Wednesday, September 13, 2017

More flintlock fun

I'm trapped in California for two weeks but dreaming of last week when I took the old flintlock to the range:

Three shots from 50 yards. Its a little low but I didn't want to raise the sight too fast and start shooting over. The target looks a little ragged because I didn't get it tight against the backer. The holes through the board look perfect. From the bench I could keep my shots into about a 1.5" circle. Standing that opened up to more like 4". For a primitive biathlon you need to hit a 6" target so I'm right about where I need to be. With more practice I should be even better.

The 3/4" x 3/4" flint I bought was too small, it would spark but not the big shower of sparks that is required for regular ignition. The 7/8" x 3/4" flint required trimming to fit the cock on the gun but sparked well. I fired about 20 shots that day and only had a handful of misfires. I did managed to ruin the big flint.
That night I ordered 3 3/4" x 7/8" English flints and 3 3/4" x 7/8" French flints. This is a little like the Ford/Chevy debate with people singing the praises of each. I also ordered one American sawn agate flint. I'm told the sawn flints are either the greatest thing ever or total junk, it'll be interesting to compare them.

I was shooting 60 grains of 3F blackpowder. I had some left over 2F from hunting season with the 16ga, I pulled my powder every couple days to make sure it was staying dry, it was and it shot fine in the .45 but shot lower than the 3F. I'd read that this would happen, apparently the smaller granules in 3F create more pressure, its interesting when information from the internet turns out to be true...

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Pump it up!

I don't think I ever wrote about it but a few years ago I built a sink for Angie.
Actually thats wrong, I took a normal sink and vanity and converted it to be a self contained unit. Theres no plumbing in her office for a sink so she needed something self contained so she could wash her hands. This sink has two 5 gallon buckets inside the vanity with a foot operated "Whale Gusher" pump and a small water heater. Its worked well for a couple years now but recently Angie complained that it wouldn't pump.

Investigation showed that water would start to come out of the bucket but would only move so far before dropping back. I decided this meant a check valve had failed so we ordered a repair kit. I was a little nervous about this, I've never worked on a pump before, what if we'd just wasted money on the kit?

Disassembly was easy, just a few screws and it wasn't long before I found this:

That little flapper is one of two on the inlet side check valve, you can see the little dent in it. You can also see the pump in the background. The little dent was allowing water to slip past it so it wasn't doing its job of preventing the water from going back out the inlet side. The repair kit had four little flappers so I replaced both of the ones on the inlet side. The output side seemed to work fine so I left it alone. Reassembled the pump worked again, SCORE!

I wanted to tell you about this because its easy to lose your mojo and forget that you have limitless potential. I see a lot of people who "can't" do things because they won't try and that really bothers me. If I try and fail, whats the worst thing that could happen? In this case we'd buy a new pump, no big deal. Thats mostly true of life, no big deal, it didn't work, try something else...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


I don't think I've ever talked about guns on here before other than tangentially when I refer to hunting.
I've been around guns pretty much my whole life. In Maine its super easy to own a gun if you don't have a criminal record. In Massachusetts not so much, its actually not all that hard but I've never bothered to get a gun license since I could always go to Maine.
Well last year I realized 2 important facts:
#1. Because I' m a Mass resident my hunting license here is cheap and if I get an antlerless deer permit (I haven't) I could potentially shoot two deer here.
#2. In Mass if the gun loads from the front its not a firearm and therefore doesn't require a license.

So near the end of last year I bought myself a muzzle loading shotgun. Its been pretty fun, took me awhile to get used to loading but I carried it during turkey season with no problems other than my inability to find any turkeys.

I'll write more about it later. I took it to camp with us for 4th of July and forgot it there so its time to turn my attention to something more rifley:

The barrel is marked "T. Mansfield INC .450 CAL" with no other marks that I can find. Its a flintlock which makes shooting it a little more interesting but it shoots pretty well. Dad and I fired it a bunch right after Thanksgiving but I hadn't brought it home until the end of May.

This week I decided to pull it out and install a new flint:

The one on it is pooched, I could possibly sharpen it and get a few more shots but flints are like $2 each.

I didn't know exactly what to order, the one in the foreground is what came on the rifle, the middle is 3/4"x3/4", the rear one is 3/4"x7/8". In testing the one in the rear is really too big it doesn't fit into the lock hardly at all its so tall. The one in the middle fits the lock well but its really too short. As an experiment I installed it "upside down" which is to say with the beveled edge facing down and it sparked way better than it did the other way. Upside down the leading edge strikes the frizzen much higher which is why it sparks better.

Since I left much of my blackpowder gear at camp I haven't been doing any shooting but now that I know I've got a working flint I'll try to get out to the range.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Valerian - Movie Review

We don't see a whole lot of movies any more and since the volume is low I try to keep the quality high. Last night on a whim we saw "Valerian" and boy I wish I hadn't...

The trailer looks pretty good:

Its a Luc Besson movie, he did "The Fifth Element" which I'm a big fan of and I'd hoped this movie would be similar. In a way it was, this isn't "science fiction" since that would require some kind of real science. The film ignores science and physics almost completely. Gravity exists pretty much everywhere, all the time as does, apparently anyway, air.

Dane DeHaan isn't an actor I'd seen before but his portrayal of Agent Valerian is one of a spoiled man-child. He's at once a super tough fighter and suddenly a limp noodle. Cara Delevigne's Sergeant Laureline may have set the cause of women's rights back 15 years. My friend rightly pointed out "She never did anything useful in the whole film." Thats not 100% true, she saved Valerian's life exactly once, then she immediately got kidnapped apparently forgetting that in the previous scene we'd seen her with a gun. She plays the helpless maiden to the hilt, sergeants around the world will cover their eyes in shame.

Rhianna makes a completely unnecessary but appearance only to be killed off within minutes of her introduction. Its especially sad because hers was one of the best characters in the film, of course the character is ruined in a completely pointless and sappy death scene...

With plot holes you could fly a 747 through and lead actors that look and sound like petulant teenagers I'm stunned by how positive the reviews online are with most reviewers commenting on how good it looked. I can't disagree more with that, the imagery is overly busy with no common look or theme to be found anywhere. I see that this was all based on a comic, while the movie thoroughly sucked I'm interested in reading the source material and feel bad for the author who's vision was implemented so poorly.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Living with a 52 year old lawnmower

Its not hyperbole to say we have a 52 year old lawnmower, in fact in this first picture both of the lawnmowers are 52 years old. Thats right they were each made in 1965.

I was mowing the lawn yesterday thinking that this is probably the only lawnmower I'll ever need. Unless we get a much larger lawn I don't see why I should ever buy another lawnmower. Yesterday I mowed our lawn and half of Bill's in less than an hour using less than one tank of gas. Considering the gas tank holds less than half a gallon thats quite economical.

I've been using this mower since 2009 with relatively little drama until a couple months ago. Angie had cut the whole lawn and parked the machine when she commented that it didn't seem to have any power. I fired it up, engaged the blades and it made a gawdawful racket. I pulled off the pulley cover:

Doesn't look too exciting right? Look closely at the pulley, right under the nut, see the silver ring?

The pulley was made in two pieces and the key'd part sheered off.

Nothing a couple minutes with the welder couldn't solve.

I've mowed the lawn twice since that happened, I was a little worried I'd need to balance the pulley but I think since the repair is so close to the center it doesn't matter.

I'm thinking I probably need to replace the spark plug and airfilter, it took 3 pulls to start yesterday, which I guess is something most people would be happy with. I do need to replace the fuel shutoff valve, its gotten loose and yesterday once while I was mowing it fell into the off position and killed the engine. No big whoop but as its not right I'd like to remedy it.

Saturday, July 8, 2017


We'd gone to camp for a week when I got the notice that Photobucket turned off 3rd party linking on my account so if you dig back into the blog you'll find lots of the 3rd party link placeholders.
Actually pretty soon you'll see no connection placeholders as I'm deleting my Photobucket account. I've been in and downloaded all of the albums and deleted them. I'll be uploading everything to Google Photos but it'll take some time.

Edit: Looks like I'd done more with Google Photos than I remembered, all of 2017 and 2016 are now back online. 2015 is about half there. I'm not sure how far back I'll go but my Photobucket albums are moving over pretty well. I also took the opportunity to sort through the 800+ photos in my unsorted bucket and move a lot of them into better places, maybe this isn't all bad...

In the meantime here's a picture of my 1965 Cub Cadet 70 with the generator hitched behind it.

New content soon!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Photobucket commits suicide

I guess you want to get used to seeing that image for awhile. Photobucket has decided that since what most people use their service for is 3rd party linking they should charge for it. I don't think this is, in and of itself a bad thing, but they've also decided that if you want 3rd party linking you'll need to use their highest tier storage which is $400 a year. This from the slowest photo host on the web, the one that slams every page with ads and opens new pages in the background.

About a year ago I considered going ad-free with Photobucket, they do have one of the easiest interfaces around and I figured they should be rewarded especially if it meant their notoriously slow service would be sped up. So I asked if the interface would be faster if I paid. Cue the crickets. Photobucket wouldn't even suggest that the interface would load faster ad-free so I left it alone. Now my hand is forced.

A number of my friends have started showing the above image and I *think* whats happening is that when you login to upload you "agree to the new terms of service" and lose your 3rd party links. As an end run around that I'm not going to login thus attempting to preserve the thousands of links I have all around the internet.

So I'm back to looking for another photo host. For the blog the answer is fairly simple, I'll move back to Google Photos. For forum hosting Google Photos is no good since traditionally you couldn't get a clear link to an image. Strangely a test today provided me with a clear image though I don't know if thats just because I took it through the blog.

On another front Flickr appears to have lifted their cap on the number of images I can upload. I had hit that wall some years ago and given up on them but if thats gone I might go back. More info as I know it...

As an experiment the top image is Google Photos, this one is Flickr: