Craft Gunmaking, No compromises, No corners cut, EVER

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

"Anglicizing" a Fox (#005)

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 linearly 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 starting point:  Yes, it was a NIB condition gun and no, I have no reservations about starting with such a gun.

Some 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.

The bow of the new triggerguard is made.  Its form is a bit more pleasing than the original part.  I've said it before, the shape of the guard and the triggers can make or break the lines of the gun.  With this in mind, I also made new triggers.

The original triggers
The new triggers
The chintzy, factory trigger pivot pin was also replaced with something a bit more substantial.

Here are a couple of areas that will need attention since these parts are not being replaced.

The typical lumpy barrel contours
The breechface and action flats that look like they were finished by a farrier

The new rib extension is up next. 

Original rib extension removed by machining down to the original vertical braze seam

The rib extension was blanked from a piece of 4140A using a shop-made single edge profile cutter.

The new rib extension with doll's head, installed and fit to the frame

The frame's contours are refined further and polished by hand.

For those curious about the bolt arrangement, this photo shows the bolt, its spring and the anti-friction roller.

The safety slide (button) is made, shaped, checkered and fitted.  It now operates in a milled pocket in the top strap in order to maintain a low profile.  

 At this point I cut a border at the base of the checkered portion of the safety and I also cut a bead around the pocket, just to make everything look more finished.

The last thing to do on the top strap was to get rid of the unsightly through-hole for the hand screw.  This is done with a blind threaded insert.  It also usefully increases the wood-to-metal contact surface-area in this normally weak portion of the inletting.

With the safety squared away, finishing up on the triggerguard is next.  The strap (tang) portion is cut from a piece of 1020 and filed up to shape before being welded to the bow.
The first photo clearly illustrates the internal stress that happened to be locked up inside the cold-formed bar.

 The forend tip was filed up from a piece of 1020.

Same for the escutcheons for the forend wedge.

The escutcheon and screw to mount the forend iron are also made the same way. 

With the forend hardware made, the pattern for the wood could be finished.

And the wedge to hold the forend to the gun.

The new forend lug

The gun wearing its pattern stock and forend.  All of the screws will be made once I actually stock it.

It's almost time to stock the gun.  Once the owner arrives and any needed adjustments are made to the pattern, I'll begin the actual stocking. Here it is so far.

Some better shots

 Here is the blank that I'm going to stock it with.

The gun is stocked, in the white and ready for the engraver.  The engraver on this project is Lee R. Griffiths and the plan is for full coverage, including scroll, flower bouquets, at least three bulino panels and relief carved fences.  Some of Lee's work (which is most impressive) can be seen at his website and on his Facebook page.

Checkering the grip panels,

The internal parts are polished and plated in gold.

The "Anglicized" Fox is about to fly the coop.  The entire progression, from mint-in-the-box (literally) Utica Sterlingworth, to the gun you see here, is complete.
Except for the engraving (done by Lee Griffiths), everything was done here.

The photos,