Monday, April 24, 2017

Setting frost posts for Ben's tool shed

Saturday it rained pretty much all day , and it has been gray and wet for most of the week , so I had little hope of getting much done when we arrived on Ben's property on Sunday .
Rolled the frost posts covering the holes we bored last weekend aside , only to find . . . . .
. . . about two and a half feet of water in the holes , fortunately Ben thought to bring his dad's hand pump that made easy work of getting most of the water out of the holes .
After pumping them out , we got to enlarging the holes enough to fit the cast cement posts as the auger we used last weekend was not wide enough . Ben works for a land surveyor , so he brought his transit from work , and we were able to get the bottom of all the holes level with each other . Unfortunately the photographer was distracted and got no photos of the transit in action .
So the procedure was to stand the post up and walk them over near the hole .
Then with a three foot pipe thought an eye bolt set in the top of the post we picked the 230 pounds up . . . just barely
and lowered them in to the hole . . .
We must be good as we make it look easier than it is
Here is the video of the process . . . and I am certainly feeling it today
The middle hole on the right side row only went down about two feet due to a massive rock we were not about to mess with , so that kept us from using a frost post in that one .
So we set a Sonotube and mixed a couple bags of concrete instead .
Note the old geezer is doing all the work and the skinny guy is just standing around .
After about three and a half hours of work we got the six posts in and they were all mostly in line and tops were level with each other .
Two six by six timbers will go across those lengthwise and then we can build the deck for the shed on top of them .
Finished the afternoon off with a little bit of target practice . Not so steady a hand after all that huffing and puffing . Annie did better at it than either Ben or me .

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Digging holes in Richmond

My friend Benjamin bought twenty acres of land up in Richmond last fall .
The plan is to build a house on it this summer . Here is a shot looking south on the property.
This is the goggle maps aerial view. The property has about 900 feet of road frontage. The driveway is the black line . The proposed location of the house in the larger yellow square . The black oval is the septic system already installed last December . The smaller yellow square is to be the tool shed/ workshop . The idea is to build that first before building the house .
Last week we got together and made a list of materials we'd need for the shed . On Saturday we went up there to sort things out and bore some holes to put in the pre-cast tapered frost posts as a foundation for the shed . Those four foot tall pots are 230 pounds each .
We laid out the twelve by sixteen footprint of the shed .
And with a rented power auger we bored holes in the clay soil .
First couple of feet were fairly easy going , After that it was just mud the consistency of wet cement , then at about three feet it turned to hard packed clay .
  I guess that is as far as we are going . As the grade slopes a bit on the spot it can be filled in around the pots later
In about two hours time we got six holes drilled about as far as we could . The hard clay stopped us going much further, and ground water from recent snow melt just filled the holes . So we will need to wait for that to dry up a bit . Some more hand work will be needed to enlarge the holes to be able to set the posts . But we got done what we could and set the frost posts across the holes so no one would fall in inadvertently .

So we took some time to scout out the property a bit , here I am coming up on the septic system that was put in last fall .
This one looking from the driveway to where we were digging the holes .
Opposite view looking up the driveway back towards the road
Took a walk around the back side of the property to the open fields that meet the back boundary line
Nice open hay fields
Looking south east over the fields

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Cooking up some Ben's Red Bullet Lube

Unlike jacketed bullets , home cast lead bullets need to be lubricated before loading in order to prevent leading in you barrel when you shoot them . There are many bullet lube recipes available all loosely based on mixtures of bee's wax and other lubricants. The lubricating can be done in several different ways . But for now I will stick to the traditional pan-lube method . You stand all your cast bullets up in a shallow pan and pour in your melted lubricant concoction until it covers all the bullet grooves , you let it harden , after which the bullets can be plucked from the solid cake with the lube groves nicely filled.  One of the more popular home made concoctions appears to be something that goes by the name of Ben's Red .
Ben's Red is a mixture consisting of :
24 oz of Bee's wax
14 oz of Lucas Red and Tacky grease (one full tube)
4.6 oz of Johnson's Paste Wax
2.3 oz of STP oil treatment
2.3 oz of Automatic Transmission Fluid (Dextron/Mercon)
Started melting the Lucas Red and Tacky as that appears to be the worst part of the process
Once that was more or less liquid I added the other ingredients and started adding chips of the bees wax .
In order to speed things up without burning the mixture I chipped pieces of the wax off the block with a chisel .
Unfortunately I was half a pound short of bees wax so I knew I'd need to add more . I poured it out in a shallow pan to harden . It never fully hardened as I did not have sufficient wax in my mixture . It also smelled rather like burned crankcase oil . . . . will need to find a solution to that bit .
So a couple days later I was able to pick up some more bee's wax and remelted the mixture back down and added the remaining wax needed . This time I got smarter and used a putty knife heated with my torch to cut the block of wax into small chunks .
Also added about half a teaspoon of Vanilla Kero-Klean a deodorant additive that makes your kerosene space heater not smell so vile . Seemed to take care of most of the burnt oil smell .
I also got smarter and lined my pan with parchment paper to make removal of the hardened lube easier .
After about 15 minutes cooling in front of a fan I was able to remove my lube from the pan and flip it over to harden up some more .
Bagged for future use

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Bullets = Commercially made mass production projectiles .

Boolits = Hand cast, home made , custom sized projectiles for hand loading ammunition .
A while back I picked up an old single shot Harrington and Richardson Model 58 Handyrifle in 44 Magnum . Upon doing some research I learn it has the less than optimal Marlin 1 in 38 micro-grove rifling that is known to be over bore beyond the normal .429/.430 thousands . From what I read due to the slow rifling they seem to perform best with projectiles under 250 grain .
When I slugged the barrel with a soft lead weight and measured it we show .431 thousands
Before I bothered to do that I had ordered a Lee 429-200 RF mold . . . that is , four hundred and twenty nine thousands diameter , two hundred grain , round nose , flat point mold .
Looks like this . So after doing some digging I knew it might drop under size pills for my rifle and some additional fiddling might be needed to make them work . Either powder coating them or honing out the mold with some valve dressing compound might be in order .
 So I fired up the hot plate and the casting pot and figured I might as well find out what it does .
Needed some extra heat to get things going in the cold garage . Yes, I was next to the window and had a fan extracting the fumes .
Poured and sprue cut off
After some initial fumbling I got in to a rhythm .
An hour of work gets me a nice pile of decent looking 44 mag pills .
Half a cashew tub full .
They measure out between .430 thousands . . . .
. . . . and .428 thousands . . .  hmmmmm
They weigh out from 206.7 grains . . .
 . . . . to 209 grains as cast with my wheel weight lead mix .
I pushed a couple down the barrel with a dowel, and though a bit undersized according to the micrometer, they appear to be engaging the rifling well . So they might work just like that without resizing . Still have to see how they do for accuracy . If they don't work I might get a sizing die and size them all to .429 thousands and try my hand at powder-coating them to gain a couple thousands of an inch .
Alternatively I could hog out the mold using one of these boolits with some valve grinding compound and a screw in the base chucked in a drill .

02/24/17 Addendum: 
Referencing crimp question by Harry
 The Lyman cast bullet handbook does call for a heavy crimp on 44 mag for the reasons I mentioned in the comments.