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Zam Wesell Rifle

While not the most difficult, this was the biggest prop I've taken on to date.

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Zam Wesell Rifle build-up.

I made this rifle to go with Kim's Zam Wesell costume in time for Comic-Con 2002. Since the only reference out there was the visual dictionary, and I ended up getting a few details wrong and could not see the power unit or whatever it is on the reverse side of the gun. These are things for another dayl. Overall though, it's still a pretty cool gun and looks great with Kim's costume.

First of all you need a Kentuck Flintlock non-riring replica like this one

 

These rifles are still readily available on the internet and on eBay. It doesn't matter where you get it, as long as it looks like the one pictured above. This is the base rifle that was used in contruction of the actual movie prop.

I got mine on ebay. Then I photographed my gun and scaled a scan of the one in the visual dictionary to match it. I printed out this lifesized picture to give me something to use as a full size reference while building the gun.

If you want to save yourself the trouble of re-creating these life sized files for yourself, here are mine, but Be Warned. They are HUGE.

http://www.kimncris.com/images/props/rifle/ZW-Rifle_ruler.jpg

http://www.kimncris.com/images/props/rifle/ZW-Rifle.jpg

 

The first thing I did in preparation for my gun was machine the scope.

I had to decide on measurements, so this is where my printout came in handy. As it turns out, after having studied the real prop, it was a bit small. At any rate, these are the dimensions I came up with.

It came out a little cockeyed- but I was hopefuil that when it wass on the rifle it wouldn't be noticable. I wanted it to be hollow, and I also wanted to practice making threaded parts which was a royal pain in the rear :( but a good learning experience. :)

In the end it was hollow so that you can see through it, and the lens rings and lenses were removable :)

The dark color, I could not figure out. So I painted it gunmetal color.



After I had my scope I turned to the main body of the gun.

Here are some progress shots of the transformation...

here it is out of the box

and with all of the parts disassembled

I could tell that I needed more "stock" length than actually came with the gun itself, so I molded the small end piece in silicone. I also added some sculpey clay to the buttplate (in a hurry as I had too much silicone in molding the wood piece) to start the process of making a new buttplate.

The wooden stock piece is inside of the parertowel roll in silicone in the picture below.




After I cast a resin copy of the molded barrel part of the stock, I painted it and the 2 wooden sections with black Plasticote automotive primer. (what I had on hand) Here they are drying.


I cast another piece of stock in clear resin from the same mold as the black one above I wasn't so sure about this, as the picture in the visual dictionary was very fuzzy on exactly what the "white" sections were but it was easier than clear acrylic I thougth)


I also bent some new aluminum sheet metal accents for the stock joints. This was just hobby sheet metal from the hardware store. I bent it back and forth in the vice until it snapped off in these 4 pieces and then bent them around the resin cast I made (so that I didn't break the wooden one or anything dumb) to get the shape.

They look like crap here, but it isn't as noticiable on the final gun.

After this, I sanded and brushed the black finish off of the lock plates with sandpaper and the wire brush wheel in the pics posted below. I used a paint stripping sort of attatchment for my dremel which was totally destryed in the process to get into the crevaces (this was not as easy as I thought)


Brushing the brass plating off of the trigger guard:
(the finish came off just the same as on the black on the lock plates) They make these for the Dremel
too- but this 3" one for a full sized drill worked great.

Before:

After:

This part that holds the ramrod was done in the same way... I also drilled out the hole larger to accommodate a 10/32 machine screw which goes through the stock and into the aluminum barrel.


I made a small (inaccurate but who cares!)mod to the lock plate:
I never saw any pics of this side prior to making the gun- and removing the Flintlock hammer left a large hole, so I added a panel light and a little pointy greeblie on a spring for fun.

I scratchbuilt my scope mounts out of some PVC pipe and styrene. I used bondo to fill in the middle and
make the perfect contour to mount over the barrel. Then I molded it so I'd have 2 matching parts.

 


 

I screwed the scope mounts onto the barrel from the underside before screwing the barrel to the gunstock. Since I made the ends of the scope removable, It was easy to slide the scope into the mounts.

Here you can see the screws on the underside of the barrel: The black sections screw in from the bottom with countersunk 10/32 machinescrews. For the actual barrel I used a 4ft section of extruded aluminum 5/8" OD tubing and the ramrod is 1/4" aluminum rod. The black rings are 5/8" ID rubber O-Rings.

The clear sections just float inbetween the silver rings with a little epoxy for good measure. They will undoubtedly break at some point- due to the fragile resin that I used, but hopefully this will make for an easier repair later. (update: 4 year later- and no breakage!) I could have used black screws, but they are hidden by the aluminum ramrod, so I didn't bother... (note: for accuracy- do not add the clear resin parts. The real gun has nothing in the gaps.)

Since taking apart the hammer/lock assembly left the trigger just sort of dangling, I added a spring behind the trigger for return action and I drilled and tapped a hole for a 4/40 screw to use as a post for the spring on the back of the trigger up inside the stock. (not really visible here- but just so you know)

See the spring? It's just under the trigger in the picture above.

Since it appeared to have some color, taped off and painted sections of the metal stock tip piece:
Another area where I could not really tell from the pics. I just masked off the brass areas where I
wanted the metal to show- and painted the rest with the same black primer.


With the mold I hade made of the clayed over part, I made a resin copy.

That first casting was REALLY ugly as you can imagine from that clay picture above, but after I sanded
and bondo'ed it and sanded some more and painted etc. it looked like this:

I then made a new mold of this piece and poured a metal one!

Fresh cast on the left- sanded and polished on the right. It is a major PAIN IN THE REAR to sand and
polish metal this rough, but eventually it will shine up. If you keep on going it will look even better than this one on the right.

I needed a ramrod tip so I lathed up a quick and dirty one. I didn't have any brass stock- so I bought a 99 cent large brass screw and used that. It's not perfect, but anyone looking at that end of the gun too closely is in trouble already ;)

 

and the finished gun

Since completing this gun, I had a chance to look at and photograph the original movie prop at Celebration 3. Here is a gallery of reference photos that we took while there. Since my gun was already mostly finished, I concentrated on details, but there are a few photos of whole gun in there too.

 

-cris