Posts Tagged Firearms

Battleship Wiring

A view from behind one of the switch panels in the 16 inch gun control compartment, deep inside USS Massachusetts BB-59:

USS Massachusetts BB-59 - Gun Laying Control Cables

USS Massachusetts BB-59 – Gun Laying Control Cables

Although the doc isn’t contemporaneous with Big Mamie, the Navy can still teach you to lace your cables like your life depends on it (starting on page 2-94, 157 of 1412).

We explored the interior for several hours, all the way to the lower Turret 2 barbette:

USS Massachusetts BB-59 - Turret 2 Lower Barbette 16 inch Shell Storage

USS Massachusetts BB-59 – Turret 2 Lower Barbette 16 inch Shell Storage

Each 16 inch projectile weighs 2700 pounds, with 800 shells distributed around three turrets. Looking at the drawings doesn’t make up for seeing the machinery.

The Massachusetts did shore bombardment during the Solomon Island campaign, where my father was assigned to guard a forward observer targeting Japanese redoubts and caves. He said the first rounds went over the far horizon, the second group landed short in the valley, and, from then on, the observer called out coordinates, walked the impact points down the valley, and wiped out each target in succession. BB-59 may not have been on the other end of those trajectories, but he said the Navy saved them plenty of trouble and inconvenience …

Capital ships became obsolete during the Battle of Midway, but battleships remain impressive hunks of engineering.



Craftsman 1231.3817 Power Hammer: Fire in the Hole!

For reasons that aren’t relevant here, I had to reinforce some old basement stairs. Rather than drilling holes, sinking anchors, and installing screws, I just nailed painted 2×4 strips to the foundation using this Craftsman 1231.3817 Power Hammer, which is not available in a Sears / Kmart near you:

Sears Craftsman Power Hammer

Sears Craftsman Power Hammer

It’s a handheld gun that drives two inches of hardened steel nail into solid concrete by firing what looks like an overstuffed 0.22 Short blank cartridge: load a nail, fit a cartridge, press the muzzle firmly against the target, and whack the butt end with a hammer.

Worked like a champ. Scary as you’d imagine.

If the nail stands proud of the surface, you can hit it again with a low(er) power load to drive it the rest of the way. Sometimes that sinks it below the surface, leaving a cylindrical pit. In the situations where I use this thing, nobody will ever notice.

It’s similar to the Remington Model 476 Powder Actuated Fastening Tool (manual), which you can get from Amazon and surely other vendors; fancier versions also exist. Equally surely, they’re illegal in some jurisdictions.

I have reason to use it every few decades, which is entirely enough for me…

Wear goggles, earplugs, gloves, and don’t get stupid.


Bring Enough Gun: M110 Self-Propelled Howitzer

Spotted this in Salamanca NY:

M110 Self-Propelled Howitzer - Salmanca

M110 Self-Propelled Howitzer – Salmanca

According to Wikipedia, the M110A2 8 inch / 203 mm Self-Propelled Howitzer became obsolete when improvements in smaller guns matched its range and firepower. The double-vent muzzle brake is diagnostic for the A2 model.

It seemed an odd decoration for a town inside an Indian reservation; we didn’t stop to read the plaque.

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Sewing Machine RPM Sensing: Gun Bluing FTW!

A quick-and-dirty bracket (made from a leftover strip in the pile of chassis clips) affixed an IR reflective sensor (based on the ubiquitous TCRT5000 module) to the sewing machine motor:

TCRT5000 sensor on motor

TCRT5000 sensor on motor

That’s scribbling black Sharpie around the retroreflective tape for the laser tachometer, which worked just about as poorly as you’d expect. Retroreflective tape, by definition, reflects the light directly back at the LED, but in this case you want it bounced to the photosensor.

An IR view shows the geometry and highlights the LED:

TCRT5000 sensor - IR view

TCRT5000 sensor – IR view

The TCRT5000 datasheet suggests that the peak operating distance is 2.5 mm, roughly attained by tinkering with the bracket. The datasheet graph shows that anything between 1 and 5 mm should be just fine:

IR Reflective Sensor module - TCRT5000 - response vs distance

IR Reflective Sensor module – TCRT5000 – response vs distance

Soooo, a bit of contrast improvement is in order:

  • Scrape off the tape
  • Remove adhesive and Sharpie with xylene
  • Scuff with sandpaper
  • Apply Brownell’s Oxpho-Blue gun bluing with a cotton swab
  • Buff with 0000 steel wool
  • Repeat
  • Apply stainless steel tape around half the circumference
  • Burnish flat

Which looks pretty good:

Kenmore 158 motor pulley - black-silver

Kenmore 158 motor pulley – black-silver

The stainless tape butts up against the setscrew:

Kenmore 158 motor pulley - black-silver at setscrew

Kenmore 158 motor pulley – black-silver at setscrew

Adjusting the sensitivity midway between the point where the output is low (OFF) over the black and high (ON) over the tape seems reasonable.

Running at the slowest possible speed produces this pulse train:

Motor sense - min speed

Motor sense – min speed

The motor at 19 rev/s = 1140 RPM corresponds to about 2 rev/s of the sewing machine shaft= 2 stitch/s. Slower than, that, the pedal won’t go in simple open-loop mode.

The setscrew causes those “glitches” on the rising edge. They look like this at a faster sweep:

Motor sense - min speed - setscrew

Motor sense – min speed – setscrew

At maximum speed, the setscrew doesn’t show up:

Motor sense - max speed

Motor sense – max speed

The motor at 174 rev/s = 10440 RPM would do 1000 stitch/s, but that’s just crazy talk: it runs at that speed with the handwheel clutch disengaged and the motor driving only the bobbin winder. I was holding the machine down with the shaft engaged and all the gimcrackery flailing around during that shot.

The sensor board may have an internal glitch filter, but it’s hard to say: the eBay description has broken links to the circuit documentation.

I could grind the setscrew flush with the pulley OD and cover it with tape, but that seems unreasonable. Fixing the glitch in firmware shouldn’t be too difficult: ignore a rising edge that occurs less than, say, 1/4 of the previous period following the previous edge.

Perhaps buffing half the pulley’s circumference to a reasonable shine (minus the bluing) would eliminate the need for the stainless steel tape.

Iterating the bluing operation / scrubbing with steel wool should produce a darker black, although two passes yields a nice flat black.



Installing a Smooth-head Screw

A screw (*) fastens the capacity reduction block to the magazine’s interior floor plate:

Browning Hi-Power magazine - block detail

Browning Hi-Power magazine – block detail

It started as a normal M3x0.5 socket-head cap, but I reduced the diameter and turned off the socket to fit the existing hole in the exterior floor plate:

BHP floor plate screw - disk head

BHP floor plate screw – disk head

The head was just barely too large for the largest of my pin vises. Drat!

The easiest way (for me, anyhow) to install that screw into the epoxy-loaded block started by dropping it into what seems to be a shim-punching tool:

Base screw in alignment block

Base screw in alignment block

It’s in the left hole of the top front row: talk about protective coloration, eh?

Then capture it in one of the Sherline’s drill chucks:

Base screw in Jacobs chuck

Base screw in Jacobs chuck

Which makes it trivially easy to turn right into the nut brazed to the floor plate and the epoxy inside the block. When the epoxy cures, the screw, nut, floor plate, spring, and block become one solid unit.

That punch block came with the lathe tooling, made for some special purpose long lost in history. It comes in handy all the time for other jobs, though, so I think it’s still happy.

(*) The pictures are staged recreations; I was cleaning off the bench and unearthed the spare screws.



Browning Hi-Power Magazine Capacity Reduction: Blocks

After a bit of trial fitting and tweaking, just three parameters cover the variations for the magazines in hand:

  • Offset of screw from front-to-back center
  • Height of spring retaining crimp
  • Distance between screw and crimp

Collecting those numbers in a single array, with constants to select the entries, makes some sense:

//BlockData =  [-0.5, 1.5, 11.5];	// Browning OEM
BlockData = [-1.5, 2.0, 9.0];		// Generic 1


Although commenting out an undesired variable isn’t fashionable, OpenSCAD doesn’t have a practical mechanism to set specific values based on a control variable:

  • if-then-else deals with geometric objects
  • (boolean)?when_true:when_false (the ternary operator) doesn’t scale well

You could, of course, depend on OpenSCAD’s behavior of using the last (in syntactic order) instance of a “variable”, but IMHO that’s like depending on semantic whitespace.

In any event, the rest of the block builds itself around those three values by recomputing all of its dimensions.

The Browning OEM block looks like this:

Browning Hi-Power Magazine Block - solid model - BHP OEM

Browning Hi-Power Magazine Block – solid model – BHP OEM

The Generic floorplate has a much larger spring retaining crimp, so the block has far more overhang:

Browning Hi-Power Magazine Block - solid model - Generic 1

Browning Hi-Power Magazine Block – solid model – Generic 1

As before, the yellow widgets are built-in support structures separated from the main object by one thread thickness and width. That seems to maintain good vertical tolerance and allow easy removal; the structures snap free with minimal force. A closeup look shows the gaps:

Browning Hi-Power Magazine Block - solid model - Generic 1 - support detail

Browning Hi-Power Magazine Block – solid model – Generic 1 – support detail

The main shape now has a 2 mm taper to ease the magazine spring past the upper edge of the block. The horn remains slightly inset from the side walls to ensure that the whole thing remains manifold:

Browning Hi-Power Magazine Block - solid model - Generic 1 - whole end

Browning Hi-Power Magazine Block – solid model – Generic 1 – whole end

The whole object looks about the same, though:

Browning Hi-Power Magazine Block - solid model - Generic 1 - whole side

Browning Hi-Power Magazine Block – solid model – Generic 1 – whole side

The shape descends from the geometry I used for the stainless steel block, with the additional internal channel (on the right in the models) to be filled with steel-loaded epoxy during assembly. That should make the whole block sufficiently robust that you must destroy the floorplate and distort the spring to get it out; wrecking the magazine’s innards should count as not “readily” modifiable.

Some destructive testing seems to be in order…

The OpenSCAD source code:

// Browning Hi-Power Magazine Plug
// Ed Nisley KE4ZNU December 2013
//	February 2014 - easier customization for different magazine measurements

Layout = "Whole";			// Whole Show Split
							//  Whole = upright for steel or plastic
							//  Show = section view for demo, not for building
							//  Split = laid flat for plastic show-n-tell assembly

AlignPins = true && (Layout == "Split");	// pins only for split show-n-tell

Support = true && (Layout != "Split");		// no support for split, optional otherwise

// Define magazine measurements

//BlockData =  [-0.5, 1.5, 11.5];		// Browning OEM
BlockData = [-1.5, 2.0, 9.0];		// Generic 1


//- Extrusion parameters must match reality!
//  Print with 2 shells and 3 solid layers

ThreadThick = 0.20;
ThreadWidth = 0.40;

HoleWindage = 0.2;

Protrusion = 0.1;			// make holes end cleanly

function IntegerMultiple(Size,Unit) = Unit * ceil(Size / Unit);

// Dimensions

Angle = 12.5;				// from vertical

SpringID = 10.3;			// magazine spring curvature (measure with drill shank)
SpringRadius = SpringID / 2;
Taper = 2.0;				// total taper toward top

Length = 24.5;				// front-to-back perpendicular to magazine shaft
Height = 17.0;				// bottom-to-top, parallel to magazine shaft

RectLength = Length - SpringID;	// block length between end radii

HornBaseOD = 8.0;			// fits between follower pegs to prevent shortening
HornTipOD = 5.0;
HornAddTip = (HornTipOD/2)*tan(Angle);
HornAddBase = (HornBaseOD/2)*tan(Angle);
HornAddLength = HornAddTip + HornAddBase + 2*Protrusion;
HornLength = 12.0;			// should recompute ODs, but *eh*

ScrewOD = 3.0 - 0.25;		// screw hole dia - minimal thread engagement
ScrewLength = Height - 5.0;
ScrewOffset = BlockData[SCREWOFFSET];	//   ... from centerline on XY plane

NutOD = 5.8;						// hex nut dia across flats
NutThick = 2.4;						//  ... generous allowance for nut
NutTrapLength = 1.5*NutThick;		// allow for epoxy buildup
NutTrapBaseHeight = 5.0;			//  ... base height from floor plate

CrimpHeight = IntegerMultiple(BlockData[CRIMPHEIGHT],ThreadThick);		// vertical clearance for spring crimp tab on base plate

CrimpDistance = BlockData[CRIMPDISTANCE];		//  ... clip to screw hole center
CrimpOffset = -(CrimpDistance - ScrewOffset);	// ... horizontal from centerline

SupportLength = 4.0;		// length of support struts under Trim
SupportWidth = IntegerMultiple(0.9*SpringID,4*ThreadWidth);	// ... size needed for platform adhesion
SupportThick = CrimpHeight - ThreadThick;	// ... clearance for EZ removal

VentDia = 2.5;				// air vent from back of screw recess
//VentOffset = CrimpOffset + VentDia/2 + 5*ThreadWidth;
VentOffset = -(NutOD + 4*ThreadWidth);
VentLength = ScrewLength + VentDia;

RecessDia = 3.5;			// additional air vent + weight reduction
RecessLength = ScrewLength + RecessDia/2;		//  ... internal length
RecessOffset = Length/2 - RecessDia/2 - 5*ThreadWidth;	//  ... offset from centerline

PinOD = 1.72;				// alignment pins
PinLength = 4.0;
PinInset = 0.6*SpringRadius;	// from outside edges
echo(str("Alignment pin length: ",PinLength));

NumSides = 8*4;				// default cylinder sides

Offset = 5.0/2;				// from centerline for build layout

// Useful routines

function Delta(a,l) = l*tan(a);				// incremental length due to angle

// Locating pin hole with glue recess
//  Default length is two pin diameters on each side of the split

module LocatingPin(Dia=PinOD,Len=0.0) {

	PinLen = (Len != 0.0) ? Len : (4*Dia);

		PolyCyl((Dia + 2*ThreadWidth),2*ThreadThick,4);

		PolyCyl((Dia + 1*ThreadWidth),4*ThreadThick,4);

	translate([0,0,-(Len/2 + ThreadThick)])
		PolyCyl(Dia,(Len + 2*ThreadThick),4);


module PolyCyl(Dia,Height,ForceSides=0) {			// based on nophead's polyholes

  Sides = (ForceSides != 0) ? ForceSides : (ceil(Dia) + 2);

  FixDia = Dia / cos(180/Sides);

  cylinder(r=(FixDia + HoleWindage)/2,

module ShowPegGrid(Space = 10.0,Size = 1.0) {

  Range = floor(50 / Space);

	for (x=[-Range:Range])
	  for (y=[-Range:Range])


// The magazine block

module Block(SectionSelect = 0) {

CropHeight = Height*cos(Angle);				// block height perpendicular to base
echo(str("Perpendicular height: ",CropHeight));

	difference() {
		union() {
			intersection() {
					hull() {
						for (i=[-1,1])
							translate([0,i*RectLength/2,-((Length/2)*sin(Angle) + Protrusion)])
								cylinder(r1=SpringRadius,r2=(SpringRadius - Taper/2),
										 h=(Height + 2*(Length/2)*sin(Angle) + 2*Protrusion),
				resize([(SpringID - Taper),0,0])
					intersection() {
							translate([0,0,-(HornAddBase + Protrusion)])
										h=(HornLength + HornAddLength + Protrusion),
					cube([2*SpringID,Length,2*(HornLength*cos(Angle) + Protrusion)],center=true);

		translate([0,ScrewOffset,-Protrusion])		// screw
				PolyCyl(ScrewOD,(ScrewLength + Protrusion),6);

		translate([0,ScrewOffset,NutTrapBaseHeight])		// nut trap in center

		translate([0,ScrewOffset,-Protrusion])		// nut clearance at base
				PolyCyl(NutOD,(1.1*NutThick + Protrusion),6);

				cube([SpringID,Length,(CrimpHeight + Protrusion)],center=false);

		if (AlignPins)								// alignment pins
			if (true)
					rotate([0,90,0]) rotate(45 + Angle)
			for (i=[-1,1])			// cannot use these with additional vents * channels
							(i*((Length/2)*cos(Angle) - PinInset)),
							(CropHeight/2 - i*2*PinInset)])
					rotate([0,90,0]) rotate(45 - Angle)

		translate([0,(ScrewOffset + 1.25*NutOD),ScrewLength])	// air vent
			rotate([90,0,0]) rotate(180/8)
			rotate([Angle,0,0]) rotate(180/8)

		translate([0,RecessOffset,0])			// weight reduction recess
			rotate([Angle,0,0]) rotate(180/8)
				PolyCyl(RecessDia,(RecessLength + (RecessDia/2)*tan(Angle)),8);

		if (SectionSelect == 1)
				cube([2*SpringID,4*Length,(Height + HornLength + 2*Protrusion)],center=false);
		else if (SectionSelect == -1)
				cube([2*SpringID,4*Length,(Height + HornLength + 2*Protrusion)],center=false);

SupportSlots = (SupportWidth / (4*ThreadWidth)) / 2;		// SupportWidth is multiple of 4*ThreadWidth

	if (Support)
	color("Yellow") {
		translate([0,(CrimpOffset - SupportLength/2),SupportThick/2])
			difference() {
					cube([(SupportWidth - Protrusion),SupportLength,SupportThick],center=true);
				for (i=[-SupportSlots:SupportSlots])
					translate([i*4*ThreadWidth + 0*ThreadWidth,ThreadWidth,0])
						cube([(2*ThreadWidth),SupportLength,(SupportThick + 2*Protrusion)],center=true);

			for (j=[0:5]) {
				rotate(30 + 360*j/6)
					translate([(NutOD/2 - ThreadWidth)/2,0,(1.1*NutThick - ThreadThick)/2])
						cube([(NutOD/2 - ThreadWidth),
							(1.1*NutThick - ThreadThick)],



// Build it...


if (Layout == "Show")

if (Layout == "Whole")

if (Layout ==  "Split") {
	translate([(Offset + Length/2),Height/2,0])
		rotate(90) rotate([0,-90,-Angle])
	translate([-(Offset + Length/2),Height/2,0])
		rotate(-90) rotate([0,90,Angle])

, ,


Browning Hi-Power Magazine Capacity Reduction: Floor Plate Nut Brazing

Based on the idea of reducing a magazine’s capacity by installing a not “readily” modifiable(*) block, brazing an M3 nut to a magazine floor plate goes about as easily as you can expect.

The process:

  • Drill 3 mm hole in the center of the inner plate boss
  • Wire-brush the plate to remove the black coating
  • Mount a nut on a spring-loaded screw
  • Apply paste flux under the nut
  • Align snippets of silver solder under the nut
  • Fire the propane torch!

The flux is Ultra-Flux, a nasty concoction intended for silver solder, which in this case is Brownell’s Silvaloy 355 in strip form. Despite the name, it’s 56% silver and has much higher strength than soft tin-lead solder. Although I haven’t done any destructive testing, a good joint will be stronger than the base metals.

The setup before soldering the first nut:

Browning floor plate - nut brazing setup

Browning floor plate – nut brazing setup

The spring holds the nut in the proper position, lets it settle straight down as the flux liquefies and the solder melts, then holds it flat against the floor plate to ensure a proper bond and a good fillet. I coated the screw with Tix Anti-Flux to ensure it didn’t become one with the nut.

The same joint after heating:

Browning floor plate - nut brazed 1

Browning floor plate – nut brazed 1

The garish red apparently comes from the Anti-Flux; the screw never got more than dull red and was cool by the time I shut off the torch and fiddled with the camera.

However, the rear of that first nut didn’t get a suitable fillet, so I reheated and removed it to reveal a section where the flux didn’t clean the steel and the solder didn’t flow:

Browning floor plate - nut 1 test

Browning floor plate – nut 1 test

Note that the area below the middle of the nut can’t have a full solder joint, because the nut sits over the depression that forms the boss, thusly:

Browning Hi-Power magazine - drilled floor plate

Browning Hi-Power magazine – drilled floor plate

The solder fillet will, however, surround the nut and bond the ring near the flat part of the plate.

Properly cleaning and brushing that area produced a better joint under a new nut:

Browning floor plate - nut brazed 1a

Browning floor plate – nut brazed 1a

The fillet now extends all the way around the nut, as it should:

Browning floor plate - nut brazed 1a no screw

Browning floor plate – nut brazed 1a no screw

The crusty appearance comes from the flux residue, which comes off easily in a bath of boiling water to reveal a smooth fillet:

Browning floor plate - defluxed

Browning floor plate – defluxed

With cleanliness & good conduct in mind, the remainder of the floor plates brazed smoothly, with good results on the first heating:

Browning floor plate - nut brazed 2

Browning floor plate – nut brazed 2

Repeated heating took the starch right out of that poor spring, though…

With brazed plate in hand, the next step will be fitting suitable blocks to the individual floor plates.

(*) My state senator and assemblyperson (or, more exactly, their staffers) have been totally unhelpful in resolving the definition of “readily” as used in the legislation, to the extent that they don’t respond to emails asking about the result of meetings they said they attended with, e.g., State Police counsels, to get more information.

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