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Rolling Block with a Winchester Barrel


CyPhi

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Howdy folks.

I am hoping you can help figure out some info on a rolling block rifle I just purchased.

It is a rolling block that is chambered in 38-55. It came with about 300 long brass. 

The Remington markings on the tang are well worn and difficult to read. The is a number stamped on the bottom of the left side of the receiver.

The half octagon barrel has Winchester markings on top that are visible. When I removed the fore end there are proof marks etc and it is stamped 32-40. (Not the 38-55 the I was told or the brass that came with it.)

 

My thoughts are it is a Remington rolling block that has a replacement Winchester barrel that was re-chambered from 32-40 to 38-55.  What do you all think?

 

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Posted (edited)

First, the barrel may have been rechambered and had it's bore enlarged.  Be sure to check.

As far as how a Winchester barrel got onto a Remington action; anything is possible.   The Rolling Block seems to have had a rather convoluted history back in the day.

With the help of writing to Dope Bag in American Rifleman, and some other research, I have a couple of Rolling Block that seem to have rather convoluted history.

One of them started out as a muzzle loading rifle made by Remington during the American Civil War.   Sometime after the War, the barrel was removed and put on a Rolling Block Action by Remington.  It somehow made its way to Belgium where it was eventually rebarreled to become a 12 Gauge shotgun.

My other one started out as a rifle in caliber unknown, but is now a .45-70.   I say caliber unknown because while it has clearly been there for a long, long time, it is possible that the barrel is no original, and there are NO markings on the barrel itself, just a very faint one on the upper and lower tang under the stock.

Apparently, Rolling Blocks, and not all of them were actually made by Remington, had a habit of being modified after the fact by anyone and everyone. 

I do wish Remington would offer a factory letter.  The records do seem to exist.  

Edited by H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619
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Thanks for the reply H.K.  That helps to explain the why this seems to be a "Franken- gun".  
 

My next question is, can the gun handle smokeless cartridges?  I am thinking the Remington action dates back to the 1870's or 1880's. The last patent stamped on the tang appears to be March 18th 1874.

I cannot see any manufature dates on the Winchester barrel. 

 

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10 minutes ago, CyPhi said:

Thanks for the reply H.K.  That helps to explain the why this seems to be a "Franken- gun".  
 

My next question is, can the gun handle smokeless cartridges?  I am thinking the Remington action dates back to the 1870's or 1880's. The last patent stamped on the tang appears to be March 18th 1874.

I cannot see any manufature dates on the Winchester barrel. 

 

 

Unless you can positively date the barrel I would stick to Black Powder.

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Thanks Dave. I was thinking the samething.

 

What are the pressures of black powder and are there any smokeless loads that stay under them?

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it's not necessarily the "Chamber Pressure."  The problem is the "Pressure Spike."  Shooting Smokeless in a Black Powder anything is not necessarily a great idea.  Stick to Black Powder.

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The smokeless powder I use to replicate BP loads in BP cartridges is Accurate XMP5744.  It has a moderately slow burn and a more gentle pressure curve than most smokeless powders.  I've used it 45 Colt, 45-70, .40-90SBN and .32-40.  I first used it on the recommendation of Mike Venturino in my .40-90SBN.  Since there's no published data with smokeless powders for this cartridge in any reloading manual;  in discussions with MV, he suggested to use the same data as 45-70, as the case volume is similar, and like bullets weights are available.  I did and found that velocities matched those attained with full loads of BP.  Here's a screen shot of what QuickLoad predicts with 17 grains of 5744 behind a 255 grain bullet in the .38-55.

38-55PressureCurve.jpg.1852a24bbb37123ce62ef959b76b4d31.jpg 

As can be seen in the details it's predicts about 13,422 psi for approximately 1,370 fps from a 26" barrel.  This level is just below the minimum load listed by Hodgdon on their website @17.3 grains for a predicted 18,400 psi for a velocity of 1,324 fps out of a 24" barrel.  Their load data also shows a trim length of 2.075".  Whereas QuickLoad shows a case length of 2.085".  Also note that Hodgdon lists a COAL of 2.492" vs the QuickLoad length of 2.510".  QuickLoad doesn't have a data of BP rounds, so a direct comparison can't be made.  Since you don't know the date of your bbl, I also wouldn't recommend the use of any jacketed rounds, regardless of propellant.  While I won't argue with any of the above comments, keeping the load close to the velocities achieved with BP and with a powder that has those loads in the realm of BP pressures, I wouldn't feel unsafe using this powder at those minimal load densities.  I have an 1885 Highwall in .32-40 that I load with both BP and 5744.  In it I load 15 grains of 5744 behind a 170 grain cast bullet and achieve nearly identical velocities as my BP loads at the same trim and COAL lengths.  And while QuickLoad predicts higher pressures and higher velocities than what I actually achieve, it is not substantially more.  While there are stories of folks blowing up guns with 5744, I've personally never witnessed same, nor has anyone of my acquaintance.  Details are often sketchy, and in many instances, downright suspect.  The Hodgdon website, while a wonderful resource, is often lacking data on older cartridges.  Like my .32-40, the lightest bullet they list is a 196 grain, nor do they list any powders except Hodgdon's.  I had to find my load data in an older Accurate powder annual manual or in Lyman's Cast Bullet Handbook.  

 

Then again, if you're super cautious and really curious, there are a couple of non-destructive ways to determine the alloy of the receiver & barrel.  Google "X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy".  

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Posted (edited)

If the gun was in .45-70, I'd say you could used "Trapdoor Safe" loads, but that's not what you have.

Given that the barrel started as a .32-40 and was bored out to .38-55, I'd be very hesitant to use even low powered smokeless.  I *suppose* you could see what the lowest pressure .45-70 Trapdoor loads are, and then see what the ranges are for the .38-55, and if they are comparable and take it from there, but I dunno.


The following is MADE UP

Load 1 for .45-70 for a Trapdoor safe load is oh so many grains of power x with certain bullet weight.  It creates a pressure of 5000 whatever.

Load 1 for .38-55 uses so many grains of powder y with a different bullet weight.  It creates a pressure of 4900 whatever.  This is possibly a safe load.

BUT, I am just not sure due to how the barrel was not made in this caliber.  I'd stick to black powder in this particular gun.   

Edited by H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi guys, 

Next thought/question.

Does the thickness of the barrel wall factor into the equation?

 

Did they have a standard OD for the barrels and just bore them out to the calibre being made? eg. A stock 1-1/4” OD barrel bored out for a 45-70 would have a thinner wall than the same barrel bored out for a 38-55 or was the barrel blank specific to the calibre being bored?

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16 hours ago, CyPhi said:

Hi guys, 

Next thought/question.

Does the thickness of the barrel wall factor into the equation?

 

Did they have a standard OD for the barrels and just bore them out to the calibre being made? eg. A stock 1-1/4” OD barrel bored out for a 45-70 would have a thinner wall than the same barrel bored out for a 38-55 or was the barrel blank specific to the calibre being bored?

 

Yes BUT

 

Unless you have access to a metallurgist that can determine the yield strength of your barrel the question is moot.   

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