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25-20 SS
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Winchester 1885 LW problem
Dec 8th, 2023 at 11:56am
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Winchester 1885 Low Wall problem…

Here is an interesting problem to solve.  I have a Winchester 1885 Low Wall with a single set trigger and peep sight on the upper tang.  The serial range puts it at 1887.  It is an early Low Wall as it has the high block and not the scalloped block on later models,  It has the scalloped receiver and not the flat surface receiver as on later models.  The action shows some patina, but is very sound and tight.  It came to me without the butt stock (Butt stock on order from CPA). The barrel is a #1 and was stamped on the top flat of the barrel .22 LONG.  The barrel has been rebored and rifled by J. Stevens A&T Co. some time along the line, but the new caliber stamp was not applied.  It is in .25 caliber, appearing at first to be 25-20 Single Shot with the extractor fitted and the firing pin made to CF. I got hold of some new manufactured smokeless loaded cases from Buffalo Arms in 25-20 SS, RCBS die set, and some cast bullets. The rifle was cleaned and inspected and found to be sound.  I inserted the 25-20 SS round into the chamber and it does not fit, as it will fall under the extractor and is a loose fit in the chamber.  The extractor is cut too large to catch the 25-20 SS rim.  

So now I am thinking, what is going on here!  I cast the chamber and took some measurements.  The OAL and profile is good for the 25-20 SS (and not 25-20 WCF or .256 Win Mag) as no sharper shoulder is present. Taking measurements of the rim area at the breach end and extractor, it fits the 38/357 rim diameter perfectly.  The chamber is larger in diameter at the head too.  So now what is really going on here?  Has it been chambered for some obscure cartridge that used the 38/357 case head, 25-20 SS shallow taper profile, OAL and in .25 caliber?

I have a few choices and I will list them here.

1-Cut the breach end off, rethread, fit and chamber to 25-20 Single Shot, fit a new extractor.  I have the die set, and cases. I would have to rent the 25-20 SS finish reamer. Re-fit the forearm and main spring attachment point.

2-Install a barrel liner in 25-20 WCF from Brownells, fit the new extractor.  I would need to buy the deep hole drill and liner from Brownell. 25-20 WCF die set, cases and rent the finish reamer..

3-Set the barrel back, rethread, fit and chamber to .256 Win Mag.  I would not need to fit the extractor as it would fit the case head just right.  I would need to purchase a die set, cases and rent the finish reamer. 

I’m leaning on #1
« Last Edit: Dec 8th, 2023 at 4:32pm by 25-20 SS »  
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frnkeore
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Re: Winchester 1885 LW problem
Reply #1 - Dec 8th, 2023 at 3:55pm
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I would suggest doing a chamber cast and get the actual chamber dimension. If the chamber isn't to much longer than the 357 Max, I would use the chamber, as is and form the cases to it.

You can then do more research on it. Maybe it a rare, long lost, Pope chambering that he only did, one time, for himself Smiley
  

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Re: Winchester 1885 LW problem
Reply #2 - Dec 8th, 2023 at 4:08pm
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As stated above the chamber cast has been performed.
  
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Old-Win
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Re: Winchester 1885 LW problem
Reply #3 - Dec 8th, 2023 at 5:22pm
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Have you checked the rate of twist? The 256 Winchester uses a 14 twist and it's also probably right at the edge of being safe in a low wall. If it were mine, I would probably go with option number one since you already have the dies and brass. An extractor is only fifty bucks and renting the reamer, or possibly borrowing one from somebody here won't set you back that much. From your handle, you may have plenty of 25-20 SS single shots already and are looking for something different.  Smiley
« Last Edit: Dec 8th, 2023 at 5:30pm by Old-Win »  
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Cbashooter
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Re: Winchester 1885 LW problem
Reply #4 - Dec 8th, 2023 at 5:51pm
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I shoot a 256 Mag in a Martini and Ruger #1 at low pressure though the actions can tske hotter loads.
the advantage is it can be made from cheap available 357 brass.Loaded to low pressure levels it's a nice cartridge to work with.
Cases easily formed with a standard Redding or RCBS set using the seating die as the initial form die running it in about 80%.

just my take anyhow
  
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MrTipUp
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Re: Winchester 1885 LW problem
Reply #5 - Dec 8th, 2023 at 6:36pm
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Maybe it a rare, long lost, Pope chambering that he only did, one time, for himself

This was likely written with "tongue in cheek", but there may actually be at least one such rifle.  Jim Grant's last book, Single-Shots Rifles Finale, pictures and describes a Stevens rebored, etc. in Pope's distinctive style from .22 Long to .32 Ideal. with the firing pin neatly and unobtrusively changed to centerfire.  The Pope-style mould is a reworked early (i.e., integral handles) Ideal .28-30.  The loading tool is an early Ideal "nutcracker" tool in .32 Ideal with the mould block very neatly removed.  The only mark is the often-encountered "WAX' stamp on the mould's hinge.  All the work is clearly period.

All-in-all, not a job meant for a client but most likely done just to test the potential of the .32 Ideal cartridge.

Reportedly, the outfit was once in the M. S. Risley collection.

Bill Lawrence
« Last Edit: Dec 11th, 2023 at 6:12am by MrTipUp »  
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frnkeore
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Re: Winchester 1885 LW problem
Reply #6 - Dec 8th, 2023 at 6:42pm
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25-20 SS wrote on Dec 8th, 2023 at 4:08pm:
As stated above the chamber cast has been performed.

Can you give us the dimensions of the chamber cast.

Like taper, per .100 in length, neck diameter and length. Any shoulder, if so, dia and lg.



  

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Re: Winchester 1885 LW problem
Reply #7 - Dec 9th, 2023 at 7:49am
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if all else fails i would be interested in some 25/20ss brass   art
  
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Re: Winchester 1885 LW problem
Reply #8 - Dec 9th, 2023 at 8:04am
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Unless you can reproduce the cartridge case, a reline to .25 caliber and a rechambering is likely the simplest option.  Shortening the barrel means the loss of the base position for the mainspring, a gap in the repositioned forend as the barrel tapers, and a new extractor cut will also be needed.  Not to mention the loss of investment you’ve already made in ammunition, bullets and dies.

Short of that, the chamber might be bushed with a soldered-in piece of old barrel, and the bushing rechambered.  This if the unknown chamber is short enough for a reasonable throat length.

A picture of the chamber cast would definitely help here.
  
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Re: Winchester 1885 LW problem
Reply #9 - Dec 9th, 2023 at 8:55am
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I have a low wall that came as a 25-20 ss and I found it had a slight bulge in the bbl. Had it relined with a T J liner to the original 25-20 ss and after 95 ( whew ) test loads with no particular joy, the gunsmith found with gauges that there was a slight imperfection in the liner approximately 4 " back from the muzzle.  The choice was to cut 4" off the muzzle of my 28" bbl or reline again.  I shoot a 200 meter match monthly with a 32 caliber minimum so I had the bbl relined to 44-40 which was an original low wall caliber and use the rifle now in some of the monthly matches.  It shoots great with 3f swiss loads and now wish I had relined in 44-40 in the first place.
I had 100 plus 25-20 SS cases, a mold and dies which I sold in short order so no big loss there.  Just another thought for you to consider.  Bob
  
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Re: Winchester 1885 LW problem
Reply #10 - Dec 9th, 2023 at 9:03am
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each square is 1/4"
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357 head/rim in chamber
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25-20 SS in chamber
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diff in head size
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« Last Edit: Dec 9th, 2023 at 9:59am by 25-20 SS »  
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Re: Winchester 1885 LW problem
Reply #11 - Dec 9th, 2023 at 9:15am
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How  about having  just the chamber sleeved and chamber to .25-20 ss, or have the barrel rebored to .32-20.
  
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Bent_Ramrod
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Re: Winchester 1885 LW problem
Reply #12 - Dec 9th, 2023 at 11:31am
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it looks like your rim seat is a little generous, but the rest of the dimensions look OK, for moderate loads at least.

I also had a .22 Long Low Wall that I had Redman rebore and rechamber to .32-20 back when he was doing such work.  I had him do the rimfire extractor the way yours is for the larger centerfire case and sometimes I wish I had all my extractors like that.  Very positive and no possibility of sneaking a small rim past the hook.
  
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Re: Winchester 1885 LW problem
Reply #13 - Dec 9th, 2023 at 11:53am
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It looks like you have a lot going on with that action.  The breechblock is sitting quite high in the receiver and from this angle, looks like a highwall breechblock and not the early breechblock It also appears that it may have the wrong link. It has a scalloped hammer that came out later. What is the serial number and does the lower tang match the receiver? I guess you have to ask yourself. How well do you want this rifle to shoot? How much of the work can you do on your own?  What do you want it to look like when it's finished? From what it sounds like, you can do most of the work yourself. So you have to decide what you want this rifle to end up like before making the decision with your 3 barrel choices. How deep do you want to get into it money wise and will it be worth it to you when you get it all finished? Seeing the pictures of it now, I think your best choice would be to try to have the chamber lined.
.
« Last Edit: Dec 9th, 2023 at 1:03pm by Old-Win »  
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Re: Winchester 1885 LW problem
Reply #14 - Dec 9th, 2023 at 12:46pm
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Is there some reason that you don't want to use the chamber that it has?

357 Max brass can be formed to your chamber. I can walk you through how to do it.
  

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