subject to stated terms or written permission.