Sunday, January 31, 2010

How'd Your Week Go?

It's been a busy week, and here it is Sunday night, and off into Monday we go! Thursday was KeeWee's birthday, so we went over to Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club for a delicious dinner of fish & chips. How many of you belong to a gun club that also has it's own restaurant and bar? Not too common, I'd guess.

Friday afternoon I spent a few hours at the HHRGC pistol range testing a load for my Glock 17. It seemed to run fine, but it wasn't quite hot enough to reliably cycle a brand new Taurus PT92-AFS, the Taurus that I am planning to turn into a full-blown open class steel race gun, "Son of Econo Race Gun", my previous Taurus based racer.

After a bit of ammo testing I spent some time with a lady who had just purchased a S&W .38 hammerless snubbie as a purse gun. She had no prior experience with handguns, so we basically started from square one. After going over range safety and protocols, we got down to some shooting. Even at fairly close range she wasn't getting much consistency. I tried it out, and the trigger was awful, heavy, notchy, and very difficult to stage. A trigger job is definitely in order, particularly when single action isn't one of the options.

It was a far cry from what I had come to expect from S&W, but maybe that's how they build them these days, so if you want a good trigger you have to run it through the custom shop. It was clearly the wrong handgun for her to be using to try to learn to shoot. Next time I think we'll shoot a bit with a .22 Ruger Single Six and get some basic shooting skills established.

Over the weekend the project was to clean up, re-tape, and re-mud the sheetrock on part of the ceiling in our basement bathroom that had been water-damaged from the problems in the bathroom directly above. I just finished the final sanding a couple of hours ago, then applied three coats of KILZ sealer and primer to seal everything up. A re-paint of the ceiling and that will be done.

The next project is to dig out the loose grout around the tiles in the basement bathroom and re-grout/re-caulk/re-seal the tile walls. That's a pretty big job, but it's got to be done so we don't end up with water getting behind the tiles and having to strip and re-tile.

Through Craig's List I located a good TV antenna to replace the remains of our current one. Age and multiple wind storms have just about wiped out the one we have now.

I've also located a contractor who has some surplus but new 2x6's and 2x12's at a good price, so I need to put together a bill of materials and buy some of his lumber to repair our front deck. The deck was built in 1959 and it's in very poor condition. Another big job for my spare time!

I've been following the Seattle to Amsterdam air fares, and they don't seem to be improving, still running around $1,200 per ticket round trip, double of what I paid last year. It' very important to me for several reasons to be able to make the trip, but the cost is a big problem. If KeeWee would just win that darn lottery we could not only make the trip, but we could even afford to ride in first class instead of back in the "Airbus Cattle Car" section.

Oh well, dreams are free..............

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Fish Story

I finally got around to going fishing this morning but after a while I ran out of worms. Then I saw a cottonmouth with a frog in his mouth, and frogs are good bass bait. Knowing the snake couldn't bite me with the frog in his mouth, I grabbed him right behind the head, took the frog and put it in my bait bucket.

Now the dilemma was how to release the snake without getting bit.

I grabbed my bottle of Jack Daniels and poured a little whiskey in its mouth. His eyes rolled back, he went limp, I released him into the lake without incident, and carried on my fishing with the frog.

A little later, I felt a nudge on my foot.

There was that same snake, with two frogs in his mouth...........

Thanks, Chuck, for the story.

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EHP Hearing Protectors

Max Michel wearing his new EHP Hearing Protectors.

A week or so ago I saw a press release saying that Max Michel had signed on as the first Pro Staff shooter for EHP Hearing protectors. For those of you unfamiliar with Max and his shooting, at the present he is just about unbeatable in IPSC and Steel Challenge, shooting at speeds most of us can only dream about. Max just recently joined SIG to head up their competition efforts, and he is already winning with the SIG's. For Max to endorse a new hearing protector, it would have to be pretty good.

For the last couple of years I have been using the Pro Ears Dimension Plus hearing protectors, and although there are things I'd like to see improved, they are, at least in my opinion, the best you can buy. Seeing how many of the top shooters also use the Pro Ears protectors tells me they really are very good.

Last year I was talking to one of the guys from Pro Ears about developing a frequency filtering circuitry that would allow you to tune the hearing protectors to amplify the frequency signature of a bullet hitting steel, while blocking the muzzle blast, possibly through some sort of slot filters and/or digital signal processing. They seemed to think it was an interesting concept, but didn't seem much interested beyond that.

Reading through the press releases on the new EHP hearing protectors, it sounds like they were listening in on my conversation! The Top models of the EHP protectors have four microphones and are tunable for frequency amplification and blocking. Digital signal processing is used! YAY!

As we age (koff Koff) we tend to lose our upper frequency hearing, and apparently more so for men than for women. I think KeeWee can hear bats, whales, and possibly radar, and I can't hear any of it. On the other hand, at night I can hear the engines and propellers of the freighters out in Puget sound as they pass, and KeeWee can't hear a thing. I can even hear the ultra low frequency submarine communications. So, KeeWee can hear high frequencies and can't hear low frequencies. I can hear low frequencies and can't hear high frequencies. She has a high voice, and I have a low voice. No wonder we don't hear each other sometimes!

Anyhow, back to the hearing protectors. I contacted the EHP company, and a set of EHP hearing protectors are on the way for testing, evaluation, and review. I sent the company a "Shooting Resume" of the matches I've shot over the last year and how I finished, and if all works out as planned, I may Start representing the company in my territory and perhaps become "Pro Staff" (Well, more likely Semi-Pro Staff!) for them . If all goes REALLY well I may even start representing them for Europe. Would that be cool? I thought so!

All of this depends on how well the hearing protectors work. I absolutely will not endorse a product unless it is exactly as it represents itself to be, and it's a company that stands solidly behind it with good warranty and customer support. From my telephone conversations with the head of the company, it looks like these guys are the real deal. Another thing in their favor is that the hearing protectors are made here in the USA.

Keep your fingers crossed, this could be a lot of fun!

It's KeeWee's Birthday ! ! !

Today's KeeWee's birthday, so

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear KeeWee
Happy Birthday to you!

(It's much better that I write this, rather than try to sing it. Trust me on this.....)

Why not drop by KeeWee's Corner and wish her Happy Birthday too? I'm sure she'd love to hear from you.

This evening we're off to the Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club for birthday dinner. Not a fancy place, but real down home with excellent food. We both enjoy their fish & chips.

I might get in a little range time before dinner as there's a friend of ours who would like a little instruction, and I've got some 9mm. test ammo I want to run through the Hi-Point Carbine, the Glock 17, and the Taurus PT92 AFS to see if it's hot enough to cycle the actions.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

HELP --Tryin' To Get To Holland

Last May KeeWee and I flew to Holland to compete in the European Steel Challenge Championships. I was the only American in the match, so, in effect, I represented the US of A, and I think I did fairly well, although I could have done much better.

Mr. C. at last year's European Steel Challenge Championships in Winterswijk, Hollland.

This May we would like to return and again shoot in the European Steel Challenge Championships. Unfortunately there is a hitch.

Last year I was able to buy round trip coach tickets for $611 each. This year the same flights are almost $1,200 each. We both have very small incomes and an increase of this amount is huge considering our finances. I have a few frequent flier miles, but not enough to be of much help.

To make it a bit more complicated, there is only one flight out of Seattle that is a non-stop to Holland, a KLM flight run by Northwest. If I wasn't traveling with firearms, plane changes and/or multiple stops would be worth considering, but with a suitcase full of race guns, losing your bags for a few days in Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, or Iceland could be a huge nightmare, and the guns may never be seen again. Even if the guns arrived in Holland a couple of days late it defeats the purpose of the trip since I wouldn't be able to compete with the guns I practice with.

I looked into donations of frequent flier miles, and Delta/Northwest charge .01 per mile donated plus $30 to do the transfer into my account. A single ticket to Holland requires 60,000 to 75,000 miles per ticket, which means $630 to $780 per ticket just to transfer the miles into my account. The transfer cost is higher that what I paid last year to just buy the tickets outright!

I'm checking the air fares daily, but so far there have been no drops in prices.

Do any of you have any good ideas on how Keewee and I can get to Amsterdam around May 12th., and get back home around the 18th?

All thoughts and ideas greatly appreciated!


First Steel of the New Year

I've been so busy this Winter with one thing or another that the last match I shot was last November. Not that it's a bad thing to take a break during the Winter so you don't get burned out, but when you DO get back out to the matches, you pay for it! I got a chance last week to run a few magazines through the race guns to make sure they still run, but as for practice, haven't done any this Winter at all. Tomorrow at Puyallup I reap the consequences. The Puyallup steel shoots draw a fairly good number of shooters, and a number of the shooters possess world class level skills.

Tomorrow will be a good wake up call for me to get back on the treadmill and out to the range and get ready for the upcoming season.

I'll let you know how it goes ..... maybe .......

UPDATE: I mis-read the calendar, so it will be a couple of weeks until my first steel match of the season. WHEW, still a little time to try to remember how to do it!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mr. C. on Shooting USA

Last July when I was in Piru, California shooting in the Steel Challenge World Championships, a fellow with a cameraman in tow asked me if they could interview me for TV. I had just finished shooting the "Pendulum" stage, usually one of my better stages. This time, however, it didn't go as well as it could have done. It was my first stage of the day, and I was on a squad with some of the best shooters in the world, Jessie Abbate (set five world records), Kay Miculek, Billie Abbate, Tori Nonaka, Molly Smith (Pre-teen Ladies World Champion), and more. They were ALL so good that I think I got a bit rattled and tried to shoot a little to fast. Fortunately I settled down for the rest of the day.

Anyhow, back to the guys with the camera. It was John Scoutten of Shooting USA. We talked on camera a bit about Steel Challenge and my somewhat unusual High Standard rimfire race gun. They also shot some footage of me shooting a couple of the stages.

Jim didn't know when it might be on TV, but it would be a while. It turns out that they put together a segment on innovative steel challenge technology and I was included in that segment. It broadcast on December 30th., as part of a longer program that included kids shooting steel and the Scholastic Steel Challenge program. I contacted John and he said he'd send me a DVD so I could watch the program. I haven't seen it yet, so I hope I looked and sounded OK. When you are leaking adrenaline out your ears, as you usually are at a big match, it's sometimes hard to tell!!

Here's a link to the Shooting USA website where they talk about the December 30th. program. Part way down the page there's a picture of me shooting the unmistakable High Standard/Volquartsen race gun. Interestingly enough, it was probably one of the oldest pistols entered in the entire match, and it sports one of the newest and highest tech barrels out there!

When the program comes up again, and if I hear about it in time, I'll get a mention of it posted.

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"Bathroom Repairman" Report

The end of the tunnel is finally in sight. Better still, the bathroom and shower should be back in service by the weekend. YAY!

Ready for the grout sealer, then re-installation of the fixtures.

The grout is now in, the old crumbly grout has been replaced, and the area is finally starting to get cleaned back up a bit. I found a few more loose tiles that I removed, cleaned, and replaced. The caulking around the edges is finished. It needs another day or so to fully dry, then apply the grout sealer and let that dry for a day or so, then comes the final clean-up. After that, it's back in service.

I hate to think what a job like this would have cost if I had to hire it done........

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bathroom Repair Man - bleh.......

About a week ago KeeWee mentioned that the tiled back wall behind the bathtub wasn't looking quite right, and it looked like it was starting to sag inwards. Having just finished my really fun stint as "Furnace Repair Man", I wasn't really looking forward to more home repair projects, but I could see that this needed to be repaired as soon as possible in order to limit the extent of the problem. Time to put on the "Bathroom Repair Man" suit, I guess.

A number of the tiles were loose, and easily lifted off the wall. I kept removing wall tiles with my fingers until I got far enough away from the damaged area that the tiles were still tightly adhered to the wall. The wall board was wet and I was able to poke a hole in it with my finger. I broke off and removed all of the mushy wall board. I could see that the soap dish hadn't been properly sealed and caulked to the wall, and water had been getting behind it and soaking into the wallboard for years. Finally the wallboard just turned to mush. Once I had all of the mushy wallboard removed I set up a heater and a fan in the bathroom to get lots of air movement and some additional heat going to hasten the drying out process. Even so, it took almost three days to get it dry.

What a mess.......

Once it was dry I was able to cut out the rest of the damaged wallboard and give myself some straight edges to join up to with the new wallboard. When the house was originally built the wallboard used was "Somewhat water resistant", and as long as you kept water away from it it was OK, but if it got wet you ended up with a mess. They now make a much better product called "Hardi Backer"that is essentially waterproof cement instead of plaster. Although it's good around water, it is a lot harder to work with. I found that the easiest way to cut the stuff was with an abrasive masonry blade in the Skil Saw. It didn't cut it too fast, but it cut cleanly. It also put up a lot of dust, so a dusk mask was absolutely essential. A full respirator would have been even better.

The horizontal piece of 2x10 in the wall between the studs to which the soap dish attached was also rotten and had to be replaced. Getting it cut in half so it could removed without punching a hole through the wall behind it was a challenge, but some careful use of the Sawzall did the trick.

After the replacement Hardi wallboard was cut to size and in place, I screwed it to the studs with the special large headed concrete board screws. I found out that you should pre-drill a pilot hole and countersink the hole so the head of the screw will go below the wall surface. They won't pull into the board as easily as with sheetrock.

Since this is intended to be a waterproof installation, regular sheetrock joint compound and tape won't do. I used the fiberglass mesh joint tape that's slightly sticky on one side (works great on sheetrock, too) and a cement product called "Thinset". Thinset isn't as easy to work with as regular sheetrock joint conpound, but it does the job.

The Hardi Backer wallboard in place, taped, and waiting for the Thinset to dry.

The worst part of the job was scraping the backs of all of the used ceramic wall tile, then grinding off the hardened old tile adhesive. The best method I could find was to use 36 grit sanding/grinding disks on a fairly light weight body grinder. It was a horribly dusty process and it took a long time to individually grind each one to clean off all the old adhesive. After cleaning the backs, I could chip off all of the old grout still remaining on the edges, then wipe down each tile with lacquer thinner for the final cleaning.

The next step was to run a bead of caulk under the new wall board to seal it to the top lip of the bathtub. You need to leave a small gap here to allow for tub expansion, but sealing it with a flexible caulk just adds to the waterproofness.

After the wallboard was in place I noticed a couple of tiles were loose on the left wall under the spout. I peeled off five tiles from the bottom row on that wall, and I could see that a little work was needed here, too. After more drying, I could see that the wallboard was still sound, but that the paper surface had gotten soft and that caused the loose tiles. I carefully scraped the paper from the board and troweled on a thin coat of thinset. Fortunately I only had to grind off and clean five more tiles for this area. When the area was good and dry I spread a thin coat of tile adhesive and let that dry to provide a little more waterproofing. Now it was time to re-install the tile.

Actually laying the tile back onto the wall was a fairly straightforward process, and only took a couple of hours. Finally the tiles were all back in place. After letting the adhesive cure overnight I could cut out the hole for the lower soap dish. They make a special RotoZip bit just for cutting cement board, and it cut the hole without incident. It doesn't cut it as fast as a RotoZip in sheetrock, but still, it got the job done.

All of the tile back in place, waiting to dry prior to grouting the seams.

Right now the walls are still drying prior to applying the grout and then the final caulking. They figure you should let it sit for at least three days before grouting, but I think I'll give it an extra couple of days as the humidity is a bit high with all the rain we've been getting.

Now you know why I haven't been blogging much for the last week or so..............

ePostal Match withdrawals?

Merle, best known for shooting just about everything he owns in the e-Postal matches, has decided it's too long until Spring when the e-Postal matches resume, so he's putting one on over at the Ruger Forum. It's for any kind of handgun, it isn't restricted just to Rugers, so you can enter with whatever you've got!

The match is similar to our regular e-Postal matches, so you should feel right at home. The match runs through the end of February, so there's time to get your entries shot and entered, even if the weather isn't the most cooperative.

Here's the link to the match on the Ruger Forum.

Go shoot some entries and show Merle we all appreciate him putting on the match!

By the way, if all goes according to plan Merle will be attending next September's Gun Blogger Rendezvous, and will be bringing some of his arsenal with him, so you need to start thinking about making it to GBR-V yourself. You won't want to miss it!


Saturday, January 02, 2010


KeeWee and I have survived into the New Year without any major trauma, and for that we're thankful. My birthday was right at the end of December, and now I am "Officially" old! It's kinda reassuring when I get smoked by some of the fast young shooters to think "Sure, but let's see how fast they are forty years from now!"

I was under the weather for a day or so just before New Years with a bit of carbon monoxide poisoning. Our oil furnace wasn't working quite right and was due for a bit of maintenance. Since I've been working on my own furnaces for years, it looked like another straight forward project. I serviced the oil filter, then pulled out the electrodes and spray nozzle assembly. A bit of readjusting of the electrodes was done and a new nozzle installed. A new nozzle every year isn't a bad idea, although they seem to last a lot longer than that if you don't change it. After reassembly I fired it up and checked it for leaks. It fired up OK, but it would cut out every so often, then almost immediately restart. One of the oil line fittings also seemed to be weeping a bit. It wasn't really dripping, but it was headed that way. Suspecting something in the burner control as the culprit for the cutting out, I removed the control and went through it. It looked OK except the relay contacts didn't look to good, so I cleaned them up with a point file and a flex stone. I remounted and connected the burner control and fired it up. It lit up properly, and seemed to be working fine, so I decided to let it run for a day and see if it continued to work properly. It ran fine until the next morning, when I heard it cutting out again. Fortunately I had a good used burner control on hand. It was a Bradford-White instead of a Honeywell, but they work basically the same. I wired it in and mounted it on the burner. It fired up without incident and worked as it should. I removed the copper oil line that runs from the pump to the spray nozzle assembly, and close inspection showed the flare on the end that was weeping didn't look to good. I cut off the flare and re-flared it, then reinstalled the oil line. Now when I fired it up it stayed completely dry. Cool! Leak fixed.

Through all of this adventure the incomplete combustion when it was cutting out was putting out carbon monoxide. The little CO molecules were apparently sticking to my blood cells, replacing the oxygen molecules that would normally be stuck in those locations. I didn't have much for symptoms, except for a slight headache, but being around smoke gives me a headache anyway, so I didn't think much of it. After I went to bed that night, however, things got more interesting. I was just about asleep when I started feeling really cold. Then the shivering started to feel a bit more like mini-convulsions. Not good! I turned the electric blanket to high and KeeWee tossed another blanket over me, and in a few minutes I stopped shivering. I started feeling better, and fell asleep. The next morning I had a pretty good headache, and a strong suspicion of what had happened, so I decided some oxygen would be a really good idea. I went out to the barn and grabbed the cutting torch. It didn't seem to take too much for me to start feeling better. Several times throughout the day I'd go give myself a bit of O2, and each time I felt better.

Now it's been a couple of days, and I feel pretty much back to normal. At least, "Normal" for being officially old..................

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