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WW Greener #51722 #8271792 05/20/21 11:37 PM
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I recently took possession of a WW Greener Imperial 12 bore shotgun, serial number 51722. In correspondence with Graham Greener it is determined this gun was started 5/6/1903, and finished for delivery on 10/27/1903. A Hammerless 12 bore with 30 inch Whitworth steel barrels, a non-ejector with standard straight hand stock: 2-1/2 by 14 inches, other dimensions not recorded. Type of action is a Facile Princeps. Engravers were Stokes, Horricks, and Hipkiss.

A client made me a deal I couldn't pass up, maybe he knew an Imperial is a bucketlist shotgun for me and in most circumstances one I'd currently not be in the position to afford. He took possession of it from his late brother-in-law, whom in a business/collateral trade took hold of it.

For those familiar with Graham Greeners book, you might notice the serial number proximity to 51712 and 51713, two Imperial models made for the 1904 St Louis World Fair, opened by president Theodore Roosevelt. Those two guns are considered to be two of the finest guns WW Greener produced, aside from the modern offerings from Graham. Mine wuld have been started around the same time as those two, albeit finished much sooner due to the other guns having more time consuming medium relief engraving. I cant place my gun at the 1904 Fair, but the gun did spend a long time in Memphis, TN prior to coming to me. Nevertheless...

Unfortunately the gun suffered a devastating fall at some point which broke the original stock at the wrist. At the same time the trigger guard tang snapped, and the rear trigger broke. Instead of welding the trigger guard tang back together, someone just cut it short. The rear trigger...they welded it. The new stock is of an American walnut, and not up to the standard of a Greener Imperial. The barrels are no longer 30", having lost 2" along the way as well as any choke. While there is no pitting in the bores and they are of correct bore dia, the minimum wall thicknesses are .018" and .019". The muzzles are out of round, there are many dents and a very slight bulge which wasnt repaired well. On the outside of the barrels in the dented areas are file marks. The barrels are off-face.

This gun needs a game plan, and a person to set it right. I know a guy.

I plan to make and fit a new trigger guard and have it engraved to match the original. Ill restock it with a piece of Turkish walnut to my dimensions. I'll have to see if the rear trigger can be cleaned up to appear as-new, or make a new one. The barrels will be put back on face. I am on the fence about sleeving the barrels back to 30", or repair the originals. My qualms with the originals are the thin wall which will only get thinner with repairs and polishing to a high level, no choke, and unoriginal 28" length. ugh...Witworth steel and the stampings...

This project will be a personal one, clients projects come first so this one will be a long term project for me.

Pictures:
[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

One might notice the imperfection at the tip of the trigger plate, a good candidate for laser welding and dressing.
[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Original forend wood:
[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

horribly repaired trigger guard and rear trigger:
[Linked Image]

Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8271794 05/20/21 11:38 PM
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[Linked Image]

Barrel proof marks and stampings:
[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8271795 05/20/21 11:38 PM
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If you look in the upper left cormer of the left barrel breach face you'll notice a small pin/screw. This is to hold a cap in the crossbolt hole, as the crossbolt does not protrude when the lever is opened.
[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8271796 05/20/21 11:39 PM
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This gun also have gold plated internals and greeners patent intercepting sears. They are engaged by a leg on the front of the trigger blade which due to being in front of the trigger hinge act to draw the int. sear down to clear the tumblers.
[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

lastly, a quick look at the right tumbler shows metal discoloration and a braze/silver solder repair of the dogtooth area.
[Linked Image]



So as discussed and photographed this gun has a few serious repairs and many smaller ones that will need addressed to bring it back to condition.

Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8271866 05/21/21 12:36 AM
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And the "guy you know" will be up to the task!

Keep us posted...

Mark


[Linked Image]

"I always take care to fire into the nearest hillside and, lacking that, into darkness". - the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8271926 05/21/21 01:18 AM
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That’s a gorgeous gun as is.. I’m sure it will be nothing short of perfection when completed

Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8271931 05/21/21 01:23 AM
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That wood is beautiful.

Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8271944 05/21/21 01:28 AM
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Quite a project gun but the guy is up to the task. Congrats on a fine piece of history and function


lf the saying "Liar, Liar your pants on fire" were true
Mainstream news might be fun to watch
Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8272162 05/21/21 11:59 AM
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Very fine piece.


"You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas".
Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8272281 05/21/21 01:30 PM
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"Martha, did you remember my Greeners?"

That is a beautiful firearm.

Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: Choctaw] #8272302 05/21/21 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Choctaw
"Martha, did you remember my Greeners?"

That is a beautiful firearm.




Funny, but I had the same exact thought.

Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: Hunt Dog] #8272474 05/21/21 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Hunt Dog
Originally Posted by Choctaw
"Martha, did you remember my Greeners?"

That is a beautiful firearm.




Funny, but I had the same exact thought.



I'm physically unable to hear the word "Greener" without remembering that scene. Glad to know I'm not the only one...

Mark


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"I always take care to fire into the nearest hillside and, lacking that, into darkness". - the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8272658 05/21/21 06:28 PM
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A beautiful firearm

Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8272759 05/21/21 08:23 PM
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I’m probably one of few millennials that knows where the line comes from.

Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8272768 05/21/21 08:38 PM
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Yeah, but you were clearly born in the wrong century.

As were a number of us...

"Near? Or far?"

"Near. My eyes...no good."

Lord, I can relate!

Last edited by 218 Bee; 05/21/21 08:39 PM.

[Linked Image]

"I always take care to fire into the nearest hillside and, lacking that, into darkness". - the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8275644 05/25/21 01:22 AM
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Why are the internals gold-plated? Was it for corrosion resistance?

Why does the gun have such haphazard repairs performed on it? Was it a gun that wasn't terribly valuable back in the day but it is now?

Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8275677 05/25/21 02:05 AM
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Gold plating is for corrosion and wear resistance.

As for the poor repairs, it’s far easier to find a gunsmith incapable of repairs to a high standard vs finding one up to snuff. Not many in the US capable of the work. It’s always been a valuable gun, albeit it’s increased in value at a rate exceeding inflation. In the 1930’s this gun would have been new about 5-6X the price of a Browning Superposed.

Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8275907 05/25/21 01:03 PM
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5 or 6 times the cost of a Browning Superposed you say? That is some pretty serious coin; I'm surprised that it was not taking care of better. Seeing the crappy repairs performed on that gun shatters my illusions of old school gun smith's being incredibly competent and skilled craftsmen. In the condition you plan on restoring it to what is it worth? I have some Winchester Model 21s and about passed out when I saw what they were selling for at the Dallas Safari Club show a few years ago so I don't think I'm going to be shocked if you quote an insane number.

Do you plan on hunting with it? I wouldn't stress the missing 2" of barrel and lack of any choke. If you hand load it's easy to get the patterns that you want with careful selection of wads. The BPI catalog is your best friend in that regard.

Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8276036 05/25/21 02:40 PM
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Poor workmanship is a quality every generation shares unfortunately. That said I firmly believe the finest firearms are being produced today, albeit at a price most can’t afford and overall there are fewer people capable of it.

Greener Imperials typically go for around $6500-$10,000+ in great original condition. If I was to charge someone what’s it’s going to take to get this gun to an appropriate standard of what a Greener Imperial should be it would exceed the actual value. I have a soft spot for Greeners, and this is a high grade one. I dont pay myself much either.

The issue with the barrels isn’t a lack of choke or reduced length, it’s the thin barrel walls at .018” and .019”. Invariably when you remove dents and polish/reblack you further reduce wall thickness a few thousandths. .015”-.016” is getting dangerous. So either I leave the barrels as is and live with dents, rough finish, no choke, and incorrect barrel length as recorded in the ledger, I address the original barrels which is playing with fire, sleeve the barrels, or make an entire new set of barrels.


Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8276053 05/25/21 02:52 PM
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Making a new set of barrel seems incredibly difficult. I am an absolutely gifted fabricator when it comes to making things for cars such as roll cages, headers, intake manifolds, intake plenums, or suspension components but for the life of me I have never in been able to figure out how someone attaches two barrels to one another and has them pointing to the exact same point of impact. You could give me 10 tries and I doubt I could get it right. Maybe on a pair of bull barrel rifle barrels that I clamped together but there's no way I could solder or weld them together and have them still pointing in the same direction, doubly so with thin walled shotgun barrels. I bet you could significantly deflect a shotgun barrel simply by supporting each end on a block and lightly pushing down on the middle.

Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8276066 05/25/21 02:57 PM
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That’s what I’m known for! Shotguns are a breeze compared to the double rifles I find myself working on. It’s only metal and wood.

Re: WW Greener #51722 [Re: TDK] #8276222 05/25/21 05:15 PM
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Outstanding. Keep us posted on the project.

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