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Model 70/54 sample rifle.22 Hornet0
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June 18, 2022 - 3:38 am
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 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 ..20220406_09533615482.jpgImage Enlarger20220502_10323015662.jpgImage Enlarger20220502_10364615664.jpgImage Enlarger20220325_12584815466.jpgImage Enlarger20220325_12583615325.jpgImage Enlarger20220325_13013215323.jpgImage Enlarger20220325_13043615322.jpgImage Enlarger20220430_17240815647.jpgImage Enlarger20220320_18310715281.jpgImage Enlarger

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June 18, 2022 - 11:56 am
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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.  

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June 18, 2022 - 1:17 pm
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20220417_11133215541.jpgImage Enlarger  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.

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June 18, 2022 - 1:32 pm
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20220320_1353582305843009249055575.jpgImage Enlarger20220320_1355092305843009249055578.jpgImage Enlarger20220320_1354412305843009249055577.jpgImage Enlarger20220430_16495815649.jpgImage Enlarger20220430_16501615651.jpgImage Enlarger20220610_1930292305843009258355123.jpgImage Enlarger  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. 

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June 18, 2022 - 2:41 pm
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Does the gun have any provenance?

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June 18, 2022 - 2:43 pm
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Hello Ralph-

Very interesting discussion and project.  I love the display case too.  Thank you for posting!!! Laugh

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.

DSC05058.JPGImage EnlargerDSC05059.JPGImage EnlargerDSC05061.JPGImage EnlargerDSC05065.JPGImage EnlargerDSC05066.JPGImage Enlarger

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… Wink  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!!! Embarassed

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”… Laugh

Lou 

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June 18, 2022 - 4:33 pm
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Ralph Fitzwater said
20220417_11133215541.jpgImage Enlarger  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 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.

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June 19, 2022 - 2:21 pm
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.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.

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June 19, 2022 - 2:32 pm
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 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. .

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June 19, 2022 - 3:01 pm
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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.

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June 19, 2022 - 3:26 pm
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  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..

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June 19, 2022 - 5:30 pm
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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. 

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June 20, 2022 - 12:22 am
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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. 

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June 20, 2022 - 1:41 am
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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.

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June 20, 2022 - 3:17 pm
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Hi Ralph-

Thank you for the interesting insights… Laugh  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… Confused  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:

M70-Net-Orders-Table-1935-43.pngImage Enlarger

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?  Confused

Appreciate any input you have time to provide…  Thanks!!!Laugh

Lou

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June 20, 2022 - 4:34 pm
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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? 

Lou

  

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?

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June 21, 2022 - 4:06 am
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 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. 

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June 21, 2022 - 5:03 pm
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Hi Ralph-

Thank you for the insights… Laugh 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… Frown

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:

Yearly-Orders-1932-35-.pngImage EnlargerYearly-Orders-1936-39.pngImage Enlarger

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… Confused  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.  Frown  Good luck!!! Smile

Lou

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June 21, 2022 - 6:25 pm
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  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,

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June 21, 2022 - 7:16 pm
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Hi Ralph-

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… Confused

Best,

Lou

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

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