That was a fun way to work up a sweat!

I know I said the next construction project of the building season was the front porch, but I’m in a chicken-and-egg situation: The very first thing I need to do is tear out the existing porch and stairs, and then other than digging some holes there’s not a lot I can do toward project completion until I get the two concrete piers I’m waiting for. Which won’t happen before this weekend.

So screw that, I decided to do something fun.

Regular readers know that last July a magnificent, biggest-in-living-memory flash flood destroyed the Gulch’s shooting range. The 25- and 100-yard range markers were washed away along with the 100-yard shooting bench and the big ammo can with the target gear, and the fuel tank rack we’ve used for years as a metallic target stand was undermined, fell over and was buried in mud. The wooden stand for paper targets also went somewhere far downstream.

Last year was a busy one for Uncle Joel, plus I tore a rotator cuff in October 2016 and it’s only recently I’ve been able to shoot intermediate-caliber carbines again without pain. I may never be able to shoot full-power rifles again. Anyway, since I’m the only one here most of the time I had more important things to do than fix the range. I tried to stand the tank rack back up, but when that failed I improvised and left things be.

I always said I wasn’t going to re-use that tank rack, I was going to use the parts of the tank rack and build some proper target stands. Well, I’ve got four good weekdays with nothing else scheduled, so today was the day to start.

At first, of course, I thought too small. I went out with some hand tools and the Black and Decker cordless recip saw – the new one BB left me last month – and it promptly reminded me of how I wrecked the old one. It’s a very good handy tool in its place, but it’s strictly a light duty saw.

So (Blessings and peace upon the anonymous generator donor) I did something that would have been impossible this time last year – I went back to the powershed and got my generator and REAL recip saw. And it proceeded to make short work of that fuel tank stand. The only way I could have done it quicker and with less effort would have been with a cutting torch.

…within the limitations of my blades, that is. I didn’t quite run out of metal-cutting blades, but I finished the job with the very last one.

This is kind of an aside: Dorky as it would feel to use, I’ve also been thinking maybe Uncle Joel needs to find a helmet or at least a hard hat. Seems like I’ve been getting bonked in the head a lot lately, and there are situations like the one in the picture where I knew which way that piece was going to fall when I made that last cut, and I had to go to some awkward moves to keep it from falling on me. I’m here all by myself and though I try not to go out in the boonies without my phone for emergencies, there’s no reception at the target stands. If that thing had bashed my head in, that’s where my moldering remains would have been found. In such cases, when I know damned well there’s a chance something’s going to bounce off my head, I’m wondering if maybe I shouldn’t put a skateboard helmet or something in the gear bag. Thoughts?

Anyway – now that the thing is cut apart, this is the plan…

I left the four main supports as long as possible, and I carried them up as close as possible to the backstop cliff. That’s a little higher than the fuel tank rack was, and won’t be bothered until the next century flood to come along. I’m going to bury them in concrete-filled holes in two sets…

…then bolt them together with horizontal angle iron in two sets: A fairly short one for metallic swinging targets, and a longer, higher one for paper targets.

I got the thing cut apart today, and that was as much fun as I felt like having. Tomorrow morning while it’s cool LB and I will go out and I’ll dig the pits, then I’ll come back with concrete and water to set the uprights.

Thoughts? You guys often have good suggestions.


You need one of these. I limped along for years without a portable generator because I hate portable generators, or at least every one I ever met that I could conceivable have afforded for myself – and I worked in a small engine shop, so I got to see the downside of a lot of portable generators. All the time I was there I never worked on a Honda, because they didn’t seem to have the problems $600 Generacs had.

The only thing I wish this had is an easy way to drain the tank for storage – but it does have an easy way to drain the carb bowl, and that’s damned useful. I only use mine for heavy-duty power tools like the chop saw, because my inverter won’t run them and even when it will my little battery bank won’t run them for long. But of course it’s good for any AC application, and today this one let me take my corded recip saw out to the wash where it normally can’t go because power cord. Also, Landlady has already canceled her more-or-less theoretical plan to replace her defunct POS emergency generator, which she would have needed for filling the water tank should her inverter crap out – again. Because now the Gulch has a decent generator.

There is a problem with this one I never figured out – the “Eco-Throttle” setting that allows the engine to run at really low RPM unless under load apparently doesn’t work right. The engine surges and stalls when I try to use that. So I don’t get all the low noise and fuel usage advantages. But other than that it’s the darned good starts-with-one-pull-and-runs-anything generator I had previously just sort of arranged my life to live without – and it’s a huge move upward.

Yeah, it’s a grand or more to buy one. But accept the word of one who knows, if you need a small generator you’re throwing money away by spending less on a Generac or B&S at Costco or wherever. It’s not as sexy as that third AR-15 but if you need one, you need it to start when you need it. This will. That Generac might.

Thus endeth today’s sermon.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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14 Responses to That was a fun way to work up a sweat!

  1. B says:

    Stabilized fuel. Pri-G is good for over a year. Trust me, your generator carburetor will thank you.

  2. Andrew says:

    The hard hat is a great idea, and I would recommend you get one with a brim that goes all round, you know, the ones that look like old-school hard hats. The extra brim will help keep you covered, much like the full-brimmed regular hats you do wear outside, right?

    Safety, and comfort. If you buy one, don’t cheap out. I’d recommend trying one on before buying, if you actually end up buying one.

    Seriously. Take care of yourself. We out here in the bad world have to have our heroes.

  3. Andrew says:

    Oh, yeah. Saw something on someone else’s blog, don’t know where, about his making a target stand. He chonked out short sections of 1 1/4″ pipe, and welded short posts to them and attached the targets to the short posts. Then he put the short sections of pipe (with targets attached) over a 1″ diameter pipe, which made the horizontal, which he attached to a tree using some sort of pipe fitting.

    But the neat thing about it was he weighted the targets enough that they were self-resetting, and were heavy enough to not just flop around.

  4. Mike says:

    The “Eco-Throttle” setting issue sounds like the jet in the carb need to be cleaned. There might be some crud left over form the manufacturing process.

    So far as a brain bucket goes, I’m surprised you haven’t thought of getting one sooner. Just remember when your looking at them make sure they are up to code. Hard hats come in 3 classes they are:

    Class A hard hats provide impact and penetration resistance along with limited voltage protection (up to 2,200 volts).

    Class B hard hats provide the highest level of protection against electrical hazards, with high-voltage shock and burn protection (up to 20,000 volts). They also provide protection from impact
    and penetration hazards by flying/falling objects.

    Class C hard hats provide lightweight comfort and impact protection but offer no protection from electrical hazards.

    I suspect that a Class C will be fine for you but one never knows seeing how you like to be around 12V DC electrical equipment.

  5. Ben says:

    Those little Honda engines are wonderful things, but they can be sensitive to the tiniest of intake leaks. Try closing the choke partway with the engine running. If that makes it idle properly, (or at least better) then the implication is that the engine is running too lean when in a high-vacuum condition. In that case you should suspect the carburetor gaskets. I fixed one vexing little Honda engine by coating the original gaskets with something like Form-A-Gasket and then re-installing the carb.

  6. Joel says:

    Ben: Interesting! This one doesn’t like a fully-open choke.

  7. jed says:

    > The hard hat is a great idea, and I would recommend you get one with a brim that goes all round, you know, the ones that look like old-school hard hats. The extra brim will help keep you covered, much like the full-brimmed regular hats you do wear outside, right?

    Maybe the cattle would be impressed by a cowboy hardhat. But I think for desert use, one that resembles a pith helmet would be the ticket. Of course, there are lots of cool designs out there now, and multiple types of camo. I tried looking for a Bobba Fett hard hat, but couldn’t find one, though there are decals.

    Do hard hats take well to Krylon? Because then it’d be possible to do a cunning hard hat. I’m pretty sure, back when I used to work places where such things were required, I saw hard hats that’d been spray painted.

    Fortunately, bog-standard hard hats are pretty inexpensive. Seems a small price to pay for some peace of mind out there.

  8. Norman says:

    Ben: Interesting! This one doesn’t like a fully-open choke

    What’s your altitude above mean sea level? IIRC, >3-3.5K Honda recommends re-jetting the carb (high speed jet) and adjusting the low speed jet. There should be info in the owner’s manual. Or Al Gore’s Intertubes.

  9. Ben says:

    I think Norman is on to something! I wasn’t thinking of Joel’s altitude .

  10. Joel says:

    Funny, all this time and I forgot about altitude as well. I’m at 6000 feet, so that is probably it right there.

  11. Robert says:

    “Generac or B&S at Costco” Joel, why are you reading my to-do list? Guess I’ll save up more sheckels now instead of going shopping.

    I appreciate the educational comments re jetting ‘n altitude ‘n stuff.

  12. Ben says:

    On rethinking, high altitude makes an engine run RICH, not lean. If your engine prefers a partially closed choke to run, then it is likely running lean. Partially closing your choke is a redneck way of richening the mixture.

    Further, on forums I find several posts where people claim to be successfully using stock EU2000s at altitudes higher than yours. According to Honda, at 6000 feet you just BARELY need to re-jet an EU2000.

    So that takes me back to my “intake leak” idea: An old trick is to spray something like WD-40 around where you suspect an intake leak (with the engine running). The WD-40 will either temporarily block the leak, causing a change in engine operation, or perhaps cause exhaust smoke as it gets sucked into the engine and becomes part of the combustion process.

  13. Zelda says:

    And while you have your credit card/wallet/checkbook out, how about buying the full PPE you should be wearing to do the battery work.

  14. Andrew says:

    Oooh. The Gulch’s official Safety Officer has spoken, Joel. You’d better listen to Zelda before… well… before something.

To the stake with the heretic!