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Hot Topic (More than 10 Replies) Cast Ballard archaeology... a look inside (Read 9242 times)
bluesman
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Cast Ballard archaeology... a look inside
Jul 9th, 2012 at 12:04pm
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Well..in light of the recent Ballard failure at the Quigley I decided it was time to remove the 44 caliber barrel from my gun and do a serious inspection of my No. 2 rifle.

As mentioned before, this gun was re-barrelled at some point long ago and chambered for what looked to be .444 Marlin when I got it from a gentleman in Sprigfield, Oregon.I have always been very careful not to get carried away, using only BP, but even so recent events got me to thinking it was seriously over-chambered and not a good idea.I've had a lot of fun shooting it for over 20 years with nary a peep of trouble, but once I looked into the cavity of the frame under the bbl threads a chill went down my spine.

The casting core design of this frame has a bump on it, directly under the area that must be bored and threaded to fit a barrel.That bump literally guarantees a crack will eventually occur in this area. On my rifle, which is still correctly threaded at .950" x 18 tpi you can actually see daylight where the major diameter of the threads were cut right through this  area..

There is a  visible crack .500" long running through the 6 o'clock area of the barrel threads, which was probably there from day one, and obviously when the gun was re-barreled.Draw your own conclusions, but it is my opinion at this point that many of these cast frame guns left the factory like this, no machinist could fail to see the situation as it happened.

This is a fine old action, in otherwise excellent shape with one of the nicest triggers I've had the pleasure to pull.I may well make up a 22lr barrel for it after I get over the initial fright, or I may not.I suppose it could be welded up, but have yet to find a welder willing to do work inside my other cast Ballard frame, no less this one.Mr. Nagel politely declined Please see the photos, if you have a cast frame ballard, you might want to take a look in there!

Bluesman, feeling very blue.
  
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harry_eales
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Re: Cast Ballard archaeology... a look inside
Reply #1 - Jul 9th, 2012 at 12:22pm
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bluesman,
You may be sad or even upset, but it's nothing to what your nearest and dearest would feel if you had a 'Kaboom' one day at the range. Better safe than sorry every time.

Harry
  
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frnkeore
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Re: Cast Ballard archaeology... a look inside
Reply #2 - Jul 9th, 2012 at 12:26pm
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Bluesman,

Thank you very much for that.

I rebarreled my very early #2 more than sixteen years ago, from 32 cal to 25/20SS but, I didn't see a crack on mine. I have a late #2 in 32/40 that I'll have to take a look at. I bought it that way (thought it was a #4).

I wouldn't be afraid to rebarrel that to 22rf.

Frank
  

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bluesman
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Re: Cast Ballard archaeology... a look inside
Reply #3 - Jul 9th, 2012 at 1:08pm
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Yes indeed, Harry...my sadness at losing an old friend is much tempered by happiness that the action didn't fail in spectacular fashion.Can't play guitar, or build them with a bum right hand!

I am posting a photo of the inside of the frame where I mentioned the bump in the sand core...if this is not present in other cast frames it might indicate that the master patterns for the cores were altered after a few of these went bad...my first job as a young pattern maker was ramming sand into core boxes...loads of fun in a foundry at 120 degrees F...!

My No. 2 is serial No. 833..later frames may differ, which would be a good thing.The breech block and it's innards are all left-over Brown  Mfg. parts as it is a very early J.M. Marlin gun.

And yes...I will most likely take this nice GM 22 blank that is sitting in here and make up a barrel for it, but I am still going to see it it can't be welded or brazed down there!

Bluesman
  
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marlinguy
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Re: Cast Ballard archaeology... a look inside
Reply #4 - Jul 9th, 2012 at 1:09pm
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frnkeore wrote on Jul 9th, 2012 at 12:26pm:
Bluesman,

Thank you very much for that.

I rebarreled my very early #2 more than sixteen years ago, from 32 cal to 25/20SS but, I didn't see a crack on mine. I have a late #2 in 32/40 that I'll have to take a look at. I bought it that way (thought it was a #4).

I wouldn't be afraid to rebarrel that to 22rf.

Frank


Frank, have you slugged the bore on the .32-40? Some are rechambered .32 Long, while some I've observed were reabrreled with the correct bore size for .32-40 cal.

Bluesman,
Is it an illusion, or do I see signs of a crack at the top of the forearm alignment hole in the front of the receiver? Looks like something at 12 o'clock from the hole upwards. Might just be the index mark for the barrel though.
  

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bluesman
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Re: Cast Ballard archaeology... a look inside
Reply #5 - Jul 9th, 2012 at 1:59pm
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Hi Marlinguy,
Yes, that's the witness mark from the barrel...it came off very easily, might be a good candidate for re-lining though I prefer octagonal to round.

The more I think about this whole thing the more curious I am to see inside other later cast frame guns...I'm betting they changed the inner core molds to allow more metal to stay under there.I guess we'll see....

Bluesman
  
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marlinguy
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Re: Cast Ballard archaeology... a look inside
Reply #6 - Jul 9th, 2012 at 6:05pm
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I've got a few from all generations, but haven't looked inside the cast actions in quite some time. I guess I should take some time and pull the breech blocks on 8-10 of them and see if anything changed from the #1 to the late #2 or #3 actions.
Don't think I'll remove any barrels though! Wink
  

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Uechi
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Re: Cast Ballard archaeology... a look inside
Reply #7 - Jul 9th, 2012 at 7:27pm
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Firearms are material objects that can be replaced. There is no replacement for serious injury or a loss of life. Consider if you had gotten a Kaboom and you were unscathed but someone else was hurt or killed. Your fault or not you would have to live with it, let alone the possible legal consequences. Glad you were smart enough to check out your rifle.
  
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james a pickup
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Re: Cast Ballard archaeology... a look inside
Reply #8 - Jul 9th, 2012 at 8:11pm
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The real fault in this is Marlin,i'm sure that Marlin, like Winchester, hired foreman who "Payed by the piece" to the machinests.If the frame had a crack in it, after the Barrel was screwed in, no one would be the wiser.Except someone who was blownup 125 years later.
  
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frnkeore
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Re: Cast Ballard archaeology... a look inside
Reply #9 - Jul 9th, 2012 at 8:51pm
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Vall,
I posted a while back (about 6 - 8 months ago) about my #2 with the 32/40 barrel on it. It's a replacement barrel made to look just like the original Ballards, in like new condition. But, the number stamps don't quite match.

Frank
  

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Re: Cast Ballard archaeology... a look inside
Reply #10 - Jul 10th, 2012 at 2:25am
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Bluesman,

It's not just Marlin's and it's not just Ballards, I recall a Sharps Borchardt action that my dad bought many years ago, that had cracks all over it. Fortunately it was never barreled up.
  
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bluesman
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Re: Cast Ballard archaeology... a look inside
Reply #11 - Jul 10th, 2012 at 12:27pm
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Wow...I thought Borchardts were forged...could it have been forging flow lines?I've seen that in a couple Hi-walls.

That's pretty scary , guys tend to chamber 78's for pretty powerful stuff.I was fortunate to shoot one years ago in 40-90 BN, it was Tom Axtell's rifle, utterly gorgeous and definitely had some horsepower.I've wanted to build one ever since but never found an action I could afford.

Just for fun, here's a picture of the breech-block and innards of my old No.2 Ballard... note it is the very early thin top with a flat firing pin that has obviously been altered.Even has the early spring and transfer bar to the hammer.The trigger sear is a replacement sweated on from the look of it.

Anybody know where to get 22 liners in diameters over 3/8ths? I'm going to liner the barrel and try to keep the old girl going.

Bluesman
  
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harry_eales
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Re: Cast Ballard archaeology... a look inside
Reply #12 - Jul 10th, 2012 at 5:32pm
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Schutzenbob wrote on Jul 10th, 2012 at 2:25am:
Bluesman,

It's not just Marlin's and it's not just Ballards, I recall a Sharps Borchardt action that my dad bought many years ago, that had cracks all over it. Fortunately it was never barreled up.


Hello Bob,

Are you sure that they are cracks you saw in the Borchards Action? These actions were drop forged and in the process of heating them to a high temperature scale was formed on the exterior of the metal blocks. When drop forging took place this scale was frequently bent and twisted on edge. I have seen dozens of pictures of various SS actions of the 1870's to the early 1900's where this scale is apparent. It cannot be eliminated and most drop forged actions show signs of this scale which can, at a casual glance, be mistaken for a crack or cracks.

Harry
  
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marlinguy
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Re: Cast Ballard archaeology... a look inside
Reply #13 - Jul 10th, 2012 at 9:12pm
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james a pickup wrote on Jul 9th, 2012 at 8:11pm:
The real fault in this is Marlin,i'm sure that Marlin, like Winchester, hired foreman who "Payed by the piece" to the machinests.If the frame had a crack in it, after the Barrel was screwed in, no one would be the wiser.Except someone who was blownup 125 years later.


I think that's speculative, and doesn't hold with my experience with Marlins, or Marlin Ballards. I seriously doubt someone in the factory back then saw a crack and just decided to assemble the gun anyway. They would have tossed the gun in the scrap metal bin and melted it back down without a 2nd thought.
It's possible that a flaw in the casting caused it to crack, but if so the flaw was not visible to anyone assembling the action or barrel.
  

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marlinguy
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Re: Cast Ballard archaeology... a look inside
Reply #14 - Jul 10th, 2012 at 9:13pm
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frnkeore wrote on Jul 9th, 2012 at 8:51pm:
Vall,
I posted a while back (about 6 - 8 months ago) about my #2 with the 32/40 barrel on it. It's a replacement barrel made to look just like the original Ballards, in like new condition. But, the number stamps don't quite match.

Frank


I'm flattered that you think I can remember over a few days Frank! Smiley But now that you mention it, I do remember you posting that info on your gun! Thanks for the jog!
  

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