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5,058 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Of course, first there has to be some history.....

The Lefever Arms Company (1883–1916) was a manufacturer of guns in Syracuse, New York founded by Daniel Lefever. He specialized in shotguns, producing both side by side and over/under shotguns. He produced shotguns in various grades of finish from elegant to lower priced models, with the only difference being the level of finish/engraving and they types of wood used. The quality of the fitment for all guns regardless of grade was exceptional.

What made Lefever guns so unique was two processes that he invented and patented. In 1883, he patented the first truly automatic hammerless shotgun. This internalized the cocking mechanism so that the gun was automatically cocked when the breech was opened.

He also patented the automatic ejector system which ejected the used shells when the breech was opened in 1896.

While a brilliant gun designer, he was not the best businessman. Between the years of 1883 and 1916, the company was reformed a few different time.

Finally, in 1916, Lefever Arms was purchased by the Ithaca Gun Company, which continued to manufacture lower cost double barrel guns under the Lefever name until 1939.

Starting in 1927, Ithaca, under the Lefever name, manufactured single barrel trap guns, which are the only single barrel shotguns to carry the Lefever name. Production ceased in 1941 and was not resumed after WWII.

Today, the original 1883 - 1916 Lefever shotguns are prized collectors items, with values, depending on grade, ranging from hundreds of dollars up to tens of thousands of dollars. The Ithaca produced guns don't have as much value, but they are still very well built guns that are still being used today.

Couple of advertisements from back then.

Ad from 1879

Ad from 1896 at the introduction of the ejector model

Ad from 1914

Ad from 1916.

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5,058 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Part 2: 1929 SN 17801 Cleanup...

This shotgun belongs to a co-worker of mine. It was found in his girlfriend's basement. The basement was damp, so there was some surface rust and pitting. He asked me if I could take a look at it and possibly fix it up. Jumping at the chance to play with an old shotgun, I agreed.

I did not take too many pictures of the gun before I started working on it, but will post what I have.

Picture 1: Receiver with surface rust.

Front ball on the barrel rib. Going to have to be careful with these, as they are real ivory.
Lefever Front Ball.jpg

As well as the tiny, ivory, mid-ball.
Lefever Mid Ball.jpg

The original Hawkins orange rubber buttpad had rotted away, so a replacement would have to be found.

The stock bolt was clearly hand made.
LeFever StockBolt1.jpg

Once I got the stock off, I proceeded to take the receiver apart.

Receiver disassembled. The picture does not show it, but these parts are nasty!

First thing to do it to clean them up. Hot water and Dawn dish detergent.

Took the following photos about 10 - 15 seconds apart...

Pic 1. Before starting the ultrasonic cleaner.

Pic 2. 10 seconds after pressing start.

Pic 3. 20 seconds.

Pic 4. 30 seconds

Pic 5. 1 minute.

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5,058 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Part 3: Bluing.

After cleaning the parts, I did a little sanding and file work to clean up some of the pitted areas. Unfortunately,with a shotgun barrel, you are somewhat limited as to how much you can take out, as there isn't a whole lot of "meat" on the barrel to begin with.

First thing to do was remove the ivory sights. They were press fit in and secured with hide glue Soaking the barrel in boiling water loosened the glue and I was able to get them out using a pin vice and a lot of profanity. :grin

Once they were out, I put some new cheap plastic sights back in, as I did not want water or bluing chemicals to get under the rib and possibly corrode anything. Once the gun is done, I would put the ivory sights back in.

Since the barrel is 30" long, I heated it to 200 degrees using boiling water. I could not use a torch, as the barrel rib is silver soldered on, and a torch could melt it.

After a few cycles of heating, rusting, and boiling, I slathered the barrel in oil and allowed it to rest with a few other parts I was doing at the same time.

My one shot of the barrel before bluing it.
Barrel Serial.jpg

The Lefever barrel after bluing. The Lefever barrel is on top...


After cleaning up the rest of the pieces, they were rust blued as well. After wiping them down, I reassembled the receiver and test fit everything. The hammer spring caused no end of problems when it was time to install it.

Receiver blued and reassembled.

Left side view.

Right side view

Bottom View

Top View

Left View

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5,058 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Part 4: Wood and Parts Fabrication Thanks BrianB!!!!!

The stock and foregrip were pretty dirty, and were covered with some sort of varnish. Some alcohol and steel wool took it off easily.

Went over the wood lightly with some 400 grit paper to smooth it out a bit.

Rubbed in a few coats of linseed oil thinned with turpentine and let it cure for a few days.


Once the finish cured, I took the receiver apart again, and then fit it to the stock.

LeFever Stock Test Fit2.jpg

I put the shotgun back together and worked the action a few times using a fired 12 gauge shell as a snap cap.

After 5 or 6 cycles, the shotgun became VERY hard to cock. After messing with it for a bit, I realized I had to take it apart again...

Once I got it back apart, I discovered that the hammer spring guide had broken, which allowed the hammer spring free to go wherever it wanted. :aarg

Needless to say, replacement parts are not easy to find. The few places that do carry parts for Lefever guns, did not have a spring guide.

I took some measurements of the part and contacted our forum FFL07 BrianB. I sent him dimensional drawings, and a week later, he sent me back a rough finished part. :grin

The part that BrianB made, next to the original.

Notice on the original part, you can see the remains of threading. After taking measurements, it was determined that the correct thread pitch would be..

#7-36TPI. :aarg: censored:dunno

Yes, for those of you that work with screws, while you may be familiar with #4, #6, #8, #10, and #12 screws, the numbering system actually goes from #0 to #14, but nobody really uses 0 - 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 14 anymore, except of course for obscure gun manufacturers...

Took some digging and searching, but I found a place that sells all of those old, uncommon, taps and dies for a reasonable price. So I ordered a tap and die.

#7-36 Die....

After cutting the threads on the piece BrianB made for me, and chasing the threads in the hammer with a #7 tap. I test fit the pieces together.

LeFever PartFitting1.jpg

After trimming up the threaded section, everything lined up correctly.

LeFever PartFitted.jpg

Once that was done, I used loctite to secure the spring guide and the firing pin to the "hammer"

Found a small set of valve spring compressors, which made it much easier to put the hammer spring back in.

Spring compressor
Spring Compressors.jpg

Then put it back together again.....

Fully Assembled, uncocked
LeFever Reassembled.jpg

LeFever Reassembled Cocked.jpg

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5,058 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Part 5, Recoil pad and finished.

While all of the above was going on, I managed to locate a place that sells the original Hawkins orange "Heart" recoil pads.


Got it ordered, and installed on the stock........


So it was time to grind it down on a belt sander, where I learned that natural rubber pads stink when they get hot, and the rubber bits go EVERYWHERE.......

Still working it down...

Finished.... You can see why they call it a "Heart" recoil pad in this picture.

After that, I put the ivory bead sights back on the barrel and did the final assembly.

It is a long gun, so it was hard to get it all in one picture.





Polished the ivory a bit

Overall, other than having a part made of unobtanium break on me, this one was pretty fun.

A big thanks once again to BrianB for pulling me out of the weeds.

357 Posts
WOW! Awesome job. Just like all of your restorations. I love your restoration posts.:clap:clap:drinks

5,838 Posts
Awesome write up and beautiful restoration as usual. That’s a cool gun with a nice history.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

3,286 Posts
Very nice job. My Dad collected single barrel trap guns from that era and had several of his shotguns featured in a book on the American single barrel trap gun. My favorite to shoot was a Baker Superba grade. There was nothing wrong with those old guns. They shot every bit as well as the more modern guns and in most cases the workmanship of the older guns was superior (sometimes far superior) to the newer guns.
Another gun you might like to restore if you get the chance is the Browning Broadway. My Dad restored dozens of those and they were a very nice firearm once restored. If you got one, it would be a keeper!

7,869 Posts
Great work Sir!

Man, just looking at that mainspring setup, and thinking about reinstalling it, even before it broke, hurt.

I have a very old, hard and brittle recoil pad just like that one on an old A5 that I need to replace.

41 Posts
Those Lefever Trap guns are works or art, Love the ivory sight beads.

Fantastic work on that recoil pad, not a mean fix.

Those were costly guns in the day even in the 40s they cost a bit.

s-l1600 (4).jpg

5,058 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Those were costly guns in the day even in the 40s they cost a bit.
$57.75 in 1940 dollars (the last full year of Lefever production) is $1,064.13 in 2020 dollars.

Super Moderator
26,331 Posts
I've been traveling for a couple of days so I had to wait till I had enough time to fully digest what I was certain would be another wonderful restoration thread by AFJuvat. Wow, I was not disappointed! :bowdown

What a wonderful job restoring yet a other piece of firearms history! Really nice work solving the broken part problem, including the rare #7 thread dilemma. Well done, sir! :2thumsup

41 Posts
$57.75 in 1940 dollars (the last full year of Lefever production) is $1,064.13 in 2020 dollars.
Now you brings up a nice point, This catalog dates from 1947. So just intrigued if these came from left over parts made before the war assembled after the war?? Or Guns setting in inventory for those years??

And considering that during the war years there were no sporting arms made it makes you wonder about the back story of those shotguns in the catalog??
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