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#400

#400….The Last of the Line

 

     As most of you know, Bookie (that’s moi) has been retired from commercial gun smithing for a few years now.  He’s slowing down and stopping to smell the roses a little more often.  And that my friends, allows him to get those projects completed that have been hanging on the walls for the past umpteen-eleven years, find tools that disappeared into the dark and secretive inner recesses of the shop since the last ice age, and finally find out what he did with parts set aside in that “special spot” so he would always know where they were and so he could lay his hands on them instantly.  (So far he has found three hunnerd an forty-four Siler flies dropped over the years, too!)

     On the bench, at this instant, is his swan song.  His final rifle to be built.  #400.  Reckon 400 is a good place to stop, don’t you think?  Sorry, lads.  Ol’ Nelly’s gone, so this rifle will be for himself and not for sale.  A few photos have been taken and will continue to be for the duration of the project.  If you’ve an interest to see how he’s butchering up the little gun, you’re welcome to tag along.

      A little info about the gun:  The wood is Iowa sugar maple taken along the Iowa River over by Chelsea.  It was being sawn up to make short boards for throw-away shipping pallets.  A chunk was rescued and brought to Toad Hall.  With very exact (insert “holy mackeral!” here) slicing down the middle, he was barely able to get two small rifle stocks out of it.  There was absolutely no excess wood and the lock plate/side plate panels were merely sanded smooth to be finished!  You can see all the stripe from the photos, so EAT YER HEARTS OUT, BOYS!  There are no open areas on the stock at all.

     The flint lock was hand made by the late Hacker Martin, a brother Master Mason, several years ago.  The rifle will have a definite Masonic theme overall and any parts not made by me, will have been made by other fellow Master Masons.  The barrel happens to be my last barrel.  The patch box is a side opener and constructed from “chime stock”.  The chime stock was snitched from the Maytag Company so many years back that I cain’t exactly  remember just when.  They used it to make the little brass chime bells for their automatic washing machines and clothes dryers.

     There is no school being replicated and everything is “free-form”.  I’m making what I want to make (because I like it or just want to do it thatta way).  This rifle is for me and me alone, so I simply don’t give a furry rat’s patootie whether you think it’s correct or not.  There might be explanations or info concerning the individual photos or there might not be.  Regardless, c’mon along with me on building my last rifle gun.  And for you Brothers, I used to be Senior Deacon of my Lodge.  Cheers, Bookie

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2nd installment:

Been hot and heavy at it tonight.  Got the cheek piece shaped and rough sanded.  Curved the patch box & head.  Made a brass buttoned patch box release rod.  Have the patch box cavity roughed out.  Whew!  Follow along if you will.

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You can see how I made and installed the “long” hinge for this side opening patch box.  Curved it with a piece of closet rod and a hammer.

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???????????????????????????????This is the 1/8″ slot for the hinge.

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Using a “bull’s foot” to even up the patch box floor and make it smoother.  Great tool.  I must have 4 different shapes of them.

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Different shape, eh?  Told you I was going to do what I liked and different is one of the things I like.  Oh.  The two little spots on the floor are from the point of the 1″ spade bit I used to hog out the cavity and speed things up.

???????????????????????????????Home made patch box release rod.

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3rd Installment:

Time to inlet the patch box lid and get it mounted to the cavity wall with 4 pan head screws.  Not an easy job to get straight or super neat because of the angle needed on the screw driver to get into the cavity to attack the screws.

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Once the lid is installed then it’s time to position the head, mount it temporarily and then sink it.  Dern hard striped wood!

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Now that the lid is sunk and mounted, some filing of the surface to even it out and knocking the corners down to meet the level of the wood.  Once you get that close, break out the 100 grit paper and have a go to clean it up.  Ain’t great, but it’ll look better when final clean up time rolls around…..Newton Lodge #59 if you’re wondering.

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Ye 4th Installment:

My labors are picking up a little speed, at least for the time being.  The thimbles are inlet and pegged in place, the ramrod shaped and smoothed, and the muzzle area of the stock hogged off.  Not a lot to say here as it is run of the mill work, but the pesky hard and close striped maple likes to tear and crater in the ram rod channel area very easily.  (Insert your own 4 and 4+ lettered non-Christian verbiage here.)

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I’m lucky so far!  Nothing is cobbled up and disguised!  Did remove a little wood from the lower forearm corners and laid out lines to start shaping the lower forearm.  Have also been toying with patch box releases.  There’s dozens of different designs out there that would work admirably, but I want something “different”.  The entry thimble that is inlet will be changed out to a custom brass & silver design one of these days.  Have melted several silver US coins and have puddled the molten mass so a “sheet of silver” can be hammered out.  Should I mould the upper forearm?  Whaddya think?

Brother Master Masons:  This rifle, as you can see, has a Masonic theme.  Each part has been crafted by a Master Mason.  In example, our Brother Eric “Angus” Leonard made two small brass trowels to be used as inlays for a barrel retaining pin.  The barrel retaining pin inlays will in sets of one pair each and 3 sets are required.  Each set will be different.  If you would like to lend a hand to this project, draw up some Masonic themed inlays and send them to me for consideration.  Your design must be simple, no larger than the area size of a dime or penny, and give me permission to use it.  If accepted, I will post your name & lodge here on the website, show your inlay, and also send you a DVD of my Notes From A Small Rifleshop in gratitude of your kindness.  If you have any cool ideas about larger Masonic inlays for the cheek piece & butt, please share them with me.  I have some going around in my head, but my wife says that’s where they should stay!  So much for the fat boy becoming one of them big time artistes!

 

Ye 5th Big Honkin’ Installment!

    Laying out the forearm and then shaping.

Had to invent something to cover the patch box hinge mounting screws to beautify it some.  Looked pretty scabrous to me.

This “plug” or “whatchamacallit” has an unusual shape and will serve an additional purpose as you will notice later on. That lip is mighty thin.

Decided to make a couple of large Masonic themed inlays out of German silver and brass.  The first is the 1st Great Light in Masonry, the Holy Bible.  The second is an old fashioned square, another Great Light.  Ought to look better when they get inlet and engraved.  And I sure wish I was a competent engraver, let me tell you!!  Doing all those pages decently is going to be an absolute killer for me.

Had to make a spring to kick the patch box lid open.  Got’er hard and then tempered it in old, used, motor oil in a sardine can this afternoon.  Clean’er up when the tempering was completed and got it installed.  It even works!!

  Ugly, ain’t it?

That “plug” has been notched carefully and now also holds the kicker in position.  Will reshape the cavity a teeny bit when installing the lid’s release system.

6th Installment

We’ve got the major inlays roughly inletted now and am getting ready to saw out the fore arm inlays.  There have been several American long rifles built that sport Masonic themed inlays.  Each of these symbols mean something to the to the world’s oldest and largest fraternity, so if you’re not a Mason, you might not know what they stand for.  There’s a couple inlays on my rifle which I believe have not been used before and if they have, it’s been a very few times.  Hopefully, I can get them cleaned up and engraved so they look presentable when company comes.

 

The familiar Square and Compasses–but what’s that thing in the center mean?  See those tiny slivers of wood remaining?  Aaargh!

Crikey!  What’s this?  Can you decipher it?  Bottom part is brass and the upper portion is in silver…..and why in the world would this be chosen as an inlay?

I’m on the level here, boys.  Both of these inlays mean something to me and are felt to be important, not just decorative.  Wonderful sign posts to provide guidance and inspiration throughout ones life.  Welp.  Time to go finish up that patch box release system…and I guarantee you’ve never seen another like this one!