Sunday, December 10, 2006

Death and Desert Travel




Recent messages in which I mentioned driving my old bus to Alaska, Mexico and throughout the desert regions of the western United States brought a number of private responses. Most were from folks wanting to hear more about such trips but some were from people who felt I was making desert travel sound more hazardous than it is.

For any of you who might share those views, I suggest you read the newspapers. Here in southern California the desert claims about a dozen lives a year. The victims tend to be youngsters or tourists. The cause of death is usually listed as exposure but in the overwhelming majority of cases, they died because their car broke down, they couldn't fix it and hadn't provided themselves with enough water to survive such an event.

Here's an example. A couple of college girls, new to the area, decide to drive over to the desert. Their car breaks down on an unpaved track three miles from a ranger station. They decide to hoof it. Another vehicle comes upon them about a mile from the ranger station. One girl is already dead; the other suffers permanent damage from the effects of severe dehydration and sunstroke.

The girls hadn't eaten breakfast that morning. They did not carry any drinking water in their vehicle. They wore shorts and T-shirts. Neither had a hat. Neither knew anything about cars nor had any experience driving off-pavement. The temperature that day was not especially hot, barely 110 degrees.

In the final analysis, the girl died because of a loose fan belt. Not broken, merely loose. Driving on pavement, their forward speed provided enough air through the radiator but grinding along an unpaved track in second gear, the engine rapidly overheated.

Another case involved a German tourist and his girlfriend. They rented a 4WD, air-conditioned suv-type vehicle and set out to 'explore' the desert. They managed to bog the vehicle in a sandy wash and exhausted themselves trying to dig it out. That night the temperature dipped into the low 30's and the man died from a combination of dehydration, sunburn and hypothermia.

These deaths don't make the national news. Indeed, if the local politicians have anything to do with it such deaths barely rate a one-paragraph filler tucked away under Local News. ('Motorcyclist Found Dead') Like earthquakes and muggers, dying of thirst is bad for the tourist trade.

I'm not blowing smoke here, I'm trying to pass along some straight skinny that could save your life. If you want to check it out just dig through the newspapers from communities in and around the desert regions.

A second point I'd like to make is that an air-cooled engine is not the best thing to have in a desert climate. Among the several reasons Ferdinand Porsche opted to use an air-cooled engine was because it had nothing to freeze rather than not having anything to boil.

Air-cooled engines do best in cool climates, at higher latitudes and high altitudes. They don't do well in the desert simply because the ambient daytime air temperature is too close to their normal operating temperature. (Don't be too quick to buy into the popular myth of how well the kubelwagen did in the 'Sahara.' Most of the African campaign was fought along the Mediterranean coast, hundreds of miles north of the Sahara Desert. Even so, according to German mechanics who were there, the bucket-car was prone to sucking in dust, overheating and swallowing #3 exhaust valve, which should sound painfully familiar to modern-day veedub owners who spend any time off- pavement.)

If you wanna go boondocking in your veedub, fine. But don't go solo. If you absolutely gotta get off on your own, let someone know where you're heading and when you expect to be back.

Running in the desert, you should carry lots of water. I know that sounds so simple it's almost stupid - who'd be dumb enough to head for the desert without water? The answer is kinda strange because, while most carry some water only one in a thousand carries enough. How much is enough? About three gallons per person per day. Beer doesn't count, by the way. Nor does anything containing sugar. On the other hand, you don't need to worry about carrying much food. If you have a really bad day in the desert you'll be dead before you work up an appetite.

If you break down out in the boondocks don't put too much faith in your cell phone. Out in the desert the only coverage is along the paved roads and is pretty spotty even then. There's no cell-phone subscribers out in the bush so there's no reason to provide omni-directional coverage. What coverage there is, the antennas are aligned with the roads.

If you spend any time boondocking and you're serious about wanting to call home now and then, get yourself an Amateur Radio license. Cell phones use the UHF band; they are literally line-of-sight communication devices. With short- wave, you can talk around the world. When my wife and I went down to Baja for the eclipse in 1991 we maintained daily contact with other amateur astronomers from Russia to Australia via short-wave. (We were looking for 'sun-grazers'. [Ask an astronomer.] :-)

When you go boondocking, dress for the occasion. Long sleeves. Sturdy boots and a good hat. Dress with the assumption that once you leave pavement you may have to walk back, even though walking out should be your absolute last resort. The wiser course is to fix what broke and drive home, otherwise just stay by the vehicle and wait for them to find you.

(Ed Note: If you are in the desert then you are automatically a creature of the desert and must obey the desert’s rules, one of which is that you perform most of your activities at night. And that includes walking. Desert skies are generally clear and the stars make a gigantic pin-wheel around Polaris. Orient yourself relative to it, check every quarter hour or so, and you can’t get too far off your course. Assuming of course that you know what your course should be.

Don’t know? Then don’t go. Guessing will kill you as surely as a bullet only slower.

Stay with the vehicle. Dig a trench for shade. Rig a solar still. Do everything right, it’ll take you a week or more to die, by which time someone may come along. But if you try walking out and have even the tiniest bit of bad luck, you’re going to die, as did a good friend and experienced desert traveler who we finally figured out had mistaken Jupiter for the light of a near-by rancho... that lay in exactly the opposite direction.)

Have you got lots of spare parts onboard? A kit of tools? Do you know how to get out of sand? Got your high-lift jack & sand mats? Plenty of fuel? Boondocking, you're typically running at low speeds in a middle gear. If you get ten miles to the gallon you're doing pretty good. (My bus carries 45 gallons of fuel in its tanks and I can strap on another 25 gallons in jerry cans.)

Yeah I know... You're just going to run over to Dripping Spring, take some friends up to Big Rock or maybe an afternoon trip to check out the wildflowers between Borrego and the Salton Sea. No big deal, right?

But about a dozen times a year such casually planned jaunts prove fatal. The worst thing about such deaths, and the reason I'm writing this, is that they should never have happened.

One fellow read my message as saying an old VW bus was better than his SUV and spent a lot of time telling me about his 4WD, V8 engine, positraction and so forth. Which told me he'd missed the whole point.

Fitted with proper tires and sensibly driven, a 1967 or earlier VW bus does real well off-road because of its sturdy suspension and good ground clearance. The engine and running gear is easy to maintain and repair. The large cargo capacity allows you to carry spares and tools for virtually any failure. And it's economical. But any number of vehicles can meet those requirements. My grandfather and my dad traveled all over the deserts of the American west, initially in a Model T, later in a 1924 Dodge touring car. When I was a boy, my dad and I covered much of the same territory, even camping at some of the same sites, in a 2WD Ford pickup with a camper on the back. My vehicle of choice just happens to be an old VW bus.

(And yes, I took my son along too :-)

I don't know if wanderlust is a genetic trait but I do you know you don't need a forty thousand dollar land yacht to scratch the itch. I also know that common sense and experience aren't things you can buy.

-Bob Hoover
-10 February 2000

VW - Pulling the Plug


PULLING THE PLUG

The oil galleries on the VW crankcase are sealed with aluminum plugs. They come in four sizes and two flavors. The smallest size (and Vanilla flavor) is a small piece of aluminum rod to seal the 5mm drillings. The other flavor is an aluminum Welch plug (i.e., ‘freeze' plug*) that comes in three sizes (counting both early & late model crankcases) used to seal the larger openings, although unlike the freeze plugs found on an iron casting the Welch plugs on the VW crankcase are installed with the convex side out.

When starting with a used crankcase of unknown provenance you must pull ALL of the plugs in order to clean the oil galleries. This rule also applies to a NEW or used crankcase on which any machine work is done. The reason is pretty simple: When opening up the case to accept larger jugs, or when doing an align bore, it's impossible to prevent swarf from getting into the oil galleries. Once you get swarf into the oil galleries the only way to get it out is to scrub it out using a bristle brush and copious amounts of solvent.

Many shops don't do this. Instead, they give the galleries a blast of compressed air and ASSUME it will blow out all of the swarf. Unfortunately, the oil galleries have several blind corners where one drilling intersects another. Opposite the blind corner the drill usually leaves a cone-shaped pit or even a short, dead-end passageway. Blowing air into one side of a gallery that has a dead end or blind corner simply packs the debris into the corner. Even when using solvent and brushes, working from only one side of the corner, no amount of scrubbing or flushing guarantees you will get the swarf out of those dead spaces because your brush can't go around the corner. But when you're working from only one side of the corner your brush can pack the debris more firmly into the void, where heat and vibration will cause it to come free once the engine is assembled. And end up in your bearings, since the debris is already downstream from any filter that may be installed.

Everyone who has overhauled more than a few engines knows what I'm talking about here. You split the case and the first thing you see are little smears of metal on the #2 bearing, with lesser amounts on #3 & #4. Pop the #2 cam bearing shell out of the right-hand side of the case and you're liable to find the large oil passageway behind it completely blocked with swarf. And while everyone with a bit of experience has seen this evidence, what happens next is kinda funny. Some attribute the contamination to ‘bad bearings,' others to ‘bad oil' or a ‘bad case' or even a bad crankshaft. I imagine there are even some mechanics who will blame the contamination on an act of God or a voodoo curse but the funny part is the fact not one in thousand will blame it on themselves.

Let me offer you a hint: If you find metal particles BEHIND a bearing shell the odds are the debris was there when the engine was assembled. You can't blame it on the customer for using ‘bad oil' or the supplier for sending you ‘bad bearings' or the regrind shop for delivering a ‘bad crankshaft,' you gotta look in the mirror and blame it on the monkey who failed to properly clean the crankcase prior to assembly.

Which raises an interesting point. A lot of VW ‘experts' say it's a bad idea to use an align-bored case, even though Volkswagen did exactly that with more than 7,000,000 factory-overhauled engines. Those same experts often say that using bigger jugs guarantees an unreliable engine, even though the 1600cc engine is nothing more than a big-bore 1500, which itself is a big-bore 1300. Craziest of all are those instant experts that tell you full-flow oil filtration ‘doesn't work.' Remember them? (And if you don't, just check the archives.)

Before you buy-in to the instant-expert version of reality it might be a good idea to take a look at an engine built by such experts. When you do any machining on the crankcase, one of the of the plugs you have to pull is just to the left of the base of the distributor, clearly visible even when the engine is fully assembled and mantled.

Is the stock plug still there? (All it takes is a quick look.)

If so, was any machining done on the crankcase? If it's ‘yes' again then walk on by; whoever built the thing doesn't know what they're doing.

(Yeah, I know... you've built a zillion align-bored, opened-up engines and have NEVER had this problem. Since you're already perfect, this article obviously isn't for you. This article is for me. And all the other engine builders imperfect enough to realize we still have a lot to learn.)

HOW TO PULL THE PLUG

Preamble: If you want to do it right, do all the drilling & tapping with a drill press. But since most of you don't have a drill press, or don't have one that is large enough for this task... or don't have the fixture to support a VW crankcase standing on its nose... just do the best you can.

Start by center-punching the plug. Then drill through the plug with an 1/8" bit.

[Odds are, you don't have the right drill-motor for this, nor the right tools to position the crankcase. Aluminum is virtually transparent to a properly sharpened drill bit turning at the right speed. To drill a clean hole in aluminum an eighth-inch bit has to be turning about two thousand rpm. Unless you do a lot of aircraft sheet metal work you probably don't have portable drill motor that turns that fast. And unless you've got the jigs to position a VW crankcase on the drill table, you can't use your drill press. Just do the best you can. (If you've ever wondered why your holes come out sorta raggedy, perhaps you should look up ‘SFM' (surface-feet per minute) and do a bit of reading.)]

Once you've drilled the pilot hole, put a #8 sheet metal screw in your slide hammer, screw the thing into the hole and do what comes naturally. In about three slaps of the hammer you'll have a greasy little plug in your hand.

WHICH PLUGS TO PULL

The rule is easy to remember: When in doubt, take it out.

On a used crankcase, pull them ALL.

On a late model crankcase we're talking about TEN plugs; eleven if you plan to the install a temperature sensor**.

On the pulley-end of the crankcase pull the little (6.25mm) plug on the #4 main bearing gallery, the pair of 14mm plugs associated with the main oil gallery and the 12mm plug on the gallery going to the oil cooler. On the top of the crankcase pull the 12mm plug just beside the threaded boss for the oil pressure switch. On the left side of the crankcase pull the small plug between the spigot bores for #3 & #4 cylinders. On the flywheel end of the crankcase pull the pair of small plugs for the lifter oil galleries, the 14mm plug blocking the end of the main oil gallery and the small plug just below it that goes to the oil pressure control valve. You may ignore the small plug on the bell housing flange; you can reach it's void space with a pipe cleaner. The above is for a late model crankcase.

Early model cases have fewer plugs to pull and the location for the oil temperature sensor is sealed with a THREADED plug. (To install the oil temperature sensor, simply remove the plug and replace it with the VDO adapter. [see the footnotes])

PLUGGING THE HOLE

Before pulling the plugs give the crankcase a cursory cleaning so as not to turn your shop into a grease pit but don't bother making a serious job of it until you've tapped all the holes. The drilling and tapping will generate a lot of swarf which can only be removed by cleaning the case all over again.

Some of the holes are the right size to accept a large set screw. Back in the Good Old Days, whenever that was, I used mostly set screws to plug the holes. Of course, being steel and having a straight thread, they tend to leak a bit but being an idiot kid I was more interested in going fast than in the trail I left while doing so.

The proper way to plug the hole is with a pipe plug. They're tapered and when properly installed, don't leak. Assuming they're aluminum. Steel pipe plugs, which are a lot cheaper and easier to find than aluminum pipe plugs, tend to loosen up after a few years because of the different coefficient of expansion between steel and magnesium alloy. Properly installed, aluminum pipe plugs don't leak. Ever. The coefficient of expansion for aluminum and magnesium alloys are very close together; the plug expands at the same rate as the case, insuring the plug will remain oil-tight.

Whatever pipe plug you use, steel or aluminum, you want the ones that are installed with an Allen wrench. Ask for the ‘internal wrenching' type. Earl's sells them. Cost the earth but it's a one-time thing.

TAPPING THE HOLE

Tapping the hole to accept the plug is where most mechanics come to grief. Not so much in the tapping but in starting out with the wrong diameter hole, or making it too deep. Being tapered, a pipe-thread tap is happiest working into a tapered hole, which is accomplished by drilling a starter hole that's too small then opening it up with a tapered reamer. Most mechanics, VW or otherwise, have never even seen a tapered pipe-thread reamer and their eyes pop open when they see what they cost. But there it is.

The depth of the threaded hole is fairly critical. Go too deep on some locations and you're liable to block the oil flow. Ideally, the plug should be fully seated either flush with the case or no more than one thread below. If you start with a properly tapered hole you can achieve this fit every time by putting a reference mark on your tap but if you've never done this before it would be best to keep trial-fitting the plug.

WHAT'S ALL THIS COST?

I probably spend about two hours total, pulling the plugs and tapping the holes. I could probably do it faster but a single mistake can take hours to repair. I've found I make fewer mistakes if I work at a steady - but fairly slow - pace.

Anodized aluminum pipe plugs are expensive. Figure a couple of bucks each for the small ones, more for the larger sizes. See the web site of any automotive supplier that sells Earl's Performance Products; they usually list the prices. There are commercial manufacturers of aluminum, internal-wrenching pipe plugs but I've never found one interested in selling small quantities.

As for the price of the tools, I honestly don't know. Most of my tools are older than you are; some are older than me. (I've got a half-inch pipe tap that belonged to my dad.) You need pipe taps for one-eighth, one-quarter and three-eighths, plus half-inch if you're doing the temperature sensor in a late model crankcase. Good taps, not that Chinese junk. And you need a reamer for each. And you may need TWO of the same size, since some of the holes you need to tap are shallow; you have to grind the tap to the right length.

Instead of a reamer you can ‘step-drill' the hole, assuming you have a drill press and the right drill bits.

Bottom line is that you need a fair amount of tooling. Which is one of the reasons I started out using set-screws :-)

CLEANING THE OIL GALLERIES

If it's a used crankcase it's going to have some oil trapped in the galleries. If the case has been laying around for a while the oil is liable to be harder than a bride's biscuits. I'm fortunate in having a cleaning tank large enough to submerge a crankcase. After the thing is tapped, if it's a used crankcase I generally leave it to soak overnight before attempting to clean the oil galleries. Soaking in diesel or mineral spirits will soften the oxidized oil, allowing it to be scrubbed out without too much trouble.

Most the brushes I use for cleaning oil galleries are bore brushes designed for cleaning rifles, pistols or machine guns. (I'm ex-Navy and have access to used, surplus bore brushes all the way up to 20mm.) I chuck them into a Makita cordless drill-motor and run them slowly up & down the oil gallery while keeping the thing flooded with mineral spirits. In a pinch, you can use nylon bristle brushes but it takes longer than with a ‘soft' stainless steel or bronze brush. Suitable brushes are sold as coffee percolator pump brushes, baby bottle brushes and the like. Be prepared to cut them down to the right diameter when necessary.

All of the oil galleries on the VW engine are drillings, meaning they are perfect circles with a smooth finish. The main oil gallery runs straight through the case and you can inspect it the same way you'd check the barrel of a gun. But it's also possible to VISUALLY inspect the other galleries if you provide yourself with the right light source. Such inspection lights come in all sizes; I've got one that's only a sixteenth of an inch in diameter. Not very expensive but you'll have to shop around. (The little one is a fiber optic thingee on a pen light. I think I got it from American Science & Surplus.)

The passageways are clean when you can SEE they are clean.

MODIFYING THE PIPE PLUGS

I use a round Swiss file (i.e., a little file with a fine tooth) or a small carbide burr to make a SMALL round-bottomed notch in the top edge of the plug. Just a little one; mebbe an eighth of an inch across and maybe the same for depth, although it's shallower on small plugs, deeper on large ones.

Once the plug is installed I use a ROUND NOSED drift to swage the metal of the crankcase into the notch on the plug. Don't hit it hard; use a series of light taps to gently flow the metal into the notch. You'll probably have to make the round nosed drift. Just polish the point of a center punch.

Swaging the metal of the crankcase into the notch on the pipe plug keeps it from coming loose.

SEALING THE PLUGS

Mostly, I use #3 Permatex. I start by putting the plugs in a little cup with some lacquer thinner or MEK to make sure they are free of oil. I use a Q-tip to wipe down the threads in the crankcase with MEK. Put the plug you're about to install onto the Allen wrench, blow it dry then put a dab of Permatex onto the threads of the plug and smear it around the full circumference. Then thread it in an bring it up to a firm fit.

For high temperature applications I use high-temp Loc-Tite. To remove the plug you'll have to use heat and the trick here is to put the Allen wrench into the plug then use a small tipped high intensity torch, such as MAPP or O/A to heat the area locally while applying torque to the Allen wrench. As soon as you feel it turn, move the torch away.

IS THIS TRIP REALLY NECESSARY?

As with all VW engine work, the answer to that question depends on you. But to give you a hint, when you order a rebuilt crankcase from a reputable shop it usually comes with the plugs pulled and the holes threaded. On the other hand, I know some big name builders who insist such care isn't needed because their engines are built on new crankcases.

So how do they remove the swarf that gets into the oil galleries?

"Oh, we blow them out, really good."

And how do they KNOW the galleries are free of swarf?

They don't. They ASSUME blowing them out ‘really good' is all it takes, in every single case, to leave the galleries perfectly clean.

‘Assume' is another term for ‘guess-work.' In my opinion, and that of many other engine builders, the wiser course is to leave nothing to chance. By pulling the plugs you don't have to assume anything, you can visually inspect the oil galleries. Good engines are not built on guess work.

-Bob Hoover -April 2002

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
* - They aren't ‘freeze plugs' and never were. Those holes in the side of iron and steel monoblock castings are to facilitate removal of the fragmeable sand cores used in the casting process.
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** - Volkswagen provided oil temperature and oil pressure gauges on some of their industrial engines. The oil temperature sensor was placed at the inlet to the oil pump. Early model crankcases had a threaded hole (M16x1.5) at that location. To install the sensor the threaded plug was replaced by the matching VDO temperature sensor.

On later model cases the hole is no longer threaded and is sealed by a Welch plug about 19mm in diameter . To install the temperature sensor, pull the plug and thread the hole to accept a suitable adapter. Be sure the temperature sensor extends far enough to be constantly bathed by the oil being drawn from the sump but not so far as to obstruct the flow.

On most late model crankcases, a half-inch NPT hex-head plug, drilled and tapped to accept the temperature sensor, makes a suitable adapter.
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-30-

(Ed Note: Since writing this article a number of people have created web-sites showing how they've done the work.)

VW - Lubrication to the Right Side of the Engine

>I've taken my engine apart, (sniff) and noticed something I don't >understand. How does the right case half's lifters get lubrications? ...
Mike

--------------------------------------

Dear Mike (and the Group),

Pressurized oil reaches the right side of the engine via the #2 cam bearing web.

This is one of the weak links in the Type I design and part of the reason those nifty drop-in hydraulic lifters CB usta sell did not work -- the 'corner' lifters on the right side of the case were starved for oil. This is also why those nifty needle-bearing rocker-arms don't work as well as they should -- insufficient oil supply.

This is also why a lot of big-bore strokers last only a few minutes. In relieving the cam & #2 cam bearing web to clear the flanges of the stroker crank, the builder would often cut away a bit too much, causing a dramatic drop in oil pressure for the right-hand side of the engine.

Fortunately, it's pretty easy to fix :-)

See the #3 cam-bearing web? Notice the hole is NOT drilled all the way through?

On some crankcases (careful here, troops) you may be able to extend the oil passageway by drilling from the #3 cam bearing to the end of the valve lifter oil gallery, which must also be extended. This gives the right-hand side of the crankcase two sources of oil. But it doesn't work for all crankcase castings and there is a bit of tricky work involved even when there is enough metal for the drilling -- you have to get the angle just right or you've screwed the pooch.

You can make this modification work on an early crankcase... but you have to add a bit of metal down in the bottom of that hole you'll find just off the rear-ward end of the right-hand valve-lifter gallery. And anyone who can TIG down in the bottom of that hole deserves a Nobel. (BT, DT, got the Prize :-) (Hint: You can't use a regular torch.)

There are a couple of hi-tek tricks you can do to the heads to feed oil into a hollow rocker-shaft for the purpose of juicing needle rockers but it's not for the faint of heart. If you gotta turn eight grand for a couple of hours to get a champagne shampoo it might be worth looking into. Otherwise, stick with a properly applied coating of DFL-1 and clean oil.

-Bob Hoover

PS -- Opening up the right-hand crankcase half at the #1 cam-bearing web to the main oil gallery and ensuring 100% lubrication to the rockers (normal is only 8%) is the foundation of the so-called 'HVX' mods.

VW - Polishing Glass

A Shy Person asked:

>Got a question on windshields. Mine is in pretty good shape as far as nicks, chips, smokey corners go, but it does have a lot of fine swirl type scratches in it. Maybe from being washed so many times? Anyways, is there a way to refininsh the surface?

--------------------------------------------------

Dear Shy Person (and the Newsgroup),

No problem. Get yourself some cerium oxide and a felt polishing hob. Make a mixture of cerium oxide & water having the consistency of light cream. Paint it onto a small area of the glass and buff with the felt hob mounted in a low-speed drill motor. Keep the stuff damp -- spritz on more water and add more polishing compound as needed. Dry and buff with a soft cloth, inspect the surface with a loupe of at least 5x (look for tiny 'rainbows' -- refraction from microscopic pits & scratches... if you do a good job, you won't see any). Takes about 20 minutes to polish an area the size of your palm. But worth the effort.

You can get a 'kit' of cerium oxide & polishing hobs from J.C.Whitney. Cheap.

Stantium oxide cuts slower than cerium oxide, gives a finer finish. Ferrous oxide, the red stuff -- and often called 'rouge' for that reasons -- cuts slowest of all, gives the finest finish. But rouge is messy as hell and ferrous oxide can react with rubber & trim.

Polishing the windscreen is a standard procedure for vehicles that accumulate a lot of mileage -- buses, trucks and the like. But if the scoring isn't too bad you may not need to polish -- you can get rid of the refraction problems by filling minor scratches with black wax then buffing the glass smooth. This only works if the scratches aren't too deep.

Rain-X also reduces the effect of light-scatter caused by scratches but a layer of Rain-X can prevent the polish from working so try that last.

-Bob Hoover

Easy Pickin's

Dan Rose opined:

>Historically, robbing someone meant having your hands cut off. Today, in some states you can be killed for commiting certain crimes. None of these punishments deters would-be criminals.

Whoa, there cowboy. How did 'would-be' criminals get into this conversation? The methods above are designed to deal with known criminals... and they are very effective. (Kinda hard to pick a pocket without any hands :-)

> We have to look at what factors promote crime.

We? If you want to get into the philosophical aspects of the problem you'd better begin by defining government, get the mouse out of your pocket or stop using the Royal 'we.'

People create governments to accomplish collectively what cannot be achieved individually. But our government has already told us -- through case law and other means -- that our personal security and safety is an individual responsibility. Collectively, the cops will try to help... if they can... but we can lodge no complaint when they can't. Ditto for the fire department and so on. Public Safety agencies primarily function after the fact for the simple reason that it's impossible for them to prevent you as an individual from sitting your ass on fire. Or sticking a gun in someone's face. Pass all the laws you want, the root problem is that there is no effective means of ensuring they will be obeyed.

Which brings us back to individual responsibility, Good Citizenship and why I wear a gun.


Individually, the best we can do to prevent crime is to raise our kids right and not offer ourselves up as easy targets. But you don't have to be a legal scholar to see that the courts have told us that good citizenship in today's Amerika ultimately requires us to blow away any asshole who tries to do us harm.

The reason for this unpleasant but necessary duty is pretty simple. When a gun is in your face it's obvious you're dealing with a criminal and that whatever deterrents are in place have not worked. When that happens the best the police can offer is a free ride to the morgue. For one of you. Clearly, it is your duty to ensure the other guy goes into the body-bag. Not only does it guarantee they won't do it again, it saves our society an incredible amount of money.

So wear a weapon, hone your skills and be prepared to use them. Because the best possible crime-deterrent is to stop walking around with Easy Pickin's tattooed on your forehead.

-Bob Hoover

PS -- This will come as a Big Surprise to all the bleeding hearts but ninety-nine times out of a hundred you don't even have to pull the trigger. Once they know you are armed and willing to take a hit, they're gone.
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