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#527918 - 11/05/18 04:27 PM Internal Refitting of a Traditional Gun Case
damascus Offline
Sidelock
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Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 691
Loc: Cheshire England


I started to re-build traditional gun case insides in the 1960s after I became a victim of the laws of diminishing returns it always seemed to be that my latest gun purchase, its case was not as good in some ways as the one I already owned infuriatingly the guns would not swap cases for one reason or another. I have done case re-build’s many times over the years, looking back now the money saving must run into four figures.
The case I intend to re-fit is a 1960/70s Pig skin leather case I purchased because the price was very reasonable due to the previous owner having removed the innards then developed cold feet over the work needed to put things right. My intention was to re-fit the case to take my Webley & Scott 700 having two sets of barrels, in my part of Brit land a gun like this is sometimes called a one and a half. After a more detailed survey of my purchase buyer’s remorse set in with a vengeance so much so the case was quickly buried in my workshop and intentionally forgotten about.
Initially I wanted to fit both barrels front and back of the case with lumps down putting the action in between them using the toe under configuration but after measuring the case carefully, its internal measurements turned out to be 31¼” X 7¾” X 3” deep so it was to think again! I will just say that a considerable number of years passed since then so it is now time for a more positive outlook at the whole matter. By changing each barrel orientation to a vertical position with lumps at the side this gave 3mm (1/8”) clearance to fit the action and stock in the case, though this is the most difficult orientation to cope with when fitting the Baize covering, because you need hands and fingers the size of a child.
Other problems with the case other than size then started become obvious it is not square in any direction plus case sides are made from flexible low quality plywood with all the rigidity of a trampoline also just butt jointed at the corners, the top and bottom are of a low grade hardboard just one step up from cardboard with a lot of rippling. The case does have some good points though, the Leather handle was serviceable the lock works and it has a key on a piece of string tied to the handle, best of all the general case leather and stitching is in good condition including the leather hinge line and it came with both external straps.
For my last project to be posted here, it will be one that I will always remember as the one that nearly caused me to throw in the towel before I started to do anything practical. With that said I did complete the project and was rather pleased with the end result though it did have its trials along the way.




The internal condition of the case as I purchased it.



The first thing I decided to do was to stabilise the case corners using brass Military corners, it was not possible to use the more traditional three screw fixing versions because the top and bottom hard board was so thin so nothing to screw in to.



This improved the situation making the case far more stable, also improved the cases chances of taking the 3 pounds 2 ounces of the extra barrel without falling apart at its joints. Next post firming up the gun layout and making the dividers, also further improving the case rigidity because the corners where not enough.



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#527965 - 11/06/18 12:29 AM Re: Internal Refitting of a Traditional Gun Case [Re: damascus]
keith Offline
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Registered: 02/21/08
Posts: 8179
Thanks damascus. I think I'm really going to find this series valuable because I recently picked up a nice case that I'd like to repurpose for my .450 BPE double rifle.
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#527999 - 11/06/18 09:46 AM Re: Internal Refitting of a Traditional Gun Case [Re: damascus]
Der Ami Offline
Sidelock
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Registered: 07/04/12
Posts: 2867
Loc: East Alabama
Damascus,
Maybe you could use thin leather straps or ribbons to lift the barrels out with man size hands.
Mike

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#528010 - 11/06/18 10:36 AM Re: Internal Refitting of a Traditional Gun Case [Re: damascus]
damascus Offline
Sidelock
***

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 691
Loc: Cheshire England
Der Ami.
Removal of the barrels have been taken care of in this case design though I did use tapes in the Purdey case I refitted for the Forend and Hand protector removal you can see them in the photograph. I said it can be very problematical when applying the Baize in cases with vertical barrel orientation, what I did to overcome the problem will be made clear when we get to that part of the project

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The only lessons in my life I truly did learn from where the ones I paid for!

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#528039 - 11/06/18 03:20 PM Re: Internal Refitting of a Traditional Gun Case [Re: damascus]
Mark II Offline
Sidelock

Registered: 12/06/11
Posts: 543
Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to share your knowledge. It is very much appreciated!

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#528126 - 11/07/18 07:49 AM Re: Internal Refitting of a Traditional Gun Case [Re: damascus]
damascus Offline
Sidelock
***

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 691
Loc: Cheshire England


To improve case rigidity and looks I decided also to minimise the ripple effect that was very noticeable in the case top, the bottom of the case will start to improve when all the dividers are reinstated and other work is completed. I should say here that If you do remove the gun case internal dividers and other fittings a case can become dimensionally unstable so take care. Back to the case top, because it was made of hardboard the easiest way of flatting is to spray the hardboard board with water that has had a little detergent added to help it wet the surface and soak in. When the hardboard is sufficiently wet (but don’t overdo things) I l put the case top down on a flat surface I used house bricks as weights to flatten it, then left it to dry slowly do not apply heat, the effect of the water and weights caused a distinct improvement to the case top’s flatness with the ripple practically gone.
To arrive at where to start and finalise where you want to end up with the case layout my method is to put the gun inside the empty case and shuffle barrels action and for end about, though in the majority of refit’s it is usually put everything back in approximately the same place after a repair or new Baize, in this case it was just shoe horn the gun in the case the best way possible. Just to aid this important sizing up exercise you will see two divider pieces one with Baize the other without. The reason for this is the case was initially of simple design were the lid just closed on top of the bottom section leaving a small gap all round on three sides. Not good for gun storage by allowing free passage of air into and out of the case. So I intend to extend all four case sides internally into the case top, by adding extra wood to the four sides, this will also improve the case rigidity also creating a lip for the lid to close over hence not allowing the guns weight to pull the long side having the handle out of alignment so improving the case's overall stability. And keeping the Maritime damp air out.



Use a piece of string across the case passing over the highest part of the guns action this is the easiest way to determine how much usable height you have in the case, I usually cut a length of card to this exact height to use as a go no go gauge. I put on gloves because this move things about in the case took place over several days it became a chore recleaning and oiling the gun all the time.



This picture if from later in the project it shows clearly how much the case can flex and my reason for putting extra wood on the case inside.
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The only lessons in my life I truly did learn from where the ones I paid for!

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#528129 - 11/07/18 08:17 AM Re: Internal Refitting of a Traditional Gun Case [Re: damascus]
Demonwolf444 Offline
Sidelock

Registered: 10/18/14
Posts: 284
Loc: North Yorkshire. England.
this will be interesting! looking forward to the next posts!

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#528198 - 11/07/18 06:03 PM Re: Internal Refitting of a Traditional Gun Case [Re: damascus]
Hammergun Offline
Sidelock
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Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 566
Loc: Central Maryland
I always enjoy your posts. Keep it up.

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#528224 - 11/08/18 07:21 AM Re: Internal Refitting of a Traditional Gun Case [Re: damascus]
Demonwolf444 Offline
Sidelock

Registered: 10/18/14
Posts: 284
Loc: North Yorkshire. England.
I often have a problem when it comes to brass corners - the corners of gun cases after a hundred years are rounder than they are square its hard to get brass corners big enough to make contact with the edges of the case and the sharp edges of the brass look too new on an old case for my liking, in the past i have stripped the clear coat, scuffed up the brass and knocked the sharp corners off. Generally i make up leather corner protectors and stitch and glue them on.

For anyone trying to restore a rotten old hard board topped case; remove the baize from the lid and soak liberally with a 50:50 PVA water mix, the card will soak this up and once dried will be substantially more rigid.


Edited by Demonwolf444 (11/08/18 07:21 AM)

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#528237 - 11/08/18 09:54 AM Re: Internal Refitting of a Traditional Gun Case [Re: damascus]
damascus Offline
Sidelock
***

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 691
Loc: Cheshire England


this is as far as I need to go at present with the outside of the case, though will treat the leather at the end of the project. The two mats you will see regularly between the case and the table top are just there to stop the corners leaving marks.

From the initial placement of the gun it became apparent that the fore end cannot be stowed separately it will need to be fitted in its correct place on a barrel. Further thoughts on the fore end I decided that it must be able to be fitted on either barrel in the case. Well it did not make sense if you had to remove a perfectly clean barrel to stow the fore end when that barrel may not have been the one being used at the time. Given this requirement the case barrel partitions will have to be constructed accordingly, another requirement is a personal choice of mine that every gun case should store a set of cleaning rods and its fittings plus a pair of snap caps. What space there is in the case is now rapidly being taken up causing closer and closer fitting of the gun in the case.
With the decision made regarding the case layout a start can be made making the wood dividers and inner case wall, to simplify things both the dividers and wall will be made from the same size wood stock with just a rounded top rather than the usual chamfer with a reduced thickness of 6mm (1/ 4”). The timber used in the UK for traditional box cases is “White Deal” this is more often than not Spruce possessing good qualities for case work being light and strong can be purchased clear of knots and readily available, though far from the quality of Oak but lower in cost and a lot lighter.



I am using a standard wood size that is readily available which is 6mm X 7cm X 3Meters (1/4” X 2¾” X 10’) two lengths were sufficient to complete the whole project at not a lot of money, added to this cost was one meter of Baize 39” X 47” leaving a considerable amount over.



Just a simple profile with no hard work needed looks fine. Rounding off the top of the wood was done by hand using an abrasive paper and eye only. because when covered by the Baize you are unable to detect any imperfections in your efforts.




Case inner sides all cut to length.



Inner sides fitted with no problems until you tried to close the case top, things became a little tight would be an understatement, this would make closing the lid when covered with Baize impossible. This in part was caused by the case being out of square between the case top and bottom also the differing thicknesses of the tops leather.




The cure was to move the inner sides towards the centre by a milometer using a hard card packing piece fixed in place with PVA Adhesive. This is the black section you can see in the photograph, the card used was photograph Matt card which is extremely strong stable and strong as the wood itself.
Looking just above were the planted on card finishes you will see a pencil line this marks the inside depth of the case, this is very important when it comes to fitting the Baize later.



















Edited by damascus (11/09/18 05:15 AM)
Edit Reason: More Info.
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The only lessons in my life I truly did learn from where the ones I paid for!

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