Making an 18th Century New England Connecticut River Valley Fowler

Discussion in 'The Gun Builder's Bench' started by dave_person, Feb 6, 2019.

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  1. Jun 7, 2019 #21

    dave_person

    dave_person

    dave_person

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    Hi Cruzatte and Brokennock,
    Thanks for looking and commenting. I've only built one other New England fowler, which was a much simpler gun.
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    In addition, they varied so much that it is hard to converge on one style that represents a "NE fowler". This current gun is definitely styled like others made along the Connecticut River. It shares some features very similar to guns by Seth Pomeroy of Northampton, MA, and the gun dates from a period when he was working prior to the Rev War. Although the gun may have been built in the 1750s-1760s, the barrel, lock, and hardware are 30-40 years older and from a pretty fine French gun.

    dave
     
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  2. Jun 7, 2019 #22

    Jeff Kaufmann

    Jeff Kaufmann

    Jeff Kaufmann

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    As always, beautiful work Dave! Thank you for taking the time to share, your talent inspires a lot of folks myself included!
     
  3. Jun 8, 2019 #23

    Brokennock

    Brokennock

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    Thanks again Dave. I drooled over that gun the 1st time you posted it. I could be wrong but it would seem to my mind that the trouble in nailing down an exact pattern for a standard New England fowling piece is what looks, at least to me, like a mix of English and French fowling piece styling. And, as the period goes on later, the use of older hardware, maybe of French origin on a gun made by a builder of more English type guns or English hardware on a builder more influences by French gun design and style.
     
  4. Jun 8, 2019 #24

    dave_person

    dave_person

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    Hi Brokennock,
    You raise good questions that puzzle me as well. Why the French influence? I realize that New Englanders participated in assaults on French Canada and returned with French muskets and other guns. But why salvage parts and make them into new French-styled guns when they considered Frenchmen to be their mortal enemies? Why not simply make English-styled guns with which New Englanders must have been familiar? I wonder if there wasn't a vibrant but possibly illegal trade with French Canada particularly down the Connecticut River that avoided English rules and taxes. Maybe, they liked the handling of light French hunting guns but English fowlers are just as light and handy. Also, why use black cherry when so much maple abounded. Moreover, maple was the wood of choice in western Connecticut and the Hudson River Valley in New York. Why not northern New England? Did they value maples more for sap than lumber? How abundant were black cherry trees sufficiently large for gun stocks? Cherry is an early successional species and it regenerates old fields but it does not tend to large size and old age. Perhaps there was an abundance of large old trees similar to the great cherry trees in the Alleghanies of western NY and PA? New England guns from the 17th and 18th centuries really deserve comprehensive research similar to that done for Pennsylvania and southern long rifles.

    dave
     
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  5. Jun 8, 2019 #25

    Brokennock

    Brokennock

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    All good points. However, I wonder about the "mortal enemies" aspect for the average Joe/Pierre. There was immigration from Canada (or through Canada) to New England and to New Amsterdam. I had a family member on my mom's side come to New Amsterdam from Canada in the late 1680's or 1690's. His people over time settled up along the Hudson then east into Western Massachusetts, Berkshire county.
    I don't doubt there was illegal trade, or that some people liked the style of some of the French products, people like what they like regardless of their nations politics.

    While the cherry trees don't seem to get huge, there are some very big cherry trees in the state forests I hunt in N.W. Connecticut. I do not know what kind of cherry's they are, the fruits are tiny, never seen people gathering them, but the bears love them. The wood is quite nice looking when I've seen a few pieces of it cut.
    A question I've thought of, never gave it a thought before, that your questioning of wood choice brought to my mind. How long did gun stockers/builders age or cure lumber or blanks before using the wood for a stock back then? I read of builders now sitting on a piece of wood for years, did they really store it that long then? Leading to, could the choice of wood other than mapped been from customers who had the wood already? Maybe something was special about the tree? Or the tree was a "windfall" and having the builder use wood from it was a financial decision?

    Thank you for stimulating some thinking about this beyond my usual longing when I see your work.
     
  6. Jun 16, 2019 #26

    dave_person

    dave_person

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    Hi Folks,
    Man, I am having to figure a lot of stuff out that I've not before. This is fun but challenging to say the least. I carved a sideplate from wood and cast it using Delft clay but the model was just a hair small given the small amount of shrinkage during casting. So I cast it again but this time I pushed the edges out a little in the mold to make it bigger, hence the rather rough edges. It came out well and fits just right.
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    Many New England fowlers have beaded molding lines along the top edge of the barrel channel.
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    The Hawk fowler has it but also another along the ramrod channel. These are actually raised above the level of the background wood and not just incised.
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    Soooo I had to figure this one out. I consulted with some of my colleagues and decided to adapt my great-great grandfather's wooden marking gauge to also be a beading tool or scratchstock. I slit one end for a blade and a tightening screw and then filed a blade from spring steel. I hardened and tempered the blade and then tried it. After some practice on an old stock I found I could confidently scrape a double bead along the barrel channel and on the angled surface along the ramrod channel.
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    Then I cut away background with a dog leg chisel.
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    The result was pretty good.
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    Next on to cutting the lock panels and carving.
    dave
     
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  7. Jun 16, 2019 #27

    Jeff Kaufmann

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    Well done Dave, I especially like the repurposing of the marking gauge. I can picture someone of the era coming up with the same solution, or marking the first line then adjusting the gauge out a sixteenth or so and marking the second line. Looks great! Thanks for sharing!
     
  8. Jun 16, 2019 #28

    Brokennock

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    Thank you Dave. Very interesting solution, I would say it worked better than just, "pretty good."

    Btw, even though I don't build guns and probably never will, I'm enjoying your tutorials on fowling pieces on the ALR forum, thanks for posting the link on the barrel length thread.
     
  9. Jun 22, 2019 #29

    dave_person

    dave_person

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    Hi,
    OMG the stock is all black! Whatever will I do? I sent this photo to the owner, heh, heh, heh.
    dave
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  10. Jun 22, 2019 #30

    Brokennock

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    Oh oh. Now it's a "black rifle," it's going on the banned list. An assault Fowler.
     
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  11. Jul 10, 2019 #31

    dave_person

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    Hi Guys,
    I've been too busy to keep posting photos. The fowler should be done next week so I can deliver it on the 19th at Fort Ticonderoga. Anyway, here is the engraved sideplate and engraved and chiseled butt plate. All engraving is modeled after French trade and sporting guns found in North America. It was fun.

    dave
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  12. Jul 11, 2019 #32

    bud in pa

    bud in pa

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    If I wasn't on a fixed (broken)income I'd order one of these from you. I am partial to French style guns, and you do beautiful work.
     
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  13. Jul 18, 2019 #33

    dave_person

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    Hi,
    Finally done and it gets delivered tomorrow at Fort Ticonderoga. It was a huge challenge and one of the hardest guns I've ever built because of all the special parts and the unforgiving stock architecture. There is so many historical nuances to this gun. It is greatly inspired by the Hawk fowler in the Memorial Hall museum in historic Deerfield, MA. I copied a lot and actually traced the stock. I believe the original barrel and hardware came from a fine French buccaneer musket perhaps captured when New Englanders took Fortress Louisburg in 1745. Some highly skilled Connecticut River Valley gunsmith salvaged the parts and made one of the finest pre-Rev War fowlers in New England. I used a Rayl 20 gauge 48" smoth barrel sold by Davis for their French trade gun kit. It is 1.25" at the breech, tapers rapidly, and has nice thin walls. The lock was a TOW Tulle lock which I modified into a fine buccaneer lock with some judicious welding and filing. The trigger guard was made from a wax cast French trade gun guard that I cut the front finial off and attached a new one I cast and chiseled. The butt plate is an old sand cast early Bucks county plate that I beat the snot out of and reshaped, then added a finial I cast and chiseled. The stock is American black cherry logged in Vermont and stained first with black dye, then a nice reddish brown dye. The finish is Sutherland-Welles polymerized tung oil. Most of the engraving was copied from the Hawk fowler where I could. It weighs 7.5 lb and shoulders very, very well. This is a real shooter. Enjoy.

    dave
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  14. Jul 18, 2019 #34

    Carbon 6

    Carbon 6

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    Good thing you used "tongue" oil on it, I have a feeling it's going to get drooled on a lot.
    Gorgeous! :thumb:
     
  15. Jul 18, 2019 #35

    Brokennock

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    Wow, truly amazing. I so wish I could see this gun for real. Even thought about driving up there tomorrow.

    Thank you so very much for sharing the journey of it's creation and the incredible final product.
     
  16. Jul 19, 2019 #36

    Pete G

    Pete G

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    Absolutly gorgeous. Beautiful work, especially the rib.
     
  17. Jul 21, 2019 #37

    rickystl

    rickystl

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    Hi Dave

    What a beautiful job. The lines of that gun just jump out at you. Hard to believe it only weighs 7.5-lbs. with a 48" barrel. That takes real talent. The new owner is going to be one happy camper. Another masterful job.

    Rick
     
  18. Jul 22, 2019 #38

    Cory Joe Stewart

    Cory Joe Stewart

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    Well done. What a neat build.
     

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