Some Days Chickens, Some Days Feathers

Started by gitano, July 28, 2023, 09:36:25 PM

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Today was definitely a 'feathers' kind of day.

Started off with a call to a Small Engine Repair Shop, I had dropped off a 10KW portable generator a couple of weeks ago to have it diagnosed. (Blew its guts out on the driveway after only about 8 hours of use!) "Haven't looked at it yet" was the response. :Banghead: Got the current BS excuse for not doing your job; "Can't get good workers after COVID."

Next, I got in my 2009 Toyota Highlander and drove to the local "lube joint". Two weeks ago, they had replaced the fluids in the trannsmission and both differentials. (To the tune of $360.) Now the rear diff was leaking. I was gonna give them 'what for' if they tried to weasel out of responsibility. They brought me out to the bay to have a look for myself. Turns out, it wasn't their fault. Right before having the fluids changed, I had the entire suspension redone, including 4 struts and 4 new CV axles. ($5700) Guess what was leaking. One of the CV axle-to-differential seals. :stare:  This meant that the guy that did that work was responsible. I really didn't want to have that conversation. I called him while still at the lube joint. "It's not my fault" Is the short version. I got an estimate of the work from the lube joint - $874. To replace a $35 part! I called the guy that did the suspension work. He said he'd do it for $150. "OK".

Little did I know, there were more feathers to come.

The following is why this post is in "Firearms and Optics" and not the Campfire.

I stopped at the Post Office on the way home from the lube joint and picked up the new scope bases for Alain's Sauer 90. I figured out (with the help of Jaeger88 and SmokeyJoe), that the original bases are EAW. These are the kind of rings and bases that if you have to ask "How much", you can't afford them. New EAW rings and bases (from New England Custom Guns - the American distributor), cost SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY DOLLARS! Rings alone are $310! Ain't gonna happen. So, I bought some made-for-Sauer 90 bases and rings. $52 for the whole kit-n-kaboodle. Anyway, with those in hand, I put the Sauer in the Tipton vise and commenced to take the EAW bases off.

The first three screws went swimmingly. However... Alain clearly Lok-Tite'd the fourth screw in. That screw would not come out. I even put some heat on it. No way. Ultimately, the slot-head screw stripped. :Banghead:  @(*#^*&%Q$%#! The only way to get it out was to drill the head off, drill a hole in the screw, and use an "easy out" to unscrew it. Hopefully. Sounds easy. Think about it. The screw is a 6-40. I have to drill a hole in the center of that screw, without boogering the scope base AND without boogering the threads on the receiver. To do so, I have to hold the rifle "wery wery still" AND perfectly horizontal. AND, I have to drill in the EXACT center of the boogered screw. Obviously, this is "doable", and any professional machine shop/gunsmith should have no problem accomplishing this. However, I'm neither a professional machinist nor a professional gunsmith. I'm not sure I've done anything on my mill that I was as nervous about 'getting right' as I was doing this work.

So I took the Tipton "gun vise" and the rifle into the shop. Then I had to make room on my mill's table for the gun vise. Or maybe not. After I got the dividing head removed from the table, I was preparing to remove my mill vise and really dreading that. It takes me a LONG time (half an hour at least),  to get my vise 'trued' on the mill table, and it's an unpleasant task. Turns out, I had some silicon jaws in my vise, and they're nice and soft. Soft enough not to harm the stock on the Sauer. IF I could get them to hold, and hold well enough to not move when I drilled. I tried it. It seemed OK.

I got a "drill point" installed in the quill, centered it on the screw head, and commenced to place a starter hole. It looked OK, so I continued as far as I dared, hoping to use the drill point to remove the head. However, I chickened out before the head was gone, but when I tapped on the side of the base with a small mallet, it popped right off. :jumpingsmiley:  Leaving the shank of the screw in the hole, and a nice dimple to start the drill into. (I didn't take any pictures until I got the base off.) Here's what it looked like at that point.

Whew! But I was still sweating. This was going to be the hard part. I COULD NOT booger those threads! The hole had to be dead center and small enough not to touch the threads. I think I used a 5/64ths. I drilled just shy of how deep I had measured the other front hole. Can't afford to drill through the receiver! I wouldn't know for sure if I had hit the wall until I tried the easy out. Here's the easy out 'easing out' the screw. WHEW! :COOLdude:

And out!

Here are the pieces in better light.

I thought I had a picture of the new bases mounted, but I don't. So next post.

So that was a bit of "chicken" after some serious "feathers". But overall, still 'feathers' because the one screw was destroyed, even if 'things' could have turned out worse, and I had to sweat bullets for a while. :eek:

Next up was taking all the brass out of the polisher, decapping, resizing, and recapping. The .223s went swimmingly. The .22-250... well, more feathers.

First off, the first two shots out of the .22-250 blew primers. The only reason there was a second shot, is because I didn't realize the first one blew the primer. It extracted "OK". Nevertheless, blown primer pockets, and those two pieces of relatively precious brass, ruined. On to the 60-grain Nosler Partitions.

They all shot fine in terms of pressure, but the four-shot group was about 3". :-X  Furthermore, the MagnetoSpeed DID NOT CATCH A SINGLE BULLET. Therefore, NO velocity data. :frown:  However, the really bad 'feathers' came today. I couldn't hardly close the bolt on FULLY RESIZED CASES. For all it seemed, they were too long. In other words, the shoulder hitting the front of the chamber. Remember FULL LENGTH RESIZING.

The shell holder was fully engaging the bottom of the die, so I measured the height of the shell holder to see if maybe it was too high and preventing the shoulder from being set back. Nope. Turned out that that particular #3 shell holder was the shortest of the five I measured! Shiite Muslims. The only thing left was the die itself. (I bought it used off Ebay.) I took it to the lathe and removed 0.007" from the bottom of the die. No help. I measured a case that  fit "ok" - still snugger than I liked, but not too tight. The 'tight' one was about 0.010" longer. Back to the lathe, and another 0.015" off the bottom of the die. STILL JUST AS HARD TO CHAMBER AS EVER! All of this has taken the better part of 3 hours. Finally, I quit. I can not figure out the problem, and I don't want to "keep cutting" when cutting doesn't change ANYTHING. Something else is wrong. Either the rifle has a short chamber or the die has a long chamber. Or both. Tomorrow, providing it's not another 'feather' day, I'm going to cast the chamber and get some precise measurements of both the rifle's chamber and the die's chamber. Something's wrong.

Unfortunately, those are only the 'suitable for publication' examples of feathers. I tell you the truth, it's been a LONG time since I've had a day like today. Here's hopin' tomorrow brings more chicken and less feathers.

Be nicer than necessary.


Maybe today is a 'chicken' day.

I returned to my reloading bench with no new ideas other than casting the chambers of the rifle and die. I didn't really want to do that, but I just couldn't think of anything else to do. SOMETHING'S gotta fit! How was I going to get a case SMALL enough to fit well in the rifle's chamber so I  could measure it? I remembered that the 'blown-primer-pocket' cases extracted reasonable easily. I thought maybe what is do is start cutting one of those off with a case trimmer until it fit. Even if that was below the shoulder, I'd then know where the problem was.

I ran one of them back into the chamber. Easy peasy. Hmmm... I measured it's base-to-neck length using the Stoney-Point (SP hereafter), comparator. 2.643". Then I measured one of the cases that wouldn't chamber; 2.657". Hmmm... I measured another; 2.656". I measured another; 2.657". OK! The resized ones were ~0.013" longer than the one that chambered smoothly. This after I had already cut some 0.022" off of the bottom of the die. The die and I went back to the lathe.

Another 0.015" off the bottom of the die. Run one of the long cases back through the die. (After again adjusting the die to just 'kiss' the shell holder.) Voila'! Case chambers great!

What this means:

Either the chamber on the model 700 is short by something approaching 0.040", or the die's chamber is too long by that much. I'm voting on the die, but it could be the rifle. Regardless, the die is now appropriately sized for the chamber of this rifle.

At the moment, I'm using the "27" SP anvil to perform these measurements. That 0.268" hole fits nicely over the case's neck and stops just barely below the neck-shoulder joint. That's not the correct datum point for measuring headspace. The correct point is half way down the shoulder. I'm going to look up the SAAMI specs on the .22-250 chamber, and get that exact diameter. I'll then make an anvil for the SP comparator that will allow me to adjust the die in the press so that the shoulder of a fired case is set back only 1 to 2 thousandths. THAT will allow the greatest case life, and most precise measurements for QuickLOAD or Gordon's Reloading Tool simulations.

Hah! Take that, poor quality control! But still, "you" wasted my time and money.  :frown:

Now when will I be able to get back to the range?

Be nicer than necessary.


Turns out, from the SAAMI spec sheet, that the datum point is 1.5749" from the case head, and 0.347" in diameter at that point. I'll make an anvil for the Stoney Point Comparator with that diameter. I may also make a "headspace gauge" as well. Although I'm not sure to what end, as I won't be chambering any rifles in this cartridge. However, if one cares to be 'anal' about it, one can use a headspace gauge to set up resizing dies. Had I been using a headspace gauge, I'd have recognized the problem with this die (or rifle), PDQ.

Be nicer than necessary.


Hi Paul,

This may be of some help with loading for Alains .22-250.  Ive a box of Alains .22-250 reloads, that I took over the shop with his guns. I think he was pretty meticulous recording his loading data & here's a picture of the label attached to the one box of .22-250 ammo we found. Showing the COAL.
No doubt he kept a record of all his reloads, but I would think it wont be a paper copy.
I can also get you some data for at least one of his loads for .223, .243 ,.444 & maybe .17 Rem as well, if its any use to you.

I cant believe in fate.
If the futures all worked out, horoscopes & all that, it means none of us are responsible for anything we do, it means we are just actors in a script written by someone else. I dont believe that.


Forgot to add, Alain used a neck crimp on his .22-250 loads.
He never mentioned to me that he'd had any chambering/loading issues with that rifle.
Though he did say, it shot so well, it was one rifle he wouldn't "muck about with".
I cant believe in fate.
If the futures all worked out, horoscopes & all that, it means none of us are responsible for anything we do, it means we are just actors in a script written by someone else. I dont believe that.


That's great stuff, jaeger88! I was wondering about a 'crimp'. I notice lots of used brass shows signs of having been crimped. I studied 'crimping', and understand its potential for improving ignition uniformity. However, I crimping never really improved any of my handloads, so I quit using it. I have a crimping die for the .22-250. If I can't get sub-MoA at 100yd, I'll try crimping.


PS - I wonder what program he used to print those stickers out? I'd love to have that for my "go to" loads.

Be nicer than necessary.


Ive never personally found any worthwhile accuracy improvement if I neck crimp my loads.
I do it with 6.5 x 55 brass that Ive full length sized several times. As its one round that I seem to have to trim to length after each firing/sizing.  I'm a bit concerned that if the neck wall gets a little thin, there will be reduced grip on the bullets, & they could get pushed back in the case when chambering, or in the magazine under recoil. Maybe its time to invest in new brass !.

I had a "slight" disagreement/argument with Alain on neck crimping. He said he neck crimped his .22-250 loads to get more uniform & consistent neck tension. I mentioned that it would surely only work if all his brass had uniform neck wall thickness?. (The thicker the neck, the harder the crimp). He said "no", & I "didn't know what I was talking about", & he stomped off. It seemed logical to me, but Alain always had to be right, & would swear that black was white if it suited him !. ( Or that black was blue, if you were talking about finishing gun barrels etc ).
I cant believe in fate.
If the futures all worked out, horoscopes & all that, it means none of us are responsible for anything we do, it means we are just actors in a script written by someone else. I dont believe that.