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British / Spanish guns and how they are made .


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Following on from a thread about AyA's I suggested that a thread talking about the differences between British and Spanish  gun making methods and ther merits would be an interesting discussion .

This would be a wide ranging topic and there will be many opinions .I would suggest that the conversation be largely restricted to side by side guns of the 20C and probably the second half due to the rise and numbers of imported guns since 1950 .

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Gunman said:

Following on from a thread about AyA's I suggested that a thread talking about the differences between British and Spanish  gun making methods and ther merits would be an interesting discussion .

This would be a wide ranging topic and there will be many opinions .I would suggest that the conversation be largely restricted to side by side guns of the 20C and probably the second half due to the rise and numbers of imported guns since 1950 .

 

 

Gunman, if I am right, one major difference is in the assembly of the barrels. That is brazing compared to soldering. Perhaps you could comment on this please?

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Allow me to start by saying I started my Guntarde career as an apprentice at Webley and Scott ,age 16 in 1968 and worked in manufacture , repair and restoration till I retired in 2016  . I have worked on all manner of shotguns and have had some experience of most work involved .

 

Most British built side by side shotguns had barrels that were made with a lump and two tube brazed together , there were several variations but thats another point , the ribs were then fitted and soldered or tinned on with a high percentage tin solder .

Continental makers tended to assemble the barrels and braze them as a whole in a furnace .The Spanish continued to do so .

British gunmaker after WW2 continued to use brazed lump barrels as they were geared up to do so and saw no reason to change ,.Many of the smaller makers running down due to reduced demand and the few larger companies like W & S refusing to or not having the money to invest in new machinery and techniques continued as they had done for years .

The post WW2  British guntarde suffered from a terminal  case of it works so why change  which eventually lead to it demise .

London makes tended to use Copper barrels as a rule but again with tinned ribs . Strangely Boss used dovetail lump barrel on many of their refits 

In Spain it seemed that the idea of chopper lump barrels became popular as in mass production the amount of machine work that could be done cut down the amount of man hours so making chopper barres that could be made in batches rather than individually increased production and cut costs . So became the norm with larger companies making barrels for smaller makers .

The barrels were machined , the ribs fitted , they were coated  with some sort of flux /braze wired together and heated in a furnace  .There are YouTube videos of this , well worth a watch .

It is worth noting that BSA guns has chopper lump barrels as a cheaper way of production , these had a vee'd dovetail that went vertically through the lumps so the two tube slide together and were riveted and soldered rather that brazed, the ribs tinned on . whether these were done in a muffle or not I dont know but assume they were .

Both methods  advantages and disadvantages but these are another post .

 

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4 minutes ago, Gunman said:

Strangely Boss used dovetail lump barrel on many of their refits

Thank you for starting this thread. 

I have a William Powell re-barrelled by Powells with dovetail in the late 1940s.  The story I was told was that post war, Powells re-barrelled a lot of older guns that had either been allowed to corrode, or suffered neglect/damage when used on 'Home Guard' type duties (or more probably the gardener/handyman borrowing it to put a few rabbits and pigeons in the pot to supplement the meat ration and protect the 'dig for victory' patch).  I don't know if the original barrels were chopper, but I know Powells quoted a lower price (back when it was a family concern) to do a dovetail re-barrel compared to chopper.

One thing I have tended to notice with Spanish guns is the internal finish of the locks is a bit basic.  The sidelock AyAs are usually fitted with a Holland style hand detachable 'pin' holding them and are frequently 'gold washed' inside ........ but the overall quality of finish (smoothness of finish and freedom from sharp corners etc.) is inferior to English locks (that probably originated in Wolverhampton).  I note (from photos) that the recent 'top model' AyAs are not only gold washed, but the bridle is also engraved.  I have not seen one 'in the flesh' to assess if the overall finish quality is better.  I had a fairly upmarket Union Ameria (Grulla) - which was very 'crude' inside, and my two AyAs are better than that, but not to English standards by quite a long stretch.  By contrast a sidelock Beretta is well finished internally.

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There are obviously exceptions to the poor finish on Spanish locks. My Armas Garbi removeable locks are  a highly polished work of art. No gold wash but very well finished..

Thanks for the info on solder. I did actually think English gun barrels were soldered. I wondered how they stood up to the impact of firing.

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47 minutes ago, DUNKS said:

There are obviously exceptions to the poor finish on Spanish locks. My Armas Garbi removeable locks are  a highly polished work of art. No gold wash but very well finished..

Thanks for the info on solder. I did actually think English gun barrels were soldered. I wondered how they stood up to the impact of firing.

All that glitters......... If you can't use 10 gauge, polishing is good. :whistling:

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1 hour ago, DUNKS said:

There are obviously exceptions to the poor finish on Spanish locks. My Armas Garbi removeable locks are  a highly polished work of art. No gold wash but very well finished..

Thanks for the info on solder. I did actually think English gun barrels were soldered. I wondered how they stood up to the impact of firing.

Many 100 plus year have old guns guns with ribs as sound as the day they were made .I have had to relay ribs on guns made 20 years old by the likes of Browning and Perrazi , so all I can say is the generally stand up well.

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22 hours ago, JohnfromUK said:

Thank you for starting this thread. 

I have a William Powell re-barrelled by Powells with dovetail in the late 1940s.  The story I was told was that post war, Powells re-barrelled a lot of older guns that had either been allowed to corrode, or suffered neglect/damage when used on 'Home Guard' type duties (or more probably the gardener/handyman borrowing it to put a few rabbits and pigeons in the pot to supplement the meat ration and protect the 'dig for victory' patch).  I don't know if the original barrels were chopper, but I know Powells quoted a lower price (back when it was a family concern) to do a dovetail re-barrel compared to chopper.

One thing I have tended to notice with Spanish guns is the internal finish of the locks is a bit basic.  The sidelock AyAs are usually fitted with a Holland style hand detachable 'pin' holding them and are frequently 'gold washed' inside ........ but the overall quality of finish (smoothness of finish and freedom from sharp corners etc.) is inferior to English locks (that probably originated in Wolverhampton).  I note (from photos) that the recent 'top model' AyAs are not only gold washed, but the bridle is also engraved.  I have not seen one 'in the flesh' to assess if the overall finish quality is better.  I had a fairly upmarket Union Ameria (Grulla) - which was very 'crude' inside, and my two AyAs are better than that, but not to English standards by quite a long stretch.  By contrast a sidelock Beretta is well finished internally.

Spanish locks are based on what we would call the Holland pattern .They are functional and work well . They are not of the same quality of English made locks  but then they are made to a price rather than a finish .Some would say crude by comparison but comparison to what ? 

Some makers do make the effort to improve the appearance buy polishing and some " gold plating" parts .

They come in two main types , those with flat an vee sear springs like those seen in AyA  ,Grulla  ,Arizabalaga  as well  a cheaper form using coil springs within the sears , as used by Gorasable ,. Guns where the external finish was the selling point , the insides frequently rough , as  other makes of gun from  other countries .It all come down to price .

I have seen locks with the AyA stamp on them in guns by other makers , which bears out what I have been told that AyA do make barrels and locks for the trade .

 

 

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One, once, fundametal difference was English gun actions were engraved and then hardened. Spanish guns were engraved when hard. Therefore that uses of hammers to do this. Also on some high end best makes to achieve supreme hadling the barrels were often struck of to the very "nth" degree. It is why many Boss guns have often been later rebarreled. Spanish guns tended to leave more meat on the barrels....but I'd say only as it was chaper to cease strking off not because per se it left the barrels thicker.

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10 minutes ago, enfieldspares said:

One, once, fundametal difference was English gun actions were engraved and then hardened. Spanish guns were engraved when hard. Therefore that uses of hammers to do this. Also on some high end best makes to achieve supreme hadling the barrels were often struck of to the very "nth" degree. It is why many Boss guns have often been later rebarreled. Spanish guns tended to leave more meat on the barrels....but I'd say only as it was chaper to cease strking off not because per se it left the barrels thicker.

Sorry but I dont see that about engraving . I Have seen Spanish engravers working and yes they tend to do more hammer and punch work than the English engravers .

In the 60's some Spanish engravers came and spent time at W & S to lean how we used hand gravers  .

This was all done on unhardened metal  other wise there would be no colour hardening at the bottom of the engraving as well as many sharp edges to the cut metal .

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7 hours ago, Gunman said:

Sorry but I dont see that about engraving . I Have seen Spanish engravers working and yes they tend to do more hammer and punch work than the English engravers .

In the 60's some Spanish engravers came and spent time at W & S to lean how we used hand gravers  .

This was all done on unhardened metal  other wise there would be no colour hardening at the bottom of the engraving as well as many sharp edges to the cut metal .

A pleasure to read posts from Gunman ,who does know what he is taoking about!!!!!

Thankyou for this thread !

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I find these post fascinating you can read history’s however they are often written by writers.  Talking to people like Gunman who lived and worked the changing age of gun making  be it face to face (if we’re ever allowed to again) on the phone or via forums you get first hand experience talking 

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New topic , Joint pins .

There are two types of joint or hinge pins . Solid and loose , the latter sub divided into knock in and threaded .

Solid pin actions were as said ,the joint pin was an integral part of the action , theses were common in the early days of hammer guns and boxlocks , . Companies like Westley and Webley continued to use them .Westley still does along with their top lever .The gun trade was notorious for if it aint broke dont mend it attitude .

Lose pins had many advantages and were basically a pin knocked into a gun body with an interference fit  some had an extra locking pin or relied on a cam pin for extra hold .

Screwed pins had a larger head and a thread so needed a larger hole in the body for access therefore a larger cover plate or cap , This can be seen on some guns as large screw head just behind the knuckle , although some makers used blind caps never intended to be removed , which seems a bit silly .

It has been pointed out in previous comments that modern Spanish guns have loose pins , They do but are to the best of my knowledge all knock in pins . They also tend to have cover plates/caps that are only a few thou'  say .010/015 bigger than the pin so that fitting an oversized pin is not always a possibility 

I have discussed this with a couple of Spanish makers suggesting that a threaded pin with a larger cap would make the guns much better for future work should it be needed , or have a larger pin to start with a a reduced journal .But like most things the guns are made the way they are .

You wont get Westley to change their gun design  any more than AyA will so we just have to accept thats their style for all its pros and cons .

 

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Many thanks for posting as this is a truly interesting thread. I've learned about the barrels and now the joint pins Could you possibly, please, complete your game, set and match with the third of the terrible trio? Notwithstanding the name that we probably all know - Toledo - we often hear about the quality of steel in some makes - not necessarily Spanish - but how do the Spanish rate in this with regard to their guns? Over the years and whether it's justifiable or not I know not it seems to me that the barrels, hinge pins and steel are possibly the three most criticised along, perhaps, with soft firing pins.

 

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34 minutes ago, matone said:

Gunman,how was the radius of the pin formed on a solid pin action?

It was quite a complicated process .The Webley 700 action had if memory serves had 105 machine actions in producing the action 36 of these were in forming the pin .

It all starts with a datum hole drilled through the action behind the knuckle ,this can be right  through or on ,each side . It was then a matter of machining out the body slots using mills and slotters to remove as much metal as possible them rotating the action against a blade  front and back ,to round the pin ending up using a set of cutters  best described like a pair of pliers that could be closed up gradually whilst the action was rotated ,rounding the pin to its required size .

It is a little difficult to explain and it is a long time since I was on the machining side of things as an apprentice so sorry if I am a bit simplistic in description

       It needed purpose made jigs so every thing was held on the datum points to ensure the pin was concentric to the radius of the knuckle that was also finished by " scraping "against a flat blade in a similar way again from the datum points so that the forend did not bind when the gun was opened .

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Ah,thankyou  for that ,I think I understand that ,,,rotating the body around the cutter is fairly obvious now that you have explained It all!!!! Never had anything to do with machining work as you`ve probably guessed.

Thanks again.

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