The Hobby Gunsmith

The Front Stuffer-

Building the Traditions Trapper Kit

Part Two

Last month we started building the Traditions Trapper 50 caliber Blackpowder pistol from a kit.  We carefully examined the fit of all of the parts and determined how much work we have in front of us as we approach this project.

   One of the most important items we will be using to inlet the metal pieces into the wood is a product called Jarrow’s Inletting Black.  It is a black paste that can be painted onto a metal surface, the surface pressed into place on the wood, and the black print will be left on the wood to show where wood must be removed to achieve a proper fit.

   Let's get started on this kit.

   I began working with the tang by determining where it was binding.  The inletting black identified a small protrusion on the side of the tang recess that needed to be relieved a bit. 

   I relieved it with a small wood chisel and continued to fit the part until the fit was correct.  It requires patient fitting and testing to locate exactly where the parts are binding.

   Patience is repaid through an excellent fitting part.  I was fortunate that many of the parts that did not fit were because the factory inletting was not sufficient.  I would not be so lucky around the area of the trigger where they cut away too much and it will have to be glass bedded to achieve a proper fit.

   I next had to relieve some wood to fit the lock assembly into the stock.  The kit required a considerable amount of fitting and adjustment to relieve enough wood to allow the lock to fit.

   After a long series of trial fits, removing wood, and more inletting black, the lock box begins to take shape and the lock fits into the box.  Unfortunately, there is a gap at the front of the box that must be filled during refinishing.

    Testing of the lock action revealed enough binding on something to prevent the lock from functioning.  It took a lot of examining and use of inletting black to rule out the causes and find the culprit.

  The culprit turned out to be a long lock retaining screw that was binding against the hammer and preventing any movement.  The screw was removed and carefully filed and fitted until it could secure the lock into the lockbox while staying recessed a little.

   It was also necessary to shorten the rear screw to prevent the screw from protruding through the lock and appearing to be an unprofessional job.  I filed down the end of the rear screw in the same way that I filed the front screw.  I will blue them at the end of the process.

  The trigger fit was the most problematic part of the kit.  The inletting had been done all wrong and at the wrong angles so the front of the trigger assembly was set too deep and the rear part of the trigger was set way too shallow.  This put the trigger in at an angle and prevented the tang screw from threading into the trigger assembly.

   It was necessary to recess the rear section of the trigger deeply into the grip.  With enough cutting and testing, I was finally able to get the trigger assembly to lay parallel to the tang so the tang screw will thread into the trigger.  I then screwed the brass grip cap into place with the screw provided and the fitting work is nearly complete.

     Some of the wood was recessed way too much to allow a proper fit so these parts will be glassed into place in the next installment.

   It was necessary to open up the area around the trigger guard to provide a better fit than the factory inletting.  I opened the front of the trigger guard and also slightly deepened the rear near the grip cap.

   The brass trigger guard will have to be filed down to better fit the contour of the stock.  This work will be done during the sanding of the stock just prior to applying a finish.

  I was able to install the retaining lug into the dovetail under the barrel with just a little filing and fitting.  Working with metal seemed easy after doing all of the wood chisel work. 

   I assembled the rib under the barrel and the ramrod thimble, and assembled the front of the gun.  I wanted everything assembled while I fitted the nose piece to the front of the stock and marked the screw holes with a center punch for drilling.

   After drilling the appropriate holes for the nosepiece retaining screws, I fastened the nosepiece to the gun, which completed the initial fitting of all parts.

   The Traditions Trapper is beginning to really take shape and starting to look like a proper blackpowder pistol now that the lock, stock, and barrel are in place. 

   Next month we will try to finish the wood, glass bed and fit some of the parts to proper alignment and support, and start planning the final finish for the metal parts.