Best Gas Can on the Market

For the past several years, I have been nursing our plastic gas cans and even hunting for used gas cans at second hand stores and garage sales.  I cannot express the frustration I have encountered with these worthless new gas cans; the nozzles are pure junk, made so cheaply they break and you can’t get your gas out of the can, so you have to resort to purchasing an adapter nozzle or even using a funnel. The new gas cans also don’t have vent holes that allow air to enter the can so the fuel is able to leave the can in a steady stream.

Those of you who follow this blog outside the United States are you finding the same poorly made fuel cans dominating the shelves in your stores as well?

If it wasn’t for a neighbor who used to race dune buggies, I would have never known about the VP Racing fuel cans.  They have a vent hole that allows gas to leave in a steady stream.  However, you have to create your own nozzle for a few dollars more that will fit into the lid of the can.  I only have one nozzle attached to one lid and trade lids between my 4 gas cans.

The upside and downside to the VP cans is they pour super fast when the vent hole is open.  I generally only crack the vent hole open to get a steady pour, but not something that will rush out of the can and over flow my small engine’s fuel tank.  The second downside and upside is they are heavy when filled. They can also handle about 6 gallons easily, but that extra storage comes with more weight to bear while trying to pour the fuel into a small gas tank. I am debating purchasing an extra tank just to fill only part way and transfer fuel from the other tanks so I can make filling our small engines’ gas tanks less of a chore.

Once upon a time, regular fuel cans came with easy to pour nozzles and vent holes before government legislation through lobbying got involved.  It saddens me to think a company can lobby government officials to pass legislation that benefits their patents and product by forcing better made products off the shelves in stores.  In the spirit of capitalism, this would never happen.  The United States isn’t what it use to be as far as allowing companies with the best designed products to compete on the store shelves.  Customers would have never chosen the poorly made environmentally “challenged” regulated fuel cans if the regular fuel cans were on the shelves.

If you are interested in investing in an easy to pour fuel can, you would be wise to invest in the VP Racing fuel can.  It’s a little more expensive, but when you have to buy the $10 nozzle kit to replace on the environ-“mentally challenged” cans, you’re very close in price.  Here’s the link at our “a store“.

The Importance of the type of fuel to use in your small engines

The other caveat I discuss in the video is the need for non ethanol gas in your yard machines and other small engines you may use.  The non ethanol gas has a longer life span than ethanol gas.  If you have an engine that will sit for more than 30 days, including vehicles, outboard motors, lawnmowers, generators, chainsaws, snow blowers, etc. then you need to use the more expensive non ethanol gasoline.  After 30 days, and sometimes even less if the machine is warmed up by the sun or hot days, the alcohol in the fuel will begin evaporate leaving water and other additives behind.  This expired fuel will gum up (tarnish) the small holes in the carburetor of your engine causing the need to rebuild and clean the carburetor before the engine can run properly.  By adding fuel stabilizer and possibly fuel additives that remove water you can possibly save the carburetor, but that won’t fix the spoiled fuel that has been sitting and spoiling in the carburetor while in storage.  To be safe, it is best to add the fuel stabilizer before placing the engine into storage for more than 30 days and run the engine for a minimum of 5 minutes with the treated stabilized fuel throughout the system.

If I had known this one simple preventative measure it would have saved me a carburetor rebuild in my 1968 Chevy pickup years ago.



A simple trick to improve gear shaft and axle performance: Snow Thrower Maintenance

Thank you for joining us at Living a Sustainable Dream, I hope this post will assist you if you have a snow thrower.  If you have no interest in ever owning one, let alone have a snowy enough climate to justify its purchase, that’s okay.  If there is one thing everyone can take from this post, it would be to read your manuals and keep them stored in a singular place for your equipment such as a lawnmower or a weed wacker.  If you do this, you will be able to perform the correct maintenance when necessary and possibly prevent equipment failure in the future.

Even though most of the snow is now gone, we have a few videos that we still need to post to complete our Snow Thrower Maintenance Playlist.  This post explains a simple maintenance schedule to improve your snow thrower’s performance and extend its life.  I was unaware of this until the auger shaft replacement I had to make early this year.  While searching the manual for a how-to instruction on removing the auger shaft [non existent in the manual], I discovered some strongly suggestive maintenance I had ignored these past 4 years.

The axle and gear shaft need to be lubricated every 25 hours of operation.  When I purchased the snow thrower, I skimmed the manual and didn’t pay any particular attention to the necessary scheduled maintenance.  I realize the importance and wish I had created a maintenance schedule of my own to adhere.  I am already beginning to create such a schedule and can’t wait until we finish a shop in which to conduct this regular maintenance on our equipment.

Our next post will be this Saturday and I will be discussing the best 5 gallon fuel cans on the market for the price as well as storing small engine equipment for a long period of time without running it.

We haven’t chosen a tractor name, so far, the family is split on Wiley and Klyde.

The Tractor has Arrived

Our new tractor has arrived and we’ve already made some use of it by moving several dead rooted up stumps and a large burned up log left by the previous owner.  What would have taken days and several weeks of back and knee recovery was done in a matter of a few minutes.  Just yesterday morning, it was time to swap out the snow tires. I put our large Suburban tires onto a pallet, moved them to our Suburban, and fork lift them to a height easy enough to slide the tires into the back. On a different day last week, I took the tractor to the west side of our home and smoothed out the weeded rough area to extend the yard.  What would take me days, is taking me minutes, and my back doesn’t hurt at the end of each day.

The video I created has nothing to do with the work I did.  Instead, I created a short 2 minute film celebrating that we finally purchased a tractor for our homestead.  I keyed it up to some inspirational music that I liked and filmed a typical “sunny” morning, waking up to a new homestead tractor.  I enjoyed doing all the cuts and film editing while placing “orange” everyday items throughout the film to lead up to the reveal at the end.   It was our only full sunny day this week.  It truly was a beautiful morning and was lots of fun to shoot.

I am so far very happy with our decision, I just wish the weather this week cooperated more, so I could begin gathering firewood.  It looks like the last few months of the school year I will be working two jobs full-time before summer break, one as a teacher and the other as a forest manager on the property.  During my sleep or shower time, I will have to plan the pole barn we are building.

So far, our name suggestions are: Surely, Klyde, and Wiley. There is still time to chime in and my wife and I are now split of 2 different names, our son may have to be the tie-breaker.

Budgeting for a Homestead Tractor

Ever since we bought our property back in 2010, we desired to have a tractor.  We wanted a tractor with a backhoe attachment, and we should have bought it back then, but I was stubborn about not wanting to go back in debt. If we had done this seven years ago, our tractor would have been paid off this year.  However, with payments, money would not be as flush and several projects would have probably not been accomplished during that time.

“What ifs” is no way to look at the world.  All our lives are full of what ifs.  Possibly, in the next seven years I will be thinking what life would have been like if we had not bought a tractor.

We crunched the numbers using a spreadsheet, and we found the tractor payments feasible for us.  Follow this link to download a free copy of our “tractor; monthly payment calculator”. Pauper’s Candles “Freebies” page.

We are diving in and trusting we are making the right choice.  What convinced me was when our generator went out of commission this past January, and we bought an emergency backup generator.  However, the backup generator did a poor job integrating in our system.  It was not a true 5000 Watt generator.  We decided to return it back to the store, but my wife and I could barely lift it.  We hoisted and strained to get the generator into our high-lift Suburban.  Our backs were wrenched and we felt sore for the next few days.  A tractor with pallet forks would have done it without breaking a sweat, and here we were killing ourselves.  That was the defining moment that I could make one back breaking mistake and injure myself to the point in which I would be in debt to several hospital bills and would no longer be able to work the homestead.

The loader bucket list… Our pro list definitely out weighs our con list. Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards

Being young, I arrogantly used my back, now that I am middle aged, I am becoming more cautious in protecting my body, which protects my freedom. That became the tipping balance for my wife and I to take the plunge back into debt.  Our tractor arrives this afternoon.

If you would like to suggest a name for our new mechanical mule, please leave a comment below.



Spring is upon us / Oil Change: Snow Thrower Maintenance

Spring is finally upon us in Northern Idaho.  The snow is melting away, giving way to mud season.  Now that I have a few moments, I can share some snow thrower maintenance videos.  If you have a snow thrower, put these in your archives.  If you don’t ever have snow, then these videos should be a nice oddity for you.

I am also trying some new editing techniques called a jump cut.  I am trying to shorten the videos, get to the point and see if I can manage the task in under 10 minutes.  This video was under 4 minutes.

Let me know if you like the shortened format.

Living a Sustainable Dream’s Second Anniversary

Best Foot Forward… The weekend we met our son for the 1st time. The beginning of our journey.

It’s hard to believe that we are still blogging after 2 years.  When I first began this journey, I was focusing on writing and possibly creating a book about how to live sustainable and off the grid.  Since then, we have done many projects, but our biggest project was our adoption and becoming a family of three.

During the last year to help our son adjust to his new home, I have been capturing our life on video and creating music montages for him to watch.  He has his first year with us documented very well.  As we grow closer as a family, he relies less and less on his videos and more and more on the future with us.

A beautiful day… Our 1st weekend with our son at the beach, flying kites we made as a family.

We have had our struggles this past year, but we have also been greatly blessed as we watch our son develop, his academic skills improve, and his curiosity of life begin to abound.

We haven’t spoken much of our life this past year as we do not want our son to be paraded around in such a public arena.  So, we continued our focus on homestead projects and improvements.  We have been making and showing through that venue a glimpse of our family.  Webber Forever Day is almost upon us, our first anniversary of the day we set as our adoption finalization and dedication of our son.

Walking the path… We began our journey and became a family in the process.

Thank you for joining us here at Living a Sustainable Dream, supporting our endeavors by shopping at our off grid home business, Pauper’s Candle Company, and for your helpful and encouraging comments.


Easy to Fix Snow Blower Part 2

Here is the second half of the snow blower auger assembly repair.  In this YouTube video, I demonstrate how to replace the auger shaft, worm gear, augers, and v-belt.  At the time I purchased this snow blower, I had no idea how they were set up and put together.  I wanted a well rated snow blower for a good price, and I purchased this one on sale and with a 15% off, credit card, application, incentive program at the time.  Sometimes you get lucky, and with this snow blower, I did.  It is so easy to repair.  Whoever engineered it, they did an excellent job.  It seems like I have been running into the exact opposite lately, so I can’t tell you how encouraged I am to find something that was created with care, logic, and the repairs in mind.

Today, it seems we live a world of ill designed products or parts meant to break easily to accommodate our artificially created throw away society.  Engineers are making illogical designs even when looking at my PT Cruiser, I have to take off the air cleaner to gain access to the battery.  It seems the engineers are encouraged to make an artificial need  of specialty tools and mechanics trained to fix the illogical.  Thirty years ago things were designed with care purpose and intent that anyone with a little self confidence could fix it.

I just wanted to praise Craftsman for creating a machine that I could easily repair myself during a time I needed it the most.  I was not bound by someone’s time table.  I was able to press through and meet the impending storm’s deadline. That next week, we received so much snow, I had to turn the snow blower over to my wife and climb the roof of our dilapidated cabin and hand shovel the snow off of it.

No paid endorsements here.  I just want to praise a company for taking the time to do it right with the care of the owners who purchase their products in mind.  Here is a shout out to the designers of the 28″ Craftsman Snow Thrower model #247.883950.

If you have found a product that has been great for you and that you purchased in confidence, please give it a shout out here and why you liked it.  Company’s need to hear when they are doing well.