There’s something wrong with me.

I need help.


Does this count as gun porn?

The importance of a second pair of (educated) eyes

A couple weeks ago, I was reminded while visiting a friend the importance of having someone else watching what you’re doing.  He was getting ready to take a class that included some disarm, and other hand to hand techniques.  This particular class was an advanced class, and he already had a clue what they were going to go over.  I asked him to show me some of the stuff, since 1. I was curious, and 2. I have a fairly considerable background in martial arts.

We went over what he already knew.  There were a few spots where he was not exactly doing something right, and we worked on them.  With other things, just him talking through what was going on helped him out.  Of course, there was also pure and simple repetition that helped.

While we didn’t get a chance to go to the range this time around, we have in the past.  He is, by far, a better shooter than I am.  I think every time that we went, he’s given me pointers.  It’s usually been things like “shift your off hand a bit,” or “shift your balance a bit.”

These things are often difficult for you to figure out on your own.  Even if you do video it, and actually spot issues, you’re probably not in a position where you can practice the improved techniques immediately.  Often times, we feel like we’re fast/powerful/in good form when we’re not.  Having someone else that knows what to look for can instantly tell you what to improve.

Of course, a trainer is going to be the best at this (that’s their job!), but a friend that is at least roughly as good as you are can be a very useful training aid.

heh… oops

So, my wife’s sister has a bit of a fear of knives.  Somewhere between “healthy respect for,” and a full on phobia.  Normally, if she’s not surprised with it, she can keep it under control.  Not being a jerk, I try to behave and not freak her out.  There have been a few times that I haven’t been paying attention, pulled out my pocket knife, snapped it open to open something, and made her jump.

I was doing pretty well this Christmas.  In part because of the the new Spyderco Manix 2 that my dad gave me this year.  One of the benefits of the ball bearing lock used in that knife is that you can open in a lot quieter than you can something like my Endura that is under spring tension.  I don’t think I made her jump once!

Then I opened a present to my from her father… a Woodsman’s Pal.

I opened it up and heard her exclaim “ahhh! Keep that over there!”



Apologies for the Pun

A Tale of Two Knives

My dad and I have a tradition of shopping for each others Christmas presents.  It’s easier to just say “you have x amount of money, what do you want?” than trying to guess.  This year, I decided that my gift from him would be a Spyderco Manix 2.

I’ve been interested in Benchmade’s Axis lock for a while, and carried either a Spyderco Endura or Delica for years.  For whatever reason, Benchmade’s Griptilian just hasn’t grabbed me.  The Manix 2 basically has Spyderco’s take on the Axis lock, but has Spyderco’s signature look and feel.  I’ve handled one in the past, but wasn’t able to purchase it at the time.

So, I had my dad order me one.  And this guy showed up on my door a few days later.

I played with it for a little while, and something just didn’t feel right.  I finally figured out that I had accidentally had him order the “lightweight” version of the knife.  They made it lightweight primarily by removing all the metal that they could.  They’ve managed to cut the knife down from 5oz to 3oz.  This savings is almost entirely in the handle (the metal of the blade is also different, which I assume is done for weight reasons), which means the balance feels off.  The all plastic handle also just feels cheap.  I’m sure it’s up to abuse, but it just doesn’t feel like it.

Fortunately, the order was through Amazon, so, after calling my dad, we set up a return and ordered the right one.  and this guy showed up today.

This one feels a lot better.  I don’t think it’s purely the weight, since my standard EDC Endura weighs in at less than 4oz.  I handed the two knives to my wife (very much not a knife person), and she told me that the lightweight one felt like crap and I should get rid of it.

I will say that I like the “Volcano” grip pattern on the lightweight knife over the generic rough texture on the heavier knife.  That said, the lightweight one is definitely going back.

One comes in, one goes out. Note the different grip patterns and different pocket clips.

Interestingly, the lightweight actually has more material on the spine.  I’m guessing it’s needed to provided extra structural support.

Everyone Loves Random Gun Pics, Right?

Ruger Blackhawk in .30carbine and a NAA mini-revolver in .22lr.

Here’s a Tip

If you say that something is bad because there’s a *chance* that you might flag yourself, and then go on to advocate appendix carry?

Yeah… don’t expect me to take you seriously.

(also, oh hey! I’m not dead!)

Does your Cherokee suddenly overheat?

I see that question a lot. The story basically goes something like this:

I was out on the interstate today, going about 75mph in 90 degree heat with the AC on full blast (probably with a lift, bigger tires, and stock gearing), and I noticed that my temp gauge was a little over 210. Close to the 220 mark. I know that normal operating temperature for my 4.0 is between 205 and 210, so I wasn’t all that concerned. Then all of a sudden my temp gauge spiked to 260, the instrument cluster beeped at me, and my check gauges light came on! What happened?

Well, what happened is that your instrument cluster temperature gauge is a dirty little liar, that’s what. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s the worst possible liar in that it doesn’t tell you how serious things are until you are well past time to take action. In other words, you were having problems looooooong before your check gauges light came on.

So let’s start off by talking about where that gauge gets its’ readings. In 1996 and older cherokees, there were actually two separate temperature sensors–one in the thermostat housing on the front of the engine, and another one in the back of the block. The front sensor was for the engine computer, and the rear sensor went straight to the temperature gauge in the instrument cluster. If you have one of those older cherokees, then the rest of this article doesn’t apply to you. In fact, I’d be shocked if you were having this “sudden overheating” problem in the first place.

In 1997 (or possibly 1996, since they were the first OBD2 XJs) they ditched the rear temperature sensor. In the 97-01 models, the engine computer (Powertrain Control Module, PCM) reads the resistance value from the engine coolant temperature sensor. The ECTS is an inexpensive sensor because it is essentially just a variable resistor that—wait for it—varies the amount of electrical resistance depending on what temperature it is.

Here’s a handy chart that shows what the factory sensor’s resistance is at specific temperatures. You can use this chart to determine if your sensor is bad, by the way.

As I mentioned, that resistance is read by the Powertrain Control Module. The signal wire for the ECTS goes directly to the PCM. It goes nowhere else. It’s circuit K2 in the factory service manual, which you should buy right now if you don’t already have one.

The PCM then sends out the calculated temperature via the CCD bus. CCD is Chrysler’s intra-vehicle communications protocol, similar to CAN bus.

The instrument cluster reads this value off the CCD Bus. Here’s the diagram from the factory service manual that shows how this communication works:

As you can see, the temperature gauge in the instrument cluster has no direct communication with the ECTS. It only know the value that is put out by the PCM.

You know what else can read the value put out by the PCM? Every single OBD2 code reader on the planet. And as a bonus, with Chrysler vehicles (like the 97-01 XJ), it reads it off the CCD bus:

I bought a ScanGauge II in like 2005 and have used it extensively ever since. There are much better options out there today–like the UltraGauge–but I have it so I use it. If you just want something for this test, a cheapie OBD2 bluetooth adapter and a free app like Torque will do just as well.

Here are my readings from yesterday. It was 90 degrees outside, I had the air on full blast, and I was trucking down the interstate at 80mph with a 3″ lift, 33″ tires, and stock gears.

Here’s a lovely comparison of the same PCM signal being displayed as 229F by the ScanGauge, but being interpreted by the temperature gauge as a touch under 220:

And here we have the gauge happily reporting 220, still, yet the PCM reporting 245:

And this is after I’ve been off the interstate for a few minutes with the AC turned off. Scangauge reads 225, temperature gauge reads about 215:

From my experience, the temperature gauge reads fairly accurately up until about the 210 mark. After that is when it starts to lose its’ mind.

The cooling system is not overly complex so there are not a whole lot of things that could be causing higher than normal temperatures. Maybe I’ll do a write-up on what to do next, but this post is really more about pointing out that the temperature gauge is not a precise reading once you go above normal operating temperatures.

(okay, technically the hash marks from 210-260 are 12.5 degrees, meaning the 220 mark is really the 222.5 mark, but even in that case the 245 reading should have been right on top of that hash mark before the 260.)

I made a thing

I continue to absolutely love living in the future.

I am a cheap bastard. My cars are old. My house is old. My guns are significantly newer, but they’re not expensive. The most expensive gun I own is the AR10 I built and most of that is because AR10.

My “long range”* rifle is a Remington 700 AAC-SD with the factory trigger and a $350 scope. My carry gun is a Glock 23 I bought 10 years ago. My IDPA gun is an M&P9 with an apex trigger but that’s it.

So when I bought a spotting scope, I went with something super cheap: The Emarth 20-60x60AE

But, well, it kind of sucks, being that it’s so cheap. So since I have a 3D printer and you can get a Logitech C270 for $15, I decided to make two cheap things way, waaaaay better:

I’ll let you know how it works out at the range. Or not. I’m semi-retired from blogging 🙂

*Now that I’m really starting to get in to it, the R700 doesn’t really qualify as long range anymore. Need moar Creedmoor.

Huh… hadn’t thought about that…

One of my friends just got his paperwork back on a silencer that he submitted almost exactly 1 year ago (360 days, do be exact).  Judging by the comments on his Facebook post, roughly a year  turn around on NFA paperwork is not unusual these days.  Oh, and for the record, this is far from his first NFA item, so 1. he had all his paperwork in proper order, and 2. I can’t really see any reason that this one didn’t get rubber stamped.

So…. plan on a year + $200 for permission to buy a can.  This might not be a problem if you’re buying from a store.  Just make sure that the shop has been there a while, and there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll still be there and they will still have your can in the back.  Buying from an individual?  That’s a bit… different.

Basically, how things currently stand, I hope you like that suppressor for the long haul.  Not many folks are going to buy that off you when they know that it’s going to be a year before the transaction can actually take place.

Oh, and on top of that, if you need to move? Yeah… you have to make sure that the address gets changed in the proper amount of time… assuming that you’re moving to a place where the local LEOs are ok with you owning one.