Monday, July 28, 2014


I think its supposed to say "I Lug 150 Pound Hogs" but what the heck.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Shhhhhhhhhh !

A few months ago, I started a project to build a device that would allow me to test fire loads in the back yard without the neighbors thinking I was blasting stumps or something.  Like most of my projects, I shelved it for work or other projects that caught my fancy.   I picked it up again today and boy am I pleased with the results!

I read somewhere that people were using gas bottles for this purpose.   Whatever I read didn't give any details.  It just sounded like they'd unscrew the valve, stick the gun's muzzle in the hole and blast away.  I wasn't really comfortable with that because I've seen what a 30-06 can do to a piece of steel even when its angled at 45 degrees and I just couldn't see how the bottom end of the bottle could take rifle fire for very long.  Its probably an inch thick but even that would give way pretty quickly if it had to stop rifle bullets.

By comparison to just unscrewing the valve,  my solution was overly complex and much more difficult and costly to manufacture.  I simplified it quite a bit today.

The first concept was something that I would shoot through.   To manage that, I cut about three inches off the  bottom end of the bottle to give me access to the cylinder's interior so I could install my ingenious muffler and baffle system.   I  bored a hole in the center of the piece that I cut off to allow the bullets to pass through.   The idea was to install the innards and then reattach the bottom using a thick gasket and a series of turnbuckles to snug it all up. 

I finally ditched the whole idea of keeping the bottom piece in the plans and decided to just let it go commando because I just couldn't see how I'd be able to line up the gun barrel consistently enough to get the bullet through the hole in the far end every time. 

The resulting components looked like this.

The innards were selected via strict scientific parameters for performance and durability, and because I already had them lying around in the shed.  The baffles are made of poplar and the muffler is a Thrush glass pack that spent about one weekend on Ruth, the Jeep.

 The baffles go on each end of the muffler and the whole works goes inside the cylinder.  Then the open end of the bottle gets slammed into the dirt mound.  The shootin' end is supported by an old transmission housing - again courtesy of good old Ruth.  I did say I simplified it.

This was a temporary setup to test whether the concept would work so I didn't spend a lot of time building a permanent version just to find out that it didn't.  The shootin' hole is still threaded for the valve too so I had to be extra careful with the rifle barrel during testing.

The rifle is a Cooper Model 38 in 22 Cooper Centerfire Magnum.  Less than a 22 Hornet but more than a 22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire.  I chose it for the testing because I didn't see any sense in starting out with something huge in case the project would work on a small cartridge but be overtaxed by a big one.  I also chose it because its barrel would fit the opening in the bottle and it's the rifle that drove me to building this whole setup in the first place.

I have a problem loading the ammo.   Even with a starting load and the exact bullets called for in the data, when I seat the bullet it compresses the heck out of the powder.  Several things happen.  Since the brass is incredibly thin, the brass expands and lets go of the bullet.  Sometimes the bullet cocks to one side and the round won't chamber.  The bullet also creeps out far enough to interfere with feeding from the magazine and with chambering the round. 

22 CCM loading data is rather sparse and I want to go with a powder that is a tad quicker than the WW 296 that I love so dearly so I need to be able to work up a load on my own.  Can't work up a load without test firing.   Don't want to frighten the neighbors either so its drive 30 minutes to the river,  drive an hour to the range or build something to contain the sound.

I put electrical tape on the barrel to protect the finish.  The fatter portion with the tape on it has a thin slice of cork under the tape to act as a gasket.  The barrel slides into the shootin' hole far enough that the muzzle is actually inside the cherry bomb muffler and the cork protects the barrel and makes a seal.

I said I was pleased with the results.   When I fired the rifle, the sound was barely audible.  My feet crushing the damp leaves made more noise than the shot did.   It was more of a "poof" than a "pop" or a "bang."  I couldn't believe it.


I opened the bolt and out came the empty case.  I held the muzzle upright and shook the rifle expecting unburnt powder to come out.  Nothing did.  I looked down the barrel and saw light.  I still couldn't reconcile the lack of sound with the thing actually having fired so I ran a cleaning rod through the barrel just to make extra sure.  Sure enough, it came out the breech without having to push anything out of the way.    I tested it again and got the same results. 

This could be as big or even bigger than my portable reloading setup.

The Book of Barkley - A Comment

I offered this as a comment on Brigid's blog and then decided to put it here, slightly edited, as a post as well.  This isn't exactly a review of the book. 

The Book of Barkley came out Thursday night and I ordered a copy on Friday Morning.  It was slow at work and my belly was whispering "remember the diverticulitis?" so I downloaded the e-book and went home.  I finished it last evening.

Last night I dreamed of the time our Labs, OJ and Nicole, discovered their first skunk and came running back in the house dripping skunk juice.   Then I dreamed of hanging out with old friends.  When I woke up this morning, I thought back to a few weeks ago when I was so concerned about my self-destructive friend.  The preacher prayed that God would put people in her life that would help her.  The thought that I had this morning was that I bet one of those people will be a big, Black Lab.

I believe it was Jerry Clower who said "You've never been loved 'till you've been loved by a dog."  I never thought I'd ever be able to do justice to the impact the love of that one  special dog can have on a person's life. 

I think Brigid has done that. 

If you are a dog person, you will understand.  If you are a cat person, prepare to be converted.

I think I will go invest in a kennel that raises Labs.  Their price should start going up any day now.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Book of Barkley is Out!

They say that you really die twice.  The day your body gives up and then again when your name is spoken for the last time.

On December 11, 2008, the best dog that I ever had succumbed to Lymphoma.  I had always had Labs and for 30 years they had always been black Labs.  When he died, I couldn't get another.  It wouldn't have been fair to the new dog to look like O.J. but not be O.J.  

That evening, I started writing down notes about silly things that O.J. had done over the years, about unusual mannerisms that he had like popping his jaws like an angry bear when he was excited and a whole lot about how he seemed to be made of pure love.  I couldn't stand the thought that his memory would fade away and even that would be gone one day.  I thought I might write a long post here or maybe even a book so he'd always be out there in someone's library somewhere.

I had page after page of notes but didn't write anything more.

A year or two later, I was inspecting a house that was being sold by an Estate.   They had just finished the Estate sale and the place was full of stuff that nobody wanted.  On the kitchen table, a painting of a black Lab in some tall grass by a pond stuck out from under the rest of the unwantable rummage.   It was amateurish. Certainly not anything you'd hang up in your living room but it reminded me of my notes and why I took them.  Someone had painted it.  Probably the deceased homeowner or maybe a spouse or a grandkid.  It was a painting of somebody's black Lab and somebody cared enough about the dog to paint it.   It was all that was left of one dog's life and an important part of a person's.

The painting had a piece of tape on it that said "$1.00."  Nobody had wanted it for even one dollar.  I thought about taking it and leaving a dollar on the counter but the sale was over and nobody was there but me so, technically, I couldn't buy it.  Besides, what if the heirs had decided to keep it?  Maybe it wasn't for sale anymore.  One doesn't stay in a business that involves going into peoples' homes very long by being a thief.   I decided to call the realtor to find out the next morning.

The realtor told me that I should have just taken the painting because the heirs had already hired a crew to clean the place out and everything would be thrown away later that day.    I went by after work to see if they were still there but the place was empty.   That black Lab died his second time that day.

Still, I didn't write anything about O.J.   Its just not easy.  Besides missing him, there's the question of talent.  I have too much of the missing and not enough of the talent.

Thankfully, when Barkley died, Brigid didn't let him just fade away.   The Book of Barkley is now published and available as an e-book or an analog version from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.   She has this link on her blog where you can get them.  Amazon says they are temporarily out of stock so I back ordered a paper copy and then bought the e-book too.   If you haven't been reading the excerpts she's been posting on her blog, you might think its just another book about a dog but its not.  Its so much more this talentless old fart can't begin to explain it.  I won't even try.  Just go buy the book.   You'll see. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Georgia On My Mind

Chicago, Not My Kind of Town

Yes, I know its not the same car.  Its the fact that it really could be that's telling.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

History Changes

When I was in college, I took a class on being a historian.  One of the first things the yankee teacher said was that history changes.  You have to write what people want to hear or you'll never get published and never get hired.

That's a big part of how we got to where we are today from the truth.  

Here's a little bit of suppressed truth from way back:

On April 25, 1861 over three hundred free Blacks, and a few slaves "volunteered" by their owners, left Petersburg by train for labor service on the fortifications of Norfolk with their own Confederate flag, and leader."

"We are willing to aid Virginia's cause to the utmost of our ability. There is not an unwilling heart among us, not a hand but will tell in the work before us, and we promise unhesitating obedience to all orders that may be given us." -- Charles Tinsley, Free Black, Pocahontas, Petersburg, Va.

"Realizing that many free Black households would be in want following the departure of their husbands on voluntary work, the Petersburg City Council voted family assistance funds for wives and children left behind. Such assistance continued for the length of the war."


Mayor Dodson presented them with a Confederate flag and promised the men that they would "...reap a rich reward of praise and merit from a thankful people.

From  Defending The Heritage's   Facebook Page