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A Born Again Springfield, .30-06 Resurrection


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A Born Again Springfield, .30-06 Resurrection

Or ‘silk purse from a sow’s ear’

A recent topic posted by UKV member ‘Bewsh’ detailed his thoughts on re-modelling a Parker-Hale Midland .243 that he had acquired. Given a little imagination, patience, basic practical skills and access to a simple work bench and hand tools much can be achieved by an enthusiastic rifle owner.

When completed and used successfully this personal input can give immense satisfaction, knowing that you have a rifle that is personal to you that is largely as a result of your own efforts. Despite 36 years at the bespoke end of the English gun trade I still derive great pleasure from the restoration and altering of what started life as a very basic rifle. The pleasure was enhanced by the knowledge that this one was done on behalf of a very good friend of mine and the rifle would see extensive use ‘on the hill’, it’s no ‘range queen’!

Although this project was a restoration it involved a lot more time and effort than a typical ‘stainless/synthetic ‘ build. John D. who is a good friend of mine has always appreciated classic rifles by makers such as H&H and Rigby’s in the UK and companies like Hoffman Arms and Griffin & Howe in the US. Unfortunately any such rifles in acceptable condition command premium prices.

A while back John was able to acquire at auction a rather rough ‘home built’ Springfield sporter in .30-06, it had been built on a 1903 Mark 1 action that has the slot in the left receiver wall for the Pedersen device. The bore was a bit dark and the rifle was fitted with a rather bashed Redfield scope in some sheet steel Weaver rings. The whole lot had literally been dropped into a ‘fifties Herters mail order stock that fitted where it touched.


We tightened up all the screws and headed for the range, after trying a selection of ammo we were able to achieve 3 shot groups of around 1.5 moa with Federal Premium loads. Although not brilliant I reckoned it was worth a gamble to restore the rifle and with a commercial trigger, new scope and mounts and a bedding job the accuracy would improve.

The more I looked at the woodwork I realised that there was an elegant stock struggling to get out. After initial slimming down I fitted a recoil bar and glass bedded the metalwork.

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After this I ‘made-off’ (shaped up) the stock to include an ebony forend tip, detailing around the bolt stop, ejection port and at the rear of the pistol grip. I then fitted a steel grip cap and a Silvers recoil pad with heel spur.

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Next, I turned my attention to the oval. I filed up an oval from ebony and let it into the stock, then I got an old coin and bent it to shape over a former (a length of old barrel). A Letraset letter ‘D’ was then applied and everything not covered by the initial was drilled and filed away. The initial was then let in to the ebony oval and the whole lot was made off flush.

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I then chequered the stock with an extensive multi-point pattern at 20 lines per inch, as the stock was basic grade American black walnut it was unlikely that it could have taken finer chequering. The stock was then given a Best Quality hand rubbed ‘London oil finish’.

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Metalwork wise I fitted new receiver screws, a Q/D button on the floorplate, Timney trigger, a low ‘scope safe on the bolt shroud, an original Lyman sporting peepsight on the bolt, a new classic bolt knob and a set of (now discontinued) Warne Premier Q/D rings and bases. The scope is an old model Schmidt & Bender 6x42.

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The barrel was ‘struck off’ to remove rivels and all metalwork was hand polished. Martin Smith (ex Purdey’s) engraved the recoil bar and grip cap and inlaid the gold in the floorplate and trigger guard. The bolt, grip cap and recoil bar were colour case hardened by Ray St. Ledger and all rust blueing and blacking was done by Johnsons who are ‘barrel browners’ to the London gun trade.

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After the re-build we were comfortably able to achieve sub moa groups with factory ammo. The owner is a happy man, just as well as he is my workshop landlord!

A good day in Argyll

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I hope the above, including the before and after pictures is of interest to readers.

Alan

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Alan, that is truly fabulous work. As someone who 'works with their hands' I can fully appreciate your skills. Thank you for posting such an interesting project, no wonder the owner is a happy fellow.

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Beautiful Alan.

 

Do they still use cyanide for case hardening ?

Hi Dave,

 

Cyanide case hardening is used by some of the makers of Best double guns. It's used if the customer requests a silver/'brushed bright'/'coin finish'. The bone charcoal case hardening is used for 'coloured' guns such as the Springfield,

 

All the best,

 

Alan

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Weykipedia Now I know why you cannot start work on my commission ! Absolutely fabulous Speechless Thank you for sharing What's next .................

 

If I can get permission from the owners, may be a double rifle or two ...............

 

Alan

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I can only repeat what others have said Alan,

 

 

stunning work.

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Hi Alan, elegant, exquisite craftsman ship, that is just you all over. Congratulation on this stunning piece of history.

 

May I kindly ask you Alan? How long did it take you to complete all the work on the rifle?

 

Be true be yourself and live life

Peter

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Hi Alan, elegant, exquisite craftsman ship, that is just you all over. Congratulation on this stunning piece of history.

 

May I kindly ask you Alan? How long did it take you to complete all the work on the rifle?

 

Be true be yourself and live life

Peter

 

Hi Peter,

 

I wish I knew how long I took over this but it was fitted between other jobs over a lengthy period of time. In man hours I would estimate somewhere between 30 to 40 hours for my work. To this could be added time for engraving, blacking, rust blueing and colour case hardening.

 

Best regards,

 

Alan

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Really stunning work!!!!

 

I am rather curious, ....there appears to be some sort of texturing on top of the scope mount bases?

 

..and how do you get all the screw slots facing in the same direction?????

 

Michael

 

Blimey Michael,

 

Have you been studying the photos with a microscope? Well spotted! The scope base screws are individually made with extra long heads and 'slave' slots that enable them to be done up to the correct degree of tightness. The heads are then marked with a scriber or burnisher to indicate the position of the finished slots ('North and South'). After the slots have been cut to full depth they are refitted with the bases to the rifle and then filed and polished flush with the top of the bases, this eliminates the slave slots and leaves the screws neatly facing in the same direction.

 

The screw shanks are individually numbered with file strokes to avoid mixing them up. They are then hardened, tempered, re-installed then polished again. The 'texturing' you noticed is in fact jewelling (A.K.A. engine turning, Indian turning or damascening), this reduces glare off the bases if using the open sights and is a nice decorative feature. The front base I re-shaped to mirror the style of the foresight ramp so the appearance is a little more harmonious,

 

Hope this answers your query,

 

Alan

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Thanks for sharing your work Alan - lovely to see 'what lurks below'!

 

Appreciate the skill, time and effort involved.

 

Do post more of your work as it gets completed - we are all lovers of fine guns here, no matter if it is a long-range tool or a stalking gem, fine work is a pleasure to see.

 

Rgds

 

Ian :)

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Just when you think you have reached an adequate level of engineering skill and craftsmanship Alan posts this stunning example of proper craftsmanship and technical ability. This is surely a simply beautiful example of what individuals on this forum are capable of...... you should be proud of yourself.

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Blimey Michael,

 

Have you been studying the photos with a microscope? Well spotted! The scope base screws are individually made with extra long heads and 'slave' slots that enable them to be done up to the correct degree of tightness. The heads are then marked with a scriber or burnisher to indicate the position of the finished slots ('North and South'). After the slots have been cut to full depth they are refitted with the bases to the rifle and then filed and polished flush with the top of the bases, this eliminates the slave slots and leaves the screws neatly facing in the same direction.

 

The screw shanks are individually numbered with file strokes to avoid mixing them up. They are then hardened, tempered, re-installed then polished again. The 'texturing' you noticed is in fact jewelling (A.K.A. engine turning, Indian turning or damascening), this reduces glare off the bases if using the open sights and is a nice decorative feature. The front base I re-shaped to mirror the style of the foresight ramp so the appearance is a little more harmonious,

 

Hope this answers your query,

 

Alan

 

Alan,

 

Thanks for your swift reply. Very interesting...such attention to detail!

 

May I also inquire about the "London Finish" What would it involve to get a stock look as perfect as that?....is it really a lost art?

 

 

Regards

 

Michael

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Alan,

 

Thanks for your swift reply. Very interesting...such attention to detail!

 

May I also inquire about the "London Finish" What would it involve to get a stock look as perfect as that?....is it really a lost art?

 

 

Regards

 

Michael

 

Hi Michael,

 

The short answer is 10 hours and 36 years! That is about 10 hours work and 36 years experience. It's not a lost art, it's just that there are few people in the trade with the experience, patience and indeed the customer base willing to pay for such work. I would suggest that about 80% of the Best Quality stock finishing refered to as 'Best' or 'Best London' is done within or for the well known gunmaking 'houses'.

 

Speak to ten stock finishers and you will get ten different answers, indeed if they are willing to reveal their 'secrets'. A brief description follows:-

 

After stocking the wood is 'wet & dryed' by dampening the surface of the stock with a dilute solution of oxalic acid and then warmed. This raises the grain and the oxalic acid cleanses away any fingerprints, smoke black, etc. The raised grain is gently cut back with abrasive papers wrapped around cork and rubber formers to preserve shapes and edges. This process is repeated with ever finer grades of abrasive until the grain no longer rises.

 

The stock is then given a generous coating (or coatings) of red oil to bring out the colour and accentuate the grain and figure in the wood. Red oil is raw linseed oil that has had alkanet root left in it to 'steep'. The oil is then strained to remove any particles that could scratch the stock. A quantity of red oil is then mixed with a small amount of Terebine paint dryer and a drop of carnuba wax. The stock is then 'flatted off' using this oil, 800-1000 grit silicon carbide abrasive paper and the aforementioned formers. This grain filling operation is repeated until all the grain is filled, the stock is then set aside to harden off for a couple of days.

 

A coat of the mixed oil is then applied using a small piece of soft cloth and allowed to dry and go tacky, it is then buffed off with red oil or raw linseed on a cloth. The cloth should be 100% cotton, acrylics and nylon clog and scratch. This process is repeated once or twice a day for a couple of weeks until the 'depth' of finish and patina is obtained. When buffing off formers are once again used to preserve edges and get into nooks and crannies such as the bead around cheekpieces.

 

Every two or three coats a little rottenstone (very fine pumice powder) is rubbed in. This has the effect of burnishing the finish to a lustre and filling in the odd bit of open grain. When finished the stock is allowed to harden off for a couple of days and then the chequering is re-cut. Finally, some red oil is brushed into the raw chequering to give it some colour.

 

Phew! There endeth the lesson,

 

Alan

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