April 2012 Journal

Captain Rich's War, a preview:

August 1969 Medevac

Sometime back I had my Vietnam slides digitalized. The plan was to put them together in an online album, but that hasn't happened yet. Tentatively it will be called Captain Rich's War. Maybe this will encourage me to work on it. Here's a sample.

Wounded ARVN being prepped for Medevac

My first assignment in Vietnam was as an advisor on an a team with 3rd Battalion, 8th ARVN Infantry. We were ordered to provide security for an American engineering unit that was building a firebase on a hill. The hill, to no one's surprise, was a minefield. Medevacs became very common. I had just bought a Pen half-frame camera at the PX. It took 72 pictures on a 36 exposure 35 mm roll, a useful feature for a combat camera. One of my ARVN troops had stepped on a "Bouncing Betty" mine. Activated, it flew into the air about waist level and exploded, killing him and severely wounding the man behind him. At this point the wounded man has been pulled out of the mine field and put on a stretcher. I don't remember now if I called the medevac or someone else did. The shirtless man is one of my sergeants. The guys with helmets with camo covers on them are Americans. The guy with the cowboy hat is the ARVN commander,and the guy with the ball cap is one of his officers. The Medic is an ARVN.

Medevac helicopter approaches in Violet Smoke

We popped violet smoke to identify the LZ. The way it worked, to prevent any eavesdropping NVA from popping the same color of smoke, we didn't say, "Popping violet smoke." We said, "Popping smoke." The chopper pilot would say, "I identify violet." Once, in Cambodia, the reply was, "I see yellow and red. Which one are you?"

Medivac helicopter flares for landing

The helicopter came in

Medivac helicopter landing

ARVN troops approach helicopter

The wounded is carried to the helicopter. The man with the hat talking on the radio is the ARVN commander, his radio operator behind him.

Loading the stretcher

The wounded man is loaded aboard

Medevac helicopter starts takeoff

Medevac helicopter leaves with wounded

The helicopter leaves with the wounded man

Medevacs were virtually a daily occurrence. I didn't count them or keep a log. I would say conservatively I participated in 50+, probably close to a hundred. Most were daylight without enemy fire, but not all. The ones I can't forget were at night. During three of them we were under fire, 2 on the night FSB Mary was attacked and almost lost, with 14 men successfully evacuated. One was in Cambodia when the "Dustoff" helicopter was hit by enemy fire and limped back to base with casualties of its own, and we had to do the medevac the next morning in daylight. The two men we were trying to evacuate were still alive. Only one other medevac failed. While in Cambodia we tried to evacuate a wounded prisoner, but the escort Cobras got lost, and the medevac pilot wouldn't come down without them for an enemy soldier. He died before the Cobras arrived.

Later same day as the medevac pictured above we medevaced 5 ARVNs. They had found a blasting cap on the mine field, and they were sitting in a circle when one of them detonated it, killing him and wounding 5 of his buddies. You didn't have to be in combat to need a medevac.

The blasting cap that caused a medevac, killing one, wounding 5

I evacuated American kids of all colors, Vietnamese (ARVN) troops, a few wounded civilians, and one ARVN trooper's wife who had delivered twins during the night while at our fire base.

I doubt that most of my ARVN troops survived the war. They were in some major battles during the invasions in '72 and '75. I'm a member of Counterparts, a veterans organization made up of former Vietnam advisors and our Vietnamese counterparts. No one from the units I served with has, to my knowledge, become a member.

Rome Plow after dislodging a mine that severely injured the driver

Some of the Americans I still wonder about. Several "Rome Plow" drivers of the engineering unit were horribly wounded. The big blade of the plow would dislodge the Bouncing Betty, and it would then detonate between the blade and the driver, the blade deflecting the metal fragments toward the driver. They wore flak jackets and helmets after the first one was evacuated blind and brain damaged. It helped a little, but all of them were permanently disabled. One night I medevaced an American kid whose buddies had brought him to the chopper with his unattached leg lying in the stretcher.

Every time I see a Wounded Warriors Foundation commercial on TV I think of these men. We didn't have a Wounded Warriors Foundation then, and the VA was overwhelmed. It's overwhelmed now. Some things never seem to change.

March 31, 2012, Saturday

Almost forgot this. Sportsman's Warehouse used to carry Ox-Yoke Wonder Wads. They have subtitled Muzzleloader's Originals, which normally cost 50-60% of Wonder Wad price. They are thinner and flimsier. They will work as over powder wads, but they are so flimsy that getting them folded or wadded up is very easy. Wonder Wads are thicker and stiffer and easier to put in. Sportsman's is wildly overcharging for the copy, misidentifying the product. These are bags of 100. I bought 1000 Wonder Wads from Buffalo Arms for about $50. I use them when shooting real black powder or Pyrodex in Ruger Old Armies.

This was in Antiqueguns.com:

On the news this week was a story about a southern California man put under 72-hour psychiatric observation when it was found he owned 100 guns and allegedly had (by rough estimate) 1-million rounds of ammunition stored in his home. The house also featured a secret escape tunnel. My favorite quote from the dimwit television reporter: "Wow! He has about a million machine gun bullets." The headline referred to it as a "massive weapons cache".
By southern California standards someone even owning 100,000 rounds would be called "mentally unstable."
Just imagine if he lived elsewhere:
In Arizona he'd be called "an avid gun collector".
In Arkansas , he'd be called "a novice gun collector".
In Utah , he'd be called "moderately well prepared", but they'd probably reserve judgment until they made sure that he had a corresponding quantity of stored food.
In Montana , he'd be called "The neighborhood 'Go-To' guy".
In Idaho , he'd be called "a likely gubernatorial candidate".
In Wyoming , he'd be called "an eligible bachelor".
And, in Texas , he'd be called "A huntin' buddy".

RGR 5th Saturday match:

Texas Tiger wrote the match. She used virtually every target and prop the club has. Lots of work on her (and English Lyn's) part. Good stages. A lot of odd numbered shotgun stages. She's shooting a '97 now. Several 6 shotgun targets stages with 3 shooting positions. This is a lot of work for a club match. My hat's off to them and everyone who helped them set it up. My only warning, as a former hard working event director for SCCA, is don't burn yourself out.

I did enjoy the match. Shot Frontiersman with SliX-Shot nipples on "Heaven" an "353." One failure to fire first time, a few minor cap jams.

March 29-30, 2012

The Redhead is still casino hopping. I went to Sportsman's Warehouse on Thursday. They were almost out of primers. Got Winchester 209s, but no pistol primers. Got the rest of the supplies needed for shotgun loading and bought all of the Speer .457 round balls. Hornady were $15.99! There aren't that many ROA shooters here, but .457 round balls go as soon as they come in. Ditto Remington #10 caps. They had none. Saw Tex and Cat at the bicycle shop. They didn't have small pistol primers, and Tex had to get magnums to get large (Federals). The only 12 ga hulls were the blue Peters (there's probably a joke there somewhere). Bought some anyway, lest there be none of anything I can use when I go back next time. They reminded me that RGR has a match Saturday.

Got back to the shop and realized I need .38s for 2 matches this weekend. Looked. I have enough, but it's time to reload .38s, so I started loading .38s. As usual the machine had gotten out of adjustment since last time, probably because of traveling. Disassembled the primer mechanism and shellplate and cleaned everything, reassembled, used the calibration tool. Didn't get all that many rounds made.

Then Friday took The Redhead to Enterprise for a $10/day weekend car. Then went to Sportsman's. Still no primers, but a nice (Very) young lady told me they were still unpacking their weekly shipment.

Meanwhile, back at the shop, the RF100 primer filler started malfunctioning. I unscrewed the screw holding the "A" plate out, and the helicoil came out with the screw. Called Dillon. I have to send the machine back. Explanation: In 2008 they rebuilt the machine after Winter Range, and the new! improved! bowl has a helicoil for the screw. If yours doesn't have it, you have the old bowl. It will work better with the new bowl.

So, back to town. Got a box and bubble wrap from FedUp. Went back to Sportsman's. At first glance there were no more primers. Then I saw 3 boxes of Federal small pistol. Bought two, not knowing if they're rationing or not. Thought hard about getting all 3, but I'm only going to make another 1000 rounds of .38s before switching to WB ammo. I can't shoot Buffalo Stampede WB without more ammo. Of course, I should have the 1000 rounds done in the time I've spent. That's only a couple of hours when everything works.

March 26-28, 2012

The Redhead started catching up on casinos, going to Sandia Monday and Route 66 Tuesday and Wednesday. I spent most of the time in the shop, reloading shotgun ammunition.

The SL900 needed to be brought back into adjustment, which was no big deal except I'm getting serious about making match ammo at minimum base diameter to make sure the round falls out easily. I have the case gauge that TL makes. Getting the round sized enough to fit it is iffy. Dillon says a diameter of .804 or less is the target. A round that is .804 won't go in the case gauge. I adjusted the sizer until it did, but then the primer drop wouldn't activate. It took adjusting the primer drop activator at 1/8 turn increments and the sizer die at 1/8 turn intervals until the sweet spot was made, and most of the ammo will go into the gauge. Ammo that didn't is totally usable but went in boxes reserved for practice (and local matches if I get low in match ammo). Wednesday afternoon ran out of once fired STS hulls. Resupply tomorrow.

Well, Wednesday I did have to go to the VA. I have a primary care appointment next week, so I went in early for the blood work, fasting, without caffeine. Of course, the primary care dr. hadn't sent in the blood test request, so I spent more time getting that than I should have. The other appointment was at 1030, allowing us to get breakfast between the two. The Redhead had to drop me off. No parking spaces. She went to PetSmart while I saw the shrink.

It should be noted that this VA had added some personnel. The lab had a receptionist now. You still take a number and wait an hour, but she checks to see that your orders are in before you do that. She sent me to primary care, and I waited until they opened (0730) and the nurse came in (0800) who could talk to the doctor and the the order written. I went back to the lab, and my number still hadn't been called. Over in the shrink building there was a new office with 3 women in it. One checks your medications list to make sure it's up to date and correct before every appointment.

March 25, 2012, Sunday

Note to self: Hit "Command s" more often. Dreamweaver (the rotten, hard to figure out semi-worthless but expensive program I use to write this) doesn't have auto save. So I get to rewrite a whole bunch. Even Macs need to be restarted sometimes.

In checking the bus before moving The Redhead noted the left front tire had a grease track down it. I pulled off the hubcap and found the little plastic plug in the end of the clear plastic view window of the hub had come out but was captured in the hubcap. Unfortunately a lot of the gear oil had come out, and it was below the fill level. I didn't have spare gear oil (another note to self), and the car was in the trailer, and it was Sunday morning in Holbrook, AZ. The Redhead suggested calling Good Sam. They sent over a mobile RV repair truck with two guys who should have their own reality show. I should have taken pictures. But they had gear oil and topped off the axle. Fortunately the plug was reusable, at least temporarily. It's getting brittle and needs replacing.

So we got on the road and made it to Camp Baylor Albuquerque on time.

March 24, 2012, Saturday

When I checked the engine oil, it was low. No problem, I had diesel oil in the basement. Hmm, not enough. Remember the sump holds several gallons. Still needed more oil. Talked a friendly neighbor (different one from yesterday) into taking me to a nearby auto parts store for another gallon. Put enough of that in to get close to "full." All of the other "move the RV checklist" items were done by 1030, about an hour and a half after planned.

Drove to Holbrook KOA for the night.

March 23, 2012, Friday

First I needed to reattach the trailer. It was detached in order to level it. This spot isn't level. But when I reinstalled the ball, the parts didn't quite line up. A neighbor "helped," and as a result, there was no way to line trailer and hitch up, so I had to move a lot of things inside, put slides in, pull jacks, start engine, and back bus up 1.5". Then pull slides in and drop jacks. Then put things where they were inside. Whee. Then put up 12 ft. ladder, pull shades off windshield, clean windows (INVISIBLE GLASS, the spray can). Then put ladder back in trailer and go to Home Depot for replacement 2" x 12" x 24" wood blocks, cut from 2" x 12" lumber. Put that in the basement. Clean up. Throw away several of the old wood blocks that had split. Then re-hydrate. I think I needed an IV or two.

March 22, 2012, Thursday

Getting ready to head to ABQ, so I cleaned, vacuumed, scrubbed, and mopped the shop. It only looks like this just before a trip:

March 21, 2012, Wednesday

Got the SL900 back from Dillon. It looks like a new machine!

Lots of new parts, and the frame looks brand new. Very impressive!

March 20,2012, Tuesday

I’ve come to the conclusion that shooting percussion revolvers vs. shooting cartridge revolvers is like the difference between playing a clarinet and playing a trumpet. If you put your fingers over the right keys and holes and blow of the mouthpiece the clarinet will give you the correct tone. With a trumpet, if you put your fingers over the right valves and blow on the mouthpiece, you won't get the correct tone unless you hold your mouth right.

I shot 100 rounds testing the ROAs with the SliX-Shot nipples. I tried to create a "control" by putting Tresos in the cylinder for "017." That cylinder fit in the other 2 guns-in the shop. When I tried firing it with caps and charges, however, it didn't work. It did in 017, but the spring hasn't been changed in it. So I used the "match" guns with their own cylinders after that. So I haven't tried the lighter springs and Treso nipples. I used Goex FFg, Goex CTG, and Goex Express FFFg, and American Pioneer Powder FFFg.Max charge was 44 gr. Minimum charge was 16 gr. Failure to fire on 7th and 8th "stage". #5 nipple both times. Moved it to the unloaded chamber. Everything worked. On 9th stage 2 failures to fire first hit, same gun. Cleaned the nipples with a stiff brush. After that no problems. Best 10 shot string 8.75. Most were around 10. I had stopped shooting Frontiersman because with the bad thumb my best times were climbing over 12 seconds, and shooting 4-6 stages left me in pain for hours. It was getting sore enough to quit after 10 today. Unfortunately typing still hurts both thumbs. The new nipples didn't help that.

I was unable to "prove" that you can use lighter springs with these nipples than with Tresos. To do that I'll have to put Tresos back on and shoot them. We'll see.

Tex had problems with the .457 round balls coming out under recoil when he tried charges lighter than 45 gr. 45 gr. requires him to crush the balls with the loading lever to get them below the cylinder lip. I've never had the problems of the balls coming out under recoil. .457 round balls leave a little lead ring when seated and don't need to be crushed in my guns. I've talked with other people who have the problem, and Tex is the only one I've heard who cured it. I once got a box of Hornady balls that were mismarked, .490 marked .457. They left a bigger ring but weren't hard to seat. That might be the solution to the backing-out problem.

I photographed several fired caps. The ones that fell off as desired had blossomed to a T or X shape. Some that stayed on were still very tight and had to be pried off with my screwknife. This isn't a problem. I didn't find any fragmented ones today. Sometimes it was hard to turn the cylinder after the 5th round, but that's not a real problem, either.

Two fired caps on SliX-Shot nipples: The upper one has popped open and will fall out with cylinder rotation. The bottom one did not. It will stay on until pulled off at the unloading table Both of these results are good. Fragmenting and jamming the action is bad.


These 4 caps blossomed and fell off when the cylinder rotated. The fifth one stayed tight and had to be pried off at the unloading table. None jammed the action.

March 18-19, 2012

Monday morning Angelique had an appointment for her annual at the vet, including shots. The Redhead had taken her before only to find that she turned into a full-sized, full-fanged, full-clawed panther, a berserk panther. She brought her home with instructions to give her tranquilizers an hour before bringing her.

So this morning at 0700 I was rousted by screaming and cursing. I walked into the living room to find The Redhead and Angelique at opposite corners. The Redhead was not adequately dressed for woman-to-cat combat, and she demanded I pill the cat. So I did. Angelique had, when given the pill in a treat, eaten the treat and then spit out the pill. So I just opened her mouth and dropped it in... about five times. Why the vet gave us pills so small that I had to give her 3 I haven't figured out yet.

Eventually I got her to keep some of the pills down. She mellowed out a bit. We took her in a cat carrier. She was mellow at the vets until the vet tech got close, whereupon Angelique chomped down on the meaty part of the thumb of my right hand, leaving 4 holes drilled about an inch into the flesh and bleeding profusely.

The terrified vet tech bandaged me with a bandage decorated with dog bones and asked me if I'd ever been bitten by a cat before. Then the terrified vet came in with a blanket, and they covered the now howling wild animal with the blanket and gave her a shot.

The Redhead had stayed in the waiting room, otherwise I would have insisted on an iMovie of this.

Eventually they gave the now unconscious kitty her shots and did the examination--and clipped her claws. Clipping her vampire-like Saber tooth fangs was not considered by anyone. The vet told me she was among the worst two cats to come through the clinic. After she bit me, he upped her status to number one.

About 4 hours later she had recovered enough to climb on my chest, nuzzle, and purr.

She didn't bite my left hand until 5 PM.

March 17, 2012. Saturday

Shot the Cowtown match today. 5 posses. Good match, as usual. Emphasis was on stages with the rifle targets across the "navigable waterway." Shot Frontiersman with the "plain" ROAs. Shot clean, no shotgun make ups, no big glitches. 3rd behind Kid Thunder and Larsen E. Pettifogger. Larsen was testing out a pair of 1860 Armies, a second Generation Colt and a current Uberti. He said he had gotten the springs a little too light (Wolff SAA spring.)

I suffered 4 cap jams, (3 on one gun, one on the other) meaning I had to grab the cylinder with the weak hand and try to rotate it while trying to cock the pistol. That's 2 seconds at least, but one of the 4 took longer. Trying to cock the hammer I wound up skipping that cap and having to spin the cylinder to find it, then firing it. This sort of thing had, of course, happened with Tresos. It might be a result of the light springs. Don't know. Don't know where the caps were hanging up as I cleared them on the clock. It had happened at least once in the ACSA match last week, and the springs where heavier then.

I'll do more testing next week, including shooting the guns with Tresos and the current springs and testing "Tex" loads (40 gr.). I shot light Goex FF loads. Don't know if heavier loads will help or hurt.

Saturday night went to Dan Varner's St Patrick's Day party. Outstanding party. Great food, and a roving violinist who was just mesmerizing.

March 16, 2012, Friday

After accompanying The Redhead to a medical appointment I made it to Cowtown and actually got in. Shot the plain ROAs 6 stages no problems. Loads varied from 16 gr. to 32 gr. Goex Express 3F, Goex 2F, Goex Cartridge, and APP 3f. Shot the engraved ROAs one stage, and "Hell" snapped once. It has a markedly heavier hammer than the other 3 and still doesn't work. I'll use the other 3. The arthritic thumb does hurt. The lighter hammers helped, though, and times were about 15% below the last time with previous springs. My one-handed revolver times were getting longer due to the thumb.

March 15, 2012, Thursday

Beware the Ides of March, Went to Cowtown only to find it closed for a TV crew.

March 14, 2012, Wednesday

Yesterday Paul Erhardt, Editor, the Outdoor Wire Digital Network, which includes The Shooting Wire, emailed me asking permission to use a photo of mine of Randi Rogers/Holy Terror "I am trying to find a SASS photo of her but there are far more images of her shooting for Glock than there seem to be of her shooting Cowboy Action. I noticed a couple on your site. Would it be possible to use one? I need to file my article tonight so please let me know as soon as possible. Thanks." The article is in today's The Shooting Wire. Yes, it's a picture of her shooting Wild Bunch. Still, it's SASS, and she's dressed as Holy Terror.

One paragraph of note: "Now I can't blame you if you've never heard about Randi's accomplishments in the Cowboy world. SASS, the Single Action Shooting Society, seems to have adopted a late 1800s communications strategy ...probably in keeping with the period clothing and firearms."

Hmm, is that the reason The Shooting Wire never has anything about Cowboy Action Shooting?

Anyway, Randi has a new job that will, apparently make better use of her marketing talents and skills. Congratulations, Randi!

Just to put things into perspective, at least for me, here's the first photo I took of her:

That's Holy Terror at the 2002 Winter Range.

March 13, 2012, Tuesday

While getting ready for WR I decided my #2 '73 needed a flat butt to match the #1. The nearest leather worker was Dirty Dan (D & H Leather), and he made a butt cover with leather fill-in to make the butt flat. He did a beautiful job, and I've been remiss in not spotlighting it here.

He took the rifle and sewed it on himself, doing a much better job than I could have done.

March 12, 2012, Monday

We had breakfast at the Cracker Barrel off Deer Valley. When my large orange juice arrived, it was in a chilled mug. Apparently this was the idea of the waiter, Brian. I suggested he get it into the corporate suggestion box. This is a great idea. The orange juice was cold to the end.

SliX-Shot Nipples test continues

I had ordered a batch of Wolff springs from Brownell's.

This morning they arrived, and I worked on the unengraved guns. One had what looks like a 19 lb. spring. I replaced it with a 17 lb. spring. It worked in the shop. I tried a 16 lb. spring. It didn't. I re-installed the 17. The other gun had a Ruger spring. It doesn't seem quite as strong as a stock ROA spring, so I assume it's from a OM Vaquero. I tried a 17. It didn't work. I tried a 19. It worked.

Then I took the SliX-Shot nipples out of one cylinder and put Tresos back in. Then I tried that cylinder in both guns. The Tresos worked in both guns. I reinstalled the SliX-Shot nipples.

I'll get to the range later this week.

March 11, 2012, Sunday

Wild Horse John commented on my fun and exciting experience with the RV toilet. "I believe that you have made a very important discovery. Without a doubt you have solved the cause of the sinking of the submarine USS Thresher....tech manual authors! I believe that at least one tech manual writer per month should be made to stand in a public location holding a sign (over his/her head) stating; "I author unintelligible tech manuals."

I commented back "I think the Army had it right with those comic book manuals in the 60's."

Then John reminded me the comics were P. S. Preventive Maintenance Monthly Magazine, and the character was Connie Rodd. Example:

Sadly, in the current PC environment in the Army, they don't do that anymore. I presume that's why they have so many maintenance problems with their weapons and vehicles in the Sand Box.

March 9-10, 2012

Worked in the garage Friday. Went to the ACSA match Saturday. Shot Frontiersman using the "plain" ROAs with the new nipples. They went bang every time. I'm used to them going bang every time with the Treso nipples. I used the same springs. The key will be when I get the lighter springs. If I can use lighter springs, then these nipples will be superior. As mentioned, they're longer than stock or Tresos. This causes 2 problems, one possibly inconsequential, one I consider significant. The hammer isn't quite closed. That's probably inconsequential. When installing caps using a Cash snail capper, #10 Remington caps stick out enough to prevent cylinder rotation until you stop and push them on with your cap seating device, in my case, my Frontiersman Screwknife©. This slows things considerably at the loading table. Generally a 3-shooter loading table gives just enough time to cap both pistols and load the rifle. If it's a big loading table, no problem.

Still anxiously awaiting the UPS truck.

March 7-8, 2012

RV Maintenance for Dummies, toilet repair:

The toilet had overflowed. This isn't like a residential toilet. There's a foot lever on the left side you push down to open the flush valve and the water valve. Water comes into the bowl, but the half-ball valve seal on the bottom is opened, so the contents, hopefully, drain out, with water pushing it out. Release the pedal, and the valve closes and the water valve shuts off. Pull up to add water to the tank. 4 things can cause it to overflow, according to the troubleshooting guide:

a. Not enough clearance between cam strap and top of water valve cap.

b. Dirt lodged in water valve seal.

c. Worn or defective water valve.

d. Worn or defective spring cartridge

In ours the spring cartridge had failed, allowing the ball seal to almost close, but the water valve was still open slightly, allowing water to go into the bowl and out the ball seal into the tank. Eventually the tank filled and the toilet overflowed.

I had talked to a local RV tech, but he wanted $99 to drive here, a minimum of an hour, and a return trip with parts after diagnosis, at extra cost. He also intimated that if my IQ was above room temperature and I had any mechanical abilities at all, I should be able to completely rebuild the toilet in 15 minutes blindfolded and underwater. I intimated things about his marvelous tact but kept them to myself. He is, however, off the Christmas card list.

I checked the troubleshooting guide. The solutions were

a. Adjust cam strap to have .02" - .06" (.5mm - 1.5mm) clearance with top of water valve cap.

b. Disassemble and clean water valve.

c. Replace water valve.

d. Replace spring cartridge.

I decided replacing the the spring cartridge required removing the water valve assembly anyway, so I would just replace it, too. The seal was worn, so I replaced it, too. Parts were obtained from a distributor in Costa Mesa, CA and arrived the next day.

This looks simple, and very likely the next time I have to do it, it'll take half an hour. It took longer this time. Do remember much of it has to be done while on the floor in a very small space. First, I thought The Redhead had turned the water off, and she thought I had. Mini-flood #1. Then when I replaced the seal and reinstalled the toilet bowl, I hadn't tightened it sufficiently. Mini-flood #2.

Getting the water valve, spring cartridge, and cam strap (the innards of the lever) lined up and screwed in with 2 new screws was a pain in the ass but finally done. The screws have hex heads with slot. A 1/4" drive ratchet wrench is much better than a slot head screwdriver for getting them tight enough. Then the valve stuck open at the top of the fill cycle--intermittently. This made it hard to tell if I had cured that problem. Mini-flood #3. We left it working but with this problem still unsolved. When we used it, we just had to make sure the valve had returned to closed. This wasn't acceptable long term, of course.

Then at 0244 in the morning I woke up thinking of how to cure this. The trouble shooting guide had said one of the causes was "Not enough clearance between cam strap and top of water valve cap." The cure was "Adjust cam strap to have .02" - .06" (.5mm - 1.5mm) clearance with top of water valve cap." It didn't say (a) how to measure the clearance and where, and (b) how to adjust it.

The next morning I tried several things then loosened the screws holding everything together half a turn. That increased the clearance of the cam strap and cured the problem. The feel of the lever operation was different, and it was impossible to jam open.

Like everything from Mercedes to Uberti rifles, the instructions were written by people who did all of the operations in a clean, well-lighted test shop and who assume the person reading it is a master technician with 120 years experience.

Cowtown Test Session

Took the ROAs to Cowtown. All 4 have the SliX-Shot nipples. The problem child, " Hell," was the main object to be tested. It had successfully fired a bunch of caps in a row in the shop. Now it was time to put in powder an ball. I shot 5 stages with it and "Heaven." Heaven worked perfectly. Hell required one re-strike. This isn't good enough, of course. Heaven and the unengraved pair are as reliable as cartridge pistols. Considering my tendency to short-stroke my Vaqueros and have to go around, they're more reliable. I fired a few rounds through the unengraved pair. All of them are working with 19 lb. springs. 23-24 is stock. 19 is still a bit much for my arthritic thumb and 5-6 stages. I'm hoping I'll be able to use some of the lighter springs now eagerly awaited.

Larsen was there and was concerned that the SliX-Shot nipples are .040 longer than Tresos, which means the hammer, which stock just touch the nipples, can't close all the way and sticks out a few thousandths. On "Hell," with its welded up hammer, it sticks out 0.10" or so. We had lunch afterwards.

March 5-6,2012

Seen on the road in Scottsdale

Started cleaning the shop. Unbelievable mess. Lots of trips to trash dump.

I've had some of the new SliX-Shot nipples for a test. The design is meant to put more fire into the chamber with less back pressure. Theoretically they should take less force to set off the caps. This is important to me because of my arthritic thumb. If I can lighten the hammer, I can continue shooting Frontiersman for a while.

Note the 0.020 hole in each side of the nipple. The purpose of this is to remove back pressure and expand the cap's "wings," making them less likely to jam the cylinder. One of the reasons percussion pistols need such a heavy hammer is so that hammer pressure will prevent the cap from being blown off the nipple by back pressure. In theory, lighter springs can be used with these nipples

Additionally I had just gotten "Hell" back from a name gunsmith who was trying to make it pop caps reliably. By the time he had finished working on it, the Treso nipples had been beaten up, and he thought they were the only unsolved problem. He had installed a 1/4" spacer over a coil spring made of 0.055" wire. It looked like a Wolff spring. They're a smaller diameter coil than the stock 24 lb. spring, which is 0.062", but it is considerably smaller.

My match ROAs had used the SliX-Shot nipples in the WR Plainsman match with no failures. They have Wolff springs.

I started fiddling with the gun fitted with the new nipples and tins of "green" Remington #10 and #11 caps and "gold" Remington #10 and #11 caps. After a bit of fiddling, the gun was popping caps reliably, all 4 varieties (dry-firing, no powder and ball). Then I removed the 1/4" spacer. The gun started misfiring. I compared the spring in it to Wolff springs. It was the same diameter as 19 and 20# springs but shorter I installed a 19, and the gun fired reliably, at least dry. I'll test it with powder and ball next trip to Cowtown. I have several weights of Wolff springs on order for testing of the guns that already work with springs lighter than stock. I'll see how low I can go.

March 1-4, 2012

Still sick Thursday. Friday had an appointment at the VA in Phoenix, Audiology. The 15 year old cute girl audiology tech reprogrammed the hearing aid and did a software upgrade. Made all the difference in the world. It actually works now.

In the PM took the SL900 to Dillon. The Dillon rep at Winter Range told me to take it in to fix the problems that had developed after only 10 years.

Saturday, however, the headache part of the mystery illness was back, and I couldn't go to the Wild Bunch match at Cowtown.

Sunday I was feeling better and went to Cowtown. Shot FC. One miss. Second to Catlow who had 2 misses but beat me by 4 seconds.

This month's wallpaper:

I am told some people can't get the wallpaper to show on their computers, so I'll put a copy here. This is 2012 National CG Champion Hey You, the photo taken a few years back at "Defend Old Fort Parker"