Posts Tagged ‘Black Powder’

We had an overnight low of 29.7 Friday night…I feed the humming birds in the morning and the deck was quite chilly on my bare footies.   The trailer parking project is complete…well at least enough for this season. I  brought in a load of the Grey crusher fines, like I used for the drive last year to top it off.

almost done

After getting the stone leveled and packed I hosed it down with the hope of letting it set up like the drive did.  Eager to get some progress done I went ahead and moved the trailer Friday as well.  The gravel was still a bit loose so the trick of walking it in by hand was not to successful.  To add some complications the top course of timbers were a bit to narrow…just about an inch on each side… the gradual taper came back to bite me.  When I started I had 8 feet of width, near the top it fell just inside the wheel base.  About 30 minutes later I had repositioned the top course of the sides and got the trailer in place.

Saturday I cleaned out the trailer and did a bit of re-organizing, It had been about a year since I emptied out the trailer. With this cleaning I set the shelf back up inside.  I had it down for the last couple of years after bringing back the Pinon from the ranch.  With the shelf back up its a lot easier to store things and still retrieve them without to much digging.

Organizing before the snow flies

Friday before I ran down the hill to get the stone I ran into my neighbor Micheal Bane at the post office.  He is pretty famous on the Outdoor channel and hosts  a number of shooting programs.  When I picked up my cowboy gun last year I had no clue that he also participated in this action sport.  A few months ago I stopped by the Boulder range to get a peek at my first cowboy action shooting event.  At that time I had just one 6 gun and my new 1873 rifle.  Micheal lent me one of his 6 guns and also the Mrs’s shotgun to “shoot” a round between groups.  I was a total hoot and led me to continue acquiring some more “man toys”.  I picked up my second Vaquero a while after that shoot.

One of my next purchases will need to be some leather.  The leather I have been using is sized for the black powder guns.  Later on Sunday I stopped by the neighbors to look at their leather and holster rigs.   Being a bit stoked after watching the second season of “Top Shot” I took some of my brand new ammo and the newer Vaquero out  to test it against the steel targets I picked up this summer.

To get in some more shooting time I also brought along the 9 shot .22 revolver and the 1858 Remington muzzle loader.  When I was out with the girls a couple of weeks ago I did not get much shooting time in…This time it was just me and it was a great to knock down the steel.  I lightly dipped into the .45 cal stocks as these run 25 to 30 bucks a box.

6" steel target and a couple flattened .44 cal round balls

The paint “chip” pattern varies by each gun.  The 45 colt leaves a small dent due to the higher power and flat nose.  The round .44 cal balls leave an equally large mark but have no big dent.  The .22 leaves the little marks and on a few shots actually spun the targets around rather than knock them over.  Today I repainted the targets for the next shooting session.

The last few times out shooting It has just been the .22 and .45 as the black powder guns stayed home.  Shooting the powder again  reminds me I need to do that nearly ever time out…despite the added clean up time. The slower pace of the reloads prolongs the experience, consider it a bit of foreplay before the boom.

Back home I lined them up for cleaning, and finished off the day.

Top = 1858 Remington Black Powder, Middle = Vaquero in .45 colt, Bottom = .22 with Ivory grips

Today I moved the old deck wood from a recent client’s  decking project into my woodshed.  Two full truck loads.  Then off to the store to pick up a pizza for a late lunch / early diner.

Load two....maybe One more to go

With the SASS newspaper I got from Micheal Sunday I started my research into my wish list for the cowboy rig.  I’m thinking about one from Fitzpatrick Leather…the Long Hunter 09.


I just need to scrounge up another $450 bucks for more toys.

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Home vs. Bear for the year

Last night we woke to the bang that I have been expecting for a few weeks now.  Months ago I set up a “bear deterrent” using a trip wire and some black powder.  You can see the video and read about it in this previous post.

Last night at about 3:45 Yogi came for a snack but got something a bit more exciting, after this little surprise he left in a big hurry. I got up and looked outside just after the bang, there was no sign of him anywhere.  I was also surprised to not find a pile of bear shit in the drive this morning, as if this would have happened to a human or some lesser creature it would have scared the crap out of them.

The unit performed perfectly…the can’ s lid was not even disturbed, but he noise maker fired, and loudly. This morning we proceeded with our normal routine and  did not have to pick up any mess.  Yogi has learned his first lesson here on Doe Trail… you don’t mess with OUR trash can.  Sunday nights are the most common for Yogi visits as most people have Monday morning trash pick up.

The image above reflects the score as it stands this year.  Months ago he got into our trash and the idea dawned on me as how I might prevent this in the future.  The black powder / electrically ignited noise maker device was born.  The test firing worked perfectly, then a few weeks later we had some late snow that caused the string to sag and cause a misfire.  I  repaired that and re-set the device with a little more slack.  It was a few weeks after that that he ravaged our can for the second time this year.  I was bummed that the unit did not fire.  With a careful examination I discovered a minor problem. Despite my caulking of the wires and lid assembly water had cascaded down the power cable and got my powder wet.  So in the moment of need the old pioneer adage “Keep your powder dry” hit home dearly.  That morning I had a big mess to clean up and vowed to persevere.

Bear deterrent 2.0 had me invert the bottle with a loop of ignition wire below.  Any rain (and we have had a lot these last few weeks) would never enter the powder packet or noise maker chamber.  Lasts nights BOOM proved this nicely.   I will reset a new noise maker device and repeat my upside down placement.   The next boom should even the score at 2 to 2 and then I can reset and try for the season win.  If this is indeed the same bear…I think he may finally wise up and look for more natural foods, or more likely, the neighbors can.

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One of the furry ones from a few years ago, heading up my neighbors drive

Last night we got a visit from one of our local bears.  It was about 12:45 and Miss Maybelle was vocalizing with her “The Bear is outside Voice”.  The motion light had tripped in the drive,  and I could see out through the laundry window that the trash can was tipped over and a big furry one was digging his way inside.  This phenomenon happens a lot on  Sunday nights, since the most common neighborhood trash pickup day is Monday morning.  We had a visit a couple of weeks ago, and had some minor trash scattering, so last night was only the second time this year.

Some people put their trash in a shed or garage if they have one, and I have seen many sheds ripped apart because of this.  The choice of a damaged $20 plastic trash can or repairing the door to a $2500 shed seems like a no-brainier to me.  We generate a very small amount of trash, so it is not uncommon to only take the can to the green boxes once a month or so.  The weekly service that most of my neighbors subscribe to is simply a huge overkill and unnecessary expense for us.

This is the disclaimer part….

I love having wildlife in the neighborhood, and bears, mountain lions and foxes are the more common and larger animals.  I just don’t want them to become “trained” to feed on man-made food, trash etc.  They are wild animals and should eat wild food.  Some of my neighbors actually “feed” the foxes.  The only animals we feed are the birds.

To “retrain” the local bears I have been going outside and smacking a broom on the side of the house when they visit…my presence and the noise drives them off.  Miss Maybelle’s barking has no effect as a deterrent, nor the peeps from the little dogs.  I could take out one of my revolvers and fire a shot into the hillside or the ground to drive them off…but this is both dangerous to them and illegal (my house is in the city limits and the discharging of a fire arm is a no-no).

Plan “B ” was hatched as an automatic and nearly instantaneous event that will allow “re-training” to occur while we are here or not.  The MacGyver in me had me design and build a device today…after being awake some time last night….I picked up the materials at Home Depot today…cost was about $4.50.   I did some prototype testing and found a method that is both quick and harmless.  The idea came from how people have made “dry ice bombs” with soda bottles.  My modification uses a minute charge of black powder with an electric ignition.  Just enough charge to rupture the bottle’s bottom and make a bit of noise. This powder charge is less than 1/2 of what I would use for a single .44 cal.  round in one of my black powder revolvers…and of course there is  NO projectile.

The trip wire is connected to the garbage can lid and its mere weight will flip the switch that ignites the charge.  The string that is connected to the switch is actually tied through a 1/8″ hole drilled through the toggle. My hope is that any tampering with the can will release the lid.  The lid trigger is well out of the reach of any of our dogs so there is no risk of a “false alarm”.

In the video I temporarily hooked up the dog cable to test the firing. The noise charge is now taped to the side of the shed and directed downward.

Trip wire on the lid, with a simple disconnect for loading / unloading.

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No, this post is not about surfing…but our summer keeps hanging on, which is just fine with me. In some prior years I have shoveled a lot of snow by this time of the year.  I remember 18″ on Sept 18 a few years back. So temps in the 70’s and the ability to stack firewood in a t-shirt is great.

Things are starting to get back to normal, the ex’s DUI sentencing is in a few weeks and the kids are back at her place for school.  Work has picked up slightly, so the days are pretty busy.  I took the Girls out to shoot the .44 a couple weeks ago, neither one wanted to give it a try as it is pretty intimidating. After talking with my dad a bit afterward, he is going t0 bring out the .22 rifle for them to try in a couple weeks.  Less BOOM factor.  I got out yesterday for my third session with the 1851, I’m getting a little better with it.  I shot some video to try and capture the pistol muzzle flash, and a few of them came out pretty cool.

25 Grains Goex Black Powder

I pulled some stills from the video and added them into the combined video, added a classic gun tune and came up with this.

I was surprised how a single shot can totally obliterate a soda can that is filled with water, while an empty can still sit there and have a hole go clean through and not even knock it off the wood.  I know about the physics behind it, (non compressible fluids and all) but its pretty neat to see in action.  I remember from Cub Scouts 40 + years ago of a buddy of my dad shooting a 12 ga slug into a 2 quart can of tomato juice…it made such an impression I still remember it today.

When Mom and Dad Come out in a couple weeks I hope the weather holds so my dad can try out the Muzzle Loader. Dad is into his 70’s now so maybe I can finally out shoot him.


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First test shots

Back at the beginning of the year I picked up a Colt 1851 Confederate Navy muzzle-loading revolver, this is a new reproduction made in Italy by F.LLI PIETTA  and is a .44 cal.  I know, the originals were just .36 cal…but hey!…  who can afford an original, besides would you even want to shoot an original?  This is the first gun I have ever bought or owned, and I have not shot a gun in over 25 years.  Today I got the chance to break it in.  I started with a few loadings at 25 grains, then a few at 30, back down to 25 and even a few at 20.  My target was a small piece of plywood about 10″ square set at about 20 to 25 yards.  I did manage to hit it a number of times and had to grab a log later on, as over 20, .44 caliber holes,  in a 10″ square of ply does not leave much to shoot at.  I was pleased to know that after over two decades of abstinence I could still hit the proverbial side of a barn.  I had some minor jams due to percussion cap debris getting in the works but figured small loads and lifting the barrel after the shot keeps those at bay.

One of the challenges was trying to get a picture of the shot, and still shoot at the same time. I ended up using the intervalometer on the D90 as a remote…pull the guns trigger then immediately press the remote with the other hand.  I got a few that did turn out, and a few that missed.  The video I shot was pretty lame…the sound is weak and the images and shots seam way out of sequence.  Tori said she might join me in the next round so perhaps we can get some better footage.

I must admit the BOOM of the .44 is pretty cool and the smell of black power adds to the coolness.  In the distance I could hear other shooters with regular, lesser firearms, and some with some semi autos…me with my 6 shots then 5 minutes to reload and back at it.

Black powder smoke.

I learned to shoot as a kid from my dad, who spent many years on the police pistol team.  The revolver is neat but I’m still thinking the mountain man in me needs to get a .50 cal or greater muzzle loading rifle, to be authentic in mountain man stuff, it would need to be a flint lock.  I remember shooting one back in my mid teens and have always remembered that kick.  This 1851, doesn’t seem to have the same kick I remember from my uncle’s .44 mag…but then again black powder is a slower propellant.

A few spectators happened by, Intrigued by the smoke and the big BOOM. I did allow a young man (a city kid up with his mom and some friends) to fire 0ff a round…at first he was pretty resistant but afterward he said it was “way cool”, I was glad I could, as Clint would say, “make his day”.

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