Saturday, August 29, 2015

Dog Day Afternoon

On the upstairs deck. I read a book while Murphy dozes. Lazy dog.

Always watchful though, even when he appears dead to the world.

"Hark! Who goes there?"

And where there is one on alert, there are two. They're a team.

"Oh, you did NOT just say 'Hark'... But if something is out there, let's get it all the same."

They may be annoying at times, but they do what they do damned well indeed.

(Not actually them in this pic, but it could be.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Paperwork.

As I mentioned earlier I had an important project for work that I had to finish last week. To say that it consumed my life for three weeks would be fair.

Here's my helper, Belle, keeping me company while I strove to finish it.
"I can't read, but I can do like dad does. 'Oh, I hate this stuff. Make it end, make it end!'"

If a circus had come through town these last few weeks, I'd have taken the dogs and run away to join it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Now THAT'S a landing.

This Lockeed P-2 Neptune, now an air tanker following it's military service, made an impressive landing at California's Sonoma Air Attack Base despite one set of main gear refusing to drop.

That actually looks fixable. But due to the age of these Neptunes, she'll probably wind up for sale to a museum or as a parts source for the rest of the still-flying fleet.

And yes, I'll take it if they don't want it any more.

Shooting the fixer-uppers

I got the two restoration projects out to the range yesterday.
Top is the Canadian #4 Mk1 Enfield, and the lower one is the Remington 1903A3 Springfield.

Both shot very well, with the Enfield breaking sporting clays at 50 yards and easily holding "minute of paper plate" wonderfully at 100 yards. It helps that it has a VERY light trigger that almost breaks if you blow on it hard. I think that if I put one of the micrometer sights on it instead of the battle sight, I could get some serious long-range accuracy out of it. We'll see if I can find one of those sights cheap.

As for the Springfield, it was shooting awesome groups at 100 yards, only it was hitting 6-8 inches left, placing them just off the plates I was shooting at. A close examination of the rifle showed me that the rear sight base had drifted left somehow, probably back when it was still a drill rifle. This was easily fixed once I got it home since there was an alignment mark on both the sight base and the receiver and I just had to use a hammer and brass punch to move it back. It didn't really want to move, so it took some hammering, but that's good as hopefully it will not want to move back out of position again.

It was a good range session, if short, except for the fact that it was ridiculous hot out there.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Another has-been actress seeks attention by trying to whitewash our history

Ah, that poor Julianne Moore. Now that getting old and no one wants to see her stripping on screen any more, she's reduced to stupid publicity stunts like this to try to stay relevant.

Julianne Moore seeks name change for JEB Stuart High School

Cow needs to mind her own business. JEB Stuart was renowned for what he was able to do, not for taking his top off in a few movies. I suppose that she'd prefer the school to be named after some prominent gay activist or perhaps even an illegal alien, but the citizens of VIRGINIA--not Hollywood--chose to name it after Stuart and the decision should be theirs, not hers or her handful of Twitter followers. This PC crap where liberals keep trying to un-write American history needs to stop and stop now.

Long overdue--Flight!

I have been so busy with work this summer that I've been neglecting a lot of other things: work on the house and yard, my bike, my kayak, my airplane...

In fact, I've flown so little that the FBO moved my airplane into another hangar to get it out of the way of the ones that DO fly.

I'm so sorry, airplane.

I finally got a chance to get up this weekend though. First time in a while.

Holding short. Run-up and mag checks. Dashboard dino says "Good to go".
8,500 feet of opportunity and adventure ahead.
Shenandoah Valley farms below.
Winchester and the airport there, OKW.
A couple of stray clouds are the only other things up here at 4,500 feet besides me.
A dam on the Shenandoah Rover down near Front Royal.
I was going to fly an hour down the valley to Shenandoah Valley Regional in Weyers Cave, Virginia, but there was a haze layer over the mountains to the south. I could have made the flight, but visibility would have been poor. So I'll save that one for another day. Instead, I just got some maneuver practice in. Turns, stalls...slow flight.
Full flaps, max power, pitched up. Two minutes of keeping it under 45 knots indicated, including a 360-degree turn. Lots of stall horn but no stall, This plane slows well.

Hello to my friends at Mt. Weather. You guys didn't think I'd forgotten you, did you?
Up the Shenandoah River, back in West Virginia now.
Mr. Peabody's coal train sits by the river.
Harpers Ferry ahead, at the conflux of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers.
And Harpers Ferry has an RV park, which could come in handy when family comes to visit.
On final for home. That was a quick 2.1 hours. I shot a few landings and called it a day.

The new C-17 neighbors. So small compared to the C-5 Galaxies that used to park there.

Back inside the main hangar again. I'll fly it more. I promise.

Friday, August 21, 2015

When the heat is un-BEAR-able...

Damn, you know it's hot when a family of bears takes over your pool.

This family in New Jersey was both amused and upset to see mama bear and five cubs enjoying their pool and playing with the pool toys.

Rest of the story here:

'They took my floatie!' Stunned children watch family of bears cool off in their paddling pool (and destroy all their toys)

This beats any original content that I might have had today.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Another restoration project: Springfield Model 1903A3

About six years ago, I rebuilt this 1903A3 from parts on a reactivated drill rifle receiver.

But I was never happy with the way that it shot, mostly due to the plastic stock I'd put it in which didn't fit all that well, causing accuracy to fall off, and because of a damaged rear sight that refused to hold it's elevation setting, dropping to the bottom of the ramp with every shot.

For six years, it languished in the rack as a non-shooter. A year or so ago, I got some repair parts for the sight and spent a frustrating evening trying to get those tiny pieces and parts into the right alignment in the old sight base. Just add that to the list of gunsmithing jobs that I don't want to try again soon, ok?

I still did nothing with the rifle, meaning to clean it's wood stock up but never getting around to it. Well last week, when I was working on the Long Branch Enfield and had the linseed oil out, I decided to take a whack at the '03A3 stock too. I sanded it down and prepped a new handguard that I'd bought for it since it never had one when I got it, and I oiled them up when I finished the Emfield wood, mainly as a practice project. I figured that if I messed it up, no big deal.

I did not mess it up. It came out beautifully.
Click on the pics to enlarge.
I'd always thought it a shame that this rifle was just sitting around in that crappy plastic drill stock I'd put it in. It was the total "ugly duckling" of the gun room. But it's not ugly any more.

Got a Remington 1944 barrel that gauges like new on both ends.

When I bought it, the rifle was just a collection of 1903A3 parts fitted to an old 1903 receiver, built as a training aid for a state hunter safety course. It couldn't shoot and wasn't supposed to, but once I figured out what I had, I pulled it apart, sold off the old 1903 receiver (after using it as an office paperweight for a year or so) and mated the parts to a new 1903A3 receiver that I got from Gibbs Rifle Co. in Martinsburg, WV. I even got to drive over there and choose a Remington receiver to match the barrel.

I had the receiver cleaned up and the barrel installed and headspaced by a local gunsmith who is a retired Marine Corps Armorer and the only indication that it was once a drill rifle is the shiny spot by the magazine cut-off where a weld used to be.

A new cut-off and bolt were added and it now functions nicely and looks good sitting in with it's brothers.
Second from the right.

It's still missing a rear sling swivel that I somehow lost while the rifle was disassembled for so long, but that's on order along with the new Long Branch parts, and come Monday I should have everything I need to make both of them 100% again. Meanwhile, first chance I get, this 1903A3 is going out to the range for a proper "Welcome Back" shooting session.

Monday, August 17, 2015

I broke an Enfield

Sigh. Now I know why the British Army never issued gun tools to Tommy.

So it was range day today, and Proud Hillbilly and Bruce came along, making for a decent outing.

I took the Long Branch Enfield out for it's test-firing, and I'm pleased to say that it really shot well.
Yes, it has a sling now, as is proper.

The trigger breaks clean and smooth with just a few pounds of pressure and the first shot was near perfect, after which it grouped nicely at 100 yards, although it put the group low right. Checking the stock more carefully, I found it to be loose up near the muzzle. I think the first shot loosened something up or somehow shifted the barreled action in the stock channel. Or maybe I just missed that since I was so concerned about the stock fit back at the receiver. Anyway...figuring I could try to fix it by tightening the forward barrel band, I took a screwdriver and tightened the screw. This took out much of the play in the stock, so, thus encouraged, I tightened it more. Now almost all of the play was gone. This must have been the problem, I thought. And wanting ALL of the play out, I give the screw one more little quarter turn and...SNAP! There went the screw, and the band popped open like a cheerleader's prom dress.

So now I need a new screw, and maybe a new band if I can't get the remains of the old screw out f that one. Big sigh. Just goes to show you that there's a fine line between "I've almost got it" and "Aw, shit."

But I'll get this fixed, and we'll be back out again. This rifle shoots too nice not to invest some more time and effort into it...besides, it's fun.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Favorite guns. Why?

I was mulling the gun room this morning and got to thinking about a few of the firearms therein that are particularly special to me for various reasons. These are four of them.

My Springfield Armory 1911A1. My first handgun. Bought new the day I turned 21. Patrick Sweeney talked me into buying it back when he was just a gunsmith in one of Detroit's suburbs. I wanted to build my own on an Essex frame, just like a magazine article said I could. Pat, being wiser, showed me several failed DIY guns in his shop and pushed me in the direction of this new 1911A1 for just over $300. It was a lot of money back then, especially to me, but I've been grateful ever since. I love this pistol.

My Springfield Armory M-1A. Bought back in 1988, when Papa Bush enacted the first "Assault Weapons Ban", I dropped $700 on this one as one of those gun shops that charges way more than market-price because I was young and did not know any better. But the panic was on, and I got the last one in their store--the display model off their wall. (And I chose it over an H&K 91 on one side of it and a genuine FN-FAL on the other, both of which were going for about the same price.)
I shot this gun for fun and in competition for many years, including the President's 100 600-yard match at Camp Perry in the 2001 National Matches. I haven't done much with it in years. I need to change that.

Another 1980's purchase, this Ruger 10-22 has accompanied me on hikes and camping trips all over the country and it's stock bears the scars to show it. (I have a new stock for it--I just don't want to switch it yet...Lots of memories in that stock damage, and it's just cosmetic anyway.)

Ithaca Model 37. This old 12 gauge was a gift from me to my father one year. Made in 1968, it had been a sheriff's dept. gun before they sold it surplus and I bought it for him a quarter of a century ago. With this gun, we went hunting and clay shooting together, though not nearly enough times. Now he's gone and it's back with me. But it'll always be his gun.

These four are cherished parts of my collection, practically members of the family. Each is special to me and I'll never part with any of them. How about you? What do you have that you have a bond with that goes beyond mere dollars and cents?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dogs for!

So I came home from work this morning to discover that Murphy and Belle now apparently like macaroni and cheese, so much so that they grabbed a bag containing two dozen boxes of it that was sitting on a chair in my kitchen and shredded and scattered 18 of those boxes all over my kitchen and living room. Two rooms are now covered with a crunchy carpet of macaroni noodles and no small amount of cheese powder.

W. T. F??!!

This, times 18:

I hate them.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Before and After pics--the Enfield Project is complete.

The #4 Enfield Long Branch project is finished.

In a few weeks, it's gone from this:

to this:

All it took was a new stock set and metal, a week's worth of linseed oil application, and a couple hours elbow grease with steel wool and oil on the metal, and a new magazine, and she's all ready to head off to France to refight the landing at Juno Beach, Normandy.

I kept the original buttstock as it was looking fairly decent and because, while I could and did get the stock bolt out courtesy of a new long screwdriver from NAPA, I could not get the buttplate screws out, and I was going nuts trying to sand down the mounting area of the new buttstock to get it to actually fit on the rifle. So I let it keep it's old stock, at least for now. It was definitely a chore to finish-inlet the forestock to get that to fit. OMFG was that a chore. It was too tight at the area where the receiver lugs sit in, and that's a critical-fit area for the #4 Enfield. Take off a bit too much wood and you ruin the fit and accuracy goes out the window.
But I got it finally, and it fits tight and looks good.
The rest of the metal ordered from Sarco wasn't in as good of shape as I would have liked, but then again, it's a closer match for the rest of the rifle's metal, so I won't bitch. I will, however, bitch about the British obsession with weird little screws and proprietary tools that you can't get today, like the one that holds the front sight blade on. There's a handguard band that had to go on just ahead of the receiver and it was originally put on at the factory before the front sight was as the band is a one-piece metal ring. Whoever bubba'd this rifle had cut the old one off, and the new one wouldn't clear the front sight post with the blade installed. Since I had to have it on, and since I could not remove the blade to get it on, I was stuck for a bit. Finally, I carefully bent the ring into an oval shape, allowing it to pass over the blade, and then re-bent it back to proper shape and slid it into place. Got lucky there as it worked perfectly.

It is missing a forward sling swivel, as I somehow managed to leave that off my order list. (Note: before calling a company to complain that they forgot to ship you a part, go back and look at the order form to make sure that you asked for it.) Fortunately I checked before calling Sarco and looking like an idiot. Fault was mine and a new swivel is on the way so that I can mount the new sling that I bought for this rifle. But lack of tat swivel won't keep me from shooting this rifle next Monday when I get some more range time. If she shoots as good as she looks, I'll be happy. For now though, once I quit playing with it, it's up to the Enfield rack in the gun room.

And she'll be in good company here.
From top to bottom: British-made at Royal Ordnance Factory, Maltby, 1941; The Canadian Long Branch, 1944; and a US-made Savage, 1944.