I’m officially coining a new word today. For some time now, I’ve been using the term "garage engineer" both as a verb & a noun, to describe my (& others’ like me) tinkering, machining, welding, blacksmithing, & generally havin’ a good time making stuff from whatever.
This term is a natural for combination to "Garagineer"
v. The act of designing & manufacturing a contrivance to meet the needs of the owner. ex. "I’m goin’ down to the shed to garagineer a Redneck Trap thrower"
n. A person with little or no formal training in engineering who still manages to successfully accomplish the design & manufacture of a contrivance. ex. "That guy who made that Redneck Trap thrower is one heckava garagineer"
I don’t know why, but the "Blogpoll" poll I had up went Tango Uniform on me. I was getting feedback that the thing had disappeared, but I could see it on my page. I’ve dumped the other one, & re-created it using a "Blogger" poll.
If you could, please vote even if you had voted before.
This poll only lasts a week, so let’s git ‘er done!
Reading the November issue of American Rifleman, I came across an article about Larry Potterfield, who all us gunnies will recognize as the president of Midway USA. His observation was that the firearm community is composed of three distinct circles: collectors, shooters, & hunters. I thought it might be cool to see what we could find out about our group by taking a poll.
Please spread this info around & get others to stop by & take the poll- it would be interesting to find out the composition of the web community in this regard. Perhaps we could use the information gleaned to help us resolve issues within the firearm community.
Without further ado, please vote in the box to the right. This poll will stay up for at least a week, replacing the "Big Boomstick" as top billing.
Please leave any explanatory remarks in the comments. Thanks…
Something I’ve noticed… many of the same people who are gunnies are also knife people (what should they be called- knifies, bladies ??). ANYway, my guess is that those who admire the fine workmanship of a well made gun, & its good fit & finish, appreciate those same qualities of craftsmanship in a well made blade.
I’ve been an accumulator of pointysticks longer that boomsticks, although my fascination with both goes back to when I was a crumb snatcher. Probably the cowboy & Wild West thing.
Mebbe we’re just crazy people who lust for weapons?
That’s probably it.
Blackjack Classic Blades model 1-7 (12" OAL, 7" blade)
This is the time of year when the garden kind of lets go of life, after having faithfully served by feeding us for the entire summer. The wife, years ago, has taken to blanching & freezing the Kentucky Wonder beans I grow because we can’t find any others that taste sooooo good.
The tomatoes are just about done, just waiting for the final ripening of the ones already on the vine. Cabbages, cukes, summer squash, zucchini, buh-bye. Peppers are still hangin’ in there, but the BEANS…
31 pounds in the freezer,
and, I just picked 6.75 pounds today! It’s the 4th week in October for cripe’s sake.
These plants are indeterminate, which in plant language, means they grow until the frost kills ‘em.
Usually in the fall of the year, the Mrs. & I host a Shoot ‘n Eat at our sideyard range, which is where all participants bring sumptin’ to eat, & we, well, Shoot ‘n Eat.
This year, as we had a marrying thing to do, the organizational resources were tapped out, so we had just a "Shoot".
No big verbiage, just a couple pics. (click to biggerize & get details)
This (foreground unit) is a Sterling sub-machine gun. It’s 9mm, & the cyclic rate is a thing of beauty, IOW, not too fast to control, I’d say about 120 RPM. (Ed note- it's actually around 550 RPM, it just feels slow because it's controllable). The ergonomics of the gun are just about perfect, the magazine connects & removes like one should, & the whole unit is handsome in fit & finish. Best thing the Brits have produced with the possible exception of M. Thatcher. BTW, my bud Paul at Stateline Gun Shop owns the Sterling. He’s a good guy & a very reputable dealer.
The unit behind the Sterling is a DPMS .308 semi-auto, well tricked out. The owner, Dave, a gunsmith friend, did all the work including the very cool finish. Just don’t drop it in the sand, or you’ll never find it.
This critter is a pair of Ruger 10-22s configured into a Gatling gun. While we had a few fits & starts getting it running, it’s wicked fun to crank off 100 rounds faster that it takes me to type this. Good fun.
As an added plus, we had three chillen’s who got to learn a little more about guns while having fun doing it. It warms me heart, it does.
Unfortunately, all ended early, as it gets pretty damn dark around here by 1830.
Ben Franklin said: In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom. In a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have demonstrated that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E. coli) - bacteria found in feces. In other words, we are consuming 1 kilo of poop.
However, we do NOT run that risk when drinking wine & beer (or tequila, rum, whiskey or other liquor) because alcohol has to go through a purification process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting.
Remember: Water = Poop, Beer/Wine = Health. Therefore, it's better to drink beer and talk stupid, than to drink water and be full of shit.
Well, it appears an elderly woman drove her car into a hospital & killed a couple people.
Predictably, talk radio was all over it AGAIN, with wringing of hands, "what will we DO?!?!"
Look, it’s simple.
Everywhere in this USA, I believe, the legal limit for impairment is .08% blood alcohol content. To rephrase, a normal driver with a higher level of BAC is unfit (legally) to drive. Do we all agree on that? (YMMV)
Ok. It is also known that statistically, the incident rate for drivers is an inverted bell curve, i.e. younger & older drivers have more "incidents", per capita. So- while this would take a modest amount of study, a few folks should be chosen from the low incident spread on the above mentioned curve, & tested for motor skills, reaction time, & vision. (I know, they already do vision, but stay with me here). Then they should be re-tested after a controlled introduction to alcohol to bring their BAC to .09, & the results recorded.
Now we have a baseline.
The testing could be done in conjunction with the present vision tests- perhaps hitting the correct button when a light flashes, or some such. I’m not a behavioral scientist, so I’ll leave the details to the pros.
If you fail the test, hey, even give the testee a couple chances, you’re done. In other words, if you can’t perform with the rudimentary skills of a "good" driver while impaired to an illegal limit, buh-bye.
If the law agrees that impaired folks should not be on the road, (& DUI laws are pretty specific about that), & a person tests at an "impaired" level, then that’s where’s the feces hits the rotating device. An additional "benefit" would be that the responsibility of license or vehicle suspension would be removed from immediate family members. I’ve been through that, & it creates a lot of hard feelings.
Testing should be done annually after age 70.
I recognize that no politician wants to get anywhere close to this problem, as us aging boomers are a significant voting block. But what is the alternative?
Understand, I’m heading quickly to the point where this onerous procedure would be inflicted on ME, but I’d rather have my license pulled than live with the knowledge that I had killed or maimed someone.
That would make the rest of my days less than happy.
The following is an email I received this morning from a friend where I used to work. She’s a Conservative, stuck deep in the heart of the PRM (People’s Republic of MA). While we worked together, she often shared her consternation with the MA school system & their PC bullshit that passes for education down there. On occasion, she has met with the "educators" at her son’s school to express her & her husband’s displeasure with the manner in which the young folks are being molded. It kinda makes you sick in the gut, & it’s sad. Hi there,
So Sept 11th came and went at Bill's school without even a whisper, nothing, not even a small moment of silence. OK, fine.
This and any other history lesson that shows kids that AMERICA takes names and kicks ass when messed with are always left out.
The letter I got at home last night from his school stated that Bill's class would be celebrating United Nations Day on October 24th. Followed by paragraphs about how great the UN is as it allows all of us to understand each other and if we could all take this example that the world would be so much more peaceful.......ARRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!
Then they tie in a note about needing info about your family tree so they could justify it as a history lesson.
Jerry thinks we should send in the story about the time his Uncle Skeeter shot one of his colored workers for stealing :) (Ed note: when Skeeter did his thing, the polite reference was "colored")
Think that would send the teacher through the roof?
Sadly, I think Billy will be very sick on the 24th :)
What can ya say?
WTF is wrong with those "educators"? I read a poll in the paper on Sunday that indicated that 75+% of Americans disapprove of the UN & it's unregulated "mission".
As stated in these pages before, I’ve always been a bike guy vs. a car guy. There are notable exceptions, of course. One of my dream cars was/is a Ford GT. When I was a kid & slot cars were the rage, mine was (naturally) a Ford GT body over a hot motor & magnesium frame.
The other car was the original Ford Shelby Cobra. I’ve probably seen a handful of those in my life (the REAL ones, not kit cars), so you might imagine my surprise to find TEN of them parked at a Brit car gathering in PA last Saturday.
Most all were original, a few were modified, but not to the point of losing their original identities.
They were all gorgeous, but then I saw this:
I didn’t think a guy my age could still GET a woodie that quick.
While at my son’s place this weekend, the wife & I had the opportunity to be treated to a round of clays at Lehigh Sporting Clays in PA. I don’t know if any of ye have tried this particular shooting sport, but it is a blast (pun intended)! For those unfamiliar: you use a specially outfitted (to hold shotguns, shells, stuff) golf cart to cruise around to the 17 stations (could be more or less) to fire 100 rounds at clay birds in "report doubles". Simply, the second bird is electronically launched at the report of the first shot at the first target.
As this particular site is in an old quarry, the shooting takes place across water, in fields, & in the woods. Targets appear from the left & right, beneath & above you, away & even towards you.
There is one station where the bird is launched through a ruined stone building window hole right at the shooter- yoikes!
Of course, the whole effect is to simulate the varied appearances of real game in a hunting environment- birds don’t follow trap or skeet patterns in real life.
This was the wife’s & my first attempt at this game. While we shoot trap in the sideyard, the distances & presentations make this sport MUCH more challenging.
My score for this endeavor will not be reported here, as it was an embarrassing performance. The wife shot a 53, which, I am told, is damn good for the first outing, especially since she was using a borrowed gun. My son cleaned our clocks w/a 72.
The link is to their website, where they explain the course & prices. Y’all that are "local" probably won’t manage to get there, but it is a fun layout & fairly inexpensive course.
If anyone knows of one of these layouts in NE- lemmeno!
One observant reader, Sailor Curt, asked, "Your profile says ex-biker...what's up with that? I don't know whether to list you as a biker trash gunny or just a gunny. A wise man once said:"You don't quit riding because you got old, you get old because you quit riding."" Well now you went & did it- another story.
I don’t think you can be an ex-Biker, really, anymore than one can be an ex-Marine. You either is, or you ain’t, & that’s that.
As a kid, I’d look at the MCs in the Sears catalog with my Dad (I think they sold Puch MCs? -hey- keep it to yourself). I remember telling him I wanted one where the engine filled up the area underneath the gas tank- I’m probably about 12 then. He’s thinking a nice 50cc unit, I’m thinking 750 Indian, Harley 74.
The day I turned 16, which is in the winter here, I got my learners permit which allowed me to ride a MC, one up & daylight only. That was one cold ride on my Dad’s Honda 90. I soon bought a 160 Honda- two cylinders- man I was almost in the big leagues now; then a 350- cookin’! (A 350 Honda in those days weighed 350#, you could only hurt yourself if it fell on you).
Most guys my age were ogling the ’57 Chevys & muscle cars of the time. I used a car to get from here to there in the rain & snow. Utility only. I rode MCs as often & for as long as possible. Then, I get a line on a chopped 1958 Harley panhead stroker. 10" over front end, spoolie front spindle (no front brake). Perfek!
$1200, in 1967, was a crapload of money. I had $400, & Dad lent me the rest over Ma’s spirited objections. I was a Biker. Yes, capital "B".
The panhead needed continual work to keep her going. Even starting the thing was a project- advance the spark by rotating the distributor, kick it, kick it again, & again, readjust, kick again, then fool w/the distributor to get it in the right place to run, & off you go. I knew that old bike top to bottom, front to back. Intimate with the wrench, I was.
I knew a guy at the time, an older dude (prolly around 35!), who actually lived in a garage he rented. Mattress on a crappy frame, fridge (mostly for beer), woodstove made out of an old barrel, bike parked in the middle of it all, with tools & the various contrivances cobbled up to ease the work of maintenance. THAT boy was a Biker.
Nowadays, a maroon in a suit, totin’ a briefcase, & holding a Visa card can walk into a Harley dealership & come out "bad to the bone"- custom looking bike, jeans & T-shirt, leathers, even fake tattoos if he’s a real dork.
Don’t anyone tell me that guy is a biker; he may ride a motorcycle, but biker? Nope.
After the military, I had other bikes & still have a mildly customized Shovelhead- For Sale. I met my wife riding (she rode too), & took some great rides as late as the ‘90s to the Wall in Washington, Canada, Gettysburg, Maine, even NY f’n C.
Met some righteous people, & still have those moments. Still have my much-adorned, burnt, crashed, & worn sleeveless Levi & leather jackets, both of which go back 40 years.
None of this is to denigrate today’s bikers. It’s just the way I came around to two wheels, & my continued fascination with them.
The point here is Biker was a way of life- I’m just not there anymore.
Life happens, priorities change, & the way we choose to spend our time evolves. That’s what life is all about, isn’t it? Having the OPPORTUNITY for change?
Now, living in the woods for the last 14 years, has created a whole new set of freedoms for things I like to do, & even more things that HAVE to get done. (Not to mention the mile of dirt road before I get to tar). My choosing, I guess, but I find I LIKE felling trees & processing into firewood, shootin’ in the side yard, hunting, running a garden, & generally enjoying the solitude & gratification provided by my environment.
So, Sailor Curt, while it’s got nothing to do with "getting old", I have officially changed my profile to read "former biker", cuz you either is or you ain’t.
I guess I still is, at heart. And it says so on my arm.
And don’t worry, my friend, working at this pace I CAN’T get old!
‘Sides, I drank WAY too much when riding with all those crazy dudes.
The picture is of a part of my garden containing my insane tomato plant.
This thing has long ago left it’s stake, crashed over the fence, & is now heading for the house. The green bottle in the pic is a 2-liter soda bottle for size reference. The bent stake is circled, & the arrow points to where the original plant started.
I’m a student of the philosophical/political state of our fellow citizens by way of reading the Letters to the Editor in our paper. The Manchester Union Leader (yes, the "free state" is NH) has what I believe is a unique position in that they publish ALL letters received, unless slanderous or profane. Sometimes there are 3 or 4 full pages of letters. What is a hoot is the liberal nutballs who continually write in commenting on the eeevil GW, or the equally eeevil "American way". GW caused Katrina, GW caused the bridge to collapse in Minneapolis, blah, blah, blah.
Case in point, from today’s LthE:
I didn’t get this idea until today, so next week will hopefully have more entries into "who’s the nutballiest letter writer".
This time it’s just the bridge, "unfair" American ways, & Bushie cronies.
Mebbe next time we can have a vote on the biggest nutball.
Until next week… liberal nutballs, start your pencils!
I wheeled her out about 1000. Bore was spotless, paint was clean. I had calculated the amount of blackpowder that should be good in this size bore, & settled on 2 ounces of 1F, as I was unsure the pine wood carriage would take the larger calculated charge. It was a proud moment, be sure of that.
I loaded the charge, followed by some damp rags for compression, rammed it home, & lit the fuse to fire.
Boy, that WAS loud.
Please excuse the noise, it’s the sound of Freedom!
AND, I didn’t ‘splode up.
Happy Independence Day to all.
Two months later, I had conflicting thoughts on action. It was 11 Sept., 2001- you know the day. Be quiet, be contemplative, grieve?
Take out the cannon, & commence furious fire. I fired over 3 pounds of 1F, 2 oz. per shot.
I am an American; you will not defeat me.
You sons-of-bitches will NEVER win if America survives, hell, even if only I & others like me remain.
God Bless the United States of America.
Thanks to you all who have followed this narrative. DT
Funny thing about fabrication projects, I’m sure guys like Og will agree. They consume all your resources & time. And then some. Metal work, when completedoff the forge & anvil, has a scaly, mottled finish. That just wouldn’t do for me, so I thought about options. Wire brushing would take too long, even on a pedestal grinder. Ah ha! I realized, in a blinding flash of the obvious- Sandblasting- the finish would soak up paint & the end result would be what I was looking for. While I’m at it, methinks that same finish would be outstanding under a gloss black on the gun tube, & flat black for the hardware. Flashback a bit. (Full disclosure here- this sandblasting revelation came to me mid-May, because I’ve worked metal on the anvil before).So I bought a sandblaster. When I hitched it up to my then current compressor, it went "pthhhhssss…" in other words, I got nuttin’ but a spurt of sand, & then had to wait for the compressor to catch up. No good. So I bought a BIG compressor. Now I was cookin’, & my bank account was empty. Like I said, resources… Back to the present. A few coats of paint, & the assembly begins. I used the plans I had, but mostly I had spent hours looking at cannon in parks & at historical societies all around the region. Details, details. I had even made prolonge hooks, which I believe is French for "where weel we keep zis stupid peeze of rope?" Mounted all the parts on the carriage, & had a bud help me drop the tube on the carriage.
Man, I’ll never forget that feeling of accomplishment.
Installed the trunnion caps, & done, 2 July 2001. Beer drinking & cigar smoking again commenced. With enthusiasm. Friends gathered.
Admiring the work, a sudden bombshell- Uh oh- where’s the ramrod & sponge that should be sitting in the brackets I made for them? Doh! The two biggest pieces other that the carriage & the tube forgotten completely!
Tuesday, July 3, I took ½ vacation day from work. Bought 5/8" dowels, & raced home. Wandered around in the woods looking for a straight maple tree just under 2" diameter. Found it, cut it down, & made the ramrod & sponge (w/the wife’s help on the sewing of the cotton on the sponge). Ran a torch over them both to "age" them 140 years in five minutes. A touch of stain rubbed on with a rag, & there she was.
A ½ scale copy of an 1857 Napoleon cannon that I had created, metal & wood.
Ok, ok, don’t want to PO all the woodworkers out there, but damn, that stuff is nasty. Splinters, knots, splits, glue- the stuff is bad. Gimme steel any day- screw it up? Weld it up. Bad thread? Helicoil. Wrong shape? Heat it & beat it. So- while cannon carriages are traditionally made of oak, & knowing my limitations, I opted to make the first try out of pine. I figgered when I fluged it up, the $$$ & time loss would be minimal. Pine is a lot softer, so easier to work with, also speeding up completion. BTW, this was in early June of 2001, & I wanted to have her ready to go on the Fourth- seemed only fitting as a birthday.
With much trepidation, I began the work. I used everything from a chainsaw to a friend’s planer to make it happen. Thanks to my friend Dan, who DOES like wood, we got the carriage looking like it belonged on a cannon. A few coats of deck paint, & damn- it just might work! Still missing from the cannon were all the small parts & hardware. Time to fire up the forge.
A side note on the forge. Anyone reading this will probably get a mental picture of the country blacksmith, leather aproned, under the spreading chestnut tree as it were, with a carefully fabricated forge & hand cranked or leather bellows.
Lose that thought- while the anvil is indeed from the 19th century, I constructed the forge from an old truck brake drum, scrap piping, some PVC pipe for air intake, a corned beef hash can (really), & an ELECTRIC SQUIRREL CAGE BLOWER! This thing is a real piece of work, but hey- it makes the steel red, & will even weld if'n I keep her hot!
Using scrap steel scavenged from our "recycling center" (read, dump) & the local scrapyard, I fashioned all the straps, hooks, hangers, handles, & plates on the anvil. For the screws, I bought regular hex head lag bolts, heated the heads, & pounded them into square drive units more appropriate for the era.
Phew, I was hustling now to make the deadline- many late nights in the garage breathing coal fumes. Coal fumes give the BEST headache ever.
I was reminded of an anecdote last night, which I want to recount for y’all (you two readers, I mean). In the late summer of 2004, my son, a mutual friend, & I went to Ireland. If you’ve never been, understand that the pub is the center of life- political, philosophical, & social. With that knowledge "on us" (as is said there), we frequented as many pubs as conceivably possible.
One night found us in a small pub in Cahir, "The Bell" it was. A finer bunch of folks will not likely come this way again, I’m thinking. Anyway, it had been a long day for our trio, especially for my son who was doing all the wrong side of the road driving. As we settled in to the warm confines of our little pub after our large evening repast, we enjoyed much good Guinness & Jameson’s whiskey.
‘Twasn’t long before my boy’s head hit the table, arm over the head, blissfully snoozing away to the sounds of Irish ditties being played by the house musician. We let him be.
Our bartender, Liam, having observed my boy head down, was a bit concerned. He stopped over to where I was standing, looked to the lad, and asked,
Where was I… oh yeah- I’ve got the wheels. When we were initially cannon pondering, we were envisioning something like a pipe strapped to a cinder block, or some such. But I, your humble narrator, was a machinist in a former life, & I would have none of that.
Nossir, with wheels in hand, I devised a plan.
Paul, my other bud, had some plans for a little cannon, like tabletop size. Using those plans & my trusty calculator, I scaled everything I’d need to make (which WAS everything) based on the proportional size of the wheels I had.
Jeez- I shoulda paid more attention in algebra class.
Ordered 3 feet of 1026 seamless tubing from a mill, 4" OD x 2" bore. Made up a breech plug (cascable end on the gun) & threaded it 2"-8. Mounted the tube on a big lathe, & machined away everything that didn’t look like a Napoleon. Made trunnions, & welded them on. When I was done with the work, I had a passable copy of a cannon barrel.
But- on what would it sit? I’m a crappy woodworker, I don’t like it, but woodwork was now in my future, like it or not.