A New Romano Gun and a Super Gunstock Treatment

by Joseph G. Bilby

As an increasing variety of custom and factory made reproduction Civil War era arms appear on the market, the present becomes more and more of a golden age for the Civil War era shooter. Some of these guns can be downright esoteric, and none more so in my book than Larry Romano’s recent recreation of the so-called Maynard/Perry Confederate carbine.

Larry’s Spencer and Maynard rifles and carbines are well known and prized by those in the Civil War shooting community lucky enough to own them. One of the great regrets of my shooting career (such as it is) was mailing back the First Model Maynard Larry loaned me for testing, and which I reviewed in these pages some time back. At the North-South Skirmish Association (N-SSA) 2000 Fall National, however, Larry personally delivered my new Second Model Maynard, which has, in its initial tests, proved as accurate as its predecessor.

When he appeared, Maynard in hand, at the 69th New York’s campground, Larry was also carrying a prototype brass-framed Maynard/Perry reproduction. The original Maynard/Perry, so named because it superficially resembles a Maynard, with a similar trigger guard actuated breech opening and centrally hung hammer, but uses the tilting, sliding breech of the Perry action, was a Confederate carbine with a very low rate of manufacture. Keen, Walker & Company of Danville, VA made the originals for the Confederacy in the summer of 1862, and total production is estimated at less than 300 guns.

As we have grown to expect from Larry’s shop, his Maynard/Perry, aka Keen/Walker is superbly machined and finished. The action, with its sliding gas seal breech, is a fascinating piece of technical ingenuity, and the gun drew a good deal of attention and more than a few “oohs and aahs” at the 69th New York Pavilion when we laid it out for some photos.

As of this date, Larry does not plan a production model of the Maynard/Perry, but I have it on good authority that a number of people who saw the prototype at the Nationals are prodding him to at least make a limited run of these guns. If you’re interested in something really exotic to shoot and consider yourself persuasive, get in touch with Larry at Romano Rifle Company. (551 Stewart's Corners Road, Pennellville, NY 13132. Tel: 315-695-2066).

You can never go wrong “Kramerizing” your old gunstock! No, this is not an endorsement of a product whipped up by Gerry Seinfield’s ne’er do well neighbor Cosmo Kramer’s “Kramerica” company, but a real and valuable addition to the antique gun restorer’s tool kit.

John T. Kramer, President of Kramer Products Inc., is the maker of several wood treatment products, most notably “Kramer’s Best Antique Improver.” Kramer, an experienced woodworker, muzzle loading firearms fan and antique furniture restoration expert, developed his magic potion after years of study with old masters of the wood finishing trade.

“Antique Improver” is an entirely natural product with no petrochemical ingredients, and does not remove original finish from an antique. Instead, it penetrates, cleans and restores the surviving finish of old wood. As a bonus, it is remarkably easy to use - just wipe “Antique Improver” on with a clean cotton or linen cloth and then wipe any excess off. Years of dirt and crud are removed from the wood, and many minor mars in the remaining original finish disappear. In a real sense, the finish and the wood, as John Kramer points out, are fed and healed by the process. The application of successive coats of “Antique Improver” to an old gunstock at regular intervals does indeed seem to work a peculiar type of life enhancing magic.

I first became aware of Kramer’s products from readers who praised them enthusiastically -- as enthusiastically as another product they got me to try awhile back-- Ballistol. I’ve been using Ballistol for virtually all my firearm care and cleaning, as well as other tasks, ever since. Similarly, after some trial work with “Kramer’s Antique Improver” I have made it my first choice for wood restoration projects.

I experimented with Mr. Kramer’s product on an old M-1 Garand stock which had been around the world a few times, and the restoration effect was indeed remarkable. “Antique Improver” lifted several generations of crud out of the stock’s pores, and actually accentuated its honestly earned age patina. I have always been reluctant to apply sandpaper to an old gunstock, and now I don’t have to! This is the absolute best stuff to use to clean the wood on your antique guns.

“Antique Improver” is also an excellent finish for new gunstocks. Before Christmas I received my long awaited 20-gauge smoothbore flintlock Trade Gun from gun maker Jackie Brown of Corinth MS (662-223-5220. http://www.moad.com/jbrown/) I had ordered the gun “in the white,” or unfinished, which saved a few bucks but left me with some work to do. After farming out the final metal polishing to my gunsmith, Tom McCann (14 Walton Drive, New Hope, PA 18938 215-862-2728. Open by appointment), I took on the task of finishing the wood myself. I took the advice of some of my correspondents and, after a little bit of sanding and a quick staining job, used the Kramer finish on the gun’s maple stock. I didn’t get a glossy finish, but the wood grain was very nicely accentuated, and has drawn a number of favorable comments. The finish also seems quite durable, and water beads on it quite nicely. The Jackie Brown flinter has become a favorite of mine, equally at home with ball loads and shot, but that is another story.

Like straight linseed oil, Kramer’s finish can, if scratched, be readily restored by another quick application. Unlike linseed oil, it does not gum up. Over the years, I am told, the Kramer finish mellows quite nicely into a lovely patina. In addition to the standard “Antique Improver,” Kramer produces “Blemish Clarifier” that attacks deep stains and water marks and is designed to restore heavily damaged original finishes, as well as “Wood Food Oyl,” a safe product for use on your wooden cutting blocks or salad bowls.

For comprehensive information on Kramer products, contact the company at PO Box 8715, Sugar Creek, MO. (64054 (816) 252-9512. http://www.kramerize.com/)

© 2001 by Joe Bilby

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