Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tonka Mighty Dump Truck

As I was walking through the local Wal-Mart a while back (or walmarts as it's referred to locally) I saw a familiar yellow shape on a kiosk in the big center aisle next to toys. "Wow", I said to myself, "they're still making Tonka big yellow dump trucks." Alas, the next thing I said was "Oh hell no!" Yep, I actually said that, Oh. Hell. No. Why my dismay, you might ask? It was made of plastic. The whole thing, not just the wheels and headlights. Ugh. That's on par with a fat-free snickers's just wrong. It's like making a gun out of plastic. (Oh, sorry Glock.) Tonkas are tin and steel and last forever, or should be and should.

My disgust at the situation, reminded me of the countless hours I spent with my Tonkas as a kid and I remembered that they survived dozens of nieces and nephews and were shoved in the shed at the old home place. I made a point of picking up my Mighty Dump Truck the next time I was over there with an intent to refinish it, of course. Here's what it looked like.

It's a little rough, but it's a 1968 model. It's holding up better than a lot of 42 year olds I've seen here in the meth capital of the known universe. Hmmm, missing grill, blotchy scabby skin, emaciated looking?!?! Naaaaww, my Tonka would never do meth. It's just got a nasty case of exposure.

Being a tech savvy Luddite I set out to find replacement parts online. All I really needed were the grill, bumper, and windshield/steering wheel assembly. Let me save you the trouble, you won't find them. There are a few places that do complete refinishing for you, but the quote I got was for $350. *cough, kill my hairy red ass, cough* I don't want a collector piece I want a work truck. Basically something that Mini Tornado can play with in the dirt and sand this summer. Ultimately, the broken pieces would just get broken again, so screw 'em, as long as there are no sharp edges you don't need a grill on a work truck. Or a windshield...there's not even a real driver. D'uh!

So I took it apart using a hammer, screwdriver, pliers, channel locks, and vise grips. These damn things are put together for real. Remember when things were made to last? Fortunately the metal screws, end caps, etc. were located at the local hardware store. Remember those? Small joint downtown where as soon as you walk in the door someone says, "What can we help you with?" And then they have it? Not pre-packaged, but as many or as few as you need in a little drawer in one of those cabinets. This may be the last one, but they were the standard back when things were made to last.

After much judicious use of a wire brush and sandpaper and more wire brushing and finally just saying to hell with it, I decided it was good enough. It's amazing how much pleasure can be derived by just saying "good enough." A complete and thorough wash in hot soapy water with additional judicious use of a cleaning brush, and it was ready to paint. I used Rust-Oleum for maximum protection from the elements. I couldn't get the bed off of the frame with out drilling out the rivets and since I've never assembled anything with rivets, I decided to leave it alone. However, this necessitated painting the black frame with a brush after I'd spray painted everything else. It's not professional, but then neither am I. Long story short...oops way too late for that. But I'm leaving out the painting story as this is already unreasonably long. Let me just say, RustOleum doesn't dry in 15 minutes and reading the can before use is probably not the worst idea you could have. Anyway, this is what the finished product looks like now.

Better, right? I thought I had a bottle of white model paint for the headlights, but if I did it's gone now. I'll get one next time I'm in a town where it's available and touch up the lights then. For now, I'm plenty happy with it.

It was all worth it when Mini Tornado was here next and I brought it out. She did what every kid who ever had a Mighty Dump Truck has done. Put one hand on each side of the bed, took off down the hall running full blast, and started loading up her toys. Yep, it's a work truck.
Happy shooting,

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Human Rights

In reading Pawpaw's House today, pointed to an article from that makes a lot of sense. I agree wholeheartedly and am going to keep this going. The following is quoted from Pawpaw, quoted from, quoted from the U.S. Constitution.

Self defense is a human right, probably the most basic of human rights. Whether individual or collective, we have the right to defend ourselves and that right is codified in the 2nd Amendment. Guns, in and of themselves, have no rights. They are simply tools.
On one hand, we preach that guns are mere machines, inanimate objects and tools. On the other, we appear to be attempting to give ‘rights’ to these inanimate machines.

I submit to you a request; that we remove the phrase “gun rights” from our vocabulary and replace it with the more human, and more accurate, “gun-owner rights.”
It's a good point and might be a grammatical nit-pic, but the psychological impact is undeniable. Humans have rights. Tools don't. Yet, when someone seeks to limit my access to a tool, what they're doing is controlling me.

These gun-owner control advocates are demonizing an object in order to control the people while pretending that they're not invading our rights, just gun rights. Clever bastards. It's time we started forcing them to use the correct terminology.
Happy shooting,

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Yes, Virginia, customer service does exist!

RT had two excellent examples of customer service in the gun industry in the past few weeks, Federal ammunition and S&W responding to issues with his ammo and pistol, respectively.

Federal 750s and Remington Golden bullet are bulk 22LR ammo packed in boxes of 550 cartridges. They are the most common and least expensive low cost bulk ammo available in my neck of the swamps. These are the two that account for most of your plinking and high volume shooting. Going up a step in price and quality is Federal Automatch. It's about the same price, but more consistent and a bit more accurate in most rifles. In choosing standard ammo for his Liberty Training Rifle (LTR, which will be discussed at length in a later post) RT dug out a box of Automatch to do some testing. In short, it was horrible. Approximately 15-20% misfires and 20-25% under powered rounds. Ouch! This was surprising as AM has shown great consistency in the past. So, I went on the Federal web site under the guise of my real identity and reported the problem, including the lot number and all relevant data. The next day I received an email from Federal apologizing for the problem and informing me that two (2) boxes of replacement Automatch had been ordered for me. Wow. Great answer! It arrived a week later and has performed as excellently as anticipated. It was also plenty accurate for my purposes and is now officially my new LTR ammo. RT happy!!!

My problem was with my Smith and Wesson 22A pistol. It's a 22LR pistol, which I may review later, in short, I really like it. However, RT's buddy came down to visit and a range session was one of the activities. I had a few misfires (from another brand of cheap ammo) but it wouldn't eject when the slide was retracted. RT examined the pistol and determined that the extractor slot should very likely have an extractor install in it. Hmmm. It used to have one. So, I called S&W the next day. Their response? "What's your address; we'll send you a parts kit." Wow. Great answer! That's exactly what I considered the best answer possible. It arrived and included an extractor and spring as well as a replacement firing pin and spring. Now I just have to put them in and I'm good to go. RT happy!!!

People bitch and moan a lot about bad service, and I may in the future, but I wanted to spread tales of excellent companies that care about their customers. Federal and S&W, your service gets an RT rating of F5. (That's on the Fujita scale, btw.)
Happy Shooting,

Friday, March 12, 2010

My first gun post will concern the pictured Izhmash Biathlon Basic 7-2. It's a Russian sporter produced, not surprisingly, at the Izhmash factory. Aside from my horrible photographic skills (really, it's in focus in real life) it is a photo of one of the least known but best values in the gun world today, IMHBCO.

If I could only have one firearm, this would be in strong consideration for that singular honor (not counting family heirlooms, of course.) It's not perfect, but it's close. Allow me to elaborate. Oh, it's my blog, what I should say is, "I'll elaborate if I damn well please!" And I do please.

Although details are hard to tell from my picture, it is a bolt action chambered in .22 long rifle. However, instead of the standard bolt action it is equipped with the Fortner straight pull bolt. If you watch the Olympic biathlon competition, the competitors were using rifles with this style of action. Whereas they were using $4000 Anschutz model 1827's, the BB goes for around $350.

On most target rifles having a 'heavy barrel', the barrel measures about .920" in diameter. Although not 'always' more accurate, the heavy barrel does allow greater stability and disperses more heat when firing several rounds in a relatively short period of time. They are typically quite long to increase the sight radius which helps aiming but also makes them very heavy. It's rare when a sporter rifle can shoot with a target rifle...but the BB can.

The BB barrel is a medium heavy barrel of .720" in diameter and I believe 18" length. (My memory is fuzzy, but the length is in that neighborhood.) It gives the accuracy of some target rifles while maintaining a light enough weight to be an excellent hunting rifle. It's possibly the perfect squirrel rifle, if that's your thing. Personally, I don't have the patience for squirrel hunting, but I'll have a great aptitude for squirrel eating if you have any extra. I'll even bring beer. And BBQ sauce.

Moving right along, the thing is stupid accurate for what it costs. The limiting factor is the "nut behind the bolt" in shooter parlance. I basically suck and I've gotten 1/2" groups at 50 yards. But put it in the hands of G.I. Jenny or Range Officer Ralph and it's a damn laser beam. They all go through the same hole.

There are only two possible downsides. One, there are no iron sights, but that's not really a problem, because a rifle like this begs for a scope anyway. Two, it's too damn short...the buttstock that is. Why is that? Are Russians mutated runts who can't handle a full size rifle? No. Do they have major differences in their shooting styles mandating a short length of pull(LOP)? No. Is Siberia so fucking cold that they have on eight layers of clothes adding two inches to their shoulder padding? Ding ding ding! We have a winner! So, in places where we have seasons other than Winter and Almost Winter the LOP needs to be extended. You can tell from the picture that I added a spacer which I just cut out of scrap wood and painted black. It's not necessary, but at my height (approximately 6'6") (It's the internet, I can be as tall as I want) it just made it even better.

One other incredible aspect of the BB is the trigger. In short, it's phenomenal. It came under two pounds and I adjusted down one turn so it's probably in the one pound range. I don't have a trigger pull gauge to verify, but suffice to say, you don't get trigger pulls like this on many hunting rifles.

If you ever find yourself in the ass end of nowhere, stop by and I'll be happy to take you to the range and let you try it for yourself.

Happy Shooting.