Life beyond lightspeed
Double feed problems seem to be ammo related

I did ultimate carbine last Sunday with the club and had a whopping 3 double feeds on my carbine. Fired round in chamber and a fresh round jammed between it and the magazine. I was suspecting the carbine but I had 3 double feeds firing my Beretta CX4 today. The common component is ammunition. I’m using Freedom Munitions 9mm 115gr RN new ammo. I haven’t had a problem with it before but here are 6 double feeds on two guns using that ammo. It fired in my blocks (19 and 34) just fine but on the carbines, this happened.

Interestingly, my reloading 9mm shot just fine in both carbines.

Bought a Beretta CX4 9mm carbine, kind of happy

I bought my carbine on gun broker for a good price and had it shipped to my local FFL to pick up after the usual NICS check and so on. I shot the gun and it shot well with a Redfield counterstrike red dot mounted on it. The trigger is soft but you get used to it quickly, I don’t see it as a problem.

It’s left hand friendly, when I got home, I switched the magazine release and the ejection port and carrier bolt to the other side. The only thing I can’t swap over if the bolt release. I initially find the magazine release not that easy to get to, it’s doable but maybe I just need bigger hands. All the above work was pretty easy to do.

When I put the gun back together is when I had my first big problem. When attaching the upper and lower together, the guide rod assembly wasn’t aligned and the plate end snapped off when I snapped the upper/lower together (do this slowly from now on).

The guide rod and spring uses a plastic rod and it snapped at the plate end. Brownells sells a replacement for 30 bucks so I ordered 2 given, if it breaks once, it’ll break again. I did see Sierra papa makes a steel one and I’m tempted to cancel the brown ell order to purchase that, it’s the same price as two.

Overall, it is a nice carbine but the initial experience isn’t what I wanted. Compared with my Thureon 9mm carbine, the internals are all metal although even then I had two firing pins break on that.

So, still happy but this breakage on the first disassembly is a bummer.

Broken firing pin on Thureon Carbine has a permanent fix

My first firing pin broke on Sunday night. Just the top pin on it broke off and the gun would fire no more. I actually had already acquired a spare pin but, of course, it was at home in my cleaning kit and not at the range. Lesson learned, spare parts need to be where stuff breaks…

So, I emailed Mark Enneper at Thureon this morning about the issue and was happy to hear that they had engineered a new bolt assembly in Jan/Feb 2014 to solve the problem. To quote Mark

We came out with a new bolt that addressed several issues including feeding, ejecting and pin issues that had acceptable with most gun owners, but showed up as an occasional issue for others. We ream out the bore of your old bolt, and replace the firing pin with one that has a larger diameter on the strike end.  We also remove the stainless rods and the body to the rear, and replace it with a larger body, that has turned out to be more reliable in terms of feeding and working with the springs.

It appears that I can ship my bolt assembly to them and receive as updated part after 10 days or so for less than a 100 bucks. So, I’ll ship it off soon to have that work done.

I’m happy they did this because the carbine has been super reliable compared with other ARs/Tavors at the tactical classes that I’ve been taking this year. The pin was the only weakness.

When I get the new part, I’ll post pictures of before/after.

Apple TV Restore Error 1611 solved

One of my Apple TVs went bonkers yesterday and needed to be restored using iTunes. I plugged it in to a Mac and it seemed to work, downloaded everything but failed when it starts the actual restore with an error 1611. The problem turned out to be the USB cable. I switched cables and repeated the process and it works. Must be a charge only cable or something,

Propane consumption for Honda EU2000i

I bought a tri-fuel conversion kit for my Honda eu2000i. I have two Hondas, a new companion and my original one which is 4 years old now. I bought the tri-fuel kit from central maine diesel for 279 bucks. The kit installed pretty easily using a youtube video from engineer775 to guide me along.

Back to the numbers. I have a backup power setup using 6 x 216Ah 6V Golfcart batteries with a xantrex pro sine SW 2000W inverter and an IOTA DLS-55/IQ4 12 VOLT 55 AMP 4 STAGE AUTOMATIC SMART BATTERY CHARGER / POWER SUPPLY charger. I use #00 wiring for everything. For this test, I pulled 4kw out of my battery setup from fully charged. I measured this using a kill-a-watt meter. I pulled the 4KW using my gas powered furnace and a desktop PC attached to the xantrex inverter. The gas powered furnace draws about 5A to run its fan when the heating system is engaged. The computer draws about 2A continuously and simulates the draw from my hurricane essential items (fridges, some lights, chargers for phones). I pulled the 4kw over a 13.5 hour period. I’d no issues at all with the Xantrex and would recommend it.

The voltage on the batteries after the 4kw was 11.83V under load with the furnace and the desktop running. This was drawing about 5.2A at the time. I removed the load and after allowing the batteries to rest, the voltage was 12.07V. I measured both these voltages at the “battery”.

I used propane to recharge the batteries using my Honda eu2000i.

I attached a full propane tank (36.1lbs gross weight) to my Honda and let it charge the batteries using the IOTA 55A charger. The charger drew 10.1A during the bulk stage. Thats about 860W. I started charging at 12:45pm. The bulk charge finished around 5 hours later. At that point, it had drew 4.4kw from the Honda (measured by the kill-a-watt). The voltage at the battery was 14.06V and in the absorption phase, the draw had dropped to 8 amps.

I stopped it there. I weighed the propane cylinder and it was now 31.7lbs. So, drawing 4.4kw from the Honda took 4.4lbs of propane. Thats 1kw/lb of propane. The math turned out too easy but those are the numbers.

Signed up yesterday. I’m using the normal 6 month training plan with maximum of 70 miles per week.

Vertical dipole antenna. Worked very well, no counterpoise required.

Vertical dipole antenna. Worked very well, no counterpoise required.

Leaking moon roof on Ford Flex fixed

My 2009 Ford Flex SEL’s moon roof has been leaking in the rain lately. Any turning or breaking caused water to drip down around the courtesy lights towards the front of the roof line. I’d heard it’s likely blocked drainage pipes that lead towards the wheel wells.

We brought it in to the local Ford dealer and they fixed ours for 260 bucks. The tray was our problem. They realigned it so that it drained towards the drain pipes and the problem appears solved. They warrantied the fix for 12 months so if it happens again then I hope we’re covered.

Next ultras?

Thinking about the north face 50 miler in bear mountain, ny. Looks hard. 14k feet of elevation change. That’s in may. Then there is the Vermont 50 miler in September. That looks harder still.

Tips from surviving Hurricane Sandy in North New Jersey

We just had an interesting week. Sandy came through and devastated NJ and NY. We were impacted but clearly no where near as badly as some people in Staten Island and the other flooded areas. Regardless, this is what happened to us and what we did.

The big impact on us in Tenafly was loss of electrical power and cable and then lack of access to gasoline. I have a generator, a Honda EU2000i. This is a 2kw portable generator. It generates pretty clear power that I normally use at the racetrack for charging power tools, running A/C and laptops. I paid about a thousand bucks for it 3 years ago. This unit is what powered the essentials in my house during the loss of power which lasted from Monday evening around 6pm until late Saturday.

I ran the Honda outside my house and chained it to a flat bed trailer parked beside my house. I ran a long extension cord from the Honda in to my house through my mail box opening. I ran just my fridge (a Subzero Pro48, a big fridge) through a 4 way power box. We used a 18W Dewalt light for lighting around the kitchen and I also hooked up my furnace (gas powered) to this also. This provided more than enough power and ran about 11-12 hours on a gallon of gasoline. We charged iPhones and so on from this also. We ran the Honda on eco throttle the whole time except when running the microwave. Eco throttling allows the Honda to automatically adjust its throttle based on load and this is the most economical way to run it.

The furnace takes very little power. It’s mainly city gas operated and required power just for spinning the fan. I reckon it draws maybe 300 watts when it’s heating and it’s only hearing for a few minutes an hour. It increased my gasoline consumption from 13 hours a gallon to maybe 11/12. Not bad at all.

I changed the oil of the Honda after the first day. I used motor oil from Autozone and this is pretty easy to do. I ran the Honda continuously except for when refilling it with gasoline during the time.

Running large household appliances requires a lot of power. My advice is don’t use them. Go small, you can buy a large generator but it’ll require a lot of fuel to run it or it needs to be hooked to town natural gas which may not work.

We precooked a lot of spaghetti and minced meat before hand and kept it in the fridge. We then microwaved it to heat it back up to eat it. We couldn’t use our normal microwave (1200w), it drew too much current and caused the Honda to shutdown. We instead used a smaller 1000w microwave and this worked fine. I just ran the Honda with eco throttle off when we used the microwave. We also used a Kuerig single cup coffee machine and didn’t need to switch eco throttle off for the kuerig.

Lighting wise in the house, the best thing we had were BlackDiamond head lamps. These are LED lights that use a strap to go on your head. The batteries are AAA and last at least 40-50 hours on max brightness. D cell flash lights are a fail, you can’t get D cell batteries during one of these things, they sell out instantly. We also had flashlights from Dewalt powered by rechargeable 18V dewalt batteries which we kept charged. I destroyed a nano battery because it discharged with the light on and we didn’t turn the light off straightaway so I think it went below threshold and the charger refused to charge it afterwards. I bought two more NiMH (DC9096) batteries as a result.

Our fridge/freezer is pretty big and a couple of families around us used our unit to keep food fresh during the time. The big subzero worked very well and has about 30 cubic feet of space.

Gasoline was a big issue during this event. Most of the garages either ran out of gasoline or with no power couldn’t pump it. There were 3 hour queues around where we live. People with larger generators had problems keeping them running as they couldn’t get gasoline. The Honda is brilliant in this regard. We used maybe 2 gallons a day even with the furnace on. I had filled my two cars up before the storm hit thinking I could siphon gas from them during the event. You can’t siphon gas from a modern car. They have anti-theft mechanisms in the gas filler tube. So, basically you either need to have stored gas in tanks or queue for 3 hours to get more if you can get any at all.

I unpacked an old Sony FM radio and this provided most of our news during the event. ATT 4G was a total fail on my iPhone 4S and my Verizon iPad LTE worked better and provided a Wifi hotspot for us and our friends. I have a motorola police scanner to listen to what was going on in NYC during the event, the police and FD were very busy obviously.

We had hot running water the whole time. Our water heater is city gas powered and does not require electricity. We also filled up sinks and water buckets so we could flush toilets. Our bath tubs would not hold water by the way so some large multi gallon water containers for flushing toilets would be a good idea.

Now, that it’s over for us and power is restored, what would we do differently. The Honda unit is absolutely recommended. It’s all most families need. The city natural gas supply kept running during this event and a gas powered generator would be very cool but costs about 10k for a house sized unit. The Honda is a 1000 bucks and will let you run the essentials and it’s quiet. The neighbors 6-10kw portable construction generators are super loud and will upset people quickly. The major issue we had was access to gasoline. You cannot buy gas tanks, siphons, invertors, generators, flashlights, D-cell batteries once the event is underway so make sure you have these up front. I will be purchasing 6 x 5 gallon tanks to store 30 gallons of gasoline in my house from July onwards moving forward. With some stabilizer added, it’ll be good for 3 months and then I’ll use it in my cars and refill. Having access to gasoline would alleviate the biggest stress factor we had during the event given we were not flooded and so on.

I might buy another Honda unit and put a transfer box in the house that will power the kitchen and furnace next time this happens. This makes it easy to hook up the generator. A second Honda would let me drive the electric stove and give me a backup generator in case one fails. I’d only turn it on though when using the electric stove. A good buy would also be a LPG camping stove to cook food on or a grill with a couple of stove tops. It’s easy to store 4 x 20lb propane tanks in the garage. I’ve thought about getting a LPG conversion kit for my Honda but I think having the 30 gallons of gasoline would get me 2 weeks of power without needing more gasoline, it’s probably enough.

Flashlights around the house are a mistake. Dump them, they are too inefficient. Get yourself LED lighting whether it’s headlamps or LED flashlights. They last much longer and the bulbs don’t blow.

To summarize:

  • Honda EU2000i 2kw generator (2 gallons of gas per day on essential loads)
  • Chain the generator to something solid, there are thieves around!
  • Keep the generator at least 10 feet from the house.
  • Have battery Carbon monoxide detectors in the house.
  • Extension cords for the above that reach your kitchen/furnace.
  • Buy and store 30 gallons of 91 gasoline with stabilizer and recycle it every 3 months. This is basically 2 weeks of power for the generator.
  • Buy LED flashlights and batteries
  • Buy rechargeable CFC lights for use around the house, Dewalt ones work very well.
  • Precook food and keep in fridge to reheat.
  • Buy a grill with a stove top and keep 4 propane tanks on hand for cooking.
  • Large water containers for flushing toilets.