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| | |-+  Jim Bridger Hawken- my copy
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Author Topic: Jim Bridger Hawken- my copy  (Read 1909 times)
Herb
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« on: May 07, 2013, 11:20:09 PM »

The Jim Bridger rifle as photographed at the Green River Rifle Works in November, 1975.

My copy of it.  The original has a 1 1/8 x 33 1/8" barrel, with plug, mine is a premium GRRW barrel (bore examined with a Hawkeye Borescope) 1 1/8 x 31 5/8".  Jim's weighed 11 pounds 4 ounces, mine 10 lbs 12 ounces.

I browned the barrel with Laurel Mountain Forge Barrel Brown and Degreaser to copy the original but heat blued the breech plug and tang and everything else except the escutcheons and nose cap.

To get the color I wanted, I used Fiebing's dark brown oil leather dye, skipping the worn places to match the original.

The ramrod I made from Hickory, 1/2" diameter full length, with a poured pewter front (around a drilled 5/16" steel bolt to accept cleaning jags), and a steel 1/2" rod tip inside the stock.

I made the front sight from sterling silver set in a nickle silver base.  I filed a rear sight out of steel, the commercial one by Track of the Wolf is too small.  Now if I can kill a couple thousand buffalo with it, it might look properly aged.  It is .54 caliber, the original is about .52 or .53, I think.

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Herb
Herb
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« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2013, 11:29:41 PM »

Here is the toe line.  I pinned the butt plate and toe plate together, like the original.

I had Doc Gary White, owner of the GRRW, stamp the barrel for me.
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Herb
KLMoors
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2013, 06:13:32 AM »

Very nice Herb. You need to get that ramrod dirty! Grin

If you've got time, could you show some pictures, taken from an angle, of the transition areas around the wrist and buttstock?  Those are always the challanging areas for me on any gun.
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Keb
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2013, 08:15:48 AM »

Nice.
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D. Taylor Sapergia
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« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2013, 01:34:39 PM »

Herb, I can see you are a serious student of the Hawken rifle, and your build is a good representation of the original.

There are a few things that jump out to me, and I hope you'll take my critique as constructive; the way it is intended.

There are no commercially available trigger guards of which I am aware) that have the correct bow.  Commercial efforts are all too small - too short front the back.  Note the distance from the trigger to the front of the bow in both the original and yours.  The original is longer,to my eye at least.  To create this look, I heated a commercial guard red and cross peened it to make the bow longer.  Most of those commercial guards are pretty beefy anyway, so after peening, filing and polishing, I ended up with what I was trying for.  Also, the spur in the rear of the commercial guard is too short and curves forward a little too much, compared to the original.  the original is more vertical and comes all the way to the trigger plate.
The nose piece on the original is a little longer on its top and bottom lines are straighter than on yours.
In the picture from the bottom, you've done a nice job of tapering the lock panel, and the cheek piece is nice and fine.  Most of us make the cheek piece way too thick...good job there.  Also, great inletting.
I'd add some mellow yellow to that 'worn' wood.  Some LMF Honey maple, or even some vinegroon might create the look of worn maple finish.  Also, take a small scraper and adjust the edges of the worn area like it has on the original.  You've made yours a little too 'neat'.
It's hard to tell from your photos, but it appears to me that the area of the lock plate bolster just ahead of the breech's snail should be rounded off rather than left sharp.  This greatly aids in getting the top part of the lock panel for'd of the snail to flow right.
You can see I'm really grasping at straws.  You've done a great job on your build.  I've enjoyed looking at your work.
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D. Taylor Sapergia
www.sapergia.blogspot.com
Herb
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« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2013, 07:44:22 PM »

Taylor, thanks for your review.  Not many people have the knowledge that you do.  Here is my rifle superimposed over the full-scale photo of the Bridger rifle.  The trigger guard is correct.  It is the trigger that is different, and none available matches the Bridger trigger.  I did not see that spur difference, I can heat it and bend it so it matches better.

I did round the front of the lock bolster.  Also I radiused the snail-plug junction, which is always that way on originals and not available commercially.  See my last photo.

Here is the barrel-tang-wrist treatment.  It gives me a lot of trouble how to do it, too.  The plug doesn't fit the tang well enough, but the plug was not made with the tang as a set.


Taylor, I really appreciate your comments.  I know my worn-stock color is different, will work on that.  But color varies a lot in photos.
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Herb
Jim Kibler
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« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2013, 07:52:59 PM »

Something to consider...  It appears that the original has a red / brown colored oil varnish on it.  Perhaps it was understained with some very weak ferric nitrate as well.  When the finish wears off, it seems this effect is different than staining the wood in select areas.  Might be something to experiment with...

Jim
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Herb
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2013, 10:41:17 PM »

I tried staining a varnish, but the color was too thin.  Doc White wanted me to use Aquafortis on it, but I have a close enough look to the original as it is.  The light areas were treated with Track's Original Oil Finish, which he likes, then steel-wooled to try to get to bare wood.  The original is down to bare wood, with much polishing and staining by handling.
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Herb
docone
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« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2013, 11:03:19 PM »

Herb, that rifle looks great! Well done.
An inspiration to me.
Looks well used on the wrist and forearm.
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Bob Roller
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« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2013, 11:33:31 PM »

There is a commercial lockplate and hammer available for the Brider lock'
Jerry Devaudreuil in Wooster Ohio has the moulds that were made up for Curt
paerson years ago.I have made locks on them in years past.I don't remember
if there are any cast internals or not.The hammer # is G177 and I don'y know the
plate #.Jerry's phone is 1-330-234-4500.

Bob Roller
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Herb
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« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2013, 09:37:33 AM »

KLMoors- Here is the end of the barrel to the wrist on the original.  This is the part that gives me trouble.


The lock panels are tapered, wider across the front than at the rear.  Carl Walker of GRRW said the difference was between 1/16 and 3/32 inch (.062 to .093) difference).  He said the Bridger lock plate was bent in at the rear.  I tapered mine like GRRW's No.9 Commemorative Bridger Hawken they made, 1.77 at front and 1.50 at rear.  I must have got this measurement from MountainMeek, who has that rifle.  Mine is 1.750 front and 1.550 at rear.  The original barrel is not tapered, it is 1.175 at the breech and 1.125 at the muzzle.  That is .025, half the thickness of a dime, per side in 33 inches.   Carl said you can make that difference with a file.
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Herb
D. Taylor Sapergia
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« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2013, 12:52:05 PM »

Great pictures Herb.  And your observations regarding triggers is right on.  For my last build, I wasn't happy until I had filed out my own rear trigger, and greatly modified the front one.  One thing that will help make the commercial trigger guard a lot more like the originals, is to flatten the bow toward the stock.  This will elongate it, give the correct distance between the triggers and the bow, and bring the spur up closer to the trigger plate.  These guards are quite malleable and I have yet to have one crack or break.

Before I really got into studying Hawken rifles, I was under the illusion that the for'd end of the bolster was always rounded, so that the lock panel could flow more gracefully but of course, this is not the case.  Yours is very good, and appears to emulate the original you are copying.

The fitting of the tang to the breech plug is always tricky.  It takes careful work with fine files and scrapers, so that the faces mate and the hook holds everything tightly.  Once I get to that state, I soft solder them together, so that I can inlet them as a unit with the barrel, into the stock.  I tried glue but it wasn't strong enough for the apelike way I work.  Once the unit is all the way down, and the tang screws are installed into the trigger plate, the tang can be heated and separated from the breech plug.  A scraper made from a file removes the solder.  One thing I've noticed on all original Hawken rifles, is the near perfect contact of the breech and tang, whether straight or sloped.  This perfect lock up is critical if one intends to wring out the rifle's full accuracy potential.

Aren't these rifles fun?
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D. Taylor Sapergia
www.sapergia.blogspot.com
okawbow
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« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2013, 01:56:28 PM »

I tried staining a varnish, but the color was too thin.  Doc White wanted me to use Aquafortis on it, but I have a close enough look to the original as it is.  The light areas were treated with Track's Original Oil Finish, which he likes, then steel-wooled to try to get to bare wood.  The original is down to bare wood, with much polishing and staining by handling.
A dark red violin varnish with some black in it should be about the right color. Actually looks more like a "spirit" or alcohol varnish than an oil varnish. Most varnishes have a "ground" on the wood first. It looks like shellac may have been used. You would probably need to add color to get the shade of the original. There are also formulas for old furniture varnish that would look correct.
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Herb
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« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2013, 02:54:30 PM »

Bob, thanks for your comments.  I always value them.  Okabow, thanks for your sharing about stained varnishes.  That is a whole new world to learn, but I don't think I'm going there.  Taylor, those original Hawkens do have a very tight fit of the plug to the barrel.  I tried to improve mine, and complained about it to Carl Walker and Doc White, but they dismissed it as, you did the best you did. You can see my tutorial on fitting this plug in the Tutorial section, page 2, "Fitting a Hawken Breech Plug by Hand".  (I also repositioned those underlugs and refitted 1/2" ID rod pipes and filled the rear sight slot with a piece of a Green River barrel I cut off, and made a new sight slot at the location of the original). KLMoors, I have shot this rifle and I think it will pile them all into one hole at 50 yards.  I shot it at Jim's Easter Peep Shoot, and should have won that except I rushed some shots. (Of course, 3 or 4 others could say the same thing!)  Was surprised that I could hold this 10 3/4 pound rifle, but the short length of pull (13 3/8") makes it easier to hold.  The building got to be fun when it was nearly done.  Any minor flaw that would fit in with honest wear could stay.   I put 8 coats of LMtnForge browning on the barrel. which is still some streaked.  Would have put another 3 or 4 coats on, but the way it is, it looks old and worn.  And I want to shoot it a lot.  The more honest wear it has on it,  the better I will like it.  Will do some shooting soon, testing black powders for comparison.
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Herb
KLMoors
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« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2013, 07:38:02 PM »

Thanks for the pictures and information Herb. Great stuff always pops up in these Hawken threads. I used a straight 1 1/8" barrel on my Track of the Wolf Bridger and it shoots real well. It is a Colrain barrel and it could care less what patch/ball/powder combo I've tried. Almost any load that I have tried in that barrel shoots just fine for my wants.
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