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Old September 2, 2011, 10:31 PM   #58
Bill Akins
Senior Member
Join Date: August 28, 2007
Location: Hudson, Florida
Posts: 1,030
Jo6pak wrote:
Take the harmonica rifle design concept and take it into the 'crew-served muzzle loading medium machine gun".
The "crew served muzzleloading medium machine gun" concept you mentioned, is exactly what I too visualized for a tripod mounted, harmonica block, horizontally fed, muzzleloader.

Jo6pak wrote:
Here goes, I hope this makes at least a little sense to someone
Take the harmonica rifle as a starting point, but rotate the "magazine" to the 12 o'clock position so it drops down, rather than moving side to side. Possibly even at a 45 degree angle, moving from 10 o'clock to 4 o'clock.
I hear you Jo, using gravity to help drop (advance to next chamber) the harmonica block would aid the operating system, but I see several problems with using it vertically or at an angle as you described. Either completely vertically or at an angle, the harmonica block is going to drop downward as it advances to the next chamber. If the harmonica block is long enough to hold many chambers as I visualize, it would eventually hit the ground stopping its downward travel and the system from operating. So you could only use it from say for example, an anti-aircraft tripod that was tall enough for the harmonica block to not hit the ground before it expended all its chambers.
Also, if hung vertically or at an angle, all the full weight of the harmonica block would be on the lug engaging the zig zag slots on the harmonica block.

Whereas if a horizontal harmonica block was supported by horizontal supports with rollers, those support plate rollers would lessen the weight of the harmonica block and by the harmonica block rolling over them.....aid it in feeding into the weapon's receiver and the full weight of the harmonica block would never be fully borne by the lug engaging the zig zag slots. Kind of like a horizontal conveyor roller system supporting the harmonica block feeding into the receiver and also on the other side as the harmonica block exits. This would lessen the cantilevered weight on the lug engaging the zig zag slots, lessen weight on the receiver and thereby aid the action and make it smoother too.

Visualize the full weight of a vertical or angle fed 50 to 100 chamber harmonica block being completely just supported by the lug which engages the zig zag slots. Also visualize the vertically or angle fed harmonica block hitting the ground before it was supposed to. Not an optimum situation.

Instead visualize a horizontal harmonica block being supported on both sides of the muzzleloader's receiver by a supporting system consisting of angled braces holding horizontal plates with rollers that support the weight of the harmonica block as it rolls along the rollers into the muzzleloader's receiver and another horizontal plate with rollers is also on the other side of the receiver helping roll out the harmonica block and support its weight as it exits the weapon. Thereby no cantilevered weight stress problems.

Jo6pak wrote:
Either way, now add a reciprocating action similar to that of the Browning 1895 "Potato digger" MG. (I believe one of Mr. Browning's earliest autoloaders was a modified Winchester rifle using a gas operated lever-action)
Yes, for his first prototype John Browning used a gas catching muzzle cup on the end of the barrel to catch the muzzle blast which actuated a lever on the front of the barrel which had a strut which went back to operate the formerly manually operated Winchester action. For his second prototype he tapped the gas into a cylinder and used a gas piston which was and is the usually used (but not always) predominant system used in semi-auto rifles and machine guns today. As in these below scanned photos and description from my well tattered book "Smith's Small Arms Of The World".....

and a description of the above rifle's operation also from my "Smith's Small Arms Of The World"......

By the way, one of the German semi-automatic rifles from WW2 used the same (many decades done before by Browning), gas trapping cup on the end of the barrel to actuate the action. If memory serves me, I think it was the Walther rifle, but can't precisely remember the name for sure.

Jo6pak wrote:
The op. rod of the "digger" actuates a lever which runs along the "zig-zag" grooves in the "magazine." (added by Bill..."The harmonica block")
The action of the op. rod would push the "magazine" into it's next firing position.
Good idea Jo. So instead of using blowback forces to blow the muzzleloading harmonica block (or the cylinder in a revolving handgun) rearward, causing the lug to travel in the zig zag slots, you suggest instead using a gas operated lever to actuate that. Your idea also reminds me of a feed pawl advancing the cartridges in a belt fed machine gun. I like your idea Jo but I think it would work better with a horizontally fed harmonica block rather than a vertically fed one for the reasons I mentioned earlier. Also if we used gas operation, the zig zag slots on the harmonica block would be unnecessary since the harmonica block wouldn't have to blowback to advance. The gas system could actuate an internal receiver gear which advanced the harmonica block rack gear without the harmonica block having to move rearward at all. Which would be great.

There could be a straight gear rack running full length the bottom of the harmonica block, that engaged a internal receiver gear that was actuated by the movement of a gas piston. Kind of like a rack and pinion gear system on a car. No zig zag slots or harmonica block rearward movement necessary to advance to the next chamber. All done by a gas piston or direct gas impingement against an internal gear that engages the gear rack on the bottom or top of the harmonica block. Hmmm, I'm deviating a bit from your original idea of a piston actuating the zig zag slots, but your description is causing me to get some good and even better ideas here than I had before Jo. Thanks!

Jo6pack wrote:
The action could possibly be aided by tipping the magazine forward, making it a parallelagram with angled chambers, instead of a rectangle. (think of the angle that .22 cartridges sit in a straight pistol mag.)
I can visualize what you are describing about the chambers being bored at an angle in the straight rectangular harmonica block Jo, but could you please explain a bit more how that would aid the action? I'm having trouble tracking on visualizing what you are talking about there and what the purpose of those angle bored cylinders would be for.

Jo6pak wrote:
One variation could be to use a revolving cylinder instead of a box style harmonica "magazine"
I think that would be okay for a revolving muzzleloading handgun that I showed my idea for a blowback zig zag cylinder earlier in this thread, but for the same bulk and lack of chamber capacity I mentioned earlier in this post, I think the rectangular harmonica block would be a better choice for a high capacity muzzleloading rifle or tripod mounted high capacity full auto muzzleloader.

Jo6pak wrote:
Ignition would be using a Maynard type primer strip which would be advanced when the hammer was reset.
I thought about using a Maynard tape primer too in these semi-auto/full auto concepts for muzzleloaders Jo. But I remember as a kid using paper roll cap guns a lot. I remember that the paper roll did not always advance under the hammer as it should have and I had to pull the roll up to get a "cap" dot under the hammer. I also remember the cap roll chamber the roll of "caps" sat in and the pawl it had to push up on the paper roll when the hammer was cocked. That takes up a lot of space and complicates the action when a percussion cap on a nipple takes up very little space by comparison and you don't have to worry about the percussion cap not advancing in line with the chamber like you would with a Maynard roll cap dot system.

Jo6pak wrote:
Mount it on a tripod. Crew it with a gunner to aim and fire it, and an assistant gunner who would reload the "magazines" (added by Bill..."harmonica block") similar to the Japanese Type 92.
Exactly what I had in mind Jo. Just like a tray fed Hotchkiss (which the Japanese copied). We think a lot alike. See below pic of tray fed Hotchkiss which the Japanese type 92 used the same action of. Now just replace that cartridge holding tray with a muzzleloading, percussion cap fired, primitive ignition system, single piece, harmonica block. Note the droop of the cartridge tray on the Hotchkiss caused by cantilevered weight of the tray. That's why I'd put horizontal plates with roller supports on either side of the receiver on the harmonica block muzzleloader.

Jo6pak wrote:
Am I crazy?
No, you are not crazy at all Jo. Quite the opposite. You have an inventive mind and are capable of visualizing design concepts in your head.

Keep those ideas coming!

"This is my Remy and this is my Colt. Remy loads easy and topstrap strong, Colt balances better and never feels wrong. A repro black powder revolver gun, they smoke and shoot lead and give me much fun. I can't figure out which one I like better, they're both fine revolvers that fit in my leather".
"To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target".

Last edited by Bill Akins; September 3, 2011 at 01:51 AM.
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