Todd Watts NM 1859 Sharps Infantry rifle
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Author:  Bill Skillman [ Fri Oct 19, 2012 8:40 am ]
Post subject:  Todd Watts NM 1859 Sharps Infantry rifle

Fellow Sharpshooters;

I was reading the Authentic Campaigner website this morning and discovered a post praising the 'defarbing' work done by Todd Watts on a Pederosoli Sharps rifle. This is the first and only Pederosoli NM1859 Sharps Infantry rifle that I have ever seen that features the correct bayonet lug/saber bayonet combination. It also features a lockplate with the Lawrence pellet primer system. I posted an inquiry to the owner to determine if the lockplate an original or from a Garrett Arms rifle. Todd did excellent work, but I have no idea how much it cost. I also don't know how many parts were stamped with the correct/original Sharps patent notices.

This is what Truman (aka California Joe) Head's Sharps rifle looked like when he bought it from the Sharps Rifle Mfg. Co. rep at the USSS Camp of Instruction outside Washington D.C. in 1861. In his later staged photos with Berdan, the regimental armorer had replaced the lockplate and single trigger for the set trigger system.

http://www.authentic-campaigner.com/for ... -different)-1859-Sharps-Rifle-Defarb-.-.-.

Bill Skillman
Randolph Mess-USSS

Author:  Calum [ Sun May 12, 2013 11:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Todd Watts NM 1859 Sharps Infantry rifle

'morning folks,

I have to say that this rifle is even more beautiful in person than in the photos! There is a very fine gap at some points where the original lock was merged with the Ped body, but it is noticiable only if you're looking at it very closely. Todd did an absolutely fantastic job on every aspect. And the longer, beefier saber bayonet doesn't throw the balance off nearly as much as I expected.

Per the previous owner, the rifle was never fired, and the O-ring modification was done by the local NSSA smith. He couldn't remember the name, but I could ask him to dig it up if anyone wants to know.

I'll try to post photos tomorrow as the home computer doesn't like the card reader, but this is NOT the same O-ring modification that Bill posted. Instead, what they did was to remove the floating chamber sleeve (pardon any obvious typos, the cat just decided to help type...), and cut it into two sections (one is roughly 1/3 of the overall length, the other portion is the remainder). One section has a recessed shoulder cut into it, to accept the corresponding sleeve on the other part. The portion with the sleeve has a slight depression cut into it around where the sleeve shoulder is (where it goes back to full outside diameter, rather than the reduced sleeve). There is an O-ring that circles it in that depression. (Photos will clarify my poor description)

I need to take a trip to the local hardware store before taking a trip to the range - I don't have any O-rings in this size. But I suspect that they will be more durable than those in Bill's conversion - they will never be directly exposed to the burning powder, although the chamber sleeve will certainly conduct the heat to them.

The cutter plate is incredibly tight to the block. To the point that I could not remove it. So I can not confirm if any modifications were done behind it, such as Bill's syle conversion. However, I don't believe so as the plate looks to go right to the recess in the block.

Author:  Calum [ Mon May 13, 2013 1:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Todd Watts NM 1859 Sharps Infantry rifle

Below are (hopefully!) the images of the chamber sleeve that I referenced.

First is the whole unit. The longer portion is closer to the muzzle. I don't know if it makes a difference, but that's how it came so that's how it's going to stay. In the photo, they appear to be slightly different diameters. They don't have this appearance "in person", but I didn't mic them.

Closer inspection of the two halves.

The shoulder on each, and the recess that the O-ring lives in on the shorter section.

Instead of Bill's flat base rounds, I was using the twist tail style, because they have produced more fouling in my other rifles. I only tried 10-12 blanks, and fouling of the block was considerably less than any other Sharps that I've used. Both halves of the sleeve came out easily, just by sticking a finger in them. Which is good, because I gave away my sleeve removal tool years ago, when I found that due to not being able to fully remove the sleeve, it didn't matter if I tried to clean it, it was still going to freeze beyond my ability to move it.

It would be interesting to compare the two different versions of the O-ring mod and their performance. Until I handled this rifle, I wasn't aware that there was another style in use beyond what Bill has documented.


Author:  Bill Skillman [ Tue May 14, 2013 9:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Todd Watts NM 1859 Sharps Infantry rifle

Cal and Fellow Sharpshooters,

Thank you for posting the photos of your rifle's 'floating gas sleeve' conversion (my definition) photos. While not 100% certain, I believe the 'FS' conversion was invented by NSSA Sharps expert Charlie Hahn--who has been tinkering with these rifles/carbines of all makes for the past 15 years or so. This is the first time, though, that I've ever had the chance to lay eye on what he was talking about on the NSSA forum.

My only criticism--and again, I'm not a competitive shooter but a Sharps researcher and 'tinkerer'--is that the FSS conversion replicates the inherent design flaws incorporated by all the Italian Sharps (Pederosoli, Armi-Sport, IAB, etc); and rejected by Richard Lawrence over 150 years ago. That is the Italians chose to rely on the gas sleeve to provide the seal between the chamber and the breech face. Richard Lawrence found the same system inefficient and used instead (a) the Conant system-a platnum ring insterted into the face of the block surrounding the interior cone (b) the Lawrence system--a thin metal skirt that is integral to the gas check plate--when the cartridge explodes and generates breech pressure, the skirt expands and forces the check forward to seal the gap. This 'improved system' is featured on all NM 1859 and NM1863 original and Shiloh Sharps weapons. Lawrence recognized the 'gas sleeve' of the original weapons had to be adjusted over time (called 'bouching')--but this was left to the armorer or the factory to adjust.

I think some of the problems is the majority of shooters (blank and live) also use the original style cartridge; aka 'clip tail' style versus the 1860 Ordnance Trial/Lawrence 'improved' (aka 'flat base') cartridges. Since the majority of NSSA shooters are shooting at targets between 50-100 yards (with reduced loads and other modifications) there is less noticeable differences in performance when using the 'cut tail' cartridges. These results were the same as found by the Ordnance officers, but once the Sharps was required to shoot at 3-500 yards, the performance plummeted. Lawrence deduced that during the loading process powder was being lost depending on how deeply the cartridge was inserted and other factors. By making the cartridge the exact length as the chamber this ensured consistency and standardization every time one was loaded.

Thanks for sharing the photos. Looking forward to seeing more of the rifle.

Bill Skillman
Hudson Squad Mess-USSS

Author:  Calum [ Sat May 18, 2013 12:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Todd Watts NM 1859 Sharps Infantry rifle


Got the cutter plate off, and can now definitely confirm that no modification was done to it before I got it off. However, it has now been modified so that it comes out of the block with little effort. My wife just shakes her head when I take any rifle to the basement, as she knows surgery is about to commence. I once had a CO who was horrified that I'd try any mods on my own (he wouldn't even replace a weak mainspring, preferring to have "someone qualified" handle it, so it was always fun watching his face :o anytime I'd tell him about my latest adventures).

Bill - I agree that this style of conversion still pins the hopes on that the floating chamber sleeve continues to float (which is questionable at best). I guess time will tell if it's successful. But at least the sleave can be removed to completely clean it and the chamber.

Once I do some live firing I'll post results of how it cleans up (the sleeves on both of my Armis both froze up their time in the field, and the Garret came to me frozen). However, that'll have to wait until I get more bullets and make up another batch of rounds. The chamber is longer than the Garret, so my rounds probably wouldn't reach the block with the bullet seated, and I don't want to deal with a bunch of potential mis-fies. I'll also post once I've gone through a skirmish with it, and have put a reasonable number of blanks up the spout. That'll be this fall, as I'm not taking it to G'burg.

Author:  Calum [ Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:23 pm ]
Post subject:  The Ped finally went to the range


The Pedersoli with the unusual chamber sleeve modification finally went to the range today. Weather was windy and rainy, so not the best conditions to try it out, but...

This is actually it's second trip to the range, but the first successful firing. Something I didn't notice before the last trip was the ID of the sleeve was considerably smaller than any of my other Sharps. It mic'ed at about .55, barely large enough for the bullet, definitely not enough for the bullet and paper. My blank rounds are half inch, so I didn't notice before taking it to the range... Using a brake cylinder hone, I slowly reamed it out to what my other sleeves are - this didn't affect the shoulder shown in the prior post pictures. I suspect that it was set up for the brass cartridge tubes that are apparently used by some NSSA shooters.

Accuracy was reasonable given the conditions. Working the block lever after the first shot was a little stiffer than when it's clean, but it remained constant through the dozen or so shots. Because of the pressure of the sleeve against the gas check plate caused by the O ring, this rifle is always a bit stiffer than my others.

Ask me in a year what I think of this sleeve set up. Right now, due to the amount of extra work and hassle, I definitely would not recommend it. But now that it's working fine for live rounds...that could easily change.

If anyone's facing the 5th VA, Co H at an event, come on over and I'll have it with me. :)


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