Category Archives: blue lodge


All Texas Masons are invited, The day is Friday September 28th, 2012 at 10:00am
We will assemble behind the George Allen Sr. Courts Building and Step Off at Noon
**Our Position is in front of Scottish Rite entry so we should be second to last.**
Attire will be Dress Slacks and Knit/Polo Shirts
We WILL be wearing Plain Cloth Aprons.
***Dispensation Has been granted by M.W.G.M. James F. Brumit ***
George Allen Sr. Courts Building
600 Commerce Street
Dallas, TX
United States
32¬į 46′ 40.674″ N, 96¬į 48′ 22.248″ W
See map: Google Maps
Friday, 28 September 2012 – 10:00 am – 11:00 am

2013 Grand Master's Homecoming Banquet

The Grand Master‚Äôs Homecoming Banquet is planned for Saturday, January 12, 2013. It will be held at Arabia Shrine Center Houston at 10510 Harwin Drive, Houston, Texas.  Dinner ~ 7:00 pm (Doors Open 6:00 pm)

Ticket orders must be received no later than January 2, 2013

Complete the Ticket Request Form below

Tickets are $30 per person.

Suggested Attire: Coat & Tie for Men and Sunday Dress for Ladies



Arabia Shrine Center Houston
10510 Harwin Drive
Houston 77036

Contact Us

If you have any questions regarding Texas Freemasonry, please contact our Grand Secretary’s office.

Physical Address:
The Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas
715 Columbus Avenue
Waco, Texas 76701

Mailing Address:
The Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas
P. O. Box 446
Waco, Texas 76703

Phone:  254-753-7395
Fax: 254-753-2944

If you have any questions regarding our website or need assistance with your account, please open a ticket with the Grand Lodge of Texas’ Internet Committee.

Recommended Guidelines For Lodge Websites

The following guidelines should be used when considering the establishment of a Lodge website.

Web pages should enhance the image of the fraternity and never detract from it. Website content should be both informative to the non-Mason as well as its membership. Page design is up to the individual lodge, as long as it is in good taste.

The Lodge webpage must not link to or be linked to by any website where a conflict with the principles of Freemasonry, could be assumed, suggested, or perceived.

Linking to a non-Masonic entity should not be permitted.

Linking to a Masonic entity not recognized by the Grand Lodge of Texas should not be permitted.

The use of a “Free Website” where that provider has the option to insert their commercial advertisements, at will and without approval, into the Lodge’s web page is strongly discouraged.

The use of a link to the Grand Lodge of Texas is strongly encouraged.

Names, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc. of Grand Lodge Officers, committee members, or District Officers will not be published in Lodge websites.

Information displayed on the Lodge webpage should be accurate and current. All names, addresses, locations, activities and dates, must be checked regularly to ensure recent changes have been posted. In no case should a Lodge website to refer to past activities as though they were yet to occur.

Activities that are listed as ‚ÄúOPEN TO THE PUBLIC‚ÄĚ are appropriate to announce Lodge Officers Installation, Ladies nights and other related activities. However, listings as “OPEN TO ALL MASONS”, or any other wording that may be construed as such, should not be used. Instead, these should be listed as ‚ÄúOPEN TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE GRAND LODGE OF TEXAS‚ÄĚ.

Web pages should not show Lodge members’ Internet URL addresses that refer to business websites. The Lodge webpage should never be used for the financial gain or interest of a member.

The images of the Seal of The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas can not be used for any purpose.

Names of Entered Apprentice and Fellowcraft Masons can not be published, per Grand Lodge law.

Masonic Conservatorship: Part 8 ‚Äď When Disasters Happen

Sam Whitley, PM
Frontier Lodge No. 28
Despite your best efforts, sometimes things just don‚Äôt go the way you plan. Some of these occurrences may have been identified from the start as possible outcomes and some sneak up on you. When that happens, you just have to fall back and regroup. And come up with the least objectionable plan available with the new circumstances.
You‚Äôll no doubt recall that the restoration/stabilization of the Ragains rifle was plagued with problems caused by the nature and magnitude of the damage to the stock. While the rifle restoration was pretty tame for the most part, stabilizing the stock was a nightmare from the start.
An example is in order. The first failure happened when I tried moving the stock (minus its barrel and most of its ‚Äúfurniture‚ÄĚ on the repair table. The problem here was the hide glue drying time was longer than I had expected. I carefully removed the excess hide glue and re-glued the rifle. The second time I put everything together, I almost got the rifle moved before it again fell apart With stock together and barrel installed, everything seemed fine. I installed the hammer on the lock after attaching the lock, trigger plate, and trigger guard. All looked fine. I left the rifle in my weekday apartment and went home for the weekend. When I returned, I found that the tiny amount of torque the hammer had exerted on the stock had caused two of the break repairs to fail. The hide glue is just not strong enough to make the repair work. 
At this point, two options  seemed available. The first was to display the rifle in two pieces placed close,  but not quite together. This would allow the rifle inlays to show but would mean the rifle would obviously display poorly.
The other option was to use a more certain and permanent repair to stabilize the break. Of the several options, one is a brace of some kind. This could alternately be an external or internal brace. Any external brace will obviously be quite visible. It could, of course be made to be reversible, if, for example, it consisted of a rigid metal brace and through bolts. But it would look awful and the maker in me would just die.
A second possibility is to cut a long scarf (like a wedge shape) on the fore end and butt stock, then cut a matching scarf of new wood, glue all three pieces together, then inlet the barrel, lock, trigger guard, and trigger plate in the new wood before shaping the repaired portion and finishing it. A third alternative is a ‚Äúloose tenon‚ÄĚ repair, placed into a hidden mortise that bridges the break and that uses modern glues to stabilize the stock pieces. The glues available include cyanoacrylate (CA) and epoxy. Both make a semi-permanent repair. If the repair is made using epoxy, heating the metal (and hence the surrounding epoxy) to about 250 ¬įF or so breaks the epoxide bond and would allow a moderate degree of reversibility.  This is an option I had wished to avoid. 
However, it was possible to make this repair carefully so that the mortise can be hidden by the trigger plate and trigger guard. In effect this created an invisible repair yet fully stabilized the gun for such handling as it will receive in inserting it into the display case.
A 6mm thick steel spline (loose tenon) was carefully inlet into the unbroken wood of the stock so that it bridged the fracture. Catalyzed epoxy was then added carefully to both ends of the spline and allowed to cure. After cure, more epoxy was added to the length of the spline to secure it and stabilize the stock pieces. This approach allowed the spline to be affixed to sound wood on both sides of the fracture site. After this repair, the rifle is stable enough to handle carefully and should not fail in a pure museum display mode. The spline is completely hidden by the trigger plate and the trigger guard. Thus, the rifle appears to be sound overall on first view.
In this case, the end (use) justified the (less than easily reversible) means (of . The best thing that can be said of the repair is that the rifle will show well and the pieces of the stock near the break site will not be lost in this condition. The repair, with spline in place, is a permanent repair that could, with effort, be reversed. So it‚Äôs almost as good as a completely reversible repair.
If you have questions about conserving some of your Lodge‚Äôs treasures (or your own), contact the author or another member of the Grand Lodge History Committee (email addresses at the bottom of the Texas Masonic History main page). We may not know the answer off hand but will search out an answer for you. Between our efforts and yours, we‚Äôll preserve as much of our Masonic heritage as possible.


Masonic Conservatorship: Part 7 – The Ragains Rifle Inlays

Sam Whitley, PM
Frontier Lodge No. 28

The Ragains rifle has 35 inlays of brass, nickel silver, and pewter.  The number should more accurately be increased to 45, as several of the inlays are made up of two or more separate pieces combined to make a composite inlay. The maker (or his apprentice) inlet 45 pieces of metal in the stock of this rifle.   One example of such an inlay is the spade and setting maul, which consists of 3 separate pieces installed to represent the crossed spade and maul. Several were pierced inlays, which are harder to inlet than non-pierced ones.

Installing inlays is a labor-intensive pursuit that first involves cutting the inlay to final shape, filing to the final profile, determining whether pins are needed to attach the inlay, and drilling holes in the inlay for such pins if they are needed. The pins then have to be cut and the finished inlay set and pinned in place (or glued). The inlays on the Ragains gun appear to have been made of 0.02 inches thick nickel silver and brass.

The inlays would have been cut near final shape with a jeweler’s saw and then filed to final shape with needle files. The inlay was then placed on the stock, scribed around with either knife or sharp pencil and the area inside the lines removed by careful excision with razor sharp chisels and knives. The measure of a maker’s expertise at inletting is the tightness of fit of these inlays. If done properly there is no visible gap around the inlays. J. Belau (or his apprentice) was very skilled at inletting. There are no visible gaps.

The myriad inlays on this rifle are presented here in alphabetical order for your consideration.

1.     the 47th Problem of Euclid

 1 the 47th Problem of Euclid_0

This small inlay is 13x13mm and made of nickel silver. It is pinned with a single silver pin.   It is lightly engraved. It is located on the right side of the fore stock.

 2.     the All-Seeing Eye

2 the All-Seeing Eye 

The All-Seeing Eye is a 3-piece composite inlay. It is made of an outer brass portion, with rays engraved on it and an inner nickel silver portion that has the eye engraved. The silver part of the inlay is held in place by an iron flat head screw driven just to the top of the silver part of the inlay then filed off to form the pupil. The brass portion is held in place by two brass pins near its lower border.  This inlay measures 40x23mm and is located behind the cheek piece next to the butt plate.

3.     The Anchor

 3 The Anchor

The anchor inlay measures 30x45mm. It is a nickel silver inlay located on the bottom of the fore stock. This inlay is unusual in that one of the flukes is cracked through and visible in the image above. The inlay is held in place by five silver pins, two through the flukes, two through the upper crossbar, and one through the part just below the broken fluke.

4.     The Beehive

4 The Beehive

This inlay of nickel silver is 18x21mm. Located just behind the end of the breech plug tang, it is attached with two silver pins.

5.     the Charter

5 The Charter

The charter inlay measures 11x30mm. It is made of nickel silver and is attached with two silver pins. Additionally it has a hole that receives a barrel pin located on the right edge of the inlay. This is the larger hole shown. This inlay is engraved with the word CHARTER and is further engraved to resemble a rolled scroll. It is located on the left side of the fore stock.

6.     The Checkered Pavement

6 The Checkered pavement

The Checkered pavement and blazing star is a 2-piece inlay measuring 23x33mm. The outer border (tassellated border)1 is made of brass. This surrounds the inner inlay which is engraved to represent the mosaic pavement and blazing star. The mosaic or checkered pavement is of nickel silver and is attached by four silver pins near the corners. The brass border is engraved to suggest mitered corners and is attached by four brass pins located at the corners.  Note the dark edge of the silver inner inlay in the upper right corner above. This is tarnish on the nickel silver. It was not removed in cleaning because the edge of the silver was bent downward slightly when the inlay was installed, making it much more difficult to clean in place.

This inlay is located on the underside of the forestock.

7.    The Coffin 

 7 the Coffin

 The coffin is a nickel silver inlay some 10x38mm. It is pinned with two silver pins so well finished that they do not show but with the most careful scrutiny. The coffin lid is engraved with the 5-pointed star. This inlay is located on the lower portion of the left side of the butt stock near the butt plate.

8.     a Column

8 The Column

The toeplate is in the form of a single column. This inlay measures 13x142mm and is of engraved brass. It is held in place by four flat head screws. It is significantly engraved to resemble either Jachin or Boaz. It is not designated one or the other, but has features of both. The column is short and relatively squatty like the Doric column, but its surface is engraved to resemble the Corinthian. It is certainly decorated with network and lillywork and is supplanted with a globe, but it is difficult to suggest which column is represented. Perhaps Boaz, since a large number of the symbols on the rifle pertain to the EA degree.

9.     the Grip

9 The Grip

This small inlay (7x18mm) is of nickel silver and is located spanning the break site at the wrist. It was originally covered with the electrical tape, and on removing this tape was covered with a heavy layer of tape residue. Its single silver pin may have provided the source of a tiny crack that made the break easier to start. It is well engraved, but when received, the inlay was found to be installed upside down. It has been restored in that same orientation.

10.       the FC Apron

10 The FC apron

This inlay is a 19x22mm silver inlay that is engraved to show the left-hand corner tucked up. Both bib and bottom of apron are rounded. The bib is decorated with the all-seeing eye. It is located on the right side of the fore stock.

11.    the 24-Inch Gauge & Common Gavel

11 the 24 Inch Gauge & Common Gavel

This is a one-piece nickel silver inlay. The inlay is held in place by five silver pins. Located just behind the lock on right side of butt stock.

12.     the Heart

12 the heart

This small nickel silver inlay is located on the top of the wrist immediately behind the breech plug tang. It is 10x12mm and has one silver pin.

13.   the Holy Bible-EA Degree

13 the EA bible

The Holy Bible consists of a two-piece inlay 22x23mm. The inner part is nickel silver while the outside is of brass. It is engraved Psalms CCCIII (133) and the square and compasses are laid out for the EA degree. It has four brass pins in the brass outer border- one at each corner.  There are no discernable silver pins. This inlay is located under the forestock

14.      Jacob’s Ladder

14 Jacobs ladder


This nickel silver inlay is 10x47mm and is attached with two silver pins. It is located on the left side of the fore stock behind the rear sight..

15.     the Lamb

15 the Lamb 

The lamb is a nickel silver inlay 17x39mm located on the left side of the wrist ahead of the break location.  It has 2 silver pins.  I first took this to be a goat, but as all the other symbols are valid symbols, I now believe this may be a shorn sheep. This would make it a reasonable rather than tongue-in-cheek inlay.

16.¬†¬†¬†¬† the Letter ‚ÄúG‚ÄĚ

16 the letter G

This ‚Äúletter G‚ÄĚ is 22x35mm and of nickel silver.¬†It is held in place by 3 silver pins.¬†It is highly engraved.¬†It is located on the cheek piece.

17.    the Level

17 the level

This inlay is 30x33mm and rendered in nickel silver. It is located on the flat of the left side of the butt stock forward of the cheek piece. It is held in place by 3 silver pins. Its weight is a flat-head screw driven in then most of the head filed off. The screw is then lightly engraved.

18.     the MM Apron

 18 the MM apron

The Master Mason’s apron is 20x22mm and is located on the left side of the forestock. It is of nickel silver and is held in place by two silver pins at top and bottom. The inlay is engraved with the all-seeing eye on the bib and has marks to indicate either fringe or a ruffled border (e.g. a ribbon border) on its lower edge. Both bib and bottom of the inlay show rounded profile.

19.      Maker’s name

19 makers name

 The maker’s name is engraved on a nickel silver inlay that is inlet on the top barrel flat immediately forward of the rear sight. The plate is engraved J. BELAU. G. S. (Gun Smith?) in Roman block letters. The [plate is 10x88mm with rounded ends.

20.      the Master at the Altar

 20 master at altar

The Worshipful Master at the altar. This inlay is made up of both brass and nickel silver. The brass outer portion represents the checkered pavement or a kneeling pillow and two of the candlesticks. It appears to have these two candle sticks placed west of the altar as shown in many old monitors. The candlesticks are floor candlesticks. The altar contains the Great Lights arranged for the EA degree. The WM is clearly wearing a neck collar, and the symbol of his office is barely discernable. The engraving of the altar suggests it is frame and panel construction. The brass portion of the inlay is held by four brass pins and the silver part by at least 5. Located near the back of the cheekpiece.

21.    the Moon

21 the moon

The moon is a 15mm circular inlay of nickel silver.¬†It is located near the comb at the front of the patch box.¬†It is held in place by 2 silver pins and is engraved with the ‚Äúman in the moon‚ÄĚ on one side of the orb.

22.     Patch box

22 the patch box 

The patch box is of cast brass with a hinged lid. It is typical of mid-19th Century cast patch boxes, and is similar to those found on plains rifles of the period. It is 45x116mm and is held in place by 6 iron screws at top and bottom. These screws have their slots filed off. The engraving will be described below. It is located on the right of the butt stock.

23.    The Plumb

23 the plumb

The plumb is a 9x40mm nickel silver inlay held in place by 2 silver pins.¬†One of these is highlighted to visually act as the weight and a ‚Äústring‚ÄĚ is also deeply engraved on its surface.¬†It is located under the cheek piece.

24.    The Setting Maul and Spade

24 the setting maul and spade

The setting maul and spade is a three piece inlay consisting of a single piece brass setting maul and a 2-piece spade. The inlay measures 25x42mm and was missing the spade bit when received. The inlay shows the spade bit replaced. The maul was secured with 2 brass pins and the shovel with two silver ones. It is found on the left side of the butt stock behind the cheek piece.

25.   the Slipper

25 the slipper

The inlay of the slipper is 7 x 15mm and is nickel silver. It has no pin attachment. It is located near the lower right portion of the butt stock below the patch box.

26.   King Solomon’s Temple

26 King S temple

King Solomon’s temple is the subject of this nickel silver inlay. It is located on the right fore stock near the nose cap.

27.    The Square

27 the square

This inlay is 27mm on a side. It is located below the cheek piece on the left side of the butt stock.

28.    the Square and Compasses

28 the square & compasses

The square and compasses inlay is 40 x 55mm, of one piece and nickel silver. This inlay is one of the few that are pierced, so that properly installed, wood shows through the piercing. This type inlay is much more difficult to inlet than solid form inlays. It is held in place with two silver pins at the top of the compasses and at the bottom of the square. It is in the configuration for the EA degree with the square over the legs of the compasses. Its location is in front of the patch box

29.  the 5-Pointed Star of Fellowship

29 the 5 pointed star

The star inlay is 25 x 25 mm and is located on the underside of the fore stock. It is of nickel silver and is held in place with five silver pins located near the end of each of its points. It is engraved so as to make it appear 3-dimensional

30.    Three Steps Escutcheon

30 the 3 steps

The three steps are emblematic of the three stages of life: youth, maturity, and old age. This escutcheon plate is used to keep the lock bolt from working through the stock. This nickel silver inlay’s dimensions are 28x28mm. It is located on the left side of the stock immediately opposite the lock.

31.   the Sun

 31 the sun

The sun is a 20mm circular inlay of nickel silver held in place by two silver pins at its top and bottom and an iron screw in the center, whose slot has been filed off leaving a circular flat surface. The engraving includes a face engraved on the iron screw head and rays radiating from the center. It is located beneath the front of the patch box.

31 & 32. the Sword pointing to a naked heart

32 the sword at heart

The sword pointing to a naked heart consists of two nickel silver inlays. The sword is 17x80mm with one piercing held in place by two silver pins, while the heart is a 13x20mm inlay held in place by a single silver pin in its center. Both are located between the patch box and the butt plate. The sword is engraved to show its handle. The heart is not engraved

33. the Trowel

33 the trowel

The trowel is an 8x21mm nickel silver inlay. It is engraved and held in place by a single silver pin. It is located on the bottom flat portion of the butt stock.

34. the Winged Hour Glass

34 the winged hourglass 1    34 the winged hourglass 2


The winged hour glass is the most elaborate of the inlays. It is composed of three pieces of brass. One of these pieces (the hour glass) has two piercings, making it very fragile to make and inlay. The wings are separate and were inlaid separately from the body of the hour glass. There are no visible pins that attach the body of the hour glass to the stock. This leads me to believe that the metal inlay was filed to dovetail shape and then installed into a mortise cut atop another, deeper mortise that locks the pewter nose cap in place. The gun smith then glued a paper collar to the front end of the stock. This trapped the hour glass against the nose cap mortise. He next poured the nose cap and dressed both nose cap and outer surface of the hour glass to the same plane with flat file and glass paper (early version of sand paper). He then cut the wing mortises and installed the wings with two pins each. Its location is just behind and below the nose cap of the rifle.

35. the Year made

35 the year made

A nickel silver plate inlaid on the top flat of the barrel bears the inscription 1858, the year of manufacture. It is shaped to resemble a plumb.


36 the butt plate

1My research suggests strongly that what has today become ‚Äútessellated border‚ÄĚ began as ‚Äútasselated‚ÄĚ because of its origins‚Ķ as the tassels on ropes surrounding some French Masonic art and aprons. Later it became ‚Äútessellated‚ÄĚ due to mistakes in transcription.

Masonic Conservatorship: Part 6 ‚Äď Documenting Your Efforts

Sam Whitley, PM
Frontier Lodge No. 28

In Part 5 of our series on conservation I described the process of building an acrylic display case to display the rifle. In the sixth and last segment of the Ragains Rifle Conservation series, we’ll cover the last, critically important part of the process: documentation.

After all the work you’ve done to conserve your artifacts, you probably just want to sit back and admire your work. But now is the time to fully document what you have done before some of the details escape you. Assemble your notes, put them in an appropriate order, and write down what you did. The documentation should include:

  • The name of the individual(s) that did the conservation.
  • A full description of the artifact conserved including as much of its history as available.
  • A listing (chronological is good) of every step of the conservation
  • process, including where you got the information you used to conserve the artifact.
  • Photos of important steps or facets of the conservation, especially those that show ‚Äúhidden‚ÄĚ work or details.
  • When the conservation was done
  • List of any parts replaced or altered, with photos.
  • Observations made by conservators during their work.
  • A copy of the conservation efforts deposited with the Lodge Secretary to note in the minutes
  • Notes on any thing needing repair that was not actually done to conserve the artifact.¬†These notes may indicate things that need to be done at a later time.

Interesting observations about the Ragains rifle

Its under-rib is soldered to the barrel.¬†Under-ribs are normally either soldered or screwed to gun barrels, so this is not unusual.¬† The two front thimbles do not match, indicating they were installed at different times.¬†The front thimble is engraved with a single ‚Äėwedding band‚Äô at each end, while the mid thimble is plain and unengraved. Given the degree of engraving on the rest of the rifle, an engraved thimble would not be out of place and might imply that this is the ‚Äúoriginal‚ÄĚ remaining thimble. But before we jump to conclusions, a couple of additional observations are in order.¬†The mortise in the under-rib for the front thimble is almost 1/8‚ÄĚ longer than it should be for the size thimble present. This suggests that the front thimble is a replacement for a lost thimble (if a front thimble had come unsoldered, it would be likely to fall off and be lost without realizing it, while if the middle thimble had come unsoldered, the ramrod would trap it between the pewter nose cap and the front thimble and probably allow for its recovery and reattachment by a gunsmith or tinsmith.¬†Supporting this second supposition about a ‚Äúparts bin‚ÄĚ thimble, I offer this argument:¬†every gunsmith kept a parts box of salvaged gun parts for repairs and replacements.¬†If a gun (for example, the ‚ÄúMasonic rifle‚ÄĚ) had come in missing a front thimble, the smith would have scrounged through his parts box before he made a thimble from scratch.¬†Light engraving on the part wouldn‚Äôt have made him reject it.¬†But the final argument to support the theory that the front thimble is a ‚Äúparts bin‚ÄĚ replacement is that a fellow gunsmith and I concur it‚Äôs what we‚Äôd do in similar circumstances.

The thimbles are spaced unevenly. These are commonly spaced so that the distance between each thimble is identical. That means the distance between the nose cap and the mid thimble would be the same as the distance from the mid thimble to the front thimble. For this rifle, the mid thimble is one inch nearer the pewter nose cap than it should be.

The bottom flat of the barrel shows evidence that the under-rib has been shortened by one inch. This would have allowed the barrel to be set back one inch, avoided the work of altering the poured nose cap (a job to be avoided), and would exactly account for the spacing anomaly with the front and mid thimbles.

The front of the drum‚Äôs attachment hole is currently located almost exactly one inch in front of the breech.¬†This suggests as a possible explanation for the ‚Äúmissing inch‚ÄĚ that the drum blew out some time after the gun was bought, probably destroying the threads in the barrel in the process.¬†In order to repair the defect, a long-ago gunsmith cut the barrel off just in front of the damaged hole, re-threaded the breech for the breech plug and drilled and tapped a new drum hole.¬†This would account for the missing inch in all respects.¬†It would also account for the missing and relocated attachment lugs on the under flat of the barrel.¬†Shortening the barrel an inch at the breech would not have necessitated moving the rear sight.¬†So this is the scenario I support.

During the course of restoration, I made four attempts to glue the rifle pieces together to complete the restoration and prepare the rifle for display. Three of these repairs were made with period-correct (and completely reversible) hide glue. Three times the stock was repaired, and three times it failed. It is fortunate that no additional harm was done to the stock pieces during these failures. However, I was faced with the fact that the very small amount of gluing surface available on the shattered wrist parts was likely to fail again, even in a display. This situation clearly called for another solution.

The first consideration is to complete any restoration with a completely reversible plan. Thus if technology advances allow a better repair in future years, these can be done without damaging the project. I tried three times to use this approach and three times, the repair failed because the strength of the repair materials could not support the weight of the two sections of the rifle. This left two main options for a successful repair.

Cut a scarf joint in both the fore end, forward of the break, and in the butt stock behind the wrist break and lay in a piece of wood with appropriate scarfs at each end to bridge the gap. Glue the new wood in place and let the glue set up. The barrel and lock are then re-inlet. The trigger plate and trigger guard are next inlet in similar fashion. This is the type repair a gun smith would have made 100 years ago. This preserves the myriad inlays and makes the gun usable once again. It would also provide the opportunity to make the lock plate fit correctly. Unfortunately, this approach destroys much of the gun’s original character. It also suffers from being the more time-consuming of the options.

Resort to more drastic measures. In this case, cut a mortise in the sound wood both forward of and behind the shattered portions of the stock and glue into this mortise a floating tenon to bridge the break. If done properly, and with the right materials, this mortise and tenon can be completely hidden by the trigger plate and trigger guard so that the repair is invisible unless the gun is disassembled.

For preparing the rifle for display, option 2 was the option of choice. I cut a mortise in the sound wood surrounding the break large enough to hold a piece of 6mm thick steel tenon. I then very carefully created a cradle to hold the two pieces of stock in proper alignment and placed the tenon in its mortise to assure the fit was proper.

I added catalyzed epoxy to the forward end of the mortise in several very small pours to secure the floating tenon to the fore stock.¬†The cradle was next tilted to place the rear portion of the mortise in a horizontal configuration and the stepwise process of adding epoxy to the other end of the mortise repeated.¬†After several additional days cure, the lock, trigger plate, trigger guard, and hammer were re-installed.¬†Through careful location of the mortise, the floating tenon is completely invisible from ‚Äúthe outside looking in.‚Ä̬†Plate 1 shows the rifle, tenon installed, at the point of break.


 1 The rifle repaired

Plate 1. The rifle, repaired, showing area of break and hammer in final position. The floating tenon is in place and parts have been re-installed.

The third stock repair failure was the result of applied torque. When I finished the third glue-up and believed the stock repair was completely sound, I had installed the hammer on the lock in its proper location. As I set the lock in place on the rifle, I had to rotate the hammer slightly counter clockwise to set the hammer nose on the nipple. I installed the lock bolt and believed everything was finished. I came back several days later to find the stock had again parted. This was due to the very small amount of torque the lock spring put on the hammer. This torque was the sole identifiable cause of the fourth fracture failure.

In view of the cause of the third ‚Äúfailure,‚ÄĚ I decided to completely remove torque from the final product.¬†So after installing the steel tenon, as I re-assembled the lock, trigger plate, and trigger guard, I installed the hammer 90¬į counter-clockwise from its proper position so that the lock spring is fully released and does not exert any torque on the stock.¬†The hammer appears to be at full cock but the tumbler is in fact, at the full release (hammer down) position.

I believe that the strength of the steel tenon, though excessive to needs, will allow the rifle to be safely transported and displayed without further damage.¬†¬† I am not at all convinced that this would have been the case had I used instead a ¬ľ-inch thick piece of oak as a tenon.¬†I still consider the rifle ‚Äúas fragile as eggs‚ÄĚ considering that the break is still a very weak point of the stock, but it is certainly stronger than it has been at any time subsequent to the initial shattering of the stock.¬†I do not consider the rifle safe to fire in its present condition, given the stock break and repairs.¬†It is fortunate that further use is not in the planned future of this rifle.

Part 7 of the conservation series describes the inlays of the Ragains rifle in detail.

Masonic Conservatorship: Part 5 ‚Äď Preparing Rifle Supports for Display

Sam Whitley, PM
Frontier Lodge No. 28
In Part 4 of our series on conservation I described the process of repairing the shattered stock. Part 5 describes the process of preparing acrylic rifle supports for supporting the Ragains rifle in a wall-mount display case.
Initially, I developed plans to construct an acrylic case to protect and display the rifle. This would have been a long box with one open side. This case would have been placed over the rifle and the open end of the box screwed to the base. This case would have been used with mirrors located below the rifle to allow visitors to view the inlays below and behind the rifle. It would have required a table or platform to support and display the case.
Before that display case was built, however, the curator at the Grand Lodge Museum identified a wall-mounted display case that is available to display the Ragains rifle. This means that a dedicated acrylic display case will not need to be fabricated. The acrylic pylons to support the rifle in a horizontal plane still need to be fabricated.
The vertical support pylons were cut from ¬ĺ-inch Plexiglas. Each pylon was ripped to 2-inches wide. Heights were adjusted so that the pylons will support the rifle‚Äôs bore horizontally with the toe of the butt stock about 2 inches above the bottom of the display case. The pylons edges were sanded with 320-grit sandpaper and all edges were thereafter fire polished with a propane torch. Bases about 5 inches square were cut from ¬Ĺ-inch Plexiglas sheet. The tops of pylons were cut to proper profile before they were attached to the bases with solvent cement. The finished pylons were then tested for fit with the rifle and set aside.
Plans are in place to locate mirrors behind and under the rifle in the display case so that the off-side and bottom inlays are visible.
Join us next time for Part 6 of the series which concerns documentation of conservation efforts.