Friday, April 01, 2005

Not the most fun sight I've seen

At Medieval Fair today, hammering on a piece, and hear a 'thump' from the street. First thought: "Crap, some dog just got hit". Look around to street and,
past corner of tent, see car come to stop, with a guy in front of the front wheel.

Say "Oh sh**", turn to daughter and say "911 NOW!".

Happily, lots of emergency medical help close by, but damn, I could have lived quite happily without seeing that.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

This stuff is heavy!

Let's see,
Anvil, 110lbs
Stump, about 80
Assorted bar stock, total about 80
Portable forge, 75-80
Toolbox, about 35
Assorted other stuff, ?

It all adds up fast. I think I need a drink.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Unconnected to anything else,

had a chance to watch 'Mythbusters' on Discovery Channel. That redhead/Torrie?/, DAMN, she is hot!

Items for the next Carnival of Cordite

If you know of a site with something interesting to add to the Carnival, send a link to GullyBorg at carnivalofcordite at hotmail point com.

Try to get it to him by Friday for this weeks, after Friday for next week.

I should have mentioned this place before

Babalu Blog, run by Val Prieto. Various and sundry good stuff, and something in particular; he calls fidel castro and his suckups on their lies and abuses. Just start at the top and scroll down.

Also, on the subject of murdering dictators and their suckups, over at Dean Esmay is this wonderful rundown of why Che Guevara should be remembered as the murdering cockroach he was, and why people who wear his image on shirts and idolize him are at best fools and at worst enablers of murder.

You know, for all the crap about communism being about the 'commoners' rising up, che was from a well-off family, and went to-and graduated from- medical school; not exactly a poor, oppressed campesino.

Bleah, thinking about people idolizing these pukes makes me need to wash my mouth out with something. Or go to the bathroom and express my opinion of them.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Followup to BAG purchase

Went back to the shop to look for a 12guage cleaning jag and while browsing around, what did I find? I found a Benelli magazine extension for it, and at a better price before the discount than I'd found anywhere else. So it came home with me.

No, I can't post a picture of the dressed-up scattergun. I don't have a digital camera, and won't be able to borrow the one I usually use for a while.

Dammit, I need a camera. A friend who works in a camera store showed me a Fuji that's really nice, but-especially after the Nova- out of reach for a while. I had a thought I might try to raise money like Sondra K, selling advertising on my butt. However...

I don't own a thong, I wouldn't admit it if I did, and all a picture of that would do is cause people to never come back. Hmmm... Hey! How about "If you send me money for a camera, I WILL NOT post a picture of my butt in a thong!" Would that work?

Hell no. Again, all my readers(all five of you) would speak words of upset and never come back. Dammit.

Hey, Sondra?...

Mmmmmm, bread...

Ever had Irish soda bread? I have, and I'd always thought that it was one reason why the Irish are so ready to fight; if that dry crap was a bit part of your diet, you'd be in a bad mood too.

However, I was over at Is Full of Crap the other day, and in the comments of a post on buttermilk was a recipe for soda bread. It's nice & simple, and wouldn't take long, so after I finished baking a .22 pistol(different story), I mixed it up and threw it in the oven. Forty minutes later, oh, yeah! Good texture, good flavor, not dry enough to act as a dehumidifier. Dinner that night was slices of this with cheese and leftover roast. Oh, yeah.

And the rest of the site is good, too.

Postal match schedule up

Og over at Neanderpundit has posted a schedule for postal matches for the summer. If you've never shot one, you use the target specified, shoot by the rules listed, and e-mail your results in to Og.

Only had a chance to shoot one last year, should be able to try several this time.

Monday, March 28, 2005

More gun work

I'm going to say this up front, and hit the point again later. If you don't have the knowledge to mess with the trigger mechanism on a firearm, DON'T! I'm not telling you to work on one, and I take no responsibility for what you may do to any firearm. This is simply a rundown of some things I've learned that I'm passing along. As Kim says, no warranty and mileage may vary.

Trigger work is probably the most sensitive thing you can do with a firearm. If you mess up a magazine, it can be replaced, same for the stock. If you're crowning a barrel & mess up, you can generally trim a bit off the length and do it over. But if you mess up with a trigger, it may not show up until sometime later; say, when it fires the piece because it was jarred. VERY bad juju, guys. So if you don't know what you are going to do, and how to do it properly, then DON'T DO IT.

Assuming the trigger works properly, the usual problems are that it is too heavy(i.e., you have to press harder than you should for it to release or 'break'), or it's rough, or both. First step is to take the piece down and clean it thoroughly and oil it. If it's an old gun that hasn't been taken down in a long time, that may take care of the problem, and you'll have to do this in any case to see what needs to be done; you may find that it's too bad to mess with, or that something needs to be replaced. A lot of times treatment with a really good lubricant will do all you need. If that doesn't take care of it, then things get tricky and call for great care, because one or more engaging surfaces or bearing surfaces may need to be polished.

Warning again: if you don't know EXACTLY what you're trying to do and HOW to do it, put the stone down and step away from the workbench. No matter how fine the stone or compound you use may be, it doesn't change the fact that stoning or polishing the surface is REMOVING metal; if you take off too much, or cut the angle incorrectly, or change the angle of a surface, you're screwed. Metal taken off cannot be put back(yeah, I know it CAN be- IF you're a welder and have the RIGHT stuff to build it up the RIGHT amount and cut & polish it to the ORIGINAL shape & size and then HEAT-TREAT it), so don't take anything off you don't absolutely have to. Or you'll be finding a replacement part at best; at worst you may wind up with a hole somewhere you didn't want one.

Mauser-style triggers are one of the easiest because there's only three surfaces that may actually need anything, and they're flat surfaces. A good stone can be held flat against them and worked back & forth to polish them, just the minimum, please. Some you shouldn't mess with at all. Handguns can be tricky for a variety of reasons. A semi-auto taken to too light a pull weight can in effect go full-auto on you because the jarring of the action working causes the sear to slip and let the hammer fall, NOT a good thing. Revolvers generally don't have that problem, but you can still make the pull too damn light for safety. And if you take too much off other parts, you've got a different problem. Say a Smith & Wesson double-action revolver. Polishing the pin the hammer pivots on, the sideplates where it bears, the rebound slide and the frame surfaces it bears on are standard ways to smooth out the action, but if you take off too much, it makes things sloppy and you've made the action worse; and there's no easy way to fix this. And remember, if the piece is new, trying to do this stuff yourself will probably void the warranty, and you won't sneak this by them; the 'smiths at the company know exactly what they're looking at, and will know that you did something you shouldn't have. Besides which, if it's a new one, it needs to be used a while to break it in before you even think of touching it. Once a new guns parts wear in with each other, that may take care of everything, so have patience.

Say you've taken an old rifle down, and found that the engagement surface where the trigger holds the cocking piece is rough, and you decide that you can take care of this. First, make sure that if you cut the surface down enough to fix the problem, it won't create another problem by making the surface too small/too low, etc. You're sure? Then implant this in your cranium: NEVER, NEVER TRY TO DO IT FREEHAND! Set up some kind of jig or guide so that the angle is correct and stays that way. Companies like Brownells sell adjustable jigs for just this purpose. I've used a drill press vise, a roller and a level to set up a jig for a simple piece. However you do it, use something; trying to do this freehand is asking for trouble. It's nearly impossible to keep an angle exact, and if you do it won't be flat, it'll be slightly rounded at best; more trouble.

And you can't use that $1 pocket sharpening stone you picked up at the flea market, either. You need something small enough for easy control, with truly flat surfaces and known abrasive level. A coarse stone will cut too fast and leave a rough surface. A fine stone, no coarser than 240 grit, cuts slower and leaves a better finish. A 400-grit is better, and if the surface just needs polishing you want much finer than that. Again, Brownells is a good place to look. These stones ain't cheap, but they can leave a surface like a mirror, and if you take care of them they'll last forever.

And yet another warning. Some triggers/sears/etc. are not made of a medium or high-carbon steel that's been heat-treated; they're made of soft mild steel that is case hardened or surface hardened. That means that there is a thin skin, say a couple of thousandths of an inch that's hardened steel; if you cut through that the hard surface is gone, and it will wear very quickly. Which means you have to buy a replacement.

I cannot stress this enough: find out EXACTLY what you're doing BEFORE you start. Find a good book that covers the work and study it. Brownells collected tips sent in to them by gunsmiths and published them in a book called 'Gunsmith Kinks'. There are four books in the series now, with a lot of good information. They'd be a good place to start.

One more thing; this stuff CANNOT be rushed. If you don't have a stable work surface, and the tools and knowledge, and plenty of time to work on it, then don't. From knifemaking and forging I've had many cuts and burns, and carry a couple of scars, that are the result of trying to rush something. Getting in a hurry is a good way to have to start all over, probably on a replacement part.

I'll finish this with my disclaimer, again: I have no control of what you decide to do, and take no responsibility for what you do. I write this to pass on some knowledge of just how tricky and precise this kind of work is, NOT to tell you to try it. If you decide to work on your own firearms, then a: understand WHAT you're going to do, b: understand HOW you're going to do it, c: HAVE the right tools, and d: take your time.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

If Rob ever sees this, he'll never come back

This here is my watch cat.

She watches the birds, she watches the food bowl, she watches the litter box...etc.

BAG day came early

'Buy A Gun' day, April 15th, that is. I had thought of buying something appropriate, say an AK-47. However, the prices on the damn things never came down any after the AWB went away, and it's not worth that much to me.

I have been looking around for a 12 guage pump, something with a shorter barrel. Then, a couple of months ago, I saw a Benelli Nova Special Purpose. If you're not familiar with it, Benelli had an idea for the receiver/stock design: the steel part of the receiver is a shell that is molded into a polymer cover which is part of the stock. So the receiver is as rustproof as you'll get, and the stock is virtually unbreakable. There's a cavity inside the stock where you can add in a recoil absorber if you wish. The one I found has a wing-protected post front sight and a fully-adjustable ghost-ring rear, which is what first caught my eye. I picked it up, looked it over(hmmm), then picked out a light on the wall and shouldered it. No adjusting required, the sights just lined up. I tried it a few more times, same result; it just fit me perfectly. Slick action, 4-round magazine(more 'hmmm'). So I set it back in the rack, and kept it in mind.

A few days ago I went back to that shop and found out two things: the shop is closing(Damn!), and they had everything on sale, putting the Nova just within reach. Despite my intention to hold off 'till April, the next day I went back, took it off the rack and said, "I'll take it".

First thing was field-strip, clean and oil, which is a very simple process. Pull the magazine cap, release the slide, and the barrel pulls off. Use the tip of the cap to push loose two pins in the receiver, and the trigger unit comes out, the bolt lifts out, and the slide comes off. The bolt is a solid piece with a rotating head with two locking lugs that cam into the breech of the barrel. The barrel itself is 18.5" long and chrome-lined. It goes back together about as fast as it comes apart, too.

Next day I headed to the range. I didn't have time to go to the nearest outdoor range where I could have tried slugs at 50 & 100 yards, so 25 yards was it. (Last time I bought slugs or buckshot was a while back, one slug box- Winchester Super-X- was marked $1.49 with an Otasco sticker). I had one box each of Remington & Winchester slugs, a box each of 00 and No. 4 buck, and a box of Federal 7 1/2 birdshot.

I used a standard blue silhouette target(the range calls them 'smurfs'), and used slugs first at 25. The first two were on opposite sides of the center oval, about 2" apart, the third overlapped the first. Further shots gave the same results, which made me a very happy man.

Buckshot followed, with 00 putting 8 of 9 shot in the upper chest at about ten yards, one shot going over the shoulder. No. 4 buck gave similar results, definate goblin-stopper results at down the hall or across the yard ranges.

This thing handles fast, too. First shot, being off a rest, I hadn't intended to rack the action until I'd spotted the shot; instead I fired and racked it without thought. It unlocks and the slide just naturally comes back and goes forward again, and that is how it went again and again. Bang-clack-clack and you're back on target(very happy man, here).

After using all the slugs and most of the buck, I stoked it with birdshot and tried that at about ten yards. This is a cylinder-bore barrel, no choke, and I was surprised at how fast the birdshot spread at that range, a pattern a good 18-24" across. And again, fast repeat shots were no problem. Bang-clack-clack-bang, fast and smooth.

After I got it home I pulled the barrel to clean it. Not too dirty. I ran a brush with Corrosion-X back & forth a few times, let it sit a few minutes, then wrapped a 2x3" piece of t-shirt around the brush and pushed it through once. Held up to the light the bore gleamed. Wipe off the bolt face, and it's done. Fastest cleaning I've done in a while.

I'm very happy with this shotgun. Nicely balanced, fast handling, easy to clean. Benelli has a gel-type recoil pad I think I'll get eventually, and I may get the magazine extension. With the plug out you have four rounds of 2 3/4" ammo(it's chambered to take 2.75", 3" and 3.5") in the magazine; with the extension you get three more 2.75 or 3" from what I've read. And if you like the idea you can put a base on the receiver to mount a scope or red-dot sight. And a Sidesaddle to hold four rounds on the left side of the receiver. And you can get tritium sights that replace the factory ghost ring & post...

Dammit, this could get involved. And expensive.

Another one I forgot to mention

Jeff at Alphecca. As he puts it, the 'gay gun-nut in Vermont'. Lots of commentary and links, especially on firearms ownership matters. Good stuff

Blade steels

There are a lot of different alloy steels out there, many of them useful for blades(an 'alloy' basically being steel with other elements added). One thing to remember is that while you can make a blade out of anything, some work better than others, and some are better for some uses than others.

A word on alloys. Steel itself is an alloy made by adding carbon to iron. Additional alloys used are chromium, nickel, sulphur, molybdenum, and a whole lot of others. They add different qualities. For instance, adding molybdenum allows a steel to harden with a slower quench- oil instead of water- which lessens the thermal shock of quenching and thus reduces the chance of cracking or warping. Stainless and stain-resistant steels generally add chromium and nickel. Problem is, you can't add an element in and it only adds that quality to the mix; it reacts with everything else. This is one reason why the truly 'stainless' steels often don't hold an edge very well, you add enough chromium and nickel to the mix to make it stainless, it tends to reduce the wear-resistance, which means it dulls faster. Sulphur can make a steel easier to machine to shape, but if present in too-high amounts it weakens the piece.

Big blades
Swords, big dirks, bowie knives, etc. I've wound up using 5160 spring steel for these. This is the same stuff you find in leaf and coil springs in your car's suspension. It generally won't hold an edge as well as a higher carbon tool steel, but it's also tougher. In a blade that's made to hold up in heavy cutting and chopping, that's a very good thing. And in smaller blades, if it's shaped and heat-treated right, it'll hold an edge quite well. In carbon content, this steel is just about identical to they've found in swords that have been tested.

Smaller blades
I've mostly used W2 and O1 for these. W2 is commonly used in files, and O1 is an oil-hardening tool steel used in industry for all kinds of things. Both of these make fine blades. Old files have been ground or forged into everything from fighting knives to garden and kitchen knives, and O1, usually starting with either round or rectangular bar stock, the same. Fairly easy to work, simple to heat-treat, and can hold an edge very damn well. One thing to watch on files is many of the cheap ones were made with a high-sulphur content steel, easier to machine but not as strong. These do an interesting thing if you forge them; they literally crumble when you hammer them. I meant it when I said too much sulphur is bad(one old trick for punching a hole in heavy iron was to put a lump of sulphur on the spot, then heat the iron to red and hold it there a few minutes, the iron in that spot will be weakened and easier to punch through).
Addition: I forgot to bring up one other steel that's very good for small & medium size knives: 52100B. Sounds impressive, doesn't it? It's a high-quality bearing steel, used for many ball bearings, roller bearings and bearing races(the track the bearings run in). I haven't looked in a while, it may be possible now to find it in bar stock, but I've always had to start with a bearing and forge it out. This stuff can be forged about the same as O1, and heat-treats about the same; about 1500F temperature, and a warm oil quench, and uses about the same tempering temperatures. Odd thing about this stuff: I usually give the other stuff two quenches, meaning bring up to heat, quench, let cool to ambient temp, repeat, followed by three tempering heats. 52100 seems to work best with three quenches, with 24 hours between them. I first read of this oddity in an article by a maker named Ed Fowler, so I gave it a try, and it does seem to give a better blade. Don't ask me why. I say for small & medium blades, but one of my first with this stuff involved turning a 2" ball bearing into a dirk blade about 13" long that goes through wood like an axe. The friend carrying it says it's also very good for slicing through PVC pipe.

For those I use mild steel, closest I can get to wrought iron, as the body. Cut the proper shape from some strap, wrap the middle around a mandrel to form the eye, then weld the halves together. Leave the end open, shape a piece of medium or high-carbon stock to fit in and a little bit sticking out, and weld that in. Grind to shape and harden & temper the bit(every wonder where the term 'bit of the axe' came from?), fit a haft and you're in business. 5160 is very good here, also; hard enough to hold an edge, tough enough not to chip or crack.

Stainless steels
I haven't messed with them much. Some are a flat bitch to forge; all of them require some special steps in heat-treatment, including higher temperatures, a controlled atmosphere and/or a sub-zero quench to properly harden them; and some of them just don't hold an edge well. A lot of knifemakers, maybe most, who work with them don't do the heat treatment themselves, they send the finished blades off to someone with the equipment to do it right, and I like to do it all myself if I can.

440c stainless, for example. You can forge it to shape, but after the oil quench, you have to do a sub-zero quench for it to completely harden. Best would be with liquid nitrogen, but you can do it with dry ice and acetone. After all that, you have a blade that won't rust, but won't hold an edge very well either.

There are some stainless/stain-resistant steels that do make good blades: ATS-34, D2, 154CM for instance. But since they require the extra steps to treat, I don't mess with them much. The exception is D2. They make planer blades with it, and as long as you don't overheat it you can grind one to shape and not have to heat-treat it.

That's a quick and dirty rundown of the stuff I've used. One nice thing about all of them, they're easy to get for good prices. 5160 can be had either as new bar stock, or you can straighten & flatten a section of coil spring, or just use a section of leaf spring. O1 and all the other tool steels can be bought as bar stock from a number of industrial supply houses(Enco, for instance) for good prices. Considering what our ancestors had to do or pay to get decent steel, the price of the stuff is rediculously cheap. Which is good, because when you screw up a piece and have to start over, you haven't ruined stock that you can't replace.

Some things really have gotten better over the years.

It's about damn time

Wizbang links to an article on how Kofi Annan is depressed and thinking of resigning. As I said above, it's about damn time.

Even discounting the evidence of corruption, he's failed repeatedly in the job. There are 'peacekeepers' raping children and running prostitution rings, he- and the U.N. bureaucracy- have done everything they can to ignore Darfur, they've basically contributed to famines and mass murder in multiple places. And the whole time, they bitch at the U.S. that everything is basically OUR fault, if we'd just sign everything over to them, why, everything would be just WONDERFUL, don't you know?

I still think that any politician who advocates turning control of this country over to the U.N. has violated their oath of office and should be thrown out.
That any of them can look at what the U.N. has done(Cuba and Libya running the Human Rights Council?) and still bow down to worship at the U.N. altar baffles me.

Kofi has caused, and aided and abetted in, so much damage and harm, the only real problem is that he can't be actually prosecuted and jailed. Instead of 'resigning his position'.

How NOT to rob a store

Found this over at Random Nuclear Strikes, a very good listing of what has to be one of the most truly stupid people to ever draw breath. Short version: deciding to rob a gun shop, with a police car out front and the officer inside = dead idiot.

A friend down in Texas told me about a case he knew of a few years ago. A lady who worked at a sporting goods store was going through a very messy divorce from an abusive husband. Said jackass one day walked into the store, walked up to her at the counter, pulled a large knife and told her what he was going to do to her. He was interrupted by several metallic clicks, and looked around to see the owner, the manager, and basically every employee in the store aiming at him. Being restrained sorts they did not deliver multiple perforations to his anatomy, but they still had to mop up a bit; urine on the floor does not smell of violets and roses.