Sunday, August 09, 2009

A Little Flintlock Smithing

The weather today was crummy -- hot, humid, and scattered thunderstorms.  So, instead of going to the range as I'd planned, I stayed home and did a bit of 'smithing on my flintlocks.

First up was my Middlesex Village Trading Company Tulle Fusil de Chasse 20 gauge.  (Note, MVTC's website still shows the prototype only.  I bought one off the shelf last month at Dixon's.)  It came with a rather thin, whippy ramrod made of some Indian mystery wood.  The ramrod thimbles are large enough to accept a 3/8" rod but the channel in the stock needed to be sanded out.  I did this using some sandpaper wrapped around a short section of 3/8" ramrod, after removing the thimbles.  However, the hole in the forearm which the ramrod goes into needs to be drilled out.  I need to get a ramrod hole drill, basically a 48" long drill bit.  Track of the Wolf has the appropriate size for $37, so I'll probably add one to my next order with them.

Setting the fusil aside I decided to try smoothing out the lock on my MVTC French M1717 musket.  The locks on the Indian guns imported by MVTC are made from forged parts but in some places they are a bit rough.  Also, the springs are very strong, especially the sear spring.  This results in truly atrocious trigger pulls.

To properly disassemble a lock from a muzzleloading gun you need a mainspring vice.  After removing the lock place it on half cock, and then place the vise over the mainspring.  Then, pull the hammer back a bit more and tighten the vise.  At this point you should be able to pull the hammer back a bit then press on the sear lever, and gently let the hammer forward.  Once the hammer is down you can pull the mainspring off the lock plate.

With the M1717's lock disassembled I used some 600 grit emery paper to polish all the parts.  You need to be very careful when polishing the sear engagement, i.e., the tip of the sear and the notches in the tumbler.  You just want to smooth them.  Go slowly. Remember, it's very easy to remove metal but it's hard to replace it.

Much of the MVTC guns' heavy trigger pulls is due to the very strong sear springs.  When you're pulling the trigger to fire, not only are you working against the mainspring, but also the sear spring.  So, after polishing the spring, I put it in a bench vise and using a sanding drum and gringing wheel in a Dremel tool, I carefully thinned and slightly shortened the tip of the spring.  I went slowly making sure that I did not overheat the spring.  Anytime the spring got too hot to touch with my finger I let it cool down.

With the lock back together and the gun reassembled I snapped the hammer a couple of times.  The trigger pull is probably half of what it was before, and the lock feels much smoother.  Since the musket lock came out well I did the same thing to the fusil's lock.  Neither gun has a trigger I'd find acceptable on a rifle, but they are much, much better now, which should result in better shooting.  I'm hoping to be able to try one of them on Friday.


Anonymous said...

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Dave Markowitz said...

Thank you!