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Old August 5, 2013, 12:12 AM   #1
Bill Akins
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1854 Treeby chain gun, belt fed, percussion, muzzleloader

The operation of this 1854 Treeby chain gun is very interesting to me. Its operation is easily ascertained by reading the article and watching the video of it at this link....
http://www.forgottenweapons.com/rifl...gallery/page/1

In looking at the Treeby's operation, I can see how the closed circle "chain", could easily have been a non closed, detachable, chain/belt. In essence an early belt fed gun way back in 1854! But then again, that isn't that surprising considering the Union Ager coffee mill gun with its hopper feed and chargers being advanced via a cup sprocket operated via a crank. Both guns which were decades ahead of their time and both of which used "chargers" that on the Treeby were wedged INTO the barrel forming a tight gas seal, while the Ager chargers were just wedged up AGAINST the barrel not forming as good a gas seal, (but better than the seal of a cylinder to a barrel on a standard revolver).

In a way, the Treeby is similar to a harmonica block chargers design I came up with for a semi-auto and full auto tripod mounted muzzleloader. In my design, a long rectangular harmonica block of "chargers" machined out of a long metal block, would be fed through the side of the gun and ejected out the other side.

My rough design renditions for a harmonica block fed semi and full auto muzzleloader:......

Recoil operated version, air cooled.


Gas operated version, air cooled.


Crank operated version, water cooled.


In looking at the Treeby, it occurs to me that its chargers act a lot like the Russian m95 Nagant revolver, wherein the Nagant's cartridge lip was actually wedged into the barrel to form a gas seal. This gives me a similar idea for my harmonica gun design, where if the harmonica block was made of aluminum with steel insert sleeves for the chargers, it might be light enough for the recoil to blow the entire whole block rearward and compress a spring, while the Webley Fosberry type zig zag slots on the bottom of the harmonica block, caused the harmonica block to index to the next charger, and when the spring pushed the harmonica block forward, the lip of the charger would be forced to wedge into the barrel, just like on the Treeby.

Of course if the recoil or blowback wasn't enough to move the harmonica block rearward, then I'd have to go to some sort of gas system, and not necessarily one using a piston in a cylinder. I could use a plate in front of the barrel like Browning did and as the blast hit the plate, (with the bullet passing through a hole in the plate), the plate could pull forward on a linkage that would cock the hammer and advance the tray. Lots of possibilities there. Here's a couple of pics of other designs for possible ways to make a muzzleloader semi-auto.







A lot of this I covered in my earlier thread, but most of that thread's pics were lost when Webshots went down. So I uploaded these to photobucket and present them here again. Food for thought when thinking about making a muzzle loader semi auto, recoil operated, gas operated, crankfired, or full auto.

That Treeby chain gun really got my brain to going. Just found it and learned about it yesterday. I am aware of the Josselyn chain gun, but it differs from the Treeby in that the Josselyn's chargers don't wedge into the barrel. Neither do the harmonica rifles and pistols harmonica blocks wedge into the barrel. However a harmonica block's chamber/charger could wedge into the barrel if you made protrusions on each chamber of the harmonica block that stuck out from the harmonica block. Then you could wedge them into the barrel just like on the Treeby chain gun.

I like the idea of wedging the charger into the breech, like the cartridge cases of a mod95 Nagant revolver. Pretty good gas seal then. More velocity and gas pressure that way. Good for the projectile and good for needed recoil or gas operation. Some folks might could care less, but I love this kind of stuff. A needless innovation for an obsolete weapon. You bet. Ain't it fun?



.
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"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; August 5, 2013 at 12:45 AM.
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Old August 5, 2013, 10:37 AM   #2
sltm1
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Thanx for the post, very interesting !!
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Old August 5, 2013, 04:24 PM   #3
indy1919
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Thanks for the Treeby chain gun link, what a wonderful design.. Would like to see that thing being reloaded.. It almost look to fragile to reload... But maybe that is what 150 years will do to you..

You know if you took your hand cranked harmonica gun on the tripod, change the feed so it comes down from the top, it would almost be an agar Coffee mill gun... Now we all know the agar overheated badly... But you fixed that with you water cooled barrel... Wonder of the agar would have worked better with a water cooled barrel shroud ???????
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Old August 5, 2013, 05:06 PM   #4
4V50 Gary
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I think semi-automatic is entirely possible. Like smokeless, it generates gases that may be tapped for its energy.

However, it's energy is limited and a huge harmonic block magazine is probably out as being too heavy for the gas to operate reliably. As the gas port becomes increasingly plugged, less gas and therefore less energy will be available to move the block. I suggest smaller blocks and more frequent reloadings.
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Old August 5, 2013, 06:58 PM   #5
Bezoar
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well as a smart man once said. teh difference between a semi auto and an automatic percussion pistol is a mere 10 to 15 years in federal prison.

Its easy to make it go semi-auto/ full auto. But you have an incredible issue trying to keep it from being an automatic weapon.
i ran into that issue myself. Really havent found an easy solution to the issue without a massive amount of external add-ons to the firing mechanism. that still arent technically "ok" under atf rules.
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Old August 5, 2013, 07:13 PM   #6
4V50 Gary
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I don't think the govt. will swoop down if there's a cap 'n ball revolver or other non-cartridge black powder firearm that will go full auto.
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Old August 6, 2013, 07:47 AM   #7
Bezoar
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when did the ATF decide automatic applied to only certain types of ammunition?
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Old August 6, 2013, 06:38 PM   #8
4V50 Gary
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Look up the exceptions to firearms. Muzzle loaders & cap 'n balls do not fall under the modern definition of firearms.
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Old August 6, 2013, 10:38 PM   #9
Bill Akins
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Quote:
Bezoar wrote:
when did the ATF decide automatic applied to only certain types of ammunition?
Quote:
4v50Gary wrote:
Look up the exceptions to firearms. Muzzle loaders & cap 'n balls do not fall under the modern definition of firearms.
4V50Gary is exactly correct. But allow me to elaborate a bit more.

The ATF didn't decide that Bezoar, congress decided that, when congress wrote the National Firearms Act (NFA) and exempted primitive ignition systems from the purview of the NFA. And since a "primitive ignition system" defines the "ammunition" that a primitive ignition system weapon fires, that should answer your question.

My interest in creating this thread on the Treeby gun's mechanism, is more on discussing design/s for a semi-auto percussion weapon (primitive ignition system) than it is on discussing full auto. However, even a full auto or more correctly "rapid fire weapon" (it being a primitive ignition system) is not illegal nor required to be registered nor have a tax paid for, as long as it uses a primitive ignition system, is an original, or replica of a weapon using a primitive ignition system. Since my harmonica block designs would simply be replicas of previous harmonica block weapons, they would be exempt from the NFA also. And as you read further, you will see that primitive ignition system weapons are not even considered "Firearms" under the law, and thus cannot be a "machinegun" if they are not first "Firearms".

That's why you can have a shoulder stocked short barrel percussion revolver but not a cartridge one unless you register it as short barrel rifle and pay the tax. (Yes there are a few cartridge using shoulder stocked pistols that are excepted that you may have according to the ATF, without registering and paying a tax, such as a Mauser broomhandle that can be shoulder stocked without registration, but they have been exempted by the ATF as "curios & relics", and there are qualifications as to what date the receiver of the broomhandle was made as well as to the shoulder stock used on it, but that is not the norm.)

That's why you can have a percussion or flintlock Short Barrel Shotgun, with a barrel length less than 18 inches or overall length less than 26 inches (such as the percussion ignited "Howdah" 28 gauges double barrel shotgun pistol) without going through a dealer to get it, and without registering it as an "Any Other Weapon" (A.O.W.) and without paying a tax on it.

That is why according to the Federal NFA law you can have a muzzleloader mailed directly to you without having to go through a dealer (in most states, some states have laws more restrictive than federal law).

Here is a link to the ATF website page that shows drawings of muzzleloading shotguns and rifles that have their barrels cut down and explains why they are exempt from the law as being primitive ignition systems.
http://www.atf.gov/firearms/guides/i...e-firearm.html

In the case," United States vs. Kirvan", He was charged with " Armed Robbery" and " Felon in possession of a firearm while committing a felony". Kirvan was found guilty of the armed robbery but was found innocent of the "felon in possession of a firearm while committing a felony" charge due to the fact that a black powder weapon is not a firearm under definition of federal gun laws. And was added, that a black powder weapon, that has never been used or shot before, therefore classifies as a display piece along with not being considered as a firearm. Thereof, the judge dismissed the charge.

So if a person commits a crime using a primitive ignition cap and ball revolver, that cannot be considered a "firearm" under federal law, and although they may be found guilty of the crime, FEDERALLY they are not guilty of any firearms charges that would extend their prison sentencing guidelines as if they had used a modern firearm. Seriously. Something to keep in mind.

Here is a link to the text of the NFA that you can find all my below quotes from....
http://uscode.house.gov/download/pls/18c44.txt

Here is what the NFA has to say regarding the definition of "any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system".

"18 USC Section 921. Definitions.

(16) The term "antique firearm" means -
(A) any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock,
flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system)
manufactured in or before 1898; or
(B) any replica of any firearm described in subparagraph (A) if
such replica -
(i) is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or
conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or
(ii) uses rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition
which is no longer manufactured in the United States and which
is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial
trade; or

(C) any muzzle loading rifle, muzzle loading shotgun, or muzzle
loading pistol, which is designed to use black powder, or a black
powder substitute, and which cannot use fixed ammunition. For
purposes of this subparagraph, the term "antique firearm" shall
not include any weapon which incorporates a firearm frame or
receiver, any firearm which is converted into a muzzle loading
weapon, or any muzzle loading weapon which can be readily
converted to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt,
breechblock, or any combination thereof."


Here's more:.....

"TITLE 27--ALCOHOL, TOBACCO PRODUCTS, AND FIREARMS

CHAPTER II--BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, FIREARMS, AND EXPLOSIVES,
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

PART 479_MACHINE GUNS, DESTRUCTIVE DEVICES, AND CERTAIN OTHER FIREARMS--Table

Subpart B_Definitions

Sec. 479.11 Meaning of terms.
Firearm. (a) A shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than 18
inches in length; (b) a weapon made from a shotgun if such weapon as
modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or
barrels of less than 18 inches in length; (c) a rifle having a barrel or
barrels of less than 16 inches in length; (d) a weapon made from a rifle
if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches
or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length; (e) any other
weapon, as defined in this subpart; (f) a machine gun; (g) a muffler or
a silencer for any firearm whether or not such firearm is included
within this definition; and (h) a destructive device. The term shall not include an antique firearm."


Did you see the last sentence? It specifically exempted an "antique firearm" from being even categorized as a "Firearm" under the NFA. And since as we have already seen in "18 USC Section 921. Definitions" that primitive ignition systems including percussion fired (cap & ball) weapons are exempted from the NFA, then a weapon using a primitive ignition system cannot be classified as a machine gun if it is not a "Firearm" under the NFA.

But you still have to be careful. INDIVIDUAL "Chargers" (we will come back to INDIVIDUAL in a moment) are steel containers designed to act as an actual chamber themselves, in that they hold the pressure of the explosion without themselves having to be chambered into the chamber area of a gun. They are most usually pressed up against a barrel such as in the Union Ager gun. So "Chargers" differ in a way from a normal cartridge in that regard and also in that they are loaded with loose powder and projectile and designed to be reused indefinitely (unlike a cartridge), and have a nipple on their rear that a percussion cap is affixed to.

However, the ATF COULD, MIGHT, MAY, take the position/opinion, that an INDIVIDUAL "charger" (told you I'd come back to "INDIVIDUAL") was actually just a version of a "cartridge". Because as with a normal cartridge, the "Charger" was loaded with powder, projectile, and contained a primer (percussion cap). I don't know of ANY cases that have ever gone to court that could have set a precedent that a "Charger" was considered by the ATF as being the same under the law as a "cartridge", but I can see how it could happen. And who wants to be the test case?

Sooo, you don't use INDIVIDUAL "chargers". Instead you use a continuous block of connected "chambers" that cannot in any way be construed as an "INDIVIDUAL" charger nor INDIVIDUAL cartridge under the law. You could do the same thing using the "chargers" on a chain gun, as long as the INDIVIDUAL chargers could not be easily disconnected from each other. So you could link chargers together via chain links, as long as the chain links permanently stayed on those chargers and best make sure those chain links are not easily removed, and also, most importantly, that the primitive ignition system weapon you are building will not operate to fire more than one shot per single function of the trigger if the ATF DID disassemble your chained together chargers and tried to fire them unchained and individually in your weapon without them being chained together.

Again, although I know of no precedent court cases involving percussion cap fired, primitive ignition system, "Chargers" as having ever been adjudicated as being "cartridges" under the law, just to make sure one did not become the "test case", if one wanted to design a rapid fire, primitive ignition system weapon, that fires like a machine gun without actually being a machine gun under the law, then it would be prudent and safest for them to use either a solid harmonica block of continuous percussion cap fired chambers that are loose powder and projectile loaded, or "chargers" that are permanently linked together via chain links that will not work in the weapon if "INDIVIDUAL" chargers are used. That way they conform to the NFA and use a primitive
ignition system, and if they DO use chargers, there is no way those chargers can be construed by a court as being "INDIVIDUAL" cartridges, since said "chargers" are permanently linked together, and finally, that the weapon will not fire more than one shot per single function of the trigger if non permanently chained together chargers are used.

All that being said about the INDIVIDUAL "chargers", would only even POSSIBLY apply if the ATF wanted to push it and set a new legal precedent that INDIVIDUAL percussion cap fired chargers were legally the same as a normal cartridge, and also most importantly would only apply if the INDIVIDUAL charger firing weapon was "full auto", and capable of firing "full auto" with INDIVIDUAL chargers that were not chained/linked together, ......not if it was crankfired.

A (non motorized) manually crank fired weapon or firearm, is not a machine gun under federal law whether it uses a primitive igniton system or not, and whether it uses cartridges or not. Gatling guns, Ripley guns, Gardner guns, Nordenfelt guns, Claxton guns, the crankfired Bailey gun (first RECOGNIZED belt fed gun) nor any other MANUALLY crankfired gun are not machine guns under federal law. Otherwise the "BMF activator" trigger crankfire device, the "Gat trigger", "Tac trigger" and other crankfire trigger activators could not be made and sold without federal registration and taxation. (State law is a different thing, some states do NOT allow crankfired trigger activated weapons/firearms).

Another thing to consider here, is that we are simply discussing designs. Even if they were NFA regulated designs, that would not be illegal to discuss.
But what I am discussing is NOT a NFA regulated item. In fact it is specifically exempted from the NFA.

The only thing to consider and possibly be concerned about (besides the "INDIVIDUAL" chargers not being permanently linked together that I already mentioned), is that some state laws may be more restrictive than Federal law. So a person might be legal under the NFA and federal law, but might not be under their state law. So it would be prudent to check their state law on that. Living in Florida, I'm fine. Florida state firearm laws almost exactly mirror federal law.

I hope this long dissertation I've done to explain this, answers whether a primitive ignition system rapid firing weapon is considered a "machine gun" under federal law. If anyone wants to know more, just study the national firearms act and its amendments. Although I know what it says, I can't convince someone if they don't want to believe what it says and if they are unreasonably afraid the boogy man ATF will come after them for their building a primitive ignition system, percussion fired, rapid fire weapon, that isn't even a "Firearm" under federal law. Please don't ask me any "Well, what about this? Or what about that?". If one cannot understand the NFA and its amendments then seek the advice of an attorney.

So let's now "table" the legal questions and get back to the fun stuff of
discussing designs for a semi-auto "primitive ignition system" percussion fired, cap and ball weapon.

I was looking at my 1858 Remington revolver and trying to figure out how to attach something internally that would act between the hammer and trigger to create a disconnect so the hammer would cock due to cap blowback and stay back even though the trigger was still depressed. And that then would "reset" the trigger to drop the hammer once the pressure on the trigger was released from the last shot. And whatever that disconnect might be, it would have to work without any modification to the frame, or at least without any major modification to the frame that would show or in any way impair the value of the weapon. Drilling one hole or doing a very slight modification might be acceptable if no other no mod way could be found. I could live with that.

I'm going to take a look at some of the disconnect operation of the trigger systems on some of my semi-auto rifles to try and get some ideas.

Any ideas guys for a non mod (or very slight mod) to the frame for a trigger disconnect for the 1858 Remington? Or any other percussion semi-auto design ideas you'd like to offer? I love this stuff.

(p.s. Yeah, I wrote "War & Peace" again. But it was necessary to put that legal question to rest, and maybe it helped someone info wise. So give me a break guys please. )



.
__________________
"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; August 7, 2013 at 05:38 AM.
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