I’m new member, i’d post a few photos of a recent acqusition. It’s apparently one of the original samples from 1935 transition of the Model 54 production line. Reciever date is 1934- barrel 1933– , The accompanying Model 54, is a Standard Rifle in 30-06- 1935 reciever, with several Model 70 transition upgrades. Front Sight ramp, gas hole. The Model 54 in .22 Hornet. Has the Model 70 shroud and safety. but the safety never worked. look at the mushed up metal of the foward part. ..The hole needs to move a few thousands, to work freely. As it is , two hands are required to switch it on. it snaps off easily. The knurling was mill cut not stamped. I don’t think it left Winchester untill the 60’s – it had a Tasco scope Redfield mount, but still had not been fired. The feed ramp photo shows the only color wear, on the inner rails from opening & closing the bolt. If we compare the bolt handles of the standard 54 to the 70 sample, we can see where the bolt was cut and welded, bead blasted, to match the reciever. The bolts compare underneath to one piece firing pin, and the third bolt stamp “1” is missing. that would be added when moved to inventory.. The gar relief hole is in the wrong place too, half under the stock. My understanding is the R&D dept took samples of each caliber to modify, after the from earlier drawings dated 1934 , when the G70 was proposed. I have a copy of the full New Haven R&D inventory, published 1991, entry # 1238- is a Model 70, serial 45800A which we know is a Model 54 reciever number. it states it was a sample in 30-06 that was used for the final tooling and guages. for the Model 70 production in 1936. I’m curious if other members have ohave seen other original 1935 Model 70 samples? Made from Model 54 rifles..There would have been at least one of each taken from the end of the 54 line ,before inventory. . It has a 54 floorplate-triggerguard. one piece , with a charcoal blue original finish.. nor “reblued”.. I have been an Forks of the Delaware member for 25 years ,and briefly OGCA, a few years back. The B5 winchester scope was acquired seperatly. I actually bought the rifle to put it on. it has AO Nieder modifications, a plug and coil spring replaced the wire spring, andtwo brass plates over the adjuster holes, i think to prevent heat & smoke residue when firing a lot. it was likely on an earlier AO Nieder Mauser? hunting rifle. He was active making high end rifles from 1900 on. He used Winchester scopes, and was part of the Nieder Mann, Winchester scope mount modifications for WW1 1903 sniper rifles. I’m sure about my research, genuine input,not opinion, would be appriciated.on other extant samples from this period thank you ..
Ralph Fitzwater said it has AO Nieder modifications, a plug and coil spring replaced the wire spring, andtwo brass plates over the adjuster holes, i think to prevent heat & smoke residue when firing a lot.
I’ve seen a good many of these scopes that have had the original “watchmaker’s” screws retaining the internal components replaced with conventional screws, because the originals had been stripped. The originals released by turning “in,” so anyone, unaware of this peculiarity, trying to disassemble the scope by turning them out stripped them. I’ve also seen references to this being done deliberately because it was a much more positive way to hold the components in place; after Lyman purchased rights to the scope, assembling them with conventional screws was their most important modification. I’ve never seen those sliding brass covers used on a Winchester before, but several other makes such as Wollensak & Marlin were built using similar sliding plates.
Are the bottoms of the mounts marked with the Winchester patent dates? Niedner did originate, I believe, the improvement of replacing the external elevation spring with a coil spring, but it was also a simple modification any good machinist could have carried out. But Niedner was such a fastidious workman, that I can’t help being a little skeptical he’d have used brass to make those cover plates. Lyman eventually made the same coil-spring modification with their own mounts, though for a short while continued using the old Winchester mounts.
A O Neider modifications. The patent date on the Nieder B5 is 1907 – I have two A later dated 1919 pat date as a factory Model 1885- 87? -138xxx serial range – April 1920. The Nieder modification ,i have no reason to think, it wasn’t Nieder , but it is not signed as such..Using brass plates , may be what was easier to bend to shape , without becoming an unwanted ” spring” to the adjuster, as thin sheet steel can be. The 1907 pat date are the earliest ones.
I’m adding several photos, as purchased with Tasco scope mid 60’s? The forend cap is black horn , buffalo? i think original, the rifle may have been maybe the tool room collection? or Pugsley’s collection? The stock was oiled every few years ,i think it was in a display case, the checkering is filled that way. You can see the barrel date.. I am in the process om making a display case . actually a pre war period Varmint Hunter’s case , in walnut oak and everythin one might need to step out to the wilderness for a few weeks or so. The cross sticks are now Walnut, those were a trial pair. . the correct 310 tool marked .22WCF & .22Hornet, dies in the dipper box, 3 full boxes of 116 primers Western Lub-a-loy Hornet 46 gr Hollow points, room fot 3 full boxes. finding period hornet boxes is a challenge. it’s near completion in this photo.
August 27, 2014
Very interesting discussion and project. I love the display case too. Thank you for posting!!!
I’m not sure that this qualifies as “genuine input”, but I have certainly seen other M54 rifles with M70 bolt components that appear to be genuine. I’ve no documentation as to their being R&D rifles, however. Below are photos of one such rifle (saved off the internet years ago). This is a M54 Sniper’s Match rifle, 30 GOV’T’06 with 26″ extra heavy contour barrel (same weight but 2″ shorter than the M70 bull gun barrel). I’m sure you know that the M54 competition styles (National Match, Target, and Sniper’s Match) were circa 1935 additions to the product line.
Several things about this rifle have me baffled. First, the S/N is 12961 (very early receiver). But it has the gas vent modifications added to the receiver ring and bolt body suggesting later (factory???) modification. IIRC… Winchester would perform these modifications on older guns upon request, but this receiver isn’t on a 1927 1st standard rifle, it’s on a 1935 Sniper’s Match rifle. The bolt body has the M70 pattern bolt handle and it appears to be a “real” M70 bolt handle. The bolt shroud and safety are M54, which I presume means the firing pin/striker are M54 parts such that they will engage the horizontally rotating shaft of the M54 “flip over” safety. Since this is not my rifle, I cannot directly compare the angle of the camming surface (underneath the root of the bolt handle – fourth pic) with that of an early M70. In short, I’m not sure if this is a M54 bolt made with a M70 handle, or a M70 bolt with a bevel cut on the underside to engage the M54 bolt stop… The trigger appears to be M54 (I think???) which would make the former scenario more likely. IIRC, a M70 bolt/striker will not “cock” in a M54 action b/c it the striker isn’t pulled back enough to engage the sear on the M54 trigger. Then again, I’m probably confused… Maybe that, and the change in cam angle on the bolt body, has something to do with the “speed lock” improvement, not the M54/70 transition??? Need help here!!!
My suspicion is that this Sniper’s Match rifle is (possibly) a genuine Winchester product made at the very end of M54 production using an old receiver from inventory to which the gas vent and bolt handle improvements were applied. But as I said, I’ve no documentation of this rifle having a connection with Winchester’s R&D department.
Hope this helps somewhat… I’d appreciate your thoughts on this M54/70 “hybrid”…
WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters
The screw holes for the factory rcvr. sight identify it as a Model 87, or Third Model Winder Musket. They look like Low Wall actions but are actually milled down High Wall actions, which the factory had a surplus of when this model was introduced.
Your case looks very well thought out & put together. I like using 310 tools because they neck-size only.
.The Sniper is interesting, The fact that entry #1238 is a documented Model 54 reciever, 45800A- listed as a Model 70 sample rifle, used as the tool and Gauge gun for 70 production, Documents the R&D shop using Model 54’s as the base for the 70. There isn’t much difference other than safety & shroud replacement, reversing the bolt handle. I think there would have been one of each caliber and experimental cartridges. The inventory lists earlier a full set of Model 54’s put into R&D invemtory for” posterity,.” Because the 70 takes over… Look carefully at the two bolt from the top. the middle lug, is a change in milling, the 54 milling is a sweeping inside curve, where the modified bolt is an outside curve, shows being started as a 54 type. . There were drawing dating to 1933 when the R&D began revamping the 54. It’s possible several of the rifles thought to have been “sent back” were actually samples ., There was no Model 54 production in 1936 as the production line was fully converted to the 70 production, all the tooling set up fotr the 70, a in full production for a year before public release. The samples sare all in the 40xxx range and it would be interesting to see how many “sent back” rifles are in the 40xxx serial 54 range. Winchester sold replacement barrels for years, after 54 production ceased.. same for most rifles they produced. till they ran out. it would difficult to say the Sniper is, or isn’t factory. Your bolt handle has a “1” for the final inspection , I have a third 54 with 3 bolt marks too. Were mine a gunsmith’s work, i think he’d have replaced the shroud and safety, same for the factory “sent back” theory, guns never left the factory. if they didn’t work right. they replaced the part and move it to inventory.
The Sniper introduction dates indicate they were ” offering them in 1935 as a prelude to the 70 line. as they were tooling up for the 70 in 1935. It might well be a sample produced during the transition, The bolt handle it refined than mine, the earliest 70 i’ve seen gas a milled sweep at the curve to the bolt body. At some point in 1935 the actual forgings for the bolt body& handle , had to change to he 70.that would have begun late 1935. they finished 19 Model 70 marked rifles in December 1935. .
The Model 87 is in .22LR marked as such, the blocks are factory for a B5 eye relief. i tried an A5 till i found a B5 – the eye relief on the A5 required a rubber eye cup. the B5 mounts to a perfect throw up to shoulder and point. it has a high polished reciever, and rust blue barrel, The Sniper bolt is a 1935 type bolt, one piece firing pin, no hole for the two piece type that went with the 12xxx serial number range.. The heavybarreled guns were planned as Model 70 ‘s and released as 54’s to judge buyer’s reaction. they were about marketing .new products, dropping the non sellers except for special orders. My father was a Design Development engineer , after the Navy WW2-i’ve had a lot of practical indoctrination into production line set up and strategies.
R & D has a weekly meeting with higher management. Winchester R&D had a dozen other projects they would have been working on at the same time, different groups of employees get focused on seperate projects.. As this 54 Hornet, was “the new product example” it would go to the weekly meeting for ” show and tell”. Because they were developing in different stages. First fix the shroud-safety. was primary goal, as the 54 safety looked like a Mauser, the new shroud safety was 100% Winchester design. Then they move to the new trigger assembly and two piece floorplate, as secondary issues. The one piece worked fine , less cost in production, but military guys liked the two piece, so it was changed to the more expensive two piece , for aestetic,marketing, purpose.. The new trigger could be modified to a target trigger easily for the target production..
Ralph Fitzwater said Then they move to the new trigger assembly and two piece floorplate, as secondary issues. The one piece worked fine , less cost in production, but military guys liked the two piece, so it was changed to the more expensive two piece , for aestetic,marketing, purpose..
Ralph, Everybody liked the milled guard! In reviews of the time, the cheap stamped TG was the most criticized feature of the 54. Esp. since it was a step down from the ’03 Spfd., the obvious inspiration for the 54.
i understand that, it’s easier to clean, in adverse weather conditions, than taking apart the one piece. They also focus on cost control- the two piece added five new pieces to tool up for.-assemble ,finish ..etc. in terms of keeping the 54 price range. it added to production costs, and retail price eventually.
Ralph Fitzwater said
They also focus on cost control- the two piece added five new pieces to tool up for.-assemble ,finish ..etc. in terms of keeping the 54 price range. it added to production costs, and retail price eventually.
It’s the difference between the “Rifleman’s Rifle” & whatever it would be appropriate to call the 54. (The Bean-Counter’s Springfield Sporter?) Winchester wasn’t reinventing the wheel–it was their low-budget take on the beautiful sporters being built on 1903 actions by the best custom gunmakers in the country, beginning with Louis Wundhammer before WW I. Crossman, Whelen, & their friends, were willing to shell out for those beautiful creations, but not Joe Average; it was for him the 54 was designed.
Thank you for the interesting insights… Like I said, unfortunately I do not have any documentation pertaining to the M54/70 hybrids made/used by the R&D department during M70 development. It is a topic of considerable interest to me, however. So, if you don’t mind, I have a question and a comment…
First the question… You seem to have an “insider’s” knowledge of the workings of Winchester R&D and manufacturing processes. I’ve done the best I can searching the digitally scanned WRACo. documents in the CFM McCrackin library for M70 related material, but have not turned up anything that, for example, explained what the inspection numbers stamped on bolts and receivers meant or the order in which they were applied. My question is whether you are aware of publicly accessible documents or books that detail information such as you present? I’d love the chance to read them…
My comment relates to your statement that they finished (19) “M70 marked” rifles in December 1935. I’ve seen that number quoted in several secondary sources, but the evidence I can locate is inconsistent… The Polishing Room records indicate that the first M70 serial number (beginning with “1”) was applied on January 20, 1936. This would have referred to production receivers, of course, not tool room prototypes. Where I’ve encountered the (19) figure is in a “Yearly Net ORDERS Received” (by Model) document. For simplicity, rather than posting a bunch of individual documents, below is a clip of an Excel sheet I put together from the few source documents I’ve been able to find so far:
My interpretation has been that these documents suggest that Winchester had received ORDERS for (19) Model 70s in 1935, but that the actual production of M70 marked product didn’t commence until 1936. I’ve suspected that some authors, notably George Madis, conflated the terms “Orders Received” and “Total Production”, and that subsequent authors simply repeated that statement without checking. Am I wrong?
Appreciate any input you have time to provide… Thanks!!!
WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters
Louis Luttrell said I’ve suspected that some authors, notably George Madis, conflated the terms “Orders Received” and “Total Production”, and that subsequent authors simply repeated that statement without checking. Am I wrong?
You ain’t wrong about the perpetuation of errors copied from previous authors; it’s commonplace within the gunwriting trade. More often than not it’s done without attribution of the original source, to encourage the reader to believe the author is the font of all knowledge. The smarter thing to do if fact-checking is not practical is simply to say “according to such & such authority,” because if that authority is later revealed to be in error, you are off the hook.
Wonder how those 19 orders got placed before production began? The factory was showing off prototypes?
Lou thank you. I don’t have actual insight into WRA’s R&D.. My Father was an R&D mechanical engineer, in Post war NYC. He was part of Modernism in 50’s 60;look up Ben Siebel Designs ,dinnerware furniture, artsy 50’s eventually went to Regina vaccums til retirement, has several patents and 20 or more under General Signal the parrent company. small appliances cost reduction developing the product to line. i kinde grew up on it.the process. and volume manufacturing , same system of developing parts & engineered resolves to function..It was an education in engineering, production management you couldn’t get in school. grew up in a design development shop. There’s a loading device pateted by him, for an English .22 air rifle if you google .Edwin Fitzwater. patents. i get a lot out of reading, by understanding the process first hand. If it hadn’t left for China i would have found employment, but i have no degree , i’m a ” nuts & bolts mechanic” in he old school days.. found work i like carpentry more. The Rule book says 19 were finished Model 70’s in December 1935, they all dissapeared,.After New Years they began numbering? the first, 19 were samples ,that went to executives,? etc shareholders ? they began numbered production in January 1936. And built inventory and parts during 1936, with a release date of January 1937. distribution of orders taken during the latter half of 1936? the sales men would be building the release event bofore January? i would think. There was a goal to start January 1935 to transition the line by January 1936, There a lot or retooling, fixtures,guuges to be made- there’s a dozen milling machines,drill presses, for single part, to be made from the sample 45800A rifle. the floorplate line has to be added , they had a year, from the drawings -dated 1934. to go ahead, and finish the transition..from 54 to 70 production rifle.
Thank you for the insights… An engineering background is a good thing to have!!!
I have to agree with Clarence that the failure of most authors in the gun writing field to cite their sources, combined in this case with the overall paucity of such sources to begin with, is a “source” of ongoing frustration for me (repetition intended… ). I’m a retired University Professor with no meaningful engineering background, but in my former profession it is impossible to put statements of fact into the peer reviewed literature without citing (primary) sources. Even secondary sources, like referenced review articles, are frowned upon… The perpetuation of “myth” by later authors repeating the unsubstantiated statements of earlier authors is annoying at best…
The only source document I can find that specifically mentions the number (19) M70s in connection with the year 1935 is a company report on Production of Winchester Arms from 1904-1944 covering all Models manufactured over that period (it’s a 54 page document). These are “Net Orders Received” tables:
As you said, Rule makes the cryptic statement (page 40, if anyone wants to look it up) that “with nineteen orders processed before production, Winchester released the stay order to manufacture the new rifle”. What exactly he meant by that is a mystery to me… It is certainly plausible (even a logical certainty) that several completed rifles were finished before 1936, at least as pre-production samples for internal use if not as promotional pieces for Winchester execs and media types. Do you know if there is a photo somewhere of entry #1238 in the New Haven R&D Inventory? Did the rifle make it to Cody? It might help if you could get a look at that particular M54/70 hybrid. Most of the R&D rifles I’ve run across are rather crudely marked (bolt S/N stamped on top where it was easy to see, barrels marked with hand stamps, metal in the white, and often kind of beat up. A fully finished piece would more likely be a promotional sample or VIP rifle (IMHO and with NO proof whatsoever)…
Much of the production data Rule presents in the book (along with some other important documents like the Basic Nomenclature Lists) was derived from factory records provided by Harry Chamberlain (at least that’s what Roger has told me). Unfortunately (most) of those documents have gone missing from public view (at least I haven’t found them). Roger said he returned the materials to Harry and did not keep copies, with the understanding that they were supposed to be packed up with the rest of the stuff going to Wyoming. Maybe they’re there and not yet cataloged, maybe they never made it. Who knows??? I’d love to see those source documents, if only to figure out the nature/source of the reports. As anyone can see from my little summative table, even Winchester’s own reports do not agree, for example the sum of the “Net Orders by Caliber” in one report does not equal the total “Net Orders by Model” in another report. Different clerks pulling numbers from different places on different days, I suppose… But Rule presents exact numbers by Style/Caliber for 1950s and later production, and I’d like to know if these were Shipping Department records (that might be more or less accurate) or pulled from some summary report for Company Execs that might be more prone to inconsistency like the pre-war documents. Beyond the fact that Roger says so, do we really know that there were EXACTLY 101 Super Grade Featherweights in 308 WIN, for example?
I’ll stop rambling… But I sympathize with your dilemma in trying to track down information on a rare bunch of rifles that wouldn’t have gotten out of the factory except maybe as gifts or promotional pieces. Good luck!!!
WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters
i think there whould be difference between ” Net orders recieved”, and the actual production line numbers. “Net orders recieved”, stem from the salesmen’s records, not the production line itself. To me it makes “sense” that the first 19 rifles were supposed to be 20. an even number, composed of the new production parts, from the 45800A fixturing. a few of each, the new introductions Bull barrels, NM , target class rifles, and standard 270, 30-06 , for the top volume salesmen , to walk around the country with ,building sales event for the Jan 1937,”release to the public.” As not yet production guns , they may have had no serial, it was common then to produce guns without serials , -.. Because late December X mas & New Years, holiday weeks would allow time to shut down and over the holiday weeks the rest of tooling , machinery etc would be set up, ready for full line production. . in December January. they would need a couple weeks to insure the quality control ,over all the new parts. of all the new set ups. the Tool & die shop would have been making jigs & fixtures for all aspects of the new line. There was a massive house cleaning in R&D after 1964,i think, we see in 1966 the New Haven Museum set up,with inventory from R&D list. so many duplicate similar sample rifles , were probably given to R&D staff for the asking, they were shooters too, for engineers to take home samples for “review” was common practice. there were “professional”degreed, level employees. Not “shop or bench hands.” Anything never in warehouse inventory, was up for grabs, same when they sent the Museum to Cody. They would keep some, samples for the staff collectors to buy privatly .? I asked Cody about # 1238 ,and they do not have it, nor photo. The samples that were left , some were scrapped, the R&D desirable rifles . distributed around 1966. I suspect they had 2 times the inventory, squirreled away. in the “back warehouse” for research, too. THe factory would produce a volume of rifles, some rejects that get returned to internal factory, for parts,
Consistent with what you’re saying, the left hand column of the “Order’s Received” document above is headed “YEAR FIRST MFG’D” (as in MANUFACTURED) with ’35 in the M70 row.
It would be interesting to get a look at one of those unserialized pre-production M70s (if they exist) and to know something of its history. Like the M54/70 R&D hybrids, it would be an interesting bit of M70 history. In my survey I’ve only recorded one unserialized M70 and it’s a much later gun. A 257 ROBERTS carbine with ’37 barrel date and a type III-2 (early 1950’s) receiver. The gun has “WP” proofs (but no serial number) and the stock is marked “scrap” under the butt plate. My presumption is that it’s a “lunch pail” gun…
WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters