Author Topic: Side plates , just for looks or added strength ?  (Read 1462 times)

Offline Tim Ault

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Side plates , just for looks or added strength ?
« on: January 14, 2021, 12:14:27 AM »
I've often wondered about this , most all early rifles had them , they were fairly large most used with two lock bolts . Then we move south and the plates seem to shrink and become more minimal . Then later into the percussion rifles there's simply just a "washer" under the lock bolt . So were the big side plates used just for added decoration or did or do they add strength to the stock ? And if it was for added strength why did they fall out of favor ?

Thanks ,Tim

Online Stoner creek

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Re: Side plates , just for looks or added strength ?
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2021, 12:20:47 AM »
Itís a fancy washer.
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Offline smart dog

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Re: Side plates , just for looks or added strength ?
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2021, 01:25:43 AM »
Hi Tim,
That is a really good question and one I've wondered about myself!!  I think by the time of the American long rifle, the 2-bolt side plate was more or less tradition.  Obviously, it functions as a fancy washer for the bolts but the strength issue is very unclear to me.  Sixteenth and 17th century matchlocks and wheelocks often, or perhaps even mostly, did not have them.  They usually had nothing, washers, or some other type of decoration.  So back that far, there did not seem to be any concern about strength without a big heavy side plate.  I've considered 2 hypotheses.  One is that tying the washers, whose use protecting the stock from the bolts is obvious, together in a single plate might reduce the risk of losing a washer when the bolts are removed for cleaning the gun.  The second hypothesis is that the plate offered a large space for decoration.  It is curious that muskets in the 18th century all had heavy side plates that got progressively smaller during the century, probably as a cost cutting measure. Eventually, they just had washers or in the case of British muskets, Lovell cups.  I tend not to believe strength was ever the motive but rather tying the washers together and creating a canvas for decoration.

dave
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Offline bama

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Re: Side plates , just for looks or added strength ?
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2021, 07:05:10 PM »
The side plate is a fancy washer to help protect the stock from damage of the bolts being taken in and out. That being said I have seen heavy or thick side plates and very thin side plates and just plain washers and I don't believe any of them added strength to the stock. The area where the lock bolts go through the stock is inherently a weak spot due to all of the wood removal for the barrel, lock and triggers. Most people over tighten the locks after cleaning the gun, over time this over tightening causes fractures in the wood and eventually a break. The side plate may have been an attempt to add strength to prevent this breaking and eventually turned into a decoration as well. Whatever it's intent was a nicely designed side plate adds beauty to the gun.
Jim Parker

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Offline wmrike

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Re: Side plates , just for looks or added strength ?
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2021, 11:03:56 PM »
Guns have always been marquees of artistic flair.  Although a couple of washers may serve the purpose of retaining the lock, there can be little debate that a sideplate looks better.  I view the sideplate as functional art.  And it has to add some measure of strength, but that is probably more a matter of serendipity.

Next up - Why are ramrod pipes faceted?

Offline Ross Dillion

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Re: Side plates , just for looks or added strength ?
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2021, 11:18:15 PM »
I view it as just a washer for the lock bolt. Especially on Southern Mountain Rifles with only one lock bolt. I guess on locks with two bolts there may be some structural integrity added but at the cost wood removal for the mortise.

Offline flehto

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Re: Side plates , just for looks or added strength ?
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2021, 04:32:59 PM »
The sideplate I think is a 2 hole washer...because most are NOT engraved. .....Fred

Offline alacran

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Re: Side plates , just for looks or added strength ?
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2021, 03:22:19 PM »
If a side plate is designed properly, it hides the trigger guard pin and the trigger pin.
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Offline Gaeckle

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Re: Side plates , just for looks or added strength ?
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2021, 05:05:39 PM »
Guns have always been marquees of artistic flair. 
Next up - Why are ramrod pipes faceted?

Artistically, it is to establish continuity and that continuity is further established by faceting the butplate.