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"Big Boston"

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  1. A 16 ga in an 1897 typically comes with a 2 9/16 chamber, it's worth checking. App SN below 500,000. A roll crimped 2 9/16 is nearly the same for loading as a 2 3/4 fold crimp. Best powder seems to be in the Unique or Universal range. The roll crimper I bought from Russia didn't work for me so I deep sixed the project. Not really the crimpers fault, the "brass" base just turns on the hull body, can't crimp if it doesn't go round and round.
  2. I have an 1897 "C" that I've been resurrecting. The project is progressing and I've been doing a bit of test firing. When I was testing some Challenger Extra light loads I noticed quite a few pierced primers. I like the ammo, so I resolved myself to the fact that I would have to fix the shotgun, make it work with Cheddite primers. I backed down on the hammer spring, then I trimmed a bit off the firing pin tip, and reshaped it as well. I don't know why Winchester 1897 shotguns have firing pins that protrude so far. I researched the subject again, and for the most part 0.050 to 0.055" is the typical spec for most shotguns. Some sources list a minimum of 0.035". I've measured a few 1897's and they all protrude more than 0.050". At around 0.070" the pierced primers stop, so I stopped there as well. I polished the tip and gave it as round of a shape that I could do. I think that because it has to reliably fire when slam firing, Winchester left the firing pins a bit long. I also believe that primers from back in the day were a bit heavier built than todays 209 primers. 97's don't seem to experience light strikes or misfires.
  3. A couple of old 1897 stocks came my way and I used them to practice my wood refinishing "skills". If the butt stock is a trap stock, it should have a black ebony inlay, in the shape of a diamond. (Me doing my Captain Obvious thing). You don't want what you're using to strip the finish to lift that. The gummy surface is old linseed or some kind of wax. I suspect that the stock is oil filled as well. I had a real dirty one, and as per a Midwayusa video, I used Acetone. I recommend it. It does a very good job of removing oil from the wood. Another good tool is a heat gun. Warming up the surface of the wood softens the "gummy stuff" and lets you wipe it off. That would be my first step. If you are lucky, that may be all that is required. I also watched a video where they boiled the stock in water, I've never tried this, sounds like it would work. Bottom line, you don't want to damage the wood. BTW, 100 year old walnut is hard and it will crack and chip if you do something silly. Check for cracks, the wrist area is pretty thin and longitudinal cracks are common. Everyone seems to have their own method of reapplying finish. On the last couple I've used boiled linseed until the pores were filled, and then followed with a coat or two of Tru-Oil. Tung oil may be a better choice for the base coat, I'll be trying it next. There are still some streaks of oil left in the wood, but most has been removed. Several soakings of acetone. Blow out repaired, refinished and back on the shotgun. Another resurrection, brass cross pin in wrist. This one looked more like a piece of firewood than a gun stock. BB Addendum: I found this picture, it shows the diamond, and it shows a crack above it. This is a fairly typical crack, the pinned stock in the picture above had twins, one on each side, and the crack through the trigger cutout.
  4. AFAIK the RCBS Jr was always a 7/8-14 press. Mine is. The Lyman Tru-line Jr was for the 310 dies. 310 dies are .6-30 thread. They used 5/8 stock, so the threads ended up a bit smaller than 5/8 (.625) 310 dies had their day before 1970. Mentioning them will just confuse this topic. A lot of us started reloading long before the internet. It was buy the tools, and a few books. Speer 9 and Hornady II got me going. This was after a LEE Loader didn't seem to cut it. I can still remember one coworkers advice. Stay away from a C form press and don't buy any 310 tools. I managed to avoid those for several decades. A while back I started collecting 310 dies, tools and presses. I ended up with 4 T-L Jr presses, and a big pail of dies. I was going to set up a minimalistic setup. Keep only individual dies, no sets, and keep them in a machinists tool box. I bought a Dillon 550 instead. Sorry, now I'm doing the hijacking. BB
  5. Anything BP always seems to catch my attention, but I've yet to dabble in it with any seriousness. http://home.insightbb.com/~bspen/shotgun.html In all my research the bottom line seems to be fiber wads (hunting loads). CAS loads are not hunting loads as a rule. I'd also look into finding paper hulls, as they seal the chamber/forcing cone area a bit better than the thin plastic hulls. Brass hulls are even thinner, but they seal because they use oversize wads. https://circlefly.com/wad-sizing-chart I fooled with using parchment paper for a shot cup, single layer and two layers. Pellets rubbing on the bore tend to fly off, exit the pattern. Some sort of shot cup would be a good idea. Have fun, let us know how it works, I'd like to strike that bucket list experience off my list. I already went 16 ga for a bit, until the cost of ammo, and scarcity killed that. I have an 870, an 1897 and a Cooey single shot in 16. The '97 has a 2 9/16 chamber, another curve that I didn't need. BB
  6. This is a pretty hard combo to beat. Will get you in the ballpark for load development, or if you wish, "one and done". I prefer H4198, my primer was a WLR and sometimes a F210M. I belled the case with a NOE expander in a LEE die. SR4759 at the same 20 gr is also good. My bullet was a LEE, the 379-250-RF. For the money, that is a good mold. 2-Stroke oil is your friend if you use LEE molds. Lightly coat the contact points, when you see galling, re-apply. 2-stroke oil (I use Polaris Blue) does not gas at casting temperatures, and really helps prevent galling. Aluminum anneals and softens when heated, it galls with any friction. It is not hard to destroy a LEE mold. LEE 6 cavity use a hard anodized aluminum sprue plate, it's good, nothing can be done to improve it. The 2 cavity sprue plate is steel, it is rough, not flat and the cutting edge is dull. They can be lapped, smoothed, sharpened, heat treated (a bit) and you can bevel the edges. The top surface of the mold can be polished and the edges beveled, but if you don't use 2-stroke, it will not help. I experimented with my 379-250-RF for quite a bit before I was confident that I could use a LEE mold without beating it up. My rifle was a Commemorative Win 94, and it seemed OK with short and long brass. I used 2.02 or 2.08 or 2.125 and adjusted OAL for a good crimp. Mostly I used 2.08 to keep things consistent. A 20 gr load is a pretty close duplicate of black powder velocity, and for plinking, it's stout enough for me. In Northern Manitoba the old timers used the 38-55 for moose and up until a few decades ago, the local Flin Flon hardware store used to bring in a case of it every fall. I sold my 38-55, including the mold, but if I ever get another 38-55, that mold will be on the shopping list. I also have a 375296 and two 375248, but none would cast large enough. BB
  7. So true, soon after buying a basket case 97 and one that would not take down I realized what was going on. 


    "................ I can't tell you how many 1897's I've seen for sale at Gun shows with the mag tube in upside down. I've been allowed to fix a lot of them for the owners, in just 10 minutes with my Swiss Army Knife and they've been very thankful. Some just don't care and say NO, it'll sell anyway.


    You can't believe how much easier it is to take down and put together a proper '97 with everything right. No forcing of parts and it works so much better. I was wondering if your Mag tube was in correctly, or upside down. The little piece of Metal with the 2 small screws holding it on the tube in front of the wood should always be under the barrel, not on the bottom when assembled. The later ones had a pushed up bump instead of the screwed one on the tube...again under the barrel, not on the bottom. That way the interrupted threads can line up with the ones in the receiver correctly. Just sayin'"


    I couldn't have said it any better. That and putting the ring in backwards. Also found one where the nimrod filled off most of the nub on the ring, so it would work, yikes.


  8. I do. But still use an arch punch when the size isn't right on the store bought. I also have cut down surplus 12 ga for other gauges as well. I chucked the arch punch in my drill press, no power, use the drill press as low pressure arbor press. Osborne's are good. The cheap ones need to be tuned up with a dremel.
  9. This is an information post, I'm not making a point or looking for answers. I have an older 1897, a "C" that has seen better times, I sure hope it had some good times because all I see are quite an accumulation of bad. One issue was that the firing pin lock wasn't working as it should, you could push the firing pin in at any position of the bolt. Being a "C" it used the older style lock, with a leaf spring. The leaf spring was missing. A search of online parts sources came up blank. I asked a former gunsmith if I could fashion a new spring, out of something like a hacksaw blade. His reply was it can be updated. That's it, no more details or hints. Just that it could be updated. Here are the parts involved. From top to bottom are: the bolt from an "E", 16 ga firing pin, a spare 12 ga firing pin, the lock arm, and the coil spring that is used in the update. Except for the spare firing pin, these are all parts from a working and mostly unmolested "E". This is the bolt, and it shows the hole where the coil spring sits in. A "C" or a "D" bolt will not have this hole. The hole is 9/64, just big enough that the spring fits in it an is held in position by the shallow grooves on the side of the slot and a small recess at the bottom of the groove. The 9/64 hole is perpendicular to the flat on the bolt, and it's 0.475" deep. It's about 3/8" (center to center) from the pivot point of the arm. At the bottom of the slot you want a small recess for the spring, and more is not better. Not too deeper is air, and your spring will just fall through. I know this for a fact, my bolt had a dimple on the far side, I drilled too deep. In my defence, the bolt is a tough drill, and I'm sure the bit was none too sharp after cutting into the sides of the slot. We know where to drill, we know the size, and we know how deep to drill. I'm a hobby guy, I own a small drill press and a drill vise. I had a feeling that plunging a 9/64 drill bit in that slot would not go well, so I went into my Dremel kit and found a 1/8" ball end mill and was able to get a smooth guide for the drill bit. Before drilling I'd take the firing pin out, I didn't and my firing pin looked like the one in the picture after I drilled. Or possibly insert an old firing pin so the bit doesn't have to endure yet another side snag. Assembled, the firing pin and spring do touch, slightly. On my "C" I filed the edge flat, enough to clear the spring. After all it already had a notch that would cause the firing to hang up. Bolt with spring inserted. I had to do some fitting on the lock arm, to get a smooth and consistent action, and to have the firing pin positively retract after the spent shell is ejected. Remember, there is no spring on the firing pin. It is not a retracting firing pin except for what action the lock arm provides. I assumed that if you were attempting this "fix" you'd have a disassembled old model in front of you, so I didn't include any pictures of my "C". BB
  10. Bullet shape or form, and over all length are the first criteria. Choose ammunition or bullets so that the loaded OAL is fairly long. The lifter on a '66 is 1.6" long. The '66 does not have a cartridge stop on the magazine. What this means is that any cartridge shorter than 1.6" will have to be pushed back in the magazine a little bit as the next round to be chambered is lifted by the carrier. There are other factors, and it's generally accepted that for proper feeding, optimum length is between 1.45 and 1.55". I run my ammo at 1.5", as anything longer and the magazine tube of my "Trapper" will not hold 10 cartridges. The bullet shape is critical for smooth feeding. The optimum bullet should slope without any ( or very small) edges from the mouth of the case up to a good sized meplat (the nose of the bullet). The optimum shape would be similar to the shape of a 147 gr 9mm Luger bullet. The case on a 38 Spl is 1.15" so in order to have a LOAL of 1.5", the bullet will need to stick out of the case by .385". In fractions, the bullet should stick out of the case by 3/8 of an inch. Cast bullets around 125 grains are a bit short to get a decent LOAL. Something in the 150 gr weight seems about right. I use a commercially cast and painted bullet that is probably just a 147 gr 9mm bullet that comes out a bit large. The bullet I'm using does not have a cannelure, so I just crimp into the body of the bullet. I adjust the crimp so that my finger nail doesn't snag the mouth of the case. A LEE Factory Crimp die is what I use. I've also used a commercially cast bullet the resembled a 358477 with a slightly fatter nose, and although short @ 1.45", it still worked OK. The load data is easy after the bullet is selected, something that will give you a velocity near to what you want, is reliable and accurate. A top(ish) or near max load of Trail Boss is hard to beat, trust me, I've tried. Velocity is limited to 1400 fps for CAS rifle ammunition. I like about 900 fps, not much recoil with a 147 gr bullet, accuracy is good, and it has enough smack that a hit is easy to hear. If you want to shoot closer to 1400 fps, a slower powder would be you best choice. Unique on up to 2400 would do the trick. My latest project is to use a 358429, a bit heavier than I'd like, but molds are available and LOAL is good, and there is tons of data for this combo. You may want to read up on reinforcing the ladle before you start shooting, they will break. Also, trim the magazine tube spring, you don't need all the pressure they come with. This reduces the force against the ladle. BB PS: Also, this has been a topic in the past, it may be productive to search older posts.
  11. Sorry, got lost on the way to that one, but check out Nick's garage, old school muscle. The 97 video is pretty good, the x-ray look is interesting. This is the point at which the firing pin block is removed. These pieces can wear and this timing can change, but without any definitive specifications, and by comparing to the operation of some other 97's, I'd say this is pretty normal. I would describe this as being "almost" in battery, as there is still a bit of travel before the carrier is in the full lock position. If you shoot the 97 as your supposed to, the carrier will be in full lockup before the shell fires. FWIW: on this 97 I've adjusted the trigger stop screw so that it will slam fire shortly after this point. This fine an adjustment isn't possible on all 97's. It's far more likely that the hammer will start falling slightly earlier. This is due to the relationship between the sear, trigger and how much clearance is required to get proper movement to move from cock to half cock. It's almost like the sear and trigger are or can be a matched set. On my 97's this is something I check on occasion. Original 97's have been around for a while, they may have had many parts replaced, there could be issues. The bolt in mine has been changed, there may be other non original parts as well. All in all, it's in good condition. and it's my main shotgun, with a clone as my back-up.
  12. I believe I did mention that: "There is an additional safety feature to prevent firing out of battery. The firing pin is blocked, and the carrier unblocks the firing pin when the action is closing. Again, these are all analog events. The firing pin is unblocked at about the same time the sear is tripped, during the last 20% of the carriers travel." My point: I am confident that I've adjusted the trigger stop screw properly, but in all my searching I've never come across a measurement or specification, and perhaps there isn't any. It's been my experience that if it's adjusted to just allow the hammer to drop, the adjustment has to be backed out to allow you to put the hammer into the half cock position. Disturbing to me is that on many '97's the trigger stop screw is frozen in place and requires a fair bit of work to get it loose. Equally disturbing is finding the trigger stop screw filed down at an angle, which mystifies me.
  13. Thanks, I'll call it my "Boston Sweep". BB
  14. First, I don't like the sound of term "Slam firing", and I wish there was a more professional sounding expression. On a comment for a Winchester 1897 video a poster claimed that a '97 wouldn't fire until it was completely in battery. I've been working on several basket case '97 turds and after many hours of "fixing" I think I understand what the timing of events are for a '97 slam fire. I've also changed a few hammers and sears, so I've jumped into adjusting the trigger stop. Here's my take on how the '97 does what it does: "The '97 cannot fire when "completely" out of battery. If the trigger is held down while pumping, the sear is tripped when the bolt is "almost" fully closed and "nearly" in battery. Slam firing requires a deliberate working of the action. The delay of the hammer falling is sufficient to allow the gun to be pumped into complete battery before the primer is struck. The sear tripping is controlled by the trigger. The position of the trigger is adjusted with the trigger stop screw. This adjustment does require some gun knowledge. I would not attempt or try to slam fire a '97 before this timing is checked. Technique is important, as is adjustment, helping to prevent undue stress on the bolt. There is an additional safety feature to prevent firing out of battery. The firing pin is blocked, and the carrier unblocks the firing pin when the action is closing. Again, these are all analog events. The firing pin is unblocked at about the same time the sear is tripped, during the last 20% of the carriers travel. The '97 has a non-disconnecting trigger, as does the Model 12 Winchester. Early production Ithaca 37 shotguns were capable of slam fire, but the trigger mechanism was different. Later models were modified to have a disconnecting type of trigger. The '97 trigger was never modified to be a disconnecting trigger, and as modern reproduction clones do not, I don't think it's possible without a complete redesign." I am curious, does anyone have any specifications, or measurements/clearances that can be used to calibrate or adjust the trigger stop to? Or is it more of a Zen thing? BB
  15. Minwax "Red Chestnut" is supposed to duplicate the appearance of the wood on Winchesters from back in the day. I have tried it and I like the look. I does darken the wood. I don't notice much "Red".
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