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I just bought a Britannia in .25  

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Crank
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First post here, so apologies if I have put this in the wrong forum. It doesn't look as if I can post in the specific Britannia sub- forum.

I just purchased a Britannia in .25 and should have it in about a week. My question is how common is the .25? Most of the examples I have found are .177. This example is in reasonably sound appearance, but will likely need a bit of fettling to get it fully operational. I fully intend to service it and give it a chance to get back into a serviceable regular shooter. 

The design appeals to me because it wound up an evolutionary dead end for the full length piston in a stock concept.  I'm surprised that they never offered it in a .22 bore as did so many contemporaries.

I will try to add photos once I have it in hand, but if anyone can share any wisdom that adds to the extensive info already here, I'll be glad to listen. 

Thanks

Mark

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Posted : 24th October 2020 00:22
marflow
(@marflow)
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so the first place i go is to one of Airgun Blue Books

it lists 2 models

Anglo-sure Shot MK1  .177-.22-.25      Mfg. circa 1905-1908  in 95% $1100.00  but that would damn hard to find 40% 350 bucks 

the above rifleappears it have  a better value in .22 and early on part or all were made in Germany

Improved Brittania      only  .25 caliber listed   1908-1909      in 95% $1800.00 and in 40% 650.00

all i know is what i read and it is more then i did a half an hour ago, always learning

take care 

mike in the States

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Posted : 24th October 2020 20:18
Crank
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Mike, 

I'm also in the U.S., so most of the examples I have found are in the U.K. and therefore virtually unobtainable except at exorbitant cost.

I have been researching as much as possible and the Britannia's were made by C.G. Bonehill in England. The earlier Cox gun was built in Germany. From my research and period advertisements, they were only made in .177 and .25. One prototype was supposedly made in .22, but never offered as a production caliber. That could be why they showed a premium for that, or a reason to create a fake.

As for values, I put very little faith in Blue Books any more. Often, I wish I could purchase an unlimited supply of a given item at the values they indicate, or wish I could find a buyer that would be willing to pay what other items are supposedly worth. I paid a premium price because the gun has not been refinished and seems to be complete and intact and I felt the .25 would be enjoyable to shoot. I know I will have to do some maintenance and a repair or two, but these things are very uncommon over here and I love odd designs.

I appreciate your input and if you happen to be passing through San Diego give me a shout.

Mark

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Posted : 24th October 2020 22:33
marflow
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well you know more than myself 

any gun of that age and from across the pond is like finding a unicorn here in the states 

and there value is what the next guy pays 

you might post on this forum 

https://www.airgunforum.co.uk/community/index.php

i have been having some fun on it, a different look at things 

they appear to be a very well made rifle and one that is complete and great shape or otherwise is a find 

take some pictures and Garvin will put them in the archives 

thanks for the invite but i haven't been anywhere for many years 

take care and post some pictures 

mike

https://www.airgunforum.co.uk/community/index.php?threads/britannia-air-rifles-early-1900%E2%80%99s-airguns.315274/

https://www.airgunforum.co.uk/community/index.php?threads/britannia-177.281189/

https://www.airgunforum.co.uk/community/index.php?threads/bonehill-britannia-coxs-patent-anglo-sure-shot.319875/

 

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Posted : 25th October 2020 03:21
Lorenz
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@crank Which model is it? I would like to see photos. I am currentley awaiting  delivery of one that is shown in one of the threads above, made by Bonehill, but I would also like to see the latch system of the first 'German' made model.

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Posted : 4th November 2020 00:20
Crank
(@crank)
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Lorenz,

I just received it last night and took it down to parade rest to evaluate all of the components, asses repairs, identify what will be needed and take numerous photos. The serial number is 1797 and is only marked as a CG Bonehill. No sign of any Anglo markings and the gun has not been refinished, as evidenced by the dry wood and rust/pitting between the stock and the metal. The serial number is still written in there in pencil.

Unfortunately the metal finish is fairly poor overall and most likely won't be worth leaving as patina. I'm not planning anything drastic yet, but I'm alluding to the fact that a restoration may be warranted. This one is has features between those seen in the 700 serial range and those of the 1900 range. 

Whoever did the metal checkering was not very adept and I feel it needs to be cleaned up to make the gun a bit less cheap looking. 

Hopefully I will be able to get enough daylight tomorrow to start taking a series of detailed photos with each individual component. 

Mark

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Posted : 4th November 2020 02:55
Lorenz
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I have a later serial number, but will be quite similar. Looking for some photos of the earlier model as it looks to be constructed in a very different way than the Bonehill ones. Mine is quite pitted from the photos, been looking for a way to remedy that?

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Posted : 4th November 2020 10:26
Crank
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Well, then I will look forward to seeing yours as well as good information is always desirable. Are you located in the U.K.? I would also be intrigued to hear from any other owners here in the U.S.

As for the pitting, get some detailed pictures and post them. I will share any thoughts that may be helpful.

Mark

 

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Posted : 4th November 2020 11:43
Lorenz liked
Crank
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Photos of everything but the barrel. That will have to wait until after work.

 

 






























































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Posted : 4th November 2020 15:15
Lorenz liked
Lorenz
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Be nice if they were downloadable, but I went through them. I think mine is in much worse condition than that, quite pitted. Looks like many of them had this hard black paint on?

Checkering is interesting, looks a bit fresh?

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Posted : 4th November 2020 15:49
Crank
(@crank)
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It makes me think someone applied Japanning to it because it doesn't seem like paint as we know it today. I don't know what the specifics of the hosting site, but I would think if you can view it, you should be able to copy it.

As for any legalities, I loaded those for the public benefit and have no desire to restrict their usage. 

I'll add the barrel pictures tonight and I did start chasing chasing the checkering. Guilty as charged.

Mark

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Posted : 4th November 2020 15:57
Lorenz liked
Garvin
(@garvin)
Curator in Chief Admin

Mark I'll put the pics in the gallery tomorrow. Thanks. 🙂 

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Posted : 4th November 2020 23:24
Lorenz liked
Crank
(@crank)
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Garvin,

I appreciate that very much. It will be nice for it to be added to the visual record for everyone wanting to compare and research these.

Thanks!

Mark

 

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Posted : 5th November 2020 00:58
Crank
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Here are the barrel pictures as promised.

 

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Posted : 5th November 2020 01:11
Lorenz liked
Crank
(@crank)
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Okay, now I have a moment to take some time and discuss what I have found at this point. I'll work my way through the various components from muzzle to butt.

Barrel - no major concerns, heavier rust around front sight improving as it gets to breech area. Some minor dings and dents in the metal, but nothing irreparable. Bore has some light corrosion with a slightly worse area from breech forward for about 4". Rear sight was replaced with some unknown unit most likely from an inexpensive rifle.

Breech and compression tube - breech has minimal corrosion and no appreciable metal damage, but significant finish loss. The tube ranges from finish loss, to staining and the most significant impact being some very deep pitting under the stock area. Some dings and damage in the area that is slotted to compress the spring. The interior of the tube appears to have avoided any significant harm. A mutilated piece of lead was removed from the forward most area of the tube where it had stuck in position.

Piston, spring and guide - the guide had very poor quality (not damaged) checkering on the end. Whomever was tasked with that, was not very skilled, or several pints in by the point it was executed. The seat for the spring is a bit chewed up from the unfinished end of what most likely is some random spring replacement. Neither end was flattened and looks like it was ground off. The piston body is reasonably sound but it appears that the end portion was reattached by electric welding. The hardened sear insert is cracked into multiple pieces and will need replacement. The actual piston seal was a thick stack of leather that had a pin through the center, which was peened in place rather than using the threads in the face of the piston body. 

Trigger, guard and sear - The trigger also fell victim to the same inebriated sod that checkered the piston guide. The lengthwise serrations are far from straight and of varying depths. The guard has some nicks and gouges and I have a suspicion that one side may need to be straightened to lay properly against the tube. That will be addressed after some other issues are corrected. The sear is in good order, but missing the adjustment screw.

The barrel latch - This is a puzzler. The latch closes over the barrel completely and still has a sizable gap, which means the barrel can wobble with reckless abandon. However, the serial number matches perfectly and the same tippler checkered that while his bender was going strong. If you note in the photos, that was the only part that I had another item other than the bench block for support in the image. I did my best to use the caliper as a straight edge and indicate what I believe to be a bow in the top of the hoop. I believe I will have to straighten it and refit it for proper lock up.

Lastly, there is the stock. It has over a century of bumps, dings, gouges and other blemishes, but no cracks or significant damage. The lines on the butt are significantly better than what was done to the metal, so I will hazard a guess that a member of the temperance movement performed that task.

From a completely objective standpoint and with no intention of offending anyone's admiration for the product, I would like to comment on quality.

I have worked on firearms my entire life in a professional capacity and I have handled thousands of them for the purpose of study, repair and personal enjoyment. CG Bonehill prided themselves on modern production techniques and the benefits of interchangeability. This was certainly not an inexpensive toy and was indeed finished as well as any contemporary firearm, but it it very typically an example of British gunmakers prior to the Great War. If it wasn't seen at a glance, most of the components are minimally finished and evidence a great deal of handwork to arrive at final dimension, if warranted.

Again, I don't mean this to be insulting. I am quite delighted to be the current caretaker of this piece of history. Knowing the period, it was well finished by the standards of the day in British gunmaking culture. However, if one was to look at a firearm (not a period air rifle) from Germany, Switzerland, or we upstart Yanks here in the former colonies, mechanical finishing was notably more precise. The Germans and Swiss, because precision is in their DNA and here in the U.S. because all of our manufacturing facilities were brand new at that time. Not to mention that we have a bit of an affinity with our arms, so production volume was not geared towards bespoke manufacturing.

I'm stating the above rather as a reassurance that CG Bonehill did an outstanding job and is deserving of credit that they undertook construction of these. 

The design is clever and fairly uncomplicated. I might consider an attempt to construct one from scratch with a few improvements, utilizing some contemporary materials not available at the time. That isn't a promise, but just daydreaming about the ways it would be constructed. I have thought out most of the construction and it seems viable. Time will tell.

Mark

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Posted : 5th November 2020 22:10
Lorenz liked
Lorenz
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I am on the same mission, I also wish to replicate.

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Posted : 5th November 2020 23:02
Crank
(@crank)
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Lorenz,

I haven't come across any component that is beyond conventional lathe and milling techniques. As for joining, I have TIG at my disposal. The only major stretch is the barrel would need to be .750 diameter and Lothar Walther only goes up to .650, so a barrel would be a slight change. If I go through with it, I wouldn't be trying for a dimensionally accurate copy, because I would be using stronger, thinner steel for the tube body, so it would be lighter with the same strength. The steel they used is very mild and has no apparent heat treat. There are many aspects that lend thems to improvement and make the design easier to maintain.

I would ask that you share pictures of yours once you receive it.

Thanks

Mark

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Posted : 6th November 2020 00:53
Lorenz liked
Lorenz
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@crank My understanding is it is mostly made from cast iron components, even the barrel apparently. Though these days we would call it cast steel, but it was made in such a way that it could be further processed, forged.

 

Yeah the barrel is my major concern, they are also quite expensive.

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Posted : 6th November 2020 08:51
Lorenz
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Does the barrel need to be rifled, was that not the point of diablos, to overcome the problems of smoothbore? Just been reading some people saying how accurate their smoothbores shoot compared to their rifled barrels. I understand the Britannia has a rifled barrel, but why, and Diablos were not around at the time I think?

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Posted : 6th November 2020 18:43
Crank
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Lorenz,

Even a round ball is improved by rifling. I could not say when the modern pellet came of age, but I do know that slugs existed. The use of a smoothbore today is relegated to the guns that are designed for today's steel BB's. Otherwise you would put yourself at a significant disadvantage for getting best accuracy.

As for the cost of a barrel, I'll ask again what country do you live in? I'm not trying to be nosy, but if I knew, I could possibly share some sources of lower cost options. I'm looking at using a modern air rifle barrel blank, or liner and the cost is not a major aspect once I started looking at 4130 seamless tubing and some other quality materials for stock. Some of the other components could be made from much less expensive mild steel without compromising strength and durability. I'll probably put together a shopping list of what will be needed and determine the best material for the job. With that I can do some shopping around for best pricing.

At a guess, approximately $250 USD should handle everything except the barrel and a piece of wood for the stock. That price could be reduced a fair amount if I can source some off-cuts rather than having stock cut for me.  Other than just purchasing some checkering files the other day, I have all of the tooling and equipment on hand.

The more I look at the pieces, I have not run into anything that I can't envision the machining operations  needed to produce a complete part. I might have to pay a visit to the local steel supply and see what I can scrounge up this weekend. Then I might place an order for a couple of the specialized materials that aren't readily available.

Mark

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Posted : 6th November 2020 19:40
Lorenz
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@crank.  Hi, I am in the UK.

The barrel over here, looks like it would cost me the equivalent of $200 give or take for a Lothar Walther.

I just received my 00 Grobet yesterday, but have seen 000 Vallorbes, but maybe they have stopped making them as I cannot find any available. I also could not find the narrow checkering files for internal curves, but maybe they have a different name.

You are thinking to mill out the trigger guard?

A couple of people have offered to taper the barrel for me, if I can find one.

 

Lawrence

 

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Posted : 6th November 2020 20:00
Crank
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Lawrence,

Fair enough, the Lothar Walther would be a bit of an expense. To be frugal about it, you could seek out a donor barrel from something headed to the bin, or destined for spares. The other option which is slightly less expensive would be to get an FX liner and sleeve it into a steel tube. If you have someone with a lathe at your disposal, the second option is not a bad choice.

Not as "normal", but you could likely find a cast off barrel from a .22 rimfire, but you would need to use the older 5.6mm pellets offered by Marksman for the old No.2 bore

As for the trigger guard, a thought that came to me would be to mill part of it, but add wood inserts to use less metal in the area that has the grip swell. That would gain a bit of an aesthetic improvement at the same time. The jury is still out on that one. 

I wish that there was a way to ship those older pieces across the pond. So many are in poor enough shape that few would invest the time, cost and effort. Leaving only fools such as myself that just enjoy seeing them operational again.

Feel free to bounce ideas around, if we both can sort this out it would be quite the novelty.

Mark

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Posted : 6th November 2020 20:42
Lorenz
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Mark,

I would have thought it is possible to ship them, why not?

We are in lockdown again, so popping over to a gun shop for a chat is out and I am not sure of the legality for a recent barrel, even if a cast off.

I wasn't able to find a rifled liner, only slug liners, £89 plus tax and postage I guess. That had occurred to me. Though I am looking for a donor.

The design lends itself to imagination, quite steampunk I think. I already had so many different ideas for different styles-themes.

Lawrence

 

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Posted : 6th November 2020 21:06
Crank
(@crank)
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Lawrence,

My understanding is that even though they are not regulated in the normal sense as would be an FAC rifle, they get very complex to ship out of the country. 

Parts luckily are not an issue, but it isn't like there are many running around. 

The steampunk aspect is something I can agree with. So many wonderfully raw mechanical designs came from this era. My idea for the pistol grip area is not something I can take credit for, as many levers for Schutzen rifles often added a wood insert to improve the grip and were also visually appealing. 

The more I think about this, the more intrigued I am to take a crack at it. This may quickly devolve from a flight of fancy to a terrifying reality. 

Mark

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Posted : 6th November 2020 21:17
Lorenz liked
Lorenz
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Mine's disappeared, been waiting for delivery twice and did not show up, now they say they cannot find it on the system!

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Posted : 11th November 2020 09:12
Lorenz
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It has at last arrived!

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Posted : 11th November 2020 15:45
Crank
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Excellent 👍 Now get us some pictures.

Mark

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Posted : 11th November 2020 16:12
Lorenz
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I am not going to dismantle it yet. I want to see what is wrong where. I can see the barrel catch has been hammered, to make it tight, it has obviously had a long service life...

The cocking arm is also very worn where it rubs against the cylinder.

The Bonehill sight has parts missing...

The replacement stock is a little shorter than the original.

Looks like some other sight was mounted near the breach, but has been removed and hammered to try and close the holes?

I will try to post the photos.

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Posted : 12th November 2020 23:07
Lorenz
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I loaded some photos to VAG, but do not know how to post them here?

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Posted : 13th November 2020 09:38
Crank
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Lawrence,

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. She has some issues, but you have some good bones there to work with. I wouldn't hesitate to add something like that to keep mine company. I will look forward to see how it comes along.

Mark

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Posted : 13th November 2020 12:52
Garvin
(@garvin)
Curator in Chief Admin

I've emailed you Lawrence. 🙂 

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Posted : 13th November 2020 14:48
Lorenz liked
Lorenz
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Posted : 13th November 2020 15:16
Lorenz
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Had a few shots with it now and the thing that is bugging me is the trigger, so I will try to lighten it, as it is very heavy it seems to me. Actually seems very accurate, I will chrono it also.

 

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Posted : 19th November 2020 14:58