The Rifle Shoppe Baker Rifle Part II
Getting started, making a plan...
First thing we need to do before starting anything is make a plan, or at least a list of tasks that will need to be completed. I usually start pretty much the same way with every build but subsequent tasks might change order depending on what I feel like doing any given day.
So my plan (scrawled on a scrap of paper) looks like:
- Review the drawings, examine every part and look for anything that could become a problem.
- Install the butt plate
- Fit the breech plug, tang and inlet the barrel
- Fit all the under lugs, sights and affix the bayonet lug. adjust the stock for the under lugs.
- Install the keys, ram rod pipes and drill for the sling swivel
- Install the lock, side plate, trigger and thumb piece
- Install the patch box
- Start browning metal and sanding stock
- Tune up lock, trigger and TEST!
Not necessarily in that order, I do like to get the but plate done as soon as possible to prevent damage to the butt of the stock, last thing we want to do is chip off a hunk of the but when the gun is 90% done!
I did not see anything on the drawing that looked like it will be a problem, all pretty straight forward stuff with a couple little things to keep in mind; the barrel keys are captive and go in from the left, there are a couple notes on finish and colour (red tint!) and one thing that is not really clear unless you look closely. The bottom of the tang has a big square lug on it … that IS NOT a casting gate (I nearly cut it off) it actually protrudes down through the stock and is used to secure the trigger guard and ram rod retaining spring.
We also have a little note on the drawing indicating that there is supposed to be a flat filed on the barrel for the lock to butt up against. I saved that little job for the lock inlet so that I could use a little bit of Prussian blue and get the flat perfect.
The only thing I wish the drawing had was a parts list and actually listed which screws were to be used where, most are obvious some are not and some are not included!
The Butt Plate
This was by far the fastest and easiest butt plate I have had to install! It needed a bit of cleanup with a file, but all cast parts need some cleanup. The inlet on the pre-carved stock was a pretty close fit to begin with. A bit of extra inletting was needed for the finial that runs along the top of the comb and a little work with some scrapers and rasps to fit the plate perfectly. There is a notch on the right edge of the plate that the patch box lid sits in. That notch is undersized, a good thing since we will want a nice gap free fit for the patch box lid.
There is a lug under the finial extending down into the butt. I burned that lug in rather then chiseling or drilling down into the butt. That lug is for a cross pin to keep the finial from popping out. The lug is really is not necessary at all, but it’s accurate and I had my marching orders. If I were to build another I would however, use a smaller diameter pin.
The Barrel, Breech and Tang
S o, the first thing to do is to get the breech plug installed and fit the barrel to the barrel channel. The idea behind a breech plug is that it seals the breech, preventing any gasses or fouling from getting into the threads. Test fit the plug using some Dykem or Prussian Blue to ensure that the threads are making contact and that the breech face is contacting the internal shoulder of the breech end of the barrel where the rifling stops. If there are any gaps on the breech face where contact is not being made, adjust these with a hand file until the fit is perfect and the internal shoulder scrapes away all your Dykem. You should be able to start threading a breech plug by hand but will need a wrench after 3-4 revolutions. It need to be tight, if you can screw the plug all the way down to the breech face without a wrench, it is too loose and needs to be replaced.
There is a great deal of discussion about how tight a breech plug needs to be, a lot of questions about how many foot pounds of torque is needed etc. The answer is: "It depends on the material, thread pitch and plug/barrel dimensions". In other words, there is no one size fits all answer.
There is no one size fits all answer...
The goal here is to actually stretch the threads a tiny bit, but not past their ability to return to their original form. Since we don't know what the material is, and most of us probably don't have the tools or math skills to calculate it a good rule of thumb is tight enough that you can't remove it without a bench vise and a wrench. I find tightening the plug by 3-5 degrees rotation after it meets the breech face is plenty.
With the breech plug installed, we can fit the barrel to the pre-carved stock the same way you would fit any barrel, using scrapers and some kind of marking agent. I like kerosine lamp soot. The barrel channel on this kit was pretty close, but also had gaps and rounded over edges that will have to be shimmed later. The fore end of the stock was also a little warped so care needed to be taken there as well.
With the breech plug fit to the barrel and barrel fit to the stock we can start working on the tang. As mentioned earlier .. don't cut the lug off the bottom.
IT IS NOT A CASTING GATE!!
Fitting the tang to the lug on the breech plug was fairly straight forward using some Prussian Blue to find the high spots and removing them with a file until everything fits snugly. It is critical that there be no gaps between the end of the barrel and the face of the tang. They must be perfectly flush in order to correctly absorb recoil without damaging the gun or you!
The tang has a bit larger diameter than the end of the barrel, so I chose to solver solder the tang on so I could blend them together perfectly with a file. Also note that there is a flat needing to be filed on the side of the barrel where the lock makes contact. Measure where the lock will end and don't file away more than you have to. At this point I filed the flat well undersized, planning to fine tune it when the lock gets inlet into the stock.
With the tang fitted and (temporarily) soldered to the barrel we can go ahead and finish up inletting the tang. On this particular stock there was a hole drilled for the lug on the tang, both that hole and the inlet for the tang itself were off center, needing to be widened on one side and shimmed on the other. Not a big deal since the lug will be completely hidden anyway and the shimming beside the tang will be nearly invisible unless you are looking for it.
So, now that the barrel inlet is complete we can move on to the next job.