Author Topic: Weird Whitney in local gun store  (Read 2046 times)

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Offline CrazyOldHermit

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Weird Whitney in local gun store
« on: January 30, 2015, 07:04:36 PM »
I was slowly checking out all the stuff in a little hole in the wall gun store in town this past week, when I stumbled on what, at first glance, looked like an older target model Remington, but then I looked closer ...

It appears to be a reproduction Whitney .36 with target sights. I have seen Pietta Spiller and Burrs, and that clued me that it was a Whitney copy. (Looked a lot like a Spiller and Burr, but the frame was blued steel rather than brass.)

In addition to the big ramp sight on the muzzle, and the adjustable rear sight on the frame, there was another very odd thing about this particular Whitney. Not only had the hammer spur been "bobbed" a little, making it easier to reach for cocking, but the entire hammer had been "lightened" by having a series of holes drilled in it.

I did get a chance to handle it for a moment - lockup and timing seemed good, the trigger was light and crisp, and that odd hammer proved easy to cock one handed. I unfortunately did NOT inspect it for any sort of manufacturer's marks or proof stamps. not did I check for anything other than surface rust (it seemed to be clean and well kept up).

The only Whitney replicas I've ever heard of were the ones Palmetto used to make. What manufacturer's mark should I look for when I go back for a longer look? And, what's up with the target sights and modified hammer? Was this some sort of "competition" model, either factory or owner created?

I think it's worth a second, more careful look (bore, chambers, and nipples right off the bat), and any input from those more familiar with Whitney reporductions would be appreciated.
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Offline wingman

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Re: Weird Whitney in local gun store
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2015, 08:33:34 PM »
How much was it offered for?

I have no expertise with the reproductions, but do have a book that clearly describes the originals. It states "Most of these standard Whitney revolvers will be found with a 71/2" octagonal barrel and be marked on the top strap: E. WHITNEY/NEWHAVEN. A few of the revolvers will be found with the barrel  length  ranging from four to eight inches. The six shot cylinder will be found with two types of cylinder scenes. The first scene has a coat of arms and is flanked on each side by an eagle and a lion. The second marking, which appeared at serial number 15,000 in 1862, was a coat of arms and a naval battle scene.the word WHITNEYVILLE will be found on the cylinder scene."

The book is titled, Civil war pistols of the Union. In the picture of the Revolver, it also clearly shows the stamp of an anchor on the barrel. As far as the originals go, there is no mentioning of a target model. I did a brief search online and all I was able to find was a bunch of info on Colt-Whitney replicas, that Whitney had contracted to build for Colt at one point.

I'm interested to hear what markings are on the revolver when you visit it again. Just like Scooby and the gang, I love a good mystery!

Wingman :9)
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Offline Captainkirk

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Re: Weird Whitney in local gun store
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2015, 10:35:23 PM »
Two suggestions:
1) Buy it.
2) If you can't buy it, ask the LGS owner if you can take a few photos and post them up here. I believe others besides Palmetto made Whitney reps, in fact, I've had more than one on my watch list over on GB more than once.
It's very possible someone modified one for competition use. A lot of shooters have highly modified the Rogers & Spencer with adjustable sights, etc to make them better target guns.
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Offline AntiqueSledMan

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Re: Weird Whitney in local gun store
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2015, 07:15:42 PM »
I contacted Palmetto in Italy & they told me the Whitney 1861 Navy had been discontinued back in 2004. Dixie had them in their 2010 sales flyer (attached), but not in the 2011 flyer. I did read that Pietta Spiller & Burr parts from Dixie did work in the Palmetto Whitney's.

Offline CrazyOldHermit

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Re: Weird Whitney in local gun store
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2015, 12:37:32 AM »
$215 dollars later, I have a Whitney .36 reproduction with various target conversions done to it  {L*

Careful inspection showed the bore was great, the chambers good, and the nipples looked almost new.

Now for the weird - there are NO marks that I have discovered yet on the frame (I haven't pulled the grip panels - when I post up the photos you'll see why) No maker's marks, no proof marks - nothing, nada, zilch zip.

On the left side of the barrel is a very faint "Made in Italy", on the right side a faint "Cal .36 BLACK POWDER ONLY". When you pull the loading lever there is a 3 digit number there. The  number has no apparent relation to the only other number I have found, which is on the cylinder. Following a pair of diamond marks is an apparent serial number 0189XX (last two digits redacted by me). There are also the expected proof marks on the cylinder but there is NO date code that I have found. The closeups I tried to take of these markings didn't turn out.

This is not the weirdest thing about this particular Whitney ... While I go through the photos I took this afternoon and try to find some decent ones, see if YOU can spot the really odd thing in the attached photo below of the right profile of the pistol (my 5.5. inch Remmie was added for scale)

A blackpowder revolver forum may be the only place on the Internet where a guy can discuss shaving tight balls and wrenching on his nipples without any snickering from other users.

Offline G Dog

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Re: Weird Whitney in local gun store
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2015, 02:33:05 AM »
First, great score COH.  A Whitney repro like this is just not that common.  Secondly, A Whitney is a very cool piece.  Noted for quality ... back in the day, too. You got lucky and had the eye to know it.  Pleased that you acted on the favorite choice No. One and just flat up and purchased it.

It has a lateral hole in the hammer spur. The barrel seems over 7.5 in, maybe.  Not quite making out the screw for the loading lever/cylinder pin.  Is it a screw?

Very cool acquisition, congratulations on that COH.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2015, 03:19:36 AM by G Dog »
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Offline Prospector

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Re: Weird Whitney in local gun store
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2015, 05:06:19 AM »
Are those grip panels riveted on?  I cannot quite make it out, but that does not look like the normal screw on panel attachment.

Offline Mad Dog Stafford

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Re: Weird Whitney in local gun store
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2015, 07:17:03 AM »
Prospector, looks like a brass/gold phillips head screw to me.
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Offline Fingers McGee

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Re: Weird Whitney in local gun store
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2015, 12:12:07 PM »
$215 dollars later, I have a Whitney .36 reproduction with various target conversions done to it  {L*

Careful inspection showed the bore was great, the chambers good, and the nipples looked almost new.

Now for the weird - there are NO marks that I have discovered yet on the frame (I haven't pulled the grip panels - when I post up the photos you'll see why) No maker's marks, no proof marks - nothing, nada, zilch zip.

On the left side of the barrel is a very faint "Made in Italy", on the right side a faint "Cal .36 BLACK POWDER ONLY". When you pull the loading lever there is a 3 digit number there. The  number has no apparent relation to the only other number I have found, which is on the cylinder. Following a pair of diamond marks is an apparent serial number 0189XX (last two digits redacted by me). There are also the expected proof marks on the cylinder but there is NO date code that I have found. The closeups I tried to take of these markings didn't turn out.

This is not the weirdest thing about this particular Whitney ... While I go through the photos I took this afternoon and try to find some decent ones, see if YOU can spot the really odd thing in the attached photo below of the right profile of the pistol (my 5.5. inch Remmie was added for scale)

Congratulations on a great purchase.  The double diamond marking is the mark for Euromanufacture which later became Palmetto.  Looks as though the target sights are custom mods and not factory, and that the hammer has been lightened.  How stiff is the hammer spring?
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Offline CrazyOldHermit

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Re: Weird Whitney in local gun store
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2015, 11:23:40 PM »
To answer Fingers' ... the hammer is  not "light" but there is no problem cocking it with that slightly bobbed hammer spur. It cocks very smoothly.

I'm adding three more photos in this post - mainly to highlight the TRULY weird thing about this gun ...and it's not immmediately obvious

As you can see in the closeup of the hammer, it has been lightened with three holes - the spur has been bobbed just a hair, and it looks like the front of the hammer may have been re-shaped. You can also see some very pretty wood in the grips ...and the brass Philips fastener that holds them together. The fit of the right hand grip panel is a bit off, especially right at the butt. I found a Phillips screwdriver that fir that grip screw properly and carefully removed the grips today ... whereupon I discovered a serial number stamped into the frame that matches the 3 digit number on the barrel .... this gun's serial number is the mid 400's !

So - have you Whitney or Spiller and Burr fans spotted the TRULY weird thing about this gun? Study the frame in front of the cylinder in the first and second photos (close up right side, and full left side view) - notice the screw for the catch for the base pin is on the LEFT side of the gun instead of on the RIGHT, like it is in every Whitney picture I've ever seen? Yep - someone, sometime, converted this into a left-handed target Whitney.

Look at the third photo, which shows the trigger guard. Notice where some material has been removed on the left side? The trigger itself has also been slightly re-shaped to ease shooting it with the left hand. I may be forced to work on my left handed shooting with this gun. If you look sharp at the trigger guard photo, you can also see where it's been drilled and tapped with a small hole that probably used to hold a set-screw to prevent over travel on the trigger.

A few other notes - the barrel measures in at 7 1/2 inches with my tape measure. Fortunately, I had a tin of Number 11 caps that I bought by mistake a year or so ago (I'd saved them as last resort caps for my Remmies), and they fit perfectly. The cylinder, as you can see, shows know signs of the "safety notches" found on the current Pietta Spiller and Burr, and also seen in photos of the old Palmetto Whitney (thanks to AntiqueSled Man for posting that old DGW flyer.) Given what Fingers said about the double diamonds being an older maker's mark, it's likely that the safety notches were a later feature in Whitney repros.

I was able to pop caps on all six chambers - the bobbed hammer took some getting used to, but once I did get used to it, it's smooth and easy to cock. The trigger is light, and crisp, but not hair trigger light. But, the combination of my big hands and the rather small trigger guard means I have to concentrate and use strict trigger discipline to avoid firing prematurely, and gloves are right out.

It's supposed to be nearly 50 outside tomorrow, and I plan on taking her out to my small berm with a light 15 grain charge under a wonder wad and .375 Hornady swaged ball and seeing how she handles making smoke again. Because there are no safety notches, I'll be loading all six, but only capping on the line. We'll see how she does at 25 yards.
A blackpowder revolver forum may be the only place on the Internet where a guy can discuss shaving tight balls and wrenching on his nipples without any snickering from other users.

Offline CrazyOldHermit

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Re: Weird Whitney in local gun store
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2015, 11:37:46 PM »
The final batch of photos for now.

The first photo is a left side closeup, showing the rear sight a bit better. It is marked "Micro" and is both windage and elevation adjustable. I'll be shooting it as is for now to get a feel for where it prints.

The second photo shows how the loading lever catch in dovetailed into the frame, and that massive front sight.

I apologise for the fuzzy third and fourth photos - my old camera doesn't do closeups well. In the third photo, you should be able to make out exactly how massive that front sight is, compared to the flats on the barrel. The fourth photo shows (albeit not clearly) how poorly fitted the bottom of the right grip panel is. The wood is drop dead gorgeous, but the phillips screw and bad fit of the right grip panel make it clear that this was NOT a factory option ::)

(A written range report will be duly posted once we get some "no-gloves-needed" weather hereabouts.)
A blackpowder revolver forum may be the only place on the Internet where a guy can discuss shaving tight balls and wrenching on his nipples without any snickering from other users.

Offline Electric Miner

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Re: Weird Whitney in local gun store
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2015, 09:28:23 AM »
Still, it's a nice gun.
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