Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Seems like rust is a theme this year. The Toyota has been parked for nearly three years while I rebuilt the engine. Ever since I got the truck running again I have been dreading the state inspection. The truck is now 21 years old. Winter salt has done a job on it. But I was determined to resurrect the thing and get it on the road again. So I had to make an effort to clean it up a bit underneath
This gives you an idea of what 21 years of winter salt does to cars here in Maine.
 So after pecking away at it for a about six weeks with a welder's hammer, steel brushes, grinding wheels and other assorted implements of destruction . . .
 . . . and making multiple piles of rust like this one . . .

and filling a 5 gallon bucket with rust 
 . . . and coating it with Rust-Prep
. . . I get it looking somewhat better. New gas shocks were installed.
No, I am not done yet.
The rear axle, brake lines and related brackets got disassembled, cleaned of rust, hit with Rust Prep and two coats of Pettit Marine Trailercoat, a moisture cure paint. New gas shocks and brake pads went on all around. New shocks got coated with 3M rubberized undercoating before installing.
Rebuilt a broken exhaust hanger
Made a new tail pipe and hanger out of a suitable bend of old stainless pool stair tubing I had saved in my junk pile.
Snappy looking tail pipe.
The home made bumper got a new coat of Pettit Trailer Coat as well
The aluminum wheels were looking rather sorry as well
So I hit them with paint remover to take off the old damaged clear coat. After that it took about four hours of elbow grease per wheel with steel brushes on the drill to get them clean.
Mask off and re spray with gray self etching primer and new clear coat
Looks a lot better now, repeat entire process X five.
Then I took it for the state motor vehicle inspection and it did not pass.
New front sway bar bushings were required, so I installed new sway bar bushings and end link kit. Repaired a minor exhaust leak and a minor tightening of the front driver's side wheel bearing.
 So on Monday 10/26 I took it back for a second go at the state inspection and nearly three years after I blew the head gasket on the truck it is now fully legal again.

The resurrection has been sanctioned and approved by the powers that be.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tractor fun

Got dad's new stand-by generator in place today.

I had poured the cement pad for it a couple of weeks ago. But due to the recent rains we held off placing the generator until the ground dried up a bit.

Don't know how we would have done the job without the tractor.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

New front door and turds in the wood shed

Ever since we bought the house 12 years ago there has never been a proper front door on it. It only had one of those storm doors you can swap out the full length mosquito screen for a glass panel in the winter. As there is a proper door between the entry foyer and the house, when I rebuilt exterior of the house six years ago, the most expedient thing to do was pop the same cheap screen door back in.
And things being the way the are it got left like that for a long time, mostly because the front foyer was the cat's favorite place to observe the outside world. But we had to put her down a couple of years ago.
So last week I finally got motivated and put a proper door on the front of the house.
And finished the siding.
Problem now is I can't call it a tar paper shack any more and the tax assessor will surely jack up my property taxes. I am inclined to leave the front steps off, as it thoroughly confuses the usual crowd of happy clapper holly roller bible pushers, political campaigners and other undesired rif-raf.
Then last Sunday we noticed a definite Eau-de-Skunk in the wood shed behind the garage.
So I got to poking around and started what has become an annual autumn ritual, sorting my saved project remnants. I yanked everything out of the rafters . . .
and discover some critter has chosen my overhead storage as a suitable place to relieve himself
So I remodeled my rack system for more head space down the middle and less critter friendly toilet space.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Shake and Bake powder coated bullets

In order to save money on components for handloading ammo, many folks cast their own bullets. The problem with cast bullets especially once you start pushing them beyond 2000 feet per second is that you get leading in the barrel. The .223 caliber is going near 3000 fps out of a modern semi auto carbine so up to now the word has been no-go on cast bullets for them. So you are limited to buying jacketed or plated bullets which cost about 20 cents with every trigger squeeze. Add to that powder and primer (not counting case cost) and you are pushing the price of store bough ammo at 25 cents a round. So some folks have been experimenting with powder coating their own cast bullets in order to make their own "polymer plated" projectiles. Apparently in Europe you can buy them ready made like that. So the basic idea works. The fly in the ointment is how to roll your own consistently without a big powder coat gun setup. Some folks have been using the dry shake and bake method with varying degrees of success. Pop the projectiles in a plastic tub, add a couple of teaspoons of coating powder, cover and shake away. Pour them out on a tray and bake at 400 degrees F for twenty minutes.  So I figured what the heck lets give it a try.
A word with my friend Jonathan puts in an order for a discarded toaster oven from the Take-it-or-leave-it at the cape Elizabeth dump. Sure enough next day he calls back and provides us with the desired item. It was a bit nasty looking as if it had sat in someones garage for about 50 years. But after some elbow grease with some cleaner, a Scotch-Bright pad and paper towel the oven looks spick and span. A quick test and it seems in working order. As to actual temperature achieved I shall have to put an oven thermometer in it and see.
Five and a half dollars buys us some powder coat paint at the local Harbor-Freight
Some old soft lead .357 cowboy action round nose pills I had stashed away . . .
and some hard cast 157 grain .357 Semi Wad Cutters get washed in Xilol to remove all trace of oils.
Tossed with some powder and popped in the oven at 400 deg F for 20 minutes
And the results are promising but not the best and could really be improved upon. I think its a mater of technique.
Then I read that folks have had problems with the Harbor-Fright black powder and they had better luck with the red. So I bought a tub of that and gave it a try.
I re-tumble the soft lead round nose ones I originally coated in black along with some fresh hard cast SWC on the right in the pix and bake again. This time on parchment paper to prevent sticking to the aluminum foil.
The single coat SWCs are a bit better this time but could be improved.
The double coat soft lead round nose look more thoroughly coated this time but are still a bit lumpy. A sizing die should even them up a bit.
They definitely will need to be run through a sizing die as the .357 are now 360 thousands. I have yet to try loading or firing any of these. I think I need to experiment a bit with the method to improve results. Other folks are using a slurry method where they mix the powder with acetone and seem to be getting somewhat better adhesion. I think I will give that a try next.

Thursday, October 1, 2015


It has been a prolific year for Pears
We have two trees I planted about eight years ago and both are loaded. Last year they only had about a dozen pears between them and all dissapeared one windy night.
Had to prop up a few of the branches as they were getting so heavy.
Plucked about a hundred of them off the trees as they were starting to drop in the wind and I did not want them to bruise. Haven't the faintest idea what variety they are but we had a couple of the ripened ones and they tasted nice.
Some were a bit lumpy but they should taste OK once they are ripe
We had way too many so I pawned of a few to neighbors and friends

Tomatoes were also the best I have grown in 12 years. No blemishes, bugs, cankers or diseases. The fact I kept them in my wood shed/greenhouse under-roof all year might have something to do with it.
So what do you do when you have an excess of tomatoes? Make cilantro sauce chicken and tomato pizza of course. Haven't yet figured out what we are going to do with all the pears.