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Learning on a Parker VH
Unread 05-13-2018, 07:58 AM   #1
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Default Learning on a Parker VH

I am new to Parker guns, and recently acquired a nice collectible DHE, which is too nice for me to do more than just shoot it.

I want to learn more about the guns and the processes used to restore them, so I purchased a beater of a Parker VH as a project gun. I am starting this thread to document my journey and share what works and what didn’t go so well.

To start: Parker VH, S/N 100044, 12 Ga, 30” dented, pitted inside and out Vulcan steel barrels with worn rib matting and a brass bead, 14 3/8” LOP, oil-soaked stock broken at wrist and internally with just a memory of checkering remaining, forend that looks like an angry beaver spent a decade sharpening his teeth on it, Deely release that is bent (!). Safety and internal mechanisms appear fine. Buttplate and pistol grip knob heavily worn.

Here’s the start

http://parkerguns.org/forums/attachm...1&d=1526212121

Here is a picture of the underside of the receiver

http://parkerguns.org/forums/attachm...1&d=1526212374

I followed the guide Brian Dudley’s excellent tutorial on disassembly to remove the stock, found here: http://parkerguns.org/forums/album.php?albumid=307

Here’s what it looked like when I first opened the receiver. Old beach towels make fine surfaces for this work:

http://parkerguns.org/forums/attachm...1&d=1526212374

In other forum posts I learned about ultrasonic cleaners and purchased one. Here are the same parts after ultrasonic cleaning in Simple Green diluted with a little water, followed by spray down with WD-40 then wiped. I have cleaned up the trigger plate with 320 grit sandpaper.

http://parkerguns.org/forums/attachm...1&d=1526212374

I purchased and am reading “The Art of Engraving” by James B Meek as a warm up to disassembling the receiver, annealing the case parts, and tackling the engraving.

Meanwhile, I have de-rusted the barrels and sanded them with 320 grit paper (except the rib of course). I have made arrangements with a local gunsmith to look at the dents and the pitted bores and let me know if they are recoverable and more importantly, safe to use. I have a lot more work to do on the barrels….

http://parkerguns.org/forums/attachm...1&d=1526212374

http://parkerguns.org/forums/attachm...1&d=1526212374

This will not be a fast process, so please be patient, and I appreciate any advice!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 100044.jpg (272.7 KB, 125 views)
File Type: jpg Receiver bottom start.jpg (301.6 KB, 84 views)
File Type: jpg First look inside.jpg (580.8 KB, 91 views)
File Type: jpg Cleaned.jpg (411.8 KB, 79 views)
File Type: jpg Barrel.jpg (165.0 KB, 72 views)
File Type: jpg Barrel Markings.jpg (497.7 KB, 68 views)
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Unread 05-13-2018, 08:16 AM   #2
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This is a very ambitious project for someone not versed in restoration to engage in. I wish you the best with your gun. It's great that you started this thread. I hope you will entertain thoughts and observations as you progress. I hope you understand that the gun will have to be case hardened if you anneal the frame. The receiver cannot be left in a soft state.

Also, 320 grit is a bit heavy for frame polishing. It appears that you have polished over the engraving. I would have approached it a bit different. I know you plan to recut the engraving, but I would not have polished over the engraving. Same with the barrels. I would polish no finer than 220 grit on the barrels of a VH.

Just my thoughts..........
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Unread 05-13-2018, 08:26 AM   #3
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Another couple of thoughts. It appears that the forend wood will have to be replaced. You can probably find VH wood on one of the sale sites. I believe you can find one without much difficulty. You will proabably need to work the wood to ensure a proper fit with your tip hardware. You will need scrapers ann prussian blue that you can find at Brownell's. You will need checkering tools also and at 18 lpi for the cutter. Do much practice on old gunstocks or wood before you work on the VH. This is important. There are few things more obnoxious than checkering that isn't done right.

Please continue to show pictures are you progress.
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Unread 05-13-2018, 08:35 AM   #4
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The condition of the forend amazes me. And believe it or not, i have seen worse. You can only imagine what the gun may have gone theough to get into that conditon.

And what blows my mind is that, at one time, someone was using that gun, right up to the point of its current condition. Guns dont just get into that condition over night. Someone was shooting it and tryijg to keep it going.


If you find you need any parts for that thing, let me know. I have almost anything you may need.
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Unread 05-13-2018, 08:36 AM   #5
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Sorry, just one more comment. Mullered borders are not hard to do but they must be done right. There are a few ways that they can be done. I'm sure Parker made the tools to do this but I have found that a fine pointed bent file works fine. I cut three lines for the border and then use the middle line as a guide for the file. I carefully work in the mullered border being careful to stay on the middle guide line. This method works well for me.
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Unread 05-13-2018, 08:42 AM   #6
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A U-gouge or a concave checkering cutter on that center line works fine as well.

What i have found interesting is that in looking at many original parker checkering tools (the PGCA owns some, as well as some others in another personal collection), i have not seen one that looked like it was for the mullered borders. I also assume they had a cutter for it. I just find it interesting that in a set of nearly 20 cutters, there wouldnt be one in there.


Also, if you would rather practice your annealing and engraving on other parts vs this complete gun, i can also provide frames and trigger plates for that.
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Unread 05-13-2018, 11:23 AM   #7
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Thank you Tom and Brian for your advice and offers of help and parts!

I'm still torn about preparing the metal "just enough" for blueing and case hardening, versus making it look like new and then recutting all the engraving. In the "just enough" scenario, I feel I'd need to explain why I left the metal pitted.

I have at least a week of reading and collecting tools ahead of me before I continue this project, so hopefully I will have an update next week.
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Unread 05-13-2018, 11:43 AM   #8
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Case hardening is not something you just jump into and work on a Parker. If you do decide to send it out, the restorer would do the annealing prior to case hardening. I wouldn’t play with annealing or case hardening on your first project. The engraving can be touched up by the restorer also. You don’t want to do your first try on a Parker although the VH has minimal engraving.

If there is pitting on the frame, that can be handled by the restorer also. If the pitting is on the barrels and not too deep, that can be removed with careful striking with 220 grit. Keep all your strokes going in the direction of the breech to the muzzles. No cross strokes and work the whole area so you don’t create any low spots.

If you can get VH tip wood from Brian that would be perfect. Since all Parkers were hand fitted, you will probably have to work the wood using Prussian blue to indicate the high spots that need to be removed.
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Unread 06-06-2018, 05:51 AM   #9
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I salute your attempt and I'm interested in the follow ups, thanks.
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Unread 08-13-2018, 08:17 PM   #10
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In this installation of “Learning on a VH” I will share how I have prepared the barrels for rust bluing.

Thanks to the advice provided by Tom Flanigan, it was very helpful in preparing the barrels. Thanks as well to Brian Dudley, who sold me a very nice VH forend that will appear in a later installment.

My first step was to have an experienced gunsmith look at the barrels to make sure that they were safe to use. I contacted Dan Cullity, a well-known master gunsmith in East Sandwich, MA, and we arranged to meet at his shop. Dan was very helpful and full of excellent advice. His shop is an amazing place- I could have spent hours just looking at the beautiful guns in process of restoration, and the specialized tools he has created over the years. He inspected the barrels and measured the wall thickness of the RH barrel to be .033”-.038”, and the LH barrel to be .034”-.035” and assured me this was sufficient thickness to support a refinish. Dan also gave me an impromptu lesson in zig zag, or wriggle engraving, which is extensively used on the VH, and discussed ways to remove the dents from the barrels.

Now that I knew the barrels could support a refinish, I borrowed a bore gauge from my machinist and gunsmith friend, Bob R, and measured the bore at .733” with dents that protruded into the bore as much as .007”.

After much online research, I found a particularly excellent post on dent removal here: http://www.16ga.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9374.

Following the approach described in this post, Bob R made a similar tool for me that measured .728” OD (.005” clearance) with a rod for inserting the tool and a second rod to hammer the mandrel out of the barrel when it got stuck (which was often).

Mandrel 2.jpg

Using this tool and a brass hammer to tap the outside level while the tool acted as a mandrel in the bore, I removed all the dents, then finished the barrels to remove the cuts in the barrels. For more detail on this, please read the excellent post, where you will learn yet another use for Scotch tape. Here is a before-and-after picture of one section:

Before.jpg

After.jpg

The next challenge was to learn enough about engraving to recut the nick and dot engraving at the breech end of the barrels. While I will report success, I have learned that engraving is a very demanding and laborious art. It is not possible to pay too much to an engraver- this is difficult work that takes years to become proficient, and the level of artistry being created by many engravers is astonishing.

Having said that, I received some excellent advice from members on both the Parker Forums and EngraversCafe. I purchased a variety of tools from Contenti (www.contenti.com), an engraving hammer from Brownells, a belt sander to sharpen the tools, and 2 books on engraving: “The Art of Engraving” by James B. Meek and the excellent book “Engraving Historic Firearms” by John Schippers. This latter book was exceptionally helpful and formed the basis for all my work.

After weeks of practice on copper, then steel plates refining my technique, I felt ready to go at the VH.

Here are the barrels after polishing. The remaining nick and dot were closer to the edge than I liked (.030-.050”, when other VH’s appear to be a consistent .050”) and was not evenly spaced (I wanted .095” spacing and the existing varied from .050”-.100”).

Start.jpg

I made the decision to remove the original engraving completely, leaving the first nick to set my start point

Polished.jpg

Using a black sharpie, I colored the area and drew my layout lines to guide my engraving:

Layout.jpg

Here is the shape of the cutter as recommended by Schippers. The working point is at the junction of the oblique angles:

Tool.jpg

Here is what it looks like after all the cuts are made:

Cuts.jpg

Finally, after filing the displaced metal and sanding to 1200 grit:

Finished.jpg

While I don’t love the “dots”, I’m happy with the finished job:

Completed.jpg

Next up: Rust Bluing! Thanks for reading :-)
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