Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Savage-Stevens 325A Project Phase III Part 4

If you missed the previous posts, click on the links below

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

When we left off I had just won an auction for a used replacement bolt.

Time to get the bolt cleaned up, reblued and installed in the rifle

An initial inspection revealed that it was missing the take-down pin, I had the one from my other bolt, but it was a bit too tight to get started

so I broke out my supply of pin stock

I found one that fit snug, but was a bit too long, so I filed it flush

After polishing the bolt's bare metal surfaces and oiling it, the project is complete. I topped it off with the "Super Sling" that came on my Arisaka project from a few years ago.

Before and After pictures

Costs for the project:

  • Rifle cost: $10 + tax = $10.96
  • Magazine: $15 (used)
  • Front take-down screw/sling stud: $4.22
  • Rear sling stud: $1.43
  • Replacement Ejector Spring: $2.70
  • Replacement Stock: $1
  • Recoil Pad: $1
  • Sling: $0 (came on another gun)
  • Replacement Bolt: $60.45

Subtotal: $96.76

Sale of old bolt and parts: -$74.99

Total investment: $21.77

Phase I (Post Apocalyptic) pictures

Phase II (Camo thumbhole) pictures

One final picture, this project along with Project Deer Stalker

On to the next project!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Firearm Factory of the Month: Simeon North

This is one of those stories in which the man who built the guns was far more interesting than the guns themselves.

Our story begins with the birth of Simeon North on July 13th 1765 in Berlin, Connecticut. He was born the same year as Eli Whitney.

Simeon was the 6th generation descendent of John North who emigrated to the colonies in 1635.

North's extended family were prosperous and filled with skilled tradesmen, in addition they were staunch Patriots. Simeon himself was always known to have fidelity to the cause of liberty.

A young Simeon attempted to join the Continental Army in October of 1781, but was not enlisted as the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown was imminent. 

When North reached adulthood he was given a farm by his father, and in 1786 he married a woman named Lucy Savage. The Savage family had been in America almost as long as the Norths, having emigrated in the mid 1600s.

In 1795 North bought a sawmill along the banks of the Spruce Brook in Berlin, CT. The Sawmills land was adjacent to North's farm. They went to work converting the saw mill to a forge to make scythes. It was during this time that North had befriended a local gunsmith, by the name of Elias Beckley, who taught him the trade of gun making.

In March of 1799 North received a contract to supply "horse pistols" to the U.S. Army. The pistols were copies of the French model of 1777.

This is believed to be the first contract for U.S. Army handguns in American history. North enlisted the help of his brother in law Elisha Cheney, who was a clock maker and owned a shop just up river from North's. Together they worked to make the best pistol possible.

Below is one of those model of 1799 Horse Pistols made by North & Cheney

More contracts followed. North was very good an perfecting existing designs and finding ways to make the guns fit better. Along the way he (along with others) developed the "American System of Manufacturing" which was a way in which parts were made to a gauge or model, so that all parts were identical and interchangeable.

Impressed with this interchangeability, the government issued another contract in 1813, with the specific requirement that the parts be interchangeable, this is believed to be the 1st contract in the history of the World with such a clause...something taken for granted now.

With this in mind, North set about to create machine that could make the parts with precision. What he created was the milling machine, an invention that would set America on a course for World domination in manufacturing.

North's milling machine took the guess work out of the equation, no longer did it require a skilled tradesman to build a part, they simply needed to know how to operate the machine and the product would be precise and identical to the previously made one.

There is some debate as to the who was the first to invent this machine as many others were also working on similar ideas. I suppose they could give credit to several people, but Simeon North should be remembered for this invention.

A North 1813 Contract pistol

During the late 1820s North spent some time at the Harpers Ferry Arsenal in Virginia, to collaborate with John Hall. North had no qualms in sharing his knowledge as well as no problems with learning new skills in gun making.

It wasn't long before the old mill on Spruce Brook was outgrown and a new factory would need to be built. North partnered with his other brother in law, Josiah Savage to build a new factory on the banks of the larger Coginchaug River (then called the "West River" in nearby Middletown, CT.


In 1828 North received an order to make more than 30,000 Hall model rifles and carbines. The new factory was completed in 1829 and was soon churning out rifles and carbines, along with pistols and other gun parts.

In 1831 North's partner and brother in law Josiah Savage passes away, Josiah's son Edward Savage takes his place.

In 1852 the contract for the Hall rifles was complete and Simeon North retires. He appointed his son, James North, to take his place, now a partner with his cousin Edward Savage.

In 1856 James North dies, his shares reverted to Edward Savage, but Savage brought in James' son Henry to work in the business, together they perfected a revolver design.

In 1857 the old Mill on Spruce Brook was destroyed by a flood.

In 1859 a new company is formed, named the Savage Revolving Firearms Company and with new capital and patents they moved up river to a new factory.

This brings us to the end of the tale of Simeon North and his gun making.

Time Line of Events:

1765: Simeon North is born in Berlin CT

1795: North buys a sawmill and installs a forge

1799: North's first Army contract, beginning a 53 year relationship with the government

1816: North invents the milling machine

1828: North goes to Harpers Ferry

1829: North partners with Savage and opens new factory in Middletown CT

1831: Josiah Savage passes away

1852: Simeon North retires, he dies later that year

1856: James North (Simeon's son) dies

1857: North's original gun factory is destroyed by flood

1859: New company: Savage Revolving Firearms Co created

What Remains:

The original North Gun Mill in Berlin, CT was destroyed by a flood in 1857, none of the original buildings survive. The location is on the Spruce Brook, close to where Spruce Brook Road crosses the water (where the red pin is).

The Middletown factory is also gone, in its place is a parking lot. It can be found near the intersection of Bernie O'Rourke Drive and Washington Street.


“Simeon North” by Robert Carlson (

Profile Of Berlin's Simeon North: The First U.S. Pistol Maker - Hartford Courant

Simeon North - Wikipedia

Simeon North Factory Site | Making Places (

Rare US Model 1813 Army Pistol by North (


Starr Mill - Wikipedia

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Savage-Stevens 325A Project Phase III Part 3

If you missed parts 1 & 2, click on the links below

Part 1
Part 2

Now it is time to start on the metal, Disassembly first, then we must remove the paint so we can get to the rust and pitting underneath

When removing the rear sight, I found metal shavings in the threaded hole, these are 72 years old....

I used the wire wheel on my bench grinder to clean up the barreled action

The some of the small parts get the same treatment

I had one rear screw and two front, I will not need the fronts, but I decided to restore them anyway

Next I put the barreled action in the vice and go at it with 100 grit sand paper

Once I had the barrel to a 320 grit level, I started on the receiver

I then taped up the barrel and sand blasted the receiver, 

It is now ready for the bluing tank

The parts have been blued

Time to reassemble the trigger mechanism, the brass screws are place holders for the rivets

I was able to score this used bolt on ebay

Stay tuned for Part 4