Shooters Forum banner
1 - 20 of 39 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know this is an old thread, but I need some help.
I've read an old post in 2017 about the Rockwell hardness on 1903 Springfield action. I have an old cust 1903 rifle chambered in 35 Whelen. Some of my knowledgeable friends looked at it and said it was built by a professional gunsmith around the early 1900's. It has a classic style walnut stock, hand checkered, with checkered steel buttplate and pistol grip cap, a Lyman receiver sight, and front ramp sight with a button retain hood. It's bluing appears to be the type of bluing used back in that day. The action date is 1911 which puts it into the questional serial number range of the improperly heat treated actions. Let me say at this time I'm a cast bullet shoot and my best friend said just shoot cast from it and don't worry about the action. How can I tell if the action has been reheatreated? I was told the knowledgeable smith at that time knew about the low number actions and would have had it reheatreated. Can you give my any assistance in this manner?
 

·
The Shadow (Moderator)
Joined
·
9,134 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,133 Posts
What is the serial number? Low number actions that have blown up show 'burnt steel' which cannot be 'repaired' or 'brought back' by heat treat.
I have owned and shot low number '03s and still own a Sedgley '03 which could be a low number.
Since they are a known 'bad gun', shops can't sell them as shooters without taking an a bunch of liability. The information is there (Hatcher's Notebook), I suggest reading it and making your own decisions.
It has been said, but I don't know by who, that Sedgley tested actions and sorted out the 'bad' ones. Nobody seems to know what 'test' he had that the arsenal didn't, but I've never heard of a Sedgley failing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
What is the serial number? Low number actions that have blown up show 'burnt steel' which cannot be 'repaired' or 'brought back' by heat treat.
I have owned and shot low number '03s and still own a Sedgley '03 which could be a low number.
Since they are a known 'bad gun', shops can't sell them as shooters without taking an a bunch of liability. The information is there (Hatcher's Notebook), I suggest reading it and making your own decisions.
It has been said, but I don't know by who, that Sedgley tested actions and sorted out the 'bad' ones. Nobody seems to know what 'test' he had that the arsenal didn't, but I've never heard of a Sedgley failing.
I'll get back to you later on as I check the serial number. In the mean while I talked to the armor at the Alabama CMP headquarters about it and he said that it was more the likely re-heat treated. He also said of the bad heat treat 1903's that he believes there were as many of them that they claim. I have read Hatcher's Notebook. Didn't he say he suspected the ones that blew up on the battelfied were fired with 8x57 ammo? Who was it that took suspected actions and hit them with a hard plastic mallet and they shattered.........Whelen?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,133 Posts
There are 'double-heattreated' '03 actions, but pretty scarce. Shooting a 8x57 in an '03 is not a rifle wrecking shot, but it blows the floor plate off and splits the stock. Low number '03s failed on the range (just like H&R M-14s) enough times they were recalled for study. Col. Crossman said he broke an '03 with a plastic mallet. I've seen M98s break, too. That does NOT mean they 'blow up'.
Here's an 03A3 that was supposed to be shooting WW760 but the powder used was H-110. This is the type blow-up seen in low number receivers but never seen in M98s.
That is a Low Number '03. IF it was heat-treated on the day shift, it's suspect and the Government never figured out a way to tell them apart. Sedgley said he did.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
138 Posts
All the "bad" 1903's were identified and destroyed. That leaves you with the before, and after guns. Before the new heat treating process pressures should be kept to that of military .30-06 which is 47k CUP (IIRC). The military didn't dispose of those rifles, and there were no more incidents with blown receivers++; so clearly they knew what they were doing, and rectified the problem. Yours is a good, usable rifle within that 47k limit.

Most factory .35 Whelen as loaded by Remington was loaded below SAAMI pressure limits to accommodate Remington model 7400/7600 rifles that were originally chambered for the Whelen when it was made a factory cartridge. I would feel quite safe using those loads in your old Springfield. Any other factory Whelen cartridges I would avoid as SAAMI pressure specs are somewhere over 60kpsi.

If you're going to load your own, then you need to find some data that includes pressure readings. You should still get velocities quite similar to .358 Winchester or just slightly below, meaning your Whelen is still quite capable of dispatching pretty much any creature on the North American continent at reasonable distances.

++ while there were some blown receivers post-purge, those receivers blew due to either the wrong cartridge being used, or a barrel obstruction. But receivers failing from normal use is all but unheard of after the purge.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I thank the both of you for your information. I mainly shoot cast from my 35 Whelen, but it nice to know that I can shoot jacket, keeping it in the safe pressure range, if I need to some day.

JBelk...although that 03a3 you showed the pic of a blow up was bad, but not as bad as I suspected it would have been with H110. Appears the bolt held withoug getting blown out the action. Scary thing when actions blow up.
 

·
The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
Joined
·
37,569 Posts
Pressure is not the issue, exactly. Gas escaping from a case head split, or any other reason that gas goes back into the action, is what causes the receivers to shatter, because the improperly heat treated receivers were far too hard. Thus, they ended up far too brittle. Gas goes back into the action, and pushes against places that it wouldn't normally, and then things come apart because the receiver is no longer ductile enough to 'stretch' a bit, before breaking.

One might argue that the Springfield wasn't quite as good at containing escaping gas as a 98, and I think that would be a fair assessment. After all, the Springfield seems to have been designed more or less along the lines of captured pre-98 mausers from the Spanish-American war. But, a properly made Springfield receiver should survive a case head rupture at standard pressure levels. The improperly heat-treated ones do not.

Did the gov't find and get rid of all the improperly heat-treated Springfield receivers? I wouldn't want to be the person who found out the hard way, that they did not.

Think about what the powder gas does, when it escapes the case head, and hits the sides of the receiver (which are already under a tension load). That's the key to understanding why things come apart, when they shouldn't.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,133 Posts
There are hundreds of low number '03s in the West Point museum. It would sure be nice to do some modern metallurgical test on a couple.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Were the Krags, Model 1917, and the P14 the same method of heat treatment? If so why didn't we hear much about blow ups on those models?

I've had a few Remington 1903's and they were fine rifles. I did find the bolt travel was no ways as smooth as my Springfield models. I also have a Springfield that is a Mark I and off the top of my head the date on it is 1920 I believe. It was a drill rifle as I saw where the spot welds were on the barrel/receiver and the magazine cutoff switch. It was rebarreled with a 1943 barrel. I only shoot cast from it too. What's your opinions on restoring them to a shootable rifle?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,133 Posts
Steels and heat-treating were changed early in the '03 production run. Through heat-treat alloy steels have been used in everything since. (Mausers switched in 1924 in most arsenals) Krags are case-hardened mild steel and limited in strength.
'Restoring' drill rifles is much like 'rebuilding' a V-8 engine with the cheapest parts and putting it in a hot-rod. It'll last until it doesn't. Spot welding heat-treated alloy steels makes a 'bulls-eye' of harder steel that's hard to get rid of. (try hiding old side mount holes in a Model 70). It doesn't ruin the actions most of the time, but I've seen some that were ruined.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Steels and heat-treating were changed early in the '03 production run. Through heat-treat alloy steels have been used in everything since. (Mausers switched in 1924 in most arsenals) Krags are case-hardened mild steel and limited in strength.
'Restoring' drill rifles is much like 'rebuilding' a V-8 engine with the cheapest parts and putting it in a hot-rod. It'll last until it doesn't. Spot welding heat-treated alloy steels makes a 'bulls-eye' of harder steel that's hard to get rid of. (try hiding old side mount holes in a Model 70). It doesn't ruin the actions most of the time, but I've seen some that were ruined.
Well the barrel tiny spot weld was right at the joint between the barrel and action. Would think that is too critical. The weld back on the magazine cutoff doesn't seem like a critical area? Your take? My Mark I has the different trigger sear on it yet, too bad it doesn't have the Mark I magazine cutoff. You know "they" said they destroyed all the Mark I bolt devices, well they didn't. Quite a few escaped. My good friend in ILL many many years ago saw table at a gunshow with a few of them on it. He's not kicking himself for not buying one.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,133 Posts
I would worry about a spot weld in line with the extractor lump on the right side just because that's the stress riser in '03 actions. Most I've seen were tacked at six o'clock and that's not a problem. The cut-off area is not a problem, either.
There were Chinese imitations of Pedersons for sale in the mid '60s that used 30 Carbine ammo. There are very few real ones in existence. I have a sporterized MkI. They're nice actions.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
138 Posts
Were the Krags, Model 1917, and the P14 the same method of heat treatment? If so why didn't we hear much about blow ups on those models?
Krags were made in much the same way as the 1903's. The 1917 & P17's were made by Winchester, Remington, and Eddystone; all of whom I would rate as higher quality manufacturers than Springfield Armory during the WW1 era. It should be noted however, that the entire technical data package for those rifles came from the UK. There has never been any issues with receiver quality on those rifles. In fact, they're some of the strongest receivers made during WW1.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I would worry about a spot weld in line with the extractor lump on the right side just because that's the stress riser in '03 actions. Most I've seen were tacked at six o'clock and that's not a problem. The cut-off area is not a problem, either.
There were Chinese imitations of Pedersons for sale in the mid '60s that used 30 Carbine ammo. There are very few real ones in existence. I have a sporterized MkI. They're nice actions.
I think the weld on my magazine cutoff is on the left part of the riser facing the rifle from the left side. They messed up the one divet for the ball detent. I touched it up with a pointed Dremel griding stone. Came out nice. Yes my Mark I action is smooth as silk. Huge difference from the two 03 Remingtons I had. The guy I bought it from had 03a3 stock furniture on it that I replaced and it had a brand new stock. Don't know if it's after market or not as there are no markings on it anwhere.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,133 Posts
Welcome to the forum. If you want to post a picture of your rifle, email it to me and I'll post for you. j belk 09 at gmail. Aftermarket stocks of the period can usually be recognized by old advertisements and experience. ;)
 

·
The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
Joined
·
37,569 Posts
Were the Krags, Model 1917, and the P14 the same method of heat treatment? If so why didn't we hear much about blow ups on those models?

I've had a few Remington 1903's and they were fine rifles. I did find the bolt travel was no ways as smooth as my Springfield models. I also have a Springfield that is a Mark I and off the top of my head the date on it is 1920 I believe. It was a drill rifle as I saw where the spot welds were on the barrel/receiver and the magazine cutoff switch. It was rebarreled with a 1943 barrel. I only shoot cast from it too. What's your opinions on restoring them to a shootable rifle?
Case-hardening, such as done on Krags and early mausers, is kinda difficult to screw up. "Bake" the part in carbon-rich substance (such as charcoal) for the specified time & approximate temp. The time/temp control the amount of carbon absorbed. Dump it all in water (or sometimes oil) when done to make the surface glass-hard. The interior will be as soft and flexible as it originally was, being low-carbon steel.

1914 Enfields.... I have read that those being produced for the British, before U.S. involvement, were sometimes sloppily done to save time/money, and that they were accepted anyway due to the dire circumstances that the British army was in. In a bayonet charge, the quality of the action matters much, much less.....

Suspect the domestic manufacturers got a little more careful with the 1917s, once they were going to our boys.

Metallurgy is a complex topic, and in the early days of through-hardened steels, no doubt mistakes were made just due to not understanding the process, or not having equipment capable of holding / measuring tolerances. The amount of heat going into the system, time held at temperature, and rate of cooling are all critical, as we as any tempering / annealing. Mess up one step, and there may be some real problems generated. If the engineers had trouble wrapping their heads around the complexity of the process, there was no hope for the hourly-wage guys.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,133 Posts
There's a tremendous 'quality gap' between P-14s and P-17 and another gap to the M30 and M30s which are commercial quality. Tolerances are tighter, and bolts were ground, the birdbath is gone too.
I don't think P-17s were ever issued to US troops. The war ended and they weren't needed.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DarkLord
1 - 20 of 39 Posts
Top