Monday, June 24, 2013

Vanagon: The Personal Mobile Kitchen

"eating out" is one of the big money wasters of our time. While I'm often guilty, I also use my van to help minimize the pain. For example, last week I had to attend a 3-day Training session at a local hotel. I showed up quite early, often the case for me when trying to avoid traffic. I had an hour or so to kill so I made a coffee, and decided to take one more step and have a nice bowl of oatmeal. It was the instant variety, so I only needed to boil some water...
JetBoil Oatmeal
Admittedly, I did go out to a nearby Lebanese joint for lunch, mostly for the friendship and company of colleagues...you can't be a total Hermit after all  :)
Beef Shawarma please
But I digress of course. On day 2, it was back to the van for an interesting concoction I've taken a liking to. Basically, it's Kraft Dinner mixed with Chili. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it. It's good and hearty, if not a little sodium "rich"...
KD Chili
All in all, the Camper Van is a good item to have parked outside the office. It's normally equipped with water, food, cooking capability, refrigeration, extra clothes, and the list goes on...
Swiss Army Knife on Wheels
The swiveling front seats help enhance the dining experience...LOL...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

For the Love of Coleman

For many years now, I've taken a shine to old white gas Coleman Stoves and Lanterns. I like the fact that you can tinker with them, and the haunting hissing noise of a Coleman Lamp takes me back to childhood simpler times. Call me nostalgic, or nuts, I don't really care. Accordingly, I'm always keeping my eyes open at yard sales and on Kijiji on the off chance that a good deal will materialize. One that I've long coveted showed up this week, and it's $20 asking price was too good to ignore. It's a model 222a. This was kind of marketed as a "Backpacker" lantern as it's a mini version of the classic lantern. At only 9" tall, it's compact if not cute...
new to me 222a  :)
Like most of these things, it came in its original box, and appeared to have been used maybe once. I pumped it up with the gas that was in it and it fired right up. This particular model was manufactured in 1979 under the "Peak 1" name. Interestingly, I purchased its sister stove back in the late 70's.
my 505b
Of course I had to bring the new lantern in the house and hang it in the kitchen while turning out the lights; not cool according to my son who was at the table trying to complete his homework...oh well.
Hanging on the pot rack. 
With respect to "tinkering", many parts are still available for these units, some directly from Coleman or if not, from other online vendors, ebay etc...
So, I think I'm up to about a dozen lanterns, but more on that later...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Early Birthday Present ?

Sometimes opportunity knocks, and often in my recklessness, I simply answer. Case in point: I've always seen the "need" for a small generator, mostly to use as a way to charge 12 volt batteries in support of a off-grid setup for supplying 110 power to a freezer for example, during a power outage. They have other uses of course, but I'm speaking of a small unit in the 1000 Watt maximum range. For several years now, I've owned an abomination in the likes of a 2-cycle Princess Auto Powerfist generator...
my old one...
This has been ok, but it's quite loud, and the workmanship is a bit sloppy; the threaded fitting in the bottom of the tank leaks for example. A constant pain as all the o-rings and gaskets in the world can't seem to fix it. I've fooled with it so much that I fear it's beyond fixing...just a minor leak that poses no problem when the unit is running, but leave it overnight and you're dealing with the stench of gasoline by the next day.
The ultimate of course is a 1000 watt Honda, but my mind can't fathom paying the $1,000 asking price.
This where the story gets interesting. In July of 2010 (almost 3 years ago), Canadian Tire briefly carried a Champion 1000 watt unit. A bit strange since it seemed to come from nowhere, and disappear just as fast. They listed it for $499. I wanted one but was too cheap to pull the trigger. Here's what there web site depicted back then:
Canadian Tire Web Site July 2010
Go there now of course, and you'll find no sign of it. It's a Honda knockoff, and actually had pretty good reviews. They say good things come to those who wait, so imagine my shock when I walked into the Quinpool Road Canadian Tire just last week...
Regular price still hiding underneath

Whoa...where did that come from? for the life of me I don't know why these would show up 3 years later ? A little web searching...no sign of it on the Champion Web Site although I WAS able to download a PDF of the owner's manual from there. I also read that Honda sued them over this one because of trademark infringement. Anyway, with my birthday coming up this week, I managed to secure the necessary managerial approval  :)
 A nice unit, and bonus, I don't have to use mixed gas. Like my other one, this one has a nice 12 volt outlet as well...my main reason for wanting it, although for my purposes, I can easily just run a battery charger from the 110 outlets...
 Here's a video so you can get an idea of how loud this thing is...not bad actually...So, an early Happy Birthday to me  :)
video

The labeling on this generator reveals that it's a re-badged Kipor brand unit, the IG1000 to be precise. Here's a photo of the Kipor...
seems identical
Here's what they say about the Kipor:

Quiet, lightweight, and easy to use, the Kipor IG1000 lets you bring an outdoor power source wherever you need it. Kipor Inverter Generators provide cleaner energy to power sensitive electronic equipment while being quieter, maintaining greater fuel efficiency, and releasing less exhaust into the environment. The IG1000 provides up to 4 hours run time at maximum load; requiring less output will extend the run time above 4 hours. The IG1000 is ideal for providing everyday portable power to a wide range small electronic devices and also a wise investment as an emergency power source. Popular uses for the Kipor IG1000 include: running a radio/cd player, electric drill, electric fan, toaster, electric lights, or a small desktop computer with monitor. Includes a free accessory kit that contains a spark plug, an oil bottle, and a 12-volt charge line. All Kipor Generators carry a 2-year non-commercial/1-year commercial use warranty from any Kipor North America service dealer.