Howard Delo

We’re looking at 2020 in the rear-view mirror, finally! We weren’t negatively affected as much as most folks were, but we did suffer some financial loss and the inconvenience of the virus lockdowns. I’m hoping, with the vaccines becoming available, that things will improve in 2021.

This end-of-the-year time between Christmas and New Years is useful to get caught up on small errands, projects, and touching base with family and friends online or over the phone.

I mentioned last time that I had sent a rifle off to a gunsmith in Texas to get “overhauled” and have a different caliber barrel installed. The rifle was damaged in the 2018 earthquake.

Some corrosive liquid had spilled on the rifle’s action and gotten inside to where the action function was significantly impaired. I cleaned everything up as best as I could when I found the damage, but I couldn’t totally disassemble the rifle’s action for a thorough cleaning. One screw was “frozen” in place and I couldn’t get it out.

The rifle is a single-shot, Uberti brand Italian-made copy of the Winchester 1885 rifle. My rifle was in 348 Winchester caliber and I was thinking of getting it rebarreled to 38-55 caliber for use in blackpowder cartridge rifle matches. The gunsmith I had been talking with was the contract gunsmith for the Cimarron Arms Company, which is a distributor and sells a lot of Uberti firearms.

I figured in his position, he had access to parts and obviously would know how to work on the Uberti guns. He did and he does! When I enquired about what shape the action was in, he said it was in good shape and had cleaned up very nicely. I didn’t ask specifically, but my impression was that no parts needed to be replaced, just some cleaning and slight adjustment.

He told me he had found a barrel in my asked for caliber which was identical in dimension to the original barrel. This replacement barrel is also made by Uberti, so it should be relatively simple to swap out the two barrels. I told him that there was no rush if I could get the gun back by early March so I could begin load development. He said I should have the rifle back well before then.

He gave me a ballpark estimate of the repair/rebarreling cost so I could make sure I had the money when the time came that the rifle was ready for return. While I have never met him, Lonny seems like a great guy and a person I would enjoy knowing even if he wasn’t a gunsmith!

In years past, I’ve shared stories about my Fairbanks hunting partner, Paul, and some of the trips we made hunting for sheep and snowshoe hares. After we both graduated from UAF, a semester apart, we both ended up doing our graduate schoolwork at the University of Maine, Orono. I haven’t seen Paul since the mid-1970’s, although we still managed to stay in touch through phone calls, letters, or email off-and-on over the years.

I asked Paul if he remembered one snowshoe hare hunting trip where it took me seven shots to finally hit the hare and how he laughingly asked me, from a distance, if I had finally hit the animal. He thought about it for a couple of seconds, chuckled, and mentioned that the incident did sound familiar. He had a better recollection of the night we spent walking in circles on a small flat spot on the side of a mountain to stay warm when we couldn’t get back to our basecamp before dark on the sheep hunt.

Paul is in his mid- 70’s and I’m 71, so neither of us are youngsters anymore. We both are dealing with mobility issues and each have our share of “old-age” aches and pains. Paul lives in New Hampshire and is a retired school system administrator. We discussed things we have been doing during the COVID-19 ‘hunker down” times this past year and found we were doing similar things in the teaching work we both did for various groups.

I really enjoyed the “walk down memory lane” when talking with Paul.

When I was younger, I didn’t do a lot of reminiscing but was more concerned with doing new stuff. Now that getting around is more of a problem, talking with friends from the “old days” about stuff we did together is enjoyable and comforting in a lot of ways.

Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

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