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gt8977c
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Reged: 27/07/17
Posts: 4
Loc: Georgia, USA
Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help
      #303380 - 28/07/17 02:49 AM

Hello

I am a new member here. I joined because I need your help.

Years ago I purchased a Westley Richards Model 1881 at a small auction for very little money.
At the time I got it, I knew I was basically just buying the action and buttstock.

Some hack of a "gunsmith" has gotten a hold of the rifle and really managed to screw it up.

Someone cut the original barrel off about 3 inches ahead of the receiver and used that as a mono-block to install an un-tapered octagonal barrel chambered in 45/70. The shank of the 45/70 barrel extends all the way to the breach face. I don't think it is even threaded or soldered to the barrel stub. I can see 3 places where they drove a pin through the side of the original barrel and into the new barrel to secure it.

The stub of original barrel that remains has been crudely turned on a lathe so all the original marking have been eliminated.

This mess is then topped off with some ugly bolted on sights of unknown make.

The fore end has been replaced and is a poorly shaped chunk of wood that does not even come close to matching the buttstock. And it is attached with a screw going into the underside of the barrel!!

All of this is a long way of saying I have half of a gun.

My plan is to replace the barrel, fore end, and sights with something that is close to what this gun should look like.

I have no idea what the original chambering was, and Westley Richards does not have any records on the gun. My only clue is that on the right side of the receiver, below the side lever, it is marked "Express Rifle Patent". Which is a marking I have not seen on any other 1881 I have found on the internet. But this may be a clue as to the chambering. Anybody ever seen this before?

I know that .450 No2 Musket was a common chambering, and from the list of observed guns in Wal Winfers book I see several guns with serial numbers near mine chambered for .577/500 No 2 Express.
But I don't believe my gun could chamber either of those rounds. The rims are too big

The top tang/loading ramp on my gun is pretty close to the barrel bore axis. The .608" dia. rim of a 45/70 just barely has clearance. So I think the original caliber has a rim of not more than .625"

My current thought is to chamber the gun in .450/400 3" and load it to BPE levels. (Not NE levels)

Where I need the help of this forum is I am trying to determine the proper length and contour for the new barrel. I plan on doing a round barrel, not octagonal.

What I would really love would be for someone with an um-molested gun to share with me the profile of their guns barrel and some dimensions off of their fore-end. I also have never seen a good close up photo of what the front sight on an original 1881 looks like.

Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.
Scott


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Wayne59
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: gt8977c]
      #303382 - 28/07/17 05:19 AM

Hello Scott. I also own an original Westly Richards in 450 no 2case and I live in the state of Georgia. If you will send me a private meassage via the forum I will try and help you out. Contact info would be good because I hate typing. If we are close enough I might be able to let you look the rifle over.

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HuviusModerator
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: Wayne59]
      #303384 - 28/07/17 06:25 AM

My bet is that it was originally chambered in the 500/450 No.1 Express cartridge.
I know the loading trough looks small and the action narrow but the necked and tapered cartridges like the
No.2 Musket and No.1 Express don't really align concentric with the bore until they are almost fully chambered.
Could end up being a nice sporting rifle in the end for sure.

--------------------
He who lives in the past is doomed to enjoy it.


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50Calshtr
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: Huvius]
      #303407 - 29/07/17 12:50 AM

Welcome Scott,
I visited the WR shops in Birmingham a few years ago and they had that same model on display. Caliber was 450.No 1 and I would agree with Huvius and recommend that caliber on your rebuild. I would also discourage the 450/400 idea, someone might slip up and drop a NE round in there thinking if it fits it's OK. I'm in Savannah and also load the 450 No.2 if you need a bit of assistance. Looks like a good, do-able project.
Best.


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HuviusModerator
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: 50Calshtr]
      #303411 - 29/07/17 04:21 AM

Here's pretty much what I'd be going for.
Good information in the description.

https://jamesdjulia.com/item/lot-1010-we...ng-rifle-33685/

--------------------
He who lives in the past is doomed to enjoy it.


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3DogMike
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Reged: 29/01/15
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: Huvius]
      #303415 - 29/07/17 08:44 AM

Hello Scott, welcome to the forums.
Not mentioned yet is the series of books "British Single Shot Rifles" by Wal Winfer.
Volume 4 deals with Westley Richards & Co. and has quite a section devoted to the Model 1881. Photos, drawings, and descriptions should help you decide what "look" you want on a restored rifle.
The last part of the book features many of the Westley Richards and other cartridges that were used in the rifles, .303 on up to .500BPE.
Worth the price of the book for anyone restoring one.

The .500/.450 #1 Express is a fine cartridge, I have a Cogswell & Harrison in that caliber, and it is quite an accurate rifle. The caliber is a totally handload proposition though; the base and rim are not common to more available cartridge brass but .450 #2 Nitro brass or even .50 Sharps 3 1/4 can be formed to work. The problem is rim thickness if chambered to original spec. The WR .500/.450 #1 Express, unlike other .500 Brit based cartridges, has a very thick .060" rim, the common .500 express/Nitro express brass with .040" thick rim will not work unkess you headspace on the case shoulder or build up the rim thickness.

I hope the "gunsmith" that hosed that rifle up with that conversion you described did not screw the extractor up too badly.
- Mike

--------------------
“On the Western Slope of Colorado, USA"
&
"Will Rogers never met a fighter pilot"
- Anon

Edited by 3DogMike (29/07/17 08:46 AM)


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HuviusModerator
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: 3DogMike]
      #303419 - 29/07/17 09:29 AM

Quote:


I hope the "gunsmith" that hosed that rifle up with that conversion you described did not screw the extractor up too badly.
- Mike




Good point!
I suppose this gun could have originally been a 303 but the "express" inscription on the side makes me think it was the 450.
The reason I sort of hope that it was a 303 is that the extractor is less likely to be buggered up in conversion to 45-70 and would be an easy conversion to one of the Westley 500/450s.
If the smith went from a 500/450 to 45-70 there is no telling how he did that judging by the barrel job!!
Fingers crossed!

--------------------
He who lives in the past is doomed to enjoy it.


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gt8977c
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Reged: 27/07/17
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: 3DogMike]
      #303466 - 31/07/17 09:50 AM

Thank you all for the great input.
With a special thanks to Wayne59, who allowed me to visit him Sat. to examine his very nice Deeley and Edge patent target rifle. I picked up some some good points on WR styling from examining his rifle.

The extractor on my rifle was most likely made by the "gunsmith" who did the rest of the work. The fit and finish on it is not on the same level as the rest of the internal parts. But it does function well with the 45/70.

Not having to make a new extractor was part of my thinking when I started considering the .450 BPE or .450/400 BPE chamberings since the rim dia. is just slightly larger than the 45/70. The other considerations were that brass, dies and chamber reamers for these calibers are easily available.
The easiest thing would be to just stick with 45/70, but this rifle deserves to be in an english caliber.

50Calshtr makes a sound point about someone in the future, once the gun has passed from my hands, slipping a NE round into the run.

Seeing in Winfer's book, which I have, that several guns with serial numbers close to mine were in .577/500 No 2 Exp. led me to believe that was the source of the "Express Rifle Patent" marking. With the input I have gotten here I am believing the .500/450 No. 1 Exp. is probably correct.

I will have to search the forum and see what is involved in making and loading this round. Anybody have a chamber reamer laying around they want to sell or lend out?

I have directly contacted a couple of forum members who in the past have posted photo't of their 1881 sporting rifles. One member no longer has his rifle and another has a medical issue and will not be able to assist me for several weeks.

So if anyone has an 1881, or 1897 sporting rifle with a round barrel and would be willing to share with me the details of the barrels exterior contour I would be most grateful.

Thanks again for all of the great input. I will keep you posted on progress.


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MikeRowe
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: gt8977c]
      #303467 - 31/07/17 10:33 AM

I think you will like the No.1 Express round. The only problem is the brass is only available from Bertram's, if you want the headstamp. I believe it can be made from .475 No.2 NE, but it is quite a bit of work. The rims on 500's are too thin to use them as base cases.
I have a nice shooting load using 1 1/2F Olde Eynsford black powder, duplicating the original 110 grain black load with either 305 grain solids or 325 grain hollowed bullets - both paper wrapped.


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50Calshtr
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: MikeRowe]
      #303604 - 04/08/17 05:51 AM

I make my 450#2 brass fro Starline 50-90 Sharps brass. Out of town now so I don't have my references available but think you could probably do the same for the 45#1 but may have to ream the necks.
Best


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3DogMike
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: 50Calshtr]
      #303608 - 04/08/17 08:28 AM

50Cal,
The Sharps base, rim, and rim thickness are suitable but the .50-90 2 1/2 is too short.....the 500/450 No.1 express is a 2 3/4" case length.
As I mentioned a couple of posts above, the Sharps .50 3 1/4" will work, just lop off 1/2" and full length size.
Sharps rim is nominally .065" thick while the 500/450 No.1 is ~.060" thick. No issue in my Cogswell & Harrison.

With a modern chamber neck reaming might be necessary, the chambers on antique originals tend to be "generous" in their proportions.......I'm guessing it was to accomodate the early rolled brass cases which were pretty thick neck diameter wise.
- Mike

--------------------
“On the Western Slope of Colorado, USA"
&
"Will Rogers never met a fighter pilot"
- Anon


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Wayne59
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: 50Calshtr]
      #303609 - 04/08/17 08:29 AM

If you would when you return would you post on how you make your brass. Bertram Brass is overly expensive.

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dracb
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: Wayne59]
      #303627 - 04/08/17 05:57 PM

Quote:

If you would when you return would you post on how you make your brass. Bertram Brass is overly expensive.



The way I make 500/450 No. 2 Musket brass from Starline Sharps 50/90 brass:
1. Anneal Sharps 50/90 brass from shoulder area to mouth of case
2. Full length size one piece of brass in 500/450 no. 2 Musket sizing die (special sizing die not
required)
3. Inspect sized case to determine if case mouth is crumpled due to interference by short die.
3.a. If mouth of case was not crumpled during resizing proceed to step 4
3.b. If mouth of case was crumpled during resizing then trim remaining cases so that they are
not crumpled during full length sizing but still slightly longer than desired case length
for 500/450 No. 2 Musket. Then proceed to step 4.
4. Resize cases
5. Trim cases to desired length of finished cartridge case

Please note that the base of the Sharps 50/90 case is a bit undersize for this conversion. I have used a couple hundred cases made this way and loaded with black powder equivalent to factory loads or modest amounts of some smokeless powders and I have never suffered any negative issues. I have read of several other shooters making the 500/450 No. 2 Musket from Sharps 50/90 brass with no reported failures due to the undersised base. If you choose to follow my method you are however on your own.

--------------------
"The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are now outnumbered by those who vote for a living."

Edited by dracb (04/08/17 06:14 PM)


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gt8977c
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Reged: 27/07/17
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Loc: Georgia, USA
Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: MikeRowe]
      #303673 - 05/08/17 03:37 AM

Happy to report that through the kindness of a gentleman in England that I contacted via the British Militaria forum, I now have a good set of barrel contour dimensions for a 45 cal Model 1881. The pattern rifle is a .450 No. 2 Musket.

The consensus here is that my rifle was probably originally a .500/450 No. 1 Express.
I am seriously considering going with this round, in the interest in keeping things correct.
Brass is available from Bertram, Dies from CH4D, and a reamer can be had from PTG.

But, the only dimensional drawing I have seem for this round is in my copy of Winfer's Westley Richards book. This shows the neck diameter of the No.1 Exp as .490". That seems awfully large. Most brass for 45 cal.(.458 bullets) seems to be .478 to .484.

Did the No.1 Exp brass just have an unusually thick neck? Or is it meant for a larger bore/bullet/obsolete rifling.

Before I commit to going to No.1 Exp. I will have to contact CH4D and PTG and make sure the standard reamer and dies are compatible with each other and that they will work with a standard .458 groove barrel.

The extra cost in brass, dies and reamer to use the No. 1 Exp verses what I could get the same for in .450 BPE is already several hundred dollars. But if I would have to go to a custom barrel bore and get into casting and sizing bullets to make things work, I will likely go with a more easily obtainable caliber.

Thanks to all for the great input.


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3DogMike
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: gt8977c]
      #303674 - 05/08/17 04:38 AM

Quote:

........... I could get the same for in .450 BPE is already several hundred dollars. But if I would have to go to a custom barrel bore and get into casting and sizing bullets to make things work, I will likely go with a more easily obtainable caliber.........



???? - Not sure what you are saying; any of the .450BPE work just fine with a "standard" .458" groove barrel and the straight case .450 are certainly less costly to obtain reloading components.
The "reason de etre" for the necked Westly-Richards Express cartridges was so that an express load cartridge could make it around the corner and chamber in a Martini type action, the various long straight Express rounds could not do this.
Normal dropping/falling block or break open actions of course did not have this limitation

To be sure, the .450's in the 1800's were all over the map as to bore/groove size but the (mostly) paper patch bullets would bump to whatever bore size upon firing.
The easiest and still "period correct" .450 Express would be the plain old .450 3 1/4" BPE, and you would not have to greatly alter the extractor.

BTW: My Cogswell & Harrison (Martini type action) .500/.450 No.1 of approximately 1873-75 vintage has a chamber neck diameter of .498" which was needed to accomodate the early rolled brass cases. Bullets would still have been anywhere from .450" to .458" diameter depending upon patched or greased and my barrel groove is .459". Shoots exceptionally well using the RCBS 300 grain .458 gas check cast 1-20.
I only neck size about 3/8" of the neck to hold the bullet and anneal every 3rd firing. Brass still doesnt last very long before neck splits.
- Mike

--------------------
“On the Western Slope of Colorado, USA"
&
"Will Rogers never met a fighter pilot"
- Anon


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HuviusModerator
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: 3DogMike]
      #303675 - 05/08/17 05:06 AM

Here is a copy of the No.1 Express from the 1884 Kynoch catalog.






Here is one of my GG loads next to an original cartridge.
My load happens to be with Bertram brass but I also have used original Kynoch cases as well as brass made from 500NE and 470 brass. All work fine if headspace is off the shoulder. Once they are fired, the neck is long enough to maintain concentricity with the chamber - that is if you don't resize your fired brass.

The original has a neck of .483"
A patched bullet of .454"
The base is .574"



The Kynoch measurements may actually be for chambers - not sure.

One thing you may want to consider is finding a good condition Martini Henry barrel to turn for your rifle if they are big enough to get the right dimensions. That way you would have he correct Henry rifling.
I will note that Westley Richards used Henry, Whitworth and Metford rifling In their rifles in the late 19th Century.

--------------------
He who lives in the past is doomed to enjoy it.


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gt8977c
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: 3DogMike]
      #303678 - 05/08/17 05:18 AM

Re-reading the last sentence of my earlier post, I see it is a little difficult to follow.

My point was: going with the .500/450 No.1 Express round will likely cost about $350 more in brass, dies and reamer vs going with the more available .450BPE.
That is a cost I could afford, to make the gun more historically correct.

But, if the .500/450 No.1 Exp. chambering would also entail a non-standard barrel bore and custom sized bullets then it is probably not worth the cost and effort to me.

The hesitation on using the .500/450 No.1 came from seeing a cartridge dimension drawing showing a neck diameter of .490". Which appears rather large for a .458 bullet and got me concerned that the No.1 might be designed for a bore other than .458".

I want to confirm that the No.1 will work with todays standard .458 barrel and bullets.

As I said, it probably has more to do with the sizing of the available dies and reamers. Have to check with the suppliers and make sure all is OK before proceeding with the No.1 Express.


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3DogMike
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: gt8977c]
      #303679 - 05/08/17 05:35 AM

My Cogswell & Harrison carries a "52" bore Birmingham proof mark which is .447" bore. (Means the barrel at proof would take a "52" gauge rather than the true .450" 51 gauge) The 7 groove standard Baker style rifling measures ~.459" to the bottom of the grooves at the breech end.
As I mentioned, the chamber/cartridge specs you see in the drawings (and as Ben mentions) are very likely based on "worst case" of having to accomodate an early rolled brass cartridge. Those necks were considerably thicker than drawn brass cases. Plus, it is very likely that, as with the generously cut military chambers, the chambers are cut to allow dirty/corroded/bent cases to easily chamber and extract. Except for target shooting, British ammo just was not reloaded when out hunting so excessive expansion and case life were not an issue.

Rolled brass case:
http://40.media.tumblr.com/336b7856d0cd679a0fabdc184523e912/tumblr_inline_nlqpazVhM41qapn73_500.jpg

So....no you do not need a weird non-standard size barrel for any of the .450's, just accept a sloppy chamber if using the antique drawings as a guide.


- Mike

--------------------
“On the Western Slope of Colorado, USA"
&
"Will Rogers never met a fighter pilot"
- Anon


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Daryl_S
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: 3DogMike]
      #303686 - 05/08/17 08:40 AM

My 3 1/4" .500 Bell brass is .565" on the expansion ring (Shiloh Sharps chamber). .562/3" just ahead of the rim.

--------------------
Daryl


"a rifle without hammers, is like a Spaniel without ears" Edward VII


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MikeRowe
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: 3DogMike]
      #303689 - 05/08/17 08:55 AM

I wouldn't worry too much about it - the original bores and chambers are all over the place.
Use black powder and a paper wrapped bullet, and you'll be fine.

My 450 No.1 shells measure .484" at the neck, loaded with .450 bullets patched to around .462, with
Bertram cases.
The fired cases measure .487 at the mouth, with the neck increasing in size to .500 just above the
shoulder.
Such a chamber shape keeps the round centralised, but with the taper it's easy to load, even with
fouling present.

My rifle is .450 bore, with groove diameter approaching .469 - yes, the grooves are over .009 deep.


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HuviusModerator
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: Wayne59]
      #304106 - 16/08/17 11:51 AM

Quote:

Hello Scott. I also own an original Westly Richards in 450 no 2case...




From Scott's post, sounds like you have a match rifle.
Please tell us about it!
I have one too and it will be fun to compare and see what loads have been working for you.

--------------------
He who lives in the past is doomed to enjoy it.


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Wayne59
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Re: Westley Richards Model 1881 Needs Help [Re: Huvius]
      #304118 - 16/08/17 08:49 PM

I have only fired this gun once with Bp loads. 85grs of 2f with a 525gr postel bullet. The recoil broke my friends nose. He tried to fire it from the bench. I will have to get around to trying a 400gr bullet with a Nitro for Black load.

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