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richardsmith

Strip Down a Baker Rifle

I have just bought what I think is one of the last Bakers made. It has a VR on the side indicating that it was made during Victoria's reign which picked up the last 2 years of production. It also has a plate on the side saying (95. 1) indicating that it was owned by the 1st batalion 95th I presume. I want to strip it down and remove the mechanism which will need some work as it appears to be jammed. The rifle is cocked back in the second position but the trigger will not operate. Has anybody got the disassembling process to hand including disassembling the internal works. Also any tips on what may be the problem would be welcome.

Thanks

Richard Smith
John Waller

If it is marked VR then is must mave been marked after 1837 by which time the 95th had become the Rifle Brigade. The number 95 being given to the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment in 1823.

Regards stripping. Remove lock - see if there is anything obviously broken or corroded. A long soak in penetrating oil might help loosen it up.
Paul Durrant

Hi Richard,
Thanks for contacting us.

Hopefully it's just age (rust) that has seized it up and not broken parts.

Taking the lock off is normally relatively easy but perhaps you could post some photos and let us see the condition before we advise you further.

Cheers
richardsmith

Thank you gents. I will have a go at it over the weekend and post the results.

Richard
Hagman's roadie

If you do plan on stripping it right down you might want to get your hands on a mainspring clamp/vise.
A good place to go for tools and replacement bits if needed..
http://www.peterdyson.co.uk
richardsmith

Strip down firing mechanism

I have removed the firing mechanism and it seems that the hammer is stuck in the cocked position. It is now undergoing an oil bath but I fear that I will probably be taking the whole lot apart before I am done. Any hints or tips from you experienced riflemen out there.
Richard
John Waller

As Hagman's Roadie suggests if you are going to remove the mainspring you may wish to invest in a mainspring clamp. You could also use a mole grip or as I do, use a small G clamp. If the spring has been under tension for some time, years even, it may be ruined. In period drill before troops are dismissed the order to 'Recover Arms' , 'Ease Springs' was given so that the mainspring is not unduly weakened.  After soaking in the oil bath try pulling the cock gently back and forth. You should get a slight movement. Eventually you may be able to release the cock. Hold it back under tension with your index and ring finger and pull back the sear leaver ( the bar that the trigger engages with) with your thumb and gently lower the cock. If you need to disassemble the lock and meet with any stubborn screws don't use excessive force as you may rip off the screwhead. Try heating a screwdriver with a gas torch or on your cooker hob until red hot and apply to the screw slot. Repeated heating and cooling may release the thread. Useful to photograph or record what you do and have a system to identfify each part you remove and the order that you removed it in. Be patient and don't rush it.

If you need any replacement parts then as well as Peter Dyson you could try Aldhurst Arms who are UK agents for the Rifle Shoppe in the USA who make repro parts. You might even be able to get original spares from IMA in the USA.

Good luck. Do let us know how you get on.
richardsmith

Thanks, wish me luck! I'll report back in due course.
Richard
Paul Durrant

richardsmith wrote:
Thanks, wish me luck! I'll report back in due course.
Richard


Richard, let's see a pic of what you are looking at first please.
richardsmith

Strip down a Baker Rifle

Success. After an oil bath (WD40) overnight I was able to remove the small spring in the firing mechanism which then released the rest. I learned a valuable lesson, never leave your finger in the vicinity of firing mechanism when it's cocked and likely to be released, ooh that was painful.

I did have a bit of a game putting the small spring back but by setting the mechanism at full cock I was able to squeeze the spring closed sufficiently, using thin nosed pliers, to set it back in place.

It has been a good learning process but I now really want to know exactly what I bought. I have no thoughts that I have bought the bargain Baker of the year but would value opinions on it. For a start the barrel is not rifled so has been replaced in recent years. The VR stamp on the side is well worn so looks old. The wood working to create the internal spaces appears to be hand done, not machine done. There is serial number on the base of the stock 14769 which appears to be hand engraved. There is an arrow mark on the top of the gun where the hand grips it with the letters B O inscribed within the arrow. It also has E BAKER stamped in small letters on the left hand side above the trigger guard. On the base of the stock are 2 crown marks with an indeterminate letter below. Some of the screws look fairly modern but I guess if somebody had done a restoration job at some stage some of the old screws would have disintegrated upon removal. I'll post some photos later today or tomorrow, domestic duties are now calling!
richardsmith

Identification of rifle

I have just tried to post some pictures of the rifle but the files seem to be too large. If anyone would like to help with identification if they email me at richard@charity-farm.co.uk I can send them copies on a return email.

Thanks

Richard
richardsmith

Baker rifle identify



Can anybody throw some light on what I've bought?
Paul Durrant

Richard, could we have a pic of the full thing and a detail of the muzzle end please. Does it have it's ram-rod? Need to see the underside of the stock that holds the barrel forward of the trigger guards AND more of the trigger guard please.
Ben Townsend

I would urge you to get a copy of DeWitt Bailey's British Military Rifles if you don't have one. Most people commenting will have this as their most prominent reference work. It will enable you to form your own opinion on what you have.
I'm afraid that if I had to make a snap judgement, on gut instinct I would say this is an India made modern repro with markings added by a re-enactor. The serial number on the buttplate is a modern requirement, and doesn't seem to be a rack number. I can't see any reason for a period piece to have 'E. Baker' written on it, but its just the sort of thing a re-enactor might do. The VR plate is a known Indian copied item. In fact I owned one exactly the same for some years, with the same wear on the VR. Its now in Frank's possession. Perhaps he could compare?
Paul Durrant

First impression from these pics...

1) Looks a lovely lock of our period except the 'TOWER' engraving is stamped far to 'semi-circular'. All the locks featured in De Witt up to 1836 appear to be of a much slighter curve.

2) The butt box looks like the smaller 1805 pattern type.

3) The number on the bottom butt-plate, as Ben points out, looks a modern number. Have you tried to remove the barrel Richard?

4) The 95th/1 marking on the small plate - 95th are not referred to as the 95th after 1816, being renamed the Rifle Brigade instead.

5) In 1837 the army goes over to the percussion capped Brunswick Rifle.

6) The last pattern Baker, the 1823, appears to have a round lock (the cock on yours is what we call a flat lock)


HOWEVER...

After a quick look through De Witt, there is a paragraph on the Victorian Baker Rifle;

"The production of Baker rifles during the early years of Queen Victoria's reign (1837-39) is clear enough as regards numbers, but not at all clear with regard to possible identifying markings: were repaired rifles from Store re-proved with current VR proofmarks, and was the lockplate engraving corrected to reflect the new monarch? Infantry Rifles taken from Store and repaired, for 12/- each, mostly with sword bayonets, some with hand bayonets, during 1838 totalled 696. These may or may not carry the original Georgian cypher on the lock and GR on the barrel proofmarks.

New production components may be safely assumed to bear up-to-date markings. Five hundred seventy two flint Infantry Rifle locks at 5/6 each, were produced by eleven contractors to the Board's Order of 2 Feb. 1838, 52 from each contractor, are presumed to be engraved with Crown over VR ahead of the cock..."


(He then lists orders for barrels, locks, grips, other components & services ordered by the Board from variety of gunsmiths)

"...All of which led to the completion of the following rifles, Pattern 1823, rough stocked and set up under the Board's Orders of Jan 3 and Feb 16, 1838, price 27/9 each."

(He then lists 13 gunmakers, inc Ezekiel John Baker)

"While the 572 new rifle locks manufactured for this contract may be assumed to have the Crowned VR cypher engraved ahead of the cock on their lockplates, the balance of 1,013 rifles set up may have had the GR of the cypher overstamped, or (much less likely) they may have been fully erased and re-engraved.

By the Board's Order of 12 Mar. 1838, the first BRUNSWICK Rifles were set up..."


British Military Flintlock Rifles 1740-1840
by De Witt Bailey, P138. Andrew Mowbray Publishing 2002

As for the marking stamped into the wood, dunno. In De Witt, the only Broad Arrow stamps I can see in wooden markings are those stamped in to show the weapon is ex military and sold on to private market. these are seen as two arrows pointing in on each other without the BO, thus;

The addorsed Rs is the Government condemnation mark, the addorsed Broad Arrows denote sold-out-of-stores.

SO... at best you have an early GR rifle that has been reconditioned for the Victorians - which is very nice. At worse, its an old modern Indian made repro. Though I must say, I wish the Indians would make locks like that again!



This is what I meant by the slight curve of the TOWER stamp


The 1803 butt-box


The 1823 carbine lock style (rounded lock)
richardsmith



A few more photos. I have not tried to remove the barrel, which is not rifled. Is this a difficult operation? The views I am getting seem to support my view that it is modern reproduction but who cares, it still looks good on the wall! I have also ordered the De Witt book.
Eddie

Looks good on the wall?

Join 2/95 and use it!
John Waller

richardsmith wrote:
A few more photos. I have not tried to remove the barrel, which is not rifled. Is this a difficult operation? The views I am getting seem to support my view that it is modern reproduction but who cares, it still looks good on the wall! I have also ordered the De Witt book.


Is the barrel clear with a drilled touch hole? Try blowing down it to check after making sure it is not loaded with the ram rod. Also try poking a wire in the hole just in case it's blocked with crud. If it is a modern repro and if it has a drilled touch hole and the barrel has not been deactivated (usually by having a chunk cut out of the underside or having a rod welded inside and marked as deactivated by a proof house) then I hope you have a shotgun certificate as it would be a live firearm and MUST be held on a licence or you are facing five years in one of the HM holiday camps. If it is a genuine antique, inert repro or deactivated gun then no licence required.

The barrel should be quite easy to dismount, knock out the retaining wedges and remove the tang screw. You may find markings on the underside which would aid identification.
Paul Durrant

Richard,

To remove the barrel you'll find three pins along the length of the woodwork (see pic). Tap these through from the other side. They don't come all the way out but you pull them as far as they go.


Then I suggest you unscrew the tang of breech block (or whatever it's called) at the lock end of the barrel. It's a large screw sitting on top of the rifle;


This tang/breech thingy will lift out with the barrel and you will see how the breech end of the barrel attaches to this (you may be able to remove the barrel in future without undoing this retaining thingy).

If the barrel doesn't come free (and it's not grunge holding it in!) some models have the screw of the forward sling loop holding the barrel also.

Once free you can see if the barrel is complete and examine any proof marks (if a touch-hole has been drilled).

(If it has a touch hole AND proof marks on the barrel AND the barrel is complete then you need to talk to us urgently!! PM one of us straight away!)

Good luck.
Paul Durrant

The trigger guard and rammer make me suspect this is a repro Richard, though I must admit the woodwork is very nice. Very curious as to the condition it was when you got it. Did you take any pix before you cleaned it up?
richardsmith

I have done nothing to it since I bought it other than release the firing mechanism. I'll have a go at removing the barrel and report back.
richardsmith



I have had the barrel of and I think this confirms it is a non firing copy. If you look at the pictures you will see that there appears to be a plug in the base of the barrel which fits into the rear barrel fitting. Also by putting the ramrod into the barrel it is plain to see that it stops short of the barrel end. There is a small hole on the side of the barrel which does not go through into the barrel itself. I presume that I could put a proper rifled barrel on and convert into a useable rifle?
John Waller

richardsmith wrote:

I have had the barrel of and I think this confirms it is a non firing copy. If you look at the pictures you will see that there appears to be a plug in the base of the barrel which fits into the rear barrel fitting. Also by putting the ramrod into the barrel it is plain to see that it stops short of the barrel end. There is a small hole on the side of the barrel which does not go through into the barrel itself. I presume that I could put a proper rifled barrel on and convert into a useable rifle?


It would seem that you have an inert replica. The breech plug may extend beyond the touchhole to prevent it from easily being drilled out to make a live barrel. You could possibly get the barrel you have made live and proofed by a RFD. You might even be able to get it rifled. Or you could fit a replacement smooth or rifled bore barrel. Either way you would need to hold the appropriate licences.

I was quoted 60-70 to have an inert barrel's touch hole drilled and the barrel proofed a few months ago. Shame I then missed out on the mint replica baker a dealer had for sale- it was only 250. Sob!
Paul Durrant

Ok, that's what it's meant to look like.

With regards the touchhole (the small drilled hole). Are you absolutely sure it's blocked deliberately or could it possibly be a dirt blockage? Are there any markings - numbers or stamps - on the underside?

Yes you can buy a rifled barrel but you need to invest in a Firearms licence (consult your local police authority online).

You could take it to a gunsmiths and they may be able to sort that barrel out and you keep it as a smoothbore - that way you only need a shotgun licence.

What's the score with the ram rod? It should go into the pipes (the brass tubes attached under the wooden stock) so that the end is flush with the end of the wooden stock or barrel.
richardsmith

The touch hole is well and truly blocked with metal not gung. When I drop the ram rod into the barrel it stops 2.75 inches from the barrel end so the last 2.75 inches is solid metal. When the ram rod goes into its fixing it is flush with the barrel end. There are no markings or stamps on the barrel.

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