Field gear

Poor Man’s ATV Cargo Rack Trays.

Took me two years to outfit my Kawasaki the way I wanted it. Got it just about set up perfect for my uses.

Problem is, I got another ATV! A bare, dead stock one at that. So, here we go again.

On the Kawi, I went with adding a front dry box, and a rear rack extension/rack wall.

https://ak-adventurer.net/2017/06/29/atv-rack-extensionretaining-walls/

2018-08-18 23.18.26.jpg

On this one, a Polaris, the front dry box, while a little small, is provided, built into the fenders/rack.

So I set out to add rack walls. Most ATV racks suck for keeping things in place, even with a bungee cord or two, things tend to slide off the edges/sides.

The last one I built on the Kawi, I just cut some light scrap tubing and welded it up. Simple. But time and labor intensive. Time is not something I have a lot of this fall.

So, I set out to get some trays, or shallow boxes to mount, left open without lids, I get a cargo tray, the same effect.

In my research, looking for boxes I actually found plastic cargo trays made for ATVs. But other than one that Arctic Cat made, out of production now, there are none sold in the USA. Seems its a popular item in Australia.

Thats basically what I was after, but on the cheap.

Know how hard it is to find a plastic storage tote thats 1.5’x3′ or 2’x3′ or bigger, but only about 6″ to 8″ deep?

Nearly impossible!

the best bet is “under bed storage” boxes. Long wide and flat.

Unfortunately nothing I liked was in stock locally.

Also, very few have latching lids. Yes, I wanted to mount them as open trays, but if you pay for lids, they might as well be useful!

Anyway, after 5 stores over two trips to town, I found two I liked. The first is a simple light Sterilite box, snap on lid. The other is a Hefty storage box, with a latching lid.

First step was painting, since they came in that milky clear plastic. The green is double coat primer/paint, rated for among other things plastic, by Rustoleum. The brown for the lids is the same basic thing, but made by Krylon. (Got at separate times, different stores. I prefer Rustoleum paint in general, it goes on easier, more durable, but the Krylon works fine too.)

Why green and brown? I’m sick of green with all black accessories.

The rear box went on as is. The front on the other hand, had to be cut to fit around the headlight pod/handlebars. A simple process with a sharpie for layout and an angle grinder (proverbial hot knife through butter, works great on plasic!). While I was at it I cut the lid. Not probable I’ll ever use it, but I had it so why not.

Mounting was simpler still. A handful, 4 or 6 self tapping screws for each box. Located the boxes wherd I wanted them, drilled through them for hole placement, and screwed them down.

Screws I used for the front tray went into the front storage box, so I used screws made for metal roofing; They have a rubber bottomed washer under the head that seals, so they don’t leak. I also drilled a few holes in low corners so the trays don’t flood and hold water anyway.

Maybe an hours work and about $40 including the paint. Not too bad!

And, they work great too!

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Categories: Alaska-Life, ATV, ATV Accessories, ATVing, Custom, Customized, Fabrication, Field gear, Improviser, MacGyver, Modifications, Re-purpose, Repurpose

Selective hearing protection? Alpine MotoSafe ear plugs, part 1.

One more new item, that came in yesterday, arrived all the way from the Netherlands. (Couldn’t find a stateside dealer that had the model I wanted, so I ordered direct from the manufacturer. Could actually only find two dealers in the USA anyway! )
As part of my healthy hearing concept, along with adding the face shield onto my motorcycle helmet, I started looking for better, more active hearing protection.
The problem with foam ear plugs is the constant outward pressure they use to seal, it’s uncomfortable and makes my ears sore after a days commute both always.
But I didn’t want to jump in and invest in the full custom molded ear plugs.
And both styles tend to be full sound suppression, so you end up sealed off from your surroundings, with all sound deadened. There are rubber plugs that only filter out harmful sound, leaving conversation or traffic hearable, but I’ve never found rubber plugs that seal worth a damn, or that aren’t like the foam, and too tight. (For instance ear buds tend to drive me nuts and make my ears sore).
Anything that has custom molding and also let’s through lower conversation type sound frequencies are really spendy.
Then I found a half way product;

https://www.alpinehearingprotection.com/product-category/motorcycle/

They are a sound filter, supposedly they cut the frequency of wind noise, but allow traffic and conversation sounds through. Also, the rubber tips are semi-custom forming, in a thermo form rubber; Every time you insert them, your body heat softens them and they custom fit to your ear canal, sealing without outward pressure.

I figured why not, if they work then great, if not, then I’m only out around $20… A risk that I thought was worth it.
They have several variations for different activities, and two specifically for motorcycle riding. A “Tour” version, and a “Race” version that is a little stronger/higher decibel rated. I opted for the race version. At only a few decibels difference, I figured if they work as advertised to cut only wind noise, and leave other sounds, I still wanted as much protection as possible.
So far, in limited fit tests I find them a LOT more comfortable than foam plugs, and more than a lot of rubber plugs and ear buds I’ve had too. I won’t say they “disappear” to where I don’t know I’m wearing them, but I’ve only had them I for 5 to 10 minutes so far.
Have not gad a chance to ride with them yet.
Bug I can say that they let in conversation level sounds really well, and actually without loud sounds, seem like they do very little. But they did cut out the sound of my truck exhaust more than they cut out talking.. Not a lot more, but more.
I’m reserving and conclusions for after I test them with the noise they’re made for; wind.
They come with a little zipper pouch for carrying, and I sprung the few dollars for a hard key chain style carry case, and a safety cord that keeps them tethered together.

My only complaint so far is that the insertion tool they come with, a little plastic thing that’s supposed to grip the plug, and you use it as a handle to insert them, then turn them slightly in your ear to help them seal; It doesn’t snap onto the plugs, it’s far too big, and thus can’t be used… So I can’t really grip them to rotate them upon insertion.
Not sure how much, or if this effects how they seal/work. Will find out either way how they work though, as soon as I can.
Will let y’all know how it goes. 🙂
Categories: Adventures, ATV, ATVing, Field gear, Motorcycles, New Gear, Preparedness, Riding, Vehicles

Glasses!

N

ew gear!
A buddy gave me some cash for my birthday, and after a little deliberation, I went for getting myself something I’ve needed for a while now with part of if it.

Yup, I g

ot new sunglasses

!

You might recall that my good pair got broke while hunting last September.

Been wanting, but putting off new ones since then. But the last couple months as its gotten brighter and brighter coming out of winter, I’ve really needed some.

Also needed new clear safety glasses for work, and new shooting glasses…
So I killed 3 birds with one stone;
5 interchangeable lenses! Impact safety rated for work and shooting, 99.9% UVA and UVB blocking.
I figured I can only do one of the three activities/concepts at once, so a fast lense change every now and then wouldn’t hurt, could be the best way to go.

Turns out it really is a fast easy change too!

They’re not sold as polarized , but so far the copper and smoke lenses both cut glare like they are!
Came with keeper cord, a micro fiber bag for carrying one separate lens, a nifty 5 slot micro fibre/plush sleeve that separates the lenses, 5 lenses in smoke, copper, orange, yellow and clear, and a neoprene case for all of it.

To me that was a steal for $32 (local price; Online you can find them as low as $19.99, but before shipping. ) especially since it is 1/5 what replacing the last ones could cost IF I could find a pair (discontinued model).

It’s even cheaper than the last safety/sun glasses I had, a smoke black pair from 3M, they were $45. They lasted me about 4, naybe 5 years, and are still useable, but some of the marks on thd lenses are getting pretty annoying.

They’ve been backups in my truck for a while, but now in my bike bag, a last ditch pair.

Those by 3M are what I was going after to get again, when I found the Radians.

Anyway;

Here are the frames sans lenses, and then changed to the smoke from the copper shown above. Only takes maybe 45 seconds, a minute max to swap them.

Adjustable temple/earpiece lengths and soft bridgr pads, plus super light weight= really comfortable.

So far I’m using the smoke for general wear, and changing to the copper, which is a deep orange/amber with a pink tint, for riding the bike. After a few minute my eyes adjust and take out the pink tint, then the amber does like other brown/amber glasses I’ve had; Hightens contrast and boosts depth perception.

Only time will tell how the other colors will work but so far I’m really enjoying them.

Categories: EDC, Field gear, GetOutdoors, New Gear, Summertime, Sunglasses

A hearing assist; Helmet shield re-fit.

I have no idea when CKX stopped making this helmet. This one is marked as being made in 1998. I bought it around 2000 or 2001.

It is a snowmobile helmet, lightly insulated, and with a double pane face shield, to mitigate fogging/frosting.

It never worked worth a damn. It was always a frosted mess I couldn’t see out of. Add to that my hatred at the time of the great lack of visibility out of a full face helmet, it was soon shelved.

Somewhere along the way, I took the face shield off of it. I’m not exactly sure why now.

It’s served perfectly well that way for several years now, both as my motorcycle helmet, off and on, and the one I kept as a helmet for a passenger on the bike.

But the last couple years, I’ve had an increasing problem with wind noise while ridding.

For years I never wore a helmet, nor hearing protection, and I guess it’s caught up to me. I much prefer no helmet, for hearing, visibility, and just general feel and awareness of the world when ridding, not only a bike but atvs, and snowmobiles too.

I also prefer no windshield, for the same reasons.

A couple years ago when I got back into ridding a lot, I had to start wearing a helmet for hearing protection, or else I ended up with my ears ringing, and that cloudy wind tunnel effect for hours after I got off the bike.

This helmet has served well for that for a couple years, sans face shield.

But, it has its problems. Mainly, since it is designed to be a full face helmet, it doesnt have the row of denser foam in front of your ears that blocks wind on a regular 3/4 or open face style helmet.

And my sensitivity to the wind noise has worsened to where any ride even with the helmet screws up my hearing.

Last year I took to wearing hearing protection, in the form of simple foam ear plugs.

That works perfect for the wind noise. But after more than an hour on the bike, your ear canels can get sore from the constant pressure they use to seal. Softer rubber plugs have nevet sealed well enough for me to work well enough for shooting, so foam has been the only option.

Also, with the plugs, you don’t hear traffic, nor the bike. Not good. Rather dangerous in fact. It can also be disorienting, to be in motion, with little to no sound.

Add to that the audible shock of how loud the world is when you take the plugs out after having them in an hour, and I needed an alternative.

So, with a two day fuzzy feeling in my ears, and sore ears to boot from the plugs after my first good ride this season, I went looking for an alternate lid to wear; The open face helmet thst was my Dads.

Took forever to find it. With it was the shield from this helmet.

Then I found again why I hadn’t been using it; its a good size and a half too big for me!

Enter the idea to just buy a new open face helmet.

But, I have that shield…

See, I’m broke, and trying to not have to buy anything, thus digging out old helmets to try to begin with.

I’d honestly wanted to re mount the shield to it at other times in the past, but couldn’t.

Verry simply, the fancy half turn twist lock screws that hold it and the helmet side aplates on, got lost not long after they were taken out. Then at some point the shield and side plates were lost.

At times I’ve come across the shield, and even tried getting new plates and screws, but never with any success.

I’m not sure why but I’d never really thought before about creating new mounting for that shield, but this time I was considering it.

I was even looking at it to see if I could mount it fixed; at least it’d be on there even if it didn’t hinge.

And there in lies where the light bulb went on. I suddenly saw exactly how I could fix it, and have it hinge, knowing exactly what piece of hardware I could do it with!

And knowing I just happened to have two of that item left over from a mid winter project, off to the shop I went!

First up was to measure the hole in the helmet, which was 0.25″. Perfect! The hardware I we thinking of using is 1/4″!

That hardware being T-nuts.

Next, measure the outside of the nut shank, and pick a bit, I ent 0.005″ smaller, for a press for. Then still the holes out.

Then, grind down the tang spikes in the nut, flush with the rim, and test the shank fit, and press in for depth test. Then also reduce the run diameter, to fit the recess.

And, finally, applied a few touches of super glue to reinforce the nuts seat and press them in.

All that was left then was to shorten the bolts I had, so they bottom out just as the head seats, and compresses the lock washer I used. Fender washers to cover the large hole and grip the visor, then a split lock washer, and seat the bolt. Gave perfect tension on the first try! The visor “click” ratcheting opening tension works great, smooth, but with drag, but also stars put in any notch you stop on(tested with it half open at 40mph too, no movement!)

The only issue I see when done was the gap along the top, reminding me that there had been a foam piece framing the opening on the helmet before. I thought it might allow some charter of the shield.

Turns out the gap is no problem! No charter, no vibration, and no air leaks!

It cuts the wind noise I had by half or more! Perfect! I’ve only had it out for two short 10 mile rides so far, but after both, I had no hearing or ear issues! As a bonus, one of those rides I was caught in pouring rain, and the warm dry face was a Very welcome change!

Categories: Alaska-Life, Clothes, Customized, Field gear, GetOutdoors, Modifications, Motorcycles, Outdoors

Bearcat Leather.

Decided I wanted to start using my Ruger Bearcat more, carry it hunting sometimes. Looked at the official Ruger holsters, and while a nice design, being straight draw, drop looped, I really tend to prefer a higher riding pancake style holster.

Looked around online, but didn’t find anything I really liked, nor anything I could afford.

A couple years ago I made a simple pancake holster for my Bersa Firestorm 380, thats worked out great, been the most comfortable gun/holster combo I’ve ever carried.

And, having the left overs from that leather in the shop… 😉

Since I liked the carry of the Bersa, I copied the shape, size, and carry cant (slightly forward/FBI style) exactly off that holster.

Only change I made was to add a “sweat shield” as they’re called, to the back top. Not really to shield the gun from me, but me from the gun; When you carry in cooler weather, without tucking a shirt in behind the gun, it can be a little cold against you! (The Bersa holster was originally made to be ambidextrous, to be worn on either side, thus it’s straight cut on the top front and back.)

Traced;

Cut, front;

Some glue, yes I know thatd a wood glue… but wood and leather are both fibrous organic substance, the glue doesn’t know the difference!

“Clamped” for a bit;

Holes drilled;

Partially stitched test fit;

Checking where I might put a tension rivet, or a line of stitching closer to the gun.

Finished!

I’ll trim/round the upper corners of the back shield aftercsome carry and use, as I decide how wide, abd high it needs to be.

I decided against the tension rivet or stiches, because honestly with the firm grip it has in such a deep coverage, I don’t think it is necessary. AND, withbthe holsters shape left generally open, I hoped that my Ruger MKII would also fit in it.

Again, deep coverage of the gun, so I decided against a safety strap. I can always add it later if it seems needed.

And yes, it turned out to fit the MKII almost as perfectly!

They’re not fancy, nor perfect, but they work, and that’s what’s important to me in basic field gear. 🙂

Categories: Custom, Customized, Field gear, Guns, Holsters, Leather, Uncategorized

New, cheap day packs.

I needed…

wanted…

uhhm…. yeah 😉

Lets say, saw a need for 😉 a couple light packs, to fill out gaps in capacity capabilities for day bags.

My main and favorite grab and go day bag for several years now has been a Black Diamond 16L pack. Its small, light, durrable, and can really be stuffed with day trip/hike essentials.

But it’s on the smaller side at times. Two years ago I acquired a 25L TNF (The North Face) Vault as an upgrade for those times.

It has the room I need on average, for day trips. But it has two problems; it has a stiff structured back panel that is a great idea, but horrendously uncomfortable.

And it’s bright red.

No matter what they say animals can and can’t see, I see little to no way of proving it… So I have a hard time taking bright colors on hunting trips.

On the other hand I find camo pointless, but thats another topic for another time. 🙂

So, I wanted another mid sized 25L to 35L pack for day hikes and day hunts, that wasn’t brightly colored.

And I also wanted a pack between that size, and the big 65L 3 day trip pack I have. An overnight day trip bag that wouldn’t be heavy or waste space. Mainly for my summer weight camping gear, where I don’t need the room for my 20° bag or many, if any extra clothes. Went with 45L.

I ended up with a claimed 35L that I’d say is around 20L maybe 25L actual capacity. And the other, claimed to be 45L, around 30L, 35L absolute max.

Not optimal. But then, for $10, and $15, shipped, respectively the small and large, I can’t complain much. 😉

It was worth the risk, and while not exactly what I needed, they’ll help out. I’ll just still need to find something in the 40L to 45L area for a summer time overnight trip bag.

For the smaller, I went with green, so I’m comfortable with it for hunting trips.

Draw closure top, with top flap. Pocket under flap.

And one ob the top of the flap;

Standard stretchy side pockets;

The outer sleeve pocket on the frontvis the same stretchy material.

Nice straps;

Grab handle leaves a little to be desired;

And, the nifty feature I liked, the inner pocket on the top flap is double zippered;

Turn the pocket insige out, roll the bag into it and zip;

Will make neatly packing it in my main hunting trip bag/dry bag much easier!

Overall it seems well built, and while light weight materials , also seems like it will be durable enough. Time will tell.

For the other, since it was planned as a non hunting hike pack, color didn’t matter much. So I went with something I liked, and something I’m garranteed to not lose when I set it down.

So sue me, I like purple. 🙂

It is 2 main compartments, small side mesh pockets, and a tiny zipped one on the front. And a bottom access area, that when fully opened/pressed out to capacity almost fills the whole main compartment! Bottom easy access for sleeping bag? Or ive seen the same made for shoes.. I’m sure ill find a use, but its a little odd in its size.

Chosen for it’s everal cord locked bungee attachment points, compression straps, and bottom straps that I liked the look of for hanging my tent on.

This one is heavier materials than the other, has a more solid feel to it.

I want to say it feels more solidly built as well, but that might be an illusion of the heavier materials. As I said above, only time will tell how they survive, but I’m thinking theyll be fine. 😉

Great wide padded straps;

Hip belt comes mid gut on me, like most do and is deathly short… I’ll probably cut it off. Nice adjustable/removable sternum strap though!

And I was pleasantly surprised by this;

First time I’ve ever seen a heavy dedicated carry handle on a backpack! And it still has the usual carry/hanging loop too.

Overall, I’m pleased for $25 total. Hell, I think I’d have been pleased with just the purple one for that much, or a little more. 🙂

Categories: Backpacks, Camping, Camping gear, Field gear, GetOutdoors, Hiking, Hunting, New Gear, Outdoors

Slingshot Ammo Pouch

I needed an ammo pouch. Saw a nice one, flat bottomed to sit up nice, on Jas Townsend for $6, but they get $10 for Alaska shipping. Nope.
And besides, if I make the slingshot, I should make the pouch too, right?
Digging around in the shop looking for one set of leather pieces I’d bought, and found some others I’d forgotten. Knew I had them but had forgotten how big they were… it’s thin split garment weight deer hide. The tan a bit heavier.
Went with the light tan for the pouch, the wine for a tie cord.
Wanted the round flat bottom for it to sit up nice. Had to figure out how to do that as I went.
Punched holes with an awl, and stitched round the bottom, then up the side seam.
Turned;
It sits!
Forgot to measure for thus first, lucked out and got it perfect, I cam just get a paw into it to dig stuff out. Only sizing I did was trace around a Min wax stain can plus 1/4″, then a height that looked nice..
Made a sliding knot for a cinch closure lock. Works good.
Categories: Custom, Fabrication, Field gear, Leather, New Gear, Sewing, Slingshots

An Axe Man’s Bucksaw Part 3

The entire build, in order, more or less; 🙂

I could go through everything I did here in long descriptions, and pictures, but it’s not really necessary, and probably not that interesting either. But here is a general run through. 🙂

  • Pick out a piece of 1″x8″ x 5′ oak
  • cut out the pattern
  • trace it on the wood
  • Jig saw one upright
  • Sand the contour
  • Trace #1 to get #2 the same
  • Cut, sand #2
  • Measure and mark for the mortises
  • Round the edges with a router
  • Cut pilot groove on blade end to guide cutting the blade slots
  • Locate blade mount holes, drill
  • Cut blade slots
  • Cut the mortise on #1
  • Rip the cross bar from the board
  • Square and measure it all for proper cross bar length vs blade length mounted (crucial for proper end angles when blade under tension, and good looks)
  • Cut and fit the tenon on #1 end
  • Cut #2 mortise and tenon
  • Test assemble
  • Find cord for windlass(I was out of 550! Finally found some heavy clothes line cord..)
  • Trim scrap to use as temporary windlass bar
  • Tighten it all up and do a test cut(worked!)
  • Cut thinning profile on cross bar
  • Sand cross bar, and route edges
  • Re-assemble
  • Discover binding in tenon joints, trim
  • Re-trim/fine tune joints
  • Assemble and do a test cut again
  • Find that I over trimmed the joints, it will now start to slip from a H to a parallelogram-ed H under tension. (Rounded the wrong corners too much; you need the Top corners of the bar end and tenon tips rounded for slip, but the bottom corners left square for rigid support, so the can only pivot in at the top, but not out at the top!)
  • Discover that if it slips, the windlass slips down the bars, loses tension and it falls apart.
  • Discover, by clamping the cord in place under tension, that, thankfully, If the windlass doesn’t slip down when it flexes out of H shape, it doesn’t collapse!
  • Locate for windlass cord supports
  • Cut pins from 1/4″ copper rod,
  • Drill and press fit copper as cord supports.
  • Re-assemble, tighten, test cut 7″ birch log.
  • Success! (With one about 1/8″ of flex at the joints out of square- good enough)
  • Decide the scrap your using as a windlass bar works great, no use to make another one
  • Trim, round, sand the windlass bar.
  • Disassemble, wood burn the saws name, and my product line name on the side.(not selling it, but figured, meh, why not? )
  • Also burn in witness marks to identify/match mortise and tenon joints in their matched pairs for proper future assembly.
  • 2 day break to get stain and oil finish.
  • Counterbore for recessed T nuts
  • Install T nuts, pin in place with tiny Brad nails
  • Install keeper ring on windlass bar
  • Turn down bolt heads, and threads to fit in wingnuts, making wing bolts.
  • Test the stain, find it won’t penetrate the oak dark enough, skip using it.

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Part 4 coming soo. 🙂

Categories: Adventure Metal Works, Backcountry, custom-made-tools, Field gear, New Gear, Outdoors, Saws, wood processing, Woods tools, Woodshop, Woodwork

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