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How to Make a Water Wheel Rotisserie

How to Make a Water Wheel Rotisserie

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One of the greatest ways to cook big chunks of meat in the wild is by using a rotisserie or spit.  However, it is very labor-intensive and requires constant monitoring.  The good news is that you can build one that uses the currents in a river or a stream to rotate the food.  Look at the following project and see how easy it is to create your own self-cooking system that can be deployed anywhere where there is moving water.

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Required Material

1 four foot long plank of balsa (or similar) wood that is 5” wide by ¼” thick

2 three foot long planks of balsa (or similar) wood that 1 ½” wide and ¼” thick

4 wooden dowels that are 4′ long and ½” thick to serve as spokes

16 ¾” long wood screws

8 brackets or clamps to attach the spokes to the hub of the wheel

1 10” x 10” piece of wood that’s about ¼” thick for the hub

1 steel rod that’s at least ½” thick and six feet long for the rotisserie bar

Wood Glue or small nails

Water-resistant wood sealant

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Building the Wheel

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The first step is to cut the long board into eight inch sections.  You should be able to get six pieces from the board.  These will be the paddles on the water wheel.  Sand down the edges to remove any splinters or jagged edges. 

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Next, you want to cut the narrow piece of wood into eight pieces that are 5” long each, and sand those down as well.  Then, stand the small pieces of wood along the sides of the paddles and glue or nail them in place about ½ inch from the edge. 

Nailing will make the fittings stronger, but glue should do the trick if the water isn’t running too fast.  If you decide to use nails, consider making the lips of the paddles from thicker pieces of wood.  When finished, you should have six paddles with lips attached that resemble an “L” shape.  If you glue the pieces, clamp each one to each paddle and allow to dry for around two hours.  Then remove the clamps and allow the pieces to dry for at least a day to cure before coating them with some water-resistant sealant.

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The next step is to cut the square piece of wood that will become the hub of the wheel.  The easiest thing to do is to cut off the edges and form the piece into the shape of a hexagon.  This will provide you with six sides that somewhat resembles the shape of a stop sign.  Drill a hole that is ½” in diameter in the center of the hub.

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Assembling the Spokes

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Cut the wood dowels in half so each one is two feet long. Glue them to the center of each paddle so the ends touch the center of the lips. 

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Bend your brackets, if necessary, to form a U shape around the dowels and anchor them in place with two wood screws for each paddle on the corresponding section of the hub you created earlier.  You can also add clamps to the paddles if you want to give the assembly a stronger fit.  All you need to do now is make sure that every paddle is facing the same direction and that all of the components are securely connected.

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Building the Frame

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The easiest way to construct the frame is to use branches that you find at the site.  This will allow you to adjust the height of the system based on the conditions near the bank of the river or stream.  The easiest thing to do is build a simple A frame that will hold the rotisserie rod in place.  When it comes time to assemble the unit, simply attach the rod into the center hole and lay it atop the groove in the top of each frame.  The only other consideration is that you want to place the rotisserie so that the paddles catch the water current while the rotisserie stake is long enough to extend over the fire.  You may have to raise the fire above the bank if the ground is too saturated or the stake isn’t long enough to cross over dry ground.

In any case, this simple system can give you a lot more options in terms of preparing meals in the field.   Try it for yourself, and always remember that you can adapt this project according to your needs.

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How to Make Homemade Cream Soda

How to Make Homemade Cream Soda

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Cream soda is a smooth and delicious treat that you can make at home to drink right away or to store over the long-term.  While the process is very simple, the method that we’ll use requires water kefir as the starter culture.  This may be something that some of you are not familiar with, so we’ll talk about its importance and how it can actually improve the nutritional value of this and other fruit-based sodas.

What is Water Kefir?

Water kefir is bacteria, but they are a different strain than what we find in yeast-based water cultures.  The water kefir itself has a slimy, globular consistency that is similar to tapioca.  However, the bacteria metabolize in such a way that produces vitamin B as well as some enzymes and amino-acids.  All of these are important for our own metabolism and to support various processes in the body.  While this doesn’t mean that the sodas you make will be medicinal powerhouses, every little bit of nutrition we can get is a plus, and this is a tasty option.

Getting Started

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Once you have some water kefir, all you need are glass bottles with airtight clasps, some fresh, filtered water, good vanilla extract and ¼ cup of raw sugar per quart of soda.  Make sure that the kefir is mature and ready to be used, otherwise the soda may not be all that fizzy or potent. 

The first step is to heat up about ½ cup of water to the point where it’s just about to simmer.  Remove from heat and carefully add in the sugar, stirring until it has completely dissolved.  Add in the rest of the water and give it another good stir.  If any granules remain, simply heat up the water until they are all dissolved. 

Fermenting the Soda

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Let the water cool to room temperature before adding the water kefir into an appropriate-sized mason jar based on how much you are making.  Fill the jar with the water, but try to use a jar that’s large enough to provide you with a couple of inches of extra headspace.  This will create some extra room for gases and bacteria to expand.  Cover with a cheesecloth and secure in place with a rubber band or some string.  Place the jar in a warm, sunny location for around 48 hours in order to allow the bacteria to consume enough of the sugar. 

You can finish the fermentation process as long as 24 hours have passed, but the finished product will contain more sugar and less nutrients as well as “fizz”.  48 hours represents the ideal time for the bacteria to feed off of the sugar without eating it all. This makes for the perfect balance of sweetness, nutrition and freshness.

Finishing and Storage

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After 48 hours, strain the grains of kefir through the cheesecloth or a fine colander.  You can either discard the solids or use them to make another starter batch as well.  Pour the liquid into the drink bottles with a funnel, add in the vanilla, cap it off, and let it sit for another 48 hours in a warm, sunny place if possible.  Once finished, you’re good to go.  You can either store it in a cool, dark place for up to a couple of months, or drink it right away. 

Learn more about water kefir, and how having your own cultures on hand can allow you to make all sorts of fruity sodas. The possibilities are endless, and they also make for a great addition to your emergency stockpile as an alternative to the monotony of drinking water all of the time.

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