Author Topic: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43  (Read 12053 times)

Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #50 on: January 22, 2018, 07:54:28 PM »
I love to examine old hand forged gun parts, and pretty much any other mechanical parts build before the industrial revolution. The thinking of the time was so different than today. If you use the old methods to make your parts, your finished gun canít help but be more authentic. Iím sure you have seen modern made longrifle that are made with modern stock removal technology, be it wood or metal, that are dementionally perfect. But, they are sterile, and lack the warmth of those built with more primitive technology. JMO.

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Offline coopersdad

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #51 on: January 23, 2018, 05:04:40 AM »
Norm, you are far braver than I for tackling that bevel.  I love the look, but lack the courage.  Someday.  The rifle is looking great! Thanks for the updates!
Mike Westcott

Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #52 on: January 23, 2018, 05:46:06 PM »
Norm, by the way you can save your fuel and fuss by cold forging parts made from light mild steel. I never use a heat source on triggers, unless I am bending a tight curl at the bottom. I have even cold forged Southern Mountain buttplates, and triggerguard parts, along with ramrod pipes of course. No need to add steps in the building process.
 The Hershel House blacksmithing videos are great for cold forging, and getting a good idea of what can be done in a minimalist style shop. Good luck.

  Hungry Horse

Offline Chowmi

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #53 on: January 23, 2018, 06:54:04 PM »
Mike,
Nice to hear from you, and thank you. It was easier than I feared it would be.  I think the hard part will be to maintain sharp corners when I am doing the final filing and polishing.  I might need a finer three cornered file to do it well. 

HH,
You bring up a good point.  With the right steel, I'm sure I could do that. 

I have a few (but not all) of Hershel's blacksmithing videos.  I will probably get the rest this year at WKU. 

The piece of steel I used for the trigger was big box store steel of unknown origin.  I think it was hot rolled, and it sure seemed hard to me.   Although the heating was an effort, it really seemed to help. 
I've been following various threads about steel and brass and will likely order steel of known composition from a good supplier in the future.  I've bookmarked a few vendors based on other posts. 

I also have a piece of scrap that I found in my yard which may be iron.  It's likely off an old farm piece or sleigh since we have that sort of stuff "decorating" our garden.  I intend to make my rear sight from it and anything else that seems suitable.  I'll cut into it and see if it acts like steel or iron.  I have enough to make a bunch of sights and about 50 triggers or more. 


A note about the flat graver I used.  I though about one of Jerry Huddleston's replies to Mark Elliot's post regarding engraving straight lines.  I'm pretty convinced that the heel I ground on that flat graver is way to big.  I made the graver quite some time ago, and don't remember why I made it so big.  Jerry pointed out that as you adjust the angle of the graver in your hand to control depth, the graver pivots around the rear point of the heel like a fulcrum.  The longer the heel, the bigger the arc of movement at the point of the graver. 
I will probably grind the face back on that graver to reduce the heel and see how that works next time I use it. 

Thanks all for the replies and comments,

Cheers,
Norm
Cheers,
Chowmi

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Offline Chowmi

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #54 on: February 12, 2018, 08:36:05 AM »
I've caught up on some work on my Christian's Spring rifle over the last couple weeks. 

I've done some more lock filing, as well as making the indented border on the cock.  The indent turned out a bit shallow, so I will deepen it a bit. 
The little finial on the frizzen spring was shaped like a triangular leaf.  I modified that to be closer to the one on the original.  It's close, but not quite right. 
I also bent the trigger to shape and filed/sanded it.




I filed out the casting marks and sprues on the trigger guard and added the decorative elements.  That included filing the bottom of the bow to have a ridge down the middle, as well as modifying the grip rail to have facets all the way around the spur. 
I also found that a few of the edges were still proud of the wood, so I filed them down to match the wood. 
The filing is not complete yet, as I have to clean it up more. 




I did the initial filing on the butt plate and countersunk for the screws as well:





Lastly, I draw filed the top five flats of the barrel and countersunk the tang screw. 








I'm hoping to get some time this week to make the front and rear sights, and then drill and tap for the touch hole liner. 

Once that is done, the assembly is complete. 

The stock is close to shape, but there are several areas that need attention as I scrape and/or sand it down. 

Comments welcome,

Cheers,
Norm
Cheers,
Chowmi

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Offline Curtis

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #55 on: February 12, 2018, 09:41:14 AM »
It's shaping up nicely Norm, starting to look like a rifle!  Trigger guard looks nice.

Just one question for ya - where can I find me a table cloth like that one you got there???  8) 8) 8)

Curtis
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Online Adrie luke

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #56 on: February 12, 2018, 11:42:28 AM »
It is good to see the progress of your rifle!
It looks great. I think that the touch hole liner is the most difficult part.
You can only drill it once on the exact point.
I am looking forward to see more.
Good luck!!

Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #57 on: February 12, 2018, 04:13:48 PM »
What buttplate is that?
www.fowlingguns.com
Say, any of you boys smithies? Or, if not smithies per se, were you otherwise trained in the metallurgic arts before straitened circumstances forced you into a life of aimless wanderin'?

Offline Chowmi

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #58 on: February 12, 2018, 05:50:19 PM »
Mike,

The butt plate is from Track.  I'm 90% sure it is part number:  BP-Early-1-B.  I bought it about 3 years ago, but I assume they carry the same one.

Curtis,
Yup, that table cloth is exotic all right, you gotta fly all the way to Merry Old England to get it!   
One must make compromises when attempting to protect a nice wood table from a 5 year old eating pasta!

Cheers,
Norm
Cheers,
Chowmi

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Offline AsMs

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #59 on: February 12, 2018, 06:33:50 PM »
Will you be putting a patchbox on your rifle?  The original looks like it was a replacement.  A sliding wood box would look good.

AsMs

Offline blienemann

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #60 on: February 12, 2018, 09:14:50 PM »
Hi all, and I'd like to offer a few observations as I see them, with support from others,

The brass box on this rifle does not appear to be a "replacement".  It might have been added later, but there is no evidence of an earlier patchbox of any kind, wood or other. 

The color and texture of the brass box matches the buttplate and other mounts.  This patchbox is being rethought by students, just as the brass box on rifle #42 from Shumway's RCA Vol I was thought to be a replacement or later addition, but now Wallace and others believe it to be original to the rifle.  These gunstockers worked side by side with talented locksmiths, and may have been experimenting with all sorts of new designs.

The style of patchbox on this rifle shows up on English trade rifles for their Native allies in the 1770's - which are thought to have been copied from rifles made here for the trade earlier.  How much earlier - who knows?  That same style continued all the way to J J Henry Old English trade rifles in the 1830's - copies of those English rifles that copied our rifles in the first place.  Shumway addressed this topic in his articles in the old Buckskin Report.

The tip of the cock on this original rifle was broken off, which you have copied here.  The original rifle has a rare touchhole liner made of gold.  In some cases these liners do not penetrate through the barrel wall, but are a shallow liner inset into the outside surface.

All the other "Moravian" or related rifles - some signed by Oerter and others not signed have a drilled touchhole, but no liner.  In several cases there is an iron bushing installed there, and the touchhole drilled through the bushing. 

Thanks for sharing your build.  Bob 

Offline Chowmi

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #61 on: February 13, 2018, 04:46:53 AM »
Hi all, and I'd like to offer a few observations as I see them, with support from others,

The brass box on this rifle does not appear to be a "replacement".  It might have been added later, but there is no evidence of an earlier patchbox of any kind, wood or other. 

The color and texture of the brass box matches the buttplate and other mounts.  This patchbox is being rethought by students, just as the brass box on rifle #42 from Shumway's RCA Vol I was thought to be a replacement or later addition, but now Wallace and others believe it to be original to the rifle.  These gunstockers worked side by side with talented locksmiths, and may have been experimenting with all sorts of new designs.

The style of patchbox on this rifle shows up on English trade rifles for their Native allies in the 1770's - which are thought to have been copied from rifles made here for the trade earlier.  How much earlier - who knows?  That same style continued all the way to J J Henry Old English trade rifles in the 1830's - copies of those English rifles that copied our rifles in the first place.  Shumway addressed this topic in his articles in the old Buckskin Report.

The tip of the cock on this original rifle was broken off, which you have copied here. 

Thanks for sharing your build.  Bob

Bob,
Thanks for all the comments and the detail behind them.  I greatly appreciate it. 

I had not heard of the comparison of the brass of the patch box to the butt plate, trigger guard and other hardware, thank you.  Jack had hinted at the shift in thought towards the box being an early innovation, great to hear that several others are thinking similarly. 

I did not realize that the top of the cock had been broken off, I just saw that it wasn't there.  Funny that I have copied a a broken piece!!  Guess I should have asked Jack! 
Now that I've done that, maybe I have to include the brass tack on the butt stock, and the hole for the brass tack on the other side!  I'm not doing the crudely carved "L" though!

You have again given me more to think about, thank you. 


AsMs,

I have been back and forth over the patch box for almost two years now.  I knew that it was unlikely that it ever had a wood box, and had heard the various ideas as to whether the current box is original or not.  Also, the idea that it may be an early innovation that may have been copied for the trade rifles.    I've been about 50/50 on either no patch box, or a copy of the one on it now. 
Based on Bob's comments, I will probably put the patch box on it.  I'm sure that someone has made a copy with the patch box on it, but I haven't seen one.  Curtis and Jack Brooks put wood boxes on theirs. 


I started to make a rear sight for it today, but I think I screwed it up and will start again.  I found an old rusty piece of metal in my yard off of some sleigh, or farm machinery.  I was hoping it was iron.  I am now sure it is not!  I cut a block out to make the sight, and that stuff was hard hard!  Cleaned up very nice and shiny, with no evidence of slag streaks, etc. 

Cheers,
Norm
« Last Edit: February 13, 2018, 05:08:02 AM by Chowmi »
Cheers,
Chowmi

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Offline elkhorne

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #62 on: February 13, 2018, 05:39:55 AM »
Norm,
Your rifle is looking great. What was your procedure for finishing your brass? I have a buttplate that is pretty rough to tart with. I would like to hear how you found to do it as yours looks great. Thanks and good luck.
elkhorne

Offline AsMs

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #63 on: February 13, 2018, 07:10:46 AM »
Norm,

I always, thought the patchbox was added later because it looks like the ones you see on Indian trade guns of a later date.  I could see it being experimental or one of the first ones used of its type.  The Moravians did a lot of work for the Natives.  However in my opinion that patchbox is just plain ugly.

AsMs

Offline Chowmi

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #64 on: February 13, 2018, 08:08:25 AM »
Norm,
Your rifle is looking great. What was your procedure for finishing your brass? I have a buttplate that is pretty rough to tart with. I would like to hear how you found to do it as yours looks great. Thanks and good luck.
elkhorne

Elkhorne,
I'm no expert at filing brass, and as a result I still try various techniques as I go along. This also means that I don't always remember what I did!!

For the butt plate, I started off using a technique that DaveC2 had posted some time ago.  I scraped the back of the plate to get the casting frost off.  I just scraped it lightly, trying not to create flat spots.  I may have then gone with a small mill file, but with a lighter touch.  I think after that I used 100 grit sandpaper, then down to about 220 or 325. 
For the butt plate return, I first filed off the decorative bands that were cast into the plate because they were not what I wanted.  I then used a jewelers saw to make the two small lines (one of which terminates the 5 flats on the return).  I made the groove with a cheap round needle file, probably from Track of the Wolf. 
I then cleaned up the casting frost on the flats first with a 6 inch Nicholson mill file, trying to keep good corners.  After that, I either went to about 150 grit paper, or straight to my Gesswein 320 Oil Treated stone (see Acer's lock filing tutorial). 
This butt plate was from Track, and I find their brass to be fairly hard.  This plate filed up much better than the last Track one I did, but I think that is just because the other was the first butt plate I ever filed. 

The trigger guard was a combination of screwing it up entirely and then fixing it.  I had filed flats on the front finial, which was wrong.  So I then aggressively filed them off and filed it to match the wood, forgetting that I needed to make that triangle at the base of the bow. 
For the bow, I used mostly the same 6 inch file, or maybe even a wider 12 inch mill file to give it that ridge down the middle.  Then I went straight to the stones and 220 and 325 grit. 
I have also recently discovered the use of a gray scotch brite pad, which evens out the finish without giving it a bunch of shine.  I used it like a buffer. 
I did use small needle files around bends and to clean up corners.  My needle files are run of the mill cheap ones you buy in a set.  Some of them are quite coarse, but a few are a bit more fine.  I've found that if I use light pressure and use the file like sandpaper it works pretty well.  Probably not good for the files, but they are pretty cheap. 

Wish I had the magic solution, but I'm still working on my process.  It still takes me a long long time to file steel and brass, although I am getting quicker. 

Last thing, there are a few voids in the butt plate around the back side of the return.  I will probably leave those there as I am led to believe that many originals had the same.  I have seen at least one that does. 

I hope that all helps, or gives you something to try!

cheers,
Norm
Cheers,
Chowmi

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Offline Chowmi

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #65 on: February 13, 2018, 08:15:07 AM »
Norm,

I always, thought the patchbox was added later because it looks like the ones you see on Indian trade guns of a later date.  I could see it being experimental or one of the first ones used of its type.  The Moravians did a lot of work for the Natives.  However in my opinion that patchbox is just plain ugly.

AsMs

AsMs,
I secretly agree with you that it is ugly.  That is partly why I have had a hard time convincing myself to put it on the gun.   I could look at it from the other perspective and guess that it would certainly be a conversation starter with anyone who has not seen the pictures of the original : "why did you put that patch box on that gun??" 

Whether it was built that way or added later, it is a part of the gun's history - and a very interesting part at that.  I think the "interesting-ness" will overcome my opinion of the box and I will put it on the rifle. 

Cheers,
Norm
Cheers,
Chowmi

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Offline snapper

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #66 on: February 13, 2018, 03:20:56 PM »
Norm

if you think the patch box is ugly, then dont put it on.  You most likely are not going to like it more in the future.  Why spend all this time on a rifle to put something on it that you dont like?

UNLESS, you are really trying to re-create the original rifle to the smallest detail.  If so, I will ask you the question, who are you building the rifle for and why?

Most people will be too polite to ask "why did you put on that butt ugly patch box?"

Fleener
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Offline blienemann

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #67 on: February 14, 2018, 07:06:45 AM »
Hi all,

I offered some recent thinking on this rifle and patchbox, but am not suggesting what any one should do with their version.  Such a patchbox is a shock to the eye, as there is little art involved, compared to the talent this man had.  You all might take a look at the so called Musician's rifle, aka Fessler which name I think is engraved on the lock of the rifle.  It looks really early, and has a castle and musician engraved on the box, with a bearded face engraved at the finial.  Also has a very interesting release.  The musician rifle cast box is fairly similar to the plain version on old #43 - and like a variation seen on the later English trade rifles with an astragal arch at the finial and either a little square tit - or this engraved face at the forward tip. 

Something in this vein, with art or engraving, possibly with an engraved outline or surround like Oerter and others did could be "in the spirit" of the old work.  Last I knew, the Rifle Shoppe had the patchbox and spring from the Henry Old English rifles which I studied and stocked years ago.  The cast in hinge block is simple and ingenious, and matches this rifle.  Ron Paull and others copied these details.  Whatever you decide for a patchbox, you can have fun explaining your study and your interpretation.  And we all learn together.

I have been fortunate to see this rifle, hold it in the hands and study for a while.  Jack made a tracing and noted details when he made several copies many years ago.  I recently compared buttstock tracings of #43 with the Oerter griffin rifle.  The buttstock outline of both rifles is identical from breech to comb, to buttplate and down to the heel.  #43 has about 1/4" more wood on the toe of the stock, which allows a more obvious stepped wrist.  #43 is also broader, thicker, forend cap (replaced) is screwed to barrel and some traits we think of as earlier.  It is easy to think that Oerter's signed rifles are a later and slimmer refinement of #43.  Oerter's artwork is very similar to this rifle, but in wire inlay vs. carving. 

Sidebar - some think Oerter may have made #43.  Albrecht began stocking rifles (mostly repair work, but occasional stocking or restocking) at Bethlehem in 1750.  He took Oerter as apprentice in 1760 or soon thereafter, and they worked together through 1766.  I don't know how we would determine who made what without a signature, since Oerter learned his master's work with same tools and patterns, and probably continued in same shop using same for some years.

So there are a number of great old rifles to look at for inspiration for patchboxes and other art.  Looking at early iron locks, latches and door hardware is also interesting.  Old Bethlehem buildings still have much of their original hardware made when this rifle was stocked.  Probably made in the same little shop.  So many of the doorplates appear to have a griffin finial. 

So have fun, whether copying a great old rifle, or coming up with your own spin.  Look forward to your story.  Bob

Offline Chowmi

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #68 on: February 14, 2018, 08:36:54 AM »
Thank you Bob, that is such wonderful context and detail.

I am very happy that this post about a build has created talk about the art and history of a rifle.
Please let it continue.
This thread was never meant as a tutorial as to how to build this gun. I simply don't have the skills to do that. If it engenders discussion about this gun and history, I am more than happy.
Every file stroke, or chisel work that I do in this rifle I think about Albrecht or Oerter or their apprentices.
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Chowmi

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Offline AsMs

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #69 on: February 15, 2018, 07:47:39 AM »
Norm,

Do not short change your skills as a builder.   That is a very fine rifle you are building.

AsMs

Offline elkhorne

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #70 on: February 15, 2018, 08:07:02 AM »
Norm,
Thanks for your tips and explanations on finishing brass and iron furniture. I am always trying, like you, to lean new, better and more efficient ways to finish brass and iron furniture. I have some of the oil stones Acer suggested and also made some "paddle" sanding sticks in 220 and 320 wet dry paper glued onto popsicle type sticks from Hobby Lobby. They seem to work good no are flat backed. Looking forwards whatever patchbox you decide to choose. Appreciate Bob's perspective on the historical perspectives of this rifle. Very interesting. Thanks and good luck!
elkhorne

Offline Chowmi

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #71 on: February 15, 2018, 08:24:21 AM »
Norm,

Do not short change your skills as a builder.   That is a very fine rifle you are building.

AsMs

Thank you AsMs, that is appreciated. 
It is possible that I under-estimate my skills, but I would rather do that than the opposite.

The reason this rifle seems to be turning out well is not largely due to my skill, it is a result of instruction from Jack Brooks at the gunsmithing seminar at WKU, folllowing Curtis' build of the same rifle, and help from Bob Lieneman, who commented above.

This is all to say that I have had extraordinary help, which has made the gun you see miles better than it would have been had I just hacked away at it myself.
Norm.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2018, 06:17:30 PM by Chowmi »
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Chowmi

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Offline Chowmi

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #72 on: February 15, 2018, 08:27:02 AM »
Norm,
Thanks for your tips and explanations on finishing brass and iron furniture. I am always trying, like you, to lean new, better and more efficient ways to finish brass and iron furniture. I have some of the oil stones Acer suggested and also made some "paddle" sanding sticks in 220 and 320 wet dry paper glued onto popsicle type sticks from Hobby Lobby. They seem to work good no are flat backed. Looking forwards whatever patchbox you decide to choose. Appreciate Bob's perspective on the historical perspectives of this rifle. Very interesting. Thanks and good luck!
elkhorne

I completely forgot to mention that I also used some of the Swiss Pattern 1/2 round files.  They are expensive, but so worth the money. With a light touch, they really put a nice finish on.
Cheers,
Chowmi

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Offline Chowmi

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Re: Christian's Spring rifle build, inspired by RCA #43
« Reply #73 on: February 18, 2018, 05:58:44 AM »
I know this is probably not enough progress to warrant another post, but it was so much work due to screw ups that I just can't help myself. 

I started to make a rear sight last week from a piece of rusted scrap from my front yard.  Thought it would be a nice novelty.  Turns out it is definitely not iron, and is pretty darn hard steel. 




After two utter failures, I had to head out of town for work, and then caught whatever bug is going around.  Spent all day yesterday on the couch, and finally got enough strength today to work in short intervals.
You would think that after two failures, I would be more careful.  Nope.  Third one burned down, fell over, and then sank into the swamp.  But the fourth one stayed up!
That has  been a lot of sawing through hard steel. 

Anyway, here's the fourth one. It is not dovetailed yet, and needs a bit more cleanup.   Looks a bit stubby, but width vs length should be right.  I think I got the bit with the notch in it too far forward, which makes the front look stubby. 



Next time I will forego the nostalgia and get some milder steel or iron. 

Cheers,
Norm
Cheers,
Chowmi

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