Brown Bess...

Discussion in 'French & Indian War' started by sooter76, Oct 13, 2016.

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  1. Nov 7, 2018 #21

    Nicholas A. Genda

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    I have a few Bessie’s I’ve made from TRS and TOW. I took a 1746 bess lock and had a stock made for a steel rammer conversion under the premesis that older 1740 patterns were ‘upgraded’ for steel rammers. On the down side the stock ends up being very bulky and the smaller rod pipes and longer front pipe with steel rammer make the gun over 10 lbs. my Murko bess handles well; is about 8.5 lbs I’d even call it a fusil.
     
  2. Nov 7, 2018 #22

    Nicholas A. Genda

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    TRS has a Wilson contract musket in long and short land pattern .... this musket can be used in both periods F&I and Revolutionary War.
     
  3. Nov 7, 2018 #23

    Artificer

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    Do they have the P 1740 lock or the P1755 lock?

    Gus
     
  4. Nov 7, 2018 #24

    Nicholas A. Genda

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    The Rifle Shoppe Inc. has locks for all British Pattern Muskets Pre-Land Pattern through New Land 1808 pattern. Their 1740 Lock can be marked Tower, Farmer or Edge. The 1756 musket is marked the same. Track of the Wolf only has the Wiletts 1746 lock which is only slightly different than the 1740 Farmer Lock at TRS; The Lock Plate on the TRS 1740 lock is slightly more curved and the Pan is deeper.
     
  5. Nov 7, 2018 #25

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    Sorry, I must have been too vague. What I meant to ask is with the Wilson Trade Muskets, do they have the P 1740 style lock plate (banana shaped) or the P1755 style plate (almost flat on the bottom) ?

    Gus
     
  6. Nov 7, 2018 #26

    Nicholas A. Genda

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    It’s an earlier 1740 lock marked ‘Wilson’ New Jersey or New York.
     
  7. Nov 7, 2018 #27

    Nicholas A. Genda

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    Also it can be unmarked .... longer frizzen spring.
     
  8. Nov 7, 2018 #28
  9. Nov 8, 2018 #29

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    OK, sorry, I didn’t realize it would be under “the New York Contract Brown Bess” in TRS.

    I only know of three extant Wilson Contract Muskets of this period and all have the P 1755 “flat bottom” lock and that is why I asked.

    One is on display in the Visitor Center Museum at Valley Forge and to my knowledge, there is no published pictures of it.

    The second is one recently donated to Fort Ticonderoga.

    http://blog.hulettsonlakegeorge.com/index.php/archives/2645

    Enlarged View of the Wilson/Ticonderoga Musket

    http://www.adirondackbasecamp.com/basecamp/wp-content/uploads/wilson-musket.jpg


    The last one I only recently learned of and it is marked New Jersey.

    http://frontierguard.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-wilson-contract-fusil.html

    Gus
     
  10. Nov 8, 2018 #30

    Nicholas A. Genda

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    I know a few people who have made this kit and I’ve inquired with the owner. The lock is banana shaped. It’s not the 1755 lock.

    Here’s a sample

    For mine I’m having the wrist plate installed; I don’t like cutting into the wrist.


    http://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=45790.0
     
  11. Nov 8, 2018 #31

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    Thank you for the link. I read with interest this sentence, “It represents what might be made for a NJ militia soldier just prior to the Rev War from old parts salvaged from an old British commercial musket originally purchased by New Jersey prior to the F&I war.”

    This explain the use of the P 1740 lock, because the original musket was purchased prior to the FIW. Is there a record of when NJ purchased the Wilson Contract Arms prior to the FIW? That would be really interesting to me as I gather more information on Arms purchased before and during the FIW.

    For example, Virginia purchased 500 Muskets in 1750, though it does not say in my source from which Contractor the Muskets came from and what type of locks were on those Muskets. These were issued to the Virginia Provincials, rather than kept in store to be used by the “normal” Virginia Militia in time of need. Virginia purchased/received another 600 Muskets in 1754, again with no description of the locks. So it is quite possible the 1750 batch of Muskets had P 1740 Locks and the 1754 batch of Muskets may have had the P 1755 lock, as that lock had been in the development stage and for maybe a couple three years before British Ordnance began using them to set up new Muskets.

    The two Wilson Commercial Muskets I linked and the one in the Valley Forge Visitor Center I wrote about in an above post, were purchased early in the FIW, when Wilson seems to have already changed over to the then “newer” P 1755 lock.

    Gus
     
  12. Nov 8, 2018 #32

    Nicholas A. Genda

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    I've seen a few patterns at Valley Forge, Yorktown, Fort Leigonier in PA, and over at the Revolutionary War Museum in Philadelphia.

    A couple things to consider with the Wilson and other commercial Brown Bess Muskets, But Williamsburg has the best collection of F&I and Revolutionary War Arms.

    From the Gunsmith at Williamsburg, 'no single Brown Bess will ever look the same from the same pattern'.

    Most were built with old parts and British Contractors would restock old muskets with older 1740 locks, some even 1730 locks.

    Many of the Wilson contract muskets were originally made with the 1740 and 1746 Locks ad used in the Northern Theater of the F&I War. These muskets used wooden rammers and were stored for militia use.

    The 1755 lock started to appear on Commercial Muskets shortly before the onset of the Revolution because many of the first production runs of the 1755 Brown Bess were deemed too heavy and redesigned with lighter stocks, these locks were also in use in Marine and Sea Service Muskets. Wilson started casting those parts from contracted foundries in London because its all they had.

    Brown Bess Locks were straightened after 1748 mostly for one reason; the Ramrod was steel. A steel ramrod required less need for a bulky forearm and the rod channel wouldn't need to clear the initial lock bolt, so the older locks were tilted down so the front would slightly tilt up hence the banana shape. This is why its so rare to find a long land musket with a banana shaped lock because it would make the gun very heavy and I've reproduced one along that parameter, the additional of the steel rammer with the 1740 pattern stock makes the gun supper heavy.

    Commercial Brown Bess Muskets in the Virginia Batch were made with surplus parts from the initial 1755 lock that was designed earlier in the 1750's for Marine and Sea Pattern Muskets, probably because the Southern colonies ports were used heavily by the British Navy, so local gunsmiths would need a surplus of those parts. Those muskets after 1760 were retired for mitral use because the British board or ordinance began seeing the benefit of the shorter, sturdier muskets with the slimmer stock and steel rammer.

    The British Sea Service and Marine muskets were likely the very first types of short land pattern muskets. Many of these muskets omitted several features of a land pattern musket, such as the wrist plate, nose cap, entry pipe and a washer or bolt was used instead of a trigger plate. Many of these features Omissions are seen on the American Contact Muskets.

    But in all honesty, an American Musket for the F&I or American Revolution can really be a hodge parts collected and built into a musket. You could take a Brown Bess Stock and use a French or Dutch Lock on it, with Dutch Hardware etc. I've seen some reinactors take fowlers and saw off the forehand by 4-5 niches to take a bayonet. Its crude but these were the steps taken by the continental army in 1775-1777. Until large 1763, 1766, and 1774 French Muskets made it to the US.
     
  13. Nov 8, 2018 #33

    Nicholas A. Genda

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  14. Nov 8, 2018 #34

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    I decided I needed to go back and look up something about the end date of production of P 1740 locks.

    From "The Brown Bess" by Goldstein and Mowbray, page 54, "The year 1750 saw the last production of the Pattern 1740 lock with its beautiful banana shaped lock plate." These locks already in stores at that time, were continued to be used by British Ordnance to "set up" P1748 Muskets until 1755.

    "Continuing the trend of the Bess' evolutionary ongoing weight fluctuation, she is once again getting thinner with the Pattern 1748. The inclusion of a smaller diameter steel rammer removed the need for the heavier forestock seen on previous, wooden rammer patterns. This reduction in rammer girth allowed the Ordnance Firearm's architects to reduce not only the size of the rammer channel, but also the web of wood along the forestock separating the extremes of rammer and barrel channel by approximately 1/4."

    Also according to that book, the difference in the drop of the rear of the P 1740 Lock Plate and the P 1755 Lock Plate is only 3mm or less than 1/8 inch. That plus the fact the lower rear portion of the P 1740 lock plate is behind the area where either the wood ramrod or steel rammer sat in the stock, meant the P1755 lock was not the cause of the weight/size reduction in the forearm.

    Rather, what the flatter bottom P 1755 lock did was allow the butt of the stock to not have as much drop and that was a cost saving measure, because they got more stocks from the wood planks.

    So the P 1748 Muskets were the last stocks to have as much drop in the buttstock area and the last of the "more natural pointing" Bess stocks.

    Gus
     
  15. Nov 8, 2018 #35

    Nicholas A. Genda

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    One thing to remember about the P 1748 'transitional' long land bess, is that there was only around 10-15,000 of production before they decided to make the 1755 pattern. These muskets would not have likely made it over to the colonies.

    Most 1740 'transitional' muskets in the colonies were 1740 brown bess's with upgraded features such as a steel ramrod and longer forward funnel pipe, some had a long rammer spoon too. 1748's produced by Smith, Wilets were actually stocked as new muskets with modified forearms.

    Regarding the Stock, the change of the lock had very little do with the drop in the butt but more to do with the reduction of comb height. At some point it was decided by the ordnance that having aiming comfort was not a priority for the 1755 pattern, so they reshaped the butt stock reduced the comb, radical notch and heal drop, this also lightened the gun and required a lot less wood.

    Having shot both; the 1740 is more comfortable to shoot than the 1756 pattern, however the 1756 patter is easier to hold upright and shoulder because its a more balanced musket. Ironically the 1756 lock is a little larger than the 1740 lock.

    Had the 1748 pattern been carried forward with the curved lock plate, larger butt stock, larger forearm and updated steel rammer and cast rod pipes; then musket would have been extremely heavy. The Long Land I own is based on this premises because I wanted the curved lock and more graceful stock and its over 10 lbs easy.

    However many historians would argue that the 1756 was the higher quality Brown Bess because it was a much more sturdier gun. The 1756 pattern was produced in high quantity too.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
  16. Nov 9, 2018 #36

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    Bailey could only document about 5,000 P 1748 Muskets as having been made, though there may have been slightly more assembled. Bailey and others have also noted there is no record of any P 1748 muskets having made it to the Colonies, as they were kept back to issue to Regiments going to or set up to deploy on the Continent.

    The War of the Austrian Succession finally ended in November 1748, due mostly to all the parties involved had found the war too expensive to continue. Therefore, there was no longer a reason to spend the money to continue large scale “setting up” of the then new P 1748 Musket. British Ordnance must have honored contracts even after the war ended for the locks, as Civilian Contractor production of the P 1740 Banana Shaped locks did not end until 1750. As had been typical, British Ordnance did continue to set up new muskets with those locks until 1755, though certainly on a smaller scale than during war time production.

    However, the reason I brought up the P 1748 was to demonstrate that even with the Banana Shaped P 1740 Lock on this pattern, British Ordnance was able to make all the modifications to slim down the forearm of the musket, thanks to the then new Iron/Steel Rammer. IOW, it did not require the use of the flatter bottomed P 1755 lock to make the forearms slimmer/lighter.

    Yes, the P1756 Stock did introduce a narrower cutting of the handrail and the thinner, flatter form of the comb and the rest of the buttstock. These things done to reduce the weight of the buttstock as Bailey describes and illustrates on page 50 of Bailey’s “Pattern Dates for British Ordnance Small Arms 1718 – 1783.” However the drop of the whole buttstock also decreased, or IOW, the stock was straightened upwards. (This made it necessary to slightly reduce height of the top of the comb, because the top of the comb was now higher in relationship to the top of the barrel.) The very important thing about “straightening the stock upwards” was it allowed them to get more stocks out of the walnut planks the stocks were cut from. Considering how long the one piece stocks were and trees only have so much good wood in lengths long enough to make the stocks, being able to get even a few more stocks out of the available walnut planks from each tree was a significant cost saving measure.

    I don’t doubt that Pre 1756 stocks were heavier and by that fact alone made those muskets more pleasant to shoot, because that is entirely according to physical laws of recoil. The same powder charge and ball size produces less felt recoil with a heavier gun.

    Considering the average height of a British Soldier in the FIW and AWI periods was much shorter than American Soldiers, I’m sure reducing weight of the Musket was important for that reason, as well as making the musket less expensive to produce.

    Shortening the 46 inch barrel length of the Long Land Pattern Muskets to 42 inches on the Short Land Pattern Muskets also made them easier to load, easier to shoot offhand and was also a significant cost savings measure.

    Gus
     
  17. Nov 9, 2018 #37

    Nicholas A. Genda

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    Yeap the overal reduction of the stock was cost effective.

    Regarding the curved lock .... the curved lock could still work with the steel rammer however when they drilled the channel extra care needed to be taken to clear the lock bolt or the rammer would hit it upon return and potentially move the lock out of place. It was an early flaw caught by Irish musket contractors.

    Personally the 1740 gun is very comfortable to shoot and can take the steel rammer as long as you drill it for a smaller diameter rod on a lower drift.

    Agree on the recoil comfort too ! More wood means more absorption.

    I’m eye balling the new land pattern kit; Dewitt describes it as the most advanced land pattern musket but I might try a charleville 1770.


    Nick
     
  18. Nov 9, 2018 #38

    Nicholas A. Genda

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    Spoke
     
  19. Nov 9, 2018 #39

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    “Regarding the curved lock .... the curved lock could still work with the steel rammer however when they drilled the channel extra care needed to be taken to clear the lock bolt or the rammer would hit it upon return and potentially move the lock out of place. It was an early flaw caught by Irish musket contractors.”

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what you are trying to convey here. The front lock bolt was the only one whose position needed to be as close as possible to the barrel. This was even more important with the much larger diameter wood ramrods, or else the forearms would have to have been even lower than they were originally made. The smaller diameter Iron/Steel Rammers actually would have allowed a little more leeway in where the front lock bolt was positioned and still come up with a much slimmer web of wood between the rammer and barrel. It would seem to me if the Irish Board had problems with positioning the front lock bolt in relation to the barrel, it would have been much more pronounced on the wood ramrod muskets.


    Gus
     
  20. Nov 9, 2018 #40

    Nicholas A. Genda

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    see my correction above.
     

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