Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

After 21 years and $21...

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by SaxonPig, Oct 14, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2006
    Messages:
    4,787
    In 1987 I purchased 42 guns at a local police auction. They were mostly inexpensive shotguns and 22 rifles with a couple of handguns thrown in. Over the years I sold some of these guns, gave away a bunch, and recently I realized that only one remained in my possession. For some unknown reason the one I hung onto was the worst of the lot.

    It was a Stevens Model 14 & ½ “Lil’ Scout” rolling block take-down rifle. A truly tiny gun by any standards, it was likely marketed as a kid’s gun in the 1900-1920 period when I think these were manufactured.

    The rifle was in sad shape. The general condition was terrible with no bluing left on any metal surface, only patina which is a polite word for rust. Furthermore, someone had apparently used the gun as a hammer as there were dents and dings all over the barrel and action. Seriously, there were dozens of half-moon shaped dents in the metal that looked like someone was driving nails with the rifle.

    The wood was a mess, as well. It was painted over oil stains... and the wrist was cracked- probably from the strain of being used as a hammer.

    The reason I bought the gun was because it was so cheap. When the auctioneer held it up and asked for a $12.50 starting bid, nobody spoke up. I wondered about this for a few seconds and then raised my hand. The gavel was quickly banged on my offer and I bought it as the only bidder. Apparently I was the only one who hadn’t actually seen it before it was offered which explains why nobody else was interested.

    When I paid for the gun I immediately realized that I had bought a hunk of junk. In addition to the items already mentioned, the take-down knob was worn completely smooth and was worthless and it was missing the lever to open the action. The rear sight was also missing, the empty dovetailed slot bearing mute testimony to its absence. The front sight was broken off flush with the barrel, most likely a victim of one of the many hammering episodes the rifle endured. Worst of all, closer examination revealed that someone had evidently turned the rifle into a child’s toy by removing the firing pin, drilling out the firing pin hole and driving a large machine screw into the hole through the breech-block until it was cinched impossibly tight, and then grinding off the protruding screw tip flush with the face of the breech.

    The gun was thus rendered totally incapable of being fired.

    I knew that finding a replacement was virtually impossible. I checked with all the major gun parts suppliers without luck. I asked around at gun shows without success. Years passed and the little rifle sat idle. I only kept it because I had no idea what to do with it.

    Then maybe 10 years after buying it, I spotted a parts dealer at a show. He was one of those guys with boxes and boxes of odd and obsolete parts. He sat in the middle of 10 rented tables, all sagging under the weight of metal ammo cans filled with various and sundry gun parts. With no hope or expectation of a positive response I casually asked if he might have a breech-block for a Stevens Lil’ Scout.
    His eyes rolled upwards and his brow wrinkled as he considered my query. Then a wry smile crossed his face and without a word he twisted in his chair as he reached behind him to one of the many boxes setting on the rear tables. His hand dipped into the can, and without looking, he fished around in the jumble of parts for a moment before coming up with the exact part I required. He held it aloft like some grand prize he’d just won, and then he extended his arm and offered me the breech-block. I’m not sure what amazed me more; that he had the part or that he knew exactly which of the many boxes it was in.

    To say that I was stunned would be a gross understatement. I asked how much he wanted for the item (actually, I think I mumbled it in my state of shock) and you can imagine my further surprise when he grandly announced “five bucks.”

    Now I was in business.

    But the new breech-block lacked the firing pin. I took it to my favorite gunsmith and he dug around until he found one that looked similar to what we needed save for being a tad too long. He touched it to the grinding wheel and it popped right into place like it was custom made for that gun. Which I guess it sort of was, actually. He gave me the pin free of charge (he’s like that).

    For some reason I put the project aside at this point and the rifle remained forgotten in the safe for another five years. I stumbled across the gun one day while searching for something else and decided to pick up where I had left off.

    I still needed the action lever. I rooted around my parts drawers and found nothing workable. Then I checked my vast collection of nuts, bolts, screws and other assorted hardware items and bless me if I didn’t find a little metal knob that screwed into the threaded hole. It required some trimming to fit properly, but that was no trick and although I haven’t a clue as to what the original lever looked like, or what the replacement lever was meant to fit, it looked right at home on the Stevens and worked perfectly.

    Now I needed to address the issue of the missing sights. A half-moon of key stock was soldered in place after grinding off the nubbin of the original front sight that remained. I ordered a generic adjustable rear sight from Numrich Arms and this baby set me back $3.50. I spent about an hour with a file opening up the dovetail as the new sight wouldn’t fit in the original slot and when I was finished the rifle was fully equipped with usable sights. I then filed new knurls in the take-down knob (how often do you get to use two words that start with “kn” in one sentence?) so that I could readily dismount the barrel as the designer intended.

    The action seemed to function perfectly and the bore was bright and shiny so it was time for some test firing. At the range the rifle worked perfectly. I didn’t do any real testing for accuracy as all I wanted at this juncture was to confirm that the old rifle actually worked. It did.

    Once again I was distracted by other matters and the Lil’ Scout was put away. A few days ago something reminded me of the little gun and I dug it out. It was time to wrap up this project.

    The stock was stripped and sanded then stained with a medium color that seemed to match the wood (whatever it was). The action and barrel were polished to remove the corrosion and I filed away as much of the dents in the metal that I realistically could. Some were so deep that they will have to remain where they are. After a final polishing and cleaning I used Casey’s paste cold blue to finish the metal surfaces.

    I was very pleased with the results. I wouldn’t say the gun looks like new because it certainly does not. But I think it looks pretty darned good considering what I started with and what I spent to complete the restoration. Total expenditure including the original purchase price, the used breech-block and the new rear sight came to $21.

    It took 21 years and $21 to get the rifle where it is today. Think it was worth it?


    [​IMG]
     
  2. Howard Roark

    Howard Roark Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Messages:
    1,048
    Location:
    Deep South
    Now that's a good story. Find a kid to shoot it and call it good.
     
  3. Dksimon

    Dksimon Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    Messages:
    525
    Location:
    South Dakota
    It looks like a nice little rifle and it definitely has a good story behind it. Nice work!
     
  4. theNoid

    theNoid Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2006
    Messages:
    430
    Location:
    Rock River, WY
    I'll gladly give you double your money for it...:) Would be perfect for the 7yr old.

    Well done....well done indeed.

    Noidster
     
  5. KC0QGL

    KC0QGL Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2008
    Messages:
    314
    Location:
    Greeley,CO
    Very nice. My Dad has a Stevens Crack Shot from around the same time.
     
  6. Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow

    Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Messages:
    13,146
    :D :D Oh, wow - I really love that story; thanks! :)
     
  7. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    13,751
    SaxonPig

    Great story; and the little Stevens looks great too. Thanks for sharing your story with us.
     
  8. Rmart30

    Rmart30 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2007
    Messages:
    282
    Location:
    Birmingham
    For the $21 investment it would put a million dollar grin on a kid :)
     
  9. DaleCooper51

    DaleCooper51 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2006
    Messages:
    788
    Location:
    Eastern PA
    Nice work and good story to go along with it.
     
  10. rojocorsa

    rojocorsa Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2008
    Messages:
    302
    Location:
    PRK, People's Republic of **********
    I just realized how guns are like time capsules. How long they can last, etc.
     
  11. OOOXOOO

    OOOXOOO Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2008
    Messages:
    377
    What a great story and she looks to be a fun shooter. Now thats a good investment of $21.
     
  12. birdshot8's

    birdshot8's Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    Messages:
    548
    Location:
    north platte, ne
    i enjoyed your story. you do good work.
     
  13. HuntAndFish

    HuntAndFish Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2006
    Messages:
    523
    Location:
    Kansas City, MO
    Absolutely.
     
  14. rangerruck

    rangerruck Member

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    Messages:
    8,374
    Location:
    Texas, baby!
    great rifle, and a nice story to boot, well written.
     
  15. Legionnaire
    • Contributing Member

    Legionnaire Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    4,230
    Location:
    Texas
    I'm thinking there is some kind of VISA commercial here, but nothing is coming but the last line:

    "... and the satisfaction? Priceless!"

    Great post; thanks!
     
  16. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2008
    Messages:
    2,047
    Location:
    In the Wild Horse Desert of Texas
    Sounds like you got your money's worth just in satisfaction!
     
  17. barry960

    barry960 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Messages:
    71
    Location:
    Renton, WA
    I always thought those are just neat looking little rifles, and I think it would be totally worth it putting some work into one. It might even pay off by putting some rabbit or grouse in a cacciatore.
     
  18. J_L_A

    J_L_A Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2007
    Messages:
    169
    Location:
    West Central Ohio
    It would!



    Great story. Thanks for sharing!
     
  19. Avenger

    Avenger Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    Messages:
    647
    Great work, but you KNOW you have to give us a range report now....
     
  20. bobotech

    bobotech Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    Messages:
    471
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    Awesome story. I really like how it went from being a piece of crap just about thrown away to finally being restored to a fine working gun.

    I don't like seeing any gun being thrown away for whatever reason.

    Good jorb!
     
  21. Eightball

    Eightball Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    Messages:
    4,257
    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    $21 to possibly bring another youth into the firearm culture in a safe environment? Heck yes it was worth it.
     
  22. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2006
    Messages:
    4,787
    I understand what some of you are saying about giving this rifle to a youngster, but maybe 5 kids already got their first guns out of that auction bunch (given to friends to bestow on their children) and I sort of intended to keep this one for myself.
     
  23. moooose102

    moooose102 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2007
    Messages:
    3,024
    Location:
    West Michigan
    +1 ON THAT!!! Plus, it has a very cool story behind it. if you decide to give it to some deserving child, make certain that he gets a copy of your story.
     
  24. theNoid

    theNoid Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2006
    Messages:
    430
    Location:
    Rock River, WY
    I understand totally SaxonPig, in fact you ought to build a nice frame for it, looks great. Of course you have to shoot it on occasion though, that is when the satisfaction will really set in.

    Noidster
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page