Author Topic: Very Cheap Damp Box  (Read 10272 times)

Online davec2

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Very Cheap Damp Box
« on: April 14, 2012, 12:01:42 AM »
I recently had to refurbish a pile of parts that used to be a Pacific model Ballard rifle.  It was found in a California mountain meadow 40 years ago with no butt stock and many damaged internal parts.  It looked like this when I got it.



To get the rifle back in shooting condition, I first had the barrel relined by Wyoming Armory (from the original 40-90 to 38-55).  Then I repaired the internals and made new stock parts.  I wanted to refinish the metal work without overdoing it, so I decided that I would not do much more than clean the metal parts and brown them.  Since the humidity around Southern California is usually not very high, I wanted to use a damp box and considered building a wooden one.  However, storing it afterward would have been an issue.  So I made up the following disposable damp box from a discarded cardboard box.



The box was big enough to brown the barrel and, of course, all the remaining smaller parts.  Inside the box I placed a GE Hot Pot to heat water, a surplus muffin fan to circulate the moist air, a light bulb for heat, and a hygrometer to keep track of both temperature and humidity.  The light bulb was also on a dimmer to control temperature a little better and keep the inside of the box from reaching the dew point where water would condense on the parts and ruin the finish.







It took a day and a half to get the metal finished in the damp box.  Here are the results:











I threw the box away when I was finished and now I don't have to store it anywhere in a small shop.  I'll need a longer box for the next rifle that is in work.









« Last Edit: February 12, 2018, 07:51:36 PM by davec2 »
"No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned... a man in a jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company."
Dr. Samuel Johnson, 1780

Offline David Rase

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Re: Very Cheap Damp Box
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2012, 12:19:34 AM »
Hey Dave,
Where did you get the duplex gage in the 4th photo?  I have a permanent sweat box with temp gages and rheostats but do not have a dew point gage.  That's a nice gage, almost nautical looking.
Thank you for any information.
Dave

Offline John Archer

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Re: Very Cheap Damp Box
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2012, 12:38:32 AM »
Dave...I think he made it.

On second thought no...if he'd have made it,  it would be prettier than that!

John.
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(Sent from my immobile dial-operated telephone)

Offline David Rase

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Re: Very Cheap Damp Box
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2012, 07:25:38 AM »
Dave...I think he made it.

On second thought no...if he'd have made it,  it would be prettier than that!

John.
John,
You are right, there is not enough lathe work and no engraving so it has to be store bought.  Anyway, after I got home from work I was able to make out the durotherm on the gage face and see that it is made by th Lufft company in Germany. 
Dave

Online davec2

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Re: Very Cheap Damp Box
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2012, 07:03:04 PM »
David R,

I purchased the hygrometer from McMaster Carr for another project.  Part # is 3993K71

Dave C
"No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned... a man in a jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company."
Dr. Samuel Johnson, 1780

Offline JDK

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Re: Very Cheap Damp Box
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2012, 12:33:57 AM »
An cigar retailer will have accurate, relatively inexpensive hydrometers for use in humidors.  The temperature scale will likely not be as high but we are after humidity readings here.  Enjoy, J.D.
J.D. Kerstetter

Offline smart dog

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Re: Very Cheap Damp Box
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2012, 04:34:41 AM »
Hi Dave,
As usual a great job of innovation.  I am surprised though that you didn't draw some beautiful nautical motifs on the boxes.  You did a beautiful job on that Ballard.

dave
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Offline mr. no gold

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Re: Very Cheap Damp Box
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2012, 06:34:16 AM »
Great job and a beautiful rifle! Don't we all wish we knew how that gun got up into the mountians? Any idea how long it might have been there? Couldn't quite tell, but was the wood still with it or did you have to restock it? You get a standing round of applause for saving the old thing. One question, did these frames on this model have case hardening as well as bluing?
Dick

Online davec2

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Re: Very Cheap Damp Box
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2012, 10:45:42 PM »
Dick / Dave,

Thanks for the compliments on the Ballard.  Although it came out well, I am certainly not any sort of restoration expert.  I just wanted to get the rifle back into shooting condition without over doing it.  The rifle has a little background.  A fellow I worked with at a large aerospace company, almost 30 years ago now, knew I did some gunsmithing work.  He stopped me in the parking lot one day and asked me if I would look at something.  He had the pile of rifle parts in the trunk of his car and he asked me if I could do anything to get the rifle back in shooting condition.  This was, of course, long before the internet, and I had no idea what the rifle even was let alone where to find parts, etc.  He gave me the box of parts to let me look them over and see what I could do.  After a few months of poking around in old books, I had identified the rifle as a Ballard but didn't have the time to track down missing and damaged internal parts.  There was no butt stock at all and the forearm was so badly damaged as to be unusable.  Funny, he did have the butt plate, but the serial number stamped inside the plate did not match all the other serial numbers on the rifle.  All the other numbers did match.  The bore was badly rusted but all the rest of the metal work was only lightly pitted and still in remarkably good condition.  He explained that his folks had owned a ranch somewhere in central California and he had found the rifle in a meadow when he was a kid (probably in the 1940's some time).

After a year or so, I had made no progress with it and brought the parts back to him.  He wanted me to hang on to them just in case something in the way of information or parts came along.  So, I took the parts home and stowed then under the work bench.  Kids, jobs, house remodeling, the Navy...all conspired to push the box farther and farther to the back of the storage space and I completely forgot about it after many years.  I left that job and started my own business.  The fellow who had given me the parts retired and then passed away a few years later.  So the box sat until last year when I got on the internet and tracked down that it was a Pacific model Ballard.  Parts were available from Wyoming Armory and they could reline the barrel.  So I had the relining done, refinished the metal work and re-stocked the rifle. 

From the serial number, and the model, it looks like the rifle was built sometime in the 1880's.  How it ended up in the meadow on the ranch is anyone's guess.  I will test fire it soon and will enjoy hearing it speak out for the first time in perhaps a century.  I have written this story down and placed the note under the butt plate so that, long after I'm gone, at least this much of the story will go with the rifle.

Dave C
"No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned... a man in a jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company."
Dr. Samuel Johnson, 1780

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: Very Cheap Damp Box
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2012, 07:13:59 AM »
Thanks Dave, let us know how she performs! Again, wonderful job.
Dick