Friday, February 21, 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

FOR SALE M4A3 (105)

The tank being offered, M4A3(105) HVSS Sherman, serial number 74247, was built in April 1945 at the Chrysler Defense Arsenal. The exterior has been painted in post-World War II USMC markings while the interior was painted white. The previous owner had initiated restoration but it was never completed. It is missing the turret basket and many other turret components. It is also missing all ammunition bins and various other internal fittings. The instrument panel appears to be new. The engine runs well while all suspension components are in excellent shape. It was driven as recently as December 2013.

Six numbers.  All I need is the right six numbers.

Just Piddlin' Around

Some time ago, I tried out a Savage 1899 in 25-35 Winchester.  I like the rifle but it shoots really high.   I loaded some light Barnes POX Bullets (Plain Old X) to see if that would make enough difference to make the gun useable but haven't tested them out yet.  Saturday morning, I decided to write myself an insurance policy in the form of a tall front sight blank to take to the range just in case.

This particular rifle is old enough that it uses a blade that slides in a groove that runs down the sight base and is held in by a screw.   Its similar to the US Krag front sight in the picture below.

 One side of the Savage sight blade has a series of grooves for positive adjustment and the screw actually pinches the sight base to hold the blade in place.  The hole in the blade that the screw passes through is an open channel on the Savage sight.  That's to allow the vertical adjustment.

I had a piece of brass that was nominally the right thickness and I used a sight height correction gizmo on Brownell's website to calculate how much taller the new sight would need to be and I added a little extra for a margin of safety.

A coping saw worked fine on the brass.  I even used it to cut the channel for the screw and then used a welding tip cleaner to widen the groove and smooth it out.   Lightly drawing the new blank across an oiled file took the high spots off the sides.    It goes in the slot with just a little bit of resistance so it should work fine when the screw is tightened.

That's it upside down in the little vise.

After I got it done, I was reading a thread on the 24 Hour Campfire by a guy that wanted to have some Savage Model 20 stocks duplicated.  In the middle of the thread somebody mentioned that he used a Krag sight to replace his missing front sight.   For a minute I felt dumb because I could have just bought a Krag sight and filed it down but when I found them on line and saw they cost $21.50 with shipping I decided that it had been a good use of the time after all.

If I have to resort to the new sight, I will get it filed down to a height that works and then use it for a pattern for one made of steel.

Class Still Counts for Something

The Lovely Bride was displeased when she found a rather long-ish rifle on the bed yesterday.

TLB:   "You are gonna have to stop putting guns on the bed."

Me:     "What's wrong now?"

TLB:    "You put this greasy rifle on the bedspread that I just washed this morning."

Me:      "Its not greasy.  Its perfectly clean."

TLB:     "Its a Moisin Nagant. They're ALWAYS greasy."

Me:       "Its a Krag."

TLB:      "Oh.  Sorry."

Saturday, February 15, 2014

C.S.S. Hunley Crew

A Genealogist is tracking down details about the members of the Hunley's crew.  There isn't a lot to go on but she's already found out some interesting stuff.

CNN Article Here

Friday, February 14, 2014

Last Trip to Obrisky's

Several months ago, I wrote about a day trip that my brother I and  took that included a stop at Obrisky's Books in Micanopy.   Mr. Obrisky died a few weeks ago and the store is going to stay open long enough to liquidate the fifty-five thousand books that he had accumulated.  We went back this past weekend for one last look at the place.

Obrisky always had a few books on reloading, gunsmithing and hunting and I wanted to see what might be there this time.  I found a few things that were sort of interesting but nothing that really jumped out at me.   One of the sort of interesting books was called Principles and Practice of Loading Ammunition and was written by Earl Naramore.    Its a Stackpole Book and I think the last printing was in 1962.

I was thinking that I have enough books on reloading and didn't really need another book on the basics but as I stood there leafing through the pages while water dripped through the roof, it began to dawn on me that this book is a lot more than that.

The book runs nine hundred pages and explores bullet casting, different types of reloading tools, different types of cases, bullets and primers.   Just about anything you care to look into is addressed.   Mr. Naramore spends a lot of time on choosing the right cases and even gets into the grain structure of the brass from which the cases are made.   There's sections on different general types of powders and write ups on some of the popular powders of his day.   There's a pretty detailed section on how to work up loads when you don't know what powder you have, when you know the powder and have data but want to use a different bullet, know the powder but have no data (this was way before Al Gore thought up the innernet)  and so on.  There's a section that looks like load data but what looks like the powder charge is called a Reference Number.  Depending on what problem you need to solve (no data, unknown powder etc), you use a different percentage of the Reference Number as your starting load.

I found it interesting that there's data, I mean reference numbers, for things like the .303 Savage with several powders but nothing for the 9mm Luger.  I suspect that there just wasn't enough interest in reloading the 9mm back in the 1950s and early 1960s to warrant including in in the book.   Times do change.

Amazon has the same book for $57.00 and shipping is another $4.00.  Mine cost $40.00.  I don't have the dust jacket but the book is in great shape. 

After the book store, we went to Gainesville to spectate at a Studebaker Avanti show.

The Avanti was a fiberglass, 2 door coupe built by Studebaker from 1962 - 1964.   The concept is similar in some ways to the Corvette but also to the Mustang, Camaro and Firebird that came later.   After Studebaker quit building cars, the Avanti lived on as small manufacturer that essentially built Avanti bodies and put them on GM chassis.  That lasted until the mid to late 1980s.

I prefer the pure-blooded Studebaker ones.   The stock, "R1" engine was a 289 DID V8 that put out 240 hp.  A nice, supercharged 289 CID "R2" version making about 1hp per cubic inch was certainly nimble enough.  And no, that wasn't Ford's 289.  Studebaker's predated Ford's by several years and was a fairly massive engine.  I have read that it had more main bearing area than a big block Chevy.

Late in production they punched the 289 out to 305 (well, 304.5) CID, put the carburetor in a pressure box and churned out 335 hp. That was called the R3 engine.  The R4 had dual quads and there was an experimental R5 of the same size but with two superchargers - one for each bank.  It developed either 575 or 638 hp depending on which source you believe.  It broke some serious speed records at Bonneville.

R3 Engine.

There was also an interesting Studebaker hybrid car at the show.  Studebaker did build electric cars in the early 1900s but this wasn't that kind of hybrid.  It was a 1952 Commander 2 door hard top.   The 2 door hard top was only built on the 1947-1952 body in 1952.   This one has a bullet nose from a 1950 and the front fenders and grille are from a 1951.  I suppose that it was wrecked at one time and finding a front clip for a 1952 Commander proved impossible so they put it back together with 1951 and 1950 parts.  It looks flawless and it cranked up and ran great.

On the way to the car show we discovered a new Bubba Que's restaurant on NW 39th Boulevard in Gainesville.

No two Bubba Que's seem to be exactly alike but the decor and food never fail to impress.

Looks Comfy

I think I'd name it "Thompson."

Friday, February 7, 2014

Abbey Normal II

Made it to the in-law's last weekend to meet the new pup.

She does have a lot of energy.

Hard to get a picture with a digital camera because of the auto focus and the sorry lock time between pushing the button and it actually taking the picture.   Damned digital cameras are like trying to shoot doves with a match lock.

She was there when I pushed the button.

Finally.  Spooling down.

Recharge mode.

The in-laws like the dog and it is really attached to the father in law.   I think its a good match for where they are in their lives.

.32 S & W, The Long and Short of It

I finally got my .32 S & W longs loaded up last weekend.  I also loaded up three dozen of the stubby kind to use in my Marbles .303 Savage adapter.  It took me an extra week to get it done because I hadn't primed any in about 20 years and my .32 S & W shell holders were in a box with a set of rifle dies.  Not even one like .30 carbine that you might mistake for a .32 S & W Long shell holder either.  It took a week to find them so I could prime the cases.   Ugh.

Data on the .32 S & W and .32 S & W Long  is a little harder to come by than I expected.  I found some in the Speer Manual #12 that listed powders like WW 296 and H 110.  I thought that was kind of odd since those powders really shine in cartridges like the .357 and .44 Magnums that have pressure limits about three times the limit for the .32 S & W Long so I didn't try any of those.  

Ken Waters has an article on the .32 S & W in his Pet Loads book and it has the most data that I found in any single source. I used one of his loads because I had the powder and a #5 rotor on the Little Dandy threw exactly the correct charge when I checked it on the powder scale.

My little 93 grain Lee bullet mold casts bullets that are just shy of 91 grains with the particular alloy that's in the pot right now and they don't look bad.

Obviously, these can't be confused with the .32 Colt New Police which is the exact same thing but with a flat meplat on the bullet.   These are round nosed.  The way Horace and Daniel meant them to be.

Along the way, I decided to start work on a new cartridge.  Everybody seems to be enamored of sub-sonic this and that and long bullets in small cases so I decided to make the ultimate sub-sonic sniper bullet.

I'm going to call it the .32 S & W Blackout.  Its a 247 grain bullet cast from an old Lyman mold for a Gewehr 88 in a .32 S & W case.  (Might have to size it down just a bit).   Hey, if Colt could give the .32 S & W Long a different name just because they loaded a slightly flattened bullet in it, I can sure give the .32 S & W a different name with this long old bullet stuffed into it!   

According to Mr. Greenhill, if it can get to 300 fps muzzle velocity, a barrel with a 1 in 4 twist should stabilize it.   Its the ultimate sniper cartridge because you should be able to watch the bullet as it goes all the way to the target.  If you are quick about it, you might be able to run after the bullet and nudge it one way or the other to make corrections before it gets there too.  

Merry Christmas Dave

I forgot I had this picture so I'm posting it a little late.

About a week before Christmas, a friend's wife called for advice.   Since he was a kid, my friend Dave had wanted a canon.  It didn't have to be big as long as it was loud but it had to be LOUD. 

Dave's wife knew less about artillery than you'd expect of someone married to Dave and she didn't even know where to begin to look for one.   I suggested Ebay and sent her a few links.   On Christmas morning, Dave texted me the picture.  No message.  Just the picture.

Glad I could help.

Modern Mule

Ruth, the old Jeep, continues to soldier on as the stand in for number one car until I get a day when its not raining so I can change the car's crankshaft position sensor.   The sensor is behind the harmonic balancer and the engine sits sideways with the frame in the way so its a little more time consuming than it would be on something with Hotchkiss Drive.  Despite being as dependable as gravity, Ruth doesn't like to be mistreated and she hates being ignored.

One of Ruth's little idiosyncrasies is her electric choke.  I wired it directly to the battery instead of through the ignition switch so it wouldn't compete for power directly with the ignition system.  It has its own switch that has to be turned on and off and I usually do that when I turn the fuel pumps on or off.  The problem last Friday was that it rained and when I turned the wipers off when I got home, my brain counted two switches (fuel pumps + choke = two switches) shut off and said "all is good."   Only wipers + fuel pumps+choke = three switches.

So, Monday morning, I get in, turn on the fuel pump and find the choke has been on all weekend.  No problem.  I'll just pump the gas an extra time and she'll fire and I'll keep her running until she warms up.  Except that the battery was about dead.

She'd go "A-ruh---A-ruh---A-ruh-Vroom" and then sputter out no matter how fast I fanned the gas pedal. She finally caught and stayed running at about the fourth try but now the alternator belt was squalling.  It must have been a little loose and when the alternator hit full charge to replenish the almost dead battery it began to slip.

I figured it would stop in a few seconds but Ruth figured otherwise.   It took a lot longer than a few seconds and it just ate the belt up before it stopped making noise.  The smoke cloud was so bad that I opened the hood just to make sure nothing was on fire.   It did stop making noise so I decided to head to work to give it a chance to recharge the battery and i'd put the spare belt on it after daybreak.  I got maybe three miles when I heard it starting to squeal.   Then I heard a soft little thump on the underside of the hood.   Just the kind of thump a belt makes when it breaks and hits the underside of an old Jeep hood. Well, I thought, I have a little juice in the battery.  I can probably get to the office.  Then I can put on the spare belt after daybreak and get a jump start when its time to head home so I continued on toward town.

The closer I got to town, the more I noticed that I was having a hard time seeing whether my headlights were on.   Now Ruth is getting on in years but she has good headlights.  H-4 Halogens with lead crystal lenses that are known to the State of California to cause reproductive harm.   I like to see and be seen.  The light they put out is so white its racist.   Only, the light shining on the pavement in front of me was about the color of dried tobacco.  

I did some figuring and it was just a handful of miles to the nearest auto parts store.   I could put my spare belt on and they'd jump give me a jump start to get me the rest of the way.  Hmmm.   Electronic ignition, electric fuel pumps, electric lights, electric choke.  How can I buy a few more seconds before something critical shuts off?   I shut off the electric choke, dimmed the dash lights and prayed for green lights all the way to the store.

Providence smiled on us.  Just about the time I was deciding to change the Jeep's name to "Lady Be Good" and try to use my cell phone for a headlight, an Advance Auto  Parts sign popped out from behind a tree.  My turn signals didn't work by this time but what the heck.  Nobody but me uses those anyway.  I pulled in the parking lot to wait for the store to open.

The Lady Be Good as Discovered in 1958-1959

My windows were a little fogged and I didn't like the idea of sitting blind in a parking lot so I got out and walked around a bit.  After maybe half an hour, the manager showed up and asked me if I was broken down.  She was thirty-ish and pretty.  If it wasn't for  her smoker's voice I would have thought she was an angel.  Whatever.  At least I wasn't stuck in the desert with half a canteen of water.   I told her "no,"  it was more of a crash landing and that all I needed was a new belt and a jump start whenever they opened.  I didn't tell her that I had a spare belt or that the spare got automatic transmission all over it sitting in a box in the back of the Jeep.

The store wasn't supposed to open for another half hour and I spent the time wondering how the manager could have been in such a "condition white" that she'd approach an old hick in a dark parking lot all by herself but  I decided that maybe she was armed or maybe she was an angel and didn't have to worry about bad guys.  At any rate, after a few more employees showed up, she opened the store up  a few minutes early and proceeded to help me find a new belt.  Fortunately, the old one landed on the intake manifold and didn't break through the numbers so getting the new one was easy.

I put the belt on and tightened the hell out of it.  While the manager angel  was getting their jump starting cart all untangled, I decided to see if Ruth would crank.  I left the fuel pumps and choke off and hit the starter.     It was like the scene in Das Boot when they surface the boat in the Straits of Gibralter after spending the night on the bottom trying to patch enough of it together to save themselves.

There was one long, low "Aaaaaa-Ruuuuuuh" and then a "Vroooom."

Wow.  Not enough juice to run the headlights or the turn signals but she will still start.  I turned on all the other switches and headed to town.  Her wrath was now safely placated and she was happy with her shiny new belt and the attention that I gave her.   Ruth is back to being a loyal, dependable old mule again and I will make sure I shut off as many switches as I turn on from now on.

Close Call

This past weekend, my sister's husband calmly walked into a local bar, pulled out his Glock 17 and shouted "who's the sorry M----- F----- that's banging my wife?"

It seems that he left without further incident when someone in the back yelled "you're gonna need a spare mag."