TOW Willits Brown Bess Lock

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The Willits Brown Bess 1742 lock has always been a kind of mystery, since there are no records of Willits making a 1742 lock.

After measuring a Rifle Shoppe 1742 kit i have, some facts. The 1742 Tower lock is larger than the Willits lock and the banana curve is deeper.

I happened to compare the Willits lock to a Regimental Contract lock marked Clinton, and the specs are nearly identical. These locks have some similarities and minor differences, the internal parts of the TOW lock are a little smaller with a larger mainspring.

Per the owner of the Rifle Shoppe, the Willits lock was designed by himself and the molds were sold TOW many years ago.

And the TOW 1742 long land is what was described to me as a beefed up Regimental Contract Musket, while many of the features are nearly the same as a 1742 the musket itself is actually intended to be slimmer in proportion to an actual 1742 long land (mostly in the stock design).

Ironically TOW’s catalog does state that the Clinton lock by TRS will drop into the TOW bess stock.

So if anyone is looking for a more authentically marked lockplate, the Clinton lock may work.
 
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Hi Nick,
Good detective work. I don't think there are any locks marked "Willets" that predate 1762. Your post should remind folks who care about historical accuracy that they need to do careful research and never trust the catalogs as primary sources.

dave

Thanks Dave

Now I’m very intrigued into having a period correct regimental contract Brown Bess, which i had always assumed was a Wilson musket, I couldn’t find the name Clinton in any sources i have, going to keep searching.
 
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Hi Nick,

On Clinton..........

I checked English Gunmakers: The Birmingham and Provincial Gun Trade in the 18th and 19th Century Hardcover – by De Witt Bailey, Douglas A. Nie and it's not there or other sources I have.

I'm wondering since a major branch of the Clintons moved to Ireland in the 1650's, if that is an Irish Lock?

Maybe David Minshall has something on Clinton?

Gus

 
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Hi Nick,

On Clinton..........

I checked English Gunmakers: The Birmingham and Provincial Gun Trade in the 18th and 19th Century Hardcover – by De Witt Bailey, Douglas A. Nie and it's not there or other sources I have.

I'm wondering since a major branch of the Clintons moved to Ireland in the 1650's, if that is an Irish Lock?

Maybe David Minshall has something on Clinton?

Gus


Hi Gus, that’s very possible that this Gunmaker was an Irish maker, that would explain why the lock is somewhat smalller than a regular 1742 lock but not in carbine size, its just over 6 1/2 inches, a regular long land is around 6 7/8 to 7”.

I did manage to find a 1747 Willits lock that was used on a short land musket for Dragoons (Moller, page 225, Volume 1) there’s a picture with no specifications as to the dimensions, i’d imagine the lock was somewhat smaller.

Moller does state that Willits was contracted to make a type 2 long land musket which would have been the 1748-1755 patterns (page 219, vol 1). That woudln’t explain the lock plate being smaller though, even on the so called transitional long (steel rammer 1742) lands, those 1742 locks were full sized.

So far for commercial muskets, the following names popped up, J.Hall, Wilson and Smith. This research definitely has me leaning towards doing some defarb work on my TOW long land. I’m leaning towards just keeping in generic, with Tower.
 

dave_person

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Hi Gus,
Unfortunately, Nie and Bailey does not go back very far in the 18th century. They relied on business directories, which don't cover everyone or the entire century.

dave
 
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