Thursday, April 30, 2009

Getting Better All The Time

Gateway Pundit has this piece up noting Oboe boasting of creating or saving 150,000 jobs so far. Of course he fails to note that this replaces about 7% (.073) of the jobs lost in the same period.

During his 100 Day Press Conference Barack Obama bragged that his administration had created or saved 150,000 jobs.

The US economy lost 598,000 jobs in January.
The US economy lost 706,000 jobs in February.
The US economy lost 742,000 jobs in March.
It gives me hope that someday, probably in 2109, I'll be able to find work again, assuming that the government health care, life extension division, starts showing some rapid progress soon.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bad Luck

Lost the C-drive on my old computer. I suppose if I was more of a computer person, I would have noticed the tell-tale wop, wop, wop of an incipient digital flat tire. Now the quest is to see if I can get the files salvaged off the old disk for less than the cost of a government bailout.

Oh wait! Am I not part of the media now? If John Kerry can bail out the Boston Glob, maybe I can get a few bucks to salvage my drive. I'd even say nice things about the politician who got me the money. At least once.

Got a new computer anyway. Much quieter than the old one.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Workshop

Here's a fun little project that makes you, if not invisible, at least unrecognizable on the IR-favoring security cameras after dark.
Note the person in the right-hand picture who appears to have a blinding light on his head. Now if you're that worried about being identified after dark, you may be a high-ranking politician, or some other kind of miscreant, but down in the comments, there's this:
I though about something along this line for license plates. Since the cameras that shoot the plates are tilted towards IR (like the security cameras) you should be able to over expose the shot making it so the letters cannot be read using electronic means but perfectly readable by human eyes.
Indeed, the thing may well work better after dark, but there's an interesting experiment to be tried here, A license plate frame surrounded by IR LEDs would not be noticeable under ordinary circumstances at all. The LEDs would be on all the time, of course. Perhaps testing could be done with an ordinary digital camera, I don't know. Someone with a CNC mill and a slab of PVC could knock out a couple frames in short enough order.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Who Do You Trust

Or more to the point, who do you fear? Michael Medved has an article up citing a Gallup survey:

The survey asked, “In your opinion, which of the following will be the biggest threat to the country in the future – big business, big labor, or big government?” A sold majority (55%) identified “big government” as their chief worry, while all the horrible publicity on Wall Street and its excesses pushed the terror of “big business” only to 32%.
Note that while big labor only rates 13% "threat factor", they currently represent less than 10% of the workforce. The really bad news in that case is that the 13% includes teachers and government employees.

The state is NOT your friend.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Workshop

Found at bayou renaissance man:
I didn't build this, and if I had, I wouldn't use it to drive home from the bar.
Still, you have to give the fellow full marks for creativity, and the thing even comes with a wheelie caster to make falling off the rear more difficult, as long as you can hold on to the steering wheel. It should probably have one on the front, too, in case you should need to stop or something. Add surfaces left and right of the steering wheel to place your drink and ash tray, and you're ready for Burning Man.

Oh yeah, and avoid hard turns, too. Crash suit and helmet? Of course, although 15 beers will, indeed, reduce the pain. Read the story at the link.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Future Of Transportation

Well, maybe not the most practical of futures, but it looks like fun. Meet the Legway:
Here it is, the NEXT big thing in human transportation, circa 1860. This thing has all the virtues of the modern Segway, without the encumbrances of fallible items like batteries, electric motors, and best of all, a microprocessor.

Of course the microprocessor part may only depend on who's pedaling it, but hey, 2 out of 3 is OK, right?

Fusion Reactors

More news on the fusion front. The Polywell folks have gotten $2M from the DOD to continue research on their electrostatic confinement fusion reactor.
This thing appeals to me on account of its relative simplicity compared to the Tokamek or Laser confinement units. One of the questions that keeps nagging me is this: When (or if) the thing begins producing those large quantities of heat that make the thing work, how is it going to be transferred out of the system, and what's to keep it from slagging its own innards?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Quote of the Week

OK, it's 18 years old, but it's seldom I agree with Rep Dingell on much.

"If I were to select a jackbooted group of fascists who are perhaps as large a danger to American society as I could pick today, I would pick BATF - They are a shame and a disgrace to our country."
Representative John Dingell (D-MI) 1991, on camera
Kevin at Smallest Minority is reproducing a big chunk of a Congressional report on the BATF(E) which bears reading, slowly, and in its entirety.

Whenever I write my representatives or Senators, I try to always include a couple of lines suggesting that the BATFE be disbanded, defunded, and never brought back. Mentioning the report and the colleagues opinion of the agency in each letter is an easy cut-and-paste add on, and worth doing.

Update: Here's a post from a fellow who got an official determination from the BATFE that their interpretations and determinations cannot be counted on. Gives you such a warm feeling inside, no?

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Shamelessly ripped off from Curmudgeonly and Skeptical:

The economy is so bad:

CEO's are now playing miniature golf.

Even people who have nothing to do with the Obama administration aren't paying their taxes.

Hotwheels and Matchbox stocks are trading higher than GM.

McDonalds is selling the 1/4 Ouncer

People in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children's names.

A truck of Americans got caught sneaking into Mexico .

The most highly-paid job is now jury duty.

People in Africa are donating money to Americans.

Motel Six won’t leave the light on.

The Mafia is laying off judges.

Congress says they are looking into the Bernard Madoff scandal. So, let’s see if I understand this correctly, the guy that made $50 billion disappear is being investigated by the people who made $750 billion disappear.

April 16, 2009 13:18 by English Guy

The good news is that I have jury duty this Tuesday.

Usually when I get called, they quickly find out I'm an engineer who likes hard evidence, and isn't big on he-said she-said, especially when one of the parties is the government, whom I don't trust much. The side with the weakest case then throws me out.

Maybe if I bring a cardboard sign reading "Will deliberate for food", or "Will convict (or acquit) for lunch".

Gun Gimmicks

Steve over at the Firearms Blog reports a new offering for a sight rig that posits a new sight picture,

and it's available in a one piece strap-on arrangement for shotguns as well. This impresses me as the first really different offering in this area I've seen since the introduction of glow-in-the-dark paint.

I wonder if this concept would work about as well if the inverted-V rear sight were installed so as to work with an existing, and harder to change, front sight.


Gun Control Works

In a manner of speaking, as a steady hand works best. Anyway, over in Jolly Olde England:

Men shot dead at anti-gun event

Paul Cheston, Courts Correspondent
Man, some antis take their positions way too seriously.
The killings in December 2002 were part of a series of shootings in the area. Korneh, known as Shorty, had allegedly been responsible for one shooting. When police arrived they found a Luger handgun in his waistband.

Anderson had been shot earlier that year and his alleged accomplice Wayne Freckleton has since died in a shooting.

Stephen Batten, prosecuting, said “there must have been other guns at the event as well”.
The quality of thugs over there is on the decline as well if they finish off the shooting of rivals by putting the murder weapon into their waistbands while waiting for the police to arrive. This doesn't usually help your case in court.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Quote of the Week

Found in the comments to this post regarding a new / proposed law in California that would give a person the right to sue you if they entered your business, and you turned them out because you couldn't understand their language.

Conservative: If you give a man a fish, you feed him for one night. If you teach a man to fish, he feeds himself every night.

Liberal: If you give a man a fish, he owes you once. If you teach a man to fish, he won’t need you any more.
Never let a crisis go to waste, eh?

Tip the Taxman

Radly Balko has a post up in which he illuminates the hypocrisy of some on the left who tell us we should be happy and glad to pay taxes, since so much good comes of it. He suggests asking them if they are donating anything extra to the cause.

This sounds like the practice of tipping your waitperson at the restaurant for exemplary service, rendered in a pleasing manner. If you hear the suggestion that paying taxes is functionally to giving to a charity, point out to the fool that the standard for tipping government employees is 10% in red states, and 20% in blue states.

I'm sure the employees of the city zoning commission, the state DMV, and the Federal EEOC will gratefully accept the gratuity, and smooth your visit. Who knows, it may even work on their parole officer.

In some states, a generous tip to the governor can get you a good recommendation for a nice job in Washington.

Are You A Terrorist?

You probably are, but just didn't realize it. I am, and now have a handsome certificate, suitable for framing and hanging on the wall of my cell.

Here is a quick test

The Future Of Transportation

I have seen the future, and it comes from south-east Asia, circa 1970. It appears that the 3-wheeled mini-van that I saw in Viet-Nam in '69 will soon be imported to the US for your motoring enjoyment.
The TukTuk, from Thailand.

Actually these things have been here for a while, sold by Lamberetta, and mostly used as runabouts in factories, and sometimes on golf courses, but back then, they used 2-stroke motors which could put out an unacceptable cloud of blue smoke. In S.E. Aisa, they got used for everything as they could navigate the narrow streets, and sometimes seemed to have an unlimited carrying capacity.
Lambretta 3-wheeler. Imagine 2 bench seats in the back, facing each other. Now imagine that this is your taxi, in downtown Denver, at rush hour, with no traffic lights. Just like Saigon in 1970.

Today, thanks to modern technology, and the Tata motor companys ability to build such things from essentially nothing, the TukTuk will be hitting the roads soon in configurations to replace almost everything from sports cars to garbage trucks.
The Tuk Tuk will come in many different styles, ranging from a three-passenger model up to the 12-passenger hauler. In addition to the passenger vehicles, there's a pick-up truck, dump truck, garbage truck (!), flatbed, van and even a bare chassis for DIY projects, with prices starting at just under $10,000.
Now approved by both the DOT and the EPA, these things will soon become the SUVs, taxis, and pickups of the future. My take on the passenger-carrying capability of these things is tempered by my own experience with these things, noting that they could be fitted with 2 bench seats facing each other in the enclosed rear that would seat 4 GIs or 15 Vietnamese.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Workshop

Interesting day yesterday, on several levels. The fuel pump on my truck decided to die, which after 185,000 miles, I suppose it's entitled to. It's the sort of thing I wouldn't have any problems replacing it myself, BUT, on Monday I had a work accident, and lost about 1/4" off my right index finger. While the Oxy-Cocaine the hand surgeon gave me helps, I'm really in no condition to be removing the gas tank from my vehicle.

Additionally, yesterday was the last nice day conducive to driveway mechanics before the rains begin, which are now expected to culminate in 5-10" of snow by Saturday PM.

Remember when fuel pumps looked like this

and cost maybe $10? OK that's a filter, not a pump, but the resemblance is close enough. Actually, the one I installed in my Triumph is smaller than that.

Well now they bear a close resemblance to something the Air Force might use to guide a long range missile

And cost over $200. I suppose it's the price you pay for being able to launch things around the world with pinpoint accuracy.

Huge thanks to my friend Bob, who did the work for me while I did drugs, and got the whole thing finished in about half a day.

On a related note, the silver lining to the cloud is that I will be saving some bucks on ammo for the next couple or three weeks. Shooting left-handed will be much slower.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Denver Tea Party

The Tea Party gathering in Denver was quite well attended with reportedly 5000+ people.
Most folks were cheesed-off about government spending money it doesn't have to fix a problem that isn't nearly as big as it's advertised to be. I got there 1/2 hour before the scheduled start, and couldn't get close enough to see the capital steps or hear the speakers. The organizers really needed a much bigger sound system.

There was no evidence at all of any corporate sponsorship what so ever, with many people having to get back to work around 1 PM. The Vancouver Suns Chris Perry, evidently reporting from his mothers basement, between bong hits said:
A reportedly corporate-financed grassroots" anti-tax movement, paid for, planned and promoted by right wing think tanks, corporate lobbyists and Fox News Channel, has failed to bring about the "popular uprising" against the Obama administration its creators had hoped for.
Oh well, we expected some trolls, although this is the first one I've seen any evidence of. If this is the best they can do, they're in trouble. this under the headline:

Fox News-driven "tea parties" fail to ignite popular uprising among U.S. conservatives.

I believe the fellow who coined the phrase, as it's being currently used was on Fox, but I don't believe he thought it would go as far as it has. It also makes me wonder what the Canadians think constitutes a "popular uprising". They were expecting Kalashnikovs, perhaps? None of us were.

Correction: Rick Santelli was actually from, and shown on CNBC, and is rather impressed with how things are turning out.

Reports with pictures here and here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tea Party

Remember, the Tea Party get-together is Wednesday, April 15th, from 12 noon to 1:30, the legislators lunch hour. Be there or be square, as they say.

Noted at Right Wing News, is an article about jiggering poll results, which ended with a reference to Obambis comment:
“I am the only thing standing between you and the pitchforks.”
Now I am no artist. I could draw the picture, but it would take me weeks. Imagine the Big O looking down his nose at the bankers and running off that line, while the bankers peer over his shoulder an an oncoming mob of angry "peasants" with pitchforks and torches. Impaled on the pitchforks are Tea Party placards.

Standing between the bankers and the rest of us seems more like "surrounded" than "protecting" to me.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mayors Against Illegal Guns

The anti-gun group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has issued a press release following the Pittsburgh shootings of 3 cops. The group is the creation of Mayor Bloomberg of New York in an attempt to impose New York style gun laws on the whole country. It has been cited as breaking the law through straw purchases at out-of-state gun shops, then suing the shops to try to put them out of business.

A mass shooting, defined by USA Today as producing 4 or more bodies, creates enough blood for the antis to dance in for some weeks following. Frequently this only lasts until it becomes painfully obvious that no gun law ever proposed would have actually had any effect at all on the outcome of the tragedy.
Note this chart, which I got from a USA Today article:
On average, we get 18 mass killings a year, with an average of 5.3 dead per incident. There's one in every crowd, and when the crowd gets big enough, there's more than one. That's life. Be Prepared.

Mass killings happen more often in bad economic times than in good. Based on this, I'd say the way to reduce mass killings would be to massively cut taxes, but what do I know.

Anyway, the point of all this is to point out that in Colorado, there is only one mayor who belongs to Bloombergs hoplophobe and knitting society, and that's Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.
Rumor has it that he's considering moving across the street to the governors office. Now might be the time to get in touch with him and suggest that his chances would improve if he drops his association with Bloombergs anti-civil rights clan.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Free NRA Membership

It's a 1-year membership, after which they will be wanting real money.
Still, I don't think renewals are very expensive.

The NRA is giving FREE 1-yr memberships to everyone
that wants to join. Please join and pass it around,
they are trying to build up their membership to fight
pending legislation that impacts our right to bear arms.

Arugula-Eating Surrender Monkey

At least one pundit in Europe , Gerald Warner has come away from the Messiahs European tour somewhat less than impressed with the outcome. Calling the One "President Pantywaist, the new Surrender Monkey on the block."
President Barack Obama has recently completed the most successful foreign policy tour since Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. You name it, he blew it. What was his big deal economic programme that he was determined to drive through the G20 summit? Another massive stimulus package, globally funded and co-ordinated. Did he achieve it? Not so as you'd notice.
So listen up, you heard it here first: We now have the Arugula-Eating Surrender Monkey in chief.

Congressional Makeup

Drudge has a story up in which journalist Glenn Thrush breathlessly announces there are 17 socialists in the current congress. 5 minutes on Google produces listings for the congressional progressive caucus, which is what socialists and communists call themselves to avoid the bad press that accompanies telling the truth. The current listing from Wikipedia claims 71 members in the house alone.

Additionally, Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, and Tom Udall are listed as senate members there.

The official website is here and while it lists only one Senator, it is broadly suggested that CPC sympathizers frequently do not want their names on the membership list lest their constituents notice that they lean much further to the left than they admit to on the hustings.

Mr Thrush's article is followed by a load of comments from leftists gleefully taunting republicans as being on the way out in favor of the new socialist model for America and the world. The Republicans may well be on the way out, just as the Whigs, whom they replaced were on the way out in 1856. In 1860, the Republicans elected their first president, and controlled the government for some time after. Could the Tea Party be the replacement?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Gun Control

It's gotten to the point where the left is beginning to think that some kind of gun control legislation might not cost them their jobs. MSNBC, in an article on the mass shooting phenomena, reports that
Despite eight rampages that have claimed 57 lives since March 10, "it hasn't sparked any national goal to deal with this epidemic. In fact, it's going the other way," said Scott Vogel of the Freedom States Alliance, a gun control activist group.
Gosh, you know if I thought that mass shootings were becoming more common in the Obama administration, I'd be interested in taking some kind of pro-active action, like getting a gun to defend myself with, or maybe even a carry permit. Apparently, I'm not the only one
H.T. Ride Fast

The bias pops up in the first paragraph:
They had more in common than unleashing carnage — nearly every gunman in this monthlong series of mass killings was legally entitled to fire his weapons.
Sorry, Charlie, but no way. While many of the gunmen may well have lived in states mandating a permit even to own a gun, none of them, in the context in which they used them, had a permit for such a discharge.

Maybe we could call this Obama Derangement Syndrome?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dimpled Bullets

This just in from Accurate
After all those years of playing golf, the Armys brass tried dimpling the other item the Army sends whizzing through the air...bullets.
Turns out the dimples work as well on bullets as they do on the fairways.
The dimpled “golf-ball” design was considered a “long shot” according to the design team, but it has performed beyond all expectations. The nominal drag coefficient (Cd) has improved by about +.040, while cartridge muzzle velocity has increased by nearly 80+ fps because the bullet’s dimpled skin reduces in-barrel friction. What’s more — the terminal performance of the dimpled bullet has been “spectacular”. The Aberdeen team set out to produce a slightly more slippery bullet for U.S. Army snipers. What they ended up with is a bullet with dramatically enhanced long-range ballistics and superior killing power on “soft targets”.
“Most FMJ bullets break along the cannelure and then fragment into two or three large pieces. With the dimpled bullets, you have multiple fragmentation points so the bullet literally blows up like a grenade in the target.”

Sounds like something just made for varmint shooters. Oh yeah, and note the publication date.

I suppose I could have told them this myself, as I've been shooting dimpled projectiles for years:
This little baby can get you onto any green at the course, in one....from the clubhouse. The golf balls are so light that 3f powder is probably the best pick, and loads up to 500g have been used. The balls are, to my observation, nearly indestructible, although you will want to spend some time at the ball washer afterword. Range is uncertain, as we have never successfully located a ball fired at an elevation greater than 10 degrees. It currently holds down the floor in front of the fireplace, and has for some time. It looks like I need to clean it up and take it out for some exercise.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Whoever you are from Avondale AZ, you are my 10,000th visitor. I was sort of hoping to make that number in my first year, and there it is. Thank you very much for making my day, and thanks also to the other 9,999 of you, without whom this feat would not have been possible.

Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor

Just ran across this over at Right Wing News (getting the news right) regarding the Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor, a brand-new office in the executive branch.
The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 gives the president the ability to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" and shut down or limit Internet traffic in any "critical" information network "in the interest of national security." The bill does not define a critical information network or a cybersecurity emergency. That definition would be left to the president.

The bill does not only add to the power of the president. It also grants the Secretary of Commerce "access to all relevant data concerning [critical] networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access." This means he or she can monitor or access any data on private or public networks without regard to privacy laws.

So the executive office would have an inherent right to snoop your mail, your phone, your internet usage, without a warrant, and shut all this down in the event of a national emergency, to be defined later. This from the folks who thought the Patriot Act was an imposition. It's fun when the jackboot is on the other foot, isn't it?

The RWN article notes that even the Manhattan liberals are getting the vapors over this one. Senators John Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Olympia Snowe (RINO-Maine), are the masterminds behind this. Time to drop a friendly note to your Senators, and feel free to conspicuously mention such motivational phrases as "tar and feathers", and the like.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Postal Match

I did all right on the last postal match at Mr. Completely, although I expected to finish much lower, given the scores I got.
Since in this match I make the rules, I've decided to award the title of Overall Match Winner to whomever I choose, based on their scores and their class. This month's Overall Match Winner goes to


He clearly and decisively smoked everyone in Class one Rimfire Iron Sight. Well Done!

That thing turned out to be much more difficult than anyone imagined.

Anyway, the next one is up at the Conservative Union Guy, who may be thinking of changing his name to Conservative Government Employee Guy.
Or maybe to Impending Treasury Secretary Guy. You shoot this target from a starting deficit of 12, and the object is to minimize your total. In 8 shots, hit all 8 of the -1 balls, and finish with a score of 4.
Extra obfuscation: The numbers are all in Trillions, 000,000,000 removed for clarity. The first 12 is a deficit, and so is actually -12, and the negative numbers are a reduction in your deficit, and so are really positive, while the positive numbers add to your deficit, and thus are actually negative.

I think he's really getting in to being a government drone, and should, eventually, become head of the Federal DMV.

Those of you with pistols and access to a range this month are encouraged to visit the union hall, print the target, and go shoot this.

More Gun Stuff

Imagine perusing your favorite gun blogs, and seeing a picture of your own hand, holding an antique pistol in a menacing manner.

I was reading The Firearms Blog yesterday, and there I was, at least a small part of me.

Bloggers are notorious for not keeping their blogrolls up to date, and I admit to being about as bad as anyone, especially in the web comics department, but there he is now, so drop on over and check him out.

I'm coming up on my 1st blog-versary shortly, and I've already beaten one goal I set for myself, to produce 1 post per day, on average, with a minimum number of space fillers, like jokes. Next, and just for fun, I hope to have over 10,000 visitors in that first year. Yeah, I know, some of the bigger folks get that many in 2 hours on an average day, and some folks get 1M in their first year, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. Looks like I'll make it.

Stay tuned, between politico-economic rants, the 2-1/2 bores will get built, and the squirrel party will happen, hopefully with video.

More 2-Bores

OK, truth in advertising, these are 2-1/2 bores taking shape here.

Got started on the 2-1/2 bore plinkers today. Here is a picture of the barrels I’m starting with.

These are 2 in O.D., 1-1/4” I.D. and 26 in long. The one on the left has been threaded for its plug.

The material is not known for sure, but is no worse than 1020 mild steel. The properties are:

Mechanical Properties Metric English

Hardness, Brinell 121

Tensile Strength, Ultimate 420 Mpa 60900 psi

Tensile Strength, Yield 350 Mpa 50800 psi

Stress on the barrel in use is limited to Pr/t where P is the pressure in PSI, R is the radius to the middle of the wall, and t is the thickness of the barrel. Since the absolute limit, at which one would see bulging of the barrel is 50800 psi, we want to stay well below that, but at maximum, the pressure would be 50800 x t/r where t = .375”, and r = .813. This gives 23,431 psi, which is equivalent to a .357 +P or something. Normally one tries to leave a generous margin, say 100% on things like this, so let’s say that pressure should be limited to 23,431/2 = 11,715 PSI, which is consistent with old black powder pistols. Since this is to be a black powder gun, this is encouraging.

11,700 psi in a 1-1/4” barrel gives a force on the projectile of 11,700 x 1.227 in2, or 14,358 lbf. Since F=ma, and m = wt/32.2, (mass is in slugs, I’m old school) m = .4lb/32.2 = .01242 slugs. So F/m = acceleration down the barrel of 1,155,823 ft/sec2

That’s an impressive acceleration, but, Distance = ½ x a x t2, since distance is the barrel length, or 2 ft, t = sqrt(2 x d/a) or .00186 sec. If Velocity = a x t, then V = 1,155,823 x .00186 = 2150 fps. Not bad, but this assumes a lot, such as no leakage, and a constant pressure all the way down the barrel, which isn’t going to happen, we hope.

How much is the pressure going to drop? Don’t know, and probably no good way to calculate it, but if I get half that velocity, I’ll be quite happy, and probably severely bruised on the shoulder.

Here are the barrels with one plug screwed all the way in, and the other partially out. The thread is 1-5/16 – 18 UNEF. The handy part of that is that the extra fine thread gives the best strength, and the drill size for that is 1-1/4”.

The plugs will be drilled for the nipple, and to attach the stock and the lock.
That UNEF threading is hard to see.

One other thing I promised is the answer to the nagging question of Why do we shoot those odd sized bullets we like so much?

Way back when, all firearms were smooth bore, and the bore size was the number of balls one could make for the gun, from 1 lb of lead. Hence the Brown Bess of the American revolution was a 12 ga, .730 diameter. Until micrometers became common, it was easier to measure in the number of balls per pound than in actual inches, hence:


Ball dia

















































As powder got better and more predictable, bullet size dropped. Brass cartridges made the long ramrod obsolete, allowing even smaller bullets. Not all of these became popular, by any means, but notice the 50 ga and the 100 ga. There’s the .45 and .36 caliber as in Army and Navy Colts. The 16, 20, and 28 ga eventually became rifles used in and around the Civil war, and the 12 ga smooth bore is still with us today.

2-1/2 ga does not appear here, but would be 1.233 inches diameter. Close enough.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Pepperbox

Here's a replica of a piece of firearms history, one of the earlier attempts to build a multi-shot pistol. This one is a replica of an Ethan Allan .36 cal pepperbox, circa 1830. Everything Mark Twain said about pepperboxes holds true, and more.
The one Mr. Twain commented on was a more advanced model, with 6 barrels which rotated when you pulled the trigger.
Sorry about the fuzzy image, but this one has 4 barrels, and must be indexed by hand before firing the next shot. Caliber is .36, which turns out to be .357. More on that in the next post.
Twains remarks as follows:

George Bemis . . . wore in his belt an old original "Allen" revolver, such as irreverent people called a "pepper-box." Simply drawing the trigger back, cocked and fired the pistol. As the trigger came back, the hammer would begin to rise and the barrel to turn over, and presently down would drop the hammer, and away would speed the ball. To aim along the turning barrel and hit the thing aimed at was a feat which was probably never done with an "Allen" in the world. But George's was a reliable weapon, nevertheless, because, as one of the stage-drivers afterward said, "If she didn't get what she went after, she would fetch something else." And so she did. She went after a deuce of spades nailed against a tree, once, and fetched a mule standing about thirty yards to the left of it. Bemis did not want the mule; but the owner came out with a double-barreled shotgun and persuaded him to buy it, anyhow. It was a cheerful weapon--the "Allen." Sometimes all its six barrels would go off at once, and then there was no safe place in all the region round about, but behind it.
Sounds exciting, if possibly expensive. Mine is so poorly designed, ergonomically that a conventional grip
Causes the barrel to rise about 30-40 degrees when you pull the trigger. Even at close range this will result in a hole in the bad guys hat, and an even more pissed-off bad guy. The trigger works best if you hold it at about waist lever, or just under the poker table,
Place the barrel against the underside of the poker table, and use the middle finger to pull the trigger more up than back.

I got this as an unfinished kit. Got it cleaned up and finished out, then tried it with a very light load and some quickie plastic bullets. Load was 8 gr of 3f under a fabricated Teflon bullet about 3/8 in long with a pointy nose. Not very scientific, but hey, watch the results. Our first target was an empty cardboard box, 14 x 14, with one top flap up, so overall target is 14 wide x 21 high.

1st shot, me shooting at about 5 feet. Shot from hip using poker table grip. I hit box in the upper LH corner of the flap. I Felt disappointed in distance from center of box (aim point).

2nd shot: Partner tries gun. Same box, same distance. He uses the more conventional grip, and misses the box completely. He tells me to let a 3rd partner in crime try the last one.

3rd shot: PIC #3 takes conventional stance in his back yard, aims at the center of the narrow side of a small barn at about 15 feet. Success, sort of. He hits barn about 8 in below the 15 foot high eave. The bullet bounces off the side of the barn, hits the eave, bounces off the eave, hits a chair in back yard about 10 ft in front of us, bounces off the chair, hits a motorcycle about 5 ft to my right, bounces off the motorcycle, and comes to rest in thicket of vines.

Please observe all safety precautions, such as safety glasses. We did.

Everything Mr. Twain said about the Pepperbox is confirmed. I feel like Deadeye Dick for hitting the box at all.

The thing is a hoot at the range, loaded up with a proper dose of 3f powder and a .36 cal ball. I let other people shoot is, and enjoy the look of puzzlement on their faces when they miss the human silhouette target at 5 feet. The barrel is so heavy that recoil is negligible.

Oh yes:
This is the ready-to-fire orientation of the barrel. The others, I guess, would be the safe position that doesn't leave the hammer sitting directly on a percussion cap.