Rescuing Stevens Favorite
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Old 04-02-2014, 01:21 AM   #1
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Default Rescuing Stevens Favorite

Good news on the Stevens Favorite. Guts are basically good.



Here arranged in shooting position...at this position, cartridge is fired. Lower the lever and the triangle between lever and breech kicks the hammer back to half cock. Simultaneously, the extractor/ejector cams over the breech screw and kicks the spent shell free.

Critical to these actions are the two pins that connect the breech, to triangle to lever. The design is such that when the lever is closed, the pins and their associated parts are slightly bound by being cammed just over center. These pins are serviceable but loose. I'll replace them for a better fit. Note, everything but the pins and screws is cast iron (frame) or case hardened steel (guts). Gentle work is indicated. Trigger jobs are destructive unless the parts are rehardened. These are fine, and safe in function...no need for molesting the case hardened skin on the parts.



The extractor face is a bit battered...but it may be salvageable. If not I'll make an extractor (non spring loaded) by hand from cold rolled steel and case harden it after cutting the lip with a chambering reamer....If at all possilble I'll save this extractor first. But I've made dozens of extractors for these old fellas and they all are still in service years later with nairy a complaint.



Other than that, there is one screw which is a bit worn. I will either have to make a new screw or retap and/or bush and tap the corresponding hole in the frame.

After that, and if it shoots well as is, this will be primarily a cosmetic restoration.

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Old 04-02-2014, 01:22 AM   #2
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Just got in and look what was waitin....nice walnut for the Stevens Favorite redo.


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Old 04-02-2014, 01:23 AM   #3
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Okay, here we go. Fitting a buttstock is not difficult if you are patient, have good sharp tools and a well carved/inletted stock to start with. As for sharpeness of tools, if your chisel can't slide thru endgrain leaving the surface looking like it was polished with 600 grit paper, its dull and you need to start by learning how to sharpen them up and strop the edges on a leather belt.


The old oversanded and broken and the new fresh and oversized for fitting.



With the tangs cleaned I check the initial fit, tapping lightly so as not to split the stock, its tight and the rub marks are carefully sliced away on the edges of the tang inlet with a sharp chisel.



I've sliced the edges of the inletting all the way along either side of the upper and lower tang, checking the fit, still a snug slip and time to polish the edges of the tang inlet with a file for the final slide.



The stock ears are oversize and need releaved to slide into the inside of the action. Don't take the ears off, they serve to position the wood in the action too.



Simply bevel the ears lightly as seen on the left and then lightly tap into place to check for rub marks.



At this point the fit is about right and note, the lower tang is damaged, bent downward, likely by a fall long ago.



Pull the stock and lightly pair away the rub marks on the ears to a light drive fit in the action...light drive is nothing more than taps from the heel of your hand.



The fit now is at least as close as original, a very slight gap at the rear of the upper and lower tang, it'll close with finishing and snug enough that NO glass bedding will be required....simple sealing with true oil and wax will see this stock well fitted for another 50+ years.



Total time invested -- 30 Minutes. Much less than the 5 to 10 hours needed for carving a stock from a blank and with time equaling money, a significant savings on a stock that cost $35 shipped.

Next step is to releave the inletting inside the wrist to clearance the mainspring sleeve and rod.

Oh yeah, I revised the shape of the lower tang, its straight and perfect now.

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Old 04-02-2014, 01:23 AM   #4
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A bit of file work to clearance the hamer strut and spring for smooth function.



Useing an original Stevens Steel buttplate from the parts box (I didn't reuse the home made leather one from the original stock!) First mark out and predrill the screw holes. Slight counterbores are needed for the flange around the rear of the screw holes in the buttplate.



Note, the angle of the predrilled holes has to align the heads of the screws with the outer contours of this buttplate. The plate was not a perfect fit but some slight shapeing of the wood later will ensure a perfect fit all around the edges.



And here it is installed, not too tight, still got a bit of shapeing to do down low at the toe of the stock to close a little gap. There should be contact but no pressure at the toe as pressure is what causes the toe of the stock to snap off later, typically the toe will break when the rifle is grounded a bit hard by the kiddies. So wood supports steel and steel protects wood..



Once the buttsection of the stock is shaped a bit smoother, just some file work, final fit the steel plate. Progressively pull the screws up tight and tap lightly around the edges of the plate with a brass rod or small smasherwacker to shape the metal closer to the wood. The last step is to file all around the steel buttplate to remove any unevenness and true up the edges. The new stock is larger than needed so bring the edge of the plate and the wood closer to final dimension and shape. For most of the rest of the finish, the plate stays on for sanding and part of the initial finish. This gets the edges of the plate smooth, keeps from rounding over the edges of the stock where it meets the wood. I'll seal the back of the stock later in the finishing process. So, salvaging a nearly 100 year old buttplate to help keep this rifle period correct....not totally original (original was usually a rubber plate) but very close and consistent with what was availalble on many of the factory Favorites of that time.



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Old 04-02-2014, 01:24 AM   #5
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Install the stock, snugly and lightly mark where the holes for the screws are to be drilled.



Top and bottom tang screws marked and dimpled for hand drilling.



Eyeball, adjust the angle of attack as you drill a tad at a time...use a drill matching the diameter of the screw shank at the depth of the thread. The screws shall be oval head, single slot. No flat head pillips screws ever allowed. And, only flathead slotted screws on the buttplate as thats what it came with.



Lube the screw threads, hand soap, spit, greese, bees wax, what ever and carefully screw in the screws with proper fitting bits. The upper screw is a straight shank modern oval head. The lower screw is a taper shank oval head original screw, special drilling is required for a heavy tapered shank....



For the heavily tapered shank lower screw, the lower tang screw is drilled progressively with different diameter bits to various depths so the screw dosn't split the stock. Only the threads are to bite the wood, the shank should not expand the wood.



The screw holes, tapped now, should line up with the tangs with the stock just touching or a whisker short of touching the action. In this case, the wood just touches, a tiny bit of room for glass bedding later to keep the oil out of the stock end grain. Oil soaked wood, and it happens to all of them with time, turns black and punkey in a few years. A touch of glass bed is the best sealer for end grain there is.





Screws in and just a bit snug for now. Good enough to go to the range with this weekend and determine if the barrel is good as is or needs work. It'll need crowned for sure, thats next.

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Old 04-02-2014, 01:25 AM   #6
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The original muzzle crown...rusted, worn and the muzzle looks round, that means the most important rifleing is prolly a bit worn. Bad for accuracy, the most important rifleing is the muzzle as it impacts even release of the projectile preventing it from being tipped by early release of gas to the side.



I was trained by old men...that means handwork before machine work. Learn to do it right by hand then learn to do it fast or ruin it fast with a lathe or mill. I was also taught to recognize the differences in weapons and age and potential accuracy. This ain't no PacNor Barreled Dakota or Cooper so, at 100 years old, hand tools (as proven on several mauser and marlin and rolling block and sharps projects) is suitably accurate with hand tools. It would be a waste of time to set up a lathe for this recrown. We want to get to tight rifleing, behind the crown wear. 75 thousands to 1/10" deep should do the trick....lets see.



A few initial turns with a proper pilot on this 11 degree crowing cutter. A squooch of oil, clear the chips and back to pressing evenly and turning clockwise only to make the smooth chatter free cut.



Approaching 1/4 the depth of the cutter teeth, time to clear chips and reoil. About 50 to 100 turns in to this part of the project. Even pressure, not too hard and the cut remains chatter free in this old gal.



Here we are, a measured 80 thousands deep, I can see the pimples of the rifleing around the bore and if I'm past the crown wear on the rifleing, a bullet will be snug in the muzzle and I won't have to shorten this original barrel at all.



Looking good. A fresh round of .22 LR can't be thumb pushed hard into the muzzle. The full diameter of the bullet stops firm in the muzzle.



Here, maybe you can see on the right bullet (unmarked bullet to the left) the slight impressions of the rifleing and a slight ring all the way around the diameter where the slug was marked because the bore is slightly smaller than the bullet diameter now. With luck, this old gal has a good chamber (it looks quite clean), dosn't leak and will hold a 1 or 2 inch group at 25 yards for hunting and plinking. We should know this weekend.

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Old 04-02-2014, 01:26 AM   #7
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Couldn't wait. And, based on an initial test fire and function test at 20 feet, this barrel will be mostly fine as is for a hunting and plinking rifle. Maybe need to make a new extractor, may be able to fix the original, time will tell.

First two shots...CCI 22 CB Short....



And then 5 more CCI 22 CB Shorts, as good as my myopic vision and tiny v-groove sights will allow...



A better aim point and 10 each of Federal 40g target velocity 22 LR....



Not bad for 100 years old. Who says Old Gals can't dance?

The lead in (inside edge) of the lower lever screw has worn threads. This is from years of improper assembly...first install the lever. Then pull out the barrel, depress the extracter ejector spring and install the breech block screw. That way, the screws are not cocked going into the threaded lead in.





Two ways to save it. Retap the frame to the next larger size and make a new lever screw or simply make the lever screw longer. Thats easy...and it retains the original screw and its original good threads in the right side of the frame.

To make the lever screw longer, simple increase the depth of seat for the head of the screw. A scope base screw counterbore does the trick on the left side of the frame....Now the original screw bites into all the remaining good threads and pulls up snug like it should. And plenty of meat in the left frame to hold the head of the screw...the factory screw head pocket is very shallow for these thin profile headed screws.

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Old 04-02-2014, 01:27 AM   #8
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One each abused fireing pin. A bit burred and gritty.



Low speed and don't shorten the tip but neatly round it over and smooth it up....1894 favorites had a chisel tip firing pin...1915 saw them switch to round tip.



Remove all the mushroom and flash from the hammer end too. Might need to reharden this firing pin...it'll make it last a bit better and a lil slicker in the hole too.



After a light cleaning, ready to go back in place till final finishing.



Well, so far so good, still got plenty out front.



Backside looks much better now too. Guess I'll harden it after all and put it back in with a new cross pin after blueing and finishing everything else.

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Old 04-02-2014, 01:28 AM   #9
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All the early Stevens Boys/Bicycle Rifles were inexpensive to own and inexpensively made. The Favorite is no exception in any
original caliber. Folks to this day persist in chambering them for small centerfires and 22 Magnum and even now, the hot 17s.
Big mistake in my opinion. Of the suitable rimfires, only the 22 LR is still readily available and suitable for the action.

As previously indicated, the action relys on two pins and a binding or overcenter relationship between the pinned parts for its
lock up strentgh. As such, a well fitted action will snap shut and stay shut when fullcocked. It requires an unbinding or snap to
reopen. When they are worn, and in 22 LR, the fingers of the shooting hand do double duty holding the action closed by the lever
during fireing. There are two fixes. Both implemented by the factory, both dooable at home. Replace the worn pins with snug
fitting new ones of lasalle steel or drill rod. Add a compression spring and plunger to a cavity drilled into the lever boss. The latter
is much harder, even the factory only reserved this fix for a few of the rifles refitted when loose...as such, I've only ever seen two
of the spring loaded levers in my life. One is fitted on a buddies rifle now. One is fitted on my mothers Curly Maple stocked 1894
favorite. The addition of the spring is a neat long lasting repair and if I had a mill, I'd attempt it here. But, usually, a simple set of new
and well fitted pins is sufficient.


So, 100 year old pins to the left. New pins of drill rod to the right. Both pins were clipped long and finished on the ends in a
drill press with a file. Each of the corresponding holes in the breech block and lever measured .150". The drill rod measured .154".
A bit of polish was all that was needed to fit the new pins to a thumb push fit in the breech block and lever.
(Incidentally, the original pins measured all over the place, about .135" at the largest...plenty worn and loose.)
Final dress the pins to length so they are no wider installed than the part they are fitted to...



The new pins installed....they will be staked in place after final refinishing. For now, an aluminum drift (nail!!!) is used to pess them in and out.



Once the new tightened up guts are reinstalled, the lever in fact snaps shut, stays shut when fullcocked and gives a snap when opened. So,
another good repair on another good old rifle, just the way J Stevens Arms Co refitted them way back when.

Gettin close now. A test fire. A decision on whether the extractor can remain as is (tip is a bit rough) and then its all about the refinishing.

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Old 04-02-2014, 01:29 AM   #10
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Folks typically over sand a stock during refinish and rub away the original features...in this case the bevels at the wrist were removed
from the original stock. Plenty of meat in the replacement so lets put the bevels back on. Like a Marlin 338 the wrist should finish larger
than a smooth curve drawn around the tangs.

First mark out roughly where the bevels should stop at the full diameter of the wrist...about 1 inch back from the action on both sides.



Carefully, with a sharp chisel, pare away most of the excess wood creating a cone shaped bevel pointing toward the butt. Leave the
stock proud of the action. These were not closely fitted guns, keeps down production costs. So just like a Marlin 336, the wood will
finish slightly larger than the action panels.



Beginning to smooth up and refine the left side panel with a file.



Initial chisel work on the right panel.



The rough shape of the panels from above after the tang area of the stock is filed down proud of the tang edges.
When the file kisses the tang, stop with the pareing down, leave some wood for final shapeing and blending.
Refinement of the shape and panel angle comes with more file work around the tangs and sanding before finishing.



A look at the right panel and upper tang after a bit more file work to round over the approach to the tang and further
smoothing of the panel.



The wrist around the lower tang being pared down till the file just kisses the tang, don't remove the SN or other markings!



A bit of smoothing around the nose of the stock at the upper tang to create a smooth transition from the tang up the nose to
the top of the stock.

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