Monday, May 19, 2008
When you have been given a shotgun...
Just recently I acquired my father's old 1100 Remington autoloader and I'm not sure why I have taken on this project... And yes it is a project, this 12 gauge firearm had spent some time secluded amongst some old lobster trap gear nestled exactly 20 feet from the downeast coast in an uninsulated, unheated building with three damaging affects- moisture, salt air, and time. When my dad tore down the building, he managed to discover his faithful weapon that had been conveniently missing for quite some time! The story goes that as ducks (blacks, mallards, buffleheads, and such) would move into the cove he could better sneak to the shore without the gun and then acquire it just before he slid behind the wharf to snipe his quarry. But as things happen and least we forget, the 1100 Magnum felt into sort of retirement as steel shot became the required load, new guns replace old, and how much time can one person spend looking for a beater that he can't use?
Having been very interested in amateur gun repair and modification, I had begun a lengthy and exhaustive project restoring a 1919 Remington Model 11 that had been given to me by this old geezer. Unfortunately, this is a story in itself but to make a long story short, my gunsmith had the gun for 4 years and when I finally decided enough was enough, I reclaimed the gun in its disassembled state with a grudge. The gunsmith died two weeks later. I always joked that I needed to get that gun before he died, I do hope that my words weren't part of the plan. Discouraged with a gun 79 years old and little way to fix it, I gave up on my gun smithing dreams until now.
I live across the road from my parents and I was kicking around in their basement looking for some of my decoys when I fell onto the old belle I thought, "no way, not again" but then my wheels began to spin and a more optimistic dream began to settle. First, this gun is far more current and 1100 parts are relatively easy to acquire, looked fair in its appearance less the corrosion, and this was my father's primary waterfowling gun of choice. His legacy will include his gunning and I am part of this heritage, it almost seems expected for me to honor his dedication to a lifestyle he has given to me whereas this gun deserves to be given a little attention.
I suppose any effort like mine begins today with a world wide web hunt for information. The shotgun needed a birthday, raw data about it, and any prior listings, forums, and sites that could educate me about this new project. I'll be honest, to research a shotgun doesn't really cause a person to wander through useless websites. Almost all forums, sites, and blogs were very helpful in establishing my personal baseline for this process. The challenge became organizing the material so that I could effectively structure my collected material for reference as I continue the process. So I now have several folders on my desktop with archived specific sites for bluing, treating the stock, and mechanical processes. In addition, I have bookmarked key sites that provide interactive discussion on the previously mentioned topics. It's amazing how one can become quietly and quickly educated about something of interest, the challenge for people years ago must have been discouraging. But I do believe that there must have been more basement gun shops with knowledgeable people who could exercise their talents in basic gunsmithing or had the contacts if they couldn't. This breed is quietly disappearing and my efforts just might become the new wave in do it yourself gunsmithing. But just in case, I have acquired the names of men who do live at least one hour away.
So here's the status thus far on my 1100... It was made February of 1974 and my father bought it in Bangor, Maine that fall. It was a full choke barrel for lead shot, but was made a modified choke in the spring of 1975. It is a 3 inch Magnum but my dad swears he used lots of Winchester Super-X 2 3/4 loads with no problems whatsoever. The gun was structurally intact with no exterior damage less the basic effects of 2 two years hiding in layaway. After some basic cleaning and inspection, the 1100 is clearly salvageable and will be repaired. For a man who doesn't have enough time to do anything, I've once again found myself dedicated to another important project.