Sunday, December 23, 2012

Product Review: Break Free CLP

As a gun owner, I'm always looking for something to clean and lubricate my pieces. Sure, you can buy a bore solvent, gun grease and oil, and probably a myriad of other products to do same. What I really wanted was Ballistol, but no one in my area, other than a place in Eaton Rapids, which is out of my way has it. Most, even in gun stores give me a blank stare as if I were speaking Aramaic or Reformed Egyptian (whatever that is). I've used and still use Rem Oil for the most part. It does a good job, is readily available and gentle on composite parts. I've also used Gun Scrubber and brake cleaner to get the tough stuff cleaned off, but these aren't the most economical either. Besides, space in my place is at a premium. The less cleaners and lubricant varieties I have to store, the better. I went to Gander Mountain and asked for Ballistol, got the thousand yard stare (I love Gander Mountain) and went to find a cleaner/lubricant. What I found was Break Free CLP, by Safariland. It reads right on the can, "cleaner, lubricant, preservative." Sold, for about $10. After firing about 50 rounds through the Bersa .45 and 100 or so through the Ruger 9mm, I assumed there would be enough dirt to effect a good test. The guns are aluminum and tool steel, glass reinforced nylon and stainless steel respectively. I field stripped both guns and lightly sprayed this cleaner enough to soak the metal.

What I noticed right away is that this stuff foams big time. It also broke the powder and any fouling loose that was present and coated everything with a film of oil, so much that I had to wipe my guns down several times to remove the excess film. This was especially true with the composite frame on the Ruger, or the hard rubber grip on the Bersa. Even now, several weeks later there is still a goodly residue on all the moving parts of both guns. Another benefit is that the dust and dirt that normally get mingled with the lubricant are just not present with CLP.

My review on this product will have a part two, but my first assessment is to be very careful that you don't overapply this stuff as it make things slippery in a hurry. It's nearly impossible to clean off the excess, which is a lot thereof. A very light touch on the button is all you need... to be continued. Maranatha!

Pyrex Glassware Chip Fix

This is a quick one, courtesy of my cooking teacher Rita Rood. She's long since retired from her teaching job, but I remember her lessons well, 28 years later. Either here, there or in the air we will meet again...
When you run a home economics class with a tight budget, you tend to figure out ways to save money quickly. Pyrex utensils are expensive, and I've had mine close to two decades. When I found a chip in my two cup measuring cup, throwing this away wasn't an option. However, cutting yourself on a sharp edge isn't exactly one either. Caution, wear gloves and eye protection when doing this fix. This works ONLY on tempered glass. Regular glass MUST be discarded or recycled as this will crack and probably severely cut someone. If the piece is cracked, throw it away as will likely break further. If this is a chip, proceed.

What you need is 100 to 400 grit sandpaper along with the eye protection and gloves. I forwent the gloves, and only had 400 grit paper, but that's your choice. I always wear eye protection. Take the sandpaper and use it to smooth out the sharp edges on the chip. The lower the grit number, the more aggressive on the glass it will be. You want the rough edges smooth, but don't get carried away as the edges will never be perfect again. You're just trying to save the piece. Once the edges are smooth enough for your liking, wash it and you're done. Maranatha!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Apollo Water Heater Fix.

Try as I might, I couldn't find any information online about Apollo hydronic heating system or their water heater AND their issues. As anyone who's had the pleasure of living in an apartment with these systems, they use the water heater to heat both the potable (domestic) water and to heat your living space. There must be an advantage somewhere, but if you take too many Hollywood showers, you're going to take longer to heat your home. I guess the advantage is its simplicity in only needing one gas appliance, not to mention the cost saving in building and installation. These aren't too terribly high maintenance, and for the most part they will happily heat your apartment and water without a problem. However, the little maintenance they do need is crucial. Neglect this one little thing and you have a problem that will confound you and probably even a few service techs to boot. I used to install these things back in the day, and I hate working on them. It isn't that the parts themselves are too hard to fix, but the location is what makes these a pain to get to. New water heaters in general are the bane of my existence by design. You see, the government mandated about a decade ago that water heaters needed flame arresters to help prevent them from igniting flammable liquids stored next to same. These flame arresters are usually made of a dense screen material that's about a half inch thick and about eight to twelve inches around.

The problem is that these screens will plug up in short order from dust and dirt getting sucked into them from the draft. The result is that the water heater will go off on limit and if you're lucky, you'll be able to cool it down and relight it. If you aren't, you're going to spend a couple hundred dollars to replace the pilot assembly. Such is the price of progress and trust me, I hate this design with a passion. However, the fix and prevention isn't too terrible as long as you have some space to work. If not, prepare to lay down and stand on your head to fix this abomination.

Again, this repair is pretty straightforward and requires basic hand tools as well as a vacuum cleaner, air tank or air compressor with a blowgun. You could just use a vacuum, but this will be a little more tedious. This fix can expose you to moderate to severe burns. There is also risk of fire and explosion causing injury, death or property damage as you will be removing gas lines. Make sure the water heater is cool before you work on it. When in doubt, consult the services of a competent service technician to effect this fix. The cost will be minimal compared to an emergency room or funeral bill. This may be extreme, but better to be too careful.  Do this and any other fixes at your own risk.

You will need the aforementioned vacuum cleaner, and air source if you can get it. You'll also need a set of wrenches from 3/8, 7/16 and possibly a 3/4 or an adjustable wrench or gripping pliers, as well as a socket set to remove the cover plate. You'll want to remove those two nuts to that plate, unscrew the thermocouple, pilot tube and main burner tube from the gas control. Carefully, work the burner out without tearing the gasket, paying attention to how it goes back together and set it aside. There will be the screen material underneath the burner, so blow that from the inside out with your vacuum or compressed air. Spend a good ten minutes on this and if you can feel air movement through it, you're golden. Take a second and clean around the water heater with the vacuum cleaner and blow the screen through one more time. Clean any more debris that works out. Repeat this process a time or two, or until there's no more debris evident. Put everything back together and check for leaks as you start it up. Use bubbles for this as they're more user friendly, but be careful not to get them all over the gas control itself. Carefully stick your hand next to the screen under the water heater; you should feel the slightest of air movement. If not, shut it down and clean it again. See, I told you this was a pain, but does anyone listen?

So, how does one prevent this fiasco? Every water heater comes with a filter that wraps around the base. This is made of a soft plastic with a fine screen and is usually black in color. The trick is to inspect this every month or two and clean it with a vacuum when it starts to plug up. Most of the time, people will either throw it away or remove it because it's too much of a pain in the rumpus to get it back on. Bite the bullet and make sure it gets back on, or replace it if it's missing. It will save you a no heat or no hot water in the long run, and the time and expense of correcting same. Maranatha!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sighting in the Ruger SR9c

Disclaimer: 11/16/14 I understand that people are really "fired up" about their guns and want to be right. This article was written nearly two years ago and I understand after owning a few handguns that not everyone of them is accurate from the factory. In short, I get it. So you can save your breath with the comments pertaining to same. The other is that I don't have nor use a boresight, a "problem" I intend to rectify soon. These are anywhere from $40 to $100 and not everyone has that kind of money laying around, especially around Christmas time or after plunking down four bills for a new gun. Sighting it this way, slowly and methodically cost me less than $10 in ammo and I never have a problem with target practice on my gun. A boresight is the best way to help get things close, but you still need to adjust the sights using live ammo.

Warning: As with anything pertaining to firearms, you MUST follow all safety rules. Eye and hearing protection is mandatory. Do not point a gun at anything you do not intend to destroy and NEVER, EVER put your finger on the trigger unless you are ready to shoot. You WILL have a negligent discharge, guaranteed! Use only firearms in good working condition. In addition, consult the services of a competent, professional gunsmith for all repairs or adjustments affecting the safety and reliability of any firearm. Never perform this adjustment in a setting where injury, death or property damage could result if a discharge occurs. You are responsible for the safe operation and maintenance of your firearm, so do this and any other repairs at your own risk.

I got my Ruger SR9c back in September to replace my Beretta PX4 Storm Compact, a gun that was dead on accurate at seven yards or more, but was a pain in the butt to carry and sliced my fingers trying to shoot on more than one occasion. The Ruger was lighter, thinner and striker fired, which should have made it a joy to carry and use, but the accuracy was just not there. Sure, I could hit with it, but not accurately or consistently enough to keep all my rounds on paper at the prescribed distance. Even in a high stress situation, you still need to be able accurately hit your target. On most handguns, the sights are fixed and require some gunsmithing to get to rights. On the Ruger SR9c, the front sight is adjustable with a drift, but the rear sight is adjustable with an Allen wrench and a slot screwdriver. For the most part, this gun should shoot accurately right out of the box. However, mine was shooting low after many attempts to correct my stance, etc. I couldn't even blame it on recoil, or "anticipating the kick" as the recoil on this piece is nearly non-existent. 

There are two adjustments on the rear sight. One is for elevation, and the other for windage. Elevation is adjusted with that slot screw and the windage is with the Allen wrench. For the most part, you will never need to adjust for windage, or left and right on this gun. Elevation, because of the trajectory or path of the bullet as well as holding and aiming the gun and your depth perception will affect how these sights need to be aligned. At twenty one feet, the bullet isn't going to drop that much and this is where you need to be able to hit accurately. For this, I was back about twenty eight feet, or a little over nine yards. To sight this gun without a bore sight, you will need to load a few rounds of the weight you intend to carry (I use 115 grain), align the front sight with the target. This like putting a pumpkin on a post, so to speak with the target on top and "touching" the front sight. Align the rear sight so the front sight is centered in the notch of the rear one and level with each other. Fire off several rounds and note where they landed. If they ended up low, tighten the screw, lowering the rear sight a little. If they land high, loosen the screw. Fire off a couple more rounds and adjust until the said rounds hit where the sight picture is. This takes some practice, and a little trial and error, but you will get the rounds where they need to go. As long as you consistently hold the gun properly and align the sights, it shouldn't take more than one or two adjustments to get this right. Regardless, you're not striving for pinpoint accuracy, but to place your rounds in a tight group of about four to six inches, maybe less. The trick is that the sights need to go where the rounds are landing and vice versa. Then you can take full advantage of the accuracy of your gun. Hopefully, this was helpful as I'm not a gun expert, but a gun realist. 

Update: I got the Ruger as accurate as it's going to get and have about 500 rounds through same without a malfunction. I fired 120 today without a problem. Maranatha!