Occasionally I do restoration and conservation work on original firearms. This is an area in our field that often stirs much controversy – How much should be done, What kind of work is appropriate, Should the lock be reconverted? Who is qualified?
The golden rule I follow is “Do nothing that cannot be undone”. Restoration can range from fixing small cracks and splicing in missing parts of wood, to total stock repair and lock reconversion. In some cases, I consider a project as a conservation, where the original gun is very deteriorated and in need of careful preservation in order to prevent further damage or decay. All of my restoration work is done with careful consideration to the original patina and finish.
YORK COUNTY SMOOTH RIFLE
I discovered this project mislabeled as a "Continental Fusil" on an auction website, and purchased the piece in incredibly rough condition. The stock arrived in about 6 pieces, and was missing several small chunks from the wrist and lower forestock area. This project is what I would consider a "conservation" more than a full out restoration, in that great care was taken to keep the piece as original as possible without allowing it to deteriorate further. The lock was carefully reconverted and new parts aged to match the original lock finish. The stock was repaired with new wood spliced in several areas where original chunks were missing. The barrel was cut down at some point, and I may "stretch" the barrel and forestock back to its original 50" length in the future. Attempts were made not to hide the fact that the piece was once in poor condition; areas worn around the breech and tang were left worn, whereas areas missing parts in the years since the piece broke were repaired. Wooden nails used to hold the earliest break together in the forestock were left in place, while the more modern brass nails and straps were removed (though kept separately with the gun). This project is still a work in progress on the side, and more details and photographs will be added in time.
Copy and photos supplied by Neahkahnie Flintlocks.