Author Topic: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler  (Read 4362 times)

Offline smart dog

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New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« on: February 06, 2019, 02:30:31 AM »
Hi Folks,
I am starting a new thread about building an historical New England fowler.  I am making a gun inspired by the Jonathan Hawke's fowler on display at the Historic Deerfield Memorial Hall in Deerfield MA.  Beth Gilgun allowed me to view the original up close and along with historian, Richard Colten, I was able to analyze and understand its properties thoroughly.  I am building the gun for a member of the 40th regiment of foot, one of the best living history units representing British troops. He also portrays a French officer during the F&I wars and desires a gun that could double as a French officer's privately made gun as well as a colonial militia gun owned by a prosperous volunteer.  A Connecticut River Valley gun such as the Hawke's fowler with heavy French influences will do the job. Below are photos of the original gun.  I am adapting a TOW Tulle lock, some commonly available cast French hardware, and a 48" 20 gauge barrel from R. E. Davis. The original Hawke's fowler had a French made barrel 57" long. For practical reasons, I am going shorter but I will shape the barrel to resemble the original.  The stock will be black cherry logged in Vermont. This thread will evolve slowly at first as I finish my current work.
dave   
 
 






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Offline TommyG

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2019, 04:11:00 AM »
Hi Dave,  I remember you talking about this piece at Dixon's last year.  That gun has some interesting carving, engraving, and a third lock bolt as well.  Looking forward to your posts on the build.

Offline Robert Wolfe

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2019, 05:00:21 AM »
Love that fowling gun. Can't wait to watch this build play out. I suspect yours will be better executed than the original........

And, thanks for making the effort to share the build with us.
Robert Wolfe
Northern Indiana

Offline Pukka Bundook

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2019, 05:13:46 AM »
I too am looking forward to it, Dave!

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2019, 03:16:26 PM »
 Kind of a serial, "Stay Tuned For The Next Exciting Episode". Really do look forward to seeing how you progress. Thanks for taking the time to record it.

   Tim

Offline rich pierce

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2019, 03:25:26 PM »
Pardon my ignorance, Dave - have not seen this one before. It seems extraordinarily fine for a Colonial fowler. Are there ideas about when it was made?
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline Turtle

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2019, 03:33:45 PM »
 I built a new England fowler/militia musket for my persona of an ancestor who served in the conneticut provincials in the F+I war. One source I used was the great flintlock fowler book. I get a lot of attention at shoots and events with this unique gun. It also was very enjoyable to build.

Offline smart dog

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2019, 04:48:28 PM »
Pardon my ignorance, Dave - have not seen this one before. It seems extraordinarily fine for a Colonial fowler. Are there ideas about when it was made?
Hi Rich,
It is indeed very fine and also in remarkably good condition. The hardware, barrel, and lock are French with styling that dates as early as the 1730s.  The lock could even be a little earlier and is marked "Palan".  The gun was owned by the Hawk family since it was built. Unfortunately, no one knows the date, location, or maker.  Jonathan Hawk was born in 1707 and died in 1784. Some believe he carried the gun during the F&I war but Richard Colten and I believe it could have been made in the 1760s.  However, we don't dismiss the possibility that it was made earlier and used in the war.  It shows wear and tear from use but it developed a hole in the barrel.  Instead of cutting it off and continuing to use it, we believe it was put aside, which may account for its good condition overall.  The stock is cherry and has typical NE carving around the barrel channel and tang. I call it "potted plant" carving because it sits at the end of the tang like a potted plant on a pedestal. Before ever seeing the Hawk's gun, I used a similar design on a NE fowler after seeing it on several original NE guns.     



The carving around the lock panels and trigger guard are unusual but not unknown on NE guns.  It is clearly a fine fowler of the quality produced by some other NE gunsmiths like Earle, Pomeroy, and Sawyer.  It is ideal for my client's objectives because it can double as a NE-made gun or superficially as a French officer's gun (until you notice the cherry stock).

dave 
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Offline Chowmi

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2019, 06:34:52 PM »






Dave,
can't wait to watch you build this fowler, should be a good education!

I'm curious about the picture I show above.  Are those tool marks I see between the lock/side panel moulding and the trigger guard finial carving?  (Obviously, I don't mean the echo of the trigger guard finial). 
Doesn't seem like the could all be dents/dings from age. 
I'm not being critical of the gun, instead I find it interesting to see them.  If they are tool marks, it gives good insight into how they approached the build in the period.

cheers,
Norm
Cheers,
Chowmi

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Offline Strong Bear

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2019, 07:30:15 PM »
I am interested in this one as I have been researching my family genealogy for a year now and have found out that my 6th great grandfather owned a 100 acre farm in Pelham, Province of Massachusetts Bay as well as a farm (about 90 acres) in Halifax, Vermont so he probably could have afforded guns like you are duplicating.  His son who would be my 5th great grandfather was born on the Halifax farm.  He and his brother were at Fort William Henry in 1757 with a reactionary force after the massacre.  He appears on the Pelham MA muster roll for 1757 [Co. of Capt. Robert Lotheridge in Regt. of Col. Israel Billings to relief of Ft. William Henry).    The 2 brothers also are noted as enlisting in April 2,1759 with Jeffery Amherst for the invasion of Canada.  Will be following this build as they could have carried similar guns.   Very interesting.  8)

Dave
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Offline smart dog

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2019, 04:27:09 AM »
Hi,
Okay, here we go.

I've been so busy with work that I haven't had time to post on this project.  My camera memory card is full so I started downloading older photos and getting them posted. The first photos show the stock when still rough.  It is a nice piece of black cherry cut in Vermont and air dried for 4 years.  You can see the rough profile of the gun and particularly note the straightness of the top of the wrist.  There is something very "Lehigh" like about it.  The gun will be very slim. I used a round-bottomed router bit and my router table with fence to cut out the smallest round dimension of the barrel. The rest of the inlet was by hand.  I'll show more photos soon.



One feature one the original Hawk fowler and on many French-made barrels is a long sighting plane running from the octagon to round transition to the front sight.  It is really just a hint of a flat with sides that almost seem like incised lines. Hint, it does not stick up very high at all.

I had to figure this one out. I made a coarse cutting barrel float from an old file.  I flattened the bottom precisely and then filed in coarse, stout teeth, bent the tang, and then hardened and tempered it. I attached a wooden handle.

It works well, but I have to file in each edge of the plane on the barrel with a bottoming file, then use the float to deepen the cuts.  I used my Roubo bench, leg vise, sliding deadman, ruler, and hold fasts to create a very effective fence to begin the job.



Once the edges were established using the fence, I could remove it and use the edge as a guide for deepening the cuts.  It worked really well and was pretty simple. 


More to come.
dave


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Offline smylee grouch

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2019, 04:41:12 AM »
As all the others have said I too look forward to the progress reports. These follow along discussions on this forum are one of the reasons this is the best site on the internet IMHO. Smylee    :)

Offline Pukka Bundook

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2019, 09:00:56 AM »
Very interesting gun and nice start, Dave!

Chowmi Norm,

I don't think it too unusual to see facets between the carved areas, A sharp chisel was often used, and not scraped much afterwards, so often left the faceted marks showing.

Richard.

Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2019, 03:40:57 PM »
I have always wanted to do the typical New England/French sighting plane but I 'm too stupid and lazy to figure it out. Looks like you have it down now.
NEW WEBSITE! www.mikebrooksflintlocks.com
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Offline Turtle

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2019, 01:01:35 AM »
 I did a sight plane on mine with a file, but it doesn't look as good.

Offline smart dog

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2019, 01:56:21 AM »
Hi,
Thanks for looking folks.  Before continuing I want to emphasize that I look forward to other fine NE fowler makers like Mike Brooks, Eric vonAschwege, and Eric Kettenburg chiming in.  I would value their input and insights greatly. However, there is another great modern maker of 17th-19th century New England guns who I want to give a shout out to.  Richard Colton recently retired as the historian at the Springfield Arsenal in MA.  He has examined and analyzed more NE guns from the 17th through 19th centuries than probably anyone alive today.  He is also a fine gunmaker specializing in NE firearms. He incorporates every historical detail possible today. One of his rifles is on display and used at historic Sturbridge Village in MA.  Richard is a tremendous and largely unsung star in our community. Spending a day looking at NE firearms at historic Deerfield, MA with Rich Colton is like spending a day with Wallace Gussler at Williamsburg. He is a highly valued contributor to my effort.

I finished the sighting plane today.  It came out well and looks exactly like the original gun. Eventually, I will clean and polish up the barrel and plane but the photos give you the idea. Next, I will be going back in photo time to document the stock work.
 
 
 
Notice in the last photo, which shows the muzzle end of the plane, the Sharpie marked arrow pointing toward the breech.  That is to make sure I file the plane in that direction, rather than toward the muzzle. I need those markers because I make such stupid mistakes.

More to come,
dave

« Last Edit: March 30, 2019, 02:01:07 AM by smart dog »
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Offline Clint

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2019, 03:05:21 AM »
Dave,I built a cherry stock fowler this winter, using Mr. Grinslades book, I find the French influence very interesting and made the lock very french except that I did use a bridle on the frizzen. With no raised cheek or patch box, I felt like I was getting away with something, running free with scrapers and sanding boards. Using straight grain wood with almost no carving provides a great opportunity to focus sharply on the stock design and the wood surface. That gun led me directly to an East Tenn rifle which was equally smooth and focused. I look forward to your fowler's progress.

Offline E.vonAschwege

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #17 on: April 06, 2019, 03:13:51 PM »
Dave you're off to a great start, and I like your approach to making the sighting rib!  On modern barrel steel that's probably the way to go.  I suspect on original wrought barrels at least some of the time they used a scratch stock that followed the profile of the barrel to scrape away the line.  This of course made for a tapering sighting plane as well.  The Thomas Earll I have has the sighting rib full length save for the last inch at the muzzle, and then two side flats filed in as well for the first 12" or so at the breech. 

Rich Colton has made some wonderful pieces too, and is a wealth of knowledge.  I've only talked with him once or twice at shows, but hope to see more of him with my move North. 

I draw arrows in pencil all the time on my stocks to remind myself which way the grain is going, and I still miss them occasionally  ;D
-Eric
Former Gunsmith, Colonial Williamsburg www.vonaschwegeflintlocks.com

Offline Pukka Bundook

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #18 on: April 06, 2019, 04:47:34 PM »
Dave,

That is serious work on the sighting plane.   A thing rarely seen these days.
I think it would be wonderful to know how they did all sorts of things like this originally, same with flutings and such.

Beautiful work as always Dave!

Eric,

In an appropriate place, I'd like to know more about a scratch stock.  I have my own ideas how to make such a device, but you could maybe save me some mileage!!

Offline smart dog

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #19 on: April 06, 2019, 04:51:58 PM »
Hi Eric and thanks,
I draw arrows too and see the photo below:


It should be easy to guess why I marked all the wood to be removed in pencil.  I made some spectacular mistakes and finally had to learn to take steps to compensate for my mindlessness.

dave
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Offline bob in the woods

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #20 on: April 06, 2019, 11:49:42 PM »
 " Mindlessness "   .   I think I have that too . :)   

Offline Daryl

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #21 on: April 07, 2019, 12:39:57 AM »
I had that once, too.  My Dr. recommended Single Malt. It owrks! Well, he's more of a friend,
than my Dr.  He wanted to be a Dr. at one time, but didn't want to go to college.
Daryl

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Offline smart dog

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #22 on: April 07, 2019, 01:04:30 AM »
Hi Daryl,
But I drink single malt scotch.  It's not curing my mindlessness but at least I am at peace with it.

dave
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Offline B.Barker

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #23 on: April 07, 2019, 01:18:55 AM »
Nice fowler. I really like the lines on the New England fowling pieces. How do you like working cherry?

Offline smart dog

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Re: New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler
« Reply #24 on: April 07, 2019, 01:51:14 AM »
Hi,
It all depends on the cherry blank.  Some is dense and hard, others are not.  This one seems good but it does have a few bad spots that I am able to work around. Modern black cherry trees usually do not get very large anymore. The biggest still often come from the Allegheny National Forest in PA but in NE they are usually small in diameter. My stock comes from a moderately large tree logged in VT, but the edges included sap wood. I have to be careful and know what I am doing.

dave
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