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Revolver manufacture history?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by damoc, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. damoc

    damoc Well-Known Member

    I was wondering if anybody had a link to some history on early revolver
    manufacture perhaps with pics of the tools that were used back in the 1800s
    in a gunsmithy.

    I have always been amazed at how they could have built such a tool back
    then before the advent of machine tools and imagine some gunsmith labouring over a single revolver for a month.

    If anybody has any imformation,links or vids it would be apreciated
  2. StrawHat

    StrawHat Well-Known Member

    I don't have any links but there were machines and such being used at the time both by factories and individual gunsmiths. Lathes and such were powered by leather belts which n turn were powered by water or steam or even horsepower. Leather belts were also used to provide power to trip hammers used in forging.

    And the time it took for a smith to turn out a working product would surprise you. Less than a week, if he wanted to stay in business. This is for a utility firearm, not an engraved or target model.
  3. arcticap

    arcticap Well-Known Member

  4. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    Charles Dickens toured Colt's London plant in 1854 and wrote an article about the machines and the workers. I cannot find the whole thing on the net but it is in the old Haven and Belden book.
  5. damoc

    damoc Well-Known Member

    Thanks all for reply,s im still reading replys

    straw hat I probably did not use the correct terminology I knew they had
    laths,grinders,drills etc I have owned a couple of antiques myself what I meant by machine tools was more modern x,y,z axis controlled cutting tools.
    (which to my knowledge are mostly computer controlled now)

    I own a pietta 1858 and had it down cleaning it the other day and marvelled
    at how it might have been constructed originally during the civil war.
    I have done a lot of blacksmithing so have a bit of an idea and im sure most
    of this pietta was made with machine tools.

    for example i look at the frame and see that some work could be performed with heat and hammer and other with grinding but it still looks like a tremendous undertaking and 1 slight mistake would ruin it all
  6. Berkley

    Berkley Well-Known Member

    These are also from Haven & Belden, two of a series of illustrations from "A Day at the Armory of Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company, Hartford, Connecticut" published in the United States Magazine, March, 1857.
  7. damoc

    damoc Well-Known Member

    cool thanks berkley thats the kind of thing i was looking for
  8. damoc

    damoc Well-Known Member

  9. arcticap

    arcticap Well-Known Member

    Eli Whitney Jr. produced the first 1100 Walker Colts

    Below is some info. about Whitney's early production methods gleaned from previous threads:




    http://www.eliwhitney.org/new/museum/eli-whitney/memoir (below)

    Last edited: Jan 12, 2011
  10. Berkley

    Berkley Well-Known Member

    A few more:
  11. damoc

    damoc Well-Known Member

  12. damoc

    damoc Well-Known Member

    thanks articap those links will give me another research lead
  13. arcticap

    arcticap Well-Known Member

    Here's the link to a photo of an actual Colt barrel rifling machine:

    -> http://www.flickr.com/photos/ctarchives/4109552319/

    -> http://www.flickr.com/photos/ctarchives/4109552131/

    Here's some photos of other Colt machines that are not dated, but possibly from the same era.

    1. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ctarchives/4110317120/

    2. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ctarchives/4110317088/

    3. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ctarchives/4110317062/

    4. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ctarchives/4109552487/

    5. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ctarchives/4110316992/

    6. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ctarchives/4110316908/

    7. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ctarchives/4110316870/

    8. This next photo could be from a later date:


    Here's a page about the history of the milling machine from 1810 on:

    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  14. mykeal

    mykeal Well-Known Member

    To an old engineer this stuff is fascinating, even riveting, to use a very bad pun. Thank you, Arcticap.
  15. arcticap

    arcticap Well-Known Member

    Thanks mykeal. If anyone would like to see a variety of older machinery, check out this extensive Antique Machinery and History thread that has lots of interesting photos, including some of steam engines that must be similar to those used to power the Colt plant. Some of the smaller photos in the thread can be clicked on to enlarge them.

    Warning: It's 31 pages long!


    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  16. damoc

    damoc Well-Known Member

    yes thanks arcticap
  17. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    This is a fascinating topic. 19th century firearms in particular are THE BEST window into understanding how modern industry developed. In 1800 there was no modern industry. The tiny handful of factories relied on water power running machines made mostly of leather and wood. Every firearm--indeed every single screw and nail--was hand made, just as it had been for the prior 300 years. By 1860, within a SINGLE LIFETIME, coal had replaced water and truly interchangeable parts had been developed. The creation of John Hall's rifle heralded the shift. I think the Hall Rifle may be the single most significant piece of industrial technology in the history of the world. The technology and methods used to make it make VIRTUALLY EVERYTHING we use today possible. His little operation, funded by government contracts and beset with troubles and delays, was the birthplace of a long list of fundamental industrial methods. All to make every screw like every other screw.
  18. andrewstorm

    andrewstorm member

    1800s gun making

    It is what Henry ford based his assembly line on,each worker completed a different task,on the way to final fit and finish,good steele was the key,here in detroit,ive seen many a old jiggs and metal lathes go to the scrap yard:barf:

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