Sledgehammer's Cycles

Sledgehammer's Cycles
Sledgehammer's Performance and Custom Cycles

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

For Jay G, The Chevy 789

 Jay G posted up some Friday Car Pr0n and he questioned how well a retro '57 Bel Air or Nomad would do in the market and whether it would get done right.

Here's one answer, the Chevy 789, taking features from the '57, '58, and '59 Chevrolet, grafted onto the body of a C5 or C6 series Corvette. The body is hand done. The engine is replaced with one a number of high performance options. There's a theme to them, but each one is unique.

They look like this.

It's a Grail Car. With the starter car for this project being a late model Corvette, and the cost of the mod, one of these will set you back at least $140,000.

It's been a long time

... since I've made Mickey Mouse pancakes.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Forgotten War

No, not Korea.

The forgotten war of the 1920s and the 1930, the Banana Wars.

Haiti --1915 to 1934.
Dominican Republic--1916-1924.
Honduras, where the term "banana republic" was coined to describe the use of U.S. Marines in support of the United Fruit Company--off and on between 1903 and 1925.


And since I like stories about Marines, here's one.

Christian Frank Schilt, one of the early pilots in the Marine Corps, received the Medal of Honor for actions taken in January of 1928 in Nicaragua. Here's the citation:
During the progress of an insurrection at Quilali, Nicaragua, 6, 7, and 8 January 1928, 1st Lt. Schilt, then a member of a marine expedition which had suffered severe losses in killed and wounded, volunteered under almost impossible conditions to evacuate the wounded by air and transport a relief commanding officer to assume charge of a very serious situation. 1st Lt. Schilt bravely undertook this dangerous and important task and, by taking off a total of 10 times in the rough, rolling street of a partially burning village, under hostile infantry fire on each occasion, succeeded in accomplishing his mission, thereby actually saving 3 lives and bringing supplies and aid to others in desperate need.
Christian Schilt went on to serve in the Pacific in WWII, then was commander of the 1st Marine Airwing in Korea. He retired as a 4-star in 1957. There were not many times during his career that the gates to the temple would have been closed.

Old People Remember

Where were you?

I was six. In first grade. The custodian came into the room and put black cloth over the American flag. The teacher announced what had happened, then sat down at her desk, put her face in her hands, and cried.

I got back on a motorcycle today

Cowboy up.

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Breakfast of (Kentucky) Champions

Hot Brown and Ale 8. And a birthday party. Been quite a while since I've been around small kids. It's as fun now as it was then.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Assessing This Blog

Borepatch and I have been blogging since 2008. We started blogging together in June of this year.

Last night we had a long, wide ranging phone conversation. It was a great conversation, one I would have with a brother, if I had one. It touched a lot of topics and I think neither of us could quite find a way to bring it to an end.

One of those topics was this blog, what we are doing, why, and how we assess ourselves. Bloggers create their content, either unique or rehashed, and post it. We have no editors. We are unpaid. The digital equivalent of the guy standing on a soapbox in the park. 

We can look at two things. Hit counts and comments. Hit counts are a measure of how many people visit the site, how long they stay, how many pages they click on, what they click on, and how they got to the site. It is a regular, clockwork way to get a feel for hits. A lot of you are regulars, you stop by every day. Some one time visitors go to a particular post as a result of a search.

Comments are the other measure. Comments are like manna to a blogger. If you moved a reader enough to get a comment, it's a plus. A post that generates a discussion of readers, especially a discussion that doesn't devolve into insults and Godwin's Law, is a gift.

Sometimes you put up a post that you labored over. Something you care about, a personal story like the one I did a few days ago about photography and the Marine Corps. You think, "There, that's a great post." You put it up and sit back waiting for comments. Instead, crickets.

Other times you put a picture of a cat and some one line joke and thirty people chime in.

It may be that we are using hit counts and comments as assessment tools and it's a false measure. Maybe the regular readers really enjoyed a post, but just didn't have anything to add. Maybe the ones that got something out of it only lurk and never comment. How would we know?

We don't know what we don't know.

Meanwhile a picture of a cat...

And three one liners, that's an extra two just for reading this far...

1. I thought I wanted a career, turns out I just wanted paychecks.
2. Never hit a man with glasses. Hit him with a baseball bat.
3. With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine.

What is Your Time Worth?

I called Borepatch last night to tell him about the surplus .303 at $0.40 a round. One of things I said was, "You can't reload it for that price." Which is true, if you're buying projectiles.

I looked up some prices. These are current prices, although the powder was unavailable.

Bullets -- $29.00 a hundred, so 29 cents each
Powder -- H4350, $28.00 a pound, 7000 gr./lb., 44 gr./round, so about 17 cents each
Primers -- $32.00 a thousand, so 3 cents each
Cases -- Let's say you have the cases.

Reloading .303 British would cost you $0.49 a round for materials. ($235.00 for 480 rounds)

Of course, you could cast bullets. Assuming that you can find a source of free lead and you don't count the cost of the propane to make the ingots, let's call the cast bullets free. Now, you're at 29 cents a round. ($139.00 for 480 rounds)

Let's also forget all the equipment costs for the reloading and casting equipment, too. Call that a sunk cost, amortized years ago. The storage and work space, tables, cabinets, presses, dies, the brass prep tools, scales, lead molds, lubrisizer, powder measures, etc. all written off and forgotten.

You haven't done the work yet. So let's talk about time.

Note**: The following applies to calibers you already know, that you have loaded before, and that you can readily set up. If you were starting with a new caliber, all bets are off on how long it would take. You would be making up small test lots, going out and shooting them over a chronograph and shooting them for accuracy and function, collecting data and generally spending many hours getting to the point where you would consider loading in larger quantities like this.

Say I set up the lead pot, get it heated up, warm up the mold, get all the safety gear on, and cast some bullets. I have a 2 cavity steel mold, and allowing a half hour of getting things ready, I start making usable bullets at the rate of 4 to 6 bullets a minute (I'm an optimist). Allowing for some futzing, some discards, and the setup time, I make about 200 bullets an hour for a couple of hours work.

I take my 400 usable bullets and run them one at a time through a lubrisizer to size, lube, and seat a gas check. That's probably 2 bullets a minute, give or take. Maybe I'm a little quicker than 2, so let's call that 3 hours at the lubrisizer.

That's 5 hours to make 400 loadable rifle bullets. And I think that's optimistic, but not unrealistic.

Now you tumble up 400+ cases. One by one, you rub some lube on them. I use Imperial, put a very light coat on each case. Get the sizing/decapping die adjusted in the press. Pick them up one by one and size them. Then maybe I tumble them again, or rub the lube off. After that, one by one, I prime them. I have a couple of priming tools, but none that don't require some attention and effort.

Primed, sized cases, ready to be loaded with powder, are what you want to keep around. Now you set up the seating die in the press. Set up a powder measure to the specified quantity. Then you put powder in cases. I tend to do 10 at a time, then check them visually. Each one is run through the press one more time. At this point, setting the bullet in place and pulling the handle finishes a usable round.

What kind of time do I have in making 400 rounds? 3-4 hours to lube and size the cases, 2-3 hours to prime them,  4-5 hours to throw powder and seat bullets? I dunno. I doubt I'm handling a hundred an hour on a single stage press no matter how efficient I am. I may have to actually time myself on each step of a hundred the next time I do 30.06 and see what it is for each part of the process.

Pretend I'm in the ballpark and it takes about 2 hours accumulated work to do 100 rounds of rifle ammo for a caliber you're familiar with. If you're using cast bullets, add another 2 hours to cast and lubrisize 100 bullets (one hour for each step).

What is an hour of your time worth? I reload. I cast. I do it because I enjoy it. It's a hobby unto itself, not just work I do so I can go enjoy the shooting sports. But I know I'm not reloading to save money and I don't think about the time.

Name that rifle!

Tacitus sometimes puts up pictures of old grave stones.  This time he's found one with a lever action rifle on it.

Head on over and leave a comment on what you think it is.  I already emailed him my thoughts, but the more the merrier.

National Ammo Day

OK, I'm a little late for this, but I just ordered by Christmas Present.

Cheaper Than Dirt found some mil-surp .303 Brit.  Can't beat the price - 40 cents a round.  Actually, co-blogger ASM826 found it, and called me.  Thanks!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Eric Clapton & Friends - Call Me The Breeze

On Thursdays I like to post some blues, just because.  This one is a suggestion to those of you who like The Blues, because there's a CD which would make a great holiday present for a Blues lover.  Eric Clapton and a star-studded list of artists have created an album as a tribute to J.J. Cale, perhaps the most covered songwriter in history.

Yeah, Skynyrd made this a big hit, but Cale wrote it.  He also wrote "Cocaine" which Clapton took platinum.  And "After Midnight".  Waylon did "Clyde".  Widespread Panic, Kansas, Santana, and Poco all had hit songs penned by Cale.

He also recorded his own, and once turned down an appearance on American Bandstand because he couldn't bring his band and because they wanted him to lip sync.  Oh, and Neil Young said that Cale was in his opinion the best guitar player after Jimi Hendrix.  Even ahead of Clapton.  Here are Clapton and Cale playing together a few years ago.  "Laid back" is the phrase that comes to mind listening to Cale.

Appearing on The Breeze: An Appreciation Of J.J. Cale with Clapton are Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler, John Mayer, and Willie Nelson (among others).  The song here is my least favorite one on the disc.

Highly, highly recommended.

The doors to Janus' temple

Via Wikipedia: the doors (briefly) closed
Numa, an early king (Rex) of Rome in the days long before the Republic, had built a temple to the god Janus.  Janus had two faces, one looking forward and one looking backwards, and so was revered as the god of boundaries and transitions.

There was a curious custom in ancient Rome: when Rome was at war, the doors to the temple were left open; when at peace, the doors were shut.  As you can imagine with as martial a people as the Romans, the doors were not oftn shut.  In fact, the chronicles tell us that Numa's successor Tulius Hostilius went to war with a neighboring city and the dors remained open for 400 years.  They were closed in 235 B.C. after the first war with Carthage, but were only shut for eight years.  They were then open until shut (twice) by the emperor Augustus.

So when was the last time that our American Republic shut its figurative doors of the temple?  We look a lot like Rome:
You probably know that one has to serve on active duty in the American military for twenty years in order to retire with a pension.

But do you know the last year that you could have joined the armed forces and had a career wholly in peacetime?

Very interesting analysis, including just how long (officially) we have been at war.  The gates swing wide, and stay that way.

"If you want me again look for me under your boot soles."

Walt Whitman's line from Leaves of Grass tells us what awaits all living things.  Ivan the Terrier - the Borepatch family dog for over 14 years - has taken a sudden decline.  We're talking over how long we can keep him in relative comfort.  There's a cruel responsibility that comes with owning a pet.


Here is a post from a couple years ago, before he started his decline.


During that summer which may never have been at all

I took Ivan the Terrier for a walk to the old Mill dam this morning.

Photo copyright Borepatch.  Click to enbiggify.

Afternoon would be too hot.  Most of June was delightfully not-at-all-like-June-in-Georgia, but now we're back to, well, about what you'd expect.  He's not a young dog, and a black dog in the hot Georgia sun is just not right.

This park, at the Roswell Mill didn't exist when we lived here the first time.  The town dropped some serious money into the trails, making this one of the nicest places to walk in the area.  The trails go up and down Vickery Creek, down almost all the way to the Chattahooche where there are more great trails along the river.

Photo copyright Borepatch

I've always liked to walk, and a dog is a good reason to get out.  In Maine Jack and I saw otters; there were beavers in a pond in Massachusetts.  We had a heron hang out in our back yard here in our first house, a decade ago (as we like to joke, at our "house in Georgia").  I'd terraced the backyard hill with dry stacked stone, and put in a waterfall and a pond.  The heron was helping himself to our fish.

#1 Son would get mad at this, and let Ivan the Terrier out to chase the heron off.  Ivan didn't chase this one - he's twelve years old now, and the bird was on the other side of the river.  Besides, he wasn't after our fish.

A quiet morning walk doesn't just carry you across the local landscape, it takes you across the landscape of memory, to places long past which we can only visit in our dreams.  Jack has been gone these twenty years now, but I still hear his deep throated bark, outraged at the swimming otter's insolence.  #1 Son hasn't been eight years old for ever and ever, but I still hear his child's voice rising with outrage that the bird is back at the pond.  I hear the frustration in the voice of young #2 Son, asking where the beaver is, knowing he is about to be delighted when he finally catches a glimpse of it.

Ivan the Terrier loves these walks.  The chance to sniff around, to catch new smells and sights from a place that's not his yard keeps him mentally sharp.  The walk through old but cherished memories is good for me, too.  Even if the path is crowded with Jack and some small children.

Photo copyright Borepatch
The past is never dead. It's not even past.
- William Faulkner

Rifle display stand bleg

I'm looking for a display stand that would be suitable for displaying Great Grandfather's rifle on the mantel over the fireplace here at Camp Borepatch.

I'd like something free standing, and be able to display the powder horn as well.  Any recommendations?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine

As someone who worked in the intelligence community a couple decades back (i.e. before it went feral), it's been quite dismaying to see the government's attacks on the privacy of regular citizens.  In particular, the repeated attempts to discourage the use of encryption is something that as a Security Guy I can only say is a Very Bad Thing.

I'm not the only one.  This announcement seems really, really important:
ital personal and business information flows over the Internet more frequently than ever, and we don’t always know when it’s happening. It’s clear at this point that encrypting is something all of us should be doing. Then why don’t we use TLS (the successor to SSL) everywhere? Every browser in every device supports it. Every server in every data center supports it. Why don’t we just flip the switch?

The challenge is server certificates. The anchor for any TLS-protected communication is a public-key certificate which demonstrates that the server you’re actually talking to is the server you intended to talk to. For many server operators, getting even a basic server certificate is just too much of a hassle. The application process can be confusing. It usually costs money. It’s tricky to install correctly. It’s a pain to update.

Let’s Encrypt is a new free certificate authority, built on a foundation of cooperation and openness, that lets everyone be up and running with basic server certificates for their domains through a simple one-click process.
Who are the subversive Black Hat traitors behind this?
Mozilla Corporation, Cisco Systems, Inc., Akamai Technologies, Electronic Frontier Foundation, IdenTrust, Inc., and researchers at the University of Michigan are working through the Internet Security Research Group (“ISRG”), a California public benefit corporation, to deliver this much-needed infrastructure in Q2 2015. The ISRG welcomes other organizations dedicated to the same ideal of ubiquitous, open Internet security.
Ah.  It's a bunch of techies who feel the same way as I do.  Good.  And the project seems to have the Internet Philosophy embedded in its DNA:
The key principles behind Let’s Encrypt are:
  • Free: Anyone who owns a domain can get a certificate validated for that domain at zero cost.
  • Automatic: The entire enrollment process for certificates occurs painlessly during the server’s native installation or configuration process, while renewal occurs automatically in the background.
  • Secure: Let’s Encrypt will serve as a platform for implementing modern security techniques and best practices.
  • Transparent: All records of certificate issuance and revocation will be available to anyone who wishes to inspect them.
  • Open: The automated issuance and renewal protocol will be an open standard and as much of the software as possible will be open source.
  • Cooperative: Much like the underlying Internet protocols themselves, Let’s Encrypt is a joint effort to benefit the entire community, beyond the control of any one organization.
If you have your own DNS domain, you should check this out.

From Back In 2000

Fourteen years ago, in March 200, when winter was becoming a thing of the past, Dr. David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, had this to say in an interview:
"within a few years winter snowfall will become a very rare and exciting event. Children just aren't going to know what snow is."
I would like to invite Dr. Viner to visit Buffalo, New York. They got 70 inches of excitement in the last three days.

Remember this, kids. When it's warm it's climate change, when it's cold it's weather.

Karma ran over the Global Warming dogma

Global Warming as a "crisis" really dates to 1998, when the very hot summer convinced many people that "Global Warming is real".  I mean, who are you going to trust, a bunch of "deniers" or your lying eyes?

Well, live by the heat wave, die by the cold snap:
All 50 states have low temperatures BELOW freezing tonight. (Monday night)

Yes, even Hawaii. Tall mountain peaks there regularly get below freezing, and even get snow.

Joe Everyman is reacting to this the way he reacted to the 1998 heat wave: who you going to trust, a bunch of Climate Scientists or his lying eyes?  There's a certain karmic balance in that, a poetic justice that is shadenfreudalistic.

Sure, sure, weather not climate and all that.  But 1998 was a politically useful "weather not climate" exercise, no?  I wonder if Jonathan Gruber is one of the lead authors on the IPCC Assessment Reports ...


I've weaned myself mostly off the meds, which is a Very Good Thing indeed.  Even ibuprofin is needed less and less.  What I'm doing is (slowly) testing my limits, and pain is the feedback mechanism that tells me to stop.

I drove the Jeep to the dog park once (4 on the floor), and that was OK.  I've gone from working in a wingback chair to working at my desk - I'm not sure that that's OK - the desk height is wrong and the chair doesn't support me like the wingback.  It's an exploration.

All in all, though, this Thanksgiving I will have something to be thankful for.  The accident could very well have been much worse.

Memories of The Marine Corps I

This one isn't mine. My earlier post on photography prompted an email from a reader. We passed messages back and forth and she gave me permission to post.

She was in Beaufort, S.C. during some of the same years I was. She was not in the Marine Corps though. She was a young child. It was her father that was a Marine. He flew those planes I worked on.  He was in a different squadron. Separated by rank and unit, we would have never met. But, like me, where his squadron's airplanes went, he went.

And with that, here is her memory of the long ago.
When he was sent over to WESTPAC, he was concerned that with my age, he would be a bit of a stranger when he got back.  So my mom would ship him children's books by the boxful along with blank tapes.  He would record himself reading me the books and then send the boxes and completed tapes back so I could still have nightly stories with Dad.  I still have the audio files...the conditions being what they were, a number of the stories were interrupted by "wait, someone's about to take off" and the roar of jet engines before he'd pick up the story again.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Renewable energy will mess up the power grid

Great in-depth article that shows that an amp from solar is not at all the same as an amp from coal generation.  And that an amp from coal isn't the same as an amp from gas.
It can be very misleading to compare the energy costs for wind and solar to the energy costs for more conventional generation technology and assume the difference is the cost of providing for “clean” energy.

The power grid requires so much more support than the injection of energy. Unfortunately wind and solar do not provide support “services” as well as many other generation resources do. Accounting and providing for these extra “services” should be part of any comparison of resource types and inform any directives or plans impacting the provision of electric power.     To the degree that wind and solar resources make up a larger portion of the supply mix, significant costs will be incurred to maintain system functionality and reliability. This posting is focuses solely on how various resources impact just one of these “services”, the balancing of system loads and resources.
There are a bunch of comments that are really good, too.

I am Leonardo of Arc

Interesting personality quiz, and one that is a lot more insightful than most.  This isn't at all bad analysis of me, and it was done with only 12 questions.  Pretty impressive.

Hat tip: The Geek In Heels


Dang, it's cold, and fixin' to get a lot colder (down in the teens tonight). I moved down here from Yankeeland to get away from this nonsense.  And so here's a change of pace, from a couple days before the motorcycle hit the tarmac.