Sunday, March 3, 2019

More often than not

Recently I prepped a Winchester Model 70, Pre-64 receiver for a set of rings for a Schmidt and Bender 1" Summit. Due to the geometry and position of the original Winchester bolt handle and its relation to the bolt body you can always count on having to use Medium height or equivalent rings and bases to allow enough bolt handle clearance on any standard size ocular bell. The larger the ocular bell the higher you have to go in ring height for proper clearance.

I have a box of old factory rings and couple sets of mine that I have scrapped for what ever reason that I use to get the preliminary height established for the front ring. When the front ring is at a stage that it can be screwed to the barreled receiver I place the scope in a selected front ring, tighten down the top half and visually see how much room I have to work with in regard to the objective bell and barrel ahead of the receiver. At the same time you also check the bolt handles clearance with the ocular bell. At that point you can determine if you want to lower the front scope ring anymore, test again then carry on and start fitting the rear ring. All simple procedure. 

However some Pre-64 bolts have had a more than generous amount of material removed from the underside of the bolt guide pad. The pad was designed to help prevent the bolt from binding up during rapid manipulation of the bolt. This system worked out pretty well over the long haul but every now and then you run into a bolt that has a slightly under-size recoil lug in regard to thickness or height on the left side of the bolt and a slightly over-sized lug raceway, again on the left side of the action. This is a case of stacking tolerances working against you. So the bolt is clearing the lug race-way as you open the action but due to the "stacking slop" it over-rotating ever so slightly as you retract the bolt.

Echols where is all this going ?

I determined the ring height I wanted to use with this Summit and the bolt would clear everything but that damn rubber bumper at the extreme end of the rapid focus ring. Can anyone tell me why we need to have a rubber eye piece ? if the manufacture made scope with a minimum of 3-3/4" of eye relief we wouldn't require such nonsense anyway.

Now pay attention as there will be a quiz

To correct this situation you could make or install a higher set of rings. In this case at least .180 higher to allow that cheese ball rubber ring to properly clear the bolt handle. This might mean raising you head higher off the comb to get full field of view. Some would have cut the rubber ring off and some would have just allowed the bolt handle to be forced over the rubber duck.

Having seen this before, I determine the left race-way height with Gage blocks, yep .002 oversized towards the rear of the raceway. Then I measured the thickness of the left recoil lug, pretty close to nominal but tapered so its narrower at the outside edge of the lug, the very contact area that rides on left the rail. Call it this .0015 under nominal from the right side lug. With the bolt body placed in the mill vise between V-blocks I then indicated the underside of the left recoil lug so it was parallel with the mill table then ran the indicator back to the anti-bind pad and found that the pad has been grossly milled off in the bowels of New Haven during birth.

By inserting increasing larger Gage pins under the anti-bind pad and the top side of the left rail I determined that a .015 Gage pin would just allow the bolt to barely move under tension. By having the Gage pin, the bolt body and the scope in place at the same time I could see the bolt handle now clears the eye piece rubber ring with more than adequate space.

By adding height/material to the underside of the anti bind pad, which is closer to the center-line of the bolt body we decrease the amount of rotational arch on the bolt handle side at the contact postilion of the bolt handle and rubber ring. Simple geometry at its best. Now how to best to correct this ?

The first time I tried to correct this I had the AB-pad Tig welded, adding the required material and surface grinding it down to fit, this worked OK but took quite a bit of time and added expense. Depending on the guy doing the welding you could very likely warp the bolt in the middle then you'd have real problems. Today Laser welding it might be the way to go but you still have the down time and shipping expense.

Curt Crum once told me that he had used Nylon pins to correct this issue. The Nylon pins stand proud of the pad checking that added rotational arch. I tried and used that method a few times, substituting Nylon with Delrin and to my knowledge the "fix" on those bolts are still operational and working fine. Making of the pins took quite a bit of extra time as they need to be lathe turned to fit the drilled holes.

Finally I settled on 1/16" annealed O-1 round stock, drilled 3 holes on a .500 span allowing the holes to crowd the inside edge of the AB-pad flat with a Carbide two flute Micro drill bit. DO NOT try to use High Speed or Cobalt as you will work harden the surface and break the bit. Then you have more problems.

These 1/16th holes are cut .150 deep. My O-1 round stock that runs approx. .0625 is then slightly tapered with a diamond hone as its being spun in my lathe so the bottom .050 of the pin is .0615 or there abouts. The pins are left .250 in length a first. The tapered section of the pin should just enter the drilled hole. A very small drop of Loctite 380 Black Max is swabbed around the inside of the degreased 1/16" holes, then each pin is driven/slammed in place with a 8oz hammer and punch. These pins are now permanent.

Wait 24 hours for the 380 Black Max to completely set then return the bolt body to the mill vise between a set of V blocks, rotated the bolt until the lugs are level with the world and snug up the vise.
Then using a 3/16" carbide end mill lower the quill until you can just slip a .0015 feeler Gage between the bottom side flutes of the end mill and the original anti bind pad surface CLOSET TO THE BOLT BODY. Remember that factory induced slant on the pad.

Since a .015 Gage pin sipped under the pad would just allow the bolt to move from experience I know that I'll need to remove very close to half the thickness of the pin before its all said and done. But If you've never done this, easy does it Sherlock. Remove .003 of pin material, remove the bolt from the vise and slide it into the raceway. To tight ? it should be, remove .003 more and check it again. Run bolt in and out of the race way as one spot is bound to allow some restriction. Now also note the position of the bolt handle and knob, this why we're doing this exercise anyway. You should now have ample clearance between the top side of the bolt handle stem and your Ocular Rubber Nose Ring. The amount of gained clearance will surprise you.

Return the bolt body to the mill vise, set up one last time and remove another .001 to .002 of material from the top of the O1 pins, we're now at .007 to .008 of pin height. Remove the bolt again, knock off any burrs with a hard rock stick and some 320 grit W-D paper apply some light oil to the bolt and raceway and return the bolt to the receiver then manipulate the bolt as if you were in the field. The bolt should run smoothly.

Lastly and this is important, return the bolt to the mill vise, level the bolt, drop the end mill to the original surface of the ANTI-BIND PADS and carefully remove approx. .015 to .020 from the OUTSIDE EDGE of all three pins. The will insure the bolt stop will not come in contact with the pins when the action is completely reassembled and the bolt manipulated.

Now if we all lobbied Scope Manufactures to quit adding on all this extra crap they feel we must have on a scope we could mount a scope closer to the center-line of the bore and the comb like it use to be.

Rubber Ducks indeed. 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

You don't see these everyday Part 3

Tom Snyder ( a practicing Long Gun maker out of Hancock Michigan was recently tasked with building a single shot for a client and I received his perfectly glass bedded Farquharson pattern in early October. This Farquharson variant was based on a New Model, Westley Richards 1897 action. Tom had re-barreled this take down action for the classic 450-400 and a second barrel to a 30 caliber Wildcat based off the original 348 Winchester case as the rim diameter and thickness was almost identical to the 450-400 case. Tom then made the rib, sights and figured out how to best handle the take down system that would also include scope mounts. Lots of fiddling to be worked out.

Taking the time to make the pattern for a project you've never attempted can allow you a visual idea of where you want to go stylistically, a road map so to speak. Fitting a rib, the sights and all the requested hardware that the client had envisioned can also allow the client to handle the mock up for fit if he's willing to travel. It's real easy to change the lines on a pattern with splices of wood and or Bondo before you back yourself into a corner with the piece of French walnut. With a pattern you don't have to measure twice and cut once. With a pattern you can cut and then build back all you want.

If you take the time to make a pattern stock it will give you a cosmetic 3 D blue-print before you wonder if you've taken off to much wood as an after thought. Ever been caught in that situation? early on I have

I wonder if I'll ever see other Farquharson stock before I unplug and cover the pantograph for the last time ?

Friday, February 22, 2019

You don't see these everyday: Part 2

Like the Boss O/U fore-end another piece of English history entered the shop not once but twice in 2018. It has been quite some since any Farquharson type stocks have shown up for duplication. I remember machining a pair of Jeffery PD stocks roughly thirty five years ago and another Farquharson Holland & Holland butt and fore-end about the same time.

Recently Paul Hodgins ( requested I machine a butt stock from the original Holland & Holland butt stock as the original was broken and repaired one to many times. Paul served his apprenticeship and was employed at Holland & Holland as a stocker in his younger days. Now a citizen of the United States he continues to practice his skills predominately re-stocking best quality double rifles and shotguns. Now and again he is requested to re-stock a single shot or bolt gun and this 450 Express is such an example.

The bulk of Paul's work is done from the block but again there are times when the use of a precision pantograph can come in handy. So the cracks in the butt stock were epoxied one last time, any voids or pockets in the inletting were glass bedded, the butt lengthened to meet the new owner's requirements and then it was given to me to machine. I left or removed the requested amounts of wood in the inletted areas and on the exterior surface.

Since Paul and I live in the same area I stopped by a couple times to look in on the project. 

I believe the fore-end was re-finished, some screws had to be replicated and replaced, polishing, re-case coloring and re-blacking of some parts was now complete. All that was required now was a steady hand to put it all back together.

Around the end of the year Paul left me a message on the phone to say the 450 was complete and did I want to see if before it was returned to the owner. What would you say ?

James Flynn a praticing artisan in his own right leather covered the Farquharson butt pad per his usual standards which adds an elegant and functional touch indeed.

Old and new world talent at it's finest 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

You don't see these everyday: Part 1

Recently I received a Boss back action lock over and under fore-end to duplicate. Old world English craftsmanship at its best.

I have machined only two others in all these years of offerings stock duplication to the trade. This is where a precision pantograph really can pay off as "pattern" is already made.

This fore-end has seen better days, had been cracked and repaired in couple of places, been refinished and re-checkered at some point more than once. I was concerned about the thickness of the web between the fore-end iron tie down screw escutcheon and the exterior of the stock might be pretty thin at this stage. As the original fore-end already had a number of repaired cracks I elected to drill a hole from the exterior of the fore-end surface to allow me to tap the block out so I could machine the block cavity for the stock-maker tasked with making a new one.

Good thing I did as the web was now approx, .010 thick, so extra wood would be left on the OD of the stock ahead of the fore-end iron. Note the ancient gun oil leeching out of the stock under the warmth of the lamp. Epoxy and oil work well together like water and gasoline.

Fixtures and set up always being important, to quote the late Tom Burgess " so you got a great idea, how are you going to hold it to machine it ?" words to live by. 

1 hour of set up and 4 hours of machine work and we're done. The inletting by request was cut within .003 per side on the ID and plus .050 on the OD.

Is this time saving expenditure worth the tarriff ? does a racoon like cat food !!!!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A new Logo has been added to the stable

Never being willing to leave well enough alone I have added another Logo option to the Lid. Many of my clients have never had a real desire to hunt in Africa but have been hunting sheep every chance they get. This group of hunters would gladly hand over the chance at a 50" Buffalo to just set foot in middle Asia. So in an effort to offer choice and diversity I've added a Marco Polo Ram Logo to the line. The Art work on both hats was done by Illustrator and friend Dan Burr (

The Lids featured above and below are the standard colors in Moss and Orange for all hats in this Medium standard size. These are the only colors available in this most popular hat size.

For larger melons the only available color ever offered in the XL is Khaki and still is today

These hats can be purchased off the Web site at There are plenty in stock 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

We're Not In Kansas Anymore

A friend of mine from Kansas arrived in town this fall to try and shoot his first Mule Deer. This was Bill's second hunting trip to Utah in 18 years and he was hoping to make the most of it in the northern part of the state. He drew a general season deer permit for October and was granted access to hunt some property leased by a great friend of mine who was acquainted with Bill as well. A few of us spent quite some time looking for a buck on his behalf beginning in early September.

I told Bill that the shots can be on the long side so it would be a good idea to get in some extended range practice beforehand. Bill lives in the Kansas country side and shoots as often as he changes his shoes. Varmints of his property have a very limited warranty and as expected he showed up in good form.

We hung a target and he fired a fouler, made a minor windage correction then shot a single group. His comment at the target frame was "if you want it any better than that you're going to have to get another shooter". We picked up and left the range.

We then spent the next couple days glassing bucks and trying to decide which one to try and hunt and then how to get in range if the opportunity presented itself. Bill has a set of self articulating knees that operate solely on their own and the severity of the slope in much of this terrain was going to be make things a bit more complicated then Bret or I had figured into the equation.

A couple of times we spotted a buck way above of way below us and when asked if he thought he could make it close enough to that buck to shoot he'd say "get'n there's no problem, getting back isn't going to happen boys"we needed to change up our strategy.

Rather than spot and stalk we decided set up an ambush and had spent time noting the route of a group of bucks that fed low in some agricultural fields then slowly make their way up canyon to bed as the morning progressed. The problem now was the number of other deer, lots of other deer that would be moving uphill at the same time as well into the falling canyon winds. We would have to be above all these deer to begin with. Nothing is ever perfect but this was not our first rodeo either.

Opening morning of the deer season had us sneaking onto a bench above a canyon well before daylight. Our original chosen destination just didn't feel right to me so protesting knees and all Bill and I climbed higher up the slope. Does and young bucks could be seen feeding towards us as soon as the light permitted. The larger Bucks had been coming up the south side of the canyon rim which is were we had finally settled in. The wind wasn't great but at the moment was blowing high enough over the approaching herds to at least allow them to come into range without detecting us. When the thermals began to change it would be a crap shoot at best. Buck after buck came into view but not the mature bucks we'd seen earlier scouting.  Then from across the canyon to the north they made an appearance. Two of the larger bucks could be seen slowly walking through a patch of cedars looking for and finally finding a place to bed down.

We had the wind in our favor but from our current position we could not make a move towards those bedded bucks without being picked off instantly. The line of sight to the bedded bucks was right at 800 yards. Now some today would consider that short range and set up to attempt a shot. I'd rather actually hunt than plink so we weighed the options. As we watched more and more deer funneled past us. At 10 O Clock we decided to slip out of sight to the south with some terrain to conceal our retreat then meet Bret and discuss the options. Undisturbed those bucks were going to be tucked in tight for the day.

We ate an early lunch and came up with an alternate plan that might work. Bill and his knee's sat tight while Bret and I made a wide loop out of sight and under the hillside that was now covered with bedded deer. Because of the topography if the prevailing wind blowing out of the south-west held during the day it would keep our scent under and away from the bedded deer and then blow down the canyon from the deer to us during the thermal reversal later on in the afternoon. We might be able to slip within range of where I thought the bucks would emerge from the cedars around dusk to feed. It all sounded good but there's always a risk and we darn sure didn't want to let those bucks know they were being hunted.

Bill and I then retraced my foots steps only this time we planned on getting closer. We hugged as much cover as we could slipping tighter up the canyons southern bench. Does and fawns across the canyon stood up when they saw us and picked they're way further up the draw spooked but not overly panicked. Each time a group got up I wanted to loose my lunch but we let them walk out of sight before continuing the stalk. The bucks were still completely out of sight as we eased up the draw to a spot that put us 300 yards from the edge of cedars that held the sleeping bucks. This was the end of the road any closer we'd risk a complete bust. The time was twelve noon, our wind was still favorable so we settled into what little ground cover we could scrape together.

Did I mention Bill was deaf ?

He has a set of hearing aids but I know for a fact they're only for decoration. Rocks have better hearing capability than Bill. Did I say I'm deaf ? Yep and I don't have hearing aids. What happened next is what some of us can expect in our golden years. For three hours we sat in the sun working on our tans, Pamela Anderson would have been envious and about the time my rear end had completely gone to ground when a pair of does walked into the upper edge of the cut wheat field. Soon a pair of young bucks joined them. Bill shifted around a bit and tried to get his shooting sticks set up more to his liking. I was not prepared to see one of the larger bucks we were after step out of the cedars and walk into the field. I softly said "Bill there's one of the mature bucks we want, he's 298 yards away you might want to get ready while I look him over".

Bill thought I said " there is a piece of pigs liver in that canyon please send a post man down there to paint it".

I was pretty engrossed in trying to look the bucks horns over and decide if we should take him now or wait for the other mature buck to show up as well. While I was looking through the spotting scope it sounded to me like Bill was erecting an oil derrick to my left. The buck was looking around still unconcerned as Bill continued to wrestle with his shooting sticks. Bill being stone deaf kept looking for the perfect stick position and making enough noise to almost wake the dead. The buck now content he was in safe spot lay done with all but his horns visible to Bill. I could see him clearly but that didn't help at all. The construction project to my left kept going and soon the buck looked right at us finally having detected Bill swinging a shovel. I whispered something to the effect of "Bill damn it quit moving he's looking right at us" and got "what ? " for a reply. The next couple of minutes the buck stayed bedded but the down canyon racket finally took its toll. He stood up look at us one last time and slowly made his way towards the trees.

I mumbled something bright like "when he turns broadside shoot him, he's now at 307 yards" I was looking at the deer while Bill was looking at me wondering what to do ???? I again gave another  range call as the buck slipped from view. I looked at Bill with a confused glare.  Bill looked at me said " What did you want me to do ? I couldn't tell, shoot or not shoot? "

Bill wanting to record every pivotal moment of his hunt got untangled from his construction project just long enough to take this pic of me just after the buck walked in to the trees. I must have been thinking how in the hell are we going to make that happen again. To quote Toby Keith "I'm not as good as I once was, that's just the cold hard truth".

Time of death, well lets call it 3:11 pm.

With the mature buck now back in the trees we got real close to one another and had a discussion. Later on people in the valley below would comment on hearing an argument far off in the distance that Saturday afternoon. Using finger puppets and crayons we mutually decided that if any other large bucks were to walk back out of the trees that I would give the thumbs up and Bill would shoot at one. Bill then took some more time to get his sticks set up just right. Once settled in, he gave me the thumbs up, we were now back in business.

As the hours went by more deer fed out into the wheat, young bucks sparred with one another while the rest of the growing herd fed. Then the same mature buck stepped into the corner of the wheat. Bill and I saw him at the same time, he looked at me and I gave the sign. I heard the safely disengaged while I peered through the spotting scope. The 300 Wtby Legend barked and the buck dropped into the stubble where he had stood. I heard the ping of the spent case leaving the rifle and then heard Bill say "I think I hit him". Yes Bill you did, damn dead center right on the shoulder, nice shot !

Bret had been watching the whole affair far below us from his truck and soon we were all admiring Bills first Mule deer. Even during a period of drought years he carried a solid 4x4 frame, good eye guards and few dingers added on the frame, he was very nice first attempt and a buck to be proud of anywhere. We paid out respects quietly, took pictures and began to dress him out. This buck was in extremely good physical condition and marbled with thick layers of fat and was going to be excellent eating as well.

On the ride home we were almost in tears laughing and wondering why the general public would allow crippled and deaf senior citizens to be turned loose unchaperoned in the hills with firearms.

All in all it had been quite a day that had come together slowly over the last couple months. Lots of scouting, being allowed on a well managed piece of property doesn't hurt, throw in a little skill a little luck, put a steady finger on the trigger and memorable things just might happen.

Bill was able to stick around long enough to make sure I wasn't slacking off at the shop and that Bret was paying attention at his business. He was then kind enough to help Lexi put a mature doe in our freezer a day later on the same property. The two of them are now planning a hunt together back in Kansas.

This should be interesting as Lexi, like her mom, talks pretty softly, I can't wait for this hunt to unfold.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

A Defiant Shrike

Here are a few pics of a recent project that included the use of a Shrike 700 Stock.  The heart of the project was based on a Defiant Falkon action that had been assembled by Hawk Hill Custom ( with one of their barrels. The stainless barrel was chambered for 260 Remington. The barreled action was originally stocked in a Boyds Laminated stock and reported to shoot very well.

Hawk Hill also installed and modified the Sunny Hill floor plate and trigger bow assembly to allow the Jewell Trigger unit to fit correctly. The Shrike stock was installed by the owner during a 4 day tutorial visit to the my shop to learn the process. The stock was made with a Carbon Fiber Edge Shell and a standard fiber-glass fill.

Consequently the owner has now decided not to get into hobby Gun Smithing after retirement but instead take up a less stressful past time like taming lions or capping burning oil wells. 

When using the Shrike stock I've found it beneficial to use a longer set of trigger guard screws. Finding them in an extended Stainless steel and lengths with a nice domed head has never been easy until I contacted Wyatts outdoors ( These screws are of excellent quality. While we were at it I installed one of their followers as well. 

All things considered the project came out pretty well and the owners plans to cross stack a pile of eastern management deer with it in the near future.