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Barrel Vise And Action Wrench


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#1 CurtInAtl

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:39 PM

I have been fooling around a bit with mostly milsurps for the last 10 years or so. Mostly just refinishing stocks and touching up metal finish or swapping out a few parts and such. I do work on AR's but then as long as the barrel extension is on the barrel that's doesn't take any real skills.

Now I've decided to take a shot at building my own rifle. Nothing serious, just hobby stuff. One of the things I am looking at is a barrel vice and action wrench.

I have been looking at a Wheeler engineering wrench since I will pretty much be sticking with Mauser actions. The Tubb barrel vice looks like about the best for the money, $55 = $15 shipping.
Are these good tools or is there something else I should be looking at?

I can rent the reamer and headspace gauges.

I don't have room for anything as big as a lathe, and don't know how to run one anyway, but I do have a good vice, bench grinder, buffer, and plenty of hand tools. My next equipment purchase is probably going to be drill press, I do know how to run that.

I am nearly 58 and looking for something that I like to do that can keep me busy when I retire in a few years.

#2 brokengun

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 01:06 PM

This is just a suggestion but why not buy a mill/drill instead of a drill press.

That way you could make your own action wrench and barrel vise.

That will also allow you to make parts and do other projects

If you can run a dril press you can run a mill/Drill

#3 Clemson

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 02:49 PM

On a Mauser, rear entry wrenches like the Tubb are not effective with the really tight barrels that you are liable to encounter on military rifles. I would suggest that you look at a Brownells wrench and also their barrel vise.

For what it is worth, there is a good deal of variance in dimensions between Mauser actions. That means that rebarreling without a lathe is a crapshoot, as more often than not you will have to shorten the tenon or push back the secondary recoil shoulder. You may be able to make a rifle that is safe to shoot, but making one as accurate as possible requires fitting that barrel, and that means you really need to have a lathe.

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#4 CurtInAtl

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 03:36 PM

How big of a lathe does it take? Will one of the 10" or 12" ones work if the spindle bore is large enough for a barrel to fit through? I don't have the room or the floor for a thousand pound lathe.


These are the receiver wrench and barrel vice I am looking at.
Barrel vice

Receiver wrench

#5 Clemson

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 04:03 PM

The Wheeler wrench should work OK, and with lead shims, the Tubb Barrel Vise may be fine, though on the lightweight side. The barrel vises like the Wheeler vise with wook blocks don't generally hold as tightly as you would like.

For a lathe, there is really no good substitute for size. The small ones may not have the spindle hole size. I use a large lathe, but I am a professional gunsmith. The bigger the better for most work that I do! I have seen really good barrel work done on a 9" South Bend, but it had enough bed length to work the outboard end of the barrel in the steady rest. Optimum would be at least 40" bed length to allow space for a reamer between the tailstock and the barrel.

Clemson

#6 lemski4

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 05:56 PM

What Clemson said about the lathe is spot on, as far as the action wrench, I'd make my own and add the 58.99 to a better barrel vice.

#7 ken98k

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 08:34 PM

What Clemson said about the lathe is spot on, as far as the action wrench, I'd make my own and add the 58.99 to a better barrel vice.


I agree with Lemski4, stay away from the Tubb barrel vice.
I use a Wheeler vice but I replaced the wood blocks for steel blocks with aluminum bushings.
If I had to do it over, I would get a Brownells vice.

I also use a Wheeler action wrench which has served me very well on the mauser rifles I work on but, once again if I were to do it over I'd get the wrench from Brownells also.

#8 donmarkey

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 09:14 AM

I made mine to brownells specs, I would stay away from any vise that doesn't use metal bushings. You need more than 4 point contact for military actions. Now if you were working on new gun it would be fine. See the difference?
Don
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#9 lemski4

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 06:02 PM

There you go Don, your action wrench is a little different than mine, but the main objective is heavy duty, same as the barrel vice. I bought the barrel vice that uses the hydraulic jack, not the best but works good, the hole key is your holding blocks or inserts, they need to be a good fit to the size barrel you are working on and I have quite a few sets, and make new ones as I need them all the time. I'll see if I can get some pictures up the first of the week.

#10 CurtInAtl

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 08:21 PM

Thanks for all the reply's. I would love to buy a decent sized lathe, etc. but before that I would have to find a new house or pour a slab and put up a garage in the back yard. That is going to cost way more than I can justify in order to have a bit of enjoyment doing something that I haven't done before.

I will probably stick to wood & metal refinishing and trying master stock checkering which has always fascinated me and hand loading. I'm sure that I will be back with questions from time to time. There are things that I can do without a ton of machine tools like converting my RRA 20" Hbar to a 24" 6.5 Grendel. You just got to love a round that has been documented putting 1.198" groups down at 660yds.

#11 CurtInAtl

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 01:44 PM

Well, I think I am going to go ahead and give this a try. Les Brooks is building rifles out of his RV with a 7"x12" mini lathe. It is slow and under powered but it can be done. This is going to be a hobby for me, not production.

I am a systems engineer and I completed my Cisco CCNP at 51, I can sure as hell learn how to run a lathe. And this way I can do it without having to buy a new house.

I have an 18 year old son who is as in to rifles as I am so we can learn together.

I am going to go ahead and get the wrench and vice I have been looking at, if I run into one that I can't break loose there are several gunsmiths in town who can do it for me.
I can also pay one of them to go over my work the first couple of times. I am not afraid to stop and seek help.

Anyway you look at it, it's still cheaper than golf.

#12 lemski4

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 07:57 PM

Yes Les Brooks does make it look easy, but he is a career professional, but take in mind the limitations of the mini lathe, the through hole in the head stock, and the distance between centers. I have a 9" Southbend model A and it is small, but manageable for most sporter barrels. With a mini lathe you will be limited to slender taper barrels, but it is still do-able. Les is a very nice guy and will bend over backwards to try to help someone willing to learn, I wish I had got to know him better when he was teaching stock making at TSJC, he started the year I was leaving and I didn't have a class with him. Since then I have chatted with him via the net, and by phone and he really is a good guy with a wealth of knowledge.

#13 CurtInAtl

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 08:37 PM

I really enjoyed his post on making a stock from a blank. The man is definitely an artist.

#14 CurtInAtl

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 12:09 PM

I went by Harbor Freight today and looked at their 10" lathe. The spindle bore was quite a bit larger than what will go thru the chuck. I would need to make a chuck and spider like Les did on his. I am assuming that those can be made on the lathe.

After looking at the 10" lathe I have decided that 14" is going to be about minimum. The 10" would be OK if I had to face off a deep chambered barrel or that sort of thing but you would be hard pressed to fit a reamer between the barrel and the tailstock.

I don't mind spending $1000 or so on a lathe and tooling, I spend that much eating out in 3 months, but it has got to be light enough to use on a workbench that is sitting on a regular wooden floor. If I had known that I was going to be doing this sort of thing I would have beefed up the floor when I framed in the carport and brought the floor up to house level 19 years ago.

That was probably the best improvement I have ever done to a house. I have all of my loading, gunsmith, camping, etc stuff out here plus I have a window AC unit so I can close the door and the HVAC vents and keep all the stinky stuff from stinking up the rest of the house. A man-cave for me and the cats.

#15 Spiris

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 03:01 PM

Several years ago, I decided that I would make a commitment to rework Mausers into sporters for my own use, on a limited budget. That was when Turk Mausers were flooding the market and I found a few of the K.Kale Turks in good condition at bargain prices. I found that Remington take off barrels were fairly cheap, and would fit a mini lathe for rethreading to the small ring threads of the Turks.
I purchased a Cummins 7x12 Mini-lathe with some accessories and a larger 4" 3 jaw chuck, and practiced threading old junk LR 98 barrels with a steady rest and live center until I was ready to tackle the Remington barrels. If you take your time, the mini-lathe will work fine, and you do not need to ream the chambers in the lathe. I always hand ream my chambers after assembling, and if the reamers are sharp, they will recut a chamber in short order.
Just my experience.


Spiris

#16 lemski4

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:39 PM

Curtinatl, If your floor will hold a water bed it'll hold a small lathe. I had my 9" Southbend in my second story apt a few years back, and when I was moving out the manager happened to come by and said he didn't know I had that in there, and I said I know. I estimate my lathe weighs about 400 - 500 pounds,




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