Skeeter Smudge Pots

Here is a neat little project, doesn’t cost a lot of cash, it is easy to do, can do it all in one weekend, and best of all, it works!  Unfortunately, it kind of dates me a little and that isn’t all that cool.  I remember them from the fifties, there were called Smudge Pots.  Clifford said “he never saw any that were red, and he is right, I painted mine.”  Some of you might remember them, and the younger guys, well, here is the gist of it.

My wife and I watch this program quite a bit called “Pickers.” It is about two guys who drive around and they pick thru other peoples stuff, and try to talk them out of it, so that they can sell it later.  Another one that always rows my boat is Restoration, which is some guy named Rick in Las Vegas who is really into old stuff.  We have a much different term for it, we call it “junking.”

(I can hear my bride as I type this … GARAGE SALE! GARAGE SALE …. MAKE A YOUIE!)

These guys find the neatest junk. They always manage to sell it for a profit too. I find that a little less than truthful, but then again, “that is television for you” truly a dishonest medium and most always a tad bit less than truthful when it comes to the storyline.

“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” is what Mama used to say. Now the old man, he would put it much differently, he would say: “It’s too valuable to throw away and it isn’t worth a dime when you go to sell it.”

Two opposing viewpoints.

Junking is fun, and it keeps me out of the beer-joints, so it is a “win-win-situation.” We have never discovered the painting with the original Declaration of Independence on the back like you see on Oprah, but we sometimes stumble onto some neat stuff. (On one trip, in Wyoming, we stopped at this little store and I purchased some Coca Cola bottle openers. Later on, I took them to a Coke novelty store in Okie City and discovered my $8 purchase was an original and worth $144.00!)

We occasionally find a nugget or a little treasure when we junk on the weekends or on a trip.  A friend of mine just emailed me this week about an old 32 Roadster he found sitting in a barn, rumble seat and all, and it runs!  I saw an old time gasoline pump in a yard last week, and was wondering if they might want to sell it?  There are items to be had out there, you just have to search ‘em out.

This time it was smudge pots, now I am not all that sure about the technical name, but when I was a kid, they were called that.  If you are fortunate to find some, in reasonably good shape, they clean up rather nice. (Be forewarned this is messy work and not much fun, but in the end they are worth it).  With the EPA and the Green Movement, I don’t imagine they are much in use anymore, replaced by electrical battery operated safety devices long ago.

Back in the fifties you saw them everywhere on construction sites, cement work, road construction. They usually were filled with kerosene if my memory serves me right. In this case, I filled them with this stuff they sell at China-Mart for backyard Tiki Lanterns (Citronella oil or something like that). We are going to use them for mosquito protection. One last thing: If you need to replace the wicks they can be found at Home Depot or Lowe’s. You can also make some out of cotton-type rope.

Scratch ‘em up real good, paint ‘em and then find a suitable tool box to store them in (mine came from Lowe’s – less than $25) and you are off to the races!

Best part, “no mosquitoes hanging around the bus in the parking area.”  If your not inclined to do the paintwork and the messy stuff, you can purchase them online here on the Internet for all you smart shoppers, here is the link:  Sporty’s Smudge Pots  But then again, that kind of takes a lot of fun out of it for me, half the fun is finding ’em junked out, and then bringing them back to life.

Good hunting …

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Road Tool Box Setup

We carry a lot of spares, headlights, tail lights, markers, fuses, connectors, you name it, and we most likely will have it.  It is important to have some of these items on the road, just in case.  We (or rather myself) feel more comfortable if we also have a selection of tools for jobs that might pop up.  Storage for all of these items presents a problem, so the idea of a road tool box/misc parts box came to be.

Our last trip out, we had an alternator fail on us, but in the tool box, was spare wire, alligator clips, we wired around the alternator and ran off the genset for the remainder of the trip (700 miles) and replaced the alternator when we returned home.  Now having to do this on the road, and finding yourself at the mercy of whoever happens to come across you, well, you can see the necessity of carrying spare items with you.  The alternator rebuild in itself came to over $250 and it would be three times that on the road.  It is a good idea, to carry extra stuff.

The first of the summer, I dedicated most of our time, to the revamping of the underside of the bus, lot of paintwork and prep, and then it sort of morphed into some kind of oak floored and paneled theme with runners on the floor and a generous serving of snap caps and alum channel.  This bay being no different than the others (other than being a lot smaller because of the tool chest and drawers) will follow the same guidelines.

Once again, I am rigging up LED lights in this bay as I have in all the others.  When you are having problems in the middle of nowhere, the very last thing you want to be doing is rummaging around for a flashlight.  This bay will have four new lights, and they will be rigged on a toggle instead of automatically coming on when the doors are open as the other areas do when in use.

LED drawer lighting on toggled switch

Piece work.  Another job that is tedious and time consuming, but in the end, hopefully will be worth the effort.

A lot of sanding and staining to get it presentable and then it has to be fitted.

This revamp process will also have quite a few special cuts and lining of area’s with dressed out oak plywood as with the other bays.  It will also receive the same floor treatment as the other bays.  In this case it is going to require 30-35 pieces, which will have to be cut to fit, sanded, stained and then clear coated.  They say that 85% of a good paint job is in the prep, so this is just one of the necessary evils you have to deal with when taking on a project such as this.

It will also have diamond plate shelves as the one in Bay #1 and these will be lighted underneath the shelving (out of sight) providing a ambient light effect.

Finished and mounted panel right side

Finished and mounted panel left side

The tool box itself will be labeled, I had a trophy maker (engraving shop) make up some plates for the drawers, kind of gives it a dressed up look.  Most of them are done, I have two more than need to be completed, and a little trim work and it will all be finished.

Photo etched plates for road box drawers

Two more pieces of trim and it will be finished.

Slamming it all together and bolting it down, gives it a nice clean look.  Just needs a little TLC and a couple of hits from a can of Liquid Gold and it is ready to go.  I have one more remaining bay to wrap up, and then both sides of the coach will have been revamped over a period of 2.5 months.

Floor space and indirect LED lighting

Monday morning it will be off to the next Grand Adventure!

I can hardly wait.  Once again, clicking on the photo’s will enlarge them for better detail and your comments are welcome in the space provided at the bottom of the page.

Footnote:  If any of you are interested in doing some plate work for your project, here is the link to the people who did mine.  http://www.mtmawards.com/ I have no vested interest in them, just providing it to you if you should desire to do something similar?

Give ’em a call … Ask for Bobby Thomas, or call 609-6909.

They do great work. 

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