Suicide in the Trenches

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

Siegfried Sassoon

Customer service

I Hold the CNC programs for the large lathe on my computer and just call up the one I need and upload it via a permanently attached comms cable, so no faffing around with removable storage media. The other day I sat down to select the first job of the day and had a sudden sinking feeling, my chair was collapsing. Not a problem, just pull the lever and up it comes again and promptly goes down yet again….

So, with the job sent from a standing position and the machine making swarf, the Viking rang Ikea to see if they do replacement gas rams. After a half hour wait with Abba for hold music (Well it was never going to be Ted Nugent and Stranglehold was it?) they answer. The chair was purchased end of October last year so a year old ish and Ikea say 10 years guarantee on office chairs, however that does not apply to our particular model and no, they do not hold spares as it is not a serviceable item so thank you and goodbye.

Hmmm…. Well I am not paying another seventy quid for a chair that lasts 375 days so out came the trusty lump hammer, off came the ram and a new one arrived next day courtesy of Amazon, for fifteen pounds.

The thing is, we guarantee our own products for life, regardless of who owns it or if they have an invoice and even if we only said 12 months, we certainly would not worry over a few more days.

It reminds me of my first ever washing machine from Bedford Co-op probably 40+ years ago. It had a 12-month warranty and the controller thingy failed at about 15 months, so I headed off to the shop and asked if they did spares or was it an engineer job and if so what was the cost. Heh! They replied, that will be free of charge and a chap will be out in a couple of days regardless of it being a few months out of warranty.

The odd thing is I suspect the Co-op would still take the same approach to this day…

Well that is my coffee drunk so best get back to work, although I am just musing over adding ‘Fixer of Ikea stuff’ to my CV. Probably not…

Ruger Precision rear bag riders.

People have been asking for a rear bag rider for the RPR for a while, so I made a start on the project today. They will be a direct replacement for the existing butt pad back plate and will be vapour honed and hard anodised to match the chassis as best I can. The rider tube will be 18,5mm diameter and will be in self colour. I have not calculated the weight yet, however around 180 grams or just under should be close and there will be a lighter version with a carbon fibre tube.

I will be machining these as a limited run so if you are interested please shout now as I have a feeling the USA is going to snap the majority of them up rather quickly.

I would expect to ship to anodise in around 3 weeks so they should be ready for shipping start of December, just ready for Christmas

Removing broken screws

Sunday and I am working the afternoon. First job was remove a couple of broken screws from a BSA Air rifle. The screws had snapped off flush and needed removing so they could be replaced.

In the old days I would have used an Easyout which is basically a tapered coarse threaded left hand tap. Drill a hole in the offending stud/screw and screw the Easyout in, being a left hand thread it should, in theory remove the broken screw. The downside is they do not work particularly well in shallow screws, plus the small diameter versions can be incredibly fragile and if you snap one off in the stuck screw you have a real problem as you will never drill the broken part out.

A good alternative are the flat taper sided extractors from Wilde Tools, same principle plus you can give them a gentle tap to start them and I have never snapped one yet however I do have a few gaps in the sizes I hold.

Then there is always the old school (Shudder) approach of hammering a file tang into the drilled hole however the tangs should not really be hard enough for this application, also it is not an ideal solution for small screws, so what does this leave us?

Well believe it or not, I use long series Milwaukee Torx bits that are designed for an impact driver. They are incredibly tough, the multiple parallel splines spread the load and they are also sensibly priced, not that I have ever had to replace one.

The process is very simple, centre punch the end of the broken screw, in this case drill a 2,5mm hole and I always use Guhring Cobalt drills for such jobs. Carefully tap the correct sized Torx bit into the hole, it does not need to go in too deep and you need to take care not to expand the diameter of the broken screw causing it to jam. Finally, unscrew the broken section of screw and it really is as easy as that for the smaller screws, these were M5.

…and why am I telling you this? Because you need to know.

Wildfowling guns.

Wildfowling – The England and Wales Wildfowling season is from 01st September to 31st January of the following year, there are some exception such as Duck and Geese which can be shot for a couple more weeks at the end of the season if it is below the high water mark and that is about it. So assuming you have permission to shoot across the land or marsh and a valid SGC you are good to go.

Well good to go, assuming you have a working gun and Wildfowling guns do take a lot of abuse, they are invariably shot with heavy loads and in muddy/salty sandy conditions and eventually they can fail to feed and/or eject and usually at the worst time.

This was a Winchester SX3 that came for a service with the bolt failing to go into battery. Opening up revealed as expected, a lot of dirt, luckily very little corrosion and interestingly, it was full of un-burnt powder. So a complete strip and a good clean and it should be OK again.

The customer did say his favourite 3/4 choke was absolutely stuck and it would take a miracle to get it out, so I also removed the choke, cleaned it and replaced it with some copper slip.

One tip for you, the bolt recoil spring can be awkward to replace and can lead to a sore thumb, so I use a spare .308Win case as a pusher and push a thin screwdriver through the hole to lock the spring in place. It both saves sore thumbs and the potential for a spring to go flying, or worse still, smack you in the face.

So there you go, one Wildfowling gun ready for the weekend and a good example of why it pays to clean your gun after every outing and get it serviced regularly.