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Radovan Geist

PostPosted: Thu 12 Jun, 2014 12:13 am    Post subject: DIY: 3 arquebuses         Reply with quote

This will probably be a slow-moving, long-time project, because it will run alongside other things I have to finish and its fairly complex, but nevertheless Im quite excited about it:)

Some two years ago Ive bought 6 semi-finished arquebuse barrels (app. 100 cm long, with 14-16 mm calibers) from a son of a deceased local blacksmith / weapon maker. They were only roughly shaped, without even touch holes drilled, etc. Last weekend Ive finally managed to work on them. The plan is to create 3 fully functional matchlock arquebuses from different periods: a) first half of the 16th c., with serpentine matchlock and button trigger; b) end of 16th c. petronel type arquebuse (with strongly curved stock - this shows the overall shape); c) early 17th century caliver / schutzrohr / arquebuse that would be typical for German lands.

I have not decided yet what to do with the remaining 3 barrels, but their time will come:)

So the work has started. First picture shows comparison of barrels as Ive received them, and one semi-cleaned. They were cleaned on a lathe (parts with circular cross-section) and then by hand, using sandpaper. By cleaning then, I have also removed rough scratches from miller and lathe.

The second picture shows them semi-polished (A - early 16c, B - petronel, C - early 17c, D - I-dont-know-yet:)) I will work on them more later, after attaching flash-pans etc.

After that, Ive drilled touch holes and holes for screws that will hold the back of the barrel to the stock (no pictures taken) and cut and shaped eyelets that will be soldered to the bottom of the barrels and secure then to stocks. These are quite simple, just a piece of mild steel, 20*10*4 mm, with a hole in the middle (I will take pictures later).

I have started to work on flash-pans. Obviously, these three different guns will have them shaped differently, but to simplify my work, I wanted to make some "generic" piece that could be shaped later. Given my limited access to tools (no miller), flash-pans were a hard nut. I came up with following: I took a piece of mild steel with square cross-section. I have drilled a hole (12 mm diameter) app to two thirds of its length. Then Ive cut it in half, alongside the hole - and I had two rough stocks for flash-pans. I tried to sketch it on picture 3, and the last picture shows the cut pieces. Its not perfect, but I will have to do for now.

Next steps: shaping the flash-pans, and soldering them, together with eyelets, to barrels (soldering will be done by a friend of mine, who is definitely much better in that).

Any comments and suggestions are welcome. I would especially appreciate any nice detailed pictures of petronels - matchlock mechanism, decoration, stock details, etc. I have some, but the more the better:)

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Bjorn Hagstrom

PostPosted: Thu 12 Jun, 2014 7:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is going to be very interesting to follow, your track-record is excellent as it is and this brings it up another notch Happy
And I just love early firearms!

There is nothing quite as sad as a one man conga-line...
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Radovan Geist

PostPosted: Mon 16 Jun, 2014 5:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you, Bjorn Happy It will be a challenge!

I did not have much time to work on this in last few days, so there are not many updates. Im working on flash-pans, and they are roughly finished. Obviously, each one have a different shape to fit to its period. The one on the picture will go on the 17th c. caliver. Its just a rough work, I hope to add pictures of cleaned pieces after this weekend.

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Radovan Geist

PostPosted: Tue 24 Jun, 2014 3:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I did not have much opportunity to work on this project, so Ive at least made some concept drawings of different lock elements. All are based on surviving period pieces, even though Ive sometimes combined design elements from two or three lock (from the same period, of course) into one. I still need to design something for the earliest arquebuse.

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Radovan Geist

PostPosted: Sun 29 Jun, 2014 11:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I managed to spend some 2 hours in the workshop this weekend, working on the flash-pans with hand files, here is the result. Well, its still a long way to go:)

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Radovan Geist

PostPosted: Fri 04 Jul, 2014 1:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

After finishing flash-pans for petronel and caliver, Ive started working on tubular sights (I hope its the correct term). I have used a piece of old soft-steel, turned on a lathe the basic design and cleaned it with sand paper (still on lathe), and bored the hole (picture 1).
Then, the spiral grooves were made with hand-files (I shall definitely buy a Dremmel tool:)), and the whole thing was cleaned (sandpaper, then brass brush) and flattened on one side, where it will be soldered to the barrel. Picture 2 shows the sights and the pan on the barrel (of course, I will make another screw for the pan cover).

I have one question: I am planning to do the petronel a little bit more decorated. Have you ever seen brass/copper/bronze decorations on tubular sights of existing pieces, such as a narrow band around the muzzle?

Thanks for any comments or suggestions.

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Radovan Geist

PostPosted: Mon 07 Jul, 2014 1:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have finished sights for the petronel. As I said, this arquebuse should be little more decorative, so Ive tried a more complex design. The rear half has a hexagonal cross-section, and the front side a circular one, with four deep spiral groves. All was done on lathe and with hand files. Picture 1 shows it half through the filing process, the second picture shows the whole set before the final cleaning with sandpaper and brass brush, and the last one shows the sights after cleaning and polishing.

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William P

Usergroups: None

Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 1,202
PostPosted: Mon 14 Jul, 2014 1:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

wait, wait, did i hear

'tubular sights' as in, sights to look through while aiming??!!

the more i look at arms and armour from this period, the more and more i get amazed... its mindblowing just how much innovation and experiemntation happened in that era...
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Radovan Geist

PostPosted: Mon 14 Jul, 2014 5:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hi william, yes Happy
check some pictures in this wonderful collection:
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Lafayette C Curtis

PostPosted: Sat 02 Aug, 2014 3:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sights were very common on 16th- and 17th-century long firearms. Don't be misled by the lack of sights on the Brown Bess and some other standard-issue military muskets from the late 18th and early 19th centuries -- this absence lasted for barely a century and was never universal (since hunting and target rifles continued to have sights, and many standard army muskets had them too).

I find the prevalence of these tubular sights curious, though, since the sight image they produce can be quite dark (though quite sharp). They're really nice for shooting in bright daylight but it could take considerable effort to spot the target (and the front sight) in the early morning or late evening.
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Radovan Geist

PostPosted: Sun 12 Oct, 2014 10:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

a little update: last week I have just received the barrels with silver-soldered flash-pans (this needed to be done really well, so I gave it to a friend of mine with better equipment, and more experience with soldering). I have already started to clean the pieces, but the picture was made as Ive received them...

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Radovan Geist

PostPosted: Mon 24 Nov, 2014 7:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

the project is going really slow - even more than Ive expected...
However, heres another (small) step - I started working on the lock of caliver. First, the serpent:
- Basic shape was cut from a piece of soft-steel, 5mm thick (picture1).
- Then it was roughly shaped with angle grinder and hand files (picture 2)
- After that I have bent it using a vice and hammer; heating the piece would be preferable, but I did not have an equipment for that, so I just had to use a brute force - and was lucky for not breaking it (picture 3)
- Next the serpent was cleaned, with scratches from bending removed by files. I have drilled and threaded a hole for a screw that will hold the match-cord (picture 4)
- at this point, I have cut a lenghtwise slot for the match-cord. For that, I have used an angle grinder with a thin cutting disc (its important to clamp the piece tightly to the vice, and have a firm hand:)), and once I got through the "head" of the serpent, Ive finished it with a hack-saw (picture 5)

after that Ive made a pivot that will go through the lock plate, cleaned the serpent and finished all details with hand files. at that point my cellphone was already discharged so I could not make more pictures:(

Anyways, more will follow (hopefully) soon.

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