Tuesday, January 30, 2018

"Anglicizing" a Fox

This is the Sterlingworth from the previous post.  The client wants an American gun with English flavor but it also has to be something unique.  Obviously a Fox has to be the basis, no other will do, for reasons that I've covered before.
I've never worshiped at the altar of the supposedly "superior" rotary bolt, it's a clever solution to packaging a bolt in a compact space but it offers no mechanical advantage over a linear bolt.  In fact, if not precisely fitted (they never are) or worn (very common), they do a very good job of opening themselves upon firing as the bite's ramp cams the bolt around to the open position.  The marketing hogwash printed in the catalogs about the guns "never shooting loose" or being "self-compensating for wear" sounds good but it isn't always so in reality.  When correctly fitted, the rotary bolt is as good as any other but certainly no better.  Now, back to the project at hand.  This gun will marry attributes of the two best-looking British boxlocks, the Greener and the Westley Richards.  It will combine the sleek, rounded bar of the Greener with the aesthetically and functionally distinctive, side-pivoting toplever of the Westley Richards (a design also used on early Lefever doubles).  The toplever operates a linear acting bolt of my own design.  Think of it as an American homage to the two English boxlocks that truly qualify as best guns.

The parts that won't be going back into the gun

Packing the frame for annealing

The horrible, belt-sander-shaped fences are chiseled per standard operating procedure.

The frame, modified for the new toplever

Making the toplever:  The pivot and bolt bosses and the underside are machined, the rest of the lever is shaped by hand.

Fitted up

Naturally the frame cheeks needed attention.  Not only were they originally shaped on a belt-sander, I'm pretty sure that the guy that did it was either blind or drunk.

Next is to clean up the beads around the fences and cut the pocket for the doll's head rib extension.

 The modified Fox with a standard early-Utica Fox

Here are a couple of videos of the new bolting mechanism.

The next agenda item is to do something about the forend iron relief cut in the frame.  This area looks bad enough even when done with the superior craftsmanship of the early Philadelphia days, it is positively atrocious on a Utica gun.

Machined floor and bevels

Smoking in the cover piece

The cover fitted and the hinge mechanism is made.  The spring to power it comes next.

The leaf spring that closes the cover

In action

Next is to hide the triggerplate screw.  This is done by closely fitting the cover into a machined and dovetailed (at the front) pocket in the triggerplate.  The triggerguard stud retains the rear of the cover.
The cover plate is made from 1020, the same as the frame and triggerplate.

Stay tuned...

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Stunning Smallbore Sterlingworth

This is (was) probably the nicest, highest condition Sterlingworth I've seen.  It's a Utica-made 16 gauge gun and it is the basis for my next custom gun, these are the "before" photos.  When the client and I planned the project I told him that the most important thing about the base gun was that the bores be mint.  After rejecting a number of guns which were advertised by the sellers as having "mint" bores, this gun came up and yes, the bores are perfect.  This may make the collector-types cringe but the good news is that your guns will be worth more now that this gun no longer exists as you see it here.

These are the parts that will not be going back into the gun.  Stay tuned...

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Truly Noble Cause

These guys hunt quarry that actually shoots back and they do it in defense of those that can not defend themselves.  This is conservation, not the twisted idea that "legally" killing endangered animals somehow helps them.  Even more twisted is the "logic" that an animal must have an economic value attached to it to be worthy of saving.  The fact (baffling though it is) that certain (in fact, useless to humans) parts of these animals' anatomy have an economic value is the very reason for the poaching.  I've heard all of the self-ennobling bullshit stories about how hunting "fees" help the community and how the meat from the slaughtered animals feeds the people who otherwise would have none, yadda, yadda.  The fact is that trophy hunters would still kill the animal whether the meat went to use or not, and those "fees" mostly go to line the pockets of corrupt officials.   I have no issue with the ethical hunting of non-endangered species but I find little ethical about trophy hunting species that are critically endangered and intelligent.  The idea of looking upon a great bull elephant and thinking "What a magnificent creature, I must kill it" is as incomprehensible to me as it is indefensible.

Behold the faces of true bravery, men who clearly are able to appreciate majesty without wanting to either kill it or possess it.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Thomas Horsley SLE

Here is a Horsley SLE that has been the recipient of some gunsmithing in the past.  Unfortunately, it was done by an individual with less than complete comprehension of the design's idiosyncrasies.  The stock had been refinished and for reasons unknown, the portion of the inletting that retains the striker bushings was removed from the right side.  This gun's striker bushings simply slip into the frame from the rear and depend upon the stock and the very inside edge of the lockplate to retain them.  The striker bores are also machined at an upward angle, meaning that the rear face of the bushings have an angled surface.  This presents no issues as long as they are prevented from rotating, which is precisely the reason for the contact with the stock and lockplates.  The stock also suffered from cracked upper horns, oil soaking at the head and someone had at one time placed a cardboard shim above the triggerbox.  This was done, presumably, so that the breechscrew would index correctly.
With nothing left to prevent the right-side striker bushing from rotating and floating back and forth, repeated blows from the hammer caused the striker to become quite deformed.  It comes as no surprise that the lockplate screw slots were also damaged.

The strikers, the bent right striker had to be cut in half to remove it from its bushing.

The stock damage

Once the finish is stripped from the head area and the soaked oil is removed, the stock repairs could begin.  As always, the repairs are performed by replacing bad/damaged wood with new, not "glass bedding" bodgery.

The repair after fitting

The lockplate screws were made in the usual fashion.

The finished job, note the beautifully chiseled fences.