(2016-06-24) The Explodey Machine
The Explodey Machine
Summary: Hand-making ammunition only gets you so far. Mon was content to do it for her own consumption, but two semi-automatic rifles in the hands of perfectionists inclined to practice with them burn through a lot of ammo. Mon finally gets around to making her tiny ammunition factory. Why tiny? Because if things go bad, blowing out some windows or trashing a car nearby is acceptable. Leveling Stratford? Not so much.
Date: 2016.06.24
Related: http://5thwave.wikidot.com/log:2016-06-23-waistin-away-again-in-marijunana-ville
Players:
monica..

Out in the open, under a tarp set up as a makeshift tent, Mon is once again tinkering with small explodey things. These aren't of alien origin, however.

<FS3> Monica rolls Machinist: Failure.

Monica slowly starts the machine she's built. When the press comes down the first sound that happens is *crack*. "Shit!" is the second sound. She turns it off. "Stripped the threads? Really?" She unbolts the thing and goes back to the machine shop to rebuild the one drive bolt.

<FS3> Monica rolls Machinist: Success.
<FS3> Monica rolls Physics: Failure.

Monica realizes what she's done. "Oh man…" She gets her notebook and scribbles out one set of calculations. "That should be squared."

<FS3> Monica rolls Physics: Failure.

“No, No, I was right the first time. That part was right. So where's the error?” Mon knocks on her forehead. “Damn it, it's like I softened my brains yesterday.”

<FS3> Monica rolls Physics: Good Success.

It takes Mon three tries total before she finally gets her calculations right. This time she works backwards to make sure, and verifies that the shop press obeys the same rules. Some hours later, she welds a much larger bar, that looks like a chunk of pickup truck tube steel, in place. "Once more, with feeling…"

Monica heads back to the crater, cranks up the little gasoline engine that powers the whole tiny factory, and clutches the press in. She watches as it presses out one .350 Foreman round. Then another. Then another. "Now we're cookin'." She gets to work on the dangerous parts.

<FS3> Monica rolls Chemistry: Success.
<FS3> Monica rolls Machinist: Good Success.
<FS3> Monica rolls Mechanic: Good Success.

Thankfully, this process is much smoother. She fills the glass reservoirs with nitric acid, sulfuric acid, alcohol, and water, and the hopper with shredded paper trash and stands back. Way back. The machine hums and heats the components to the right temperatures. Mon checks. She then pulls the lever to allow the machine to get to work. And stands way, way back, leaving the machine alone on the empty block close to the crater. She comes back some hours later to find a nice fresh batch of single base powder - pure nitrocellulose, dissolved in the alcohol.

<FS3> Monica rolls Machinist: Success.
<FS3> Monica rolls Mechanic: Success.

The cartridge casting section takes some more tinkering before it works properly, and it's terrifying, because the only way to test it is let it injection-mold the nitrocellulose. The high-explosive propellant. But eventually she gets that working too. The worst part is yet to come, but at least she can test it separately.

<FS3> Monica rolls Chemistry: Success.
<FS3> Monica rolls Machinist: Failure.

These things happen. Mon is standing well back, as is her way, when the section of the ammunition machine that makes the primers blows itself into shrapnel. Fortunately it's walled off from the nitrocellulose side with a thick steel plate.

<Public> Monica says, "Those in the city might hear a reasonably loud bang. Nothing earth-shaking, but it is toward the crater."

A setback. Mon lets the nitrocellulose casting machine run its course, then shuts it down and hauls the whole mess back to the machine shop.
<Public> Monica says, "The primer machine blew up."
<FS3> Monica rolls Chemistry: Success.
<FS3> Monica rolls Machinist: Success.
<FS3> Monica rolls Mechanic: Good Success.

Hours later… In the face of failure, Monica over-designs. The primer machine is now vastly different, the amount of potassium chlorate available at any given time vastly smaller, and so on. She loads up the primer machine and it is soon making little dots of primer exactly how she wants them.

<FS3> Monica rolls Mechanic: Great Success.

Monica Gets the rest of the machine together without incident. While she stands a safe distance (all the way across the crater), the press presses powdered steel into projectiles, which are inserted into the cast nitrocellulose propellant blocks. The primers are cast in a pocket in the back of the propellant, and covered with a dot of roofing aluminum, all below the edge of the propellant. The finished cartridges roll down into a trough, and the machine runs in batches of a hundred. Every time the machine finishes a batch, Mon bundles it up in recycled newsprint, until she's stockpiled five thousand rounds without blowing herself up. It's a little less nerve wracking. She can now be far away, with most of the finished cartridges, while the dangerous steps are happening, and let everything sit a while to make sure her chemicals aren't so contaminated that something's going to self-ignite. Still. She stashes the finished cartridges hither and thither, in dead cars and basements where no house remains above. And of course, she keeps about a thousand rounds for her own use and to give to Terry, and anyone else who winds up with an M0.

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