c
The Restoration Process
In the beginning, there were no lock plates, lock mechanisms, or hammers.
Barrel wedge holes. One of the brass mortice inlays was missing. I made one to fit.
Disheartening, to say the least! However, this general condition was typical of the entire firearm.
There really are two nipples! The upper (left) nipple unscrewed after soaking in various oils--WD40, penetrating oil, etc.--for some number of days or weeks. The other nipple had to be removed with a Dremel tool.
This was my very first indication that engraving might exist on the gun.
These are 10 gage barrels. Each one was capable of firing a 3/4" ball (ouch!) or buckshot of various weights, or rocks and nails or just about anything shoved in it.
This picture shows the barrels laying upside down. The under rib is clearly visible on the upper side. The large wedge between the barrels on the lower side is the end of the top rib.
The gun is now oriented correctly. The large top rib is clearly visible. It originally had an embedded bead site.
The breech end of the barrels. (The breech is on the right.) This picture shows the first ferrule which, along with a steel key inserted through corressponding holes in the wooden stock held the barrel in place securely. Due to the size of this gun, there were two such ferrules soldered to the barrels.
Right side: The stock, triggers, and lock plate mortice.
Right side: Close up of the right lock plate mortice and installed triggers. You can easily see the end of the pin upon which the trigger/sear mechanism pivitoed upon.
The left side lock plate mortice.
Measuring the lock plate mortice was critical to ordering replacement locks. However, these lock plates proved unique: None were available this long. I eventually relied on L&R lock plates as a model since they were the correct shape, but about 3/4" too short.
I discovered barrel marks. I did not know what they were, but they seemed important. I performed more research to determine exactly what these marks meant than any other research on the firearm.
Eventually, I found the web site of David A. Cushman. David had infinite patience with me as I sent him picture after picture. He immediately explained the idea of "proof marks" to me. Soon, he identified the company to which the barrels had been submitted for proof testing. I simply cannot say enough good about Mr. Cushman. A drawing of the official mark and the company name are shown below.
Steel wool from Medium to Extra Fine: I usually started with Extra Fine to be sure I did not harm what I was trying to save. This was also true of sandpaper. Both played an important part in carefully uncovering the many engravings.
The broken trigger guard is visible in the pictures above and below and in several others. At this point, I did not know how I was going to repair it. Solder?
More scroll work?
Definitely! Great care was taken not to obliberate this 200 year old scroll work.
An original, very dirty, brass barrel key wedge inlay.
Brass polish works wonders.
The trigger/sear mechanism and pin are incredibly simple. The pin is supported via holes in the wooden stock internally!
This ancient nipple had to be removed with a Dremel tool.
Several views of the nipple hole area in the breech.
The right hand lock plate mortice. There were no lock plates, lock mechanisms, hammers, or several other critical pieces. All had to be hand built. Just like they were two centuries ago!
Broken pieces of the barrel(s) under-rib. Eventually, these pieces were cleaned up and soldered back in place.
The all important thimble! This piece of iron not only holds the thin end of the forestock together, it provides a strong entry point for ramrod storage beneath the barrels. Even in the earliest days of this project I knew not to remove that thimble!
The trigger guard. In the beginning, I did not know the trigger guard was broken between the actual guard and the rear filial. This piece required a lot of work.
A catalyst-based epoxy added strength where needed as I removed wood to hand fit the new lock internal mechanism. Remember, this is a display only firearm. Depending on glue alone to add strength to a working firearm is a huge mistake.
The standing breech. The standing breech tang screw (right-most screw) was bent inside the stock. Therefore, the screw's head was removed by Mr. Dremel.
Butt plate.
Barrel wedge inlay close up.
Barrel wedge and the successfully unscrewed nipple. (They have nothing in common. I don't know why I placed them together in this picture.)
An internal dual function piece: Barrel wedge keeper and ramrod keeper.
The forestock showing both barrel wedge key mortices.
The stock and barrels seperated.
A shot looking down the forestock at the standing breech.
That diagonal mark spanning the barrels at the breech was placed there after the barrels were originally "regulated." An examination of the mark reveals some history. Notice in the pictures that follow that the mark does not line up across the breech. This means someone in the past unsoldered the barrels due to the necessity of some type of repair work and inexpertly put them back together.
Trigger plate and the tang screw which unfortunately had its head removed for this restoration process. The squard-bodied screw was bent in the middle due to countless recoils. The bent portion was driven back into the wood of the stock, thereby preventing it from being unscrewed.
Butt Plate and comb. Notice the hook device on the comb which fits under a cleverly placed nail in the stock, thereby holding the front of the comb to the top of the stock securely.
The butt plate and comb had been broken and repaired at some point in the past. The repair was done via a thin brass plate soldered and riveted in place. It was quite a good job that lasted for perhaps a hundred years.
Standing breech and its rear screw and the trigger plate with the original (decapitated) screw.
I saved every salvagable part of the original firearm for reuse. The only part that could not be reused was the tang screw.
Trigger plate and triggers.
Everything was measured and remeasured. I had no idea when or even if I would need these measurements. Many of them proved useful in later fabrication of parts!
Rust removal from the standing breech.
A ramrod ferrule and barrel wedge holder.
An original brass barrel wedge key inlay after a little brass polish was applied.
Well, that's me having a lot of fun acting like I know what I am doing! Notice that the barrels have been seperated and that I have built an assembly powered by a handheld electric drill to rotate each barrel for sanding.
Various stages of sanding the seperated barrels using the method shown above. A lot of time went into this process . . . these barrels were in bad shape!
I made the two barrel wedge key inlays below out of a sheet of brass I bought at a hardware store. The top inlay became part of the gun and I made another like it. The bottom inlay went into the trash.
Polishing and soldering the butt plate to the butt plate comb. This solder never worked out. True silver solder was eventually used.
The repaired butt plate and butt plate comb. (Of course, nothing has been browned and none of the furniture has been refinished.)
The top butt plate screw has scroll work!
At this The barrels and top rib have been sanded. (Pay no attention to those feet. I don't know to whom they belong.)
I had thought and thought about how to repair the trigger guard. (The trigger guard was broken from its rear filial.) I finally decided a 2x4 roughed out in the shape of the stock would do the trick.
The trick was to screw both pieces of the trigger guard into the 2x4 such that they fit perfectly and then solder them. Again, I should have used silver solder. Eventually, I followed the exact procedure seen here and brazed the pieces. The result appeared to be a gold inlay just behind the trigger guard. Quite attractive!
When the trigger guard is completely finished it will fit in this mortice.
Like this! (Pre-browning.)
Ramrod ferrule/barrel wedge key guides are easy to build! Just buy the wedge key piece from a vendor, cut a piece of 1/8" steel, heat it up and wrap it around a 3/8" steel rod. A vise and a hammer will help! Then solder the wedge key piece to the top and there you have it! Well, a whole bunch of belt sanding and some interior filing will doubtless be necessary, as well.
The original is on the left and the "manufactured" one is on the right. The original was kept and re-used.
Locks! I could write a book on locks! I can build them in my sleep! At first, I thought the lock process would be pretty simple. This old gun used "back action" locks. ("Back action" simply means that the lock mechanism is designed such that the spring that slams the hammer(s) forward is located to the rear of the rest of the mechanism. L&R Lock Company had locks of the exact shape I needed. However, they were about 3/4" too short. After many conversations and e-mails with the kind folks at L&R, I finally bought a left and right lock (yes, they are different!) and disassembled them. Eventually, I had locks that worked well, but that was later. First, I had to build the lock plates. I used 1/8" steel. This proved far too thin as I was going to discover.
These two lock plates were built by using an L&R Back Action lock plate as a pattern, which was then lengthened and fitted to each mortice by hand as the following pictures illustrate.
Below is the first lock plate I created from 1/8" steel being used as a pattern to make a mirror image of itself for the other lock plate (left and right sides).
L&R used 6-40 socket head cap screws so I did too.
The picture below shows a completed lock using L&R internal mechanisms which were later heavily machined to fit the gun. The L&R hammer is there for show. It is far too short. A real L&R lock plate is shown at the bottom of the picture.
The L&R Back Action lock mechanism. Notice the location of the spring; thus the name of the lock.
Here is the first version of the Chennault Lock fitted to the gun mortice. It still has the too short L&R hammer. But, it looks good! But, at 1/8", the lock plate metal is far too narrow.
I tried 1/4" steel, but as you can see, it was still too thin.
The next version of the Chennault Lock was constructed from 3/8" steel. This thickness provided plenty of "meat" to modify the interior and shape the exterior attractively.
A 3/8" thick lock plate was too thick for the L&R internal mechanism to fit the mortice. I used a Dremel tool to hog some wood out. There was not much to hog out. (Did you know that a rotary tool such as a Dremel will get you in more trouble faster than a speeding bullet?)
The picture below shows wood putty applied to repair the interior of the stock when I got carried away with the Dremel tool as mentioned above.
Not a bad hogging job! The 3/8" steel made a great plate.
Some inside plate beveling and a little rounding of the outside plate surface will make this lock plate look very good.
A lot of file work is required to make a lock plate. On this particular lock, the aft screw hole which is used to secure it to the stock is open. I never found out the reason. However, I faithfully copied it.
The inside has been beveled to fit the mortice and the outside of the plate has been attractively rounded.
You can see that I have begun work on the stock. When Dad gave me the big 10, the furniture had a heavy, workman-like finish on it good for protecting the wood while dragging it through the swamps in Louisiana. I used both ultra fine steel wool (00) and medium steel wool, alternating between the two, to take the furniture down to bare wood. No sandpaper was used. When I finally found bare wood, it was truly beautiful!
Now, I will build the right lock!
The right lock mechanically complete. It is beveled to fit the mortice on the inside and rounded on the outside for style and to bring the metal down to the level of the wood at the edge of the mortice. Note that I am still using the too short L&R hammers as placeholders.
Dad is 90 years old in this picture. (At the time of this writing he is 94.) I knew it was time for him to see the big 10-gage, even though it was not finished. (Note the duct tape holding the barrels together!)
Dad and my best friend and wife doing model duty!
Mr. William S. Chennault with the gun his great grandfather, Mr. Tresvant, give him when Dad was a child. Mr. Tresvant's father, my great, great, great grandfather gave it to him when he was 14, during the Civil War. He was never heard from again. If there was ever a firearm that truly belonged to a family, the following picture shows it.
It is now time to learn how to build a hammer! I start off by constructing mockups of wood and then metal prior to learning how to build a good looking hammer.

There is one big secret to building a hammer which I eventually discovered. Although there are a few important measurements that must be met, there is only one critical measurement.

Think of the distance between the center of the hammer screw and the center of the nipple as the diameter of a circle. That diameter represents the exact length of the hammer with the screw center representing the mid-point of the circle and the center of the nipple representing any point on the circumference of the circle. Then, allow for enough metal to locate the hammer screw and some more on the other end to allow for a good grip on the hammer and the rest is merely artwork.

I needed a clue, so I grabbed a 2x4 (the same I used to fix the trigger guard) and sawed off enough of the end to build a wooden hammer of sufficient length as described above.
Then I had the bright idea of artifically enlongating the L&R lock to match the length of my wooden hammer. Remember: I am just trying to understand the geometry of the hammer. This amatuerish process helped a lot.
I sanded and shaped the wooden hammer until it fit--more or less--on the lock screw and nipple. During this process, I learned many valuable things. For example, the hammer must be bent around the curved stock to align the center of the nipple with the center of the hammer head, which is (will be) recessed to hold the percussion cap. With heat supplied by a propane torch, this proves to be a rather simple operation.
I used 3/8" steel plate as raw stock for the hammer, as I did for the lock plates. The only thing (at this time) I owned to cut thick stock with was a good ol' hacksaw! (Later, I bought a 4"x6" horizontal power saw. But, they sure didn't have such things when the original hammers were constructed!
As mentioned, the L&R hammer was far too short for this old gun.
But my wooden hammer wasn't!
It almost looks like a gun in this picture; no browning, no ramrod and wooden hammers excepted!
The following (very poor) pictures show the square screw body which will protrude through the hammer, thus the hammer must have a matching square hole. Start by drilling a hole close to size and then get your small files out and make it square. There may be an easier way. I wish I knew it.
My first metal mock-up hammer was greated by cutting the L&R hammer in half and lengthening it.
This mock-up hammer taught me a few things about building hammers. Obviously, the hammer head--which holds the percussion cap--strikes the nipple at the wrong angle. Additionally, the thumb grip is at an extreme angle making cocking a hammer with such geometry difficult or impossible.
The following picture, as out of focus as it is, is the one that gave me the clue that the critical distance between the center of the hammer screw hole and the center of the nipple was merely the radius of a circle and that all I need do to determine it was measure it. The rest, other than bending the body of the hammer laterally, was merely artwork.
As mentioned, both the hammers and the lock plates were made from the same stock: 3/8" steel. I call it hardware store steel.
But first, I simply DREW what I thought looked like a good hammer using the length I had determined empirically (the hard way). Later, I got smart and merely measured the distance mentioned earlier. I made many hammers until I had a set that I really liked. All of them worked, but I did not like all of them. I gave several away to folks. I especially liked to give them to people that could not believe they were handmade!
Using the paper pattern shown above, I carefully used a carbide tipped scribe to outline the pattern in steel.
Then I laid out grinding lines which I would follow as I took the workpiece to the grinding wheel.
You have to work on both sides! This is the same piece, but flipped over.
Well, it turned out ugly so I doubtless gave it to one of my little brothers.
I might have made a dozen hammers before I got two that I liked. After the first few, they became easy to make (as long as you like grinding and filing) and I just kept turning them out until satisfied. Creating an attractive hammer is as much art as anything else.
These are the two I used. They may have not been the last ones I made. I plan to make some more with gold inlay and scroll work.
A gun has to have a barrel. In this case, two. In pictures above, you saw the rust removal labor. I spent a lot of time removing all the rust I could from inside the barrels, as well. However, I did not remove the breech plugs, therefore there is doubtless some (well-oiled) rust at the breech end of the barrels.

The first thing to do is to line the breech end of the barrels back up using that convenient diagonal cut mark the builder placed on the breeches. Once the breechs are lined up, the barrels need to be silver soldered together. A lot of clamps are necessary. It was difficult for me to find ones that worked well. Finally, after the breeches were aligned and the barrels clamped, I silver soldered the breech end. Since the gun is for display only, there was no real reason to regulate the barrels, so I simply lined the muzzles up by eye and silver soldered them, as well.
Notice how my alignment (above) is slightly better than one of my ancestor's attempts, shown below!
At this point, post silver soldering the breech ends and the muzzles ends, they don't look like much. There is still a lot of cleanup work to do. But, I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief! When I got those barrels back together, I knew I had passed the mid-point and that the rest of the work was within my capabilities. (Of course, by now I had learned a tremendous amount, too.)
The silver solder is very visible at the muzzle end. In the picture above, it is somewhat less visible (and longer) at the breech end.
There is still some barrel hardware remaining to be installed. The ramrod ferrules/barrel wedge key guides are next. (That clamp didn't work as good as it looked!)
Since the ramrod is 3/8" in diameter, a 3/8" steel rod makes an ideal ramrod ferrule alignment tool.
The wide top rib has been low-temperature soldered in place and the excess solder removed . . . or at least most of it. I continued to remove solder right up to the moment it was time for browning!
The under-rib went back on in three pieces instead of one long one. No matter. (Low temperature solder was used.)
I was not very good with the solder and torch. All of the excess you see in these pictures was difficult to remove, but it had to be done. The trick was to heat it up and wick it off without unsoldering the under-rib. Properly placed wet towels helped remove heat and keep the under-rib in place.
I created quite a mess in my little gun workshop while working on the barrels.
Many different views of the ten gage prior to browning.
The trigger guard turned out very well. This was the most surprising piece since it displayed the most engraving which was invisible, at first, due to all the rust.
Eventually, I will have to build a ramrod (or more accurately, buy one from a supplier and modify it to fit). First, there must be a piece at the muzzle end to prevent the ramrod from sliding out of its ferrules . . . as I drag this big sucker through the swamps and bayous of Louisianna. :)

I made the keeper from this 1/8" piece of metal.
It was difficult to solder this odd shaped piece to the muzzle ends. So, I got a good joint with plenty of solder just to hold it on until I could clamp it down and reheat, thereby letting it assume its proper position.
What's a ramrod keeper supposed to look like? I didn't know then and I don't know now. However, this one looks like it will keep the ramrod from falling out. (I removed all of the excess solder . . . really. Trust me.
Below is a picture of the ramrod keeper (far right) keeping the ramrod from falling out while laying flat on the floor so I can take its picture. (Obviously, I am going to have to trim that ramrod up a little!)
The ramrod keeper turned out well. But the plain end of the ramrod needs a nice, pretty fob which can be used to quickly grasp and remove the ramrod.
This just ain't right! Gotta have that fob!
FOB? Freight Out Back? What's a fob? I suppose it could be anything depending on the context. Here is a fob made out of wood. Gee. It is ugly, but it served its purpose and got me to thinking.
Brass sounded like a good choice for my fob. I journeyed to my metal vendor and bought some brass. It turned out to be some alloy of bronze and almost ripped the table off my drill press when I drilled the hole through it.
Anyway, I filed away everything that did not look like a fob for a ramrod.
Eventually, it polished up well.
I thought I would take some time off and bake some cookies!

Not really. I decided to brown all small parts in my wife's oven. I used Birchwood-Casey products. I liked the result.

The process was simple: I pre-heated the oven to 425 degrees because I knew the part temperature would fall rapidly after the oven door was opened and the tray pulled out. Next, I began slopping the Birchwood-Casey solution on. Surprisingly, there was very little mess.
Here is a picture of the pre-browned barrels for comparison purposes.
Since the barrels would not fit in the oven, I used a propane torch and a thermometer with a probe to tell me when the area I was heating reached 400*F. Then I literally slopped the Birchwood-Casey browning solution on the hot barrels and kept slopping it on until I had a color I liked. This method worked fairly well, but I could not heat up the entire length of both barrels with my little propane torch, so there is some color variation which I found very attractive, if not original.
Finally! The furniture!
I had great trepidations about working on the wood. I knew nothing about finishing wood and I certainly did not know anything about preparing it for finishing other than you were supposed to strip the old finish off. So that is what I did. Very carefully. I completely striped the old finish off using both medium steel wool and ultra fine (00).
I put a single coat of Minwax Red Oak 215 on the English Walnut stock because that is the closest color I could find to the original color.
It is said that one can never apply too much linseed oil to a stained finish. I think it is true. There are countless coats of linseed oil on this old gun! (It actually becomes a pleasure!)
At this point, the two century old (more or less) firearm is in "finished" condition. But is something like this labor of love ever truly finished? I don't think so for it is not yet in DISPLAY CONDITION!
The pictures above represent the entire restoration process. Bill Chennault