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An Alden-inspired ‘Mayflower’ wheellock carbine

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Flint62Smoothie

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This started as a research effort, then build with Brian Anderson of Bristol, VT, an excellent blacksmith and gunsmith as well as builder of early black powdah arms. I have dreamt about adding a shootable wheellock to the 'collection' for years now. And last Xmas, well there was nothing else I really, really needed ... so I suggested to my wife that she buy me the early Germanic wheellock 'casting' set from The Rifle Shoppe. Now get this ... this was my 3rd order from them, where all items have been not only IN stock, but I got all my orders in a week or so. I hear some wait for years for their TRS parts, but of course this one then sat under the Xmas tree for another 2 weeks more, lol.

I started the lock kit, but quickly stopped, as when in talking to Leonard Day about wheellock mechanisms, he said that the most crucial part, besides the inherent design itself, was in the proper heat-treating of the related parts. I succumbed to the belief that this was waaaaay above my pay grade and at last year's Colonial Show in Portsmouth, NH, I had mentioned Mr. Day's comments to Brian Anderson. Brian said ... "If you send that wheellock kit ... send it to me, and I'll build it right for you!"

True to his word he did and we collaborated on the stock design to mimic or borrow from the John Alden 'Mayflower' carbine orginally made by Beretta in Italy (circa 1550), that now resides in the NRA museum. But I guess you would call this the “boar hunting larger cousin” to the original Alden ‘Mayflower’ gun, as that stock would be totally unshootable for a modern-sized person, as only having a really short 10-1/2“ length of pull.

For those who are not aware of the backstory, they found the original Alden wheellock in the Alden family house in 1974, behind the wall in the house when it being remodeled. It Came over on the Mayflower and had been made by Beretta.

Due to the size of the TRS Germanic lockplate we started with, as well as where the original LOP was totally impractical, we upsized it to be a 12-1/2“ length of pull, with a 28-1/2“ barrel and that bought it up to a bore size of 58-caliber, which began as a swamped Jaeger barrel. The stock is cherry, which fits with early Italian arms.

Well, this completes one check off my muzzleloading ‘bucket list’. The craftsmanship and workmanship of the lock action by Brian is outstanding, the wheelock cycles like a fine jeweled watch! And now I have BP arms representative of each century from 1350 to ~1850, of hand gonne, matchlock, wheellock, snaphaunce, to the last in the flintlock lineage, an inline-breech loading Hall flintlock rifle.

And I will say, with no pun intended, that wheellocks are a ‘blast’ to shoot!

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dave_person

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Hi,
I had to chance to handle your gun quite a while ago before it was finished. The other back story to it is the extent to which Brian had to go to make the lock correct and work right. The TRS parts were marginal as best. Anyway, Brian is a superb metal worker and he constructed a very nice wheellock. I have the same parts set, which is originally from a German musket. However, it has so much extra size to it that you can trim it into a number of smaller styles.

dave
 

rickystl

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Hi Dale

Congratulations. What a great looking wheellock. And what will likely be a reliable shooter. Brian does great work, and has a good understanding of the earlier guns. It's difficult to locate a builder with both the gun making and blacksmithing skills. I too am fortunate to own a gun built by Brian.
It sounds like you've test fired it - yes ?
Which TRS lock did you use ?

Rick
 

Flint62Smoothie

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It sounds like you've test fired it - yes ?
Which TRS lock did you use ?
LOCK - To get the large diamond shape we used the early Germanic kit #786. This was also going to give a longer length of pull, as the original is 10.5” and that is just UNshootable for a modern man, lol!

Brian is now making his own lock assemblies, same shape but with then 1st 1” of the diamond forward, but the cock spring, cut off. He is also making them about 2/3 the size and is using swamped 54-cal barrels. In comparison to my “beast”, it makes a very dainty nice handling wheellock!

But I wanted her to stay ‘true to form‘ of the Mayflower type that John Alden brought over here.

FIRING - It is an absolute ‘blast’, no pun intended. And so damn UNIQUE ... turns heads on the range for sure. Most have only seen them in books or museums.

One primes w/ 3Fg as you surely don’t want any 4Fg to get behind that wheel and ignite - DOH! Brian’s metal work is flawless and it winds, about 2/3rds of a turn, like a Rolex watch.

I am still playing with load development, but am sure it is definitely faster than a flintlock, but not as fast as a matchlock, which is INSTANT ignition.
 

rickystl

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Hi Flint62.

Thanks for your response. The reason I was curious about which TRS lock you started with is that I actually held/shouldered the original gun that kit was designed after. It was a few years ago. I bought a couple pieces from the R. Sutton collection as he was moving out of state. While there I was able to examine the German wheellock and shoulder it. I should say attempted to shoulder it. LOL It too was probably no more than about 10 1/2". I would have to shoot it from the cheek. LOL But it was definitely designed as a shoulder arm. It's hard to believe that the general stature of Europeans during that time were so much smaller than us today. If you look at a U.S. Cival War uniform in a museum it looks like it would fit a 14 year old boy today. As well, the original suites of armor in the museums look to be for a man about 5'2" to 5'4".
 

Flint62Smoothie

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FWIW I attended a big BP event on Sunday with > 50 shooters in attendance, with many more witnesses abound, and the Mayflower-inspired wheellock by Brian Anderson was indeed a hit! No ‘pun’ intended ...

Most shot it and many (observers) just handled the arm, or wound the action on an unloaded arm and observed the mechanism of the dog dropping into the spinning wheel as the pan cover automatically opened due to the cam on the tumbler. I also had a neat little write-up showing Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings from 1495 on hand.

I recall that all but 1 shooter hit the 6” gong out at 30-yards, so she will surely shoot and has a really fast, nearly instant ignition.

There was also 3 staff members from the Springfield Armory in attendance and they greatly enjoyed handing and firing both flintlocks (1816 and later) and the various Civil War era BP cartridge guns (all originals by the way; rolling blocks & trapdoors) made and issued from their armory. They all commented that “ ... while at work we only get to look at them”, LOL!

Two out of the 3 were not shooters themselves and they walked away with a positive experience of the shooting sports, and a new appreciation of black powdah arms, which is a WIN-WIN!
 

deGheyn

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That is beautiful! A carbine wheelie has been on my wish list for years.
 

rickystl

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Of passing interest: I was able to handle the original gun that the TRS German lock was copied from. It was owned by a collector that lived in Texas who has since moved to Atlanta.

Rick
 

deGheyn

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So, while I was surfing the interwebs to narrow down the style of the piece I want, I stumbled upon this:
 

Flint62Smoothie

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In retrospect, the plate for that German lock kit from TRS is HUGE, but for commercially made (and available wheellock kits) it was the only offering that could mimic the diamond profile of the original Mayflower carbine. The original arm only has a 10-1/2" length of pull that renders it unshootable for most modern day men, so we scaled up the wood to match the overall profile of the Mayflower arm and ended up with a 58-cal carbine of > 28" barrel.

If I had to do it again, seeing Brian's works firshand, I would have had him make the whole thing. He said the TRS kit was unbuildable as offered ... or something to that effect. Brian is a true artist, craftsman and blacksmith!
 

deGheyn

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I would like to find out what kind of load you worked out for this. I have the TRS Snaphaunce carbine with a Colerain .62, 28" swamped rifled barrel. I've always wondered if it should have been rifled. Looks like the Alden gun was, but I haven't had much luck finding contemporary sources. Anyway, I've also been trying to figure out if they would have been patching at this time or just loading with a wad. I did get to learn to use my ball puller when loading a .610 with a .010 lubed patch. Not sure if that was due to fouling or the sprue turning a bit sideways on me. The first load went down & back out beautifully.
 

Pukka Bundook

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DeGheyn,
Attached is an illustration from the early 1500's which seems to show a ball and patch material, amongst other things.
This would infer that patched balls were used to Some degree by this date, but how widespread I don't know.
Much on shooting was still experimental in the 15-1600's so no hard and fast rules.
I have seen balls from that period, very well engraved with rifling marks, that appear to have been over -size when rammed down a bore. This would take a mallet to start them, but we do know that this method of loading Was used for a very long time.
Arkebuse m_ Zubehör, Farbe_  1b kl.jpg
 

Flint62Smoothie

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Pukka - Didn’t you make a ‘copy‘ of an early Brescian (??) matchlock, where the late ‘Matchlock‘ from the Viking Sword forums had the original, where there was patching material in the patch box that was on the bottom of the buttstock?

I think even more importantly, that illustration appears to show a patch cutter!
 

Pukka Bundook

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Flint,
Yes, I made a copy. :)
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1-75s-a232177_h - Copy.jpg

I do not recall any patch material, but there were both a tow worm for cleaning, and a very charming ball puller with a horn button to keep the screw centered in the bore. I copied these bits as well!
They were wrapped in buckskin, to keep them from rattling around.
The ball that was discovered in the butt-trap was not originally from this gun, as the gun is smooth-bored and the ball has been in a rifled barrel, and most likely one where it was hammered over-sized into the rifling.

Best,
R.
Edited to say, these are of course the originals.
 

Flint62Smoothie

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Shot the wheellock again this morning at 1" dots at 25-yards. Challenged the AR boys to shoot for coffee, last one to hit the dot buys ... I haven't ever had to pay, haha!
 

Ol 12 gauge

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That is a really neat gun. Till this day I had only heard of wheel locks, but had never seen one. I must say they look impressive. Now I just need someone to explain how they work.
 

Notchy Bob

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First of all, congratulation to Flint62smoothie, for acquisition of another outstanding and fully functional remake of a historically significant early firearm, and thank you for sharing it with us!

DeGheyn,
Attached is an illustration from the early 1500's which seems to show a ball and patch material, amongst other things.
This would infer that patched balls were used to Some degree by this date, but how widespread I don't know.
Much on shooting was still experimental in the 15-1600's so no hard and fast rules.
I have seen balls from that period, very well engraved with rifling marks, that appear to have been over -size when rammed down a bore. This would take a mallet to start them, but we do know that this method of loading Was used for a very long time.View attachment 47990
Pukka Bundook, I am just gobsmacked by that illustration. Thanks for showing it to us! It appears objects in the picture are not all to scale, but I believe I'm seeing a ramrod (or "scouring stick," as I think they called it) across the top of the image, but it appears to have an iron ferrule on the tip. Then, we see an array of accessories down the right side of the picture, including a loop, a ball puller, a worm or "wiper," a breech face scraper, and even what appears to be a ramrod extension! I guess the item on the left would likely be soapstone mould blocks in a wooden holder. Then the balls with patching material, and the patch or wad cutter. So much to see! It is remarkable that so many of those accoutrements have not changed substantially in almost 500 years, and are recognizable to this day.

Awesome!

Notchy Bob
 
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