Sunday, September 22, 2013

Went to a Gun Show

The Lakeland Gun Club Show.  I like it because its bigger than the regular shows and its full of collectors instead of being mostly dealers selling the same stuff you can buy at any decent gun store.

Holy Smoke!  During today's gun show there will be an open display of weapons.  That's a novel idea to make a gun show more interesting.  (I'm not poking fun at the club for having those signs.  I'm expressing my disgust at the sorry state of our society wherein its entirely possible that someone would go to a gun show and be traumatized by seeing weapons on open display).   I mean, crap, its a gun SHOW not a gun HIDE.

My brother and I had the idea that we would find a collector who had a Hall Rifle on his table the last time we went to this show.  The Hall was a flintlock breech loader from the early part of the 19th century.  Just strange enough and with just enough historical significance to be interesting.

Didn't find anybody with a Hall but did stumble onto a free shotgun.

While I was looking at a 16 gauge Winchester, my brother stopped at a table with a few older guns on it.  When I got there, the collector was asking him the usual questions like "do you know what it is?" and "would it be worth $50 to you."

The object of the conversation was a double barreled percussion shotgun that had obviously been stepped on by a horse or had, at the very least, suffered some similar calamity to its midsection.

The locks were splayed out from the sides, some parts were in a baggie tied to the barrels and the stock was broken into three pieces.  The trigger guard was all that was holding it together.

My brother wasn't actually talking to the guy and by the time I picked it up for a closer look the collector had talked his own price down to "would you take it if it was free?  I told him that I would but all I needed was another project and he answered "well, you have one.  I'm not taking it back."   So I had myself a genuine Hapgood percussion shotgun, made in Boston,  that just happened to have been broken completely in two. 

The compelling thing about the old gun was that the wood, except for the compound fracture, looked pretty darned good.   All the parts turned out to be there except for the brass end for the ramrod so I figured that maybe, just this once, I had gotten something that was worth at least as much as I had paid for it.

Upon getting the relic home, I took it apart and found that the wood could be pieced back together pretty well without any major gaps showing.  It looks like there's enough meat left in critical places for some #6 brass wood screws that will be hidden by the tang and trigger guard so it began to look like something that could be salvaged for a wall hanger and possibly, with the help of some epoxy, something that would even shoot.

I presently have no surgical tubing to use to bind it up but I have gathered most everything else that I should need to put the stock back together and wind up with something that will look like this 10 gauge one that was on Gun Broker.

Mine may actually be a 14 gauge.  A 12 gauge wad won't even start in the muzzles and a 16 gauge wad goes in with plenty of room to spare.  According to my dial indicator, the muzzles are 0.675" and 0.678" diameter so its either a 14 gauge or a 16 gauge that opens up a bit at the muzzles. 

One of the hammer springs is broken but both pieces are there.  Dixie Gun Works doesn't have a replacement (imagine that) so, if I decide that I want to try to shoot it, I will have to have one made.  Either that or learn how to make one myself.

Having learned as much as I could by dissection, I turned to the internet to see what I could learn about what a Hapgood was.   I had assumed that it was a cheap Belgain gun that was imported and sold by some fellow named Hapgood who had a hardware store in Boston or something.  Turns out I was partly right.

Joab Hapgood (1805 - 1890) had a store all right but he made the guns that bore his name.   He made rifles and single and double shotguns.  There's a few references on the internet and guns seem to pop up at auctions from time to time but that's about all I have found out about him so far.   I suppose that the gold bands around the breech and the engraving might have suggested that it wasn't a dirt cheap gun when it was new.  Whatever.  It makes me think a bit more highly of the old gun.

After making sure I had all the pieces, I found a guy with a rusted up old  MEC 600 Jr complete with a set of dies on it for $35.  By then I had looked at so many shotguns that I couldn't tell whether it was set up for 16 or 20 gauge and there's not a mark on the sizing die but what I could tell was that it was smaller than 12 so I bought it.   I really wanted the dies to be 16 gauge so I could load for my brother in law more easily but they turned out to be 20 gauge.  That's OK because we can use them around here too.   A few squirts of Kroil and it was freed up and working like new.

I have certainly spent more money, had less fun doing it and less to show for it on many a Saturday.

1 comment:

Murphy's Law said...

Hall rifles were fantastic in their day. Love to have one in my collection, especially as I live in Harpers Ferry where they were made, but...$$$$