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Author Topic: Question about building the more advanced gun kits.  (Read 140 times)

Offline Shiloh1944

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Question about building the more advanced gun kits.
« on: August 04, 2017, 12:41:47 PM »
I have been looking at the gun kits on sites such as Track of the Wolf and Pecatonica River.

My concern is unless you have a machine shop or access to one how are you able to:

1. Cut and thread the barrel to install the breach plug.
2. Mill the dove tails into the barrel for sights and under lugs
3. Properly drill and tap holes in the barrel and under ribs for properly attaching them.

Soldering thimbles and such can be done without having access to a machine shop but I don't see how the other things I mentioned can be done properly and accurately unless you have access to a metal lathe, mill, and drill press.

I know they will do these things for you for an additional charge. It just seems to me unless you have access to a machine shop you are stuck with having them do those things for you.

Am I correct in my assessment? I have never done one of the more advanced kits. I did do a TC kit years ago where you had to draw file the barrel and file and clean up rough casting marks on all the brass parts but that was one of the very first of TC kits. No draw filing of the barrel was required on the later kits and the brass just needed polishing and no removal of rough casting lines and marks.

Thanks for any advise and replies.

Online Rob DiStefano

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Re: Question about building the more advanced gun kits.
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2017, 12:55:34 PM »
there are gun kits and there are gun KITS.  the levels of muzzleloader kits run from the super easy offshore lyman/investarms "screwdriver kits" to any of the onshore kits from chambers, kibler, tvm, TOTW, pecatonica, and others where either only the most elementary of barrel channel, lock and trigger mortise work is done, and you would also need to cut the barrel dovetails as well, or *everything* is 95% perfectly CNC inletted, or the gun is fully assembled ("in-the-white") and you get to finish it.  choose wisely based on yer crafting skill level and access to proper tooling ... else, as has been the case for too many folks, mistakes are made and whole shebang goes off to a gunsmith and then the resulting cost of the completed gun could be lots more than if bought ready to shoot.

Offline underground

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Re: Question about building the more advanced gun kits.
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2017, 01:55:02 PM »
I started my first kit in April and I'd guess I'm about half way through a Track of the Wolf Fowler kit and dealt with a lot of the apprehension your discussing.  If your some what handy and have decent problem solving skills I think you could do it.  You don't need machine tools but they certainly can help.

1 - I was told by TOTW it can be done by hand, but a lathe is easier, so I had them do that because
     thats where the explosion happens.
2 - You use a three sided needle file with one side ground smooth.  This is slow work.
3 - A drill press helps, but there are times a hand drill is easier.  I spoke to a very respected builder
     recently and for the tang bolt he uses a hand drill.  He marks the path of the hole on the side of
     the gun in pencil.  Then he punches both his hole locations, drills in from each mark to center
     with a pilot drill and opens the hole up with larger drill bits and files.  I tried it on a drill press
     and wound up with a pretty large hole in the wood, his method sounds far easier.

For these holes in general you will need a tap size drill bit and bolt size bit.  You will also need tap bits, and a tap handle to thread holes, and appropriate counter sink bits.  TOW makes these available specific to your kit.  I never tapped anything before and found it a non issue, look at you tube videos.

Most of my time (I'd guess around 100 hours) so far has been cleaning up metal castings, inletting, and carving.  I'm finding it fun, stimulating, and educational, but very much not for the faint of heart.

I also saw Kibler's kits at an event last week and if he has a gun style you like I'd say you can't do better from the sight of them.

TOTW gives you parts, and a plan drawing, no instructions.  I'd highly recommend this book, The Art Of Building The Pennsylvania Longrifle.

Good luck.

Offline Shiloh1944

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Re: Question about building the more advanced gun kits.
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2017, 02:22:34 PM »
Rob, thanks for the reply.

I know about the different level of kits. I have done a few of the basic simple kits such as the TC or GPR kits. What I am referring to are the Bridger and Carson Hawken rifle kits sold by Track of the Wolf or the Hawken kits on Pecatonica River's website. They both show a list of recommended parts for building a specific rifle.

My question again is concerning the things one would need to do concerning the barrel such as installing the breach plug, dovetailing for sights and under lugs, and installing the under rib. I am assuming the barrels are not pre-prepared for installing the breach plug, under lugs, sights or under rib and one would need to have access to equipment to prepare the barrel to install said parts.

I think you can get the stock pre-prepared at different stages of inletting, however I am not sure about the butt plate since the photos of the stocks do not show one pre cut for a crescent butt plate. They all look to be squared for a shotgun style butt plate or just simply not pre-cut. So would they pre-cut the butt for a crescent butt plate or will you have to attempt that on your own? Can you get a fully CNC inletted stock for their kits so all you would need to do is minor fitting and the sanding?

If you do not have a machine shop or access to a metal lathe, mill, and drill press how can you build one of the TotW or PR kits unless you have them do all the barrel work for you?


underground, you answered some of my questions. Thank you. Are you having to do a lot of work on the stock so the parts fit properly? 

Offline underground

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Re: Question about building the more advanced gun kits.
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2017, 02:47:23 PM »
The trigger plate and lock were about 98% inlet.  All I really had to do was drill out where the seer bar contacts the trigger plate a little.

The barrel and ramrod are basically 100% inlet.  You need to bend the tang to the contour of the barrel and inlet that into the stock, and inlet the barrel tennons into the stock.  That wasn't bad work.

The trigger guard was around 95% inlet and easy work.  I did that last night in about an hour.

The butt plate was a pain, it wasn't the amount of material removal, it was the amount of surface area that had to be carved down into end grain.  I spent more time sharpening chisels & gouges than carving.

The pipes are not inlet at all.  I haven't gotten to them yet, but looks pretty easy.

If your not familiar with the term inletting.  Its marking the back of the metal piece to be fitted covered in candle soot or a chemical equivalent.  Then lay the piece in place, tap it with a wood mallet, remove, and shave away any dark spots on the wood.  If you take your time and remove slivers at a time with sharp blades its basically fool proof.

As far as tools, my best advice is to buy decent chisels and gouges and learn how to keep them sharp before you even think of starting.  Razor sharp.

You are making a hand made tool with hand tools for the first time.  It might not be perfect when your done, but most mistakes can be fixed with a little patience and creative thinking, and when your done its YOUR gun.

I tried posting pics, but couldn't get it to work.  I documented the process in photos.  If you message me your email address I'll send you some.

Online Rob DiStefano

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Re: Question about building the more advanced gun kits.
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2017, 03:34:18 PM »
it will always drive down the kind of assembly work required to "build" a "kit", and then assess your level of expertise with ...
  • inletting mortises for barrel channel, lock, trigger, breech tang, butt plate, escutcheon, nose cap, ramrod stock pipe, etc.
  • drilling the ramrod stock hole
  • using a drill and tap
  • having the ability, or jig, to drill blind holes for stock pins, tang bolts, lock bolts, pipes, etc
  • cut barrel dovetails
  • silver solder for sights or hangers or pipes
i think those are the bigger items and for sure there's lots more.

so, what to do?  easy.  don't rely on what you see on the interweb, make up yer list of the gun assembly processes yer comfortable with doing and questions to ask, call up the manufacturer or vendor and ask all the pertinent questions so you'll absolutely know what yer getting yerself into.  and perhaps look at it this way - they're all assembly kits, in various stages of pre-assembly completion, not a scratch build with a plank of wood and an unbreeched barrel like most gunbuilders.

Offline Eric Krewson

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Re: Question about building the more advanced gun kits.
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2017, 09:56:53 AM »
Watch all these video segments on this build and see if you have the skills to build a Track Of the Wolf kit.



You really need to assemble a library of reference materials, "The Gunsmith of Grenville County" is a good starting point.

My first build was a scratch build from a plank, I did have the barrel inletted and ramrod hole drilled by a pro. The build took me two years, lots of goof-ups and time spent leaning my tools. My next took me 1 year and my last took me 8 months. I pretty much know what I am doing now.

I didn't work on any of my builds full time, on the first gun I worked until I got stumped or started doing sloppy work then I put everything down until I learned what to do or got my focus back.

Offline okawbow

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Re: Question about building the more advanced gun kits.
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2017, 10:36:27 AM »
Rifles can be built with hand tools only, but the skill required to do a good job is more than the skill needed to operate machine tools.

I have built a rifle from scratch, using nothing but hand crank drills, saws, planes, files, and chisels. It took over 200 hours and looks handmade compared to a kit gun.

A kit gun can be made using a battery powered drill and hand tools if you plan and do your homework. I make most of the parts for my rifles by hand, using a hacksaw, files, and a torch to heat up parts that need forged or bent.

Machine tools speed up the process and are more accurate than most handwork, but aren't needed.

Offline Eric Krewson

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Re: Question about building the more advanced gun kits.
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2017, 05:20:54 PM »
My last was from a precarve, I could have built from a plank quicker because my precarve was cut off center and took a lot of work to bring it back into line.

I haven't used one but I suspect one of those drill guides that looks like a C clamp would greatly simplify drilling your pin, tang and lock bolt holes precisely. I use a drill press, just because I have one.

Online rollingb

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Re: Question about building the more advanced gun kits.
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2017, 11:48:05 PM »
The trigger plate and lock were about 98% inlet.  All I really had to do was drill out where the seer bar contacts the trigger plate a little.

The barrel and ramrod are basically 100% inlet.  You need to bend the tang to the contour of the barrel and inlet that into the stock, and inlet the barrel tennons into the stock.  That wasn't bad work.

The trigger guard was around 95% inlet and easy work.  I did that last night in about an hour.

The butt plate was a pain, it wasn't the amount of material removal, it was the amount of surface area that had to be carved down into end grain.  I spent more time sharpening chisels & gouges than carving.

The pipes are not inlet at all.  I haven't gotten to them yet, but looks pretty easy.

If your not familiar with the term inletting.  Its marking the back of the metal piece to be fitted covered in candle soot or a chemical equivalent.  Then lay the piece in place, tap it with a wood mallet, remove, and shave away any dark spots on the wood.  If you take your time and remove slivers at a time with sharp blades its basically fool proof.

As far as tools, my best advice is to buy decent chisels and gouges and learn how to keep them sharp before you even think of starting.  Razor sharp.

You are making a hand made tool with hand tools for the first time.  It might not be perfect when your done, but most mistakes can be fixed with a little patience and creative thinking, and when your done its YOUR gun.

I tried posting pics, but couldn't get it to work.  I documented the process in photos.  If you message me your email address I'll send you some.
Underground, I agree with you 100% regarding installing butt plates.
I found that using candle soot on the butt plate and some judicious sanding with a hand-held belt sander and a coarse-grit belt (after first cutting close to the line with a coping saw), cut my time installing butt plates by hours:thumbs:
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Online Rob DiStefano

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Re: Question about building the more advanced gun kits.
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2017, 06:20:57 AM »
i'd be lost without this little drilling jig for barrel pins, lock and tang and trigger bolts, pipe pins and much more ...








Online doc nock

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Re: Question about building the more advanced gun kits.
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2017, 09:59:54 AM »
i'd be lost without this little drilling jig for barrel pins, lock and tang and trigger bolts, pipe pins and much more ...







This is meant to be humorous, but may come across humor-less... as I would never question Robs input but WT?

I could buy two of those gizmos, throw one out and stab myself in the eye with the other and STILL not know what to do with it!

Ya'll have surely helped me save a lot of money!  There is no way at this juncture in life I should ever buy anything but a screw driver kit cause I could have all the tools known to mankind and still muck it up! :(

Online Rob DiStefano

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Re: Question about building the more advanced gun kits.
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2017, 12:13:51 PM »
the two bolts have concentric holes drill right through them.  so you wanna add a barrel pin ... line up the pointy bolt on one side of the stock, then align the bolt (with hole) on the other side (don't need the top bolt for this operation), use the holed bolt as a drill bit guide and drill through the stock, through the tenon, and most of the other side of the stock.  a perfect barrel pin hole.  one bolt has a 1/16" hole, the other a 3/16", for diff'rent drill bit sizes.  a very cool tool.  :thumbs:

side note:  on the jackie .62 smoothie, 2 of the 3 barrel pins were drilled waaay off angle, not at all squared to the stock, so one pin hole starts about the middle of the stock and comes out the other side near the bottom of the stock.  clearly, jackie did this by eyeball and didn't use a jig.  some day i gotta fix those boo-boos.  >:(  ::)

Online doc nock

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Re: Question about building the more advanced gun kits.
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2017, 03:33:47 PM »
I should've known if I teased your "tool" you'd go an enlighten my dumb butt!

I saw the holes but with my eyes/screen I wasn't sure they weren't something else...didn't/couldn't tell, they were thru hole guides..

Sweet!  Thanks...

The original conclusion stands...I don't know enough nor have enough gumption left in these old bones to try to ever do a full blown build...

Yo sho nuff had to do a lot of small stuff to the Jackie smoothie since you got it...Crikey!

 




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