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Ithaca Lewis Restoration
Unread 02-24-2024, 11:25 AM   #1
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Default Ithaca Lewis Restoration

Hello. I'm a new member to this forum. I usually work on mostly old milsurps. I got this shotgun at my favorite price (free). So here launches my side-by-side experience, although I've overhauled and restored several winchester 97's and 12's.
It was in a box, but only partially disassembled.
20230823_202554.jpg
Sears were in the baggy. Some scews and other small bits in folded tape with labels. Stock was off the receiver with a chip on the top left. most of the screw in the receiver were lightly buggered or loosened. Looks like bubba tried to disassemble, ran in to problems not knowing anything, and gave up.
So it sat in the shop for several months while I cleared out more of my usual work, and over the long presidents day weekend it called to me to at least stop it from further deteriorating.
The barrels have pretty clean and shiny bores, couple minor dings in the right tube. He we are closeup before, and after boiling and carding. Fine twist steal living under all that funk. No real pitting, just a nice frosting in a few places.
20240218_143326.jpg20240219_171838.jpg

Receiver came apart pretty easily, just had to soak a couple screws. I don't think bubba buggered them beyond repair. Here it as it was found in the box.
20230823_202850.jpg20230823_202922.jpg
After soaking heads in kroil and disassembly, it looked like bubba didn't mess with the internals. everything that was supposed to be on left or right was on the correct side at least. I put the receiver and all other "in the white" parts in a jar of evaporust, and soaked all else in kerosene. Lots of funk and grime in there!

This weekend's effort is to try to reassemble to make sure we have everything and determine if its has hopes of being serviceable, or is destined as a wall hanger. Right away, the tubes are indeed very serviceable - after I raise the dings in the right barrel. I'll wait to do that until everything else checks out since it's $60 to rent the hydraulic dent raiser, and I am without a lathe to make my own tool.

Thanks to member alcavigila for a picture inventory of parts. Out of the gate, I think I'm missing the safety bar, the locking lever tension spring, and the trip spring and pin, but let me triple check the creases of the box to be sure I didn't miss anything.
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Unread 02-25-2024, 11:13 AM   #2
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As I have heard, old guns harbor old mens soles. Somewhere, someone appreciates your efforts and we look forward to pics of your progress. A fun project.
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Unread 02-25-2024, 04:50 PM   #3
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Inventory complete, and I got things assembled - with no parts left over
20240224_133409.jpg
20240224_133417.jpg
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The only parts I'm missing are:
1) trip spring and pin. easy enough to make.
2) locking bar tension spring. Either the crass or the flues version spring should work, and they were only about $6 each at Numrich. The flues is 3-4 coils shorter than the crass. If neither works, I think if I double up ar15 trigger springs, which I have a bunch laying around, I can get close to the tension required.
3) safety bar. From alcavigila's picture index, I think the crass safety bar is the same. Numrich had one at ~$20
4) Safety/trigger lock bar (T shaped). Can't find one. If someone has dimensions, I think it's easily made. If not, I think I can trial-and-error make one off of alcavigila's picture relative what's around it.

The action works fine, after figuring out the correct install of the mainsprings. I'll do a separate post for just that, since I found a more efficient means of install than what was in other posts on this forum, as well as solved the loop vs. v-spring issue that was in another thread here.

There is the usual blowout in the stock. I have the large piece that broke off, but not the very top shard.
20230823_202955.jpg
So we will have that to deal with when I get to it. I will epoxy on the main piece just to hold it in place. Square off the top with a chisel, then drill a hole parallel to the wrist to insert a loosely fitted threaded rod. I will then drill a corresponding hole in a block of walnut, and insert a threaded rod loaded up with more epoxy. Lastly carve the topmost new wood and blend all the color (epoxy gets died black to look like grain) and hopefully pass the 10 foot stare test. Bedding the inner recoil nub when I'm done should prevent this kind of blowout from ever happening again. Guys with any old firearm with this kind of tock design, I highly recommend glass bedding the recoil surfaces. If nothing else, it will make these old stocks last in serviceable condition for at least another lifetime after you.
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Unread 02-26-2024, 12:24 PM   #4
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Nice save , Sam. Hope you get to shoot it.
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Proper installation and Adjustment of Lewis Top Lever
Unread 02-28-2024, 05:22 PM   #5
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Default Proper installation and Adjustment of Lewis Top Lever

mail man came yesterday and delivered a top lever tension spring and screw. I spent all night playing around trying to get it to work.
No, silly goose, the spring does not go down the hole with the screw behind it! Here is the correct sequence for installing the top lever on a lewis.

1. place spring horizontally across the groove in the cam. Insert the came and spring into the hole in the frame from the top. I found it easiest to have the groove facing toward the rear, and the rear of the frame pointing up. Use a pair of tweezers to lightly compress the ends if you need to. Also, one end of the spring was wound to a point. make sure the point is on the right side. The set screw won't grab the pointy end of the spring, and will slip off, jamming the top lever.

2) using a pair of pliers, rotate the cam clockwise until you see the top of the spring through the hole. Insert the set screw, and screw down until it stops, and then back off half a turn. Verify spring tension by either carefully rotating the cam with pliers from the top (don't bugger it up!) or using a flat screwdriver against the nub on the bottom. It should spring back If not, try again.

3) gently push the cam slightly below flush so you can slide the top lever into position. If it doesn't go, back the set screw out 1/4 turn so the cam will move a bit further down. Don't back out too much or you will lose the spring and have to start all over!

4) use a flat screwdriver against the nub on the bottom of the cam to align the cam head to the top lever. press the cam up into the toplever as you rotate.

5) insert the top lever screw, finger tight, and verify by pushing the top lever over to the middle that it springs back to the open position. The top lever screw and set screw get adjusted to tandem. In addition to holding the spring, the cone-shaped end of the set screw also controls the final depth of the cam in its hole. Backing off the set screw allows the cam to ride higher, which allows you to tighten the top lever screw a bit further. If you back off the set screw too much, it will lose the spring and you have to start all over.

6) with the top lever screw aligned, you can play with the set screw half a turn or so in either direction to adjust the top lever's closed position. Loosen the setscrew to send it further left. again, too much and you will slip the cam spring, jamb everything, and have to start all over.

Very frustrating...my original set screw that came in the shotgun wasn't pointy at all. of course it failed. The replacement wasn't only slightly pointy, and kept failing. Then I discovered the threads of the set screw are the same as those on the set screw in the bolt guide block, and the same as the ejector's retaining screw. The former was dome-shaped, and the latter was very pointy. I swapped and ....perfection. Except there is a little play/backlash in the top lever. This is due to wear. I made a 0.001" shim from some stainless shim stock to go between the top lever and cam. No play anymore, screw aligns with the handle, all is right in the world.

Mailman today brought a new firing pin...here was what was in the gun originally.
20240228_164819.jpg
half the head was sheered off!

The firing pins for the Crass (or at least one of the Crass variants) are the same as the lewis. The firing pin return spring was slightly different. Same with the top lever spring and set screws. My pin and spring came from eBay Crass listings, and with ancillary parts I don't need. I have a Crass top lever (the kind with cam fixed to the lever and no screw), two left V-main springs, a Crass firing pin spring, and a sear spring which is the same on the Lewis. If anyone needs these, this forum has dibs before I list them for sale.
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Unread 02-28-2024, 09:58 PM   #6
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Two years ago the top lever locking bolt on my Lewis 16 ga. fractured in the field but the loose piece stayed in the frame. I sent it to Buck Hamlin who took it all apart and welded a new locking bolt onto the top lever and refit it to the barrels and reblued it. He sent me an invoice for $200 (he also reblued the trigger guard and safety button while he was at it) and put a note on the invoice that said "Mike: This model (Lewis) is a nightmare to reassemble." This from a man who could reassemble an LC Smith with his eyes closed. I miss him. I appreciate your analytic and physical skills at having figured all this out on your own. Not me.
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Unread 02-29-2024, 10:02 PM   #7
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It's not required to fully disassemble to remove the locking bolt, cam, lever, etc., but maybe if the bolt is in pieces. That said, he did good to go ahead and do a quick service the innards while he had it open, especially given how rare these guns are opened up by design.

Mailman brought another gift today...the safety bar. Indeed, this model of crass safety bar is the same as for the lewis. It will require some minor fitting, the bottom catches on the trigger guard and won't go back...nothing a couple swipes of a stone won't fix. Need to make the trigger locking T-block that it connects to next. Time to study some pictures. Having never fired a SxS, or double barreled gun for that matter, I had naively thought the safety was supposed to engage automatically when opening. But it looks like I was wrong. It disengages when cocking. I'm guess one safely carries with the action open and shells in the chamber, then close, shoulder, and fire. But then what's the point of the thumb safety. Quicker reloads? But that don't matter as you take the safety off to fire to begin with.

Maybe I have it all wrong. I feel like I'm asking a rather stupid question. But I think I'm learning there is no such thing as common sense with double's, or at least it's of a different kind. Can someone please tell me if the safety is forced on or off when cocking?

Last edited by Samuel Gross; 02-29-2024 at 10:17 PM..
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Unread 03-01-2024, 03:32 AM   #8
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Maybe I have it all wrong. I feel like I'm asking a rather stupid question. But I think I'm learning there is no such thing as common sense with double's, or at least it's of a different kind. Can someone please tell me if the safety is forced on or off when cocking?

Hello Sam,

I have a few of these early Ithaca Crass, Lewis, & Minier models, but I've never worked on one as extensively as you are.
I would need to verify to be sure, but most of these early models have a 3 position safety, safety ON in the forward position, safety OFF in the mid position, and safety Off and automatic disengaged in the rear position.
The safety is forced ON when cocking unless the safety selector is in the rear position which disengages the automatic safety.

Hope this makes sense,
Stan
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Unread 03-01-2024, 09:19 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stan Hoover View Post
The safety is forced ON when cocking unless the safety selector is in the rear position which disengages the automatic safety.
Stan
Thank you for the reply. Not having the trigger block makes it hard realize. My plan there is to 3d-print a few just to check fit and function before I fabricate a steel one. 3d printing is much faster than filing and grinding I've made a few other missing parts, springs and bits, for other firearms this way when all I have to go off of is a relative picture. It's what we call in my day-job "fail fast".

What I'm seeing is that with the safety switch all the way forward, the word "safe" shows up in the window, and the safety bar is fully forward (cannot travel any further forward). Turning the top lever to the right pushes the safety bar to the rear, and the switch along with it until the word "safe" no longer shows. So I don't see how the safety comes "ON" when cocking by moving to the rear? I'll play around tonight and try to feel out the 3 positions - I had not seen that but now that you mention it, there are two little ripples on the safety bar where it connects to the selector switch, which with the v in the spring will make 3 positions. But is seems now safe is in the forward most position, not in the middle. There could be some significant adjustment needed, but I greatly hesitate to start stoning and bending that safety bar as a means of discovery...I doubt I will find another one. I suppose I can make a crude one for testing now that I have an original as a model. We'll see.
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Unread 03-01-2024, 11:05 AM   #10
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There’s a possibility tat I may have some of the parts you need, I will have to take a look.
I can also provide pictures of a functioning safety if that would help?
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