Mountain Shotgun Project finally Begins!

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by werewolf won, Jul 10, 2018 at 9:51 AM.

  1. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I’ve posted about wanting what was called a mountain shotgun. These were first introduced to me in a book about Southern Mountain shot pouches by Webb. These were old shotguns that either started life as a long rifle that was shot out to the point the rifling was gone, repaired, maybe restocked, maybe converted from flint locks to caps—might have even been a military rifle at one time; old guns did not die they just got rehabs and used till they fell apart for the last time.

    I have a real sporterized Brown Bess that has had this done to it, it was a wall hanger for decades and is now a rusted dry rotted mess. It came from the home of Dan Webster and best guess is that it was being used as a fouling piece before being retired for good.

    I’ve been on the hunt for a good candidate for years and I finally found one. I’m going to be attacking a T/C New Englander, a solid cap lock shotgun that has a vague passing resemblance to a English sporting Rifle (very vague :D ). I have a very nice plastic stocked one, and a even nicer wooden stocked one. I found a used wooden stock that was listed as having cracks and ships etc. It arrived with better grain than my good one, and only minor dents, a tiny chip at the toe, basic handling marks much better condition than listed. I was half tempted to steam out the dents and put a toe plate on it as use it as a replacement for mine current one it’s wood is that nice.

    The stock sold was stripped of all the metal so I transferred it from my plastic stock. I used the rust remover I did a review of to quickly remove the bluing and gave it all a treatment of Plumb Brown to start the ageing process. The plastic stock has a modern rubber pad, so I ordered a metal one for an English sporting rifle and will brown and install that to give the New Englander the look of a rifle with replacement parts. I may even slip in some brass stuff as mixed components were pretty common.

    I’m torn about the barrel. I have a 12 gauge shotgun barrel and a 54 cal rifle barrel that will fit the stock and action. I could also get a .50 cal rifled barrel easy enough. The shotgun barrel is the leading contender, as it only has a front bead while the T/C rifle barrels have modern rear sights. I guess I’ll be striping and browning that over the next few days.

    To be continued
     
  2. Lee C.

    Lee C. Scout

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    Sounds really cool. I'm really looking forward to seeing some pictures as your work progresses.
     
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  3. 62flint

    62flint Scout

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    There are lots of the New Englander barrels out there with rusted bores. They can be had pretty inexpensively, and could be reamed to 24 bore. In that they made 12 bore barrels, you would think it possible to rebore/ream larger, but screw hole depth is the limiting factor on what bore size they can be safely reamed to.
     
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  4. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I have a really old school looking adjustable buckhorn rear sight that I’m tempted to see if I can get it to replace the ultra modern rears that T/C used. The problem is the buckhorn sight is off an octagon barrel and I’m not sure it will work on the round New Englander barrel. If it does I may use the .54 and just have the rifling bored out and treat it as a smooth rifle. I do have a spare New Englander shotgun barrel so browning that is also a very sound option. It certainly shoots 70 caliber patched round balls very well and is sized correctly for wads and other shotgun components. I want a good shooting safe firearm when I’m done with this project.
     
  5. tranders

    tranders Scout

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    I am also interested in seeing how this turns out.
    Keep us posted please.
     
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  6. mortblanc

    mortblanc Scout

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    As a re-enactor of oddball eras and places I have been called on to build several of your "mountain shotguns" in various forms and trims. Parts and pieces guns went by many names on the frontier and in the settlements; poorboys, barn guns, mountain rifles and probably the same thing we call them today, "a thrown together POS", except they did not write such things for record back then.

    There are some details to remember:

    A worn out rifle bored smooth or even a new gun made as a "smoothrifle" would have sights common to the era.

    Even smoothbore trade guns had a rear sight until late in the fur trade era. The guns furnished to the Indians in the east were well made smooth bores of small caliber (.45-.60) and most had a fixed, dovetailed, rear sight.

    Gunsmiths of the 1750-1850 era produced two or three smooth-rifles or fowlers for each rifled gun they built. A rifle cost twice what a smooth bore cost and a smooth-bore was just more versatile around the farm, firing either shot or patched ball.

    Everyone, and I mean everyone, considered the famed Northwest Trade Gun a piece of junk invented by the HBC to separate the Indians from their furs. Yes they were in widespread use because they were cheap, but there was no love lost on them. Their cult following is a modern thing, like out present day "single shot love".

    If you are using a New Englander barrel and you want the firearm to have any resemblance to a historic piece of any era then have a friend chuck it down in a lathe and taper it from about 8" from the breech down to the muzzle. It does not have to be a steep taper, just enough to notice. Straight walled barrels were scarce back in the day.

    My first smooth rifle was built as a generic gun made from scratch from "found parts". It is a 14 gauge barrel 20" long (one of the last DGW Belgian surplus barrels) , reworked Siler lock on a hand made lock plate and set in worm eaten hard maple stocked to 6" from the muzzle. All the hardware was made in the museum blacksmith shop where I was working that summer back in 1993.

    That rifle being built right there in the shop was a big draw.

    I have built several smooth rifles/fowlers since that time from .35 caliber to .75.

    I have a good contender for the genre on hand right now. It is a Lancaster pattern rifle which I foolishly built around an old CVA Kentucky Rifle barrel. The shallow rifling is now shot out. The rifling has always been rough and there has been a wide spot in the bore down near the breech, typical to this model, since the barrel was new.

    I have been threatening this barrel with a .50 reamer for 10 years and have done nothing yet. I should really just buy a good barrel and replace the old one since there is a lot of work in the rest of the build.
     
  7. pab1

    pab1 Supporter Supporter Bushclass III Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    Same here!

    @werewolf won, if you mentioned it I missed it, but do you plan to leave the barrel/stock full length or cut it down? Every time Mike Nesbitt writes an article on canoe guns for Muzzleloader magazine it gets me wanting one. For anyone not familiar with them here's an article.

    http://americanshootingjournal.com/great-flintlock-duck-hunt/
     
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  8. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Excellent points, thanks. I have a nice Southern styled small bore long rifle that is accurate to the period. I envision this mountain shotgun looking like a pre civil war era rifle that kept being cobbled to keep it working into the early 1900’s. Externally at least-it will have modern guts.
     
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  9. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    The T/C New Englander is a half stock so that decision was made for me by them. T/C sold the rifle as a rifle or shotgun using the same stock just switching barrels. Because of that they made the stock shotgun style without a raised cheek piece. I find that I can shoot it very well as either a rifle or shotgun, that is not the norm for me, so I suspect many people had problems with it. Because it is a soot burner and has an under rib shortening the barrel will not be easy or advantageous so I think it will stay as T/C made it just browned, and maybe the thimbles replaced with brass ones.
     
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  10. pab1

    pab1 Supporter Supporter Bushclass III Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    I had a New Englander in 12Ga for a while. I've never been into shotguns so after sitting on it for a few years I traded it for a .62 cal smoothbore flintlock Renegade. I always kick myself for not playing with it. I've enjoyed the Renegade though which at least sees regular use.
     
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  11. 62flint

    62flint Scout

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    I have a TC New Englander with .50 and 12ga choke tube barrels, a Grey Hawk with both .50 and .54 barrels, and a Tree Hawk with the 12ga cylinder bored barrel. The synthetic stocked versions are just a bit more svelte, but don't look as traditional wood stocked versions. I've seen them converted to flint, but haven't been able to bring myself to do that. IIRC, the shotgun barrels are 28" and pretty light, so no reason to shorten one.

    Back in the post Civil War days military rifles were sometimes bored smooth and referred to as "foragers". Prior to that conflict, smoothbores were trade guns, fowlers, or smooth rifles. Smooth rifles had the attributes of a rifle (rear sight, patch box, rifle trigger guard, and cheekpiece) and the barrel would be octagon or octagon to round.. Fowlers were larger bore and much thinner, round barrels.
     
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  12. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Lots done today, including removing the bluing from the barrel and rib, rust browning said barrel, carving a Gillesbee style grease hole in the stock, weathering /aging the stock. installing the browned metal pieces etc. Pictures to follow.
     
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  13. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    brown.jpg brown1.jpg brown2.jpg brown4.jpg brown5.jpg brown6.jpg


    I’ve left the lock in its original case hardened color. The browned tang really shows the color and texture difference between the blued barrel and it. The barrel is now browned as well. Currently the stock is in a poor boy fashion with no butt plate at all. I have a steel one on order that I may or may not end up using. I was torn over a patch box or not and decided on a grease hole as they are kind of common on Southern rifles (at least common among modern makers—they might have really been as rare as hens teeth in the 1800’s) and the Gillespie style kind of strikes my fancy so I carved one in. I have refined the edges a bit since this photo was taken. I used a spoon to get the shape.

    The ram rod might end up being a metal military one. Years ago I read a story from the French and Indian War era that included men using their ram rods to roast meet over a small camp fire. That has stuck with me and the thought of eating a squirrel that the shotgun killed over a fire while I’m still in camp has been something I want to try.

    I've started distressing the stock as seen in the last pictures.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018 at 7:43 AM
  14. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    brown3.jpg

    This stuff is kind of nasty to work with, but it does a nice job. You need to degrease the metal really well, heat it to close to 300 degrees and then apply the Plumb Brown solution which spits and sputters and fumes releasing a stench that is a cross between a steel mill and a sewer. The metal rusts right before your eyes, but when you card it off the resulting brown color is pretty impressive. Be on good terms with your wife before using her oven and kitchen too!
     
  15. 62flint

    62flint Scout

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    It would be a good idea to have a buttplate. Otherwise, the toe of the stock WILL chip/split off. Many original rifles have broken or missing wood at the toe despite having both a buttplate and toe plate. Rounded toe was a fowler thing or European, so no toe plate to tie in with the buttplate.
     
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  16. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I was thinking the same thing, that’s why I ordered one. I have read that some Barn Guns had bone or antler toe plates and I may try that. I figure I’ll nail it on if I do to add to the home spun look.
     
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  17. 62flint

    62flint Scout

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    Schimmel guns were a real thing, but not very common. Don Getz <RIP> built "barn guns" as his interpretation of schimmels, but I can't say that I've ever seen an original. That's not to say there isn't a lot of cobbled together junk being peddled, but there are a fair number of original rifles, smooth rifles, and fowlers that have survived. I have to remind myself at this point that I'm thinking from a KRA view, and largely ignore NE fowlers, and European muskets...
     
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  18. highlander

    highlander Supporter Supporter

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    I’ll second on the toe plate. Cow horn, antler, anything to keep from busting wood off the stock.
    Did you do the wormy holes in the stock or did it come that way???

    Edited: I see where you distressed the stock.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018 at 10:49 AM
  19. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    jm.jpg jm1.jpg jm2.jpg jm3.jpg jm5.jpg


    For now I’m calling this done. The butt plate I ordered will not fit correctly (which in and of itself is not a problem as that would have added to the make due quality I’m trying to achieve) but more importantly I’m concerned it will not work on a shotgun I intend to hunt with. I ended up using homemade hide glue (don’t do this in the wife’s kitchen either) to put a thick piece of leather on the butt end for now.

    The barrel did not take the brown solution as evenly as the other metal did, it looks kind of blotchy and give the illusion that maybe the barrel was replaced at some time in the rifle’s lifetime so rather than striping and retrying to brown it again I’m leaving it as is.

    The pouches are typical Southern Mountain types. Open topped pouches were rather unique to the area, and may have been started from a pouch that the flap fell off of and the owner liked using it so he built one deliberately with no top flap. The horn attached to the pouch was common as well. I also have one of these open top shot pouches made of canvas and upholstery fabric (looks like carpet bag material) again quite common at one time down south. The ground hog hide bag was made by a member here from a hide and pattern I supplied to him, another typical southern styled shot pouch. I may someday own a classic Southern banded horn, but the simple horn here was not out of the norm either.

    The stock looks like hell, but it is as sound as the day it left T/C’s plant, the metal looks old too but the bore is bright and there isn’t a speck of rust or pit to be seen. A very safe shooting simulated antique was my goal, did I go too far?
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018 at 7:59 AM
  20. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I will say the open top pouch is a pleasure to work out of with a shotgun. The weight of the horn keeps it closed for the most part, and just plunging your hand into it and grabbing components while watching a squirrel in the tree is easy and fast without having to fumble with a flap. The antler tip powder measure and steel piano wire pick is sized for my .38 caliber squirrel rifle however. I’ll need to make a measure for the shotgun. I’ve got a couple of ideas for that too :D
     
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  21. 62flint

    62flint Scout

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    You've certainly given it some character. I wondered how the BC Plumb Brown was going to turn out. The last time I used it was from my 1st year CVA Mountain rifle kit that I got for Christmas in 1975. The brown it made on that steel looks good to this day, but I've heard that the formula had changed.

    White vinegar will remove brown (rust) if its allowed to work long enough. I've wrapped MLer barrels with cotton rope and then kept the rope wet with white vinegar for up to 24 hours. The bore really should be plugged when doing this because the vinegar etches the surface that will readily take brown or Oxpho-blue. The rope wrap leaves a pattern that suggests a twisted barrel. The longer the soak, the deeper the etch.
     
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  22. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I’ve used the Plumb Brown before with good results, and on the first batch of metal on this piece it came out nice. The humidity was up when I did the barrel and I wonder if that effected the way it worked; if anything I’d have expected better results. Everything else I’ve browned has been cast products the barrel steel is a different material which could explain the problem I had with uneven coating.
     
  23. 62flint

    62flint Scout

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    Humidity generally makes rust more quickly, and this may be a difference in the formula of BC Plumb Brown using heat vs slower browning, rust bluing products. "Humidity cabinets" are a common "tool" for rust blue/brown.

    Differences in metal definitely will make for different results, and you should see that on the patent breech/barrel in that they had to be done simultaneously. The NE shotgun barrels are thin, so almost certainly of a modern (shotgun) barrel steel vs whatever TC was investment casting for the other parts. Giving that barrel a vinegar etch might leave a surface more apt to brown evenly.
     
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  24. 556mp

    556mp Bushwhacker Vendor Bushclass I

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    Bone would be perfect on that I think. Ill have a look and see if there are any decent cow femurs laying around at the farm.
     
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  25. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    That would be awesome!!
     
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  26. highlander

    highlander Supporter Supporter

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    I like it. I used two square-head nails that we hammered out at the top of the butt and the toe on my .36. They act as cleats to help protect the gun from sliding around.
     
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