Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Investigate Gas Prices

Now it comes, the cries to investigate gas prices, which you may have noticed have risen.

I think it's an excellent idea, this investigation, but it will go nowhere, we shall investigate the wrong people. The very people who have stood in the way of drilling in ANWAR will be sitting on that raised dais, staring haughtily down on the very people who could have kept fuel costs low.

Had we begun drilling in ANWAR when the Bush Administration had begun, that oil would be just now hitting the gas stations. Think it might make a difference?

There has not been one new refinery built in America since the '70s, anyone notice that our population has risen since then? Mexico is about to drill in the Gulf. That is nice for the Mecicans, why are WE not drilling in the Gulf? Could it be those very politicians who are now beating up our oil companies? Castro's Cuba is going to be drilling some forty-five+ miles off the coast of Florida, where our oil companies can not drill. Why is that?

I have never had any relationship with "big oil" except as a customer but I live in Texas. I remember when our economy down here almost collapsed when oil prices fell to ten dollars a barrel. These high and mighty politicians who will be investigating the oil companies sure didn't offer any help then. Nor have they offered any help repairing those refineries damaged the last fall's hurricanes. The few oil rigs out in the Gulf that the politicians have allowed, many are still down from those hurricanes, too. Anybody notice those pompous asses from Washington getting their hands dirty repairing them?

Want to know who is responsible for higher fuel costs? Start with a list of those politicians who voted against the drilling in ANWAR. Oddly, that is the same bunch screeching that there is not enough oil. Imagine that.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Big Lube Boolits And A New Gun

Sorry for the lack of posting, it rained. If there is so much as a cloud in Oklahoma or wind in New Mexico, I lose my internet. I wrote two long post, both got eaten by the Internet Monster before I could publish them. Someday I shall learn how to write offline and post that.

It has been an expensive couple of weeks, I made the mistake of reading the SASS Wire Classified. This can get costly. I did manage to save some money, though. I bought a loading strip, that is a piece of leather with bullet loops sewn on each side, loke a two-sided cartridge belt. These are handy because of an oddity in the SASS Match Rules, once the shootin' irons are loaded we are not supposed to go anywhere but the firing line and then the unloading table. This makes it difficult to carry a box of cartridges back to the guncart. The loading strip eliminates the problem, we can put the cartridges required for that stage right there and we can hang the srip off the belt. A loading strip usually cost anywhere from $25.00 to $50.00, debending on how fancy, I got one for $13.00.

I also bought a batch of "Big Lube Boolits". A feller with the handle of Dick Dastardly up in the land of cheese and Lutefisk spent his 401K money starting a business providing supplies to black powder shooters, one facet of this business is molds for some bullets designed by BP shooters. Most people do not know that modern bullets do not do real well with black powder, they do not carry enough of the soft lube that BP requires. I have been making my home cast bullets work by putting a grease cookie under them, that is a beeswax wad, a dollop of my homemade BP lube and a fiber wad.

These bullets were designed by several people, the ones I bought by Pigeonroost Slim. This bullet is made in a Lee custom mold, it is a roundnosed bullet with the point flattened and one very wide and deep lube groove. The lube groove is pretty much the only difference between the ordinary RNFP bullet I cast and the Big Lube bullet.

If these bullets shoot as well as they look, I will buy a mold myself. These bullets cost considerably more to buy, already cast, than the usual hardcast bullets. The ordinary cast bullet is not really designed to shoot, rather it is designed to ship. They are cast of alloy that is so hard that they do not slug up to an oversized barrel at less than magnum pressures.

The Big Lube bullets, excuse me, Boolits are not bulk packed like the hardcast bullets. Instead of being thrown loose in a box, each bullet is placed nose down in a styrofoam 'plank' like in a cartridge box. It actually costs more to buy 250 Big Lubes than it does 500 of the Remington swaged lead.

The big deal on these bullets is that it is much faster to load, without having to fool with making the grease cookie. Now for full loads, I just drop a powder sharge and seat the bullet. For a lighter load I drop the powder charge, then I add a 0.7 cc scoop of dried grits and seat the bullet. This is a whole lot faster.

I have a couple of boxes loaded up, this weekend I shall see how they shoot. We have a match Saturday.

Last, but certainly not the least expensive, I found a new revolver, another Cimarron Single Action Army with a five and a half inch barrel. This one, though, is stainless steel. A Pard from Ablilene had this iron sitting in the back of his gunsafe, he wasn't shooting it. Well, he advertised it, I offered to buy it on a face to face deal and drove out to get it on Saturday.

I didn't have to go all the way to Abilene, intstead he had sent the revolver home with his son, who lives in Eastland, TX, a town some fifty-sixty miles closer to my piece of the rock. It was a nice drive, it is wildflower season. Plus, the diet rules are relaxed on long drives, everybody knows that calories don't count a hundred miles from home. So I stopped at Baker's Ribs for lunch. Mmmm! Ribs.

Well, it turned out that the owner of the gun had not told me the whole truth. Sure, he told be that it was a clone of the old Colt thumb buster and he told me that it was made of stainless steel. What he did not tell me about was the aftermarket spring kit in the gun, nor did he mention that the awful varnish had been removed from the grips. So, I now have my third .45 revolver, two five and a half inch Cimarrons and that four and three quarter inch Uberti Millenium that is officially now my back up revolver. I have my Marlin 1894 .357 for a backup for my '92 Winchester clone, the only cowboy action gun I have no backup is my mule ear double barrel shotgun. Fortunately, there isn't much of a simpler shootin' iron than an exposed hammer double.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Still Here.

I have been writing a lot, and then deleting, I just haven't had much to say. I've been somewhat depressed.

Last Saturday was another Cowboy Action Shoot, smaller than usual as there were a couple of really big shoots happening within a couple hundred miles. A lot of our better shooters were traveling to those. I did unusually poorly, I just kept getting "Procedurals" over and over for messing up the target order. A "P" is a ten second penalty, over and above the five second penalty for each miss. I had more misses than I should have, plus one of my revolvers kept seizing up. Oddly, with all those troubles, I won my Frontier Cartridge Class. I would be happier with the certificate had there been, oh I don't know, one or two others shooting black powder cartridges.

I am not sure exactly why my performance was so bad, I slept very poorly the night before, I guess that is as good a reason as any. At any rate, the revolver that was giving me trouble is back in the Gunsmith's shop. This is it's last chance, if it isn't fixed this time I am getting a new shootin' iron. My 'smith is putting a bushing on the front of the cylinder to hold it back where it belongs and is recutting the forcing cone. It seems that as I shoot the revolver the fouling builds up on the front of the cylinder and then drags against the back end of the barrel.

This is the second time this revolver has been in the shop for the same problem. Now, with smokeless powder loads it does not give any trouble, just with The Holy Black. Both my revolvers are Italian clones of the famed Colt Single Action Army, one is the Cimarron. This is the one that has never given me any trouble one that gives me the trouble is the Millennium revolver. Both revolvers are made by the Uberti outfit, the Cimarron is assembled in Fredicksburg, Texas, it seems there is much more attention to detail there. The Cimarron is some hundred and fifty bucks more expensive than the Millennium, trouble is I have spent some eighty bucks on the millennium at the Gunsmith already and now I have this new bill coming up.

On the positive front, I bought a pair of Brownells Colt Single Action Hammer Spring spacers installed them, one per gun. In the old days cowboys would put a piece of leather between the mainspring and the frame, this lightened the trigger, a lot. The trouble is that leather absorbs moisture for the air and the mainspring and frame rust, eventually the mainspring breaks. Considering that Murphy was an opimist, that mainspring would only break when a cowboy really needed his shootin' iron to go BANG. Brownells has updated the concept and is using neoprene instead of leather. Since neoprene is not hydroscopic, nothing rusts because of it.

I bought the pair of spacers for $4.97 and a Wolff Spring kit for $23.99. The plan was to take the revolver that was least improved by the spacer and put the spring kit in. After running both revolvers through a match, the new plan is to wait until something breaks and use the new spring kit for a spare when it does. Those spacers really work, and they're real cheap. I fired the whole match and I used ammo that I had loaded with PMC primers and some with Winchester primers, plus a few with Remington primers, they all went BANG. I had planned on backing the mainspring set screw out some after this match to further lighten the trigger, I am not sure I am going to bother. The triggers are both very light, now. I may just leave them be. I don't need a loud noise from breathin' on 'em.

I also had the rear sight on the millennium opened up so, I could not see any light on each side of the front sight against the black-paited targets. After opening that rear sight up a few thou, the front sight was easy to see.

Assuming that Koenig, my 'smith, is able to fix that millennium, my revolvers are done. Race ready.

I worked on my shotgun chambers some, my empty cartridge cases did not fall out. I got on the SASS Wire and asked the Pards about that, there were all kinds of recommendations, from sandpaper to toothpaste to smooth the chambers out. The least radical seemed to be putting toothpaste on a bore mop, chucking the bore mop in a drill and just polishing. I regret to say that the toothpaste trick did not work with my black pwder shells in brass cases. So, on the way home I bought some automotive rubbing compound, smeared some of that on a bore mop and ran that in the chambers. Then I fired a couple rounds out the back door and the empties fell right out. I shall see how it does in a match. If it nneds more I'll do it. Thing is, though, the first law of gunsmithing is that it is easy to remove metal, very difficult to add metal. I suspect that I will have more to do, if ony because the black powder fouling builds up so fast. I also put a Marble's 5/16 "ivory" bead on the front of my shotgun, it is a lot faster than the brass pinhead-sized bead it had.

So, my rifle is done, my shotgun is either there or almost there as is one revolver. The other one, we'll see. At any rate, within a couple more matches I will have removed all the equipment problems and if I have any more trouble at a match it will be because of the loose nut behind the buttplate.

In other news, it is one month and counting until Linda Lou and I are on our way out to the Gold Rush country of California. One of my neices is getting married. We will spend about a month out there. If anyone cares we will be mainly in Sutter Creek, that is just a little south of due east of Sacramento, about fifty miles. I am also going to be meeting a couple of Cowboy Action Shooters and hope to get a couple of matches in out there. I'm going to meet Springfield Slim, a bulletmaker and leathersmith. He is going to use my rifle as a pattern for a leather recoil pad and I am going to try a batch of the Big Lube Boolits, a cast bullet with an extra large grease groove. This is supposed to eliminate the need for a grease wad to keep the gun from tying up due to fouling. This would give more room in the case for powder if I want some T. Rex loads and for mild loads I can fill the empty space with dry grits or that fancy Puff Lon stuff. I have a can of Puff Lon, I haven't tried it yet but the folks that make it say it works fine with Black Powder.

Anyhow, I am loading a bunch of extra ammo in hopes of getting to a match or two out there.