Sunday, September 11, 2022

RTI Italian Vetterli Model 1870/87/15 Part 3 - End Result

The Royal Tiger Imports Italian Vetterli Model 1870/87/15 is finished up and restored to a fully functional state. As this rifle was twice converted, and the barrel sleaved down to the current 6.5 Carcano, it's had a reputation of being a bit on the iffy side with regard to safety. This was the case when it was issued, much less 100+ years after its retirement. I will send a few low pressure rounds down range, probably with the safety of a bench rest and a lengthy trigger lanyard! The Italians make some of the finest shotguns, but there military rifles left a little to be desired.  

After the complete disassembly and some of the wood cleaning I described in Part 2, all of the metal parts went into an ultrasonic bath with a solution of water and Simple Green, followed by drying in the air fryer (don't tell Gemma, but this works great!!) For teh most part, the metal is in decent shape, with crisp stampings and some light surface pitting. The barrel cleaned up OK, though the rifling is worn with considerable corrosion near teh muzzle end. I made some of the minor stock repairs necessary to avoid further damage, and blended stain to match the stock as best as possible. The goal here was not to hide any repair, or restore the stock to a newer looking condition. Remaining light surface rust was removed with Break-Free MilSpec CLP and #0000 steel wool, which leaves any remaining bluing and existing patina intact. 

Overall, this was a fun an inexpensive project. I brought back to life a rifle that likely saw a great deal of action in the late 19th century past the first World War, both in Europe and Africa. Would I have wanted to carry this into battle? Hell no!!! I'll stick to Swiss made version, or just about any other late 19th century military firearm. However, it will fill a nice little niche in my collection 


Monday, September 5, 2022

RTI Italian Vetterli Model 1870/87/15 Part 2 Update - Disassembled and Cleaning the Wood

So the Vetterli disassembled quite easily even after 100+ years of sitting in an Ethiopian shed! There is a really good video on Italian Vetterli disassembly at Vetterli 1870/87/15 Rifle Disassembly Part 1 by TheKoba49, so I won't reinvent the wheel. This gun will never be a beauty/safe queen, and teh goal is to restore it to a fully functional condition as opposed to a complete restoration. There won't be any rebluing, sanding down or replacing stocks, etc. Cleaning the accumulated grime was pretty easy with Murphy's Oil Soap and a nylon brush, followed by a little light scrubbing with extra fine #0000 steel wool with the Murphy's, following the grain. Once cleaned, I applied Renaissance Micro-Crystalline Wax Polish. The wear, nicks and compressions of a rifle originally manufactured in the 1870s and converted twice still show in the wood, but some of the grain and original color really show now as well. (Before and After) 

One interesting aspect of these guns as that they were converted twice. The first was from a single shot 10.4mm Vetterli black powder cartridge to a repeater by adding a magazine that would also be adopted by the Dutch Beaumont as well. This required some widening of the receiver well. Later, in the WWI era, it was again converted to a 6.5mm Carcano round by sleeving the barrel and also filling the previously widened stock well. As you can see on mine, one of these stock repaires has come out and will need to be worked on. 

Part 3 will be the complete disassembly of the bolt and receiver parts, followed by a bath in the ultrasonic cleaner and then some TLC on the surface rust. 


Sunday, September 4, 2022

Royal Tiger Imports Italian Vetterli Model 1870/87/15 Part 1 - The Before

Today I received a Royal Tiger Imports Italian Vetterli Model 1870/87/15. This is one of thousands of antique and early 20th century military surplus rifles purchased by RTI in Ethiopia, where they have been sitting in storage for the past 100+ years. Unlike many Eastern European rifles, these were not packed in away cosmoline. These rifles have been sitting in quonset huts, stacked like cord wood, since before your grandpa or great grandpa was living in one during the WWII era.

The article linked above provides an interesting historical background to this large cache of weapons. The Vetterlis were left over from Italy's attempt to occupy and bring the Abyssinian empire under control. Needless to say, they aren't in NRA Very Fine condition, but many are in surprisingly good shape once restored. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have paid a Benjamin for an Italian Vetterli in fair to good condition. They're hardly Ferraris of the military surplus world, and even by the Italian military assessment of the time, this rifle was pretty dodgey to say the least. However, with the prices of surplus going through the roof, and these things to be had for cheap, I decided get one. It's about like picking up a lottery ticket, as it may turn out decent, end up a wall hanger, or blow up in your face. OK, lottery tickets don't blow up in your face. As my daughter would remind me, "You get what you get, and you don't get upset."  

This is definitely a Before/After project. The rifle is about as I'd expect it to be after sitting for a century. It does pass a basic function test. The next steps will be to completely disassemble everything and go to work cleaning and working on rust. Most of the rust appears to be surface, and the barrel looks to be in decent shape, though bluing is non-existent. The wood may clean up nice as well, but there is one major chunk that will need a repair under the receiver. The stock is solid. The fun part will be finding out what emerges as I really get this rifle broken down and get to work on it. After all, there isn't much I can do to screw it up, which is what makes these fun.    

Here are a few more pics of the "before," and I'll document the process and the finished product as well.