November 2014 Journal


October 15-31, 2014

Things got a tad busy. I had to finish the Outlaw Trail article for the CC, and there was Bordertown, followed immediately by an insane dash to English, Texas for Comin' At 'Cha. I'm not even going to try to catch up. I'll just post some of the photos and move on.

Never Piss Off A Redhead

This is here because it shows John Wayne wearing part of a US Army officer's uniform during the Indian Wars. He has on the shirt, normally worn under the field coat. Suspenders are visible. Lt. Col. shoulder boards are on his shirt. This was contrary to regulations, but it did happen out west. It happens at SASS matches, too. Anyway, The Duke did it.


Lawless Lil and Amber Ale at a local at Tombstone Livery

Never let it be said that the local matches were practice for Bordertown

Hugo Bear and Dusty Diamopnd Lady


Hugo Bear shot 2 ROAs that started as adjustable sight models. The rear of the frame was welded up and cut. The front sight was removed and a sight welded on.


Installation of a new microwave/convection oven by RV City in Husvhuca City. They replaced the 9 year old unit that had gone Tango Uniform and the main board in the refrigerator, which had burned on the electric side, allowing only propane use. And they repaired the ice maker, which took several trips. They worked well with Good Sam to get everything on one ticket so we only had one deductible. Good Sam would not pay for a new oven, just $472, their version of what it would cost to send the old unit off to I don't know where to get it fixed. There are no parts, of course. The replacement from GE would have been $3000. The Whirlpool installed was $900+. We were out $900+ for everything.

The new convection oven at work

Mad Dog, SASS 69 works as a greeter outside Big Nose Kates

Wild Horse John using historically correct 1885 smartphone on Allen Street in Tombstone

Wild Horse John


RO! Class Wednesday. Blackjack Zak brought his PowerPoint Presentation. Instructors were T A Chance, Dirty Bob, and me, under Zak and Lassiter's supervision.

Lightning Buck

Hmm, which rifle is mine? Bob Mernickle has lever wraps in wild colors to go with his buttstock covers. He didn't bring enough to the match.

Flying W Ramrod

Larsen E. Pettifogger, winning Senior Duelist handily.

Queen of Bling

Dr. George and Nurse Bobbie

Awards went 10 deep.

Comin' At 'Cha

Sunday afternoon we packed for a mad dash across Texas

Plenty of room

Oh Dark 30

1100 miles later, Badlands Bar 3


Cowtown Scout shooting Plainsman. The rifle targets were appropriately placed for a long range match. We were told to bring light loads in order to not damage the targets. At least one contestant brough 20 gr. .45-70 loads with 147 gr round balls. He was not a happy camper

Medieval Feast--we were told to wear Medieval costumes. We're Brothers of the Holy Right Cross. I work in the kitchen making potato chips. I'm the Chip Monk.

John is a Friar from France. He's the French Friar

John let his hair down. End Day 1 of Comin' At 'Cha

October 12-14, 2014

I received this from Escapees RV Club. I'm passing it on for the benefit of other RVers going through Arizona:


Diesel Fueling in Arizona
Message from Jim Koca, Advocacy Director

Arizona fuel-tax rates are different from what we may be used to while traveling throughout the United States. This fuel law has been on the books for several years. The law states:

The Arizona tax on gasoline (motor vehicle fuel) is 18 cents per gallon. Use fuel (diesel) is taxed at two rates in Arizona.

-If the use fuel is used in the propulsion of a use class motor vehicle on a highway in this state, the tax rate is 26 cents for each gallon.

-A "use class motor vehicle" means a motor vehicle that uses use fuel on a highway in this state and that is a road tractor, truck tractor, truck or passenger carrying vehicle having a declared gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds or having more than two axles.

I talked to the Revenue & Fuel Tax Administration Fuel Tax Manager in Phoenix, Az, and asked for the definition of the "passenger carrying vehicle" and he stated that would include a motor home. What this means is those who have a vehicle that has three or more axles or a declared gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001+ lbs are required to use the truck lanes and pay the higher fuel tax. The regular diesel tax is 18 cents. Filling the RV at the regular pumps will subject you to a citation with a steep fine. Arizona has a Fuel Tax Evasion Unit that monitors the filling of vehicles at fuel stations.

Escapees feel that this information should be sent out to all of the members that travel through Arizona.


October 11, 2014, Saturday

Another match at the Tombstone Livery. Good practice for shooting in the dead calm of morning there. The cross-light is such that the smoke is a bitch. The first 2 stages had targets at normal distances, not "Bordertown distances." So it was really a bitch. Good posse, good stages. As you can tell by my warm smile, I had a lot of fun. No, really, I'm smiling.


Two Frontiersmen, Rafe Conagher and me. We both shot clean. Rafe had a few problems with his pistols and knocking shotguns down. So I won by 5 seconds or so. The shotgun targets were a bitch, hard to knock down, small, and they only fell to 60° or so, so I couldn't tell up from down. I missed one, and timer operator Gilley Boy told me to shoot #4 again. So I shot #4. But he was counting the front-to-rear bank from front-to-rear. We shot it rear to front, so we were talking about different targets. He offered me a re shoot, and I took it--clean, 9 seconds faster.

October 10, 2014, Friday

We hadn't made it to Tombstone to walk around and/or have lunch. We had planned to earlier during the week but had to stay around in case the RV repairmen showed up unexpectedly, as they did the first time. Friday was not the day to go. When we left the unusually packed parking lot near the Birdcage, we were behind a large motorcycle club, all in leather, etc. I think it was Hell's Accountants. The line at Big Nose Kate's was out the door, so we went to the Crystal Palace, then back to Big Nose Kate's. We were directed to a large table full of plates from the last patrons. The noise level, with my VA hearing aids (mistake) was similar to being in the middle of an artillery barrage and The View simultaneously. Never seeing a waitperson, we went back to the Crystal Palace. After 15 minutes we were seated at the bar. Lunch took 2 hours from first entering the CP. The food was good, but they were overwhelmed in all departments. We decided to come back to Tombstone during mid-week, though, with Helldorado Days next weekend, I don't even know if that will work.


Throw Back Thursday (okay, close) Jeep

Okay, it's a little late for Throw Back Thursday, and this vehicle, an M151A1, was made by Ford. It replaced the M38 Jeep. I had a few "Jeeps" in Vietnam.

This is not the "Jeep" in "Common Valor" that was "acquired" on the black market for 2 Ration Supplement packs (mostly cigarettes.) That, of course was fiction... I can neither confirm nor deny acquisition of a M151A1 from the black market.

Useless trivia about M151s in Vietnam. They had mil-spec fuel filler caps, meaning much wider than what we use. A grenade would go right in. The VC wrapped the spoon in rubber bands, pulled the pin, and dropped them in. Then the gasoline would melt the rubber bands, and the spoon would open. Thus when we got there flanges were welded on, and padlocks were installed on all of the vehicles, Most also had a piece of angle iron on the bumper that was windshield high with a cutting notch in it so that if you drove into a booby trap consisting of a wire strung across the road at head height, it would protect you. Keeping the windshield up worked, too.


Advisory Teams were issued M151s, and somewhere along the way I wound up with a couple of Jeep CJ's, which is what we gave to ARVN units. It was rougher riding that the M151, but less likely to roll over at a whim. They had 12 V electrical systems instead of 24 V military systems.

No photos of the CJ's. One threw a rod near the Cambodian border. (Think about that if you break down in a bad neighborhood.) I had complained of a knocking sound to ARVN maintenance, and they cleaned the spark plugs and told me it was cured. It wasn't. The next one survived, at least until I left. I could sleep in either vehicle and still monitor a PRC 25 FM radio.

Once, as part of an "Experiment," my recon company was given a bunch of M151s with M-60 Machine guns on pintle mounts. Some colonel had watched too many episodes of "Rat Patrol." Fortunately we never found any enemy, considering how vulnerable the crew would be with a machine gun on top of a Jeep with enough armor to stop a large mosquito, but not any NVA weapons.

Yes, there is a Dr. Pepper can on the M151A1 in all of the photos. No, I don't know why.


October 9, 2014, Thursday

The manager at RV City called to report on his efforts with Good Sam, etc. The board for the refrigerator is on the way. Good Sam has authorized that. For the microwave they will authorize repair, or they will pay half the price of a new one. It's 9 years old, so that's not too unreasonable. Anyway, we authorized him to order a replacement.

Last night we saw "A Million Ways to Die in the West" on DirecTV. It took a while. A storm came through and shut down the dish, so we recorded a later showing. As a parody of westerns it's better than Rango.

Might I respectfully suggest Fox News change fonts?

Yes, it's October, and a black cat is sitting ominously in our windshield

Got a package from Brownells. Note the size of the box.

Yes, that big box for one Marble's front sight!

This letter came with my absentee ballot.

October 8, 2014, Wednesday

The repairman came and found a burned out board on the refrigerator and recommended replacing the entire microwave/convection oven because repairing it requires sending it to a specialist, assuming any parts are available for a 9 year old unit. He can't diagnose the ice-maker until the refrigerator is repaired.

A few days ago David Johnson at D Bar J hat called me upset about an article in the October Chronicle about cowboy hats "Things About Cowboy Hats You Likely Didn't Know." I had suggested he write an article for the Chronicle and got Skinny, the editor, to call him.

Today I received his rebuttal. I asked if I could reprint it here. It is very informative, concise, and well written. That he is an expert on the subject there is no doubt. He said yes and also wanted me to put a link to his video D BAR J HATS AT CHORRO VALLEY SASS SHOOT

Master Hatter, David Johnson, founder of D bar J Hat Company, Las Vegas, has a different view of hatting history

As a hatter for almost 30 years, I felt the need to comment on the article “Things About Cowboy Hats You Likely Didn’t Know” in the October issue of The Chronicle.  Because I am totally self-taught, my early days of hatting required a lot of research, and the dismantling of quality hats to learn my craft.  I feel this article is misleading to anyone who does not know much about how a fur felt hat is made, how the hat bodies are made and what “felt” really is. It also seems to be a big advertisement for Hat Co., maker of Stetson, Resistol, Charlie I Horse and many other labels with little knowledge of the history of the company or its products.

Hat Co has been owned by the ProEquine Group since July 2009.  The corporation’s main emphasis is horse supplies and is headquartered in Illinois.   The hatting industry began in the Northeastern United States in the 1700’s and the Stetson Hat Company was founded in 1865 in Philadelphia, PA with a rather interesting discovery involving a hat.

J.B. Stetson helped his father, who was a hatter, until he became ill with tuberculosis in his youth.  Since not much could be done for TB back then, many people with TB were sent out west for clean air, good food, and relaxation, with the hopes of a recovery.  J.B. Stetson did recover from his ailment, and while recovering he noticed that the cowboys had big floppy hats for protection, that needed to be pinned or tied up, so not to have the brim block their view.

He had a soft dress hat with him that had a 4” brim and 4” crown. Since his family worked in the hat factories back east and he helped some, he knew a little about hat making. So he took the technology of the day on how to stiffen Derbies and Top Hats, and applied that lacquer to his dress hat. He, amazingly, now had a firm brim and firm crown hat which he quickly sold for a $10.00 gold piece. That hat is known now as the “Boss of The Plains” hat.  Since he was well, he returned to Philadelphia and started a fledgling hat company known as the Stetson Hat Company. Because of his innovation, brims and crowns could be wider and taller, which was a big hit with the cowboys.  Although Wikipedia claims that J.B. Stetson invented the cowboy hat, he merely improved upon it.

Other hat companies soon picked up on his discovery, and began making larger hats too.  During this period, The Bailey Hat Co. was very popular with individuals and the general public.  However; the Stetson Co. did not worry about supplying hats to individuals because for decades they had all of the U.S. Military contracts for hats. Under many different labels, J.B. Stetson perfected the felt Mexican Sombrero, which was a major export item for the company, also for many decades. With all of those contracts, they were busy all the time!

These older hats which were made in Philly are fabulous hats.  They were well constructed and are worth repairing and renovating.  With the many changes in ownership, Stetson has had plants in many states along the way and now has the main plant in Texas.  As with many companies who change hands often, the product suffers. Most of the hats they have made in the last 10 years or so, we cannot renovate or repair.  I believe, two of the issues we face are the quality of the hat bodies (mostly made overseas), and the lack of finishing the fur shrinking process with the old-time crown irons as was done in the 1800’s(they are hydraulically pressed out).  Therefore, they do not hold up well through a complete renovation.

What is Felt? It is simply, cleaned and processed fur that is blown on a screen form, with the proper weight(amount) of fur for the type of hat body being made. In the 1800’s, any water rodent, fur bearing animal, was used to make hats of different blends for different qualities of hats.  Animal trappers made their living trading in furs, which were shipped to England where the hats were made. The hats were then shipped back to America at a very high price.  Some enterprising businessmen believed they could do the work in America and avoid the time and cost of shipping to and from England.   They were able to establish businesses, which bought the furs, processed them, and made the many styles of hats for the day.   The hatting business became so big in America, that it was the majority of U.S.A.’s gross national product, and created the first union, which was the hatters union.

Today, no fur processors are located in the USA.  The main processor of furs is in Portugal, and most of the processed fur is brought to the US by Winchester Hat Co., of Winchester TN, to make the fur felt bodies.   Rabbit pelts come from Europe’s food industry where they eat rabbit like we eat chicken. Most of the beaver fur originates in Asia for the fur coat industry. The belly fur section of the pelt is waste in making fur coats, so these parts are used for fur felt.  Many “rejected” whole pelts are used also. Beaver fur is still the best fur felt for a hat because of its fiber length and tensile strength, which equates to durability. Mink and buffalo additions to the felt are just marketing ploys.

Winchester Hat Co. makes the hat bodies from the fur bundles it ships from Portugal.  Most, if not all, of the custom hat makers, and many production hat manufactures in the US, use Winchester hat bodies. For many decades Winchester Hat Co. has been acclaimed to be the finest hat body manufacturer in the world.  Some people will argue this point, but if you get into the hat making business, make a few thousand hats, and rebuild a few thousand more, you will find their claim to fame is true.

Stetson did not invent the X rating system.  It was around long before J.B. Stetson was in the hat business.  Originally the “X” was how much a hat cost. During the potato famine, many Irish immigrated to America and at the same time, many Italians, Jews, and other Europeans also arrived. Since they could not read or understand our language or customs, the x’s denoted the cost of the hat.  A 3x (xxx) hat cost $3.00.    Over 100 years ago, $1.00 was equivalent to more than $100.00 today.   During the Victorian period a common man’s wages were approximately $3.00 to $5.00 a month.  This made felt quite expensive, but everyone needed and wore hats back then.  The Bailey Hat co. was very big in the late 1800’s and most of the 1900’s. Early in their existence, they were noted for trying to create a different rating system not associated with the hat price. The 125 was 25% Beaver, the 150 was 50% Beaver. This was not well accepted by hard working hat wearers, so they went back to the X rating.   As time went on, the X’s went from meaning $1.00 to $10.00.   Eventually it became just a rating system within each individual manufacturer, and similar product quality from different makers had the same rating. Today, it is almost meaningless, unless you specifically know what each rating means within that particular manufacturer.  For example, a pure rabbit fur felt hat from 3 unnamed companies, use 5X, 8X, and 10X.  A 10X hat from the first company that uses the 5X for its rabbit, is a 50-60% beaver blend, which would be better than the 10X rabbit from the third company.  So you must ask what the rating in a particular hat actually means.

“X” ratings, in a straw hat, to me, as a long-time hatter, is a misnomer.  Good straw bodies are hand woven in various places in the world, and are rated by weaves per inch and the material used.  There are Normal, Fino, extra Fino and a few other quality ratings of straw bodies.  These are understood by any custom hatter who uses them and their customers.  In my opinion, the X’s belong to fur felt, not straw.
I don’t know everything there is to know about everything, but I believe my hatting history is rather extensive.  Like many people ask me, “How do you keep all of that stuff in your brain?” ……. I suppose I just love my craft.

October 7, 2014, Tuesday

We went to Sierra Vista and stopped by RV City on the way. We have 3 problems that need expert repair. The refrigerator only works on propane. The ice maker doesn't work, and the convection oven part of the Microwave/Convection oven doesn't work. They should be sending a mobile repairman tomorrow.

October 6, 2014, Monday


October 5, 2014, Sunday

Old Pueblo Shootists Association's match at Tombstone Livery. 2 posses. Great group. Really good stages. Gorgeous weather

6 stages in 197 seconds. I've been shooting "Cowboy Precision" all summer, and now I just can't work the rifle fast enough for these Bordertown stages. I could be faster with the pistols, too. But then I could run faster...

The Redhead took me to birthday dinner at The Depot in Tombstone. It was a good day.

October 4, 2014, Saturday

Made it to Tombstone Territories RV Park. High pucker factor because of yesterday but no problems. Smooth ride.

San Simon Rest Area

San Simon Rest Area

Angelique was beside herself

Lunch break at rest area

Panoramic view of Texas Canyon rest area

October 3, 2014, Friday

Made it to the rest area past Deming and discovered failed bearings on left rear trailer wheel. Called Good Sam. Some hours later we were towed to Jimmy's RV Repair in Deming. They replaced everything on the left side of the axle, breaks bearings, etc. Said it was an "emergency" repair, but we need to replace the rear axle as soon as possible, meaning Phoenix.

Spent the night at A Deming Roadrunner RV Park.

October 2, 2014, Thursday

Went to El Paso to get the Jeep state inspected. Then went to the Apple Store. The Mac book Pro cured itself magically. The Genius ran a few diagnostics on it and pronounced it cured. Then lunch at Le Madeleine.

October 1, 2014, Wednesday

Made it to KOA Las Cruces without incident.