I just won this barrel online and I'm hoping to do some restoration work on it. With any luck, maybe even build this into a full teppo from the ground up. In the meantime though, I'm just worried about this barrel
It measures 32.8" long, 15/16" diameter and about .42 caliber.
First off, rust removal is an obvious thing, but there are some things I need some help with.
What school is this guy? I'm thinking kunitomo by the barrel profile. Got any ideas on rust removal? I'm thinking Boiled Linseed Oil/White Spirits and a good old antler What is the deal with that extra hole drilled in the side of the pan? It's worrying me a bit...
As far as I know it's an unsigned barrel from the Edo period, and on a hunch I'd guess it's probably some kind of munitions grade thing. If you all have anything that jumps out as a concern please let me know, I am very ignorant on a great number of things. It also hasn't arrived yet, these are just seller photos, but hoping to get armed up with knowledge before it gets here.
The short term is to de rust this thing, fix that hole if it's a problem, and make a new pan cover and ama-ooi. I'm hoping I could maybe use it for reenacting when I get to Japan for blank cartridges (really really hoping this can happen (If anyone on here is a reenactor I'd love some help making some connections!)).
Welcome to the site, Arthur. Wow, you ask so many questions it is difficult to know where to begin.
The simplest answer is to forget the whole project as any work to modify a non-working gun is totally illegal in Japan and could get nasty. If you managed to do it, you would need to register it, but your local police and education committee will likely refuse. In the States it might be fine. Replicas are not allowed here in Japan, and penalties for any discovered infringement of the swords and guns laws here are heavy. Do your restoration in the States and save it for when you are back there, IMHO.
Back in Japan, buy an old gun with someone knowledgable to help you, perhaps with a larger caliber and shorter barrel. Prices are pretty cheap right now and if you choose the right gun with correct paperwork this could save you endless grief.
If you want long answers, then here are some to start with.
Can you first of all redo all the measurements in cm? Are you sure it is unsigned?
Often when the vent/touch hole in the pan has been corroded badly, a 'Buku Naoshi' rebuild will take place which involves drilling a large cylindrical hole vertically up/down through the pan, and insertion of a new metal plug, then horizontally into the side of the pan for a redrill into the chamber. This side hole is then plugged in turn. Yours looks as if someone has started that process.
Cleaning rust off a barrel with the straight edge of a shard of broken glass, antler shards, or a razor blade will expose bare metal, so you need to be prepared to repatinate well before you start.
To fire blanks legally, even to get hold of blackpowder, you would really need to join a reinactment group. To be able to shoot independently at a gun range would involve passing so many tests it would make you dizzy, but nothing is impossible in Japan. You could be a first!
(The wife is on my case, so I will take a break here.)
I would just give it the ol' linseed oil treatment to stop any further corrosion and mount the barrel on the wall or place it on a gunrack. You can find a fairly cheap full funtional teppo out there and save yourself from a lot of headaches. Welcome to the forum. Good to meet a fellow teppo-lover
So what my plan was is to restore this barrel, maybe rebuild the whole thing from scratch, and bring it into customs to get a temporary permit. From there I was hoping to get it registered in whatever prefecture I end up in. I have absolutely no plans to ever shoot live rounds out of this thing, it is probably far beyond that point in my humble opinion.
Do you think this is legally plausible?
Also, what do Teppo run these days in Japan?
How would you go about pluggin that hole? I'm guessing silver or brass is most appropriate
If you have any opportunity to confirm the legality of this project that would be awesome! If it's some deal where I can only bring the barrel over with me and not a stock and lock that I've built myself, that would be good to know.
And not to sound stubborn, but it's kind of my thing that I like buying trashed things like this and rebuilding them. I absolutely hate buying nice things as silly as it sounds.
Thanks guys, I can't believe how lucky I am to have this place to ask questions!
Length: 83.5 cm Width: 4 cm Thickness: 2.4 cm Caliber: 1.1 cm
Also, how would you recommend repatinating? I was thinking about doing Ian Bottomley's method of BLO/White Spirits, but would love to hear other methods! (Also, if you know of reenactment groups that would be happy to have an eager new guy with experience in reenacting, I'd love to know!)
I would also like to add that this barrel is coming from a seller in Japan (in Hiroshima I believe)
So what my plan was is to restore this barrel, maybe rebuild the whole thing from scratch, and bring it into customs to get a temporary permit. From there I was hoping to get it registered in whatever prefecture I end up in.
From the sounds of it you will either get arrested or they will confiscate it. Firearms can't be treated as swords.
But this is not a modern firearm. The laws applying to hinawaju and other antiques are more or less the same as with swords as far as I have been led to believe from a number of people. Now if this was a modern firearm that would be a very very different story obviously. And if it did not pass muster at customs for a temporary permit then the police would simply hold it and I could have it sent back to the states (as is done when someone brings in a gendaito for instance).
So what I'm wondering is if having a new made stock and lock for it would bar it from getting licensed or not. The barrel is an original coming from a Japanese seller in Japan.
Now let's say I managed to score an original stock and lock that by some miracle fit. Then this would be a very different story I imagine.
Ideally, if Teppotai could get a definitive answer from someone over there then I would be more than indebted! I just want a good definitive answer without too much guesswork hopefully.
The reason why is I won't have any access to supplies/workspace/tools to rebuild this thing while I'm in Japan it looks like, whereas I already have the kinds of things I need here or at least access to them. It will also be a good while before I show up over there, and it's a little up in the air right now as I am waiting to find out if I got the job I was looking for or not.
There are gangsters, criminal organizations, who make the missing parts for old guns and get so skilled at deception that paperwork can be, or has in the past sometimes been obtained. These people are the exception, however, and they play a dangerous game, risking arrest and a criminal record. The customs and police here generally go by the book and have no sympathy. It is against the law to modify or improve an old Tanegashima-style Hinawa-Ju in any way. Putting together a (shortened even) barrel and a stock is not unknown, but again playing with fire. A committee, ever on the lookout for such work, will decide if your gun is artistically or historically worth saving for the nation. Unless it is obviously deactivated, your gun is likely to be destroyed rather than get sent back. As has happened so often in the past, the police will chop the barrel up into sections before disposing of it. Some years ago an Australian guy found a gun with Japanese markings on it and brought it back through Osaka. He was arrested, incarcerated for something like six months and eventually deported. The gun had been registered and stamped in Japan in the great round-up of 1872 or 73, but it was not originally a Japanese gun per se. Different from you, I admit, but you can sense the mind set. If you want to risk it, to see if your creation is good enough to escape detection, that is up to you. Make sure you declare in advance and at customs as you arrive, exactly what you are hoping to import. You will have to apply for Japanese registration for it there at the airport, if it is a fully-working matchlock. Failure to declare it in advance will be held against you and pretty much destroy any case you might have had.
PS I saw a registered legal teppo for 130,000 JPY at an antiques fair the other day, and the dealer hinted he was willing to knock something further off. If my wife had not been there I would have bought it, as that is very reasonable. A little searching and you should be able to find something nice for between 2~300,000.
PPS Have you been able to open the Bisen breech screw?
I'm thinking I might just contact which ever government agency is in charge of it and tell them exactly what the deal is and get a for sure answer from them. If it's a no then that's ok, it's not the end of the world and I'll just find something else in Japan I just had a friend read article 9 though and he gave me a pretty exact read out of what it said. What he and I definitely couldn't clear up was whether any restoration would be deemed not kosher. Do you know which law governs that you cannot modify any tanegashima? My goal is to not modify but merely repair damage to the barrel, while only adding a stock and lock to it. In essence building a koshirae for the barrel. I in no way intend to deceive ANYONE with what this is.
With that in mind, I will just try and restore the barrel for now and see if I can still bring that back over with me. Maybe I can find a stock and lock that fits it, or maybe not. But either way, this is my first tanegashima and I'm very excited to learn from it.
So guys, with the legal stuff squared away, let's get down to business.
1. How should I fill that repair hole on the side of the pan? 2. What methods would you use to clean and then repatinate this barrel?
Thanks so much for all your help so far
PS I just noticed the PS and PPS you added to the earlier reply, pardon my missing it. That sounds quite reasonable! As far as reenacting goes I know armor is a must. I'd like to try my hand at making a decent set myself, even if it just ends up being tatami-do. If that goes downhill though, what would a set of tatami dou for reenacting set me back?
And I have not received this barrel yet. It just got shipped out today or yesterday, and it will be a couple weeks before I receive it.
You posted a link to Koshu Antiques, but I cannot find any such Japanese site. Perhaps they only sell internationally? (or maybe I have missed their site?)
As to the relevant laws, I have just accepted what seems to be common knowledge here, but your questions pushed me to go look at the regulations. So many and so complicated they gave me a headache! Very glad you are sorted out now.
It is good to feel your excitement. I have a restorer acquaintance but he lives some way away and it would take time to get detailed answers from him. There are members here who can answer your repair questions better than I, so I will withdraw.
Before I let you go entirely, would you be willing to give me some info on getting involved with a reenactment group? I read through some of your posts and it sounds like your company is the one to shoot for (see what I did there?) I'll try and keep in touch with you either way when I get over there!
I won't know for sure if I even got the job for a few days, but I'm really hoping to get posted in the Kansai region. That's where I requested anyways. I told them I'd be open to other regions if need be though. If I do get a job through this company I'll probably be heading over around September.
So first things first, what is the proper way to go about finishing that Buku Naoshi repair? What's the traditional way to fill that hole on the side?
I also remember someone on here posting about replica matchlock stock/locks floating around in Japan without barrels as if they had been made for that purpose. But reproductions aren't exactly legal? Or is that some kind of grey area? If I need to look up the thread I can try and do that.
If I do make this barrel as nice as I'm hoping to, would adding a pan cover and ama-ooi be considered too much modification or would that not be a big thing? I read that some small parts and repairs added on are not considered a big deal.
Is there any hope of finding a stock and lock in Japan that might match up in size to this barrel? I HIGHLY doubt it due to the sheer amount of variation, but that would be really really cool to try and track down.
Finally, got any advice on removing the bisen if it's really frozen up? I do not want to jack this up or 'bubba' anything.
From a glance at the picture it looks as though it has already been opened. There are several methods to try before it breaks in two, but maybe wait until it's in your hands. Soaking/standing in various types of oil, WD40, etc, heating and freezing, and gentle beating with a rubber hammer etc. When you start to use real strength you may leave ugly vise marks on the Bisen and/or barrel, so protection of these will be very important.
Since most of us have more than one gun, why not start your collection in the States with this working resurrection, and take/send others back from your trip to Japan? I have a couple in London which I will never bring here, and some here which I will sell before going back. Crossing Japan's borders is problematical.
I noticed in the regulations that to own a gun here you need to have a fixed address first, by the way.
Many barrels were handed over to the authorities during the war as there was a lack of iron and steel and not to do so was a crime. The stocks were probably disposed of at the same time. Stocks and barrels come up separately on J Yahoo, and sometimes it looks as if the dealer is getting rid of an unpapered gun this way. Replica stocks are definitely a legal no-no, although they do exist as the authorities sometimes paper them unknowingly. A grey area indeed.
You are answering your own questions regarding the likelihood of finding a matching stock and lock. Not impossible, given time and volume, but as rare as hen's teeth. (I have seen it done, but I could never admit this to anyone, lest the tongues start wagging.)In an ideal world, one half of the gun would still have paperwork, or by digging deep you may be able to find a dealer with a secret stash of unreturned registration papers, but I would know nothing about that either. It's just too dangerous and you would need to be wily as a fox, but from your posts I guess you are a pretty straight up fellow. It would be a shame to fall foul of the laws here.
As to pan cover, lock and amaooi, etc., it depends how good you are at turning such things out. It might be worth buying something off J Yahoo, even if it does not fit, but just to study the material and shapes.
I have not watched the buku-naoshi process myself, so what I have written is just imagination. Hoping someone here can help you out. Don't expect an immediate reply as everyone is off to Florence for a conference and dirty weekend. Good luck.
Piers I just want to say you are freaking amazing.
I think I will leave this one in the States then. The only thing I was thinking was I have no idea if I'll spend the rest of my life over in Japan potentially because you really never know. But it looks like either way that this project would be better left here. Either way I feel I am rescuing it by taking it into the states and restoring it as it seems like it would never have a hope of that happening over there.
The fixed address thing is very good to know, I'll have one within a day or two of touching down at the airport.
That's very interesting about the barrels. My grand-uncle Hugo brought back a whole bunch of various iron items from a storage area in Japan right after the surrender. All sorts of stuff was given to the government for the war effort. I have a very nice tetsubin from that stockpile actually.
I can be wily if need be, but honestly I think that is so beyond my sense of honor when Japan as a nation is being so kind as to host me for however long I am there. I wouldn't even consider trying to cause any trouble while I'm there is how I feel.
The shape of the front sight does not bother me too much. One thing is consistent with Japanese matchlocks, and that is the constant variety. (I have found a similar sight on a Spencer carbine, and on a late Edo Japanese wheel-lock.)
What makes you think it is Kunitomo? Gently scrape the Mei area until you can read the Mei, if there is one, and then stop there. Patina is important indeed, but not so vital as the black rust on the tang of a Nihonto, since prices do not fluctuate so much with the signature. Just make sure there is no glint of raw steel.
The caliber is only 2 Monme, which is a very small ball. It could have been used for shooting birds, or target practice. Most military use starts around 4 Monme, and was best for infantry at 5 or 6 Monme.
In your measurements, the 'Width' and 'Thickness' refer to what, I wonder? Possibly a poor translation, but I could not find a corresponding Japanese site to check the translation against.
For reference. My long Bizen gun has a barrel length of 100 cm, and the whole gun is 130 cm long. Like yours it is around 2 Monme. The Kumamoto Castle gun is 1.7 cm, or about 7.5 Monme. Barrel length is 75.5 cm, and 108 cm overall, but the gun is pretty heavy for an ordinary foot soldier.
Ian Bottomley and Paul Scarrott-Jones on this site are probably the best people to consult on the lock and pan work. In the meantime I will keep my ears and eyes open for detailed info regarding the Buku-naoshi process here.
The reason I was thinking kunitomo was because for one they're the most common, the overall shape and very plain features and I think the three mekugi pegs. Overall looking at other styles of matchlock it didn't have much in common with them but looked like a few kunitomo examples I looked at. Not conclusive by any means but just what I'm leaning towards.
I noticed that there were a couple of 2 monme tanegashima on this forum and I was wondering if those were military firearms or for hunting. I'm really curious if mine is for hunting or not, that would be very fascinating.
With those measurements I think thickness is the barrel and width is at the breech end including the pan. It would add up to just that amount. What is the story with your long bizen? It sounds very interesting.
Hopefully Ian and Paul will notice this thread and chime in. I'm pretty excited about this project.
My biggest flaw is that I start things all the time and never finish them, so hopefully you all can get me to push myself and do something great.
PS I just got confirmed that I'm getting a job offer on Friday, so Japan is definitely happening for me!!!!
Also, if I do start building the lock, I'd love to try and copy one of the ones off this forum, so hopefully getting some very accurate measurements off some of you guys will be a possibility. There is one in particular I saw from a site that I really really liked and thought would be doable.
There are also parts for a lock on Dixie Gun Works off the old miroku repros that I might consider using.
Now I will admit I am still a novice at this kind of stuff but I'd like to learn to work brass through this project. I mostly have experience doing cold work (and a little bit of hot work with chainmail) using steel, so I'm looking forward to trying something new.
I like trying to be a stickler for tradition when I can be, so I might give choji a try after I've done all the cleaning work on it as sort of a preservative more than anything. I'll keep olive oil in mind though. I have plenty of it.
I tried enhancing that photo more and it looked like a signature. I think I was even able to make out a character. Do you think there will be some hope of finding out just what this thing is if I can turn up a mei on it?