Living off-grid in the UK


When I hear that term I tend to picture two extremes; Ted Kaczynski and Christopher McCandless on one end of the spectrum and well-funded hipsters who build forty thousand dollar cabins where they spend the weekend when it’s not too cold.

For the past week I’ve been watching a series of videos produced by a chap who goes by the pseudonym of Max Ironthumper. Max made a couple dozen videos showing how he restored an old Land Rover (11a). I’ve been addicted to Land Rover porn for the last six months and was immediately hooked by Max’s laid back style and can-do attitude. (Two attributes I admire and covet)

While poking around on Max’s YouTube channel I came across this video (above) in which he talks about how and why he lives off the grid. There’s nothing evangelical about Max’s reasons for how he lives, just an honest account of how he does it. I don’t know if Max lives alone. In one of the restoration videos he mentioned a partner and we get a few glimpses of his dog, his cat, and his chickens.

From a technical perspective, this video is especially effective. For 20 minutes Max speaks extemporaneously with only a few notes. That’s really hard to do but Max has the gift. He’s not afraid to let you see him pause, to think and reflect on something he said or is about to say. I’m making Max sound more philosophical than he probably is. And there’s plenty of technical stuff in this video for the DIY crowd.

I’d be willing to fly across an ocean for the chance to hang out with Max in his shop for a day (and ride in one of his Land Rovers).

PS: If you liked this video, I recommend Project Awesome.

In praise of YouTube


The video above is the first in a series of 24 (?) chronicling the restoration of a Series IIa Land Rover. The gent doing the restoration — Maximus Ironthumper — describes himself as “a blacksmith living off the grid.”

Let me say up front, I don’t expect anyone to watch these. The series is just a good example of something I think we’ve come to take for granted. In a pre-YouTube world we would never have been able to watch this amazing process. No cable channel would have produced something this… real. This gritty and honest. YouTube has become my go-to source for entertainment and information.

With cable and network television, someone else decides what you get to watch. On YouTube, you decide.

Towing

I’m not a trailer hitch kind of guy. With the exception of the 4 Runner, I’ve never owned a car with enough power to pull a trailer. So, no trailer hitch. In the early 80s I rented a small U-Haul trailer and towed it from Albuquerque to Missouri behind my Plymouth Duster (6 cylinder), stopping every hundred miles or so to let the engine cool down. I kept waiting for the temporary trailer hitch the U-Haul guy bolted on to come loose.

No, I’ve gotten by fine without towing stuff behind my vehicles. And backing up a trailer always looked like a Dark Art to me. But I’ve been told on several occasions in the last six months that my little 4-cylinder Land Rover is quite capable of towing. I didn’t really believe this until I saw this video by a guy who calls himself Maximus Ironthumper.

According to his YouTube channel, he’s “a blacksmith living off the grid.” And he restored a beautiful Series II truck as a companion vehicle to his motorcycle so he “can haul stuff to and from the junkyard.”

I don’t know what I might haul but after watching this I’m open to the idea of a trailer. Stay tuned.

Heidegger and Modern Existentialism

I took a couple of philosophy courses in college (50 years ago) and enjoyed them far beyond my understanding of what I read. My (layman’s) interest in things philosophical has stuck with me but I never got around to reading any of the better known western philosophers. YouTube to the rescue.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been watching a series of discussions about these brilliant and influential men (list below) while on the treadmill. Admittedly no substitute for reading their books but an easy way to get some understanding of their philosophies and why they’re important.

Additional programs: Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Spinoza and Leibniz, Hegel & Marx, Hume, Heidegger, Aristotle, Wittgenstein

Land Rover walk around

Mr. Wolf thought I’d like to hear the sweet sound of the 2.25 liter diesel engine that will drag my saggy ass around town. He’s been working long and hard on getting the engine right. If you look closely you’ll see some smoke. Not as much smoke as the mosquito fogger that patrolled our streets during the summer nights of my youth… but a little smoke. What the fuck, I’ll buy some carbon credits. I’m hoping there will be less smoke once the engine gets some miles on it. That will happen as soon as he gets the brakes sorted out.

When I opened the brakes up I found some things I didn’t like, so I’ve ordered all new OEM wheel cylinders, new adjusters, and new shoes. Even high quality parts are so cheap for this thing I figured we should just start fresh with nice parts.

If you don’t know shit about old trucks, and I don’t, you need someone like Mr. Wolf. You’d like to think the folks doing the restoration would get everything right… but they don’t.