Friday, July 31, 2009

Yet another trip...

Nana and I have just returned from yet another trip, this time to the coast and some delicious seafood.

We stayed in Irvington, VA at the Tides Inn. Located in the southern portion of the northern neck on the Rappahannock River, Irvington is in "King" Carter country.

We did, of course, visit local museums. The Steamboat Era Museum is small but gives a good overview of the steamboat culture. Linked to that is the Fishermen's Museum in Reedville, VA which we had previously visited. We also went to Christ Church and saw their newly renovated displays and "toured" the church.

We ate at Lee's Restaurant in Kilmarnock, the Crazy Crab in Reedville and tried to get to Cockrell's Crab House (just outside of Reedville).

Everything we went to is within easy driving distance of Irvington. The whole northern neck is an easy 2 hrs drive from either D.C. or Richmond. A great place to visit.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Star Model S and SS Pistols

I've always liked these cute small .380 locked-breech pistols. Well, small compared to the large frame .45 ACP M1911. While they appear to be miniature 1911s the Star design varies considerably in detail.

These compact, all steel locked-breech pistols were chambered in .32 ACP (7.65 mm) and .380 ACP (9 mm Browning Short or 9 mm Corto). They are scaled down versions of the full-sized Star pistols, complete with a short-recoil locked-breech. Whether derivitives of the A or B series (or the M or P sub-variants) is not entirely clear, but at the time of their introduction in 1940 B series pistols had been on the market for nearly a decade. Most parts interchange between the two chamberings, but as the cases are different sizes, there is no way to simply switch out a few parts and change calibers. No .22 LR were made. If somebody remembers a .22 version they are likely remembering the Llama (pronounced ya-ma).

Many of these were issued to military forces. The Spanish Air Forces issued them, and Marine pilots retained them in service up thru the early 1990s. Most model S pistols issued for service seem to have been stamped by the issuing organization on the right side of the slide, forward of the ejection port, as the Spanish Air Force seal is to the left.

The shop I work in recently got one of these and when I went to work that Monday morning I immediately noticed it in the case. This is an "SS" marked gun (sn 1873707) which uses the wide base magazines.  One interesting thing is that the stocks are cheap plastic but are missing the left side thumb rest, i.e. the left panel was made sans thumb rest.  The cash price is a VERY reasonable $230!!!  I wish somebody would tell me again why I'm not buying it.

- S Manual (PDF)
- Super Star Disassembly Instructions (PDF)
- Star Magazines
- Using Proofmarks to Date Your Star

S S .380 ACP 1940 1983 Miniaturized model A/B series; used by WW2 Luftwaffe
S Super-S .380 ACP 1948 1983 Quick takedown linkless version, few made
S SS .380 ACP 1957 1983 S with magazine safety
S Super-SM .380 ACP 1971 1983 As S-Super with adjustable rear sight

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Building an AR-15 type rifle in the midst of "the panic"

I might repeat myself, I hope not, but if I do, please bear with me. I'm just trying to get the whole story in one place.

In 1984 I went to a gun show and bought a Colt SP1 carbine with a Colt 3X scope for $500. No stupid paperwork, just a good deal and a private purchase. It was a bit of money to me at the time, but worth it. We used the guns to kill some groundhogs, crows, and time. Great gun, it shot well with every weight bullet up to the 70 gr. Sierra semi-point. It wasn't supposed to. This 1968 gun supposedly was fitted with a barrel with too slow a twist, too short, too light and was too loose to shoot well. Of course it didn't have the later forward assist. It didn't need it. Never wanted for one. It was a great gun. In 1994 and Clinton's assault rifle ban it went for $1500 and got me into Contender carbines. If you ever run into serial SP145525 you have a wonderful gun. Treat her right.

For many years I felt absolutely NO need to have one of those "evil" black rifles. I personally feel that if you really, really need one due to TEOTWAWKI or some such you WILL be able to find one although you might have to make a serious ethical decision in that circumstance. I fully believe that the Marlin 1894C .357 Mag is completely sufficient for PERSONAL protection and nearly every hunting requirement east of the Mississippi. But, I am no Zumbo-ite. I don't care if every other person on my block has a collection of these in their house along with many thousands of rounds of ammunition. This is, after all, a "free" country, right?

Still, after years of pursuing other firearms interests from flintlock smoothbores to milsurp bolt actions I wasn't yearning for the AR-15. After all, I had spent 27½ years with the military issue guns. It wasn't an unknown thing or forbidden fruit, there was no motivation. Then things changed.

First, the assault weapons ban (AWB) sunset/expired. We fought hard to convince our Virginia senators to not vote to extend the ban and I think that made the difference. Then we had the 2008 election. Everything was about change. I didn't think the change would be good. I started to think that maybe, just maybe, I might want to consider an AR-15 type gun.

It was the politics that made up my mind. You see, I feel that we needed to make a statement about firearms ownership. At the very worst I would sell the gun for what I had in it and it too would join the increased population of such guns in the free world. I think that is a good thing. It is a "tax" I'm willing to pay. So, what gun to get?

I had already spent 1-2 years looking at the continuously changing field of rapidly proliferating AR-15 type rifles and was thoroughly convinced that I basically wanted a optics equipped version of my old rifle. That meant a 16-1/4" barreled carbine with collapsible stock. The things I wanted to be different included a faster twist barrel to permit utilization of heavier bullets and a flat-top configuration to ease the mounting of a telescopic sight. While I wanted "back-up" iron sights I didn't want the standard issue front sight gas block of the old rifles. I felt that would put the sight right into my scope-sight's field of view. What I did NOT need was the tacticool add-ons such as the vertical fore-grip, unending Picatinny rails, $2000 battery operated sights, or grotesquely shaped pistol grips.

All of this took quite a while to come together for me. I didn't rush the process but bided my time. Almost immediately after the 2008 election when the Democrat Socialist Barack Hussein Barry Sotero Obama was elected President of the United States and all sorts of people all over the country realized that loss of their liberties was possible, there was a run on semi-auto firearms and ammunition of all types. I didn't think that such a firearm was going to be in my immediate future and, as it turned out, it wasn't!

What did happen was that I took a job offer at a local gun shop and one of the other employees had a Del-Ton stripped lower receiver for sale. I bought it and began looking about for parts to complete the gun. After quite a bit of research I finally decided that Del-Ton might as well get my business for the rest of the gun. So I ordered a parts kit for the lower and also a flat-top upper with a 1-7" twist barrel. I then began the wait.

That delay between order and receipt was 195 days, that's 6-1/2 months! That delay was directly caused by the immense post-election demand placed on all AR-15 (and derivatives) manufacturers. It would have been longer but I changed my spec from the unavailable 1-7" barrel to a 1-9" twist barrel. Also, as reported earlier, there were some problems with the order and some parts were missing.

However, most of those issues were resolved via an e-mail conversation with Pam at Del-Ton and the required parts arrived and the lower receiver was completed/assembled. This is NOT a particularly difficult task. I think that anyone with a modicum of mechanical ability can do this. All it requires is some care and attention to detail.

One of the things I had to order was a side-mount front sling swivel. Unable to get the military part used on the M-4 carbine, a Pro-Mag unit was ordered. Unfortunately it was too wide for installation with the flat-top gas block on my gun. Use of a Dremel tool to narrow one leg of the sling swivel mount quickly resized this part to function with my gun. UNFORTUNATELY, that was the width of the legs not the depth of the little ends of the legs. Despite the width being corrected, one can't insert the "legs" between the gas block and the barrel. A big no go. $30 wasted. In the end I abandoned the standard sling system and went with a one point system.  This is sufficient and works well with how I use a sling.  If hunting/on patrol, the sling is off completely.  If I need it to hold the rifle off the ground I merely have to snap it on the single point at the rear of the receiver.

One other problem I had was that the rings I'd ordered to use on this rifle were too short for me to use with the flat-top gun. With new rings on order (neither were available locally), I took the gun to the range for a test firing. Afterward convinced that I'd actually managed to get parts and assemble them to achieve a functioning firearm, I felt much better about the process. Still, I had to await the scope rings.

A moment for digression... Why, you might ask, did you want to install a rather common hunting optic on this gun? It isn't very tactical! Well, you're right, it doesn't appear to be very tactical. However, the Weaver 1-3X variable is about perfect for this particular gun which will be most likely find use exclusively for hunting. If it is used for anything else we'll all be way beyond caring what sort of scope is mounted.

With these new scope rings installed the scope was usable.  Hoorah.  At least something is now going right. 

Links:
- Bill Springfield Triggers
- M-16 Rifle History Video

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Norinco M213 STILL For Sale

The gun is a Norinco M213. It does very well but I don't need OR want a second 9mm. If it hangs around, I guess I can live with it but I'd rather have ammo/components. No box, two mags, 75-80% finish such as the finish is on these. Safety works but is stiff as heck and I never use it. I carry hammer down on an empty chamber. I'm asking $175+shipping. Will do FTF in Harrisonburg, Staunton, Lexington, VA (and nearby environs). All Federal and State laws will be adhered to in transfer of this firearm. I reserve the right to refuse to sell to anyone at any time.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

No Photos of Del-Ton Today

No photos of the Del-Ton build today, maybe tomorrow evening. The forward sling swivel didn't arrive yesterday. However, I did get to test fire the gun today. Everything works as it should. Hoooorah!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Del-Ton Came Through

They provided the missing parts in a hurry and the gun is complete except for the forward sling swivel. Del-Ton sent a standard swivel but I'm going to mount a side hanging swivel. Just need to get the scope rings/mount now. Photos tomorrow.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Gardner Gun - Yours for only $29,950!

The Gardner gun was an early machine gun. It had one or two barrels, was fed from a vertical magazine or hopper and was operated by a crank.

The Gardner machine gun was invented in 1874 by William Gardner, formerly a Captain in the Union army during the American Civil War. After producing a prototype he went to the Pratt and Whitney company, who after a year of development produced a military version of the weapon.

A demonstration to officers at the United States Navy yard in 1875 was successful, however they showed no interest in the weapon.

On 15 January and 17 March 1880 more tests were conducted at Sandy Hook Proving ground in front of an Army review board. The weapon performed well, and they recommended that the Army buy a limited number for field evaluation, noting the low cost of the weapon. However the U.S. Army again declined to purchase.

At this point, the British Royal Navy, which had successfully deployed the Gatling gun became interested in the weapon, and Gardner was invited to England to exhibit his weapon. The British Admiralty were so impressed by the demonstrations that they adopted the weapon and purchased the rights to produce the weapon in England. Gardner would remain in England to supervise the construction of the weapons.

The British Army then took an interest in machine guns and after a series of trials selected the Gardner gun. The Army adopted the weapon, although its introduction was delayed because of opposition from the Royal Artillery.
(Wikipedia)

A Gardner gun is on show in The Pancho Villa Museum, Chihuahua, Mexico. It is not clear how the gun came to be in the hands of Pancho Villa's forces.



Hat tip to Alfred John for the lead on the video.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

USMC Lioness Program

Breda posted about the USMC Lioness Progam the other day. I thought it a fair read.

All the services have women serving. Same as the men, some are just simply outstanding by any measure while most do a darn good job and a few leave you wondering how they manage to walk through the day. But, the subject was the USMC Lioness program (even though there are Army Lionesses as well). It is unfortunate that some, like CPL Jennifer M. Parcell, die. This serves to emphasize the point that these Marines (please, don't use the term "troop" or "soldier" to refer to Marines, sailors or airmen) aren't doing this without risk. Frankly, though, I'm surprised they aren't priority targets for the jihadists. These armed, unfettered women are the antitheses of all things a fundamentalist Islamist believes. Without family members, armed, driving, uncovered, they even lead men. It is beyond me why NOW isn't trumpeting their achievements.

- Following the paw prints of the Lioness program
- Lionesses work to improve community in local Iraq city
- Lioness program continues to roar
- 8th Communication: Lioness Program and Tactical Small Unit Leadership Course

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Delt-Ton Order Problems and More

Nothing goes smoothly when you REALLY want it to. I ordered from Del-Ton on 23 Dec 2008 and received the order on 6 July 2009. That's 195 days. The vise block was missing as was a front sling swivel on the upper. Also missing were the bolt release plunger, a takedown/pivot pin spring & detent, and a safety detent. There was an extra bolt release spring. Using what I have I have done as much assembly as possible to ensure that as few parts as possible are hanging around loose.

I had thought, I mean that it seemed "obvious" that if you are selling parts kits and having somebody package them you set that packager down with bins of parts, in order, along with the bag sealing unit. You put a big number, say "2" for 2 takedown/pivot pin detents, over the bin. It is like collating. I doubt they do enough quantity to justify an automated bagging system. If they are using one, it isn't working.

However, I e-mailed them and Pam was aptly apologetic. I've ordered the missing parts from elsewhere to ensure that I can finish the assembly.

As I said, I've done as much assembly as possible. Obviously, the bolt release, safety and pistol grip haven't been installed. I took the one takedown/pivot pin spring & detent and used them on the rear takedown pin so that I could install the buttstock, buffer and buffer spring. It seems that it will be a tighter assembly than any M-16 I had in service and tighter than my old Colt SP-1 carbine. I will be using an Accu-Wedge to take any remaining "rattle" from the system.

One thing I wanted, which is why I used the "A3" upper, is back-up sights for a simple optical sight. My old SP-1 carbine had the Colt 3X scope which attached to the carry handle by means of a screw and the "drain" hole in the handle's sight "gutter". The folding front and rear sights received would seem, at this point, to be entirely adequate. Mounting the rear sight on the rear of the rail doesn't leave much room for optics mounting. My choice of sight, a Weaver 1-3X with duplex reticule, requires that the two Warne QD rings be mounted between the adjustment turrets and the ocular lens. So mounted this gives just barely enough room to fit all the sights on top. We're talking only a millimeter of clearance between the ocular lens and the forward edge of the flip-up rear sight. Even that has proven to be too low. I'm going to have to get a set of higher rings to mount the scope. VERY glad I got the back-up iron sights!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thoughts on the Use of Smokeless Powder in the 1876 Reproductions

Well, I have an 1876 reproduction. I have done a bit of case production and reloading. Just a bit. Others on-line like Grizzly Adams, John Boy, Larryo, Coyote Nose and Buck Stinson (by a long shot!) have done a lot more loading and shooting as well. Over at CAS City we had a bit of a tiff when loading this case with blasphemous smokeless powders was mentioned. Some other fellows (not any of those mentioned above) got tied in a knot over the idea. It is unfortunate, but it may come to pass in the short run that we'll have to load smokeless to shoot these guns. It just might be that explosive BP will be very much more restricted (just call me paranoid and then humor the supposition).

Lyman's 49th edition of their loading manual was recently released. In it Brian Pearce has an article concerning loading of the Winchester 1876 replicas/reproductions. FWIW, he used Chaparral rifles. In that article, Mr. Pearce says that the MODERN 1876s can handle 28K CUP pressures. No where does he say how he came to that conclusion.

He also provides loading data for the .40-65, .45-60, and .45-75. In the .45s he uses the same Lyman 457191 and 457122 bullets. These are nominally 292 and 330 gr. respectively. He did not use the standard 350 gr. 457192 in the .45-75. Pity. It appears that he loaded based on the 28K CUP limit, although not consistently so.

Powders used include IMR and H 4198, H4895, Varget, Pyrodex Pistol pellets (30 gr.), Trail Boss, 2400, AA2015 and AA5744 (XMP5744). Charges are a bit all over the place with some likely producing pressures of sub 15K CUP and others quite a bit more (the last is a supposition on my part based on my personal experience). No pressure data is given. After having read the article it would appear (perhaps due to editing) that he simply thought this or that powder would do well and used it. I don't suppose that he damaged any rifles, but I don't know one way or the other.

To narrow it down a bit more, I'd like to use H4198. IMR 4198 (and H4198 is the next slowest in the burn rate chart) has long been used as a sub for BP in the English express cartridges at a rate of 40% of the BP charge. That would be 30 gr. for a 75 gr. charge or 28 gr. for a 70 gr. charge in a more modern case. His lower charges with lighter bullets produce better results than is my experience in my carbine (22" barrel). I've re-read his article a number of times and can't shake this feeling that there's some sort of disconnect. In other words, something isn't quite right somewhere. There can be a number dimensional differences in the guns which affect the ballistics. Whether it is with me, my rifle, or with Mr. Pearce and/or his rifle and the longer barrel, I can't be certain.

Again, while I'd rather use BP I realize that there may be reasons in the future I won't be able to. I'd like to prepare for those contingencies.

So, what do you shooters of the toggle-link guns, specifically the 1876 and its reproductions think? Have you read the article? What do you do?

I don't think WHAT we do is critical, or might not be critical in the future, as much as being able to do anything/something.

I personally like Pyrodex. In my experience it gives ballistics very much like GOEX FFg.

Those pressure graphs were posted someplace (here or at CAS city). BP is an EXPLOSIVE and has a pressure curve to match that description.

IMR SR4759 is what I've been using. I wish there was real pressure data. I believe it is coming.

The thing is, simply using BP doesn't negate risk. We know that because guns failed with BP which is why there was a demand for safer actions even before the coming of the smokeless powders.

I got to shoot my '76 a bit this morning. Not much as I didn't want to tick off Mom's neighbors but I did want them to know I was there. Anyway, I had two failures to fire at first strike but both of those rounds went off with the second hammer blow. Ten-X ammo in Bertram cases. Smokeless (IMR SR4759 is what it looks like). The problem wasn't the powder, it was headspace. This is what comes from having to form brass.

Let's move this to another angle.

.45-70 Govt loads using various powders are a known quantity. I believe somebody mentioned their Trapdoor in this or another topic in this regard. While it isn't always wise to extrapolate data, the .45-75 has about the same capacity as the .45-70 albeit in a bottle necked case. Tests have shown (even back in the 1870s and 1880s) that the bottle necked cases of similar capacity and charge will give about 2K CUP more pressure than the straight case version. This is one reason the US Govt went with the kinda straight cased .45-70 (they were trying to maximize the margin of safety even then). Assuming the same bullet being used (and this is why we use a 50 gr. lighter bullet in the .45-75), if a given charge with a given bullet is OK for the Trapdoor, why then would it not be ok in the 1876? How about if one allowed .5-1 gr. reduction in the .45-75 to allow for that pressure increase? Yes, when velocities have exceeded the BP "envelope" so have pressures.

So, the old 40% rule would say that in the .45-75 a charge of 30 gr. IMR 4198 under the 350 gr. bullet would match the old BP velocities. In my experience the printed maxs are 24-26 gr. and these give the expected mediocre performance, both in terms of velocity (sub BP "envelope") and accuracy.

I believe I've posted this elsewhere but I only got around 950 fps with the traditional "suggested" loads of IMR SR4759 or IMR 4198. H4198 did no better.

I find it interesting that Lyman shows 34 gr. of IMR 4198 (slightly faster than H4198) in the .45-70 with a 385 gr. bullet at less than 18K CUP but Mr. Pearce stuck with the old standard of 26 gr. 4198 under 457122 in his .45-70 work up. I believe he actually used the same or higher charge in the .45-60! (don't have the book next to me at the moment)

I was just doing a comparison of the .45-70 Trapdoor (sub 18K CUP) and .45-75 loads using IMR 3031. Again, we seem to stick to starting loads in the .45-70 (or less) when using the same powders and bullets in the .45-75. I can't find any reason why.

In most situations it is enough to say that a particular launching system/firearm can handle pressures of X CUP or PSI in a particular cartridge and then stick with those pressures. It would seem that this simply method would apply to the 1876. Anecdotal "evidence" purporting to support the contrary view that the 1876 is somehow susceptible to different pressure curves actually uses instances of excessive pressures brought about by using overly "optimistic" loads. In old, original firearms, the condition of the material used in the construction of those firearms and it's actual condition after 100-130 (or more) years of use is an absolute mystery until the gun is destroyed because there is no consistency in the materials. It is therefore difficult if not impossible to address this variable.

However, I've been circumspect in my review of the Lyman 49th Ed. data because I've noted what I consider to be a tremendous number of typos in the narrative/article portions of the manual. A small thing but if these guys are relying on spell-check rather than a human proof-reader I don't know that I fully trust the rest of the manual. If I don't trust the manual then why have it?

As to having "kabooms" in guns, we've all seen photos of modern Marlin 1895, Mike Venturino's friend "Shrapnel"'s '76, a recent photo of a Ruger SP101, etc, ad naseum. These all prove that ANY gun can be brought to the point of catastrophic failure due to faulty reloading or perhaps shooting practices. If even modern designs constructed of modern materials can fail due to improper reloading practices, I can only say that you proceed at your own risk.

Now there is nothing wrong with risking yourself if you understand the risk. There is, however, no reason to risk the well-being of others either by handing them unproven reloads to shoot OR by testing loads with them sharing the firing line at the range. Consider the safety of your fellow shooters before you fire even one round.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Treasures from the past

Cleaning out one's parents' house is a bittersweet experience. Memories are rekindled but one lives with the idea that an era is ending.

Sometimes the memories are in photos and I've shared some of those with you. Sometimes the memories are in things. One of the things I found today was my wolf-skin diapers! I know there is a photo of me wearing those things. I don't think I've found it yet. I have found the note where Dad's friend John Merrick sent them to him.

Another thing we've found is a pair of slippers my 4X Great-grandmother wore to a ball attended by the Marquis de Lafayette.

It seems there is no end to the treasures. We also discovered an 1850-era shawl!

Of course there are the usual, long known, antiquities such as another great-grandmother's deed to her Washington, D.C. home dated _____.

Some families don't have such things. My father's family is one such. It seems that one of my Grandfather's sisters was entrusted with the family heirlooms, and their disbursement to the next generation, but died before she could allot them. Her husband sold them to fund a new apartment in Florida! Family heirlooms from the late 1600s on were lost to his avarice.

It is unfortunate, but neither my sister nor I have space for all the things and many will go to auction to pay Mom's expenses. Look at Green Valley Auctions after August 19 for sale details. There will also be many books on weaving, 2 looms, 2 spinning wheels, a drum carder, wool, and numerous pieces of antique furniture.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lancaster County, PA

Nana was antsy and wanting to hit the road. We have a widowed friend that had never been to Lancaster County. Put the two together and you can see where I'm going (went) with this.

Wednesday we drove up to Intercourse and the ladies took the Pretzel Factory tour while I went to the Edged Weapons Museum.  The pretzel thing was free and the museum cost $3.  The museum is pretty dry and the fellow running it is not exactly a people person but the student of edged weapons will find it to be a pleasant diversion from the constant references to the Amish.
Then we AAA Buggy Rides and took the long ride. Our guide was an Amish lass by the name of Miriam (I'm partial to the name) and our fellow riders included a family from Ontario and a couple of other folks from VA and PA.  Rode over a covered bridge and otherwise spent a pleasant hour. 

Then we went to check in at our hotel, Amish View Inn. Best look sharp because you can drive right past it looking for a sign. Best to look for the Plain and Fancy Farm, a related business, as that sign dominates the location. The motel is very comfortable and the staff accomodating. Breakfast, a real breakfast, is included!

We were there to eat at one place only, though. Off we went to East Earl and the Shady Maple Smorgasbord for dinner. Ham, roast beef and PRIME RIB on the buffet. Oh, yeah, vegetables, fruit and deserts. Sorry, but I concentrated on prime rib, mashed taters and a roll. You can't go wrong though. EVERYTHING they cook is done right. Yes, we went back for breakfast!!!!

After a pleasant night in the very nice motel and breakfast at Shady Maple we decided to go to the Bird-in-Hand farmer's market but never made it there. As we took a different route from East Earl we re-happened upon The Lapps Coach Shop. That killed an hour and a half and when we left we went straight to the day's primary destination.

We really enjoy the productions at the Sight and Sound Theaters. We've been going for years and seen many of their productions. However, our widow friend who is a retired music teacher had never seen even one and was eager to attend at least one. We went to "In The Beginning". We had a grand time of it. However, their best show is "Noah". If you can, see it. It is currently in production at their new Branson theater.

Now time to leave for home we succumbed to hope over wisdom gained by experience and trusted to the GPS to choose the fastest way home. It didn't and took us on US 30 through farm country and to US 15 at Gettysburg. A little preturbed at that time we took MD 77/64 west to Hagerstown and US 40 to I-81. This unintended "detour" only added 1 hour to our drive home.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Delt-Ton AR-15 Parts Kit Arrives

Sans the lower receiver vise block, of course, but it has arrived. For those beginning a similar project you might find Brownell's AR-15 assembly videos to be useful.

I have made a couple of mistakes already. First, I forgot to order the forward sling swivel. Kinda need a sling with these guns.

Second, I'll need higher rings to mount the selected scope on the gun and clear the flip up rear sight.

Tonight I'll start sorting out parts and putting the lower receiver together.

Monday, July 06, 2009

on the corner in Winslow, Arizona (among other places)...


Nana and I went with friends, as their guests, to the Train Collectors Association Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. For about 1 week we rode buses, talked, rode and saw trains of all sizes in all sorts of settings along with the environs of Phoenix, Prescott, Jerome, Winslow, and points in between. Met many very nice folks. Ate much good food, or so I'm told. I don't eat much while traveling (with a couple of exceptions). Good diet for me but frustrating for some who travel with me. Finally arrived home safely on July 5th.

It all started with the flight from Dulles to Phoenix. We were fortunate to get a direct flight for this. While it was 3 hours 20 minutes in economy (we're cheap where it pays) it was over quickly. Checking in for the flight wasn't as bad as last time, taking a whole 10 minutes (rather than a whole hour). No lines for some reason. Still, security at Dulles was a 43 minute wait in line for a 25 second trip through the metal detector. I am very glad I insisted that we get there a couple of hours early. It might have been much worse and there is no way to judge.

Arrival at the Phoenix airport, getting our bags and catching our shuttle, Super Shuttle which proved to indeed be "super", to the J. W. Marriot at Desert Ridge provided no drama. Bags were promptly on the conveyor and in our hands, we were directed by very friendly airport employees to the correct point and our shuttle arrived promptly. It was 110 degrees though (to heck with the "dry heat" concept!) which was a shock to us. We rapidly got over it though.

The hotel room was wonderful and not overpriced. They can do this because they milk you in a hundred other ways. As they told one of the other conventioneers, "this isn't a hotel, it is a RESORT!" Nothing is free in the resort. There was one soda vending machine hidden away on the 5th floor ($1.50 each). This is important info to those of us "addicted" to sodas rather than coffee. Sodas elsewhere in the resort were $2-$3 and the shuttle wouldn't take you to any place but the nearest edge of the mall which was part of the Desert Ridge development! There were 9 restaurants and 6 pools (which we had no time to enjoy) and, of course, room service.

Verde Valley on the Verde Canyon Railroad - This was a nice ride behind an FP7 diesel unit up the Verde River valley from Clarkdale to Perkinsville and return. Saw desert, cliff dwellings, an archaeological dig in a cave and lovely downtown Perkinsville. Bit of a ride on the bus.

Grand Canyon on the Grand Canyon Railway - Back on the bus to Williams to ride the Grand Canyon Railway in the Bright Angel car (with Mimi) to the Grand Canyon National Park and then up to see the view from the south rim. We did see some longhorns and a very large bull elk. The Grand Canyon? Big hole. We'd seen the canyon from a way up north in Canyonlands National Park. I thought that was prettier due to the rock colors there and more impressive because at Dead Horse Point you see the canyon all around you. Granted that was the Green River (a tributary) but, still, impressive. We'd also rafted on the Colorado River. Nana wanted me to get on the Grand Canyon Sky Walk (due to my fear of heights) but it was a bit too far away to get to. "Missed" that opportunity! Had a box lunch and then it was back on the train to the depot where we had dinner. The buffet was excellent and then, the bus home. NOTE: The Grand Canyon Railway no longer runs steam to the Grand Canyon due to "environmental" concerns.

Prescott layouts and Phippen Museum - This was another trip up to Prescott to see train layouts. Some of these were simply awe inspiring. Suffice to say that some of these guys are REALLY into model railroading! Some have a rather quirky sense of humor as well. Most all were Lionel O gauge layouts. The Phippen Museum is a really nice, if small, museum dedicated to cowboy art and artists. I mostly go for the sculpture but the Navajo images by Ray Swanson were absolutely fantastic.

Meteor Crater and La Posada - What can you say about a 4 hour bus ride to near Winslow to see THE crater? Not much. The part of the ride on I-40 paralleled or was on old route 66, the "mother road". Some interesting abandoned buildings there. The crater itself IS impressive but not so much after seeing the Grand Canyon. The remaining portion of the meteor itself is impressive. Rubbed it for good luck. Went to La Posada in Winslow. Had a turkey club sandwich for lunch and was toured around the hotel by the "Harvey girls". The hotel is very nice. I'd stop there. Rooms were a bit more expensive than at the resort but it was a very nice place, with history. You can sit outside and watch the trains go by all day and night. Averaged 5 an hour while we where there but I understand that before the recession they averaged 17 an hour! Then it was back on the bus for the loooong ride home.

Garden Railroads in Fountain Hills - This is exactly what it says. A day, shorter than most and a welcome break, in relatively close Fountain Hills seeing garden railroads. Of course the railroaders season is really winter for the rest of us. They did go to the effort to dig out some trains and put on a show. Very interesting. For me the most impressive was the 3/4 acre O scale layout with 2 trains of over 100 cars and an extensive water feature. We had lunch at Euro Pizza. Nice folks but no pizza for me. Kinda bummed me out.

La Corona Ranch Dinner and Mexican Rodeo - After eating at Euro Pizza I was not quite looking forward to eating in the heat and seeing a rodeo in the heat. Wrong idea. It was indeed hot when we got there but the food was great. The service was great. The rodeo demonstration, not really a rodeo, was great, too. I was amazed that so many had never seen any kind of rodeo.

Live steam layout at the Maricopa Live Steamers - Alas, there was no live steam due to fire restrictions this time of year. However, there was much riding of the 7½-inch gauge railway behind the other engines. Everyone at the club was more than simply welcoming. This was the last of our tours and we left the next morning.

Again, Super Shuttle was on time (a bit early), and everything went off well. Security was not the long wait we had in Dulles but then this was on July 4th. I imagine that travel is down a bit on the 4th as both our planes had about 30 empty seats.

Direct flights aren't necessarily direct. Our return was so noted as a direct flight but required a plane change in Denver. Fortunately, we didn't have to cross the airport as we did one time, only needing to move up 4 gates and wait 2 hours. Still, I consider that we were charged extra for a "direct" flight to be theft. We might as well have changed flights as we could have done and been home on the 4th.

Security, what security? I don't see it. The TSA people seemed to be mostly speaking English as a second language. For those of you in Rio Linda that means they may be naturalized citizens but they aren't native born. Lots are MUSLIM as well. I find it odd that I, native born military retiree am being screened by a Muslim immigrée...

It is hot in Phoenix in the summer but we apparently acclimated quickly (we drank plenty of water) as we came home to chilly (79 degrees, 85% humidity) Washington, D.C.

Immediately upon arriving home we began preparations for our next trip just 2 days later...

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Home from a trip,,,

more to follow...