An Alden-inspired ‘Mayflower’ wheellock carbine

Discussion in 'Pre-Flintlock' started by Flint62Smoothie, Oct 13, 2019.

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  1. Oct 13, 2019 #1

    Flint62Smoothie

    Flint62Smoothie

    Flint62Smoothie

    50 Cal.

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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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  2. Oct 14, 2019 #2

    dave_person

    dave_person

    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
     
  3. Oct 19, 2019 #3

    rickystl

    rickystl

    rickystl

    58 Cal. MLF Supporter

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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
     
  4. Oct 21, 2019 #4

    Flint62Smoothie

    Flint62Smoothie

    Flint62Smoothie

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    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.
     
  5. Oct 23, 2019 #5

    rickystl

    rickystl

    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".
     
  6. Oct 29, 2019 #6

    Flint62Smoothie

    Flint62Smoothie

    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!
     

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