Saturday, October 09, 2004

Steel, types and uses

When I first started forging, I knew there were different types of steel, but my knowledge was limited to 'high-carbon' and 'low-carbon'. And that's only the beginning.

In the beginning there was iron. Iron is one of the only elements that is sometimes found in a pure state in nature, but pure iron isn't very useful. Somewhere someone found that if they refined ore certain ways they got wrought iron. Very tough, useful for many things, but with a drawback; except for work-hardening it cannot be made harder, so it won't hold a cutting edge well, and work-hardening makes it brittle. Another rough form of iron has a different structure, very course, and is brittle, but works wonderfully for casting cooking pots for instance, known- amazing!- as cast iron.

Further along someone found that if you treated iron a certain way, it changed into something else. We know it's adding carbon, God knows what they thought it was. And it makes BIG changes. Wrought iron has a fibrous structure(find a piece of badly corroded wrought and you can see it), steel structure is crystilline. And it's stronger than wrought iron, both harder to bend and more resistant to wear. And if you have the right amount of carbon, you have something wondrous. Not only is it much stronger and more wear-resistant- better for cutting tools- it can be hardened.

Take a steel with about .5 percent carbon content, just half of one percent, and heat it to about 1500 degrees F, then quench it in water, and it gets even harder and tougher. From .6 percent up, remarkably so, so much that it's brittle. Then you can heat it up to a lower temperature, roughly 400 to 600 F depending on use, you remove some of the hardness, but not all. This makes a sword blade that can flex like a spring, and hold an edge through a fight. Or a knife or razor that will make many cuts before it becomes dull. And springs, that made clocks work.

Mild steel- with low carbon content- is used all over the place; building framing, vehicle frames, sheet metal for roofs and panels and boxes and cases. It was more expensive to make than wrought iron for a long time, so wasn't used for some things. Railroad rails, for instance. Then someone did a test; when the wrought iron rails along a stretch of track wore out, replace with mild steel rails and see how long they last. About 3-5 times longer than iron rails depending on straight track or curves; add in replacement transport and labor costs and it's now more cost-efficient than iron, and safer.

Medium carbon, makes springs, makes tool frames of many kinds, things that have to be stronger than mild but don't need the hardness of high carbon.

High carbon gives knives, axe edges, swords, plow points, files razors, cutting tools that will cut other metals, scissors, and other things.

It took a long time to find reliable, repeatable ways to make this newer stuff, but our ancestors were not stupid. They found ways and used them. They couldn't see into the structure, but they found how to handle it to make this new stuff, over and over, whatever it was about these treatments that made the change.

Now? Tool steels that can get so hot they have a low red glow, and still be hard enough to cut. Stainless and stain-resistant steels that, in some cases, you have to work at to make them rust. Absolutely marvelous stuff, and much of it made in such quantities and consistent quality that it's cheap. Oil-quench hardening steel of a quality the ancients would have traded gold for, can be bought in three-foot bars for a few dollars, delivered to your house.

But not every good stuff is new. In India, and maybe Persia, they found a way to make a stuff we know as wootz steel. Legends came down of the blades that could be made from this stuff. A few years ago a man named Al Pendray, a blacksmith & knifemaker, got together with a metallurgist to see about making the stuff, and succeeded. And it can be almost magical; hard to forge, very touchy to shape, and cuts and holds an edge incredibly. One odd thing about it, carbon content runs about 2.5 percent, some batches a little higher. With modern tool steels, anything above maybe 2.2 percent becomes cast iron, rough structure. Yet this stuff works. When some samples were sent for analysis, at least one analyst where it came from because you can't have a structure like this!

But you can.

Unbiased media my butt

Found this at Drudge Report. Oh, no, there's no bias here!

Debate and St. Helens

No, I didn't watch the debate. I just cannot vote for Kerry, and on top of that I always get mad when someone talks around a question instead of answering it. I think I mentioned before: Kerry would effectively hand our foreign policy over to the U.N., as well as giving them much power over our domestic matters, he would toss out the 2nd amendment, he slandered other vets while trying to use them to further his political desires, he'd have the politically-correct weenies running our lives, he'd trash our military... There's just no way I could hold my nose enough to vote for that dirtbag.

They're now saying that the possible eruption of St. Helens could rival that of 1980. In 1980, the office I worked in had a tie-in to the National Civil Defense line, and we could listen in on the alerts put out, plus what I saw on TV. That was a massive eruption that caused a lot of disruption over a large part of the country. There's a book titled "Volcano Cowboys" that's a good read. It covers a lot of the crap that goes on in the National Geological Survey and how it affected- and was affected by- the eruption, as well as descriptions of the events.

By the way, if you've never used it, check out Can often find used books and videos at very good prices.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Peter Hathaway Capstick

is one of my favorite authors. As I mentioned earlier, hunting & fishing stories from the U.S, Central America, South America and Africa. Game ranger in three African nations over the years, pro hunter, and a marvelous writer. Anyone who can say that cape buffalo and elephants would vote him 'The One Who Got Away' is definately worth looking into.

Some of his books are broken into sections on different animals; lion, elephant, rhino, cape buffalo, leopard and so forth. Others are collections of various articles written for magazines. One, called "Maneaters", is a look about the world at critters who, as he once wrote about a leopard, develop bad table manners. And one article- actually two put together for the book- is about dealing with a large troop of baboons that had turned nasty, including an intro that lists some problems other people have had with them.

Did you know that the carnivore that takes more people than any other in Africa is the crocodile? The herbivore that kills the most people is the hippo. And hyenas tend to take a bite and run.

His first book was "Death In The Long Grass", and others included biographies of people who made an impression on Africa, and vice versa. He died a couple of years ago, and I hope he's in a place with old friends, good rifles and big critters.

Animal Cops

Never have watched the entire show, but I have noticed one thing in the bits I've seen: Have you noticed how many of these ASPCA and Humane Department people carry guns? Except for different patches on the uniforms, can't tell some of them from cops. And in places where Joe or Jane citazen is looked on as a potential mass murderer for requesting a permit to own a gun, these people are running around with sidearms and shotguns and rifles.

Just noticing.


Acidman has a post touching on wild hogs. I've never run into one, but I know folks who have, and they have no fond memories of them. According to my dad, domestic pigs that get out and go wild, by the third generation, are totally feral, including growing tusks and a seriously bad attitude.

There's a lot of them in eastern & southeastern OK, and they do a lot of crop damage. About two years ago a game ranger checking out some damage had his leg ripped by a boar before he could kill it, and I've heard of a number of other close calls.

A guy named Humberto Fontova has written a couple of books about fishing and hunting in Louisiana, The Helldivers Rodeo and The Hellpig Hunt. Apparently some actual Russian boar got loose in the bayous down there and made themselves at home. I don't think I'd like to meet one of them unless I had a 12 guage and slugs, they are seriously big and tough.

Peter Hathaway Capstick was a wonderful writer, mostly about hunting and fishing in various countries. He wrote a piece- originally a magazine article- I read in one of his books about hunting the Russian boar that were imported into Argentina. Big, powerful, fast beasts with a taste for killing and eating sheep, and some of the locals hunt them with knives. (no, not on the best day I ever had!).

.22 rifles

I love old .22 rifles. Bolt, semi-auto or single-shot. Most were made as serious tools with few frills, some were dedicated target pieces, many you find are downright nasty looking at first. Rusty barrels & actions, beat-up wood, grunge all over.

But if you look inside, often the bores are good, and you can tell that if you clean & lube them up, they'll work just fine. And some are amazingly accurate.

A while back a friend of mine bought a BSA Martini model 12. This is a tilting-block single-shot built as a target rifle, with Parker-Hale match sights. The outside looks terrible; not just some surface rust, but a lot of serious pitting, worst on the barrel along the top of the forestock. The rear sight was stuck, though some oil loosened it up. The bore was spotless, and the action itself was in fine shape internally.

So far he cleaned the bore and wiped off the worst of the surface crud, and sighted it in. With Aguila subsonic ammo, at 50 yards you can break a clay pigeon, and then break the pieces large enough to aim at. Hasn't seriously tested with different ammo on paper, but I imagine it will group very well.

I just love those old firearms.

The report on Saddam

Ok, the report says they don't know of Saddam producing and wmd after the Gulf War('know' could get real interesting to argue), but that he was actively working to have programs set up to begin producing on short order. In one case, he was advised that if they were willing to sacrifice the equipment- I assume because of contamination- they could produce mustard gas in large quantity in a few days, through sarin would take longer. So if he didn't have actual stockpiles, he could start making the stuff in short order.

I didn't consider the wmd issue the big one for going into Iraq. Support for terrorists and humanitarian issues alone took care of any 'justification' to offer to world opinion. And I have a question; according to what I've seen, we've found a: binary sarin artillery shells, b: mustard shells, c: banned centrifuges for enriching uranium, and d: trailers set up to produce chemicals. And in the last, when they inspected them some of the troops and journalists showed signs of chemical exposure and required treatment. AND, last I heard, there's still square miles of ammo dumps that haven't been fully inspected. Based on what we've found and know- including the chemical weapons the Poles got from an arms dealer- the only reason I think this is still a loud issue is that a bunch of people will not accept anything other than a multi-ton pile of chemical artillery shells and rocket warheads as proof that Saddam was anything we 'really needed to be concerned about'. And then they'd try to say it was our fault he produced the stuff.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

New guns?

A while back, I tried to answer a question; if I could pick any, what guns would I buy? And I came to the conclusion very damn few, and some only with certain conditions.

I would love to have a Sharps in either the .45-110-550 cartridge, or .45-70, but only if I had access to a place with a range going out to 500 yards or so. I'd really like to try shooting one, but with a rifle like that you need long ranges for regular use; shooting it only at 100 yards would not be allowing it to show what it can do.

One of the British Martini-Henry rifles, in .577/450 of course, would be interesting. The history behind these by itself would make it worth having one to look at and handle. Just store it right next to your copy of 'Zulu'.

A Russian Nagant revolver? Possibly, just because it has one of the two oddest revolver actions ever made.

At the 45th Infantry Division Museum, in the parking lot, are a pair of 37mm anti-tank guns. Now if you had one of those in working condition, and a long distance to shoot it in, and the stuff to make solid shot to shoot... BIG bang!

I can't remember offhand who makes it, but a company makes three scale models- working- of machine guns. The 1917 Browning water-cooled, the 1919A4 Browning air-cooled, and the M2 HB Browning .50 caliber. All exactly scaled down, tripods and all, and semi-auto. AND, they fire either .22lr or .17 Hornady. Any of those would be seriously cool, and a fine centerpiece on the coffee table. (side issue, is it still a coffee table if you don't drink coffee?)

A S&W Model 57 .41 Magnum, just because I've always liked that cartridge.

Maybe a 1903A3 Springfield.

Lots of stuff I'd like to try out, like the .500 S&W, but not many I'd really want to own. I'll have to think about this a bit more.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Political stuff

While I was waiting for my laundry to finish washing, a guy saw my Gun Owners of America shirt and asked me about them, and then started on the election. His wife likes Kerry, he doesn't like Kerry but doesn't much like Bush either. So far so good. Then came a couple of things:
Bush is going to destroy our civil rights
The war was about OIL!!!
No wmd
and the crowning bit, "I'm still afraid he's going to find some excuse to cancel the election!"

Ok, people. Bush is not my favorite guy. He's done things I'm not happy about, he hasn't done some things I think he should. But the choice is between him and Kerry, and for me that's not a choice.

A lot of the Patriot act is BS wish-list stuff that some agencies had been trying to get for years, and no, I'm not happy about it. Far as I know of hasn't been abused at this time; doesn't mean it won't be. But some things were inevitable after 9/11, and some of it, like profiling bad guys, needs to be done. (by 'profiling' I do not mean all middle-easterners are terrorists; I do mean that there are certain things that should cause someone to be looked at more closely)

Shut up about the OIL. All we had to do to turn on the spigots was say, "Ok, Saddam, you're good. Sanctions removed." And he'd have happily sold us oil while he built up his wmd programs.

They've found binary chemical shells containing sarin, they've found mustard gas, they've found reference strains of bacteria and viruses. There's still many square miles of ammo dumps to search, the the Iraqis didn't specifically mark their chemical munitions. This doesn't even count the testimony of scientists about stuff smuggled to Syria.

Barring a massive, hugely disrupting attack the day before or day of, the elections are not going to be cancelled. If the bad guys put out word they were going to attack random polling places, lots of people would think "Screw them", load up a sidearm, and go vote. And in that circumstance, it would be interesting to know how many people would be sitting in their car near a polling place, rifle or shotgun handy, just reading a book and waiting, just in case.

I don't like this political crap in general, but the level of - not necessarily stupidity, let's say credulity- right now is amazing.

A great site for guns & crime information

The Smallest Minority is a definate stop if you're looking for facts. He's done the work that I, for one, am generally too lazy to do and dug up lots and lots of facts about guns, crime and self-defense. And he's done a good job listing cases showing just how far down the drain Great Britain has gone.

Another good one is Kim du Toit. He's currently on vacation, but has lots of past posts, and Gratuitous Gun Pics, and links to other folks.

Yes, I'm posting a bunch right now. It's been a long and busy day.

Oh, my God, you have got to read this!

Steve is describing the VP debate, and I nearly choked on an ice cube.

My words cannot do it justice:
"Oh, you silly people. You never learn. You question my pronouncements as if I were a mere mortal. Well, just like I predicted, John Edwards is in the process of bleeding to death from his butt on live TV."

Go ye, and read.


Acidman posted a story about the only cat he ever liked. Now, I've been around a bunch I liked, but one in particular stands out.

Way back, before either of the kids showed up, the wife traded a bag of tomatos from the garden for a fuzzy black & white kitten. I'd never had a cat before, so it was a learning experience. This little furball grew up into a big cat /14 pounds summer, closer to 18 winter/ and a fairly unique character.

Trying to come up with a name, I finally remembered the dog in the Asterix the Gaul comics and said, "How about Catmatyx?" And so he became, my reason being that when I yelled "CAT!" he damn well knew who I was talking to. He was a seriously tough critter, and maintained discipline on the other critters in the neighborhood. I once saw two dogs coming down the street see him sitting on our porch and cross the street, get past our house, then cross back over. And once, having decided that the big labrador under the tree he was in shouldn't be there, he dropped out of the tree onto the dogs back, inspiring the damndest ride you'd ever see outside of a National Finals Rodeo.

The biggest single thing was one night when the wife woke me up whispering "There's someone trying to open the front door!" I fumbled around for the only gun I owned, noting an odd noise in the background. Finding the gun, I eased into the living room and found the source of the noise. One of the stereo speakers sat just beyond the edge of the door when it was fully open; and crouched on the speaker was Catmatyx: ears back, eyes locked on the door, one paw raised and that low 'rrrrrooowwrrrrr' sound that usually preceeded his beating the crap out of something in his territory. I eased up and looked out the window. The storm door was propped open, but the jerk was gone. I don't know if he heard me or the cat, but it would've served him right if he'd opened the door, because the cat would have laid into him, and laid him open.

He lived to about 15 years, and died one night after jumping off the bed. He gave three yowls and was gone.

That was one hell of a cat.

Monday, October 04, 2004


I now have a blogroll!

This thing is something of a learning experience, in putting things together /help from friends/ and in getting back in practice at putting things on paper /in effect/.

If you've never read Sluggy Freelance or Two Lumps, you should. They're comics, not blogs, but it's my damn roll so there they are. At Sluggy, I would strongly suggest starting at the beginning. Otherwise you'll miss a lot (it also makes more sense that way).

I found Sluggy through a sci-fi series by John Ringo. Third in the series is "When the Devil Dances" which involves a supertank named Bun-Bun. I heartily recommend the books, as well as any others he's been in on.
My daughter introduced me to Two Lumps. Knife-wielding rabbit in one, cats in the other, something for everyone!

I'm forgetting something, let me check my notes (you'll understand later).

Excuse my language, but...

Yeah, I know it's lumping them together, and some really are our friends, but
God damn the French.

"The documents are in a mass of registers, telegrams and manifests which Kurt Werner Schaechter, an 84-year-old retired businessman, copied from the Toulouse office of France's national archives in 1991. They are uniquely precious: under a 1979 law most of France's wartime archives are sealed for between 60 and 150 years after they were written. "
"Mr Schaechter's activities - last year he used some of the papers to try to force the French railway SNCF to admit its responsibility in shipping 76,000 Jews to Nazi death camps - have infuriated some French historians, who say their privileged access to classified archives has been compromised."

God forbid their 'privileged access' be messed with by someone bringing an inconvenient truth to light. I'm going to have to read this book. I know the rule that 'countries don't have friends, they have interests', but how the hell was it in their interests to keep helping the damn Nazis keep killing people?

(note: link found at Wizbang)

More on Mainstream Media

I find it really interesting that the big reaction by the Major Media types- Brokaw, etc.- to CBS getting caught is to scream there's a 'jihad' against the media by conservatives.

Dammit, honest people of many political stripes are mad about this. A major news agency had people who spent years on a story that had already been covered, took information that their own experts said was suspect at least, and presented it as true. And they got caught. And now we're supposed to be sorry for CBS and Rather because people are being mean to them.

Horsecrap. They threw even the pretense of objectivity and honesty out the window, and they're beginning to pay the price. And every time some other big-name newsreader tries to defend it, it makes their 'reporting' suspect: if they don't think using fake documents is a problem when someone else uses them, why should we be confident that they will be more careful with sources?

Update: on CBS news, read more on the producer in charge of this story. Someone who blew up a story on bad information before goes to CBS, which has been whacked several times for stories based on crap. But people being upset is a jihad against the poor put-upon media. Horsecrap.


This is a test

Acidman is one interesting fella

Back when I first discovered blogs, the first big one I hit was (naturally) Instapundit. And one day I clicked on one of his list labelled 'Gut Rumbles'. He's definately a unique sort. He's kind of like how I see Rush Limbaugh; I haven't agreed on everything with anyone since I grew up, but they're damned entertaining.

On some things I wonder what the hell Rob was thinking when he did them, on others I'm sitting here thinking, "Yeah! Damn right!" But he's almost always worth reading. And on some things, I know exactly what he's talking about.

I'm twice divorced. The first I still agonize over at times, the second also, but to a much lesser extent. It's real easy to get caught up in the 'could I have done something different?' loop, and you can really mess yourself up doing that. (My second I know exactly what I should have done differently, but that's another story). I'm lucky, in that both kids are from my first marriage, and my ex never tried to keep me from seeing them, or tried to screw me over in the divorce; I'm definately one up on Rob there. But I know how I'd have felt if she had, and I've had friends that it has happened to, and it's bloody awful. Not only to the father, but to the kids; they either don't get to see their father at all, or hear a lot of crap about how he doesn't want to see them, he won't pay his bills, etc. That crap doesn't help them at all, and I really wonder about the mind of someone who can happily use their kids as an extortion tool.

Yes, I know there are deadbeat fathers out there who shouldn't be allowed near kids. I also know about the deadbeat moms that seem to be a taboo subject to too many people. And the deck is almost always stacked against the father.

A year or so after my first divorce, I was expecting a tax refund when instead I got a letter from the state DHS advising me that, because of my delinquent child support, my tax refunds were being seized to pay it. Now, I had never missed a payment, so I grabbed the phone and called to find out what the hell this was about. The lady I spoke with check my record, said "No, you've never missed one", and then explained it. When we divorced, my ex had wound up on AFDC for a while and DHS demanded that I pay them back that money. By the time this was arranged I had a greater understanding of people who want to blow up some office, and they had managed to tick off the judge involved. It was finalized, and in addition to my child support- which wasn't in question- I was paying some every month on that. It seems that the federal office involved in such things had decided to change how some things were defined, and that was now considered 'delinquent child support', which meant they could seize people's tax refunds. Apparently I was about the dozenth guy this lady had spoken with that day on this, and none of them had missed a payment, but because some bunch of bureaucrats decided to find a new way to take money from people, we were all now classed as 'delinquent' in our child support.

This especially pissed me off because I couldn't pay the support directly to my ex, it had to go through DHS, and they kept part of it. Once I had the 'delinquent' crap paid off, she went in to file to be 'allowed' to get the support directly. This involved signing forms, being talked to by several people, and being 'counseled' to see if she was being forced into this, and was she sure?, and so forth. Bloody pain, and I'm sure it was because they couldn't skim off their fee when she was getting it directly.

Right now Rob is fighting a situation of an ex who wants to screw him over, and a judge who wants to help, and state law that couldn't give a crap less about a father's situation. I sympathize.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Have I mentioned Lileks?

I admit, sometimes I get a little overdosed on Gnat skinning her nose, etc. I've got two pretty much grown kids, been there & bandaged it. But oh, when he turns loose on things...

"And I don’t want posture lessons from a country that spent the last 20 years flopping on its back and grabbing its ankles when Saddam showed up waving stacks of Francs in exchange for bang-sticks."

Our allies in Iraq

I've get really ticked off when John Kerry (I'd use Kim du Toit's reference but I'm trying to keep this clean) keeps talking about our 'unilateral' action, and especially so when he called our allies /how do you have allies when you're unilateral? I don't know, either/ the 'coalition of the bribed and coerced'. How the hell does he think that crap goes over with these countries, especially since he hopes to be dealing with them as President? And it's dishonest.

As far as the criticism from some that they don't have many troops there, in many cases they've put it what they could. Poland doesn't have that much from what I understand, but they sent their best- their best commando with their best training and equipment. They went in with some of our special ops guys before the open warfare began, and they're still there. (can you hear the conversation? Pres. Kerry: Mr. Ambassador, I'm glad to meet you. Polish Ambassador: And do you plan to bribe or coerce us, sir?)

Chrenkoff has a translation of President Kwasniewski reacted to Kerry's words during the debate. Check it out.

Remember the Canadian troops in Afghanistan?

According to this article, the Canadian snipers that did such good work with our guys have been treated pretty badly back in Canada. And the Canadian government doesn't want them to have the Bronze Stars they were awarded by our government.

Found through Smallest Minority, who lists the trail through which he found it, and links to some related articles.

Canada has produced some damn fine fighting men, and still does. But what their government has done/is doing to their military (and everyone else, IMHO) is bloody awful.

Oil for Food Scam update

Here is some more information, apparently someone involved is so sick of things that they're leaking reports.

Mind you, these are the governments/U.N. officials that John Kerry says we have to have the stamp of approval of before we can act. Screw that.

And speaking of Kerry, you too can take the Global Test to get approval for your actions! Lay down your fee and take the test!

Both found- where else?- Instapundit