Need a compact hand stop for a Picatinny rail? Check out the Arisaka HS-P

When I built our a pistol with recoil, I worry about my hand slipping off the handguard and going in front of the muzzle. I recently bought a Stribog 10mm and that was running through my mind – so I started digging for hand stops that could mount on a picatinny rail.

I should point out I don’t like angled fore grips (AFGs) or anything that incorporates that design aspect. I like the bottom of the handguard to be flat. I also like hand stops that are small from an aesthetics perspective plus I don’t want the ATF, or whomever, arguing that I actually have a vertical grip which is illegal on a pistol.

I ran across an ad for Arisaka Defense’s HS-P handstop. It mounts on rail though I couldn’t quite figure out how from the website photos. Because I’ve had good luck with Arisaka products in the past, I gambled and ordered one. Guess what? I really like it and figured a quick post might be of interest to others.

So the HS-P is CNC machined from 6061-T651 aluminum and MIL-A-8625 Type III hard coat anodized.
The secret sauce that makes this so cool is that grey aluminum recoil lug. There is a screw attached that you can’t see that raises or lowers it into whatever Picatinny rail slot you want locking it in place. Simple and slick!
The front has slots cut into it. I suppose that could help if you want to use it on a barrier.
On the bottom is the hole for the screw. Use a 7/64″ allen key to tighten (push the lug up) or loosen (lower the lug down). Torque is 15 in/lbs – please note that is inch/pounds and not foot/pounds.
In this photo, you can see the retracted recoil lug. I then just slid the HS-P onto the handguard’s rail to where I wanted it.
I slid the HS-P on and then used my closes allen set with a 7/64 key to raise the lug into position. I brought it up firm but not crazy tight – I didn’t have a long enough key for my torquing screw driver handy (meaning it is “temporary misplaced”) so I opted for ballpark tight. They don’t include a 7/74″ allen key by the way. It doesn’t bother me because I have a bunch. Also, often times the “free” keys that come with something aren’t very good – I’ve torn things up many times in the past trying to use marvel mystery metal included keys so I don’t do it any longer.
The HS-P is rock solid.


It you are looking for a solid small hand stop that mounts on a rail, the Arisaka HS-P is great. I have no reservations recommending it.

Yes, I actually bought this. I was not paid to write this.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at in**@ro*********.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

What Magazine Loader To Use For 10mm Stribog Magazines? .45 UMP Loaders

The Stribog line of subguns, pistols and pistol caliber carbines are really cool. When the brace fiasco erupted, I sold my 9mm SP9A1 and regretted it. When Grand Power said they were coming out with a 10mm, I was an early buyer. One question popped out though – what was out there to help load the 20 round 10mm magazines? I hate loading magazines with stiff springs as many hands start to cramp so I needed to find a loader.

First off, they are HK UMP pattern magazines

The Stribog 10mm mags are nicely made, beefy as hell and based on HK’s UMP magazines. I like that – I am really tired or proprietary mags where you have one and only one option. Using an existing mags opens up options. Now, are UMP magazines all over the place and cheap? No, they aren’t – especially not 10mm mags. HK doesn’t make 10mm UMP magazines any longer.

The 20 round magazines have stout springs and it takes a lot of work to manually insert cartridges

Real HK 10mm mags have starting costs around $139 but are 30 rounds so there is a perk for the price. Considering Stribog mags list at $45 and can sometimes be found for $39.99, I’ll stick with Stribog mags.

Stribog 10mm magazines are built like a tank

This is both a pro and a con. The top sports a lot of reinforcements making for a quite a large magazine in terms of circumference. They will not fit inside a Maglula Universal loader – I had hoped they would but it is a no-go.

The girth of the heavily built mags means most loaders will not fit them. On the other hand, those are some impressive reinforcements on the mag lips and thick walls.
Front to back is about 1.62″
Left to right is approximately 1.14″
Distance from the botttom of the locking tab to the top of the magazine body is about 0.96-0.97. It’s molded so there’s a bit of ballparking as to the exact top.
The magazine locking tab is about 0.18″ thick.

Playing a hunch

Ok, so I did some searching on .40 caliber and 10mm UMP loaders and then played a hunch. I make magazines for Rock Island Armory’s A2 HC .40 and 10mm pistols. They use a staggered magazine and my source tube for the custom mags I make is actually a Mec-Gar .45 mag. What if a UMP .45 loader would work? I had a pretty good hunch it would so I started researching them.

The UMP .45 is much more common so I had options. The one that caught my eye was from Custom Smith so I ordered it and must say I am impressed.

It is 3D printed and nicey done. Everything seems thick enough to have proper rigidity. I like finger rests on the sides to give your hand something to get hold of. I promptly loaded two mags super easy. You push down, slide the cartridge in part way, lift the loader up, slide the cartidge in the rest of the way and repeat.

Side shot
The ram that pushes the cartridges done is beefy and nicely done.
Inside is nice and clean also.
The UMP .45 loader fits great.
The ram does a great job pushing the last cartridge down so you can slide the base of the next cartridge part way in. You then move the loader out of the way, push the cartridge all of the way in and move on to the next round.
Parting photo – it works great.


Grand Power Stribog’s 10mm model uses magazines based on the HK UMP design. The Grand Power magazines are affordable and relatively easy to find. You may need to dig just a bit as the 10mm Stribog sales are outpacing magazine availability but I am sure the mag availability will catch up.

To load the stiff magazines and save your fingers, get a UMP .45 loader. I went with Custom Smith’s UMP .45 loader and have no hesitation recommending it.

No, I wasn’t paid to write this – I had to buy it because I wanted the 10mm Stribog and manual mag loading kills my hands.

By the way, S&B 180 grain FMJ 10mm is my goto range ammo. It’s affordable and runs great. I use it for breaking in and target practice with all of my 10mms.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at in**@ro*********.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Refinishing Olive Wood Spoons

In 2014 we visited Greece, and on December 30th, we were in Delphi staying at a small quaint hotel whose elevator put the fear of God in us. The vibrant town was quiet and subdued – the summer tourists weren’t there and the arrivals for New Years Eve handn’t arrived so we had the town more or less to ourselves and some locals.

We walked by a shop and they invited us in. They had tons and tons of bowls, plates, spoons and what have you made from olive wood. There are huge ancient groves of olive trees tended by families for generations surrounding Delphi so there was an ample supply of olive wood to draw from.

Olive wood is simply gorgeous when sanded and finished bears all kinds of browns, tans and wavy grain structure. It’s strong, dense and does great indoors – especially when oiled but doesn’t do as well outdoors or with insects as it lacks natural oils.

At any rate, the products were all made in and around Delphi. We opted for some nice kitchen spoons and a juicer given the striking look of the wood. Before we knew it, the trip was over and we headed home.

December 2023

I was trying to think of something to do as a surprise for my wife and happened across the spoons and juicer from Delphi – they were looking pretty tough. The wood was faded and you could just barely see what they looked like 9 years prior so I decided to clean them up.

The three utensils from the left are mmade from Olive Wood and were showing their age. The flat tool on the far left was a different wood but I am not sure what is – I just decided to try and touch it up at the same time.

The first thing I did was to run over the spoons with a 220 grit sanding mop in a small drill press that I have dedicated for that purpose. I use sanding mops to finish grips so the station sees a lot of use.

The next thing I did was to use butcher block conditioner to revitalize and protect the olive wood. In general, the conditioners are some combination of food safe mineral oil and waxes that penetrate a wood surface to help protect it. I’ve used a few brands over the years and my favorite is the butcher block conditioner from Howard Products.

There is a bit of a trick I do with restoring a wood finish like this. First off, I rub it in with 0000 steel wool to knock down any stray wood fibers. In case you aren’t familiar with steel wool – “0000” is a very fine grade meant for final finishing. You put the conditioner on thick and let it set for 4-8 hours. You’ll be surprised how much gets absorbed by the wood.

I then wipe it off with a rag and apply it thick again by hand – I don’t use steel wool after the first application. Again, let it sit and absorbe for 4-8 hours, wipe off the residue and repeat.

This was after three rounds. You can see the 0000 steel wool and the Howards Butcher Block Conditioner. I’m pretty sure I did another coat after this photo was taken.

You’ll notice with the third or fourth application that less and less is being absorbed so stop where you want and buff the piece with a rag or shop towel.

You may still see or feel a hint of oil but it will disappear in a day or so as it finally gets absorbed. You really can’t go wrong with this finish – just apply, let it sit, rub it off, and repeat until you get the look you want.

They looked so much better!
I love the patterns and colors of olive wood.
This is the juicer. I ddin’t get a “before” photo but it looked the same as the others. Due to all of the angles, I just used the steel wool to remove stray wood fibers but didn’t sand it. It has 3-4 coats of conditioner on it at the point this photo was taken.


The utensils from Greece turned out really nice – like new really. My wife is very happy and I shouldn’t wait so long to do it again in the future. It’s amazing how fast time flies by.

Howard Butcher Block Conditioner is my go-to finishing product for breathing life into any wood that comes into contact with food – cutting blocks, wood bowels, utensils, etc. I pretty much follow the above process on all of them.

I hope this helps you out.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at in**@ro*********.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Read This Before You Change the Brake Pads On Your 2015-2019 F150 Ford Transit Van

Okay, I’ve done a lot of brakes over the years – mainly on Toyotas and a smattering of other makes. We bought our 2016 Ford F150 Transit with an Explorer conversion new at the end of 2016 and the original brakes were really starting to squeek in November of 2023 so I knew it was time for them to change. It had four wheel disc brakes so I figured it would be easy. I didn’t even look up the details … oh yes, that caught up with me but let me run with my story and share you the lessons learned.

I ordered in new Motorcraft pads figuring I might as well just use OEM since O-Reilly Auto Parts could get them in quick and at a good price. I planned to flush the brake fluid too and had a good Bosch synthetic blend that I like to use.

I jacked up the van using my pillow jacks and put 6 ton jack stands underneath, pulled the tires because I planned to rotate them and dove in. I popped the master cylinder cap off and checked the brake fluid level so it wouldn’t overflow as I compressed the caliper pistons.

Oh man, I started with the passenger rear and could not it to go in. Okay, it was time to check the web. I realized there was something here new to me.

Getting the compressor to go back in really requires the right tool. I tried to rig a few methods and nothing worked. Note it is resting on wood blocks to take the strain of the brake lines. Be sure to clean and grease the rubber boot before you turn it back in place.

So the F150 Ford Transit is an example of vehicle where the piston screws in due to the integrated emergency brake. Okay, no problem but I could not get it to twist in. More reading and surfing … the rear passenger brake twists in counter-clockwise – not clockwise. Man, I did not have any caliper piston compressors that went counter-clockwise and neither did O-Reilly or Autozone. On, the other hand, my best friend John, who is a mechanic, did have one as part of his big Sunex 3930 caliper tool set and he loaned me the set.

So armed with the knowledge and the counter-clockwise tool for only the passenger side (driver side is clockwise), I went to work. Thanks to my Carpal tunnel and other stupid things I have done to my body over the years, I didn’t have the strength to rotate the piston – I made a 12″ cheater bar from a piece of pipe and then it went smooth. I found if I turned a bit, and then let it sit for the fluid to work its way back in the system seemed the easiest.

The front pads were easy – just standard straight in pistons. After fighting the rear calipers, it was nice to have something easy. I was so impressed by the Sunex caliper set that I bought one for furture use.

I was so impressed by John’s Sunex 3930 set that I bought my own afterwards. I honestly don’t think you can push the rear caliper back in without a counter-clockwise tool. Click here for the listing on Amazon.

The following is a pretty good video on doing the rear brake pads. My van’s brakes did not have the dampener he shows in it so I did not add one plus I used the really good Permatex ceramic brake grease on the back of the pads and contact points.

And here is a video for the front brakes:

Flushing the Brake Fluid

The importance of changing brake fluid every couple of years is something John convinced me of and the van was due for a change. Brake fluid degrades from heat and also by absorbing moisture from the air. All of this changes the chemistry of the fluid and negatively impacts the fluid’s ability to actuate the brakes. I like using Bosch’s ESI6-32N brake fluid and had plenty on hand to flush the brakes.

in preparation, I used my Mighyvac MV6835 vacuum bleeder to empty the master cylinder reservoir. The goal is to just empty the extra fluid in the master cylinder – nothing else. You then fill it with fresh brake flud. This way you are pushing fresh brake fluid through the system from the start.

When I first started out, I would use a vacuum bleeder to pull new brake fluid through the lines. A faster and more effective method that has lower odds of introducing air into the brake lines is the use of a pressurized bleeder.

A few years ago, I bought an ARES 18036 3-liter pressurized bleeder that makes changing brake fluid or bleeding brake lines really far easier. Basically it has a hand pump, like a garden sprayer, that enables you to pressurize its tank that holds the new brake fluid. When you open a blleder nipple, brake fluid is pushed through the lines, out of the nipple and into a 1 liter catch tank.

To the left is the Mightyvac MV6835 that I used to remove the old brake fluid from the master cylinder’s reservoir. The main ARES 18036 pressure bottle is to the right.
This is the cap that goes on the master cylinder and connects to the pressure bleeder. The Ares unit is modular and there are different caps you can get for different makes and models of cars. I do not like their universal adapter – this one fits late model Fords and seals nicely.
This is the catch bottle. You push the black rubber fitting onto the bleeder nipple. As you open the valve, you can see the brake fluid going through the translucent hose. Old fluid will appear dark. I wait until the fluid coming through is clear.
Before you hook up the pressure bleeder, remove the old brake fluid if you can and then add fresh brake fluid until the full mark on the master cylinder. Do not fill it all the way to the top. When you start there will be air in the pressure bleeder’s lines. That air will just add to the air at the top of the master cylinder and the fluid will run down to the pool of fluid. In other words, the air in the master cylinder is needed as a buffer to capture any air that comes through. Only pump the unit to 10 -15PSI and then make sure it does not run out of fluid or air pressure while you work. When you first hook up the unit, pump it up to 10PSI and make sure it holds air-pressure and there isn’t a leak somewhere – if there is it is usually around the master cylinder cap or something isn’t secure/closed on the pressure bottle.

In Closing

The biggest think I learned and wanted to share was that you need that counter-clockwise tool if you want to do the passenger side rear brake pads. I recommend the brake fluid flushing at the same time – you ought to change the brake fluid every two years really – using the pressure bleeder – they are optional but I think they really help and I use my Ares on all of our vehicles.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at in**@ro*********.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Are Weaver and Picatinny Rails the Same Thing?

The short answer to that question is “No” but then when someone asks if they can use some Picatinny mount on a Weaver rail it becomes “It depends”. Why is that?

Well, the Picatinny rail does have a true military specification – “MIL-STD-1913″ that lays out the details but nothing like that exists for Weaver rails – when writing this post, I did some digging and I can’t find an authoritative width of the rail, the recoil slot is about 0.180” but their spacing, number and depth can all vary.

The reason that Weaver rings and mounts can typically fit a Picatinny rail is that the recoil slots are 0.206″ wild and spaced 0.394″ apart. However, if you are using rings that were on a Weaver rail, while the bolts or recoil bars may fit the Picatinny slots, the spacing between the mounts may need to be adjusted.

There are plenty of posts out there with more details but I would tell you to only use Picatinny rails and mounts going forward if at all possible. The reason is that because there is the published MIL-STD-1913 specification, the interoperability of parts from different vendors is far, far more likely.

This is the Picatinny Rail / MIL-STD-1913 cross-section view.
It is from the Wikipedia entry about the MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny Rail.
This side-view shows the details of the recoil slots.
It is from the Wikipedia entry about the MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny Rail.

I was unable to find a US DOD direct link for the MIL-STD-1913 but I did find two sites hosting scanned copies – BiggerHammer and EverySpec

Some Photos

What inspired me to sit down and write this is my working on a 5.56 Polish Beryl right now. The actual Beryl optics rails are a both rare and cost a fortune. While there are Picatinny versions out there, I have two of the older Weaver rail design they started with and am lucky that my ADM and Vortex mounts all surprisingly fit – it’s always nice when things work out in a good way.

At first glance, you’d think it was a Picatinny rail with the slots going the whole length. It’s actually a Weaver rail. Weaver rails can have dramatically different numbers of slots and spacing.
The top is a RS Regulate Picatinny rail. The bottom is the Beryl’s Weaver rail. You can see the difference in the recoil slot spacing. By the way, RS Regulate is my favorite AK scope mount hands down.
That is the bottom side of an American Defense Manufacturing (ADM) mount and my goto scope mounts these days when I want quick connect levers. The recoil bar is what may or may not fit a Weaver rail. Now this only has one lever and bar – One piece scope mounts will likely have two recoil bars and the spacing between them could compound fitting challlenges.
The Vortex UH-1 and Crossfire red dot on an ADM base both fit the Beryl rail.

In Closing

Weaver and Picatinny rails are different. In general, you can use Weaver mounts on a Picatinny rail but you may not be able to put a Picatinny mount on a Weaver Rail.

In my case, I got lucky and could mount the red dots no problem. A mount with two screws/contact points may or may not line up – that will just depend on many factors in terms of the spacing between the recoil bars, size of the bars, etc.

Bottom line, go with Picatinny rails and mounts going forward to maximize your ability to move components around.

For more information:

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at in**@ro*********.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

2016 Ford F150 Transit Explorer Conversion Van Custom Fuse Block

We got a good deal at the end of 2016 on a Ford F150 Transit that was converted by Explorer vans in Warsaw, Indiana. It’s no longer under warranty so I’m now responsible for all maintenance. With cold weather here, my wife reminded me that her passenger seat heater was no longer working.

First thing I did was to separate the Molex connector and test for power. The line was dead so that usually means a bad fuse. So…. that started a bunch of hunting on my part – where did Explorer wire the seats in at?

I checked the Ford fuse diagram for the passenger compartment fuse block located just above the accellerator pedal and there weren’t any likely candidates for the passenger side seat. That meant Explorer tucked a custom fuse block somewhere, but where?

I honestly expected it to be on the driver side wall between the first row of passenger seats and the driver seat but it wasn’t there. I started searching on the WWW for an Explorer van manual and found one for a Explorer van but with the same Transit F150 body style but I was not sure about the model year [Here’s the link to the manual I found but I didn’t see a date anywhere in it].

The fuse block was on the driver side wall but behind the first row of passenger seats. The plastic cover was the same color as the fabric and I just never noticed it before.

The fuse block iis on the driver’s side behind the first full row of passenger seats.
The plastic cover just pulls off.

The next is a screen shot from the manual I found and the passenger heated seat fuse location matched at least:

This screenshot is from the manual. Our Ford’s fuse block cover looks like the GM model for whatever reason. It did help me get an idea of what I was looking for though and the 10 amp passeneger heated seat fuse location matched
I actually took this after I replaced the fuse so it’s the second row from the bottom and the middle 10amp fuse.
Normally there would be a meta arc from the left leg to the right leg. Too much current was drawn and the metal arc burned away leaving a gap in the arc. That’s how most fuses work – they can only carry so much load and then the heat being generated causes the metal to melt and break the circuit.
Mission accomplished – her seat warmer once again worked.

We made a 10-11 hour drive to New Jersey and her seat worked the whole time. So, the current issue was fixed but it didn’t answer the question as to why it blew in the first place.

I have a hunch though – somebody spliced in smaller gauge wires from the main harness to the rocker on/off switch on the seat. Right after we bought the van, that seat warmer didn’t work and my best guess is that the local Ford dealer’s mechanic did a questionable splice using solderless butt connectors and the thinner wire. That means there would be a higher impedence that may be what is popping the fuse – we think this is the second time.

I have two options – an easy one and a longer-term “when I have time fix”. I ordered an ATO 10 amp fuse that has an automatic resetting breaker built into it. These act like little circuit breakers – they trip when they get too hot and then reset when they cool down. So, you have protection without a blown fuse. [Click here to see them on Amazon] I will have to see if there is enough vertical clearance because a normal ATO fuse sticks out about 0.48″ and the breaker is 1.16″ and may be too tall. In the mean time I have a spare 10 amp fuse in the glove box just in case.

The correct solution (when I have time if ever) would be to redo the hack-job splice with the correct gauge of wire and I would probably solder them together vs. the old fashioned cheap crimp on butt connector the last fellow used.

I wrote this quick post in case anybody else finds themselves having a “where is the Explorer fuse block” moment. I hope this helps you out.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at in**@ro*********.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Civil War Monument With an Eleven Inch Dahlgren Gun in Saint Joseph, MI

In Saint Joseph, MI, near the intersection of Lake and Broad Streets sits a civili war monument consisting of an Eleven Inch Dahlgren and some stacked shot. The gun is pointing out to the lake and there is a simple sign for curious folks to read.

I’ve read this sign and looked at the cannon many times over the years and realized it was time to write a post about it.

Photo Gallery

The following is a gallery of photos of the 11-inch (XI) Dahlgren. If you clck on one, then you can see it full size and navigate around:

Some History

St. Joseph’s 11-inch Dahlgren gun was built in 1864 at Hinkley, Williams & Co. in Boston, Massachusetts, for service in the Civil War. It and other guns of its type were designed by Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren who wanted to use more more modern design methods to create a safer and more powerful gun. His designs were known as “Soda Bottles” because of their characteristic rounded shapes with additional steel at the rear to strengthen the breach.

Rear Admiral John A Dahlgren – the designer of the Dahlgren guns (Source: Wikipedia)

In total, 465 of the XI (Eleven) inch guns were made at five different foundaries between 1856-1864. That means the Saint Joseph gun was built during the last production year.

The smoothbore gun was cast hollow, bored out and lathed to a finished weight of 15,890 pounds which is marked on the gun. The sign and the reference table from Wikipedia are close but not exact:

The sign says the gun used a 15 pound charge and could hurdle either a 130 pound exploding shell or 200 pound solid shot a distance of over two miles.

Wikipedia cites a reference book on Civil war artillery that the gun used a 20 pound charge to launch either a 133.5 pound exploding shell or 166 pound solid shot a distance of 3,650 yards (2.07 miles) at a 15 degree elevation.

Here is an 11-inch Dahlgren mounted on a pivot mount. This is on the USS Kearsarge, a contemporary ship to the USS Marion that the Saint Joseph gun came from.

There is an interesting 12 year gap here. The gun was made in 1864 and the sign says it was removed from the USS Marion in 1876 and it’s previous use was uncertain. Was it on the Marion the whole time? Let’s try and look at that.

USS Marion

Drawing of the Marion at Hampton Roads circa 1880 (Source: Wikipedia)

From Wikipedia, here’s a quick timeline of the USS Marion:

  • April 24, 1839 – Launched as a sloop-of-war – 25 years before the St. Joseph gun was made in 1864
  • 1856-1857 in ordinary – this means it was in a reserve fleet. It might have needed repairs or overhauling.
  • June 21, 1861 – recommissioned after the Civil War broke out
  • July 14, 1861 – set sail
  • May 1862 – ordered to Boston for repairs
  • July 24, 1862 – ordered to Annapolis for use as a practice ship until 1870
  • 1864 – The St. Joseph gun was made in Boston (according to the sign)
  • 1871 – Rebuilt as a third-class steamer
  • January 12, 1876 – Recommisioned
  • 1876 – The gun was removed from the Marion (according to the sign in St. Joseph)
  • July 5, 1897 – gun dedicated in Saint Joseph – it had to travel there, be installed, etc. (according to the sign)

So, not much we can glean from what I can find. Odds are the 11-inch Dahlgren was getting dated by that time.


Today, kids climb around on the XI-Dahlgren gun and families take photos but they don’t know much about it. I suppose the Civil War is becoming just a few days, if even that, in history classes. Regardless, it is a memorial for men who served from the area. It’s well maintained by the city and gracefully stands guard looking out at the lake.


  1. Information on Dahlgren guns and historic photos of Rear Admiral Dahlgren and the USS Kearsarge are from the Wikipedia page:
  2. Information about the USS Marion and photos of it are from:
  3. USNI article on Dahlgren and his guns

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Restoring a Pair of Director’s Chairs

Our church has a rummage sale once a year to raise money for the school and people donate stuff to sell. Maybe 3-5 years ago, my wife and I saw two old director’s chair wooden frames towards the end of the sale when they were just trying to get rid of stuff. The finish showed a lot of exposure to water – probably from sitting on a deck but the wood was solid. The canvas seat and back strap were long gone as well. At any rate, we got both for $5, stuck them in the garage for a “some day maybe” project.

My eldest daughter was getting married and somehow my wife envisioned using the chairs in an area for people to take photos. Armed with this, she talked me into digging out the old frames and figuring out next steps. By the way, I had a lot going on and was truthfully only semi-interested in doing the work but that changed part way in and you’ll see why.

Finding Replacement Canvas Covers

Thankfully, I didn’t have to do it all in a rush so I had time to do some digging. The first big question was what to do about the missing canvas. Well, I found out they are called “covers” and there are two primary kinds – ones that connect to the frame with a round wood rod and others that use a flat piece of wood. Our’s used a flat rod.

The next step was to find out if we could even find affordable covers. Well, I started searching on Amazon and there are actually a lot of premade options [click here to open a browser tab with them].

To measure your chair, lock them fully open and measure from left to right and for the seat – front to back. For the top, I did top to bottom. The left to right measures are really critical because you don’t want the canvas to be super loose – it will stretch and sag with time.

The height of the back cover and the depth of the seat are flexible – your measures are the maximums. At most X inches tall or Y inches deep.

We went with covers from “Everywhere Chair” on Amazon. Their supplied measures were: Seat Width: 22.5″ and Depth 15.25″. The back was 21.5″ wide and 6.5″ tall. This seemed to match the closest with what I was looking for so we ordered them.

What I don’t have photos of is that we test fit the covers as soon as we got them. This was both in case we needed to return them and also, I did not want to spend a bunch of time restoring the wood that we couldn’t get covers for.

Restoring the Wood

In the summer, my shop extends into my driveway. One afternoon, I took a serious look at the wood and realized there were a number of cracks I needed to deal with. Thankfully they were all narrow because you can quickly and easily fill them with thin super glue – also known Cyanoacrelate or “CA” glue. Lately, I have been using Starbond brand thin CA and it works great.

You can see the weathered finish and a hairline crack in this forearm.
I did 2-3 applications of superglue on that crack. The first application will really soak into the wood grain so you let that cure for a minute or two and then apply another and wait. Another and wait. You keep applying thin CA glue until it stays on the surface. Another option if you have slightly wider cracks is to sand the wood at the same time and pack the crack with the combination of sawdust and uncured/wet CA glue.
I kept walking around the two chairs and moving them around so I could see all of the surfaces. Any time I found a crack, I filled it.

Sanding & Finishing

Next up, I needed to sand the chairs to get rid of the worn finish and the CA glue. I like to use a Dewalt 5″ Dual Action sander and it quickly cleaned up everything using 150 grit sanding discs.

Used a Dewalt 5″ dual action sander with 150 grit sandpaper to clean things up. Also used a fine sanding spong from Ace to clean up the rounded surfaces and spot touch ups.
I went around both chairs fixing dings and removing the old finish.

As I mentioned above, I really wasn’t into it until the next part. I started applying Minwax Provincial stain and just a beautiful orangish brown started coming out. Once I saw that, I was all in – I did not expect the wood to take the stain that nicely or be colored the way it was.

This is the first coat after I wiped down the chair and removed the initial stain that hadn’t soaked in.

Mixwax Provincial stain is sem-transparent and oil based. It really soaked in nicely and I applied two heavy coats. I applied the first using a blue shop towel, let it sit for about 10 minutes and wiped it off. I then did it a second time. I took care to wipe down the metal hardware so the superficial stain wouldn’t turn into a sticky residue.

Installing the Covers

I backed off the screws for the arms of the chairs enough so I could insert the canvas with the flat wood slats in them. That slats sit a tad higher than I wouldhave liked. I debated cutting down the slats to half their thickness but instead figured I’d see what happens over time.

Just back off the bottom screws enough so the canvas with the seat slat can be inserted in the groove behind the hinge.
Notice the chair is not locked open. I needed it partially closed so I could easily insert the canvas seat and slats. In hindsight, I could have stained the ends of the slats but that didn’t occur to me at the time.
The back cover just slides on the posts. Lock the chair open only after both are installed.
I really like how they turned out.
Here’s another view of them at the wedding venue.


We got the frames for $5 and and then $29/ea for the replacement covers. We then used some CA glue, stain and sanding discs – I’d ballpark each of the two seats cost about $40/ea. I have no idea who made these frames but I think we saved a bit of money but that wasn’t the real goal here – we wound up restoring two chairs and creating some memories with them that we will have even longer.

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