- December 4, 2017 at 9:35 pm #47854GoodsteelKeymaster
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Many of you have been following my work since I started sharing it with the world back in 2012 on the castboolits forum (lost forever in the pictureless archives). Fact is, I’ve had my head down learning how to make metal beautiful since I was a mere lad of 14 years old. I suppose I’m of a strange bent of mind, but when I bought my first firearm (an Italian made clone of the 1851 Confederate Navy 44 cap and ball revolver) I didn’t see a firearm. I saw a bunch of metal parts that were expertly fitted together and precisely made, and it just killed me that I couldn’t do that. I yearned inside my soul to be able to do what other mere mortals had done PERSONALLY. I was actually jealous of John Browning at the tender age of 14 because I read his biography and felt there was absolutely no reason that he should be blessed with the tools to expand his mind, and I should be stuck in the backwoods of Arkansas without the talent to turn a dam screwdriver correctly and the desire to do much more. It was a consuming obsession. I could barely sleep at night. I was home schooled and although my mother and father were very strict about my need to focus on my studies, they both found themselves at their wits end over my constant distraction. I would draw firearm designs in the margins of my text books. I would burst out the door at the stroke of 12 to see if I could shoot 3 cylinders on lunch break. I would clean my revolver on mom’s deep freezer in the hallway (and by God, that thing probably still smells of hoppe’s #9 and Goex in whatever landfill it calls home to this day). Firearms were fascinating to me for some reason. It had more to do with the mechanisms than it did marksmanship. I was keenly aware from the very begining that the design and inner workings of the firearm was the thing that made the marksmanship possible. It seemed that everyone else looked at the rifle like a boomstick or a remote control or something and only focused on the groups, but the firearm itself was fascinating to me.
One day, my father came home to find his Remington model 11 shotgun disassembled to the last screw on the coffee table and there I sat on the floor with a toothbrush and the trusty bottle of Hoppes, scrubbing one of the smaller parts briskly……… He asked me what in the world I was doing to his shotgun!!! to which I explained that it had been put up dirty and I wanted to clean it for him and repair the chipped wood on the grip. I can still see him standing there trying to decide whether to pound me into the ground like a tent stake and take the parts to the gunsmith……or to let me finish what I had started and see if I was successful. My father made me a gunsmith at that very moment when he stuck out his chin and said “put it back the way you took it apart”. I grinned and said, “no problem dad! You’ll love it when I’m done!” I completely reassembled the shotgun, and “fixed” the grip the best way I knew how, by wrapping it with suede leather and stitching it as I had learned to do by studying one of his Gurkha fighting knife scabbards. It came out looking and functioning well.
All this was well and good, but I wasn’t going to be satisfied till I had designed and built a functioning firearm. I barely slept for two weeks as I tried to open my mind to mechanics and basic engineering. I laugh looking back at the way I struggled to the point of lunacy with the simplest of all concepts (the hammer hook and sear) but the fact is, I was just a kid and I had no concept of logic, or work, or mechanical design. This was all new to me, and I couldn’t rest till I had made something all by myself, and that something was going to be a firearm. I just knew that I wanted it more than anybody else in the world, and if that wasn’t’ enough, then I was going to find a way to want it more. Solid guts and determination. I learned to use tools and to drill metal, and I eventually emerged with a working prototype that blew up in my hand. Not to be daunted by the fact that I should have been maimed for life, it was back to the drawing board. I made corrections and improvements, and emerged with the second attempt. This pistol actually worked, and I shot many many wad cutters through it.
Finally! I had done what I set out to do…….but I was unsatisfied. It bothered me horribly that it had taken so much effort to get so little reward, so I quit trying to be John Browning and started spending time gathering skills that I could use to make this easier and studying firearm design. Of course, every time I gained skills and tools I upped the anty, and I’ve been doing it ever since (with enormous help from mentors and gunsmiths along the way who I suppose admired my enthusiasm). I’m constantly reaching for excellence that is just out of my grasp, but it all started with this little pistol made of 2×4, a gocart axle, some bits of metal and bailing wire:
- December 5, 2017 at 10:17 am #47859popperParticipant
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Know what you mean, but for me it was old clocks at grannys house. Then model cars and airplanes. Then I got to metal shop in H.S. Model ship cannon, even a ‘matchlock’ pistol – a little bigger than yours. Gee, you got to make something for a grade and ‘welded ART’ isn’t really ‘cool’. Even got one side of an old 22 stock engraved and inlaid with that old cheap silver plastic goop. The I found electricity.
- December 5, 2017 at 1:39 pm #47860timspawnParticipant
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An origin story is always nice. You’ve come a long way!
- December 6, 2017 at 1:05 am #47866GlennParticipant
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Excellent story and a nice looking little pistol.
Now promise you guys won’t laugh too hard at this one.
Put your coffee cups down, I don’t want to be responsible for ruined keybords…
This is my first attempt at a home grown pistol. I started with some 3/4×1 1/2″ rectangular steel tubing. The strength of the structural grade B is almost the same as 4130, so I don’t think I’ll have any problems as long as I keep the loads reasonable.
I cut the frame and grip on the chop saw and brazed the two together.
I got a 30-30 takeoff barrel on ebay for cheap, so I cut it to 10″ and used it.
I made my own chamber reamer from O-1 drill rod, it cut fine, but the chamber ended up a bit on the large side, so I’ll have to make the reamer smaller for the next one.
The cartrige is a 38 special necked down to 30cal and loaded with a Lee 113gn cast bullet to a velocity of about 1100fps. I call it the 30-Erin.
I used Quickload to estimate pressures and proofed the gun at just over 30ksi, it held fine and I’ll keep my working loads around 12-20ksi.
All the pins are 1/4″ grade 8 bolts. I could have recessed them in and cut the heads off, but I thought I’d go more for the nuts and bolts look.
For loading dies, I started with some cut down 300 Savage and 38 spl dies, but the cartridge just magically turned out to be almost identical to the 7.62×25, but with a longer neck and a rim. So now cases are formed with a 38 spl case run full length through the 7.62×25 size die.
- December 6, 2017 at 1:17 am #47867GlennParticipant
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I am capable of much better work now, but I’m no where near Tim’s level of expertise.
Here is an extractor for an over/under shotgun that was brought to me.
Just keep in mind, that I am not a machinist.
I was brought the broken extractor and was asked if I could make a new one. So I took measurements, came up with a drawing, and ordered a stick of 4140. After it was about 95% done, they brought over the shotgun so it could be smoked and fit.
- December 6, 2017 at 8:04 am #47868GoodsteelKeymaster
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That’s very ingenious Glenn. Good times!!!!
- December 7, 2017 at 12:29 pm #48106Rattlesnake CharlieParticipant
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Thanks for sharing, all of you. My first attempt was drilling a piece of long old bolt (maybe 3/4″ dia) to make a barrel for a .22 pistol. Dad probably wondered what dulled that bit considerably. That discouraged me from trying to make a firearm from scratch. I did have use of a Hamilton .22 single shot bolt “boys rifle” that my dad got by selling White Cloverine Salve as a kid. My challenge was ammo. That was solved when I started bucking hay bales in the 6th grade. Those farmers paid me real money. I was in heaven. Funny. I’m currently short on .38 Spl ammo now. Some things never change. 6 gallons of brass are beckoning me. I need to cast bullets first. Maybe over Christmas break ….
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