Sep 20, 2015


Well, just barely leatherworking. Not something I've done beyond stamping my name in a bracelet at scout camp twenty-some years ago.

In a previous post I mentioned wanting (needing) to put a strap on the fore end of the new shortie. That choice was affirmed by several of you, including graphic photo evidence. 

I made a stop at Tandy Leather (they've a shop within easy drive of home, no mail order wondering needed!) to pick up a roll of latigo strap and a few basic tools. Lowe's had the t-nuts and cap screws I needed. 

I ordered a replacement fore end from Numrich to try my hand at - and when I test-fit it, it was an eighth of an inch too small. Derp. Instead of trying to source yet another replacement, I screwed up my courage and started working on the original. 

I learned some time ago that using the right tool for a job makes it a lot easier. I pulled out my Forstner bits and chucked one into the drill press, and just kissed the wood enough to inset the t-nuts. A second pass with a twist bit opened the center up to get the t-nut in, and careful application of channel-lock pliers had the nuts well-seated.

I trimmed the edges and rounded the ends of the leather with a sharp knife, then used an edge beveler to clean up the cuts, and spent a few more minutes burnishing the result. With that done, I punched in holes for the cap screws and attached it to the fore-end.

A few dabs of grease in strategic places, and I reassembled the gun...

Final thoughts... the strap is a bit wider than I'd really like. I may take it off and cut it a bit narrower, then re-finish the edges. It's also a rather spacious loop - as in, I could fit my mitt in there with winter gloves on. With luck, it'll fit around MattG's paws next month... but I fully intend to handicap AD with this when we start flinging clays. :-)

Sep 11, 2015

37SBS: Repaired

After the failure to load or eject when I took the 37 to the range the other day, I spent a couple hours on the living room floor with screwdrivers and oil and parts diagrams.

I tore everything apart, carefully cleaned and oiled what few pieces might still have needed it, and then reassembled it with frequent reference to a parts diagram at Numrich's.

No go.

I swore at it a few times, got up, stretched, then tore it back apart and got another 37 out of the safe to compare.

With that in hand, it took about ten seconds to identify the problem. Part number 19 on the diagram, "Shell stop spring, left", was reversed. It's got a ramp on one end and a hook-nub on the other end. It will fit into the slot either direction. If the hook-nub end is forward, it narrows the magazine tube just enough that a 12ga rim won't slide past it.

I took that piece back out, turned it around, and put the ramp end forward. Reassembled... and ran my snap-cap through a couple dozen times with perfect cycling. The action is a little stiff, as I expected to be the case... but all the internals have a fresh coat of CLP and I hope to run it through a lot of rounds next month at Blogorado.

I'm chicken to carve on the original fore-end grip to add the retention strap... so I ordered a new one from Numrich that I won't mind so much if I bugger it up. Meantime, I'll start working on cutting the leather to shape and size...

Sep 7, 2015

37SBS: Initial Review, range report

Headed out to the SekritRange this weekend with an AR I just finished building, the 15-22SBR, the 37SBS, and a couple new plate targets.

The AR? Ran like a top. It's hands-down the softest-shooting AR I've used. 21.5" barrel, heavy components, and a good muzzle brake (Nordic Components Corvette) combined to make a wonderful gun. Light recoil, decent trigger (Velocity 3lb single-stage), just a pleasant gun. I didn't get it REALLY dialed in, but we were dinging the 8" steel plates at 100-some yards with boring regularity.

The SBR ran as beautifully as always, and at 25 yards it was easy to just ding the plates back and forth as fast as the sight lined up.

The plates are 8" AR500 that I ordered from Gong Target Systems via Amazon... and they were great. One tiny ding where a 5.56 round winged the edge in the heat-affected zone, otherwise they are still perfectly smooth after 100 rounds of 5.56, a hundred or so .22s, and a box of .380 ball. (Six inch version here.)

And finally, the Ithaca 37 SBS.

I pulled it out of the case, grabbed a round of 12ga birdshot, and started to load it. Tried to. The shell inserted into the mag tube about 80% and then stopped moving. Using a finger I confirmed the mag follower was moving freely, so I tried a different shell. Same problem.

I finagled a shell past the loading fingers and chambered it, pulled the trigger, and it went bang as expected. I pulled the fore-end back, and ... nothing. Shell was stuck tight. I worked the slide a few times with no luck, then tried removing the barrel and prying out the shell ... still no luck. I set the shotgun aside for the afternoon and went back to the AR.

When I got home I stuck a rod down the barrel and popped the shell right out; when I have a free couple hours I'll tear down the action again and make sure everything is put together right, as well as carefully oiling everything up.

To those who recommended a strap for the handguard - I stopped at the local Tandy Leather and picked up some 1-1/4" latigo strap and the hardware to attach it. Now I just need to grit my teeth and start cutting on the mint fore-end on that 37 ... OR find a donor piece to cut on.

Sep 3, 2015

The Stamp Collection grows...

Four months from submission to approval.

It started as an Ithaca 37, 1956 vintage. I picked it up for a very fair price with plenty of character.

It promptly went off to Wally at York Arms, where the barrel was shortened to 12.5" (originally planned for 14.5, but some technical issues required another couples inches to go away), all the metal was refinished with black oxide, NFA engraving was done, and a XS BigDot tritium bead was put on.

It came home today.

I'm still planning to sand down the wood and give it an oil and satin-poly finish, and I'm debating fabricating a strap for the pump. But that can wait. This weekend, I'm taking it to the range for testing.

Aug 24, 2015

Spiked Watermelon Sorbet

One medium watermelon, puréed and strained (food mill works great), about 8c.  of juice
Zest of one lime
Juice of one lime
Small handful mint leaves
One cup sugar
One cup water
2/3 cup citrus vodka

Simple sugar from the water and sugar plus mint and lime zest. Strain and cool.

Lime juice and vodka into melon juice. 

Add syrup to taste (about 1/2c is probably plenty) and chill 2-3 hours. 

Into the ice cream maker, let it freeze, and then portion into smaller cups and into the freezer to firm up completely. 

Makes about eight generous portions.