This site contains details of what I do – it does not mean that it is safe or legal for you to do the same, and I accept no responsibility if you do. You are responsible for ensuring that what you do is within your capabilities and is safe and legal in your country. Guns, even antiques, can be dangerous and if you don’t know what you are doing get expert help. Many antique guns are of historic and/or financial value, and its your responsibility to find out if what you want to do will damage their value. Remember, leaving them as they are won’t diminish their value but inappropriate repair might well make them worth less, maybe much less! If in doubt don’t do it.
I assume he is holding the sling out of the way with his left hand? from Ezakial Baker’s Practice etc..
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All the regular POSTS are in the HOME page – use the menus on the right to jump to whichever POST you want, or the MENU below the header will show you POSTS that are relevant to the given subject and the top menu on the right will keep you up to date with changes…
Welcome to my site – you’ll find this post is a sort of diary where I put things I’m doing that are (almost) relevant to the subject – they ‘fall off the bottom’ after a few weeks – bits from the diary may get put into existing or new posts when they fall off. Please feel free to contact me via the comments box in each post or by my email as per the CONTACT tab at the top. If I can I will respond – email will usually get a quicker response. I am fond of obscure English sayings which are marked* – you can look them up on Google if you need to interpret them.
PHOTOGRAPHS: Most of the photos on this website are mine, a few are from other sources or are photographed from books. My photos are copyright – you are welcome to use them for your own purposes, but not for gain – please always attribute them to cablesfarm.co.uk. All my photos have been reduced in resolution using photoscape (excellent & free) to save space on the website, they are normally 1200 pixels wide, occasionally 1600 for more interesting things. The image you will normally see on your screen is at a lower resolution still, as wordpress fits it to the page and decreases the resolution very considerably to speed up loading. Clicking on any photo will show you the full 1200 or 1600 width version if your screen resolution allows it – they are very much clearer. All the photos were originally taken at much higher resolution – up to 6000 pixels wide – if you want a higher resolution version of any of the photos e.g. for publication, please contact me with details and we can if necessary discuss copyright and I can forward full resolution copies. For serious research publications I am happy to take new photos of guns I have access to. If you right click & ‘save image’ from the normal web page you will get an image of (for the JLANG 14 bore for example) 94 KBytes, if you left click on the image and download from the larger image that comes up on a blank screen you’ll get about 573 KBytes, which is what I uploaded to the website – if I send you the original cropped image it is 8.257 MBytes with a horizontal count of 5885 pixels !
So now you know why the photos in the normal view look a bit murky! Just click on them for a better photo.
___________________ DIARY ______________________
23rd July – very heavy rain – ‘fun’ unblocking overflowing gutters! I flashed up my furnace as I thought I’d see about a bit of aluminium casting but the element was broken so I had to stretch and install the spare which means partially disassembling the insulation bricks – still it wasn’t too bad to do and its up and running now. In the process of finding the break I discovered that I’d got the live and neutral wires swapped at the main switch (unlike in the US, our power lines are not balanced about earth) so I put that right, it didn’t make any difference but is inelegant. I also added a switch so I can use the P.I.D. controller to monitor the cooling temperature with its output disconnected from the heater, to save having to reset the temperature to room temp.
The number of visitors to the site, the number of visits within the site and the number of search engine hits is rising slowly but hasn’t quite reached the heady heights of last winter! The site gets a lot of spurious visits from ‘bots’ trying to log in – the blog is supposed to be protected from them and they can’t do anything as they can’t find the real login entry – I’m sure the site is safe from them, but I think they may be added to the visitors count and I’m trying to work out how to avoid this.
22nd July – photo of the tap wrench below as promised. Casting around for some thing to post, I picked up an old New Land pistol that has been converted to percussion – its on my list of things to love,but hasn’t got there yet. BUT it has a nifty safety catch that I haven’t come across before, and as I’m sure someone ‘out there’ will tell me all about it, I decided to put a some photos on the site – for more see Post ‘New Land Pistol Conversion’
Magic tap wrench – the top part swivels +/- 90 degrees for unscrewing or screwing taps in awkward places – it will shift the toughest fittings! Top jaw is sprung. It latches onto the nut and can be used as a ratchet with care.
New Land with plain New Land pattern lock converted to percussion with new breech block with cross bolt safety shown in ‘safe’ position
21st July -Turns out I hadn’t finished work so I missed yesterday, except that I did pop down to Dick’s with the funny pistol I had engraved – he was pleased, which is just as well as there is no going back! Bit like being a brain surgeon or a bomb disposal expert, but with somewhat less critical outcomes! Actually I’ve always thought I would have been temperamentally suited to either career – probably not so, but one can always fantasize. Anyway, enough nonsense…. I got round to fitting a new kitchen tap today – I was reminded what a fantastic tool the tap wrench is – I’ll post a picture in case anyone hasn’t met one yet. But I did a bit of engraving too – I got back to playing with tiny engraving which involves grinding up some very small tools and trying to cut lettering in smaller and smaller sizes – I polished the tools on half micron diamond paste on a ceramic lap (horribly expensive – around £180 I seem to remember) but the finish still isn’t fantastic. I tried engraving the EN8 plate I had annealed but it is a bit soft and the unannealed plate is better as it provides a bit more resistance to the tool. It is relatively easy to engrave readable lettering 1/2 mm tall, and 1/3 mm is OK too – I did manage to get down to 1/4 mm – I am thinking of changing my name to get rid of the O in my surname as its the only curved letter in my usual short name, and curves are much more difficult to cut at that scale than straight lines. No photos of that as its a bit difficult to take them. I did manage to photograph the last of the guns I borrowed from Dick to put on the site. Its an 1853(?) French ‘ Le Faucheux a Paris’ 16 bore pinfire converted to centrefire – photo here, I’d be interested in any more info anyone has on similar guns. (More on Post ‘French 16 bore’)
19th July Almost finished my recent gainful employment so I can retire again! I’ll have to un-retire when I do Gile’s flat, although that is taking forever to get completed as there are 7 parties in the transaction – a company selling on behalf of the executors of the previous owner, the executors, the vendor’s solicitors, Giles’s solicitors, the leaseholder and the selling agents, plus Giles! So each iteration takes about a month to sort! Anyway I did manage to steal the odd hour to go and finish Dick’s pistol – I’ll have to take it to him tomorrow, and see what delights he has to offer. I have one more gun to photograph and put here when I get a moment.
I can see a few bits that need touching up! Always the same when you photograph anything – you look at it with different eyes!
It does look different in the flesh as the metal is shiny and the contrast is greater.
17th July – I put up a full post on the furnace for info……………….See ‘Heat Treatment Furnace’
I have almost finished the tang of ‘another one of Dick’s funny pistols’ – just got to put some structure on the raised bits, but it looks better than I expected so far….. A few things I would do differently if I did it again, but life is like that!
16th July Lawns today! I did a bit more on the tang of Dick’s second funny pistol – I dread to think how many cuts it takes to do the backgrounds but I guess when its finished there will be well over 1000 cuts in the engraving – judging by the rate at which I’m having to sharpen gravers, I’ll have done about 60 and re-ground about 15 of those with broken points! I have swapped to using the gravermax for the background lines as it keeps its edge better and is easier to avoid over-running into the raised areas. Not sure I’ll have much time tomorrow………
15th July – I used the furnace for the first time, annealing a piece of EN8 steel for an engraving test piece at about 900 degrees C. I got the PID controller and wired it in and checked it – using a decent voltmeter and the tables for a K type thermocouple I reckon the controller under -reads by about 30 degrees at high temperature, and it doesn’t seem to get up to the set temperature but starts to cycle while still below it – still, with the voltmeter and tables I can set the PID controller to a temperature that gives the result I want. Anyway it worked! I had the piece of steel in an envelope made from stainless & titanium foil from Brownells & crimped tightly to exclude air so that I didn’t have to deal with any scale on the surface after the heat treatment – that was a great success, there was a very light colouration on the surface of the metal – as with tempering it, but no loss of metal – definitely recommended for heat treatments above about 5 or 600 degrees C. I wasn’t absolutely sure if the metal in the envelope really got as hot as the furnace, but it took almost on hour to get up to temperature, and I held it there for at least 20 minutes and cooled if very slowly, so I guess it did. I must put another switch on the panel to disconnect the PID output so I can just use it as a temperature readout while it cools. I also have a cooker control on the panel I can switch in to control the rate of cooling if necessary. Its a really neat design – well done to the young lad who designed it – he’ll go far!
The two bolts sticking in the furnace bricks are blocking alternative holes for the thermocouple probe.
I carried on with Dick’s ‘other funny gun – engraving the tang – I decided I’d experiment with a cut out background, so I came up with a design and started at the top – stages are ;- black the metal, scribe a rough design, cut outlines with a push graver, remembering that with cut backgrounds you need to make the raised bits slightly oversize and bold, then go round all the edges of the areas that will be cut out with the gravermax canted over so that you cut an almost vertical edge to the raised areas and a sloping edge to the cut areas – these cuts should be fairly deep. Then cut out the background using closely spaced parallel cuts with a push graver – the skill is in starting close to an edge and NOT running into the raised area at the end of the cut, and keeping the cuts even. As the graver wears down it will cut deeper and take more force to cut so you are more likely to slip at the end of the cut – getting through the stages below needed 3 sharpenings of the gravermax graver, and 10 of the hand gravers. I made a couple of small slips but fortunately nothing that couldn’t be burnished out with a polished carbide tool.
Cut edges of raised part more or less vertical
Cut background with closely spaced parallel lines – keep them as even and parallel as possible. That leaves the internal detail to be done.
14th July More grappling with ‘Prior Art’ and suchlike. I started to do the barrel and tang of Dick’s ‘funny gun No2’. I got the rings round the breechblock done in traditional ‘fir tree’ design and put a plain border round the tang and screw hole- its a very narrow and long tang which presents a bit of a problem – its too narrow to put the ‘wiggly line and tadpoles’ on as it would leave a silly strip in the middle. I had half an idea for the filling the space, but it involved lots of curves and I wasn’t sure if I could get the breechblock out – curves means rotating the part and with an 18 inch barrel that’s a pain – anyway I did manage to get the breech out without using heat so that frees up the design a bit. I have to do a practice for new designs, or if I haven’t done old ones for a while to refresh my muscle memory, and all the bits of plate I have are EN8 and not free cutting so they are difficult to cut and play havoc with the gravers – I will have to source some nice ‘soft as butter’ mild steel – most bits of the guns are better than my practice plates! I’m sure the ones I learnt on were better or I’d never have got anywhere! Will do some photography at the weekend and put up another gun – I have one sitting here, although its not a particularly puzzling one.
13th July As a break from hunting patents and publications on the web I engraved the lock of ‘another funny gun’ of Dick’s to match the other borders, and invented a small motif for the tail as ordered, something a bit unusual was the order. So the border is the wiggle with ‘tadpoles’ and I did a wreath for the motif – I did start to cross hatch it but that went wrong so I cut the surface back a bit and stippled it with the gravemaster and a slightly rounded point – it worked fairly well after a few tries – the wreath may need a cut or two to even it up, but it works OK. We decided against putting a spurious name on the lackplate in a fit of moral rectitude, despite the fact that its a Blackley casting! Talking of which, I have been trying to persuade Dick that its wrong to put conjectural bits on the 1630 blunderbuss just because the owner asked him to make it look good – I was telling him that he ought to be awkward, like me. I’m afraid I haven’t got round to photographing the next puzzle, so you will have to make do with the JR Cooper patent (or not a patent as I believe is the case) for tonight’s puzzle gun. With luck there will be a gun tomorrow – I was planning to go to Dick’s so I’ll try to hunt some more out – I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep this up !
I haven’t tried stippling before and it took a while to get the effect even when I inked it – it probably still needs more done to it. .
13th July Again the puzzle has been solved by Joerg who may just have an advantage since the last two were German guns – its to a Franz Jaeger patent of 1909 or a slight variation of it and again is a known design – see post still called Weird gun. I’ll have to try to find an English gun as a puzzle – can I suggest a look at the so far unsolved puzzle of the ‘J R Cooper patent hammerless percussion shotgun’ ? see ‘latest updates’ – I’ve bumped it up so you can find it! The puzzle is – is this the only one made? was it ever patented? did it work?
12th July Yesterday’s puzzle gun was solved very quickly and turned out to be a reasonably well known German pre 1914 design – in fact when I went back to Dick’s this afternoon and said it’s a Collath gun he dived into his junk cupboard and produced another Collath that had been sleeved and re-chambered as a 20 bore! He also brought out about 10 other junk guns of various degrees of interest and I looked them all over with a view to giving you something more challenging – and I found an amazing gun – almost unbelievably complex and so intriguing that I bought it back to photograph. So this is tonight’s challenge – its a double 16 bore toplever opened boxlock non ejector, with a Deeley forend catch and steel barrels without any maker’s marks or names, with the number 2812 on it. From the outside it looks quite normal although two pins rise from the top of the action body to signify that it is cocked. See the post ‘Weird Gun’ for what is weird about it, and drop me a comment if you can throw any light on it! ( I hope the post name will change when I know what it is! Here is the side view, which is fairly normal…… Oh, and the proof marks look like post 1950 East German Suhl marks…..
Apart from the cocking indicators it could be any hammerless boxlock – but see post ‘Weird gun’ to explore the weirdness!
12th July It turns out that my ‘French 16 Bore’ is in fact a German Collath gun – thanks to Joerg who came back pretty quickly to my post. I conveniently found an auction description (Holts Dec 2013 Lot 965) that confirms Collard chambered guns as antiques if kept as an ornament or curiosity – which it certainly is – so no certificate needed! It is difficult to exaggerate the power of the internet as a source of information! He also pointed me to a website with a host of information on Collath shotguns , rifles and drillings and their special cartridges.
11th July The STEM club children came good and did a really smooth presentation, so that was great and justifies our ‘hands off’ approach. I was on school matters most of the day so everything else rather went by the board! But duty calls, so I found another treat for you – a French breechloader without any identification. Its a 16 bore hammerless double gun with damasus barrels with an underlever that initially moves the barrels forward away from the breech faces while leaving the extractors behind. Once the underlever has opened 90 degrees, further motion moves the barrel further and causes the bolt that is attached to the underside of the barrel flat to disengage from the slot beneath the breech face, allowing the barrels to fall on a small hingepin at the front of the fore-end. Dropping the barrels disengages the pin that has been holding the extractors in the backward position. The process of opening the gun also cocks it. There is a strange safety catch in the form of a butterfly nut on the top of the breech – when it is aligned fore and aft it is in the safe position and it obstructs the sight line down the barrel – when in the fire position at right angles to the sight line you can see across the middle of it, so it is immediately obvious when you come to shoot that the safety is still on – although it would be difficult to move it from one position to the other while it was anywhere near mounted. It has the usual continental decoration of raised design against a punched background – possibly etched before punching – rather fine when viewed under the microscope. I would be very interested in any suggestions of a maker or patent. The gun has sling swivels as was common on continental shotguns, and the chambers appear to be highly tapered for the first 1.5 cm, loosing at least .5mm in diameter – I don’t have a 16 bore snap cap or cartridges to try. As before I have started a new Post with all the pictures on it ( French 16 bore ).
10th July – Meeting in School this morning – its going to be a very schoolful week! Tomorrow my science and technology club ( AKA the cardboard box club, after its favourite making material) is giving a presentation to the parents of the creations they have made using Lego Mindstorms – its going to be exciting as I leave it all to them to organise and do – there is usually a bit of chaos and confusion on the day, but my take is that its all part of the learning process! Its really not because I’m too lazy to help – honest! Anyway I finished recutting the casting for the triggerguard for Dicks other funny pistol – I noticed when I looked at the photo that there were still a few cuts to add.
9th July – Splendid day’s sailing on the Orwell in the Cornish Coble – the wind was just perfect , not too strong but pretty steady and it was hot enough to be pleasant to be out in the breeze. I’ve done a bit more engraving on Dick’s extraordinary pistol – the butt strap is now finished and I’m starting to recut the trigger guard which is a Blackley casting – the metal is pretty tough so I’m having to use the gravermax to cut it efficiently – I can cut it with a push graver, but gravers wear and loose tips much quicker with hand engraving than with the gravermax, its not clear to me why that should be – at least the wear bit, I can understand the points surviving on the gravermax as it doesn’t put such strains on the tip at the end of cuts.
The Trigger guard casting will need quite a lot of work on the surface to get it right – but its usually best to recut the engraving once, before any other action, so that you can still decifer it before it gets a nasty layer of oxide on the surface. and you can just see where the lines went.
8th July – a day away from reading patents! Got the boat ready for sailing tomorrow, we are missing out on our Hebridian charter this year as our crew is unavailable so are taking every opportunity to sail the dinghy. When I was at Dick’s last week he had got out a pistol that he started restoring many years ago from a wreck someone found in a garden shed – it turned into one of Dick’s famous flights of imagination but never got finished – we’ve all been there, haven’t we? He had got as far as to get Geoff Moore to engrave the trigger plate but the rest was a work in progress – only without the progress! Anyway he got it out and asked me to complete the engraving – lock, barrel and tang, trigger guard and the butt strap with a fitting for a stock. So here is the pistol – I got started on the butt strap tonight, I have had to keep the same borders as Geoff Moore started – not one I’ve seen before but it will do nicely, and is quick to do – its a wiggle line with tapered cuts in the wiggles – the line is cut in one go with the gravermax (cheating!) and the side cuts by hand. I realised how nice it was to engrave a free cutting mild steel – its like butter compared to the bit of steel I was practicing on – no wonder I break so many points off gravers.
There IS a real antique buried somewhere inside this – quite a bit of the original wood is there but with a lot of additions!
I wish I had Dick’s eye for shapes – its a totally bizarre pistol- but so elegant in a French sort of way!
Geoff doesn’t do the traditional English style, but its quite continental and suitably elaborate – quite a challenge to put my work alongside his!.
The wiggles on the right haven’t had their separate cuts added yet. I’ll leave the rest of it plain as its part of the grip.
7th July – I’ve got a lovely gun for you tonight in my run of early breech loaders – this one is a bit later than the Joseph Lang guns of the last two posts – it is more or less the second hammerless breechloader design to reach any market after the Murcott patent 1003 of 1871. Its made to patent No 284 of Gibbs and Pitt of 1873, and has an underlever that opens the gun and cocks the tumblers (if fired) and snaps shut. It is a double bite closure with a spring driven bolt into the lump, and has a triggerplate action. See post for more details of this lovely gun which is in very good condition, having been lapped and reproofed at some point. I am a bit confused – the gun is engraved ‘Gibbs & Pitt Patent 204 Bristol’ but the patent cited by Cridington & Baker is actually No 284 – I guess the engraver got it wrong.. Anyway I’ll put the rest on the post…..
6th July – I did my 9 hours work today so I can have a few minutes for the blog! I’ll put up the other Joseph Lang photos in a new post – its a 14 bore double centrefire gun with his second pattern closing – the bolt has got a bit further from the hinge and the lever is now wrapped round the trigger guard instead of pointing forwards – its still a single bite inert bolting system. When I get some spare time I’ve got an engraving job to do for Dick – another of his ‘funny’ pistols he is recovering from a rather sad antique – I had a little practice of the border that Geoff Moore cut on the finial – I need to keep more or less the same border on all the bits – I have the lockplate, the backstrap to engrave and the trigger guard to freshen as its a raw casting. I’ll put up some photos when I get a mo……..
5th July – I should be beavering away, but I escaped to see Dick and he pulled out a stream of interesting old breech loaders for me to look at – he has lots of the ones illustrated in Cruddington and Baker’s books. I was particularly looking for Joseph Lang guns as pictures are sought, and I found on in addition to my own. Looking through his old guns I found a number of interesting guns in odd bore sizes – I decided that I’d borrow three that were obselete calibre – a 14 bore Lang double centrefire, a really fine Gibbs & Hill hammerless 10 bore and a little French 14 bore. I’ll picture them all on separate posts for simplicity – J Lang Pinfire 16 bore (mine), J Lang 14 bore double and Gibbs and Hill 10 bore. so far I’ve done my own Lang ;
5th July Work has kept me a bit busy the last day or two, but I haven’t forgotten my responsibilities! I emailed a MLAGB Black Powder contributor about a 16 bore Lang pinfire I have and he would like photos for a book he is writing on Lang – so that’s another job! I fixed the furnace but haven’t had time to use it yet. I have now resolved to thin out my gun collection a bit, so watch the GUNS FOR SALE tag in the next few months when I get a chance to take a few photos.
2nd July – Reading papers and patents today – boring so I went and cleaned and sanded the gunwales of the boat and fixed up the graphite crucible in my furnace, but the element broke and I had to take it to pieces to fix it. I was hoping to melt some metal for fun.
1 July – In a rare spare moment I drifted back to the engraving – the test plate I have is slightly hard – EN8 or somesuch – and is a bit difficult to work with hand tools so I tried the Gravermax pneumatic graver – it would be much easier if I could control it better, but at times it decides its going to cut very deep lines and at other times it behaves better – practice, practice, practice……. One good feature is that it isn’t so prone to breaking off the points – I find that cutting out the background is a sure way to take the tips off the hand gravers!
30th June – Another month gone – we have probably had the best of the summer already! I’m afraid that I’m not going to have a lot of time to play with gun restoration in the next two or three weeks as I have a deadline to do the consultancy work I just took on, which will keep me busy for most of the time. I did manage to play with the furnace before I got the brief for the job sorted out – I put an ordinary cooker control in parallel with the digital temperature controller so that I could use the control to set the temperature with the digital control cutting in if the temperature fell. I got more stable control, but of course I had to do some fiddling to set the desired temperature. I think these problems will disappear with the proper PID controller . P I D stands for Proportional Integral Derivative, which means that it anticipates as it gets close to the desired temperature and turns down the power so that it doesn’t overshoot. I’m struck by how overpowered the furnace is once it has heated through so it really needs the PID. Mine is on the way from China!
29th June – a lazy day – I felt like doing a bit of engraving and I’d taken a few photos of a modern gun Dick was making that had been engraved by Geoff Moore, so I thought I’d try imitating his design, but I just made a horrible mess of it – I’ll have to spend time with paper and pencil to get the style right first. I wired up a cheap 400 degree temperature controller on the furnace and tried it out, but its a cheap on-off controller not a P.I.D. and it overshoots horribly – going about 25 degrees over the set temperature after it turns off and then undershooting by 5 degrees before it comes back on. I guess a solid object in the furnace would be more stable due to its thermal inertia. It now looks as if I’m in for a busy summer as in addition to renovating Giles’ flat – whenever that completes – I am in danger of coming out of my third retirement in 16 years and being a consultant again – just when I thought I could ditch my VAT registration too. Back to planes and suits if I’m not careful – its unfortunate that I can’t resist it when people come knocking on my door with interesting projects! I ought to practice sitting in front of a mirror and saying ‘NO’ but its too late in this case. Maybe it will fund a nice cased pair of small flintlock pistols like the ones I stupidly failed to buy at Bonhams last sale ……………….
I’m NOT going to show my attempts to imitate this!
28th June – Dick & I went to look round the J W Evans die-sinking and stamping works in Birmingham, which was in operation from about 1850s (?) to 1990 and has everything still in place including thousands of dies and stamped parts. The works produced all the stamped metal parts that were hard soldered together to make fancy Victorian and 20th century silver plated tableware and other decorative household items. J W Evans output was the completed object ready for plating, or, in the case of a small fraction of the output made of solid silver or gold, ready for proof marking. The dies (female part) were cut in a steel block and the corresponding male part was cast in a relatively low melting point metal directly into the die. The cast part was then fettled to allow for the thickness of the metal. Very interesting trip – the works/museum is run by English Heritage and is for prebooked visits only – I could have done with a bit more specific information – e.g. what metal alloys were used for the stampings and the male mould part, but a good effort. Horrible journey there as the A14 was closed and we got sent all round the county but we arrived only 1 minute late for our slot and miraculously found a 2 hour parking space right outside the door – how unusual is that! When I got back I did a bit of touching up on the brass bits of the little turnoff pistol that I had engraved, now that Dick has fitted the two bits together.
27th June – Another session of the STEM club for children – we are still struggling with the Mindstorms software despite most of a lifetime spent computing – it is a pig! Anyway not much happened today on the gun front and I have to turn in early as Dick and I are off on a visit to J W Evans old silvesmiths workshop in Birmingham, courtesy of English Heritage. Not looking forward to the rush hour drive on the A14! And on Monday I seem to have agreed to go to London. Life was much more stable and peaceful when I had a regular job, at least I knew where I was going to be from day to day and didn’t need a diary to rule my life!
26th June – A bit more work making a panel to mount the control electrics for the furnace – I ordered a P I D temperature controller from Amazon but failed to notice that it won’t be delivered until mid July – I didn’t think Amazon did that sort of nonsense – one lives and learns! A well as refitting Gile’s flat, which seems to be on the horizon for a six week spell I seem to have got involved in another consulting job in the U.S. – I wonder how many times I can retire! I had come to the conclusion that in my activities the only noticeable difference between ‘retirement’ and work is that I get paid for one and not the other! Ah well, my idea of hell is playing golf, so I suppose I’m on the right lines! But I would like time to take the Samuel Nock rifle to the range again!
25th June – I made a steel ‘crucible’ for the furnace out of an empty disposable oxygen cylinder from my small oxy-gas set, with suspension points and a loop to tip it. I’ll post pictures later. I fitted the top closely and made a tube to hold the thermocouple so it is all now Ok and ready to get the electronic controller working. I did another run, recording the thermocouple voltage at intervals so I can plot the rate of rise of temperature and get some idea of what the input power is in relation to the heat loss. I picked up the wrong thermocouple data and couldn’t understand why it was taking so long to get hot – it crawled up to a calculated 600 degrees so I had a look through my peephole and realised that it was actually above 1000C – at that point I realised my mistake and turned it off- since I had the raw data no harm was done! From the plot of actual temperature against time you can see that the furnace has plenty of spare power – the curve is actually a bit odd but I’m sure I measured it correctly! Anyway it looks as it will do everything I want including melting brass. From the graph below I calculate that there is about 30% more power input at 1000C than needed to maintain the temperature. My mind is wandering off on the design of a slightly bigger front opening furnace with a bit more power, say 8 inch cube interior instead of 4 x 4 x 8 vertical – I reckon it would still work off a 13 Amp socket and reach 1100C.
I didn’t expect the rise above 600 degrees to follow such a straight line! Peak temp is about 1087 C
24th June – I finished making and TIG welding the two frames that hold the furnace together and put some 10 m.m. studding legs on the bottom frame to hold a couple of half thickness bricks as a floor. The whole thing has gone together pretty well so far – the Youtube design is well thought out by the author who says in the video that he is doing his GCSEs – so he is presumably still at school – a highly commendable effort. I deviated somewhat in my construction as I wanted to use up scrap materials I had around the workshop – which included a lot of M10 studding amd M10 nuts. I found a bag of 10 mm. Belville washers – they are the dished washers that act as a spring – I used them with the nuts that hold the bottm bricks in place – as I didn’t have any M10 washers I used two Belville washers facing each other. I found some high temperature wire I had saved from the inside of an old electric cooker and used that to do the wiring. This evening I finished the main parts of the furnace, but need to do a bit of shaping around the top opening to get rid of some 1 to 2 m.m.gaps that are letting heat out – it probably needs a proper lid. I did a test run with a temporary top in place, and the temperature gradually climbed over half an hour to almost 1000C ! The outside got a bit warm and the aluminium plate that holds the bottom bricks in place also got quite hot. Anyway 1000 C is not bad, and the temperature was still rising
The frames are earthed, as they should be. The furness will shortly be controlled by a P.I.D. (Proportional, Integrated, Deririvative) controller if I can get one covering the temperature range – otherwise I’ll just use a cooker control with its simple on/off regime.
23rd June – Clearing out my ‘rough’ workshop left the big bench empty so an invitation to start a project I’ve had in mind for some time – a simple electric furnace, primarily for annealing and hardening, but alse possibly for colour case hardening and maybe brass casting. The design comes directly from a Youtube video (How to Make an Electric Foundry For Metal Casting – Part 1) , so I can’t claim any credit for what is a very elegant little vertical furnace. It uses bits from ebay – the most expensive part being the silica kiln bricks – 10 bricks at £26.00 for 5 inc. carriage. The heating element is a length of heating element from ebay – there are lots on offer, mostly from China, but I found one with next day delivery for a few pounds. I won’t go into the details as the video is comprehensive, but so far I’ve grooved the 4 main bricks for the element- they are very soft and fragile, and stretched and checked the element – its around 1.6KW, I had to cut around 200mm from the length to get the correct heating effect, and ended up with about 67 inches which equates to around 4 complete turns within the four brick enclosure. I bought a K type thermocouple from ebay for a few pounds – using a simple testmeter on the milliVolt range enables me to measure the temperature to within about 10 degrees – I put the 4 bricks together on another couple of bricks for insulation and fired it up with the thermocouple suspended in the middle and a couple of bricks on top and in less than ten minutes it had got to about 530 degrees Celsius – I didn’t bother to leave it longer as the corners are not very tight and have gaps at the ends of the grooves so there is quite a lot of heat loss that will disappear when the extra bricks are used to fill in the corners. I now need to cut the bricks for the corners and base etc and make a metal frame to keep it all together – I have some old Dexion angles that I’ll probably use as it will help clear some ‘junk’ from the workshop – thus killing two birds with one stone ( I’m not sure if the RSPCA prosecutes anyone who uses that saying – I think I’m safe as I understand they have seen the error of their ways and stopped being so litigatious – they are in a bit of a mess at the moment and the Charity Commission has put in its people!). I have a temperature controller that I will fit, but it needs a bit of fiddling as its meant for a K type thermocouple but only goes up to 400C so it will have to be ‘doctored’………..
The maximum temperature will depend on the insulation and I’m not sure that the elements will be good for much above 800 C.
The corners need filling in and a proper bottom shaped and the whole lot held in a frame welded from Dexion angle.
22nd June – My evening reading lately has been Cruddinton and Baker’s books on the British Shotgun – all 3 volumes. I am getting interested in old breech loaders in spite of my earlier resolution not to get involved in anything later than percussion, except for the odd modern over and under. Dick came up with an old hammer gun – a rather nice bar in wood to Smith’s patent with rebounding locks and a single bite snap action closure with a lever on the right side of the lock – it looks in excellent condition and is having a few bits of the wood repaired – it looks as if it was reproofed after 1955 as its stamped with BNP and 12 x65 on the underside of the barrel. It has a very fine damascus barrel. I guess this is the 1863 patent of J Smith although the opening lever doesn’t seem quite the same as the description in Cruddington and Baker. I’ll have to get a copy of the original patents from the British Library. I gather the gun is probably for sale, so if its within my budget (very low!) I may be interested in adding it to my growing collection of breech loaders! I’ll try to get some pictures. I didn’t watch the Holt’s Auction live as I was trying to get my outboard motor running ( it took 4 hours but its now good!) but it looks as if the auctioneers had a tough job getting the punters going – I don’t think I’ve seen so many unsold lots in a Holt’s sale before, and many lots sold a few bids up from the bottom estimate. There were one or two that beat the top estimate, but the best percussion shotguns – the Blissett and the pair of Beaties didn’t find a buyer. Several lots were knocked down at below the lowest estimate, which is not something you see often at Holts. I don’t know if the market is in a sulk over brexit, or the extreme heat of the viewing days kept people away. The ‘Manton’ I mentioned at 200 to 300 went for 340 hammer price, that’s around £440 to pay, which is probably a fair price – If I’d tidied it up I’d probably sell it at £550 – £600 but the next bid up on 340 would have been a bit close to the bone. Anyway not sorry I didn’t bother to bid, but it would have been interesting to have watched a bit of the action. One cheering outcome is that our Heavy Dragoon ( see Guns & bits for sale) is something of a bargain at £1200 – hurry before we think better of it and up the price – 1 went for £1000 + 300 and one for £1200 + 400.
21 st June – back from an exhausting day in London at the Holt’s viewing. Not sure what to make of the guns – there were a few really fine muzzle loaders if you have a lot of dosh – the pair of Beaties were very fine, as they should be at those sort of prices, and there was a nice Blissett but a lot of the less good percussion and flintlock guns have low estimates on them – I am in two minds whether to bid on a couple of items or go shooting instead! Difficult call! – There were one of two cheap percussion guns that might possibly make shooters with a bit of cleaning up e.g lot 516, the (possibly spuriously signed) ‘Manton’ at £200 -300 estimate ( that’s £260 to £390 cost), but I don’t really have time to do it, so I guess I will stand back! Nothing like as inviting as the Bonham’s recent sale in spite of the much greater volume! I din’t manage to find a single wooden antique gun case or anything else that really took my fancy. The sheer volume of stuff is overwhelming – the sealed bid sale for July has a pile, literally, of repro percussion revolvers, mostly in good condition that have to be on a F.A.C. so not to be bought on a whim- where will they all go? I guess for a collector of percussion rifles there might be more joy in the sale – one or two very nice offerings. As usual side by side non ejector shotguns by lesser makers can be had for a song – but a bit more expensive than Southams where many fetched only £5. But I think overall I’ll keep my hands in my pockets! It will be interesting to see what things go for but I have too much on to watch it on the web.
20th June – I don’t seem to have time to catch my breath these days, but I’m off to Holts viewing tomorrow to see what is happening to the market and meet up with friends. It seems there is a widening gap between good antiques and the indifferent stuff – good percussion shotguns are becoming more popular as the prices of fine flintlocks disappear over the horizon, and a decent gun by a good middling maker might make two to three thousand – and that is the hammer price! I was having a look at Holts selling commission, but their terms and conditions seems very coy about it! I have decided to pass on my almost new Pedesoli modern reproduction Mortimer 12 bore flintlock shotgun as I have a single ‘Twigg’. – I’m told its a fairly early one, but in mint condition – I doubt its fired much above a couple of dozen shots – it is of course a section 2 firearm and must be on a shotgun license – offers around £750 if you want it….. I’ll put it on the website later. I was going to deliver a gun to someone at Holts, but I don’t think I want to be wandering around London with a gun in a slip, things being what they are! Discretion and all that – it will have to wait…….. I’ll follow up the Holts sale with a trip to Birmingham arms fair on Saturday to see what goes there – I’m suspicious that there are one or two dealers who seem to shut guncases when I approach their stands – I can’t imagine why…………….As the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera goes…. ‘I have a little list’ – its growing!
I noticed there was a ‘Samuel Nock’ in Holts without a name on the lock and with the barrel name ‘recut’ – I shall be interested to see if its as bogus as the photo suggested – but then I am on old cynic !!
18th June – I’m sorry I missed posting yesterday – driving to Rugby and back without aircon and being out all day in the heat left just enough energy to clean my gun when I got home! I got a taste of things to come today as son Giles is buying a flat that needs complete renovation and muggins has volunteered, so today was a trip to IKEA in Milton Keynes to look at kitchen units – and another 3 hours of driving without aircon – the car showed 31.5 C so another ‘boil in the bag’ experience! I took some videos at the helice to see how easy it was to track shot – helice is not the best discipline to try the experiment on because you don’t know there the hit will be so need to keep a wide field and thus a rather low resolution, and you need to be fairly well in line with the gun which put you directly in line with the smoke with muzzle loaders – plus a lot of shots are with the bird not rising above the horizon – I managed one shot where you could see the shot going away after the impact, but the impact itself was obscured by smoke – so not much use. I haven’t looked at all the many videos yet but I’m not hopeful – the rabbit one I did previously was much easier as I knew where the impact would be, and it was shot with a breech loader so no smoke. I’ll have to set up a better trial of airbourne shots! I took a number of photos of shooting, but didn’t manage to get any of the moment of firing!
This is the helice layout – when ready the 5 traps spin up the ‘birds’ and oscillate the launch direction back and forth and up and down , and on the pull command one at random fires off a clay in a random direction – they have a more or less completely unpredictable flight path although in general they follow one of a number of familiar patterns. The object is to separate the white inner part from the orange wings – the white part must drop within the fence for it to score -one of my precious and rare hits took a long time to separate and carried over the fence – no score! Its a tricky target and you have to hit the ring at the centre of the wing to break them apart – probably easier with a breech loader with some choke – anyway our winner managed 12 hits out of 20. My score will remain a closely guarded secret! ( I think the photo above is a breech loader shooting between our details)
Helice is great fun and we are extremely lucky to be hosted by the kind folk at the Rugby club – one of only three helice layouts in the UK – explained by the fact that they are very complex and expensive installations to run!
16th Off early tomorrow to Rugby for the Helice Shoot – I will use by little Henry Nock converted percussion – probably with 1 1/4 oz and 2 2/4 Drams of powder if my shoulder stands it – when its hot I shoot in shirtsleves so no padding. We only shoot 20 shots, spaced over the day so its not very hard going. I have packed my best camera and tripod as I want to catch some videos of the shot pattern if I can – the camera shoots at 50 frames a second so given the success of the rabbit video there is some hope. I tried to buy a spare battery for the camera but it turned out to be the wrong type – I’ll pack the charger in case I can find a socket. We go to the pub for a meal after the shoot, so I’ll be late back – so the video results will have to wait until Sunday.
15th June A morning at Cambridge Gun club – I took along my Blair and Sutherland double flint 18 bore to see if I could get it going but I couldn’t get the ignition speed anywhere near fast enough for reliable shooting – Bev had a go and of course got it to shoot perfectly! I was using some fine powder I had for priming, maybe old FFF, not the Swiss OB that ‘proper’ flint people use, so that is probably at least part of the problem. Anyway I gave up and got out my ‘new’ Beretta hammer gun – by then I was really not in the mood and was trying too hard so I didn’t hit much – I should have gone for a few simultaneous pairs – that usually gets me going! The Beretta is nice to shoot – when I came to clean it I looked at the date stamp under my microscope and found it was clearly 1931 not 1951 – so IF that is the date its quite a venerable gun – a very early M401 Vittoria? – not sure when they came in. I showed it to Dick, who knows breechloaders and he thought it hadn’t seen more than 100 cartridges through it in its life. When I came to clean the B & S I poured water throught the barrels and used the bronze brush and wadding and tissue and got the barrels clean – although old guns always come out dark grey unless recently honed. When I put it away muzzle down, shot came out of the end of one barrel! It wasn’t fully loaded – there was no powder but I had been loading just one barrel for the last couple of shots and I must have put shot in both – just shows the need for care….. In the afternoon I had a meeting in the Engineering Department about STEM clubs in primary schools – currently a hot area – lots of interest and lots of support if one can think of ways to utilise it – the only problem is that the kids in my club REALLY like making things with cardboard boxes and tape and bits of string plus a handful of cheap components from ebay etc and that is very resource light! We are trying to use expensive Lego computers but its a bit of a struggle and they still manage to incorporate cardboard boxes into everything – I brought half a dozen in with me this week and they had been seized and carried off before I had walked across the room!
14th June – A small engraving job – Dick had an unusual Queen Anne turnoff pistol to renovate that had a brass sheet wrapped round the front of the stock under the barrel that continued into the long brass trigger guard. It had a crack in it but when he took it off to repair it fell into several pieces that had to be silver soldered together – when he was refitting it he dropped the brass piece on the floor and in stepping back to look for it, trod on it, whereupon it fell into numerous pieces – to numerous and too fragmented to be re-used. Anyway having a workshop full of bits he found a piece of brass the right colour and made a new one which I have now engraved a border on. Brass is a pain for not only can it be cussed to engrave, but it comes in many different colours, and old brass is usually what we would call ‘lemon brass’ – somewhat paler than modern brass, presumably more zinc and less copper. Strange stuff brass – it isn’t an alloy ( Bev says it is, but if so its a very funny one!) and you can’t change the composition by melting it and adding more of either component – it just doesnt form a homogenous material. I’ve also been fitting the cock to the other Lancaster lock, and filing them both to get rid of the outer skin left over from the casting process – it is possible to leave parts ‘as cast’ and many restorers do, but it looks a whole lot better to put a better finish on parts.
It needs to be silver soldered to the trigger guard and a countersunk hole added as per the top fragment
14th June – Bev pointed out that I was two days ahead of myself – I thought time was flying! I checked the Beretta hammer gun more carefully and its dated 1951 – in the US they seem to go for $1000 up so I probably did OK! They are not that common and went out of production in 1958 as the last model of hammer gun Beretta made ( maybe there was a retro line at some point?) so I’ll do a post on it later.
16th June – Collected my ‘new’ 20 bore from Southams at Bedford – it looks good and little used so I look forward to shooting it on Thursday. I have no idea when it was made, or why Beretta were making hammer guns, but perhaps someone will tell me. I’ll put a picture in the blog when the camera battery is recharged – I just ordered a spare as it doesn’t last long when you are recording 50 f.p.s videos as I was with the pendulum apparatus. One of the amusements of running this blog is looking at the Google search terms that brought visitors to the site – I can usually see a vague connection between the search term and something on the site, but I’m puzzled by one of today’s searches for ‘roofing services MOUNT HOPE’ – how that brought anyone to Cablesfarm.co.uk is a mystery – maybe I should enter the same search term and see where I end up! I tried but no sign of Cablesfarm, although I realise there is a very old post on renovating part of the roof of our house that might have got caught up in a search.
A bit of checking on the internet suggests it a Beretta model 401 Vittoria made around 1956 – it has a triple bite lock with cross bolt. I suspect that a 20 bore Vittoria in this condition is quite rare – maybe justifies the £300 I paid for it!
15th June – I spent today at the lab in Cambridge trying again to get a video of the pendulum gravimeter working – it was the original method of measuring gravity – prompted by the observation of George Everest in 1856 that his pendulum clock gave a different time when near the Himalayas than when far away. We have an original apparatus from 1926 that was used from that date until the early 1960s as the best absolute method of determining the value of gravity at any place. In the 60s it was used by the American military to measure the gravitational field of the earth so that they could calculate the orbits of satellites they intended to launch – if course once the satellites were in orbit their trajectory could be measured and a more accurate measurement thus made of the gravitational field affecting them. The method involves swinging two pendulums in antiphase ( to balance any forces) and timing the swings against a very accurate clock – and therein lies the difficulty! In it was a few years before radio time signals were available, but for convenience I’m using my Casio watch, so it won’t be an absolute measurement. Tomorrow I’m off to Bedford to pick up the 20 bore hammer gun from Southams – its always a slightly tense moment when you first get your hands on a gun you have bought, even if you viewed it before the sale. Dick and I see a lot of guns that people have bought at auction without seeing them – sometimes it turns out to be a bargain, but occasionally there is a good reason why it seemed like a bargain at the time!
11 June – Out at a party – friends have been having Elderflower wine making parties every June since 1981 – they used to make 60 gallons a year, but are now down to 20, anyway a very peasant day. I sharpened another batch of gravers when I got back and was going to do a bit of practice but started to look at the Holts online catalogue for the 22nd June sale – the website was driving me mad because I couldn’t get back to the catalogue after setting a track. There are lots of interesting guns in the catalogue, but I can’t help getting the feeling that the cheaper items are now being given deliberately low estimates to get more people interested – I’d be surprised if any of the low priced flint and percussion pistols and guns sold for anything near to the low estimates based on prices that Southams got. I don’t think it applies to the mid & top priced stuff, which I guess may fall within estimate or within a bid or two as usual, with the odd exception. The only factor likely to bring the price down is the sheer volume, but I’m not getting excited about bargains, although I might have a punt or two on spec.. I’ll see if I can get a sense of the pricing policy from an inside source when I view! It’s an interesting sale, and I’m tempted by one or two things – I wouldn’t mind extending my revolver collection to later types from the Adams and Tranters etc. and the last bit of the Bull collection is for sale. I’m puzzled by changes in the number of people visiting this blog – its usually pretty steady, varying by +/- 20% each day but pretty much keeping around an average number that varies slowly on a month by month basis. It went form about 200 a day in the winter to around 130 recently and then to 100 in the last couple of days until today when it jumped to almost 400, an unprecedented number. Before that happened I thought that the number of visitors was weather dependent, the better the weather the less time people spent indoors on their computers – but that doesn’t explain today’s jump. My only guess is that a new version of the software that does all the hard work of recording visits to this site, and which was loaded automatically today, has in some way double counted visitors…….. we shall see!
10th June – Our recession shoot at Cambridge Gun club – a beautiful sunny day to be standing round outside, and a fun shoot. A good range of targets for the main shoot shot as 30 singles with 1/2 oz of shot – I don’t know if it was the targets or the half ounce but the top 4 scorers only hit 16/30 – I manages a typical 10, but when you massage the figures they hit 53% of targets and I hit 33% so I was only 20% (1 in 5 targets) worse – for every 6 targets they hit 3 & I hit 2, which is a reassuring way to look at the statistics – the election results and commentaries should have taught you about creative ways to spin the numbers! Next weekend is the Helice shoot at Rugby which is always fun – I’ll use the same gun, my little 5 1/4 lb Henry Nock with a 13 1/4 inch pull – for some non-obvious reason its a lovely gun to shoot – as long as you don’t try shooting 2 3/4 drams and 1 1/2 oz of shot, at which point it gets a bit punishing after a few shots – I was using a shutter type shot flask I don’t normally use recently after my normal Irish pattern flask had run out and thought it was dispensing 1 1/4 oz as marked, which is just about OK with the Nock with 2 3/4 drams, but when I checked the flask after the shoot I found it was over 1 1/2 oz! I normally shoot 2 1/2 drams and 1 oz in it. As promised, here is the Andrews officer’s pistol finished (as usual, click on the picture for a decent image);-
9th June – When I came to file the square holes for fitting the cocks on the Lancaster project I got to thinking about how interchangeable cocks are, and how standard the size and alignment of most English percussion guns is – for instance the original cocks off the genuine Lancaster rifle (c1840) have pretty well exactly the same alignment and almost the same fit as the tumblers in the locks I made that came from a breech loading hammer gun with Stanton rebounding locks (C 1864?). My Samuel Nock double with odd cocks took a pair of good John Manton cocks I happened to have without any modification at all. I guess they must have been jigged on more or less standard jigs, or all come from the same workshop in Birmingham! Anyway I decided that I would make a jig to mark and swage the holes in my blank cocks to the same alignment as the originals. I turned and filed up a squared rod and hardened it and fixed an adjustable arm to align the back of the cock against – the jig has a squared section and a 5mm pin for initial alignment. It seems to be working… time will tell………………… I’m off to Cambridge Gun Club for our monthly shoot tomorrow – this time its our ‘recession shoot’ where we are limited to 1/2 oz of No 8 shot – its surprising how little loss in ‘kills’ there is – As I intimated before, I’ve gone down to shooting 21 gram cartridges in my 12 bore, hence buying the 20 bore yesterday. A lot of the Anglian Muzzle loading shooters are shooting .410 and 28 bore breech loaders as its more of a challenge!
8th June – I was supposed to be off to Paris for a conference today but one of the ‘aged parents’ was admitted to hospital and that put paid to that plan! I thought I’d finally put the Andrews pistol to bed and so cleaned up the trigger guard screws on my wire brush – only one of them pinged off and I couldn’t find it anywhere – normally a quick sweep round the floor with a magnet on a stick will pick screws up along with a load of ferrous rubbish but no such luck so I had to make a new one – fortunately woodscrews into guns are more like pointed metal screws and have a thread that approximates to either UNC or Whitworth so can be cut with a die. The technique is to leave a long head and cut a temporary screwdriver slot in the top so you can screw it in tight and mark the final position of the slot on part of the screw that will remain (slots align fore and aft) – the excess is then cut off and the final slot put in the marked position and the head filed to the correct profile to lie flat on the metalwork it is securing – it takes a bit of trial and error. Once right the screw is hardened using Blackley’s colour case hardening powder ( it doesn’t impart colour but does tone down the metal . I then pop it on top of the AGA hotplate for 10 minutes, then melt a bit of beeswax onto it.
Having put the Andrews together it remains to put on a few coats of Slackum and then I’ll post a final photo and put it to bed. My next project is finally to fix the cocks onto the Lancaster I restored years ago – its worse with a double barreled gun as both cocks must be in exactly the same alignment – I am tempted to use Bev’s technique and drop an end mill into the back of the cock and make a disk to fit the end mill hole with a square hole so that you can rotate it and silver solder it into the correct orientation – the only problem with the Lancaster cocks is that they have grooves for the safety catch in the back of the lock that restricts the space for milling a recess. I think I’ll tough it out in the traditional way! If it goes wrong I can revert to Bev’s way.
I watched the Southams auction on the web on and off during the day – I had left 9 bids as I thought I would be travelling – most of the things I was interested in went for a lot more than I was prepared to pay, mostly guns as projects. I missed out on a few nice lots like a couple of very old horn flasks and a couple of patent shot flasks, but obviously I didn’t want to pay teh going rate! I did buy a set of brass case corners on the spur of the moment as they were cheap, and I bought a little 20 bore Beretta hammer gun as I fancy having a light gun and I’ve taken to shooting lighter loads in my 12 now. I paid more than I intended but what the heck, I have to collect the brass corners so I thought I might as well have something worthwhile to collect! The only things that are really cheap are the dozens of side by side 12 and 16 bore boxlock guns – you could pick up a functioning double 12 for £10 – £20 and something quite respectable for well under £100. A fair number didn’t attract and bids.
7th June – I swapped a couple of flasks for a giant lock this morning – its a massive flintlock from an East India Company wall gun. I have such a gun but converted to percussion and made into a punt gun – it was converted in a very crude manner so I wanted to put a flintlock in and tidy it up a bit. The stock has been cut down to half stock but maybe I’ll put it back to full stock if I can find a suitable piece of wood. I know it was an IEC wall gun from comparison with a very nice one that was on the Flintlock Collection website some time ago. I knew the I swapped lock had had a replacement cock – it probably isn’t quite the right shape, it should be profiled not flat – but a careful look convinces me that it is a back conversion from percussion. Apart from the cock – which could be a replacement, the frizzen has no marks on it, which means it was replaced too, and looking at the lock you can see a patteren of corrosion on the lockplate that corresponds to the deposits left by caps firing – the most corroded areas would have been shielded by the pan had the gun got to that state as a flintlock – but with a bit of work it will come round to being respectable. I’m sure that these re-conversions have been around for so long that they predate the current owners. See photo below.
I went over to Southams auctions and saw a few lots of interest and left a couple of bids, but most of the antiques were of junk status and nothing could have been made of them – I did spot one potential bargain, but probably others did too! I’ll report fully after the auction so that I don’t encourage anyone to bid on the same lots!
6th June – Devoted the morning to clearing out the workshop so that I could move in there! Then tackled the woodwork of the Andrews pistol using my usual sequence of operations ; wipe over with meths to get rid of any dirt or stain and take off a bit of the varnish (if its shellac), then brush in paint stripper and agitate with a toothbrush and clean off with white spirit and medium steel wool and toothbrush again. Then gently steam the whole stock over a kettle to raise dents. Then go over all the chequering with a tool I made with a sharp angle (about 30 degrees) with a point on one end and small saw cuts on the other – the point is good at clearing out muck and if you need to file the groove the other end comes into play. It took a bit less than an hour to do the butt of the pistol and it is much improved. I then repaired the edge of the fore-end – you can just see the joint – then coloured the wood to bring the new wood into line with the old and hide the joint. A final run over with 0000 steel wool and a quick wipe over with shellac varnish (diluted for the chequering ) to leave just a thin coat. I’ll give it a coat of wax polish tomorrow, maybe after another of shellac. I took off the tail pipe as it seemed loose – it turned out to be very rusty on the hidden side so that is currently being derusted. The trigger guard and trigger and false breech were all cleaned before, so I put them back having cleaned the pin for the trigger and applied a little KO-CHO-LINE leather dressing from an old pot that seems to do the trick! I paint all the undersides of the furniture with a flow coat of MetalGuard to prevent corrosion. The side nail is new – I forgot to harden/colour it so I’ll have to do that, and the ramrod and tail pipe need to go back too…… But its looking much better now!
The secret of any restoration you do is balancing the wear on all the parts to be compatible with each other so nothing ‘shouts’ at you.
The chequering look very crisp and you can see the figure of the wood – much improved.
In fact I don’t think I actually had to recut any chequering – just clean it out.
Here is what it started out like! (I still have the original lock plate, cock and drum & nipple so it could revert)
You can see the faint line of the repair above the bolt.
Teeth cut with a bit of hacksaw blade ground to a sharp V