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Thread: Clever gunsmithing!

  1. #1
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Clever gunsmithing!

    I'm guessing this is the work of either Parkenfarker, or Bubba. Either way, it's top notch backyard gunsmithing! The objective was (I believe) to make their fine Ballard rifle into a "takedown rifle". How they accomplished that was very unique!



    It's not a great picture, so here's an explanation. Someone removed the lever and breech block halves, and then used a hacksaw to cut down through the bottom of the receiver almost to the threads on the barrel shank! Guessing that at this point the cut was close enough that receiver either split; or they possibly put a wedge in to complete the cut. The threads weren't cut, but bottom of the barrel was nicked where the hacksaw blade hit it while cutting.
    I put the barreled action in my barrel vise and using my action wrench I gave it a good tug and it didn't loosen. But after loosening the home built tension screw pulling the cut tightly together, the barrel spun off by hand easily!
    A nice special order pistol gripped, forged Ballard! Loop lever and all matching numbers. Now unfortunately nothing but parts if I can't come across a donor receiver, or a talented welder who can repair it. Anyone know somebody who can weld it, or has a forged pistol grip receiver, give me a holler!

  2. #2
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    Alan Harton is the best welder I know, don't know if he will do work on rifles.


    Eric

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    If'n it didn't have a serial number on it I could take it in and TiG weld it..
    Got a .22 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throat reaming? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? Shoot me a PM! Also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cylinderhone-756429174391912/

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    It's pre 1899 so it's considered a non-firearm. http://rawles.to/Pre-1899_FAQ.html

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    Post some better pics please..
    Got a .22 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throat reaming? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? Shoot me a PM! Also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cylinderhone-756429174391912/

  6. #6
    Must have been the same skilled artisan that converted my 32 Ballard into a .410 1/2 Rd half Oct. barrel , with a 7/16 dull bit! Also drilled crooked hole for F-pin.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougGuy View Post
    Post some better pics please..
    Hard to see anything with pictures. It's just a thin cut through the bottom, right down to the barrel shank threads. Here's another angle, but not sure if it helps either?



    There's also that screw hole you can see the head sticking out the side of the receiver. So it needs filling on both sides, as it passes completely through. I'd guess the cut is so thin it needs to be V out to get better fill on a weld. The receiver is almost 2" wide, and the cut an inch deep in that area below the barrel.
    As Mtec mentioned it's an antique "non gun" according to ATF. Last Ballard sold was in 1891.

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    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gewehr-Guy View Post
    Must have been the same skilled artisan that converted my 32 Ballard into a .410 1/2 Rd half Oct. barrel , with a 7/16 dull bit! Also drilled crooked hole for F-pin.
    Some people need to have a license to own hand tools! Especially the crooked firing pin hole! A #2 has a reversible firing pin, so no reason to even change the pin hole! RF/CF all in one.

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    A hack saw is a dangerous thing in the wrong hands. But a Dremel is much worse.
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  10. #10
    Name:  martini takedown.jpg
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    Am I imagining that the slot isn't quite central or straight? It isn't much worse than the takedown system of the Greener GP action, which people have successfully built into rifles which work with modern .45-70 smokeless loads. The only real difference is that the screw on this Ballard isn't as far from the barrel, and will therefore exert less leverage in tightening up. If the receiver limitations don't put you worse off than the breechblock limitations, what difference does it make?

    If I wanted to put it back to solid-bridge, I would silver solder a piece of sheet steel in the slot, using Brownells 355 silver solder, which comes in thin ribbons. I don't think you would really need to do any special blackening of the solder lines when you have blued it. I have a 24ga shotgun which is in as near mint condition as you dare expect in a 1926 gun, and I think the reason is that an Australian got it home before he realised that 20ga shells wouldn't fit. There is a silver-inlaid "24" at the rear of the barrel rib, but it had tarnished to be indistinguishable through ordinary atmosphere and handling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by frkelly74 View Post
    A hack saw is a dangerous thing in the wrong hands. But a Dremel is much worse.
    Amen! My first advice to aspiring gunsmiths, if you own a Dremel, the first thing to do it to carry is to the door, and throw it as far as you can. They have VERY limited use in gun work. Shortening screws and pins is about it.

    Also, if you insist on doing a project, always file or grind on the cheapest part to replace.
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    Boolit Master pietro's Avatar
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    I can understand the desire to repair it, Vall, but I think that I'd just leave it/shoot it, as-is - IMO, because the split runs through the SN, AND the split gives it "character".

    I might, however, make/install a takedown screw with a fancier knurled head, similar to the Martine Model 12 takedown's.

    It'd be nice to know/hear the back story on it.


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  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    Any chance it was a split that was bubba cleaned up and repaired. IE, a crack that was cut then pinned ( bolted? )

  14. #14
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    In the Good Old Days, a takedown feature was very desirable. The streetcars used to run to the gun ranges and having something that fit into a short case that didn't intrude into the other passengers' space was thought of as good manners.

    Grant mentioned in one of his books that he used to encounter Scheutzen Ballards with an aftermarket tapered cross pin fitted to secure the barrel, which presumably was dressed down for screwing in by hand. This "ruined" their collector value, but, as he mentioned, if it had been rebarreled by a famous maker, you couldn't exactly say that it was a "butchered" gun. In those days, it might have been out of production, but it was either a shooter or useless. "Collector value" hadn't been invented yet.

    If it was mine, I'd leave the feature as-is and make a fancy-schmancy .22 rimfire target rifle out of it. Find a Leg-O-Mutton carrying case and enjoy the other shooters' envious interest as you studiously screw the barrel home on the Line.

    There have been threads on the dubiousness of welded-up Low Walls, especially in terms of their eventual sale to others. I would think a similarly done up Ballard would be looked at askance, too.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    I've seen a lot of Bubba's work, and I think this is one of his jobs. The crooked hacksaw cut gives it away. Parkenfarker would have used a power tool. The cut would have been wider, straighter, and cut into the bore.

    What do you want to do with this receiver? Do you want to repair and use it? I do not believe that welding is the answer. The cut is too deep, too narrow, and too crooked. True, a TIG or MIG could seal the exterior of the cut and might penetrate in a bit, but you'll never succeed in filling the entire cut with weld. Inside will be an unfilled area in which rust can eat away from the inside.

    I think, were the problem mine, which thankfully it is not, I would brass braze the cut. The advantages are that braze flows and fills all of the voids. Braze is extremely strong. Should you find it desirable to re-heat treat the receiver after the repair, the braze will withstand the heat treatment.
    The only disadvantage to the braze repair would be the visibility of the color of the repair. But, since the receiver is no longer a collector's item you could use one of the modern paint-type finishes and that should hide it.

    How to go about it -- you would have to re-install the cross screw and tighten it to the correct location for screwing in the barrel properly. The cut would have to be brazed with the screw in place and the screw would then be immoveable. That could be hidden by grinding the head down a bit with a Dremel pointed stone and then filling the hole with a little weld. Grind and polish that off and that would also be just about invisible.

    How strong is a brass braze? I've included a couple of photos. I had to make these many years ago in gunsmithing school's welding shop as an educational exercise, and I've always wondered why I saved them. I guess this post was the reason. These pieces of steel were brazed at 90 degrees to each other and then bent over with a hammer to illustrate the strength of the joint. Henry Repeating Firearms uses a bronze/brass receiver, and claims its strength to be superior to steel. In the case of these samples the area of the joint was heated cherry red. Flux was applied to the right side and the brazing rod to the left side, and the flux sucked the braze under the vertical piece and created the joint. Your receiver would have to be repaired in much the same manner, flux pulling the braze into the cut. Sorry the photos are a bit out of focus--but you can get the idea.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  16. #16
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ballistics in Scotland View Post
    Name:  martini takedown.jpg
Views: 712
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    Am I imagining that the slot isn't quite central or straight? It isn't much worse than the takedown system of the Greener GP action, which people have successfully built into rifles which work with modern .45-70 smokeless loads. The only real difference is that the screw on this Ballard isn't as far from the barrel, and will therefore exert less leverage in tightening up. If the receiver limitations don't put you worse off than the breechblock limitations, what difference does it make?

    If I wanted to put it back to solid-bridge, I would silver solder a piece of sheet steel in the slot, using Brownells 355 silver solder, which comes in thin ribbons. I don't think you would really need to do any special blackening of the solder lines when you have blued it. I have a 24ga shotgun which is in as near mint condition as you dare expect in a 1926 gun, and I think the reason is that an Australian got it home before he realised that 20ga shells wouldn't fit. There is a silver-inlaid "24" at the rear of the barrel rib, but it had tarnished to be indistinguishable through ordinary atmosphere and handling.
    Your Greener is exactly what this gun looks like! Except I'm guessing whoever did this gun may not have used a hacksaw after all, as the cut is so thin! I can put two thicknesses of notebook paper in the cut, but 3 thicknesses wont fit. Guessing they may have used a jeweler's saw to make the cut. But it is indeed not perfectly straight, but not far off.
    Thanks for that picture! I've never seen that type of takedown system, and it makes me feel a bit more comfortable about my options.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soundguy View Post
    Any chance it was a split that was bubba cleaned up and repaired. IE, a crack that was cut then pinned ( bolted? )
    No, as the barrel still matches the gun's serial number and is in perfect shape. I can also see right at the receiver where they nicked the barrel while making the cut, so it was in place during the process. Gorgeous bore in .32-40, and strong rifling.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Many of those pinned barrels back then were cross pinned and the end of the pin was used as an anchor point for a breech seating tool. I have a Schoyen Ballard and a Zettler Bros. Ballard that both have pinned barrels with a head to hook a breech seater on. As you mentioned, if it's done by someone highly respected it wont hurt the gun's value. But those are also done to not hurt the gun's structural integrity.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pietro View Post
    .


    I can understand the desire to repair it, Vall, but I think that I'd just leave it/shoot it, as-is - IMO, because the split runs through the SN, AND the split gives it "character".

    I might, however, make/install a takedown screw with a fancier knurled head, similar to the Martine Model 12 takedown's.

    It'd be nice to know/hear the back story on it.


    .
    With the stock being modified to change it from the Ballard small Swiss buttplate to a hard rubber, my guess is someone wanted to make it a hunting rifle. The takedown feature was part of this I believe to make it smaller to pack out to the field on a coach or train.

    Here's what it looks like. The top 1/3 of the stock was spliced in to change it to the flat buttplate:

  20. #20
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waksupi View Post
    Amen! My first advice to aspiring gunsmiths, if you own a Dremel, the first thing to do it to carry is to the door, and throw it as far as you can. They have VERY limited use in gun work. Shortening screws and pins is about it.

    Also, if you insist on doing a project, always file or grind on the cheapest part to replace.
    I have a Dremel with flex shaft hanging above my gunsmithing bench all the time. But as you say, one needs to be selective as to what it's used for. I use it often with a thin parting disc to recut screw slots that are buggered. It's a valuable tool to me, but not for the amateur who doesn't know how to control it.

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