About Us
Reloadin' Stuff
Hunter Education
Ann's Corner

VOLUME 56-----------FEBRUARY 2007



February 5, 2007

Welcome to February.  Very important date this month!  February 4th is Mom's 84th birthday.  (Mom doesn't do computers, so if I get in trouble for putting her age on the internet, the most likely cause will be one of my siblings rattin' me out.)  Also on that date, Little Heifer and I celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary!  (I'm very proud of that fact.  What with our "marry 'em and discard 'em" world, that's pretty darned unusual!)

One reason I'm a bit late in posting this month is our anniversary celebration at the Coeur d'Alene Resort Hotel in Coeur d'Alene, ID.  Here is a view from our 16th floor 'Honeymoon Suite' room, and a picture of Ann's Roses.


Of course, I wouldn't want this to be widely known, but the bedroom had a mirrored ceiling!

The problem is, I can't remember why ceiling mirrors are supposed to be important.

The stay at the Coeur d'Alene Resort Hotel was a wonderful interlude compared to recent home furnace problems that had us staying at at a nearby motel to keep from freezing our buns off!  (The new furnace is now installed and operational, and our bank account is several thousand lighter.)

Last month my newsletter ventured into an area I usually avoid.  I climbed upon my soapbox and entered the highly political arena of so called "gun control" laws and some related issues.  At the end of that dissertation, I asked for commentary from readers on my thoughts.

Now, either I ain't got readers, or they ain't got comments, 'cause I didn't hear a word!  Come on, y'all, surely you have opinions on this, and I'd still like to hear 'em.  Click Here and email me.

Not to worry.  The soapbox is non-operational this month!  Instead, I'm gonna' talk about a couple more of those handy-dandy little items that the chronic gun tinkerer can't live without; available from Brownell's, of course.

In previous newsletters I've discussed gunsmithing projects for my Thompson Center Encore and Winchester Model 1895 rifle.  Both projects involved drilling and tapping screw holes for sight mounting.

In the case of the Encore, its combination .45 Colt/.410 shotgun barrel came with rudimentary sights consisting of a front bead and a plastic rear notched blade.  These were mounted on a full length rib fastened to the barrel with four #6X48 screws.  My project was to install an extended eye relief Leupold scope on the gun for use in my pocket gopher extermination efforts.

In order to install a scope mounting base, the barrel rib must be removed so the base can be attached directly to the barrel.  Two of the existing screw holes are correctly positioned and sized for mounting the base, but two more had to be drilled and tapped to provide the required strength and stability of having four screws securing the base.

As reported earlier, my friend Courtney Johnson was prevailed upon for use of his milling machine and expertise.  In this scenario the positioning of the base was pretty simple.  After removing the barrel rib, the base was screwed down firmly with the two screws that fit the existing holes, and used as a template for locating the holes to be drilled and tapped.

The barrel was clamped into the mill vise, and a dial indicator was used to position it so that the scope base was perfectly flat and true.  Locating and marking the holes to be drilled, was accomplished by using a drill bit slightly smaller than the holes in the base and indexing the mill table to center the drill in the holes.

After marking a hole location, the scope base was removed without changing the position of the work piece so the #31 drill required for the hole would remain perfectly centered when chucked in the mill head spindle.

After drilling the hole .185 inch deep, it was ready for tapping the threads.  (These were 'blind' holes, that could not be so deep as to penetrate the bore of the barrel.)  Again, without moving the work piece, the drill bit was removed and the tap chucked into the spindle.  By retaining this exact positioning, the tap has to enter the hole in perfect alignment and thus cut the threads square and true.

For this operation, the mill's spindle is turned slowly by hand with pressure control on the spindle depth adjustment being extremely critical.  It is very easy to strip out some threads if you allow the spring loaded spindle to exert too much pressure either up or down.

After tapping to the bottom of the first hole, the base was again attached, the second hole indexed, and the process repeated.  Contrary to the way some of my projects turn out, everything fit perfectly when we were finished!  Here is the T/C Encore with the scope attached after completion of the project.

My next gunsmithing task was the installation of a Williams receiver sight on my replica Winchester Model 1895.  (This was to be my 'go to' gun for the 2006 deer and elk season and I'm finding that peep sights are increasingly more kind to my aging eyes than was the factory buckhorn rear sight on the 1895.)

This installation was going to require drilling and tapping two #6X48 screw holes in the rifle's receiver.  (I later found that some of the fancier versions of the 1895 Winchester replicas are factory drilled and tapped for receiver sights, but mine was not.)

My memories of hole locating, drilling, and especially tapping threads while manually controlling spindle depth became a challenge to find a better way!  Even though Court did the actual tapping of the threads, I contributed by sweating profusely, fidgeting, and grinding my teeth together.  That, in itself, was reason enough to find a way to improve the processes.

Again, it's Brownell's catalog to the rescue!  Added to my telephone order for the proper Williams receiver sight was a set of gunsmith's hole center punches and a B-Square "Tru Tapper."

The three center punches are sized to fit the most common screw sizes used in gun work: #'s 6, 8, and 10.  You can use your sight, scope base or other attachment as a template.  The punches are precision ground to an exact fit in the various sized through holes.  Once the template is properly positioned and firmly clamped, the punch is inserted in each screw hole.  A light tap with a hammer will place a dimple in the exact center of the hole.

After determining the proper location for the sight base, this was easily accomplished on the flat sided receiver of the 1895.  Here is a picture of the three punches in the set.

Position your work piece so the drill enters the center of the dimple, and drill the hole.  Now you're ready for the "Tru Tapper" which is pictured next.

The shaft at the top is chucked into the mill head spindle.  This shaft slips in and out of the body of the unit, with about three quarter's of an inch of travel.  This is more than enough free travel for most any thread cutting operations in simple gunsmithing applications.

The tap is chucked into the bottom of the "Tru Tapper" and the mill's spindle depth is adjusted and locked so the slip collar can move down freely as the threads are cut.  This way there is no danger of the hand slipping and allowing the spindle spring to yank the tap from the hole, stripping out the newly cut threads!  Dang, why couldn't I have invented this thing?

Here is the end result of the installation of the 1895's receiver sight.

I should also point out that these tools and applications will work fine on an ordinary drill press if you don't have access to a milling machine.  As long as you have a vise that will securely hold the work piece and can be indexed to center the hole location directly under the spindle, you should have no problem.

This month's hillbilly wisdom is another gem that Little Heifer came up with:

Speak your mind, but ride a fast horse!

Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .

'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!

Copyright 2002 - 2007 - All Rights Reserved

Back to Top