Author Archives: Woodsbum

Hellwig Sway Bars

by Woodsbum

Around June of 2016 I finally decided that I needed to do something about my pickup truck being broken and I had serious need of a way to haul things. Since I was still rebuilding my 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 4×4 due to the engine going out, I decided that I should just buy a new Ram 1500 in the configuration that best suited my daily driving needs. My local dealership walked me through the process of custom ordering the exact truck that I needed and I ended up buying a new vehicle……

I ended up with a 2017 Ram 1500 Black Express (Special Edition) with the 5.7 Hemi, limited slip rear end, tow package, interior upgrades, blah, blah, blah. I ended up putting an ARE canopy on it and it ended up looking absolutely awesome. There was a serious problem, however. The horsepower was not well suited for the poor suspension. It seriously needed some help, but I just suffered through for a couple years until it dawned on me as to where the problem lay. There was no rear sway bar and the front bar sucked.

Here are some examples of my truck’s behavior. It basically twerked on rutted highways at speeds above 65. It felt like it was going to tip over in any corner, and when I changed speeds in the corners it would float horribly. The suspension reminded me of the ones in the 1990 Lincoln Town Cars. More land yacht than truck.

Online I found reference to many people installing Hellwig rear sway bars and there were even many videos that showed how well they worked with body roll angles, testimonials, and all sorts of crap that said that these sway bars were the miracle cure for a poor truck suspension.

I bought both front and rear.

When they came in I pulled up some YouTube videos and went to installation…..  In the rain….  And it was about 35 degrees….  It sucked, but only took about 2 hours from start to finish.

Now let me tell you how well they work. There is a night and day difference. No joke. The sway bars have turned my 4 wheeled boat of a truck into a decently handling vehicle that allows me to take 25 mph exits at 45-50 like I was on rails. The forces applied to my body are no longer making me feel like I am going to fall over. I now feel like my hips are being shoved down and into the seat instead of the side forces. It is truly remarkable.

Today I took some 45 mph corners on the highway at 85 and didn’t really even notice any push.

All told I spent about $650 for the sway bars and connection rods since my rear end didn’t have a factory installed bar. I now have a truck that performs like a sports car and can actually handle the 400 ponies under the hood. It was well worth the investment and I can add some links in the comments if anyone is interested. Just know that the Hellwigs are HIGHLY recommended by me.

  • Share on Tumblr

Ruger LCRx

by Woodsbum

Well, I did it again. I couldn’t leave well enough alone and had to purchase a new carry pistol. Before you judge (I can hear you through the vibrations of your mouse finger wanting to start clicking away), I had a reason for buying a new carry pistol:

The M&P Shield that I was carrying is annoyingly heavy, doesn’t really fit my pocket too well and my NAA Wasp is too small to really scare much more than a small rodent or two…..

Ruger LCRx in .38 Special

For a quick weight comparison: My LCRx loaded weights about 1 lbs (16 oz) and my S&W M&P Shield 9mm (version 1) weighs in at 1.52 lbs (24.32 oz). I was surprised by the fact that my scale was WAY different than the numbers that other people were tossing around. I have seen LCRx declared weights from 13.4 oz up to 15.7 oz unloaded. I have also seen Shield weights from 19 oz to 21 oz unloaded. Either there needs to be some better standardization among scales, people can’t read digital displays, or QA for gun manufacturers is for crap……

LCRx Loaded Weight

LCRx Loaded Weight

S&W M&P Shield 1.0 Loaded Weight

No matter why my readings were so much different than other’s, the result is really the same: My Shield was weighing my britches down to the point where I had to pull them up WAY too often. Couple that with the fact that the size/shape seemed to poke me in my nethers when I carried my Shield in my front pocket and you have a recipe for an annoyed concealed carry person. My nethers were annoyed, too. Just saying.

The pistol did need a few modifications when I pulled it out of the box. I put on a new front sight by HIVIZ and a Pachmayr Guardian grip. The stock front sight is okay in low light conditions, but it really is really nothing more than a white stripe on a simple blade. The HIVIZ sight is really more visible in more conditions and with the addition of some white nail polish on the rear sights I am able to quickly acquire my target and get a good sight picture. The original grips are not bad, but I don’t like how the gummy type texture sticks to my clothing. Pulling it in a hurry could be quite bothersome due to the way that my shirt and/or pants pockets really like to hold onto the rubber grip’s surface. The Pachmayr ones are a hard plastic with checkering in the middle of the grip. When you grip the handle, a button will be depressed by your middle finger. This releases a spring loaded pinkie finger extension that gives you a full grip. If you like to mess around with your pistol while carrying it (reaching into your pocket to readjust for instance) you can spend a lot of time putting that pinkie finger extension back into a locked position. Other than that, it actually feels quite comfortable and fits my bear paws quite nicely.

HIVIZ Front Sight

Pachmayr Guardian Grip

Thus far I have only had a chance to shoot about 30 rounds through it. It does seem a bit harder to hit targets at distance than my Shield, but it is “minute of paper plate” at 25 – 28 yards with me shooting it. In my defense it was cold, raining, and a bit foggy when I went up shooting so I was hurrying up the whole process a bit…..

My final thoughts are this:  If you are looking for a lightweight, easy to carry revolver the LCRx should definitely be on your list to try out. The single/double action option due to the stubby hammer is a bit of a game changer in the snubby .38 market. Other than the AirWeight line by S&W (which my LCRx is about 3 oz lighter than my brother’s AirWeight), there are not too many other options around the sub $500 price tag. From a personal standpoint, I have started leaving the Shield at home and now carry this as my EDC. Hopefully, that says it all.

Happy shooting and don’t tell the wife I got a new gun!!!!!

  • Share on Tumblr

LASIK

by Woodsbum

I have been wearing corrective lenses since I was in 4th grade. My parents took me in at the beginning of my 4th grade school year to get me tested once they discovered that I could not see the rabbits we were hunting on opening day. They were only out about 20 yards, but it was a complete blur. I still remember the day I got my glasses. Everything was slanted, my peripheral vision no longer existed, and I was constantly getting headaches from the distortion when looking through the lenses. It was awful. The only up side was that I could see the kids making fun of me farther than 40 feet away.

It took me 4 years to save up enough money to get myself contact lenses. My parents would not pay for them and told me that I had to do it myself. I still remember the cost being $349 dollars at that time for the exam, lenses, etc. They also made me pay for my own contact solutions until I was in high school so I had to continue to save everything I could to cover costs. This was back in the 1980’s and we were pretty poor as a family with no health insurance, let alone something like VSP.

Once I was able to get contacts, a whole new world opened up to me. I could play sports. Hunting and fishing became SO much easier. My depth perception and peripheral vision with my contacts was almost nonexistent. Kids quit making fun of me quite as much since I didn’t look like Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys anymore. Life was much better. Luckily, I was prescribed RGP (Semi-rigid Gas Permeable) lenses. The first pair lasted almost 7 years. My second pair lasted about 6 and my third pair lasted about 6 as well. That was when I started having problems, but I will talk about that shortly.

The only problem (before I got a bad set of contacts) was that I had to be extremely careful at all times. Camping was difficult since I had to take my contacts out every night. Being outdoors could be a nightmare at times due to dust and floating contaminates. Getting up and trying to function before I put my contacts in was a nightmare. Without correction my eyes were 20/500. Basically, I couldn’t see the stupid “E” on the eye chart without my contacts. Remember that I never wore glasses because the vision that they did give me was horribly distorted and I lost depth perception, peripheral vision, etc. These problems made it difficult to do one of the most important aspects of maintaining my sanity: spend time outdoors.

Speed through my childhood and a good section of my adulthood…..

I finally had insurance for vision. The first time in my life, other than the crappy glasses that the Navy gave me, where I could go get seen and buy corrective lenses at a reduced cost. My wife’s friend recommended this guy that had an office near us so we made appointments and went in to get new “portholes” (Navy/Marine Corps slang for glasses/contacts – as in portholes to the world). He wrote me a new prescription for some RGP lenses and told me that my prescription was way off from what I had been wearing. I didn’t argue, but I found that very odd. Semi-rigid lenses disallow your eyes’ prescription from changing that much because they basically hold the lens of the eye in place. It doesn’t relax, flex, etc., like they normally do as you age. The curvature of my eye was supposedly much different than the contacts I was wearing, according to this eye doctor. Again, I didn’t question it too much because I thought this guy was a good doctor due to all the testimony from my wife’s friends. Long story short, I should have known better.

This visit and subsequent follow up visits to this doctor changed my ability to see decently and made my life miserable for about 10 years. I just could not see decently either distant nor close. It was almost like I had to pick either or. It was so bad that I had to keep reading glasses in my desk at work and a pair of magnifiers at home to do fine, detailed work on things. The answer that I got from follow on doctors was, “You are over 40 so you should just get used to the idea that you will need reading glasses or bifocals”. It really pissed me off because no one was taking the time to work through the bad prescription I got from that asshole my wife’s friends recommended. I could barely see well enough to do my job about half the time unless I took out my contacts for close, detailed work and then used them again for distance. My old glasses caused similar issues, but I could focus within a couple inches from my eye without corrective lenses. It didn’t make sense that “I was just getting older.” Life was really sucking……

Fast forward to now. Starting in late September I decided that it was time to look into corrective eye surgery. Of course my first step was to question those that I knew who had undergone corrective laser surgery.

My father had it back in the 1990s and was able to go without glasses for about 15 years. He can still pass a driving test, but he does wear glasses to shoot and have more clear vision at distance. He also uses reading glasses, but needed them before he got RK.

Both of my daughters received laser eye surgery while Active Duty and it made a huge difference in their lives. My younger daughter had similar issues as I was having with distortion, depth perception, night vision, etc., and was getting constant headaches with corrective lenses. Long story short is that all three of my family member’s lives were changed for the better after their surgery.

When I went in for my initial appointment, I was told that I would have to quit wearing my RGP contacts for at least 5-6 weeks before surgery. This created a problem because I can BARELY function in glasses. To help with this transition I first went to soft contacts for about 5 weeks and then wore glasses for one week. This allowed my eyes to reposition to their natural curvature prior to surgery. This is important so that the correction is appropriate and proper.

The next step really brought me to the day of operation. Of course there were about 5 visits to the eye doctor prior to surgery, but those were to check the curvature of my eye and see if everything had stabilized. On the day of surgery, I was beyond nervous. Suffice it to say that I was terrified. Considering how many issues I have had with my vision over the years, the thought of it either becoming worse somehow or completely losing my vision was far more horrific than death itself. Many won’t comprehend that, but things like that are all based upon personal experiences and fears. Being physically handicapped in any form is my worst fear in life.

I was given a Xanax and a Neurontin when I arrived at the doctor to calm me and help with pain after the surgery. We signed enough paperwork to establish a mortgage on a home, gave them our money, and were put in a “calming area” to wait. There was a nice waterfall thingie next to me and not a wet bar in sight. I could have used a shot or two.

Once they took me into the room, I was told lay down on a table. The doctor physically manipulated my head and shoved it into position. He really didn’t have much of a tender touch. Of course this also led me to become more anxious. Some additional drops were applied to my eyes, an eyelid pry bar was utilized and a weird suction cup thing came down on my eyes (one at a time) that blacked out my vision. Some weird noises and light were inserted into the process and then the repeated it for the other eye. It actually hurt a bit, but was probably more related to my fear than actual pain. This created the “flap” that was needed to get down to the part of my eye that they were going to saw on.

All the apparatus was removed and they then taped my eyelashes to my forehead, used the pry bar again, used some dental tool things to lift up the flap, hit me with some laser lights, put the flap back down, squeegeed the hell out of my eyeball and then repeated for the other eye.

Once done I had a second to kind of get my bearings before they had my stand up and walk over to an eyeball microscope. My eyes were checked, some clear bug shields were duct taped to my face and I was sent home.

Now, I was supposed to have been able to sleep due to the Xanax…..  The Titanic was supposed to float as well. I just rode home with my eyes closed and annoyed that my eyes felt like they were being scrubbed with gravel. I was also supposed to be able to sleep when I got home. That didn’t work so well either. I got home around 1830 (6:30 pm) and remember looking at the clock several times between then and about 2000 (8 pm). I finally was free from the gravel cleaner feeling in my eyeballs by 2130 (9:30 pm) and decided to get up and take off the stupid anti scratch devices that looked like bug shields. Most of the skin and a good portion of the tape residue remained, but the plexiglass walls were removed.

I COULD SEE…..  It was crazy. It is still crazy. For the first time in almost 10 years I can see both up close and far away, but I don’t need corrective lenses to do it. I am amazed…….

My suggestions, recommendations, wisdom to be passed on, etc., for those thinking about this surgery is quite simple. It really is a life changing event, especially for those with vision as bad as mine was. I don’t know how much more I can say, but my life will never be the same. I am truly beyond words to describe the change. My headache caused by eyestrain is gone. I have depth perception again. I can see both up close and at distance. Hell, I can even see decently at night.

If you have the means or ability to save up to get this done, I strongly suggest that you just go for it. One day out and I can only repeat how amazed I am at the change.

  • Share on Tumblr

Duck Trip – November 5th

by Woodsbum

Well, today I took off and went out to try and get some ducks. It was not even close to productive. Not only did I not even get a shot, but I saw a some total of 8 ducks. The closest were about 200 yards away. I guess I should have brought Anti Aircraft rather than a 12 gauge….

It was a great day to spend with my pup, though.

Angus

Angus the lazy lab.

He did really good, though. Last year he was running around EVERYWHERE and it was impossible to keep him mellow. This year he stayed right next to me and just hung out. He did act a little annoyed about his gonads soaking in the mud, but it didn’t cause him to go running around wild or fidget. Angus was a very good boy.

Although we didn’t see anything of note, I did get a chance to pull out my decoys for the first time this year.

Decoys

Decoys

In this next picture you will see something pretty funny. I COMPLETELY forgot that I had picked up 4 duck butts at the end of last year. Of course I thought I needed some for this season so what did I do? I picked up 4 more. Luckily, my father is going to buy 4 from me when he comes down a little later in the season. Until then I think I will run them just because it makes me laugh.

Duck Butts

Duck butts everywhere!

The idea of 8/20 mallard decoys being duck butts just humors me a lot. All decoys counted I run about 30-32 in total between the various species. Mind you that my spread does change over the course of the season. It morphs to meet the behaviors of the ducks. Some seasons produce more ducks with a half circle, V pattern sometimes, J pattern at others, blah, blah, blah…. Over my many years of hunting I have discovered 1 thing that always rings true. If you don’t adapt to your game you will always come home empty handed.

Angus and I will head back out again tomorrow. The migrating flocks have not really come in yet, but we might be able to pull in a couple locals. I will try out a more staggered and spread out design to see how that works.

Wish us luck!

  • Share on Tumblr

The Truck is Done

by Woodsbum

It has been a while since I posted or added ANY content to my site. The reason wasn’t due to laziness, lack of interest, or even a desire to quit sharing online. It was 100% due to a “depression” of sorts based around my inability to physically get out into the field.

You may consider this an excuse, but after 3 years of fighting with my 4×4 and pouring thousands of dollars into the engine compartment I felt like I was trapped. My prison only allowed me access to my home, 1st job, 2nd job and the gym. That was all I was able to do. The 5 times I did try to take my street vehicles out and do outdoors related items lead me to 4 tires being blown out….  Yes. You read that right. 4/5 trips lead to flat tires. This caused me to have to replace all 4 tires on our Outback (all wheel drive) and 2 tires on my commuting truck.

All that is a thing of the past, however. I am now up and running again. My truck LIVES!!!! Not only that, but I also have purchased a boat!

 

GordoNBoat

My truck and boat

As you can see, I have a great boat. My truck is awesome. Life is grand.

I will be doing a post on my boat as well as one on everything that had to be done on my truck to get him up and going.

Welcome back to me??

  • Share on Tumblr