Womack Report

February 28, 2010

Operation Don’t Be a Slug Commencing

Filed under: General — Tags: — Phillip Womack @ 11:16 pm

This evening, I started Operation:  Don’t Be A Slug.

This is the cunning secret code name of my exercise program.  I’m trying to get in shape.  Specifically, I’m trying to get into a shape that isn’t “pear”.

Tonight’s activity consisted of hanging a pull-up bar in one of my door frames, and following the directions for it.  The bar is advertised as the “Perfect Pull-Up” system, and was chosen on the scientific basis of being the cheapest one available at Wal-Mart.  Seems to work OK.  It has some goofy marketing-talk on the box about the workout routines that Navy SEALS use.  That’s goofy, but probably no hindrance to its functionality.

The bar came with a set of directions for a pull-up routine that seems pretty sensible and reasonable.  I’m using their suggestions right now, since I’m fairly ignorant about what constitutes a good workout.  Presumably, if they make exercise equipment they know how to use it.  It’s not rocket science at my level of fitness, anyhow.  I’m not looking to be Mr. Universe, I just want to be stronger and fight the pernicious effects of an office job on my physique.

You start by calibrating your workout to your capabilities, by doing as many pull-ups as you can sequentially.  Your MAX number, as they call it.

My Max was 5.  I’m not a pull-up expert, but this doesn’t strike me as an excitingly large number.  Gotta start somewhere, I guess.  The routine they have charted out takes 20 day.  We’ll see how things look after that.

I’m planning to keep posting here to keep myself honest.  Tonight I did a set of traditional pull-ups, a set of “Australian” pull-up, and a set of “Standing Rows”.  Which is fitness equipment speak for pull-ups done with your body vertical and supported only by your arms, horizontal with your feet on the ground, and at a 45 degree angle with your feet on the ground, respectively.

The obvious theory behind that is that each position reduces the amount of weight supported by your arms from the previous position.  Therefore, you can do more.  James has given out similar advice regarding push-ups in the past; do sets on your toes until you can’t, then put your knees down and continue until you can’t, because it reduces the weight you’re supporting.

Also good news:  Pull-ups seem way kinder to my arms than push-ups.  Not in the weight sense, but in the effect on my joints.  When I do push-ups, my right wrist, shoulder, and elbow start popping and creaking pretty quickly.  That didn’t happen tonight. 

Need to get a pad to lay out beneath me; the door I installed the bar in lets out over my tile floor.  I think my door frame is mechanically sound; it seems fine.  But if, some day, the bar were to come loose in the middle of a standing row I would not enjoy the landing very much.

February 10, 2010

New Gun

Filed under: General — Tags: — Phillip Womack @ 12:21 pm

Last Sunday, I got a new gun.  For very broad definitions of “new”. 

I was having lunch with my parents, Jeffrey, and Beth, and Dad told me Pa-Pa had sent me a gun.  This was completely out of the blue.  Had no idea it was coming.

The gun itself is a Stevens Model 87a.  Semi-automatic .22 rifle.  Older gun; my internet research says they were produced between 1938 and 1968.  This one has a couple characteristics that mark it as probably an earlier example.  Most likely a pre-war gun.  Veyy cool, that. 

The gun came from Uncle Alfred, a great-uncle of mine who died a few months ago.  Cancer.  That whole thing was really ugly.  His wife was going through his stuff, and his guns were there.  Pa-Pa asked her for the rifle to give to me.  That was incredibly thoughtful.  I really don’t know what to say about it.  I’ve wanted a .22 for a long time, and this gun is a particularly neat one, because of the age and the family history.

The gun itself is in pretty good shape.  It has a plastic, or “Tennite” stock, which is fairly weird.  The plastic is wood-colored, but they clearly didn’t have the technology to do really convincing fake wood; it’s just shades of brown swirled together.  Looks OK.  The whole gun is forward-heavy because the stock is so light.  Sits well on your shoulder, though.  Good feel to the gun.

Stevens Model 87a

Ready to be cleaned.

 You can see the gun there in that picture.  The white stuff on the stock is some sort of mold that spread on it. Not sure exactly what it is.  Doesn’t seem to have harmed anything.  These pictures are all from me setting the gun out to take it apart and clean it the first time.  In the background you can see Grandpa’s .30-06, because I figured that as long as I was cleaning guns I might as well run a swab down the bore of his rifle while I was at it.  I had his gun from an earlier hunting trip this year. 

Notice the gills!

There’s a closer look at the action.  This sort of gun is commonly called a “gill gun” on the internet gun sites I’ve visited.  You can see the reason there in the picture.  Those vertical fins on the receiver are the gills.  When you open the slide, you can see all the way through the receiver.  

That round handle on the action locks in to prevent the gun from automatically cycling.


Here’s the other side of the receiver.  Fairly conventional look, although you don’t see many round handles anymore.  At least, I don’t.  The gun is semi-automatic, but only with .22 Long Rifle ammunition.  It’ll shoot .22 shorts and .22 longs, but you aren’t supposed to use the gun in semi-auto with those.  I assume it’ll jam if you try, since the rounds are a different size and might not have enough force to work the slide correctly.  When the slide is fully forward, you can push that round handle in to prevent the action from working automatically.  Then it can be used similarly to a bolt action.  The handle can also lock the slide fully back.

See the white mold on the underside of the tube magazine?

See the white mold on the underside of the tube magazine?

Here I’ve detached the barrel and magazine from the stock.  More white mold.  The gun and stock were very dirty, in the manner of a machine that has been oiled and left to sit for a long time.  Not mistreated, but not thoroughly scraped out in years.  Has sort of an odd smell, which I think is the mold.

Lots of fiddly parts here.

Lots of fiddly parts here.

Here’s the trigger assembly and firing mechanism.  Lots of small parts and springs.  That’s a huge difference from more modern guns; most of the newer guns I’ve worked with try to minimize springs that get lost easily.  Here, there’s about five individual springs that will try to go flying across the room and hide under the stove if you aren’t careful.

There are a bunch of little pins in the mechanism that look like they should be removable, but have been replaced with permanent rivets.  I suspect Uncle Alfred got tired of trying to fit everything back together or lost some pins, and decided to fix it for good.  Also, the safety is installed wrong.  It works, but it doesn’t click into place.  Whoever put it together last reversed two pieces.  I fixed that when I reassembled it.

Here's where you hope you remember how to put it back together.

Here's where you hope you remember how to put it back together.

Here’s the gun totally apart.  Minus the trigger mechanism with its permanent rivets.  I spent more than an hour using rags and toothpicks to clean everything up.  Went back together pretty easily, although I had an exploded diagram I found on the Internet for help.  Almost left two little screws out at the end, but I caught them.

I cycled a few rounds through, and everything seems to be in good shape.  The action grabs cartridges and ejects them properly.  Still haven’t fired the gun; that’ll have to wait until this weekend, when I can get out to a range.

Still, I’m pretty pleased about the whole thing.

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