A universal revolver wrench

We do a fair amount of revolver work here and I have always used a flat ended rifle action wrench if the barrel needs to come off, however it is heavy and cumbersome and not ideally suited to the lighter frames of the revolver so time to design and build one for myself.

Designing a revolver frame wrench is not exactly rocket science and in its simplest form it is just a length of metal with another bit that can be bolted to it and the frame is sandwiched between the two parts, usually with a bolt through the trigger loop and above the top strap and maybe one in the middle.

Of course the spacing for the bolts does tend to vary from model to model which is something to incorporate into a universal design. Also I wanted the ability to add shaped spacers for unusual things and it needed a comfortable grip.

A few minutes on the computer and a concept had been created. I tend to use Sketchup quite a lot for simple 2D designs such as this as I can export them as a DXF file for the CNC machine albeit in a vastly simplified form as the CNC I use only understands profiles and only across one edge. Incidentally, Sketchup is still free to download and use in the basic version and this does include full 3D modelling and it is incredibly easy to use.

With the material cut to length it was popped into the machine. You will notice I am not using a steady and there is a fair lump of material extending from the chuck that is not being machined. The reason for this stick out is very simple, the machine is currently set-up with a collet chuck which will only accept a maximum of 26,0mm diameter material. I could have swapped to the 3 jaw however my back is not great right now so I opted to machine a 25,0mm tenon on one end using the smaller lathe and then into this one for profiling.

I ran two programs, one for roughing out to +0,025mm of the final profile and one for finishing. I normally generate a program that does both roughing and finishing so time to try something new.

One issue with profiling without a steady over such a length is chatter and I ran the finish cuts at 1750 rev/minute as it seemed to give the best result.

Next job was back into the small lathe (Colchester Chipmaster) and the tenon was machined off, then into the Bridgeport and the flat section for the clamp surface machined followed by drilling and tapping the holes ready to accept the upper section. The wrench uses high tensile M8 button head screws  to hold the two parts together and this should give me more than enough clamping pressure without fear of ripping screws out. In fact I usually just nip the screws up so they do not deform or damage the part being held.

The final operation was drill the clearance holes for the upper, give it a quick clean up and assemble and yes, it works and feels right which is what I wanted. Time to put it to use!

Lightweight Rear Bag Riders

Despite my bitter dislike of anything carbon fibre related due to the fibres that seem to get everywhere I actually enjoyed making this, a rear bag rider for an Accuracy International that had to be light. This is a mix of carbon fibre and 6082T6 and rolled in at 95 grams so it ticks the box and I think it looks rather smart as well, or will do when I have wiped my grubby prints off it. Something to remember with our light weight rear bag riders is by nature they are not as robust as the normal 150 gram versions as a third of the weight has been shed however as long as they are not seriously abused they seem to go on for ever and I know for a fact that all of the ones I have built to date are still out there on rifles and in constant use.

There is a 75 gram version however I only do these to special order and they are not as pretty

I guess I had better get back to work as it feels like we are knee deep in rifle and shotgun work right now. Roll on getting the dogs out time when it is a bit cooler. I will make an effort to update you all on our recent projects over the weekend.

As an aside the workshop doors are open and I just looked up and spotted a male House Sparrow perched on the door handle of our Defender, how odd…

Schmidt Rubin K31 Bore Guides

It is nigh on a month since I posted to my Journal which should tell you something as I am usually very quiet when we are running flat out as we tend to just focus on what we need to get done.

The good news is we have passed a couple of mile stones project wise and can (In theory) get back to normality and on the subject of normality here is a cleaning rod guide or bore guide depending on your side of the Atlantic for the Schmidt Rubin K31, I have built for other SR’s however never the K31 for some unknown reason so here it is and it may even be in our e Commerce shop by now, if not just email the Viking and tell her you want one and she will confirm our anticipated delivery date. Right now bespoke bore guides are going out within a couple of weeks and stock bore guides such as the more common Sako, Tikka and Remington items same day and we usually have a few Accuracy International variants built and ready to go for everything from the AW to the AXMC.

If in doubt just drop us an email or call the workshop.

Finally, why am I calling the Bore Guides as well as Cleaning Rod Guides? Well I have always referred to them as the latter however some confusion has cropped in to the two names and if indeed they are separate products and the answer is nope, a Bore Guide is a Cleaning Rod Guide the only difference is where you live 🙂

Ouch, ouch and OUCH!

I had to crown a revolver this week, a simple enough job. I had already cut and polished the forcing cone and refitted the barrel however it was still with me so no real hardship to remove again and cut an eleven degree crown as requested.

Such a small item is easily machined in the Colchester so I was horrified to realise the barrel would not fit down the 1.5″ or whatever centre bore of the machine and I would have to do the job on the Harrison.

Now I have no issues with the Harrison, it is superbly accurate and I can program the precise angle of crown required, zero the Z Axis, close the guards and hit a button and it does its thing. The only real problem is I would need to swap to the 4 jaw so the barrel could be clocked in and the Harrison 4 jaw chuck is heavy, very heavy in fact. Here it is alongside a 4 jaw from the Colchester. Weight wise it is probably 35-40kgs which is bad enough however add the fact that I need to lean in a couple of feet to fit the chuck to the shaft nose using the Camlock system and I just knew regardless of how much care I took my back was not going to thank me for such antics.

We do have a hoist system that came in a few months ago, however right now I have a press that is blocking access and until some other workshop changes are made I cannot move the press, so I cannot get the hoist in so it was going to be a matter of muscle and ingenuity.  With the use of a suitable sized piece of 3/4″ plywood the chuck was supported on the lathe bed in front of the spindle nose and the Viking lifted one end of the plywood which acted as a lever and raised the chuck enough to enable me to slide it into place and tighten the Camlocks.

That was a couple of days ago, the job is done, the revolver has been shipped out and I have returned the 4 jaw to the rack and replaced it with a collet chuck for the next job and my back is still aching.

I am convinced summer is just around the corner. The workshop doors are open more than they are closed during the day and the stove is no longer consuming wood and solid fuels. I have even given up wearing a scarf and cap when working!

We headed off to the coast yesterday evening, it was warm, the place was devoid of visitors and the dogs and I spent a happy hour wandering across the marsh and down to the start of the sand, the Viking was left to follow up as she was not wearing boots and despite the tide being out it is a marsh and accordingly wet and muddy in places. We reached the edge of the march, took the obligatory picture and turned back. If you look at the panoramic image towards the left you will see machinery and activity, this is the new cabling for the wind farm, apparently it is going to be a 25 year project and we will end up with the largest wind farm in Europe. I am not sure that is anything to be pleased about however if it is a viable and cost efficient alternative to fossil fuels then very good. One thing I did notice was a complete absence of the usual wildlife I would expect on such an outing. Not a Dunlin or Egret in sight. I am aware of the impact dogs that are not in control can have on the breeding birds in the marshes and it is about now that we will adjust our walking habits in some areas.

We completed the evening by calling in at Saltfleet for fish and chips and then down to the harbour and we watched a majestic Marsh Harrier quartering the marsh on the other side of the estuary as we enjoyed our evening meal.  This is also a reasonable location to spot a multitude of other birds and the occasional Row Deer in the distance. We had one final outing across the sand, this time I spotted some Shelducks further out, unmistakable with their tricolours and size and numerous waders that I always struggle to identify regardless of time of year, I really should take a book with me next time 🙂

(Micro) Boring work

People I speak to often seem to associate ‘Gunsmiths’ as either people who stand at a bench knee deep in wood shavings clutching parts of an old shotgun, or people standing in front of a lathe in a garage adding threads to things.

Both pictures do apply and yet they could not be further from the truth for many of us who work with firearms.

My goal has always been to buy British for work and if I stand in the workshop I am surrounded by British machinery or British produced. Harrison CNC, Colchester Manual, Bridgeport Mill and so the list goes on. The bandsaw is a UK model, the bench sander is again a UK thing as is the barrel press and it is not until you get to the polishing station that foreign things appear in the form of a German double ended system that to this day still frightens me very slightly when it starts to spool up as it sounds like a jet engine and has the ability to rip small items from between my fingers and hurl them at the floor either never to be found again or marred beyond use.

On the subject of foreign I use Paul Horn GmbH micro boring bars and holders, Horn is a Luxembourg company and produces some fabulous tools however of particular interest are these little things. There is nothing to scale to however to give an idea of size the solid carbide cutter in the holder at the bottom will bore holes 4,75mm/0.187″ diameter and will comfortably go in to 25,0mm however there will be deflection at this distance so some washout cuts are required. Such boring bars will not replace a reamer however they are handy for some jobs. I have a range of cutters that go down to 1,0mm and I use the ‘shorter fatter’ versions for opening bolt faces and machining barrel recesses for bolts with conical fronts such as the Chombart M66. They are also handy for obscure comparator bores and a hundred other jobs once you have them to hand and understand the limitations of such cutters.

This is the G22 rifle I recently had to work on, the stub on the charging/cocking handle had snapped off and it was made of some rather hard steel, stuffing a drill bit in would have been hit and miss at best and would not have given the degree of accuracy I needed. Hence the need for the micro boring bar.

We also hold internal grooving and screwcutting inserts of similar sizes and can machine down to 0,25mm internal thread pitch if required to do so although there is a degree of ‘breath holding’ as such work is not routine for me 🙂

Well it is Friday and I am slightly behind on my schedule, the computer I use for CAD work and uploading to the Harrison decided to have a bit of a lie down, I rather hope it was due to a faulty reset and/or power switch however only time will tell… Also a mysterious ‘Pertwanggg’ like a ricocheting bullet whilst heading to the range in the Ford the other day turned out to be  the front offside coil spring breaking so it is in the garage at present. Don’t you just love the Lincolnshire Wolds lanes? Yes I know we have a Landrover as well however it was just a quick trip out to drop some parts off so no need for the mighty 4×4.

Work time.