The "Tombstone Trio"

MikieDu

:::Pledge Member:::
::::Pledge Member::::
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Messages
345
Location
Evansville, IN
Thread starter #1
I have been working on a set of three Custom Shop Single Actions over the past 6 months or so - with a considerable amount of work yet to do. These are 2nd Generation .45's and they are set up with 4 3/4", 5 1/2" and 7 1/2" barrels. They have consecutive serial numbers and are fitted with beautifully matched ivories. The set will be presented in a magnificent Jim Hasson (Apache Junction, AZ) custom mesquite case and Katherine Plumer is working on the scrimshaw grip art.

The subject matter I was asked to work with is - in general - Tombstone AZ and the characters of the OK Coral. After much discussion, it was decided that the 4 3/4" would carry the theme of "The Cowboys," that the 5 1/5" would be dedicated to Doc Holliday, and the 7 12'" to Wyatt Earp.

I have the other two pieces underway with some of the major inlay work yet to do, but "The Cowboys" is the first of the three that is nearing completion. I stuck it together loosely this morning for these unrefined i-phone snapshots.
 

Attachments

Roger Bleile

:::Pledge Member:::
::::Pledge Member::::
Joined
Oct 4, 2007
Messages
2,842
Location
Northern Kentucky
#4
Mike,

Thanks for the WIP pictures. Can you explain your process when working on multiple guns in a set. For instance you could engrave the first gun completely before moving on to the second gun or you could cut the cylinders of all three guns then move on to all three barrels, and so forth.

Thanks,

Roger
 

MikieDu

:::Pledge Member:::
::::Pledge Member::::
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Messages
345
Location
Evansville, IN
Thread starter #5
This is the first time I have taken on a set of three guns. Two has been my limit until this set came along and becasue they were so special (barrel lengths, consecutive numbers, etc.) I just couldn't resist.

The subject line was interesting as well. The OK Coral is legendary, mystical, and so full of Hollywood mis-information that it was a challenge to tear the project down to reasonably acurate basics. There were too many cowboys to concentrate on one character...that gun had to be the 4 3/4". The relationship of Wyatt and Doc became my central focus for the other two. I had to weed out some really important characters in the process. I finally accepting the fact that I was not writing a book, I was engraving three guns.

I started with the elements of overall design, scroll style, borders and other such basic work. I recall that it took about two weeks just to outline everything in gold borders. Meanwhile I completed other parts like the front sights, the trigger guards, back straps and butts - those parts that were filled with scroll and borders. All the while I continued to research the events and characters of Tombstone, Arizona and the historical events of October 26, 1881.

I have been back-and-forth on all three since that time...until two weeks ago when I decided that for my own mental well being that I should take one gun to near completion. I was well into Doc Hollilday at the time, so that's what I did.

By this time I have determined how each gun will be artistically completed, so no more mystery. I'm not sure that's a good thing, because I still have a considerable amount of bare metal to cover, but I do have a plan!
 

Attachments

Brant

Elite Cafe Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2014
Messages
154
Location
Chicago suburbs
#7
Mike, Thanks very much for the progress pics.
One question, when you are setting the gold borders on the front sight, how do you support the sight?
Very inspirational.Brant
 

papart1

:::Pledge Member:::
::::Pledge Member::::
Joined
May 23, 2015
Messages
753
Location
Michigan
#11
nice stuff right here.............as usual Mike your expertise and execution is beyond reproach.
 

MikieDu

:::Pledge Member:::
::::Pledge Member::::
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Messages
345
Location
Evansville, IN
Thread starter #13
Yes, well, I have always been excessive-compulsive about fixtures. Extras certainly do make life easier, especially on multiples like this. After these are completed I doubt that I would ever again take on another three-gun project of this magnitude. Might have a fixture for sale?
 

AllenClapp

:::Pledge Member:::
::::Pledge Member::::
Joined
Aug 7, 2019
Messages
48
#14
Nah! You will need to get a 4th one to do the next order for a 4-gun set when folks see this set.
 

MikieDu

:::Pledge Member:::
::::Pledge Member::::
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Messages
345
Location
Evansville, IN
Thread starter #15
OK, back to a question asked earlier about supporting a SAA Front Sight while engraving it.....that's a great question.

For those of you who have not engraved front sights before you should know that these are silver soldered into a slot milled into the barrel. When I was a beginning engraver I found out very quickly that if you pound on an unsupported SAA front sight it is likely that you will break it free from the barrel - it happens! A competent gunsmith can solder it back in place, but if you have completed the muzzle end with scrolls and/or gold bands, it's going to make a scortched and blackened mess of things! Siver solder tends to travel into recesses, like into milled out slots - worse yet, if flows easily into engraved lines.

When I worked with GRS to develop the Mike Dubber SAA Barrel Holder Set we did our best to cover all bases. Likewise, it was necessary to arrive at a end where it was still reasonably affordable. We acheived our goal of producing a great barrel fixture set, but one of the first things I had to remove from my want-list was a front sight support. Most folks don't engrave front sights anyway - that is traditionally not a part of the factory engraving process. It's reserved for Master, Museum and Exhibition Level work. We included the more universal barrel accesories like the set of scribes (circumference and longitudinal) that are included in the full set - everyone needs and uses those.

I have attached three photos of my Front Sight Support. It is made of hard maple (I prefer that kind of material over a metal support) and it simply bolts on through one of the rail openings. It is necessary to change the barrel orientation in the fixture to engrave both sides, or it would be easy to make two of the things...one for left, one for right. The design is simple and it works; I've never loosened a front sight while engraving, backgrounding and/or pounding gold wires while using it.

Now, it's the general practice within these kinds of disscussions for everyone to jump in here and suggest better alternatives; show their solutions to the problem, and confuse the subject. I would say that we could go on-and-on to conjure up a mulititude of superior engineering fixtures to support the SAA front sight. The question was asked, and it deserved to be answered - and in this case, answered as much as a warning as a solution.

If you break off a Colt Front Sight while engraving it without a support device of some kind, your going to absolutely ruin your day !!
 

Attachments

Last edited:

MikieDu

:::Pledge Member:::
::::Pledge Member::::
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Messages
345
Location
Evansville, IN
Thread starter #18
One old man to another, huh? I don't see any slow-down in you Marty - and I've been looking closely at the character detail on your Winchesters for inspiration..............
 

Lee

~ Elite 1000 Member ~
Joined
Nov 17, 2006
Messages
1,041
#19
Both of you old men are and for many years have been an inspiration to me. Well done Mike and thank you for the information.
 

Big-Un

:::Pledge Member:::
::::Pledge Member::::
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Messages
1,276
Location
Eden, NC
#20
OK, back to a question asked earlier about supporting a SAA Front Sight while engraving it.....that's a great question.

For those of you who have not engraved front sights before you should know that these are silver soldered into a slot milled into the barrel. When I was a beginning engraver I found out very quickly that if you pound on an unsupported SAA front sight it is likely that you will break it free from the barrel - it happens! A competent gunsmith can solder it back in place, but if you have completed the muzzle end with scrolls and/or gold bands, it's going to make a scortched and blackened mess of things! Siver solder tends to travel into recesses, like into milled out slots - worse yet, if flows easily into engraved lines.

When I worked with GRS to develop the Mike Dubber SAA Barrel Holder Set we did our best to cover all bases. Likewise, it was necessary to arrive at a end where it was still reasonably affordable. We acheived our goal of producing a great barrel fixture set, but one of the first things I had to remove from my want-list was a front sight support. Most folks don't engrave front sights anyway - that is traditionally not a part of the factory engraving process. It's reserved for Master, Museum and Exhibition Level work. We included the more universal barrel accesories like the set of scribes (circumference and longitudinal) that are included in the full set - everyone needs and uses those.

I have attached three photos of my Front Sight Support. It is made of hard maple (I prefer that kind of material over a metal support) and it simply bolts on through one of the rail openings. It is necessary to change the barrel orientation in the fixture to engrave both sides, or it would be easy to make two of the things...one for left, one for right. The design is simple and it works; I've never loosened a front sight while engraving, backgrounding and/or pounding gold wires while using it.

Now, it's the general practice within these kinds of disscussions for everyone to jump in here and suggest better alternatives; show their solutions to the problem, and confuse the subject. I would say that we could go on-and-on to conjure up a mulititude of superior engineering fixtures to support the SAA front sight. The question was asked, and it deserved to be answered - and in this case, answered as much as a warning as a solution.

If you break off a Colt Front Sight while engraving it without a support device of some kind, your going to absolutely ruin your day !!
Simplicity at its best!
 
Top