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Archive for May, 2010

Save Money by Making Your Own Ammunition

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Spend the Savings on Tagamet and Band-Aids

I just made a bunch of .38 Super rounds on my Hornady Lock-N-Load progressive ammo press.

I have concluded that “progressive” ammo presses are a myth, much like “progressive” politics. If you want the LNL to work, you pretty much have to prime the cases in a separate operation, which takes the “progressive” out of the job. A progressive press should size, deprime, prime, and reload cases, all in one circuit. If you try to do that with the LNL, you will suffer.

The press’s functionality seems to depend largely on the brass and caliber. I do okay with .45 ACP and old brass. Today, sadly, I’m using new Starline .38 Super brass. I don’t know if the primer pockets are tight or what, but you have to smack the lever pretty good to get the primers seated. That causes all sorts of problems. The dies move. Powder spills. The flimsy primer feed apparatus gets shaken out of whack.

When power starts spilling, it creates a cascade of issues. It lodges in the little thing that inserts primers, causing it to stick in the extended position and block the primer-feed slide. It obstructs the slide directly, by getting in the too-tight groove in which it rides. It gets in the threads of every screw, making them hard to remove and insert, and you WILL be removing and inserting them often, as the powder problems escalate.

When powder screws up the primer-feed system, guess what happens? Primers fail to seat. Then you get cases that are open at the bottom when they’re filled with powder. What happens then? More powder gets on the press. It’s a vicious cycle.

I learned some new things about the press’s deficiencies today. Guess how the little piston that inserts primers is activated? The rear end of it–hardened steel–bangs into the cast-iron frame of the press every time you make a round. They made it this way intentionally, if you can believe it. This means a hole gradually opens up in the frame, so the piston doesn’t get pushed as far up as it used to. And how do you fill the hole? Beats me. There is no way to get it under a drill press or mill, so I have no idea how I would open it up enough to put a sacrificial insert in it.

The primer-feed tube has an aluminum inner tube held in by…wait for it…friction. I’m completely serious. A set screw would have been the obvious move. When the press bangs around, an aging primer tube which is looser than it used to be (due to wear on the parts that press together) comes loose at the bottom, creating a cavity where primers pile up. Guess what happens then? Primers don’t seat…and POWDER POURS ONTO THE PRESS.

If someone drew a comprehensive flow chart describing every problem this press can have, I think every path would eventually lead to a box labeled “POWDER POURS ONTO THE PRESS.”

People have told me my press needs to be mounted more securely. It’s on a workbench made from two-by-sixes and two-by-eights. It’s held in by big lag bolts seated in lead retainers. I reinforced the wood directly under the press. You could literally rest a car on this bench without stressing it. The only things that would be sturdier would be concrete, stone, or solid metal. The mounting is not the problem. If the press needs to be mounted more rigidly than this, it’s not fit for consumer use.

Here’s another fun issue: it looks like the spring that lifts the press’s table back into position after every round is too short. It probably got that way after being whacked so hard, thousands of times, to seat primers. When the table doesn’t rise high enough, the primer insertion piston remains raised, obstructing the primer feed slide. Guess what this does? It prevents primers from feeding. No primer, powder in case: POWDER POURS ONTO THE PRESS.

I took the spring out and stretched it a sixteenth of an inch. May be helping a little, but there are so many other problems, it doesn’t matter. I tried putting a washer under it before stretching it, but the table wouldn’t lower enough to seat the primers. The washer raised it too high.

I removed every die except the sizing die, and I tried to run the cases through just to size and prime them. Didn’t work. I had to adjust it over and over. I should have been able to process one case every two seconds, but I got a failure rate of maybe 40%, resulting in many minutes lost while I sorted out the unprimed cases and fiddled with the machine.

Once you get past the nightmare of case priming, the other operations go pretty smoothly, although the press still spills a little powder.

People defend this thing as if their kids made it in shop class for Mother’s Day, but it’s pretty crude. Let’s just admit it; it’s not an insult. There is no shame in making a somewhat less-than-slick product, when you’re a small company in a niche market.

I have lots of Chinese machinery which is made to much higher standards. My Northern Tool band saw is the cheesiest machine I own, and it’s considerably more reliable than the Lock-N-Load. Once the press is set up, I should be able to make fifteen cartridges a minute. I’m lucky if I can make one .38 Super round in that amount of time, although .45 is not nearly as bad.

I think I can fix it. I’m going to put a set screw in the primer feed system, the way Hornady should have. If I don’t do that, I’m going to make a better device at the top of the feed tube, to replace the cheap plastic deal Hornady put up there. One way or the other, I’m going to make that tube stay in place. I’m going to polish the primer slide groove so the slide won’t freeze when three grains of Accurate No. 7 fall behind it. I may even put Loc-Tite on the dies so they quit rotating on me. I’m also going to make a T-handle to replace the horrible ball at the top of the lever. The ball screws on, so every time you pull the lever, you have to be careful not to apply counterclockwise torque, or it starts to come off. The necessary effort can actually cause blisters. I’ve had enough of that. I should go ahead and WELD a handle on it. I’m also going to make a weighted rod to rest on top of the primers in the tube. They don’t move reliably under their own weight, and my old reliable coat-hanger segment is not doing the job.

This thing is just not engineered well. There are too many obvious flaws. I know nothing about engineering, but I am easily able to spot the weak points of the press. A good engineer would have seen these things and fixed them before putting the press on the market.

The new EZ-Ject system works great; I’ll say that. I have had no problems with it. And I think the press is a fine platform to start with, PROVIDED you have a lot of spare time and a garage full of machine tools and scrap metal.

I should make new parts and patent them. But how big is the market? Probably wouldn’t cover the cost of the patents.

I wonder if I could make my own press. I guess it’s a viable project. I have no end of scrap metal. I could not cast the frame the way Hornady does, but with all the metal I have, I ought to be able to build a rigid frame without casting anything. Then I could stick the Hornady parts in it and make it work. Maybe I could machine it from aluminum and then add steel parts in areas where wear is an issue.

I had what I think is a clever idea today. I don’t have a brass catcher, and I’m tired of losing .38 Super brass, so today I sprayed 100 bullets with Dykem. Now I should be able to spot my blue cases a mile away. I was worried that it might cause feeding issues, but then I realized, Dykem is so thin it doesn’t worry machinists, who have to worry about tiny tolerances. If it’s okay for them, it should be okay for me.

We’ll see. Worst-case scenario, I have to wipe it off with rubbing alcohol.

Some day I have to get a brass catcher.

Impaled on the Swords of Their Mouths

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Israel’s Enemies Poison Their Own Harvest

Busy day yesterday. Laid out 6 dozen garlic rolls, baked 4 dozen, and had to discard the rest. Made lots of pizza. Put brownies out in clear boxes for the customers to see. Fortunately, I had some help. The 11-year-old son of our church’s head servant leader showed up and worked with me. This kid is going to be a CEO some day. Show him something twice, and the third time, he’ll start without you.

Needs to realize that cleaning up is part of the job, however.

The guy who runs the church’s cafe during the week says the building’s business tenants go nuts over the brownies. The congregation isn’t as crazy about them. I decided to bake tons of brownies and store them in the walk-in cooler, so the weekday team can get them out as needed. Brownies keep for eternity, so I should be able to bake 6 half-sheets a month and cover our needs pretty efficiently.

The Armorbearers ended up talking in the parking lot. Unfortunately, one of the younger guys brought up paintball. So now I may have to participate in that. They say those paintballs sting pretty good. I may have to hide a sheet of MDF in my Depends.

We also talked about the need for martial arts training. I suggested krav maga. One of the top instructors lives in Miami. It would be pretty cool, defending God’s house with a system developed by God’s people, in God’s country. And you don’t have to be in great shape to do it, which is a plus for me. I contacted the instructor, and he’s available.

Speaking of God’s people, Israel is in the news. A “peace flotilla” including one ship full of armed hooligans approached her coast, and the IDF boarded the problem vessel, and Israel’s soldiers were attacked. Naturally, Israel’s enemies are portraying her as the aggressor. Pray that God will humiliate and abase the liars, and that Israel will emerge unscathed.

The Bible uses the terms “flood” and “waters” to describe the waves of slander and lies the enemy uses to afflict God’s people. You can see it over and over in the Psalms. False witness is a great evil, and it brings suffering on those who utter it. The Psalms tell us God protects the righteous from it.

The Old Testament uses the term “leprosy” (“tzara’at”) to describe the curse that comes from slander. It doesn’t mean the disease we think of as leprosy; that illness probably did not exist in the Middle East in the time of Moses. It refers to other disfiguring illnesses, as well as a type of rot that attacks a person’s house. God used to make the walls of the homes of liars rot, in order to publicly expose them as people who lied in private. If you routinely lie about people, and your home is falling apart, and your plans always seem to come to nothing, you might want to ask yourself if you’re causing your own problems.

I know a person who spews a never-ending flow of slander and accusation, and this person is a complete failure and outcast (like a leper) and lives in a home which is literally rotting. I know another who behaves the same way, and that person has a miserable life which has amounted to nothing. I believe tzara’at, in one form or another, is still with us. It reminds me of what Wiccans believe: if you try to curse a righteous person, the curse comes back to you. They’re probably right. Some slanderers have supernatural protection from the enemy, but that protection goes away when the righteous attack it in prayer or the enemy no longer finds the slanderers useful. My guess is that the delayed payback carries interest.

Since learning about tzara’at, I’ve been much more careful about what I say. Israel’s enemies could benefit from the same lesson. God spoke the world into existence, and he spoke the eternal blessing on his people into existence, and he speaks curses into existence, and everything he speaks eventually comes to pass, except for punishments which he decides to withhold. Our words have power, too.

I think that when a believer prays in tongues, he speaks God’s blessings and power into his life and the lives of those around him. That’s like having a fountain that waters your crops and drowns your rats and bugs (like a flood) every day. The words come from the Holy Spirit, which is God, so what you say is God’s word, as much as the Bible. Pouring that “living water” into the world has to be a good thing.

It’s surprising how much power words have, even in the natural sense. Think about it. Our laws are words, so when a criminal is imprisoned or put to death, in actuality, he is jailed or killed by words. When you spend a dollar, you are relying on the words printed on it, which say our government backs it up. The words, not the paper, buy the goods you need. A declaration of war is words. A marriage is made by pronouncing words. All contracts are made of words. When you face foreclosure, words take away your house. The Bible even tells us God dispatches his angels using words, and we know that one angel killed 185,000 Assyrians in one night.

When Edward Bulwer-Lytton said the pen was mightier than the sword, he was not kidding. A hydrogen bomb is useless without someone to write the words allowing its deployment.

Even computers are powered by words. How do you tell a computer what to do? How do you create an application? You use a programming “language.”

Understanding the power of words should help us grasp the importance of prayer. It is literally more powerful than anything you do with your mind or your hands. Everything is established in prayer, or in blessings and curses. The work we do in the natural is just execution.

Israel will never go under. God’s flood is deeper than Satan’s. It’s sad that her soldiers were hurt, but in the end, Israel will be buoyed up like the Ark.

Cake Fail

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Flavor 7, Presentation 1

Mike gave me a secret suggestion for improving commercial cake mix. I tried it, and the texture is very good. Problem: it still tastes artificial, even though I substituted butter for vegetable oil. That part is not Mike’s fault, however.

Why does commercial cake mix taste like chemicals? Maybe they’ve managed to stick canola or dried milk or something in there, to make it taste bad. I guess I need to work out a scratch recipe. If “need” is the right word.

I also tried a frosting recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. I would call it “okay.” It needs more salt and maybe more vanilla, and so far, the texture is goopy. Not like real frosting. Maybe it needs to cool.

I decided to fool with this after trying some Misha’s cupcakes. This is a Miami company some lady started a while back. I saw a Misha’s store, and then I saw Misha’s cupcakes in a grocery store, and I started wondering how a cupcake could be so good you would make a special effort to get it. Let’s face it. Cupcakes are generally dry and boring.

Misha’s cupcakes are very good. For one thing, they’re short, so you don’t end up with a mile of cake and a tiny layer of icing. Also, the cake is moist, without that fake taste commercial mixes have. I guess anyone could have done what this lady did, if they had just applied common sense. It makes you wonder why 99% of the cupcakes you see at bakeries are dry and worthless.

I will probably never have another Misha’s cupcake, simply because I don’t care about cupcakes. But if I were a cupcake guy, I’d be there every day.

The sad part of discovering Misha’s cupcakes is that it has made me realize that making a decent cake is hard. The one I just made had some structural failures while I was assembling it, and then I realized I had forgotten the layer of icing that goes in the middle.

Tastes pretty good, if you close your eyes while you eat it.

Honey, I Fragged the Hummer

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

10mm Looking Better All the Time

Here is some possibly useless news.

1. Midway USA has all sorts of pistol primers. I just got a cascade of product-arrival emails. Stock up, I guess.

2. Charlie Crist has suspended the fishing license requirement for the State of Florida, through the long weekend. Hooray for all concerned.

I may run by the gun shop today to talk about 10mm and an AK47 pistol. My big concern about the AK is that it may be impossible to find a place where I can shoot it. Trail Glades doesn’t allow people to shoot rifles with the stocks folded, and this is essentially the same thing. I better call.

A 10mm Glock looks like a really good defense choice. You can get ammunition that expands to about 1″ in diameter. That’s not bad for a pistol round. And it penetrates way better than a 9mm.

I keep reading up on this stuff. It’s very confusing. Back when I chose my first Glock, in .40 S&W, my understanding was that heavy rounds could work against you, because of conservation of momentum. I won’t go into the physics, but it works like this: the heavier a bullet is, the farther it can penetrate. There is more to it than that, and I am not going to publish distracting wise-guy comments about sectional density. Type them if you want, just for the finger exercise. Comments like that lead to boring comment threads that annoy everyone and don’t shed any light on anything. People who are interested in splitting hairs can always go to Stoppingpower.net.

Anyway, the theory was this: a round that penetrates too far before expanding won’t achieve much. You get a tunnel about the same diameter as the bullet, plus two small entry and exit wounds.

Now I’m reading stuff claiming that you want the deepest penetration possible, because handgun bullets don’t expand reliably, and that tunnel is all you can count on. If the bullet doesn’t expand, you want it to go all the way through the perp, to do as much harm as possible.

I’m also reading that there are 10mm rounds out there that reliably expand to about 1″ in diameter.

Putting all the BS together in a bag and shaking it, I tentatively conclude that 10mm is a very good choice, when you are limited to a sad little pistol instead of a long gun. If it doesn’t expand, you get good penetration, and if it does, you get lots of damage from the expansion. And it should do a nice job penetrating car doors and such.

I know I can shoot this round very well, because I shoot the .50 AE very well. I am not going to faint because of a little recoil. I shot the .50 AE well while the shells were coming back and hitting me in the middle of the forehead hard enough to cause bleeding, so I think I can deal with a gun that has half as much muzzle energy.

If you think you’ve done things at the range that made you feel stupid, wait until you find out you’ve been shooting yourself in the head over and over with spent cartridges. You don’t feel it until you quit shooting, and by then, you’re already bleeding.

I am convinced that worries about bullets exiting perps and hitting babies and Boy Scouts and visiting Popes and so on are the stuff of Internet-forum hysteria, and the FBI, in an internal document, has taken pretty much the same position. The odds of hitting an innocent person with a spent round are incredibly slim, while the odds of being killed by someone who wasn’t hurt badly enough by your wimpy pistol ammunition are very high. And if you shoot at a criminal and kill someone else, guess who gets charged with the crime? The criminal. It’s called felony murder. Look it up. I got confused and called it “capital murder” the other day. Hey, I’m not a criminal lawyer, plus I’m old. I’m sure there are exceptions for negligence and so on, but the solution is simple: don’t be negligent.

Felony murder is wonderful. Criminals can be charged with the murders of the accomplices the cops shoot. I think.

The idea that there is a wonderful bullet out there, which goes into a perp exactly the right distance, does exactly the right things, and stops without hitting your kids seems facially farcical to me. It’s a lot to ask from a mindless piece of metal. I say power up, shoot to kill, and use common sense. One of the cardinal rules of shooting is, “Be sure of your backstop.” I don’t care how nerve-wracking a shooting situation is; you ought to be able to make some minimal effort not to shoot toward a crowded playground or a session of Congress. If you can’t, then the perp has taken that option away, and he, not you, bears the legal responsibility.

I am not giving legal advice here; I’m just blathering on a blog. If it turns out the laws in your state are different, it’s your problem, not mine. I don’t see the “I read it on a blog” defense as highly viable. Even Tim Geithner had a better excuse than that.

The idea that all calibers are equally effective is also silly. Some do more damage than others, and more damage means a better chance of your survival, especially if your shot placement isn’t perfect. If a 10mm is 10% better than a 9mm, it seems like a smart move to me.

You could say that the extra bullet you get by staying at 9mm gives you at least a 10% advantage. But how likely are you to get to the point where you use that bullet? Besides, extra Glock magazines are small and light.

The stuff about expansion and penetration makes me wonder if I’ve underestimated the .50 AE as a defensive round. The big problems with it are the high likelihood of misfeeds, the low magazine capacity, and the distinct possibility that a stray round will enter your garage and kill one of your vehicles. And then there’s that bleeding-forehead thing.

There is no perfect solution, but trying to work it out is too much fun to quit.

Super

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Little Plastic Boxes Filling Up

I finally got my ammunition press going. Last night I produced 100 rounds of .38 Super.

Every time I start the press, I find a new way for it to screw up. Last night I had to remove debris from inside the little spring-loaded primer-insertion doodad. It was sticking up about half a millimeter, blocking the primer slide. What a pain. It’s almost as if Hornady worked on finding ways to make this press break down. I guess there is a limit to the R&D a small company can do.

I’m down to two shell plate retainer springs. This is a weird item. They break all the time, so you have to keep spares on hand. Midway sells them for $2 each or…$6.69 for three.

Buy in volume and lose money! What a concept!

Hornady advises people to smooth out the rough edges the spring contacts. Unfortunately, they don’t tell you this until you call them up and ask them why the spring keeps breaking. I don’t know of a good tool for removing a knife edge from a curved slot. Is a deburring tool the right thing? I don’t know. Hornady says to use sandpaper. If I had a tiny ball end mill, I could mount this thing in the rotary table and have at it.

In order to get 100 rounds of .38 Super, I had to run 105 cases through. Five times, the primer system failed, leaving the primer pockets open so powder escaped onto the press. I also had to guide the rounds into the sizing die. That may be a pawl-adjustment issue, but I don’t think so. I think the plate doesn’t grip the brass well enough to align it reliably. Maybe Hornady made the shell pocket too wide. As I recall, the .45 plate and die work much better.

I plan to make as much .38 Super as I can stand to produce. I think I have about 400 bullets left, and maybe 300 cases. Might as well crank it all out now so I don’t have to set the press up more often than necessary.

I may get a Hornady Powder Cop die, to make sure the charges are uniform. Seems like cheap insurance against death and mayhem.

I was upset because my powder measure, which has an expensive pistol micrometer thing on it, was throwing charges that were off by up to 0.2 grains. I started looking for a better powder measure. I read that the Lyman #55 was better, and I considered ordering one. Then I read that the accuracy I was getting was actually about as good as I could hope for without using a trickler, so I decided to forget about it. Now I’d like to do some super-accurate charges and see if it affects my shooting. If it did, I would be the king of the gun range. Then, of course, I would be obligated to lie and say I was reloading the same way everyone else does.

I did some research on 7.62x39mm ammunition last night. I learned something interesting. Most of the cheap Russian hollowpoints don’t expand too well. I have read that they do fall apart and yaw, and that’s good, but expansion is what you hope for when you buy hollowpoints. It turns out two brands expand: Wolf Military Classic and Silver Bear match ammunition. So if you, like me, like cheap Russian ammunition, this may be helpful to you. Now I have to shoot all my second-rate ammunition and make room for the good stuff!

Hornady makes V-Max bullets in this size (for reloading), and they’re supposed to be great, but the bullets alone run like 20 cents each, so the cost is not low.

Increasingly, I am drawn to the idea of getting an AK pistol for the truck. A truck allows for bigger weapons than concealed carry, but it’s not as big and roomy as a house, so there is good reason to look for a short gun. The AK pistol should give much better accuracy in real-world situations than a pistol, plus higher capacity and infinitely better ballistics. And you can even put a laser on it. I mean a real laser, not a dinky red one you can barely see ten feet away.

The more I think about the shortcomings of pistols, the more convinced I am that I should avoid depending on one. They are absolutely pathetic compared to long guns. Not even in the same ball park. I feel like Tom Selleck in Quigley Down Under. “Never had much use for one.” I’m a very good pistol shot and just an okay rifle shot, but an okay rifle shot is still many times more lethal than a world-class pistol shot.

I had another fun tool experience. My Sears Craftsman mechanic’s stool busted. It has two tubes under it which receive the supports for the backrest. One of the tubes popped off. It had been welded in place, but two welds were bad, and the third was mostly imaginary.

I considered calling Sears to see if their tool warranty applied, but their site says it only applies to hand tools. I decided to try to fix it. I got out my little Proxxon grinder and cleaned up the metal, and then I fastened the tube in place as well as possible with magnets. I fired up the welder and either welded or glued the part in place. I was working in a tiny area, and I can’t tell whether I achieved a real weld, but I stuffed lots of melted steel in there, so if it’s not a weld, it’s acting like glue, and that should be good enough. The part turned a little on its axis while I welded, but it’s straight. The little knob that goes into the tube to fasten the backrest in place now goes in at a slight angle, but no one will ever notice. This sure beats paying $80 for a new stool.

I wonder why Lincoln doesn’t make a skinny nozzle for tight places. Maybe they do. I would love to have a tiny TIG or MIG welder that only goes up to 20 gauge steel.

Tools are life. A man with no tools is wretched, indeed.

Pistol Paradigm Shift

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Time for 9mm to Go?

I wanted to write the third installment in the story of my trip to Washington for the National Day of Prayer, but I’m not feeling it right now. I got my reloading press working last night, I have piles of brass and powder and primers, and I want to crank out some .38 Super ammunition.

Yesterday while giving the birds some out time, I watched one of those reality shows featuring security videos and such. They showed a nutcase shooting up a tow yard office with an AK and a 9mm pistol. Learned a few things.

First of all, outer walls are really bad cover. I knew that already, from people yammering at me about it in comments, but it was really something to see it proven on video.

The tow yard was in a place called Lake City. I can’t find a Lake City Towing in Florida, using the web. There’s one in Wisconsin. If it’s the one in Florida, the walls are probably concrete. In any case, the rounds went through with no problem, nailing a lady in the rear end.

They had some kind of clear barrier between the office and the waiting area, and I guess it blocked bullets. But the wall below it was worthless. They probably didn’t think about reinforcing it when they added the plastic barrier. And the nut was able to shoot through the little hole where they passed papers and money back and forth.

If this character had been a good shot, he would have killed several people.

When the cops came, one pretty much emptied a pistol into him, but he kept making trouble until an employee came out and shot him some more. The shooter still lived to be jailed.

I’ve seen more than one video like this. Some criminal forces the cops to shoot, and it takes seconds or minutes for him to go down, even with multiple hits. During that time, the criminal can kill.

It makes me wonder if 9mm is a good idea. I like my Glock because it’s portable, super-accurate, and reliable, and it holds 11 rounds. But will it save me in a pinch?

I carry nice Cor-Bon ammunition, which is supposed to cause all sorts of damage inside perps, even in 9mm. If you can make someone bleed internally to a degree that it causes them to lose consciousness, you can put them down in a hurry. That’s the theory. But does it work? I feel like I ought to go hog-hunting and find out.

I have considered carrying a 1911, in either .38 Super or .45. The .38 Super is nearly as deadly as .357 Magnum, and the .45 is also excellent. But a big 1911 is a little showy for church, and the rest of the time, it’s just plain heavy. Maybe a compact Glock in .45 is where I need to be. Or the dreaded and disrespected .40, which is definitely better than the 9mm and has a similar capacity. I wonder if Glock does 10mm. That would be just about perfect. People moan about the recoil and controllability, but I have not had any problems handling high-recoil pistols.

Should I keep a shotgun in the truck? A short gun loaded with 00 buckshot would be much better than a pistol, if I got caught in one of Miami’s famous traffic-accident altercations.

An AK pistol would be hard to beat. Cheap and effective. Short, legal barrel. Lots of rounds. And if you lose it to a thief, you won’t lie awake weeping.

I’m also rethinking my ideas on pistol-grip shotguns. I have read that they’re impossible to control, but if you check out Youtube, you’ll see people firing them with very good accuracy, for short-range purposes. A reasonably talented shooter should be able to hit a perp reliably at fifty feet or less, over and over, unless the videos are rigged. With a shotgun, you don’t necessarily have to put the center of the pattern in a vital place. The pellets will go in different directions in the body, so presumably, you can expect probability to be on your side. If nine pellets enter and separate, one or two are likely to hit something important. At least you would think so. And the entry wound should be huge and bloody compared to the entry would made by a pistol round, which tends to make a little tear that closes up on its own.

Pistols are easier to control in theory, but that doesn’t seem to pan out in actual encounters caught on video. I can shoot a man in the eye at 7 yards, over and over, IF he’s not moving and the light is good. In a problem situation, I’ll be shooting 6″ groups, at best. With a shotgun, that might open up to 12″, but again, you have more lead, bigger wounds, and more trajectories, so aren’t you still way ahead?

So maybe a pistol-grip shotgun is a good thing to have in a vehicle. It’s compact, it’s lethal, it’s as accurate in practice as a pistol…what’s not to love? The Box o’ Truth says 00 will penetrate cars, so it sounds like it ought to go through any cover you are likely to have to worry about on the street.

I need to take the Saiga to a range and shoot it without using the buttstock so I can find out. If it works, forget pistols.

I have to get over the idea that pistols are okay for self-defense. They’re a whole lot better than nothing, but most pistol shots miss, and the ballistics are generally pathetic. I have to make myself think of pistols as what they are: something to keep me alive until I can get to a long gun (paraphrasing Col. Jeff Cooper).

My Short Fuse

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

How About That Amazing German Engineering?

I hate it when something bad happens, which I could not predict. But then I also hate it when something bad happens that I should have seen coming, because then I kick myself for months for not preventing it. So I don’t know which is worse.

Today I was straightening up the garage so I can actually use it. I was sucking swarf off my workbench, which held the chargers for my impact driver and Bosch hammer drill. I picked up the impact driver charger to vacuum under it, and it touched the Bosch charger, and there was a flash and a popping sound. Afterward, the Bosch charger didn’t work.

This one is new to me. I have no idea why letting one battery charger touch another will cause an explosion.

I am a little tired of silly things going wrong. I decided to march in the house, go on the web, and order a new charger. I didn’t need the aggravation of trying to fix the old one.

But then I looked at all my tools. Sitting there, all lonely and whatever.

I cleared some space and got out a Philips screwdriver, from my stainless rolling chest/cart combination. I moved my magnifying fluorescent lamp over the workbench. I took the stupid charger apart and checked it out.

Here’s something amusing. It has a fuse on the circuit board…which is soldered in place.

I know times are hard, but the logic evades me. I would rather have Bosch spend an extra four cents on a fuse holder and pass the cost on to me.

I put my variable-heat Weller soldering station on the bench and turned it on. I opened up my blister-packaged soldering tool set. I removed the fuse.

I looked for new fuses. I had 4-amp and 2-amp fuses. Why? Search me. This kind of crap just accumulates. I needed 5 amps. Because I have a physics degree, I am just barely savvy enough to know that I can get 6 amps by paralleling a 4 and a 2. That’s pretty close to 5. So I knew I could fix this thing reasonably well without leaving the garage.

I felt tremendous satisfaction. It’s wonderful to be able to DO something with all this junk once in a while.

I obtained a 5-amp fuse anyway, and I’m going to solder it in there whichever way I can. It will not look cute, but then, no one will ever see it. With any luck, the fuse was the only thing damaged, and I’ll be in the clear. If not…INTERNET.

And I’ll be able to say I tried.

Favor for the Favored

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Join In

Evangelist Judah Smith spoke at my church last week. Today he has a prayer request, via Twitter:

Hey everybody could REALLY use your prayers right now for Dad- he has a mtg at Mayo Clinic today @2pm- we need great favor! Thnk u!

Don’t know what’s happening, but people don’t go to the Mayo Clinic over trifles.

Mine Ear Hast Thou Opened

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

I Cannot Have Problems

More interesting stuff is happening.

Last night at church, I worked as an armorbearer. When I do this, I carry a two-way radio with an earpiece and microphone. You know those curly plastic things Secret Service guys wear in movies? That’s what I’m talking about. The correct name for the earpiece rig is “surveillance kit.”

At the end of the service, I tried to pull the earpiece out of my ear, and the tube came loose, leaving the end of the kit deep inside my skull somewhere. Whoopee.

Ran into a friend hosting a prayer group in the back of the church, and I told the group what had happened, and I suggested they pray I manage to get the thing out of my ear. I was laughing, but I was not kidding. You can’t expect anything to go well if you don’t prepare in prayer.

At home, before attacking the earpiece, I prayed about it, and I said I was determined to see this annoying event turn out to be a blessing. I thanked God that it had happened. I always do that when I have a setback. To understand why, read Corrie ten Boom’s book, The Hiding Place. Her sister made her thank God for a flea infestation in the concentration camp barracks in which they were incarcerated. Later, it turned out the inmates were able to get away with a lot of things in the barracks, because the fleas kept the guards out.

I found some tweezers with fairly wide tips, and I went to work, accomplishing nothing whatsoever. It’s amazing how hard it is to find something inside your ear with tweezers. It’s not like the location is a mystery. Still, I could not grab the earpiece, and half the time, I missed it completely.

I eventually gave up and went to bed. I figured I’d go to the ER or my doctor in the morning and give everyone a good laugh.

I woke up after 2:00 a.m. The earpiece was starting to cause some pain. I decided to try removing it again, and I preceded the effort with more prayer. I was more determined this time. God has been fantastic about responding to my faith lately, so I was sure I could get the earpiece out, if I didn’t waiver or give up.

I could not find the tweezers, and I was annoyed because I couldn’t find any of my other pairs. I was afraid the wide tips on the first pair were not right for the job. I prayed for help finding them anyway, and I kept exerting my faith. I went to every room where I had taken them earlier in the night, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. Finally, I decided to go to the garage and try needlenose pliers. When I went to get them, I found the wide tweezers on my workbench, and resting on the top of an electrical box, a pair of tweezers with narrow tips and serrated tips for better gripping.

I took the narrow tweezers and went to work. Nothing seemed to go right. I missed the earpiece over and over. I kept yanking hairs out of my ear canal. But I stuck with it, praying the whole time. I would put the tweezers in, establish contact, close them, and pull. Finally, on one pull, I felt the earpiece move. That meant it was possible to grab it.

I kept working at it, and in a few minutes, I got a good grip, and the entire earpiece came out. I felt like I had delivered a baby from the side of my head.

I don’t know if you understand how unlikely this seemed at the time, from the natural viewpoint. During most of the process, I didn’t really know how the earpiece was shaped or whether it was possible to grab it. You would have to have an unfamiliar object stuck deep in your ear to understand.

I took a look at the earpiece. It had a narrow hole in the tube side, which had been facing out when it had been in my ear. There was no way the wide tweezers could get in that hole, and it was necessary to get one tweezer tip in the hole to get a grip on the earpiece. If I hadn’t misplaced them and then had to hunt them down in the garage, I would never have found the narrow tweezers, which turned out to be the only tool which could solve my problem.

Classic God move.

I started thanking God, very sincerely. It’s not hard to be sincere at a moment like that. I was extremely grateful for the relief. And I started thanking God for all the other rotten things in my life. Why not? It’s a good thing to do.

I spent a little time in prayer about some stubborn problems. I prayed about some things I needed, and I prayed about my sister’s difficulties. I felt a powerful flow of faith going through me. I could tell problems were being solved. Things were happening.

This, I believe, was the blessing that came from the annoying accident. The ear thing was unimportant, and the inconvenience was minor, but the powerful prayer I experienced later was a very big deal.

I have another praise report. Remember the guy whose car I squashed? At the time, I told him the accident would turn out to be a big blessing for both of us. I asked him if he needed prayer for anything, and he told me he had midterm tests coming up. Some kind of career program he’s involved in. I told him I’d get on it, and I did.

Last night, I saw him. He told me there were five guys in his group, and he was the only one who passed the tests. How about that? Today he’s doing something or other regarding this project, and I am still backing him up in prayer.

Walking by faith will lead you to victory, but it also leads you into battle. Bad things are going to happen. When you choose to serve God, you are very literally entering a battlefield, and you are attracting the attention of a large army of enemies. It’s not imaginary. It’s not insignificant. As soon as you start to pose a threat to the enemy, you will draw fire. That’s just how it is. You can’t expect to be protected from all adversity. Instead, you can expect every adversity to turn out to be a benefit. God will see to it, if you don’t give up on him. Psalm 32 says, “I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Either he’s there, or he’s not. If he is, he will return to you eventually and turn your manure into strawberries.

The big difference between believers and nonbelievers is that the misfortunes of nonbelievers are just misfortunes. Sometimes they turn out well, but very often, they do not. If you stick with God, he will always bring you out on top in the end.

I am better off today than I would be, had the earpiece not gotten lodged in my ear.

To some people–myself included–the story will seem silly, but if I had had to get professional help, it would have taken hours and cost a lot of money. I’m very glad it didn’t come to that.

Sorry I don’t have anything more dramatic to report, but I think that, too, is a blessing. And anyway, divine intervention is divine intervention, regardless of the scale.

To Dust I Return

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

If You Can’t Breathe, You Can’t do Woodworking

I have to do dust collection. I will never be able to use my woodworking tools without it.

I was waiting for a nice Delta collector to go back on the American Express Rewards shopping list, but the danged thing is still not available. Maybe I should have jumped on it when I had the chance.

I checked out dust collectors on Craigslist yesterday. I can get a giant Dustkop industrial cyclone for a mere $250. Unfortunately, it takes up an area about the size of a kitchen table and has a 3-phase, 3-horsepower motor.

Maybe my failure to acquire the Delta machine is a blessing in disguise. In fact, I’m sure it is, because ALL of my problems are blessings in disguise. Disguises. Whatever.

I’m considering making my own dust collector. Wood Magazine sells plans. For the cost of a small Delta, I can have a cyclone which should satisfy my needs for all eternity. I just have to grit my teeth and build it. One nice thing about it: it would be strong enough to put in a corner, with long hoses or ducts. A smaller machine might have to be rolled from tool to tool, so it would be in the way.

I want to fire up the table saw and make bed covers for my mill, but I am not willing to tolerate a big dust cleanup job. Trying to suck sawdust out of the crevices on two motorcycles gets tiresome.

Today I’m trying to get the garage in order. I need to get the new rotary table and chuck working so I can put them away. When I put a dial indicator on the side of the chuck and turn the table, the radial variation is barely measurable, but when I chuck a cutter in the jaws, I get higher numbers. I was getting something like 0.017″, which horrified me. Then I moved the chuck jaws over one slot and tried again. This time, the total measured variation is about 0.0045″. If I understand runout correctly, the runout is half of that, which is acceptable. But I can’t help wondering what would happen if I took the jaws out and moved them again. And there are twelve possible ways to combine the chuck, adapter plate, and table, so this could turn out to be a long job.

I just learned that you can induce runout by tightening a chuck using only one socket. I refer to the sockets in which the chuck key fits. Can you believe that? I have to go back, tighten the chuck using all three sockets, and start over.

I guess I should look for a 4-jaw chuck. I probably should have gotten one to begin with, but I suppose optimism overwhelmed my common sense. A 4-jaw chuck can be adjusted to overcome runout, although it may have other problems if it’s cheap.

I hate to do this to my male readers, but I just learned about a pretty cool tool. You will want it, I assume. It’s called the Ridgid Jobmax. It’s a battery-powered handle which accepts things like a drill, an impact driver, an oscillating tool, and an autohammer. Popular Mechanics says it outperforms individual tools made by other companies. Get one of these with the impact driver and oscillating tool, and you would be king of the jobsite. If you also had five batteries. That’s the hitch. It would be a neat thing to have around the house, if you had limited space and a limited budget.

Ridgid makes good stuff.

I better get back to the garage and resume rearranging piles.

More Favor

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

A Lean Year Can be a Blessing

I had a funny moment this morning.

On Tuesdays, my dad and I have breakfast together at a local restaurant. We have been doing this for years. Today when we walked in and chose a table, a lad–total stranger–stopped me and said she had to tell me something.

This is Miami. You can imagine my thoughts. “Process server.” “Hare Krishna.” “Angry liberal who doesn’t like my NRA T-shirts.”

She said, “You look so HANDSOME since you’ve lost weight!”

I didn’t know what to say! She said she had noticed the change over the last few months. I had no memory of seeing her before today.

I thanked her, and we sat down to eat. My dad was happy about it. Anything good that happens to me reflects on him, as far as he’s concerned.

Why is this a big deal? Because it’s an answer to prayer. I want my father to accept Jesus and be baptized with the Holy Spirit, but he hates Christianity, so I pray for God to show him that I am more blessed than he is, so he’ll want what I have, and so he’ll get it through faith and obedience.

My dad has a real problem with food. When we go to this restaurant, sometimes he moves us from one booth to another because he needs extra room. Since August, he has seen me lose weight without effort, and today, he got a very loud reminder, in a place where he has to face the temptation that causes his problem.

That was pretty cool.

It was one of those things that are so weird, they have to originate in the supernatural.

As for her taste in men and her eyesight, well, we have to make allowances.

The weight loss itself was supernatural. God did it all. I am really sick of people trying to tell me I did it. It actually makes me angry sometimes. Sometimes people have an offensive insistence on “debunking” miracles. If God works miracles for people they know, it poses a threat, because it means God is real, and they need to change their lives and draw closer to him. It’s easier to put the credit where it does not belong. “An earthquake parted the Red Sea.” “Evolution proves God exists.” You know the mindset.

When you try to give me the credit for this, you are encouraging me to steal from God. That is not helpful to me, no matter how grateful you think I should be for the praise. I could not have done this, and I do not want to fall into the trap of thinking I blessed myself. I know you mean well, but so did Peter, when he objected to the crucifixion. And you know what Jesus said in reply.

Speaking of the supernatural, I saw something interesting on Sid Roth’s show yesterday. The show is called It’s Supernatural, and it always features Christians who have experienced supernatural manifestations. Sometimes I’m very suspicious of these people, but I liked the folks he interviewed yesterday. Their names are Ken and Jeanne Harrington.

They talked about the supernatural things God had done in their lives, and if I understood them correctly, they tied all of it to obeying certain Biblical principles, such as humility and honesty.

They made a good impression on me, and I can tell you why. They’re not sharp, oily, polished people. They seem very nice, but they are extremely ordinary. They’re not highly educated. They don’t have a bunch of cribbed preacher jokes to sling at the camera. They dress normally. No chin beards or hair gel or funny suits in colors heterosexual Caucasian men ordinarily shun. And they don’t push an overpriced seminar or a set of pricey tapes, as far as I know. They host “workshops,” and they have a book called Shift!, and I think that’s about it.

I enjoyed listening to them, because they reminded me that while transformation through the Holy Spirit is the most powerful thing in a Christian’s life, the earthly approach matters, too. You can’t just sit around praying in tongues all day. You have to read the Bible, and you have to try to change. The Holy Spirit guides you and gives you the power to succeed at this, but you have to act. Sometimes I underemphasize the importance of earthly tools.

They talked about the importance of avoiding attempts to justify yourself, even when you’re wronged. When you have a conflict, you are very likely to be wrong to some extent, even if the other person is almost completely at fault. Instead of insisting that person take all the blame, you should take responsibility for your part in the mess and apologize.

That makes sense, because Christianity is about growth. If you insist you’re right, and you believe it, you will not try to improve yourself. You will cut off the flow of growth. You can’t grow without admitting the need to grow. This is a lesson I am trying to implement in my own life, and I am not doing a great job.

So much of evil has to do with holding onto unprofitable things. Covetousness is an example. To covet is to set your heart on something. When you set your heart on something, you exalt yourself. You’re saying you know what the future should hold. You can’t walk by faith, if that’s your attitude. If you read the Bible, you’ll see story after story of people receiving the unexpected from God. They hoped for certain things, and God gave them different things, and it turned out God was right. This is the essence of Christian living. You can’t live this way if you covet. When you covet, Satan tells your flesh you need a certain thing, and your flesh tells your mind, and in the end, Satan rules your mind through the flesh. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. God is supposed to rule your mind, and your mind is supposed to rule your flesh.

When you covet, you refuse to grow. You’re like a kid who never learns to eat solid food, because he insists on continuing to breast-feed.

I think addiction is the most powerful expression of this principle. An addict refuses to move forward. He is so in love with the pleasures of the past, he will not try to free himself from them in order to make room for the greater pleasures God has planned for the future. If you know an addict, you know what I mean. They’re obsessed with the past. Blame. Offenses. Other people’s sins. Anything that excuses the refusal to grow. We’re supposed to move forward constantly, without letting anything get a grip on us and hold us back. Addicts never grow past the ages at which their addictions start. They remain immature, like teenagers, all of their lives.

We are told not to love this life. The reason is that the next life is better, and we have to let go of this one to get it. By worrying too much about success and pleasure in this life, we treat it the way an addict treats drugs. We become addicted to it. We covet it.

I might buy that book. I suspect that some of Sid Roth’s guests are con artists, but I don’t see how the Harringtons can do me any harm.

They mentioned something interesting. We have had many revivals which have failed. We have seen miraculous manifestations of God’s power in revivals that failed. God will let us perform miracles sometimes, even when we are not walking in his will. They said the emphasis on character was missing.

As Paul taught, the spiritual gifts, without the fruit (righteousness derived supernaturally from the Holy Spirit) can actually be liabilities. It’s a good thing to keep in mind, especially if God has started allowing you to use his power. The charismatic churches have had a lot of problems caused by allowing the flesh to use the spiritual gifts. I don’t have to name famous pentecostal preachers who have disgraced their offices; we all know who they are.

Hornady Shell Plate Success

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Carbide is the Bomb

I found the AC adapter and lithium battery for my camcorder. I therefore present THIS:

I machined something successfully! This is a pivotal moment in American history!

Miami Five-O

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Wonder What it Will be Like When I Turn 99

I am wiped out. Again.

On Saturdays, my church has a thing called Rhythms Lounge. The kids take over the cafe. They recite their own poetry, sing, and play music. Some of them are very talented. “ALL of them,” my pastor would probably say, if he were reading this.

I help out with food. I was not expecting to cook yesterday, but Christian rapper Dre Marshall showed up in Miami and decided to grace us with an appearance, so I got a frantic call at 10 a.m.

By three, I was at church, and by 7:00, we had twenty pounds of baked ziti, six dozen garlic rolls, and 72 brownies. I could not attend the 6:00 service because the cooking and shopping took so long. I’m getting very efficient. I started cooking at four, and putting all that junk together in three hours–alone–is not easy.

At 8:30 today, I was at the volunteer prayer meeting in the cafe, putting my surveillance kit in my ear and making sure my Glock was concealed correctly. I worked as an armorbearer for two services, and then I attended the third. When you work, it’s not considered attendance.

They had me roaming around, which is a good assignment. You get lots of exercise, it’s not boring, and if you sneak into the cafe for a snack, no one knows.

The Assemblies of God had some kind of big function today at 6 p.m., and our pastor suggested we show up in support, but my dad invited me to lunch, and by the time I got back and took a few minutes to rest, it was about 5:50.

I drove to Hallandale on Saturday morning for my usual 8:00 a.m. prayer group meeting. There were some screwups, so only two of us made it. Anyway, I have been on the go since about 7:20 a.m. yesterday. I am ready to become one with the mattress.

Today Pastor Rich talked about Pentecost. This is what Christians call Shavuot, which actually started last Tuesday. “Pentecost” comes from the Greek language, and it means “fiftieth.” Shavuot commemorates the day on which God gave the law to Moses. Pentecost is the day on which God wrote the law on the hearts of Christians by allowing the Holy Spirit to fall on them in the Upper Room in Jerusalem.

Shavuot is also the festival of the first fruits; Jews used to bring the first fruits of their labor to the Temple. Sheep and wheat and so on. When I was living on a kibbutz, they brought out fruit and young livestock.

Pastor Rich discussed Pentecost as a day of restoration. He talked of five blessings we should expect in return for our faith, obedience, and offerings. First, we should expect to be relieved of debt. Second, we should expect God to restore and save our families. Third, God will reveal himself to us in a new way. Fourth, there will be a redistribution of wealth (but not the kind Obama wants). Fifth, we will have power over weakness.

I don’t know exactly where this doctrine comes from. We were given scriptural support for it, but I’ve never seen it taught before. Maybe it’s an Assemblies of God thing.

I was fascinated by the sermon, because “fifty” has been very important in my life lately. I wrote about it a while back.

I “happened” to go to a Messianic synagogue on the first day of my fiftieth year, and they were singing about the Jubilee. That word describes the Biblical fiftieth year, or the “year of God’s favor,” as described in the Isaiah passage Jesus read to announce the beginning of his ministry. The Messianics sang about it, and the rabbi taught about it, and in an offhand remark he referred to Yeshua (Jesus) as “our jubilee,” and he even mentioned the Isaiah passage, in a seemingly unrelated part of the service. Now my pastor is singing the same tune, more or less.

I think this is the year of my restoration. God keeps hammering this theme. I don’t know why it should be true, but he won’t let it drop, so there must be something to it.

God seems to be promoting me in the background. Other people are getting attention and honor, but weird things keep happening to me, and I keep getting revelation. None of it gets much notice from the people around me. I don’t know where I’m going to end up, but I think God is going to move me into an important position of service, while sidestepping the man-ordered paths promotion usually takes.

I can’t figure it out, but I know God likes to remind us that man is not the one who bestows favor. When he wanted to change the world, he didn’t work through the High Priest, and he hasn’t worked wonders or explained his mysteries through Popes. He picks people from the periphery of the faithful, probably for the same reason he made Abraham refuse gifts: when he raises people up, he doesn’t want others to say man did it. Maybe the point is to avoid rewarding human pride.

If we could use our little minds to choose the prophets and the savior and so on, it would be a lot like the building of the Tower of Babel, which was supposed to allow man to control his own destiny. We were never intended to lift ourselves by our own bootstraps. We are intended to walk by faith, and as long as you think you don’t need God to help you achieve your goals, you will do what you want instead of what he wants. Humility is essential to walking by faith, and if we achieve too much using our base tools, humility will elude us.

Today at lunch, I got an opportunity to explain the Pentecost/Shavuot/Babel parallels to my dad. How about that? These metaphorical similarities are among the strongest evidence that Jesus is who he said he was, and that the baptism of the Holy Spirit (including the gifts of tongues) is real; these seeming coincidences could not have been planned or faked. This is the kind of stuff that makes an impact on intelligent people who resist the faith. I’m so grateful that God gave me the chance to present it.

Father’s Day “happens” to be coming up right away. Wouldn’t it be funny if it gave my dad an excuse to visit the church?

According to Jesus, in Sheol, Abraham told a rich man that if his brothers didn’t believe Moses and the prophets, they would not listen to a man raised from the dead, and that is absolutely true. Like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, we can explain anything away, if we don’t want to believe it. People who should know better make up shallow, specious arguments “debunking” Christianity. But there are a lot of people who haven’t heard about Moses and the prophets or the endless list of Old Testament evidence which proves Jesus is the Messiah. Today I got a chance to present some of this material to someone who needed to hear it.

Ultimately, the Holy Spirit, and not evidence, convinces people to believe. If evidence would do the trick, every person who has heard the evidence would be a Christian. Supernatural blindness and human stubbornness outweigh mere evidence. But for those who are susceptible to the call, evidence is a great help.

To get back to the notion of “fiftieth,” I think Shavuot is very much like the Jubilee. Jesus was crucified, and fifty days passed, and suddenly, the Spirit fell on 120 believers. They became the first fruits of his harvest. They became the beginning of creation’s restoration; its jubilee. Sometimes the Bible uses years and days almost interchangably, as when God sentenced the Hebrews to wander in the desert one year for every day during which the spies investigated the land of Canaan. Maybe Pentecost and the Jubilee are reflections of each other; the same idea, expressed in different ways.

In the year of Jubilee, slaves were given their freedom, and people who had sold their birthrights got them back. After Jesus came, people who were slaves to Satan were freed, and they received the birthright Adam and Eve sold for a piece of fruit: eternal life. These things are not coincidence. On Pentecost, the believers in the Upper Room received the power that would eventually grow to liberate the world. Eternal life is wonderful, but the Holy Spirit gives us power to use here and now, to rip this world back out of Satan’s hands. That’s a completely different blessing. For two thousand years, it has been hindered, but it seems to have resumed growing into its fullness. The war is heating up, and God is arming us with Holy Spirit power.

I see this year as my Shavuot. I hope it’s not just my imagination. So far, things are looking good. If “first fruit” status has spread to me, it will spread to others, and eventually, we will be a huge and powerful force before which Satan will find himself utterly inadequate.

So This is What $15,000 Worth of Tools Buys

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Saved Fifty Bucks!

I had some fun yesterday. I managed to modify my Hornady Lock-N-Load shell plates to fit the new EZ-Ject kit I put on my press.

This involved cutting a slot underneath each plate, going all the way around the bottom. The EZ-Ject base has a nub sticking up from it, and the nub fits into the slot. As the plate turns, the nub enters the shell pocket and pushes the shell out. You need a slot about 1/4″ wide and 0.060″ deep to make it work. The newer shell plates come with the slot, and Hornady will fix shell plates for ten bucks each, but I was determined to do the job on my milling machine.

A while back, I put my enormous rotary table on the mill and mounted a shell plate in it. I tried to cut the slot with a 3/8″ HSS cutter, but the hard shell plate just giggled when the cutter hit it. Enco put carbide cutters on sale, so I got a couple of 1/4″ jobs. Yesterday I stuck one in the collet and gave the shell plate another try. It was like cutting through wax. It wasn’t even necessary to take multiple passes. Not for depth, anyway. I had to move the plate over 0.010″ and run the cutter around it again to make the slot slightly wider than 1/4″, but the depth worked fine on the first try.

I have two shell plates that work now. I can fix the rest in about half an hour. I love it when machining works.

Carbide is really something. The difference between the utter FAIL of the HSS and the ease and speed of the carbide is incredible.

If you have Hornady shell plates, I highly recommend you not do this. I did it because I’m crazy, and it’s very easy when you have the right cutter, but for sane people, it’s simpler to spend ten bucks and get it over with.

I’ll try to take photos of the next plate as I machine it.

Surgery Prayers

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Get Good Medical Care While it Still Exists

My friend Linda, who works for the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, is going in for surgery to correct a narrowing in her spine. It causes problems with her legs. Please pray for healing and safety.