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Winchester 52C Sporting front sight ramp slot blanks
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October 17, 2023 - 10:24 pm
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When I got my very late production Winchester 52C Sporting (Serial #99076C) it wore an aftermarket front sight hood, not the company’s #3279/BH that would have been correct for a C Sporter, and in the front dovetail was a Marble Arms 37N .375H bead front sight.  Those anomalies didn’t bother me until recently, when I learned the sweated-on front sight ramp was undoubtedly factory original – something I had not believed until this month, when our learned WACA member seewin educated me.  Thereafter the hood became offensive in my sight, as it were. “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee….” Matthew 18:9 KJV. 

Happily, I had in my parts box a genuine Winchester #3278/BM hood, the medium height version furnished with the Models 70 and 71.   Winchester furnished a Redfield .375 high bead on the”comes with sights” G5252R version of the Model 52C Sporting (hereafter, just “52C”),  so I was a bit concerned that my .375 Marble wouldn’t have enough air around it with a #3278 hood.  However, according to Steve, the 3279/BH has an OAH of .715, whereas the 3278/BM’s OAH is .650, a slight difference of only .065.  Sure enough, I put on the #3278 and it works just fine with the Marble bead, not to mention improving the looks of the rifle.  

Of course, I don’t have a Lyman 48F, don’t intend to mortgage my house for one, and so don’t plan to use the front sight. The rifle came to me with a proper Redfield Jr. one-piece base and a Weaver J4 scope in 3/4″ Redfield rings. I swapped out the rings, put on a 1″ Leupold Compact 3×9 and the rifle was hell on squirrels from that day forward. 

Not willing to leave well enough alone, I’ve decided to pull the Marble 37N (See Matthew 18:9 KJV, supra) and substitute a slot blank so I can pretend I’ve got a G5272R “sightless” 52C.  THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES:

I had foolishly assumed a Lyman #12 blank would work just fine, ordered one from MidwayUSA and could hardly wait for it to arrive. When it did, I put it on my bench and started stoning the bottom and try-fitting it in the slot as I worked it down for a push fit about halfway across the slot, then, when it hit interference, tapping it in until each end of the blank overhung the ramp equally on both sides.  Miller time — but then I tried to slide on the 3278 hood and learned something I should have foreseen: (See pix attached.) The blank is too long to fit inside the hood’s internal width.  Got out my Dad’s old Starrett 230 and the blank is a full .6580 long, whereas the 52C’s ramp is only .3505 wide and, although the published internal width of the 3278 hood is .450, that is measured well above the longitudinal grooves of the ramp, where the narrowed width of the hood is a tight push fit with the ramp. There’s no room for a slot blank that overhangs the ramp’s width.  

Now, because I can’t find published internal width dimension for the #3279 hood, I thought it might have been made wider than the #3278, but none of the images I’ve seen of a real 3279 seem to show that and it defies any sort of business or industrial production sense that it would differ except in height from the 3276, 3277, or 3278.  Failing a significant difference in design, I have to conclude the sight blank furnished on the G5272R was sufficiently short in length to not overhang the ramp so the furnished 3279 hood could slide over it.  

The first question I need to ask the room is, does anyone know what manner of blank Winchester furnished on the G5272R “sightless” C Sporter? It was probably the same blank furnished on the B Sporter as well.  I’ve only seen a blank installed in one C Sporter and in that image (Steve’s) the hood was not present and the blank overhung the ramp to the extent I don’t think a hood could have been slid over it. 

I’ve been able to find images and descriptions of a couple of Lyman slot blanks that might have qualified, neither of which is in production: The Lyman 12SS and the Lyman 12S FR. The 12SS was described by one writer as having been designed for “featherweight barrels.” The 12S FR was described as being made specifically for the FRONT sight’s dovetail slot and is very squarish in shape. I can’t find dimensions of either, but from the images, they both appear shorter than the present Lyman #12 shown in my photos against the 3278 hood.  I did find a 12SS on eBay and it’s coming this week. Another thirty bucks down the drain but that seems to be nothing more than pin money in the 52C market!vintage-Lyman-12S-FR-front-sight-blank.jpgImage Enlargervintage-Lyman-12SS-front-sight-blank.jpgImage Enlarger

So, how about it, fellow members?99076C-with-BM3278-hood-installed-a-1.jpgImage Enlarger99076C-with-BM3278-hood-installed-b-1.jpgImage Enlarger99076C-with-BM3278-hood-installed-c-1.jpgImage Enlarger99076C-with-BM3278-hood-installed-d-1.jpgImage Enlarger99076C-3278-hood-with-Lyman-12S-blank-1.jpgImage Enlarger99076C-3278-hood-with-Lyman-12S-blank-2.jpgImage Enlarger99076C-3278-hood-with-Lyman-12S-blank-3.jpgImage Enlarger

- Bill 

 

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"I have seen wicked men and fools, a great many of both, and I believe they both get paid in the end, but the fools first." -- David Balfour, narrator and protagonist of the novel, Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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October 18, 2023 - 12:16 am
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I don’t understand why you want the hood on the front sight base with no sight in place?  Am I missing something?  Thanks, RDB

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October 18, 2023 - 12:54 am
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rogertherelic said
I don’t understand why you want the hood on the front sight base with no sight in place?  Am I missing something?  Thanks, RDB

  

Makes perfect sense to me. With some rear aperture sizes I have to remove the front sight hood to shoot it. With no rear aperture there’s no reason to leave that front sight out there to snag stuff. On top of that I think the OP likes the way it looks with the hood, fills up those unsightly grooves. 
Nice Sporter!

 

Mike

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October 18, 2023 - 1:57 am
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rogertherelic said
I don’t understand why you want the hood on the front sight base with no sight in place?  Am I missing something?  Thanks, RDB

  

A very legitimate question that I’ll do my best to answer. Before I do, please forgive me if I try to explain things you may well know better than I do. I just don’t know the extent of your knowledge of the minutae concening the Winchester 52 Sporting rifles, particularly the C models, the last of the line. I’m not a maestro, just a student. But here goes.

The Winchester Model 52C Sporting rifle was catalogued in two styles, both of which featured a relatively slender, 24″ barrel, with no dovetail cut in the barrel for a rear open sight, but with an integral front sight ramp and an unusually tall sight hood (#3279BH). Also, while all of the Model 52 Sporting rifles were drilled and tapped for receiver sights, the receivers of the C rifles were also drilled and tapped for scope bases:

The first style, Model G52522R, came with a Lyman 48F receiver sight and a Redfield bead front sight in the ramp’s dovetail.

The second style, Model G5272R, came without a receiver sight, no front sight but with a blank piece of steel cut with a male dovetail installed in the front sight ramp. The company decided to offer this “sightless” version because Winchester dealers wanted to be able to give their customers the opportunity to select receiver sights and front sights of their choice, which the dealer could stock and install at the point of sale.

These two styles of the C differed materially in price (the sighted style cost $18 more in 1956). At a guess, by the time the C models were introduced about 1953 or so, customers who could afford the very expensive 52C Sporting rifle (the sighted version was only $2 less than a Model 70 Supergrade in 1956) probably intended to have telescopic sights installed at the time of purchase and didn’t want to spend the extra money for iron sights for which they had no use. According to the late Herb Houze, more “sightless” C models were shipped out of New Haven than the aperture sighted ones. BUT EVERY G5272R STILL CAME WITH AN INTEGRAL FRONT SIGHT RAMP, A SLOT BLANK, AND THE #3279 SIGHT HOOD.

To my eyes, a 52C Sporting without a Lyman 48F on the receiver should, for appearance of completeness and originality, have a slot blank in the front ramp and, if one could be had, a #3279 sight hood on the ramp. (The latter is apparently made of Unobtainium and virtually impossible to find, but the #3278 is very close in appearance and I have one.)

Absence of the correct slot blank gives off the sort of “something’s wrong” vibrations of, say, a ’62 Corvette with a black aftermarket shift knob. If you’re not a real hardcore ‘Vette guy, you don’t care. If you are me – for your sake, perish the thought – a slightly off C Sporting rifle costs sleep.1956-Gun-Digest-catalog-52-Sporting.jpgImage Enlarger

- Bill 

 

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"I have seen wicked men and fools, a great many of both, and I believe they both get paid in the end, but the fools first." -- David Balfour, narrator and protagonist of the novel, Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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October 18, 2023 - 4:31 am
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I understand where your thoughts are.  Thanks for the information I wasn’t aware of that option.  Any reason you couldn’t modify a front sight (cut the bead off, polish it down & re-blue it) to fill the sight base until you are able to obtain the correct filler?  It will be covered by the hood, if I understand you correctly.  I know that’s probably “like boiled eggs rolled in sand” to you, but it would serve the purpose.  Just a thought.  Embarassed  RDB

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October 18, 2023 - 6:27 am
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rogertherelic said
I understand where your thoughts are.  Thanks for the information I wasn’t aware of that option.  Any reason you couldn’t modify a front sight (cut the bead off, polish it down & re-blue it) to fill the sight base until you are able to obtain the correct filler?  It will be covered by the hood, if I understand you correctly.  I know that’s probably “like boiled eggs rolled in sand” to you, but it would serve the purpose.  Just a thought.  Embarassed  RDB

  

That’s a good, practical suggestion and I may undertake some version of it if current investigations don’t pan out. I could always cut down the Lyman 12 I’ve still got, polish and reblue.  Before I do much else, what I really need is a good photo of the blank WRA actually used. Steve is back from his travels and is one of the Main Men on 52 Sporters. He’s seeing what info he can come up with for me and that will probably give me the solution. I have no problem with fabricating the look once I know how it’s supposed to look. Oddly, Herb’s book doesn’t illustrate it and I cannot find any images on the Web that illustrate it.  At a guess, the McCracken Firearms Museum at Cody probably has a G5272R on display but I’m not prepared to fly to Wyoming …yet, anyway.  Tom Henshaw once told me Winchester lost money on every Model 52 Sporting they made,  and not all that many were produced, particularly of the C model. That’s why a really clean and crisp C Sporter can go under the hammer for six thousand dollars or more. Mine certainly wouldn’t but it would likely go for several times the $1054 I paid for it in 2002, just because I’ve done so much painstaking research and consulted with our real experts in the field to sort out what features of it are factory original and what was done to it afterward.   I spent half my life in law libraries and this has been a lot more fun. On the other hand, I have no interest in selling my rifle and my son and one his sons will have it eventually. Hopefully not soon.

Thanks for helping,

Bill

- Bill 

 

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"I have seen wicked men and fools, a great many of both, and I believe they both get paid in the end, but the fools first." -- David Balfour, narrator and protagonist of the novel, Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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October 18, 2023 - 11:26 am
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Zebulon, I take it your Sporter has the plastic butt plate? One other thing, could/ would you take a fairly close up picture of the stock on the left side? Just from the tang area of the receiver on back? Thank you.    RRM

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October 18, 2023 - 11:54 am
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Rat Rod Mac said
Zebulon, I take it your Sporter has the plastic butt plate? One other thing, could/ would you take a fairly close up picture of the stock on the left side? Just from the tang area of the receiver on back? Thank you.    RRM

  

Will do and post it here.  99076C has the brazed ramp and almost certainly had the plastic buttplate when it was made in New Haven, but a prior owner has replaced it with a brown Pachmayr pad, lincreasimg the LOP to about 14.25. 

Bill

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"I have seen wicked men and fools, a great many of both, and I believe they both get paid in the end, but the fools first." -- David Balfour, narrator and protagonist of the novel, Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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October 18, 2023 - 1:52 pm
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Rat Rod Mac said
Zebulon, I take it your Sporter has the plastic butt plate? One other thing, could/ would you take a fairly close up picture of the stock on the left side? Just from the tang area of the receiver on back? Thank you.    RRM

  

Herewith.  Let me know if these aren’t sufficient for your purpose.

Best regards,

Bill99076C-left-buttstock-detail-1.jpgImage Enlarger99076C-left-buttstock-detail-2.jpgImage Enlarger99076C-left-buttstock-detail-3.jpgImage Enlarger99076C-left-buttstock-detail-4.jpgImage Enlarger99076C-left-buttstock-detail-5.jpgImage Enlarger99076C-left-buttstock-detail-6.jpgImage Enlarger99076C-left-buttstock-detail-7.jpgImage Enlarger99076C-left-buttstock-detail-8.jpgImage Enlarger99076C-left-buttstock-detail-9.jpgImage Enlarger99076C-left-buttstock-detail-10.jpgImage Enlarger99076C-left-buttstock-detail-11.jpgImage Enlarger

- Bill 

 

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"I have seen wicked men and fools, a great many of both, and I believe they both get paid in the end, but the fools first." -- David Balfour, narrator and protagonist of the novel, Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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October 18, 2023 - 2:35 pm
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It might clarify things in this discussion a bit further to look at the production life of the 52C Sporting Rifle, which ran from 1954 through 1960.  According to Herb Houze’s book, at Page 147:

 

G5252R (came with Lyman 48F and Redfield bead) — a total of only 572 were produced. 

G5272R (no sights, blank in front sight slot) — a total production of 742. 

Total C Sporting Rifle production was only 1,314 rifles. 

I was disappointed to learn that although Herb’s book includes an appendix listing by serial number all of the Winchester Model 52 rifles that are in the McCracken Museum at Cody, Wyoming. Exactly NONE of those include a G5272R sightless Sporting Rifle – of any production series letter (original, “A”, “B”, or “C”.) The only illustration of a G5272R in Herb’s book is of the box label of a rifle owned by a private collector, not the rifle itself, much less any detailed illustration of the sights or lack thereof.  

- Bill 

 

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October 18, 2023 - 3:12 pm
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Zebulon said
 Tom Henshaw once told me Winchester lost money on every Model 52 Sporting they made,  and not all that many were produced, particularly of the C model.

If that’s true, makes me wonder how the standard 52 target rifle, selling for $50 less, was profitable.  Turning down a brl blank to Sporting dimensions would not have added much to production cost.  Of course the stock required a different profile, though inletting for the rcvr was the same, but substantially the same Sporting stock had been in production for decades. 

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October 18, 2023 - 4:45 pm
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clarence said

Zebulon said

 Tom Henshaw once told me Winchester lost money on every Model 52 Sporting they made,  and not all that many were produced, particularly of the C model.

If that’s true, makes me wonder how the standard 52 target rifle, selling for $50 less, was profitable.  Turning down a brl blank to Sporting dimensions would not have added much to production cost.  Of course the stock required a different profile, though inletting for the rcvr was the same, but substantially the same Sporting stock had been in production for decades. 

  

Clarence, at least according to Mr Henshaw, from the time the Winchester assets were bought out of bankruptcy by the Olins in 1933 or so, until the sale of its firearms business in 1980, the ONLY firearms made by the company that EVER saw a profit were the 1966 Centennial Model 94 rifles. During that entire time, the company made enough profits from ammunition sales to cover its losses on gun manufacturing.  He was quite adamant about it and, while I can’t have an opinion, Henshaw was in a position to know, if anyone could. 

From what reading I’ve done over the years, which has been limited to publicly available materials, I’ve seen nothing to contradict the late Mr Henshaw. I am unclear whether he meant commercial gun sales only or military and commercial, but I’m inclined to believe he meant both.  

Based on what I’ve read, I believe John Olin the son was personally enamored with Winchester guns and encouraged the company to produce high quality guns, even at a loss, to burnish the Winchester brand and sell a whole lot of profitable ammunition.  One proof of this is the Model 21. In JMO’s absence, Olin’s board of directors voted to kill this money burner but, shortly thereafter, reversed their decision. Why? The corporate board minutes record the reason: “…out of respect for Mr. Olin.”  The 21 had the life of the Mayfly after 1980. 

JMO liked the whole 52 line because it kept Winchester prominent in target competition, an ammo sales tool. He REALLY liked the 52 Sporting and took a deep, personal interest in its design and quality. 

So, applying homo economicus standards of analysis to figure out why the Winchester-Western Division’s gun department did what it did, can result in error. Big John had his heavy thumb on the scales.

Best regards, 

Bill

- Bill 

 

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"I have seen wicked men and fools, a great many of both, and I believe they both get paid in the end, but the fools first." -- David Balfour, narrator and protagonist of the novel, Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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October 18, 2023 - 9:08 pm
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Based on what I’ve read, I believe John Olin the son was personally enamored with Winchester guns and encouraged the company to produce high quality guns, even at a loss, to burnish the Winchester brand and sell a whole lot of profitable ammunition. Zebulon said 

I’m sure this is correct about Olin’s love for the company, & I’m well aware ammo has always been relatively more profitable than guns; it’s also how UMC came to own Rem.  But relatively low profits is not the same as no profits.  Marlin guns were priced competitively with WRA’s, & were not of inferior quality, though Marlin had no ammo line to support their gun sales.  Savage sold ammo under their own brand, but it was insignificant in volume compared to WRA ammo sales.  Ditto for Stevens.  Just leaves me wondering why WRA was unable to make a profit on their gun sales.

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October 18, 2023 - 11:39 pm
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clarence said

Based on what I’ve read, I believe John Olin the son was personally enamored with Winchester guns and encouraged the company to produce high quality guns, even at a loss, to burnish the Winchester brand and sell a whole lot of profitable ammunition. Zebulon said 

I’m sure this is correct about Olin’s love for the company, & I’m well aware ammo has always been relatively more profitable than guns; it’s also how UMC came to own Rem.  But relatively low profits is not the same as no profits.  Marlin guns were priced competitively with WRA’s, & were not of inferior quality, though Marlin had no ammo line to support their gun sales.  Savage sold ammo under their own brand, but it was insignificant in volume compared to WRA ammo sales.  Ditto for Stevens.  Just leaves me wondering why WRA was unable to make a profit on their gun sales.

  

Well, Tom Henshaw would have been a man to ask but he is no longer with us.  The late historian Herb Houze did pretty much explain why Winchester could not make a profit on gun sales, in his history of the company from inception to 1980. Before Olin, it wasn’t one problem; it was a series of problems along with management that didn’t cope well with the post-WWI economy, listened to the wrong advice from its bankers, and descended into bankruptcy in the Great Depression.  Thereafter, gun manufacturing was regarded by the Olins as a tool for selling ammunition and the company at least appeared to be more concerned about the volume of firearms sales than whether they were making a profit on them, at least until after WWII when union labor costs skyrocketed.  Winchester was not making low profits on its guns; it was losing money on every one it made, according to Henshaw. 

Part of the problem after WWII was one of unwieldy size – Winchester dwarfed the companies to which you compare it. Marlin, Savage and Stevens were relatively small operations, all originally family owned like Winchester, and each of which, like Winchester, ultimately failed in its original form and was resurrected and/or consolidated by others.  I believe you assume more historical profitablity for Marlin, Savage, and Stevens than was the case. If we are to make comparisons, Savage/Stevens in its last incarnation quit making the 99 for the same reason Winchester quit making the very nice 63 automatic – elegant and functional guns that were too labor intensive and unprofitable. Marlin went through a bankruptcy as well – not the recent Remington blowup – but at much earlier in its history, after which the Marlin family had no connection with the company. 

A second, related problem was Winchester manufactured a very large line of high grade rifles and shotguns, compared to any other American company of the post-WWII era. While it pretty much set the standard in every commercial long gun market (except automatic shotguns), it’s most famous and popular models were very expensive to make because they required lots and lots of post-WWII American union labor. Winchester and the relevant machinists’ union were constantly at war and John Olin had a burning hatred of unions. That, in fact, was the catalyst for the 1980 sale of the gun business.  

Related to the second problem was the third problem: an inbred refusal, based on Winchester’s post WWI experience, to invest in modern gun making machinery and techniques for far too long. Then, in 1962 bringing in McNamara’s Band of Ford Motor Company bright boys who were going to show the Yankee rubes how to do it. The whiz kids had no feel for the sporting arms business and were contemptuous of it, thinking Winchester’s future was military weapons and ammunition sales. As one of them is said to have said, “The commercial gun department can go to hell.” The Houze history dwells on Winchester’s post-WWII corporate malaise, followed by frantic attempts to make gun sales profitable again that resulted in disaster. 

I personally believe, but can’t prove, the ’63 disaster was caused by John Olin’s relationship with McNamara’s Department of Defense in the late Fifties and early Sixties, when Winchester was running three sets of hands filling a geometric progression of huge ammunition orders for the Vietnam War.  At the same time, Remington, Browning, High Standard, Marlin – even Weatherby – were eating Winchester’s lunch in the commercial gun market. John Olin was a Winchester groupie but he could also read a balance sheet and was getting heat from his shareholders and the board. He had a close friendship with General Curtis LeMay, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, but it didn’t save Winchester’s M14 contract, which hurled a large, very expensive turd into Winchester’s punch bowl. Olin cried for help – I think to LeMay – and LeMay ran it upstream to McNamara, who undoubtedly had a hand in arranging for the squad of former Ford executives that collectively created the 1964 Keystone Cops reenactment, starring Winchester’s product line. 

The late William Batterman Ruger, Senior once said anybody who didn’t intuitively understand what sporting guns should look like and that would be popular with American sportsmen, shouldn’t be in the gun business.   

- Bill 

 

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October 19, 2023 - 2:21 am
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Great analysis, Bill. My oversimplified analysis from my limited research is that Olin knew ammo but he loved guns. In a large corporation costs can be shifted to make some areas of operation seem better (or worse) than other divisions and other costs can be shifted to another fiscal year. I think a limited amount of that type of accounting may have taken place. 
Funny you should mention Ford, it seems the Dearborn gang is a victim of their own optimistic accounting and is being targeted by UAW along with GM and Chrysler to share the wealth. Rumblings indicate Ford is going to take a hard stance, I no longer have good contacts with GM or Chrysler. I hope the Big Three’s whiz kids studied Winchester’s labor issues, otherwise some of us may be walking a few months from now. 

 

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October 19, 2023 - 2:51 am
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TXGunNut said I hope the Big Three’s whiz kids studied Winchester’s labor issues, otherwise some of us may be walking a few months from now.  

Not if you buy a Toyota made in a non-union factory.  I’m still driving my 1980 Land Cruiser every day.

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October 19, 2023 - 11:59 am
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Zebulon. Thank you very much for taking the time and effect to post the pictures and yes they are perfect. Thank you.   RRM

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October 19, 2023 - 12:07 pm
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Good morning. You’re welcome. Are you doing a repair or making a replacement? 

Bill

- Bill 

 

WACA # 65205; Life Member, National Rifle Association; amateur preservationist

"I have seen wicked men and fools, a great many of both, and I believe they both get paid in the end, but the fools first." -- David Balfour, narrator and protagonist of the novel, Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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October 19, 2023 - 12:20 pm
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No. Just a fan studying and trying to learn. I have enjoyed reading your behind the scene analysis of the Winchester situation and history.        RRM

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October 19, 2023 - 12:52 pm
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Understood and thank you. At gun shows, I’ve apparently always had a flashing neon “sucker” sign on my forehead and been dealt with accordingly.  What finally began to spare me was my companion hobby, collecting shooting and hunting books. Half Price Books is a favorite haunt on Sunday afternoons. And when my son lived in Portland, I discovered Powell’s City of Books, where I found good used editions of Keith, O’Connor,  Askins, et al.  I bought Houze’s Winchester history when it was published and then every other book he’d written, and found him to be a friendly and helpful correspondent.

The late, celebrated trial lawyer Louis Nizer was fond of saying, ” I suppose I’ve been lucky in the law. But I’ve found most of my luck seems to come to me at three o’clock in the morning in my law library.”

- Bill 

 

WACA # 65205; Life Member, National Rifle Association; amateur preservationist

"I have seen wicked men and fools, a great many of both, and I believe they both get paid in the end, but the fools first." -- David Balfour, narrator and protagonist of the novel, Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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