Monday, July 4, 2016

"Restoring" A Reconversion

Before Reconversion

Before Reconversion

Antique and contemporary long rifles have many connections, and one which is often quite obvious is the work done on reconverting percussion locks back to flint.  Beginning probably in the 1930's, the historical result is about equal to the different levels of expertise and craftsmanship of the new long rifles.  Much of the work however was low end and paid little or no attention to what may have been the locks original components.  Since many guns locks did not survive in original condition, and also because the locks themselves were not of major importance to collectors, a quick fix, often not functional was common.  I have heard that Kindig employed a full time gunsmith for the sole purpose of doing only reconversions.  There was an abundance of old parts available when this practice began so many of the parts are original antique, however this still does not guarantee the job would look convincing or aesthetic.  There are many examples of Rev War era American guns which are almost entirely assembled from parts and this includes the locks.  There is a certain flavor to this melting pot but it seems to work best when the parts are of simple unsophisticated  designs. If a gun had for an example a quality English import lock, you can often see a complete make over using German, French, or Dutch parts! This is disappointing, especially if the gun is fine in all other respects.  Admittedly, it adds an additional expense to have a gunsmith recreate a "reconverted" flintlock back to an historically believable state, but there is a certain satisfaction at seeing the rifle or pistol as it looked before it was altered. 

This Berks Co. rifle is pictured in Dillin's book has been converted to percussion. At some point is was reconverted backto flint.  The English Ketland plate is original to the gun, however the new pan is a completely different design than a traditional English pan. The frizzen and frizzen spring are also not correct for this style lock. The cock is an antique English design but the throw is to short for this plate, hence the lock is not functional.

Final Reconversion

The "restored" version (by John Ennis) now has all the correct components and functions perfectly. 

Copy and photos by Robert Weil.

1 comment:

  1. This is s very nice tutorial. I downloaded the before and after photos to study the update. Well worth the effort. Thanks for posting