Author Topic: U.S. Model 1800 flintlock rifle serial #15 made at Harper’s Ferry Arsenal  (Read 5796 times)

Offline Don Stith

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Mike
 I am sure you know the typeII rifles were longer than the typeI.  You might want to address that too
 I have owned ones with serial numbers that matched to 1805 and 1807 as well as 1815 and 1817.  All gone now
Don

Offline Dphariss

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There are a number of things about the "short rifles" that lead me to believe that they were prototype 1803s. First they HAD to be making at LEAST one of these as a pattern piece at the time Lewis was there since they did not work from drawings or blue prints or precision measurements and Deerborne had a rifle he looked at and stipulated changes to. If Lewis saw it and liked it and said, make me 15 they would have, he had a letter telling them to make anything he wanted. It is also my understanding that there were 15 more rifles built than the original order called for ( I have read). I have also read that the 1792s (which Lewis would have been familiar with due to his service when they were used before being put in storage) was not particularly reliable and given this I can't see Lewis taking some along on an  expedition as he was embarking on. Then we have the barrel bursting problem. L&C had two rifles burst, very much like Pike had some 1803s burst during his trip of exploration from what I have read, apparently in the round portion at or close to the Oct to Rnd transition.  Did any of the 1792s have this issue? I don't have any idea. I personally think the shortened 1792 is unrealistic. BUT I cannot say someone claiming its what was carried is wrong just "unlikely". When Lewis was shot he knew it was one of the short rifles by the ball size. But the questions is "what ball size?". Its maddening for inquiring minds but we will never know. All we can do is look at the evidence, what there is, and guess.
I am no expert in this by any means but the 1792 scenario just does not make sense to me.

Dan
No, sir, I don't give 'em $#*!, I just tell the truth and they think it's $#*!. Harry S Truman

Offline mmcalc

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What is the standard bore, twist, and number of grooves for a production 1803 Rifle? I have seen .54 caliber, 7 groove, with a 1:48 twist sighted as the specification, but the citation is Flayderman's Guide to Antique American Firearms. I don't have that book, so I don't know their source or if it is accurate.

If Dearborn actually specified the rifle should “carry a ball of one thirtieth of a pound.” (as quoted in Notes on United States Ordnance, Vol. 1: Small Arms, 1776–1946) then that I take that to mean that the ball "carried" (meaning fired??) would be .538 in diameter. Which means the bore would need to be larger. A 25 (.571) or 26 (.564) bore would be the size of the bore if you follow the normal windage practices of the time. If you just use the other rule of thumb and go up two bore sizes, the bore would be 28 (.550) bore. If it was a very tight ball to bore fit, a 29 bore it would have been .544 in diameter, which would be impractical if one actually shot a .538 ball.

The ball size that is commonly cited as the standard US Army size for that period is a 1/32 lb (.526) ball. That sounds like it would work in a 30 bore barrel. So did the Army not follow the specification to use a rifle ball a 1/30 lb (.538) ball or am I interpreting the specification incorrectly, and what Dearborn actually meant was that the hole should be exactly the same size as a 1/30 lb (.538) ball?
 
And then what is the twist and the number of grooves? And how do we know? Did Dearborn specify those as well?

Mystified Mike

Offline Longknife

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MM, That's a very good question, I would like to see the exact quote from Dearborn. I have some (unpublished) articles written by a noted Historian on the HP 1803 and he discusses the bore size at length in that article. I have loaned those papers out to the Historian at Camp River Dubois and as soon as I retrieve them I will post some quotes from those articles, the bore size is NOT,,,.540!!! I also just had the pleasure of viewing a magnificent example of a late 1803 (w 36" barrel) that appeared to have a pristine bore! WOW, unfortunately I did not get to mic the bore but I know where it resides and am planning a visit in the near future!...Ed 
Ed Hamberg

Offline mmcalc

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MM, That's a very good question, I would like to see the exact quote from Dearborn. I have some (unpublished) articles written by a noted Historian on the HP 1803 and he discusses the bore size at length in that article. I have loaned those papers out to the Historian at Camp River Dubois and as soon as I retrieve them I will post some quotes from those articles, the bore size is NOT,,,.540!!! I also just had the pleasure of viewing a magnificent example of a late 1803 (w 36" barrel) that appeared to have a pristine bore! WOW, unfortunately I did not get to mic the bore but I know where it resides and am planning a visit in the near future!...Ed

Ed,

Thanks, I am looking forward to your information.  It is odd that that information isn't already out there, as popular as the 1803 rifle is.

I just obtained a nice set of 1803 1st pattern lock castings.   I imagine the bore of the late versions was the same as the early ones. I would like to build an accurate copy.  It will most likely require a custom barrel, but that's ok.

Mike

Offline spgordon

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Here's the full Dearborn letter (printed in Hicks, Notes on United States Ordnance. Volume 1: Small Arms, 1776-1940, p. 25):



Offline Longknife

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   Thanks Spgordon,,,, Mike, "'''The barrels of the rifles should.........be calculated for carrying a ball of one thirtieth a pound weight''''.---Hmmmm,,, It is my opinion this would suggest that the BALL should be 30 to the pound and my chart says that the ball would mic out at .537 but that is too big a ball for a.540 bore, just as you previously stated... Also I assume the bore on the late 1814 production guns with 36 inch barrels were of the same bore dia. as I have not read any thing different.

Colerain makes the early 1803 barrel, 33 inches in length and of .54 cal. They are full oct. at the breech end but the earlier ones were rounded on the bottom but you could round them by hand...Ed
« Last Edit: May 13, 2018, 10:57:58 PM by Longknife »
Ed Hamberg

Offline mmcalc

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"The barrels of the rifles should.........be calculated for carrying a ball of one thirtieth a pound weight"
"Be calculated" directs the designer to make the barrel capable of firing .537 balls and implies that the bore is not .537 in diameter, but something larger. The bores have to be closer to .57 caliber than .54 caliber if they intended to use conventional patches.
I have noticed that the specs for rifles were for the ball size and not the bore size. The Virginia Manufactory Rifles were required to shoot 1/40 lb balls (.488), the barrels gauge at about .510 or ~.50 caliber. Yet these are ofter quoted as being .49 caliber rifles.

I thought about getting a Colerain barrel, but I would like to replicate the real thing as closely as possible. Since the Colerain barrel is .54 caliber with 6 grooves I suspect it not actually historically accurate. It will always be a good possibility of course, if I can find someone to make an authentic copy, or if I can't find out what the real ones were.

By the way, weren't the Common rifles designed to use the same barrel? Does anyone have measurements for one of those?

Mike

Offline Bill Paton

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Original bore info for 1803/1814 Harpers Ferry short rifle and 1817 Common rifle:

My two original rifles as above have reasonable bores. Both are right hand twist with 7 grooves, and the lands are much wider than the grooves. I think the rifling is original to each rifle.

The HF rifle is dated 1816 on the lock and has a 36” Octagonal (on the top) and round barrel. The lands are about 2 1/2 times wider than the grooves. The bore admits a .520 jag easily all the way to the breech plug. A .530 jag stops 1 1/4” into the bore.

The S North Common Rifle has a 35 7/8” round barrel and is dated 1827 on the tang and 1829 on the lock plate. Groove width measures +/- .064 at the muzzle, and the lands measure +/- .284”. The bore admits a .530 jag easily to the bottom, but a .535 jag stops 1/4” into the bore.

I have not measured the twist rate of either, but both bores are good enough to do that.

Bill Paton
« Last Edit: May 14, 2018, 02:50:32 AM by Bill Paton »
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Offline mmcalc

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Bill,

Thank you for the information. Your checks indicate that the 1816 HF bore is between .520 and .530 in diameter, with a taper to something over .530 in the last 1 1/4", and the 1817 Rifle has a .530-.535 bore with a slight cone at the muzzle.

It sounds like Mr Dearborne's original instructions might have been changed, or the bore diameter calculations are/were done differently.

Have you ever shot them? I wonder if the outward taper was intentional, as I don't see how that would help accuracy, loading perhaps.

Mike

Offline mmcalc

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From the Rifle Shoppe page:

http://www.therifleshoppe.com/catalog_pages/us_arms/(500)_History_Facts_Description.htm

The rifling in all guns I have inspected (14 to date) which, I have found with original rifling, have the same shape of rifling. Average width .078 to .085 with .018 to .035 depth per side, with slightly oval or rounded bottom grooves and a twist of 1 turn in 49".

So it sounds like the HF rifles had a .535 bore with a 1:49 twist.

Mike

Offline Will Payne

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Wait that gun is an original.
🕯
Will