July 19, 2012

By that time I had branched out into disassembly adventures unrelated to guns. Bicycles were a favorite. Who that has ever taken apart a Sturmey Archer hub gear can forget that fatal moment when, with an insolent PING!, some damn spring is activated, firing tiny ball bearings all over your backyard? I balked at motorbikes, though a friend who was a serious biker could reduce his BSA to nuts, bolts, pins, and pistons in a single Saturday morning’s work. He used to quip that when he’d put it back together, he had enough parts left over to build another bike.

But that’s all shoved be’ind me”€”long ago an’ fur away…or it was until this week. Now here I am in my basement, trying to ensure that the lock pin is tight in the bolt lock, or locking block. Who knew that there was so much to a shotgun mechanism? Or that there were so many names to memorize? Until two days ago, I had never encountered the noun “sear.”

And those damn pins! There was one in the bolt assembly that I just couldn’t get out. It was holding in the firing pin. I whacked at it in the approved fashion with a hammer and nail punch. It came out about a sixteenth of an inch but wouldn’t budge further. My punch wouldn’t go any deeper into the pin hole, and the firing pin wouldn’t come out.

I thought hard about the problem until neurons were throwing aside their weapons and running from the field. Then I consulted a tool-savvy neighbor. He gave me the solution: Find a drill bit of precisely the right caliber and hammer it down into the hole. I sacrificed two drill bits to the enterprise but eventually got the firing pin free.

With the gun in pieces, then came the cleaning phase. Master Dunlap stunned me here, spraying his tray of parts with a household cleaner, then dropping them into a tub of warm water. Those parts are made of metal, for crying out loud. The master knows his business, though: Properly rinsed off and dried (he recommends a domestic oven at 200 degrees; I used my paint-stripper heat gun), the parts are going to get oiled anyway.

I now have the cleanest shotgun on the Eastern seaboard”€”if I can get the darn thing back together again. Apprised of my adventure, a different gun-knowledgeable friend emailed: “Oh yeah. A couple of times I’ve shown up at my gunsmith with a tray of parts, begging for help.”

Uh-oh. Let’s press on, though.

This leg gets pushed against the front wall of the trigger housing and this leg will rest against the sear, which is in a fully extended position….

Image courtesy of Shutterstock



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