Friday, February 25, 2011

A Million Dollar Idea

by Shawn Strasburg
Imagine 8.1 million businesses averaging 3.6 million dollars in revenue a year. According to if you add a website that average boosts to 5.03 million dollars a year. You drive by a portion of these businesses nearly every day, Applebee’s, The Minnow Bucket, McDonalds, Jims Hobby Shop, and the list goes on. An entrepreneur who drives by these businesses may question, how can I do this better, or what do people need that none of these businesses are offering. All this in hopes of catching a niche in our well funded American economy.
Research, marketing, networking, and mentoring are all important to an entrepreneur. As part of the Intro to Entrepreneurship course here at NPCC we interviewed a local entrepreneur so we could gain firsthand knowledge of small business. Here is some advice from Dave and Carlyn Burkholder, owners of Ellett’s Automotive located here in North Platte.

Dave and Carlyn believe in personal integrity in business and feel that customer service is the highest priority for their business. They believe that high quality work is a must and if or when problems do arise, the problems must be dealt with in a way that leaves the customer satisfied. They feel their business is by customers who are pleased and return to do business in the future.
No negatives to being a small business owner? According to Dave and Carlyn that is how they feel. They said that there were certainly different aspects, but they did not feel any more stress as took on the responsibilities of ownership. Loss of fixed wages, employee well being, loans, taxes, and regulations were not burdens in their minds. They did admit that they “took home their jobs”, but not in the way most do. They said that they enjoyed planning the business and discussing the future and felt that business meetings went better at home, as they were not distracted by the job.
I felt that I came away from this project with a tempered perspective on entrepreneurship. If I  learned anything it was that knowledge is perhaps the greatest tool available to the small business owner and I learned much from this encounter.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rust, Dings, and Cosmoline

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me a beat up VZ 52. Doesn’t make much of a holiday jingle, but it made my day when my wife said I could have the old gun for Christmas. It is not every day when you find a real project gun that merits 40 plus hours of restoration. Yet I found a CZ, VZ52 for $100 off, now that is a deal (of sorts). Cabelas purchased it in June of ‘08 and they hadn’t been able to sell it, until I appeared like a knight in shining armor. I tried to talk them down further, but being a chain sporting goods store the employee claimed not having that kind of authority. I was slightly nervous buying a gun I knew little about, yet I fell in love with the relic. It also helped that my wife was willing to fund it as an early Christmas present. It was to be a great project for Christmas break, but as usual I burned the midnight oil the week before finals, and had it finished the day of my last final.
Disclaimer! I am not an expert; however this gun was by no means anything close to being in collectable condition. This gun was a shooter or hanger….I’d rather shoot. It had a nice patina, as if it had been browned, yet that was not the case. I figured some steel wool would remedy the rust and give me a good workout at the same time. The stock was ugly, abused to no end, and cracked like several others I have seen (through the wrist area).

I Inserted this picture, as I forgot to take a before photo, as a representation of the abuse the rifle had taken.

The bore seemed to have sharp rifling, yet I could not tell it’s true condition due to dust and powder residue. The bolt action was slow, sticky, and would not close by itself. The magazine was brown with several areas of active rust. The magazine follower stuck when pushed down, and I feared it may be unreliable. The VZ52 was only out classed by one other gun in abuse and condition. The winner was an M1 Garand that looked to have been brined and then boiled in cosmoline. I couldn’t even think of adopting it for $650 due to it’s hideous nature. An employee at Cabelas claimed the M1 Garand was imported from Korea after living for decades in a cave.

I started the restoration process two days after I brought the VZ 52 home, because I had to get some studying done. What agony it is to study when a new gun was calling out, begging for attention. The first thing I did was strip it down, all the way.  I lucked out in my opinion; everything came apart with ease including those pesky nuts on the rear sling bolt and the stock support bolt. I have never had much luck removing these on my Mausers.

With the simple part done I began to clean. This gun appeared to have been used in a sandy region. I scraped and dug at least a tablespoon of cosmoline, sand, and even gravel from every nook and cranny. I used a can of WD 40 to flush sand and loosened crud. Problem: WD doesn’t cut this crud, soap and water doesn’t work, G96 doesn’t work, Rem. bore cleaner and steel wool doesn‘t work. Answer: toothpicks, really small screw drivers, dental picks, Q’tips and a lot of patience. What kind of cooked in compound is this? I felt like a dental hygienist cleaning this junk.

The next time I worked on it the WD 40 had dried and I found more crud as it had lightened in color and was easily seen. Another few hours and I was ready for steel wool. I could have used muriatic acid (I prefer the buffered type) but I felt it was not needed. And I have found Remington bore cleaner invaluable for removing rust, so I chose this method. With a Q’tip or cloth (and a bit of elbow action) it will remove rust from guns and do little damage to bluing. On this gun I really wasn’t worried about original finish and with large areas to clean I used “0” steel wool saturated in Rem. bore cleaner. I didn’t worry about getting it perfect, as that was not the purpose.

Many guns have rust issues at some point in their life. I have tried several methods of repair and find that the above mention method of using Rem. bore cleaner works well. After removing the rust, I find that using alcohol to clean the part and some Birchwood Casey paste gun blue will touch up the affected area. I do this about once a year on my friend’s guns to remedy the rust their guns grow on the farm.

On this gun I scrubbed the parts with dish soap and hot water multiple times. I then heated the oven up. This serves two purposes; it dries the gun and it heats the metal. I really like BC paste blue because it is fool proof (that means I can safely use it). I don’t like the other bluing agents I have tried, because of time constraints, and the trouble I had with new coats stripping off old coats of blueing. I have never found the BC paste to have these issues and with one coat is usually dark enough to match.

With gloved hands I took the part from the oven and give it a good coat of the bluing paste. Once the part is covered I drop it into a container of hot soapy water. This way I can blue all of the parts really fast. I then scrub them and spray them off with the kitchen sink sprayer and then soak them in WD until I have finished all of the bluing. After that I clean them with cloth or paper towel and use my G96 triple action gun treatment to finish oil them. G96 works really well as a rust inhibitor; I use it on all of my guns in storage and have no issues with rust development. Some of the guns at my family’s house only get cleaned when I have a chance, which is once a year, and they all stay rust free.

 Next came the nasty stock remodel and it was dinged, gouged, cracked, carved on in three places and generally saturated with cosmoline. I gently heated it in the oven (door open, lowest setting) to remove cosmoline, and scrubbing with soapy water in between warmings. Then I scraped, ugh, yes I scraped the stock, as the wood still contained a lot of oil which fouls sandpaper rapidly. The end grains in areas such as finger grooves and the wrist area produced the most grease while baking and took the most focus when scraping. Yes I did remove the initials thrice placed and as many of the uglies that I could without causing problems. The one area I couldn’t do much for in way of dings and gouges was right near the butt because I risked having the metal protrude beyond the wood. I actually lengthened the finger grooves to get to cleaner wood and was forced to leave much of the darkness in the wrist area.

How to fix that crack? Well with a bit of mental engineering I decided to bolt it together. I would have preferred gluing, yet with the fear that grease contaminated the crack and with the inability to get glue into the crack, I chose to bolt it. If I had glued the stock, I would have still mechanically secured it for back up. How to bolt? This answer was pretty easy; I created a pocket behind the receiver and drilled an angle through the pistol grip. The bottom of the wrist had a gouge about 3/8 of an inch deep, and was ugly to start with. So I layed out my drill line with a pencil on the side of the wrist and drew a center line on bottom of the wrist area and on top. I connected my lines on the bottom for a center reference as to where the bit would emerge. I started my hole centered with the receiver bolt, where the vertical wood meets the horizontal wood.  I used a bit that was 12” long and this allowed me to sight down it like an arrow. I could sight down the angle line I had drawn on the side of the stock and along the center line on top of the stalk. I also employed my son (who is a perfectionist) to back up my perspective and sight from the back side. I drilled this with an 1/8” bit and went slow at first to get a true hole started and then it was just a matter of keeping the bit cleaned. I came out perfectly centered and just a tad “muzzle” from my original layout, but it was close enough.

I bought a brand new brad point bit to drill the hole on the bottom of the wrist to accept an oak plug, yet it tore the wood up on the bottom of the pistol grip, so I got on old spade bit and did it did a better job. This is where trial and error comes in brad point bit = great on flat surface, but hell on a rounded area. It might have worked in a drill press, but I spent my drill press money on college. Just a little more insight, the spade bit worked great in the receiver area. My recommendation is to practice before you drill anything even if you have to make a simulated rounded area, I just have a bit of a “go gett’em” personality, so I sometimes cause myself headaches. So after you have the initial hole and the counter sunk holes in place I bought a #10 drill bit and opened the hole to the bolt size. I used a stainless steel #10-24 3” machine screw; I used #8 washers and one nut. The washers nicely fit in the ½# hole (#10 would have been to snug). The nice thing about the play with a #8 washer is that it is hard without a press to perfectly center countersink holes. And with a spade bit unless you countersink, then drill, at which point you have to perfectly drill from A to B or once again you are out of center. RECOMMENDATION; be sure to counter sink the upper hole enough to allow proper seating of the receiver block. Also I would use a longer machine screw around 3 ¼” if I do it again and counter sink less than need as tightening things up draws the washer into the wood. The idea is to get as much wood as can be sandwiched between washers so you have a strong stock. I finished counter sunk holes off with wood glue to strengthen end grains and seal the wood from oils. You may choose to use lock tight on the machine screw, I didn’t but I made sure it was torqued.
It all worked out in the end, I got it done….and I had the privilege of practicing my inlaying skills -still lacking- but all in all it really looks pretty good. I had troubles matching the grain, another area to practice in, and I didn’t have access to white oak, which I believe the stocks are made out of. One problem I saw before staining (besides red oak clash) was that the new wood lacked the years of oil staining that plagued the surrounding area. I tried some graphite to darken the new, pre-stain, but it may have just rubbed off with my staining rag. Anyway other than the fact the grain just doesn’t match and the inlay is a tad small, I think it looks good enough for this gun.
A little insight so far into inlaying. I cut the stock to match my piece, but my piece was too big, and then when it finally fit it was too small. It is an art I need much practice in, and inlaying on a rounded surface is hard to say the least. You must have patience, and making and staining a trial piece would be beneficial. I ran the grain the same way, my grain was just too big and not right, maybe it is the difference in wood types, I have never worked in white oak.
I chose Varathane red oak wood stain, I love the color, yet I wish I had bought the cabernet and mixed in 25-50% so that the stock would be redder. Surprises? Yes the end grain areas that had black grease stains turned the reddest. The wood also has so much more depth with this stain than the original. I chose to use a wax finish, I thought about Tung oil, but as I had never finished with wax I decided to wear out both arms shining it up.

Here are some pictures showing the stock.

It looks shallow but I think it will hold up…use your own judgment on the applicability of drilling.

Next is the inlay where I drilled into the wrist from the bottom, and the receiver drill area.

Next are the finger grooves where I scraped and sanded about an 1/8 inch of blackened wood away, and the finished stock.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Meet Our Newest Staffer, Hayden Flanders

They call me Flanders, Hayden Flanders.  Well, okay, just Hayden, or Flanders.  I’m a North Platte guy, born and bred, born back on February 22nd 1990, here in good ol’ North Platte.  I graduated from North Platte High School in May of 2008.
I have three younger brothers, 17, 14, and 11 years of age at this point, soon to be 18, 15, and 12.  I currently live here in North Platte with my parents and the three aforementioned brothers, and of course, our cat Smokey.
I’m a fairly laid-back kind of guy, and I’m really interested in sports, especially in football.  The National Football League, College Football, or anything football.  I like to study the NFL Draft, and the prospects for college and everything. It’s really enjoyable to me.  I’ve been known to “obsess” over it, but I would just say it’s a passion of mine.
I tend to spend a lot of my free time on the internet or on Xbox Live, and I occasionally play my Nintendo DS or Gamecube if I feel like I could use a little “retro” gaming action.  During nicer weather, I like to get some friends together and play football, mostly two-hand tag ball, or some flag if I can get people to actually play. 
I am planning on going to the University of North Alabama the Fall of this year, as long as this spring semester goes well.  I plan to major in Broadcast Journalism there, mainly for sports.  I have had an interest in broadcasting since this past August when I began working at Eagle Radio, which broadcasts 97.1, 107.3, and 1410 AM.  I also spend time working at the SunMart on Francis.

National Football League 2010-2011 Season in Review

By Evan Troxel (Associate Editor of Sports Content)
To begin with, I have so much to say about the National Football League (NFL) for the 2010-2011 season so let’s get started!
I’d like to say Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers for defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in this year’s Super Bowl.  Personally, I didn’t cheer for the Steelers in their recent Super Bowl appearances against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL and against the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.  This year was no different.  I really hated this year’s Super Bowl matchup just because I hate both teams. 
However, if you would have asked me which team I would have cheered for just based on their uniform colors (based on my all-time knowing about football experiences) I would have to say the Pittsburgh Steelers. 
I will admit it probably was the most talked about Super Bowl and highly rated because if the Steelers would have won it would have been their seventh Vince Lombardi trophy.  The Steelers already have the most Lombardi trophies of any team.  On the other hand, the Vince Lombardi Trophy is named after the Packers long-time ago head coach.  So it has some sentimental meaning for the Packers.
Like last year in the Super Bowl in which the Saints won, God couldn’t let the Steelers win.  Why?  Reason number one: The team names.  In Green Bay the team name is derived from meat-packing.  In other words, Green Bay packs up and the fans are usually prepared for game day.  The Steelers mean that the people in Pittsburgh like to make steel.  Oh yeah, and every time they have won the Super Bowl by less than ten points they pretty much have stolen a title from the opponent.  God doesn’t want you taking things he wants you to be prepared.
Reason number two: Dave Dameshek!  Who is Dave Dameshek?  He is an NFL Fantasy Football analyst but personally I think he’s more known for this season’s edition of “The Shame Report” on  My favorite “Shame Report” is the conference “Championship Shame Report.”  To find the “Championship Shame Report” search for it and wait until Dave starts talking about Jay Cutler because it is hilarious.  Check out about any “Shame Report” by searching for it on
Anyway, Dave was cheering for the Steelers throughout the playoffs.  In his weekly season video of “The Shame Report” he shames people for doing things which are embarrassing.  Other things he brings up are not so obvious. 
He also gives away a “get out of shame free card.”  He gave it to people who were affiliated with the Steelers’ opponent in the AFC playoffs.  When the Steelers went up against the Baltimore Ravens he gave the card to Ray Lewis and when the Steelers played the New York Jets he gave the card to Rex Ryan.  Before the Super Bowl he didn’t give the card to anyone from the Packers.  Finally, every time he thinks he’ll be shamed the next week he gives himself the “get out of shame free card.”
Now to the “Shameful Stuff.”  Dameshek at the end of one of his “shame reports” took the Steelers’ terrible towel, cursed the Packers, and threw the towel on the Packers logo in the end zone in Dallas (where the Super Bowl was held this year).  Why would Dameshek do that?  The Steelers’ only loss in Super Bowl history before Super Bowl XLV was to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX.  Not to mention that the Cowboys recently got a new stadium.  Anything that’s been connected to the Dallas Cowboys as far as the Super Bowl since the Cowboys beat the Steelers’ in Super Bowl XXX has been negative for the Steelers.  Finally, the Cowboys and Steelers have had a Super Bowl rivalry going over the years. 
But that wasn’t the only thing Dameshek did shamefully.  Dameshek was also an instigator.  He asked both the Steelers’ and Packers questions at Super Bowl media days.  For example, he made up stuff (trash talk) that Ben Roethlisberger said (which Roethlisberger really didn’t really say) and asked the Packers a question or questions pertaining to that comment.  I was totally convinced after these acts by Dameshek that the Packers definitely would win Super Bowl XLV.
I noticed that sportswriters on the Internet and in newspapers were picking the Packers to go (if not win) the Super Bowl for the 2010-2011 season.  I wish the media/press sometimes would just be quiet and not have to spoil things for everybody (like they did this year).  I honestly couldn’t see the Packers win this year’s Super Bowl if you would have asked me at the start of the season.  When one looks at it they are the number one team to have been making the playoffs consistently the past few seasons in the National Football Conference (NFC).
Now, I am going to review this year’s playoffs.  This year in the Wild Card round of the playoffs was interesting.  To start with the American Football Conference (AFC) the Indianapolis Colts got beat by the New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs got beat by the Baltimore Ravens.  In the National Football Conference (NFC), the Seattle Seahawks defeated the defending champion New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles.
It’s a shame that the Colts didn’t think on fourth down on their last successful drive in the playoffs.  I felt the successfully made field goal by Adam Vinatieri seemed alright.  However, had the Colts gone for it on fourth down and successfully got a first down without attempting to kick a field goal I think they would have won the game and the Super Bowl.  I also think in that game that yeah it may have seemed a stupid thing for the Colts to call a timeout and give the Jets more time to try and win but hey the Colts defense regrouped and still lost.  People will be arguing forever in sports about when and when not to call a timeout.  I do think calling a timeout defensively gives your team a chance to do something with the football offensively (when the offense does get it back).
I thought that it was stupid that the Seattle Seahawks got to go to the playoffs with a 7-9 record.  This is everyone’s first real reminder of the NFL playoff format and why it is that way.  The NFL tries to keep the football fan in mind so that people all over America have a de facto team (probably within a U.S. citizens’ regional area) if not a favorite team to cheer for at least through the Wild Card Round of the Playoffs.  This season the Seattle Seahawks were the only team in the NFL playoffs west of Nebraska.  That basically means that half the country could have been cheering for the Seahawks to win it all.  If all the best teams by record got into the playoffs then half the country might not care or even be entertained by a future season of playoffs.  Worse, someone will eventually come up with a reason to split the 2 conferences and combine them into one league so the best 12 teams in the NFL go to the playoffs every year (regardless of conference).
In the Divisional Round of the playoffs in the AFC, the New England Patriots got beat by the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Baltimore Ravens.  In the NFC, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Atlanta Falcons and the Chicago Bears defeated the Seattle Seahawks.
In the AFC Championship Game the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the New York Jets and the Green Bay Packers defeated the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game.  That’s how the Steelers and Packers got to the Super Bowl.
My favorite moment of the whole NFL season was a play in the fourth quarter of the Pro Bowl in which the center for the Cleveland Browns scored a touchdown for the AFC.  That was sweet.  This was a moment in which dreams do happen.  Unfortunately, that probably will never happen again which is a real bummer.  I don’t like when the defense doesn’t try in the Pro Bowl for either team.  Maybe the normal offensive players should play defense and the defensive players should play on offense for their respective teams.  That would be an exciting Pro Bowl.  The NFC won the Pro Bowl again this year.
So I interviewed Hayden Flanders our new writer for the Yard Rake and here’s what he had to say about the NFL.  I asked him how about his comments on Super Bowl XLV and he said, “I thought it was a very good game but it was not what I expected.  The outcome wasn’t what I was hoping for.  The Packers played well and wanted it more than the Steelers did.”  I then asked him about replay and here’s what he had to say about that.  “Overall I think instant replay is good.”  He then said something like, “I wish the NFL would clearly define the catching rule and watch plays more closely.”
Next, I asked him about helmets.  He said something like, “the players are targeted for making hits on other players.  One targeted player is James Harrison.”  Hayden did say this.  “Football is a contact sport not people dancing in tu tus.” 
Finally, Hayden also explained to me that quarterbacks have it easy to be protected and that some quarterbacks get penalties called on the opponent to help their team pick up a free 15 yards.  I think the NFL should seriously look at some “bogus hits” on quarterbacks that don’t even injure them and others that do injure players (not just quarterbacks).  For instance, I think helmet to helmet contact should be illegal if a defensive player (normally a cornerback or safety) does it purposefully through his actions.