Sunday, September 29, 2013

Free Hapgood Shotgun Project

The Free Shotgun Project is beginning to take shape despite the actual cost spiraling out of control.   So far I am out of pocket six bucks for surgical tubing, about five for epoxy and two or three for some brass #6 wood screws.  That's getting close to fifteen bucks.  I bet it didn't cost that much when Joab Hapgood built it back around 1850 or so.

Since the stock was broken into three pieces that had to mesh back together all at the same time and there was really no way to clamp it in all the directions it needed to be held in while the epoxy set, I used the surgical tubing to bind it all together.   Bullet approved of the process after a thorough inspection.

The wood screws went in under the tang and trigger guard metal where they won't show when its all assembled.  

Well, the stock was broken at the wrist and I did put screws in it.  The similarity pretty much begins and ends right there.  From the outside it looks like this:

There's a third screw that comes up from the underside.  With the locks on the sides and the trigger mechanism in between, there's really not much wood to work with where it broke. 

With the wood back in one piece, I'll start cleaning it up and making sure the wood and barrels fit together right so it doesn't break all over again if I ever fire it.   The plan right now is that I will fire it.  That is going to be subject to making the replacement spring for the right side lock.  I do not look for ward to the tedium and precision that will involve but I have my spring stock, my files, stones, Dremel and an assortment of vises and clamps.  The book on making springs should get here in a few days.

Its a promising start. 

Well Said

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dixie Gun Works Rocks

Ok. That's not exactly a news flash.  I decided to go ahead and try to make a new spring for the free, broken shotgun so I ordered some spring steel from Dixie Gun Works.  I can't make the gun any worse and I might learn something - right?.  It seemed stupid to just order a couple of pieces of steel so I ordered a couple of different types of cloth patches for the Hawken and a holster for a certain bulky, dragoonish revolver that I sometimes carry when hunting. 

 There was some difficulty getting the order to process and the website kept telling me that the patches and holster were all out of stock.  Not wanting to believe such a thing was possible, I ordered it all anyway.

The next morning, I had an email from Dixie that said the holster was out of stock and wouldn't be back ordered and it said something like "will ship" on the patches.  After the previous night's difficulties with the order, I assumed that meant "the holster and the patches are out of stock, we'll ship the patches when we get them but you better forget about the holster."

So now I'm wondering how it could be that Dixie Gun Works would be out of pillow ticking and cotton patches for muzzle loaders.  This kind of thing just doesn't happen.  I mean, Dixie pretty much kept muzzle loading alive in the 1960s and 1970s and they're out of patches? That would be like Chick-fil-A being out of Chicken and Waffle Fries.   It had to be  a sign of the coming apocalypse.  I just knew it was mentioned somewhere in the Book of Daniel or maybe in The Revelation.

While in a Biblical frame of mind, I decided, that if there was to be a judgement between the quick and the dead, and if it had anything to do with muzzle loader patches, I was going to be quick about getting some.

I found some interesting stuff at S & S Firearms but the interesting stuff included some odd sized bullets that I wanted to use in a particular old, obscure rifle and I didn't know what size it took.  All I knew was that bullets the size the reference books said it used would drop right through the barrel.  I book marked S & S for a return trip to be made after I had slugged the barrel in question and figured out how to measure the diameter of a lead slug with three equally sized lands and grooves on it.  Before long, I wound up at The Track of The Wolf .

The Wolf people had a huge selection of patches and I ordered some in .10", .15" and .18."  They listed a holster for the dragoon but they were out of stock too.  Probably been a run on Colt Walker Replicas lately.

Driving home after work last evening I was still pondering what it meant in terms of the degradation of society if Dixie really didn't have muzzle loader patches but when I got home, two packages from Dixie were on the kitchen counter.  Their shipping was so fast I didn't expect the steel to get here yet but there it was.  The second package had the patches.  They meant exactly what they said when they said "will ship" about the patches.  They shipped!   I, on the other hand, had done what is so often done when one ass-u-me-s something. 

Dixie had the patches after all.  Something is still right with the world. I got my spring steel too.   I got the S & S order placed and it includes a book on making springs.  Perhaps things aren't quite so bleak after all.  This afternoon I went by Chick-fil-A just to make sure. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Went to a Gun Show

The Lakeland Gun Club Show.  I like it because its bigger than the regular shows and its full of collectors instead of being mostly dealers selling the same stuff you can buy at any decent gun store.

Holy Smoke!  During today's gun show there will be an open display of weapons.  That's a novel idea to make a gun show more interesting.  (I'm not poking fun at the club for having those signs.  I'm expressing my disgust at the sorry state of our society wherein its entirely possible that someone would go to a gun show and be traumatized by seeing weapons on open display).   I mean, crap, its a gun SHOW not a gun HIDE.

My brother and I had the idea that we would find a collector who had a Hall Rifle on his table the last time we went to this show.  The Hall was a flintlock breech loader from the early part of the 19th century.  Just strange enough and with just enough historical significance to be interesting.

Didn't find anybody with a Hall but did stumble onto a free shotgun.

While I was looking at a 16 gauge Winchester, my brother stopped at a table with a few older guns on it.  When I got there, the collector was asking him the usual questions like "do you know what it is?" and "would it be worth $50 to you."

The object of the conversation was a double barreled percussion shotgun that had obviously been stepped on by a horse or had, at the very least, suffered some similar calamity to its midsection.

The locks were splayed out from the sides, some parts were in a baggie tied to the barrels and the stock was broken into three pieces.  The trigger guard was all that was holding it together.

My brother wasn't actually talking to the guy and by the time I picked it up for a closer look the collector had talked his own price down to "would you take it if it was free?  I told him that I would but all I needed was another project and he answered "well, you have one.  I'm not taking it back."   So I had myself a genuine Hapgood percussion shotgun, made in Boston,  that just happened to have been broken completely in two. 

The compelling thing about the old gun was that the wood, except for the compound fracture, looked pretty darned good.   All the parts turned out to be there except for the brass end for the ramrod so I figured that maybe, just this once, I had gotten something that was worth at least as much as I had paid for it.

Upon getting the relic home, I took it apart and found that the wood could be pieced back together pretty well without any major gaps showing.  It looks like there's enough meat left in critical places for some #6 brass wood screws that will be hidden by the tang and trigger guard so it began to look like something that could be salvaged for a wall hanger and possibly, with the help of some epoxy, something that would even shoot.

I presently have no surgical tubing to use to bind it up but I have gathered most everything else that I should need to put the stock back together and wind up with something that will look like this 10 gauge one that was on Gun Broker.

Mine may actually be a 14 gauge.  A 12 gauge wad won't even start in the muzzles and a 16 gauge wad goes in with plenty of room to spare.  According to my dial indicator, the muzzles are 0.675" and 0.678" diameter so its either a 14 gauge or a 16 gauge that opens up a bit at the muzzles. 

One of the hammer springs is broken but both pieces are there.  Dixie Gun Works doesn't have a replacement (imagine that) so, if I decide that I want to try to shoot it, I will have to have one made.  Either that or learn how to make one myself.

Having learned as much as I could by dissection, I turned to the internet to see what I could learn about what a Hapgood was.   I had assumed that it was a cheap Belgain gun that was imported and sold by some fellow named Hapgood who had a hardware store in Boston or something.  Turns out I was partly right.

Joab Hapgood (1805 - 1890) had a store all right but he made the guns that bore his name.   He made rifles and single and double shotguns.  There's a few references on the internet and guns seem to pop up at auctions from time to time but that's about all I have found out about him so far.   I suppose that the gold bands around the breech and the engraving might have suggested that it wasn't a dirt cheap gun when it was new.  Whatever.  It makes me think a bit more highly of the old gun.

After making sure I had all the pieces, I found a guy with a rusted up old  MEC 600 Jr complete with a set of dies on it for $35.  By then I had looked at so many shotguns that I couldn't tell whether it was set up for 16 or 20 gauge and there's not a mark on the sizing die but what I could tell was that it was smaller than 12 so I bought it.   I really wanted the dies to be 16 gauge so I could load for my brother in law more easily but they turned out to be 20 gauge.  That's OK because we can use them around here too.   A few squirts of Kroil and it was freed up and working like new.

I have certainly spent more money, had less fun doing it and less to show for it on many a Saturday.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Uncle Si's Gonad Emporium

It looks like John Boehner might have finally stopped by.

It remains to be seen whether he bought a pair or just took them for a test drive.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Friggin' Genetics

Five tickets for Powerball.  Every number on every ticket had a champion's pedegree.  Every single one of them has been on at least one winning lottery ticket somewhere, sometime. 

Not a danged one of them got picked.  Its a good thing I don't dabble in race horses.

I was so mad I even forgot it was talk like a Pirate day.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Little Loading and Shooting

Not a whole lot to write about when things go smoothly.  The rest of the 10 gauge ammo is loaded.  I used IMR PB and ITX #4 in a regular 10 gauge wad with a thick Mylar insert to keep the shot off the bore.   If you look close, you can see the clear Mylar inside the white shot cup on some of them.

I used an over shot card and roll crimped them.  Here's the last batch.

I'm not as thrilled as I once was with the roll crimping.   A roll crimping tool is a lot cheaper than buying a crimp starter and a set of MEC dies but  the crimps don't iron out very well when you fire them and they are a pain in the butt to reload.  I may invest in a set of dies and a crimp starter for next season and save the roll crimping for salvaging shells that have cracks in their fold crimps.

The 16 gauge loading gave a little trouble at first but came out nicely.  I don't have a set of 16 gauge dies either but I used my MEC and its 12 gauge dies to start the crimps and to do the final crimping.  (the hulls were new so I didn't have to worry about resizing).  I just crimped a little and checked the shell and then crimped some more.  The automatic primer feeder has an arm that swings down as you are crimping the shell.  I found that I could use that arm as an indicator of where to stop for a perfect crimp.  Didn't even have to change the adjustment on the 12 gauge dies to load my 16 gauge shells.

The crimps looked great but after I had loaded about ten shells, I noticed that the crimps on the first ones were bulging.  Shot column too tall.  I was using two thick cork spacer wads and one thin one so I started messing with how many of what spacer wads.  Eventually, I dispensed with the thin cork wad, dropped the shot charge by two grains (one pellet, I was weighing the shot charges on a digital scale) and used a poster board over shot card on top of the shot.  The crimps worked perfectly.

Brother in law has the ammo and it will be tested in the field soon.  Can't put up a picture of the 16 gauge shells because that one is on my phone and The Lovely Bride is backing that up right now.  They are blue with high brass and they look like shotgun shells.  That's the best I can do at the moment.  Maybe for Blue Monday.

I've been reloading for something like 25 years but hadn't done any shot shell reloading until maybe two years ago.  One thing that I learned on this project is that the shot size that you use can make an enormous difference in the volume it takes up.  All the books tell you that it does make a difference but I had no idea that difference could be as big  as it turned out to be.  

For the 16 gauge shells, I was using all the exact components that BPI lists in the recipe that I was loading.  I mean the same hull, primer, wad, powder and shot charge.  All that exactly by the book and the shot cup was nowhere near full.  I could actually fold the crimp all the way into the shell without it ever touching the shot.

A call to BPI confirmed that it was a difference in shot size that was the trouble.  They had used a larger shot size (I forget which but its bigger than #4).  My #4's took up less space because there's less space between the pellets.  It was probably about a 30% to 40% difference in volume just due to the different shot size.  Had I been using a shot bar and a chart that told me how much steel shot a given bushing dropped and just assumed that it would be close enough, I could have easily had 30% to 40% too much shot in the cases.    That's why the books all say to verify the shot charge your bushing is actually dropping  before you start loading.  I always do when I use a shot bar but now I'm glad that I do.

On the shooting side of the equation, I did manage to get a few things sighted in over the holiday.  Found out that one scope that I thought was bad is bad and one that I thought was good wasn't.  It would make a great kaleidoscope but not a rifle scope.  My 250 Savage is too old to stabilize 100 grain bullets.  They were originally built with 1:14" twist barrels and mine has one.  Gonna have to use some of my 85 grain Barnes POX  (Plain Old X) Bullets and see how well it will shoot those.   I did learn an important lesson during the shooting too.   The 300 Savage may be a nice, polite old cartridge in a rifle but you had better make damned sure you have your ear plugs in when someone touches off a 14" Contender in 300 Savage.  That was Monday and my right ear still doesn't feel right.

Jeeps Made In China

Didn't know they already had the factory up and running.

M3 Grant

Interesting video of an M3 Grant tank starting up and driving around a bit.

Its hard to believe that we went from this to the M1 Abrams in  a little over 40 years.

The old girl has really been through the wringer.  Besides the missing parts, there's hundreds of pock marks from machine gun bullets, missing rivets, gaps between some of the armor plates, the main gun muzzle is split and there's even a few holes through some of the armor at the back. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Duck Dynasty

We might be watching a little too much Duck Dynasty at our house.


Friday, September 6, 2013

How to Win an Argument with a Southern Woman

Step 1:     Uh...

Forget it.  You'd have more luck tryin' to nail Jello to a tree.

Sunday, September 1, 2013