Pete's random thoughts

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wow, I am amazed at how much a tractor improved my life

In less than an hour, I hauled a bucket load of firewood to the house and piled it up on the hill near where we stack it. The bucket load would have been at least four wheelbarrows full and to push a wheelbarrow over the terrain I just drove the tractor would have been strenuous to say the least.

Then, I switched the bucket for the forks (I.E. like the business end of a fork truck) and used them to pick up and haul a big fiberglass hot tub (one of those "some day" projects) from the space behind the house to a flat area over near the pond. The tub probably weighs 1000 pounds, it took four of us to lift it off of the back of my truck when it found it's way here. The tractor lifted it and hauled it effortlessly. The trail to the pond is up a steep, rocky grade that has a bunch of saplings piled on it at one point. No sweat, over the saplings, up the hill, over the rocks and to the pond.

After moving the tub, I scooped up a musket crate full of leftover lumber scraps (I.E. kindling) and used the forks to lift it up onto the hill.

All of this in less than an hour without breaking a sweat.

Yeah, the simple old fashioned life where you do stuff by hand sounds great on paper, but if they had diesel engines in the 18th century, they certainly would have used them!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A quiet K9

Between "real" work, we get to do some funky stuff here. Sometimes it is for a valid reason, other times because we feel like it. This project is somewhere between the two.

We undertook to build a semi-auto carbine out of junk we had laying around the shop. Mostly to see if it could be done, but at the same time we had planned on entering a homebuilt gun contest. The "valid" reason was that it would give Earl a chance to practice his skills on the ancient South Bend lathe that is one of the main workhorse tools in the shop. (I need to mention that we started this project when Earl was new here, it has been sitting around for a while)

We used leftover AK47 parts (hammer, safety, trigger, grip), an Uzi carbine barrel, a Sten magazine and magwell, and the rest of the parts that went into it were home made. To make a long story short, it worked.

We named it the K9, K for Kathan, Earl's last name and 9 for 9mm.

Earl is pretty quick with his trigger finger, here is a video of him trying it out:

But, the story gets even more interesting.

We decided to silence it. Why? Because we wanted to see if we could.

I had to send off a Form 1 to the BATF to get permission to build the silencer. It took months to approve, but if you have no felony record you can get approved. The BATF is actually quite accommodating when it comes to stuff like this.

With the approved Form 1 in hand, it was time to build the suppressor. A series of holes were drilled in the barrel to bleed off gas, thus slowing the bullet down. A stack of fender washers was fitted over the barrel to act as baffles that will contain the hot gasses and give them a chance to cool. A piece of tubing from the McPherson strut of a Jeep Cherokee was fitted over the whole mess. Done.

It quiets the gun down considerably, but the 115gr 9mm ammo that I have on hand still breaks the sound barrier. The sound doesn't seem to come from the gun though, it seems to come from downrange. I've ordered some heavier, 147gr ammo that should be subsonic and it will be interesting to see (hear?) if it quiets down to the level that I think it will. When we get the 147gr ammo in, I'll film it and post the results here.

I'll have to get a picture or two of how the contraption looks with it's silencer on it too. It is ugly in a cool sort of way.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stump pullin'

We've been shuffling what time we do things based on Caleigh's swimming lessons and swim team practices. When they were earlier in the day, she and Wendy would come home from the pool at 6ish and rush-rush-rush to get dinner ready to get Caleigh to bed at a reasonable hour. Now, the lessons are later and we have redefined what a "reasonable hour" is to conform to them. This means that dinner is no longer at 6, but several hours later which means I have time to work on stuff after the shop closes for the day.

Today what I worked on is tearing stumps out of the ground and using the dirt that was generated to start building an earth berm to create a better 50 yard shooting position at the range.

This spring we bought a 4wd tractor with a bucket and I have been slowly learning to use it to do stuff I would never attempt without one. An excavator would make the job easier, but the bucket works, you just have to be patient. Dig around the side of the stump and work the bucket underneath it to loosen it, then angle the bucket just right. Put the tractor in low-low and crawl forward, rolling the stump out of the ground.

The tractor has 3 forward speeds and one reverse, but it also has a 3 speed rear end so it had 12 speeds in all. It is rated at 41hp. I also got a set of forks that mounts in place of the bucket to unload trucks and move pallets of stuff around. It definately earns it's keep.

Once the stumps are gone from the range, I'll be able to drive the tractor with a small dump-cart behind it in a circle there, thus it will make it easier to haul stuff there and back. It makes a nice route for mini-hayrides as well. It will just look nicer too. Without the tracotr, there is just no way I'd be digging up stumps just to make an area look nicer!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Opening day

Here in NH, it is the opening day af archery season.

Therefore, I am all alone here as Kathy and Earl are out prowling the woods with bows and arrows is search of the first deer of the 2009 season!

Yeah, I've gots bows, but I'm just not proficient enough to say that I'm an archer, so I'm here working instead.

Kathy and Earl, however, LIVE for archery. Not just run-of-the-mill archery with a compound bow, but hardcore primitive archery with bows that Earl makes himself.

Good luck today guys!