Saturday, May 07, 2005

Gun cleaning & parts

I got some mail from a guy about the subject of cleaning tools, so I thought I'd put down some few words on that subject.

Taking this as though the reader hasn't done this stuff before, you will first need a cleaning rod. This can be an inexpensive takedown rod-usually with some different rod tips- from Wally-World, or one of the truly fine tools at this link. Generally, for use at home you're better off with a 1-piece rod, but a takedown is very handy to have along at the range, just in case.

If the kit you pick up doesn't have one, or you just buy the rod, get a cleaning jag and brushes, too. They'll probably have them where you get the rod, and you'll probably need both. And some good bore cleaner and/or a CLP type lubricant(cleaner-lubricant-protectant). And some patches, though you can cut up an old t-shirt for those(that's what I do). The jags can be had in plastic or brass, I prefer brass. Brushes come in nylon, brass or bronze, and stainless steel. I use either plastic or bronze; I've heard both good and bad about the stainless ones, but I don't like the idea of putting a steel brush through a bore.

If your firearm is a type that has to be cleaned from the muzzle, or if you'll be doing something that requires running a patch down from the front, get a muzzle guard; it'll keep the rod from dinging the rifling at the crown, which is a Bad Thing for accuracy.

Over time you'll need screwdrivers, and it the long run it pays to get good ones. They only cost a little more, and they'll work better & last longer. I've got one of the Chapman kits; it has a handle, and extension, a ratchet you can put on the bit or extension for extra torque, and a good selection of bits, worth every penny.

If you decide to go beyond cleaning to real work on guns, two things you'll need will be a good set of punches and a hammer. A small 4-ounce ball peen hammer will work fine, though I've got a 2-ounce I found at a flea market that's wonderfully handy. The punch set I have now is eight pieces, half bras and half steel, from 1/16" diameter up, and it cost about $4 at a hardware store. For most things I've done, they work great.

A couple of utility cleaning brushes are handy. These, like the bore brushes, can be had in nylon, brass and steel bristles; I only use the nylon or brass on firearms, but if you had some really caked-on crud on a piece, the steel might be better to get it off; it is more likely to scratch, though.

If you really get into it, you can add all sorts of stuff to this list; a pad for the tabletop, maybe a fold-up table just for cleaning("No, I'm not cleaning guns on the dining table!"),one of the Outers FoulOut cleaners I mentioned before, and so forth.

Where to get them? Midway(see the links above) and Brownells are both good places to order from. Local hardare and sporting goods stores will carry much if not all of this stuff, and there's always the gun shows. I've gone to shows specifically for some of this stuff a few times. Corrosion-X and Eezox, if you want them, you'll probably have to order, though they can sometimes be found at a show; Break Free is found all over the place. Note: Eezox is excellent for lubing a folding knife; clean the pivot area thoroughly and then use a drop or two. The carrier evaporates and leaves a dry lube behind, that doesn't pick up dust.

Next post I'll cover my general cleaning methods.

"Hold still, you little bastard..."

Am I the only one who thought Tigger was an annoying little twerp?

Stolen without compunction from this guy; God knows where he got it.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Carnival of Cordite #11 is up!

At Pajama Pundits, who for some reason I'd never seen before. Go see.

In particular is a piece on Gerald Nunziato. Never heard of him? He used to be the head of BATF National Tracing Center, now he's basically saying that all gun owners are criminals, and the only people being supported by NRA are criminals and terrorists. Go, read, marvel at the bigotry and stupidity of a former federal official who had the power to help screw peoples lives up forever. As someone points out, if ATF brass didn't have a history of saying crap like this, gun owners wouldn't be so prone to see ATF as a bunch of assholes out to stomp on citazens for exercising their rights. And there's been far too many statements and actions by ATF in the past to pass this off as an abberation; including agents, current & retired, saying that if you showed sympathy for the idea of an individual right to arms, your chances of promotion went down the toilet.

Another one I'd never seen before is EuroHacker. Some interesting stuff there, worth checking back on later. And see if I can find the earlier issues.

By the way, have you ever noticed the problem with the riches we have here? I have no idea how many times I've found a site with something really interesting and thought "I should write about/send this to somebody/bookmark this place", click a link there to something, and a while later not only can I not find the article I was thinking of, I can't find the #*)_!@ blog it was on!

Or is that just me?(I think I'll bookmark some things NOW)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Ref the question 'what happens if guns are banned?'

Over at American Drumslinger he has this. It's a fairly scary thing, largely because it fits exactly what a bunch of God-cursed bureaucrats would do. It's what they HAVE done in Britain and Australia and Canada.

Go read it, and think about it.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Heat-treatment continued, part whatever

The temperature you use to temper is going to depend on the type of steel, and the intended use. Higher temperatures leave the steel not as hard but tougher, lower temps leave it harder and more liable to cracking/breaking under stress. Please note that 'stress' is a variable term; it can mean anything from hacking through a dry branch that feels hard as a rock to slicing thin layers off a piece of wood to slicing a roast where you might hit a bone.

As to type of steel, carbon adds wear-resistance, which is why good knives generally use high carbon. However, properly worked medium carbon can make fine blades, especially for big ones. Note that a medium carbon steel will need less heat to get it from fully-hardened to the working hardness you want, while high carbon will often need a bit higher temp to keep it from being brittle.

With O1 tool steel for a general-use knife, I'll start around 400F for the first heat. I don't have access to a Rockwell hardness tester, so I go by color and experience. If you've shined up the surface nicely before heating, when you take it out of the oven after 45-60 minutes, the blade will have a nice dark yellow/light bronze color, which seems to work out to about 50-60 Rockwell, just about what you want. If you decide to increase the temp, do it in 25 degree steps; up it 25, temper 45 minutes, let it cool, and then test it. If it's a little too hard, can up it another step. Please note, if you temper it softer than you wanted, you either live with it, or go back to the fire to harden it again and start over.

The basic test for edge hardness is very simple, and works quite well. I picked it up from an article by Wayne Goddard, and all you need is a piece of 1/4" brass rod and a vise. First, sharpen the knife as you normally would. In good light so you can see well, clamp the rod in the vise so one side is above the jaws of the vise. Take the sharpened blade and hold it at a shallow angle against the brass as if you were going to slice a layer off and push down gently, watching the edge where it contacts the rod. A properly hardened & tempered edge will flex visibly, and return to straight when you release the pressure. If it chips, it's too hard; if it flexes and stays bent, it's too soft. I've found it very accurate as a test.

Testing can get involved. The American Bladesmith Society tests blades for Journeyman and Master status harshly, sometimes to destruction. Heavy cutting, edge-holding ability, and the final is to clamp the point in a vise and flex it; if it cracks or breaks before flexing the right amount, it fails. What I generally do is a bit simpler. With big blades, 8" & up, I save up small(2" or so) limbs when pruning trees for the chopping test, which is chopping them into shorter pieces to make sure the blade will hold up, and stay sharp. For actual edge-holding, I take 1/4" manilla or sisal rope, set a board in a vise for a cutting surface, and start cutting rope. I try to make the cuts no more than 1/2" apart, and stop when it won't cut cleanly any more or I get tired, depending. I've had blades cut well over 100 pieces and still be useably sharp; they might not shave anymore, but they'll still cut cleanly.

One further test is for the smoothness of edge; take a magazine page or a piece of copy paper, hold it along one edge and see if the edge will slice it cleanly. When you finish sharpening this is a good check, because any rough spots will snag and tear the paper. After the cutting testing, this tells you if the edge is still fairly smooth, or if it picked up tiny nicks during the cutting.

One more thing; a new-made blade may not show it's best edge-holding right off. One of the things steel does, when it hits the critical temperature for hardening, is that it can lose carbon atoms into the atmosphere. So, depending on how long it was at heat, you may have a thin skin of decarburized steel on the piece(steel that is at a lower carbon content than that below that layer). This layer will not hold an edge as well, but as a time or two of sharpening wears past it, you get to the high-test stuff and it picks up performance. Usually the finish-grinding and polishing cleans it off, but if you sharpen and test before that, it's something to remember.

There's another step that some makers are using on blades, a sub-zero quench. Basically you take a hardened blade, clean it absolutely clean of all traces of oil or whatever, and lower it into a tank of liquid nitrogen. Leave it soaking long enough for the entire piece to have reached that temperature, then slowly remove it and hang it up to warm to room temp. After that, to the oven to temper normally. I've heard of using this both before and after tempering, but I haven't tried it myself. Reports indicate that it can make a serious improvement in the toughness/edge holding ability of some blades. Basically, when steel hits certain points, the structure of the metal changes. Freshly hardened steel contains a structure called 'martensite' cause by the structure freezing when quenched. The sub-zero quench is supposed to cause a more complete transformation to martensite than would otherwise happen. Or so I'm told. The problems with this are two: 1. liquid nitrogen doesn't last too long, even when kept in the proper container it evaporates and 2. the stuff is at about 250 below zero, and if you splash it on yourself, instant burn. It will literally kill tissue on contact, so if you decide to mess with the stuff BE CAREFUL!

That about covers it, at least for now. If you try making blades and doing your own heat-treatment, you'll be doing some experimenting to see what seems to work best, and expect to screw things up a few times; there's no way around it. And you'll keep learning as you go.

The Postal Match

that Og set up, first deadline this weekend.

I shot both the .22 pistol and rifle the other day. Pistol I did worse than I expected, which I blame on trying to shoot both in one range visit. Not totally disgusting, but not too good, either.

The rifle, now I was rather happy with my score. Why, you ask?

HAVE YOU LOOKED AT THAT FREAKIN' TARGET? The bullseye's a half-inch across! Jeez, at 25 yards it was a blurry dot to me! The target I usually use for offhand at that range is a 2" diameter black circle, which made this think look like one of those spots that occasionally swims about before my eyes. That I got a high enough score not to be greatly embarrassed by makes me quite happy with my performance that day.

And anyone who says "The rings help you center the bull" is getting introduced to my hammer. The four-pound one.

And to take the taste of Scheer out of your mouth,

Babalu Blog Banned In Cuba! Bearded Murderer In Terror of Blog!

Don't you just love it? The worst dictator in the western world(chavez is still his butt monkey) and he's scared to let the people of Cuba read Val's words.

Hey, fidel, the day's coming...

By the way, Val is now officially a 'fascist troglodyte with a bad attitude'. In Italy, no less!

It's better to lose?

Robert Scheer says so. He thinks things are just wonderful in Vietnam. I'm a little fuzzy on some things, but let's look at this.

"If then-President Ford had not possessed the courage and wisdom to order the end of the U.S. occupation of Vietnam, we probably would still be embroiled in combating a never-ending insurgency." As I recall, it was a Democrat-controlled Congress that cut off all aid to South Vietnam, condemning it to being conquered by the North. But hey, what's a few hundred thousand people dead and/or imprisoned to a 'never-ending insurgency"? That we weren't even fighting at that point?

"In defeat, the U.S. was able to economically exploit Vietnam without spending U.S. dollars and lives on a hopeless occupation." I wasn't aware that we were trying to 'occupy' it in the first place, but never mind that; we should have just gotten along with them at the time, right?

""Ironically, if you took away the still-ruling Communist Party and discounted the perilous decade after the war, the Vietnam of today is not much different from the country U.S. policymakers wanted to create in the 1960s," Lamb wrote." I just love that; "IF you took away the still-ruling Communist Party". You know, the one that doesn't allow freedom of speech, and kills Christians for the crime of worshipping, etc. No, no problem there.

I was going to go over this piece by piece, but I don't have the stomach for it. Basically, if we hadn't 'over-reacted' to the Red Menace back when, things would have evened out very nicely over time and we'd all be nice little friends. Not said but I bet he wishes is that the Soviet Union might even still be in business. Wouldn't that be ducky?

Oh, and sending troops to Afghanistan and Iraq just 'sounds familiar' to sending troops to Vietnam, etc. From what I've heard, Scheer is one of those assholes who can rarely find anything good about the U.S., and even the few good things would be better if we'd become sensible and turn into a nice socialist state.

I started to say "Over a lot of dead bodies", but that's a given. And I think this idiot might like that.

Update: over at Front Page Mag, Horowitz rips Scheer a big new anal orifice, with a lot more numbers of what happened. And more on that little murderer Ho Chi Minh.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Heat treatment continued

One of the misconceptions about hardening and tempering is the time factor. Generally, unless you're working with some alloy that demands being held at certain temperatures for certain times, it goes like this:

When you get a piece to hardening temperature, that's it. It doesn't have to be held there for a particular length of time, the critical factor is simply that the piece, or the sections of it needed, have reached the required temperature. Take it out of the fire and quench it in the appropriate medium, water, oil or air.

With the carbon steels I mostly use, I generally quench twice. Meaning bring it up to heat, quench. After it cools enough take it out of the oil, clean it off & let it cool to ambient temp. Repeat. For whatever reason, it often does seem to make stronger blade to harden it twice. And as I mentioned once before, some demand it: 52100 seems to get the best result by three quenches, spaced 24 hours apart. Why? I have no idea, but it does seem to work better.

Tempering is the next step. If you have the aforementioned heat-treating furnace you can use it. You can use the forge or a burner and move the piece back & forth over the heat and watch the color change, pulling the piece out and quenching it at the temp needed. What some smiths do is take a piece of heavy steel or iron pipe cut lengthwise, a foot long at most, and set it over the fire. Let it get good & hot, and while it's heating clean the oil off the blade and shine it up so you can see the color change. Then, for a single-edge blade, start working the spine back & forth along the pipe. The blade will soak up heat, and by moving it around you can keep it even; as before, quench when the color is right. Or, you can use a commonly available household device to do it.

Stick it in the oven.

Yes, that wonder of the modern age, the oven! Capable of turning out a loaf of bread with a crisp crust, turning turkey into dinner, and yes, even tempering knives! However, there are some warnings here, especially if you have a spouse or live-in significant other. First, CLEAN THE DAMN THING OFF! Quenching oil does NOT smell like food baking when it gets hot. In fact, it stinks. So if you leave it on the blade, you will a: piss off the housemate, b: stink up the place, and c: get orders to clean out the oven and/or "You expect me to cook DINNER in that? WIth that stink in it?!?" Possibly including threats to your health. So, after it cools down completely after the last quench, take it to the sink(watch the sensitivities of the spousal unit) and wash it with either a degreaser or dishwashing soap( I personally use Dawn). Get it good & clean, and then hit it lightly on at least one side to shine it up a bit. Then into the oven.

If you're not sure about what temp to use, the oven is very nice in that you can start low, say 375F, and go up from there. Once you know what temp will give the steel in question the hardness you want you can just set it there. Following a procedure I first read I can't remember where, I do it this way:

Set the heat at your desired temp, and set the knife in. I try to set it up so the blade is either edge up or down, not laying on the side. If the oven is already hot, start your timing here, if not give it time to get up to temperature and start then. Again, the critical factor is simply that the entire piece has to get up to the temperature. A thick piece will take longer than a thin one. You don't really gain anything by leaving a piece at temp for hours, though it won't hurt it either. For knives, I leave it in for 45 minutes, maybe an hour for a thick blade(just to be on the safe side). At that time I take it out and set it on a cooling rack(the one you use for cake will work fine as long as the primary cook doesn't get pissed). Leave it until it cools to room temp, then back into the oven for 45 minutes more. I temper three times, and unless the oven is needed after the last one I just turn off the heat and leave it there until cool.

That's it. Nothing magical, although the result can seem that way.

More to follow when time allows

Monday, May 02, 2005

Heat treating, continuation

Og had a couple of questions/points I thought I'd address here on the subject of heat-treating knives.

I mentioned before it's a two-step process, hardening and tempering. Hardening is the real pain, in that you have to get the entire length of the blade up to temperature at the same time without over/underheating it in places. Several ways to do it:
1. Spend a couple of thousand on a heat-treating furnace. The good ones can be had with a compartment up to 36" long, the temperature can be set exactly, and if you get the computer controller you can even set how long to take to get to full heat, or bring it up in steps, etc. Or if you have a gas forge, many of them can be adjusted to give just the right heat. If you don't have the money or enough time/interest to invest in one of these,
2. For small/medium blades you can take some firebrick and stack them to create a long empty box in the center. Cut/drill a hole in one of the side bricks, a little off-center, and stick a torch tip into the hole. Adjust things right and the flame/heat will swirl around inside; by moving the piece back & forth you can get a nice, even heat. However, this only works well with short blades; long ones require a long chamber, and probably more than one torch. Or in the forge, you can
3. Set up something to make the fire longer & thinner. I use a piece of pipe cut in half lengthwise with a bunch of holes drilled in it. Set it right over the air hole at the bottom, build the fire over it and it works pretty good. You can make it better by getting a piece of sheet steel and cutting it to an hourglass shape, then bending it in the middle and sitting it in the air hole below the pipe. You want it to stick up a little above the hole but not touching the pipe. It forces the air to blow to the sides as well as straight up, and by spreading the air blast more evenly you get a lot more even heat over the length of the fire. Big blades you'll need to move back & forth, but you can, with care, get it done. Or you can
4. Build a firebox specifically for this. A rectangular box however long, with a smaller piece of square tubing welded to the bottom for the full length, and a lot of holes drilled through. Hook a blower up to one end of the tube, and make a plunger to insert from the other end; by moving it back & forth you can control how long an area gets air, and you can stack firebricks at that end to set the length of the fire. For most knives the box would only need to be 6" wide, and if you find something suitable that's too wide you can stack fire bricks along the sides to leave a narrower channel down the center.

To be continued

Sunday, May 01, 2005

So what happens in Britain?

Mark Stein's column on this subject covers the possibles, none of them too attractive.

I've never understood a lot of the sighing over Tony Blair. I said before, I give him credit for understanding that the Islamists needed to be stomped on now, or it'd be ten times worse later on, and credit for getting it through his government. But...

Yeah, there's a but. In most everything else, Blair is my enemy. He wants the government controlling all aspects of life, wants all the peasants disarmed, wants all international decisions to be run past/through the U.N., he's a socialist politician of a type who brings to mind Misha's comment "Lamppost, rope, politician: some assembly required". I mean, even the French look to be voting against the European Union, and Blair has been trying to bulldoze Britain into it; even to the extent of not wanting to allow the people of Britain to vote on it. Yes, he put Britain into the war alongside us; he's also the bastard responsible for the British military being gutted, for troops being sent in harms way with maybe one magazine of ammo for their rifle, for not enough of anything. That the British soldiers came through magnificently does not change the fact that he should be hung for sending them to the sharp end with such conditions of equipment and supply.

Whoever wins the British elections, it'll be messy for us to some extent. And Blair and his party is responsible for that. No, the Brit 'conservative' party is no great winner, but at least they seem to think that giving the Queen's subjects permission to protect themselves is a good idea, which would be a step in the right direction.

(needing 'permission' for self-defense... Sucks, don't it?)

Warsaw Ghetto, 1943

I found this at Horsefeathers.

I can never read an account of this without feeling chills, and sometimes tears. A bunch of despised Jews, marked for death, deciding that they were not going to die as sheep in gas chambers, forcing the feared SS to bring in tanks and artillery to win a fight against a bunch of outnumbered, outgunned 'un-humans'.

Peter Capstick once wrote that if you don't respect the AmaZulu, then you don't know fighting men. If you can read the accounts of these people's courage and not feel something, maybe the presence of courage and greatness, then I'm very sorry for you.

Further proof that California is in the hands of the idiots

Over at No Quarters is this post on the law being pushed there to require all ammunition to be serial numbered. And that if it passes, casting your own bullets will be illegal, as will buying surplus ammo, etc.

California is in the hands of the idiots and nannies, and they'll neuter everyone if they get a chance. Bleah.