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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:13 am 
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Mil-Surp Psychosis
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How exactly were rifles manufactured in the 1870's and 1880's? What were the types of machines and tools used? Techniques? Did they heat treat rifles back then like today? How was heat treating performed? Were the machines used driven by manual power, electricity, steam perhaps? One another thing is rifling, how the heck was rifling cut? How did they machine the rifles bore? How were the barrel jackets on 1888 Comission rifles made? Were they machined from solid bar stock? Were the receivers simply cast as a solid chunk of steel then machined and filed away until it was finished? What about bluing and metal finishes? All of this interests me just as much if not more than the weapons themselves. I've done lots of googling but have found little information on the subject of gun making in that era. I do hope someone could shed some light on this for me, perhaps even post a few pictures of antique machinery?

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:41 am 
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I can tell you alittle about the machines because I went to school to become a machinest and on one of our field trips we went to a machining museum. it was really interesting.

from the 1880's - about 1920 in the united states(or from 1900-1930 in russia) machine shop would be long and narrow in shape. at one end of the shop there would be a single engine that either steam or diesel or even electric motors dependin to the time period exactly, that would drive a shaft over head that ran the entire length of the building. this engine would run at a constant speed all shift. each machine would have a drive belt that would run from the machine to the drive shaft over head, each machine had a transmision inside to control cutting speed and a clutch to stop the machine between parts. it was a very dangerous system that nodoubtably hurt/killed many men. I hope this helps.

Here is a pic that I used on a report on the subject. it is a more modern shop that used this method with electric engines to run the drive shafts, one might ask why not put an engine on every machine, keep in mind that when that technology was derived they were a very expensive luxury that not many shops could afford.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 1:22 am 
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Thank you for posting! I just learned something new today. :D

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 3:46 am 
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Gunfreak25, I have a small book (80 p.) called "Fire-Arms Manufacture 1880" that will most likely answer all your questions. Lots of historical info plus it has some illustrations of the various machines that were used. You can get it from: http://www.lindsaybks.com/prod/allbks.html

or if you want, PM me and I would be glad to loan it to you for a while.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 3:54 am 
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Sending a PM now. :D

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:07 pm 
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My first job was at an electric motor shop that had been in business for ever and a day. They had a lathe that ran off of that ran off a leather overhead belt like that. It has been converted to run off of a electric motor but it was the most accurate lathe that I hav ever been around.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:48 am 
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Lindsay Publications has books on historical manufacturing and engineering. They reprint out-of-date books, like these:

http://www.lindsaybks.com/bks10/muni/index.html
http://www.lindsaybks.com/bks10/rifles/index.html
http://www.lindsaybks.com/bks6/ms00/index.html

Interesting stuff.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 4:23 am 
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Steamer, thanks for the book. Got it yesterday. :D Going to start reading it tonight, thanks!

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:59 am 
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If you want to see how they did it in the 1700's I suggest checking out the video "Colonial Gunsmith of Williamsburg" made in 1969. You follow master gunsmith Wallace Gusler turn a piece of raw iron and a block of wood into a BEAUTIFUL musket using ONLY the tools and techniques that they had in the 1700's. After I watched that I had a whole new respect for the title of gunsmith.

If you're interested I could send you a copy (I was able to transfer it from VHS to DVD).

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