The Pair of Damascus Barrelled 12g Westley Richards. Restoration Work At the Factory Explained.

Westley Richards Pair 12g Damascus-3

In mid May I wrote a post about a pair of Damascus Barrelled Westley Richards Game Guns titled  A Pair of 12g 30″ Damascus Game Guns Sir? A ‘Project’ Pair of Westley Richards 12g Droplock’s Arrive at the workshops .

Tomorrow, a little over 3 months after that post, the pair of guns leave the country, headed for USA and a new, patient owner who was fast to pick them up for his personal use having seen them on The Explora. There was a lot of interest in these guns and I think rightly so, damascus, 30″ with good stock measurements all suggest a useful pair of guns in any circumstances. The very nice wood, hand detachable locks, original Westley style case with all original labelings, just make the package perfect.

The process of gun and rifle refurbishment is something I have always been very interested in, it is an area I believe that Westley Richards is exceptionally good at, we retain skills learned from the refurbishment work done on literally 100’s of best guns from the Indian continent, carried out during my Fathers tenure of the company, skills which remain in house and are passed over to the new gunmakers.

Restoration is the art of not having been there, bringing back the guns or whatever it may be to life, near its original condition, with no obvious signs of dramatic changes. For it to work everything has to be faithful and of its period. A distinct knowledge of ‘what should the particular gun actually look like’ is essential, which is where our collection of over 200 vintage guns and rifles plays a vital part in that decision making. Our craftsman can look at a very good example with ease and apply what they find.

Modern case colours, are I find, one of the biggest culprits for destroying English guns than any other work. Executed by some this work is often too intense for English guns, they are immediately noticeable and in my opinion rarely enhance the guns value but rather degrade it. Of course in some cases the guns need ‘some help’ so that is also fine, it is of course to the client and owners personal taste but the grade and value of the gun should be considered before this re-colour work is done. I know in general I walk away from any gun that has been re case coloured by the unknown practioner. Annealing, colour hardening and freeing a gun is no small task and is one that requires considerable skills knowing the distortions that can occur in this process.

There are many other areas which have to be considered carefully for the job to be done correctly. Re-stocking should be done faithfully to the makers shapes, we all have individual shapes of stocks and re-stocked guns are often so obviously over fat and with awful lines that destroy the guns original looks. If you have the original stock insist the shape is copied. Try your best to select a piece of wood that is appropriate to the age of the gun in colour and style of the era it was made, hard but possible.

For the blacking of barrels and parts the polish is foremost, without a good polished base the black or brown will look flat and always find the very best barely blacker or browner available, flat dull black just doesn’t work.

Consider carefully any suggested mechanical work on the gun, it is sensible to have anything that is obvious done but ‘we should replace this or that’ is often a waste, if it is not broken leave it, as there is no knowing when it actually will. We have suffered the embarrassment of a spring breaking after a full and lengthy restoration but this is fate rather than anything, it could have lasted another 100 years.

The pair of guns seen below have undergone a full restoration as we see needed nothing more, after some use the stocks will dull down, the barrel brown will wear, the guns will look of their period, but for the moment they show of the damascus and stocks to their original best and I think are a super example of the work we can do.

Westley Richards Pair 12g Damascus-5

Westley Richards Pair 12g Damascus-6

Westley Richards Pair 12g Damascus-7

Westley Richards Pair 12g Damascus-8

Westley Richards Pair 12g Damascus-9

Westley Richards Pair 12g Damascus

“African Rifles & Cartridges” by John ‘Pondoro’ Taylor

African Rifles and Cartridges  John TaylorThis is the 2nd edition of the book with a dust wrap illustrating C. Fletcher Jamieson with his Holland double .450 

As a manufacturer of traditional big game rifles there are always those classic books that come up in discussion and without question one of the very best is John ‘Pondoro’ Taylors “African Rifles & Cartridges” published in 1948.

I have always found this book a great resource as it details all the great British calibre’s, specifically bullet weight and velocities.  Having worked at Westley Richards for well on 13 years this has proved invaluable as we have been lucky enough to deal in so many great vintage rifles, both double and bolt action in every calibre mentioned in Taylors book.  Being able to turn to this book in my early days was of real benefit when looking up the oddities that still arrived from India.

What continues to amaze me from a modern perspective is that even with the advancement in bullet technology and optics, the traditional British big game rifle of Taylor’s era has remained virtually unchanged, a testament perhaps to all round perfection in gunmaking.   

Today we have in production double and bolt action rifles in .300 H & H, .318 WR, .375 H & H, .425 WR, .450/.400 3″, .404 Jeffery, .470, .500, .505 Gibbs, .577 and .600, calibres all discussed in detail in Taylor’s book.

African Rifles & Cartridges - Taylor

Taylor himself spent the greater part of his life as an ivory hunter, come poacher and was lucky enough to be around at a time when big game hunting and access to the rifles of the great British manufacturers of the time were both readily available.

Whilst Taylors own exploits and life remain controversial, no-one can take away the fact that he wrote a fantastic book, one that has often been copied, but never bettered.  The whole layout, photography and line drawings make for a great visual and informative book dealing principally with British big game calibres, rifles and hunting in Africa.

L Taylor in CampOne of the many photos taken by the famous hunter C.Fletcher Jamieson which illustrate Taylors book

318 DrawingThe line drawings and descriptions of the various cartridges and bullets make for a fascinating insight

600NE drawing from African Rifles

Photo from Taylor African Rifles & CartridgesThe Sable has always been a top trophy and one that I have always wanted to hunt.  Whilst Taylor considered this a ‘fair average’ specimen it would probably be considered very good indeed today!

Westley Richards .425 Take Down.A modern era Westley Richards take down bolt action rifle in .425 WR.

In my own humble opinion no serious African hunter or avid gun collector should be without a copy of this book in their library.  I have owned several copies since the age of 15 and at one stage ticked off all the different calibre’s I was lucky enough to shoot here at Westley Richards and out in the field!

Holland & Holland RiflesA brace of Holland & Holland .375 Flanged Magnum ‘Royal’ double rifles.

Taylor was always a great advocate of the .375 Holland cartridge and today it still remains the ‘all around’ cartridge and one which no hunter should be without.

Westley Richards becomes the First UK Gunmaker with a Quality Standard. ISO 9001 : 2015

Jason M Quality

It gave me very great pleasure this afternoon when Jason Morris (above), who had earlier this year been tasked with implementing a formal ISO 9001:2015 qualification for Westley Richards told me the result of our first certification audit.

A pass of both stage 1 & 2 certification audit with no non conformance’s meaning certification is approved! My congratulations to all involved, the team of gunmakers, managers and the consultants who helped us get ready for this undertaking, a first in the English trade I believe.

Jason in the new gun production vault at WRJason Morris in the new gun vault.

Quality has always been an intrinsic part of our company, it is in our DNA you might say, but this type of quality control has never followed a documented procedure, a procedure it had yes, but one not recorded and not easily able to bring new efficiency and accountability to the operation.

I believe that having this formal quality certification, will without doubt, enhance our operation here and enable us to continue in our mission to build the very finest guns and rifles possible.

Westley Richards draft ISO 9001:2015The draft certificate to be replaced with official in 30 days.

More than one million certified companies in the world take advantage of the notable ISO 9001 standard as a tool for managing their organization and continually improving their performance. The standard contains internationally applicable requirements for the quality of products, services and development.

A company’s quality management system is operating effectively when clear corporate goals have been defined. Achievement of those objectives needs to be reflected in measurable results – based on meaningful key indicators that result from efficient and transparent processes. The best evidence of the quality ability of an organization is continuously improving results.

Eight management principles provide orientation for the task of managing an organization in a focused and systematic manner and ensure continuous improvement. The first of the eight principles of quality management requires consistent customer orientation – the most important thing for business success.

ISO 9001 benefits:

Increased customer confidence and satisfaction
Continuous improvement
Clearly define responsibilities
Foster employee motivation
Minimize corporate risk
Save time and operating costs
Reduce waste
Prevent errors instead of correcting them
Improve corporate image
Reduce information gaps

ISO-9001-2015Qu-E

 

I would also like to thank Westley Engineering and the Quality Manager Tom Langford for his assistance with gaining this certification., Tom and his team look after an unusual 3 quality standards at Westley Engineering where we are certified to supply Aerospace and Automative as well as ISO 9001. As seen below.

badges-new

Some Vintage Images from our Collection Hanging at the Westley Richards Factory.

Raj Tiger Froup

I have had quite a few requests for some more of the vintage photos that we have in our collection, hanging here at the factory, to be shown on the site. I have opted to show the framed versions of the photographs in this instance, just as they would be seen here on the walls.

These photographs were collected by my Father Walter Clode in India over the last 20 years during his retirement travels. I have been a regular customer of his for the ‘hunting’ photos that he picks up on these annual travels to India in the winter which he still marks on!

 

The Main office at Westley Richards My old office at Pritchett Street showing the framing in context.

 

The Monkey Tail Rifle – The Certified Military Production Samples at Leeds Royal Armoury

Certified Monkey Tail Rifle by WR

Amongst the many Westley Richards guns and rifles housed at the Royal Armoury are these 2 Monkey Tail rifles. These two rifles are ‘sealed samples’ which were produced by Westley Richards, approved by the military for production and marked as such by the sealing wax seals seen on the stock. Once accepted by the military, production orders for the rifles would be exactly to the specifications of the samples supplied.

In the case of a dispute in the quality of the production or mechanics, these sealed samples would be used as the bench mark of the ‘quality control’ and any legal arguments that may result from poor quality production or performance.

The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, is a national museum which displays the National Collection of Arms and Armour, a growing collection of some 75,000 items, one of the largest collections in the world. It is part of the Royal Armouries family of museums, the other sites being the Tower of London, its traditional home.

The Westley Richards Try Gun’s for Shotgun Measurements.

Westley Richards Try Gun in Factory Gunroom

As a bespoke gun and rifle maker one of the most fundamental aspects of the manufacture of any gun is the actual ‘fit’ of the gun to the client. Up until the time we left the  Grange Road factory we conducted our gun fittings on site on our outdoor range and pattern plates there. With the move to our new factory we have lost the ‘in house facility’ and now go to a select few gun fitters around the country and world to obtain these measurements.

Here at the factory today we still have three of the original Westley Richards try guns, two 12g a single and double trigger version and one 20g single trigger, these are the guns we used before our departure from the old factory in Bournbrook. Fittings were done by Roy Hill who was the ‘one armed’ foreman of the gun factory, fondly remembered by many of our clients whom he started shooting to this day. Roy lost his arm during Field trials of the Westley Richards whaling harpoon gun in the early 1950’s.

I have always found such guns an intriguing mechanical work of art with their concealed universal joint in the hand allowing adjustments. The gun had to be a fully functioning firearm but with the added benefit of a fully adjustable stock capable of taking length of pull, cast and drop measurements. The work that went into making such guns was clearly quite considerable, I have asked about making a new stock for many years but am yet to find anyone take on a modern version.

Westley Richards also had a barrel length try gun set so the various length barrels from 25″ – 30″ could be tested on the gun also. I have never seen this in the flesh but only in photographs. I have also fancied making a repeat of this but hard to justify at the cost of 7 pairs of new barrels today!

Westley Richards Try Guns at Factory.

Westley Richards Shooting School London

Try Gun From Catalogue

WR Barrel Try Length Gun

 

A Mini .410 Size Westley Richards Perfecta Cartridge Bag.

Westley Richards Perfecta Bag .410

I seem to be having quite a lot of luck on the miniature item front recently, the very nice small 1890 vintage .410 cartridge magazine of a few weeks past and now a very small version of our Perfecta cartridge bag, again something I had never encountered before. I was actually very surprised and pleased when the package was opened as I thought it was just a normal size bag when I bought it online.

This will certainly now head for the leather shop and a faithful reproduction! It will make a nice ladies purse size bag too, for Christmas in crocodile!

Westley Richards Perfecta Bag .410

Oliver Greener, W. W. Greener’s Great, Great, Great Grandson Joins the Westley Richards Team at TEAGUE.

Oliver Greener at the Bench at TeagueGunmaking is clearly in the blood of Oliver Greener who after only a few weeks into his apprenticeship stands confidently in front of our new £150,000 CNC turning center on which he produces our range of Teague Precision Multichokes.

We are very pleased to welcome Oliver Greener to our company. Oliver has started an apprenticeship at Teague Precision Chokes where he will satisfy his engineering interest in the gun making world.

Oliver is the 7th generation of Greener’s to be involved with gun making, William Greener (1806-1896) being the founder of the company and 1st generation.

Although W W Greener did not invent choke boring he most certainly did perfect the method as the results of ‘The Field Trials’ testify. I am sure some of this knowledge has been passed down in the genes and will prove useful in future developments at Teague!

We wish Oliver every success with his apprenticeship with us.

‘Choke Bore Guns’ was W W Greener’s second published book in 1876. The book contains a detailed description of the gun trials of 1875, in addition to the earlier gun trials of 1866 which took place in `london and the trials of 1874 which took place in New York.

Choke Bore Guns

 

‘The Greener Story’ A history of the Greener company by Graham Greener, Oliver’s father, is available here.

Westley Richards Mauser C96 ‘Broomhandle’ Pistol

Mauser C96 7.63mm broom handle pistolOriginal Westley Richards retailed Mauser C96 ‘Broomhandle pistol complete with walnut holster/stock.

Whilst Westley Richards has always been a manufacturer of its own guns and rifles, during the heady days of Empire there was a huge requirement for general sporting and military type arms for personnel serving in the armed forces.  To fulfil their needs (and budgets) and to capture its share of the market Westley Richards often turned to other manufacturers including Mauser, Mannlicher, Colt, Smith & Wesson, etc.

One of the more interesting firearms sold by the company was the Mauser C96 ‘Broomhandle’ semi automatic pistol in 7.63mm calibre.  Retailed exclusively by Westley Richards between 1899 – 1904.  It was one of the most deadly weapons of its day and found favour with officers serving in the British Army due to its rapidity of fire.  One notable user was W.L.S.Churchill who used one during the battle of Omdurman and the 2nd Boer War.

Directions for use of the mauser self loading pistolRare instruction pamphlet for Westley Richards Mauser C96 pistol 

As you would expect with Westley Richards several improvements were made including an interchangeable wind gauge peep and v sight for fine shooting, along with a new bullet called ‘the all range destructive’.

Clip of 10 rounds of WR all range destructive bulletsWestley Richards ‘all range destructive’ bullets in 10 round clip

Examples of the pistol can still be found today bearing the ‘Westley Richards & Co’ name on the left hand side of the action.  Many came supplied with a walnut holster which doubled as a clip on stock for long range shooting.  I have always wondered how many saw active service fighting the Germans in WWI, the ultimate irony!

WEstley Richards Mauser Record BookAll the Mauser pistols retailed by Westley Richards during our licensed period are recorded in one bound book which we still retain.

On my Recent Trip to Gulf Breeze Florida, I discovered ‘HOBO” Knives.

Hobo Knives

As you have seen with the various ‘gun junk’ I scatter around my photographs, I like picking up bits and pieces relating to our sport as I travel around, they all add to the collection of interesting, nicely made items, each with a story to tell, that I keep in my apartment here in England for use as photo ‘props’.

A few weeks ago I made a quick trip to Florida to meet contractors and shop-fitters for our new offices in Gulf Breeze. With the shop being next door to Gulf Breeze Firearms I spent quite some time in there.  Duke McCaa has amassed over his years in the trade a treasure trove of little bits and pieces. ‘Cutlery’ is a large part of their business besides firearms and I have always enjoyed picking up simple and useful types of hunting knives and wing shooting knives so I thoroughly enjoyed picking through his collection and trying to pry the rarer pieces from his private showcase.

I had never seen or heard of these ‘Hobo Knives’ before and ended up getting the three here which I am very pleased with. I see them as a very useful ‘campaign’ type accessory, nice to have in your pocket when deep in the bush for a picnic.

Hobo Knives in Open Position

This interesting article about the history of the Knives is for anybody else who has yet to discover the Hobo. Each page can be clicked on to enlarge and read.

Hobo 1Hobo 2Hobo 3Hobo 4Hobo 5Hobo 6Hob o 7Hobo 8