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Low Wall Center Fire Block
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October 30, 2021 - 8:52 pm
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Hello all! This is my first post to the forum, so I figure a short “about myself” is in order…

My name is Marc and I am middle aged engineer and former machinist whos passion is bringing back absolutely ANY electro-mechanical device from the scrap heap. Most of my adult life its been mainly metalworking machinery and antiques, but the recent 5 years it’s been firearms. I have always had a love for winchester rifles and have picked up quite a few along the way. One of the things I struggle with is knowing what I have before starting a restoration. I have always found great knowledge on this site so decided to join, learn more, and contribute where I can. 

Anyway, enough of the boring stuff….

I have recently acquired an early model Low Wall that I’m a little puzzled with and I’m confident the right knowledge is here to set me straight. The serial number is 13441. It is a 24″ round barrel marked 22 short, on top, just in front of the receiver. At the end of the forearm is a “1”. Underneath the mainspring is a “vp” inside an oval. What puzzles me is the breech block. It is 100% a centerfire breech block. Firing pin is centered and not offset like you’d see in a rimfire block and presents itself dead center of the bore. The breech block has the number 22 stamped on the left side and I can find no evidence where an old hole was welded to convert the block to centerfire. The block is not contoured to the shape of a low wall, but more like a high wall. Were earlier low walls made with high wall breech blocks?

I THINK I am dealing with a very low value frankenWall, but I’d much rather have the forums experts tell me what I’m dealing with before I start machining new parts for it and bore it out for a liner.Smile

Photo’s (if this works): [Image Can Not Be Found]https://photos.app.goo.gl/2eK3qi5QFJ7hLbsA7

Thanks!!

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October 31, 2021 - 3:24 am
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Hello Marc,

Please send a few pictures of your First variation low-wall to me…

The non-contoured breech block is normal for the First variation low-wall rifles.

Bert – [email protected]

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October 31, 2021 - 4:19 am
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I followed his link and here are the pictures, I figured I’d post them for him.

IMG_20211030_143122304.jpgImage EnlargerIMG_20211030_143141738.jpgImage EnlargerIMG_20211030_143208219.jpgImage EnlargerIMG_20211030_143245887.jpgImage EnlargerIMG_20211030_143319652.jpgImage Enlarger

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October 31, 2021 - 5:21 am
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Externally, the breech block shown in the picture is a rim fire breech block.  Can you remove the breech block and take a clear picture of the front face and the firing pin?

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October 31, 2021 - 1:33 pm
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Marc Roth said  It is 100% a centerfire breech block. 

Have you tried fireing it to find out for sure where the firing pin is striking?  Maybe the position of the block relative to the bore isn’t exactly where you suppose it to be when it’s in battery.  I especially like the looks of these early LWs with the “high” blocks, though I can’t say exactly why, except that it looks “archaic.” 

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October 31, 2021 - 1:41 pm
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Now that I see the photo of the rcvr. I like it even better, as it has another “archaic” feature, milled sidewalls, discontinued on later LWs.

No further photos would be needed if you find out if it shoots, as I’d bet it will.

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October 31, 2021 - 1:54 pm
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Thank you impalacustom!

Bert,

I pulled the breech block and scrubbed the front face with scotch bright. I should have done this to begin with because now it does look to be welded. The firing pin looks really clean too. Pictures here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/YJUmpyq1XKtDieDn7

What do you think?

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October 31, 2021 - 2:14 pm
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Marc Roth said

What do you think?  

Well, I retract my bet:  it’s a CF pin, all right.  But why would anyone change a RF block to CF, then put it back in a RF rifle? 

But it doesn’t look like a standard CF pin–it looks like the body has been drilled & a separate tip inserted.

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October 31, 2021 - 10:36 pm
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I took the firing pin out and reinstalled everything, looked down the barrel from the muzzle end and the firing pin hole is right in the center of the bore. I THINK what happened is…(since the bore is a sewer pipe) someone converted the block to center fire with the intent of re-boring the barrel and didn’t get around to it. I didn’t notice it when I bought it…guy wanted 300.00 for it and I didn’t think twice about it. Smile

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October 31, 2021 - 11:26 pm
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Marc R said
 I THINK what happened is…(since the bore is a sewer pipe) someone converted the block to center fire with the intent of re-boring the barrel and didn’t get around to it.  

Very plausible…I can think of a few projects of my own I “didn’t get around to.’

If it’s a project you’re not interested in finishing yourself, let me know: [email protected].

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November 1, 2021 - 12:26 am
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Marc R said
Thank you impalacustom!

Bert,

I pulled the breech block and scrubbed the front face with scotch bright. I should have done this to begin with because now it does look to be welded. The firing pin looks really clean too. Pictures here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/YJUmpyq1XKtDieDn7

What do you think?  

The breech block has been modified, and the firing pin has also been altered.

Bert

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November 1, 2021 - 4:09 pm
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What I normally do with these is make them pretty and turn them in to good shooters. Some examples: https://photos.app.goo.gl/87wEq2BwhQWny7Hr7

They are not perfect, or necessarily “factory correct” (Hence the nickel plating in the photo), but otherwise, they would be in a dumpster. 

What it boils down to is: I would never attempt a restore on a rifle if I thought there was any significance or uniqueness to it. This is why I asked about the breech block. I had no idea the older ones were not contoured. Thank you for that education BTW! So, if you folks think this 1885 is the simple beater that I think it is, then I will proceed with restore and re-bore to CF. I’m thinking 32-20, 32 S&W long, or 32 H&R (I wanted to do 38 special, but I cant find a linerCry). 

Any thoughts are very much welcomed here!

Marc

 

Bert, 

Any chance you know if this left the factory as a 22 short?

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November 1, 2021 - 4:54 pm
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I don’t think a restoration like the other guns you show would hurt this gun as long as the gun is made to safely shoot.  It already has had a lot of bad work done to it. In the back of my mind I feel it should be brought back to the original configuration using as many original parts including caliber too.  

On the other hand, the collector in me thinks a new stock, a barrel re-line and repair to the mechanicals would be enough.  A lot of oil and cleaning on the metal surfaces.

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November 1, 2021 - 5:46 pm
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Marc R said
What I normally do with these is make them pretty and turn them in to good shooters. Some examples: https://photos.app.goo.gl/87wEq2BwhQWny7Hr7

Very nice, esp. the Martini.  I don’t care for nickel, but the factory offered what was called half-nickel, meaning only the rcvr & TG.

May I point out that the caliber marking in script was another detail that identifies a very early LW.  No reason to think it’s not the original brl.

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November 2, 2021 - 12:35 am
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May I point out that the caliber marking in script was another detail that identifies a very early LW.  No reason to think it’s not the original brl.  

 

You know…that’s a really good point Clarence. I do really like the barrel marking. Plus, taking a 22 and boring it out to 1/2″ for a 32 liner is a lot of material removal. I have to tig up the breech block to get it to fit the mortise properly anyway and changing it back to rimfire will give me a chance to get rid of the porosity in the original weld. Bringing it back to 22 short definitely has it’s merits!

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November 2, 2021 - 12:55 am
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Marc R said
What I normally do with these is make them pretty and turn them in to good shooters. Some examples: https://photos.app.goo.gl/87wEq2BwhQWny7Hr7

Bert, 

Any chance you know if this left the factory as a 22 short?  

Yes it was… it was received in the warehouse in July of 1887 as a 22 Short with a 24-inch No. 1 round barrel.  The early caliber marking for the 22 Short was in Italic font (as shown in the first picture).  However, by the time S/N 13441 was manufactured, Winchester had changed the font to a block style (second picture)

22-SHORT-9283-LW.jpegImage Enlarger Caliber-Stamp.jpegImage Enlarger

This picture below is on of my low-wall rifles (S/N 14184) also a 22 Short with the non-contoured breech block.

Close-up-LS-View.jpegImage Enlarger

Bert

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November 2, 2021 - 1:10 am
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Marc R said

 

You know…that’s a really good point Clarence. I do really like the barrel marking. Plus, taking a 22 and boring it out to 1/2″ for a 32 liner is a lot of material removal. I have to tig up the breech block to get it to fit the mortise properly anyway and changing it back to rimfire will give me a chance to get rid of the porosity in the original weld. Bringing it back to 22 short definitely has it’s merits!  

I didn’t want to say anything contrary to your plans, but for such an early LW I think that would be an admirable idea; even though, I’m aware, converting the block back to RF would be much extra work.  At least you’d save yourself the trouble of making a new extractor.  I believe repro RF firing pins are available, or maybe an original could be found.  If I had the gun, that’s what I’d do, even though I’d have to pay for all the work.

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November 2, 2021 - 1:13 am
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Here is another picture of my low-wall and a Take-Down high-wall (22 Short) with a 24-inch No. 3 octagon barrel.

Model-1885-22-Short-Rifles-001.jpegImage Enlarger

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November 2, 2021 - 1:21 am
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Bert H. said

This picture below is one of my low-wall rifles (S/N 14184) also a 22 Short with the non-contoured breech block.

 

Bert,  does it letter with the tang sight?

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November 2, 2021 - 1:58 am
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Bert H. said
Here is another picture of my low-wall and a Take-Down high-wall (22 Short) with a 24-inch No. 3 octagon barrel.

Model-1885-22-Short-Rifles-001.jpegImage Enlarger  

Bert, those are gorgeous! Was the front globe sight a special order item from winchester?

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