I’m sending some photos and information about the rifle that I have been working on that is about 90% finished at this time. The remaining workbeing heat treating the steel parts, polishing the brass parts, browning the barrel, steel pieces, lock, trigger, hammer, skeleton butt plate and butt cap. I’ve been working on this project for years now, but other things just seem to get in the way! At 72, I figured I better get my finger out and finish before I go blind or get "sometimers." Heaven forbid!
I am a hobby machinist/woodworker and this project is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. First I had to get a barrel, which is a bit of a problem here in Canada. The other parts I could make myself.
We were visiting friends in New Hampshire and one weekend they took us to one of their favourite places, North Conway, which is the home of Green Mountain Barrels. So, I stopped in at the factory and purchase a .45 calibre, 1:66-inch X 36-inch long octagon barrel.
After returning home to Canada, I was browsing through my favourite wood supplier, A&M Woods in Kitchner where I came across a beautiful figured black walnut gunstock blank. My eyes popped when I saw it. It had my name written all over it and it whispered to me, “Please, please, take me home with you.”
Now I had the barrel and stock blank and next I needed a lock. My friend, Jack, who is a young design engineer who likes target shooting, came to my assistance and make a drawing for the hammer and trigger and explained the importance of the hammer/trigger geometry and sear engagement. His design also included a cross bolt safety.
|Basic component of the Bliss Underhammer Rifle.|
|Here's what really makes it work. Black plunger is the hammer blocking safety.|
|Assembled Action. Hole above the trigger is for the push button safety.|
|Fitting the skeleton buttplate and grip cap|
|Front view of receiver showing the hole for the breech plug of the barrel||.|
|Rear of receiver showing the brass plug of the barrel retaining screw hole.|
When testing the mainspring, I discovered that there needs to be from 10 – 12 pounds of preload with the hammer resting on the nipple. I didn’t realize this at the first test and with the hammer just resting on the nipple without any tension, when I fired the rifle the hammer flew back and cap flew off the nipple and gave me quite a bite on the forearm. I realized that I needed a longer piece of spring on the next try. After some reshaping the hammer pressure on the nipple was about 12 pounds with the hammer at rest on the nipple. That solved the hammer blow back problem.
|Testing the mainspring tension.|
I’m also in the throes of making a walnut presentation case with faux leather and brass fittings. At 54 inches in length it won’t fit into the trunk of my car and has to sit on the seat as a passenger. I guess 150 years ago they didn’t have such problems when everyone had a wagon!
I'll keep you posted on my progress once I arrive at the right load.
All photos Copyright by Mike Bliss.