Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Interesting Firearm Photos XXXVII

M1A "trench art" no doubt from or inspired by the Vietnam War

Some sort of trench rifle??

Springfield Armory (the real one, not the company that stole the name) in 1955

Cowards are the ones too afraid to defend their lives and freedom.....

M1903 sniper rifle in camo paint, France, May 1918

Dual MG42s, Old school anti-aircraft

Akmed didn't have jumper cables....but he did have two AK underfolders...

nice collection of WWII American small arms

The pictures posted above were found freely on the World Wide Web and have been credited where possible. They are being used for entertainment purposes under the fair use doctrine of section 107 of Title 17 of the U.S. Code. If you own the copyright to any of the images above and would like them credited or removed, please contact me immediately. 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Firearm Factory of the Month: Smith-Corona

When you say the name Smith-Corona to a gun guy they immediately know what you are talking about. Anyone else would assume you are talking about typewriters which is what the company is most known for.
If you are not aware, Smith-Corona built M1903-A3 rifles for the U.S. Army during the second World War .

The story begins with the Smith family of Marathon, New York.

The Smith family patriarch entered into the gun business in 1860 with friend and neighbor, William H. Baker. Baker had been designing and building shotguns and three barreled guns in Marathon. 
In 1874 the Smith sons Leroy and Lyman (L.C.) were brought into the business and the operations moved to Lisle, NY.
Later Lyman married into a wealthy family and was able to increase his ownership in the enterprise.

The operations were moved again in 1877, this time to Syracuse, NY and the company renamed W.H. Baker & Co. (See my post here on the Baker story)

Lyman Cornelius (L.C.) Smith: 

The company's new location was at 20 Walton Street in Syracuse, NY (an area now called Armory Square).

In 1880 Baker and Leroy Smith left the company to start another venture in Ithaca, NY. This new venture would become known as the Ithaca Gun Company.

The departure of Baker and his brother, left L.C. with majority ownership and control of the company.

L.C. Smith brought in his younger brother Wilbert and retained a very talented inventor named Alexander T. Brown. The company was renamed the L.C. Smith Co.
Brown had messed around with some typewriter designs and convinced the Smith Brothers that they could be successful in manufacturing typewriters.
In 1886 they started the Smith Premier Typewriter Company, Smith brothers Monroe and Hurlburt joined the company. At this point they were still making shotguns.

By 1888 the typewriter business was far outpacing the shotguns and the shotgun production was curtailed. A year later the rights and designs were sold to John Hunter of Fulton, NY. Who continued to make the Baker/Smith designed shotguns for years.

On February 10th 1903 the company purchased some land on the corner of East Washington and Almond Street in Syracuse and built a large factory.

In 1910, L.C. Smith dies, the company passes to his heirs.

In 1926 the Smith Premier Company merged with the Corona Typewriter Company and the new enterprise was named the Smith-Corona Company. They maintained factories in Syracuse, Groton and Geneva NY as well as Aurora, IL. 

Fast Forward to World War II, once the U.S. declared war on Germany and Japan, a War Production Board was set up. The Smith-Corona Company knew that they would eventually be limited or excluded from typewriter production. They were right, on March 6th, 1942 the WPB froze the production of typewriters and by October of 1942, all typewriter production in the U.S. came to a halt.
In the mean time Smith-Corona was given some war contracts to produce, among other things, primers for bombs.

Just before the typewriter manufacturing was halted, one of the old shotgun factory employees, George Lewis, now working for High-Standard, was offered another war contract, this one for producing M1903A3 rifles. 
The contract was to supplement the efforts of Remington, who was unable to keep up with the demand. High Standard was already at or near the capacity of their facilities. Lewis contacted the folks at Smith-Corona asking if they were interested, with the impending halting of their typewriter business, they undoubtedly were.

The Army ended up giving the contract to Smith-Corona with High Standard supplying the barrels. Remington Arms was to assist with the setting up of the tooling.
The initial contract of 100,000 rifles was soon increased to 380,000.
In October of 1942 production of the Smith-Corona M1903-A3 began. Before long thousands of rifles left the Syracuse plant each month, with the peak production hitting 23,000 for one month.

On February 19th, 1944 rifle production ended at Smith-Corona. The supplies of M1 Garand rifles were deemed adequate and thus the need to supply the bolt action M1903-A3 unnecessary. Smith-Corona had produced 707,629 M1903-A3s in 16 months time.

An interesting side note. There are stories telling about the Army Quality Control personnel inspecting the Smith-Corona rifles to be extremely strict. At one point the employees assembled a rifle with rejected parts, then sent an ex-Marine rifleman to the range with it, the gun put all five shots in the bullseye at under 1 inch. The gun and target were presented to the Smith-Corona President H.W. Smith and subsequently put on display.
Today many collectors consider the Smith-Corona built guns to be superior to the other M1903 rifles.

After the war Smith-Corona returned to the typewriter business. Over the years the plant was rebuilt and made bigger.
In the picture below you can see the original smoke stack

In 1974 Smith-Corona was purchased by a multinational conglomerate, which led to a series of acquisitions. Production had moved oversees and to Mexico and the Syracuse plant was sold. 
During the 60's and 70's it was known as "Midtown Plaza" which included housing the downtown campus of the Onandaga Community College.

On March 8th, 1999, the building was demolished to make way for a new use.

This grainy image, taken from a Youtube video documenting the history of Onandaga Community College shows the layout of the building after Smith-Corona sold it. You can see the smoke stack. The buildings entrance faced East Water Street.

The location today

The Syracuse Center of Excellence now stands on the sight of the old Smith-Corona Factory


American Rifleman 
Onandaga Historical Association 
Syracuse in Focus

Brophy, William S. (1985) The Springfield 1903 Rifles: The Illustrated, Documented Story of the Design, Development and Production of All Models, Appendages and Accessories, Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books


Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Savage-Stevens 325A Project Phase II Part 3

If you missed the the first two posts on this part of the project, click on the links below

Part 1
Part 2

In between coats of body filler, I decided to attempt to put some finger grooves in the fore arm of the stock. I didn't have a router bit. but I did have a ball mill that was almost big enough, I figured I would make two passes and overlap by 50%

First pass was not to full depth

Repeat on the other side

The grooves aren't perfect, but they cleaned up well with some sandpaper and a dowel rod 

Back to the "body work". I was getting close to having all the lines smoothed and blended, so I gave the stock a light coating of primer

The primer really helps you spot the areas that still need filling or blending

More progress

Once I had the stock close enough ( the beauty of camo is that it also hides blemishes) I cleaned up the metal parts with the wire wheel, installed the barreled action and gave the whole works a coat of primer.

First coat of paint goes on

Then we add evergreen branches

some twigs and brown paint

Followed by tan paint

repeat on the other side

The final product:
As stated before this stock will necessitate a scope, as you cannot get a decent sight picture with the raised cheek piece. 

Costs for the project:
Rifle: $10 + tax = $10.96
Magazine: $15 (used, gun show find)
Front Bolt/Sling Stud: $4.22 (Gun Parts Corp)
Ejector Spring: $2.70 (Gun Parts Corp)
Camo Flip Flops (recoil pad): $5.00
Birch wood: $5.00 (estimate)

Total: $42.88

I was not entirely happy with the end result and as luck would have it I found a birch wood stock at a gun show for just $1, it was missing the butt plate, but there was several on the table that would suffice for $1 each.
It is in pretty decent shape and should look good once refinished. So stay tuned for phase III in which I refinish the wood and reblue the steel.