November 1, 2013
As not yet production guns , they may have had no serial, it was common then to produce guns without serials , -.. Ralph Fitzwater said
Not “serial numbers,” which couldn’t come into play before regular production began. But if two or more samples (or “experimental designs,” as the factory in some cases called prototypes) were built, some method of distinguishing between them would have been needed for testing purposes. Any kind of marking would do, but numerals were the easiest marking to apply. At least 10 samples were made of the experimental design which later became the Model 52 when production began, because #10 (numeral applied to the rcvr. rail) survived the vicissitudes of time to make it to Cody. The others, possibly more than 10, are apparently MIA.
There are dozen listings in the New Haven R&D inventory listed as “scrapped” by D Butler in 1966. The unserialized .257 Roberts , would be a possible production cartridge. . Those were R&D rifles. . T. WE . By late 1935, there would have been salesmen’s samples ordered -I suppose the big client guys, had first “dibs” on the line samples , to sell the product in 1936. Number 1 serial was Jan 20th 1936. That indicates the time frame to finalize , the tooling set up ,to full production capacity., and reset the serial numbering from the 54 to the 70. The 19 “finished model 70’s the barrels would have been marked Model 70, as no difference in barrel production other than the model number.
February 18, 2011
A very interesting Thread! Technical ,and I’m not at all sure I understand it in context of the R&D, tech modifications rationale. Some of these perhaps to be termed “trial rifles” seems a bit unnecessarily far afield. Over the better part of a century since most of these rifles were manufactured, seeming a lot of room for subsequent non-factory modifications. The “non-serialized rifles” seeming the best case for possible factory experimentation. ‘Others’ seeming particularly vulnerable to “Occam’s Razor”, simplest answer most often ‘best answer’. In terms of legitimate “objective researchers” truly seeking ‘truths’, the situation of being “results driven” as functionally prejudicial!
Admitting my personal prejudice from too much bombardment of apparent Bubba’ creations or simply utility “mix n match”; such billed as “rare factory variations”!
The expertise in this Thread perhaps the best case for legitimacy of factory origins, but I’m still more comfortable with tangible provenances supporting!
Last, a question. I’m familiar with information concerning the Factory substituting Model 70 bolts in Models 54 as required after Factory Model 54 bolt supplies were exhausted. My question. Were all such 70 substitute assemblies with the 70 striker componets, perhaps modified? Or were some 70 bolts themselves modified to accept Model 54 striker group assemblies… ‘Inquiring minds…’ 🙂
Congrats on scholarly work here!
at some point by mid 1935 , the 1934 drawings, the reciever and bolt body , changes, would have already been integrated into the existing 54 line. Like the gas hole- my 1936 ,30-06, has the integrated ramp front sight- crome moly barrels? , and gas escape hole drilled,,they needed to change the bolt body forgings, at some point for full- production.in 1936. in 1936 Model 54 production ceased, except special orders , from stock. they were producing model 70 marked parts, recievers new numbers etc., barrels, stock modifications , would all be the Model 70.
November 5, 2014
In response to your query, perhaps it would be useful to provide a timeline for some of the changes to the M54 that were adopted for regular production prior to the advent of the M70 (although the M70 was under development by 1934). I’m not trying to cover everything, just some of the things relevant to the M54/M70 transition. This info is largely from David Bichrest’s M54 book and the M54 chapter of his Roger Rule’s M70 book.
Winchester started using Winchester Proof Steel (CMS) barrels in 1932, replacing the Nickel Steel barrels. These barrels had the same integral forged ramp as was later used on the M70 standard contour barrel, and replaced the “pinned” front sight arrangement of the Nickel Steel barrels. The adoption of the modified “NRA style” stock, replacing the earlier M54 1st standard stock with Schnable fore end, occurred at about the same time. So while it is possible to find 1st standard rifles with CMS barrels and NRA standard rifles with Nickel Steel barrels, MOST of the regular production M54 standard rifles from 1932-1936 had NRA style stocks and CMS barrels with the M70-like ramp.
The “A” suffix that appeared in M54 receivers around S/N 21000 referred to a change to the front edge of the extractor from rounded to squared. The latter extractor is similar to that of the M70.
The initial M54 firing pin assembly was a two-piece affair. This was changed to a one-piece firing pin with integral striker around 1929. While the one-piece firing pin/striker is similar to that used on the M70, the differences in trigger mechanism and sear engagement (as well as the orientation of the safety) make them non-interchangeable. The M54 “Speed Lock” with one-piece firing pin/striker appeared initially on the new 22 HORNET chambering in 1932 around S/N 38000A. This did not change the basic trigger geometry of the M54. Of interest, the “PATENTS APPLIED FOR” seen on the right side barrel stamp of some CMS barrels dated ’32 referred to patents related to the Speed Lock, not the barrel steel. The two changes just occurred about the same time…
By way of comparison; original M54 (top) versus M70 firing pin/striker/main spring/bolt sleeve assemblies:
M54 (top) and M70 trigger/sear geometry:
The receiver and bolt gas porting, including the hole in the right side of the receiver and underside of the bolt, was applied to the M54 in regular production from 1934-36. It was adopted for the M70, but was designed by Arthur A. Rowley for the M54 and already in use.
Hence, many of the “improved” features seen on the new M70 had already been put into production on the M54 by 1934. The BIG differences between the later M54 and the new M70 related to the trigger/sear (hence bolt stop), the bolt sleeve safety, and the two-piece trigger guard/floor plate. Much of the other stuff was already in place on M54s before the first production M70 was assembled.
As you can see from the photo above, the M54 trigger cannot function with a M70 firing pin/striker. Also, on the M54 the sear acted as the bolt stop, hence the angled cut in the bottom of the M54 bolt body (and the fact that to remove the bolt from a M54 you pull the trigger all the way back). On the M70 the bolt stop is a separate spring loaded lever that protrudes into the left lug raceway and engages the left locking lug.
Bolt stop cut on the underside of the M54 bolt compared to the M70:
The change in safety from a horizontally rotating “flip over” style on the M54 to the vertically rotating “flag style” on the M70 also occasioned that the semi-circular mill cut whereby the rotating shaft of the safety engages the firing pin had to be moved from the top to the right side of the firing pin/striker. In the photo below both safeties are in the middle position that allows the cocked bolt to be withdrawn from the receiver. Hence, a M70 firing pin/striker/bolt sleeve will go into a M54 bolt just fine, but the rifle won’t cock (no sear engagement), the safety can’t go on (no notch on the right side of the striker), and there’s no bolt stop (no cut on the bottom of the bolt body for the sear to run into).
So… That was an overly long winded attempt to get at your question… Assuming that you are starting with a M54 receiver/trigger system that has the Speed Lock, I think you can make it work with a M70 bolt body as long as you add the sear engagement shoulder to the bottom of the bolt and keep the M54 one-piece firing pin/striker and bolt sleeve safety. If you want to use a M70 bolt sleeve/safety as well, I think you can make it work as long as you ALSO mill the right side of the M54 striker to engage the vertical shaft of the M70 safety.
Of course, I am NOT a gunsmith and do not have any late M54s around to try this out. So I may be TOTALLY out to lunch… I know that the old style “slow lock” M54 striker will not engage an old style M54 two-stage trigger when put into a M70 bolt body, but I think it would (might???) work with the M54 Speed Lock. Anyone want to clear this up for me??? If not, I’ll just have to take Tedk’S M54 22 HORNET (Speed Lock rifle) apart and see what M70 parts can be swapped in…
WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters