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Author Topic: Bill Large barrels  (Read 5924 times)
Dennis Glazener
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« on: December 19, 2009, 02:08:11 PM »

I have seen reference to the JJJJ marks on a William Large barrel and have owned several that didn't have those marks. I recently purchased a circa 1963 rifle that has a Bill Large barrel. On the flat, opposite the lock it has
"JJJJ"
  .L.  stamped. I know its a Bill Large barrel but wondered what the JJJJ stands for and why are some marked differently.

The barrel described is 1 inch across the flats, 42 1/4 inch long in .50 caliber. It is not swamped.

Dennis
 
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Roger Fisher
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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2009, 02:12:56 PM »

I vaguely recall reading that after Ol Bill died, his son (?) continued on awhile and marked them that away?   Not sure.
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wbgv
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« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2009, 02:16:58 PM »

his 'ranch' was called the 'JJJJ ranch'..the 4 J's stand for his 4 daughters whose names all started with J[sorry,I can't remember the 4 names...Jeanie,Janice,?,?
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mike small [wbgv]

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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2009, 02:23:08 PM »

WBJV has it right. the J's stood for his daughters first initials. He marked barrels a lot of different ways, sometimes with little sayings. Quite a character, used to come to Friendship with a pile of barrels in his car trunk. Those were the days as Archie Bunker says!
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TPH
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« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2009, 05:21:22 PM »

I vaguely recall reading that after Ol Bill died, his son (?) continued on awhile and marked them that away?   Not sure.

His Grandson, actually, he took over after Mr. Large passed away. He had been working with him for several years. The Grandson was making barrels as late as 1990. I had him make a M1855 Rifle Musket barrel in 1989 and it was a very fine barrel - a drop in replacement in an original stock. It was maker marked "JJJJ".
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T.P. Hern
Dave R
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« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2009, 12:27:13 PM »

All,

Sounds like everyone has a good handle on this conversation!As you know his four daughters names begin with the letter J, The  names with close but possibly not exact spelling are Jeanie, Joanne, Janette and Janice! I think this was a nice touch that the sometimes contrary W.M. Large added to his barrels, Case in point to his contrariness,If you ordered a certain caliber or length barrel from Bill and he thought you were out in left field he would change the length or caliber to what he thought you needed without consultation ! He built many different calibers but none so unusual as a 37 1/2 caliber that i purchased from my Ol friend Dave B a couple of years ago at Friendship!
Dave R
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kentucky bucky
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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2009, 06:26:52 PM »

The JJJJ barrels were made by Mr. Large in his later years, but his nephew Jim bill McKenzie "tried" to make some barrels and added JWM. He used all the same markings and added his initials. He never got "the hang of it". These barrels made without the old man's touch had a bad name and often had chatter marks, etc. There may have been some that were OK. I got burned with one and was lucky to trade it back to the same guy I got it from and got a different barrel. I thought I had made a great trade until someone "in the know" set me straight.
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John Henry
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2011, 05:42:41 PM »

Just a bit to add.  I visited Bill Large in '59 or'60 after developing a powerful desire to build a Hawken Rifle.  My dad and I got a tour of his shop in Irontown, Ohio.  His barrel boring, rifling, and milling machines were all from a government arsenal (Springfield, I think) where he worked during WWII.  The boring machine was designed to bore six .50 machine gun barrels at one time.  His rifling machine could be set to cut any pitch or even gain twist.  His barrels were all annealed. Like many men who learned a set of skills during the war, he had the chance to buy the surplus machinery.  His shop had a great fireplace against the back wall with mill stones on the sides and a crack from floor to ceiling that had been made when he fired his bronze civil war cannon one July fourth.  It had taken out his windows too. He was kind to me even if I was a teen with more ambition than skill or sense.  He even found a stock blank for me that had been cut in 1895 and was very well cured.  With a Bob Roller lock the rifle has taken deer and varmints a-plenty.  A few years later he made a .375 13/16" barrel 42 " long for a flintlock that shot straighter than anyone would believe until the Russ Hamm lock's spring broke.  Bill Large was a good man with a treasure trove of knowledge of Muzzle loader lore and whose barrels took a giant share of national matches back in the day.
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Shovelbuck
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2011, 07:33:16 PM »

As stated above, the J's are his daughters.  The .L. indicates it's a match grade barrel.
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Don Getz
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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2011, 08:17:27 PM »

If a barrel of Bill's has an "L" to indicate a match grade barrel, what grade barrel do you have when ther is no "L"......Don
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Shovelbuck
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« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2011, 09:26:04 PM »

 I can't find the original post by Mr. Bob Roller, but I had saved it as I found it interesting......................

Quote
The 4 "J" marks were an on again/off again thing. I sometimes helped Bill when he got behind on the barrels and would ask him what to mark them with. I mostly used W.M.Large when I did it. The "L"was an indicator that he had concaved the lands and it was a match grade barrel. The markings were done with individual stencils and I still mark my locks like that with my last name in a semi-circle and USA inside of that.

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Bob Roller
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« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2011, 07:48:42 AM »

The "L" indicated a bit more attention in the form of hand dressed lands(concave) and was or could be a special order from a known competitive shooter. Up until the last five years of his life,any of Bill's barrels could be considered as match grade. He used Pope style rifling in some of the bigger calibers and several "experts"said it wouldn't work with a patched round ball. It certainly did work and really well.
Toward the end of his career,he seemed to lose interest in the finely tuned barrels and concentrated on muskets and barrels for hunters and those who wanted a good barrel but did not shoot in matches. He had a bad blood pressure episode at Friendship in 1983 and later while working in the shop,he passed out and he put his hand on the rack bar of a rack and pinion gear system on a running rifling machine and had some ugly injuries from that. He was not big into what he called "Doctor's Medicines"and frequently used old time remedies based on May apple and yellow root and sometimes brandy.
As I said in the memorial I wrote about him in 1985 for Muzzle Blasts,Bill was unique and was the last of the old time gunsmiths that bridged the gap between those working in the 1880-1950 time frame. I owe most of what I can do today to him and his ability to teach a bonehead kid various old time skills. That began in 1953 and two years earlier,I had started into automobiles with the Model "J" Duesenberg and that also is a very strong interest,REAL classic cars,not the used cars we see today at car shows being foisted off as "classics".

Bob Roller
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Gaeckle
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« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2011, 11:22:23 AM »

What has happened to the equipment he was using? Does anybody know where it went off to? Is it being used today?
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T*O*F
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« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2011, 12:53:04 PM »

Quote
What has happened to the equipment he was using?
As noted in previous discussions, it was purchased by Jim McLenmore thru the facilitation of Bob Roller.
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Bob Roller
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« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2011, 01:27:08 PM »

Jim McLemore of Hebron,Indiana bought everything in Bill Large's old shop except the cob webs. I had suggested to the daughter that lives on the property that it would go to rust and ruin if it sat much longer. It took her a while to agree to sell it but she also lives in the real world that told her I was right. I didn't like going to that shop after Bill died,too many memories of what once was and waaaay too quiet. Some small tools such as micrometers and small files had been ruined by rust but there were many things that were still good like bullet moulds and hundreds of end mills stored along the wall by the Bridgeport milling machine.
Jim put some of the equipment back into service and some may never be used again.
His phone # is 1-219-552-4050.

Bob Roller
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Bob Roller
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« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2011, 02:14:32 PM »

It feels odd to reply to my own recent post but while writing it,I got to thinking about Jeanette McKenzie,the daughter of Bill and Shirley Large that lives there so I called her. I knew she had cancer surgery for cancer of the spleen and partly into the pancreas and seemed to be getting along but now she tells me that she has had cancerous growths on her arms.
Her voice sounded strained and I hope to drive over and see her soon. It's only 14 miles away.
She and I go back to 1953 when I first met Bill and I hate to hear or see someone I have known for so long facing such a terrible disease.

Bob Roller
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SHBTech
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« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2012, 01:05:57 PM »

For those that would like to see a few pictures of some of Bill's equipment, check out the photos at Sleepy Hill Barrels. There are also many other shots of Jim McLemore's current shop and even one of Bill himself.
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smokinbuck
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« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2012, 04:40:31 PM »

Bob,
Cancer is a horrible thing to have to experience but to see good friends suffer with it is mentally exhausting and creates a memory that aill last a lifetime. I try to enjoy my friends while I still have them and can help support them, as opposed to after they are gone.
Mark
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Mark
William Worth
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« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2012, 07:58:40 AM »

A friend of mine that lives in the Huntington, W.Va. area that knew Bill Large told me of being in his shop once and was taking stock of the clutter.  He knew that everything there had a story to tell and asked Bill about a jar of metal shavings that was sitting on the window sill.  The shavings were cuttings from gun barrel manufacture that ended up in the Battle of Midway in the S. Pacific.
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Bob Roller
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« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2012, 10:00:22 AM »

The story about the steel shavings is true.I have been in Bill's shop more than anyone on this or any other list or forum and they were there for a long time. During WW2,Bill worked at the Naval Ordnance Plant in South Chareleston,WV where the manufacture of 20 and 40MM rapid fire anti aircraft barrels were made. He worked with a German toolmaster who came to America about the same time as Hitler started his ranting and raving in the early 1930's and got out while getting was good. His former employer was the Mauser Rifle Works at Oberndorf where he was a cutter grinder. He and Bill developed methods of grinding chambering reamers for these 20's and 40's that could,would and did cut a finished chamber in as Bill put it, "One pop".
This helped to eleminate a big bottle neck in the production of these barrels and some of them did see service at the Battle of Midway in which a trap was laid for the Japanese Navy and assured their days were numbered in the Pacific. Bill was proud of that and had certificates of accomplishment and appreciation from every significant person in our government.
Later,he put his knowledge of barrels to use at the Army Proving Grounds in Maryland regarding the feared German 8.8cm (88MM) anti aircraft and anti everything else high velocity cannon. He told me when he heard that gun go off,it sounded more like a king size rifle's keen crack than the boom of one of ours and he then knew one thing for sure and that was the fact the barrel had a choke and after he looked thru it from breech to muzzle he saw it also had a gain twist. He said it was no wonder the German gunners would lay waste to our tanks at long ranges when this gun was installed on the Tiger Tank.The Sherman was hoplessly outclassed by this tank and gun combination and only the limited production of the Tiger made it possible to eventually defeat this 60 ton menace to all Allied armor.
One of these tanks,commanded by a German hotshot,Michael Wittman,reduced a British armored regiment to junk in 11 minutes at Villers-Bocage in France. One old Brit who was interviewed said they didn't even have time to piss in their pants before it was over and he was a POW.

Bob Roller


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Dphariss
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« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2012, 10:49:12 PM »

Thanks for all the insights.

Dan
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smokinbuck
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« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2012, 11:34:21 PM »

Bob,
Interesting stories and fond memories. That's what good friendships create.
Mark
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Mark
kickon
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« Reply #22 on: August 06, 2012, 07:35:06 PM »

 just acquired a "custom" flintlock 45 cal with a W M Large barrel and a brass plass on the butt plate labeled "Wayne Shelley" Pt Alegany PA 1968"

Any thoughts?Huh?
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mountainman70
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« Reply #23 on: August 06, 2012, 08:01:42 PM »

Welcome to the world of The Legend of Bill Large.I had the honor of visiting him in his shop in "Arntn,Oh"spelling as in the local vernacular of us southern Wva boys.In the mid 70s when I was delivering auto parts from South Charleston,Wv to the tristate area.Having been a new recruit of the Mountaineer Flintlock Rifles in 1976,all I heard from the guys with the custom guns was Bill large this,and that,etc.I had to meet this enigma,and on my next trip to Ironton-correct spelling-I drove to the JJJJ ranch,and made his acquiaintance,with the proper referals of several fellows in the club.
Everything I have read here just makes me miss him that much more.It was very good.
I now have a few guns with his name on the barrels,but the personal memories are what really shine.Find out what that barrel likes,and enjoy it,my friend,and welcome to the forums.Best regards,Dave Fortner

BTW,any of y'all on here that knew Gene Hyre of StAlbans,Wva,he passed on couple evening ago,and we had his sevice today in StAlbans,followed by 10 of us shooting a volley of blank charges in the cemetary,and several of Genes rifles were used.He was as fine a guy as Uncle Bill.
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James
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« Reply #24 on: August 06, 2012, 09:41:12 PM »

just acquired a "custom" flintlock 45 cal with a W M Large barrel and a brass plass on the butt plate labeled "Wayne Shelley" Pt Alegany PA 1968"

Any thoughts?Huh?

Wayne's relative, (T.R),nephew I think, did some tractor overhauls for us in the early 80s. Wayne's shop was on the Lillibridge Road near Port A.. T.R. took me in Wayne's shop in '82. I don't remember if Wayne was in a nursing home then or had passed. T.R. had to use one of Wayne's machines for a tractor part. I looked around as best I could without seeming too nosey. As a young man, I was overwhelmed by the # of in-work wood projects he had. It was a pretty good sized shop. What I remember above all else were several stock blanks and a shaped youth, quite small, fullstock. I remember it being well proportioned, comparable to the small Hacker Martin guns in Foxfire 5.   I have always wondered what one of his completed guns looked like. I would like to see photos of the gun if you wouldn't mind. Wayne still has relatives in that area, one is a doctor in Port A. and he might give you more info if you contacted him.
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