When restoration expert Rich Pekelney wanted to improve the surface finish of a World War II wet-mount gun, he tried hand-scraping and sanding. Pekelney then tried spring-loaded honing tools, but these rigid hones wore out quickly and affected the bore geometry. That’s when a master diesel mechanic offered some expert advice. “He pulled out a Flex-Hone and told me not to fool with anything else,” Pekelney explained.
Cylinder Surface Finishing
Made in the USA by Brush Research Manufacturing (BRM), Flex-Hone® tools are helping to preserve an important part of U.S. naval history. At Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, the Maritime Park Association is restoring the 5-inch, 25-caliber wet-mount gun aboard the USS Pampanito, now a submarine museum and memorial that hosts over 100,000 visitors each year. The submarine’s “big gun” came from another ship, the USS Piranha, but the barrel was still subject to harsh maritime conditions.
During World War II, submarines like the USS Pampanito patrolled the Pacific Ocean and hunted Japanese vessels. The deck-mounted big gun on the Balao-class submarine was submerged regularly in saltwater, but designed for shore bombardment and anti-ship combat. When Rich Pekelney restored some of the submarine’s smaller guns, he spent hours sanding and honing the barrels. When the time came to work on the big gun, long-time diesel mechanic Charlie Butcher recommended flexible honing instead.
BRM Flex-Hone® tools – or ball hones, as they are sometimes called – feature abrasive globules that are permanently laminated to flexible nylon filaments. With their unique construction, these ball hones are self-centering, self-aligning to the bore, and self-centering for wear. Flexible hones aren’t designed for heavy-duty material removal, but they’re ideal for improving cylinder surface finish. Military and security-related applications range from cannon barrels to the bores of firearms.
We’re not sure how Charlie Butcher learned about Flex-Hone® tools, but it’s a good bet he used them if he worked on diesel engines. Flexible honing’s low-temperature, low-pressure abrading process is ideal for improving the surface finish of engine cylinders. Specifically, Flex-Hone® technology imparts a uniform series of oil-retaining grooves for optimum lubrication and reduced wear. Trusted by engine builders and diesel mechanics alike, flexible hones are also used with hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders.
Flexible Cylinder Honing Tools
In the case of the “big gun” aboard the USS Pampanito, the goal was to restore the surface finish of the hard bronze sleeves. BRM’s flexible cylinder hones are available for various base materials, and come in different abrasive types and grits. Importantly, Flex-Hone® tools are also easy-to-use. “The tool enabled me, an inexperienced machinist, to repair bearings that otherwise would have required journeyman help,” Pekelney told Military Trader, a website that's dedicated to military artifacts.
By chucking the Flex-Hone® tool into a handheld electric drill, Pekelney can tackle restoration projects that will delight visitors to the USS Pampanito for years to come. “I’m sure there are many more uses for the flexible hones for the submarine,” Pekelney explained, noting that there are lots of steel and bronze bearings throughout the World War II vessel.
Flexible Hones at SHOT SHOW 2016 (Booth #1617)
Are you part of the shooting, hunting, or outdoor trade (SHOT) industries? If you're headed to SHOT Show 2016 in Las Vegas this week, don't wait to plan your trip to the tradeshow floor. Request a meeting with the BRM Technical Team in Booth #1617, and get ready to find Made in America gun tools for shotguns, rifles, pistols, revolvers, and paintball guns.