The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Hide > The Dave McCracken Memorial Shotgun Forum

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old October 19, 2018, 07:54 PM   #1
oldscot3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 1, 2007
Location: texas
Posts: 968
old Ithaca double

My FIL recently passed at the age of 94, he was deserving of the title as one of "Americas Greatest Generation". He wasn't a gun nut type, instead followed the depression period philosophy of make do with what tool's on hand.

He had a couple shotguns; an old Stevens single barrel that has the forend attached to the barrel with two rows of black electrical tape. The action is so loose you can make it rattle by shaking the barrel. The other is an old Ithaca double barrel.

The Ithaca has some patina but it locks up tight and seems to function though I wouldn't try to shoot it just yet. Both stocks are trashed. I can't find a serial number, the only markings are on the receiver, "Ithaca Hammerless" and barrels "smokeless powder steel".

The angel on my right shoulder says hang it on the wall and tell my grandkids about their great grandpa when they ask about it. The devil on my left shoulder says order some wood and fix it up.

Thoughts? Weigh in and if you have any idea of how old it might be, that would be appreciated. Sadly nobody ever asked my FIL about his old double.
oldscot3 is offline  
Old October 19, 2018, 09:16 PM   #2
Dano4734
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 6, 2014
Posts: 690
Had one like it that was my grandpas that I used as a kid. I got a lot of ruff grouse with it. Fix it up take it to a smith for cleaning and check out. Great gun. Wish I still had my grandpas. I am in my 60’s still can see it in my head. Lost all his guns in a house fire a long time ago
Dano4734 is offline  
Old October 19, 2018, 09:33 PM   #3
oldscot3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 1, 2007
Location: texas
Posts: 968
Sorry to hear about the fire, that's sad. I hope you get one soon to remember your grandpa by.

I just did a net search and found out the location of the serial number. Tomorrow I'll check it out and see if I can date it. I'm betting it's over 100.
oldscot3 is offline  
Old October 19, 2018, 10:56 PM   #4
Oliver Sudden
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 7, 2017
Location: Colorado
Posts: 147
The Ithaca is well worth fixing up. here's the last one I did and it's a joy to shoot now. I had to fix the safety and replace some pins and screws then new wood and refinish all the metal.
IMG_0242 by Oliver Sudden, on Flickr
Oliver Sudden is offline  
Old October 19, 2018, 11:32 PM   #5
Dano4734
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 6, 2014
Posts: 690
They are wonderful shotguns I carried that thing from 14 years old to an adult. I bet it is 100 years or darn close but will work fine after some tlc. Oliver superb job my friend on that restoration

Last edited by Dano4734; October 20, 2018 at 12:09 AM.
Dano4734 is offline  
Old October 20, 2018, 12:43 AM   #6
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 18,763
I have my Grandfather's Ithaca, which he bought new in 1909. The serial # is on the action flats, and again on the inside of the forearm. Don't remember if its on the barrel lugs or not.

I'm no expert and I always get confused if mine is a NID (New Industry Double) or a Flues model. I do know there is a list by serial# somewhere don't have a link, sorry. Do a search, I'm pretty sure it was on this forum some years back.

If the gun is mechanically sound, I would recommend not shooting anything heavier than 3 1/4dr eq loads. And, NEVER shoot steel shot!!

See if a dime will fit on the muzzle, or fall through. If you can balance a dime on the muzzle, its full choke.

Guns made before modern shotshells and their shot cups will shoot a tighter pattern than their choke designation with modern shells. Old style shotshells without shot cups had more "flyer" pellets and so were choked tighter than modern guns are, to deliver the same pattern percentages.
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old October 20, 2018, 06:28 AM   #7
FITASC
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 6, 2014
Posts: 4,614
See if this helps with dating:

https://ithacagun.com/serial-numbers/

Looking at that, it doesn't seem that NID started until into the 20s.
__________________
FITASC: Fédération Internationale de Tir aux Armes Sportives de Chasse. http://www.fitasc.com/uk/home/view
FITASC is offline  
Old October 20, 2018, 10:36 AM   #8
Oliver Sudden
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 7, 2017
Location: Colorado
Posts: 147
The shot gun pictured above is a Flues model and the top one in this photo is a Lewis model. The bottom one is a Remington 1900. These two were junkers that I rebuilt for cowboy action.
NID stands for New Ithaca Double introduced in 1926 with about 47000 made.

Thanks Dano4734.

all 126 by Oliver Sudden, on Flickr
Oliver Sudden is offline  
Old October 20, 2018, 11:47 AM   #9
ligonierbill
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 20, 2007
Posts: 1,532
I believe 1926 is the year the industry changed the shotshell standard from 8 ksi to 12 ksi. My Flues is from 1921, and it is a fine shooter. Light loads only, however.
ligonierbill is offline  
Old October 20, 2018, 02:29 PM   #10
Drm50
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 10, 2014
Posts: 591
The Ithaca is worth new wood, unless the action is in bad shape. Some of the
early Ithacas had 21/2" chambers. A good solid Ithaca double is a lot better
gun than imports costing $500. I know where two Ithaca SXSs live locally that
I have been trying to get my hands on for years. One is a high condition 410
and the other had honest wear but a solid gun with good bores. It's a 10guage
and lady has several boxes of Rem Sure Shot paper shells for it. It was her dads
and she is in her late 80s. I've had a few 12s & 16s but never anything else. I
have yet to see a 20g except at shows. I do see Fulton & Hunter Arms fairly
often, always 12 & 16s. I think Ithaca absorbed both these companies before
WW2.
Drm50 is offline  
Old October 20, 2018, 04:10 PM   #11
Winny
Member
 
Join Date: June 12, 2018
Location: SC, USA
Posts: 86
Gorgeous work on the restorations Oliver.

Good luck with the serial number I would love to hear more. Something about an old family gun just can’t be beat.

Best of luck.
Winny is offline  
Old October 20, 2018, 04:39 PM   #12
ligonierbill
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 20, 2007
Posts: 1,532
Hunter Arms made L C Smith and the less expensive box lock Fulton. No connection to Ithaca. Late in the game, Marlin bought Hunter Arms and continued the L C Smith brand for a few years.
ligonierbill is offline  
Old October 20, 2018, 06:25 PM   #13
oldscot3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 1, 2007
Location: texas
Posts: 968
Wow, beautiful work Oliver Sudden. Want to do mine? Just kidding, I probably couldn't afford you.

The example I have has a serial number in a range that makes it a Lewis model. It's condition is a mixed bag. The action seems tight and nice but all the screws are buggered and someone tried to solder the forend hanger with flashing lead. The wood is scrap, whole pieces are missing so you can see the hammers underneath. There is also a pretty good dent on the rightside barrel. It may need more than the skill set I have can give.

PS it has a matching serial number on the barrel next to the lug.

Last edited by oldscot3; October 20, 2018 at 06:45 PM.
oldscot3 is offline  
Old October 20, 2018, 06:52 PM   #14
oldscot3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 1, 2007
Location: texas
Posts: 968
Thanks FITASC, your link makes it a 1905 Lewis
oldscot3 is offline  
Old October 20, 2018, 08:07 PM   #15
FITASC
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 6, 2014
Posts: 4,614
Check chambers; many of those guns wer 2-1/2 or 2-9/16 chambers, NOT the modern 2-3/4. In any event it will need low pressure "Vintager" type loads as offered by RST
__________________
FITASC: Fédération Internationale de Tir aux Armes Sportives de Chasse. http://www.fitasc.com/uk/home/view
FITASC is offline  
Old October 20, 2018, 09:31 PM   #16
oldscot3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 1, 2007
Location: texas
Posts: 968
2 1/2" for the fired hull, right?

I was looking at some vintage paper hull shells my dad had. The end has a short roll crimp holding a cardboard card in place. Unfired they are the same length as modern(unfired) plastic hull 2 3/4" shotshell, but fired they look like they would be about 2 1/2". So I presume that's the requirement, a 12g. shell that doesn't unfold to longer than 2 1/2" .
oldscot3 is offline  
Old October 23, 2018, 01:02 PM   #17
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 18,763
Quote:
2 1/2" for the fired hull, right?
This got me thinking, and realizing that I actually don't know!

So. I grabbed a couple paper shells from my stash, and a tape measure (admittedly not looking for precision), and Winchester Express with a star crimp measured just over 2 1/4" unfired, so I think those particular shells are shorter ones, though not sure of their proper chamber length.
(didn't realize I had any of the shorter 12s till now )

A Winchester Long Range Express (with pat# on the case) which has a roll crimp and card wad measured just over 2.5"

A Remington "Slugger" new production (plastic) also measured just over 2.5" unfired. (picked the slug because it was handy...)

SO, I'd guess that the chamber length measurement is for the fired case, and if so, means that while a 2 3/4" shell might fit and fire in a shorter chamber, the unfolding crimp will be in the barrel where there isn't any room allowed for it, therefore raising pressure, potentially dangerously.

A question about the Ithaca, how many positions does the safety have??

Two seems common, my Grandfather's gun has 3, and is, to date, the only Ithaca I have seen that is set up that way. But, I've only seen 4 or 5 similar guns, personally.

The safety is rather cool, actually. On "fire" it moves to "safe" when the action is opened. There is a third position, all the way back, and when in that position, the gun is "off safe" and the safety does NOT go on when the action is opened. ALSO, with the action open, pulling and holding both triggers while closing the action leaves it uncocked for storage.

My Grandfather was adamant about that gun NEVER needing to be "snapped" (dry fired) for storage. He grew up in an era where snapping the hammers could result in broken firing pins and guns left cock when stored could have their springs take a "set".

One of the virtues of that gun he extolled was that it never needed to be snapped and the springs would never take a set. He had a guarantee, in writing, from Ithaca that the springs would never take a set.

(this was how they worded things in those fine days, not "for the life of the original owner", not for a set time, but "never"!!

In 1949, he was curious, having used the gun for 40 years, (without any issues) he wondered about if Ithaca's guarantee was still good. He wrote Ithaca, and got a reply back (which I have) stating that their guarantee was still good, they stood behind it, etc. It was a form letter, but there was a typewritten paragraph at the end, signed (in ink) by the company VP. It reaffirmed the guarantee on the springs, and also cautioned to avoid "Express" shells in his gun, as they were not needed, "being akin to threading a needle with a bulldozer" (the exact words used )

Restored to serviceable condition, with PROPER ammunition, I'd expect your Ithaca to be every bit as good a field gun as it was over a century ago. Somewhat restored and hung on the wall in a place of honor would also be a worthy resting place for a battered heirloom.

Ithaca made several variations of barrels between the turn of the century and WW II. An "actual" Damascus barrel could be had (made from 6 or 8 straps) or you could get a "twist" barrel (made from 2 or 4 straps), and then there were the modern "fluid steel, Smokeless powder steel", or other market names which changed from time to time with different alloys being used. My Grandfather's gun has "fluid steel" barrels so he told me, I'll have to check the next time I look at the gun, I don't recall it being marked on the gun anywhere.

My Grandfather ordered his gun to his specs in 1909, with the stock made to his measurements, choked FULL/FULL and 26" barrels, as a replacement for the twist barrel gun he sold to a neighbor after years of the neighbor trying to buy it from him. He was proud of the fluid steel barrels (cutting edge tech at the time we would say today). He did tell me (in the 1970s) that if he had known then, what he knew now, he would have spent the extra money and gotten ejectors instead of extractors...

He also told me he killed a fox with that gun at "40 rod". (work it out, its like 220yds!)

On the other hand, another thing he told me was that one of the great joys of being as old as he was, was that anyone who could call him a liar had already died!!
And that stub twist barrel gun he sold? The left barrel "unraveled" in the 1940s... (probably due to smokeless shells)
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old October 23, 2018, 02:44 PM   #18
oldscot3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 1, 2007
Location: texas
Posts: 968
Quote:
A question about the Ithaca, how many positions does the safety have??
Yes, three positions. In the middle position the window is over "S" and you can slide it forward or rearward from there.
oldscot3 is offline  
Old October 23, 2018, 04:44 PM   #19
FITASC
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 6, 2014
Posts: 4,614
Yes, 2-1/2" is the FIRED length; just as 2-3/4" today is the FIRED length of the hull. Many a fine old double gun has been ruined with modern ammo because the unfired shell "fits" and the gun closes.........and then the KABOOM happens and fingers and eyes and other necessary body parts are not where they should be.
__________________
FITASC: Fédération Internationale de Tir aux Armes Sportives de Chasse. http://www.fitasc.com/uk/home/view
FITASC is offline  
Old October 24, 2018, 01:15 PM   #20
oldscot3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 1, 2007
Location: texas
Posts: 968
I'm guessing that may be why my buttstock is trashed, with whole "windows" missing adjacent to the reciever. The upper and lower locking features seemed to have withstood the test but I'm sure the excess pressure resulted in recoil damaging the stock.

My FIL was a great guy but not very sophisticated with regard to knowing certain details regarding firearms, he never touched a computer in his life and I'm sure a lot of the info he got came from his back woodsmen hunting buddies.
oldscot3 is offline  
Old October 25, 2018, 08:34 AM   #21
Ricklin
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 22, 2008
Location: SW Washington state
Posts: 1,394
Typical

Overzealous oiling has brought about the death of many a fine old double gun's buttstock.

Often stored butt down, excess oil and father time will weaken the wood, right in the area where it needs strength.

Many old shotguns are weak this way. There is a procedure using epoxy to strengthen the wood from the inside, if not too far gone.

Then there are the guys who say, hey hold my beer and watch this. Just because a gun has two triggers does not mean they should be used at the same time!
__________________
ricklin
Freedom is not free
Ricklin is offline  
Old November 28, 2018, 04:11 PM   #22
sourdough44
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 17, 2007
Location: WI
Posts: 617
I recently acquired an older Ithaca double, 16 ga recently. The serial number comes up 1941 and made by Lewis Arms, then stamped Ithaca. It’s in great shape, we are 16 ga fans, mostly grouse hunting.
sourdough44 is offline  
Old December 6, 2018, 07:24 PM   #23
oldscot3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 1, 2007
Location: texas
Posts: 968
i guess I've become a sentimental old fool, but old doubles give me a warm fuzzy feeling, regardless of whether or not I have an actual use for the weapon.

If money were no object I would spend it just for the satisfaction of saving my FIL's shotgun. Currently it waits in the safe, in pitiful condition.
oldscot3 is offline  
Old December 6, 2018, 07:35 PM   #24
FITASC
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 6, 2014
Posts: 4,614
An old friend of mine (in his 80s) has been a buyer fan of Rock Island Auctions and has been buying old SxS guns from all over - US, England, France, etc. He finds a lot of them for $1K to about $3K and enjoys shooting them a lot.
__________________
FITASC: Fédération Internationale de Tir aux Armes Sportives de Chasse. http://www.fitasc.com/uk/home/view
FITASC is offline  
Old December 6, 2018, 10:39 PM   #25
Drm50
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 10, 2014
Posts: 591
My gunsmith opened a lot of 21/2" guns to 23/4", but he would only do it on
certain guns and only for friends. He had a Ithaca himself that had been 21/2"
what ever model it was he wouldn't do it for anybody. He said it would shoot
forever with lite bird loads but wouldn't take many hi brass to start wrecking the
stock.
Drm50 is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:50 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2018 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.10537 seconds with 10 queries