Craft Gunmaking, No compromises, No corners cut, EVER

Friday, December 8, 2023

Where Do These Ideas Come From?

 Apparently, due to the pistolsmithing (and other) work I've posted here lately, there are those who think that I'm no longer working on shotguns (doubles specifically).  I have no idea where that notion originates.  Do these people think that I've forgotten how to work on doubles because I work on something else?  Do they believe that "specializing" in one thing is the only measure of competence?  If it is the latter, have you noticed that I've got a whole blog full of posts showing the incompetence of which "trained specialists" are capable?

The facts are these:  Machines are machines and craftsmanship is craftsmanship.  If you can comprehend one mechanism, you can comprehend any mechanism and, if you're capable of craftsmanship, then it doesn't matter what you're working on, be it a pistol, a shotgun, a watch or a motorcycle.  

Since I'm on the subject of craftsmanship, here are a few tips in regards to the C-word:

#1 - The most important skill to develop is the ability look at your own work objectively, as if you were looking at someone else's, and if it's not up to snuff, either make it right or pitch it and start over.  This is called being conscientious.  For those unfamiliar with that word, you can find it in a thing called a dictionary.   I realize that that can get expensive but that's good incentive to do it right the first time.  Far too many people fall in love with their own work, seemingly in direct proportion to the amount of time that they have in it.

#2 - When you start getting impressed with yourself, take a deep breath, apply the above rule and embrace reality.

#3 - Don't be in a hurry to become a "master" because it will never happen.  It matters not how long you've done anything, you'll never know it all.  No matter what you do, you're always a student.  In this business, especially, only the most arrogant dare to refer to them selves as a "master gunsmith/gunmaker".

See that?  Sometimes free advice is actually worth more than you paid for it.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Quotes Best Ignored

 I don't put too much stock in quotes.  Too often they are nothing more than platitudes, misapplied and often misattributed.  A perfect example of the latter is Einstein's "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."  

Number one, that is NOT the definition of insanity and, number two, Einstein never said it.  That quote is from a book, written in the 1980s by Rita Mae Brown, titled Sudden Death.  

Then we have the ever-popular and supremely trite "All politics is local."  The next time anyone throws that one at you, ask for an actual, coherent explanation of its meaning (um, uh, and random stuttering do NOT go toward word count).  

There are two quotes that particularly make my skin crawl though, mostly because, on a daily basis, I interact with the results of those quotes being taken to heart.  They are "Perfection is the enemy of the good." and, "Done is better than good."

These two quotes attempt to legitimize the ideology of the incompetent, the belief of the bungler, the mantra of the mediocre.  If you agree with either (or both), and have little to no mechanical comprehension and manual dexterity, combined with the know-it-all hubris of a teenager, perhaps a career in the gunsmithing field is for you.

Pursuit of Perfection by Other Means

 For those of you who might be interested in such things, I've created a separate blog to cover the watchmaking work.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Sleeving an A.A. Brown BLE

 This gun came in to repair a failed rib "tack down" job and turned out to be a shining example of the consequences of such half-assery.  At some point in the past, the Brown featured here had experienced a partial rib separation, which, to properly correct, would necessitate the complete removal of all ribs and forend lug.  It seems that whoever was responsible for this mess didn't think that all of that work (and expense) was necessary.  Their brilliant idea was to simply use lots of acidic flux to get the solder to adhere to the steel.  Clearly, our hero gun-plumber either didn't know, or care, about the consequences of leaving that acidic soup between the ribs (I'm betting that both are true) because the job was "done".

Yes, the foul stew that is American (and English) gunsmithing, which seems to consist of equal parts ignorance, incompetence, arrogance, witchcraft and hubris, has provided yet another bad example for your viewing pleasure.


After removing most of the rust:


If some of those areas of pitting look pretty deep, it's because they are.  Here is one of the tubes after cutting it off.

The mating edges of the rib also suffered.

At this point, if the title of the post wasn't enough of a clue, it's clear that sleeving is the only cost-effective route to salvation for the gun.  Here are some photos detailing the process.

 Because I do not do "TIG" sleeving, the tubes must mate perfectly to the (now "monobloc") breech, so that the seam will be invisible.  If you think that TIG sleeving is a good idea, have at it, but I prefer not to have the chamber and the rest of the tube be joined by a brittle HAZ.  There is probably a good reason that no factory monobloc designs are welded.

After the time consuming job of filing new mating surfaces on the top rib, the whole works are tinned, cleaned, rosin fluxed, fixtured and soldered into an assembly.

At this point, the barrel assembly would be cleaned and the chambers and extractor bed recut, but, we have a bit more fuckery to remedy.  You see, when the barrels were last "repaired" and reblued, our hero polished the breech faces of the barrels to the point that the barrels are now off the face.  Now, the typical jerk-off "gunsmiff" would get out their TIG torch, weld up the barrel hook with a birdshit mess of weld, then use a Dremel tool in a futile attempt to get the hook to actually fit the hinge pin, blissfully oblivious to their own idiocy.   Because the hinge pin in this gun is screwed in, I made its replacement from O1 so that it could be heat treated (through hardened and tempered).

The finished (and heat treated) pin installed:

Followed by the original outer cover screw:

Now, the barrels are blacked down and the chambers and extractor beds are cut.  Notice the red grease on the frame knuckle?  That's there because the forend iron is in place during the blacking down process.  This is because the forend iron's function is to pull the barrels tight onto the hinge pin, stabilizing the joint.  That's why one does NOT remove the forend to check if a gun is off the face.

You'd think we were near the end but, no, there is more dipshittery to correct.  Apparently, someone thought that they could make a toplever spring, in two parts, welded together.

Naturally, work of this caliber wouldn't be complete without at least one trashed screw slot.

The chokes are adjusted to the client's specifications and the barrels are polished in preparation for recutting  the engraving and rust bluing.