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McNally
Sep 12, 2007

Ask me about Proposition 305

Do you like muskets?


In 1811 inventor John Hall patented his design for a breechloading rifle that would become the first mass-produced breechloader ever to be adopted by any country...

in the world.


He successfully submitted his design to the Ordnance Department for testing, resulting in a contract for 100 rifles in 1817 so they could perform the tests. His design was found to be superior in every way to the muzzleloading rifles then in service, leading to a larger order and the adoption of the Model 1819 rifle. They would be made under Hall's supervision at the national arsenal at Harpers Ferry, who would also oversee the construction and installation of the machinery needed to produce the rifle.

You see, Hall's design wasn't merely the first breechloader in US service. It was also the first firearm ever produced that was completely interchangeable.



It is, however, a rather odd looking gun.





With the hammer on the top of the breech block, the sights need to be offset to the left.



This, hilariously, includes the front sight.



The breech is opened by means of the trigger-looking lever in front of the actual trigger.



This is what latches the breech in place.





The breechblock then tips up and you then load the chamber and make ready to fire.



About 20,000 Model 1819 Hall rifles were constructed at Harpers Ferry from 1823 to 1840. There was also two model of carbines produced and a further run of percussion rifles in the 1840s. Initially made as flintlocks, the Model 1819 was, like most rockbangers in inventory, converted to percussion in the 1850s.

How did Hall achieve parts interchangeability in 1811? Maching tooling of the time wasn't capable of that level of precision. The answer is actually fairly simple: He made all the parts to fit a set of jigs. If you can't make them to standard, hand-fit them all to standard. He made tools more better.

Forgotten Weapons has a pretty good episode on the Model 1819 and goes into more detail than I can at the moment. All the books about Halls are out of print and cost $Yikes.

McNally fucked around with this message at 05:47 on Sep 28, 2020

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Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011
THIS SPACE FOR RENT


McNally posted:

How did Hall achieve parts interchangeability in 1811? Maching tooling of the time wasn't capable of that level of precision. The answer is actually fairly simple: He made all the parts to fit a set of jigs. If you can't make them to standard, hand-fit them all to standard.

According to the FW video, hand-fitting to jigs is what Hall's predecessors were doing when they claimed to have interchangeable parts. Hall's own lasting contribution was less the rifle and more the machine tools he spent several years inventing so he could manufacture parts that would interchange straight out of the box.

McNally
Sep 12, 2007

Ask me about Proposition 305

Do you like muskets?


Somebody Awful posted:

According to the FW video, hand-fitting to jigs is what Hall's predecessors were doing when they claimed to have interchangeable parts. Hall's own lasting contribution was less the rifle and more the machine tools he spent several years inventing so he could manufacture parts that would interchange straight out of the box.

gently caress, goddamned unreliable brain memory.

Cyrano4747
Sep 25, 2006



Goddamn that is bizarre and interesting.

You're getting into some rarified air with these old rifles.

What was the military service like for these? Why weren't they adopted more widely? I'm guessing cost was prohibitive compared to your typical muzzle loader? Who ended up carrying them?

That breech - do you load it with powder and ball like it's a revolver or something (kind of like how you fill the cylinder's chambers?) How do you ram the ball in? Did they ever try a paper cartridge for it? How good is the seal with the barrel - any complaints about fouling spitting back at the user etc?

How about use in the field? Is fouling an issue beyond normal "yep it's a BP gun" poo poo?

glynnenstein
Feb 18, 2014



Hell yeah.

McNally
Sep 12, 2007

Ask me about Proposition 305

Do you like muskets?


Cyrano4747 posted:

Goddamn that is bizarre and interesting.

You're getting into some rarified air with these old rifles.

What was the military service like for these? Why weren't they adopted more widely? I'm guessing cost was prohibitive compared to your typical muzzle loader? Who ended up carrying them?

That breech - do you load it with powder and ball like it's a revolver or something (kind of like how you fill the cylinder's chambers?) How do you ram the ball in? Did they ever try a paper cartridge for it? How good is the seal with the barrel - any complaints about fouling spitting back at the user etc?

How about use in the field? Is fouling an issue beyond normal "yep it's a BP gun" poo poo?

My reference materials don't go into any great details on the Hall and Hall-specific books are both expensive and out of print, so at the moment these aren't questions I have all the answers to. But I have been able to dig up a little and from what I can tell:

These were issued out to specialized troops, like all the military rifles of the period were. They weren't adopted more widely because they were expensive as crap and time consuming to make compared to a muzzleloader. The seal with the barrel wasn't great (think clapped out revolver cylinder gap) and got worse as the rifles saw wear and tear. Guys who shoot them now report gas leakage getting them at the hairline and their trigger hands.

And given how grody the inside of the breech block on this one is, I'd say fouling was definitely an issue. In fact, I genuinely have no idea how the breech block was supposed to have been cleaned.

Cyrano4747
Sep 25, 2006



I've read similar stuff about other types of early BP breach loaders, so that tracks. The Dreyse apparently had issue with leakage when brand new. That's one of the grounds that the Brits used to poo poo on it, although all things being equal it was probably a worthwhile trade-of.

Metallic cartridges start making a lot more sense when you think of them as disposable seals for breaches. You can do most of the other fun cartridge poo poo like not carrying loose powder everywhere with paper, but having one shot breach seals really makes for a better user experience.

Fearless
Sep 3, 2003

DRINK MORE MOXIE



Firearms and artillery really drove the whole parts interchangeability practice forward didn't it? Kinda neat to think that the assembly lines that belch out cars would largely be impossible without the move to standardization that began in weapons production.

Shooting Blanks
Jun 6, 2007

Real bullets mess up how cool this thing looks.

-Blade




Fearless posted:

Firearms and artillery really drove the whole parts interchangeability practice forward didn't it? Kinda neat to think that the assembly lines that belch out cars would largely be impossible without the move to standardization that began in weapons production.

Interchangeable parts were a huge thing for gun manufacturers, combined with early mechanization of labor. Springfield Armory in Massachusetts has a pretty great showcase of various machines used in firearms production, showcasing the overhead belt drive used to run everything.

I can't find any photos, including my own, but there's some video of a few of the machines here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIfyzai6Uzk#t=1787s

flightless greeb
Jan 28, 2016



That's awesome! Another neat piece of history id never heard of. I always learn something from your threads, now only if you could learn to handle lighting for a photography lol

Cyrano4747
Sep 25, 2006



McNally posted:

My reference materials don't go into any great details on the Hall and Hall-specific books are both expensive and out of print, so at the moment these aren't questions I have all the answers to.

What are the go-to materials on these guns? Which books etc? I can poke around in a few corners and see what I can dig up

madeintaipei
Jul 13, 2012



flightless greeb posted:

That's awesome! Another neat piece of history id never heard of. I always learn something from your threads, now only if you could learn to handle lighting for a photography lol

Shaocaholica
Oct 29, 2002

Fig. 5E


Flash powder is just black powder?

McNally
Sep 12, 2007

Ask me about Proposition 305

Do you like muskets?


flightless greeb posted:

That's awesome! Another neat piece of history id never heard of. I always learn something from your threads, now only if you could learn to handle lighting for a photography lol

Funny you should mention that, I'm about to order some lighting sets so I can start a YouTube channel on muskets. I figure the lights will also help with photography.

Cyrano4747 posted:

What are the go-to materials on these guns? Which books etc? I can poke around in a few corners and see what I can dig up

I'm looking at Vintage Hall's Breechloaders by R.T. Huntington and Hall's Military Breechloaders by Peter A. Schmidt

kupachek
Aug 5, 2015

We both like to hang out in public bathrooms?!

McNally posted:

Funny you should mention that, I'm about to order some lighting sets so I can start a YouTube channel on muskets. I figure the lights will also help with photography.


I'm looking at Vintage Hall's Breechloaders by R.T. Huntington and Hall's Military Breechloaders by Peter A. Schmidt

I believe I have a copy of Huntington's book somewhere in a stack. I'll have to dig it out and add it to my digitization list at some point soon.

Cyrano4747
Sep 25, 2006



I don't know what the deal is with ILL ~in these uncertain times~ but worldcat is showing about a dozen copies in libraries across the US, and your better public libraries usually know how to handle ILL.

McNally
Sep 12, 2007

Ask me about Proposition 305

Do you like muskets?


Cyrano4747 posted:

I don't know what the deal is with ILL ~in these uncertain times~ but worldcat is showing about a dozen copies in libraries across the US, and your better public libraries usually know how to handle ILL.

I tracked down a couple copies on eBay and I'll probably pull the trigger on 'em tonight.

McNally
Sep 12, 2007

Ask me about Proposition 305

Do you like muskets?


McNally posted:

I tracked down a couple copies on eBay and I'll probably pull the trigger on 'em tonight.

One of them, the older book, had sold while I was still out of the house. The other one is on the way, though. I'll make an effort post if I learn anything good from it.

And I just found a copy of Huntington's book on AbeBooks so whoo, got 'em both.

McNally fucked around with this message at 05:41 on Sep 30, 2020

Vindolanda
Feb 13, 2012

It's just like him too, y'know?


I might have missed a post on this (it has been a long week) but based on a comment on the Forgotten Weapons video on the Hall rifle I found an account of someone in the Mexican-American war (I think) using a Hall. I remember one part where heís given one for a special mission and basically told ďPlease bring it back in one piece, BondĒ, or whatever the Q quote was. He mentions using the breechblock as a stand-alone pistol to hold off a bar full of bandidos.

Canít find the reference now as Iím on my phone but it had the level of possible exaggeration necessary to all good war memoirs - the bar standoff ends up with him being challenged to a knife fight, punching the opponent out and then being treated very well by the comrades of the guy he was fighting. I think there may have been flashing eyed raven haired beauties who were most impressed with his Yankee daring.

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Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011
THIS SPACE FOR RENT


The adventure continues.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b53dlItu4r4

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