New Reworking a Pedersoli Brown Bess

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dave_person

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Hi,
There is a current thread asking about what to do to refurbish a Pedersoli Brown Bess musket to make the gun more historically correct. After contributing to that discussion, I thought I would add this separate thread that describes how I go about historically upgrading those guns. I will document a refurbishing job that I am currently doing and I will post photos and text as I go. First and foremost, you have to know the historical details for the different musket patterns. The Pedersoli Bess, is essentially a 1769 short land pattern. There are 2 major issues that are very difficult or impossible to correct on the Perdersolis. First, the lock is incorrectly marked “Grice 1762”. By the time the pattern 1769 was issued, musket locks were no longer engraved with the lock contractor’s name and the date of lock manufacture (not the date issued or date installed on a musket by ordnance). If you have an original short land pattern Bess with a lock marked “Grice” or some other contractor, you likely have a 1759 Marine and militia musket. Pattern 1769s that made it to America should be engraved “Dublin Castle” or “Tower” with no date. Second, the buttplate is 1/4”-3/8” too small in height. That does not sound like much but it makes a big difference in the lower profile of the buttstock making the butt stock too small. That is why Pedersoli Besses always look like the butt is disproportionately small relative to the lock area compared with original Brown Besses. These are items that you normally have to live with. What you do not have to live with is the fact that Pedersoli and all other mass reproduced Besses are like ¾ completed kits with respect to the stock and fittings. This is where I will begin and eventually I will work on the lock, barrel, and swivels. Below are pictures of production guns before reworking. Note the wide lock moldings and inlets that are too deep. This is the raw material and all of that will be fixed.




 

dave_person

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Hi,
Below, I have a Pedersoli Bess made during the 1970s. It is definitely one of the better guns historically because they did a better job shaping the lock area and reducing wood along the forestock. This is a re-enactors gun and it clearly was not well cared for. I will clean up all the metal parts and barrel. A previous owner obviously believed Brown Bess barrels should be browned. That will be removed when I derust and clean up the barrel. So my first job is to disassemble the gun completely and correct the inlets. This particular gun came apart OK but the tang screw, flintcock tumbler screw, and screw holding on the wrist plate were all badly corroded. I used penetrating oil where I could and then used an adjustable wrench on the shafts of my good fitting screw drivers and give me extra leverage. That did the trick because with one hand you can push down the turnscrew so it does not slip and with the other you turn the wrench. Be careful when removing the barrel, ramrod thimble, trigger guard, and trigger pins. My rule is that they all are tapped out from the lock side and reinserted from the sideplate side. That is consistent with other British sporting guns at the time. The exceptions are the trigger pin and the front trigger guard pin. Those I tap from the side plate side so they exit within the lock mortice. The pins were usually filed flush with the wood and may have a burr that can chip the stock as they are removed. The rest of the gun should come apart easily. When removing the lock, back out the bolts all the way and then tap them to push the lock out. It is wise to place the lock at halfcock when removing it for the first time to prevent the mainspring from catching in the mortice should it be close to the edge of the lockplate when at rest.







 

dave_person

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Hi,
I’ll start by reshaping the barrel tang apron, the lock panels, and fixing the inletting of the hardware. Note the photos in the previous post, that the trigger guard, trigger plate, lock, and rear ramrod thimble are all set in the wood too deeply. Actually, they are fine with respect to their correct positions in the stock, it is just that the stock has too much wood left on. The barrel tang apron sits up too high and does not have the correct concave surface. I draw a border around the tang that will remain untouched and then start filing and scraping to lower the apron and give it a concave surface.
I shaped the apron with round scrapers, a half-round file, and a carving knife.
The concave surface is gentle as seen in the fuzzy photo below.

Dave



 

dave_person

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The lock panels on this Bess were pretty good and narrow but they were higher than the lock plate. The edge of the lock should be flush with the wood so I took off wood with a large coarse flat file and a flat scraper. In the end, note how shallow the edges of the inlet are. That may scare some folks but that is how it is supposed to be done. Also note the impression of the sear screw head inside the mortice. I will relieve that contact. After taking off wood, the flat area surrounding the lock is wider and eventually, I will narrow it almost to the point of disappearing except on the bottom and around the nose of the lock.
I am almost done with the trigger guard inlet.

That is all for tonight. More later.

Dave


 

dave_person

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Hi,
As you remove wood around the lock, side plate and trigger guard, you may find that the nice curves at the throat and bottom of the stock are getting flattened. A French curve scraper and half-round coarse file are very useful to keep the stock concave at the throat merging to convex as you move forward toward the front of the trigger guard.


I just about finished the area around the trigger guard. Note how the trigger plate is now almost flush with the wood, as it should be. The front of the guard has a gap in which you can see the ramrod. Not acceptable even by ordnance standards. I will eventually fill the gap with colored AcraGlas or a chip of English walnut but not yet.


Now for this globular whumpus that looks like it was cut with a chain saw. The nose of the comb on Besses did not have that big shoulder, they merged nicely with the wrist. A few swipes of a half round file and then a little carving and scraping with a knife and whumpus is gone.

 

dave_person

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Hi,
The step at the breech on the sideplate side is usually to angular and abrupt. It needs to be rounded a little. A few swipes of a file and then scraping with a carving knife rounds it off and cleans it up nicely.


The lock molding or surround in the front of the lock is too big. I draw out the appropriate curve and gouge off the excess wood. Then a small round file and my round scraper finishes the job.


This is one of my favorite scraping tools. It is a 3-edged chip carving knife. All 3 exposed edges are razor sharp so you have to be careful with it, but it is ideal for scraping and cleaning up sharp inside corners.


Most of the old finish is scraped off so I wet the stock to get an idea of its intrinsic color. I will enhance the color with a medium chocolate brown water-based dye and then rub it back. It should look really nice.
That’s it for tonight.
dave
 

dave_person

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Hi,
I am mostly finished with the lock moldings. Note how narrow the molding is at the back of the lock. I will eventually round off the edges a little, which is more authentic.



Now for the forestock. The muzzle edge is too bulbous and needs to be rounded down. It should not abruptly narrow down to the muzzlecap. There should be a gradual curve that tapers all the way through the long trumpet ramrod thimble.



About ½ of the ramrod thimbles should be exposed above the wood so you have to remove wood from the bottom of the forestock. I use a wide and long coarse file held long ways along the ramrod groove to file away wood but to keep the profile straight and even. The second photo shows how much wood needs to be removed, often 18”-3/16”. I will then taper in the forestock using scrapers to create the proper profile. I also suggest that at least 1/16” of wood be removed on all surfaces of the forestock from the lock panels to the muzzle ”“ at least! On some more recent Pedersoli Besses, they leave a flat ledge along the barrel. That is a no no! The stock must taper into the barrel or it will not look authentic.



I am almost done with the wood so I am going to move on for now to the metal work. After cleaning up the brass, I wanted to add an historically correct detail to the trigger guard. The hazelnut finial should have a decorative line on both sides. I cut those lines with a graver and hammer and then blend the cuts with a tiny triangular file.
 

dave_person

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Thanks Rifleman,
By the way folks, I am doing this new version of this thread because Photobucket severed all photo links in the old thread as they try to extort a very high subscription fee from users who posted photos under their free and lower tier subscriptions. They created a mess on the internet and likely may rescind their new policy or they may go under. No matter to me because I moved on to another photo hosting site.

dave
 

dave_person

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Hi,
Before moving on to metal work, I wanted take care of the missing butt plate tang pin. Original Besses have a lug cast into the underside of the butt plate tang through which a pin is inserted. The location is always where the final shoulder is on the tang. On real Besses, the pin secured the top of the butt plate. On the Pedersoli, it cannot serve that purpose because there is no lug, however, the pin shows on originals so why not just add a pin to the Pedersoli. I simply drill a 1/16” hole through the butt and tap in a 1/16” pin trimmed to the width of the stock minus a little so the ends are sunken in the wood a tiny bit.

Oh boy, now to clean up the barrel After cleaning the bore with oil, patches, and steel wool to get out pitting, I began taking off the browning. I scrubbed the barrel with comet and a green Scotch-Brite pad, which cleans up the gunk and rubs away much of the brown. Then I use a 60 grit (yellow) 3-M bristle burr mounted on my Dremel to clean off the rest of the brown and polish the barrel. I wear a face mask when I do this because the burr kicks up a lot of very fine powder containing the browning. The little bristle burrs do a great job and work fast. I then rub the barrel with medium and fine Scotch-Brite pads dipped in water to polish the barrel a bit more. I’ll leave it at that for now.

Original Besses have a lug brazed on the barrel through which the screw for the foreward slig swivel passes. This provides support for the swivel so that it is not entirely bearing on the wood. Pedersolis do not have the lug, which is a weakness. I will add a lug. I mark the location on the barrel and make a small lug with concave bottom from some mild steel scrap. It should be about 1/2”-5/8” long, about 7/16” wide, and 1/4” high. I basically make it using a hacksaw and some files. Making sure it fits nicely on the curve of the barrel, I solder it in place using Brownell’s Hi-Force 44 low temp silver bearing solder. This stuff is very strong but you have to make sure the surfaces to be soldered are very clean or the solder will not flow.


Once the lug is soldered in place, I coat the top with some inletting black and press the barrel into the barrel channel to mark the location for inletting the lug. Using 1/4” and 1/8” flat chsiels and a small #3 sweep gouge, I inlet the lug and its base. It is easy to do and don’t worry if it breaks into the ramrod channel because it is about 1/4” high, which is about the thickness of the web of wood between the barrel and ramrod. After inletting the lug, put the barrel in the stock and put the barrel pins in and tang bolt screwed into the trigger plate to set the barrel tightly in place. Then using a drill about half the diameter of the swivel screw, drill in the swivel hole from one side into the lug but don’t go completely through the lug. Then drill from the other side until through the lug. The holes should meet pretty closely. Then use a drill the diameter of the screw or a tiny bit larger, and repeat the drilling from both sides. If you are careful, it will all line up just fine. After mounting the swivel on the gun, I check to make sure it overlaps the ramrod thimble behind it. It must do that, or the swivel will block the ramrod going back down the channel during loading. Original swivels were welded rod. This one is cast and the loop is too neatly compressed such that it barely overlaps the thimble. I heat it and bend it to open it up so the overlap increases. In doing that, the swivel loop also looks a lot more authentic.


Well, I’ve done some metal work on the barrel but still have to work over the lock. However, I wanted to finish up the woodwork so I can get the stock stained and finished. While finish is drying, I can do the lock. I thinned the forestock with files and scrapers. The photos show how much ramrod is exposed as well as the thimbles.


I am essentially done with the wood work that is historically correct for the gun. However, before the final scraping and finishing I will do one more thing that is not historically correct but helps create an illusion making the gun look more correct. Many of you may not want to do this but I want to show it anyway. I mentioned previously, that the buttplate is 1/4” ”“ 3/8” too short and they reduced the drop of the heel by almost an inch. That doesn’t seem like much but it makes a big difference in how the butt stock looks. The Pedersoli just does not have the proper drop in the heel or size of the butt. It looks too straight and almost like it is “perch bellied” and the butt stock looks too small relative to the lock. It is a real shame Pedersoli chose to do that. I make a modification which is not historically correct but that makes the stock look more correct. First, let me mention my “1/3 rule” for Bess butt stocks. It is based on direct measurements of originals and good photos of others that can be scaled. If you measure the length of the comb from the top of its nose to a line drawn vertically from the small of the buttplate, the baluster wrist should end 1/3 of that length in from the small of the buttplate. If you measure the height of the buttstock at that point, the baluster wrist comprises 1/3 of that height and that height remains fairly constant all the way up the wrist.


Pedersolis pretty well match that rule, however, the height measurement is smaller than originals. I find that if you angle the baluster wrist downward slightly such that it becomes thinner toward the buttplate and is a little less than the 1/3 rule, you can create an illusion of greater drop in the stock and a bigger buttstock.

I make that adjustment starting with a large “V” chisel to cut into the crease on top of the baluster and then remove wood with a dogleg flat chisel. Then I smooth is out further with a bottoming file. I round off the flat top created by the chisels and files using my #49 Nicholson pattern makers rasp held as shown. Scrapers finish the job. Each side only takes me about 20 minutes. I also file down the wrist plate a bit to match the new wrist profile. When I have finished the stock and stained it, you will see the difference compared with the original Pedersoli profile.





Unfortunately, Pedersoli also made the wrist too long. Look at photos of originals and the amount of space between the wrist plate and the comb and barrel tang apron. The plate almost touches the apron. Now look at the Pedersoli Bess. You could shorten the space by 5/8” or more. Same with the spacing relative to the comb. That is another reason why the Pedersoli Bess never looks quite right. In fact, it sometimes reminds me more of the German Potsdam musket. It is a shame, but the only way you can get an accurate copy of a Bess is to make or buy a custom one from someone who knows what they are doing.

dave
 

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Nice work Dave -- and there is a LOT of detail in that upgrade :wink: :bow: .
 

dave_person

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Hi,
I finished scraping the stock. The photo shows my favorite scrapers with which I do 95% of the work. Scraping is not hard and you have to work with the grain, sometimes angling the scraper relative to the direction of the grain, sometime scraping in the grain direction, but never against the grain. No need to press hard, just let the scraper do the job with easy pressure, and get lighter as you approach the final smoothness. On a Bess, I don’t try to create a scratch-free surface, just scrape off the major bumps and scratches. I also rounded off the crisp corners around the lock and sideplate panels a little because I suspect the ordnance “setter uppers” as they were called, did not worry about maintaining sharp corners on those moldings. After final scraping I stained the stock with of mix of Brownell’s resorcin brown and scarlet aniline dyes dissolved in water. When dry, I rubbed the stock back with a green Scotch-Brite pad dipped in water to lighten the color. I did not whisker the wood because I want the finish to be a little textured rather than glass smooth. Any severe whiskering will be burnished down with a polished deer antler tip. Next up is finish.



I put the first coat of thinned finish on to seal the stock. I am using polymerized tung oil thinned 50% with mineral spirits. After another coat of thinned oil I will used unthinned oil. The nice thing about tung oil is that I can make the finish look just like any linseed-based oil or varnish but tung oil is more weather resistant. Depending on how the oil builds up on the surface, I may add a small amount of spar varnish for a shinier more brittle look although I usually rub that back to mellow the sheen. I’ll see how it goes this time around.

While finish is drying, I am working on the lock. After cleaning up a mass of internal gunk, this is what I found. I guess Pedersoli occasionally can turn out junk too. I think I will go walk Willow and sleep on it.


dave
 

dave_person

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Hi,
Well, I’ve been working on the lock. I fixed the sear by straightening the hole and installing a slightly larger screw. All of the lock parts were barely finished, showing mold lines and flashing. The mainspring just about disengaged from the tumbler when the flintcock was at rest. The full cock notch on the tumbler is so far from the halfcock notch that you almost pull the flintcock into the wrist before reaching the notch. I mean the throw is almost 120 degrees. Ridiculous! And to be even more annoying, all the screw slots are so thin it looks like they were sized for little pixies. The only good things I can say are the frizzen fits the pan pretty well and there is no slop in how the flintcock fits on the tumbler. After disassembling the lock, I started on the springs, all of them. First I annealed them. The sear spring on Pedersoli Besses are often too short so that the lower leaf hits the sear midway between the sear screw and the “L”. This is totally wrong and not how the originals were. The lower leaf should touch the sear just behind the sear screw for the proper leverage. Making things worse is the downward bend they put in the lower leaf of the spring. This is why many folks have trouble adjusting the trigger pull. Heat
the spring and straighten out the bend. Open the main bend a little so the spring makes firm contact with the sear but now at least the contact point is closer to the screw. I filed and polished the spring to clean it up a bit. Next the mainspring. The geometry is poor resulting in the lower leaf bending upward from the middle when the flintcock is at full cock. Moreover, the hook barely contacts the tumbler at rest. I heated the main bend red hot and squeezed it closed a little. Then holding the spring by the main bend with pliers and the end of the hook with another pliers, I heated the entire lower leaf red hot and gently gave it a shallow even bend downward. Not much, just enough to compensate for closing the bend. That curve is called “preload” and gives the spring a whippy feel plus the changes I made result in the lower leaf being perfectly straight when the lock is at full cock. The photos below of a similar lock that I built illustrate preload and the correct spring geometry at full cock. You can also see the correct positioning of the sear spring behind the sear screw. I opened up the hook a little so that it engaged the tumbler a little deeper at rest and cleaned it up a bit. The top of the frizzen spring was gouged by the frizzen and it also had a perfectly round little void on the surface. I ground the top of the spring flat and polished it while also filing and cleaning up the rest of the spring. Before hardening the springs, I check to make sure they all fit properly and then heat them to red hot and quench in canola oil. Then I clean up the oil and pop them into my oven at 750 degrees for 1 hour to temper them. They are cooking as I speak. I’ll discuss the other lock work tomorrow. Time now for a scotch (neat) and then some supper.
dave

 

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Hi,
After a couple of coats of finish I burnished the stock with a polished antler tip. That pushes down the wood fibers but leaves a slight texture that is commonly encountered on military and utility arms. It also enables the grain to be filled faster. The glass smooth finish found on fine English sporting guns would not look authentic on a Brown Bess. After burnishing, I wiped the stock with turpentine and you can see the finished color emerging. Pedersoli Bess stocks can be made to look pretty nice. The stock requires quite a bit more finish to fill up the grain but it won’t take long.



The Bess bridal, tumbler, sear, and frizzen are in my oven packed in bone and wood charcoal for case hardening. I am case hardening the parts at 1575 degrees for 1 hour. They will be quenched in 10-12 gallons of water in about 1 hour. Then I will temper the internal lock parts at 575 degrees and the frizzen at 400 degrees. After tempering, the toe of the frizzen will be heated to indigo blue with a hand held torch. The tumbler on this Bess lock has too much space between the half cock and full cock notches. If you intend to keep the trigger pull at the very heavy 10-11 lbs typical of British muskets, that spacing is not a problem. But if you want to lighten the trigger pull to make the gun a better shooter, you have a real problem. The light trigger pull allows the sear to drop back against the tumbler and slide into the halfcock notch during firing. With a heavy trigger pull, you are strongly drawing the sear up and keeping it away from the tumbler while it travels forward. With a light pull, the sear may engage the halfcock notch as the tumbler moves forward. This possibility is much worse if the travel between half cock and full cock is large. To reduce that distance and to make the throw of the flintcock shorter, I annealed the tumbler and recut the full cock notch about 1/16” closer to the halfcock notch. I used a jewelers saw to cut down and in to the notch and then cleaned up the cut with files and stones. If you do this keep in mind the face of the fullcock notch must be in a direct line with the pivoting center of the tumbler. If undercut, the trigger pull will be excessive, if overcut, the lock will not hold at full cock. I cut the tumbler on this lock and reduced the throw of the flintcock substantially but more than sufficient to kick over the frizzen every time. With the improved mainspring geometry and strength, the tumbler modification, and changes to the sear spring, the lock performs very well and the potential to adjust trigger pull effectively is much better. Nonetheless, this gun will be adjusted to meet historical parameters, which means the trigger pull will be heavy, about 10 lbs.

 

dave_person

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Hi, I am doing this thread because I understand that many folks simply cannot afford the $2-3K for a custom and hopefully accurate Brown Bess copy. I get that. I also get the fact that the F&I and Rev War living history population is aging and declining. One of the impediments to a young participant is that after spending a lot of money on uniforms, clothing, camp and military accoutrements, he or she often cannot afford an historically accurate rifle or musket. It may be the single most expensive item they buy. So they get a Pedersoli if they have a $1000 or perhaps an India-made Bess if they can afford less. What bothers me about all of this is that it is the gun that tends to attract the public and is often the hook that enables a re-enactor to teach the public history. I have watched this for many years because both of my brothers were involved in living history since the 1980s. It is great to demonstrate a wonderfully hand sewn and historically accurate uniform, but then hold up a Pedersoli or India-made Bess as an accurate example of 18th century arms? Total crap. I cannot salvage the India-made guns, but I can make the Pedersolis look more like what they should be as products of the British ordnance system and that is the point of my thread. I want to be clear: I believe the Brown Bess musket to be the most beautiful military firearm ever made. The French muskets of the time were technically superior but not as elegant and beautiful. I love the Brown Bess. It served with minor changes for over 100 years. Can you imagine the “03” Springfield rifle being issued to troops sent to Iraq in 2003? I love the Brown Bess and I admire, despite all its faults, the ordnance system that produced it. Anyway, my goal is to help folks make their Pedersoli Besses as historically accurate as they can and this is what I do to make that happen. I also want to make clear that I talk the talk but I also walk the walk. I build rifles and muskets that I donate to living history groups so they can educate the public about the quality of work done by hand in the 18th century.

Dave
 

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Hi Folks,
OK, a big post about the lock work. This will be a doozy. This particular Pedersoli Bess lock saw a lot of use and was abused. First, some history. The lock on the Pedersoli Besses are the style used on pattern 1756 and 1769 Besses with the wrong markings. It shows only one screw hole behind the flintcock because it has a long sear spring. Later Bess locks showed 2 screws because they shortened the sear spring and they added a hole to the top jaw screw. The Pedersoli Bess lock does not represent a late Rev War or Napoleonic War Bess lock.

The frizzen was very worn, the plate and flintcock were very rust pitted, and the internal parts needed a lot of work. First, I had to clean it up. I washed it in hot soapy water and then sprayed it with Ballistol to disperse the water and clean off the gunk. I previously showed the problem with the sear screw hole. I annealed all the internal parts by heating them to bright orange with a MAPP torch and letting them cool slowly. To fix the sear, I annealed it and then filed the screw hole true using a rat tailed needle file. Once the hole was corrected, I cleaned it up by using a proper sized drill and my drill press to ream the hole. I then filed a slightly larger screw to fit the hole in the sear and threaded it to fit the lockplate. That solved the problem. Next, I straightened the lower leaf of the sear spring so it contacted the sear closer to the sear screw. I’ll discuss hardening and tempering springs later. Note the contact between the sear spring and the sear in the photo below
I also heated and modified the mainspring so that the lower leaf was almost straight at full cock instead of having a bend upward in the middle of the leaf. I added preload to it and I also opened up the hook so it engaged the tumbler a little deeper at rest.
The cock on Pedersoli Bess locks have much too long a throw because the full cock notch on the tumbler is too far from the halfcock notch. I annealed the tumbler and then cut a new full cock notch about 1/16” in front of the existing notch. The old line of the fullcock notch is clear in the photo below.
When changing the notch, the face of the full cock notch must be in a direct line with a radius drawn from the center of the tumbler pivot. After cutting the notch, I stoned it to match that geometry. The flintcock now has a shorter throw but a distance that makes the lock faster, less likely to fall into the halfcock notch during firing, and less damaging of flints. It is a better lock.
The next job was the frizzen. I polished the surface of the frizzen to remove most of the gouges and then modified the toe so it snaps open faster. The photo below show the angle of the frizzen above the pan at the point at which it will snap open from the spring pressure. It is about 30 degrees above the pan. I adjust that point by grinding the toe of the frizzen at the angle shown by the red line in the photo. I also make sure the upper leaf of the frizzen spring is highly polished so there is little friction owing to a rough surface.
By grinding off the front edge of the toe at an angle, you create a cam in which the spring knocks the frizzen forward when pushed beyond that point. Keep in mind, that a good flintlock should produce great sparks even if there is no spring on the frizzen. The frizzen spring is really meant to provide a little resistance to the flint but more to keep the pan cover closed over the priming even if knocked about. I polish the inside of the pan so it is easier to clean and resist rust.
I cleaned up all the lock parts using 3-M bristle burrs mounted on my Dremel but then stoned them using stones lubricated with mineral oil to smooth and polish the surfaces. Then I rubbed the surfaces with a steel burnisher to create the authentic shine and polish.
I polish cut the screw slots wider, and then harden, and temper all the screw heads so they resist rust and wear. I heat them with a MAPP torch to bright orange, dip them in KaseNit, heat them back to orange, and then quench in water. After hardening, I clean off the residue with 3M bristle burrs and then heat them with a butane mini-torch until they turn indigo blue. That tempers them. I dip them hot into Vaseline containing carbolic acid and let them smoke. That creates a very rust resistant surface on the metal. I get the Vaseline from Ron’s Apothecary in Juneau, Alaska. It is the same as “medicated Vaseline” that used to be widely sold. The original screws were not hardened but today’s reenactors may want to protect their investments as best they can.
Finally, I pack all of the sear, bridle, frizzen, and tumbler into a box containing bone and wood charcoal, and then heat them in my oven to 1575 degrees for 1 hour. The pack is quenched in water and then the frizzen is tempered at 400 degrees for 1 hour and the other parts 575 degrees for 1 hour. They are let cool slowly. I heat treat the sear, tumbler, and bridle together so they achieve equal hardness. That way no part wears on the other. After assembling the lock, it is done.



Some final details. The main bolts and screws need to be cleaned up and in some cases better fitted. All bolts that likely will see wear from use or screw drivers benefit from having the heads case hardened. That was not done on originals but it will protect the owners investment better than if the heads are left soft and it doesn’t show. The tang bolt was badly fitted so I freshened out the countersinking and put the bolt in my lathe. Then I turned down the head with files and sandpaper until it fit better in the hole. I turned all the other bolts as well as the buttplate screws my lathe and cleaned them up with sandpaper. I also made sure the slots were deep and true, and widened those that were too narrow for a human sized screw driver.
I heated all the bolt and screw heads to orange with a MAPP torch and dipped them in Kase Nit, reheated them to orange, and then quenched in water. After cleaning them up after hardening, I heat them with a butane torch to a deep blue temper and quench them in carbolated Vaseline. That will help them resist rust and bad fitting screw drivers. All of the brass hardware was cleaned up with fine files, then wet sanded with paper or stones and oil, and then polished with a burnisher dipped in mineral oil. The photo shows the bolts, screws, and brass. The burnisher is shown on the left. I do not use a buffing wheel. I can tell hardware that was buffed using a wheel in an instant because the edges of the screw and bolt holes are dished out and rounded. Just look at any of the overly polished hardware and locks on India-made repros to see what I mean.








 

dave_person

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the tip of the ramrod on Pedersolis is too flat and flared. It does not look like the originals. I file the end into a shallow dome shape and then turn the edges of the tip against a grinding wheel or sanding disk to reduce the diameter of the tip a little and create a wider lip much more like the originals.
 

dave_person

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The finish so far has dried but I have to apply several more coats to build up a sheen. I decided to assemble the gun and test the trigger and lock operation, fit of the parts, and fit all the pins. The gun assembled very easily. I ran a 3/32” drill through all the pin holes to clean out finish and open them up. They often swell from the finish. After that, I measured each pin because after taking wood off the stock, many of the pins are too long. I want each to be just short of the correct length so they are slightly below the surface of the wood when installed. That way, if they need to be tapped out, the punch can use the lip of the hole as a guide to prevent it from slipping and gouging the wood. I turn each pin in my lathe to shorten both ends and round the ends off. That way they will not snag and chip out wood if they are tapped out again. That is particularly important for the barrel pins, which are removed the most frequently. I harden the pins and temper them to blue so they don’t bend under stress in the stock and the ends don’t mushroom from being tapped with a punch. Original pins were not hardened at least as far as I can tell but again, that treatment helps protect your investment and does not show. The trigger rattled badly regardless if the lock was at rest, half, or full cock. I hate rattling triggers and none of the original Besses I’ve handled had loose triggers. I don’t doubt many were issued that way, however. This Pedersoli had a lot of slop in the trigger so I increased the height of the trigger bar by adding some beads of weld. I filed the welded metal to shape and then gradually filed off the height, repeatedly testing it in the gun until it held snug against the sear of the lock at all lock positions. I then case hardened the trigger to carburized the mild steel of the weld. That solved the problem and the trigger pull measures 7.5 lbs, which is heavy but fine for a gun used for re-enacting. The originals were around 10 lbs. I included a few photos of the assembled gun, but will post more detailed ones when the finish is completed.
dave


 
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