Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ray Stevens - We the People

I always did like Ray Stevens, although I haven't heard much from him lately. This might be one of the best songs he's ever done.


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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Rimfire Magazines - Part 3

In addition to a "Magazine Lipper" tool, as previously described, another extremely handy tool to have along when tuning rimfire magazines is a full set of number and letter size drill bits. The difference in size from one bit to the next is too great with a fractional drill bit set, but with a number and letter sized set the increments between sizes are small.

You can pick up a cheap set of these drill bits for around twenty bucks, and as gauges, they work just fine. As drill bits, however, they pretty much suck. If you can swing it, for somewhere around a hundred dollars you can get a pretty decent set of drill bits that will last you a very long time, at least, if you take care of them and don't break any!

A letter and number sized drill bit set. This set came from W.W. Granger's and the quality if very good.

Trying to measure the gap between the lips of a rimfire magazine with dial calipers is difficult due to the odd shape of the lips, but using a drill bit shank makes it a lot easier.

Using a drill bit shank to gauge the distance between magazine lips.

Hopefully when you get to the range to dial in your magazines you will find one or more magazines that seem to work just fine, and some that have problems. If that's the case, use a drill bit shank to determine the gap between the magazine lips of the working magazines and then carefully bend the magazine lips of the magazines that aren't feeding properly to match. If luck is with you, this may be all you need to do to get your magazines feeding properly. In the real world, however, there always seems to be at least one "Problem Child" of a magazine in every bunch. For these, you need to determine exactly what it's doing and then bend it accordingly.

There are a number of different types of failure to feed situations. If you can't get the rounds smoothly out f the magazine, no amount of magazine lip adjusting is going to help. When you load your magazines, do the rounds slide freely up and down with the follower, or do they tend to hang up a bit? If there is a bit of a tight spot perhaps the magazine has been slightly squeezed narrower, and a little careful spreading of the magazine from the inside is in order.

One of the more common FTF's is "Feeding Too High". Usually the bullet is jammed against the top edge of the chamber. There is usually a big dent in the nose of the bullet, and often times the bullet is actually partially dislodged so that it is no longer straight with the case. These situations are also just about the worst to clear in a hurry since the slide has usually hammered the cartridge into a solidly wedged position. Feeding too high is usually caused by the magazine lips being to far apart, or too high in the gun relative to the chamber.

A classic case of feeding too high.

Find the drill bit that just fits between the magazine lips. Now pick out the next smaller bit. Using the magazine lipper, carefully bend the lips inward until the smaller bit just fits between the lips. Keep in mind that the change will be approximately the thickness of a sheet of paper, so it doesn't take much bending to close the lips to the smaller gap. Once you have narrowed the magazine lips to the new dimension, give it a try and see if you have made any improvement. If it's still feeding high, try going down another step. If you go too far you will end up with the bullet hitting too low, and it will then usually kick up and look like a case of feeding too high, or it may not get out of the magazine at all.

When I stated that feeding too high was usually caused by the magazine lips being too far apart, this is the exception. If the magazine is feeding too low the bullet may hit the ramp leading up to the chamber and bounce past the opening into the chamber, ending up either jammed up like a regular case of feeding too high, or sometimes it will caught between the slide and the breech face, pointed almost straight up. This is a fairly rare situation, and if you look carefully at the bottom side of the nose of the bullet you will often see the beveled flat spot caused by hitting the ramp. A regular case of feeding too high will not have the dent.

When the magazine lips are to close together they won't let the rim end of the cartridge rise enough for the round to enter the chamber.

If the round is feeding too low it will often hang up with the cartridge rim still held under the magazine lips and the bullet partially in the chamber. The top of the bullet is jammed against the top of the chamber, the bottom of the bullet is jammed against the lower edge of the chamber at the breech face, and the rim is still under the magazine lips.

Notice the cartridge rim is still below the extractor.

Another view of a failure to feed caused by the magazine lips being too close together.

Keep in mind that this as also what you get with a dirty chamber, so before you get carried away bending up your magazines, make sure your chamber is really clean. In fact, polishing the chamber can resolve a lot of problems that appear to be caused by the magazines. Really close tolerance "Match" chambers are especially vulnerable.

There is also another failure to feed that can easily be blamed on the magazines, and unless you look closely, it would appear to be a case of the magazine lips being too close together. However, in this case it's the extractor being a bit too tight to the face of the slide, not allowing the rim to slide up between the hook of the extractor and the slide face.

The bottom corner of the extractor has snagged on the side of the cartridge just in front of the rim, keeping the cartridge from sliding all the way up the face of the slide.

In the above picture you can see that the rim of the cartridge is fully out from under the magazine lips. The cure to this failure to feed is simple. Lightly stone off just the tiniest amount of the bottom corner of the extractor. When I say a tiny amount, that's exactly what I mean, as anything more will create a whole new batch of problems related to failure to extract. It's really closer to de-burring, rather than actually removing any metal.

When you are at the range and you get a FTF, the natural reaction is to clear it as quickly as you can and get to the next shot. However, if you take a moment to look closely at the situation, then carefully remove the round and look closely at the nose of the bullet, you'll have a much better chance to correctly identifying the exact cause of the FTF, and you'll have a lot easier time of resolving it. All magazines have a "Sweet Spot" where they are extremely reliable. If you are at one end or the other of the envelope the magazine will work really well almost always. Tuning your magazines, sometimes only an extremely small amount, will make them significantly better.
I should mention, though, that I have seen the occasional after-market magazine that absolutely refused to feed reliably. I attribute it to the after-market magazines sometimes not being quite as accurately made as the factory originals.

Rimfire magazine tuning can be something of a black art, but with a bit of patience, and trial and error, you should be able to get the results you are looking for. Failing that, you may want to consider a different pistol, or possibly a revolver..............

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Bunny Christmas

Bun, all decked out for Christmas.
Photo by KeeWee

To all of the officers, board members, and members of the Fishin' Club, John, Debbie, and the gang at Kitsap, Will, James, Scott, Mark and the rest of the Puyallup folks, Dave, Robin, and everyone at SCSA, The Gun Blogger Rendezvous folks and especially Bea and Molly, all the super folks in Holland including Hans, Jolanda, Wim and Cris, the Prescott shooters including Dean and Ron, Bill and everyone in Coeur D'Alene, the Ephrata folks including Patrick and Carl, Nick and Ryan at the Portland Man of Steel, and everyone else who all managed to make this such a fun and eventful year of shooting and fishing, KeeWee, Bun, and I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and prosperous New Year.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hare Force?

From IcanHazCheezburger

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

787 Dreamliner Takeoff Video

It's been delayed a bunch of times, but today they proved it can fly! Just as the 707 redefined commercial aviation for many decades, and the 747 did to a lesser degree, the 787 Dreamliner has the potential to do the same. Time will tell.

I'm posting this the 787 is flying at 15,000 feet at 157kts about 20 miles due West of my location. Paine field, the departure airport, is about 14 miles East of me. I haven't seen the 787 fly over, but I'm listening for it, and if it comes over low enough for a picture I'll get one posted.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rimfire Magazines - Part 2

Before you head out to the range to try out the freshly cleaned and lubricated magazines we discussed in Part 1, a short detour through your shop for a little tool fabrication might be a good idea. I call this little tool a "Magazine Lipper", although there's probably a better name for it. "Lipper", fro now at least, will have to do.

Dig through your old screwdrivers and look for one with a square shank. That old beat up one that's been misused and abused almost beyond any further use will be just perfect! I shudder to think what this poor screwdriver must have been through, but here's it's chance for a new life.

One seriously abused screwdriver, for sure!

Wire brush off as much of the rust, paint, fiberglass resin, and other stuff stuck to the blade of the screwdriver. Grab the shank in a vise and hacksaw off all but about an inch and a half. Once cut off, hacksaw a slot into the side of the shank almost all the way through. Notice that I've angled the slot a little bit. It's not critical, but it works a little better that way.

"The "Magazine Lipper" all ready to go!

After cutting the slot in the shank, grind a radius to the end and back of the shank as shown. De-burr any sharp edges, and you're done. Not all magazines use the same thickness of sheet metal, so depending on your magazines and the thickness of your hacksaw blade you may have to widen the slot a little bit to get it to fit snugly.

The Magazine Lipper in use.

The Magazine Lipper on a Smith & Wesson Model 22A Magazine.

Some magazines, particularly the ones from the pistol's manufacturer, are heat treated and don't bend very easily. This is good, however, as when you get them working as you want, they tend to stay working. Some of the after-market magazines are amazingly soft and won't stay adjusted at all. If your magazines are very soft, thin, and the lips bend easily, you may want to consider getting better ones, as it can be plenty difficult to get them to run properly with good ones, and cheap ones will just make you crazy! (Or crazier, depending......)

It's range time!

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Gun Blogger Rendezvous V Dates Set

Even though the Gun Blogger Rendezvous isn't until next September, there's a ton of work that has to be done well in advance of the event. First and foremost is the negotiating of the contracts with the Silver Legacy and setting the event dates. Last year I didn't get to that until February, and we were just barely able to get the dates and amenities we needed.

This year I'm on it a bit earlier, and the dates have now been set and the final contract negotiations finalized. The details have now been sorted out, and the contracts will be signed in the next day or so.

The official dates for Gun Blogger Rendezvous V are
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday,
September 9th., 10th., 11th., and 12th.

We have reserved a block of rooms for these dates, and also a few rooms for Wednesday, the 8th., for those of us who arrive a bit earlier. We have reserved the same Hospitality Room as last year. We also will get a $10 per night rate reduction for Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday nights compared to last year. Friday and Saturday night's rate will be the same as last year.

Plans are for events and activities from early afternoon on Thursday through Sunday, so we'll be on the move a lot. I'll have all of the registration info and the room reservation group code available in a week or so.

It's gonna be a big one!!


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Rimfire Magazines - Part 1

One of the most common problems with rimfire semi-automatic pistols is failure to feed. Back when the rimfire .22 cartridges were designed, semi-automatic rimfire pistols weren’t around, so the cartridge rim wasn’t a problem. When you stack ten of them up on top of each other in a magazine, though, the rims keep the cartridges from lying flat and parallel to each other. By slanting the magazine, at least the rims aren’t up against each other, but are staggered one in front of the other, making things a bit better, but still far from ideal.

Rimfire failure to feed problems can be caused by one or even several different things, so solving the problem often isn’t easy. One of the possibilities is a problem with the magazine itself. Before doing anything else, disassemble and thoroughly clean the magazine. Most rimrire pistol magazines can be disassembled for cleaning.

A typical rimfire semi-automatic pistol magazine. This one's for a Smith & Wesson Model 22A. Note the round cutout at the bottom of the slot.

To disassemble the magazine, I use a thin piece of wood, or whatever else might be handy, to compress the follower spring and to hold the follower all the way to the bottom of the magazine. This will allow you to grasp the follower pin with a pair of pliers and pull it out of the follower through the larger round hole at the bottom of the magazine slot. The follower pin has a small flange on it that keeps it from coming out, being kept into place by the sides of the magazine slot. Once you have removed the follower pin you can let the follower back up to the top of the magazine body. On some magazines the follower is thin enough that it can now be taken out through the top of the magazine, along with the follower spring.

"Special Factory Service Tool" being used to hold the follower at the extreme bottom of the magazine.

Other brands of magazines may have a removable floor plate, or magazine bottom. Often the follower spring is also the retainer for the floor plate. On the Smith & Wesson magazines used of the Model 22A, for example, slip a small rod, punch, drill bit, nail, or whatever’s at hand through the slots on the side of the magazine and pull the follower spring away from the bottom of the magazine a bit. Once you have done so, the plastic bottom piece will slide rearward off the magazine.

Compressing the follower spring to allow removal of the floor plate. The floor plate is almost removed.

Now you can clean everything and inspect the parts for any obvious burrs or defects. A little bit of smoothing and polishing with some very fine “Wet-or-dry” sandpaper is not a bad idea while you’re here. After everything looks good, thoroughly clean everything, lubricate the pieces, and put it back together. From my experience, the tension of the magazine follower spring is not particularly critical. I’ve seen a wide variation in spring tensions all work fine, as long as the magazine and follower are free and smooth from top to bottom of their travel.

The fully disassembled magazine.

There are a lot of things you can use for lubricating a rimfire magazine. A dry lubricant such as CRC 5-56 Silicone or LPS dry lubricant work well, particularly in a dustier environment where oil tends to attract and accumulate dust. I use Tri-Flow, a spray oil with Teflon, most of the time. Any oily lubricant should be used sparingly, though. Brownell’s also has excellent oil under the Brownell’s brand name.

Model 22A magazine catch holes, a source of mis-feeding problems.

Speaking of 22A magazines, they have a “Designed-In” feeding problem that affects some types of ammunition and not others. There are two small square holes on the front of the magazine about half way down. These are for the magazine retention catch. Depending on the shape of the nose of the bullet, it can snag in one of these holes and the rounds won’t move up in the magazine as the top one is removed. The somewhat “squared-off” hollow points seem to be the worst, and fairly narrow round-nosed bullets like CCI Standard Velocity seem to feed the best. On later production of the S&W 22A magazines the factory has dimpled-in the spot between the two square holes to reduce or eliminate this problem. In most cases it seems to have solved the problem. The magazine pictured has a thin aluminum liner glued to the inside front of the magazine. It never hangs up, regardless of bullet shape. I’ve also experimented with a very thin stainless steel liner, and it also works well.

Once you have your magazines all cleaned up and lubricated, put a mark or a number on each one so you can tell them apart. Make sure your pistol is also nice and clean and properly lubricated too, while you're at it. Grab a brick of .22 ammo and head out to the range. For testing purposes I'd go with something like Federal Bulk, or CCI Blazers, as they should both run well in just about any rimfire semi-auto pistol.

End of Part 1


Monday, December 07, 2009

A burglar broke into a house one night. He shined his flashlight around, looking for valuables when a voice in the dark said, 'Jesus knows you're here.'

He nearly jumped out of his skin, clicked his flashlight off, and froze. When he heard nothing more, after a bit, he shook his head and continued. Just as he pulled the stereo out so he could disconnect the wires, clear as a bell he heard 'Jesus is watching you.'

Freaked out, he shined his light around frantically, looking for the source of the voice. Finally, in the corner of the room, his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot.

'Did you say that?' he hissed at the parrot.

'Yep', the parrot confessed, then squawked, 'I'm just trying to warn you that he is watching you.'

The burglar relaxed. 'Warn me, huh? Who in the world are you?'

'Moses.' replied the bird.

'Moses?' the burglar laughed. 'What kind of people would name a bird Moses?'

'The kind of people that would name a Rottweiler Jesus.'

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Changing Refrigerators, easy, right?

I know I haven't done much posting lately, but it's not because I haven't been busy. While KeeWee was visiting friends and family in New Zealand, I took advantage of the opportunity to make some pretty major kitchen modifications. Having her out of town made it a lot easier, as I am prone to create quite a mess when remodeling. (Note: The preceding statement is an example of a classic understatement!)

The problem was that our refrigerator, which has been running almost without fail since 1959, is starting to show it's age. The thermostat contacts would stick once in a while, freezing everything. One shelf would no longer work, and I'd replaced it with some sheet acrylic a few years ago. Finally, the drain tube has failed, causing water to collect in the refrigerator instead of draining out as it should. Although most of these things are relatively minor repairs, the writing is on the wall.

When a friend ended up with a nearly brand new refrigerator/freezer he wanted to sell, I jumped at it. "But just changing refrigerators doesn't require a kitchen remodel, does it?" Well, in our case, it kinda did. We have some very solidly built cabinets over the microwave, the stove, and the refrigerator. The cabinets are all one piece, and and they just barely allow clearance over the refrigerator. No one still makes a refrigerator that is full sized and would still fit under the cabinets, by about five inches.

After a careful examination of exactly how the cabinets had been built, I decided that the best approach would be to cut the part of the cabinet assembly over the refrigerator free from the rest of the unit, shorten it six inches, shorten the two doors, and hang it back on the wall. This would involve some very careful flush cutting from the inside of the cabinet section just to the left of the section I wanted to remove. Fortunately there is a tool that's just perfect, or at least close enough, to get the job done. I picked this one up at Harbor Freight for $39.95.

Originally these were advertised as sanders, and in the picture the sanding head is installed. Beyond sanding, though, there is both a semi-circular saw blade and a plunge cut blade. The design of the blades could have been more efficient, but they did the job.

A handy little sander and saw.

Once I had the cabinets separated, it took two of us to un-nail the end cabinet from the wall and lift it down. Since the interior dividing wall went with the smaller cabinet, I had to cut and install a new right end wall for the cabinet unit still on the wall. Some half inch plywood, aliphatic resin glue, and finishing nails took care of that part without incident.

Cutting down the cabinet was another story. The cabinet itself didn't look too hard as cutting off the top six inches and putting the top back on was fairly straight-forward, and the work would be covered by the fascia anyway, so it didn't have to be cosmetically perfect, just functional. The doors, however, needed to be very carefully done or they would look terrible. The logical way to shorten them would to cut them off with a really fine blade on a good table saw, then glue the top end back in place with a biscuit jointer and a couple of biscuits. Since I didn't have a biscuit jointer anyway, or a fine blade for the table saw, or even any long bar clamps, I decided to turn that part of the project over to a cabinet guy.

He cut the doors and shortened the cabinet, and did a beautiful job of it. You can't even tell it had been done. I relocated the upper hinges and re-hung the doors. A light corner sanding and a little stain covered up the edge where the cabinets had been previously one piece. A friend gave me a hand lifting the cabinet back into place and a few sheet rock screws mounted solidly back to the wall. Re-hanging the fascia went smoothly, and a finished piece of wood cut from the old cabinet was just the right size to finish the now exposed area at the bottom right side of the existing cabinet.

We wrestled the old refrigerator out to the barn, and wrestled the new one into place. It took quite a while to clean up the mess and get most of the stuff back into the cabinets, but barely twelve hours before Keewee was due to return, the tools were out of the kitchen and the majority of the mess was cleaned up.

Before the mods, the bottom of the cabinet over the refer was even with the bottom of the cabinet to it's left.

The entire project had taken the better part of a week, on and off, but the result came out pretty well. There's still a very small area below the fascia that needs a little Verathane, but other than that, it's finally finished.

Thank goodness.........


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