Polishing Out the Dents

I spent another hour or so scrubbing away at the barrel of the garden gun this evening. I shouldn’t get ahead of myself, since I’ve got a lot more work to do on it (not to mention all of the other pieces of the action) but I think I’m finally “there” with polishing out the dents and pits which aren’t so deep that they can’t be removed without severely endangering the thickness of the metal (and myself when I come to fire the gun next).

In fact, there is quite a lot of pitting on the underside of the chamber and barrel which I haven’t been able to remove, but for the most part, the visible areas of metalwork are clean and free from defects, with the exception of a handful of tiny marks that ought to be extremely hard to spot once the gun is re-blued.

After I’d got to that point, I used the angle grinder with a flap (sanding) disc to (ever-so-gently) remove metal from the muzzle and from the rear of the action, which has eliminated the damage in both areas. I then smoothed off the edges of the muzzle with some 180-grit paper and dried, oiled and cleaned the gun, before putting it away for the night.

I’m out tomorrow evening, but I should be able to work through the remaining grades of paper (180, 240, 320, 640, 1200 – I think) to get a mirror shine onto the barrel and the other metalwork over the next week or so, after which I should be able to plan the re-bluing proper for the weekend after next, time and money allowing. We’ll see what happens.

Project Mode

Jet lag is still a bitch.

Theoretically, at 11pm, I should be feeling tired and ready for bed, but no: I’m still bouncing around and looking for things to do. In the absence of my latest order from the great shopping mall that is the internet (relatives are generous; birthdays are fun), I’ve been filling the time with yet more work on the garden gun.

In my de-bluing exercise, recorded earlier in what may yet become a saga, if I continue to post with this frequency, I missed the trigger guard and various screws / fixings which were holding the stock together. This was, it turns out, fortuitous, as it meant I ended up with accurate measurements for the trigger cutout earlier, but having done that, I attacked them with the blue remover and did my best to scrub them clean.

I include a photo of the “before”:

The trigger guard assembly and various fixings prior to rust removal and de-bluing.

And the “after”:

The trigger guard assembly and various fixings after rust removal and de-bluing.

It’s slightly annoying that the light in the second photo makes it appear as if the rust remover has had hardly any effect at all, but I can assure readers that the metalwork shown is basically light silver with a few nicks and scratches where the metalwork is uneven.

Unfortunately, even that wasn’t enough to satisfy or fill the time, so I got started on the barrel.

Wet sanding of metal is a slow process. Certainly the author of this article, whose instructions I’ve been following to complete the metalwork side of this project was right when he said that it would take many hours to get the barrels (and other metalwork) into the condition they need to be for re-bluing.

I began work with some 150-grit wet & dry paper and, after an hour or so of scrubbing, did start to see an improvement in the condition of the metal where I’d been polishing.

I suspect that some of the pits in the outside of the barrel will be too deep to polish out, but I removed most of the minor blemishes successfully and improved the more serious ones over approximately 12″ of barrel length. Another session with new paper of approximately the same duration should see that completed, leaving the other half of the barrel needing the same 2-3 hours’ attention again.

I infer from experience that most of the work here will be done with the coarser grates of paper. The guide seems to suggest a steady progression through the grades, but if the 150-grit paper won’t clear the surface defects successfully, the finer grades certainly won’t. I already expect to have to  make a choice about what stays and what I try to polish out – I don’t want to reduce the barrel thickness too far(!).

The barrel of The Hedgewalker’s garden gun, during the first session of barrel polishing.

The final observation to make is that the pitting in the muzzle area is so severe that I think I will have to chop off about the last inch of the barrel and refinish it if the effect of the re-bluing is not to be spoilt. It’s hard to see on the picture above, but with the bead misplaced and irremovable, there are now two reasons to chop, drill and tap, which pretty much settles it. I’ll be checking the exact wording of the rules on barrel length in the coming days to see how much I can remove without rendering the gun illegal – I think it’s a 28″ barrel from memory, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Stock Measurements

After sleeping late in this morning – jet lag is a bitch – I managed to rouse myself around lunchtime and after an hour or so of dithering around, trying to work out which way was up and so forth, finally snapped into some kind of awakened state and decided to do something useful.

Although I realized that I’d forgotten to de-blue / de-rust the trigger guard, I wasn’t quite ready to go back to Birchwood Casey’s foul-smelling finest, so I set about taking measurements of the stock and started to think about the cuts which would be required to machine out the shape of the action.

Rulers, paper and playdough – everything one needs to create a stock profile.

Although I had to sacrifice some of the childrens’ playdough to get good measurements for the inner dimensions, the whole job took only about 25 minutes and I was left with a sheet of paper covering all of the major dimensions of the front part of the stock.

The dimensions and a draft cutting list for the new stock for the garden gun.

There are some unanswered questions. The first is what board thickness I require to be able to shape the rear part of the stock and to give it enough cast to make it usable. It looks like it might be possible to obtain a single block of beech for around £40, but I’m still investigating the various options (and haven’t given up entirely on the idea of producing a laminate stock as yet).

The second question will only be answerable when I replace the metalwork in the stock and put the gun back together: what size cutter to use for the front part of the stock in which the barrel is bedded?

Router cutters tend to be sold in inch-equivalent sizes, such as this one, which is a 5/8″ radius cutter sold with a millimeter designation. That’s somewhat under-sized for the groove I’ll need to cut which is an almost perfect 9mm-radius semicircle – but the next available size – ¾” – gives a 19.1mm trench which is over-large. I’ll probably end up using the smaller bit, and making several cuts to get the barrel in snugly.

Oh, and in case anyone thinks this is turning into an advertising coup for Trend cutters, that isn’t the intention, but I’ve been using their blades and cutters for a long time now and they seem to be much better quality than most of the other crap you can get on Amazon / eBay for a similar price.