Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Waterproofing Cotton Canvas

A lot of very useful military surplus gear is made from cotton canvas.  Canvas is rugged and depending on the sample, may be somewhat naturally water repellent.  When wet, the fibers swell and keep out more water.

However, if you expect it to be exposed to drenching rain you'll want to treat the canvas with something to make it more water resistant.  Traditionally, this was done with a variety of substances, ranging from boiled linseed oil or beeswax, to alum salts or parafin.

One waterproofing treatment which has been available over the counter for several decades is Sno Seal.  Its main ingredient is beeswax and it's been sold for the purpose of waterproofing leather.  I've been using it for years on stuff like my boots and leather possibles bag.  It's also good for use on holsters because it does not soften the leather.  Last night I decided to give it a try on some canvas.

A few years ago I bought this canvas shoulder bag at a gun show.  It was marked as being a Czech bread or gas mask bag.

It's a nice little bag suitable for carrying some stuff on a day hike.  Here's what it looks like now that I've given it a coat of Sno Seal.

The Sno Seal slightly darkened the canvas and gives it a waxy feel.  If you look closely you can see some beads of water.  After waxing it I held it under a runng faucet for about 20 seconds.  The water ran right off.

If you want to try this I suggest applying some Sno Seal onto a small, inconspicuous area of whatever you're trying to waterproof in case you don't like either the color or feel.

While modern materials have many advantages over traditional outdoor gear, the older stuff still can work well.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lantern Fuel Warning




We have started receiving reports of lanterns developing "run-away" flames where the flame flares up and runs out of control.

When this happens, the only way to extinguish the flame is to smother the lantern.  Place an inverted bucket over the lantern, or shovel dirt on it to extinguish the flame.

Upon investigation, we have discovered that the W.M. Barr & Co. is now packaging Paint Thinner labeled as Klean-Strip® 1-K Kerosene.  I have personally spoken with a representative of the W. M. Barr & Co. to verify this fact.  Here is the link to the MSDS sheet showing that the product they are selling as kerosene is actually paint thinner, and has a flash point of 101 degrees Fahrenheit, and thus should not be used in oil lamps and lanterns.

KLEAN-STRIP 1-K KEROSENE is sold nationwide, and should not be used in any oil lamps or lanterns.


The W.M. Barr & Co. also produces Klean-Strip® Klean Heat® Kerosene Substitute which has a flashpoint of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, can be used indoors in oil lamps and lanterns.

Sunnyside Corporation 1-K Kerosene has a flash point of 124 degrees Fahrenheit, and can be used outdoors in oil lamps and lanterns.

Please be careful with what you put into your lanterns.  Use proper fuel!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Upon buying a new gun …

… the first thing you should after getting it home is to field strip, clean and lubricate it.


A few reasons:

1. You want to verify that it’s in good condition.  As with any factory produced good, sometimes lemons slip out the door.  And with used guns, you want to be sure that there aren’t any hidden signs of neglect or abuse.

2. New guns are frequently shipped not with lubricant but with a long-term corrosion inhibitor.  For example, the blued Ruger P-90 which I used to own came from the factory slathered in an anti-corrosion grease, which was rather sticky.  Others are shipped bone dry, e.g., the stainless Ruger SP-101 which I bought last week.

3. Used guns are frequently filthy with powder and metal fouling and congealed lubricant.   For example, this year I bought myself a birthday present in the form of a WW2 vintage S&W Victory Model revolver.  This is what it looked like inside before I cleaned it:

After a proper clean and lube the action works very smoothly.  Prior to doing so, it could be charitably described as “gooey.”

4. By field stripping, cleaning and lubing a gun that’s new to you, you’ll gain familiarity with the mechanism, which will help you troubleshoot if you run into problems.

If you buy a new gun you should get a owner’s manual with it, detailing proper care.  If not, locate the maker on the web and either call them for a manual (most will mail you one for free) or download a manual.

Manuals are also available from some other sites.  For example, Steve’s Pages is a treasure trove of shooting related information, including a large collection of owner’s manuals in PDF format.  I’ve also seen owner’s manuals on Scribd.

So, before you take a new gun to the range, take some time to learn how to properly maintain it.  Doing so will help ensure that it works when you need it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday Night Range Report

Over on Blog O'Stuff, I've posted a range report about three pistols:

  • My old reliable Browning Hi Power Practical.
  • My new Ruger SP-101.
  • My father's new Rock Island Armory M1911A1.

Check it out.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Wool Shirt Update

Last month I wrote about the two wool field shirts I bought, one American and one Canadian.  Now that the weather has cooled down I’ve had the chance to test them out some more.

The American shirt is noticeably softer and less scratchy.  On the other hand the Canadian shirt is a bit heavier and more wind resistant.  I wore the American one as a shirt-jac this morning on my Harbor Freight run and found that it offered little protection against the wind.

After getting back from HF I switched to the Canadian shirt for the time I was out mounting the security light, and I also wore it this afternoon when we all went up to the local playground.  The temp today peaked at about 50 degrees F. but it felt a lot colder due to a constant strong wind.  I was much more comfortable with the Canadian shirt as my outer layer.

Keeping in mind their respective limitations I am very happy with both shirts.  I just wish it was easier to find either of them in size XL.  Even with shipping from Canada, the Canadian shirt was quite a bit cheaper than newly made commercial equivalents.

Harbor Freight Run

I got a flyer from Harbor Freight (the home of cheap Chinese tools)  earlier this week, so this morning after clipping some coupons, I took my younger daughter on a trip to the local store.

Aside from deals on leather work gloves, a cheap set of mechanic’s gloves,a set of hole saws, and a kite for the kids, I picked up a couple things which may be of interest to preppers.

First was a 9 LED flashlight powered by 3 AAA batteries.  With a coupon from the flyer it was free.  Based on past experience with similar Chicom made lights, these cheap LED flashlights work fine for light use.  It’s no replacement for a good flashlight like a SureFires or a Streamlight, but for leaving in the door pocket of my truck as a secondary flashlight , it’s perfect.

More interesting was the 36 LED Solar Security Light (item #98085) with a motion sensor which I got for under $20.  I mounted it to the side of my shed facing my driveway.  It’s powered by a 6V NiCad battery pack which is supposed to charge in 6 to 8 hours of sunlight.

Before mounting it I wrapped some electrical tape around the seam where the front and back meet, in order to improve the weather resistance.  I’m going to look into making a better seal for where the plug from the solar panel attaches to the light itself.

I ran into one problem when mounting it.  The mounting holes on the back are marked as being 2-11/16th” apart.  In reality they are about 2–1/2” apart, which meant I had an extra hole in my shed to fill with some silicone sealant.  That was annoying.

Tonight I reread the instructions which came with it and it said to leave it off for 2 or 3 days before first use, in order to fully charge the unit.  When I went out to turn it off it detected me and lit up the area nicely.  The amount of light it provides is pretty good for my application – lighting up the top of my driveway when we come home at night, and lighting up any nighttime interlopers.  If it works out well I may get a couple more.  Even if the battery pack lasts only a year or two, it’s made up of several AA NiCads, which I can replace easily.

Being NiCads, it’ll be interesting to see how well it works in colder temperatures.  I suspect to see some degradation when it gets below freezing.