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Photos of chamber and forcing cone of Winchester '97 after reaming.

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by MCMXI, Aug 30, 2008.

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  1. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    I hope someone here finds this interesting. I recently bought a Winchester 1897 made in 1921 that basically hasn't been shot in almost 90 years!! The original barrel is pristine indicating that it was probably carried a lot (based on outside condition) but never fired (prison service :confused: ). Following the advice of ReloaderFred, I bought a chamber gauge and as Fred suspected, measured the chamber to be 2-5/8" (maybe even 2-9/16"). I sent it away to a gunsmith to have the chamber reamed to 2-3/4" and have the forcing cone lengthened from what appeared to be about 1/8" to what is now at least 1". Anyway, the before and after photos tell the story. Now I can finally shoot this beauty using 2-3/4" shells without destroying it!!

    The forcing cone hasn't been polished although the chamber was honed to a nice finish. Maybe a few hundred rounds through the barrel will help to polish the forcing cone. The other option is some fine paper wrapped around a copper brush and elbow grease.

    :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2009
  2. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

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    The cone jobs I've had done are highly polished.

    I think yours needs to be likewise.
     
  3. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    I agree and will be polishing it this weekend. The gun smith charged me $85 to ream the chamber and lengthen the forcing cone and I knew going in that he wasn't going to do any polishing.

    :)
     
  4. sm

    sm member

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    I agree with Dave.

    Yes I find it interesting and appreciate your sharing with pictures to assist others as they do a search on this topic.

    Steve
     
  5. MMCSRET

    MMCSRET Member

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    i inherited a '97 from my Grandfather, he bought it new in 1918 when my father was born. It is marked 2 3/4' chamber. Were the different chamber lengths an option? I have been using the gun since 1955 and it has never been modified in any way.
     
  6. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    MMCSRET, my original 1921 20" (riot) barrel doesn't have any chamber size markings on it ... it just says 12 gauge (see photos). Is your barrel original? Since your barrel has 2-3/4" stamped on it and mine doesn't, your chamber probably measures 2-3/4". I've attached a pdf file from Brownell's which has some excellent information on chamber size and forcing cone length. If you look at the first two photos in my original post, you can see that the chamber depth is somewhere around 2-9/16" or 2-5/8" (maybe even less). It's clearly not even close to 2-3/4". I could have bought 2-5/8" shells and be done with it but 2-3/4" shells are much more common, both in terms of fired cases lying around the range for reloading, and factory loads.

    Steve, thanks ... I'm just trying to shed some light on something that is important but easily overlooked. ReloaderFred was the one that REALLY helped me out so many thanks to him.

    :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2009
  7. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    MMCSRET,

    When your shotgun was new, the only shotgun shells available were roll crimped. Now all that's available are star crimped. When the two crimps open upon firing, the mouth of the star crimp extends about 1/8" to 3/16" into the forcing cone farther than a roll crimp does. When the plastic wads we use now come out of the shell, they're holding the shot in an almost solid state, whereas the old over powder/over shot combination didn't. It's this situation that causes problems with the old '97's. If continually fired in this condition, the frame will eventually crack and ruin the gun.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred

    PS: 1858, thanks for the kind words. That old gun should give you good service now.
     
  8. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    Fred,
    Could you shed some light on the issue of why my barrel (made in 1921) doesn't have 2-3/4" stamped on it whereas MMCSRET's barrel (made in/before 1918) does? It's got me wondering if MMCSRET's barrel is original or whether Winchester made a change. To my thinking, the only safe way that Winchester could omit any chamber dimensions on the barrel of a 1921 shotgun is if the ONLY shells available in the whole of the US at that time were suitable for their shotgun i.e. the longest shells available could be safely fired in their shotgun, therefore, there was no need to specify the chamber size. Does that make any sense?

    Thanks.

    :)
     
  9. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    1858,

    The Winchester Model 1897 was the first shotgun Winchester chambered for the 2 3/4" shells, which were all roll crimped. There were probably some transition guns, as the supply of shotgun shells during this period probably consisted of both sizes. (I'm old, but not that old, so I don't know for sure)

    I've seen some guns that were stamped "2 3/4 Chamber", but none of mine are, including my Black Diamond. My "newest" Model 97 was built in 1924, and it's not stamped, either. My wife's solid frame 97 was made in 1899 and she shoots it regularly in matches. Of course it's not marked, either.

    Perhaps someone with more knowledge of early Winchester history could shed some light on the subject, because I truly don't know.

    Fred
     
  10. 4sooth

    4sooth Member

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    1897 Disaster

    Saw a once beautiful 1897 at the Second Chance pin shoot back in the eighties which was in the possession of Bill Laughridge of Cylinder and Slide.

    One of his customers had loaded his own ammo on a Mec 12 ga. press.The load was ounce and one eighth of shot over what was should have been about 17-18 grains of 700X.However the novice had failed to put a powder bushing in the charge bar!

    The gun actually held for one shot--on the second it blew in half just in front of the reciever!Customer wanted his money back for the loader!
     
  11. MMCSRET

    MMCSRET Member

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    My 1918 gun is all original and has been in continuos use. I just got off the phone with my uncle(born 1924), he grew up using the gun and he assured me it had never been altered . I also have from the same source a 1912 that is labeled 16 ga. 2 9/16. and it is also all original.
     
  12. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    MMCSRET, thanks for checking on your shotguns. Maybe Fred hit the nail on the head ...

    ... another possibility is that gun smiths or "dealers" stamped the barrels themselves. It sure would be great to see some photos if you have a chance. I'm not trying to be a PITA but I am trying to gain a better understanding of these wonderful old shotguns.

    :)
     
  13. MMCSRET

    MMCSRET Member

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    I am intelligence handicapped and don't own a camera of any kind so I won't be posting any pictures. Thanks to Fred as that clears it up for me, also.
     
  14. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    If you know a friendly gunsmith, you might have him drop a chamber gauge in your gun, just to be sure. I've seen several fine old 97's with cracked frames, and you certainly wouldn't want to lose that one. Hopefully, your gun is properly chambered.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
     
  15. sm

    sm member

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    I appreciate all this sharing folks, I really do!
    Thanks!

    Again, this will assist many folks that have questions, and not just THR members, also anyone doing a Internet search on the subjects.


    Stan Baker Bore Diameter Tool.

    Do any of you folks have one?
    I was just thinking if you do, how neat it would be to have the bores measured and "kept on file" if you will.


    Regards,

    Steve
     
  16. DillHarris

    DillHarris Member

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    Appreciate the thread. I just got an old shotgun I was wondering about the chamber length. Here's the answer. Thanks.
     
  17. Gordon

    Gordon Member

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    I too appreciate this thread. I have a nice 16 ga. 97 I haven't been shooting because of this chamber/forcing cone issue. Hopefully I'll get off my butt and find someone to do it-right. Thanks again!
     
  18. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    I started polishing the forcing cone yesterday using some 45 micron paste from Buehler and a cordless drill with a cleaning rod and some old rags but it's slow going. I didn't want to get too aggressive with it. I'll post a photo or two once the forcing cone is nice and shiny.

    :)
     
  19. ScottsGT

    ScottsGT Member

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    Is there anyway to measure this without a chamber guage? I have one that is a break down model. Made somewhere around the 1940's. I too would like to get it updated if needed, but it seems as if a lesser expensive way of measuring would be in order. Maybe a dowel that could just touch the edge of the forcing cone? If mine needs it, I'm planning on sending it to The Squibber. Apparently a CAS expert on the '97
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2008
  20. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    Scott, a dowel could work. If it helps at all I just measured the chamber gauge from the forward edge of the first annular groove (shown above) to the chamfer on the front end of the gauge which would stop against the forcing cone when its fully chambered. It's exactly 2-3/4".

    I managed to finish polishing the forcing cone and it's a HUGE improvement!! See the before (first photo), after reaming and cutting the forcing cone (second photo) and finally the finished product (third, fourth and fifth photos). "The Squibber" did my chamber so you may have to do some polishing if you send the shotgun to him.

    :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2009
  21. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    Another photo of the polished forcing cone ... sure looks better now!! Looks like I need to clean the CCD on the old camera though.

    :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2009
  22. ScottsGT

    ScottsGT Member

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    What tool did you use to get up inside the chamber to polish it?
     
  23. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    Scott, I used some 400 grit paper wrapped around some patches and rags which were wrapped around a cleaning rod and of course a cordless drill. I also used some 45 micron and 9 micron oil-based polishing solutions but I'm not sure if they were necessary. The forcing cone is just that, a cone, so it's not the easiest surface to polish. If I did this every day, I'd make up a plug of some sort with the the required profile and wrap paper/patches around that.

    Here are some more (better) photos that I took in natural light.

    :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2009
  24. RaisedByWolves

    RaisedByWolves member

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    1858, Im a Tool & Die maker and all I can say is......





    NICE WERX!!!!!
     
  25. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    RaisedByWolves, thanks ... I'm going to do a bit more polishing on the chamber walls to remove some of the marks left by the paper ... but not too much.

    :)
     
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