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 Post subject: The beautifully complex Model 12 Winchester and Hamilton 992
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 6:42 am 
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Forty years ago when I was in college I wanted a Model 12 Winchester so much, I could barely stand it. Later on I had so many I took a Model 12 for granted, until I realized I don’t really know any gunsmiths still practicing that can work on one.

A Super X Model One, or an Ithaca Model 37, or Belgian Browning Auto Five will shoot until trumpets sound in the East. The Super X will need a buffer every fifty thousand shots, the Model 37 will need a $2 spring replaced on the spring shell stop every fifty years, and my great grandchildren yet unborn might have to totally disassemble and clean one of my Auto Fives again in a century, but I’ve found if you start shooting a Model 12 much at all the first thing that goes is the hang fire safety that requires an unconscious push forward on the slide handle after the hammer drops on a shell. That function is controlled by a flat spring all hidden up inside of the detachable front assembly that eventually starts to wobble if you take one apart too many times, which again can be tightened up again by taking up the adjustment on the collar of the barrel one notch. All this time, the bolt is glacially slowly starting to droop, until the Model 12 starts to blow open, and has to be administered to by a gunsmith that knows how to peen or replace parts to get the gadget to lift it’s bolt back up in the notch again.

Rod Gates of Jordan was without doubt been taught in his father’s gun shop how to maintain, service, and relate a Model 12, but I can barely get him to work on my Model 97 Winchesters, of which are many, many times more prone to wear than any Model 12. Rod Gates would know somebody else that specialized in Model 12’s, though.

Chuck Hawks has an excellent piece on the Model 12 Winchester.

https://www.chuckhawks.com/winchester_model_12.htm

The biggest threat to our heirs shooting our Model 12 Winchesters is steel shot. But a cylinder, skeet, improved cylinder, or modified choke Model 12 in theory should handle cheap steel (modified choke M12’s usually came choked 12/13 thousands and not the modern 20 thousands of choke tubed guns) but a full choke Model 12 will need either ultra expensive soft non toxic shot or else be opened up to about 12/13 thousands to a Gates choke.

Admittedly, wearing out a Model 12 Winchester is an extremely first world problem.

What killed the Model 12 was the excellent bit cheaper Remington Model 870, that is likely as reliable and durable as a Model 37 Ithaca, except the Model 870 owner knows his gun has a mousetrap trigger (that never fails) inside of his gun and other cheap parts every time he takes it apart.

I cannot imagine how American labor was ever cheap enough for Winchester to manufacture and sell two million Model 12 Winchesters through stocking Winchester dealers that bought the guns through jobbers. In 1964 the whole scheme fell down.

To build a Model 12 Winchester required 2,700 inspections.

The last price of a field model plain barrel Model 12 was $129, of which Winchester only got about half, which is about what a new 1964 Mossberg 500 sold for at retail.

Hamilton Watch Company of Lancaster Pennsylvania had nearly identical problems making the last true railroad service certified watch, the Hamilton 992B, of which all of the half million made from 1940 to 1969 cost about the same in a stainless case with composite dial as a base Model 12 Winchester, but each 992B took at least one entire year to leave Lancaster to the jobbers.

https://kenrockwell.com/watches/hamilton/992b.htm

What has saved all the Hamilton 992B watches is synthetic watch oil that will not gum up, or turn into lacquer, and just like a Model 12, if used occasionally on nice and sunny days, both should last forever, or close enough it won’t matter.

If there was a demand, Hamilton could still make a 992B in Lancaster and Winchester could make a Model 12 again in New Haven.

They’d probably sell for twelve thousand dollars, though, and not catch a customer.

Jim Handy made glorious industrial promotional films, and check this one out he made for Hamilton in 1949.



When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, the last 992B had another year to be timed and adjusted in Lancaster.



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 Post subject: Re: The beautifully complex Model 12 Winchester and Hamilton
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:36 am 
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Great Post as usual!

A couple of years ago, in a moment of weakness, I was at a local gun show, and spied a vintage Winchester Model 77 semi auto .22. I sprung for the $250 the seller was asking, as it had beautiful wood and the metal was pristine. Yes I know it's not a shotgun, but bear with me.

I took it home, dated it at 1959-1960, and felt guilty till I discovered it was actually worth more than the sum in Canadian dollars I paid for it.

The point of my story. The safety would not engage, so I pulled the stock off, and found an intricately designed firearm inside, with adjustments for trigger and safety. I soon had it working perfectly and back together. Now considering they were competing with the Marlin 60 and the Remington Nylon 66, both simpler and easier to manufacture. It was easy to see why Winchester would be in difficulty in just a couple more years.

Nontheless, I love the little thing.

Sadly my beloved 1994 Remington 1187 Premier with the 26"LC barrel, has now joined the Super X, Model 12, and Auto 5 in a club of great shotguns no longer manufactured. At least I know that it will outlast this shooter (I turned 73 today)


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 Post subject: Re: The beautifully complex Model 12 Winchester and Hamilton
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:58 am 
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CaseyB02.21.15 wrote:

The point of my story. The safety would not engage, so I pulled the stock off, and found an intricately designed firearm inside, with adjustments for trigger and safety. I soon had it working perfectly and back together. Now considering they were competing with the Marlin 60 and the Remington Nylon 66, both simpler and easier to manufacture. It was easy to see why Winchester would be in difficulty in just a couple more years.

Having spent my entire working career in a manufacturing environment, I find NOTHING beautiful about complex mechanisms. Make it as simple as possible to get the job done. To be fair, much elegant design is an evolutionary affair. You start by simply meeting the need. Then, you refine it for ease of manufacture, cost reduction, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: The beautifully complex Model 12 Winchester and Hamilton
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:50 am 
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Soon as I saw the title I knew whose post it was.
I climbed poles for the telephone company until I realized I was right to be afraid of heights because it hurts when you fall. I went back and got my engineering degree and spent my life in industrial engineering and maintenance.
I agree 100% with Vette Jockey. The Germans seemed to love complexity. We had one machine with a 27 point lubrication system, and the system switched mechanically and sequentially, and there was a flow switch to shut it down if the flow stopped. There was no way to know what switch did not change externally. It was elegant, when it worked, and it was all inside a two piece cast iron roll and bearing tower about 8 feet tall. A replacement oil switching valve was $11,000. We designed and external replacement for less than $5,000, and it was waaaaay easier and faster to fix when something did go wrong.

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 Post subject: Re: The beautifully complex Model 12 Winchester and Hamilton
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:23 am 
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Speaking of complexity of parts and design a good friend and authentic double gun smith; when asked whether Parker Doubles were well made said, Yes they were. He attributed much of their reputation for reliability from the fact that quality steel was used throughout. He did add however, that he could build 3 LC Smiths from the part count of just one Parker.


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 Post subject: Re: The beautifully complex Model 12 Winchester and Hamilton
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:08 pm 
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Once upon a long time ago, Kenneth Ireland the mayor of Humansville and Humansville’s best automotive mechanic owned a Winchester Model 21 that cost him $400!!!

I saw it the first time one long ago Thursday afternoon at Dorman Copage’s Gun Shop by Brush Creek, when Dorman would open up the long range that laid along where the old railroad used to run.

Back then, some of the old railroad mile markers were still standing although the tracks had been taken up about thirty years before. The Leaky Roof line’s rail beds can still be seen from the highway today, where the trains made the long grade from Humansville to Plum Grove Christian Church, past the hobo jungle just before the summit at Plum Grove, where the railroad section foreman’s proud home still stands.

When the train had reached the summit at Plum Grove, there were four miles of wide open prairie for that engineer to make up time unless he had a stop at Dunnegan Station. Otherwise Daddy said the train would highball through Dunnegan with the whistle blowing bound for Fair Play and other stations South to Springfield to the Union Depot there.

Daddy and Red Ellis would talk about the old railroad station that used to stand not far from the Dunnegan Cafe, where Bea Ellis home baked delicious pies, every day and more on Thursday’s.

Red Ellis would sometimes go to Dorman Copage’s Thursday afternoon trap meets and shoot his Model 12, that was a Trap Grade that cost $200!!!

Humansville even had a watchmaker still, back then. Jackie Holmes shot some kind of Remington but he had a Hamilton 992B in a solid gold case that cost $400!!!

Like most of the farmers and merchants for miles around Humansville, on Thursday afternoons they closed for refreshment, in the old railroad tradition.

And although I was too young then to know why the old men stirred when she made an appearance, sometimes an old widower would sport Kitty Pink on his arm to the Thursday Trap Meet.

She was in hard into her seventies and yet still could have passed for forty in dim light.

And some claimed in her younger days, some gentleman gave her a thousand dollar diamond ring, that would glitter in the Thursday sunlight.

RAILROAD LADY

Lefty Frizzell (1972)



The most nervous I ever saw my father Bruce Alvin, was the afternoon Kitty Pink came up to me and him and started talking about how much I favored my grandfather LeRoy Briggs .

On the way home I kept promising him I’d not tell Mama, and he explained that his father LeRoy Briggs had a relationship with Kitty Pink, that happened before he was born and was better left buried in Plum Grove Cemetery where his mother and father rested.

A half a century ago in Humansville and other little railroad towns, a man was judged by what kind of Hamilton or Winchester or other such ornament, he could afford to show off.

And back then, you could still get a fancy watch or shotgun, or fur coat or diamond ring serviced in every little town.

I still own all my grandfather’s and my father’s glorious Elgin’s and Hamilton’s and my Daddy’s 1961 Sweet 16.

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 Post subject: Re: The beautifully complex Model 12 Winchester and Hamilton
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:45 pm 
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I think you should change your screen name.

How about ‘Silverspoonspectacularstoryspinner’? Rolls right off the tongue, you know?;-)


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 Post subject: Re: The beautifully complex Model 12 Winchester and Hamilton
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:19 pm 
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Location: NW IL
If you need a good gunsmith for a model 1897, 12, Super X 1, or auto 5 I know one in IL. He has been working on guns for 50 years and is into old Winchesters and John Browning designs.

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 Post subject: Re: The beautifully complex Model 12 Winchester and Hamilton
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:19 pm 
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Flyingtargets! wrote:
I think you should change your screen name.

How about ‘Silverspoonspectacularstoryspinner’? Rolls right off the tongue, you know?;-)


My Daddy was an only child, but he had a sister named Geraldine that was a breech baby and died in 1918, a victim of the Spanish flu,

Her stone in Plum Grove, that I paid $100 to have reset in 2010 when my mother Lois Geraldine died, has only BABY and the surname listed and the year 1918, and nothing more.

A check today of her death certificate now available online, shows that baby Geraldine lived four days from November 26-30 1918.

The death Angel had already taken the matriarch Paralee on November 18 1918 and left the family patriarch Alvin such an invalid he could not attend her services at Plum Grove Christian Church, only two miles East on Base Line Road, past the siding and the cattle pens, and the hobo jungle, and where the proud Section Foreman for the Kansas City, Clinton, and Springfield Railroad had built his magnificent home, on the very summit of Plum Grove, that still stands up there today.

Then on Saturday, November 30, 1918, my Grandfather LeRoy Briggs would have been informed that as expected, his baby daughter had died.

She was a breech birth, and it took too long to find a doctor willing to come to house full of death and sickness that the forceps used injured baby Geraldine.

LeRoy Briggs would have checked the time on his 15 Jewel Elgin watch, that I still own today.

Being quite the proud Scotsman Alvin had bought all his sons and his two daughters the best standard 15 jewel $10 dollar grade watch movement and a $10 twenty year gold case.

His children weren’t railroad engineers, or else he’d have presented them with a proper 21 jewel railroad watch with a double roller with a $20 movement in a 25 year $15 case.

The watch companies engaged in a jewel war much like Olympus cameras are engaged in today for megapixels. A good pocket watch needs 15 jewels. A good camera only needs 5 mega pixels, which is what the first Olympus digital camera was. Today Olympus is up to 20 megapixels, but they still come in $600, $1,200, and $1,800 grades plus a glorious showy one that costs $3,000. Actual selling prices are less, so the Olympus customer usually pays $500, $1,000, $1,500, or $2,000 for his prize possession.

The true art of storytelling is to never, ever intentionally tell a lie. If you lie, somebody will catch you at it, even though God sees all, regardless.

I’m not completely sure fifty years later that Daddy and me were at Dorman Copage’s range on the Brush Creek bottoms or we might have been east of the hospital where Dr. G.W. Robinson kept his airplane and also hosted Thursday afternoon trap shoots. I think it was at Dorman’s.

But I had heard whispers about my Grandfather LeRoy Briggs and Kitty Pink for all my life, maybe ten years or so.

At the Ray Reunion at Dunnegan the old ladies would cuss Kitty Pink, and the old men in the barber shop would compare every new beauty in town to Kitty Pink, and my mother and my Daddy’s cousins would gossip about Kitty Pink,,,

And when she leaned down to flatter me,,,

All I could think of was what a cheap whore she was to embarrass my father in front of his friends.

I’m very proud of what I replied.

Oh, my Grandfather LeRoy Briggs died before I was born,,,,,

But my Grandmother Lula Ray and my mother both told me he was the most handsome man she had ever seen.

And back on November 30, 1918 my grandfather decided to not have a church funeral for Geraldine, and not put a name on her stone, for some reason forever lost to the mists of time.

But his mother Paralee and father Alvin have a large $100 grade Vermont Barre Granite stone, with an infant sized Vermont barre granite $15 stone right beside to the South, where the next one over is the thousand dollar Vermont Barre black granite stone I selected in 1971, for Bruce Alvin.

My own stone, hasn’t been quarried yet in Vermont, but it will go just on further South.

LeRoy Briggs and Lula Ray rest just North, of Paralee and Alvin.

Where Kitty Pink lies, I cannot find.

That probably was just her business name, anyway.

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I have never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as a reason for withdrawing from a friend. Thomas Jefferson


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 Post subject: Re: The beautifully complex Model 12 Winchester and Hamilton
PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 9:41 am 
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This thread reminded me that I was cleaning out drawers the other day, and found my Great Grandfather's gold Waltham pocket watch.

The old gentleman was a veteran of the North West rebellion, where the British Army defeated Louis Riel at the Battle of Batoche. Possibly the earliest use of the Gatling Gun in Canada, and the bullet holes can still be seen in at least one building. He died after travelling to Winnipeg for my Christening 73 years ago.

The old watch, well over 100 yrs old, and probably not wound in half a century, fired right up when I wound it.




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