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Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926038 by Frenchie
May 9, 2016 12:49pm
Board
Not to speak for Kirbert, but I believe he also fits the plastic peanut butter jars with a homemade gasket to make them completely watertight. The few jars that I've found without a gasket have been damp or worse.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926041 by dingus dufus
May 9, 2016 2:07pm
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I found one of his peanut butter jars in Northern Indiana earlier this spring and it was completely dry! The same day I went to check on my "Life of Riley" (planted in 2004, 11 years old) and it was still active. I used a rubbermaid with blue rimmed lid and the contents were still good! The plastic was showing signs of deterioration and so I picked it up. It never got a lot of traffic and I was concerned the area would have flooded it out and away. Turns out it was a great spot and great container. I didn't want to wait another 11 years to check on it, so it is officially retired.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926019 by SpringChick
May 9, 2016 3:16pm
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One thing I take issue with when it comes to maintaining other people's boxes is this: In some areas there are some very prolific planters. They continue to plant boxes very near to where they live but fail to maintain their older boxes, also near where they live.

If they apparently have the time to go out and plant more then it would seem they have the time to maintain the existing ones.

So I am not going to help maintain their older boxes while they continue to plant more and not keep up with the earlier ones. I see a lot of this.

MM
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #925955 by SpringChick
May 9, 2016 3:24pm
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(rant to follow)

I'll make some popcorn.

... but if you read in the comments that this is needed...

I don't read the comments, I go find the letterbox. Answered your question there.

Have we become so into "finding" that we cannot be bothered to take the time to help each other out and keep ALL letterboxes from becoming forest trash?

Maybe there are some letterboxes that should simply become trash? Take the trash with you, retire the box, be done with it.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926038 by Frenchie
May 9, 2016 5:04pm
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Same idea, I just get mine for free by reusing my Planters cashew jars instead of buying these. If you'd like to buy jars, I think you can buy a whole case of plastic Mason jars (for canning) from Wally World for dirt cheap. The plastic ones are cheaper than the glass ones.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926041 by dingus dufus
May 9, 2016 5:09pm
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I tested extensively. What I found was that a jar without a gasket sealed *sometimes*. Even when it did seal, though, applying a bit of stress to the jar -- like jamming it into a tight spot -- would distort it enough to make it leak. Once a shower pan liner gasket was fitted, though, the only way it leaks is if some finder doesn't close it right. Period. It just won't leak.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926042 by speedsquare
May 9, 2016 5:15pm
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Those Rubbermaid containers with the rubber lip were de rigeur at one time, before letterboxers discovered L&L's. They are durable, to be sure -- that's not the problem. Planted in leaf litter, leaves and dirt tend to collect under that rubber lip and foul the seal. They could be nearly as messy as a pouch to open, and if you didn't have a handy garden hose nearby to rinse everything off, it was difficult to reclose them properly.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926045 by MissMoon
May 9, 2016 5:27pm
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I can see your point about it being irritating. Maybe a good idea for those situations would be to forgo the maintenance and then let the owner know. Then, they could go fix it themselves since they live so close.

If I am walking in the neighborhood of a local box, I will go check on it. I don't routinely check on every box. How often should someone check on their boxes? If someone says my box needs help, I go fix it as soon as I can. Unless I had a maintenance schedule, I am not sure I would remember when to check on what box.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926042 by speedsquare
May 9, 2016 5:29pm
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I used a rubbermaid with blue rimmed lid and the contents were still good!

Yes! These are the rubbermaid containers I was referring to that have survived well for me also. I stopped using them when LnLs surfaced, but still have some left in my stash and since they have been very reliable for me, I don't feel bad about using these as replacements when I find a damaged box.

SpringChick
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926053 by Kirbert
May 9, 2016 6:39pm
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You are right, I used them until I found LnLs. My box was under a cement chunk, but when I picked it up kit had traveled about 5' and was partially exposed. It had a small number of finders and that factor probably helped keep the container and contents from deteriorating faster.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926068 by speedsquare
May 9, 2016 6:57pm
Board
It had a small number of finders and that factor probably helped keep the container and contents from deteriorating faster.

It is interesting that you say that, and in your case, it may have helped to keep the container in good shape, but in general I am wondering what people feel about the volume of visitors helping or hurting the longevity of a box? We've found quite a few boxes lately that are several years old (5-8 years range), and very few we've looked for have been missing, even though most are not far off trail and are not that well hidden -- several just behind a tree under a pile of sticks... it got me to wondering why these boxes seem to survive well despite not being hidden well, while my own boxes seem to go missing disproportionately more often, even though they are well hidden. The primary difference I noted was the number of visitors... the boxes we've been finding of late have been mostly drive-bys and short hikes (still recovering from pneumonia) and have had many visitors, whereas my boxes tend to have relatively few visitors, I suppose because they are mysteries or involve some kind of puzzle and have an associated hike.

Do boxes with more visitors fare better, possibly because people are continually putting them back into place, so if a box does get rehid poorly or pulled out by a critter, it doesn't lay exposed all that long? Whereas boxes with fewer visitors that get dragged out of hiding could lay exposed much longer and are more susceptible to being found by a muggle. I'm really not sure... what do you think?

SpringChick
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926070 by SpringChick
May 9, 2016 8:40pm
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Do boxes with more visitors fare better, possibly because people are continually putting them back into place, so if a box does get rehid poorly or pulled out by a critter, it doesn't lay exposed all that long? Whereas boxes with fewer visitors that get dragged out of hiding could lay exposed much longer and are more susceptible to being found by a muggle. I'm really not sure... what do you think?

So I've found over 4000 boxes and I can't answer that question clearly. Why? Because I think it often depends on the letterboxer who finds the box. If a box is returned to the correct spot and is completely concealed but is in an area with more traffic, that improves its chances of survival. But if the letterboxer returns the box hastily and doesn't conceal it, it all depends on if the next letterboxer finds the box before a nonboxer. Sometimes more letterboxers finding the box increases the risk of losing the box because not all letterboxers are responsible with replacing the letterbox. It goes again to caring for the letterbox beyond that person's experience.

Also, there is the issue of returning the box to the correct location. I have found that some of my plants that come up as attempts by letterboxers are often because the boxes have been returned to the incorrect location. When I check on them, I find the letterboxes nearby, but definitely not where the clues indicate.

I do believe that the boxes that are hidden well (under a log, tucked tight in place; several paces into the woods and off the main trail; completely secure and concealed; a longer hike) actually should survive longer. But one of the factors that comes into play into making it an "unknown" or "missing" letterbox is the change in the environment that happens over time. Often a box that hasn't been found in several years is no longer "under" the log, but it's truly buried under the log because of the elements over the years. Other boxes may become missing because the clues along the way no longer make sense, but the box is really in place yet if the letterboxer can read beyond the clues.

I know when I hunt for a letterbox that hasn't been found in a long while, I need to put more effort into looking for it because of the effects of nature over time. Sometimes the effort pays off and it's truly a rewarding feeling.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #925955 by SpringChick
May 9, 2016 9:15pm
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So I believe I've read all the comments on this thread. I'm not sure if my thoughts are valuable or not, but I might as well throw my two cents in.

PLANTING BOXES: My opinion is that a letterboxer should put the effort into planting a box well. This means taking the time to not only carve the stamp, but create the letterbox. For me, that means a lock-n-lock container, a good logbook with the image of the stamp and the carver, a stamp that has its own pouch or felt/fabric to contain it, and a freezer bag to contain them. The box should be labeled on the outside ("This is a letterbox...") and an explanation of letterboxing should be somewhere on the inside. If the letterboxes are a series, I am fine with using camopouches for the ones that do not contain logbooks, but I still put a freezer bag inside the camopouch and label the pouch. In that way, if the finder does not completely conceal the camopouch, hopefully the inside freezer bag has been sealed and the stamp and logbook are preserved.

MAINTAINING BOXES: I am a believer in leaving the letterbox in the best shape possible. I don't have a criteria of if I believe it deserves it or not. This means that I (almost) always carry around 10 camopouches to be used in case a box/pouch needs to be replaced. I also carry several quart size freezer bags, several smaller logbooks I've made with at least 20 pages (which should fit in most boxes), a couple of large handkerchiefs just for drying and cleaning out a wet pouch or box. If the logbook is wet, I will rebag it in a new freezer bag, then put everything else in another new freezer bag for the next finder. I also carry a large freezer bag to put anything that needs to be thrown away. My wish is that others will do the same for my boxes because I do not check on my boxes. I have a goal of checking on any that haven't been found in over 2 years, but that doesn't always happen.

With all this being said, I have to say that I have been on all day or several day letterboxing jaunts and have run out of all my maintenance supplies. That means that I have left some boxes unmaintained because I've found so many that needed help.

IDEA: What if experienced letterboxers added a standard message of etiquette to their clues? (I haven't done this.) After reading all the comments on being disappointed in the fact that we continue to receive messages that "a new logbook is needed" or "the box was full of water" and so forth, or we find boxes in terrible shape that have been that way through several finders, I really think some guidance is needed because not all people/letterboxers are naturals at doing maintenance. I've been thinking about this, and I believe the best place is in the clues. Maybe we could add something like this to our clues:

"A good habit of letterboxers is to plan on maintaining letterboxes along the way. This means that when you find a letterbox, you may need to dry the container, add a new logbook, replace the baggies, or even replace the container. Along with your normal letterboxing supplies, you may want to include a Maintenance Kit which should include the following: a small cloth/rag, several small logbooks (made out of notecards or other paper), quart-size freezer bags, and even containers/camopouches to replace the container if needed. Helping to maintain a letterbox allows others to enjoy this hobby. Let's all work together in helping each other!"

I'm sure the message isn't perfect (after all, it's only a first draft...), but would that help newer letterboxers (and maybe not such new ones) to see that message again and again and then understand that maintenance is considered a piece of letterboxing?

I know that I've often reached out to new letterboxers in my area and invited them to ask me any questions about the hobby. When I first started letterboxing, I did this with doglvrs and Grandvilla, and they were incredibly gracious in answering every one of my questions. I think that some don't dare ask. Maybe we just need to train.

Enough of my two cents. It looks as if it's more like two bucks :).
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926038 by Frenchie
May 9, 2016 11:19pm
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$1.09 in lots of 24

I didn't check out the shipping costs, but
these from Amazon are $3.50 each in quantities of 10, including shipping. Your link is probably cheaper overall.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926070 by SpringChick
May 9, 2016 11:29pm
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...I am wondering what people feel about the volume of visitors helping or hurting the longevity of a box?

Not that simple. Perhaps the best situation is a box hidden above ground after a hike of a mile or so, found occasionally by dedicated boxers buy not all that often. A drive-by near the freeway gets found a lot but that's not good for its longevity; many of those finders are newbies who don't care enough to reclose and rehide it properly. A box out on the end of an 8-mile hike isn't likely to get damaged by newbies or noxers, but it can get gradually reclaimed by nature until you need a shovel to retrieve it.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926083 by Kirbert
May 10, 2016 5:18am
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Agreed. I feel fortunate that the friend who introduced me to letterboxing sort of "trained" me and is an advocate of LNT principles. That's not to say I'm anyone's dream letterboxer, but I had it drilled into my mind from the get-go that if you don't have time to properly seal up and re-hide a box, you don't have time to be out boxing.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926057 by LROSEM
May 10, 2016 7:56am
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I guess I should have added that in many of these cases (not all) the need for maintenance has already been noted in the comments and the planter has not done anything. And I have myself have noted the need for maintenance and then seen additional comments for the same thing at a later date. So. And they continue to plant new boxes.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926079 by Angel Winks
May 10, 2016 8:03am
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I think you hit the nail on the head with the line, "Let's all work together in helping each other."
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926079 by Angel Winks
May 10, 2016 10:31am
Board
With all this being said, I have to say that I have been on all day or several day letterboxing jaunts and have run out of all my maintenance supplies. That means that I have left some boxes unmaintained because I've found so many that needed help.

It's like you're also on a Spring Rescue Mission reviving worthwhile boxes that haven't weathered a winter and spring thaw. Thanks to your conscientious efforts the finds you've deemed repairable are now ready for others to enjoy.

Letterboxing has matured to the place where it's no longer practical to leave it up to the owner/planter to do the maintenance when others are capable of maintenance. Half the time any maintenance can be done in a few minutes by a responsible finder. It's not necessary to click on "Maintenance is needed" or even inform the owner that a wet box was dryed or that a torn baggie was replaced. I've even repaired a broken stamp ... do what you can do
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926095 by MissMoon
May 11, 2016 1:00am
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the need for maintenance has already been noted in the comments and the planter has not done anything...And they continue to plant new boxes.

Show of hands: If you would prefer they continue to plant new boxes and let finders maintain the old ones, click [Agree]. If you think they should stop planting long enough to go make sure all their existing boxes are in good working order, click [Disagree].
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926111 by Frenchie
May 11, 2016 1:03am
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Half the time any maintenance can be done in a few minutes by a responsible finder.

With one notable exception: Drying out a soggy log book. I still haven't come up with a good solution for a soggy log book. I'm not gonna sit around for a coupla hours waiting for it to dry.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926149 by Kirbert
May 11, 2016 2:44am
Board
I still haven't come up with a good solution for a soggy log book. I'm not gonna sit around for a coupla hours waiting for it to dry.

You could add a battery-powered hair dryer to your maintenance kit... or you could just replace the book and move on.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926148 by Kirbert
May 11, 2016 4:58am
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Show of hands: If you would prefer they continue to plant new boxes and let finders maintain the old ones, click [Agree]. If you think they should stop planting long enough to go make sure all their existing boxes are in good working order, click [Disagree].

Can't answer that without knowing about the quality of the plants. Were they crappy stamps in Chinese food containers and nearly every box they ever planted is leaking? Or are we talking nice lock & lock boxes with one or two that might have a problem? I know of a few planters who should just stop because they are carpet bombing the area with very bad examples of letterboxes and I've got to the point where I don't even know if I want to look for their boxes. But they keep planting more.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926149 by Kirbert
May 11, 2016 9:49am
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*Half the time* any maintenance can be done in a few minutes by a responsible finder.

With one notable exception: Drying out a soggy log book. I still haven't come up with a good solution for a soggy log book. I'm not gonna sit around for a coupla hours waiting for it to dry.

I've dryed out more than one soggy logbook and returned it within 24 hrs. Left a temporary stamping note (just in case) saying original to be returned in 24 hrs, if not sooner. Once took a damp logbook to the Visitor Center and got permission from staff to dry it out using their kitchen's microwave/oven/fan. Have also dryed out more than one damp lgbk (Winter/Spring thaw) using car heater and 12v hot air blow dryer.

I welcome a maintenance task that's challenging. After all i'm retired and it gives me a certain satisfaction restoring a *First Class* letterbox plant that others have passed on as being too labor intensive/time consuming to make repairs.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926148 by Kirbert
May 11, 2016 9:53am
Board
If you think they should stop planting long enough to go make sure all their existing boxes are in good working order......et, etc

It's not necessary for one to stop planting to go do maintenance on a box once in a while. Especially when the planter lives in the same town or the next town over.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926152 by SpringChick
May 11, 2016 9:56am
Board
You could add a battery-powered hair dryer to your maintenance kit.

I'm going to carry a hair dryer around in my backpack along with the stuff I already lug around?

That's ridiculous.

On that note.....
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926163 by Frenchie
May 11, 2016 11:26am
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I've dryed out more than one soggy logbook and returned it within 24 hrs.

I don't think I could sleep. I'd be worried that something would come up that would prevent me from getting back there to return that log book. But I certainly applaud you for going the extra mile.
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926170 by Kirbert
May 11, 2016 2:24pm
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I don't think I could sleep. I'd be worried that something would come up that would prevent me from getting back there to return that log book

Actually, i slept well as the soggy lgbk was dried and pressed before i called it a day. Only did it because the owner was too busy and with another box the owner had moved away. It was as much or more a first-time challenge. Nothing better to do at the time being a bored retiree.

However, i did wake up earlier than normal and was on the road before sunup. There was a good restaurant along the way. Maybe, treating myself to a hearty breakfast was the real motivation to take the soggy logbook home to restore as best as possible and return *sooner* than 24 hours.

I wouldn't take such pains with an abandoned box that received little attention ... no matter how good the restaurant. =;)
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926166 by MissMoon
May 11, 2016 4:11pm
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I detect some snark.....

That was humor son, humor!

Foghorn Leghorn
Re: Box Maintenance...
Board: Letterbox Chatter
Reply to: #926095 by MissMoon
May 11, 2016 6:54pm
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And they continue to plant new boxes.

Good for them. A planted box is still more fun than an unplanted box.