Sunday, November 23, 2008

Water Woes

Yesterday my neighbor comes over and tells me that we have a pretty big puddle in front of his house. I look sure enough, water everywhere. Looks to be square in front of where the water main turns to go to his house. Bloody no good shoddy...

The water meters are a good hundred feet down the road. Water company is pretty adamant that if it's on our side of the meter, it's our problem.


We have dirt roads in our neighborhood.

I get out my shovel and start digging. We get about 2- 2 1/2 feet down. No pipe. Let is set a while. Looks like clean water is coming in from the East. Dig another hole. Nope. Keep going.

Dig some more, Finally find the pipe around 4' from where we started. Mud mud everywhere. Get some tools and turn of the neighbor's water at the meter. Dig down untill I has some of the pipe clear.

Bail out the hole.

Hey, I can feel the water coming out. Looks like we found it. You know, there seems to be an awful lot of water coming out given that we shut off the water.

Much swearing...

Walk back to the water meters and turn of MY water line.

Pipe pressure drops to nothing.

Bloody no good shoddy... if I ever find the guy who built this place...

We finally got the pipe unburied enough to find the leak. There was a crack in one of the pipe joins. Opinion on arizonashooting is to fix it with a compression fitting. Not the best solution, but gluing the pipe will require a LOT more digging. Really, a LOT more.

Drive to Home Depot. Once again Home Depot = Fail.

Drive to Lowe's. Buy 1 1/2" compression fitting and small (low profile hacksaw)

Go out for Chinese food. Hey, it's a pain to cook when the water is off.

Cut off bad join. The second I touched the pipe with the saw the join split in two and separated around a sixteenth of an inch. That's a lot of strain on that pipe to do that.

Wipe off the pipe with a wet towel and install the compression fitting.

Here is another pic showing how deep the pipe was:

I let it set overnight, no leaks we we backfilled the hole with 180 lbs of sand from the Home Depot. (At least they have freaking SAND!!!) I then put the dirt back in the hole, tamping carefully.

Ok, Ford suspension, watermain, enough projects already.

Friday, November 21, 2008

AR-15 Magazines

Over on Arfcom ( Larry from C-Products posted that they had sold 1,000,000 AR-15 magazines since the election. That's One Million brand new AR-15 mags in the hands of the people.

That's a LOT of mags.

Auto Repair - Suspension

My wife drives a 1998 Ford Expedition. In general this has been a great viehicle, as Ford has known how to build great trucks for over 60 years. It has 180,000 miles on it and still runs great.

The biggest problem is that it is an upper end model, so it came stock with the 3rd row seat (+), 6 disc CD changer (+) and the air ride suspension from the Lincoln Navigator (big -)

When the air ride works, it's actually pretty cool. In theory it's great for towing, because you can load up a very heavy trailer, and the air bags will pump up until the rear is the right height. Thus you get all the advantages of a soft suspension for town driving and a hard suspension for towing.

The problem? You have pneumatic (air) components mounted to the bottom of an off-road viehicle. Let's face it, air lines and sharp rocks are never a good mix.

A couple weeks ago, the air suspension finally failed completely. I had resigned myself to replacing the rear air springs, but a quick perusal of the Ford forums convinced me to do something else: ditch the air ride and install a coil spring conversion.

The kit is basically 2 huge-ass coil springs, and a set of rubber seats for the springs. I opted to change out the rear shocks at the same time.

It took 4 hours start to finish.

1) Jack up the truck by the Frame as high as possible and put jack stands under it. It would have really helped if UI didn't have a full fuel tank (about 175 ls of fuel).

2) Jack up the rear axle, and remove the wheels.

3) Remove the nuts (18mm) attaching the sway bar, using 18mm socket wrench.

4) Remove air shocks. Pry off the bottom using a pry bar and pop off the valve at the top. Marvel at the amount of dirt and dust trap[ed by 180,000 miles.

5) Attempt to remove the bolt/nut attaching the bottom of the passenger side shock to the axle assembly.

6) Drive to Home Depot to get a 18mm box end wrench.

7) Drive to Lowe's where they actually HAVE an 18mm box end wrench.

8) Remove the bolt/nut attaching the bottom of the shock to the axle assembly.

9) Remove the screw and J-nut attaching the upper shock mount.

10) Repeat shock removal for the driver's side. Curse Ford repeatedly for placing the gas tank in the way.

11) Remove upper shock mount using a socket wrench, shallow socket, and piece of irrigation pipe on the wrench handle.

12) keep going, this is going to take a while.

13) Install the new shocks (top mount only). The J-nut is held in by the shock itselt. (this is the tricky part)

14) Drop the rear axle as far as it will go. Install new rear springs. Method: Mongo them into place.

15) Cut the shock retaining straps, and attach the bottom bolt/nut for the shocks.

16) Jack up the axle enough to attach the anit-sway bar.

17) drop the frame and put away your tools.

Lessons learned:

A) Do the passenger side first. Everything is easier to get to, so it's easier to figure out how the parts assemble/disassemble.

B) Home Depot's Tool selections sucks.

C) Coil springs can really increase your ride height.

D) The spring conversion kit is way better than replacing the air springs with more air springs.

Sorry that there are no pictures, but I did most of this after dark with a drop light.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

More Cracks - Bigger Traps

It is increasingly looking like we are headed for 2-4 years of nightmare "redistributive" economics.

I wrote this as a response to a rather dear friend's comments in my wife's livejoural, but it's long enough, to be worth a post of it's own. So I'm pasting it here.

Review this post


My main point in my post on societies cracks is that Liberals and Conservatives really, really, DO NOT understand the way the other thinks. This is why when a conservative and a liberal argue it is like talking to a brick wall, their underling assumptions mean that they can't even agree upon what they are arguing about.

Government programs that are designed to help people ALWAYS, every time, no exception, make things worse. Yes they may help some people along the way, but the number one function of any bureaucratic organization is to perpetuate the organization.

Liberals need to accept the fact that they can't save/help everyone. Conservatives need to accept the fact that someone will always get a free ride. Only then can you truly start working towards solutions.

The government taxing you more in order to "spread the wealth" does actual, real, harm. It means that you have less money to spend at local businesses (which means fewer jobs), it means that you have less money for your retirement (which means fewer jobs down the road) ect.

If you want to help that single mother, help her. Bring her a lasagna to help her feed her family. Teach her a marketable skill so she can earn more money. Run a clothing drive so that she has an interview suit. Buy her a firearm (and a training class) so she can defend herself against her abusive ex-husband (not valid in California, Illinois, and New York).

But don't ever think that higher taxes are going to help her. Higher taxes just destroy jobs and rob folks of opportunity. You want to help people then actually HELP them.

The Red Cross, Salvation Army, and many other similar charitable organizations manage to take over 90% of their donations and get them to people in need. I can assure you that government programs are nowhere near as efficient. They are mostly efficient at employing government employees.

So that's the conundrum. How do you help those people who really could use a "hand up and not a hand-out"? Now, how do you do that without making things worse for everyone in line behind them?

I maintain that the way you help the most people is twofold.

First you accept the fact that "a rising tide lifts all boats". A tax structure that encourages large businesses to take their business out of the country, and penalizes small businesses for growing over 50 people, must as a point of fact increase unemployment and decrease opportunity.

Lowering the unemployment rate by a full percentage point clearly helps a lot more people out than any program (private or governmental) ever could.

Second you recognize that helping folks directly in your community, either through individual effort, or some group (religious or secular, private or incorperated), is THE most effective way of helping folks to realize the potential and opportunity.

Finally, you accept that there are just some folks who simply can't be helped, and there always will be. But you help more people my maximizing opertunity, than you do by punishing success.

The MSM just called Ohio

CNN just called Ohio for Obama.

If true, that means it's over. Welcome to Jimmy Carter 2.0, and the worst economic prospects since 1978.

The AR-15 - So many options

Lately, several people have asked me with help in purchasing an AR-15. The beauty of the AR platform is its modularity. The downside is that the array of options can be almost overwhelming.

The good news is that most manufacturers build components that are 100% compatible with each other, so if you buy a lower from one manufacturer and an upper from another manufacturer it fairly well guaranteed that they two parts will fit together without too much trouble.

The Basics:

The AR platform consists of two main sub-assemblies. These are known as the "upper" and "lower" half.

A complete lower half consists of a lower receiver, lower parts kit, and some sort of stock.

A complete upper half consists of the upper receiver, barrel, front sight base, gas tube, hand guards, bolt and bolt carrier, plus some misc. small parts.

The lower receiver is the firearm. This is the part that has the serial number, and thus this is the part that must be purchased either from an FFL, or from a private party in state. Everything else is just a part, and can be purchased over the internet, mail order, etc.

While it is generally cheaper to buy the upper and lower halves separately, there is nothing wrong with purchasing a complete rifle.


The first decision to be made is the barrel. Barrels come in a variety of lengths, weights, materials, and twist rates. Generally speaking, AR barrels come in 3 standard lengths, 20", 16", and 14.5-14.7". Other lengths such as 18" and 24" are available, but are much less common.

The classic rifle length barrel is 20". This is the length of a Vietnam era M-16 rifle that one might see when watching war movies involving the late un-pleasentness in South East Asia.

A 16" barrel is a "carbine" length barrel. This is the minimum length allowed (without a special tax stamp) in the united states. Any shorter and it becomes an SBR (short barreled Rifle)

The military M-4 carbine utilities a 14.5" barrel. Because the military uses this length, a lot of folks want this length barrel. If one attaches a muzzle device such as a flash suppressor, and has this permanently attached. and the overall length is over 16". Then this counts as being over the magical 16" for legal purposes.

I firmly recommend that the new AR buyer stick with either a 20" or 16" barrel. The velocity loss as one goes from 16" to 14.5" is actually quite significant, and dealing with a permanently attached flash-hider can be a small pain for certain disassembly tasks.

The next question is barrel twist. Early ARs had a 1 in 12 twist, that is one revolution of the rifling every 12 inches. (actually the earliest were 1 in 14, but they didn't work in extreme cold) This was fine for the 55 grain projectiles in use at the time. When the military switched to the 62 grain SS109 projectile, they needed a 1:9 twist to stabilize the heavier bullet. They actually picked 1:7, which was required to stabilize the tracer round, which is much longer, and requires a faster twist rate.

A couple years ago it was very hard to find a 1:7 twist barrel. Most manufacturers used 1:9. Match rifles generally used 1:8 (to stabilize the long low drag bullets used for shooting at 600-1000 yards). Nowadays 1:7 is reasonably common. Again, 1:7 is considered more desirable because it's what the military uses.

I actually think that for most folks, it doesn't matter that much. 1:9, 1:8, or 1:7 will stabilize just about any bullet the average person would reasonably use. A match rifle should be 1:8 or 1:7.

Barrel Weight:
Barrels generally come either Hbar (heavy barrel) or GI profile (turned down under the handguards). You can save around a pound of weight by going with a GI profile.
Again, there are many other profiles. The M-4 profile is a GI profile with an extra turned down "notch" on the barrel to accommodate the M203 Grenade launcher. Since the average AR owner is NOT likely to have an M203, the notch is essentially decorative. Again its "desirable" because the .mil has the notch on their rifles.