Rehabbing a rimfire springfield this time, Coffield starts off with some welding, then moves to stock layout for replicating the original military wood.
From a total manufacturing run of only a little over 2,000 rifles, mine was built in 1923 in the second year of production. Unfortunately, this former U.S. military trainer had indeed fallen on hard times. The original military stock had been replaced with an old walnut Bishop commercial sporter stock, the barrel and receiver had been drilled and tapped numerous times for various. sight mounts, the original bolt handle had been cut off and replaced with an aftermarket sporter handle, the metal had been polished and refinished with a commercial hot blue, parts were missing, and the muzzle had been threaded for some type of attachment. It was definitely a candidate to be broken up for parts. . A good friend sold it to me instead. As he put it, he could think of no one else who might be nuts enough to try to salvage this rifle. Salvage is certainly a good term in this case. There are a few very talented and skilled individuals in this country that could restore this rifle to the mint condition it was the day it was manufactured. However, it would cost far more money than I can afford.
The best I can do is to reverse some of the major damage and make the rifle appear more like it was years ago. In addition, while doing my work, I want to avoid further damage to the rifle. If someday it does end up in the hands of someone with the necessary funds for a complete professional restoration, I want 'em to be able to do so without having to redo or undo any work I've done.
In one sense, my goals are pretty limited, but I think they're realistic given the condition of the rifle and. the amount of money. and resources I can put into it. This is not an unusual situation as most of . us have limited amounts of money we can put into guns. Things like kids, a wife and house payments have a much higher priority for most of us. .
In Part 1 of this series (9/10 issue), I gathered the parts and pieces I would need and prepared a Boyds stock blank for inletting. A major portion of this project will revolve around building a replica of the original 1922 military stock. .
At the time, the stock on this rifle was quite a departure from any previous .22 trainer stock. It, looked more like a conventional target rifle stock of the time and indeed, it was. The stock was also deliberately designed to allow the user the ability to customize it to provide the best possible fit.
The best example of this was the buttplate. Rather than using a standard trapdoor '03 Springfield buttplate with an integral top tang, the original 1922 buttplate had no tang and was a cupped design with a fiat surface where it fit against the stock. This allowed the shooter to easily cut the stock and refit the buttplate when shortening the length of pull.
The forearm_ and the pistol grip area were also a bit large. Again this was to allow the shooter to reshape the forearm and pistol grip to meet his needs. One of the early reports on the stock in 1922 mentioned having extra wood in the grip area to permit checkering.
While my stock blank was laid out and prepped for the initial inletting. I opted to do a bit of metal work first. I had a couple of reasons for this. First, I had a slot on the rear of the receiver I needed to weld up and this is best done prior to inletting the receiver. It would not make a big difference in the wood work but it could have an effect. Besides, I was gonna have to do it some time anyway, so why not now?
Also, I wanted to have the proper bolt handle in place, as that would definitely impact the shape of the stock. Finally. I just wanted to get the metal work done and off my bench before the wood work started.
Once you start inletting and shaping a stock blank, you'll make a heck of a mess with wood dust and wood chips. It's certainly not the best environment for welding. In other words, think of all those wood chips as kindling! Nope, I've never started a fire in my shop while welding but I sure as the devil don't want to start now! With this project my welding will be done with a TIG outfit. if you are not familiar with it. TIG is. a form of welding in which the puddle of liquid metal created by the intense heat of an electric arc is shielded by a cone of argon gas.
The gas is inert and won't burn, but it will keep oxygen away .from the liquid metal, and thus prevents the formation of scale on the weld. TIG welding is acknowledged when done properly as producing a very clean weld. Also. TIG concentrates the heat so you have less damage to the adjoining areas.
One of the problems with the older, more traditional oxy-acetylene welding is you get too much material hot. Years ago this was always a problem when welding bolt handles on converted military rifles. It's something you should keep in mind, as I've seen a number of converted Mauser and Springfield sporters where the bolts were overheated and this allowed the locking lugs to upset when the rifles were fired. This can lead to excessive head-space, which is potentially very dangerous. Again, it's just something to think about when looking at older sporters. Some were done properly; some weren't.
In order to salvage the original 1922 bolt. I opted to remove the commercial sporter low mount bolt handle and replace it with one that closely resembled the original military bolt handle. In working with the bolt, I noticed how similar the handle on a 1903A3 bolt was to the handle on my Springfield Model 1922M2. The M2 handle in turn was very much like the original 1922 handle.
Fortunately I had a couple of demilled and welded 03A3 bolts from earlier projects with good handles. It was a simple matter to cut the handle off with a Dremel cutoff wheel. If you try to cut the handle with a standard hacksaw, you may run into problems. I have seen bolt shanks that were harder than woodpecker lips. The abrasive cutoff wheel is faster, easier, and makes for a much cleaner cut.
The challenge in cutting the 03A3 handle was to make sure there was enough shank on the handle to position it properly. I used the spare M2 bolt I had ordered from Numrich Gun Parts to help me determine the proper point for the cut on both the 1922 bolt and the 03A3 bolt.
Once the two bolts were cut, the sporter bolt was discarded. I then used a file to smooth and shape the stud for the handle on the bolt body. I wanted to make sure the surface of the stud was flat and parallel to the surface of the bolt body.
This would help to make sure my new bolt handle was not welded on at an improper angle. I did the same thing to the end of the bolt handle shank. Again, this was to help ensure I did not cant the bolt handle as it was welded in place.
A flat 8-inch smooth cut file was used to taper the bolt stud and the cut end of the handle shank. By having shallow 'V' grooves on all four sides where the two components meet, I would be able to get much better and deeper penetration of the weld.
Ideally, you want your weld to penetrate entirely through the shank at the contact point. By the way, when I cut off the old sporter handle, it was evident whoever did the welding did not get good penetration. There was a significant portion, of metal on the bolt handle shank that had not fused with the stud on the bolt body.
There are times when you simply cannot tell visually if a handle has been properly welded. It is possible to test the weld by striking the end of the bolt handle with a hammer, but you run the risk of damaging or denting a perfectly good bolt handle. Of course if it breaks off, you've found a bad weld! Again, this is something to keep in mind when looking at rifles with modified bolt handles. I have had more than one rifle come into my shop with A poorly welded and broken bolt handle. And nope, to my knowledge I've never had one of my bolt handles break off ... yet!
With the bolt body stud and the end of the bolt handle shank tapered, the next step was the hardest. This was to jig up the bolt handle and bolt body so they were properly positioned and held securely for welding.
I've used of a variety of fixtures and jigs designed specifically for this task. Now, because I have gone over to TIG welding, I generally no longer use these fixtures. Instead, I use a number of magnetic clamps.
I have a small flat steel welding platform I clamp in my vise. This saves wear and tear on my vise and gives me a nice clean, flat surface for welding. Also, I can attach the ground clamp to the steel platform to complete the electrical circuit. The magnetic clamps stick easily to this flat surface as well.
It's critical your setup is as precise and perfect as you can make it. Don't hesitate to set it up, check it, then tear it down and do it all over multiple times. That is not wasted time or effort. Get it right before you start your weld.
Even though I'm using TIG, which concentrates the heat on the area of the weld, I still used a Brovvnells Springfield Bolt Heat Sink.
This is a threaded steel plug you insert into the rear of the bolt. It does two things: its extra mass helps to draw away excess heat and it helps to protect the internal threads inside the bolt body. Excessive heat can cause scale to form on these threads.
By having a tight fitting plug you keep oxygen away from the surface of the threads and scale cannot form. If you're not using heat sinks like these, you really should be.
The other important preparatory step I take is to wipe everything down with a clean alcohol-soaked rag. I want to make sure I've got a good clean surface to weld. I also wipe down my filler rod and the end of the electrode. It might be overkill, but you never get good welds with dirty surfaces. I generally use a .040" diameter electrode when welding. It's fairly small, but I find it more than adequate for just about any welding I need to do on a firearm.
With everything set up, I made the first weld. I did not attempt to do anything more than just tack the bolt handle to the bolt body. I placed small spots of weld on opposite sides, of the bolt shank. If you just tack one side and then begin welding, the heat will often cause the shank of the bolt handle to twist or move a bit. Having opposing tack welds prevents this.
Once the bolt shank was tack-welded in place, I rearranged my magnetic clamps and filled in the V-grooves with weld. I did not do all the welding in one step. I would put in a bit of weld and then allow it to cool. I would then clean and inspect the weld and if everything was good, I'd add a bit more weld. This takes more time but I have less distortion and possible heat damage to my bolt.
Also, it allows me to fill any voids or pinholes I might've created. In welding bolts, I tend to lay on more weld than absolutely necessary, but I figure it's better to have metal to file away than to find I have missed a low spot.
With the initial weld completed, I used a series of files to clean up the excess weld and begin shaping the bolt handle shank. On the rear side of the bolt handle shank I did a limited amount of filing, as I'll need to use a .250" end mill to duplicate the clearance cut for the bolt shroud. This clearance cut had been removed when the sporter handle was welded in place.
Initially this clearance cut might appear to be more complex than it really is. It's nothing more than a straight cut almost to the back of the bolt shank. It's not a curved cut duplicating the radius of the bolt body.
The setup was relatively simple, with the bolt secured in my milling machine vise and a standard .250" diameter end mill locked in place in the machine spindle. The cut is just a bit less than .050" deep and the new weld extends only partly into the area that needed to be cleared, so there wasn't much material to be removed. I set the machine up with a fairly slow speed and made three very shallow cuts. I had no problems and very little cleanup was required.
The bolt shank still looks a bit rough. I have more file work to do, and that'll be followed by the polishing of the new bolt handle. The original bolts were polished and not blued. I'll definitely make sure my new handle is also polished.
The only other welding task at this time was to fill in a slot that had been cut in the receiver under the sport-er bolt handle shank. This was normally done to allow clearance for the bend in the handle, which is closer than on the military, handle. This was quite normal and commonly done on many sporters.
It was a relatively easy welding task. I just filled the slot and then filed away the excess. On the underside of the receiver, I used an abrasive ball in my Dremel tool to duplicate the original radiused contour.
There are still a couple of places where I need to do some welding. I especially want to do something about several of those darn screw holes in the receiver, but that'll wait for a bit. I'm very anxious to make some progress on the inletting and shaping of my stock blank, as this will be one of the biggest single aspects of this project.
In the first part of this series I had squared up the stock blank, drawn in the center lines around the blank, laid out and sketched the outline of the stock, and drilled the front guard .screw hole.
That hole will be one of the primary index points while inletting the stock. It'll determine the location of the receiver and the receiver determines the dimensions of the stock.
Inletting begins with preparation of my inletting tools, which are primarily .a number of chisels and gouges of different shapes and sizes. I can't emphasize too strongly the importance of having woodworking tools as sharp as possible. A dull chisel or gouge will not only make the work harder, it'll also lead to poor inletting.
You simply cannot make your cuts as precise and controlled with a dull tool as you can with a sharp one. You gotta have your tools as sharp as possible. Now, how sharp is sharp? I want my woodworking tools to be sharp enough to shave the hair on my arm. Now be darn careful when testing your chisels on your forearm, we sure as heck don't want to lose any SHOTGUN NEWS readers! To sharpen and true up the edges of my cutting tools, I set up my slow-speed wet grinder. I purchased this tool from Grizzly several years ago and have had great success with it. It helps me to obtain uniform and consistent edges without burning or overheating the steel in the blades.
A regular grinder turns too fast, and the friction rapidly builds up and overheats the thin, fragile cutting edge of the tool. Of course, using just a standard bench block avoids overheating, but you then have the problem of spending a lot of time just sharpening your tools.
My Grizzly wet grinder has a 10-inch diameter 220-grit synthetic stone wheel with a 2-inch wide face. This wheel turns at a very slow 110 revolutions per minute. In addition, the wheel is mounted so it rests in a container filled with water.. As it turns, the wheel picks up a thin sheet of water on its face, which helps continually cool the metal as the grinding and sharpening takes place.
You simply do not have a buildup of heat on the cutting edge of the tool that ruins the temper and allows even the sharpest edge quickly to dull with use. In addition, the wet grinder has a second leather-faced wheel used to strop or apply a final finish to the cutting edge.
All in all, it's been a great tool for me and I would urge you to check the Grizzly website, www.grizzly.com and read about this as well as many other useful gunsmithing tools. By the way, this 10-inch wet grinder currently sells for $199.95, which I think is a reasonable price for what you get.
One thing to remember when working with this or any grinder is the importance of keeping the surface or face of the grinding wheel flat. There's a tendency to not move the cutting surface of chisels or gouges back and forth evenly across the face of the wheel. If you leave the blade of the cutting tool in one place you'll very quickly wear a groove or low spot in the face of the wheel. That'll definitely make sharpening of the next tool much harder.
The way to avoid this problem is to frequently use a truing stone to level the surface of the wheel face. When 1 purchased my grinder, it came with a double sided truing stone. One side was very coarse and one side fairly fine. The coarse side is great when you have a deep gouge or worn area you need to take out. The fine side is more suitable for a quick tQuch up between sharpening individual tools.
If you're not truing your grinding wheels, you're not getting all the benefits of those tools and your wheels are not as effective and efficient as they should be. If you'll take the time to do just a bit of periodic maintenance with your grinding wheels, they'll also last a heck of a lot longer.
With my cutting tools sharpened. I clamped the Boyds stock blank in my vise with the tip of the forearm held by an adjustable support I made from an old light stand. Once you start working on your stock, you definitely don't want it to slip or move as you make some very precise cuts.
I had already located and drilled a hole through the stock blank for the front guard screw. As I mentioned earlier, this will be one of the primary reference or indexing points for inletting the barreled receiver.
To make sure the receiver always goes into the stock at exactly the same spot. I threaded a Forster Inletting Guide Screw into the front guard screw hole in the receiver. This Guide Screw is basically nothing more than an extra-long headless guard screw. You can make your own, but it's a lot easier to just purchase one of these Forster products from BrowneIls.
They have 'em for Spring&Ids, Mausers, Remingtons, etc. It's a simple little tool, but it'll make your inletting a lot easier and more accurate, especially so during the initial phase of the stock work.
While the Inletting Guide Screw will definitely help keep the barreled receiver centered. there are a couple of additional steps you can take as well. I applied a couple of layers of masking tape to the tang of the Springfield receiver and then., using a razor knife, I cut away all the excess.
I used a black felt tip pin to apply a mark on the tape in the center of the tip of the tang. By aligning this mark with the centerline I had already drawn on the stock blank. I have one more tool to aid in properly and consistently centering the barreled receiver.
The other aid I used was up at the front end of the stock blank. I wrapped a section of the barrel in masking tape right at the end of the stock blank. A small machinist square was placed on the stock blank with one leg against the tape-wrapped barrel. I marked the inside edge of the square with a scribe, then tapped a finish nail with the bead ground off into this scribed mark.
I made sure the nail was as perfectly straight and square to the top of the stock blank as possible. This nail will serve as a Physical stop and support for the barrel as I begin inletting. Eventually, as the barrel sinks into the wood, this will not be needed and since it is located on a part of the stock blank which will be cut off, there's no danger of damage to the actual stock.
It's a simple little trick but it can help with the initial phase of the inletting. The -tape around the barrel is just to make sure the nail doesn't scratch or damage the metal.
Once the barreled receiver was centered, I used a stock layout .tool I made up years ago. I got the idea from an old traditional gunsmithing tool used by folks making muzzleloading rifles. Mine consists of a cheese wedge-shaped piece of aluminum with a hole drilled diagonally through it. This allows a pencil to be inserted with the point in line with the narrow face of the tool.
Place the face of the tool against the metal of the barrel or receiver. The tip of the pencil that matches the face of the tool will leave a mark on the wood. This is so much more accurate than trying to trace .around a barreled action free hand. The line you leave is just a guide, so you'll want to say well inside the mark, but it'll allow you to take out a lot of excess wood very quickly.
When inletting a stock blank, it's always handy to have a fully inletted stock available for reference. In this case.
I used the old Bishop sporter stock that had been on the rifle when I purchased it. As I mentioned earlier, whoever did the stock work didn't do all that bad a job, and the inletting was actually quite good. It'll be more than adequate to serve as a guide as I work on the blank.
Keep in mind a lot of wood will have to be removed before I even get close to the final depth. Also, I'll need to take out wood for clearance for the magazine. Within reason, I can be a bit aggressive as I start cutting out wood. Now you don't want to go crazy and this isn't a license to make like a beaver! You want to be careful, but you can save a good bit of time by making your initial cuts fairly substantial.
This is as good a place as any to say a few words about the use of chisels. Chisels can be great tools when used properly but lots of folks are under some misconceptions about 'em. First of all, your chisels have to be sharp. A dull chisel cannot cut efficiently or accurately.
In addition to this, you need to use the chisel so it does not compress the wood. Yeah, a chisel can compress wood. On the point or front end of a regular chisel you'll have one flat side and on the opposite side, it'll be tapered. The tapered side should always be on the inside of the cut. That taper will compress the wood, and you want to avoid that. Again, use your chisels so the tapered side is on the inside of the cut and pressing against the -wood that'll be removed.
With all the preparation completed. I coated the bottom of the receiver recoil lug with inletting blue. This is a paste you brush on to the metal surfacesyou think will or can contact the wood.
When the metal is pressed or laid into the wood, the compound adheres to the wood where there's contact. This lets you know where you have contact and where you need to remove wood. It's simple but it's messy.
I use to used the old Jarrows inletting black but I finally just got tired of getting the black mess all over me and everything else in my shop. The Prussian Blue I'm now using is a bit less messy but you can still end up looking like some wild Scotsman out of Braveheart.
The barreled receiver was aligned and then lowered into the stock blank. I had previously taken a bit of wood out of the recoil lug area, so I had some limited amount of clearance. I still got an impression with some blue color on the wood and that indicated where more wood needed to come out. With that the inletting process really got started.
The next time we get together I hope to finish up the inletting and may get into shaping the stock. Who knows? We just might make this ol' junker into a collectable! Until then, good luck and good gunsmithing!
Coffield marked the location of his cut on the shank of the donor 03A3 bolt, using the rimfire 1922 bolt with the shortened bolt handle stud as a guide.
Coffield used a Dremel tool with a cutoff wheel to remove the 03/0 donor bolt handle cleanly. It's a whole lot easier and more accurate than a hacksaw.
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|Date:||Oct 10, 2014|
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