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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello all. I redcently purchased a real nice S-lever Whitneyville Kennedy Rifle in 44 CF - rare, 24" round barrel - nice bore with strong rifling - original sights - lots of trace blue, and lots of original varnish on untouched wood. It is an early rifle, built in 1883. sn A8xx



The only thing wrong is that long, long time ago someone cut off the mag tube to make it look like a "button mag". Looks ok but the magazine tube dovetail at the bottom near the muzzle is still there.

I would like to find the following to restore this gun since it is so nice.

Full length magazine tube. Magazine tube forward plug. Magazine tube hanger. Magazine spring.

Any and all suggestions would be welcome.

And Oh Yes ..... I also would like a few suggestions for loads that would suit this. I intend on shooting it.
 

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I looked in the Wisner's website but they don't list Kennedy parts.
However, Wisner's graciously lists sources for other obsolete gun parts. Remember, these folks they're listing are their competitors so it's amazingly nice of them to do so. :D

Go to http://www.wisnersinc.com/otherparts_sources.htm

You may find the parts you need there, or can have someone manufacture them.

As for shooting it:
Rifle Magazine No. 29 (Sept. - Oct. 1973) on page 39 has a good historical piece on the Whitney-Kennedy by Ken Waters, under his "Classic Rifles" column.
Waters notes, "Whitney-Kennedy rifles were well made of good materials and quite strong -- considerably stronger, in fact, than the old 1873 and 1876 Winchester link-action models taking the same cartridges, due primarily to the superior designn of the Kennedy action."

That said, you need to remember you'd be firing a rifle about 130 years old. So, avoid any temptation to use loads beyond those used in Model 1873 Winchesters. I'd also use a lead bullet, since you say the bore is "nice ... with strong rifling."
Older guns with badly pitted bores usually don't handle lead bullets very well, but may group decently with jacketed bullets. However, jacketed bullets accelerate wear on the softer steel of their barrels.
Use lead bullets if they're accurate, as they produce less friction and hence, less pressure.

In my own 1873 Winchester reproduction .44-40 I use 6.8 grs. of HP-38 under a 210 gr. Lyman 427098 bullet, cast of wheelweights and sized to .429 inch. This is a very good plinking and target practice load that gives about 1,1000 fps from my rifle's 24-inch barrel.
You'll definitely need to slug the bore on that Whitney, because bores for that caliber vary widely in size. The older Winchesters, I've read, had bores as tight as .424 inch.

I prefer Winchester cases and WLP primers. Incidentally, all .44-40 brass uses pistol primers, not rifle primers.

Have a gunsmith knowledgeable in old guns check that Whitney before you fire it. A hairline crack in the gun's innards is difficult for untrained eyes to see. Having trained eyes look it over might very well save your own eyes.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Whitney - Kennedy Photos Added

I shot the rifle today with some factory duplicate loads, lead bullets at about 1175 fps. My 5 shot group was about 8" at 100 yards. It shot point of aim but the iron sites were a little hard to use at that distance. I think I should have stayed at about 50yds.

In examining the rifle further, I was surprised to discover that cut-off mag tube, was the original tube cut off from the "rear" ...... so, the front 10-3/4" of the tube is original with a matching serial number still present. Also, I found the mag plug, and the follower inside, were also original. Looks like one option to restore the tube may be to weld an extension to the rear of the tube. This would preserve the front portion with the serial number. Unfortunately, the weld seam would be about 2" ahead of the forearm. I think perhaps a blend at this point from old to "restored" may look better than a complete "new" tube.

Also, might anyone have an original "old" tube from "anything" that fits a 44-40 cartridge. Any and all suggestions would be welcome. I seldom see these in such nice condition with some original finish and totally un-buggered. (except for the mag tube, that is)

Here are a few pictures.

I temporarily filled the big empty dovetail, on the bottom of the barrel near the muzzle, where the magazine tube hanger was located. This way it looks better while its waiting to have the tube restored.













 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Magazine tube is restored - pictures

Well, its restored ...

I fellow suggested Dixie Gun Works .. I called and although not listed in their catalog, the phone gal at Dixie suggested asking the gunsmith. Low and behold, the gunsmith had an "original" Whitney-Kennedy magazine tube hanger (with screw) and an "original" Whitney-Kennedy magazine threaded plug for the end of the tube. I also bought a replacement Winchester 73 magazine tube and spring. The Winchester replacement tube was 26-1/4" so I cut it to the needed 23-3/16" long. I cut off the end with the Winchester holes and drilled the appropriate holes for the Whitney hanger. Finally I threaded the front end for the plug, and installed it.

Here is the results..... all that is left to do is accelerate the wear about 129 years to match the rest of the gun.

BEFORE -


AFTER -



 

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Take that tube back off and leave it outside for 1 southern Indiana summer...it will match the barrel perfectly! :D

Very good job restoring the original tube on that rifle. I'm also glad to hear you're shooting it and not just decorating empty walls in your home! Wouldn't it be a hoot to take the ol' girl out this fall and harvest a fat doe at about 40 yards? :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I will take the ole' Whitney Kennedy Hunting

I expect I can do a little better than 40 yards. You know these were lethal from 40-44 yards .... that's why they called it a "44-40" isn't it?
 

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I expect I can do a little better than 40 yards. You know these were lethal from 40-44 yards .... that's why they called it a "44-40" isn't it?
Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's how it got its name! ;)

You had mentioned the 8" group at 100 and wisely stated 50 yards might be better. If your eyes are as old and tired as mine, I couldn't agree more! The Model 92 in 44/40 that I shoot is loaded to higher pressure and velocity, but with open sights, it's still a 75 yard gun, IMHO. In fact, my daughter used it last Sept. to harvest her first deer, at just about that range. If you load your own, I heartily recommend the 200gr XTP, from Hornady, as evidenced below.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Here are a couple of targets I shot this morning

Here are a couple of targets I shot this morning ... There really are 6 shots into that one hole.

I shot 14 shot groups because that is what the rifle now holds - 13 in the mag tube and one in the chamber.

If you're gonna restore the mag tube, you might as well take full advantage of it.

Keep in mind I fired these with the original iron sights on the gun and my old eyes aren't all that good. Maybe I should drill and tap it for a scope and try again.

Empty the rifle weighs 8 pounds 10-1/2 ounces, and loaded it weighs 9 pounds 4-1/2 ounces.







 

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Discussion Starter #10
My Whitney Kennedy Shot Another Nice Group

I went out again this morning to shoot another load. This time I used 200g Cowboy bullets with 7.0g Unique. I think I'm done working up loads and ready to hunt the elusive Wisconsin whitetail this fall.

 

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I sincerely hope both of you are kidding about putting any additional holes in that old WK lever-gun! Maybe a receiver peep and fiber optic front bead, if you can do it in such a way that it can be returned to original, but please don't D&T a nice old gun. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Added A Scope To The Whitney Kennedy

Hello broom_jm,

Not kidding, my eyes have gone to pot and I want to use this for deer hunting this fall.

I didn't really think this old relic was worth all that much, and since I had an old 94 side mount laying around, with a nice vintage Weaver scope attached. Well, I figured if someone were to put a scope on this rifle back in the 50's, this is what he would have likely used. I wanted to stay "classic" - not too modern.

I was surprised how soft the receiver was and how easy it was to drill and tap. The biggest problem I had was not hitting anything important inside, and keeping the filings from falling into the works when tapping.

After 4 neatly placed holes were drilled in a "somewhat" straight row on the left side, I tapped them and now have this. Now I can see!

I'll see how it groups tomorrow.

 

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Well, its restored ...

I fellow suggested Dixie Gun Works .. I called and although not listed in their catalog, the phone gal at Dixie suggested asking the gunsmith. Low and behold, the gunsmith had an "original" Whitney-Kennedy magazine tube hanger (with screw) and an "original" Whitney-Kennedy magazine threaded plug for the end of the tube. I also bought a replacement Winchester 73 magazine tube and spring. The Winchester replacement tube was 26-1/4" so I cut it to the needed 23-3/16" long. I cut off the end with the Winchester holes and drilled the appropriate holes for the Whitney hanger. Finally I threaded the front end for the plug, and installed it.

Here is the results..... all that is left to do is accelerate the wear about 129 years to match the rest of the gun.

BEFORE -


AFTER -



Awesome job there. When I started reading this, I was going to suggest the same solution. I bought a full length magazine tube from Dixie years ago, but never used it. As for the scope, as I recall, Dixie used to stock repros of the old long brass 1800's scopes that would match your gun nicely.
 

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Well Stix, I'm not gonna lie to ya...

I think that scope, even with the correct mount for the period, looks awful on that old lever-action rifle. To my eye, the older guns like this are so sleek and trim that there is no way to put a scope on them that doesn't look bulky and completely out of place. Also, the rather extreme drop at heel and comb makes it difficult...no, make that impossible, to have your face welded to the stock and your eye lined up with the scope. I have one rifle (7.7 Arisaka) where this happens because the scope is mounted off to the left side of the barrel and I don't really enjoy shooting the gun a whole lot, as a result. I don't care a whit about collector value, but from both a practical and aesthetic point of view, I can't see the logic in putting a scope on your gun. To me, that's like buying an original Superbird and then mounting high visibility brake-lights on the wing.

I hope it shoots very well and you bag a nice deer with it this fall.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Here is a photo of the mag tube and hanger and plug when I first installed them...

.... notice how "new" they look when compared to the barrel...





And here is a photo of how they look now, after a little artificial aging ...

I tried to match the patina and wear pattern of the barrel -

I'm not trying to fake anything, I just didn't want the "new tube" to look "new"



And for all of you who believed that I would really drill and tap such a nice old Original Collectable Whitney ....

.... after going to so much trouble to restore it back to original ....

here is a look at the left side .... notice .... NO HOLES ...






..... the scope was added all right ... but only with "photo-shop" .....

gotcha ! ! !
 

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Good one :)

For the aging process, if you have a pickup, let the tube roll around in the bed for a week or so .....
 
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