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Thread: Project 41: Resurrecting the Mighty Walther

  1. #1
    Senior Member GunKraut's Avatar
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    Default Project 41: Resurrecting the Mighty Walther

    Occasionally I run into interesting things which need some time to start growing on me. One such thing is the G41, the Mighty Walther, an important step towards the development of the G43. Generally, I'm more of a K98 and G43 person because I prefer rifles I can take to the range and fire all day long without problems. According to what I read and heard, the Mighty Walther was quite the opposite of my general preference. G41's are regarded as finicky, unreliable, said to foul and break easily and parts are hard to come by; overall something I should stay away from. Oh, and they are said to be awfully expensive.

    Lucky me, I found a "sporterized" 1943 G41 a-block for little money. The fore end had been chopped off and lost, upper hand guard, both barrel bands, bayonet lug and band spring were missing as well. All parts including the mutilated stock had matching serial numbers and were well cared for, all metal parts were clean and oil coated without any trace of rust. The bore was good and the gas system without the usual corrosion.

    My first step was to get an original hand guard as a starting point for re-creating the missing fore end. I also needed the barrel bands in order to machine the correct shape of the fore end. The hand guard was provided by Terrill Biedenharn who not only owns an impressive collection of G41 rifles but also scours gun shows for spares to offer to other G41 owners. Although my rifle is an ac43, I settled for a duv hand guard to get the ball rolling. With the hand guard installed, I learned the stock had been shortened slightly past the step for the barrel band; not good as I now needed to add another piece to the stock. I ordered the missing metal parts from France. They are decent reproductions but not of breath taking quality and require different levels of detail work and fitting.

    In order to get my power tools and fixtures set up for making a new fore end, I experimented with a 2x2 piece of pine (the final piece will be machined from laminated beech wood). It turned out pretty good given that other than some internet photos I had nothing to go by when I needed to route out the grooves for the band spring and the cleaning rod. Getting the cutout for the bayonet lug right was even more of a challenge. Now that I have a perfectly fitting pine fore end it provides me with all the relevantant dimensions needed for machining a laminate wood fore end.

    With a mock fore end on hand, I turned my attention to fabricating a less brittle hand guard then the original one I bought from Terrill. I had noticed similarities between my Springfield 03A3 hand guard and its G41 resin counterpart. I picked up a cheap 03A3 hand guard from Sergio of Northridge Inc, cut it up, added walnut strips to increase height and shaped it on a Craftsman router. I ordered brownish-red Resorcinol resin (nowadays called Cascophen) from Aircraft Spruce for gluing all pieces together. A lot of sanding using a Dremel sanding drum was necessary to allow the actuator rod to move freely underneath the hand guard. A dark ebony stain will hopefully make it look close to an original Walther part. In hindsight I should have probably just ordered a wooden hand guard from Lestek Fox... Well, the labor of love, or so they say.

    I have attached a couple pictures of where I am right now. A laminate beech wood block has been created and is ready to be shaped into a new fore end. The only thing still bothering me is the rounded off tip of the mutilated stock where the fore end butts up against. I may have to chop the rounded portion off -about 1/8" to 3/16"- and add a laminate shim to re-create the step in the stock for the lower barrel band.
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    Very cool restore job!! Neat to see the labor of love.

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    Senior Member gergnotwen's Avatar
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    Fantastic project to keep history alive! Looking good!
    Life is full of fake people. Before you decide to judge them make sure you are not one of them.

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    Senior Member GunKraut's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your encouragement. Here's a little insight into how I made the laminate for the new fore end: I used 24 strips of beech wood, sliced off of a solid piece on my table saw. That was the scary part as my fingers ended up very close to the saw blade. Each strip is around 0.053" thin after smooth sanding in a fixture. The clamping fixture consists of two solid steel pressure plates, 3 C-clamps and 4 identical spacers to keep the plates parallel. In a baking oven set to 180 degrees the Resorcinol resin cures in less than 30 minutes. After removing the laminate from the fixture I trimmed the block on my table saw to have square surface necessary for the subsequent cutting and routing operations.
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    Senior Member rpf2697's Avatar
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    Great work!! I have completed two similar wood "rescue" projects myself on a G43 and 98k. Glad to see a fellow Kalifornian with skills.

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    The patience to complete such great work is profound. I'd bet you're a great fisherman too.

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    I'll bet this one will be a really nice rifle to shoot. You must post pics and such of the range outting once done.

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    Senior Member GunKraut's Avatar
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    Default Happy New Year!

    Happy New Year to all K98Kforum members. Project 41 has been steadily humming along, the rounded tip of the mutilated stock has been sliced off and replaced with a 3/16" laminated shim. The rear band now has a square step to rest against. Before gluing, I had to dip the tip of the stock repeatedly in acetone to get the oil out of the wood. After dipping, I boiled acetone and oil out of the wood with a hair dryer. I did that at least 20 times until the wood was dry enough to bond with the glue. That stock contained more oil than the engine block of my 55 Chevy. The replacement piece blended in pretty good, I used Birchwood-Casey walnut stain as a base dye, then rubbed charcoal into the wood grain to give it the "dirty" look. After fitting and sanding the shim, the stock ended up too smooth around the tip. I made it look "worn" again by steaming the smooth areas with hot steam from the tea kettle. The steam causes the wood to slightly swell and makes the wood fibers stand up, giving it the desired rough look.

    The walnut hand guard has been stained with Minwax ebony stain. I was looking for the ebony version of Birchwood-Casey's water based walnut stain but it doesn't seem to exist. So I resorted to using Minwax, not knowing what I got myself into. Minwax is oil based and doesn't seem to penetrate wood as good as water based stains; it's more like a lacquer. I applied 3 coats to achieve the desired dark tint but I didn't like the looks of it at all. That is, until it had dried to a satin sheen and looked almost like the original Walther hand guard. The visible walnut grain structure and the splotched coat give it the been there, done that appearance which fits the rest of the rifle perfectly.

    My next step is to fabricate the missing fore end from a laminate wood block.
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    Senior Member THunter's Avatar
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    I remember this rifle very well. I almost bid on it. But it went to the perfect home and your work is top notch! I enjoy seeing threads like these!

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    Maple Syrup Mod Eh CanadianAR's Avatar
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    Coming along great! It will be nice to have g41 that you can shoot without the total fear of an accident.
    Looking for 10" cleaning rod, early style e/214 #91, nazi style e/26 #04

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