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Evening all, Does anyone own or have used a Huglu Hammer gun? 3" Chamber, steel shot proof, chrome lined, nice wood, multi choke. They Also they seem really well made compared with the usual Turkish guns. I'm just wondering if the internals are as soft as butter? I'm trying to find a reason not to buy one 😂 Cheers
This post is on behalf of PW member "Old Boggy", who asked my help to be part of his restoration effort of this Woodward "the Automatic" My own additions into this post are in italics, everything else was written by Old Boggy Acquisition & Refurbishment of Woodward No.3638 Introduction Firstly, as this is a long drawn out account of the acquisition and refurbishment of an old Woodward shotgun, I apologise in advance for any repetitions and non sequential details etc, but hope that it may be of interest to someone out there, so here goes :- In conversation with a lady friend who explained that her elderly mother had a few shotguns that she wished her mother to dispose of on account of her age, I said that perhaps I could possibly advise of her best plan of action. As the mother is now in her nineties, her daughter thought it prudent that she should now relinquish possession of all of her guns, four in total. Upon visiting the old lady with her daughter, we were shocked to find that she had a 20 bore propped up in the corner of her kitchen - loaded !! Her excuse was that she needed to be prepared to shoot `those pesky squirrels` out of the kitchen window. I should add that the old lady lives in a very remote village on the end of a row of three country cottages, all of which she owns, with the other two rented out. Her neighbours are probably used to her blasting away and wishing to retain their tenancies for almost peppercorn rents , presumably raise no objections. The 20 bore in question was an AYA SxS non ejector that she was given by Jack Hargreaves, an old friend of hers. It had been somewhat abused i.e. not cleaned properly and was badly pitted, but no doubt had accounted for a few squirrels in its time. There were a couple of other non-descript singles, but the one that caught my eye was a 12 bore side by side James Woodward & Sons. This was a Woodward `The Automatic` push forward underlever back action sidelock of obvious quality, albeit that it had been sleeved (steel on Damascus) and the fore-end had at some stage been very amateurishly replaced, although the original fore-end iron was still intact. The barrels were slightly pitted, badly off the face and were consequently very loose. There was also a hairline crack in the hand of the stock. Being interested in old shotguns, I asked her if she would mind if I took some details of this gun, photogragh it (pretty poor ones as the old Box Brownie has seen better days !) and possibly research its history. She willingly agreed and was also very interested in its provenance, not really knowing when or where her late husband had obtained the gun. Research & Provenance The first port of call was to Purdey, who currently hold the Woodward records as they bought out James Woodward in 1948 in order to use the Woodward Over & Under design. The gun was built to T.Southgate & J.Woodward`s Patent No.600 of 1876 and bears the use No. 188 on the breech face. Examination of the locks showed these to be in pristine condition and having been made by Joseph Brazier of Wolverhampton, who, at the time, made locks for many London and Provincial gunmakers. Purdey confirmed to me that the gun was No.1 of a pair made in 1878 for Lord George Canning Harris. 4th.Baron Harris. His initial, surmounted by a coronet, can be seen on the silver oval inset into the stock. Further research established that Lord Harris played cricket for Kent, became captain, later played and captained for England and finally became president of MCC with a plaque in his honour at Lords cricket ground. In 1890 he was Governor of India but was not too popular, as his love of cricket far outweighed his obligations to govern. His family `seat` is Belmont House at Throwley near Faversham in Kent, so I don`t think that the gun has travelled too far in its lifetime unless of course he took it to India. There is much more information regarding Lord Harris but is too lengthy and of no particular interest to record here. The gun therefore has quite a provenance and if it could speak, no doubt could tell a tale or two. I did make some enquiries regarding the No.2 gun but so far have drawn a blank. My first line of enquiry was to `Matched Pairs` where I received a somewhat curt,belated and most unhelpful response from the proprietor. I will not be pursuing that line of enquiry again. In contrast, Holts were most helpful and were approached with a view to seeing if the No.2 gun had appeared in any of their past auctions, but sadly their archives indicated no record of such. There are of course other auction houses to be researched which may throw up something in the future. It could well be that the No.2 gun is lying somewhere as a `sleeper` resplendant with its original Damascus barrels having the same dimensions as when made almost 140 years ago, although I think that would be just wishful thinking. It is often said that the No.1 gun is always the first to be used out of a double case, unless of course double gunning is the order of the day, so the No.1 invariably gets used most. However, the chance of the No.2 gun having had very little use and wear is also very unlikely after all these years. Perhaps, if it is still in use, its owner may be interested in the purchase of the No.1 gun but having undergone some radical changes over the years, I very much doubt it. Acquisition Armed with this information, I presented what I had so far found out, to my friend`s mother, who then took the gun in its current state to Holts for a valuation with a view to putting it and the others, in their sale. Holts could obviously see that whilst the gun had a good name and provenance, in its present condition wasn`t worth too much being sleeved, not invisibly so and in need of quite a bit of work to bring it back into a useable and acceptable condition. My friend`s mother was not too happy with their valuation or particularly with their attitude, but perhaps as she is in her nineties and a somewhat stubborn lady, she did not like the way that she was treated at Holts (her view, not mine). As a result of this, she said that she would rather me have the gun for nothing, as I had taken the trouble of researching it, than sell it for peanuts via Holts for them to take a large percentage in commission. I of course was most flattered, but my offer to give her something for it was refused on the basis that in her view, I deserved to have it. I of course gratefully accepted it, who wouldn`t ? It was a little disconcerting whilst completing the transfer forms to find that the old lady`s certificate had expired by five years ! I nevertheless sent off the forms to Kent police and warned the lady`s daughter that her mother may well receive a prompt visit. Fortunately however, a later and current certificate was found which put her legally in possession of her other guns. I was somewhat relieved, as after her kindness, did not wish to be the instigator of a police visit and possible confiscation of her other guns. Well, not having cost me anything, except some flowers, chocolates and the odd brace of pheasants for the lady, I was now the owner of an old Woodward. What was I to do with it ? I got professional advice regarding the barrels although Holts had previously checked and said that they were in proof. This advice established that the barrels had the same dimensions as at the time of sleeving so were well in proof. However, they were pitted but apparently not too badly, despite a dent in the left barrel and could, if required, be lapped. At this time I decided, rightly or wrongly, not to have them lapped. There appears to be differing opinions as to whether it is better to leave them as they are, with plenty of meat to them, or have them lapped and looking mirror like. If I`m honest, I think that I prefer the latter, but wish to seek further advice on this before making my decision. Refurbishment The blacking was very badly worn and there was that dent in the left barrel, so following some good recommendations on PW, I took the barrels to Dan Bromley (Barrelblacker). I certainly made the right decision to use Dan, as the barrels when I collected them were outstanding and totally unrecognisable from the sad looking set that I took to him. He is a credit to his profession and offers a most pleasant and very reasonable service. The next thing to get done was the rejointing and Dan put me in touch with a local gunsmith who carried this out by welding and shaping extra metal to the fore-end lump which seems to be the more usual method these days, rather than the more expensive procedure of replacing the hinge pin. It was at this time that I discovered the gun was originally an ejector but at some stage had been converted to non ejector. Conversion back to an ejector was clearly not an option due to cost restrictions which would probably outweigh the eventual value of the gun. This gunsmith also confirmed that whilst there was that visible hairline crack in the hand of the stock, he could neither see nor feel any movement and suggested to leave well alone. So now I had a gun that was safe to use and obviously was anxious to try it out. It therefore accompanied me on a short foray after flighting pigeons and I returned having shot just 6, not a massive bag, but the pure pleasure in using the old gun was immeasurable. The accompanying picture entitled `Woodward and Woodies`, was the result of this little adventure. It was during this outing, that I learnt a bit more about the gun. After the first couple of shots and having reloaded, the gun did not appear to have recocked. My heart sank as I thought that there was a malfunction of the gun`s lock mechanisms. However, this proved to be purely down to user error and not mechanical failure. What I did not realise was that the underlever had to be pushed fully to the extent of its travel in order to cock the hammers. Such was the design and amount of leverage exerted by the underlever, that very little pressure could be felt in actually cocking the hammers against their V springs. Once this small learning curve was overcome, the gun operated faultlessly for the rest of the outing. In hindsight, perhaps a little time spent using snapcaps would have prevented this initial error on my part. I also record that on a couple of further sessions in the field, it has failed to miss a beat. I would imagine, had the gun been complete with its original ejector system, it would, with practice, offer very fast and efficient reloading. This would therefore be ideal for either left or right handed shooters having no bias in the form of a top lever which ordinarily is pushed to the right with the thumb of the right hand. A normally opening top lever is not quite so natural for a leftie such as myself, but something you just get used to over the years. I think that to use a proper left handed gun, i.e. with the top lever opening from right to left would now feel most strange so the push forward underlever could be described as truly ambidextrous. There does not appear to be any cast to the stock, so I found it fitted me reasonably well, even for a southpaw. Not that I would ever think of having it cast on, not having that repaired crack in the hand. But what about that horrendous fore-end, so out of keeping with the overall style and workmanship of the gun ? I just had to do something about that, so again PW came to the rescue with the name of Demonwolf444 (AKA James), having been recommended highly by Bruno22rf. After a short delay on my behalf due to unforeseen circumstances , with James showing much patience with my prevarications, the gun was finally sent to him with the agreed work of a new fore-end and refinishing of the stock. During this work, James very kindly kept me updated with photos of his progress and a few surprises along the way. Namely a phillips screw installed under the trigger guard ! It was very clear from the photos and James` approach that I had chosen the right guy to carry out the work, as his attention to detail, sympathetic restoration, overall knowledge of shotgun renovation and excellent workmanship, truly belies his young age. It was indeed James who was able to post the pictures on here for me, as me being a complete technophobe, this was something beyond my technical ability. I have left James to post any details and technicalities of the renovation process, plus before and after photographs and thank him once again for his help in this regard. The earlier photos of the gun prior to any of James` restoration work including the `Woodward & Woodies` photo which was after Dan had performed his magic on the barrels, were taken by yours truly so I apologise for their poor quality. Woodward & Woodies: This photo was taken after having the barrels re blacked by Dan Bromley ( PW Alias: Barrelblacker ) The image shows the stock prior to recheckering and refinishing, and the forend prior to replacement. As i was asked to publish this post i don't have any access to pictures Dan may have but i want to make sure he gets all the recognition he deserves for his excellent work, Dan has carried out work before on projects i have been involved with in the past and the quality of his work is second to none and his prices are very reasonable. - If you need barrel work carrying out i strongly recommend him, he can be contacted through PW or via his facebook page where he has his own pictures of his work. ( link to that below ) https://www.facebook.com/Bromley-Son-Barrel-Blacking-Bluing-and-Browning-820775534655411/ James also confirmed that the crack at hand had been at some stage repaired, but not, I think to the exacting standard that James would have achieved, but nevertheless to a reasonable and useable standard. After James had performed his magic on the stock, the slight crack at hand was unnoticable. It was also apparent that the Hackett roller type fore-end fixing was clearly a later adaptation as this had a rectangular stud fixing which obscures part of the serial number on the fore-end iron. This also does not appear to be of the same quality as the rest of the gun. There now comes the question of what to do about the pitted barrels. As previously mentioned, I would prefer that the barrels were lapped to remove all the pitting, provided this can be done within the parameters of its current proof. My reason, probably misguided, is that not only from an aesthetic viewpoint, but I feel that cleaning the gun after a day in the field would be better as I could see that all traces of debris, lead fowling etc. were removed, whereas with the pitting, this would not always be quite so obvious. I know that there are differing thoughts on this , but assuming that there is sufficient wall thickness within the barrels to make lapping viable, I am open to advice from the PW knowledgeable masses on this and thank anyone in advance of their reply. Obviously this would be subject to more precise measurements being taken on wall thicknesses, particularly as a dent had been removed. Here i thought i would share with you the photos of the work i carried out for Old Boggy, On receiving the gun i set to stripping the gun down in order to begin work. The gun had gone through a DIY restoration at some point, As Old Boggy mentioned one of the first things i found was this Pozi drive screw looking very out of place, i suspect at some point in the past the gun was bought and restored for use, the cracked stock being repaired and a "replacement forend" made to put the gun back into service, the cracked repair is not how a gunsmith would have repaired it but it seems to be sound enough, the replacement forend was very crude as can be seen in the first image in this post, it did not meet the barrels, was incorrectly shaped, and had an assortment of parts box find screws holding the iron to the woodwork. My task was to freshen the gun up a bit, including refinishing, checkering, and a new forend more in keeping with the quality of the gun. The butt plate was worn and dried out, i fed the material with oil and recheckered it, throughout this restoration i used hand made checkering cutters, which on older guns is preferable in my opinion, the cutters i made for this project were designed to cut diamonds with a rounded top, flat top diamonds cut with bought tools just looks like an unfinished checkering job to me, but a rounded top looks intentional and finished, brings back the pattern feels good in the hand but doesn't look as out of place as a pointed pattern. Hopefully this explains what i mean by a rounded top to the diamonds, i cut the pattern first with the tool i made to cut the same numbers of lines per inch as the original, checkering from the point of the trigger guard, seamlessly over the top of the grip meeting back at the start, the original boarder was completely worn away, i chose to boarder with a single fine line at 32 lines per inch. After this is stripped the stock and prepared it for oil finishing, it was at this point that i realized the gun was going to be a real stunner, oil finishes tend to darken with age, the previous finish had been hiding this beauty from us! The oval was removed to protect it from damage while sanding, this was re inlet later on. From this point on the gun was on the finishing rack to be oil finished. While the oil was drying i prepared my materials, above showing the buffalo horn which was to be used for the forend tip, the forend iron, the blank, diamond, and hackett roller bearing. The iron was then inlet into the blank. Showing the replacement screws i would use as slaves while fitting up the forend - the horn insert and the forend blank with the iron inlet. The buffalo horn insert was then let into the blank using lamp black to spot the high points. Buffalo horn fitted. The stock was beginning to take on a shine at this point. The iron could now be fitted to the barrels again using lamp black to achieve a good fit between the forend and the barrels. After hours of painstaking work the wood was fitted to the barrels and the blank could be shaped down, the diamond needed to be fitted and the screws replaced with proper gun screws turned on the lathe with an aligned slot. You can see how happy i was to be shaping down after days of chipping away fitting buffalo horn, forend irons and forends to barrels, the shaping down happened so quickly i didn't really take any photos. The checkering was cut to match the stock which was now pretty much finished, the forend just needed finishing up to match the stock! A few from various angles, the forend is still unfinished in these shots. The photos below this show the finished job. If you would like to see more of my work please take a look at: https://www.instagram.com/woodworking_gunsmith/?hl=en Return of the Gun from James I must confess to having been a bit apprehensive on having the stock refurbished. Why should I get rid of the patina of years of use (and abuse), each little mark being a significant event in its long history in the field ? However, my doubts were allayed when I got the gun back, for who could deny the beautiful figuring of that walnut. James` work on the stock brought back to life the beauty of the wood, having turned a good looking stock into something just stunning. The fore-end that James has made is astonishing. How he managed to match the figuring of the stock is unbelievable. Whilst James`s photos are good, one really has to see the gun in the flesh to appreciate what a craftsman he truly is and also of course to take in the full beauty of the wood`s figuring and the gun`s overall fineness. Once that I had got the gun back from James, I immediately bought some gun socks for the Woodward and my other guns as I really had no wish to mark the beautiful woodwork of my old gun. I will also now be much more careful than perhaps I have been in the past when out in the field with the refurbished gun as I would not wish to put a single blemish on the woodwork after James had so painstakingly worked to produce such an amazing finish, or scratch those beautifully reblacked barrels that Dan had so skillfully restored. Have I found the No.2 gun ? Since the initial penning of these words, I noticed a very similar Woodward `Automatic` for sale on Guntrader. Purely out of interest I had to find out about this gun as it was indicated as number 2 of a pair. Was this my gun`s long lost brother ? At first glance from the photo given, the gun was very similar, advertised as a Woodward `The Automatic` back action sidelock. However, it turned out that this gun was made slightly later than mine with some minor Woodward design changes in the process. Both had the typical Woodward `T` shaped safety catch, but mine was inscribed with the word `Bolted` whereas the later one had `Safe`. I quite like the uniqueness of the word bolted as it indicated in the transition period between hammer and hammerless guns that there was a mechanism that bolted the hammers as opposed to merely locking the triggers, as found on most (i.e. those without intercepting sears) boxlocks. Another typical Woodward feature on both guns were the protruding tumbler pivots with cocking indicators. Once again I believe this was in the transition period to give the user an indication of the internal hammer position, having previously been used to external hammers whose positions were obvious. This still remains a selling feature on some sidelocks today, but I wonder how many owners of such guns actually use this facility. I also noted that my gun being slightly older, had `Leg of Mutton` shaped locks, an earlier and I`m told, a less desirable feature now, but for what reason, I`m not sure. Perhaps it was the additional work involved in the fitting of the stock. Hopefully someone will be able to enlighten me on this. It therefore transpired that this No.2 gun was a later gun, sleeved and a non ejector, but nevertheless sold for a reasonably substantial sum. Unfortunately, the gun was sold before I had a chance (purely out of interest) to have a look at it. Perhaps I may be able to contact the new owner to compare notes sometime in the future, assuming of course that its new home isn`t across the pond as many old English guns sadly end up. The Future What of the gun`s future ? Whilst in my possession it will be taken out occasionally into the pigeon hide, used for the odd roost shoot on a windy February afternoon or flightline shooting, my particular favourite. Maybe it will be taken out for a mooch around the hedgerows in search of a wily old cock pheasant. No doubt its original owner, Lord Harris would have used it and the No.2 gun in a grouse butt or maybe on some glorious pheasant shoot within a prestigious country estate. However, I am unlikely to take the gun to either venue as the former is just a dream never to be realised and the latter has never been my form of shooting, not by choice but by lack opportunity and finance. This bothers me not a jot as shooting the woodpigeon, the `poor man`s grouse` is, in my opinion, the cream of sport offering every conceiveable shot in the book. That`s not to say that I wouldn`t turn down a days driven shooting, but would need some guidance into etiquette and format for such a day as my 60 odd years shooting life has consisted initially from stalking countless rabbits with the ubiquitous Belgian folding .410, through to `shooting flying` with firstly a single 12 and then for many years a double side by side 12 and in the latter years a series of lovely English 16 bores. Being of a certain age, I am very fortunate to have experienced walking up acres upon acres of stubbles for the then `common` English or grey partridge and shooting curlew, red and greenshank and all other waders once on the quarry list. Something that younger and present day shooters cannot now experience and money cannot buy. As I am fast approaching my three score years and ten, my future use of the gun is probably not too great in terms of years, so I then have to think of the next stage of the gun`s life. My first option would be to hand it down to a younger family member. However, having just three Grandsons of suitable age, two others too young to be considered, only one has ever shown any interest to be taken out shooting and to take up our wonderful sport and to enjoy nature and our beautiful British countryside. All was going well with young Charley being extricated from his Xbox and ipod (whatever they are !) for a few hours to experience some pigeon decoying. I thought that I had finally found my ideal shooting companion who, after a few lessons on clays and obviously strict safety instructions, appeared to have good hand to eye co-ordination and much quicker reactions than me. Not only that, I thought selfishly, that he could share the burden of all the impedimenta involved in a day`s decoying . However, my hopes were dashed when he `discovered` girls and his interest in shooting was put on the back burner, never I fear to be reignited. I can but hope. The next option for the gun`s future would be to return it as a donation to the family home of its original owner, namely Belmont House, currently open to the public where it would become part of their museum and armoury. Whilst this may seem an obvious choice, the thought of the gun laying in a glass topped cabinet being viewed (but not handled) by the occasional visitor, to my mind, would be wrong. Having restored it to almost its former glory, the gun deserves to be used again not confined to a life of inactivity. So, no, it won`t be going there. Another option would be to sell it on. It is, however, still only a sleeved non-ejector albeit from a renowned maker having an excellent provenance, but in this depressed market for such guns, would not, I fear, attract a very high price. But that is not the point. It would have to go eventually, at whatever price, to someone who would own, cherish and more importantly occasionally use it. The chance of it being reunited with its twin is highly unlikely as previously mentioned. Conclusion Apart from thanking once again those involved in its refurbishment, namely Dan and James , I also thank those of you that have had the patience to read through the above inane ramblings and sincerely trust that they have been of a little interest and perhaps even ignited some small spark to also take on refurbishment of an old gun and bring it back into use once more. I know that there are many on PW who know far more of the history and mechanics of old guns than me and have no doubt been down the same route as myself, but the pleasure I have received in carrying out the research and the knowledge that I have gained so far has been extremely satisfying. I would therefore urge anyone who has an old gun, to delve into its history and possibly uncover some interesting facts. I have been lucky that the records of my gun still exist, so the first part of the research was relatively straightforward. I realise that many gunmaker`s records have been lost to fire, bomb damage and the like so the initial search is not quite so easy. I apologise for any repetitions, well used or annoying cliches , lack of understanding of shotgun technicalities or any other inaccuracies therein and that my enthusiasm has not been too overbearing. Hopefully, I got most of the spelling right, if not, I`m sure that there will be someone to correct me in that regard. Of course I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has further knowledge of these particular guns knowing of course that the books that I have by Donald Dallas, Nigel Brown & David Baker already give plenty of information on the history and workings of the Woodward `Automatic`. Perhaps someone out there has one ! If so, I would be most pleased to share notes. Many thanks for taking time out to read, so that now the only questions to be answered by those more enlightened than me are as follows -: 1. Whether to get the barrels lapped out or leave well alone as has been advised previously ? 2. Why `Leg of Mutton` locks are less desirable ? Any replies, most gratefully received and many thanks again for reading. OB