Category Archives: Administrivia

Sunday Synchronizing

We’re behind. Again. Still. Whatever. We have a couple of posts meant to be yesterday’s to backdate, a couple of posts intended to be tomorrow’s and this week’s to research, and, well, it’s a beautiful day and there’s analog stuff to do, including day-job stuff, family stuff and non-blog writing.

So we’ll see ya when we see ya. We’ll try to get yesterday’s Matinee and TW3 up by midnight tonight but no promises.

That Was the Week that Was: 2015 Week 23

That was the week that was TW3This is our first TW3 in a while. It’s not because you suck and we hate you, but because sometimes something gets squeezed out by events, and if something has to go, this is one of the best things to kick to the curb.

That said, we know some people get benefits out of it. Often, people find stories that they missed in our week-end wrap-up. That’s why we still keep trying, even when we’re under the gun.

This week was an interesting week, including one day (Tuesday) when we didn’t get to the blog and post anything at all. That happens very seldom, but it does happen.

The Boring Statistics

This week was a below-average week for all current standards. We posted 22 posts with some 225 comments by press time for this post, and a total of about 16,000 words. If we hit any major milestone, we don’t know what it is. Mean/median post length was 738/668 with a min/max of 242 and 1483.

Comment of the Week

We can’t really think of one and don’t want to hold this post while we reread all the comments.

The Week in Posts

Here’s the recap of our posts for this week:

Going Forward

Nothing special, just the usual stuff. We’ve been wrangling some technology — the tech is winning — to extend what we do a little. We don’t want to spill any details, in case it goes all pear-shaped.

Why No Posts Yesterday?

Can you guess?

Maybe it should be a poll!

Why wasn’t there anything on Tuesday? free polls


The reason, or reasons, is really on that list. “More” will have some discussion.

Continue reading

Sunday Salvage

Many things get salvaged around here. Airplane parts we riveted wrong. (Oops. On the plus side, we’re getting real good at drilling out rivets). Various bits of metals or plastics that might get reused creatively. All kinds of things.

Heck, we’re humans, and so even as our organisms salvage their own timed-out or wrecked cells, we salvage ourselves when we’ve gotten messed up.

Well, we get help, sometimes.

Anyway, today is kind of a salvage day. We do (finally!) have a Saturday Matinee to put up; it’ll be backdated to yesterday. We have a couple of partly finished ones we might complete and slot into the weeks that are missing theirs, also.

Yes, this isn’t our most inspired Sunday post ever. What can we say? Written at 0200, that’s why. It’ll get posted around dawn. Dawn’s when the French and Indians attack.

Sunday Sprayin’

You can envision this dirge being sung by the fictional characters of your choice:

Etch and prime, Etch and prime
It’s what we’re doing all the time.
And that is how our work begins.
When you build semi-monocoque
You first must spray, and cough, and choke;
That is (and we are sure you’ve heard)
Once all is drilled, shaped and deburred —
Attention to all details, wretch!
Spray, then rinse to stop the etch.
Etch and prime on ribs and skins.

And oh, yeah, we need to set up the new lights over the new, improved gun bench. Somewhere in all that we hope to raise a prayer of thanks, in a guilty nod to what Sabbaths used to be.

So how’s your Sunday shaping up?

Sunday Surfaces

The surfaces that are on our mind are those of the myriad parts of the RV-12’s tail feathers, which are now completely prepped, or very nearly so (hmmm… there may be some holes yet to be dimpled in the leading edge of the vertical stab skin).

What we are building: Van's RV-12. This one is a factory built version; you can get it assembled, or as a kit.

What we are building: Van’s RV-12. This one is a factory built version; you can get it assembled, or as a kit.

Today’s mission — which may be a bit too ambitious — is to get all the parts prepped and primed before noon. Counting brackets — several of which, to our delight, are built up from layers of thick aluminum sheet, à la Mitsubishi Type 0 –and all, we are looking at about 100 parts. The parts range in size from an inch and a half square to about 12 square feet (stab skins). We’re only priming the inside surface of the skins at this time. The internal parts have to be primed on both sides.

This builder has done what we are doing exactly: prime the internal parts of the empennage kit.

This builder, Joe Rhodes, has done what we are doing exactly: prime the internal parts of the empennage kit. Joe’s build page shows what sub-kits he’s completed so far. His workmanship looks good! We’re about ready to assemble this kit after a lot of parts prep, and have the wing kit on order.

Not every builder primes his aircraft’s innards. We live on the seacoast and fear salt air, even if we keep the bird hangared on completion. We’ve seen enough people have sticker shock at replacing a corroded stabilator or control surface, that we know we do not want to experience that (although in our case, a corroded part means building a replacement — from parts if the kit builder is still supporting this model, from sheet if not). The reason not to prime is that priming adds weight, and weight taxes performance. If we lived in a dry place, or even a humid place where the humidity was from fresh water, we’d probably have gone bare.

We are using Stewart Systems primers. It is a water-based protective coating that goes on in three steps. The first step is a thorough washing to remove all the greasy fingerprints, etc., from the parts. Next step, an etching chemical that roughs the surface slightly to enhance adhesion of the primer. And finally the primer itself which stops the etching and stabilizes and protects the metal.

Stewart Systems primers seem to be less toxic than some of the alternatives, not that we plan to breathe or ingest the stuff.

Between the major areas of every part being Alclad (coated with a thin layer of pure aluminum, which is more corrosion-resistant than the stronger 2024-T3 alloy of which the skins, ribs and other sheet-metal parts are made), and the primer coating, we expect the aircraft to survive us and be delivering the joy of flight to some descendant, or new owner, a century from now.

After agonizing over which compressor to buy and use, we ultimately went in a completely different direction and acquired a used Graco-Croix CX-9 turbine sprayer. It’s much quieter than a compressor is and seems to spray well. We do have to get some filters, etc., for the unit and during an interval in which your humble host had no working telephone (first bike ride of the season, first bone-jarring crash of the season, eh) we weren’t able to get the right part numbers from Graco so we made gaskets from some neoprene sheet we had around.

That was… interesting. The original plan was to peel off the leaky old gaskets and use them as patterns, but the assumption in that was that we could get the gaskets off in one piece. Fun fact about gaskets: when they are old enough that they should long ago have been replaced, and they are leaking paint all over the spray gun inter alia, they get hard like a rock, and modern epoxy paints have the quaint effect of epoxying the gasket to the gun. We wound up using the “rough tracing, adjusted by eyeball” method, and Monday, we can call Graco and get the parts numbers our dealer needs to order the factory gasket kit.

Monday we also call our 3D Printer dealer and alert them to the fact that they sent the invoice for our printer to our very nice neighbor. (She: “Did you just buy something for nine thousand dollars? And will it block my driveway when they drop it off?” Answers: “Yeah, and, we hope, no, because we’ll call them with the right address Monday, too.”)

The Stewart S-51, a 1990s-vintage kit replica of the Mustang that was uncanny in its accuracy; simply too costly for the homebuilt market.

The Stewart S-51, a 1990s-vintage kit replica of the Mustang that was uncanny in its accuracy; simply too costly for the homebuilt market. Not what we’re building.

The relevant pages of the Van’s construction manual don’t explicitly recommend Stewart, but we have communicated with several RV builders who use the company’s products. It is a company steeped in the homebuilding community; it was founded by Jim Stewart, who designed at least two successful homebuilts, the Headwind and the S-51, although now he offers his design services through a different firm.

And Stewart’s employees were very helpful on the phone. We currently plan that the final exterior finishing of the aircraft will be put in the hands of professionals.

Finally — while we brothers were sleeping on our plans for today, two other brothers were on the run in Mississippi after murdering two police officers. What the hell is wrong with some people?

Thank You Readers

…and, maybe, surveillance bots, but in the first couple of days of May we exceeded a million hits for 2015.

So yeah, we’re going to break a million hits this year again. Pretty confident of that, actually.

Unique visitors are much lower: around 700k.

So what’s the difference between “hits” aka “visits” and “unique visitors”?

If you come to look at a page on Weaponsman, that’s a hit. If you follow six stories to read the comments, that’s at total of seven hits.  If you come back the same day and look at four more pages, that’s a total of eleven hits.

But unless your Internet Protocol (IP) address has changed, that’s only one “visit.”

If you come back the next day, even with the same IP address, that’s a new “visit.” And of course, it’s credited to the new day.

At least, that’s how the stats package that we use here works.

Every visit and every visitor is humbly appreciated. Well, maybe not the bots, but the human visitors are very welcome.

A quick bleg… Newsweek story

Ladies and gents,

We want to compare a new Jeff Stein story at Newsweek that we’re hearing about, to some older information we have handy on MAC-SOG’s failed long-duration penetration agent programs in the Vietnam War.

Screenshot 2015-05-03 09.39.44

(There’s an excellent book by Sedgewick Tourison out there already, and we have some other, less widely-published stuff in the Unconventional Warfare Operations Research Library). Stein is a serious writer and researcher who formerly wrote for more upscale outlets (Washington Post, CQ Politics, and did a number of pieces for And Magazine including a character assassination of Marty Martin, whom we knew circa 1979 before he joined the agency) and it makes us wonder if he has something more, but we’re walled out of Beastweek. Link:

If someone could be so kind as to squirt us the text of Stein’s report, we’ll compare it to Wick’s book and the other stuff we have, and see if there’s anything new there, or if it’s just the well-known case of Team Ares (despite the name, a singleton named Pham Chuyen), repackaged in Beastweek gloss and glitter. (that email’s good for anything else you want to send, please tag it WeaponsMan in the subject).

Oh yeah — hat tip. In this case, Mike Vanderboegh.


Call off the dogs! I have the story. Thanks to the reader (and friend) who was first to hit me with it.

Interesting in that Stein quotes Wick as saying something other than what Wick concluded years ago. There’s actually nothing new in the Pham Chuyen story.

Sunday Spring! Spring! Spring!

Spring is here, finally. The first tulip bloomed, although the rest of the usual April early blooms have yet to show their faces. The flox is usually flowering now, and it’s not even green. On the other hand, dandelions seem to be out in force, now that we got most of the oak leaves up. A late spring is bad news because it means a late leaf drop in the fall…

Spring activities include reorganizing the office and shop for some New Stuff, starting up some new contracts in the Day Jobs, and perhaps sneaking out to the Biddeford, Maine Gun Show today.

Making room for a 3D printer. We don’t envision doing gun parts on this, but some aerospace and electronics stuff for our DOD clients. If we get around to doing something that suits the blog, we’ll show it off here.

We also have to make room for the Ghost Gunner which is going to arrive sooner or later.

We also have a new (to us) Graco HVLP turbine sprayer to prime airplane parts with, which should accelerate the process a tad. The same outfit that gave us a good deal on the sprayer, sold us two leather-topped mahogany hotel desks for $10 each so that ups our game on the fine-assembly wall of the shop considerably — yep, they’re the new light-gunsmithing bench. We’re going to hang some LED lights over them. But we have to seriously thin the herd of junk in our basement, garage, and outbuildings.

We’re also cleaning up the ’96 Impala SS for sale. Thanks to a mower shed, we can actually put cars in all the stalls of the garage, unlike most folks we know… but we have four cars (well, five, but one is in perma-restoration) and only three stalls, so something’s gotta go, and the Cop Car With Better Seats is elected. It’s got almost 95k miles, which is pushing it for any non-truck GM product. We’ll wash it, get it detailed, and then Craigslist it.


At the Biddeford show met some interesting characters, including a fellow SOA member who’s one of the originals — a CCN vet, 1968. He was collecting for the SOA scholarship fund, and we did our bit. Of course, any time two guys “claiming SF” meet, there’s a certain amount of circling and eyeing before you start talking, and we had to do all the secret handshakes. Because wedidn’t get there till noon on Sunday, didn’t have time to see everything, but saw a nice Vector SBR version of the MP5 for reasonable money, and should have bought ammo for the Big Box o’ Euro Pistols that came in from Rock Island Auctions in April. The SS ran like the highway hellhound it is. It will be missed. But it’s the one left without a garage stall when the music stopped.

Sunday Spelling

concentrate-hard-and-learn-your-spellings_1Spellng? Yes. Spelling. We’re taking this Sunday morning as a flimsy excuse to go off topic and off the reservation, and say a few words about the utility of proper English orthography and such ancillary arts as grammar and composition. Which are actually three different things, but they have one thing in common: young people are not learning them.

Whether you blame video games, unionized teachers, indulgent parents, tee ball and participation trophies, or the temper of the times, if you have any exposure to today’s teens and twenty-somethings you have had more examples of horrid English language expression before you than you care to remember.

The event that occasioned these thoughts was a recent entrepreneurship competition, in which your humble blogger was one of a panel of judges. It goes like this:

  1. Undergraduates at a small state university, which caters to lower-middle-class strivers (often the first in their family’s entire history to attend college), take a single course in entrepreneurship, which is quite new.
  2. The class is taught by two smart professors, who do not have a business background. (One of them is one of the most natively-intelligent people I’ve ever met, I think).
  3. The students come up with an idea if they can, and present it to a panel of judges and to the non-voting retired CEO who initially sponsored the contest, first by writing and then in a personal presentation.
  4. The judges score the students’ planned businesses on several axes: Idea (originality/scalability, etc); Viability (Practicality, likely ROI, etc); Research (did they do their homework on market, competition, financials?); and, Presentation (did it “pop”? Do they think on their feet? Etc.).
  5. Four cash prizes are awarded. All entrepreneur cubs get an encouraging call from the CEO. The judges (themselves all business people with startup experience) and the professors put their heads together on how it can be better next time. Rinse and repeat.

We were ill-prepared this year, and discovered on the morning of that we’d left key parts of business dress 1,500 miles from home at Hogney World. So an old pair of never-worn almost dressy dark-soled Topsiders were found in the closet and the other missing items were bought when stores opened. The shoes were a matter of trepidation — it’s hard to find things you can stuff 9EEEE paddle feet into without problems, and usually we stick to Clark for dress and New Balance for casual — but they worked fine.

Some may blame the public schools...

Some may blame the public schools… er, wait, what schools?

But the written presentations — Gah, what a collection of disasters. In our draft of this post we originally put a couple of samples here, but we took them out lest we crush the poor little dears when they stumble upon their own words — the Intertubes may not be forever, but so far that they bid fair to outlast Ozymandias’s statuary. Suffice it to say that spelling, verb-subject agreement, pronoun use, paragraphing, capitalization, everything involved in effective written communication was as wrong as a pedophile’s picture album.

Although for the record, it was not this university.

Although for the record, it was not this university.

None of these young folk’s works was really good, although there were some gradations of awful. They were like the Five Lee Sisters: Ug, Home, Ghast, Beast and Gnar. Not one but two packets suffered from an absolutely gobsmacking deficiency: the spelling or the name of the business itself was not consistent internally in the document. As it was, it was sad.

One of the best-written presentations of an idea, which was still substandard, came from a young man who’s not a native English speaker. That’s twice as sad.

And the ideas? For a contest intended to produce the next big idea, they were… small. The best presented of all was an idea for a food truck. Not a food truck franchising operation: One. Food. Truck. A couple more were clear attempts at turning hobbies into employment.

Some blame the general decline in the culture....

Some blame the general decline in the culture….

On the plus side, there weren’t any apps this year. Last year everybody had an app… but their spelling was better.

We mentioned this to the profs and to the administrators at the U (there’s one gal in administration who’s key to this whole event happening, a vital connector between the business and admin world). And the profs told us, in some despair, that, “That’s the way kids are today.” Sheesh. But they’re telling the truth; one of them has tried to enforce some kind of spelling and grammar on her undergraduates, and has been savaged for it on

And others keep returning to the baleful influence of education bureaucrats...

And others keep returning to the baleful influence of education bureaucrats…

The judges normally have a conference call to shortlist the packets for presentation. If we were grading these the way VCs would, they’d all go to the shredder unanswered: they were that bad. On the other hand, these were undergraduates. We also remembered that, in the past, there wasn’t a strong correlation between the quality of the written packet and the quality of the presentation. So on all eight of them went to present in an auditorium on campus, in front of a shark tank of real entrepreneurs.

Of course, however bad your spelling error, it could be worse. You could be this guy.

Of course, however bad your spelling error, it could be worse. You could be this guy.

Fortunately, the oral presentations were all stronger than the writtens. And, perhaps because of the efforts of those hard-working professors,  their presentation slides had been purged of any typos or misspellings, and everybody’s business naming was consistent.

Well, the purpose of a University is education, isn’t it? Perhaps we’re helping. But Great Googly Moogly, those written presentations.

Monday, we’ll be back to the usual topics. Later today, we’ll post and backdate a Saturday Matinee (yeah, we said that last week, but only had time to watch half the movie. We suppose we could review them without watching them, like the guy at The New Republic. But we figure you guys deserve a higher level of discourse than that).


It has nothing to do with spelling, but the frustration of this Texas A&M branch campus professor is just one more indicator of the college bubble. Our neighbor’s two sweet, pretty young graduate daughters who are absolutely unemployable with degrees in womens’ studies and nonprofit management is another such sign.