Auto 5 Cases

Discussion in 'Browning Auto A-5' started by Auzzie, Apr 24, 2022.

  1. Ranger6

    Ranger6 Administrator Staff Member Administrator Global Moderator Forum Moderator

    I think back then a shotgun was looked at very different then now. It was a means to put food on the table, a tool that was necessary and had to function without fail. I don’t think people cared about pores, like they do now. I know the original stock on my old Stevens had lots of open pores. If the finish provided protection from the elements it was good to go.
  2. win7stw

    win7stw .30-06

    I think that’s a possibility. I also think that’s why some of the old guns have such a dark finish too
  3. Anatidae

    Anatidae .270 WIN

    Thanks for the comments on the 'D5'. It IS quite unique and is evidence that "certain guns find those who are most passionate about their details and history."

    I imported 3 FN's from the UK in 2015. All wreak of boiled linseed. I am under the impression that the FN's used American walnut and my favorite character for these guns is distinguished by their dark wood and soft finish. I don't know what they've been through prior 2015, but I like the finish and appearance........they smell like an old gun shop.....tobacco, walnut, and linseed oil - which is as much part of their character as the dark wood and details.
    1962 FN C2 28" Game/Sporter

    1962 FN B2 30" Trap (top)
    1958 FN B2 30" Trap (bottom)

    The C2 looks like it had been confined to a damp closet for several years, but the linseed preserved it. When the gun sits in direct sun, it oozes boiled linseed oil. It is one of my favorite, 'all original' FN Superposed. The former owner bought it from Bonham's Knightsbridge, London in 2014. I would not change a thing on any of these guns. I like them just as they are.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2022
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  4. Anatidae

    Anatidae .270 WIN

    'Just finished the first phase of the No. 6 'SX' case for the D5 with 14.5" Monte Carlo comb and 14" long 'full beavertail' forearms.


    This was actually more of a challenge because of the amount of glue and different drying times required. But the glue I'm using is forgiving-enough that if an area gets too dry and is not 'tacky', then I can soften it up with a hair dryer.

    I'll be finalizing the layout of the interior blocking which will not only serve as dividers for barrels and receiver but will be structural members glued to the 32" x 12" plywood bottom of the base portion. Otherwise, the plywood would flex or warp and just become a mess of loose fabric and frayed edges. Can't have that! The barrel dividers will actually act as the web in an I-beam to stabilize the plywood. The connector blocks will counter any rotation forces on the barrel dividers. It'll be quite the puzzle to design but should be fun. This is what I've come-up with so far......[​IMG]
    It's not identical to a Superposed case interior, but will be pretty close - after all, the No 6 case was configured for special features that wouldn't fit in another case. The 'white' strip of paper represents a 1/2" thick cross-member to provide some structure to the middle of the case where the plywood will flex. There are blocks in these locations under the nose of the fore ends but are glued between the barrel dividers and nailed from the bottom of the case. I'm just extending it side-to-side and will notch the barrel dividers. There will be a solid block the full height of the dividers where they overlap, which will be glued to the dividers AND the 1/2" 'web' in the bottom of the case. The whole assembly will serve as a reinforcing beam.

    I'm looking forward to getting some hardware plated and installed on this one. It'll be a couple of weeks before I can get back in the shop - so the break will just motivate me more.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2022
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  5. Ranger6

    Ranger6 Administrator Staff Member Administrator Global Moderator Forum Moderator

    Wow that's some really nice wood. I really like that darker wood with a good amount of figure. Looks like the case is coming along nicely. Is the wooden handle thing on the bench the needle that you do the stitching with?
  6. win7stw

    win7stw .30-06

    Very nice guns. I can’t wait to see that case finished with the D5 in it
  7. Anatidae

    Anatidae .270 WIN

    Thanks re: guns and the case. I can’t wait to see both the D5 and it’s case finished, either.

    Well, I cheated on the ‘Easy stitch’ sewing awl. I don’t know how it’s supposed to work and it doesn’t matter because I modified the needle to make it work the way I need it to work (for me). I took a drimel tool and notched one side of the eye, leaving a slight barb on the resulting opening. [​IMG] [​IMG]
    The way the stitch works is you push a loop through the stitch hole and leave the loop ‘in’ and pull the needle out. [​IMG]
    Lay another segment of twine in the eyelet and push another loop through the next hole and the through the previous loop. [​IMG]
    Pull the slack out to tighten the previous loop to the desired tension and repeat the process. The barb is on one end of the eye and keeps the loop in the eye during the ‘push’ and you twist the awl 90 degrees to retract the needle (minus the loop) and grab another segment of the twine and push the next loop through.
    It’s the only way I could figure out how to stitch this by hand that allows access to the inside and outside of case during the process. I may be making it more complicated than it needs to be, but it works for me. It takes about an hour to stitch the full length of a 30-1/2” hinge. I’m OK with that for now.

    The original cases were stitched with a machine. How, I don’t know - but I devised my own cost-effective technique. I’ve bought enough ‘machines’ already - and still have one more to go before it’s all said and done. A 4-string serger - after I get a grip on the plating process.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2022
  8. Ranger6

    Ranger6 Administrator Staff Member Administrator Global Moderator Forum Moderator

    You sound like you have a good hand on it. Very interesting for sure. I work with my hands all day long, no way I could do that. I can remember watching my grand mother sow on an old singer. It had a long bar under the table that she pushed with her foot. It made the needle move. It had some kind of a big pulley wheel system. All I know is if your fingers were out of sync with your foot it made grandma say bad words.
    I for sure understand the amount of new tools you need just to make what you want. Seems like every project requires new tools. Nothing like something you designed and make by hand. Keep the updates coming. It would be interesting to watch you make one of these cases.
  9. Anatidae

    Anatidae .270 WIN

    I settled on a layout for the interior.

    I’ve only seen one #6 case for wide beavertail forearms and didn’t like how ‘blocky’ it appeared. [​IMG]

    So I used the standard layout for single bbl Superposed cases and bent some barrel dividers.
    Blocking and neoprene is cut, some of it is covered, locks and hasps installed and hold-open straps have the serger stitch applied. I’m working on handle construction right now. Once I figure-out how to make an authentic looking handle I’ll install one and finish trimming the interior out with felt, leather straps, snaps and buckles. The handle is a real puzzle by itself. It’s basically a 14ga wire wrapped in resin paper and leather - all tacked and stitched together, soaked and bent, then dried and the final trim wrapping is glued.
  10. Ranger6

    Ranger6 Administrator Staff Member Administrator Global Moderator Forum Moderator

    Very nice layout sir, looks excellent. Sounds like the handle will be a challenge, but I think you are up for the task. You come this far with great results so I have no doubt you will conquer the handle. Looking great, keep us posted.
  11. Auzzie

    Auzzie .270 WIN

    Well Anatidae
    Funken be proud to put any of his work in your case.
    Your talents and skills are unquestionable and sure FN would have you working away in the custom shop for them no problem.
    Thanks for sharing the journey and all the updates etc on this post with everybody and were all fans of your work.
  12. murphranch

    murphranch .410


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  13. Anatidae

    Anatidae .270 WIN


    Sorry for the delayed acknowledgement - I certainly appreciate all the comments and encouragement.

    I finally have an update after a period of turmoil - I've resumed work on the case and now lack about 6 hours.

    When I left-off a while back, I built a "highly-sophisticated" steam chamber to help bend the barrel dividers so they would hold their shape .....

    Soaking the whole divider in water didn't saturate the pours and caused issues for the sections that were to remain straight. The steam chamber only needs to be as long as the section of wood to be bent.
    I left them in the drying jig (which I also fabricated just for this style 'bent' barrel divider for wide beavertail forearms) for about 3 weeks.

    The result:

    The new dividers are notched 1/8-inch into 3 sides of the 1/2" x 1-1/2" bottom beam. This helps hold the dividers' shape, resists movement, and also provides a glue joint so the beam and both dividers reinforce the 1'4" plywood bottom (in both directions) to eliminate flexing from the weight of the gun.

    If you wondered what the 4-string 'serger' was's to form the 3-string rolled hem on both edges of the liner fabric to keep it from fraying or unravelling.

    It will also make a 4-string overlock stitch that serves the same purpose on the hold-open straps. It's a more decorative edging stitch used on the original cases.

    The multi-colored view shows the parts of the overall stitch. On the hold-open straps, I went with 'all-black' thread and tightened the length and width of the overlock stitch up to match original details. Note: the color of the felt in this photo is closest to the actual felt color.

    Worth $350? That depends on one's attention to detail and how authentic you want your case to look. But in my case......U-betcha!

    So, here's where we are to this point...........

    I pulled those black straps - 'didn't like the thickness and texture, or color for that matter. I ordered some 2mm thick leather in 'black coffee' and some radius stamps to form a clean 'round' strap end. The 'brown' tone provides a little better color variety and is more subtle than straight 'black' - it'll also blend better with the antique bronze buckles, snaps, and buttons than 'black'. This is my personal case and I have changed a few details up for my own purposes. The wood on the gun is basically brown, so a brown strap will blend-in better than black and add another highlight color to an otherwise black/purple scheme. The 'FN' patch will make the whole thing 'pop'.

    I just need to glue the beam and fit/felt a couple more blocks now. Then finish the straps and hardware, and glue the blocking and neoprene stops in. I'll wait until the gun comes home to fit the comb block in the most optimal position. I haven't seen the gun in 2 years but made templates of the outline before shipping it off the previous time it was in my possession.

    RE: - the D5. The preliminary wood to metal fit is complete and the checkering is roughed in. It's looking great and I'm trying to suppress my excitement! I bought the gun in August 2017 and it has only been in my possession a total of 4 weeks. The gun is on a UPS truck, halfway to the engraver's right now.

    He will:
    • engrave the new trigger guard and screws that I got from Capece - to replace the original trigger guard that Art's broke at the front screw hole 4 years ago, when I returned it after they left it 'proud'. In their video of 'good and bad' restorations, it is said several times....."I'd be embarrassed to put my name on this", or "I'd be ashamed to let something like this go out of my shop." Well? Apparently NOT. Then you realize the narrator doesn't HAVE a shop, and in actuality, probably doesn't 'do' any work. It took me the next 2 years (by process of elimination) to finally find the 'right' people I can trust with my gun's care, and another 2 years on their waiting list to complete what others omitted, or to correct what others screwed-up (including action rebuild and complete re-laying of all ribs that I paid for, already).
    • engrave the new transverse screws and escutcheons on the 2 forearms. The original ones were in bad shape when I bought the gun 6 years ago. One screw end was actually tack-welded to its escutcheon. I have photos of the original engraving details and have proposed a 'spiral' detail on the threaded end of the screws. If the scale is too small to execute, then I'll opt for the original detail.
    • repair and re-engrave the screws for the original skip-line checkered butt. The screw slots had been 'got-at' over the years, somewhere in Europe. What a mess.
    • restore engraving details on one of the forearm knuckles - the most recent gunsmith (not 'repair' guy) micro-welded the area that was pitted, filling a 1/8" gap between the forearm wood and face of the knuckle. This work was completely overlooked during a 9-month 'metal restoration' (?) stint in Hillsboro, MO 5 years ago. The mood is apparent - if it isn't that obvious - why 'fix' it?
    • The engraver has free rein to touch-up a couple other surface spots on the receiver as he feels is warranted. One spot is in the chased fillet (acanthus 'wedge') that forms the sculpted frame on this gun - typical of the C & D Grade European-market Superposed.
    This craftsman finished 4 years of gunsmithing at the Ecole d'Armurerie de Liege before pursuing engraving at the same school. He said his favorite FN engraver is Felix Funken so he's anxious to get started on the D5 and he also said, "I will make the Funken, right." Needless to say, being a 'true' Belgian-trained gunsmith, he will be given free rein to do anything else he deems appropriate - to honor the Belgian tradition of excellence and the craftsmen and women who originally built this remarkable gun.
    When it goes back to the wood guy, the checkering and wood treatment will be completed. It'll look like a well-cared-for 70 year-old FN high grade - not perfect - and not 'new'.......and not 'got-at'.

    And It'll have this special case waiting for it - built for its unique features and to complement its unique character. A 'collection' should reflect the collector's passion. This is so much more than I ever imagined 'collecting' might be.

    Thanks for your indulgence.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2023
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  14. win7stw

    win7stw .30-06

    Very very nice work. I wish I had the patience that you do. Keep the pictures coming
    Anatidae likes this.
  15. Jta5er

    Jta5er .270 WIN

    Case looks gorgeous can’t wait to see the finished super in it!
    Anatidae likes this.
  16. Anatidae

    Anatidae .270 WIN

    Thanks. It takes more patience than I can assemble at times. I just have to walk away and come back when I’m in the right frame of mind and determined to grind through the issues to reach the end goal.

    The good thing is - I built the case with the most ‘involved’ details, as my first attempt. Any case I build after this one should be a much more pleasant undertaking.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2023
  17. win7stw

    win7stw .30-06

    Are you logging how much time you have into this case?
  18. Anatidae

    Anatidae .270 WIN

    Great question! Having established a process after building and covering 3 boxes prior to this one, I only have a general idea how long ‘that’ takes.

    I can build a box (ready for covering) in the time it takes to carefully strip and prep an existing case for new coverings.

    Once I began applying hardware nothing was straightforward. I tried different methods and materials and learned from my mistakes until I found (for me) what produces the desired results. Basically R&D.

    So, Honestly I can’t project my start-to-finish labor on this case. I lost track because of having to experiment or re-do the things I wasn’t satisfied with, or make another jig or fixture.

    Now that I know ‘what works’ I should be able to keep track of my time for each portion of the work - on the next case.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2023
  19. Auzzie

    Auzzie .270 WIN

    Well Anatidae you have certainly added the professionalism aspect to my humble post. There are Tradesmen and Craftsman. You are definately Craftsman!
    As a one time Tradesman myself different arena though, I would believe I am probably only fit to tie your boot laces !
    Sensational effort and hand skills to make that case come alive from scratch and period correct .
    Congratulations on your achievement and all you have contributed.
    I think that all of us that have followed the journey have benefitted and learned.
  20. Anatidae

    Anatidae .270 WIN

    Very nice compliments Aussie. Honestly, it would not have been the same without everyone’s support and encouragement - so don’t sell yourself (or your skills) short. We all stand to gain and share the benefits of this exercise. I just wanted to see if I could do it. So, Thanks!

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