Thursday, April 12, 2018

Another Elephant Rant

I know, but it's my blog.  Don't agree with me?  Feel free to edify me in the comments section with reasoned, factual arguments.  Ad hominem attacks will receive no response.

I came across this quote the other day:

Already I was beginning to fall into the African way of thinking: That if
you properly respect what you are after, and shoot it cleanly and on
the animal's terrain, if you imprison in your mind all the wonder of the
day from sky to smell to breeze to flowers—then you have not merely
killed an animal. You have lent immortality to a beast you have killed
because you loved him and wanted him forever so that you could always
recapture the day - Robert Ruark


That last line sounds more than a little bit psychopathic to me.

Killed him because you loved him?

You're not going to "remember him forever" because you're not immortal.  A mortal being can no more grant another being immortality than blood can be had from a stone.  It also seems counter-intuitive that ending a being's existence is the method of granting immortality since immortality, by definition, means to never die.

It's been repeated, ad nauseam, that the "economic value" placed on these creatures is a good thing since that is what will "save" them.  Is not their economic value precisely the reason that poachers kill them?  Based upon most of the corpses left behind by poachers, they're not killing them for meat.  They are killing them for the "economically valuable" ivory.  The very fact that ivory has any economic value in this day and age doesn't speak very highly of the maturity of our species.

Poaching seems to be a hazardous occupation (sadly, not nearly hazardous enough) so one can assume that these people are doing it for monetary gain, not for fun.  It's the trophy hunters that kill them for fun, for the adrenaline rush, to pretend that they're living in a time that's past, whatever the reason.  The days of Ruark and Taylor are long past.  In their day, there were many more elephants than there are now, not that that makes their "adventurous exploits" any less vile.  Elephants are an extremely endangered species with less than three quarters of a million African elephants and forty thousand Asian elephants in the wild.

This begs the question, is it better to kill an intelligent, endangered creature to get money or, pay money to kill that same creature for a fleeting thrill?  Either way the elephant loses.

I understand that there are other factors besides poaching (illegal killing) and trophy hunting (legal killing) contributing to the seemingly inevitable extinction of the elephant, like habitat loss, human encroachment, "revenge" killing, etc.  I fail to understand how "legally" killing these animals is seen as "helping" them.  The elephant population is a zero-sum game, there are a finite number of them.  They are being killed faster than they reproduce, killing ANY of them, legally or not, is still shrinking their numbers, it doesn't take spherical trigonometry to figure this out.  Why not take the fraction of a percent of the money from a hunting permit that actually makes it to the "conservation efforts" and give it to an actual conservation organization and maybe, this is going to sound nuts, not kill the elephant?  With that, you've actually made some difference and spared a creature that you claim to love and respect.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

So Long UPS

Apparently, the new policy at UPS is to COMPLETELY open and UNPACK ALL packages prior to acceptance, for security reasons of course.  I don't spend my valuable time packing guns that are worth sums that most UPS employees can't even comprehend so that some unskilled, weak-minded member of the UPS flock can "comply with company policy" while probably damaging said guns.
I was told this at the UPS Customer Center/terminal just today and verified it with UPS customer service.  I guess DHL and FedEx will be getting my business from this time forward.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Composites and "Metal-Thinking"

A good friend brought me his NEW Beretta A400 Black target shotgun with the whizzy carbon fiber rib.  Yup, a carbon fiber rib, an idea that ranks right up there with the GunPod and the model 486-MN but, I digress.  The problem is that the carbon rib is attached exactly as if it were a metallic rib and if there is one thing that composite structures don't like, it's holes being drilled into them for bolts or pins.  Beretta simply drilled the rib and inserted a roll pin, directly into the carbon fiber layup.  Due to the fact that composites like carbon, Kevlar and glass are actually very flexible fibers held in shape by a matrix of either epoxy, polyester or vinylester resin, any load that is introduced into them must be spread over as large an area as is practicable.  Failure to do so will result in the elongation, chipping, deformation and eventual failure of the part at the drilled hole.  The standard method of spreading the load of a bolted or pinned fastening or joint in a composite structure is to use a flanged bushing set in epoxy on either side of the composite.  The bolt or pin bears against the bore of the bushing while the outer flanges spread the load into the structure.  This is the method that I used to permanently end the problem of the rib loosening and spitting its retaining pin.

The original configuration, using "metal-thinking"

The rib machined to accept the bushings on each side

 The flanged bushings that are epoxied in place and new retaining pin

The finished job

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

"Anglicizing" a Fox

This is the Sterlingworth from the previous post.  The client wants an American gun with English flavor but it also has to be something unique.  Obviously a Fox has to be the basis, no other will do, for reasons that I've covered before.
I've never worshiped at the altar of the supposedly "superior" rotary bolt, it's a clever solution to packaging a bolt in a compact space but it offers no mechanical advantage over a linear bolt.  In fact, if not precisely fitted (they never are) or worn (very common), they do a very good job of opening themselves upon firing as the bite's ramp cams the bolt around to the open position.  The marketing hogwash printed in the catalogs about the guns "never shooting loose" or being "self-compensating for wear" sounds good but it isn't always so in reality.  When correctly fitted, the rotary bolt is as good as any other but certainly no better.  Now, back to the project at hand.  This gun will marry attributes of the two best-looking British boxlocks, the Greener and the Westley Richards.  It will combine the sleek, rounded bar of the Greener with the aesthetically and functionally distinctive, side-pivoting toplever of the Westley Richards (a design also used on early Lefever doubles).  The toplever operates a linear acting bolt of my own design.  Think of it as an American homage to the two English boxlocks that truly qualify as best guns.

The parts that won't be going back into the gun

Packing the frame for annealing

The horrible, belt-sander-shaped fences are chiseled per standard operating procedure.

The frame, modified for the new toplever

Making the toplever:  The pivot and bolt bosses and the underside are machined, the rest of the lever is shaped by hand.

Fitted up

Naturally the frame cheeks needed attention.  Not only were they originally shaped on a belt-sander, I'm pretty sure that the guy that did it was either blind or drunk.

Next is to clean up the beads around the fences and cut the pocket for the doll's head rib extension.

 The modified Fox with a standard early-Utica Fox

Here are a couple of videos of the new bolting mechanism.


The next agenda item is to do something about the forend iron relief cut in the frame.  This area looks bad enough even when done with the superior craftsmanship of the early Philadelphia days, it is positively atrocious on a Utica gun.

Machined floor and bevels

Smoking in the cover piece

The cover fitted and the hinge mechanism is made.  The spring to power it comes next.

The leaf spring that closes the cover

In action

Next is to hide the triggerplate screw.  This is done by closely fitting the cover into a machined and dovetailed (at the front) pocket in the triggerplate.  The triggerguard stud retains the rear of the cover.
The cover plate is made from 1020, the same as the frame and triggerplate.

The bow of the new triggerguard is made.  Its form is a bit more pleasing than the original part.  I've said it before, the shape of the guard and the triggers can make or break the lines of the gun.  With this in mind, I also made new triggers.

The original triggers
The new triggers

Here are a couple of areas that will need attention since these parts are not being replaced. 

The typical lumpy barrel contours
The breechface and action flats that look like they were finished by a farrier


The new rib extension is up next. 

Original rib extension removed by machining down to the original vertical braze seam

The rib extension was blanked from a piece of 4140A using a shop-made single edge profile cutter.

The new rib extension with doll's head, installed and fit to the frame

Stay tuned...