I obtained a great book detailing some of the early Purdey guns. It contained a number of clear, detailed photos of Purdey sporting rifles. The book has inspired me to see if I could produce a reasonable replica of a Purdey percussion rifle. I purchased a fine Circassian blank from hunterbid.com. The iron parts, from trackofthewolf.com have been modified to conform to the Purdey style. The lock is from L&R. The barrel is a .54 caliber 30 inch Colerain tapered from 1.125" to 1.00.
Project #4 is a .500 Jefferey built around a SATTERLEE African Magnum Action. This action, designed and machined by Stuart Satterlee combines all the best features of the Mauser 98, Winchester Model 70 and Dakota 76 actions It has that great Model 70 trigger, controlled round feeding with a claw extractor, 3-position side-swing safety, Mauser style bolt shroud and a massive (.750" diameter) bolt with an Oberndorf bolt handle. It the smoothest operating bolt that I have ever encountered. Feeding is absolutely perfect. The hinged floorplate is held in place by a latch that is on the inside of the triggerguard. It takes a good amount of force to open the floorplate. No need to worry about losing cartridges from the magazine box.
The barrel is a creation of Dan Pedersen. Dan machined the outside to a pleasing contour with an integral quarter-rib and recoil lug. Dan's cut rifle barrels are known for their accuracy.
On top of the quarter-rib is a classic NECG leaf sight with one standing and three folding leaves. The front sight is beautiful NECG banded model with a removeable hood.
The stock, carved from a sturdy Turkish Walnut blankfrom HUNTERBID.COM, is styled in the English manner . It has a pancake cheekpiece with afinely carved edge around it. The stock is cross-bolted to add to the strength of the stock.
I made this rifle for a close friend but unfortunately he passed away before he had a chance to take it to Africa. The rifle was donated to the silent auction held during the 2008 SCI convention.
Project #5 is a resurrection project. I purchased an 1840s-1850s single barrel muzzle loading shotgun from TRACK of the WOLF. The 31 inch barrel is marked A. Wilson, King Street, Camdentown, London. The underside of the barrel is marked with British proofs and indicates that it was a 15 gauge tube. The barrel is constructed with four different damascus patterns. The under-rib and ramrod ferrules are also made of damascus steel. Close examination of the bore convinced me that it would not be a good shooter as a shotgun. I thought that perhaps the barrel could be fit with a rifled modern steel insert. I mentioned this to Dan Pedersen of CLASSIC BARRELS at the 2008 SHOT SHOW. Not much more was discussed with Danny but a few weeks ago UPS showed up with a 36 inch, .58 caliber insert with a 1:66 twist. A little draw filing of the insert and it fit the old damascus barrel like a trombone slide. With a little J-B Weld and some twisting the old damascus tube was resurrected and ready to become a rifle.
While waiting for the wood to arrive, I have turned my attention to the beautiful damascus barrel and under-rib. I have exprimented with different methods of rust browning in order to enhance the appearance of the repetative twists in the steel. I applied and removed the finish no fewer than four times. The damascus patterns seemed to disappear into the rust brown. I had been using repeated applications of Naval Jelly to bring out the twist patterns. It looked good until I applied the rust solution. Good bye patterns. I finally decided to get fairly aggressive with metal etching. I applied muriatic acid to the steel and followed that with lemon juice. It did the trick. You can see the different patterns in the accompanying photos.
The rifled barrel will be fitted to a new Circassian Walnut stock. The blank is on its way to me from Murat Ergin of HUNTERBID.COM. When I receive it, I'll have HERITAGE WALNUT rough turn it for me using the cobbled original stock as a pattern. The wood will be fitted out with the original butt plate, trigger guard, etc.
The trigger guard and the lock are expertly engaved in precisely the same manner as Purdey guns of the period. The lock is marked "A. Wilson from Purdeys". There was an Alexander Wilson associated with the Purdey firm in the mid 19th century. These similarities make me wonder if Mr. Wilson put the gun together with Purdey parts. We'll see what some research can reveal to us. More as the project moves forward...
Great Turkish blank had a stock hidden in it!!
Re-stocked and Refinished
The .577 liner from Dan at Classic Barrels is smooth, easy to load and is extremely accurate at 100 yards. This mysterious old shotgun now rifle is a great field rifle. It weighs 6 lbs 8oz. I asked Julian Savory of JMS Arms in the U.K. to see if any information could be found to fill in the gaps about "J. Wilson from Purdey's". Here is a response to one of his queries:
The picture on the left is a Pennsylvania "smooth rifle I picked up at a gun show in San Francisco. It was a conversion to percussion. Very crude job with an ill-fitting mis-aligned hammer over a drilled drum and nipple. When I examined the gun, I found no marks at all with the exception of an "H" stamped on the sear bar. The bar was ground to fit the lock and tumbler. I have surmised that the bar is a replacement that is a modified military bar. Upon removing the drum, I detected that the rifle was loaded and the the powder was in amazingly good condition. If I had placed a cap on the nipple and pulled the trigger, there is no doubt that there would be a hole in my shop wall. I carefully pulled the ball and patch out. I have preserved the ball, patch and powder. I'll try lighting some of the powder just to satisfy my curiosity. The inside of the lock is marked with an "IR" cartouche. The 1849 pocket model Colt is to show relative size of the petite Pennsylvania rifle.
After some deliberation, I decided to return the rifle to its original method of ignition. Went on a surfing trip to find re-conversion parts and came up with the name of a supplier. Stan Hollenbaugh of Pennsylvania had the perfect fit parts after I sent him a drawing of the germanic style lock plate. Also sent him pictures of my new found treasure. He identified the "school" of the maker. After much web search and poring through many books on the subject, I can agree with Stan that it is a Lehigh gun and is the work of an early maker by the name of John Rupp (IR). He is a noted maker. After much measuring, I figured out the pitch and diameter of screws needed to hold the new parts to the lockplate. Stan H. came to the rescue with some screws.
All that remains to be done is to age the new parts, harden the frizzen and install a proper flash hole. I will then be ready to load up the thick barrel and pull the trigger with some very tame loading. The bore is extremely smooth and without pits! Note the way the stock is carved as a raised platform just behind the wrist. This feature, the Roman nose comb, the graceful curve of the buttstock bottom and the triggerguard all point to the Lehigh School. The half octagon, half round barrel further convince as to the origin of the gun. I wish that the little John Rupp "smooth rifle" could tell me how and when it made its journey to San Francisco, California.