Category Archives: Tools

The Vortex Torque Wrench Optics Mounting Kit is Wicked!!

I’m to the point with rifles that when I want to maintain accuracy, I know I need an accurate torquing driver.  For years I have used the Wheeler Firearms Accurizing Torque (FAT) Wrench and it was good enough.  For about $40 I got the base unit that included a few bits and a case.  The FAT wrench had a range from 10-65 in/lbs and good enough accuracy (+/- 2 in/lbs up to 40 pounds and +/- 5% over 40 in/lbs).  My only beef with it was that the mechanical scale that shows you the torque settings was in 5 pound increments.  To get close to 18 in/lbs, for example, required going close to the middle between 15 and 20 in/lbs and calling it even.

I used the FAT wrench pretty much exclusively from October 2014 to May 2018.  It was good enough at the time – way better than going for ballpark feel “farmer tight” settings but in the back of my head though, I wanted better.

By the way, in case you are wondering why a person would get one of these torque wrenches or drivers, it’s because many torque wrenches aren’t calibrated in inch/pounds (they are often foot pounds in the US) and they may not go down as low as 10 inch/pounds (in/lbs).

My interests span many types of firearms from AKs to precision rifles.  With the latter, I own a number of sub-MOA rifles and they demand precision tools if you want repeatability and reliability.  These rifles also have very good Vortex scopes and rings as well.  If you want consistency and the rings to not shoot loose, the value of a torque wrench becomes apparent fast.

I’m a Vortex fan – there’s no two ways about.  Their optics are superb and they have an absolute “we will stand behind it no matter what with no nonsense” warranty.  Once in a while I will see guys troll the brand on Facebook but I honestly question whether they have ever actually even owned one.

Folks, I’ve owned probably 7-8 superb Vortex scopes and a ton of red dots.  I really don’t know how many red dots of various types – probably approaching a dozen.  The glass is good, the scopes are durable and do you know how many times I have used the warranty? — None.  In talking with guys that have, Vortex took care of them.

So, let me get to the point.  Vortex came out with a torque driver called the “Vortex Optics Torque Wrench Mounting Kit” that goes from 10-50 in pounds in calibrated 1 in/lbs increments that you set like a micrometer.

When it arrived, the first thing I noticed was the heft.  This is a solidly built metal tool that screams quality.  It comes with a few bits.  You pull the copper colored locking ring down and turn the handle to get the torque you want.  I did find that you have to push the bits in very firmly.  There is a detent ball that holds the driver bits in and it is surprisingly stout.

A nice touch is that the end of the handle has a 1/4″ socket if you want to use a ratchet wrench for higher torque applications.  For example, Vortex precision rings can go up to 50 in/lbs.  I can do that by hand most of the time but a ratchet makes it much easier.

On the topic of bits, it is a standard 1/4″ drive so you can get a large collection of bits and pair it up with this unit.  For example, I had a Home Depot Husky brand driver with a ton of bits that I picked up on sale at some point and just had sitting on the shelf.  I put it with the Vortex and its few included driver bits.  Additionally, when I am working on a firearm, I typically have my Weaver deluxe toolkit open as well.  It contains a great selection of bits that you tend to find on firearms.

There is one thing I changed though – the Vortex unit comes in a round plastic case that is nice and strong but I don’t have the patience to try and put it all back together for storage.  So, I hopped down to Ace hardware and bought a case to hold the Vortex torque driver, the Husky driver and all the bits plus I have room for more storage.  I also used some of my spare pluckable foam left over from cases to pad the bottom of the case.

In case you are wondering, here are photos of my FAT and Vortex torque drivers side by side:

In this next photo, you can see what I mean about precisely setting the torque on the wrenches.  My Vortex Precision Scope Rings specify a torque of 18 in/lbs.  With the Vortex wrench, you can precisely set it for 18 pounds.  With the FAT, it’s somewhere around 17-19 pounds plus we already know the wrench’s accuracy is limited to +/- 2 in/lbs as well.

On the topic of accuracy, the Vortex driver comes with a certificate of calibration to testing standard DIN-ISO-6789 by a gentleman named Tom on Feb 27, 2018.  You can see my specific wrench nails the accuracy – no more guesswork and no more ballpark torque setting.

In summary, I am very happy with my Vortex wrench and would recommend it to anyone doing precision firearms work, notably optics.  You can pick one up at a very reasonable price from Amazon and you ought to do it.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


 


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Vortex Optics Torque Wrench Mounting Kit


Features: This tool is easy to operate, simple to set, and offers fast, accurate tension wherever and whenever you need it., The easy to read inch-pound increments ensure you tighten in 1in/lb increments to the specified torque, and not a bit more, ranging from 10 in/lbs to 50 in/lbs., Bits included in kit: 3/16″ Hex bit – fits Vortex Bobro mounts, 2.5mm Hex bit – Fits Razor Red Dot, 3mm HEx bit – Fits Hunter rings, CM-202 and CM-203, T15 Torx bit – Fits Viper rings and Tactical rings, Bits included in kit: T25 Torx bit – Fits PMR rings, 1/2″ Socket – Fits Tactical rings, 10mm Wide Screwdriver bit – Fits Hunter and Viper clamp bolt, 1/4″ Socket adaptor

Riflescope mounting accessory set 10-50 lb adjustable torque – 1 in/lb increments Versatile set – Variety of bits included Convenient, twist lock storage packaging
List Price: $69.00 USD
New From: $69.00 USD In Stock

Why I Stopped Using Harbor Freight Air Fittings

In short, Harbor Freight quick couplers look like a cheap way to go.  The problem is that they are really soft.  I can’t even guess how many female fittings I have thrown away as they deformed and started to leak air.

The same goes for the soft male fittings.  You will find they abrade easily and leak air plus they bend and break easily.  The latest example is this male plug on my IR 117 air hammer where the smaller nipple is tearing away from the relatively thicker base:

My solution is simple – I only use Milton air fittings now and you can get them from Amazon at an affordable price.  Every time one of my many Harbor Freight units fails, I replace it.  By the way, I’m to the point that I don’t recommend any of the cheap import fittings regardless of maker.  Milton isn’t much more and they will last.

By the way, when you look purely at the purchase cost that doesn’t tell the whole story.  This fitting failed right at the start of the job and set me back about 10-15 minutes while I was rummaging around for my Milton spares, my teflon tape, the wrench, setting the tool in the vise to do the work, etc.   All of a sudden the supposed purchase savings doesn’t seem like a big deal.  By the way, I was swearing the whole time too 🙂

Here are the 1/4″ Milton M-type fittings that I use and recommend:


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Milton (S-210) 1/4 NPT M-Style Coupler and Plug Kit, (12-Piece)


Features: BASIC FLOW SIZE: All 1/4″ body size air fittings. 1/4″ NPT. Buna-N seals., KWIK-CHANGE®: Interchangeable/compatible with most manufacturers. Easy push to connect., MAXIMUM: 40 SCFM. 300 PSI. Temperatures up to 250 degrees F., QUALITY: Durable brass couplers. Case-hardened steel plugs, plated to resist rust and corrosion., M-STYLE KIT INCLUDES: (2) Female Couplers, (8) Male Plugs, and (2) Female Plugs. (Milton #715, #727, #728)

Milton (S-210) M-Style Coupler and Plug Kit, (12-Piece)
This pneumatic 12-pc. Milton (S-210) M-Style KWIK-CHANGE coupler/plug air accessory kit includes a variety of couplers, plugs and fittings with a 1/4″ basic flow size (air handling capacity). Milton M-Style Kwik Change couplers are made of brass, while M-Style Kwik Change plugs are made of case-hardened steel and are plated to resist rust. This collection of couplers and plugs:

– Will interchange with all manufacturers who comply with the dimensional requirements of military specification MIL-C-4109.
– Offer a maximum airflow of 40 standard cubic feet per minute.
– Offer a maximum of 300 pounds per square inch.
– Can withstand a max temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

KIT INCLUDES:

(2) 1/4″ FNPT couplers
(8) 1/4″ MNPT plugs
(2) 1/4″ FNPT plugs

Singular Milton Item Part #’s:

#715 coupler (1/4″ FNPT)
#727 plug (1/4″ MNPT)
#728 plug (1/4″ FNPT)

 

List Price: $22.73 USD
New From: $17.61 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

Resurrecting a Gummed Up Air Tool Without Disassembly

Recently I got out my Ingersoll Rand model 117 air hammer to use and found out its action had gotten all gummed up.  It’s been probably a year since I last used it even then probably didn’t use it a ton.  I always drip air tool oil into a tool before use because my air lines run driers and particulate filters for my plastics work.  Thus, I have to manually apply the oil before I use a tool.

When I went to use 117 the piston would not actuate and when I shook the tool, it didn’t sound like it normally did.  My first thought was to check the air pressure and it was at 90 PSI and the regulator was wide open so my next guess was lubrication.  Adding more air tool oil didn’t make any difference.  I then remembered a tip a guy told me years ago with gummy air tools – spray a ton of PB Blaster down the quick connect fitting and let it sit with the quick connect fitting up in the air trapping the penetrating oil in the tool for 5 minutes and try again.

So, I did that, reconnected the air line and it worked!  The tool worked like a champ and it blew PB Blaster everywhere!  I did it one more time just to make sure stuff was clear and ran the tool for a maybe 30 seconds to blow the PB Blaster out, wiped it down with a rag and then put in four drops of air tool oil.  Problem solved.

This was a huge win because I was in the middle of working on AK and wanted to use this tool plus I didn’t have time to take it all apart,  I’m writing this post a few weeks later after completing the AK build and the IR 117 is still working like a champ.

By the way, PB Blaster can be found at tons of automotive stores.  The packing looks gimmicky but it is actually one of the best penetraing oils that is out there along with Kroil.  If I didn’t have access to either of those, I would have made up some Ed’s Red or at least used some form of transmission fluid.  Tranny fluid works great but take a while to penetrate gunk.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.

Ingersoll-Rand 117K 2,000 Blows-Per-Minute Standard Duty Pnuematic Hammer with 5 Chisel Set


Features: Longer Stroke Piston, Alloy steel barrel and heat-treated piston for longer life, Up to 2,000 blows per minute, 5 piece chisel kit

An economical air hammer with a longerpiston stroke, this tool is designed forexhaust work, bolt cutting, and front-endwork. The trigger control and a built-in powerregulator give you full control of the speed and power. Longer stroke piston. Alloyed steel barrel and heat-treated piston for longer life. Up to 2, 000 blows per minute.
List Price: $69.99 USD
New From: $61.99 USD In Stock
Used from: $889.42 USD In Stock

Use an Air Riveter to Install or Remove AK Barrels

For years I used my 20 ton press to remove and install barrels on AK rifles and then somone, Gunplumber maybe, told me to try using an air riveter instead.  You know what, it surprisingly works well and now I only use my press on the removal of really stubborn barrels.

I am going to throw two terms around in this post that I need to explain.  Air hammers and air riveters are remarkably similar – a pneumatic (air powered) pistol is going down a bore and slamming into the end of the unit where a tool is attached.  Thus they are delivered from the hundreds to almost three thousand blows per minute (BPM).  What usually, but not always, differentiates the two is the degree of control you have with the trigger and an integral air regulator to adjust the BPM and how hard the blows are.   If you see a tool with virtually no controls, it is likely an air hammer.  However, as you will read here, there are air hammers that do overlap with air riveters.

With air riveters, the main thing you get is a variable flow trigger, sometimes called a “tickle trigger” and usually a built in air regulator.  This allows you to really dial in the speed and strength of the blows.    When guys gush about how well they can control a big riveter, pay close attention because they aren’t kidding.  When you are building an airplane you need precision and you sure don’t want the riveter to slip and mar the aluminum.  Traditionally with air hammers we think about driving apart exhaust pipes, cutting open barrels and what not.  With air riveters, think of airplanes,

Okay – enough background – let’s talk about how to size these things – riveters are are sized based on the stroke length of the piston and an arcane naming scheme like “2X”, “3X” and “4X”.   Each has a piston about one inch longer than the previous model and the longer the piston, the harder it hits and the bigger rivet you can drive.  Think of the piston in a car – diameter and stroke set the stage for more power.

For example Aircraft Tool Supply sells all kinds of tools for folks who build airplanes and have decent riveters – I have one of their ATS-3X units and it has held up great.  At any rate, here are their tool ratings for example:

Note how the stroke is increasing from their base 200B unit through the 4x.  When you get to the 5x and 7x, both the stroke and bore size increase.  The capacity stated is for aluminum rivets so for steel rivets go two sizes up was a rule I was once told.

Most rivets you encounter around firearms will be steel and between 5/32″ to 3/16″.  I was told not to go smaller than 3X and have no regret with doing AK trigger guards but I did wind up with two units because I wanted to more powerful unit for barrels and barrel pins.   By the way, I was told not to go too small or all the hammer blows would risk work hardening the rivets.

Historically, I have mainly used this riveter for the trigger guard and an occasional barrel pin.  For most of my heavy work such as barrel pins and  barrels, I use an Ingersoll-Rand (IR) model 117 air hammer.  Now here’s the interesting thing – most air hammers, especially cheap imports, do not have variable triggers – they tend to be on or off.  Like riveters, the IR 117 has a variable trigger and a built in regulator.  With piston stroke of 3.5″, and an 22/26″ bore it makes the 117 a tad bigger than the 4X riveter from ATS so all things being equal, the IR 117 will hit harder.

I know Harbor Freight has an air riveter now (they didn’t when I bought mine) but have zero experience with it and also not so good experiences with their air hammers not lasting.

A big requirement for this work is control – you need a variable trigger so you can get just a few blows all the way up to continuous.  A regulatory allows you to adjust how hard the unit hits.  Some past import air hammers I have used seemed to have triggers that were either wide open, or completely unpredictable.  If you have one that is this way, don’t try working on a firearm that you care about.

Both the ATS and IR units were recommended to me and I both do a great job.  Note, there are bigger riveters and air hammers out there but you will notice that the tool shank goes from the very common 0.401″ to a larger diameter such as 0.498.

At any rate, let’s get back to barrels.  Modern AK barrels are what is known as an interference fit with the barrel being pressed into the front trunnion and locked in place by a cross pin.  In general a 12 ton press will do the job reliably but it takes a while to get the jigs set up and parts ready to go.  A 4X riveter will usually do the job also but with way less set up time.   I say usually because once in a while you run into pins or barrels that just do not want to come out and that’s when a big press is the way to go.

Practice First

Let me give you one piece of honest advice – if you go this route, practice before you beat the snot out of your parts.  Air riveters and hammers want to move around on you and you need to know how to control them.

Removing the Barrel Pin

Now you may wonder why I went the pneumatic route vs. sticking with my press.  The answer is real simple –  when I am taking stuff apart, I don’t want to take a ton of time.  I can use the 117 to pop out the barrel pin with either a drift pin or a tapered pin in seconds with very little set up.   I usually just put the trunnion and barrel assembly on  bench block with a hole for the pin to enter as I drive it out from the other side – I drive from the operating side (right when viewed from the top) towards the non-operating side (the left side).

If you are using a tapered pin driver, get the pin started and stop before the tool will hurt the trunnion.  You can drive it out the rest of the way fairly easily with a drift punch and a big hammer.  If you have drift punches for your air tool, just pick one slightly smaller than the hole and drive the pin out.

These days I keep parts in a magnetic tray to avoid losing them and that’s where I stick the barrel pin.  If you ever lose or damage the pin, get a 7mm drill bit and cut off the shank to create the length you need.  I used to keep 7mm drill rod somewhere – I’m not really sure where it is now.

Backing Out the Barrel

Driving the barrel off the trunnion is pretty easy but you do need to make a tool that fits in the trunnion and has a brass “head” to drive the barrel out without damaging the chamber end – DO NOT USE STEEL – it needs to be a softer metal and brass does a good job.

My backout tool is a  6″ long 1/2″ bolt with a brass nut on the end with a ground down steel backing nut behind it:

Why 6″ long?  Because that is what I had in my box.  Shorter would be more controllable. I actually have a long 12″ unit I use if I need to back a barrel out of a trunnion that is in the receiver.

Here’s a photo of the ground down steel backing nut and the brass nut that sits on the chamber end and applies the actual blows to drive it out.

You definitely need the steel backing but or the brass will deform and come off the threads.  You can also see how the brass extends in front of the bolt – I always check to make sure I have about an 1/8th inch or so of brass before I use it.  This is basically a shorter version of my barrel back out tool (click here for the post about that from way back when).

Now to deliver the blows on the business end of my IR 117 is a 7″ brass peening  tool that ATS sells directly.  I bought a 3″ unit but it will not fit in the wire retainer of my 117.  They also have a 5″ model that I bet would work fine.

So, I mount the trunnion in my wood jawed vise to not tear it up, insert the backout tool and then use the 117 to apply the blows.   I will hold the bolt with one hand and use the 117 with the other.  Do NOT put your hand where the bolt and peening hammer come together or you will pinch the hell out of it.  I did that once years ago and it taught me a lesson complete with a blood blister as a reminder.

So I do a bit and check – I do not try to do it all at once.  By looking int he barrel pin hole, you should see it slowly backing out.  In general, the last bit of removing the barrel I do with a  big ball pein hammer to make sure the barrel assembly either is pulled out the last bit by me or land in some form of box or cushion vs. the hard floor.

That’s it!   The barrel is out.

Installing the Barrel

To install a barrel, I first install an old slant brake that I ground flat to protect the threads.  I have not used a muzzle nut because they do not seem to offer much protection to the front of the muzzle – they are mainly designed to protect the threads.  With the ground down slant brake, there is a plenty of material in front of the muzzle to protect it.  

You can see how it has mushroomed over time but that’s fine.  I’ve used it a ton and if I ever have a problem, I’ll chuck it and make another.

My best guess is that it came out of a Romanian G kit years ago.  I have a bunch of oddball parts like this that got replaced by US parts for the sake of 922r compliance.

I thread the converted brake / muzzle protector all the way back on the barrel to engage all the threads possible and back it right against the front sight block (FSB).  The idea is that you want the threads to take the impact and not the muzzle.

To start the installation, I push the barrel assembly into the trunnion and tap it with a big ball pein hammer.  I keep sighting down the rear sight block (RSB) making sure it is true.  At the point, you can use a rubber mallet or other non-marring mallet to tap the RSB and angle the barrel slightly one way or the other to course correct.  It is really, really important to get the alignment right at the start.  You will not be able to adjust it once you get very far in.  If it turns out you have alignment problem later, I would recommend driving the barrel assembly out and starting over.

To do the actual driving, I use the IR 117 with the brass peening hammer attachment.  I put the brass hammer face right on the converted slant brake and drive it in.  I keep checking the barrel pin hole to make sure I stop just short of the final location and that it is aligned.  If the surfaces are not aligned, I would drive the barrel back out and start over.  In this next photo, you can see I stopped just short of where I need to be.

Now this particular kit was a headspaced Polish WBP kit and I had checked headspace before I removed the barrel.  If I needed to set the headspace, I would start checking it somewhere around here.

At this point, I drive the barrel in the rest of the way by tapping the end with a big ballpein hammer – or any BFH will do 🙂  It really doesn’t take a ton of energy.  You want to tap and test over and over.  Don’t get impatient and try and drive it in all at once or you risk overshooting where you want to be.  If you do overshoot, it’s going to take some time and you need to make that longer barrel backout tool and either use your press or your air tool (I’d use my IR 117) and push it back out just enough to then fine tune the location.

Do not use headspace gauges as barrel stops.  You may know this but just in case you don’t – gauges are precision instruments and you only install them to test the headspace and *not* as a way to stop travel.  I’ve heard of guys doing that and, for a change, I wasn’t one of them 🙂

Once the channel is clear and you have one nice continous path from one side of the trunnion to the other it is time to reinstall the pin.

Installing the barrel pin

With I do is start the pin with a big ball pein hammer and the drive it in the rest of the way with an old rivet set that I use just for this purpose.  Years ago I bought a ton of used 0.401 shank rivet sets and rivet tools off eBay for a very reasonable price.  I use one that covers the pin nicely and drive it right in and let me tell you, it goes in fast.  You can stop short and drive it in the test of the way by hand if you want.  I tend to just drive it right into place with the air tool.

By the way, I’ve accumulated a number of rivet tools and bucking bars over the years.  Here’s a quicksnap shot of my toolbox:

That’s it – done.  I hope this helps you out!

By the way, here are used rivet tools currently on eBay.  Be sure the shank size matches your air hammer or air riveter (all of mine are 0.401″ for example)

Lot of 12 Aircraft Rivet Gun Riveter Sets in wooden block

$22.99 (0 Bids)
End Date: Monday Jul-2-2018 5:00:34 PDT
Bid now | Add to watch list

Lot of 2 Aircraft tools .63 Dia x .7 Tall 3/16 shank squeeze Flush Rivet Sets

$8.00
End Date: Sunday Jul-1-2018 18:34:19 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $8.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Nice ATI 3X & 4X Rivet Gun Set Aircraft Tool

$175.00
End Date: Saturday Jul-21-2018 15:46:12 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $175.00
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US Industrial 4X Rivet Gun with 15 Assorted Sets Aircraft Tool

$149.00
End Date: Tuesday Jul-3-2018 18:27:54 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $149.00
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Rivet Flush Set, 1" Square Offset Head , .401 Std Shank, Appx OAL 7-5/8", Used.

$8.50
End Date: Tuesday Jul-3-2018 9:26:55 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $8.50
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Chicago Pneumatic Desoutter Recoilless 3X Rivet Gun Aircraft Tool Set CP4450-3

$175.00
End Date: Thursday Jul-19-2018 16:02:44 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $175.00
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20 Assorted Aircraft Rivet Sets with Standard Shank Aircraft Tools

$75.00
End Date: Thursday Jun-28-2018 14:27:38 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $75.00
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Mint 2 Pc Rivet Grip Gage Set Lokfast Jo Bolt Aircraft Tools Riveter

$10.00
End Date: Sunday Jul-22-2018 7:24:06 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $10.00
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5 PC 0.401 RIVET SETS FOR RIVET GUNS AIRCRAFT TOOLS

$35.00
End Date: Monday Jul-16-2018 13:54:12 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $35.00
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(8) Rivet Gun Riveter Sets ~ .401 Shank ~ Aircraft Tools Bucking Bar

$50.00
End Date: Saturday Jul-14-2018 0:12:17 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $50.00
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If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Ingersoll-Rand 117K 2,000 Blows-Per-Minute Standard Duty Pnuematic Hammer with 5 Chisel Set


Features: Longer Stroke Piston, Alloy steel barrel and heat-treated piston for longer life, Up to 2,000 blows per minute, 5 piece chisel kit

An economical air hammer with a longerpiston stroke, this tool is designed forexhaust work, bolt cutting, and front-endwork. The trigger control and a built-in powerregulator give you full control of the speed and power. Longer stroke piston. Alloyed steel barrel and heat-treated piston for longer life. Up to 2, 000 blows per minute.
List Price: $69.99 USD
New From: $61.99 USD In Stock
Used from: $889.42 USD In Stock

Firearms Lube Tip – Use Mobil 1 Synthetic 5W-30 Oil and The Right Dispenser

I’ve been experimenting with different lubricants for a year now because a lot of the firearm “oils” are 99% marketing and 1% oil at a premium price.  You’ll notice that how to lube a firearm is a religious argument for many and I’m not going to get into that.

After doing a lot of digging, I bought two different types of automatic transmission fluid (ATF) (Dexron III and ATF+4) and Mobile 1 Full Synthetic 5W-30 engine oil.  I then loaded up a bunch of squeeze bottles that have needle dispensers on them, labeled each and proceeded to try them out.

Here’s the big secret – they all work.  Of the three, I like the Mobil 1 mainly because it doesn’t have a red color or the smell of transmission fluid.

I’ve now used it to lubricate my AKs, RPK, Uzi, POF-5/MP5 and PTR PDW and am very happy with the results.  It works just fine and a quart will last you forever.

I still prefer Tetra Grease where sliding parts are involved.  As the old saying goes, “if it rotates then oil it.  If it slides, then grease it” has always worked for me though I do admit to reading armorer manuals to see their recommended lube points.

The Right Dispensers Make a Huge Difference!

Regardless of the oil you use, having the right dispenser really helps.  Growing up, we used engine oil out of the tried and true cans with the finger squeeze pumps.  I really don’t use that type of dispenser on firearms but do when I work on cars and what not where a large volume is needed.

With firearms, you’ll notice that you often need to get the right lube to the right place.  In the shop, I use the squeeze bottles.  The dispenser pens are something I take in the field as they don’t leak and will not make a huge mess if crushed — let me assure you the bottles will do just that so that is why they stay in the shop.

You can get both of these dispensers very easily off Amazon.  Be sure to read reviews as some brands leak and others don’t.  The ones I am listing next are what I currently use.  I use the 25 gauge needle especially for reaching down into fire control groups and lubricating pins and their attached parts such as triggers, hammers, selectors, etc.

The 18 gauge is good for general use when I want to apply oil in larger quantities:

I have give of the Titan precision oiler pens and all work great:

Now there are still times where I want to spray on thin oil.  While I have used a ton of CLP over the years I find myself using Rem Oil quite a bit.


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Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ AirStrike 18-Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer

Well folks, I recently needed to install some molding at my mother in law’s and realized I no longer have a small compressor to run my air nailers at a remote site.  So, I recalled an article I had read that spoke well of the Ryobi Airstrike 18ga brad nailer.

The interesting twist on this nailer is that it uses an 18 volt One+ battery to operate and you don’t need a compressor or air lines.  I have a ton of Ryobi tools and decided to pick up just the tool for $129.99.

I read the manual and the tool has both an air pressure adjustment and a depth adjustment.  In the next photo, the silver dial on the top adjusts the air pressure and depth is down towards the nose.   You’ll notice I have one of the slim low-profile lithium batteries on it.

It came with 200 1-1/4″ brads and they look just like the ones I use in my air brad nailer so I have plenty for the future.  They load in the magazine just like other nailers.

Now, I definitely would recommend practicing some with this.  The balance is fairly good but what is really different is the way it cycles when you pull the trigger.  There is a split second delay as it builds up pressure and then it fires the hammer driving the brad forward.  For me, the delay took some getting used to.  We’re not talking very long at all but I’m used to bang-bang-bang-bang with an air nailer as fast as you can pull the trigger.  Here there is just enough pause to throw you off.  I found myself pulling the trigger and lifting to fast so I needed to make my self slow down, pull the trigger, let it cycle and then pull.

What I was installing was some of that cheap paper/fiber molding so it was very easy for the nailer to drive the brads in.  I really should have dialed the pressure back a bit and/or reduced the depth.  That will take further experimenting for me to learn the right combo.

All in all after driving about 30 brads, I am happy and would recommend the unit to someone who is interested in going cordless.

Note, I would consider a bigger nailer if I needed it down the road but most of the time I am close enough to my shop that I can run an airline to my big compressor.  The reviews are mixed on the big nailer as it uses a relatively oddball sized nail and I’m hoping they change that.

If you are thinking of buying one of the brad nailers, they are on Amazon but you will pay a premium.  Either get them at your local Home Depot store or buy them online:

Just the tool – click here.

The tool, battery and charger – click here.


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Getting Unstuck With Traction Mats

Well, I parked our full size Ford Transit van at the end of the driveway on the grass to get it out of the way.  Of course, given the recent snow melt the ground turned out to be too muddy and soft to support the van’s weight – but I didn’t notice that because it took a while to slowly sink.  Yeah, I didn’t notice anything – my wife did we she went to use it!  Oh crud.  So she called my cell phone and was none too happy.  I didn’t really worry about it because my truck could pull it out – or so I thought.

I drove to the house, cockily pulled my trusty old 96 Landcruiser up in front of the van and got out one of my big tow straps and walked up to the van.   Should have been easy, right?  Wrong.  Nothing, nada to hook on to.  Ford, in their infinite wisdom does not put a tow hook, eye or anything up near the bumper!  Crap, crap, crap.  [Note, near the bottom of this blog post I added in what I found after researching how to recover a full size Transit.  I’m still irked at Ford.]

Did I mention my wife was standing their fuming?  Yeah, she was.  I should have known better than to park the heavy full size van on soft ground.  Point taken – I didn’t realize it was that soft.

At any rate, I went back and looked at the 5″ deep rut the driver’s side rear tire had dug for itself.  By the way, these photos are after removal.

I needed something long to fill the ruts and give traction.  Luckily, back in 2010 and then in 2014 I bought these things called “traction mats” from a company called OTW Enterprises who touted them as portable tow trucks.  In 2010 I bought the black ones after getting my truck stuck on ice with the plow blade buried in a snow mound.  In 2014. I bought an orange set to put in my wife’s car in case she got stuck.  Here they are after I hosed all the mud off.

Well, they bounced around in the trunks for a while and did bail me out a couple of times over the years but were actually leaning on the outside wall of my shop.  They don’t fold and while they fit in the trunk you have the little plastic spikes catching stuff so I tool them out at some point and leaned them against the wall of the shop.  At any rate,  I walked over and they were exactly what I needed.  Each mat measures 36″ long and 8″ wide.  Since I had four, I butted on up against the front of each tire and placed a second one in front of it to help the tire get up and out of the rut.  The sides are labeled by the way – the relative few long spikes go down and the side with many spikes goes up.

I got in and rolled the the van back a bit and then forward to get up on the mats.  I then slowly gave it more gas (not much) and the van up and forward onto the mat and got out of ditch and I kept moving forward onto the pavement.  I don’t have any action photos – things were stressful at the time and I really wasn’t thinking about a blog post 🙂

Well, I was pretty pleased with the outcome.  Wreckers charge at least $65 to come out to our house so avoiding that charge is always a good thing.  My wife was relatively happy but gave me a hard time for causing the problem in the first place.

Are these mats perfect?  No.  They will fly out from under your car if you don’t go slow and make sure you have the correct side down.  Even then they sometimes do so I would never have someone stand behind the car.  My recommendation is to go slow – avoid your spinning tires and rock the vehicle onto the mat if need be – don’t spin your tires onto them.

My wife is so impressed she wants them back in the cars.  I just wish they had a carry case but I do recommend them as another tool to keep in your bag of tricks.

I hope this helps you out.


Comment about Ford and Their Oversight on Towing

By the way, I looked up the tow/winch location up for future reference  so if you are surfing the web trying to figure out how to tow a full size 2016 Ford Transit, here is the reference link at Ford – click here.

Look just behind the tires at the frame and you’ll see the eye rings that are part of the frame.  You can’t make this stuff up — Thanks Ford.  It drives me nuts when you look at decisions made in ivory engineering towers vs. real world needs.  Sure, let’s bury it under the van, make it hard to get to and pretty much ensure damage will occur if you actually use this to pull the van for whatever reason.

Now look how their factory winch attachment point lines right up with hitting the front radiator.  If you pull this at just about any angle where the recovery vehicle is higher than the van then the cable/strap is going to cut right into the aluminum radiator at the front.   In the next photo, you can see the silver aluminum radiator just above the lip of the bumper molding.

If you wanted to protect that radiator, you’d actually need a harness with something to push the attached cable lower to the ground – or fabricate another attachment method.   Maybe my 4″ drop hitch in my rear class IV receiver would be low enough to tie onto vs. my truck’s winch or front recovery hooks.  … Something for another day.  I didn’t buy a new van to have to worry about something people in rural areas need regularly in the winter.   They should have been in the front.


2/11/2018 Update:  The traction mats bailed me out again when I got the van stuck on ice in our yard while turning around.  I’ve come to realize the van does a fair job on the road but the tires are damn near useless on uneven icy surface,  With this van, it’s really handy to have four.  With only two handy, I could move the van forward and then get stuck, move the mats, move forward again, get stuck, etc.  I had to do the cycle about three times.  I think if I had all four handy it would have done the trick in one shot because I could have built up some forward momentum.  I now have all four stored together,  We’re nearing the end of Winter finally and I think I will keep all four in the van next year and need to find some kind of carrier bag to store them in.


See larger image

Additional Images:




Portable Tire Traction Mats – Two Emergency Tire Grip Aids Used To Get Your Car, Truck, Van or Fleet Vehicle Unstuck In Snow, Ice, Mud, And Sand – Orange, 2 Pack


Features: Provides emergency traction for your tires in snow, ice, mud and sand. Works on all vehicles with summer, winter, or all-season tires., Comes with 2 reusable polypropylene solid and virtually indestructible traction mats., No installation required, making it hassle free, easier and safer to use than tire chains and snow chains., Each only 2.5 pounds and 36 inches long, allowing easy storage in your trunk or under your seat., Avoid the stress of shoveling, slipping and sliding, being stranded, or calling for a tow truck in emergency situations.

“Portable Tow Truck’s emergency traction pad provides you with the way out of messy situations. Getting stuck in mud or snow on the side of the road is a common roadside emergency. You could could call for a tow truck to pull your vehicle out, which can be expensive, or install tire chains when you’re stuck, which is messy and dangerous.

There is an alternative. The Portable Tow Truck tire traction aid provides emergency traction to your drive wheels and allows you to get back on the road. The innovative cleat design bites into your tire and allows your drive wheels to climb the mat instead of spinning in snow. No more digging and pushing and rocking back and forth. Simply wedge the Portable Tow Truck under the pulling wheel and slowly drive the vehicle to a more suitable surface . At only 2.5 pounds and 36 inches long, the Portable Tow Truck is easy to handle and consumes very little trunk space. Buy this Portable Tow Truck and a future version of yourself, stuck in the snow or mud, will be thankful you did.”

List Price: $49.95 USD
New From: $49.95 USD In Stock

Not Happy With EBLCL LED Upgrade for My Ryobi Worklight Either

Okay, I ordered the EBLCL CE ROHS FCC PR P13.5S 18V 247 Lumen CREE XP-G2 S4LED upgrade for my 18 volt Ryobi worklight.  To make a long story short, like the Jomitop, it too throws an irregular crescent shaped light that I don’t like.  This unit is sold by a number of vendors on Amazon so buyer beware.

Here’s a photo of the EBLCL unit and the beam it projects:

I’m going to just leave this unit installed and look for a new worklight … I may even just put a replacement bulb in the unit.  I use these things quite a bit and I would rather have a decent wide area of light vs. these oddly shaped beams.

Bottom line, unless you like the shape of the beam shown above, I can’t recommend it.

 


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Not Happy with Jomitop P13.5S LED Replacement Bulb for Ryobi 18 volt Work Light

Okay, some guys sneer at the Ryobi power tools but I have gotten my money’s worth from their 18 volt drills.  I bought one of their 18 volt sets years ago and have two drills, an impact driver and a hammer drill that I use all the time.  One drill has done 3-4 decks and the other at least two.  I burned out one hammer drill a year ago and replaced it and the others are going strong.

Along with the tools came an 18 volt work light that I have used a ton especially while working on cars.  I’ve replace the incandescent bulb probably at least three times over the years.  As luck would have it, I dropped the light the other day and busted the bulb.  Rather than buy another replacement bulb, I decided to move to an LED unit.

I did some digging and bought a Jomitop P13.5S from Amazon – two of them actually as I have two of the work lights.  Now I wish I could say the upgrade went great but the resulting light is a weird crescent shape – even when it is just the LED by itself with no lens or reflector.  Both LEDs did this.

I plan on returning these two units as defective and have ordered two more models from other sellers on Amazon.  So, for now, pass on the Jomitop P13.5S model.  I’ll post on what works later but wanted to get the honest review out.

I hope this helps you out!


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Husky H4230C 1/4″ Angle Grinder Does A Great Job

I use a lot of air tools for sanding and have been slowly upgrading them as stuff has worn out.  Some years back I bought a Harbor Freight (HF) model and the bearings wore out so I did some digging to buy a new one.  I tend to look at a combination of features, reviews and price.  In this case, I needed something local as I was in the middle of some work and couldn’t wait for mail order.

I decided to go with a new one from Home Depot – the Husky H4230C 1/4″ angle grinder.  The price was good and I could walk into my local Home Depot and pick it up.  30 reviews and 4.5 stars was good enough for me.  I really didn’t want another HF tool as they tend to use a lot of air in my opinion.

The Husky is light, compact and like every other angle grinder on the market.  The one thing I immediately noticed is that it didn’t take much air to operate.  Even at 60PSI the thing was clipping right along and at 90PSI it had plenty of speed and torque to turn the 3″ sanding flap and surface prep discs I use.

By the way, I need to do a lot of uneven surfaces and a trick I know is to use the 2″  R-type quick connect mandrel but actually use 3″ discs.  You can save a ton of money by purchasing the discs via Amazon – don’t buy them at a retail store or you will pay a fortune.

I bought unit in August 2017 and have used it a ton with no problems at all.  I need to keep my airlines clean and do not run an inline lubricator so I do add a few drops of air tool oil at the start of each sanding session – that is the only maintenance that I do.  All in all, I am happy with the purchase and thought I would pass along the recommendation.

Here are some photos of it including next to the seized HF unit that went in the trash after I tool the photos:

I hope this helps you out!


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