The Front Stuffer-
Building the Traditions Trapper Kit
Last time we had finished the initial fitting and assembly of the various parts into the stock on the Trapper. I decided it was necessary to make up for some fitting problems by glass bedding the metal parts to better fit the wood. This project became slowed by the availability of parts and supplies, but it is now moving forward and progressing nicely.
After several delays obtaining appropriately priced materials, I decided to get the project moving forward by using readily available materials. Expensive glass bedding kits may be needed for glass bedding a powerful rifle, but I think simple epoxy from the hardware store will be enough to improve the metal to wood fit of the parts for this kit.
One of the first challenges was to find a suitable mould release agent for use with household epoxy. I tested several products, including special mould release agents from a plastics supplier, but they did not work well. I found the best release agent for my epoxy to be plain old Johnson's Wax from the household department of the local hardware store .
Figure 1. Special supplies needed are cups, epoxy, and Johnson's Past Wax.
I used the epoxy to fill voids and to take up any irregularities in the original kit's inletting. It is hoped that the epoxy will reduce problems with wood swelling around the metal parts as the wood absorbs moisture and dries. One of the most problematic areas was the inletting of the octagon barrel.
Figure 2. Epoxy is applied to the wood under the barrel areas.
The first task before applying epoxy is to liberally coat the metal parts with Johnson's Past Wax to prevent the epoxy from bonding to the steel. Use a lot of thick wax and I found the wax should not be allowed to dry before exposing the part to the epoxy.
Mix equal parts of epoxy in a disposable paper or plastic cup. I use small popsicle sticks to completely mix the two parts. If there is not a complete mix, the epoxy will not harden so be careful and follow the instructions from the maker. I find the dual-syringe epoxy container pictured in figure 1 to be the easiest to use for small applications.
After heavily waxing any metal parts that will come in contact with the epoxy, use the popsicle stick to apply the thick epoxy by turning the stick in the epoxy in a manner similar to working with honey. Apply no more than you think you need as you can always add more later. Too much epoxy will run and cause a problem with cleaning. The amount in figure 2 is about right.
With the epoxy laying in the bottom of the barrel bed, I placed the heavily waxed barrel in the epoxy and into its proper place in the wood. This will push some of the epoxy out of the way and form the epoxy around the barrel. Leave the barrel in the wet epoxy overnight to allow the epoxy to harden.
Figure 3. The finished area.
After allowing the epoxy to completely harden overnight. I pried the barrel out of the epoxy to expose the new hardened epoxy bed in the stock. Click on figure 3 to see the finished epoxy bed. The photo also illustrates how the epoxy has been forced up between the hooked breech insert and the barrel. That will be trimmed off with an Exacto knife to form the final barrel bed.
Figure 4. Epoxy is applied to the lock mounts.
The lock is another metal part that must remain in alignment with the stock so I decided to bed each end where the alignment is the most critical. I applied a drop or two of epoxy as shown in figure 4 and then pressed the lock into the epoxy. Be sure to coat the metal of the lock with paste wax. Some epoxy can be seen oozing out from under the barrel as the epoxy was hardening in that area.
Figure 5. The finished bedding of the lock plate.
Figure 5 shows the bedding after the epoxy dried and the lock had been removed. The lock plate retaining bolt hole will have to be drilled, but the fit is very good.
The most challenging part I bedded with epoxy was the grip cap. The cap is butt fitted to the end of the cap with no shoulder to hold it in place. The only thing holding it in the correct position is friction and a large steel screw in the middle of the cap. I chose to use the epoxy to build up a ridge around the inside of the cap and help it to fit securely.
Figure 5. The finished epoxy grip cap form.
I built this up by using masking tape to create a small form around the parameter of the grip. I applied epoxy into the form made by the masking tape and pressed the heavily waxed grip cap into the epoxy. I fastened the grip tightly with a waxed center screw and let it harden overnight.
Figure 6. The finished grip cap.
With the grip cap removed, the epoxy form is a perfect fit. Figure 6 shows the cap in place with no tendency to rotate around the screw like it did before. Be sure to mark the inside of the front of the cap so you will always install the cap in the proper orientation.
I then bedded the trigger components and the trigger guard. They were done the same way as the other parts illustrated in this article.
It took nearly a week to complete the epoxy bedding process. Despite a week of bedding parts every evening, the assembled gun does not look different than it did a week ago. Fortunately, I know that the gun will fit and function better with this work than it would have before the work was done.
Next month we will look at sanding and finishing the wood. We will sand and finish the woodwork using files, sandpaper, and boiled linseed oil. We will actually finish sand the wood with thinned linseed oil in order to use the sanding dust to fill the wood grain.