Monday, February 26, 2024

Check the Thumb Piece Nut on Your Revolvers

If you rely on a double action revolver something that's easily overlooked is whether the thumbpiece nut or screw is tight. If it loosens and falls off it could lead to losing the thumb piece, thus making the gun a lot harder to load and unload.

The thumb piece nut is part number 20 in this diagram of the Smith & Wesson Model 10, with the thumb piece itself being number 21.

(Schematic borrowed from Numrich.)

Taurus revolvers use a similar design. At least on the two sample I own an actual screw is used, that screws into the cylinder latch. On the S&Ws there's a threaded stud that protrudes through the frame onto which the nut threads.

I recommend removing the nut or screw, cleaning the threads with rubbing alcohol, and then reinstalling after putting some blue Loctite on the threads.

It wouldn't be a bad idea to pick up a couple extras along with other spare parts. Something else I recommend for older Smith & Wessons is a spare hammer nose and rivet (parts 48 and 51 in the diagram). Numrich is a great source for a vast amount of gun parts.

When working on guns always make sure that you use properly fitting, hollow ground screwdrivers. I mostly use the screwdriver bits found in this set from Weaver, which includes a good mallet, pin punches, and bench block, all of which are very useful.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

A Few Nice Pieces of Cold Weather Clothing

I've recently picked up a couple nice pieces of  clothing that I can recommend for layering in cold weather.

First, is a French quarter-zip fleece top in CCE camo. I got it from Varusteleka but it's available at many surplus suppliers. As with any military surplus clothing, size choices are limited. It's a very simple light fleece shirt but it's surprisingly warm especially for its weight, which is only about 270 grams. If you can find one in your size grab it while they are available.

Second, is a Rothco copy of the old USGI 5-button or "Jeep" sweater (eBay link). I've had the real deal in the past but I put on weight so I gave them away. Genuine GI sweaters are still available but mostly in small sizes. They were made in wool knit or acrylic knit variants. Wool is warmer but the acrylic sweaters are still pretty warm. (The above is an eBay link. Here's an Amazon affiliate link.)

Note that by design these are snug-fitting and were often worn over a base layer but underneath a shirt, especially the old M-1951 wool field shirt or a BDU shirt.

Third is a Sarma TST L1 merino wool balaclava, also from Varusteleka. This appears to be made from the same material as their L1 merino wool t-shirt. In other words, it's really thin and packs up very small, to about the size of a pack of cigarettes. I got the L/XL size. For reference my hat size is 7-3/8 or 58/58cm.

Yesterday I took a half hour walk in 20*F weather. On top I wore a long sleeve Hill People Gear synthetic t-shirt, the Rothco sweater, my Arc'Teryx Atom SV jacket, topped with a German surplus flecktarn parka to provide a windproof outer layer that covered the top half of my thighs, and the Sarma balaclava. About halfway through the walk I started overheating and had to drop the hood and unzip a little.

I was very impressed by the Sarma balaclava. Despite its thickness (or lack thereof) it made a noticeable difference. It can also be rolled down for use as a neck tube/gaiter, or rolled up for use as a beanie. It's stretchy enough to pull down and expose your mouth. I'll be interested to see how it does in warmer weather. 

Friday, January 19, 2024

An Ultralight 5' x 7' Survival Shelter

 This video from WayPoint Survival came up in my YouTube feed today:

This is pretty darn clever, IMO. One thing I'd change would be to put a bowline knot on one end of the ridgeline and then use a marlin spike hitch to fasten that end around a tree, instead of using a carabiner. I.e., run the end of the ridge line around the tree, pull a bight (loop) through the bowline's loop, and then put a stick into the loop to secure it in place.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Corporal's Corner: The DIY Water Machine

Here's an excellent demonstration from Shawn Kelly of how to melt snow and ice for water during the Winter:

Friday, January 12, 2024

Got a Spider for my Minilathe

A couple weeks ago I ordered a spider for my 7x14 minilathe, something I should have bought years ago. Little Machine Shop had it as their weekly special so I finally pulled the trigger on it.

Link to minilathe spider:

The spider threads onto the end of the spindle and provides additional support to long workpieces, to prevent them from whipping around.

To install the spider you remove the gear cover on the end of the headstock and simply thread it onto the end of the spindle.

I used it today while drilling and tapping the flared end of the factory ramrod that came with my Investarm Gemmer Hawken. Even though I bought an unbreakable Delrin rod for it from Track of the Wolf, which is threaded on both ends, I want to keep the OEM wood rod as a spare.

This shows the ramrod mounted through the spindle bore.

And here I was using the lathe as a tapping guide to keep the 10-32 tap straight. I did not do this under power. Instead, I used the chuck key as a handle and rotated the chuck manually. Power to the lathe was off when I did this.

Aside from drilling and tapping the end of the OEM ramrod to accept 10-32 accessories like cleaning jags, worms, and bullet pullers, both ends of both rods got drilled and cross-pinned. To drill the holes I used my minimill.

Always cross-pin your ramrod tips! Failing to do so can result in the ends pulling off the rod if you get a jag stuck or need to pull a ball. It's simple to do so:

  1. Drill a hole through the rod crossways. I used a #40 drill because for my pin I used some brass rod 0.098" in diameter.
  2. Chamfer both ends of the hole.
  3. Drive the rod through the hole and cut it off. I used side cutters.
  4. Using a hammer, peen over both ends on a metal surface. I used the anvil on my bench vise.
  5. File the ends of the pin smooth.
One end of the Delrin rod from Track is tapped 10-32 and the other is 8-32. I will use 10-32 jags, etc. and have an aluminum T-handle with an 8-32 stud on the end. I have qualms about using it for cleaning or ball pulling.

Just another example of how my small, tabletop machines help me out with gunsmithing tasks.

Monday, January 01, 2024

Making Pemmican Part 3 - Taste Test

Last week a friend and I went to his camp in Tioga County for Pennsylvania's late flintlock deer season. While we did not get any deer, we did get a chance to try the pemmican I made earlier in the week, as described previously on this blog.

To prepare the pemmican for a meal, we made a rubaboo, AKA stew with it. Along with three of the pemmican pucks, we used dried, mixed vegetables from Turkey Foot Trading and Forge, a can of diced tomatoes, garlic, salt, and black pepper.

Cooking it up on the wood stove:

And ready to eat:

(Styrofoam bowls reduce the dishes we need to wash in a completely off-grid, no-running water camp site.)

The verdict: As a meal for someone who has been out in the cold all day it's pretty good. It was very filling and although we each had three bowls about half was leftover, which I brought home in a Ziploc back and reheated for dinner last night.

I may try making pemmican again but I'll try to get the jerky ground more finely.

There's a package with two pucks left in my freezer so I'll have to come up with another way to try it, maybe a rechaud.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Making Pemmican - 2

Today I finished up my first batch of pemmican. I let the dehydrator run overnight at around 115 degrees. Nowadays, it's generally recommended to make jerky at around 170 degrees but this will destroy more nutrients. I figure that a bit lower and slower will be safe. Jerky was originally made by drying for a few days in the wind over a low, smoky fire.

Then I shredded it in my food processor.

I probably would have gotten better results if I did it in smaller batches rather than all at once. I didn't get it as fine as I wanted.

Next I melted some beef tallow over a low heat, poured it into the bowl and mixed it thoroughly. After that I spooned it into the muffin tin to make pucks.

The tallow was fully melted in the pic. When it's melted it's a clear, slightly amber liquid.

In preparation for sealing the pucks I took them out of the muffin papers. They are pretty soft. I think I could have used a little less tallow.

Vacuum sealing:

And all done, ready for the freezer:

I decided to put two pucks in three of the packs to reduce waste.

Later this week I'll be heading upstate for Pennsylvania's late flintlock season. We'll try making a stew or rubaboo with one of the packages. I'll post a review after I get home.