The ash wood blank photographed next to a standard German K98 stock.
Photographs by Randal Murray
One of the first things that a restorer does when he or she starts a new project is to inventory the
parts and find out if anything is missing. In my case with the T-Gewehr, most all the metal parts were
present. Obviously all the wood parts were destroyed. Also some of the hardware from the stock and
pistol grip were missing.
Wood Stock and Pistol Grip destroyed - Complete
Pistol Grip attach hardware missing - Complete
Stock Recoil Lug Assembly missing - Complete
Front Blade Sight missing - Complete
Bi-pod missing - Complete
After further inspection of the front sight area I noted that the Front Sight was harvested by an
amateur. This person caused damage with a hack saw trying to remove an easily removable part.
This will have to be repaired by an experienced TIG welder.
Recoil Lug - My Tankgewehr was missing the Recoil Lug when it was recovered. Unfortunately
this is an item that had to be manufactured from an original T-Rifle Recoil Lug. Once again I
was forced to call upon the collector community for help.
I got all the required dimensions to make a T-Gewehr front blade sight. I then created a 3D
CAD design model and drawing so I could have a machine shop mill the part out of steel.
I sent the model files and a drawing off the the online machine shop and 10 days later I had parts.
Recoil Lug Installation
Recoil Lug CAD Models created from Gus Bryngelson's dimensions
The Final Assembly and Detailed Photo Shoot pictures enjoy the completed Restoration Project of
1918 Tankgewehr S/N 5043
I thought the fit was pretty good. The new part will probably require a little filing on final
installation. I sent the 3D CAD file and drawing to an online machine shop. The sight is
currently processing with a 10 day lead time. I will update this section when the new blade
Precision Duplicated Gunstocks Since 1971
Port Townsend, Washington
FIXING THE BI-POD SPRING
I turned the 3D CAD file over to my friend Daniel Kasprick "Rogue Engineer" and technical
nerd. He churned out a 3D printed part from his 3D printer so I could test fit the part and
make sure my dimensions were correct before I sent the part out to the machine shop for
Final Finish Barreled Receiver
ARCHIVE MANFRED STEGMULLER
Number Three - I contacted almost every gun stock maker on the internet by email and
explained my project. The classic response was "Awesome project but, don't know how you
could pattern or replicate such a rare stock....good luck".
But there was one company that responded with an amazing "Can do" attitude and great
interest in bringing this rare T-Gewehr back to life.
Gus Bryngelson is a premier WWI Uniforms and Weapons Collector in the collector community.
When I asked Gus if he could remove the Recoil Lug from his personal T-Gewehr and provide
dimensions, he stepped up and provided all the necessary data I needed to reproduce the last
missing part for my T-Rifle.
Since the fire killed the spring inside the T-Gewehr Bi-pod I had to fabricate a new one. This is a
challenging spring to make because it is a captive torsion spring. Captive because it resides in a
machined chamber inside the bi-pod, which means it can only expand as far as the walls of the machine
surface. It also has to have an inside dimension that allows the pivot bolt to turn.
The spring in the T-rifle was toast and fell apart when I removed it…so….. I took the spring out of my
MG08/15 bi-pod and copied that one. I ordered the same diameter spring wire .059 as the original spring
and I found a mandrel calculation table online that told me what size winding mandrel I should use to get
the correct spring inside dimension.
The winding table said to use a .283 winding mandrel…..of course nobody makes anything that oddball
size. Probably because the Germans used something metric. I used a .250 rod and a few wraps of
aluminum tape to get the correct mandrel size. Then I wound the spring and counted the coils and
spacing. It took 3 tries before I got one that worked good. It functions perfectly now.
I was really impressed how the Bi-pod turned out after the bead blasting was done at Softstrip.
One notable feature was exposed by the bead blast, and that was the presence of a regimental marking
on the left shoe of the Bi-pod. M. O.
According to Jeff Knoll's book on Imperial German Regimental Markings:
M. stands for either: 1. Light Munitions Column 2. Bavarian Military Gunnery School
O. stands for: Main Headquarters Army
That was an amazing and unexpected find buried under the blackened crust from the fire.
RECOIL LUG AND PISTOL GRIP HARDWARE
Final Finish Stock
SINCLAIR & SONS
This is what I will call the loose parts package. It contains all of the inner parts like the
trigger, sear spring, ejector, and the stock mounting hardware. You will also see the bi-pod
mount and some pins and springs. The internal parts were the easiest to restore, although
they were subject to extreme heat, they were not exposed to direct flame. All external
parts like the trigger guard and the bi-pod mount were like the rest of the rifle - burned
and charred with a hard scale baked on. All the springs were destroyed, but luckily the
internal T-Rifle springs are the same as a standard Mauser and easily replaced. The finish
will appear worn and used as would an issued rifle during front line service. The pictures
below show the completed parts.
The rear sight was heavily damaged and encrusted in scale and ash. The range slider was
locked solidly in place and the button would not depress anymore. You could still make out
the highest range number "5", for 500 meters. The Germans figured out that it was useless to
mark the sights beyond 500 meters because that was the limit for armor penetration. The
first 300 T-Gewehr rifles had fully graduated sights up to 2000 meters.
THE BARREL & RECEIVER
FRONT SIGHT COMPLETE
Number Two - I am lucky to have WWI Collector/Historian Hayes Otoupalik as a
friend. Hayes is a Special Military Historical Advisor to the National WWI Centennial
Commission. He also graciously allowed the use of his personal T-Gewehr wood components
to be replicated. I now had access to the original components to replicate.
The goal of this project is to restore this T-Gewehr back to its 1918 WW1 Combat condition.
Since this remarkable weapon was recovered from a fire, it is fair to say that this T-Gewehr
is unsafe to shoot and is being restored to be used as a display artifact from WWI.
The temperatures that engulfed this T-Gewehr are unknown, however there are clues that
suggest that the temps were very high. First of all none of the wood survived and was
burned away. The amount of scaling and surface distortion on the metal components is also a clue.
Finally, I found several droplets of copper on the barrel. This means that the fire was hot enough
to melt copper at 1085 C or 1981 F. At these temps the temper of the gun metal has surely changed,
and is not as it once was when it left the Mauser factory back in 1918.
WWI Preservation Collection
preserving the past...for the future
THIS WEBSITE IS ENDORSED BY
THE UNITED STATES WWI CENTENNIAL COMMISSION
THE WOOD STOCK AND PISTOL GRIP
Number One - I began research to find out what kind of wood was used on the T-Gewehr. I
found my answer in a book called "Central Powers' Small Arms of WWI" by John Walter.
There is a section in the book on the T-Gewehr, and reference to the wood construction can
be found on page 197 stating that the stock and pistol grip are made of either "ash or elm".
I was really lucky that Hayes Otoupalik in Missoula Montana checked with the original owner of the
T-Gewehr for some of the missing parts. He managed to find the original Bi-pod that was on the weapon
at the time the fire occurred. The condition of the Bi-pod is the same as the rest of the T-Rifle...burned.
It was time to see Adam and Dean at Softstrip to remove the ash and scale from the Bi-pod.
The spring inside the Bi-pod latch mechanism was toast, and a new spring would have to fabricated to
match the original.
Randal Murray - Murray's Gunstocks
Although the original front blade sight was salvaged for another T-Rifle, I was able to
have one manufactured using an original as a pattern. Early in November 2017 I attended
the Tulsa Gun show (worlds largest gun show) in an attempt to find a Tankgewehr that I
could measure the front blade sight. With over 2000 dealer tables and 2 levels, I took my
chances trying to find the rare T-Gewehr. I was in luck there was one in the entire show of
thousands and thousands of guns...one. NOT FOR SALE (sorry about the blurry picture)
I looked at lots of original German black and white pictures to determine what the in service finish
of the T-Gewehr was back in 1918. It appears to me that the receiver and bolt were very light in
color also known as "in the white". The barrel appears to be blued along with the rest of the
components. My intention was to re-create this factory finish, only put some age to it to make it
look like it has been in service.
THE REAR SIGHT
PROJECT COMPLETE JANUARY 18, 2018
Copyright 2018. WWI Preservation Collection. All Rights Reserved.
Now that all the missing parts have been determined, replacements must be procured.
Where the heck do you get parts that don't exist anymore?
If you have a weapon as rare as the T-Gewehr, chances are there are no extra parts floating about.
The Germans only made about 15,000 of the guns in 1918, and only a handful exist today 100 years
Original Drawings? Finding original Mauser drawings from WWI would be hard to get, if they even exist.
The Mauser factories were prime targets during WW2 and the Allies pummeled the factories with high
explosives time and time again. Fat chance finding any build drawings from 1918.
The only avenue left for a restorer is to replicate existing parts. This is where it pays off to have high
level collecting friends that trust you and are willing to help you by loaning parts or getting measurements
from the originals in their collections. This is a super resource for the restorer and can help collectors and
museums all over the world.
The final finish of the Bolt represents a 1918 Tankgewehr as found in combat during WWI.
The finish appears worn and used as would an issued rifle during front line service. The
picture below shows the completed Bolt Assembly with new spring installed.
THE FRONT SIGHT BASE REPAIR
Fitting the barreled receiver to the new stock takes a lot of patience and a fair amount of skill.
Even though the stock was created from an existing T-Rifle stock, the parts still need to be
fitted. The Germans hand fitted many parts at the Mauser factory all the way through WW2.
This is the reason why that every part was serialized to the same rifle, to ensure a proper fit.
THE FRONT BLADE SIGHT
Where do you find a replacement Tankgewehr Stock and Pistol Grip?
The answer is...you don't... and ....you won't.
The correct question is: How do I replicate a Tankgewehr Stock and Pistol Grip?
I started working on the wood component issue realizing three factors:
1. I needed to find a hardwood blank big enough for the project
2. I needed someone to supply an original stock and pistol grip on loan.
3. I needed to find someone who had the talent and ability to replicate the parts.
It burned in a fire...all that was left were the charred remains of the metal components.
Get ready to wake the "monster"
The WW1 Preservation Collection is now in possession of T-Gewehr S/N 5043 and is
preparing to restore this rare weapon from 1918 back to museum quality display condition.
I would like to thank Hayes Otoupalik of Missoula Montana for finding and supplying this artifact and
amazingly tracking down and securing the original bi-pod to this weapon. Awesome work Hayes !!!!
It can take an investment of many hours to bring even a small part back from the brink. In
the case of the Tankgewehr, it is worth it. This such a rare weapon and has a prominent
place in WWI history.
Covered in thick black scale and ash, the smell of smoke was still present in the blackened parts.
In my experience it is best to solution soak the parts and scrub with wire brushes to remove the
I built a trough lined with plastic that was big enough to hold the barreled/action and some parts. I
added the soaking solution and began a scrubbing schedule of 2 times a day. The wire brushing
is slow going and it is a lot of work, however the results are impressive.
After dressing the weld with a file, the sight is now repaired and the German Cypher has been
preserved on the front of the sight base.
Pistol Grip Hardware - I got lucky with the pistol grip hardware. I live near a surplus aircraft
hardware salvage yard that has lots of odd ball items. I was able to find an identical
replacement for the pistol grip.
In the smoldering ashes there sleeps a monster......
This monster roamed the battlefields on the Western Front in 1918.....
It's prey, was slow moving Allied armor.....it was a Tank Killer.
Now it is time to turn my attention to the repair of the hacksaw cut in the front sight base. It appears
that someone cut the sight base so they could spread open the dove tail to salvage the front sight.
I can't understand why someone would do this. The part was easily removable with a hammer and a
brass drift. There was no need to cause this damage. Luckily they did not deface the Imperial Cypher
on the front of the sight base. To make this repair the barreled/receiver was routed to a local
machine shop with an expert TIG Welder.
Marcos Mosqueda the Weld Shop Manager at Sinclair & Sons Custom Welding & Machine Service Inc.
did a masterful job on the front sight base repair. Marcos is a true artist with a torch, and was able to
complete the weld repair and still preserve the Imperial Cypher on the front sight base.
I am not going into detail on how I finished the stock. I have to keep some trade secrets to myself.
I am also not going to detail on how I reproduced the stock imperial stamps (cartouges) - again trade
secret. I will tell you that I did it all in house - and I did not use any stain that was made for wood.
The results speaks for itself.
After the fire, the bolt took on an interesting texture that needed to be corrected. My guess is that
the nickle plating became soft creating a wavy texture on the surface of the bolt. My fix for this was
to have the bolt bead blasted to create an even texture on the entire surface. Then I sanded the
surface with 220 sand paper working my way up to 320 grit. This created a nice surface that will be
perfect for display.
The firing pin spring was intact however it had lost all of its strength because of the high
temperatures of the fire. This spring is one that can not be fabricated in my shop and I had to send
the original spring out to the professionals at W.B. Jones Spring Company in Wilder Kentucky. I
worked directly with Sam Witte and he over saw the fabrication of my new spring and returned the
original unharmed. It was a perfect copy of the original and fits the firing pin and the bolt perfectly.
The ash wood blank I found for my project measured 58" long x 7" wide x 4" thick.
I now had the wood for the new T-Gewehr stock and grip.
That narrowed my search to find a large chunk of ash hardwood. Also known as.....
"A Big Piece of Ash"
I searched the internet and I talked to a lot of suppliers, most wanted me to buy a much
longer board than what I needed. I finally found a great place to buy raw wood in Washington
W. B. JONES SPRING CO. INC.
The new sight was delivered from the machine shop on time. Excellent work. Just a tad bit
of fitting with a file. I aged the part by relieving the sharp edges. I made the sight match
the original I photographed at the gun show. I blued and finished the sight to match the finish
on my T-Rifle.
I found T-Gewehr Serial Number 5365 and the owner graciously allowed me to measure the
front blade sight of his rifle.
WITH THE WORLD WAR I CENTENNIAL COMMISSION
THE WOOD STOCK ARRIVAL
Final Assembly / Photo Shoot
Randal Murray has a unique talent - he can duplicate gun stocks.
He is a talented craftsman that covers every detail. I was lucky to have Randal
on the project to duplicate the original T-Gewehr gun stock and pistol grip. It was a
challenge to make the stock just because of the immense size. But Randal stepped
up and took the bull by the horns. He made a wonderful re-creation of the T-Gewehr stock.
As far as I know, this is the first new T-Gewehr stock that has been made since 1918.
The final finish of the entire weapon will represent a 1918 Tankgewehr as found in combat
during WWI. The finish will appear worn and used as would an issued rifle during front line
service. The picture below shows the completed Bi-pod.
After a week of soaking and scrubbing the receiver was completely free of fire scale, however the barrel
still had some areas with blackened, baked on build up that would not come off. I elected to have the
barrel and bolt professionally glass bead blasted by a local company that are experts in using dry media
blasting materials such as walnut shells, plastic beads, corn starch and glass beads. I can’t say enough
about Adam & Dean Brownfield at Soft Strip, they saved me hours & hours of work.
SOFT STRIP, LLC
It is imperative to preserve the cartouches and markings on the artifacts. These markings and Imperial
Cyphers are the historical links that tell their story, and places the artifacts in their specific period
in time. The receiver was masked off to protect it, and the barrel and bolt received the blasting treatment
with outstanding results. The serial number and marks on the barrel were revealed with crisp clear edges.
After the front sight is repaired, the job of re-finishing the barreled/receiver will begin.