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Old J Stevens Long Tom 12 Ga Needs Help

4677 Views 15 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  featherhead
Newbie here in western north carolina, with gun show find. Couldn't resist for $90 bucks. Tore it all down, glued the cracks in the stock. Reassembled and tightened everything up. Tried my best to hone the bore, choke section cleaned up the nicest, but barrel is scored. Need an ejector spring. It's .270 OD about 17/64, but don't know what the factory length would have been. The pics show the remnant of what might have been the factory spring. I have rigged it with a Colt 1911 main spring, but it tend to buckle at the contact point with the ejector pin. It's compressed to about 1 1/4". I'd like to find a source for that spring. Looks like a flat wound spring. Also toying with the idea of having the barrel backbored. Any sources for that work would be appreciated. I'm gonna take it to the range today and shoot it a bit to see if it stays together. If so I plan on using it at some indoor turkey shoots.

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Quick follow up on my first post. This is not really a Long Tom and is not marked as such, I just use the term loosley as the barrel is 36" long. Took her out to the range for some test fire. She patterned at 40 yds off a rest, off hand was another story. But I only took 4 shots to see if she was gonna blow apart. The gun's breech is amazingly tight for its age.

Questions: Does anyone know for sure what kind of factory ejector spring this gun took? Does anyone have a breakdown or schematic of the internals as I might like to tear it down to check, adjust, tune the trigger pull.

Thinking if this gun holds together and test fires out at the next firing session I'll consider sending it off for back boring and honing. Has anyone who's had an old gun backbored and honed noticed a visible improvement in the pattern?
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What are you gonna do if it does not "hold together". That is, when you get out of surgery.
featherhead, I've owned quite a few old H&R "Toppers" over the years. I consider them safe. None of them should be overbored, for two reasons. First, the ample safety margin of those old guns could be compromised. Second, they only cost a hundred bucks brand new, they sell for fifty dollars or so as old used guns, and they aren't worth messing with.

A cheap single shot break open shotgun is about the most worthless thing I know of. They are far too light, which makes them savage kickers, it's difficult to hit anything with them, you only have one shot, and the entire gun was made as cheaply as the maker could make it and the thing still work.

I was at Wal Mart the other day, and behind the counter they were selling brand new Mossberg Maverick 88's for less than two hundred dollars. The Remington 870 Express shotguns were also there, for about a hundred dollars more. The Remington is a better gun, but the cheapest Maverick 88 is light years, head and shoulders, far and away a better gun than any cheap old single shot ever made.

The good news is, you can get a lot of your money back selling that old smokepole and then you can buy a cheap new pump shotgun without having to file bankruptcy or ruining the rest of your life.

Life is entirely too short, and new pump shotguns are so cheap, that there isn't any excuse for somebody shooting a break open single shot shotgun anymore. :wink:
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Thanks for the input guys. The gun test fired and held together, no surgery required...yet. This old smoke stick really is tight as a drum. Kicks like a mule. You can tell by the lock up it never was used much, but never was cared for either. The barrel reads high compression steel and it's chambered for 3" shells. I've recently discovered the black art of building card guns. Spoke to a guy who makes a sells reamers. He gave me a little summary about lengthening forcing cones, reaming chambers, back boring and choking. Said most of the guys who perfect this work don't like to readily share the secrets. The whole thing sounds intriguing seeing how most every pawn shop down the line has a shelf full of hundred dollar 12 gauges just waiting for some bore work. I figure I could start with a long forcing cone reamer and a muzzle facing cutter and test patterns before and after. See what happens to the recoil. Then if everything looks good, put it up for sale and start on another one.
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You get that at the show in Asheville last weekend? I missed it :(

Would you have bought that old POS?
In the hope of saving you some real problems: I've been 'smithing a lot of years and have never seen an old Stevens chambered for the 3" shell. Most are chambered 2and 3/4 and I've seen a 16ga chambered 2 and 9/16" If you determined the chamber size by dropping in a 3" shell rather than a chamber ***** you are flirting with beating the old gun to pieces in short order. The chamber must be long enough for the shell to open completely without being in the bore, otherwise you are creating a potential pressure problem which takes more time to explain than we have here. For your safety, please back off and use the old gun as it was intended. Goatwhiskers the Elder
Just for us curious types what does the barrel say on the right side in front of the receiver? My old Stevie says 2 3/4" and 3" :wink: A quick check with a caliper will see if you have just slightly over 3" from the shell rim to the start of the forcing cone. 3" exactly ain't enough, Some shells run a little long.
And as for them being "Worthless" :evil: I have enjoyed every one I have ever owned and still enjoy the ones I have now! My son and I have had many fun times with a little single shot Model 94 and I hope to be able to do the same with my grandson in the near future. And as for "difficult to hit anything"!!!!!! I probably have less missed birds with my little Stevens than any other gun I own. My other guns are easier on me to shoot but when I want to take the kids out shooting I grab the single shot every time! It works EVERY TIME! And shoots where you point it. Worth is a very subjective term as it has to include too many variables and thus makes it irrelevant to many gun Owners (not buyers and sellers) but those who own them just for the joy they get from them, Each and everyone. :roll:
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You're right, Phil, just because I haven't seen it don't mean it don't exist. Should have asked what was marked on the barrel. Goat
Right you ARE Goatsy, The scale measures 3" and screwy me thought that meant 3" chamber..... until I measured my 3" mossberg that scaled at 3 3/8" to the forcing cone. I'm REALLY new at this, but eager to learn and willing to ruin a gun or a cutter or two to learn the craft. I was on the phone with Dave Manson, who gave me a generous summary of reamers and their uses, so I have a small knowledge base. Figure I'll start with a long forcing cone reamer and get a couple bore hones and do some before and after patterning to see what happens. He says the cone reamers are very straight forward, they follow the bore can be hand turned and are double tapered so they pretty much stop cutting when they reach the limit. We didn't talk about chamber reamers, I need to learn about them. I figure I'll stick with old fixed choke 2 3/4" guns for starters. The intriguing work seems to be back boring. I'm working on a fixture to hold tapered barrels on the cross slide of my heavy 10. He suggests turning the reamer in the head stock and powerfeeding barrel into the cutter. I have a thread going over on Practical machinist if you'd like to visit there. Don't know if that'll get you right to it. If not it's under gunsmithing, member name franketrozzo. ... ost1183064

Thanks guys for your input. I REALLY appreciate the help.

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Stevens, H&R, and Iver Johnson ran a long race to see who could make the cheapest single barrel shotgun. H&R finally won.

These things were one skip away from being junk. Even when new. They used the cheapest parts, the least labor, the cheapest wood, the cheapest everything to make them.

They were safe enough when factory ammo was used. They had a safety margin,,,, using the cheapest, softest, easiest to machine grade of steel they could get away with,,,,,by having thick barrel walls. Don't even think about peeling away metal from that old smokepole's barrel walls. Leave it alone. Sell it.

The cheap gun I've seen the card shooters using is the Winchester 1200/1300. There's another gun I haven't a good word to say about,,,except this: Winchester apparently used the same Winchester Proof Steel to make the barrels and bolts as they did everything else. Anyway, the card shooters seem to like them, and it's nice to see a useful purpose for those old 1200's.

If you want to ream around an old POS shotgun,,,find an old POS Winchester 1200 fixed choke gun to fool with.
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After a lot of reasearch and good opinions from board members it's obvious that bore work is not a huge performance enhancer. And done thoughtlessly CAN be dangerous. But that's not to say people won't pay for it and good gunsmithing technique is ALWAYS appreciated and valued. That said, I can seen its value in restoration. Dad's old gun got scored and pitted, needs bored and polished for a hundred fifty bucks. Money well spent? I don't know anyone who would'nt love to look down a bore, old or new, and be blinded by the shine. So why not include a quick forcing cone job as long a the bore is gonna get a complete honing? Backboring IS another story. Let's do it when there's no other alternative. It's gonna be time consuming and risky. But ain't that what a good gunsmith is all about? The guy who can fixture and setup his work and get it done right and quick for and reasonable buck.

Next there is the world of choke work. Lots can surely be done on that end and the versatility of any old gun can be expanded by screw in chokes. I think I'm gonna start out with a long forcing cone reamer and a set of bore hones, then look into the thin wall reamers and taps that Dave Manson sells for the screw in chokes. It might be a hoot to carry your tactical mossberg short barrel with a full choke screwed in to a turkey shoot and come home with a turkey.
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Got some progress pics on the barrel fixture. The base replaces the compound on the lathe. The V blocks are dead on center height.

All to do now is fab some clamps and figure a way to indicate the barrel using the headstock only as I'll have to pull the tailstock to bore long barrels.
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Got some final pics of the gun barrel fixture I made to back bore 12 ga barrels on the lathe. I plan on doing some shotgun restoration and performance work. Will be able to lengthen forcing cones and back bore pitted barrels. Will also do some barrel honing and polishing. Eventually some choke work.

Look guys.... NO chuck key !!!!

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