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Old 10-04-2015, 02:07 PM
IPSC

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Wink Belgian Challenger brought back from Dead...Picture Heavy



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Some of you may know that I picked up a VERY rough Belgian Challenger that was caught-up in a house fire. Upon careful consideration, I think I can bring this otherwise dead gun back to life. The fire did not loosen the silver soldered front sight ramp, and there was more surface charring and pitting than any real damage "inside", as best as I can determine. I have an engineering background and am well connected in the industry, so I may have the major pieces hardness tested before the first-firing. Or...will simply clamp the gun to a rest and "string-fire" the gun from a sheltered position. We shall see.

All springs were questionable which will require all new springs. There were more issues too....

- missing slide hold-open lever.
- no grips
- safety lever thumb piece missing plastic coating/covering.
- rear sight bent (left side of lateral "tube" affecting the "U" sight picture).
- charring/scaling to be removed, etc, as well as some pitting.

I was doing this project as a learning hobby with the upside potential to get a nice gun on the cheap, if this all turns out successful.

With this posting, I will show the gun "As purchased". I hope to add more pics as time goes on, as we make some progress on this starting point. This will take some time as my good camera crapped out and this too will take time to correct. Here are some pics--->

Full right side view--->



Full left side view--->



Right side close up (showing pits, etc)----->



Left side close up------>



Front view/barrel, showing scaling and ugliness---->



Rear sight, notice left side notch bent down--->



Breech area/misc--->



Rightside frame / closeup---->



Leftside frame / closeup and trigger area--->



Yep....she's a beaut ! There is lots to do, and I have come a long way since the time of these original pictures, as purchased. More to come later when there is better progress and I can access a good digital camera again...

.

Last edited by IPSC; 01-21-2018 at 03:03 PM.
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  #2  
Old 10-04-2015, 04:03 PM
dbuffington

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Quote:
Originally Posted by IPSC View Post
I was doing this project as a learning hobby with the upside potential to get a nice gun on the cheap, if this all turns out successful.
I'm impressed! Please keep us posted. Thanks!
Dave
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  #3  
Old 10-04-2015, 04:05 PM
SGW Gunsmith
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Good to see that you did that. Before and after pictures are always neat to see. Nothing more satisfying than to bring a neglected .22 rimfire back into a "proud state" once again.
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Old 10-04-2015, 04:48 PM
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Thank you all. I must say I am amazed at what it looks like already, and we are far from "done".

Especially my "learnings" about how to deal with pits. There were so many pits...and they were so deep, I said to myself "no way" will I get these out. Well..... with a lot of careful filing I got about 98% of the buggers out. Learned a lot about curved and flat surfaces and how to handle files and how to draw-file. I also learned to silver solder when I took the front sight blade out and must have hit the ramp trying to drive the roll-pin out. The ramp was still solidly attached to the barrel until that time ! The end-result was a good re-soldering job using silver solder (strength)..BUT... the barrel looked like it was covered in solder-barnacle blobs that had to be filed out !

I also learned how to make a slide hold-open lever from a Buckmark part. The original was so rare it cost over $50, and the Buckmark part cost under $5. I fouled up 2 of these Buckmark parts until I got all the dimensions correct, but I got 'er done. Here is a pic of the how "close" the Buckmark and Challenger levers are---> Buckmark part on left, Challenger part on right--->





As I said, my "good" camera crapped and I only have my poor-quality phone camera operational at the moment. Doesn't do the gun justice but this is about where we are now. Better pics to come---->





.

Last edited by IPSC; 01-19-2018 at 02:10 PM.
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Old 10-04-2015, 05:20 PM
usmc69
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Slow & carefully is the word. Good luck.
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Old 10-04-2015, 05:22 PM
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Thanks....taking it slow as I have no schedule for this....looking to do a good job.
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Old 10-04-2015, 06:11 PM
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I've dealt with some fire damaged machinery.If the sight solder didn't loosen,if the springs didn't loose their temper,I think that you're fine with hardness issues.
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Old 10-04-2015, 06:36 PM
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Well Camster...I did a very thorough internet search and MOST ALL gun folks speak to the same point that if the springs are OK...then the gun is OK.

However, my view is that the springs have SUCH low mass, that I think any meaningful heat....even at temps well below temps that will affect the gun frame and barrel....will soften the springs. So I'm not convinced you will find any heat-affected guns that will have springs not negatively affected. I think this spring temper test is overly conservative. I found a mixed bag...some springs collapsed easily and others were still springy. Also, I mentioned that the front sight ramp was still tightly attached to the barrel, until I tried to punch-through the roll pin that held on the front sight blade. Then the ramp SLOWLY began coming off with every hammer hit on the roll pin. I had to re-solder the ramp back on.

For this rebuild, I have ALL new springs to be installed just in case....but we will see in the end if all is OK, either with hardness testing or "String" test, how good the rest of the gun held up. By the way, the gold trigger cleaned up nicely where the first pics seem to indicate half the gold was gone. Not true, ...it was OK under the crud.

.
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Old 10-04-2015, 07:44 PM
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I don't think hardness is an issue. Nitride treatment would certainly give it a hard surface.
Rusty 22 built some nice "tabs" that I put on the levers for my Challenger so they would clear the Medalist grips. I cut off the excess steel and used JB weld to attach the aluminum tabs. They look nicer than the factory plastic tabs.

Your progress so far looks fantastic.

I think a jeweler could gold plate your old trigger.
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Old 10-04-2015, 09:05 PM
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IPSC, This is a great thread. Thanks for taking the time to show us work. I'm looking forward to seeing more.
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Old 10-04-2015, 11:49 PM
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Nice work IPSC! Any closer to a decision for the finish?
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Old 10-05-2015, 12:22 AM
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IPSC, I picked up a pretty good set of Challenger grips at the gun show last week without a screw, but does have the escutcheon. I gave $25 for them. If you want them for your project, you may have at my cost and whatever to mail. Mark (A nice set for the cost and not marred up and if you don't like them send them back, but I think you will like)
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Old 10-05-2015, 07:22 AM
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This is a great bunch of supportive guys on this forum....but.... we all knew that !

Let me address some of the points that came up.

- If you recall, I needed a new hold-open lever and I elected to modify a Buckmark piece instead of using the spendy Challenger piece. It took 2 tries to get all the dimensions to work, so I ended up with 2 scrap Buckmark pieces. Notice also that the original safety lever was missing it's plastic tab, probably burned off. Perfect solution...cut off the tab from the ruined Buckmark hold-open lever, cut a very fine horizontal "slit" on the Buckmark tab (Dremel tool with small and thin diamond wheel)...and epoxy onto the original safety lever. Used Devcon steel epoxy. Result?--> I now have large size matching tabs, almost Medalist-style and size, for both the safety lever and hold-open lever.

- I'm not all done with the mechanical work for the gun, so I am still undecided for finish. I've had good experience with satin hard chrome on other guns, and am favoring this at the moment, but am also looking at semi-gloss or satin black Cerakote, which brings the look back closer to factory and looks nice against the gold trigger.

- Mark,....what a kind gesture ! I'll take you up on your grip offer. Shoot me a PM or maybe you have my email. I have a set of black plastic Nomad grips modified for the hold-open lever, but was always of the thought to get a wood set to switch over on occasion. Great offer, thanks.

I really need access to a high-resolution camera to get back into proper pics. More details to come. Thanks all !!!.....

.

Last edited by IPSC; 10-05-2015 at 08:20 AM.
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Old 10-05-2015, 01:22 PM
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If we were closer I would gladly take the photos for you. I don't recall on reading about this project, but was the bore inspected?

Take care, great job on a wonderful project.

Art
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Old 10-05-2015, 02:04 PM
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The bore....like the rest of the gun... was a mess. It needed copious amounts of scrubbing to get clean.. even AFTER I boiled the various gun parts in a boiling concoction of lemon juice and water many times.

At the moment, a side-by-side comparison holding this barrel up to the light against the near perfect '74 Challenger I have.... shows both barrels to look to be about the same.

So..I did not slug the barrel or do any micrometer checks. The proof will be in the pudding when we first shoot the gun.....by "String".

If all else fails, for example if the barrel holds up but ends up inaccurate.... I was given the good fortune of finding a spare barrel and slide for a good price. I would not like to use these alternate pieces....because it wouldn't be part of the original damaged gun. I don't want to be like the old mountain man who said about his favorite axe,..."Yep, I changed the handle three times and the head twice, but it's still the same axe !!!...."

.

Last edited by IPSC; 10-05-2015 at 03:12 PM.
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