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Thread: My Whitworth

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2022

    My Whitworth

    Having been around guns my entire life it eventually got difficult to find new takes on things.
    I got into blackpowder (in the late -80s). Now. Don´t get me wrong, i LOVE history and read up every chance i get, still do and will continue doing so.
    But primarly i´m a shooter at heart. Have competed one way or another since the -80´s, started hunting with my dad already in the -70s.

    Getting into blackpowder i believe it´d be downright hard not to have heard the myths about the Whitworth rifle, yes.. so had i and thought to myself that i´d get me one.... one of these days.

    Having turned 50 and change i happend to have a few quid over so i started to follow the various British gun auctions. The one Whitworth more expensive than the other.. why i finally thought to myself that.. to hell with it. Just bring it.

    Living in Sweden i basically just had pictures to go on, and the Whitworth i had in mind sure looked like it had seen better days (more like to hell and back) but i reasoned as such that i could no matter make it work, and thus that dream of mine would come true.

    Auction day. Smoke cleared and as it turned out i had bought myself a Whitworth 451 Military match at a quite reasonable rate. No wonder seeing the looks of it though.
    This story has a twist to it, and then some.

    What made the gun look as bad as it did was.. "goo". Some talented b*stard being had draped the thing in what looked like a sorts of body paint used for the undercarriage of cars approx. With a broad brush. Just hardened.
    This though fired a light within me.. what IF? So a rather anal cleaning process commenced. This IS a Whitworth after all, serial C832, and i truly see myself as its caretaker more than anything, albeit i do compete with it and shoot it every chance i get.

    Well. Underneath that goo was.. a rifle in basically pristine order. I guess that "paint" must have protected it, and protected it well over the yrs, because as i dug further and further back it just showed more and more promise.

    Sure. As in the one picture there was the occasional splinter but on a general whole seeing the rifles age it was about mint - for my use and take on it.

    Lockwork for instance basically just needed an in depth clean to be all it could be. A testament if ever of build quality i´d say, and see.. that kind of is the red thread here... Everything in sight is numbered for the rifle and fit is.. insane.
    Just insane.
    If my facts are straight this particular rifle was made in 1861 and to see that type of fit and finish still on a gun this old... just mind boggling. Really. It´s to the point where i as an engineer.. my heart race just thinking about it. Yes, nerds DO have more fun!

    Dave Minshall, i believe it was, once told me that all Whitworths left the company with blued barrels. Might be, and loads can of course happen over the span of more than a 150 yrs, but truth of the matter is that the barrel of mine carries like an extremely fine layer of rust above the stock line and is then bare metal beneath.
    No. Doesn´t look to have been cleaned. Tail plug had been out though as you can see, which i regarded as a good thing as my intent sure was to shoot this thing. Make no mistake.

    Ah. Yes. What´s there to add really?

    Right. Tail plug. Of course it´s about impossible to explain in text the feel of that thread. But please trust me when i say that i´ve spent an entire life around metals and that thread there.. this is where i take a bow and take my hat off pointing at Sir Joseph Whitworth grave. Threading the tail plug in there, not ONE glitch or "feel of restraint". It´s like the damn thing was teflon treated, and then some!
    I can just IMAGINE the orders from management as far as what was expected. Phew!

    Then of course.. the fabled hexagonal bore. Sry there´s a tad of lint and what not in there but just take my word for that the bore on this thing looks like it just about has never been fired. "Sluggin´" it tells about the same story. Shoving a piece of all soft lead through there is just.. smoooooth.

    Tail plug. Indeed. I was in no hurry but then on the other hand VERY anal about results why the cleanup of the rifle was done off n on for approx 2 months worth. Every step of the way so to say, leaving basically nothing to chance.
    So yes. Even the color case hardening came to life, at least to bits.

    Yep. Lock cleaned up nice too.

    Here how the safety works and operates. Rather crude seeing how the rest of the rifle is built but truth be told.. safety carries an indent and is very positive as far as engagement.

    Ah, yes! The famed rear sight that sports two different progressions. One for conicals and one for hexagonal projectiles. Speaking of which.. we´ll come to that.

    The one thing this rifle lacked, sorry to say, is the adjustable globe front sight. So i made one myself a couple of yrs back. As far as sights, i do compete with the ting at our nationals, i´m still undecided.
    Well. I truly cherish this piece of art, cause that´s what it is, while i could REALLY do with a set of "Dr Goodmans". Ie; a diopter setup. Thus far, our nationals don´t stretch that far when it comes to distance, we´ve managed just fine with the open sights.
    But. I´m first up on the board of the club of ours and second up part of a group of gents that want to get longer range shooting organized with these old boomsticks. As is i´m kind of limited to 600 meters and albeit that´s a fair bit and change too i sincerly hope to be able to make it to Creedmoor´s 150´th coming up in 2024..
    ..where max distance will be 2000 yards.
    First up i need to get my ass in training for that and second of all.. ain´t going to happen with the stock irons and these by now 57yr old eyes. Not that i complain as seeing my age i´ve actually got good vision but.. them eyes ARE 57 yrs old after all..
    This is a dilemma to me.

    Now. There´s a few manufacturers of casting molds for hex boolits around the world and i´ve tried what there is, then at the same time i´ve got very very close access to rather advanced multi operational CNC machinery why we´ve come to develop a downright crapload of molds and swaging dies both for this rifle.
    As sorts of a "happy" pet peeve i´ve come to dwell on nose cone shapes for especially the hex versions.. one thing has led to another and.. you guys get the drill.
    This simply CRAVED that i could take myself out of the equation so to say, to be able to evaluate the various bullets performance, why a sorts of non intrusive bracketry for a scope was born. One that has come to be modified to work on all sorts of ML´s.
    So.. when i do that it is at a bench, in a cradle with a high powered scope and then starting at 300 meters. Eeeeeeasy does it. Never mind me, that there is about bullet performance.

    This has turned out to be a sorts of blessing in disguise and we´ve learned LOADS (sry bout the pun lads! ) But.. i´ll get to that.

    Yes. Even the little things got dire attention.

    At this state for better for worse the stock had been cleaned out from that black goo and thus needed to be protected again. I guess it could be reasoned that i removed part of the rifles history in cleaning it out, but then you´d have to consider the work of a 6 yr old with a brush and body paint something to dwell upon.
    I did not, and as you can now clearly see.. that there is a Whitworth in downright amazing condition. Yes. Of course linseed/turpentine only. Layer upon layer, these pics are years old by now..
    ..and she just turned a darker hue for every layer applied, and still do!

    At that point the by now since yrs residing front sight by me wasn´t done and as the rest of the rifle was i sure as hell wanted to shoot it! So what i did, and what later evolved into that "non intrusive" manner in which to work any sights you´d like on old guns.. i opted for a very early Winchester such at 2 5/8 powers. From the 1930´s i believe.
    That soon enough got replaced, but this gives you an idea of what came out the other end at least. Truly a lovely piece of kit.
    What had gone through that former owners mind as that black like 5mm thick goo was applied i´ll never now but.. here she is in all her glory.
    Shoots about as she looks.

    These rifles can be REAL hard on cones/nipples why most install platinum lined ones, at rather great expense seeing what we´re after all talking here.
    Well. I have a past within the racing industry and i dawned on me that we often use a material known as Inconel for high temp,high stress areas. Mainly then what´s called Inconel 600.
    It is one seriously tough material why i coupled with good friend Daniel set out to cut cones for it out of Inconel. As it turns out, a wise move. Cause.. this thing has been fired you won´t believe and i´m STILL on that original cone!
    A regular stainless steel one will last you MAYBE 50 shots, so that´s saying something!

    Anyways. Boolits.

    Yep. Even three piece swaging dies.

    A very crude "slug" mold to just cast slugs to be shoved into the swaging die.

    We soon learned that ridges are a bad move. Something mold manufacturer Hensel doesn´t believe to this day..

    Then CNC cut casting molds. Mark that the parting line follows the 1:20 rifling twist, making it possible to make the mold only two piece. Works a million bux to be clear, and we´ve since made all in all our 10th design just recently.
    ..and i guess that saga will never end.

    Yes. More swaging dies. Although you don´t really use up Whitworth bullets by the train load swaging boolits the way I do is rather time consuming vs casting them. Have to say. Use a 15 ton workshop press..

    ..then again..

    Why? Well, truth is that i´m an aeronautic engineer from the onset. Due that i of course know a thing or two on aerodynamics while bullet technlogy was entirely novel to me. But.. i sincerly wanted to understand and as you push beyond say the Miller twist rule and Greenhill and what not.. it becomes a tad harder to evaluate if it´s to be done with at least reasonable accuracy.
    Yes. Of course we use a LabRadar and i sure had high hopes as we got it but.. then i realized that it really needs larger range. It hands us an idea though, that much is true.

    There you have it! Me and fellow team mate Patric are to have a sit come friday to determin what rifle to use for this yrs nationals. Yes, there´s actually a few to pick from, and thus far i feel the Whitworth has served us well and chances are that it will still.
    We´ll see what he feels though. Since last season a few more rifles have shown up and i guess we need to evaluate them all.

    To shoot an original?
    It sure can´t be escaped that you do feel the wings of time every time you as much as handle it. Every charge and boolit is of course carefully weighed, and it´s to the point where i actually bring a scale to the range to be able to "learn" to use reasonably the same force loading the thing time after time.
    So yes. As shooters we certainly take this on as a serious matter, if ever.
    Then again.
    It IS a Whitworth.. and i´m content just being its caretaker for a while lads

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    It sounds like you have a very nice rifle. I will have to come back to read the article fully later.

    Everything I have heard about the Whitworth rifle points to it not liking cast bullets. The accuracy is not as good as it could be with them. I have heard of swaged bullets being the only projectile that will give the intended accuracy of the that type of rifle.
    Those who have tried them vouch for this.

    A swaged bullet is consistent where a cast bullet can vary in weight and density. The Enfield .577" was known for its accuracy and this was put down to the fact they used swaged bullets. Other countries cast their bullets so could not achieve the same level of accuracy.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Would be interested in seeing the photos as well but couldn't connect.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    barnard castle
    I can't open photos on Safari.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2022
    Sry lads, no idea why that does not work.
    I use Chrome and it works just fine.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    I think the website has been down. On one of the adverts on here it said "Page not available" It seems ok now.
    I use XP and I have had no problem opening the pictures.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    barnard castle
    Can see them now, thanks, it's a pity Tacfoley is not around, he would have loved these.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    "Men occasionally stumble on the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened" Winston Churchill

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2022
    What do you want to know?

    We make them up from pieces. Ie; a 3 piece setup and then a steel "ring" to make them fit together.
    A "pusher" with a set length for the bottom and in turn the top is left with an evacuating hole.

    Cast slugs, a mold for that, that are slightly oversize and shove them into the swaging mold. Then a small 5 ton workshop press, which is just MASSIVE overkill, but what i´ve got standing around.

    I´m certain i´ve got more pics of the swaging dies laying around somewhere...

    Truth be told though i honestly fail to see the benefits from it. With a well thought through hex casting mold you can split the two apart on target. Really.
    I guess the issue is casting mold in itself cause several of the ones out there are plain junk. Expensive junk.

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