Pulling Balls

Removing stuck balls from a muzzle loading rifle is not always as easy as you might think and a cannon is no exception. This particular one was a .700″ that originally came from Kranks with a ball absolutely jammed tight. After a couple of goes with a normal puller I was getting nowhere, so out came the ‘Very stuck ball puller’, you can do this sort of job with a slide hammer as well however it is very easy to rip the screw out if you are overly enthusiastic hence using the screw type puller.

My puller is home made for obvious reasons and comprises of a length of M8 stainless studding with a T handle welded to the back end.  A second handle that can be screwed down the bar is added and used to jack the bar out and at the pointy end is an adapter that accepts a wood screw with a turned down head. The adapter is screwed onto the main threaded section tightly which holds the woodscrew in place and I have added a nut behind to lock everything in place.

Here it is in use, the bushing is to align it to the bore and it is just a matter of screwing the extractor screw into the stuck ball a suitable distance and then jack the offending item out using the front bar.

The front end is a wood screw with the end turned down to fit inside the front adapter and the main thread locks the screw in place with a locknut behind.

Once the ball was out the reason for the fail to fire is immediately apparent, the bore had not been cleaned properly in the past and a plug of fouling had built up and eventually blocked the flash hole from inside, so a good measure of powder could be added and the fuse inserted into the flash hole however the fuse was not able to ignite the powder…

I just noticed I have been quiet on here so I will update you with our latest antics very shortly 🙂

Safety Glasses and Skylarks

I am at the age where some form of magnification is always a plus when it comes to close up work and as a consequence wear reading glasses which is all well and good unless I am on the machines when I definitely should be wearing safety glasses. In the good old days I would put my safety specs over my rather stylish Danish Titanium reading glasses for close up stuff however I would invariably remove the safety specs and end up with my nose a few inches from a chuck rotating at 1000RPM+

I say would in the past tense as I moved to safety bifocals a couple of years ago and at that point I made a conscious decision to not have normal reading glasses in the workshop so I could never be tempted to wear them and these days you will invariably find me either with safety bifocals either protecting my eyes or pushed back on the top of my head when not in use.

The problem is when worn all the time they tend to get scratched and knocked around quite quickly and annoyingly my recent choice have nose pads that fall off never to be seen again which makes them uncomfortable and probably less safe than they should be so I was quite pleased when a couple of pairs of +1.5 Bollé wrap-around bifocals arrived a few weeks ago.

First impressions are always important  and I was initially rather unsure of the clear plastic frame as it seems to refract the light coming through which was distracting however my existing safety specs were somewhat tired so I preserved and soon forgot about that aspect. Colour wise they do nothing for me and anyway, since when have I been a style icon. Fit was good and they certainly hold securely on your head, I just know they are never going to slide off at the wrong moment. One thing I have noticed is the top frame is moulded back towards the face slightly which gives better protection from above however the really important part is they are still looking crisp and new and so far are showing very few signs of wear and tear which is handy.

One thing I have noticed is the mostly clear frame makes it easier for me to misplace them if I do take them off however this is so infrequent that it is hardly a problem and I have come back from walking the Labrador on several  occasions only to realise my safety specs have just been for an hours walk with myself and the dog however he never seems to mind 🙂

I did receive some Bollé wrap-around general safety glasses at the same time however they have been snapped up at the local club probably because they are rather more stylish than the usual club offerings, any more than that it is difficult to say as they are gone although it is always a good sign if you do not find them discarded at the firing point 🙂

One particular user has just gone on to become a UK champion so I must catch up with him and find out if he attributes the title to his new safety glasses, or his superb shooting ability, oh and his modesty of course!

These particular safety glasses came from Jonathan Low-Hang who can be found here: https://www.nothingbutsafetyglasses.com/

We had our three yearly RFD visit this morning, so with this in mind we closed early yesterday and headed off to the coast to try and tire the dogs out. The Viking headed North with the Lurcher and the Labrador and I headed South agreeing to meet up in 90 minutes time. It was looking rather gloomy as we headed off and within 5 minutes the dog and I were walking through driving hail although he seemed unperturbed and concentrated on picking up every single empty plastic bottle he could find, most of which he would return to me with an expectant look. Hah! I thought, there was no way I was picking a bottle up from him as I would never see the end of it. Parts of the path have been covered with seaweed and grass from the recent high tides and bad weather so this probably explains the excessive amount of flotsam and jetsam visible at present and I often wonder where something came from and how it arrived here.

I just got my head down and continued the walk without a real break from the rain and we eventually arrived at the bay at Saltfleet Havn so we turned around and headed back to the car park a couple of miles or so further up the coast. As we neared the car park the sun broke through and we were greeted by a splendid rainbow and a chance to listen to the Skylarks again.

I filmed this pair for my Mother as she seldom hears them these days and typically they chose to all but stop singing and instead fall to the ground in formation before heading off again in a continued courtship.

The RFD renewal visit seems to have gone well however the dogs have rejoined us in the workshop and judging by the way they are rolling and tussling they are no longer tired and both look like they would benefit from a long walk by the coast again.

They will have to wait as I am back on gun stuff  🙂

The Schmidt Rubin M1889

Another Schmidt Rubin arrived recently, this time a Model 1889 chambered in 7,5×53,5mm so originally designed for the GP90 round.

This one dates back to 1893 so 125 years old and is in remarkably good condition considering its age and with all matching numbers and came with a sling and a later charger clip to enable the 12 round magazine to be filled quickly with the use of two of the charger clips.

On the subject of magazines the original design called for a magazine cut-off in the form of a lever on the right hand side of the magazine, push it up and the magazine indexes down slightly thus preventing the bolt from picking up rounds as it is cycled. Interestingly this rifle is fitted with the spring clip to prevent the magazine cut-off from being operated and can be seen in this image (The red arrow shows the clip) The clip is easily removed to enable the magazine to be fully detached from the rifle if required.

Further on magazines with the 12 round capacity plus one in the chamber giving 13 rounds in total the M1889 is one of the higher capacity military bolt action rifles and it is only the 7,62×51 chambered Ishapore 2A1 which also can have a 12 round magazine that springs to mind as an equivalent for round capacity. Please feel free to correct me if you know of higher capacity military bolt action rifles. Whilst on the subject of magazines, this rifle is chambered for the 7,5×53,5mm GP90 as opposed to the later 7,5x55mm GP11 and there are some significant differences between the two with the bottom line being do not load your GP90 compatible M1889 with the later, longer cased higher pressure GP11 ammunition as it will almost certainly end in tears. I will discuss the GP90 in a later article as I need to get some made if I am to shoot this thing.

The front sight at the pointy end of the 730mm/31″ 3 groove barrel has been swapped for a later model to cater for the previous owner’s own loading however I have an original sight as well so can always swap it back for the sake of completeness.

As ever this Schmidt Rubin has the usual incredibly long straight acting bolt however this one differs from later models in that it is a rear locker, or in other words the lugs are at the rear as opposed to the front. Personally I have no issues with rear lockers and it worked for the Lee Enfield, some earlier Schultz and Larsen models and even some French MAS models. Later on the rear locking concept was used by Robert Chombart for the M41 and the SSG69P1.

Anyway, it is a rear locker as oppressed to the later front lockers, or more accurately mid lockers as the bolt lugs were situated midway up the bolt for the later variants.

One thing I have not got around to is pulling the whole thing apart to look for identification marks which I plan on doing later today and will report back accordingly.

Walther G22 charging handles

This was one of those jobs that annoy me. Not the job itself, certainly not the little G22 either. It was the history behind the job that annoyed me.

A customer called to say they had a Walther G22 and the charging handle was falling off every time it was used, OK well not so bad however the history was they had gone to a fairly local shop and purchased the rifle, headed to the range and the charging handle fell off after a few shots. So back to the shop who announced it was not their problem as the gun was second hand so no warranty and by the sound of it, no interest. They dug their heels in a bit so the shop person disappeared off and came back a couple of minutes and announced it was fixed.

So they took it to the range and it fell apart again so it came to me for some care and attention.

The issues were two fold, firstly the thread on the M3 cap-head retaining the charging handle to the bolt was stripped so was never going to hold and had been loctited in place by the shop and secondly the handle should have had a shoulder that recessed into a register to prevent the weight being exclusively against the M3 screw when the charging handle was operated. This shoulder had snapped off so no amount of Loctite was ever going to hold things in place.

First job was machine a bush to suit, I opted for 316 stainless and machined a length to 4,75mm outer diameter with a 3,0mm hole through the middle. This was cut to 5,0mm overall length. The charging handle went into a 4 jaw chuck and a hole bored to accept the new bushing with a tight fit. This was an interesting job as the hole had to be 4,80mm and the charging handle is hard, very hard in fact which explains why the shoulder had snapped off. I used a solid carbide micro boring bar once the handle was clocked into place.


Once done the bush was glued into the charging handle, I wish I had added something for scale with this picture. I used the Colchester Chipmaster for this job as it is pleasantly sized lathe and I do not have to lug 40kgs of 4 jaw chuck around if I need to use it! I always enjoy operating a manual lathe and this machine dating back to 1974 is an absolute delight to use (Unless you want to cut metric threads!)

Once glued it was time for a quick cup of coffee, then it was just a matter of re-assembling everything and the job was complete.

The G22 always comes apart remarkably easily however it is full of linkages and springs and clips and really does need some attention if you intend to put it all back together.

Ah yes, I bet you are wondering why I didn’t just order a new handle from the importers? Mostly because they only imported the rifles and omitted to bring any spares in with them…

On the subject of machining hard things, the next job requires the use of some of these things.

Cubic boron nitride (CBN)Inserts for a boring job.

No, boring as in holes not boring as I really cannot be bothered, in fact I know it is going to be an interesting job and I am really looking forward to it 🙂

Work In Progress (WIP)

I needed somewhere to place round bits whilst in-between machining operations and had come to the conclusion a piece of corrugated plastic roofing might be suitable so I mentioned it to my son who volunteered to make something out of a bit of tree instead. Sounds like a plan I thought as he likes working with wood and I needed something to put my part turned parts in.

He called in Saturday and gave me this tray, room for WIP and space for a couple of measuring things on the end. All nicely made from hand oiled Walnut and Maple with soft rubber inserts. Arghhh! I have at long last plucked up the courage to use it and it does work very well although I do wonder what it will look like in a couple of years time

Thank you son.

Actually, writing this reminded me of the Eddie Izzard Death Star sketch so here it is (Not safe for work) If you are not sure who Eddie Izzard is it is probably not for you.