28 July 2011

The Day After

The following is a cross-post at The Jacksonian Party.

The following is a personal outlook paper by the founder of The Jacksonian Party.

With all the debt limit finger-pointing, yelling, screaming and such going on it is hard to take these supposed 'leaders' Upon The Hill seriously.  We hear words of 'default' and 'Armageddon'  plus 'Doomsday' bandied about.  So what is it, exactly, that is going on?

First the government has allowed itself to spend approximately $4.4 trillion dollars this FY of which $2.4 trillion is deficit to be added on to the debt.  Congress has previously set a debt limit, decades ago, to help keep tabs on spending so that everyone has to agree on the basis for new spending.  That debt limit is coming and has actually been here, save for some Federal Reserve and Treasury accounting tricks.  The tricks, smoke and mirrors are just about cleared out, now, and we are getting to see the problem without them.

If you back a 'compromise' then please set in your mind that you want a federal government that spends approximately 1/7th to 1/6th of our economic productivity in accrual of debt we can't pay now.  While that has usually been bought by foreign investors, the Federal Reserve has been pumping money into the system to get that debt and has been the largest buyer at the last couple of debt auctions.  Their hope is that either this blows over, or they are left controlling the purse strings of future federal spending.

Nice folks, huh?

Second if you back  'compromise' you are kicking the can further down the road to larger, more intrusive government that eats up more of our economy and, in the end, must do away with 'entitlements' as economic activity to sustain them falls through the floor.  Who will invest in a people who can't get a government to spend within its means?  Or seek to have a large part of its population unproductive by choice?  That isn't working out so well for Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland... or the UK and France, for that matter.  That is the future ahead for more spending on our shores if you support a 'compromise'.  You will live to see that.

Now what happens when the debt limit is reached and there is no compromise?

First even Turbo Tax Timmy, the man who can't figure out his taxes but is the head of the Treasury, admits that we will continue current debt maintenance.  Left and Right that is admitted.  If we DIDN'T do that it would be a DEFAULT.  The US will not default on its debt as that is the reason the federal government was CREATED in 1787: to take care of Revolutionary War debt that was breaking up the States in the old Confederacy.  If the federal government can't do the #1 primary job it was CREATED TO DO then it must go through civil means to allow We The People to figure out something that WILL make good our promises to others.  I expect that would happen via elections and a Constitutional Convention in which States that spent themselves broke will not get much of a hearing from solvent States, either.  So the debt will be paid because, for the first time in over a century, it is not clear that Progressives and Liberals will be able to sway the outcome of a Constitutional Convention.  They don't like that, so they want our debt payments to continue.

From the approximately $2 trillion the US government takes in, about $600 billion (or $0.6 trillion) is in debt payments.  You have about $1.4 trillion left to spend!  I bet you could run a government on that....

What gets paid for next?

Well Obama is the Executive and in lean times Executives get a bit of a say in things for cutting back when the money isn't there.  Remember, Congress unwisely put up an unsound budget and it is now up to Obama to cut spending back to meet revenue.

Stop that laughing!

He has no choice in this.

His first real choice will be between 'entitlements' plus the Constitutionally mandated cats & dogs (DoD, parts of State, a bit of the Interior, US Mint, USPTO, Government Accounting Office plus various other items mentioned in the Constitution which I tend to lump together as 'cats &dogs') or the other discretionary areas plus some entitlements plus the cats &dogs.  The cats & dogs will take a haircut, probably around 20%, which doesn't free up much money.

Here is the deal: if Obama wants to have all the discretionary parts of government that are non-entitlement continue to work (like Labor, Education, Energy, EPA, FCC, FAA, IRS receipts offices and so on) then those will be fighting for money with the 'entitlements'.

Now after decades of fearmongering we have the visage of the most Progressive and Liberal US President in our generation having to cut government.  First, think of that on its own and take a look at the holder of the Office of the President of the United States.  He has no choice.

If only Nixon could go to China, then only Obama can cut government.

What will he do?

Well he could go against everything that every Democrat has said for over a generation and cut entitlements!  That would be seen as a basic betrayal of The New Deal and The Great Society... by one of the most Progressive and Liberal Presidents in our generation.  That is an abyss to step into for him as it is his name that will be on that, not that of Reid or Boehner.

So we can take it for granted that at most we will see a bit of trimming around the edges of 'entitlements' which will, itself, be a watershed moment.

That leaves between $60 billion and $100 billion dollars left to fund EVERYTHING ELSE outside of 'entitlements' and the cats & dogs. He can go the 'skeleton crew' route and keep an executive staff in each, but no other functions.  All the regulatory stuff goes into limbo for as long as this 'stand off' lasts.  There are some places that would eat up all of that and want more, like Agriculture that consumes at least $700 billion per year... it would be hard to keep on anything but a few top people there for $100 billion a year, so you can bet that baby will close down to allow shifts to other, more politicized entities, like Dept. of Justice.  DoJ is not a cat or dog, but a discretionary organization that didn't exist before FDR.  Before that Agencies and Departments were responsible for bringing their own prosecutions.  Keep DoJ open and you don't have much left for anything else.

The spending, basically, stops for a large part of the discretionary part of government outside of the 'entitlements'.  See how that works?

Outside of this what else happens?

A major part of this is the Treasury no longer holding debt auctions as there is no new added debt to auction.  That is about $2.4 trillion not getting soaked out of the global economy, or $1.8 trillion discounting the amount the Fed. holds.  The Fed might auction some of its recently purchased debt off, but that is just the 13 largest banks in the US trying to dump US debt which doesn't look all too hot on the banking front.  It is like shooting yourself in the head to get rid of a headache: not so smart.  Still they don't hold enough to go past a single normal auction... sooner or later US debt stops soaking up investment money.

That freed up money then will be invested elsewhere as the surest way to make money is to invest in productive industry.

Now if most of the Interior and EPA go to the point they can't process forms, industrial firms will look to the States, point to the track record of the company and ask the State if they can do drilling in off-shore waters.  After a couple of months of non-processing of forms (in other words going back on a good-faith forms processing concept) the States will find themselves asked if they want productive energy sector jobs to open up.  Without the federal government there to process forms, responsibility drops down to the State level.  States have their own safety requirements and they are still open for processing forms.  My guess is the day after the first debt non-auction, the States will hear from the energy companies.  Maybe sooner.

If the Dept. of Labor isn't there, then no one will be backing its paperwork for businesses, loans and such.  OSHA goes with that.  A lot of those regulations are part of industrial standard work, at this point, so they will be kept up with or without an enforcement arm for awhile.  Put in a few months of non-government and industry will begin to realize that there is no one telling it how much to pay people.  Fun, fun, fun!  The States do have regulations on this, of course....

The EPA has been trying to reneg on coal agreements, sequester land from energy exploration and, generally, trying to stymie energy production in the US.  Without them the States get to decide as the federal government doesn't OWN any of that land but is allowed to USE IT by the States.  Right there in the US Constitution that the federal government can only use land with the agreement of the State involved.  States will begin pulling land back as the federal government really can't stop them from doing that, even with the EPA.  Wonder why they haven't done that?

Consider something like BATFE which got scooted over to DoJ save for the IRS interest in the revenue part which is 'A' or Alcohol which is alcohol tax stamps.  That 'A' part will remain open, more or less, to collect money on those stamps... actually it probably goes straight to collections.  On the 'F' side, which is Firearms, the IRS has interest in the tax transfer amount on fully automatic weapons ($250 per transfer) but not much else.  As no one is there to enforce the making of new weapons of that type it is possible that 6 months into not funding BATFE you will see a new market for these weapons arise with a base price of construction, plus materials, plus $250.  And as no one is there to federally license manufacturers, and no one can stop individuals from manufacturing arms, and the 2nd Amendment has similar language in nearly every State Constitution... well we might see the end of the cutting up of old military full auto weapons and the direct importation of them.  Mind you, before 1976 this is what it was like in the US, and we didn't have an FA shooting spree then and we won't have one if this happens, save for criminals who can ALREADY get their hands on such things.  Private security firms may handle something like background checks to ensure that felons don't get their hands on weapons and if the States really want the federal instant background check they can pony up a bit of cash to run that part of the bureaucracy.

What doesn't happen in all of this is interesting.

Anyone who has federal securities continues to get their interest payments.  A lot of retirement funds have them.  These large institutional investors will see that 'the full faith and credit of the United States' is still good.  So will the bond rating services.  Do you downgrade a spendthrift who mends their ways, stops spending on frivolities and keeps on paying down their debt?  I wouldn't as that person is making good their promises and mending their ways.  Why would the US get a downgrade for doing the exact, same thing?

A lot of federally dependant jobs add to the unemployment situation, which might go up a full percentage point.  Sucks, that.  But there isn't a federal government to suck up investment dollars, either.  Hmmm.... why there will be businesses without regulatory overhead, without mandates, without worries about credit... who knows what they will do when there is some CERTAINTY that they will not be PUNISHED for hiring people via new REGULATIONS?  If and when that money comes off the sidelines the 'crisis' will end as unemployment drops and economic activity picks up.  As soon as everyone realizes that the federal government is the problem and that you can get by without it, then why, on Earth, would you want to bring all that back?

It is that last part that is the worry of the political and economic elites.  They are living in the 20th century and now see that Americans would be more than willing to chuck all the centralized controls in the 21st century.  Anyone saying that a 'moderate' solution to continue spending into pure insolvency is very immoderate to do so.  We have hit our credit limit and can turn back and not be Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, the UK, France... why that might be a GOOD THING, no?  That is how much the equations have changed in the last few years:  the old 'moderates' are not in the middle, just addicted spendthrifts who can't say 'no' to more spending.

Of course this will be messy.

It will be painful.

You will have to be prepared for it.

I've been saying that for awhile now and am getting prepared even as we speak.

Not to march on the streets, but to help my fellow citizens through the tough times ahead.

If you aren't doing that, then your hours to prepare are few.

Because the day after debt limit Doomsday is not Armageddon, not global meltdown, but the beginning of the first day on a path to freedom and liberty.  I see that day coming much, much, much faster than I ever expected it.  Yet I have done the prudent and cautious things as the survivors will step with Prudence who is one of the best women I know of to walk with as she always warns to pick your steps and be prepared for bad days.  It is better to be prepared and never need those preparations as you can sleep well at night and be unafraid of the future.  I can't sleep soundly due to physiology, at this point, but I have no fears.

In a crisis will you be yelling, screaming, finger pointing and waiting for someone to save you who may never come?

Or will you be prepared to help your fellow man through hard times?

I will join with those doing the saving, may you never need my help as it isn't free and you will be expected TO help TO BE helped.  No free rides to salvation, sorry.

23 July 2011

Recent Arrivals - Two Weeks plus One Day

Just some observations on the SKS stock.

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All these pictures are clickable to get a larger version, btw, and have been throughout this series of articles.

There is something a bit troubling about the finish on the SKS gunstock that came with this carbine.  This isn't the first gun I've gotten for cleaning, its about my fourth but worst so far in that this one has been packed with cosmoline.  Still getting the obvious stuff out of the way goes a long way to seeing just what went on with this particular specimen at the arsenal in Yugoslavia.  In that picture there is a thousand words, but in particular it allows me to show the basic difference in finish even through the cosmoline.

The upper handguard is of tightly denser grain wood which is part of what I'm seeing, but the other part is that it has a more even texture to it for the finish.  Notice that the closest match in color, not texture, is in the forward part of the grip that has a white paper towel under it to put more light on it, and that aft of that the part with less reflected light is darker.  Now the handguard also has what looks to be a good (if somewhat spotty here and there) finish which I take to be BLO (boiled linseed oil).  Thus there are firstly tonal gradations in the wood that are different and, secondly, the upper finish while applied well is not applied evenly.  There is a little bit of that left to right between the more open grain to where it narrows down.  The grip part of the stock is of a darker toned wood and still covered in cosmoline...

Now this image shows something very similar along the entire buttstock:

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The flash artifact in both these pictures would lead you to conclude that it is the cause of the tonal differences, but that is not the case.  From grip to where the butt plate would be there is a significant difference in tonal variation visually in the entire stock.  After much handling and examination this does not appear to be a variation in the wood but in the finish.  The finish is thicker in the front and thinner to the rear, thus darker to lighter.

Next up are some actual droplets of congealed finish on the buttstock.  My picture taking ability is awful but there is only one significant droplet but also some other areas where tonal darkening increase and touching along those areas gets a slight rise and fall with the darkened areas.  You also get some tacky cosmoline on your fingertips.

Then there was the struggle to get the barrel/receiver assembly out of the stock.  Cosmoline, as a lubricant, should be able to do some of that, yes, and with larger amounts more of that sort of thing, but this was stubborn beyond all belief.

Beyond that there is that tackiness on the exterior part of the stock, which has had the most goings-over of antique restorer.  There are a few parts that are close to actually being dry on the rear of the stock, that is blotchy in feeling by fingertip.  This is not something that a light rag will pick up, but that your fingertips will.  The further you go towards the grip area the more of the tackiness you get and lots of it.  In reference this has had just as much wipe-on/wait/wipe-off/go overnight/rub off that the Mosin-Nagant had for its entire process.

Now reading up on BLO is a fascinating topic as regular linseed oil does not set up quickly without having some additives put in with it.  Basically it remains tacky for decades.  That is hard to do even in a relatively backwards Communist country as boiled linseed oil is done in huge batches and the ability to get raw linseed oil through an arsenal is just about nil.  That does leave the cure time for BLO, however, the time it takes to set and harden.  That has an overnight to basic cure and a week to nearly done and a month to fully cured.  Thus you can do a bit of sanding and apply a second coat after an overnight, but the entire thing doesn't become a finish until at least a month sets in.

I am coming to a conclusion that is very interesting: the arsenal did not let this stock have its proper cure time and put it in a vat of cosmoline before the cure was finished.

Points for this are: the somewhat uneven finish appearance, hardened drops of BLO, uneven darkness with thickening of the finish, and the tackiness.  Of all of those the most worrying is the tackiness, and not just for handling reasons.

Consider that BLO when heated and mixed with other oils can form a lacquer, that is something that will form a much harder finish that is more resistant than just BLO itself.  With that said there are also accelerants that get added, things like turpentine, to speed up the drying process of a lacquer.  Heat will do it to, and this is a problem that folks shooting Mosin-Nagants have with cosmoline seeping into the magazine area and mixing with the carbon and any firearm lubricants used to create a lacquer coating in the firing chamber.  That can get so bad your rounds won't chamber.  A good lacquer solvent will get rid of that but the problem is from the cosmoline, itself.

So if you have an uneven proportion of BLO to cosmoline, say one part to fifty parts, you get a very weak lacquer that has no accelerants and has lost heat in the first few hours after coming out of the vat.  That creates a substance that is at once much thicker than BLO or cosmoline as it is setting up, but doesn't have a good enough mix to become a full lacquer.  BLO after mixing with cosmoline might not even set up at all as it tries to cross-link with some very, very, very long chain hydrocarbons.  Some of it that is closest to the wood pores will not get much of that effect (becoming a 'finish') but being cross-linked out means that it never sets up or dries.  As far as I know there is NO accelarant that will do this for cosmoline-based grease finishes... are there such things, even?

The stock will get the full treatment to drive out as much of the cosmoline via pore action as possible, and there may even be some break-up that will happen to let the surface finish finally get severed from the longer mixture.  As it stands, however, the stock is heading into the 'refinishing' category.  Now since stocks were sent unfinished to troopers and they did it their own ways, that lets me have a lot of leeway on what I can do with the thing.  As this is Beech wood, it should have a nice light tonal quality to it if done with just a bit of care... I like BLO finishes, don't get me wrong as I have a gallon of the stuff available, but having seen some Finn Beech stocks done with shellac... and that is an available and traditional finish for the region, too.

Time will tell.  I had hoped to get this done and free up the workshop as its not a great idea to be woodworking with lots of volatile chemicals in the air.  But if it is still tacky on the outside in a few days, then I will look into stripping the wood bare and refinishing it.

22 July 2011

Recent Arrivals - Two Weeks

The past four days have been interesting!

Yes, I've gotten to know the wonders of the way cosmoline will make an occlusive seal with just about anything so as to not allow you to separate parts with such a seal.  On the SKS that I have been working on that seal has been between the stock and the receiver/barrel assembly.  Getting the instructions right, in that the assembly moves away from the stock in a rotation style movement was a great help!  I had spent time puzzling over the instructions and finally found another set of instructions with pictures to demonstrate the procedure.

Not that this helped, mind you, beyond knowing that you should expect to see some progress doing things the right way.  Needless to say with anything that could be holding the assembly to the stock taken off, it wasn't budging.  No, it was worse than that: I could get just the barest hint of motion and sweat at that and when I released the stock and assembly the pieces came back together again.  That is the power of air pressure working against you.  You are forming a vacuum because of the sealant and when you try to move the pieces apart the air pressure starts working to bring them together again.

What came next was a further application of Aero-Kroil (mainly because it is supposed to go along metal surfaces displacing other stuff) and putting pipe cleaners through any opening that was available, mainly between the assembly at the rear sight base.  After struggling most of the day with that I then put on another application of antique restorer as it had moved the exterior of the stock from a dust magnet to a skin magnet.  Yummy!

The next day, finally, with the use of a rubber mallet... if you don't have a rubber mallet around your house, get one!  Mine has been ever so handy at non-marring use on things beyond pistols and rifles and if you really have to beat yourself on the head with something, there are far worse things than a rubber mallet.  Now, where was I?

Oh!  By holding the receiver in my left hand (like da book said!) and keeping the bayonet locked forward and pressed into a sheet of plywood and gently rapping the buttstock upwards to put force in the wanted direction of movement, I got my very first sucking sound in this project with lots of suck to it.  One or two more light taps with the mallet and then a couple with my gloved hand, then some very continuous pulling and... the receiver and stock were forced back together by air pressure.  The second attempt finally got the parts free as I had introduced some air into the sealant.  Next time I will use that handy-dandy can of compressed air for that to start with.

The parts came free:

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I folded the bayonet back once the parts were free, just like it said in the book.

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More glistening and it isn't gold.

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I now had a major component separation achieved for the takedown!  Throw a party!

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Progress had been achieved!

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Except, of course, for the tablespoon or two of cosmoline that now was congealed inside the stock area and, of course, coating the barrel/receiver assembly.  I am not joking about quantities, and I used up the better part of a shop rag and two paper towels getting the surface amounts off.  Huge amounts came off in the antique restorer rag, as well.  Not just soak in amounts, but glistening puddles of the stuff.

The next day was cleaning all the metal I could get to, removing some of the fun parts like the gas diverter for the grenade launcher and sweating over getting the sight leaf for the grenade launcher up so I could clean under it.  Then sweating to get it back down again.  I debated about taking the front sight apart, but realized that coating the threads of the adjustable pin for the sight was actually a good use for cosmoline.  Anything caught under the ring will soak out when the barrel is heated from firing and that won't be much.  All the exterior surfaces, however, got cleaned... and cleaned... then cleaned again... nylon brush, pipecleaners, tooth-picks...

For anyone wanting to clean rifles with gas block and escapement systems I can't picture living without pipecleaners and tooth-picks.  Project type tooth-picks from your craft store, not toothy tooth-picks from the grocery store.  If you need to push in a small amount of a rag or get something that will conform to a small hole to work away at material adhering to metal, those two are musts.

Yesterday all the exterior components were finished, the bore finally properly cleaned out using first the water based cleaner/degreaser, and then the evaporating one, then lots of swipe downs with Militec-1 patches that still got some blackness on them.  I've come to expect that since I don't have a huge ultrasonic tank for such things or an electro system to force that stuff out.  The bore is chrome lined and when I sight through to a piece of plywood against a wall I get that lovely triangle of inverted image on the top of the bore.  I couldn't ask for anything nicer!

After that comes the first wipe down with drops of Militec-1 on the exterior metal surfaces.

The stock got to rest yesterday to let the restorer stuff do some more work, and I was already getting the hand tackiness feeling on it by the end of the day.

Today the metal got covered over and it is now time to work on the stock.  Cosmoline is no longer being left in orange patches on my cleaning cloths, but it is still felt on the hand.  It is just bad.

Some other discoveries were of some use marks on the stock covered by the finish.  This includes what I think are pieces of tar... or possibly some asphalt... or someone just dropped the stock on the floor of the arsenal and it didn't get wiped down before a finish was applied to it.  Pride of workmanship there isn't for the stock.  And there are times I begin to suspect the finish hadn't even dried before they packed it away.  There are also drip marks from the finish not being properly wiped down.

I'll have to search around and see if I can find a used Yugoslav SKS stock somewhere and refinish that.   While BLO is the 'official' arsenal finish, there are a lot of stocks that soldiers had to finish on their lonesome, so there has to be some variety of that on the military side.  With BLO the way it was put on you can't really tell it was Beech wood... no idea what to do on that front.

On the metal side I need to get the retaining pin in the bolt out so I can, first, clean that because it is still sticky and, second, replace the firing pin with a firing pin and spring combo so the pin can never go through a slam-fire or get locked forward... that is purely a safety issue and as I consider safety to be the first thing with firearms, it has to be done.  So far the retaining pin is not coming out for love nor money... and a bench arbor press that I can put a pin punch into would be a lovely addition to the hardware around the shop.  I know I can get the basic press, but pin punch adapters for the head?  Haven't looked but there must be something for that given how often that routine is done with machine parts.

So that is where things stand as of right now.  The stock has gotten another go-around with blemish remover and antique restorer and is now resting, the heat is bad enough that I am going to rest, and doing that I will look for a low-end bench arbor press with pin punch replaceable heads.

Life is grand.

18 July 2011

Recent Arrivals - A Week and a Half

When last we left our intrepid explorer he was finding out just how well the Yugoslavs had packed cosmoline into their SKS 59/66 arsenal reworked semi-automatic carbines at the factory.  There is an interesting comparison between a Mosin-Nagant 91/30 reworked at a Soviet arsenal circa the early 1950's and a Yugoslavian arsenal circa the mid-1960's.

First up is the metal work is very good to excellent on the rifle and well crafted for what it is, which is an early 1950's design by Siminov from the USSR.  It was made to be put together quickly and cheaply in the third world countries that had any manufacturing base available to them at all.  Under Tito the relationship between Yugoslavia and the USSR varied a lot, but the underlying Communist system of the importance of basic metal work comes through.  The M-N dating back to an earlier era of machining from the mid- to late-nineteenth century is always well done, of course and without doubt, and they are beefy rifles as the metallurgy of the late-nineteenth century just wasn't up to the task of a lightweight receiver and rifle barrel that wouldn't blow itself apart.  While the era nearly a century later was different, the work to get precision machining done is apparent.

Second up is the stark difference in the wooden stocks of the two rifles.  The M-N you feel was put together by some actual craftsmen who understood the wood's strengths and weaknesses and followed the old patterns because they worked and were good for the purpose.  There are variations over time with the M-N stock, but I have yet to run across one that didn't feel that at the arsenal they actually did understand that getting a rifle stock that felt good in the hands was a morale booster: someone cared enough to do good work and entrust you with it.  The SKS stock feels like it got a basic cut at a wood mill, about 10 minutes under a shaper, a quick pass over a belt sander, and then had BLO used to give it a finish.  As I understand it some SKS's lack the finish and were packed away in cosmoline with bare wood.  Also the lack of finish (though not fit) was addressed 'in the field' which you can picture as some soldier writing home to mom to see if dad had any spare sandpaper and something to finish wood with.  If the smooth feel and deep, dark grain of a M-N stock made you feel as if someone cared about you and the rifle, the SKS stock definitely puts the rifle ahead of you.  You are there to pull the trigger, nothing more.

I would like to compare precision parts making, but the M-N was meant for a different era and isn't, say, a Colt 45 or, just a couple of decades on, a Mauser C-96.  It came from the early bolt-action era and that is that.  I've taken a few trigger groups apart and the SKS is pretty much dead simple with all of two springs and a leaf spring stamped part.  It isn't a VZ-61 Skorpion with a couple of tiny, precision springs and a hammer spring ready to fly around the room for the unwary.  Nor is it that contraption that runs a Marlin 60, with all its tiny springs and retaining rings.  Those are both later than the SKS, yes, but having looked at original parts for both that are within that timeframe, I have to say that the Yugoslavs don't have the raw ingenuity of the Czech gunsmiths.  It is a good, solid, relatively reliable trigger group with nothing fancy on it.

Why is that important?

Just a second while the pictures from the start of yesterday's work start to give a feel of what you deal with on a carbine like this.  So here we go with the basic Level 2 to 3 strip.

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I got the bolt and carrier off pretty easily and didn't have to worry about the recoil spring being springy as the coefficient of friction that was given to it by 45 year old cosmoline was more than enough to render worries about springs flying all over the place pretty much moot.  How bad is this rifle packed with this stuff?  There is a piston in the gas tube that in the takedown books say you have to watch out for sliding out when you take the tube from the receiver.  I used a wooden dowel to push it out.

Now lets see what is inside the receiver.

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OK.  It's not that bad.

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No, wait I take that back!

It's worse than I expected.

You can even see the hammer from the trigger group there and what you can't see is the lovely coating of cosmoline all the way down and in.  And the same goes for the magazine, too.

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Plus I need the cleaning rod out from under the bayonet fixture.  It is coated with cosmoline... not just the bayonet but the rod all the way down to the screws.


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There we go with the piston out of the gas block tube, the cleaning rod, bolt and carrier plus cocking handle, recoil spring... and I believe I got the gas block tube spring from the receiver out by then.  The warning was that it would come flying out at Mach 2 if you didn't watch out when you moved the lever on the rear sight all the way up.  I moved it up.  Then I checked to see if there was a spring in there with a handy-dandy pin punch.  There was!  And then it oozed out at a pace that snails would laugh at as pitiful.

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Now onto the trigger group.  You can see the exterior cleaning hasn't done much for it.  On the M-N I would be close to half-way by now with the wood, the metal all finished and waiting on the wood.  Here I have to extract stuff and always I get the unpleasant surprise that the Yugoslav arsenal probably pre-packed each part in cosmoline before assembling the parts... no they didn't, but that is what it feels like.

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You can see the difference between cleaned metal on the lower part of the trigger guard and just about any other metal on this carbine.  If it glistens it has a layer of cosmoline on it and the stuff here has even had a quick two-pass cleaning.  This spells trouble ahead.

Out comes the trigger.

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If the parts look indistinct it is due to the fact that they are coated well enough so that I had few worries of parts flying around with it.

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This is where the trigger was.  See that glistening on the inside where light barely bounces down to the paper towel and back up?  No, you probably can't see that all too well.  How about on the right where the inletting is orange and a bit circular?  That is a spring.

After this came the part where I had to give the bolt and trigger group an initial ultrasonic cleaning so that I could start the detail strip to get a more thorough cleaning.  The first ultrasonic did a wonderful job on the surface gunk and allowed some parts beyond the trigger to actually move.  Amazing!  Then, since I have never done a trigger group like this with the instruction of 'use the cleaning kit tube on the hammer, put the back of the trigger over the edge of the workbench, press straight down until the hammer moves below the trunnions, and then move the hammer slowly back until it comes free' or words to that effect, my spelling isn't so hot.   That is only AFTER you get the hammer to swing forward.  Getting the hammer to swing forward is a lining up of the interior trigger parts so the trigger engages the sear to release the hammer.

It said so in fine print at the bottom of the page!

Two hours of pipe cleaners, degreaser, Kroil, wiping, trying, getting some gunk out from under the disconnector via the tiny hole in the trigger, degreaser, Militec-1, and, finally, all lined up and the hammer came free and as I had properly positioned my hand so as to ease it forward, it was eased forward.  THAT spring was free to maim you via compression release and it had a sworn duty to do so.  With that came another half hour of grunting, complaining and generally finally figuring out that 'straight down' means straight down, the hammer came free and the cosmoline did its job of slowing the hammer spring no end.  It wasn't coming out at Mach 2, that's for sure!

It is a good idea to dedicate at least one pair of gloves (leather work gloves for outdoorsy work, not garden gloves) for doing this sort of thing.  I buy those suckers by the dozen pack at surplus sites and while the stitching on the back and interior sucks, the things still hold together (more or less) and serve as a wonderful way not to get bruises or your skin caught when formed metal gains a life of its own.  By the time you are done with them they will be black on the front from cosmoline, and you can use them as a dust magnet.

All the pieces parts could now be disassembled including getting all the springs out and going down to just a couple of components that isn't worth any time disassembling as you can easily examine them for rust (hah!) and cleaning under them.  Ultrasonic for all of that for 3 minutes, rinse, and Militec-1.  Bag it all as I will be ordering a Wolff spring kit to get positive sear tension on the trigger group as it is currently neutral.

I did try to get the barrel out!  Really!  Bayonet in the forward, locked position, press down, left hand on the receiver and right hand hitting the stock, while the bayonet is pressed to some plywood on the ground.  Uh-huh.  'The barrel will come free easily' so it says in the manual.

I've heard that one before.

Cosmoline is keeping it in place and I put tiny drops of antique blemish remover on the rings the barrel passes through.  Just left it as the amount of caked on stuff at those points is awful.  If that doesn't work it will probably either be Kroil or Aero-Kroil or WD-40 to let it all sit overnight.  I still have lots of small part cleaning and inspection to do.  So ordering the spring kit ought to just have it arrive in time for final stock cleaning prior to re-assembly.

If, if I say, I am lucky.

16 July 2011

Recent Arrivals - A Week Onwards

Now last we left the intrepid cosmoline cleaner he had finished with the hardware of the Mosin-Nagant 91/30 and was working on clearing the stuff from the stock.  Ahhh... such heady times! 

Now after repeated applications of antique restorer with a process of wipe-on, wait 5 minutes, wipe-off, go and do something else for a day so that you wipe down the next day before re-application... and this stuff will continue to leech out cosmoline for a month afterwards... it is now time for the final wipe down and re-assembly.

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A beauty to behold!

The benefit of doing this slow route is that if you have an area dedicated towards gun cleaning you can go through this slow process and continue on with other projects.  Makes me wish I had an area dedicated to gun cleaning...

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The wood actually is pretty dark, but I should probably do a color balance there to get something a bit closer to what it actually looks like.  Since I don't have P-shop on the machine I use for the majority of my posts, this will have to do.

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That is much closer to what things are coming out like!

Sorry for the low-light effects for the pictures, but I also don't have a dedicated platform for taking pictures.  The wood I'm using for contrast is whatever the anonymous 1x4x8' stuff is at the local Home Despot.  They don't say and I would only guess oak, given the grain spacing and knots that show up, but that is probably wrong.

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The finish is not grainy, as indicated by my poor picture taking, but smooth.  And not 'cosmoline on finish' smooth, but clean smooth like shellac on wood.  That is the finish on Mosin-Nagants, btw, garnet shellac (or a relative) at a pretty hefty cut.  I use some 1 lb. cut that I mix up in small batches for touch-up work and it re-melts the old stuff and allows for a somewhat cleaner appearance where the finish has chipped or worn off.

Basically this rifle is finished and just needs a final check-out before firing.  The chamber looks great, the rifling is sharp and the bore shines.  There are times when I begin to suspect these rifles were never fired, but that isn't indicated by the carbon deposits on the stock.  Still this one is in better overall finish shape than my prior ones, although the stock appears a bit more dented in the buttstock area from original use: minor dent irregularities were smoothed out, sanded and finished over from the arsenal.  Either that or it was just poorly cut in the first place and they decided to smooth over the imperfections...

Now for box 2!

Yes, that other box behind the first one on day one.

This is not another M-N (although I do like the batch this one came from) but something different.  Spooky, huh?

Time to pull up some pictures I took on the first day.

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In comparison the M-N was just coated with cosmoline.  This baby is packed with it.

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Yup a Yugoslav SKS 59/66 with grenade launcher/compensator and bayonet!  Unlike the USSR which must have been scrimping and saving on cosmoline, the Yugoslavs decided that for every SKS they must make sure a quart of cosmoline goes into it.

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All that glistens is not gold... most of it is probably cosmoline.  There is no real concept of 'bare metal' the way this thing was refurbed at the arsenal.

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If you are unwise enough to touch that with your bare hand, you will be putting that hand into a degreasing solution.  This is no thin coating of cosmoline, like with the M-N, but congealed masses of the stuff in every crevice of the rifle.

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All I can say is every place you see a dull gleam... you wouldn't want to touch it with your bare hand.  Plus some smart fellow along the way may have wrapped this rifle in paper for a few microseconds as there are flakes of paper embedded in the cosmoline on the surface.  They are just so infused with the stuff you can't really see them.


I wore gloves getting this baby out for display.

It got put back in the box while I got a nice book on the SKS rifle that would go through its lineage and have a detailed strip described in it because this rifle will have to go down to component parts.

Now a week later, with those materials in hand, I started out with the idea that I really do need to touch this thing with something other than gloved hands so started work on a few of the top parts to get things ready for stripping down.

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Sorry for the brightness of the paper towel there.

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This is a treated/untreated photo of the handguard over forearm, where the handguard has been treated with antique restorer and the handguard has not.  While there are some tonal differences in the wood, the top now allows for the flash to shine off of the finish (done with BLO from what I understand) while the cosmoline is just... everywhere on the bottom.

Words do not describe it, really.

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The effect is less pronounced on metal, but the very top of the grenade launcher and gas tube have been given a quick once-over and the bottom barrel and bayonet have not.  Still it is possible to recognize that there is, finally, clean metal showing up top!
I dare you to do that with any other solvent that smells like a forest has invaded your sinuses!  Just not going to happen.

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Here the rear portion of the buttstock has been cleaned with a once-over and the part in front past the grip area has not.

Yesterday was the day to really begin work and the very first thing that is in the procedure is to get the cleaning kit from the buttstock...


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Yesterday, after re-assembling the M-N, I had my first job on the SKS.

Clean the cleaning kit.

And I thought the butt plate on the M-N was bad!

Little did I know.

I put all the small parts into my handy-dandy ultrasonic cleaner with weapon cleaning solution, and gave them a 3 minute cycle.  A couple of the smaller parts, like screws, could be taken out at that point. The rest got a repeat of that and, yes, the milky substance I found from the M-N is, indeed, cosmoline that has been cavitated with bubbles as that happened to the globules of the stuff on the parts here.

While that went on I began to apply antique blemish remover to the rest of the stock hoping that it will fight its way through the cosmoline.  The wipe-on was... well... sticky and awful.  The after 5 minute wipe-off wasn't much better.  Today the overnight wait is done and I will be getting on with actually starting the thorough take-down and strip of everything from everything else.  I couldn't see through the bore... well, I could see the lovely soft glow of light attempting to get through cosmoline...

Buy your milsurp Yugoslav SKS and get a FREE quart of cosmoline!


10 July 2011

Recent Arrivals - One day

It is one day later and a lot was accomplished yesterday.  I started off with a few pictures today and if they are awful... well I am no photographer.

First all the metal parts got removed cleaned.

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The bolt and takedown tools got an ultrasonic cleaning in the small ultrasonic machine I picked up a year ago, and I used some specially made cleaning solution mixed 11:1 of water to solution.  I made sure to get the bolt thoroughly immersed so that water was all inside it and then turned it a few times during the process to get rid of any bubble build-up.  That was a fascinating process to watch as the cosmoline was coming off as white strands as surface cavitation was getting bubbles into it so as to lift it up from the metal surface.  I confirmed that after a five minute cleaning by feeling one of the strands and it was a greasy light mix showing its origins to be the cosmoline.  The solution was milky white and since the formula is safe for disposal it went away, being all biodegradable and stuff.

I applied WD-40 to parts that would take a few minutes for me to get to while I disassembled the bolt.  There were some milky white pieces to get off the interior, but they were no longer adhering to the metal, just sitting on it.  The bolt was in fine shape with no pitting or other marks on it, smooth to the touch and thus needing some Militec-1.  A drop or two spread around via a rag is all it takes and then another drop or two via pipe cleaners to get at the hard to reach parts, a dot of the Militec-1 grease (that I have in these lovely syringes able to get a tiny dot of grease out of the end) was put on the threads going into the bolt or any other high wear areas.  A bit of struggling to get the bolt reassembled, due to the spring more than anything else, and that was that.  Next was the drop of magic metal protector on each of the take-down pieces and cleaning pieces and I was ready to go after the buttplate, magazine and receiver.

Now with all of that stuff spread out before me I started using some of the all-natural, won't harm a natural finish on wood and will clean metal antique restorer sparingly on everything.  By sparingly I mean a clean rag folded over four times and you slowly wipe over the surface of the wood or metal, flipping to damp clean surface as the one you are using gets junk built up on it.

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The left rag is a small projects rag that started out about half-dirty, the one on the right was a clean-up rag that started out pretty clean.  These have both gotten the quick one-minute hand washing with gentle dishwashing liquid then rinsing and drying.  Any first application of this stuff will pick up all sorts of surface grime and generally get dirty quickly.  That left rag was initial wipe down of practically everything from the inside of the stock (particularly the  magazine area where cosmoline will find a way to build up and get into the chamber if you don't get it very clean) then the exterior, then across all the metal on the exterior of the receiver, screws, magazine, butt plate... if it has cosmoline on it, it gets wiped.  And you don't use much of this stuff, either.  I used the blemish remover on the butt plate and wood there as the cosmoline was caked in and just awful.  That sucking sound getting the butt plate loose was cosmoline unwilling to release its hold.

By the time you get everything dampened its about 5 minutes and time to wipe over all the areas you just hit with a clean dry rag.  That is the right hand rag and the stuff that came off with it was not nice, particularly where there was some carbon build-up in the cleaning rod channel.  I actually did a re-application there as chunks of carbon came off to reveal the finish and wood underneath...

During this process the first rag, the one I wetted down a few times, was getting that lovely orange to yellow-orange color of cosmoline on it.  So was the dry rag.  The photos were taken before I used a dry rag on the stock today, and it was getting that light coating of cosmoline on it, too.

All of the metal got the Militec-1 wipe-down after I did the stock wipe-off.

Total time to get things where they were in the photos was about 2.5 hours, not counting camera time.

From that I got to see some areas of wear that were covered over yesterday.

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One of the benefits of the antique restoring liquid is that on metal it starts to break the cosmoline down, beyond lifting it off the surface, meaning that my standard cleaner/de-greaser KG-3 can get rid of it.  Normally I can't do that to cosmoline all that well with that stuff, but after one wipe of restorer, one wipe to remove it and one spray and wipe of KG-3 I am down to metal finish.

Today was stock wipe-down #2, putting all the fabric goods into a batch of liquid de-greaser and then rinsing it, and doing a cleaning of the bore starting with the antique restoring fluid, KG-3 and then Militec-1.  Nice, shiny bore!

The next few days will be restorer wipe-down/wipe-on/wipe-off until there is zero cosmoline on any of the rags.  As the restorer adds some oils into the wood surface to help close up the pores, it will take some days to finally get the cosmoline out, but well worth it.

09 July 2011

Recent Arrivals

Oooooo!  Boxes!!

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There are two of them there.

Now what does this portend?

Hey, there's a drill press on a stand next to the workbench... that wasn't there before, was it?  Hmmmm....

Still there are boxes and it is time to see what sort of refugees have arrived here in those cardboard containers.

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Uh-oh!  Cosmoline!  The dreaded nemesis returns to coat and adorn any hand, glove, or errant finger that gets close to it and then it will spread everywhere. 

And look!  There it is hiding just waiting to jump out at the unwary...

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Most evil of materials that protects all and seeks to coat all.  Including you.

I speak from experience here, trust me.

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It came with its pouches bearing gifts of cosmoline... no, that just isn't something you want to hear at Christmas.

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There it glistens adorning metal and wood, putting a dull sheen on it all.

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Refugees from a bygone era bearing gifts after they were last looked at and packed away for a war that never came... yet...

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And yet, for all that, there is beauty under there, hidden and trying to show through.

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Then, of course I opened the second box....