Tag Archives: Serviceability

Spare Gun Parts and Hardware for Preppers

21 Feb

There is a good post over at tslrf about the importance of spare gun parts.

This post will add a few thoughts to that. I’m uniquely qualified to talk about spare parts, because I’m a borderline hoarder when it comes to parts and tools. If you stock gun parts, follow these simple rules:

1) Keep parts organized by little ziplock bags which are labeled by the weapon the parts go with. For things like springs, it’s good to have even smaller bags and label the part number on the bag. If the parts come in labeled bags, keep them in those bags. Some small parts can look like each other and still be different.

2) Print out a schematic of the firearm in question and fold it up and keep it with the parts.

If you fail to do either of these, years down the road, you won’t remember what parts go with what guns. Trust me. I’m right.

3) Whenever a part fails, purchase a spare in addition to the replacement part. Certain parts have a higher likelihood of failure. If something fails once, be suspicious it will fail again.

4) Just because you fixed something once, doesn’t mean you’ll remember how to fix it again in the future. Time leads to forgetfulness. It helps if you keep a small diary of more complex repairs. Did you need to fit the part or was it a drop in replacement? Were there any hang ups with the new part? A little note can jog your memory in the future. I’m not talking about basic field stripping, which is second nature to you, but about those parts that you rarely remove and can cause confusion.

One way to have a better chance of having parts is to stick with common weapons and even purchase a second weapon of the same model and caliber.

Even if the outer surface of a gun is rough, the internal parts might not have been subject to much wear. For the popular 870 Remington and other weapons issued by police, police auctions and sales are one place to look for a less expensive backup.

If funds are tight and you’re a recreational shooter who wants different guns, I wouldn’t buy multiple guns for parts. It’s more fun to have different models! If your 870 breaks, you’ll have an 1100 as a backup. If your 45 1911 fails, you have a 357 revolver.

Some shooters question if today’s parts are as good as the parts of yesteryear. Many small parts today are made by MIM or Metal Injection Molding. The process is briefly described here.

Some shooters defend MIM parts and others dislike them. Just because parts are made differently today doesn’t mean they’re made better.

When a part is modified or made differently it’s frequently done to reduce manufacturing costs and ring more profit out of the sales. This has a long history. A popular example is the beloved pre-64 Winchester Model 70s. The guns functioned well, but were expensive to produce. The bolt was modified to streamline production. The goal wasn’t to make the best gun. The goal was to make an acceptably good gun with less cost.

The same is true of hardware. All bolts aren’t created equal! I’ve had especially bad luck with longer wood screws from the big box retailers. I’ve had some rip the heads off. Others, more commonly, strip out. This is in softwood with predrilled holes. If you can afford it, purchase quality. If not, big box budget fasteners are better than nothing.

One way to acquire assortments of bolts, nuts, nails, and other hardware is to purchase mixed assortments which are swept up and tossed together. Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you’re never quite sure of what you’ll get.

If you’re looking for assorted stainless steel nails, for example, Mcfeely’s has a five pound box for $26. Be sure to get their $1 shipping special. Mine were American made, but I don’t see them advertised that way, so YMMV. Stainless steel nails are great because they won’t rust like regular nails. They can be used outdoors, on treated lumber, pretty much anywhere.

Grab a few more plastic bags and divide your nails into three general sizes: Small, Medium, and Large. That way you don’t fumble through as many nails looking for what you want in the future.

Bolt grade and quality is especially important for bolts critical to safety, like the bolts attaching your engine to its motor mount. For mission critical bolts, unless you’ve educated yourself about bolt grade, try to purchase the replacement bolt directly from the vehicle maker. You’ll pay more, but you’ll be safe.

It helps to have a bolt gauge, English and Metric, to help you identify thread pitch and bolt diameter when you’re looking for a replacement. As a final check, hold the two bolts up against one another. The threads should match perfectly. This will keep you from mixing up close bolts, like 3/8-16 and Metric 10mm x 1.5.

If you toss out an old appliance or other machine, if you have the time, you can strip it of its old bolts, nuts, sheet metal screws, clamps, and other hardware. This will build your hardware collection at no cost.

Some people score good deals purchasing bolts and nuts from estate sales.

Charlie Palmer
The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning

Armageddon XP Rant (& A Tale of Two Hardware Stores)

15 Feb

Let me start by saying I’m not an old fuddy duddy who can’t stand change. I like good change. I like positive change. I like real innovation. The Internet rocks. What I don’t like is arbitrary, pointless, counterproductive, time-wasting change. When those things are at play, I’ll take the conservative option every day.

I don’t want my refrigerator connected to the Internet. I don’t want to worry it’s sending out spam to your cell phone. Do I need to monitor its online usage to be sure its not paying undue attention to the new Maytag models?

I don’t want start-stop vehicle technology. I had that back in the 1970s; it’s called stalling. I don’t want electronic throttle control. Drive-by-wire, die in a fire. I don’t want a computer controlling my dryer.

I like simplicity. I like tossing underwear in the dryer, turning a dial for time, pushing a button, and woahla. I’ve never wanted a dryer that could twitter the world about the status of my underwear.

In the day, we were more civilized. This article would be called an editorial or an opinion piece. In the day, we were less truthful. Today, we call it a rant. It’s a rant.

I’m already in a bad mood because of the closing of 7 Corners Hardware. They were Saint Paul’s premier hardware store for 80 years. If you needed special bolts for a project, you could find them. They were the Midwest’s largest tool distributor. If you needed a Milwaukee right angle drill with a 36″ snout, they had one. It’s in their catalog. I have a Milwaukee right angle drill, but can’t imagine why I’d need 3 feet of reach with it. Somewhere out there is a guy who needs it for something. Where will he go? I’d be surprised if any big-box retailers carry it.

Hardware stores that carry odd hardware are disappearing. Hardware stores that carry quality bolts are disappearing. The guys who understood tools are disappearing. I went into a Harbor Freight looking for a brush. It was on their website. The kids there were clueless. They thought they might have seen it, somewhere, sometime, in the past. Sorry, no help today. They were nice enough kids. But they weren’t “tool” guys.

This is reflective of today. As Americans, we just don’t fix stuff anymore. We toss it out and buy new. If we must fix it, we call in a professional.

Another prepper-blogger posted a similar observation asking “We’ve all got skills, redundant skills, but what do you do with all that ‘unusual’ knowledge in a throw away world that doesn’t care about the old ways?”

The answer is obvious. We annoy our wives by bringing home a lot of stuff we can fix, which she calls useless crap. Because it makes more financial sense to buy a new dryer than replace the computer module in the old one, an otherwise serviceable machine is tossed.

As citizens and consumers, we’re told spending more money to buy new stuff is good. Tossing the old is good. It’s beneficial. Planned obsolescence makes sense.

An example of this was the “Cash for Clunkers” program. In 30 days, over $3 billion of taxpayer money was spent overpaying for used vehicles to “take them off the road.” Car murder, more like it. They literally poisoned the poor cars till they died, just to be sure nobody would salvage the engines.

This is bad news if you’re in the market for a used car today. Far less supply and prices are at record highs. The program benefited some, but like all government programs, it came at a cost to others.

The hope is that the “maker culture” with their interest in electronics and 3D plastic printing will revive the interest in tinkering, repairing, and rebuilding things.

The best example showing how helpless citizens are becoming is our reliance on software. If it goes buggy, the best we can usually do is restart our PC, and soon, our toaster. We have no practical capability to ferret out the problem ourselves. We’re at the mercy of Microsoft.

In two months, we’ll face XP Armageddon. That’s when Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP. They’ll no longer offer patches for bugs or security vulnerabilities. This is a hacker’s dream come true.

Nearly 1/3 of all PCs still run Windows XP. It’s used by hospitals, law firms, small businesses, governments, ATMs, and individuals. These people will all be put at risk.

The Target hacking debacle occurred because an HVAC vendor was compromised.

How many small business vendors will be targeted and what will the consequences be?
Agree with his motives or disagree, Edward Snowden, was a contractor who had access to the NSA’s computers. How many mission-critical systems will be compromised because of outsourcing to vendors still using XP?

I understand Microsoft’s position. They want to sell us Windows 8. Without being compelled to purchase it, nobody would. If you must upgrade, look into Windows 7.

Microsoft isn’t offering Windows 7 anymore. But there are a ton of copies at the retailers, so it should be available for a while. My understanding is that it will be supported until 2020. Be sure your older system can run it and that you purchase the correct 32 bit or 64 bit version. Those with more computer skills are migrating to Linux.

If you want to continue using XP, backup your full system. Run a firewall program. Maybe do your web browsing in Linux and install a dual-boot system. You’ll have XP if needed for older programs.

Just because Microsoft won’t be supporting me and you, doesn’t mean everybody’s in the same boat. The dirty secret is that Microsoft will continue to support some big clients. England’s National Health Service, for example. Microsoft will patch their systems and keep their patient data safe. Sharing the patches with us, not so much.

How many remember the fear over Y2K which drew many new converts to prepping? We were prepared for Y2K. Because of that, the transition was seamless. Are we prepared for the end of XP? In two months, we’ll find out.

Revolver Versus Automatic Pistol For Tough Survival

20 Nov

I was going to write about the versatile 357 Magnum revolver today, but decided instead to give my opinion about the best handguns for long-term survival under harsh conditions.

Which is a better choice: A revolver or a semiauto? Many shooters will tell you the revolver is a reliable choice. You pull the trigger and it fires. That’s true. Usually. But it does neglect one possibility: extreme weapon abuse.

In the book, I refer to a Guns & Ammo article of years ago where two shooters each selected two guns for defense. One guy chose revolvers. The other autos. They put the weapons through a series of tests. The weapons were pretty equal until they started burying the weapons in mud and sand.

With sand in the action, the older revolvers will grind to a halt. Autos are more robust. The revolver lacks servicability too. With an autoloader, you can strip it and clean it and get it back into action. The revolver takes more knowledge to service. It’s not as easy to fix.

Another issue with revolvers is the weapon can be damaged if the weapon falls on a hard surface or is thrown against one. The cylinder can bind or get out of timing. Revolvers are just more finicky.

I once had a double action High Standard 22 LR revolver which had horrible lock up at the cylinder. It was always well treated. When shooting it, I felt it was spitting lead back at me. Too much looseness or misalignment between the cylinder and the barrel is an issue autos don’t have.

In a perfect world, you’d never get sand in your firearm. You wouldn’t drop your gun. But in the harshest of environments, give me an autoloader.

Today was World Toilet Day. Did you celebrate?

File this one under “those ba*#*ds! just won’t leave us alone…” went to the store to buy some Lysol disinfecting cleaner. Love that stuff. Looked at the bottle and it no longer says it kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. No active ingredients listed. Went home and Googled it and, yep, you betcha, they changed the formula.

This is the trend in cleaners. Make it safer environmentally, but make it much less effective. They’ll try and tell us it works just as well. That’s BS. It doesn’t.

Watched a good youtube video about propagating roses in the fall/winter. Basic stuff. You take cuttings, use rooting hormone, wrap the cuttings in damp newspaper to keep them moist through the next six weeks or so, etc. In the end, you have little rose plants that can eventually blossom into full rose bushes.

With gardening and farming, you must follow the seasons. You need to know when to start something. This is true of life. Many people fail, because they don’t know when to start.

The best time to plant a tree: 20 years ago. The second best time: today.

Serviceability & Simplicity

19 Jul

Two important concepts for preppers to integrate into their lives, or at least their prepping, are serviceability and simplicity.

Serviceability means you can service the mechanical items you rely upon. Firearms and vehicles come to mind. Are you sufficiently familiar with your firearms and vehicles so you could maintain them if you needed to?

We live in an age of declining serviceability. People aren’t expected to maintain their own vehicles. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something new appears to complicate your world. I remember when car windows were manually rolled up and down. That was too much work, so they invented power windows. Life was good. Some vehicles today have computer-controlled window operation. The computer gets confused and you can’t roll your car window down. You have to reboot your window.

The added complexity just isn’t worth it. It’s one thing to troubleshoot or replace an electric motor. It’s another when you’re dealing with proprietary software and computer hardware. Troubleshooting is more difficult and repairs can be more costly.

Computers have wormed their way into our appliances too. In the old days, a washer had simple switches and dials. Easy to replace. Many washers today are controlled by computers. Is a CPU really required to dry my underwear?

I’m not saying we should go back to horses and washbasins. That would be foolish. But needless complexity costs us money for little real benefit. It takes away our ability to service our equipment. It makes us more dependent on others.

You can fight to regain a measure of serviceability in two ways. Go with simpler options or learn more, especially electronics. Simpler options are disappearing from the market.

Simplicity applies to things that are already simple. Take the humble plate that you eat from. Plates come in a wide range of styles. Some are smooth. Others have intricate work with ridges around the edges. When you pop them in a dishwasher, it doesn’t matter. But, if you wash them by hand, food sticks more easily to intricate patterns and ridges. The same is true of silverware.

In a longer-term prepper situation, smooth plates and silverware is easier to wash by hand. This can have real consequences in terms of the time it takes to get them clean and hygienic.

Hunters in remote areas often carry bolt action rifles, because it’s the simplest action. The idea is that there are fewer parts to break or malfunction. The bolt action gives you all the firepower you really need. This doesn’t mean we should replace battle rifles with bolt actions. We need to balance the features we get with the level of complexity. When you make an prepper purchase, ask yourself: How serviceable is this thing?

The Good News: The economy added 197,000 jobs last month.
The Bad News: They were all with the NSA.

Just kidding. Turns out there were no full-time jobs created.

More than you ever wanted to know about pull-ups.

Detroit declares bankruptcy, with $18 billion in debts