Craft Gunmaking, No compromises, No corners cut, EVER

Thursday, December 9, 2021

A 20 Gauge Daly BLE

 Here is a Charles Daly (Prussian of course, I don't work on the "other" kinds) BLE in 20 gauge that is also a two-barrel set.  It needed the rim recesses cut because the original rim cuts were of too small a diameter to chamber any current shotshell.  It also had a few other minor issues.  The trigger plate screw had apparently suffered some damage, so an enterprising "gunsmith" widened the slot (a lot) in order to clean it up.  The solution is, as usual, a new screw.  

The threads on the triggerplate screw are proprietary, so after juggling change gears in the lathe, they were single-pointed.

Then, work proceeded in the usual manner.

After I engraved, case-hardened and "aged" the screw, that part of the job is finished.

The extractor retainer screw in one of the barrel sets was also damaged.  The same procedure was followed to correct it.

The forend wood also need some attention due to substandard repairs, including the addition of a non-original screw to retain the forend tip.

After dissolving all of the epoxy, this is what was left.

The damaged areas were prepped to receive the new filler pieces.

The filler pieces epoxied in place.

The finished repairs.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Yet Another Tired Myth

 Here's one that anybody in this business has heard countless times from the American doublegun crowd whenever anything about their chosen brand of gun is called into question:

"Well, they must have made them pretty good for them to still be around a hundred years later."

There are minor variations but that's the basic idea of it.  I'd even agree with it if all of those Smiths, Ithacas and whatever else, had actually stood up to 100 (or more) years of actual use while remaining in good serviceable condition.  The trouble is that when a little logic is applied, the above cliche doesn't hold up.  It is almost a guarantee that when one encounters an American double from the "classic era" that is in high original condition, it very likely spent most of those years between its manufacture and today, sitting in a safe, closet or gun cabinet.  These tend to be higher grade guns, purchased out of want, rather than need.

Lower, "field" grade guns at the time were more likely purchased because of a real need, such as to put meat on the table.  These guns obviously did see regular use and often a lot of it.  The results of this use can be seen in any example of this type of gun encountered today.  Many of these guns exhibit every malady known to doubles, things like failed stocks, loose actions, broken springs, etcetera.  

But even these guns were not in constant use during the decades between then and now.  Consider the following: Among the "better off" sportsmen, the repeating and semi-auto guns almost totally supplanted the double, even before world war two.  After the war, a double probably couldn't be given away.  Indeed, most makers either quit making them or went under entirely.  Even those individuals who depended upon a gun to literally be able to eat, eventually passed on, and many of their heirs would be in a better position than the preceding generation, so they wouldn't need a gun to feed their family.  Then, there were the "expert" gunwriters of the day, who made it their personal crusade to convince shooters that all damascus-barreled doubles were looked upon as ticking time bombs that were best hung on the wall, or even thrown into a lake (literally).

So, realistically, how many years of continual use did most of these guns really see?  A decade or possibly two, before being retired to the closet?  Was that decade or two of use trouble-free?  Probably not.  Based upon the number of these guns I've worked on that exhibit "period" repairs, I'm betting on probably not.

A gun's age and its actual "mileage" rarely correlate.

To quote Carl Sagan: It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

A New Grip Cap for a Purdey

 A client brought a Purdey pigeon gun in for some work, part of which was replacing the home made grip cap that was on the gun.  One doesn't simply ring up Purdey and order a grip cap for a pigeon gun that was made sixty years ago, and none commercially available are big enough.  Making one from scratch was the only option.

The cap and screw were blanked from 1018.

 The periphery was filed to shape, then the "dome" and shoulder positions were scribed.

 All shaping was filed by hand.

The top (or bottom, if we're being pedantic) was domed and a shadow line was filed in around the periphery.

 While the cap was being engraved by Geoffroy Gournet, I refinished the butt and forend and recut the checkering.  When the parts arrived from Geoffroy, I charcoal blued the cap and nitre blued the screw.

Friday, February 19, 2021

What The Actual F**k?

 Believe it or not, there are some that would consider this gun to be in "pretty good shape" and some hacks who might even call it a "restoration".  The nicest thing I could call it would be a train wreck, and that would be being kind.  What it is, shamefully, is an all too common example of typical American gunsmithing.  It is a gun that has so much wrong with it, it makes no sense to expend any further effort upon it.  It is beyond saving.

 The customer wanted the forend lug replaced because the not-really-original had failed.  I say not-really-original because some spawn of sibling-parents saw fit to modify it after discovering that the latch would no longer properly engage.  Why would the latch not engage properly?, the more astute reader might wonder.  Well, because the inletting of the forend latch and iron into the forend wood was done with a Dremel tool, by an individual whose understanding of the gun's mechanics was about on par with his level of craftsmanship.  Due to the latch being set so deeply into the wood (which raises it vertically), the bite on the new forend lug would have to be filed as thin as the failed part.  Correcting the latch placement would have meant new forend wood, along with repair of the forend iron to correct its fit against the frame knuckle, which couldn't (and shouldn't) be done until the barrels were correctly rejointed and so on, down the line of issues, of which there are many.  Unfortunately, that was not the extent of the dipshit-induced damage to the gun, none of which I knew about until the gun arrived and I started looking it over.  Unsurprisingly, the more I looked, the more I found.  

I won't be repairing this one because, as I've already stated, it's beyond any cost-effective reclamation.  It would be best broken for what few salvageable parts remain, or thrown into a deep, deep lake.


The stellar gunsmiffing on the forend

 The forend lug, Ugh!

 Naturally, it was "put back on face" by the improper method of welding and "refitting" the hook.

Oh yeah, that looks round.

 Does it make full contact?  Not even close.