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tale of a bargain shotgun and repair

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by groovy mike, May 5, 2008.

  1. groovy mike

    groovy mike Immortal

    I have always looked for ways to save money and gain skills. I have the basics covered so I rarely buy firearms these days. But I do watch for bargains. My latest find was a side by side 12 gauge marked “W. Richards” It is not from the fine English gun maker Wesley Richards, it is a cheap knock off copy probably made in Belgium 75 – 100 years ago. The barrels are not Damascus, but what attracted me were the exposed hammers and the $75 price tag. I have been looking for an exposed hammer side by side for some time. New ones go in the $350 range. This example was clean, unpitted by rust inside or out. The action was reasonably tight, the stock has been knocked around but is complete, and the hammers fired. The barrels had not been bulged or bent. But I did find a broken firing pin on the left side. I pointed that out to the owner (who didn’t seem to know much about the piece) and brought it home for $50.
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    <FONT size=3><FONT face="Times New Roman">I took the old pins out with the aid of a small screw driver (just unscrew the retaining screw and push the pins back toward the hammers until the come out) and found that they were an unmatched pair. At least one of the pins had already been replaced with an imperfect match. The left one was broken off short, the right appeared the have a broken the tip.

    <FONT face="Times New Roman"><FONT size=3>The pins were not straight pins such as could be replaced with a nail. They are made from a narrow rod that strikes the primer and is attached to a larger cylinder that the hammer strikes driving the whole pin forward. The larger cylinder has a rectangular cut out that the tip of the retaining screw fits into which prevents the pin from falling out of the shotgun. The pins could be recreated easily enough but the cut out was not something easily accomplished with hand tools so I was now in the market for a pair of firing pins.

    <FONT face="Times New Roman"><FONT size=3>I looked online and came up empty. But a local gunsmith thought he might have something that would fit. A few minutes looking over his box of odd pins salvaged from innumerable repair projects turned up just one pin that almost matched. It was the right shape but the diameter was too large. He gave it to me gratis. Yes, I’ll go back and do more business there for sure.

    <FONT face="Times New Roman"><FONT size=3>Back at home I secured the replacement pin in my electric drill chuck and worked it carefully back and forth on its side against a flat file gradually decreasing the diameter of the cylinder. When it fit, I reversed the pin in the chuck and repeated the process reducing the diameter of the small rod until it too fit the firing pin hole. Yippee! I now had a replacement pin.

    <FONT face="Times New Roman"><FONT size=3>I then took the old pin with the broken tip and using the flat file worked around the base of the narrow rod filing off the larger cylinder face around the rod base in effect making the narrow rod longer as the larger cylinder grew shorter. I then elongated the retaining pin cut out. The combined effect was allowing the now longer narrow rod to advance farther forward. The old pin was the same length that I started with, but it would now move farther forward when hit with the hammer. The rod striking the primer was now longer and seated farther forward thus serving the same purpose as adding length to the over all pin – as long as the over all length was sufficient to transfer impact from the hammer to the primer.

    <FONT face="Times New Roman"><FONT size=3>I took the old girl out to the far side of the garden and put in a couple of shells of bird shot. My standard practice for an untested firearm is to hug a tree. That way if some portion of receiver, stock, or hammer comes back at me, I have at least a decent chance of the tree taking the impact.

    <FONT face="Times New Roman"><FONT size=3>Note that old shotguns in general should not be loaded with high pressure loads even if the barrels are not of Damascus steel. But I judged that Remington’s #6 bird shot would be a low enough pressure load to be safe.

    <FONT size=3><FONT face="Times New Roman">BOOM, BOOM – both barrels fired fine. I put few more through her to familiarize myself with the pattern thrown and for a grand total of $50 (and a couple hours with a file) I had a working exposed hammer side by side that put a partridge on the table the next day <FONT face=Wingdings><FONT face=Wingdings>J

    <FONT face="Times New Roman"><FONT size=3>I plan to load up 20 all brass shotgun hulls (no paper or plastic) with a light load of bird shot to dedicate for this gun. The all brass shells will be easily identified as the low power loads so I don’t accidentally stick a Nitro turkey load or heavy buckshot load in the tubes accidentally. But until then, factory loaded birdshot will do just fine.
  2. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Moderator Moderator Founding Member

    COOL, great find!

    Having the ability to tinker with something like that is a much needed one when the SHTF.
  3. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    That is awesome! I love the side-by-sides, especially those with hammers. If I was ever going to collect a particular firearms for the purpose of collecting, it would be the side-by-sides with exposed hammers. I have an old side-by-side with exposed hammers that my step-dad gave me. I looked up the manufacturer online at one time but I cannot remember it at the moment. It is not rare or expensive though.

    My best deal on a shotgun ever was a Stevens by Savage pump 12 gauge shotgun. I got it for $20 back in about 93'. Someone had cut the barrel short at just under 20 inches, and they cut it crooked with a hack saw. It was also very rusty. I took a pipe cutter and cut the barrel at about 19 1/2 inches to give it a straight cut, then filed the sharp edges off. I only shot the shotgun a couple of times, and it is pretty much a single shot as it will not eject the shell. So the shells have to be ejected with a flat screwdriver. Still for $20 not bad. This shotgun has set forever in my closet, not even safe worthy. I just got it out and put a good coat of "Break Free" on it, and I need to try and figure out why the shells are not extracting.
  4. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    I got a little Rossi hammer-gun in .410 that I am awfully fond of. Good find; hammer guns have that nostalgic feel.
  5. groovy mike

    groovy mike Immortal

    That begs for a tinker....try getting a free schematic from teh Numrich web page, that may help take it apart and more importantly - put it back together!
  6. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Thanks, I will have to look there. I did find some for sale at egunparts.com I think it must be the ejector (which I thought was called the extractor, but shotguns must be different) and it is a cheap part.
  7. RaymondPeter

    RaymondPeter Simple Man

    That's always good news! I have a Stevens .22 that I was given. It's missing a part that will cost me about as much as if I were to buy a whole "new" rifle! Granted it's still a cheap part....about $30 ;)

    There is a fairly large following of that Old Savage and Stevens guns E.L. so you should have little difficulty working on you gun since there is a lot out there to read up on.
  8. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Extractors and ejectors are the same functionally on all firearms I know of.

    Break open shotties sometimes don't have ejectors, just lift the hull, fired or not, to where it can be manually removed. (Likely lifters that way on an old hammer gun.) By your description, its the extractor that is busted or stuck. I'd make a pretty sure bet on the busted idea, since most of them are cammed up when the action is opened, and usually by hard parts.

    I can't think of a breech loader that doesn't have an extractor of some kind, even wheel guns that make you push the MTs out manually. (Single Six, for example.)

    Let us know how you make out.
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