Monday, July 23, 2018

New Sights for the Rossi 92

My 14 y/o daughter wants to join me deer hunting this year so I needed something she could shoot well with mild recoil. The Rossi 92 in .357 Magnum I bought several years ago fits the bill, but I wanted to improve her hit probability, which meant mounting an optic.

As a copy of the Winchester 1892, the Rossi 92 is a top-eject design, which complicates optic mounting. You need to either find some kind of a mount offset to the side or use something with long eye relief mounted on the barrel.

Rossi drilled and tapped the barrel for a scope mount. The holes are covered up by the open rear sight, which must be removed to use them.

NOE Bullet Molds makes a very nice Picatanny rail that fits the Rossi. I ordered one and received it in a few days. Before installing it, I degreased the mounting holes in the barrel using denatured alcohol, and put a drop of thread locker on each screw.

The optic I chose was a Bushnell TRS-25 red dot sight. Since my Rossi is in .357 I view it as a 75 yard deer rifle. A non-magnified optic is fine for such ranges.

I have a few other TRS-25s and they've all been very good, with clear lenses, a well-defined dot, and rugged. As a micro-dot sight the TRS-25 hardly affects how a rifle feels. Finally, they are low-priced. I got this one for $45 shipped on Amazon Prime. (I just checked Amazon and it's now listed for $43.24.)

Because the NOE rail required removal of the rear sight the gun is left without backup irons if your optic tanks. So, I ordered a bolt-mounted peep from Steve's Guns. When I first bought the carbine I installed one of his safety replacement plugs. I wish I'd just gone straight to his very slick peep sight.

The resulting package is still light and handy with plenty of firepower, but vastly improved low-light shootability.

Last weekend I took my kids camping and my daughter got to put 50 rounds of Fiochi .357 Magnum 158 grain JHPs through the Rossi. Without zeroing the RDS on paper, she was easily able to keep her shots on a 10" gong, shooting rapidly offhand at 25 - 30 yards.

We're hoping to get to the range next weekend so she can get some more practice in and so we can zero the Bushnell.

The final touch to ready the Rossi for hunting season will be to add quick-detach sling swivel studs and a sling.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Homemade Apple Chips and Beef Jerky

We've had a Nesco food dehydrator gathering dust in the kitchen since last year. Yesterday, Amanda and I finally put it to use.

We first made a batch of apple chips. To make them, we cored a half dozen apples, sliced them about 1/4" to 3/8" thick, and then dipped them in lemon juice to prevent browning. Then they went into the dehydrator at about 140 degrees F. for 4.5 hours.

I should have gotten picture of the apple chips, but they lasted all of 10 minutes after coming out of the machine. They were awesome.

While the apples were drying we sliced up 6 chuck steaks and marinated them with seasoning that came with the dehydrator. After the apples were done we put the beef in and let it run overnight, about 12 hours at about 160 degrees F.

I took it out this morning. It's really damn good and a lot cheaper than store-bought beef jerky. For around $16 worth of beef I probably got about $50 worth of jerky, had I bought it at the supermarket.

The dehydrator came with 5 trays and will work with up to 12. This morning I ordered two more trays along with a package of the Nesco jerky seasoning.

As an aside, the dehydrator is not too noisy. It was audible from the next room but was basically a low-level white noise.

Making the apple chips and jerky was time-consuming but worth it. I'd like to see us get into using the machine a lot more because the home made dehydrated items are a lot cheaper than those bought in the store.

Homemade Bug Repellent

There are plenty of over-the-counter insect repellents that work well. Most of them used DEET (PDF file from the US Centers for Disease Control) as the active ingredient. I've used various DEET-based repellents for years with good results.

You do have to be careful with DEET, however, since it will dissolve plastics. For example, it can damage watch faces and poly-based gun stock finishes. If you use a spray, make sure you do it where overspray won't hit plastics, including those on vehicles. Further, some people may be sensitive to it and it is toxic if ingested.

Permethrin treatments for clothing are also very useful but you should not use them directly on your skin.

I've had positive results by using Granpa's Pine Tar soap before heading out to the woods. Pine tar has long been used in insect repellents. In his classic tome from 1884, Woodcraft and Camping, Nessmuk described his formula for bug dope as:

  • 3 ounces of pine tar
  • 2 ounces of castor oil
  • 1 ounce of pennyroyal oil
His directions were to mix them together over a low fire and bottle for use. Pennyroyal oil can have some nasty side effects, so use with care.

More recently, Lars at Survival Russia posted this video:

Lars' formula is:
  • 3 parts of beeswax
  • 1 part of pine tar
  • A little cooking oil, e.g., olive oil or canola oil (to make it more spreadable)

Last week, I decided to give Lars' recipe a try. I melted the ingredients together in a Pyrex measuring cup on a hot plate, and poured the resulting mixture into Sho-Ka-Kola tins.

(While I had the hot plate out, I decided to finish pan lubing my last batch of .44-40 bullets.)

I'm interested to see how well the pine tar-based bug dope works. By the smell, it should repel people just fine. Pew!

It can also be used as a leather dressing, making it multi-use. I have a camping trip coming up and plan to test out this bug dope. I'll post a report afterwards.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Made a Stropping Block

Today one of my friends on Facebook posted a link to an article on the A.G. Russell Knives website,
How to Make a Finishing Paddle.

Coincidentally, yesterday I put together my first stropping block/finishing paddle with a piece of leather glued to a piece of wood. Even though I've been sharpening knives for close to four decades, I only started using a strop in the last couple of weeks. I immediately noticed a difference in my knife edges.

That's been a real oversight on my part, because a strop can help you get a really sharp edge on a knife, and polish the bevel, which has a couple benefits. First, it reduces drag in the cut, and second, it makes the edge a little more corrosion-resistant because the smooth surface is less prone to retaining moisture.

Some pictures. First, the stropping block before I applied any compound.

Second, after applying the green compound from Eastwood. As you can see, it didn't go on evenly. I should probably have sanded the block to ensure it was as level as possible, and then sanded the leather also. Oh well, it's a learning process.

Finally, what it looks like after a little use. The dark spots are where it removed metal from the knife.

It may not look like much but it helped get a few of my knives really sharp. E.g., my Cold Steel Bushman feels like a razor now.

I made this one from some cowhide I had laying around that was about 1/8" thick, and a piece of a scrap 2x4. The thick base helps provide clearance so you don't hit your knuckles on your workbench.

I may go back and tweak it by scraping off most of the compound, adding some mineral oil to the leather, slightly roughing the leather so it takes the compound better, and then reapplying the compound.

My brother requested that I make him one and I'll use the lessons learned with this one in doing so.

If you don't have the materials for making one yourself laying around like I did, and want to try using a stropping block, you can get one off Amazon, here.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Camillus TL-29 Electrician's Knife

I picked up this old Camillus electrician's knife off eBay for a whopping $11.50 shipped.

Generations of American servicemen have known this style of knife as the "TL-29." They were typically paired with a set of linesman's pliers and leather belt pouch to hold both items. Below is a picture I found on Pinterest, apparently scanned from a US military manual.

Used TL-29s can be found on eBay for little money and newly-made ones are available from Klein and other manufacturers.

According to the tang stamp guide found here, the knife was made between 1960 and the late 1970s.

It showed signs of use and some neglect, but no outright abuse. E.g., it was dull, dirty, and had some rust which I removed by an overnight soak in Evaporust. The blades snap into position nicely with positive half-stops and no side-to-side wiggle. The brass liner lock positively keeps the screwdriver in the open position.

As I received the knife it was very dull but now it's shaving sharp. It took about an hour's worth of work on my DMT fine diamond bench stone and Worksharp Field Sharpener combined to put a good edge on it.

I plan to keep the edge on the screwdriver blade relatively dull for use as a scraper; it was originally intended as such and as a wire stripper. I expect it to throw sparks from a ferro rod rather well.

Worksharp Field Sharpener

In the past couple of weeks I’ve been on a cutlery buying binge. I received a nice Amazon gift card for my birthday at the end of May, and among the items I bought was a Work Sharp Field Sharpener.

The Worksharp Field Sharpener is an impressive little piece of gear for maintaining knives in the field or at home. It comes with coarse and fine diamond plates, a ceramic stick for honing, a small ceramic stick for working on serrations, and a leather strop. Built into the unit are guides to help you set the correct angle when using all of the sharpening bits.

Since receiving the Worksharp I’ve used it to touch up several pocketknives both old and new, and it’s enabled me to put shaving-sharp edges on them while sitting in my recliner.

The overall length is a bit under 7 inches, so it’s best used on smaller knives. Of course, you can use it on larger blades but you’ll need to work on shorter sections of the edge at a time. For scale, here it is next to an old Camillus TL-29 electrician's knife:

I plan to take the Worksharp with me on camping trips as my field edge maintenance solution. I might even get a second one to leave in my camping toolbox.