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Hardpan Curmudgeon SASS #8967

Rolling Block Quandry - Update

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Posted (edited)

Needin' some specs, and my "Google-Fu" is weak today.  :huh:

 

It's been a long time (twenty years or so) since I've shot my Remington "Modelo Argentino 1879 E. N.,"  and always assumed it was .43 Spanish (11.5mm Spanish Remington).  When I was shooting it, I formed brass from .348 Winchester cases.  I'd drop a .348 pin gauge into the mouth to support it, chuck it up in a drill press, and using a flat file "mill" the web portion of the case to fit the chamber.  Trial and error 'til I got the first one to fit, then calipers for the rest.  Next, I'd fire-form the brass to fill the chamber; load with black powder and hand seat cast lead bullets, then have fun.  It was actually fairly accurate...!

 

About eight years ago I decided to get a little more formal with it.  Bought some actual .43 Spanish brass, some actual .43 Spanish dies, made a chamber cast... but alas, all has since been misplaced.

 

So I have a new block of Cerrosafe, and I'm ready to make another chamber cast. 

 

But first, I slugged the bore.  Surprise!  It mikes at a nominal .450!  The .43 Spanish shoots a bullet diameter of .439... so what the heck?

 

Research indicates that there are a few possibilities:  

 

- These rifles (all with the "Modelo Argentino 1879 E. N." marking) were produced primarily as .43 Spanish, but a number were turned out as .43 Spanish "Reformado," and even

  .44-77 Sharps/Remington.  The "official" bullet for the .44-77 is .446; who knows what the Reformado was supposed to be - I cannot find specs, but have seen some anecdotal evidence        that it was .451. 

 

- Remington was known to produce rifles with tremendous variation in bore diameters, far beyond what would be acceptable today.  Probably not considered critical, since these were            destined for military use in third-world countries.

 

Well, it seems I might have a rifle chambered for: 

 

a) .43 Spanish with a hugely over-sized (but nice!) bore; 

b) .44-77 Sharps/Remington, but with a still over-sized (but still nice!) bore, or

c) .43 Spanish "Reformado," with a correct bore.  

 

Anyway, starting with CARTRIDGES OF THE WORLD, Ninth Edition - 2000, and the Internet, I've found measurements/specs for .43 Spanish and .44-77 Sharps/Remington.  But I just can't find anything for the so-called "Reformado."

 

Thoughts and comments welcomed... and especially if anyone could steer me toward "Reformado" specs and data It'd be much appreciated.  I wanna figger out what it is and start shooting this relic again!  :) 

                         
                       

 

 

 

1216243339_BRemingtonRollingBlock.thumb.jpg.39812678717b7bb2533448029974621a.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Hardpan Curmudgeon SASS #8967
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Interesting situation . . but I have no information for ya. . . . :)

 

will follow your thread . . . interesting . . . . :huh:

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Posted (edited)

Mike Bellevue is up to speed on these. May wish to reach out to him. 

He did videos on his.

 

 

 

Edited by Dirty Dan Dawkins

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Posted (edited)

http://www.militaryrifles.com/Spain/Ovid-Rem.htm

 

1889 most Oviedo Spanish rolling blocks were rechambered to the improved Spanish "Reformado" cartridge.  This cartridge was developed by two Spanish Army officers and had a brass covered, larger, heavier bullet (.454 in dia., vs. .439; 375 gr. vs. 395 gr.).  It was this cartridge that US soldiers faced in Cuba during the Spanish-American war.

PHOTO: The rifle shown is an unaltered M1871 Spanish manufactured (Fabrica de Armas de Oviedo) Remington Rolling block rifle chambered in .43 Spanish Remington caliber.  Most rifles of this model have been altered to chamber the later .43 Spanish Reformado cartridge.  An example of this later converted rifle is shown in the link below.

DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS:  A traverse bolt through the rear of the forestock is probably the first distinguishing charecteristic.  But for the conversion of the Swedish M1867 to the smokeless M1889 chambered in 8mm, no other military rolling block carries this feature.  The firing pin retractor, which sticks up out of the breech block when the rifle has been fired (or any time that the hammer is lowered) is the second significant distinction, although that feature is occationally seen in the more scarce, Belgian made  Uruguan Remington.   The upper tang is devoid of markings and the right side of the receiver is marked with the Spanish Crown over AR O and the year built.  (AR O/1885 on the right side, signifying manufacture in 1885 at the Spanish arsenal at Oviedo (AR = Alfonso Rex XII Spanish king 1874-1888.)  This model has no bayonet lug or tenon.

MISC NOTES:   Quantities of the M89 Spanish Reformado Cartridges are still seen frequently at gun shows today.  Most examples, however, have very poor, flatteded headstamps, a result of the Spanish Army's policy of reloading its spent brass, the raised headstamps being flattened out as a result of repeated firing.
 
 
 

MORE:

linecol2.gif
 

Oviedo71-05.JPG
Good view of the traverse bolt through the rear of the forestock.
 
 

Oviedo71-05b.JPG
Markings of the M1871 Spanish made Rolling Block (see text above)
 

Oviedo89-13.JPG
Above and Below:  Firing pin retractor in the exposed (hammer down) position.  The firing pin retractor is visible just sticking out of the breech block.  It rotates on the screw seen to the right of the proom mark.When the hammer is cocked and the breech block is rotated back to open the breech, the retractor cams against the hammer mounting and internally levers against the firing pin retracting it.  The M1867 Danish Rolling Block has a similar firing pin retraction device but it is looks somewhat different.

Oviedo89-14.JPG
 
 

43Span&Refor.jpg
Above:  On the left - Original .43 Spanish Remington cartridges (11.15x58R)
On the right - the Spanish "Reformado" (11.4x57R) cartridge.   The bore of the
rifle was not altered by the modification, only the chamber.  The bullet just had
to deal with it ... making for a tighter fit of course).

Edited by Subdeacon Joe
added information
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Didn’t they build a .43 Egyptian also? I believe Captain Cooper had one of those.

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Definitely Remington built, not Oviedo (and no bolt through the forestock):

 

 

1096303918_RollingBlock3.thumb.jpg.af62188cdf03d164255bdd3ac57eb845.jpg

 

823818748_RollingBlock2.thumb.jpg.d7c08ff5823344de2206b3b8deeb9bdd.jpg

 

Well... the videos above didn't help much, but were entertaining and pretty cool.  :)

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From the 13th edition COTW.

 

11.5x57Rmm (.43) Spanish Reformado
Historical Notes:
this was the original centerfire berdan primed Spanish military cartridge. it was adopted in about 1867 and used in early rolling Block rifles manufactured by Remington for the Spanish government. It was also used in some Berdan and Snider conversions of the Spanish muzzleloader. Over a million rounds of this ammunition and many rolling block rifles were captured by American troops in Cuba, during the Spanish-American War. It was replaced by the 11.15mm Spanish Remington cartridge, in 1871.
General Comments:Although this cartridge is listed as .43-caliber, the bullet has a base band that is actually .454-inch in diameter. The bullet is brass covered and has a 10-degree beveled base.

In the tropical climate of Cuba, the brass-covered bullets often turned green with verdigris and were thought to be “poisoned” bullets by American troops. In terms of bacterial count and infectious wounds, these probably were poisoned, for all practical purposes. Rim and base diameter and case length are almost identical to the 11.15mm Spanish Remington, and cases could be made by expanding and trimming 11.15mm cases.

Img_14681_1242-book_reader_ReadEra.png

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Doesn't give any specifications though.

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Alpo, that helps a lot ~ "the bullet has a base band that is actually .454-inch in diameter" is more than I've found.  Navigating COTW can be challenging!  I missed that passage; I have the ninth edition... well-worn, dog-eared, wrinkled and much loved!  ^_^

 

 

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1 hour ago, Subdeacon Joe said:

Looks almost like they just opened up the brass from the .43 and shoved teh .454 into it.

 

Well if you consider that many of the rifles were manufactured with too large of a bore for the original 43 Spanish cartridge; the .43 Spanish "Reformado," was a very inexpensive way to make most any rifle accurate no matter the bore size. For exceptionally large bores a soft bullet, even one brass plated, would bump up enough to greatly improve accuracy.  For the other end of the scale these rifles were tough and squeezing a bullet that was several thousandths oversized down likely didn't cause any problems other than possibly making the bore a little harder to get clean.

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Since the Reformado was introduced in 1867 and the change to .43 Spanish was 1871 it appears that the bore size was not the reason for the Reformado cartridge.

 

Duffield

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9 hours ago, Subdeacon Joe said:

 

 

https://loaddata.com/Cartridge/115X57Rmm-43-Spanish-Reformado/6278

 

.43%20Spanish%2011.15x58R2.gif

 

 

Looks almost like they just opened up the brass from the .43 and shoved teh .454 into it.

 

Now that's just tacky.

 

You go to that link and it says exactly the same thing that I posted, which I copied out of a cartridge of the world.

 

Then it gives you reloading data. But if you want to know the actual charge you have to subscribe to their site.

 

Or, I suppose, you could look in cartridges of the world.

 

Img_14681_1243-book_reader_ReadEra.png

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Hardpan Curmudgeon SASS #8967 said:

Definitely Remington built, not Oviedo (and no bolt through the forestock):

 

 

1096303918_RollingBlock3.thumb.jpg.af62188cdf03d164255bdd3ac57eb845.jpg

 

823818748_RollingBlock2.thumb.jpg.d7c08ff5823344de2206b3b8deeb9bdd.jpg

 

Well... the videos above didn't help much, but were entertaining and pretty cool.  :)

I’d did mention reaching out to Mike. He’s owned several of these. He shows up on the wire once in a while. Like once every year or two.

I forget his alias but I have PM’d him and he was helpful to me. Good luck!

Edited by Dirty Dan Dawkins

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30 minutes ago, Alpo said:

Now that's just tacky.

 

You go to that link and it says exactly the same thing that I posted, which I copied out of a cartridge of the world.

 

Then it gives you reloading data. But if you want to know the actual charge you have to subscribe to their site.

 

Or, I suppose, you could look in cartridges of the world.

 

Img_14681_1243-book_reader_ReadEra.png

 

Yep.  I had originally posted the stuff, except for the chart, then noticed that it was what you had posted so I deleted it from my post.  I wonder if they are associated with CotW?

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, Hardpan Curmudgeon SASS #8967 said:

Needin' some specs, and my "Google-Fu" is weak today.  :huh:

 

It's been a long time (twenty years or so) since I've shot my Remington "Modelo Argentino 1879 E. N.,"  and always assumed it was .43 Spanish (11.5mm Spanish Remington).  When I was shooting it, I formed brass from .348 Winchester cases.  I'd drop a .348 pin gauge into the mouth to support it, chuck it up in a drill press, and using a flat file "mill" the web portion of the case to fit the chamber.  Trial and error 'til I got the first one to fit, then calipers for the rest.  Next, I'd fire-form the brass to fill the chamber; load with black powder and hand seat cast lead bullets, then have fun.  It was actually fairly accurate...!

 

About eight years ago I decided to get a little more formal with it.  Bought some actual .43 Spanish brass, some actual .43 Spanish dies, made a chamber cast... but alas, all has since been misplaced.

 

So I have a new block of Cerrosafe, and I'm ready to make another chamber cast. 

 

But first, I slugged the bore.  Surprise!  It mikes at a nominal .450!  The .43 Spanish shoots a bullet diameter of .439... so what the heck?

 

Research indicates that there are a few possibilities:  

 

- These rifles (all with the "Modelo Argentino 1879 E. N." marking) were produced primarily as .43 Spanish, but a number were turned out as .43 Spanish "Reformado," and even

  .44-77 Sharps/Remington.  The "official" bullet for the .44-77 is .446; who knows what the Reformado was supposed to be - I cannot find specs, but have seen some anecdotal evidence        that it was .451. 

 

- Remington was known to produce rifles with tremendous variation in bore diameters, far beyond what would be acceptable today.  Probably not considered critical, since these were            destined for military use in third-world countries.

 

Well, it seems I might have a rifle chambered for: 

 

a) .43 Spanish with a hugely over-sized (but nice!) bore; 

b) .44-77 Sharps/Remington, but with a still over-sized (but still nice!) bore, or

c) .43 Spanish "Reformado," with a correct bore.  

 

Anyway, starting with CARTRIDGES OF THE WORLD, Ninth Edition - 2000, and the Internet, I've found measurements/specs for .43 Spanish and .44-77 Sharps/Remington.  But I just can't find anything for the so-called "Reformado."

 

 

 

 

If you have a cerrosafe cast that resembles a .43 Spanish its sure not the Reformado.   Heres some more info you might chew on.

-_ Cartridges of the World is a good reference but as with others it can be misleading.  For instance, they describe the 44-77 as mostly a target round when it actually was the most prominent buffalo caliber for Sharps until around 1876.

 

--Sharps pretty much tried to produce 44-77 barrels with groove of .446 but they tended to vary a bit. Modern day barrels are indeed .446 groove.

 

-- Remington, accused today much like Marlin of sloppy oversized barrels, used BORE diameter to describe calibers.  You can readily see this fact in early advertising catalogs depicting rifles available in 40/100, 44/100, and 50/100 in the manner of British usage.  They never referred to groove diameter as we do now (this all changed with the advent of modern cartridges and jacketed bullets) but the Brits never really changed.   Further, and if you think about it Colt did the same thing.  Their .36 (bore) was in essence .375 groove and closer to a true .38.

 

--- My own original Remington Sporting Rifle and others that I know of generally mike out at around .451ish for groove and .443 for Bore!   These rifles were designed to shoot bore riding Paper Patched Bullets wrapped to near bore diameter and shooting grease groove in them can be a challenge due to the very tight chambers employed (My Shiloh 44-77 is cavernous compared to an original).  Now, the 50-70 can be an exception to this premise as is the 45 govt but both were developed by the government to certain standards.  That said, barrels of Sharps and Trapdoors can vary quite a bit.

 

--Military rolling blocks such as the Spanish were also designed for patched bullets and a generous freebore to allow soldiers to reload even with a fouled bore.  I've seen Spanish barrels vary  all the way to .451 diameter and it makes you thing it might be a 44-77.  There is not difference except bullet diameter.  But guess what....any of the above will shoot just fine with a charge of black powder busting that bullet in the butt and obdurating it fit the grooves.

 

__If you decide to shoot traditional Paper Patch Bullets then opt for patch/bullet combos around .001-2 thou less than bore diameter.

 

-- For greaser bullets then choose bullets about groove or .001 over.  You must factor in your neck thickness in this equation or find you can't chamber it at all.  That goes for patched bullets as well (Older reformed .348 cases wouldn't work for greasers in my original 44-77 because the necks were too thick but RMC and Jamison cases with thinner necks cured that).

 

--This is all TMI I'm sure but do the the specs on your Cerrosafe and don't worry about what some book says is standard because yesterday there was no SAAMI standards!  Do the math and figure out what will chamber.  Acquire some sample bullets and fire away preferably with blackpowder.  With a bore as large as yours you should consider not Full Lengthing your cases and just thumb seating the bullet after mild belling. Crimping is not necessary in single shots.

 

--I've missed some info I'm sure.

Edited by Yellowhouse Sam # 25171
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Posted (edited)

This is not a Spanish rifle. 

 

It is the Argentine model, which were never factory chambered for Reformado.  "Argentine contract" rifles.

 

The barrel is original, so therefore original groove/bore diameters. (Nock's form style barrel breech, and copy of Austrian Werndl rear sight are unique to "Argentine".)

 

I also do not understand previous reference to Reformado coming before 43 Spanish. Many Argentine rifles never left the USA. Rechambering is done. Rebarreling is not, being much more expensive, especially considering low budget infantry rifles.

 

It's likely that bore diameter is correct, but grooves were cut extra deep.  H.P., we need that new chamber cast.

Edited by Palouse
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Posted (edited)

Sam, you've posted some really good - and interesting - information here.  Much to chew on, 'specially with trying to come up with a proper mold!

 

For now, I do have a bit more information... such as it is.

 

I finally got around to making another chamber cast, and it was a booger-bear pain in the butt.  I didn't get my patch "plug" close enough to the chamber, thinking that including a bit of rifling would be beneficial.  Probably would've been.  But the Cerrosafe flowed into the extractor cutout, which prevented the cast from rotating to clear the short bit of rifling and locked it in tight as a brick.  Ah well... boiled up a large pot o' water on the propane burner outside, dunked the receiver end into the pot and in a few seconds melted it back out.  Re-cast, but was not able to determine the actual cartridge length - dimension "F" is a best-guess with the caliper; this is the one measurement I'm not overly confident with.  

 

Anyway, it is definitely a bottleneck case.  This rules out the "Reformado."

 

But the rest of the dimensions do not exactly match either the .43 Spanish or the .44-77 Sharps/Remington (dimensions at end from Cartridges Of The World).

                                                                                                                                                                                     

At this point, my guess is that it is a well-made rifle with very sloppy chamber and bore dimensions - the first likely from a worn reamer (they were cutting a lot of these back then!), and overall possibly a result of outrageously liberal tolerances for military export arms of the day.  Heck... they didn't even bother with serial numbers or caliber stampings!  

 

          scan.thumb.jpg.fada44e8502ca33dd5d0471608b85f4c.jpg

                             Note:  Measurement "H" is actually .467 for the case mouth ~ Groove Diameter is .451

 

Picture below is for illustration only - measurements taken with a digital caliper! ^_^

 

          20200530_144714.thumb.jpg.cf0f3bd28259aaf6ebbb79ccd3d8b34c.jpg

 

 

 

 

Cartridge   Case Type Bullet Dia Neck Dia Shldr Dia Base Dia Rim Dia Rim Thick Case Length Crtg Length Twist Primer
                         
44-77 Sharps & Remington   A         0.446           0.467         0.502         0.516              0.625  ?               2.250             3.050 ? LB1
                         
11.15 (43) Spanish Remington   A         0.439           0.458         0.512         0.516              0.635         0.082              2.250             2.820 20 B

 

 

 

 

Edited by Hardpan Curmudgeon SASS #8967

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14 minutes ago, Hardpan Curmudgeon SASS #8967 said:

Sam, you've posted some really good - and interesting - information here.  Much to chew on, 'specially with trying to come up with a proper mold!

 

For now, I do have a bit more information... such as it is.

 

I finally got around to making another chamber cast, and it was a booger-bear pain in the butt.  I didn't get my patch "plug" close enough to the chamber, thinking that including a bit of rifling would be beneficial.  Probably would've been.  But the Cerrosafe flowed into the extractor cutout, which prevented the cast from rotating to clear the short bit of rifling and locked it in tight as a brick.  Ah well... boiled up a large pot o' water on the propane burner outside, dunked the receiver end into the pot and in a few seconds melted it back out.  Re-cast, but was not able to determine the actual cartridge length - dimension "F" is a best-guess with the caliper; this is the one measurement I'm not overly confident with.  

 

Anyway, it is definitely a bottleneck case.  This rules out the "Reformado."

 

But the rest of the dimensions do not exactly match either the .43 Spanish or the .44-77 Sharps/Remington (dimensions at end from Cartridges Of The World).

                                                                                                                                                                                     

At this point, my guess is that it is a well-made rifle with very sloppy chamber and bore dimensions - the first likely from a worn reamer (they were cutting a lot of these back then!), and overall possibly a result of outrageously liberal tolerances for military export arms of the day.  Heck... they didn't even bother with serial numbers or caliber stampings!  

 

          scan.thumb.jpg.fada44e8502ca33dd5d0471608b85f4c.jpg

                             Note:  Measurement "H" is actually .467 for the case mouth ~ Groove Diameter is .451

 

Picture below is for illustration only - measurements taken with a digital caliper! ^_^

 

          20200530_144714.thumb.jpg.cf0f3bd28259aaf6ebbb79ccd3d8b34c.jpg

 

 

 

 

Cartridge   Case Type Bullet Dia Neck Dia Shldr Dia Base Dia Rim Dia Rim Thick Case Length Crtg Length Twist Primer
                         
44-77 Sharps & Remington   A         0.446           0.467         0.502         0.516              0.625  ?               2.250             3.050 ? LB1
                         
11.15 (43) Spanish Remington   A         0.439           0.458         0.512         0.516              0.635         0.082              2.250             2.820 20 B

 

 

 

 

I'm betting A, the rim size is more in the 80's but you can overcome that by seating the bullet out into the lands to fireform and headspace for your chamber.  

 

Now for mold size.  You will likely never be able to chamber a bullet thats .451 and thats okay as per my explanation above.   If you can measure bore size that would be a big help.  

 

Lets says you're gonna shoot those nasty ole greasers and do some math.  First you need to select a bullet that measures about .002 less than your bore diameter.   For the base of the bullet lets assume your cases are .013 thick X 2 = .026.  Then .467 (measurement  H) minus .026 = .441,  So if all these measurements are accurate a .441 diameter bullet is all you can chamber.  Lets allow .002 slack and say .439 and that is in the ball park for the .43 Spanish which is what you have.   Thinner case necks would let you go up in diameter so necks that are .011 would allow a bullet .004 larger in diameter.  Thats still a long way to .451 but it will obdurate with black just like it back when.

 

If you were to paper patch given the case neck thicknesses:   Assume you have a bore of .440 (we won't know till you measure).  Then we allow about .002 slip so thats .438.  Paper from BACO will add about .005 to the total diameter so now we need a bullet thats  .433 before patching and a final diameter of .438.  You would likely have to size the neck a tiny bit to hold it firmly.  One way around that is to get a Double Diameter  Mold (Accurate makes em and they won't break you)  DD bullets have a larger diameter shank about 1/4 in long.  

 

Again don't worry about the groove being so large.  It was designed for PP bullets and likely has a tight chamber but should shoot greasers just fine.  Lemme know if you need some explanation cause I may not be very clear here.

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