Saturday, March 31, 2018

Firearm Factory of the Month: James Reid & My Friend

James Reid was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1827 and trained in gunsmithing in Glasgow Scotland before emigrating to the United States in 1857 at the age of 30. 
He came to New York to work for W.W. Marston and W. Irving Company. Sometime during the Civil War he set up his own shop in New York City, but he longed for the country (some say it was for health reasons) and in 1865 moved his operation to Catskill, NY. He purchased an old water powered grist mill and built a gun factory next to it.  Across the river he built a home for his family.
On December 26, 1865 Reid was awarded a patent for one of his gun designs. It was a small revolver that doubled as a knuckle duster. He called it "My Friend". 
In the picture below you can see the model name and patent date on the top strap. The guns were hand engraved by James Reid Jr.

The guns had no barrel, no trigger guard and had few moving parts. They came in three calibers: .22 Rimfire, .32 Rimfire and .41 Rimfire. 
The .22 models (Model No.1) were more popular than the .32 & .41 (Model No. 2).
The cylinder was nickel plated steel and held 7 rounds for the No.1 and 5 rounds for the No.2 models. The frame was made of brass and used a flat main spring and a spur trigger. A side plate on the left side of the gun provided access.

Production began in 1868 and ran for 14 years with approximately 10,000 units made.
They were packaged with 100 rounds of ammunition and sold for $10 (the equivalent of about $205 today).

There were other models of revolvers made by Reid, but none as popular as the "My Friend"

A couple of successive depressions attributed to the failure of his business and he ended production in 1882/1883. Reid sold the Mill, factory and his home and moved north to the town of Troy, NY and went to work in the Watervliet Arsenal. James Reid died in 1898 at the age of 71.

Now we know about the man and his guns, what about his factory? I started with just a name and a town: James Reid, Catskill, NY.
Finding the location of where buildings once stood is not always easy, especially ones that are this old.

Google searching has become a science these days and skillful users can find almost anything.

Using my "Google-Fu" I came up with an article from the Greene County Historical Society entitled "Resnick's Buckwheat Mill" by Jim Hubbard (the article has since been pulled from their website).

Reid's mill was purchased by Mr. Jack Resnick, who went into the business of roasting and milling buckwheat sometime before WWII. Jim Hubbard went to work for Resnick and his article about that time gave us the missing info we needed.

Photo of the 3 story grist mill on left and 2 story brick gun factory on right, taken by Charles T Reid (son or grandson of James Reid?) in 1920, photo courtesy of the Vedder Research Library, Greene County Historical Society

The article gave several clues as to the location of the factory: "as Cauterskill Road topped the hill", "on old Cauterskill road", "an old natural dam blocking the creek" and "just before the turnoff to Leeds", also "Rushmore's dam was formed by a ridge of natural limestone", "Tucked into the bank on one end of the dam was an old weathered building of brick and stone that rose two stories from massive stone foundations".

The photos below were taken in 1974, the mill and factory now in ruins.
photos courtesy of the Vedder Research Library, Greene County Historical Society

I believe the Google street view photo below is near the location from which the picture above was taken, trees have replaced the land once occupied by the mill and factory. You can see the street sign warning of the merging of another road and the telephone pole and wires. In the distance beyond  the trees on the right you can see the old Reid homestead.

Here is where the natural stone dam meets the side of the bank, you can see a concrete encasement, probably where the water wheel sat that ran the mill and factory. The gun factory sat atop this encasement.

I believe this house, opposite the river is the same as the one in the photo above, the Reid homestead

Which means the old grist mill and firearms factory would be about where the arrow is pointing in the picture below (click on the picture for a larger version). 

The old Reid home still stands, but he gun factory and grist mill were torn down sometime in the 1970's or '80's.

Greene County Historical Journal
Vedder Research Library
Ancestry Guns
Daily Freeman

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

10/22 Project updates

A quick update on past projects and introducing some new ones.

Spencer Carbine Project 

Since finishing my Spencer Carbine project I had done a few more modifications and because this is March, the month of the 10/22 I figured I would share the progress.

If you missed the project, click on the links below:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3 

I swapped out the plastic trigger group for an older aluminum one, looks more authentic in my opinion.

I also blued the bolt, having a shiny bolt just didn't look right, so I disassembled it and while it was apart I polished the internals.

Finally I built a new sling. I wasn't happy with the way the 1" sling fit the 1.5" Enfield sling mounts, so I took an old leather belt and made it into a sling

Here is the belt

I cut the threads to remove the loop and then cut the belt where it went from two ply to one

...and rounded the end

I then drilled holes for the Chicago bolts using a #1 drill bit (.228"). The end where the buckle was will be folded over and connected to the front sling. The rear will use one new hole and have the old belt buckle holes for adjustment


 Before and after

In case you are wondering, I did get to shoot the gun on a few occasions over the past year. It shoots as good as any of my 10/22s, I am really liking the peep sight.

10/22 Target Rifle Project

I finally got a chance to take Ava out to the range to see how she shoots. Everything functioned perfectly, unfortunately we ran out of time and I was not able to sight the gun in and see what kind of accuracy/precision it was capable of, perhaps this summer I can spend some more time with it and report back to you.

Link to the final post of the project, click here

Project Pink 10/22 Stock 1.0

My daughter decided she did not like the pink/fuscia color of the stock, so I am working on a new version using a lighter pink dye (see details below).

Here is the post on the first version: Project Pink 10/22 Stock 1.0

In the mean time I painted up some Butler Creek clear Steel Lips magazines with some Tamiya Polycarbonate translucent pink paint

You may remember my attempts to dye a Butler Creek Steel Lips magazine a pink color. The magazine is made from Polycarbonate and doesn't take dye or even paint well. Fortunately we have the R/C world to thank for the special polycarbonate paint, it is translucent, so we will still be able to see the how many boolits are left. 
I picked up a couple more of these mags with one of the 10/22 project rifles I purchased, so I cleaned them with a rag soaked in rubbing alcohol and taped up the tops.

I'm sure the question will come up about the durability of the paint. While it is too early to tell, I know a bit about the R/C hobby and those R/C car bodies take a beating and this Tamiya paint seems to hold up pretty well. Either way the little lady is pleased with her extra magazines she now has.

I also purchased one of these extended bolt handles

While I had the gun apart (it also needed a good cleaning) I decided to drill and pin the bolt

I upgraded to the stainless firing pin stop pin while I was at it

The Hoplophobe Project

If you missed this project, follow the links below:

Part 1
Part 2

Ruger 10/22 LTR Project

My First 10/22

This is the first 10/22 I owned, I got it as a birthday gift from my wife one year. One of the first modifications was the stock (see my post on that here).

The rifle is a hoplophobes nightmare:
  • Collapsible stock that also folds to the side 
  • Pistol grip
  • Forward grip
  • Bayonet lug to take an M7 Bayonet
  • High Capacity magazines clamped "jungle style"
  • Scope
  • Picatinney rails
  • It's Black

Over time I upgraded various parts, and recently upgraded the bolt and trigger parts to some units from JWH Custom (look for a review coming up)


New Projects

Some more 10/22 projects (you didn't think I was done did you??). 

The 10/22 Hawken Rifle
This first one is a retro/tribute similar in vein to my Spencer Carbine project. This one will be a tribute to the Hawken Rifle. It will be similar to the one below

I will be using a brass crescent butt plate and brass forend tip from a T/C Hawken rifle. I will keep the stock full length, but taper the forend from the mag well to the barrel band notch, then fit the forend tip. I may even add a faux ram rod...I may even attempt to build a custom mag release like the one shown above.

Project Pink 10/22 - 2.0

The next one will be another Pink rifle stock for my daughter, this time I will lighten the forend (and balance the weight better) by adding vent holes like the stocks below

I will use RIT Petal Pink dye

The 10/22 Project Ute

This last one will be a youth stock, I will cut vent/lightening holes in the forend (like the examples above) and use either aluminum for the forend/butt plate or maybe form some kydex into a curved butt plate like the "Joebobber" stock made by hipshot.

 I may go with a different dye or maybe a custom paint job...