Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rassin' Crassin' Frackin' Election Results

The day after the day after (election 2012)...

Moving beyond the stages of grief and begun to pondering the likely effects and trends that will follow (and what actions to take vis a vis investment, personal planning etc).

One area is the cost of energy. Based on this adminstration's attitude and regulation/restrictions on energy in their first term, I'm betting they stay with the war on energy exploration, development and distribution/pipelines.

There are questions then that follow in my mind.
Who hurts?
Who benefits?
How do I join in those benefits and minimize the personal hurt?

Vehicle fuel expense is my biggest energy cost. Living in SoCal that's a  tough nut to crack.  Vehicle fuel is the first order effect if energy costs rise further. We drive _a lot_. Even when we cut back our driving like during the 2008 fuel price spike, we drive _a lot_.  

A distant second but persistent sore spot is our utility expenses.  Maybe it's time to get on the PV (Photo voltaic, aka solar power) bandwagon for our house. The breakeven numbers are getting pretty close for that. I'm reluctant to dip that deep into the savings. OTOH, there are some financing/lease options now that reduce up front costs. That would at least decouple us from being at the mercy of SDGE (aka San Diego Graft and Extortion).

On the investment side: Big companies tend to benefit over little companies with increased regulation (that translates to staying the course with my big company dividend/MLP stocks). The green war on coal makes me wary of my one big coal stock and one big utility stock that is major coal user. This qtr looks like my coal producer is making it up in exports to fuel energy offshore. I'll stand pat for now but watch those closely -- I'm in them primarily for the security and growth of their dividends so as long as their ability to cover divi's is good I can relax a bit on that.

I'm very concerned that the election will hurt our current natural gas boom. That's been one of the few really bright spots for jobs. Will this admin choke it by regulation on fracking?
Here's a good primer on fracking:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Depression era parents?

 Oh yeahhhhhh. Thrift may have been (almost) a higher virtue than even Christian charity in our home.

Mom and Dad were born in '22 and '25 respectively. If you grew up as the child of one of these Greatest Generation, I'll bet we have a lot of stories, sayings and experiences in common.

Boxes of scrap string and paper.
Drawers of fabric remnants.  Drawers of fabric scraps to small to fold but rolled and tied.

Cookie tins full of shoe strings.
Cookie tins full of buttons.
Cookie tins full of zippers.
All salvaged from clothing that was too worn for the Salvation Army.

Socks with patches on patches on patches. Socks patched until they couldn't be patched no more.

School pants with knee patches ironed on.
School pants with reinforced panels sew in.
School pants with both knee patches ironed, sew in  over reinforced panels sew in.
 (mom was a terrific seamstress and made even pant patches look really nice).

Sweaters and vests knitted by Gramma for Xmas gifts.
Sweaters and vests sent back to G'ma when they got snagged or became too small. G'ma would pull them out to the flaw and reknit completely instead of doing a spot repair. If they were too small she'd pull the knitting out completely and reknit to larger size.
"Penny wise, Pound saved."
"A penny saved is a penny earned."
"Waste not want not."
"A stitch in time saves nine."
"Clean your plate there's kids starving in China."
"Be a good steward, it's the Lord's money."

....and when in the rare event Mom was finally done with some leftovers and it was time to toss them,
"Feed it to the starvin' Armenians!"
Add to those the words of wisdom passed down later in life as our earning/saving years commenced:

"Work as hard spending your money as you do earning it"
"Pay yourself first" -- after you give "first fruits" to the Lord because...
"You can't outgive God."

Looking back, it's easy to see where those values grew from.
Dad was born in a farm house in Iowa.

They lived on what they grew on the farm
+ $2-3/week from surplus eggs and dairy sold in town
 + barter from the sorghum mill
+ barter from Grandpa's horsetraining.
Grandpa had something of an alliance with his brother, blacksmith Uncle Charlie, on the next farm up. Between the two of them they had a turnkey service going -- take care of your horse, shoeing, wagon wheels and such.

Mom immigrated from Scotland at age 5 (1927) aboard SS Leviathan.

The Scots in America. /heh/   Oh boy...

You've heard of the Grand Canyon? One day a wandering Scotsman dropped a ha' penny in a gopher hole.... Yeah, well...   The rest is history.

G'ma Euphemia McLean was widowed a couple years later leaving her with 4 kids and her 2 elderly parents to provide for in Newton, MA. She made do first as a wash lady and seamstress. The kids hauled and delivered laundry after school. Later she got a position as maid in a well off Boston MD's home that she held till retiring -- but she never stopped taking in sewing work.

You know...
I might just have to get daughter #1 a sewing machine for Christmas. Recently she's shown evidence of the McLean sewing gene surfacing... 

Friday, May 18, 2012

(A final bit of) May Melancholia

One more word on the subject of Mothers and Mother's Days past.

(and one more epiphylum pic -- humor me folks, will ya? :-) )

This came from my sister later in the week, I thought it apropos of my last post and include it below with her permission.

Good Morning,
I just wanted to say "Happy Mother's Day" to you. The sun is shining and my new geraniums are hanging in it. Sweet morning.
My oldest daughter and her husband came over with the hanging baskets and supper last night. We had a wonderful time relaxing. My son in law just finished his practicum in teaching on Friday. We played trivial pursuit.(who plays that anymore?) Charisma and I went through some books for her class room. That was fun.
I woke up thinking about my mother.
I remember her coming to my capping ceremony and then several weeks later dying from lymphoma. I'm so glad she was my mom.
I remember her hugs as I want out the door running to catch the school bus.
I remember coming home after riding ponies at the neighbours and hitting our ravine I could smell wonderful aromas from our kitchen. She made the best hamburger gravy on mashed potatoes.
I remember "everything has its place and everything in its place". (Not that I do it...I just remember the saying....sometimes it is handy not having your mom around cause you don't make her sad when things are messy ).
I remember her sitting in the furnace room with me at Denali Bible Chapel trying to teach me my Bible memory verse I'd forgotten already. (I'm sure she would have rather been drinking tea with her adopted Alaska in those days...friends were your relatives).
I remember the coins she'd tied up for me in a white hankie that were to go in the Sunday school offering.(I could never get the knot out).
I remember that one year all 4 of us wore lavender dresses from Sears Catalog on Easter.
I remember being sent to the bathroom to think about the bad thing I'd just done and await the spanking(she never saved them for Dad to give). I'd kneel next to the tub and pray, "Oh, God, I'll never do it again if you make Mom forget I'm here." She was so busy serving us all. Thanks Mom for a happy childhood.

I was twenty the April Mom died. Then right away up to the plate stepped women who have been so kind and helpful to me on this journey.

All this to say, Happy Mother's Day,


"Of all the roads both east and west the one that leads to home is best." My mom cross stitched this saying when she was father framed it and I dusted the frame for many years. Now I just love the saying.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May days

This time of year, I see old childhood friends in Western Washington on Facebook posting their great amaze and delight at seeing a great orange ball in the sky.
Q: What do you do in Seattle during summer?
A: If it falls on a Sunday we have a picnic.

Growing up, I loved this time of year in Western WA. There was the anticipation of a final school bell and the start of summer vacation. Gardens were busting out. Long twilight was upon us. Pleasant evenings might be spent on Grandma Moore's patio in the gloamin. Listening in on adult conversations, surrounded by Grandma's gardens. Hanging baskets of fuschias attended by humming birds. Hoping for the offer of one of her tasty treats. Perhaps, best of all, one of last season's epic kosher dill pickles.

The vegetable garden was finally coming to life after April planting. It was a hopeful time for that 50' x 100' plot of beans, corn, squash, pumpkins and salad fixings. The reality of summer's weeds and tending it in summer's dry heat were yet to come.

May was a time of unpressured, unhurried family fellowship. The end of May and beginning of June would see older brothers and sisters heading off to summer camp or hurrying about town working summer jobs. Later in life, the end of May signaled graduations and my heroes leaving me behind for adventures in missions, college, world travel and grown up life.

In retrospect I suppose I think of May as the "last good time" together.  One June finally,  the youngest of we six kids would find himself  alone at home: mowing that enormous daisy patch we called a yard on his own; wishing for his big brothers and sisters; wondering about their lives over the horizon.  Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Saudi Arabia, Laos. Viet Nam, Thailand...

Finally, after some years the wishing waned and the understanding would grew that things change -- and stay changed never to return.

It was April 30 1976 that Momma died. That May we were, really, together as a family. We celebrated that Mother's Day with special purpose, intensity and appreciation.  That May was a time of loss but it was also a time together again. Really. Together.

And so I, the youngest, grew up to have my own adventures, my own lawn (and gophers) and to be "the one who left" to live in another state far removed from brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. 

20 years later, April 30 1996 our youngest was born. Poetic that. 20 years to the day. God's gracious provision and completion of us.  This new family? We were finally all together that May of 1996.

...and so now this generation of brother and sisters comes to what may be that last May in their lives when our little family are all, really, together.

It's a funny thing...  How you get used to seeing that orange light (almost) daily) here in SoCal.

The first few months or years it's almost annoying in it's persistance. I felt sometimes like saying "Go away sun! Take a day off. My eyes and my head need a break. I'm over stimulated by so much light. "
Then one day you realize you don't have any long pants anymore; that you have more flip flops than closed toe shoes, that there'll be no going home to Western Washington for you.

'No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.'  Heraclitus

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Mojo

File under heading of "Doing Monday's right"

Monday morning... back at the desk, burning down the e-mail pile, flailing a spreadsheet, and taking care of incoming customers questions. Tunes on the headset.

Yeah, definitely "Got my Mojo Working" . Mos' deb' knittly.

Friday, March 30, 2012


Laughing here... and crying.

h/t Mostly Cajun

Mega Million Mania!!!

The Wall Street Journal chimes in...

Is Mega Millions’ $640 Million Jackpot a Good Bet?
The money quote:

" .... plots the expected value of a ticket against the size of the jackpot, and finds that it looks more or less like a bell-curve. That is, up to a certain point, higher jackpots mean higher expected payouts. But after a certain point, the risk of multiple winners overwhelms the higher jackpots, and the expected payout goes down."

Got that?


Bell curves and all that stuff still a confusing thing for you?

Still refer to your Statistics course as "Sadistics?"

No worries gentle reader. Let me spell it out for you as tenderly as I do for my children.

The lottery is a tax on people who are bad a math.

Hah! Bet you thought that was the punchline. The end of the post! Nazzo fast Guido!!!

It may amuse and encourage you to know that the writer of that article is bad at math too.

quoth an VP/scientist at work in an email exchange on this article:
The statement above is wrong. The distribution is TWO DIMENSIONAL. To do the calculation, you have to separate "old money" from "new money". Old money (tickets bought in a prior drawing) will never win, so that money increases the jackpot but doesn't decrease your probability of winning THIS DRAWING. New money, on the other hand, does both. The best possible situation occurs when there is LOTS OF OLD MONEY and VERY LITTLE NEW MONEY. Unfortunately, greed being what it is, this situation never occurs in the real world. When the old money is high, people go nuts and drive the new money very high.

The lottery. It's not rigged. Neither is Vegas. ;^)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cats and Dogs Living Together!!!

Dismissal of gun-rights suit upheld by 5th U.S. Circuit...

In her dissenting opinion, however, Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod said she disagrees with the majority's conclusion that the Second Amendment doesn't protect an individual's right to a specific firearm unless the government has prevented that person from acquiring others.

Elrod argued the majority impermissibly treated the Second Amendment as a "second-class right" by carving out an exception.

"It is particularly unfortunate for our circuit to endorse the atextual, ahistorical rule that the Second Amendment does not protect particular firearms," she wrote.

Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, praised Elrod's dissent and said the group would weigh its options, including asking the entire 5th Circuit to review the case.

"Sure, (Houston) could go buy another firearm, but he shouldn't have to because he already owns one," Esman said.

NRA and ACLU taking the same side of a case?

What forces have unleashed that unholy alliance?!!!

Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes...
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
... Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Current events

Current news. Errr, news currents, errrrr current events, errr News about Currents.... Japanese currents...

Nevermind. Call the pun police.

'Ghost ship' off Canada heralds arrival of tsunami debris

An empty Japanese fishing boat drifting off the coast of western Canada could be the first wave of 1.5 million tons of debris heading toward North America from Japan's tsunami last March. The wreckage from flattened Japanese coastal towns - including refrigerators, washing machines, televisions, roo.....

Borderline Nuke Power?

Ok, ok... I admit that subject line is deserving of severe "pun"ishment.

What's that you say? There are problems permitting pipelines and nuke power in the US?

No problem -- more energy from Canada is on the way...

Howz a nuclear border fence sound to ya? Just line 'em up east to west along the 49th Parallel.

What are odds that the State Dept will insert itself in cross border grid issues and impede power flow to south?

Maybe Mexico should jump on this distortion in the market (due to US energy permitting/approval problems). Now that would be an interesting maquiladora industry (only half joking)...

New Brunswick

In 2007, the New Brunswick provincial government requested a feasibility study on building a second reactor at the Point Lepreau site. The 2008 study was conducted by the Team Candu consortium of AECL, GE Canada, Hitachi Canada, Babcock & Wilcox Canada and SNC-Lavalin Nuclear. (Team Candu was set up in 2006 to offer fixed price plants on a turnkey basis, and originally the 1085 MWe ACR-1000 was the intended technology, which would have been the first ACR-1000 plant in Canada.) In mid-2010, Areva signed a letter of intent with the government regarding it financing and building a merchant plant using Atmea (1100 MWe PWR) or Kerena (formerly the SWR-1000, a 1250 MWe BWR) technology. While government-owned NB Power would be licensee and operator, the plant would most likely be privately owned and financed rather than publicly financed from government debt. About half of the output is likely to go to the northeastern USA. There is over 1300 MW interconnection to New England, and in 2007 it imported 12 TWh from New Brunswick.

Proposals have also been made for a third reactor in New Brunswick, mainly for the purpose of exporting power to New England.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Would'ja if ya could?

musing on another up stock market day for my employers stock (this after a nice steady run up over the past few months)...

Getting to that age when people start asking, "So when you plan to retire?" Hey! I'm not that old! Sure I'm the north side of 50. Err, 50-something. What's this fascination with retirement? What's with this expectation of early retirement?

At least people aren't asking anymore about what I fouled up in the wild run up in price prior to Y2K. /heh/

People would say after that monster stock run up, "Oh you work at XYZ company since 1991? Wow...."

Then the bright ones would pause and as the realization hit them, I was:
a) still working and
b) had stalled in Engineering position and not been made a VP or director.
That unspoken thought would flash across their faces. One or two actually did say something to the effect, "What did you do wrong? You should either be retired or a VP by now."

Meh. Retirement looks overrated to me anyway. I have a bunch of friends who had better financial sense/timing who were able to retire early.
Early. Like 40's early. Comfortably.

On balance -- 10 years later? Not uniformly the happiest bunch. Sure some seem content. However, several (most?) are back to working at something regular just for to keep themselves sane.

Me? I reckon I'll retire the day they throw dirt in my face. Yeah, back in '99 and 2000 with the stock market rising and the possibility of retiring around 50 it looked pretty good. Not so much anymore. Work is good for the soul.

It's academic now anyway. Like many boomers, working into traditional retirement years might be my only choice.

In anycase, I think I'd like to stay in the saddle as long as physically possible. Perhaps I'll change focus to have more people/relationship/helps type work. Heh, who am I kidding? I'd likely have to change fields anyway if I get cut loose from this job. Most of the need for my industry specific knowledge has relocated to Asia.

It's days like this in the market for my company stockplan and my401K that I think. "Hmmmm... A couple more days like this -- maybe I'll take a week off before the funeral."

Ya know, just for GP.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pucker up...

Passion fruit. Piles of passion fruit. Falling off the vine around our pool area. They usually just get in the way until we get around to collecting them for the trash

I collected a couple handfuls today and decided to try putting them to use.

For now I just gutted them and stored the sweet stuff in the fridge...

What do YOU do with passion fruit?

Saturday Short Term Thinking Rant

On the subject of ROE (return on equity)*...

*Stirred up thoughts as a result of my wanderings on some investment forums.

I've seen how public company employers and suppliers of mine have pushed ROE up in the interest of impressing Mr Market in their quarterly report.

It's often done at the long term expense of the company's competitive position. e.g. Manufacturing sector slows = idle plant capital equipment = unload capital equipment/capacity = increased ROE.

Then comes the market upswing... Duh-ohh.

During the slow down it was "damn the torpedos" and "nevermind the business sense of our short term action." "Sell that excess capacity!"

Nevermind the obvious industry or technology cycle. Nevermind your offshore competitors have anticipated the obvious and built idle capacity to cover the next 3 year up cycle.

Yup, you guessed it. Sure as spring, along comes the ramp up in demand and it's all a****les and elbows to make big new cap-ex plans and ramp up/debug "new" expanded capacity. It's "all forward full" and justify that recapitialization with a 3-6 month ROE payback to show Mr. Market what good little MBA's you are.

Nevermind being late to the new demand curve.
Nevermind missing the opportunity to get a pricing premium for having the standby capacity available early in the up cycle.

Huh? What'ch you talkin' 'bout Willis?
Ok, let's back up and fill in a bit of color...
When your customer pulls in orders early to meet their early demand the supplier can negotiate some nice spikes. There's a brief window of opportunity where your customer will take product "at any cost." Well, not at ANY cost but you get the idea...

There's also the special position opportunity movers are in to capture the followon business for the duration of the cycle.

OTOH, by coming late to the party the ROE-geniuses we talked about first have to price their product even lower still. They have to find a way to take away the demand captured by the early movers (who had kept capacity).
/rant off/

Perhaps ROE a more useful (or safe) number for an actual owner/operator to rely on. The private industrialists** I've known have freedom to look at ROE with some intellectual integrity as a consistently, internally, calculated benchmark. However, my impression is the private industrial types tend be much more interested in ROIC and FCF (Return on Invested Capital and Free Cash Flow).

**I see some parallels with the way Warren Buffet looks at cash generating companies.

fwiw, This is my impression of some large Asian offshore publicly companies I work with too. They may be pubilically traded but don't have the manic market visibility/reporting pressure on them for each qtr. Often they started as family businesses and still retain much of that investment culture that looks forward to positioning the enterprise for subsequent generations. They tend to be held by smaller groups with longer view of business more akin to private owners.

It's the difference, perhaps, between leadership and management by spreadsheet. Some of this stuff doesn't fit neatly into spreadsheet cells.

Things like Leadership, vision and intuition born of experience (or birth as a freak of nature business genius a la Jobs, Buffet) are hard to reduce to qty that factors into a spreadsheet.

Or maybe I'm just a grumpy over-the-hill... ;^)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Not as bad as you think (?)

Maybe. Maybe not.

I recently read "Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization" by Lars Brownworth.

Without writing a review I'll just say it was time well spent. Short, sweet, readable. I'll be passing it along to my college/military children as recommended reading. Hopefully it will displace some small portion of the tripe and fractured fairytales being taught as fact in our institutions of "higher" learning.

Oops, did my right wing just pop out there? Pardon me whilst I tuck that back in... Happens a lot in an election year.

Did'ja know the Roman Empire lived on a 1000 years after the city of Rome fell? While we think of that era as the Byzantine Empire that is a fairly recent appellation. They thought of themselves as Roman and their empire as the Roman Empire right up to the fall of Constantinople in the 1400's.

Somehow this American Legion online article connected to that in my jumbled mind.

The Myth of America's Decline

A lesson from Byzantium, err... Roman Empire -- and Yogi Berra. It ain't over til it's over.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Warrior, Poet, Gentleman

Last week saw the untimely passing of one Captain Carroll LeFon, USN Ret. aka Neptunus Lex blogger extraordinaire.

Lex was a gentleman. I was raised by one and was reminded of much of my upbringing by Capt LeFon's example. He was the same age as I and classmates with my childhood math cram buddy. Yet Lex outstripped me in many measures of maturity. I took a "lower slower" career route through vo-tech to an A&P, then enlisted service and later, finally, completing a B.S. while finishing active duty. Those things ...toughened me in ways I am thankful for but also roughened me making me unsuitable for some roles and places. Something of my upbringing was put to the rear.

Capt LeFon's temperate example online was a bit of "iron sharpening iron" on me and a reproof by example for which I am grateful. I am better for knowing him from a distance. Titus 2:6 says to the effect "older men teach younger men to be temperate." In this case not older but more mature passed on the lesson.

Something written by a graduate of Canoe U from an earlier era comes to mind...

"Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide the lubrication where people rub together. Often the very young, the untraveled, the naive, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as "empty," "meaningless," or "dishonest," and scorn to use them. No matter how "pure" their motives, they thereby throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best." -- Robert Heinlein --

Lex was a man of faith. In keeping with his gentlemanly ways he was not overtly evangelistic. Rather he was a man of quiet faith. The sort whose way of life could cause the unbeliever to ask him to "give account of the hope that is within" (I Peter 3:15,16).

So to a brother in arms and a brother in faith I say no goodbye but rather, "Til then."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I see dead people

John Lott's Website: A reason to worry about vote fraud:#links#links

‎1 in 8?


15 percent of voter registrations are bogus?!!!

Why has integrity of voter registrations become a right vs left issue? Isn't the integrity of the ballit box something we should be unified in pursuing? Isn't that at the very core of our representative democracy?

Isn't this a core value for us all? A unifying principle in our e pluribus unum? Or does the wnd justify the means because our cause just or my suffered some injustice so its only fair to get back by any means necessary?

Should maintaining the integrity of the ballot box be a core value for us all? Isn't "one man one vote" a unifying principle in our e pluribus unum? Or does the end justify the means because "My cause is just" or "My suffered past injustice?" So that makes it only fair to get back by any means necessary? Seriously? What is this? Chicago?

Should maintaining the integrity of the ballot box be a core value for us all? If it is not -- can we survive as a representative democracy?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sales Conspiracy (MEC 650 adjustments)

Just now finished dialing in my 12 ga MEC650 adjustments to run the newer 2-piece AA hulls glitch free. I must have spent 5 or 6 months of futzing with it -- just for a few minutes every few weeks. It's not like I made a concerted effort of it. I just tinkered when I was in the mood and had some time.

Anyhoo, what a bunch of back and forth it requires (at least for me -- and others judging by internet threads)! I suspect it's part of a master plan by MEC to sell more reloading presses. They price 'em cheap enough compared to higher end Posness, Hornady, Dillon et al that you just add multiple machines instead of risking messing with your settings.

When I bought this one used ~6 years ago, it must have been set up for old style AA hulls. It would run the new AA hulls -- mostly.

This is a cutaway view of the old one piece hulls (may they rest in peace).
I just lived with the occasional bulged/wrinkled hull and cheated reshaping some of them in my supersizer (yeah I know, I know -- that's supposed to be a no no). After about 1500 loads that way I finally got fed up and got to reading up on it.

The wads don't sit down in the new 2 piece hulls like the old hulls. They need pressed into that tapered interior cup. Otherwise they don't set at the right depth down on top of the powder column.

Oy. It's a bit of an art form adjusting these -- or at least a secret decoder ring operation. There's a bit of back and forth from one station to another trading off adjustments. I see why so many guys set up for one hull and then leave it. Alone. Forever.
It can be a bit of a mess getting it figured out the first time.

I think I've got it mostly down now and could make a change over reasonably quick if I did it in the next couple weeks. A couple months from now? Yeah, prolly not. I'd almost certainly be mis-remembering stuff and have lost the knack.

The manual only seems to give you about 80% of the recipe. I did a lot of reading on the intrawebz and tried to glean the wisdom from the chaff.
I don't know if this is the right sequence or not but here's generally what I did. There was a bit of back and forth to get to this point.
Ya gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet. Quite a few if you're a bit clueless still on the learning curve.

First off I adjusted the wad pressure to set the wad down in the interior cup in the 2 piece hull. I went to 40 lb's recommended on line but finally backed off to 30 lbs because I was getting a wee crease showing on the hull.

Second I adjusted the crimp starter to leave an opening just a wee bit smaller than a pencil diameter. Mine is the old school style which is adjusted up or down by changing internal shim washers. I ended up working with pennies and dimes. I may go ahead and get the adjustable plastic starter at some point. It has a reversible insert or something for fast change from 6 pt to 8 pt. For now the old school metal 8-pt starter is fine.

Third I adjusted the crimp finishing station to set the crimp depth to match a factory load. I mreasured the depth from the crimp limp down to the fold on a 4 or 5 to get an average depth to set to. I was getting a nice star without any spiral but did have a bit more opening at the center than I liked. I left it for the moment.

4th I raised the final (taper) die a bit. It was set a bit low and was causing the hull to buckle on some shells. This was the main defect that finally got me to try adjusting the press.

5th I went back and experimented with the crimp starter again to try closing down the hole in the crimp center. This is where it got a bit futsy and (I'm sure) my inexperience got in the way. Swapping in different washers/coins, I choked the starter down but that wasn't the answer. I opened it up but that wasn't the answer. I set it back to where it had been leaving just about a #7 1/2 size hole.

Up to this point I had left the mysterious cam on the crimp finishing die linkage alone.
It was near one stop already so I set it to that stop and cycled 4-5 shells through. Nope. Ugly crimps. And so it went for several cycles of tweaking. Change the crimp starter opening, Move the cam. Stare at undesirable result. Then try again. I've got quite a few loads needing me to drip wax on crimp holes before boxing.
I wound up with the crimp starter leaving an opening just smaller than a pencil diameter and the cam back about 30% of it's adjust from one stop.
The trick was finding the right combo of crimp starter depth and cam position that finishes them just about perfect.


Good thing I don't do this for a living. /heh/

Yeah, still cheaper than therapy.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Those that have -- and those that will

My General course instructor in A&P (Airframe and Powerplant0 school was Col Johnny Rush (USAF Ret). He'd flown the glorious C-124 Globemaster.

He was the very soul of southern wit and wisdom. On the subject of retractable gear aircraft I recall him saying in his good ol' boy drawl

"There are those that have and those that will -- belly land that is."

Prophetic words at Bagram
Ouch! That's gotta hurt.

Thankfully another favorite Johnny Rush aphorism didn't come into play in this case.

"Smoke curls to the left -- in the Northern Hemisphere."

Friday, January 27, 2012

Projects, we got projects...

...posting to the blog? Not so much.

Picking away at a rifle vise in between things. Lucky if I get 15 minutes a week on it. Out of sight out of mind. Tired of working on longguns laying on a bench top. I'm hoping this will make a more orderly and secure setup: especially for mounting scopes. Yeah, there's a few of those in the project queue to mount/move. I'm putting off starting that scope dance till this wood project is finished. It's ready to drill and mount the over center clamp for the buttstock.

Outside? Yeah, this wall has been a long time in the making. Poured the footing over a year ago. Finally got it formed and poured. It didn't go as well as planned.

What that you say? Home DIY construction foul-ups? Yeah, I'll fess up. Worst ever. Pipe burst inside form. Flooded and blew out form. Down the line my forms buckled and bulged some and I lost my straight form line. Oh the shame of bad prep work cast in concrete for future generations to see and sneer. Unggghhh... There were some exciting minutes there doing damage control.
Yeah, yeah, I know. Never time to do it right. Always time to do it over.

That'll be enough outta you.