Detail Work

Close-up of the new Vang-Comp button. It works well and is larger than the stock Mossberg unit, so somewhat easier to manipulate. It’s just the installation process requires a three-handed grip, with the pinkie reaching up into the receiver cavity – or at least that’s how I did it.

Meanwhile we’re draining the rain-barrels onto the trees as we await a wet weekend with up to three-inches of rain. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Getting organized

Monday was a BIG day, with the sofa-sleeper arriving in the AM that was too big to fit down the hall and had to go through the Office window on its back. Finally the room is mostly complete, with the vintage Macouillard Matson-Line menus on the wall and the Guatemala masks above the closet, there is now a guest-room that actual guests can stay-in.
After all that we made a Costco (beer-run!) supply-trip where I discovered the answer to my gun-room prayers; a large but not too-large metal locking cabinet that can house my books and reloading manuals and amateur gunsmithing nick-nacks and the stacks of empty brass and lead and junk that was stored in mu7ltiple boxes and strewn around the room. All neatly out of sight under lock and key- and I wonder if I should get a second one…. Phew! More bathroom hardware went on to replace the outdated finishes of the previous hardware and there are still a couple of lights to take-down and replace with new ones. And I ordered a fresh and new bar-sink and faucet to replace the old and worn units – so, ready for some upcoming plumbing work…

Reloading WorkbenchUPDATE: I’m still not really that sure-about or sold-on the Harbor Freight reloading bench. Once built it’s plenty sturdy, perhaps a bit long – but the holes in the top for the wood-working bench-dogs are a bit too frequent, and in order to mount the press where I want it (on the end) I neglected to mount the wood-vise, so they’re really not all that useful – unless I can find or rig a Y-fork rifle-holder and use some pair of holes as a cleaning station… If I mounted the press on the face of the bench then half the drawers will be compromised and unable to open, and while the multiple drawers are swell they don’t open fully, even though they are on full-extension “type” slides/glides, so some of the space is not very accessible – maybe it’s fine for a woodworker but it’s starting to piss me off just a leetle beet…

Adventures in Forestry

 Motion translation arrangement for limiting the rate of lever arm convergence in an exercise machine United States Patent 6682466 Inventors: Ellis, Patrick D. (Milwaukee, WI)

Motion translation arrangement for limiting the rate of lever arm convergence in an exercise machine United States Patent 6682466 Inventors: Ellis, Patrick D. (Milwaukee, WI)

Yesterday we got busy with our New Year’s Fitness Training Regimen (not really, if you know me!), and I did a bunch of upper-body reps by yanking on the cord of a pole trimmer, while the Retired Adjutant General applied a Chest Butterfly Machine type motion to a pair of large loping shears. We set to and began decimating the canopy of the fruitless purple plum tree in the front yard. By decimating I mean the proper usage of the term: one-in-ten branches were attacked. Ultimately we whacked-it good approaching a double-decimation (two-in-ten) of the many spidery “waterspouts” that were sent up – and then we did more arm-work today in two AM/PM sessions on the level of a triple-decimation – giving it a serious haircut. It’s good to get out in the fresh air and work up a sweat, and temps were in the upper Sixties and clear on the granite outcropping. Little planes flew in overhead as they lined-up over the garage on the glide path.
Since it’s prior-lifestyle and previous-owner’s trimming directions (or lack of direction), the tree does nothing but present a round red lollipop to passers-by. It was trimmed into an arboreal afro, and the low branches offer no useful shade in the summer and actually very little screening since the nearby divided-road is a good twenty feet below, and the other, opposite direction passes even further away. Anybody who seeks a view must crane their necks upwards, which is unlikely in a car anyhow. Following its afro-haircut, the subsequent growth was a thickly intertwined bramble of large twisted branches that shot across in every direction criss-crossing each other, and with some leaning on each other, weighted by a vertical mass of up-shoots – that had to stop. Besides, it was starting to obscure the wonderful views off into the distance and the bright red sunsets. This is a hard pruning.

After today’s AM workout we dropped-off donations of various sorts at Snowline Hospice and then went for a drive in The Country. We followed North Shingle Road to a jog onto Green Valley, and then continued onto winding Lotus Road until we passed Sutter’s Mill School at Gold Hill Road. About five minutes later we reached Highway 49 in Coloma and the digging site of Sutter’s Mill – the gold-discovery state-park. Highway 49 is an awesome-easy roller-coaster road from one end to the other, from the north-end high up at Vinton and Highway 70 (the awesome Feather River Canyon run), all the way down to Oakhurst in the Southern Sierra foothills – and we’re going to have some great rides after the bike-shopping is done…

Careful. there's a cliff back there.

Careful. there’s a cliff back there.

Anyhow, we followed 49 back into Hangtown, and then got on the freeway (Hwy 50) to home, where I passed a deep-purple Lamborghini Murciélago that merged beside us. Nice ride, limited view of other people’s ankles out the low windows I can only imagine. As a kid returning from India, when we drove the VW Microbus through the Alps in ’69, I will ALWAYS remember seeing a sexy gorgeous yellow Miura on the French side, and have a distant/distinct fondness for the brand – but the new offerings don’t really trip my buzz-meter any more.

UPDATE: Oww-oww! Oww-oww! Ibupriofen is my old, under-utilized muscles’ friend. Cut and sawed s’more in the AM before it gets hot, and then after lunch loaded up the truck and covered it in a cargo-net.

Cam Wire & The Whirligig of Doom

This could be about Cam Edwards and his radio-show but its not. It’s about the non-moving gizmo on the Whirligig-of-Doom that moves the wheel on primer-feeding “transfer-bar” contraption as it rises and falls, and on the up-stroke seats a fresh one in the brass case that was just de-primed on the earlier rotation’s down-stroke. And it’s supposed to have a specific bend in it, besides a small circlip that has a tendency to fly into orbit and hide in the carpet.
After a few weeks (OK, a month) of waiting patiently by the mailbox, I called RCBS again (3rd time) to inquire about the status of my “order.” Their call-center is open from Monday thru Thursday from 6:00AM for the East Coast guys until it shuts down at 4:00PM out West here. The needed parts I lacked were on-file and awaiting to be filled – some time in May when they get time to run-off some bearing-bushings, a part I had briefly complained about (since the operation of the Whirligig is anything but smooth) but didn’t exactly require. What I really need(ed) and explained to the nice but harried lady, was (#16) the Cam-Wire. I have one but it’s the wrong one – it’s about 7-1/2″ long and is for another Press-product, the now discontinued AmmoMaster. It’s too long, but it does-has “the bend.”
Finally today the Cam Wire arrived, notched precisely for the ever-disappearing circlip, but straight as an arrow.
I think I can get my High-Master shootin’ buddy Google-machinist to give me a hand and impart the proper angular coefficient to the dead-straight rod, but the label prominently marked with ATK on the package from RCBS reminded me of what Louis Awerbuck warned in Pistol I and II class, when he said much of the ammo (the ammo you CAN’T GET) that has been coming out from a certain cartridge-company umbrella-ownership group (= ATK) has been lacking a certain Q.C. je ne sais quoi – the stuff is bad. Bullets that are not at all crimped tie-up guns (this I have seen), OAL is sloppy, upsidown primers have been noted, backwards bullets too.
Judging from my earlier telephonic conversations with the very friendly, super-knowledgeable and more polite than they need-to-be RCBS staff, I think the people trying to do business there are amazingly overworked and stressed. Perhaps it is the dumbrella Über-company corporate-ownership that is spinning lazily like the angry man in Zapruder’s film, or an ineffective overhead ceiling-fan on a hot day that is providing the source of conflict and anxiety. I hope things improve for them and that some time this year I get this thing ammo-construction device operational, before I have some kind of cardiac event.

The Infernal Device!

Need to get the “cam wire” figured out, but I managed to figure out how to set the shoulder back on a case using this infernal whirling contraption, and measure it with my headspace comparator gauge-thing!
Sorta. That is I cheated and compared it to an actual round, and then made adjustments screwing the die-down until it matched, which is a way of overcoming my near complete math illiteracy.
So now it goes up and down and around and around – albeit somewhat jerkily as any Steampunk device ought-to, and Piggyback is an appropriate name, but you could call it Hunchback too, from the condition I’ll develop, bending over and fiddling with it…
It’s bit of a kludge, like RCBS never threw anything away, they just rearranged the configurations. It’s one presssitting on top of another, the rams are joined by a link that fits like a male-female case-holder.
UPDATE: Hold on, let me reorient this:
Here’s the new superstructure mounted atop the old RS-3 press. It’s semi-manual, so you pop-in a case and then another and then another and it rotates and goes up and down and when one comes around finallly for a bullet you place the bullet on top and press it up, meanwhile another case is being de-primed and another is being primed, and one is loaded with powder, etc.
The Upside is the shell-plates are the same as the Pro200 and now I have a bunch.
Downside is the arbor height and ram-stroke only accommodates cartridges 2.260″ tall so .30-06/.308 etc. is out – it’s .223 and pistols for me with this baby (and the v.3 is a shorty also). :
And this is the bottom half.
And it’s held together and operated by this ram connector.
Fully functional and a good idea, engineeringwise…but it’s definitely not super-smooth in operation though that effect can’t be attributed to this link, it’s just an overall design issue.
The term Steampunk fits I think? There should be a whistle attached somewhere and a bevel-drive gizmo-something running off the side, and sections wrapped in crocodile skin.
The top die-head is shared with the earlier RCBS progressive press, the “Ammomaster”, and it is changeable but not that easily – it would be a bit like removing your tires to change the transmission, or visa versa…
I don’t have a powder measure rigged-up and have to buy one, so I don’t know if it throws everything onto the floor…

Meanwhile I’m looking for primer tubes and a powder measure…

Quickie case-trimmer

Just to illustrate an old post, here’s the Lee cutter mated to a case-length stop and affixed to position #1 on my RCBS Trim Mate. After de-priming and re-sizing in the press, the brass can be directly inserted over the gauge and trimmed to length. Voila.
And Mil-Crimp Remover:
Mil-Crimp Remover

Some assembly required

The Dictionary definition of contraption should be accompanied by a picture of this. I picked up the Piggyback II after meeting with my “Buddy” from the shootin’ club and blasting away at some innocent pieces of square paper just north of the Airport. I say “Buddy” in quotes, because after unpacking this infernal agglomeration of tiny doohickies, little thingamajigs, midget widgets, sproingy-springs and miniature clevis pins, two bent Johnson-rods – and just bits and pieces including a damnable rolling ball – I’m not sure whether a friendly title such as “buddy” is appropriate. Anything that comes with its own set of sub-miniature screwdrivers is to be feared. And the top bit rotates around 360-degrees willy nilly, so that will have to be figured out as Order is applied to Chaos. You gotta get a load of this thing…

Working Small

The RCBS “Trim Mate” case-prep thing puts five turning tools into one small place, but it doesn’t trim-to-length. I’ve removed the primer-hole uniformer-cutter (a Lyman hand tool that happens to thread right in) and laid it in the top tray.
The #1 rotating station has a standard-thread long .22cal bore brush. #2 has the military crimp remover/cutter, #3 has the outside chamfer, #4 has the inside chamfer tool, and #5 has the primer pocket reamer/uniformer. You can move them around to wherever you want for your own ergonomic convenience.

For me the biggest time-spender has been trimming. One thing I really like about the RCBS tool though is that pressure is applied downward and (IMO) can be more evenly applied.
With the Wilson trimmer I have to work it sideways, inserting the cutting head attached to a cordless drill and it feels awkward, not to mention the added set-up time with the Wilson; screwing it down to the bench and then setting the length – and as a “lateral” tool it takes up more space just to operate it sideways because you just need more elbow room. I don’t really need a 36-inch wide bench but trimming like this kinda demands it.
Here’s a guy who figured-out another way to do it that I think I might test, and his bench isn’t even nearly as deep as mine!

All I need is to do is fix up the Lee tool and cutter to do the length trimming. Awesome!

How Big is Small?

In a previous post blogger Conservative Scalawag mentioned he’d like to start reloading but for the lack of room in his cramped apartment – with which I fully sympathize.
However, far from having a huge Gunnytastic Reloading Shackzilla, I have a 36″-by-17″ kitchen cart-thing from Target, and most of my junk is stored in a 2-drawer file cabinet in the closet – so fear not those of you with space constraints!
The bathroom vanity cabinet mounted on the wall holds measuring tools and small things, the wide drawer holds dies and things to bang on the press. And the double-doors hide empty brass, powders, bullets, and cleaning media. My small Dillon brass tumbler hides in the clothes-closet where behind a closed door its sound-signature is muted.

Rainy Day Reloading Post

It’s the first rainy day since back in May, more drizzly than anything, but still three dry months have passed. My wife had to go into work, Closing didn’t go well and there are beans to count and funds to transfer.

I thought I’d reload some .223 – and these are the first steps involved. First use brass that’s clean, I had a bunch of 1-x fired Nosler brass in the Dillon vibrator that was clean. I separated it in the rolling hopper-basket thingy.

Sort your clean brass by headstamp – different cases have different internal volumes and create different pressure curves.

The Black Hills remanufactured ammo was good and ran flawlessly, but it wasn’t entirely Lake City brass…

A couple Winchester cases found there way into the mix.
The range pickup Lake City brass shows a more clearly defined headstamp. It’s fresh and hadn’t been run through a cleaning cycle, and the red ring of sealant shows it’s milsurp stuff that has the mil-crimp and has only been fired once.

I’ll be able to tell the two apart after cleaning by the red circle, unless I just decide to make life easier and clean them separately.

Meanwhile I have a bunch of clean brass to prime. Since I’m switching from Large to to Small rifle primers I need to change-out the shell-holder, primer-feed, and primer-rod.

The little bench-rest primers have a cute little “B” stamped into them!

Then it’s just loading the tray, shaking them to roll turtle, and squeezing them into the brass.
I like to rotate the brass a couple times and give it a couple squeezes, hoping to ensure some kind of uniformity to the depth. You need to also inspect each one to be sure it’s seated below the depth of the brass. Squeeze, rotate, squeeze, etc.

…Squeeze…that felt weird, what have we here…WTF! Jeebus it’s in SIDEWAYS!
Do I try to decap a live primer? I guess so.

No problem, but first I have to set up the newly purchased .223 decapping-die…Yeh ok. It worked-out.
Squeeze, turn, squeeze – only 88 more to go…
After filling one shell-box ass-end up, showing the primers, I start to fill the loading tray, necks up, ready to receive the powder. I finish with 99 done, and one left without a primer.