31 March 2009

Poor performance results from poor planning..

Well crap...

I have a car that's been on reserve status for most of last year (a 1977 280Z). On reserve status because the insurance payments are a substantial portion of the value of the car, even for just liability & medical. A neighbor has offered to buy the car and I have accepted the offer, but as of yet the deal has not been completed.

The registration expired today, and it still needs a smog check before it can be renewed. So we started the insurance and. and.. and...
And I forgot it needed a water pump... So no smog check today which means the registration will be late.

After sitting for a year, I didn't really expect it would pass emissions, but just taking the test provides a 60 day extension. So that's out. Renewing late incurs a small fine (about $4 last time I checked) and the risk of a ticket for driving on an expired registration.

I should have done this last week and then would have had the weekend to work through this and put the 100 or so miles on the car to burn through the bad stuff that may have seeped into the combustion chambers the last year.

My Bad, poor planning -> poor performance*.

The old pump is now out. No broken bolts which is a definite risk considering the environment these bolts live in (anyone have some left over cosmoline? I just need to dip a couple 3" (er 75mm) bolts. Then clean the mating face and installation is the reverse of removal.

Then smog check..
and registration..
and cash in the bank..
(I hope)

* in my own defense, in the priority scheme of life, this car is pretty far down the list... Below family & job security... below helping out at the SCSon's school, below shooting ePostal match entries.

29 March 2009


As anyone that's been shopping for ammo knows, the shelves are bare. In the reloading world, primers lately seem to be made of unobtainium. Here at the SandCastle, small rifle primers are the rarest commodity. So imagine my surprise at reading a THR post that says "I've got 600 I can't even give them away!".

Well heck, that's exactly what I need! We traded a few emails and found he lives within 25 miles of the SandCastle. This is almost too perfect. As it turns out I needed to visit nearby anyway, so a deal was struck.

This replenishes my stocks of small rifle primers to the point I won't hesitate to shoot what I have.


28 March 2009

ePostal entry

Beautiful day here in the desert today. Seemed the perfect opportunity to make an assault on this months ePostal match.

This match require 5 sets of 5 shots on the target. Each pass would take on the square targets in any order before shooting on the round center "stop" plate.

These matches are a great excuse to hit the range with a mission and a ruler to measure "good" or "bad" and what is broken that needs to be fixed. This target represents my best effort on 9 tries. Now if you read through the rules, lower scores are better with a maximum (worst) score of 125 and minimum (best) score of 25. I shot a 97. Nothing to write home about.

Still this was a lot of fun to shoot. And it's good practice for our local practical pistol matches where time is the metric.

Reviewing the targets, I think I need to work on sight picture... it's not sighted the way I'm shooting it.

(and whose fault is that?) you got it: ME!

24 March 2009

Old Car Pics

Not here, but here at True Blue Sam's place.

Sometime back I posted about the absurd Grand Canyon trip the SCSon's class has planned. The short version is it's a 17 hour trip up and back the same day, of which only 2 1/2 hours will be spent touring the canyon. But 2 3/4 hours would be spent eating meals. We decided the schools strip is ill advised and opted to take our own trip. We landed at Grand Canyon Valle (40G) and rented a car for the rest of the trip into the park. This takes advantage of the speed of the airplane and turns what would normally be a 4 1/2 - 5 hour drive to a pleasant 1 hour flight. Ours turned out to be a 9 hour trip up and back with 6 hours at the rim.

Obviously this is where the banner pic came from. Again this is a panorama assembled by Autostitch.

The cars in the airport lobby were a bonus. I saw those and immediately thought "I gotta send these to TBS". The obvious question though is why send them at all rather than post here. Quite frankly it's because I don't know much about these cars. When I think of an old car, I'm thinking late 60's to early 70's. For instance, I saw them in person and completely missed the chain drive on the REO (in my own defense, most of my time spent with these cars involved me looking through the viewfinder of the camera). I'd rather send the pics on to someone who knows them through and through to post and comment.

BTW, TBS's place is also a great place to get an inkling about everything you don't know about using a chainsaw. Here in the land of red tile roofs we rarely have to cut down trees, but about once a year there is a bit of post storm cleanup of downed branches that require some chainsaw work. I've learned a lot there.

21 March 2009

Well that's sad...

Pilot heads to his '07 crash site, crashes
"Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are beginning to investigate Tuesday's crash that killed Sparky Imeson of Helena."

This is sad. Sparky Imeson didn't just write the book on mountain flying. He wrote several and ran the website as well.

Yet another reminder that it doesn't matter how much experience you have, how many log books you've filled, there is no such thing as immunity to accidents.

Woo Hoo, New Banner!

Woo Hoo! We got us a Banner!

Since starting this fling, it seemed we needed an appropriate banner to head the blog. Lacking same, the spot has remained blank. However with today's visit to the state's premier scenic spot, we now have one.... Too bad it doesn't cover another 40 degrees to the right as that's a really spectacular view!

16 March 2009

Chrono fun part deux!

I'm on furlough from the dayjob(tm) this week. So what better time than to take the family to the range! Weekends are pretty much SRO this time of year but during the week we have our pick of benches.

My mission for the trip was to chrono several centerfire rifles & loads. It took longer than expected because as we went up through the calibers, the Chrony had to be moved back to save it from the muzzle blast. Five feet was enough for the .22 and .223. But one shot of from the Garand sent the light shields flying. At 12 feet it was far enough to be safe from the muzzle blast, but my aging eyes were barely adequate to read the numbers at that distance. Fortunately we brought along a pair of 9YO old eyes.

The data showed some interesting comparisons. The first two columns compare MilSurp 30-06. First column fired from an M1 Garand and the second from a 1903 Springfield. Same bullet from two different rifles and the semi-auto Garand only sacrificed 6 fps to the Springfield. I expected the bolt action would perform better. At least the impact to my shoulder suggested it would.

The second pair of columns show my reloads in the same caliber and rifles. Looks like I can pep those up a bit.

The third pair shows two different reloads in .223 Rem. I started using the same IMR4895 as used for the 30-06 but there is a note in the Dillon manual recommending against stick powder in calibers less than .30. So I tried some AA2460. As you can see the results are just about even. But the data also shows (even though the graph does not) the AA2460 is more consistent with a standard deviation almost half of the IMR load (33fps for the AA, 54fps for the IMR). Hmmm, cheaper, faster, more consistent. It's just better all around!

The last column shows an 8mm Turkish Mauser firing 1937 MilSurp. The whole package of rifle + 700 rounds sold for under $80 a couple years ago. I don't shoot it much as it's quite the shoulder-crusher. As expected it was the fastest of the group. Also most consistent with a StdDev under 16 fps.

Meanwhile the SCQueen and SCSon brought along a collection of .22s and had fun blasting through a part of a Big box of Federal.

The SCQueen also tried the AR-15 for the first time and found out what a delight it is too shoot. I started her off with just a couple, but when asked if she wanted more, she was only too happy to oblige.

What a beautiful day for a furlough! (But payday-friday is gonna suck).

Story sounds fishy

"Locksmith hired to change locks shot by homeowner"

"The unidentified 26-year-old locksmith expected the home, on the 4300 block of East Campo Bello Drive, to be empty when he arrived around 4:30 a.m. and began drilling out the lock on the front door, according to Phoenix Police Sgt. Andy Hill. When he pushed the door open, he was shot in the hand by the 39-year-old homeowner."
Another version of the story from ABC15 here.
This report says the resident shot through the door.

Color me suspicious. This sounds more like an attempted burglary. If he had legitimate papers to change the locks, there is no reason to be working at 4:30 in the morning.

No word on charges yet. In this climate of foreclosures and unclear titles, I doubt they could get 12 of his peers would agree his actions were unreasonable. But you can bet your next round of ammunition, he will be sued in civil court. Even if he wins, it'll still cost him.

If he shot through the door however, that would be bad.

15 March 2009

Phoenix Panorama

A beautiful day in the desert. The SandCastle crew decided to do something different and head up to the top of South Mountain. "Dobbins Lookout", a small stone building, is at the top. From there the entire Phoenix valley metropolis is visible, from Litchfield and Glendale on the West to Tempe and Mesa in the East. It's a gorgeous view and only a short drive from downtown Phoenix. Head straight south on Central to the park, then follow the signs for the summit or Dobbins Lookout.

Here's a panoramic view. Photos stitched together by AutoStitch (Free download - Click on pic for full size).

13 March 2009

Shopping with OPM!

Nothing quite like shopping with Other People's Money.

Tonight was just such a trip. Armed with the $30 Winchester certificate that arrived sent a few days ago to compensate for a recalled batch of .22, we headed out to trade it for actual cartridges.

Needless to say the local store was out of all the usual calibers. Instead I took the opportunity to get some of the more esoteric calibers. You know the ones I normally wouldn't buy. Tonight's haul included:
* 180 gr 30-06
* 12 ga. slugs (one less excuse to skip the local club's 3 gun match)
* .22 Magnum

Normally the slugs are the only one's I'd have bought with my money, but armed with someone else's, why not! Thanks Winchester!

PS, I picked up a package of ear plugs too... turns out they were also Winchester branded!


The SCQueen received the invite to the NRA Annual Banquet and Leadership forum. We had heard rumors Rush Limbaugh would be speaking at the banquet but alas is not so.

The envelope included a small yellow slip of paper that explains that Rush has a prior commitment and the banquet speakers will be John Stossel and Oliver North. Both are good people but they are not Rush. The note about "Saturday May 15th" is clearly a typo (This year May 15th is a Friday). But that's in North Carolina while we'll all be out here in Phoenix. Update: I should know better than to skim & assume. That's next year - (Thanks B).

The letter also notes Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will be the Honored Guest at the Leadership Forum Friday evening.

PS... The SandCastle Crew is still going to be there!

10 March 2009

A Tale of Two Recalls

Several weeks ago I tripped across a note referring to a recall of Winchester Xpert .22 ammo. Checking inventory here at the SandCastle, sure enough we had the remains of a box.

I first traded emails and ended up on the phone with the customer service people. It seemed odd that we'd purchased a recalled box more than a year after the recall was issued.

There were only 36 rounds remaining but Winchester really wanted those back! They sent a UPS shipping label and promised to make it right.

There was a hitch in shipping however. Since there were so few bullets left, they were taped to the inside of the Winchester box to prevent rattling, and packed inside of a larger box and stuffed with Styrofoam peanuts. Unfortunately the larger box I'd grabbed was one that had been used to ship me powder and had all sorts of hazmat labels... Which I'd not thought to cover.

The local UPS office called a few days later saying "Ummm, What's in here? The shipping manifest says "bullets" but the box says "Hazmat". I confirmed the box only contained bullets. She then insisted that I had to come down and repack the box. Running a quick calculation "Hmmm, 36 rounds of .22 is worth about 75 cents. Gas to drive to their location and back will be several dollars. Not cost effective." I declined. In effect they could not open the box, nor move it from where it sat. Meaning they couldn't repack it themselves. They also couldn't return it to me nor forward it on to Winchester. They couldn't even throw them away. I suggested they call Winchester. I figured that was it... I'd written off the six bits and forgotten about it.

A letter arrived today. Reads like a form letter intended for someone who had complained about a product:
We would like to thank you for bringing this matter to our attention and for giving us the opportunity to investigate the problem.
Only I didn't bring anything to their attention. They issued a recall and I asked if the box I had was affected.

Anyway, the letter included a certificate for THIRTY DOLLARS of Winchester ammunition! Holy Cow! $30 for 36 rounds! Now clearly this was not intended as in investment, but Dang! I wish some of my other investments would pay off half as well!

On the other hand, Maytag announced a recall today affecting some 1.6 Million refrigerators. Apparently a relay can overheat and occasionally catch fire. The SandCastle's main consumable refrigeration unit may be affected and the SCQueen spent several hours trying to contact Maytag without success. Hopefully this just a first day traffic jam. We'll try again tomorrow.

08 March 2009

XXXX Elementary School Parent Survey

The SCSon's school sent home a "XXXX Elementary School Parent Survey".

It contained the usual stuff. What are we doing right, what are we doing wrong.
It lists a couple questions under the heading of "Volunteering" which are all thinly disguised guilt. The real question is "if not,why not?"

The "Safety" section caught my eye:
(click on image for full size)

I'm tempted to answer the first question "none".

Second question: also "none" explaining that "feelings" have no place in safety and security. I don't care that you feel safe enough to leave the front door unlocked at night. It's a stupid thing to do!

3) Allow CCW holders to carry weapons on campus. Explaining the logical arguments: Bad guys are not stopped by the law, they only stop when someone shows up with a gun. Police are at best minutes away, people already on site can stop a bad situation in it's tracks. And how CCW holders are state certified good guys and why.

But I think this is not the place the fight the battle. The prohibition of guns on schools grounds is a state law (ARS 13-3102 (A)(12)). 13-3102.
Misconduct involving weapons; defenses; classification; definitions

A. A person commits misconduct involving weapons by knowingly:
12. Possessing a deadly weapon on school grounds;
So that's the place to solve the problem.

At the grass roots level, we are better off working on a personal level and taking teachers and administration to the range. Opining on this form would likely just serve to cause immediate PSH.

02 March 2009

Tempe Tea Party

Update & Bump: WBAustin has posted a video of the event to youtube:

The SCQueen and SCSon drove in for the Tempe Tea Party. She reports about 150 people attended. Afterwards she went over and thanked the organizers. State Senator Russel Pearce grabbed the SCSon's hand and thanked him for coming out!

The speakers explained how and our money is being stolen. "Quite the eye-opener!"

01 March 2009

Chrono fun!

The BBTOJ brought a new toy this week. I've been looking at Chronographs for a while and a recent Midway email announced a sale. The price was simply too low to ignore ($70 for the bottom line Chrony F1). I considered some of the higher models, but decided the bottom line was all I needed.

The unit worked flawlessly. It only missed a couple shots out of the hundred or so. Recording the data by hand is a PITA. While Chrony offers models that log the data, they are more expensive and weren't quite what I wanted. We can do better (stay tuned)! OTOH, I'm getting to the point where a range trip involves a small trailer. Between the Ammunition, magazines, projectile launchers, targets, spotting scope, and now tripod and Chronograph. The load gets bigger and bigger... where does it end?

This was interesting, if not completely unexpected. Here was have bullets from the same batch* fired through three different length barrels. Barrel length on the X axis and bullet speed on the Y axis. Conclusion: Imagine that, bullet speed is proportional to barrel length.

I'm looking forward to the centerfire comparisons. .223 vs 30.06 vs 8mm Mauser. I hope to throw a .308 into the mix as well but my money is on the Mauser.

* 9mm 7.0 grains AA#7 behind 115grain Hornady FMJ-RN.