Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I think we can do it!!!!

Here we have a bottle of the "accidental wine". I started out as a bushel of concorde grapes meant to become juice for breakfast. However shortly after my DW Pelenaka made the purchase, we both found ourselves working a ton of hours or being stuck on other projects. So, here we are with grapes in the fridge, in the old ice box downstairs, and in a cooler. After several days a few get moldy. After a week alot of them are moldy. Wife is upset we're going to have to make compost out of them. I'm upset we're both working overtime, rather than making extra money, we're throwing money away. Finally I get a day off, the kids are at thier dad's in texas, pelenaka is working and I'm looking at a bunch of grapes. I start to thinking, maybe they'll make wine good enough to cook with. Maybe I should try? If they bomb as wine they'll turn into vinegar. We can use vinegar too. I have some champagne yeast and some flip top beer bottles set aside for a batch of homemade rootbeer that still hasn't been made. I also have some old wine jugs and air locks. What the heck! I start sorting grapes. The bad ones head for the compost bucket. The good ones get pinched between my fingers into a large clean stewpot. When I'm done I have almost two gallons of crushed grapes in the stewpot. I know the inside of red grapes are white, and so is thier juice. To turn the juice red the grapes need to ferment skins and all. I toss a cup of sugar into the grapes along with half the packet of yeast. Everything gets stired up, and a lid is put on the pot and it's stuck in a warm place. Next day I'm back to work. Ten days later I peek into my pot. It's bubbling, man it's really bubbling! Another pot of water on the backyard wood cookstove, an old T shirt in the pots bottom boiling too. Drag out the cider/wine press, soap it up, rinse it off, rinse again with the boiling water. Fit the old T shirt into the presses basket. Put the grapes in and squeeze them. Took longer to clean the press than to press it all out. When all id done we're about a cup short of two gallons. Juice is divided between two gallon jugs and some sugar water is added to bring the level up into the necks. Airlocks on and into the cellar it went. Forgotten for months. Suddenly found and remembered months later, I decide to bottle it up. One flip top quart and a bunch of pints. I save a little less than a pint for an early sample. The sealed bottles go back to the cellar. The sample goes into the fridge minus one glass. The first glass is a bit watery, just like the first and only batch of hard cider. DW never gets around to tasting a sample, the sample oxidizes and finds it's way into a frying pan with some mushrooms. Tonight, again a couple months later, DW needs some wine to cook with and cracks a bottle. The balance goes into glasses. Not bad! Better than I expected! It's quite drinkable. I think this self sufficiency thing might be possible. Tom Good had his "Peapod 75". And Woodsrunner has his "Concorde 08". Lets have a toast to self suffiency! Cheers!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Installing sights on the $65.00 project shotgun

The first step to making the project shotgun a practical gun we need sights. Here we have a set of TruGlo brand fiber optic sights meant for a Knight brand muzzleloader. I aquired these last summer at a garage sale for $2.00. Also in the photo is a tube of Loctite 380 Black Max cement. This cement is formulated to be used in applications where shock is a factor. I couldn't find this locally, but, was able to special order it from my local Lowes store, which can special order through W.W.Grainger, the industrial supply company. Shipped to my door it was around $7.00. In addition you will need a flat surface to work on, a vice with padded jaws if possible, a square a drill press or a second square,a scriber, some rubber cement, an abrasive of some sort, and alcohol or hot water & detergent to degrease everything.

The weather has turned cold again and my workshop has no heat. Lucky for me an old friend offered me the use of his engineering lab at work. While I suddenly found myself in a high tech setting, the environment we were in was overkill, so don't let it intimidate you. The important thing was having a warm place to work so the cement could bond properlyHere's the gun set in the vice. Careful adjustment was made to make sure the gun was vertical. The fore end had been removed and we clamped on the barrel lump. Had this vice had padded jaws we could have clamped on the reciever itself. After clamping the gun in the vice we moved it around unti it was vertical. To do this we placed a square on our smooth surface and checked it against the sides of the reciever. This gun has an investment cast reciever, the right side of the gun was milled true during manufacture, the left side however was anything but flat. The right side is what we used to put our square against. The next step is to find the very top of the gun barrel. This is done by placing the second square against the first or by placing a piece of rod in your drill press. This is gently brought down on top of the barrel where it touches the top of the radius, which you then mark with your scriber.

Here the barrel has been marked and using the scribe marks to center the sights I have rubber cemented the sights in place. This allowed me to make sure of where I wanted the sights on the barrel. Having decided the permanant location of the sights I'm scribing around thier bases. After this step I removed the sights and used the scribe marks as a guide in removing the bluing and roughing the barrel surface beneath the sights. I didn't try to remove the bluing all the way to my scribe lines, I needed them to use as a reference when finally cementing the sights in place. While I was at it, I used my abrasive to remove the anodizing from the bottom of the sights themselves. I then degreased the barrel with alcohol and applied a bead of black max to the barrel where the bluing was removed.
Here is the finished job. All we have to due is put the fore end back on. I'm going to wait a few days before trying to shoot it. This should give the cement time to fully cure. You may think the sight locations look a little funny. There was a method to my madness. The rear sight was located in front of rather than on top of the chamber. When a gun fires the barrel actually expands slightly in the chamber area. A microscopic and temporary stretch of the metal for sure, but, why risk the cement bond eventually breaking because of it. Also being in the over 40 crowd my eyes are starting to feel thier age. The farther away that rear sight is, the easier it is to see. And yes there is 3/4 of an inch between the end of the barrel and the front sight. I mentioned in the first post about this gun that it might get screw in chokes. There has been another development on that front. A recent talk with a gunsmith friend put me on another track. Back in the days before screw in chokes, add on choke devices were popular. Sold under the names of polychoke, cutts compensator, etc. It was popular to take older shotguns with very tight chokes and convert them to these adjustable systems. When these devices were installed, it destroyed any collector value these guns might have had. Well, now it's popular to take those old often worn out shotguns and make coach style guns for cowboy action shooting. This has left my gunsmith friend with a huge parts box full of old style choke devices. And that box is mine to pick through with whatever I select costing between $5.00 and $15.00 depending on what I pick. These devices mount to the outside of the barrel, so we'll need that 3/4" to mount one.
Next time we'll either pick and install a choke device, or we will make our cast lead butt plate.
Oh! BTW, when we were finished my friend passed along 14 boxes of cast bullet 9mm handgun reloads. Can anybody guess what our first chamber insert will be? THANKS Jeff!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Another book recomendation.

As I said in a previous post. One of my new years resolutions was to spend more time reading books. Well, I just finished reading "Unbridled Cowboy" by Joseph B. Fussell. This book is the memoirs of a man who lived from 1879 to 1957. A rebellious texas teenager who set out to make his own life under his own terms. In a time when men were still expected to be men. In fact proud to be men. This book is up there with Elmer Kieth's "Hell, I was There" on my list of must reads. I found "Unbridled Cowboy" in the new release section of my local library. If you like first hand accounts of life in another time, this book won't dissapoint you. Saturday I install the fiber optic sights on the $65.00 project gun. Hopefully I will remember to get someone to take pictures of the process. These sights were purchased last summer at a garage sale for $2.00. We will be using a cement recomended by my gunsmith rather than soldering. The cement adds another $6.00 and change to the project. Not only am I trying to keep the project low budget, I am trying to keep this project at a skill level that just about anyone can do. Woods

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bread, the families staff of life

In our house bread is a family effort. Last summer my dear bride Pelenaka ordered a bushel of Montana organic wheat from our local health food store. It was one of our rare instances of lack of communication. A week later found us getting ice cream at the county fair and talking to one of our food network friends. When I inquired to our friend about buying wheat from a local grower, Pelenaka said nothing until our friend left. A couple weeks later found us with the Montana wheat home in buckets and our friend knocking on our door with a couple bags containing 100lbs of local grown. The locally grown only cost us a couple loaves of bread to our friend and a couple more to the farmer. The locally grown has proven to be a blessing of sorts.The locally grown wheat came right from the combines auger without further cleaning. Here stepdaughter known as "sidekick" picks chaff from corns of the locally grown wheat. We often find the family sitting around the table doing this. No TV, radio, or video games, just family joking and conversation. Lately we've been cleaning and grinding for our next batch of bread while the current batch bakes. The warmth of the oven allows the thermostat to be turned down in the rest of the house. The warm room and the smell of baking bread soon has everyone relaxed, and the conversation soon flows.
Here the youngest stepdaughter, known from here on as "princess" grinds the grain. The Retsel little Ark mill makes short work of grinding flour. This past december it replaced the Back to Basics mill we had used for two years. The back to basics still works. But, the Retsel greatly increased production rate and quality with it's finer grind. The Retsel mill is well worth the money and a motor can be easily added at a later date should the desire or need arise. The only modification has been the adition of a piece of aluminum flashing cut to fit snugly below the stones of the mill. This helps keep the flour headed toward the catch pan rather than on the mills operator. We are very happy with the Retsel mill and highly recomend it for it's quality alone. The fact that it's american made made it's purchase part of my plan to save the American economy. If you read around on the net you may read of Retsel taking a long time to fill it's orders. That may or may not be Retsels fault. They tell you right up front on the website it takes 2-3 weeks for them to ship. Well it then too UPS a week to get our mill from Idaho to Salt Lake City, then another four days from there to Buffalo, NY. I'm sure you too will find home made bread good for your health. And I hope you'll find the time to grind your own flour. If you do grind your own, may your family find it's health in the family activity. And you know what? I was so busy enjoying myself making bread with the family, I forgot to take a picture of the bread itself. I'll have to post that one later for you. Woods