Bent top lever

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Bent top lever

Postby Fox20obsessed » Thu Mar 05, 2020 10:08 am

Picking up a decent 16 gauge sterlingworth tomorrow with a bent top lever. Has anyone straightened one before? If so, was heat required to get it straight again or was it straightened without the application of heat? I don’t want to harm the case hardening or take any temper out of the hardened steel.
Thanks in advance for any responses.
-Matt
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Re: Bent top lever

Postby OH Osthaus » Thu Mar 05, 2020 11:07 am

i would not try to rebend it without annealing it first, just for safety's sake
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Re: Bent top lever

Postby Silvers » Thu Mar 05, 2020 2:51 pm

It's risky but the lever can USUALLY be cold bent to straighten it - which will not affect the case or surface colors, if any. However IME the bending must be done with the lever out of the gun and held in hardwood or similar blocks in a heavy bench vice. Trying to do it with the lever assembled will likely bend/break the yoke pin or fracture one of both sides of the yoke cut-out. It might also put a twist in the narrow section of the spindle. If memory serves I've removed and straightened about six bent levers over the years and only one of them broke in two.

Please resist the urge to put a crescent wrench on the lever and try to do it in place. Also keep in mind that if you break it, a small bore lever/spindle will be exponentially harder to find than one for 12-gauge.

Most anyone with a mechanical aptitude should be able to figure out how to disassemble and remove the lever and its linkage parts; if not I strongly suggest sending the gun to a qualified Fox 'smith.

frank
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Re: Bent top lever

Postby Fox20obsessed » Thu Mar 05, 2020 6:43 pm

Thanks for the responses guys I greatly appreciate it. I was planning on doing exactly as Frank described and completely disassembling the gun to pull the top lever and bend it while it was in a vice between two hardwood blocks. I just got a fresh supply of yoke screws and have a couple extra set/lock screws as well. I’ve completely disassembled several foxes in the past so it should be a pretty straightforward repair I just wanted to check with the experts first to see if I was missing anything. The gun has little if any case color left especially on the top lever so I am hesitant to have it annealed and re-hardened. Gun also has a broken stock(split in the webbing) but it has nice 28” 3 weight barrels and I scooped it up for less than what a beater 12 bore sterly usually goes for so I want to treat it right and build a nice rainy day gun for pheasants. Frank, I appreciate the heads up about the smallbore top levers not being interchangeable with the 12 gauge levers...I was curious about that and figured if it broke in half while bending it would be easy to find a replacement...not the case though.
Any additional comments/advice will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for your time,
Matt Eisel.

PS: my restock project of 20 gauge a-grade s/n200371 is coming along nicely and I’m hoping to have the inletting done in the next few weeks. I’ve been meaning to post pics of the progress and will do that soon elsewhere on this forum.
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Re: Bent top lever

Postby Silvers » Thu Mar 05, 2020 7:17 pm

Matt, it sounds like you made a good deal on that 16 Sterly. More on the top lever: I believe 12-16-20 levers were probably all made from the same basic machined part. On the Philadelphia-style levers the small bore version had more dainty profiling of the thumb piece, and the top/front of the lever is contoured to the small bore frame. All of the levers were more/less fitted to a particular frame.

One tip on the nut that secures the bottom of the spindle: the nut is hard to remove and then to tighten without goofing up its slot because the spindle screw shank fully protrudes through the nut. Here's a pic of a Brownell's #340-3 Mag Tip that was modified with a simple file cut to do that.

frank

IMG_9933.jpg
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Re: Bent top lever

Postby Fox20obsessed » Thu Mar 05, 2020 9:15 pm

Frank, I’ll most certainly be making up one of those special bits for removal of the top lever nut. Thank you for posting that for us to see. I made a special tool last year out of an old flathead craftsman screwdriver to use for holding the top lever plunger down while reinstalling the ball screw...with a little practice and the action in a padded vise it makes a difficult job that requires 3 hands a tad bit easier (I was given the idea by Mr. Jason Barden). I’m sure you’ve probably seen it before but I will post a pic of it on here when I dig it out of my gunsmithing tool boxes sometime in the next few days. Now, thanks to your suggestion and pics I’ll add another tool to the collection of ever-increasing modified task-specific ones.
I’ll try to post a before and after pic of the fox 16 on here also, but the before will probably be here for a while....lot of irons in the fire at the moment with a restock and also a c-grade upgrade from utica sterly in the works.
-Matt
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Re: Bent top lever

Postby Double O » Thu Mar 05, 2020 11:20 pm

Hopefully not sounding like an idiot, but how does one bend a top lever in the first place?
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Re: Bent top lever

Postby Fox20obsessed » Thu Mar 05, 2020 11:47 pm

Double O.....good question. I’m not exactly sure how or why. First one I’ve had to deal with personally but I’ve seen a few over the years with bent levers. Perhaps someone else can further explain.
-Matt
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Re: Bent top lever

Postby Silvers » Fri Mar 06, 2020 12:08 am

All I’ve seen were bent to the right, likely to give the appearance that the locking bolt has plenty of takeup for wear and fool a potential buyer. A very slight bend will do it. This practice isn’t limited to Fox guns. I’ve seen the same with other vintage makers.
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Re: Bent top lever

Postby jolly bill » Fri Mar 06, 2020 12:32 am

Hey Matt. I like your style.

Good for you and your C grade project is sure looking good.

And for sure, please keep us up to date.

Bill
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Re: Bent top lever

Postby Fox20obsessed » Fri Mar 06, 2020 11:16 am

Bill and Frank,
Thank you guys. I appreciate all the support I have received from all of the knowledgeable gents on this site. I will definitely post progress. I tried to create a posting for my restock/refresh of s/n 200371 last night but could not get the pics to upload...will try again today in between changing diapers and inletting a trigger plate during nap time! Between all that, my job, and working on the house I don’t have trouble staying busy these days it seems! Frank, I wanted to ask you also...do you usually lock the “thumb piece” end of the top lever in a hardwood padded vise or does the spindle end go in the vise. Thanks in advance,
-Matt

PS: I just spoke with the seller and will be meeting him as soon as I get done with two crowns at the dentist where I am currently...making this post from the waiting room and getting antsy to inspect the new “to me” 16. And I had convinced myself I was sticking with 20 bores. This fox bug sure runs deep.
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Re: Bent top lever

Postby Silvers » Fri Mar 06, 2020 12:37 pm

Matt, I wouldn't try to clamp the spindle for fear of twisting it and/or getting it out of square with the top lever while trying to straighten it. Refer to these pics showing the front end of the lever (between the scallops) clamped in oak pieces. I get them as scrap from a furniture manufacturer. To straighten I'll pad both jaws of a crescent wrench in heavy leather, bend the tailpiece slowly and by "eyeball" to determine straight.

Hey 16 bore Foxes are way cool too!

frank

IMG_9935.JPG


IMG_9936.JPG
Last edited by Silvers on Fri Mar 06, 2020 3:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Bent top lever

Postby jolly bill » Fri Mar 06, 2020 12:37 pm

Fox20obsessed wrote: This fox bug sure runs deep.

Matt, you were going to find this out sooner or later. Better sooner.

Welcome to the Clan.

Jolly
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Re: Bent top lever

Postby Fox20obsessed » Fri Mar 06, 2020 2:26 pm

Bill, you’re the man. I like your style too and thanks for the warm welcome. Frank, I really appreciate the detailed description and pics of the procedure. I will be following that method to a tee. I wonder how the finger tips off of a leather work glove would serve as “covers” for the crescent wrench? I got home with the 16 not too long ago. It has NiCE marked 3 wt barrels @ 28” M/F and a real solid lock up with lever to the right (the straight section). I feel like I did good and can’t wait to post pics of the gun “as found” when my girlfriend isn’t looking of course! She gets mad when I buy guns so they go from the truck to the safe rather quickly. I’ll post any progress made with it. Thanks to all of you kind gentlemen for being such an inspiration to me. Without this site and guys like yourselves, I wouldn’t know a darn thing about these fine guns.
-Matt
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Re: Bent top lever

Postby Silvers » Fri Mar 06, 2020 3:46 pm

Matt, sounds like a good deal on the 16 Sterly. I look forward to seeing pics of her "as found" when you get a chance of course. Finger tips from a glove are probably overkill; I just use pieces of real leather from a glove or shoe tongue between each crescent jaw and the tailpiece.

It's nice to help others who tell us about their projects and will reply with a sincere Thank you to those who take time to give input. As compared with fellas who have an entitlement attitude, i.e., here from time to time to ask a question and maybe not even offer anything in the way of thanks, then you don't hear from them until they have another question, on and on.

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