Author Topic: Kevin Tinny & Blair Taylor "Spencer Supplemental Information"  (Read 240 times)

Offline Two Flints

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Kevin Tinny & Blair Taylor "Spencer Supplemental Information"
« on: November 14, 2022, 11:31:10 AM »
Hello SSS,

All of the information appearing below is from the pens of Kevin Tinny and Blair Taylor.  I just posted the information for them, and it also appears in the SORI Thread.

Two Flints

Updated history of reproduction center-fire Spencer Rifles/Carbines, Ctg. cases and ammunition           14 NOV 2022

My apologies for the typo’s and garbled items in the OCT 2020 SORI submission. 
Blair Taylor and I are grateful for all the help from members of the Spencer Shooting Society.
(“I/me” refers to Kevin Tinny)

Here are additions to the Oct 2020, first submission in CAS/SSS “SORI”:

17FEB21:   Buffalo Arms was again taking orders for BP loaded 56-50 cartridges.  Buffalo’s Dave Gullo said his
                   CENTERFIRE block supplier retired, and he was not sure more would be made.

23FEB21:   N-SSA Forum Thread:  Noonanda: “Taylor’s Spencer Rifle, Approved or no?”
                   This Thread includes a Post by John Holland, N-SSA’s Small Arms Committee Chairman, about history
                   related to WHY the Armisport Spencer Rifle is NOT and will not be N-SSA Production Approved.

11MAR21: Rifling twist in Armisport/Chiappa Spencer’s was reported as the “metric equivalent” of 20” - 22”.
                   
16MAR21: Located the “phantom”, John Olin engraved Romano “Cheney Spencer Sporting Rifle with unique frame
                   number #9998”.  Also, discovery on the INTERNET under search of Romano Rifle Company that showed
                   Romano carbine #10009 sold by Col. Mayer on ICOLLECTOR.COM in January 2014 for $1,750 and carbine
                   #10023 sold via Rock Island Auction on April 24, 2015.  Then Romano Spencer rifle #10447 in 99%
                   condition was located with a collector in South Dakota and sold for $3,900 without mould, cases or die to
                   another collector in TN, who also bought the Romano engraved Spencer carbine #9998. 
                   Larry Romano said his Spencer rifle #10447 is the HIGHEST frame number within the 104XX block.

12MAY21: During an 11MAY21 phone conversation, Larry Romano shared:
                   The “9998” frame number for the engraved Romano “Cheney Sporting Rifle” is the ONLY one not in the
                   usual number sequence blocks and it was selected by Alex LaKota.  That was OK with Larry because original
                   Spencer SPORTERS were not always MILITARY numbered.  Larry was sure “9998”, which is almost
                   hidden within the engraving pattern on the rear left receiver side, would also be on the barrel under the
                   forend.  Larry said he had no idea why Lakota selected 9998. I visited the TN collector that now
                   owns it.  I briefly inspected #9998 and bought rifle #10447.  #9998 was gorgeous, with a gorgeous curly
                   maple stock, and pristine.  I did not dare remove the forend to learn if #9998 was also on the barrel.
                   
                   Larry called me about Spencer pending tumbler work.  He said he had attempted to machine the tumblers for
                   FOUR of my Romano Spencer’s to allow a FLY, which would enable a lower trigger pull weight without risk
                   of sear and tumbler notch damage.  He said they were SO HARD that even his cobalt/carbine drills
                   wouldn’t touch them.  He said he HAD installed flies on a few of his Spencer’s, but the machining for the
                   flies was BEFORE hardening.  He said that after he sends me some spare parts, aside from the ones he is
                   holding for the two FINAL 56-50’s, he has NO SPARE parts for Spencer’s.   

17MAY21: During a telephone discussion on 14MAY21 with Bruce Cobb about N-SSA SAC approval of a
                    Romano guns, Bruce shared: (Bruce passed sixteen months later, in Sep 2022.)

                    Bruce Cobb IS officially part of SAC.  John Holland, as Chairman of SAC, ONLY ADVISES or
                    RECOMMENDS TO THE BOARD, which ALONE has “authorization” for approval of
                    PRODUCTION or INDIVIDUAL APPROVAL of small arms.  Generally, the Board delegates ITS
                    authorization TO John, but in some cases that Bruce is aware of, the BOARD has approved
                    “things/arms” without input from John.  Bruce said this is WHY John Holland (who had previously
                    shared with me that he was not involved in either the approval of the Armisport Spencer “1860” carbine
                    in 56-50 caliber vs. 56-56 caliber or the Romano Spencer’s), FITS with why no SAC files on these
                    “approvals” exist when John was part of SAC when the Board acted on both approvals.                                 
                   
                    Bruce added that the approval of Larry Romano’s reproduction Spencer’s were by the Board,
                    OUTSIDE of normal “Production” approval processes that would have normally involved the SAC
                    Chairman.  Bruce said, the BOARD, not SAC, chose HOW IT approved them and Larry Romano
                    DID NOT INITIATE THE PROCESS OR ASK FOR SPECIAL TREATMENT.  This fits Larry’s
                    comment to me years ago “that a Board Member took his Spencer rifle and carbine from him one
                    evening to get them Approved”.  The Board has “latitude”, per Bruce Cobb, that in some cases is
                    neither in the MINUTES nor apparent to the general membership, BUT ARE in the SAC List of
                    Approved Arms.  These comments shed light on some of the seemingly vague/inconsistent historical
                    matters related to the N-SSA’s (Board, NOT SAC) Approval of Romano Spencer’s.   

June 2021:  A mint condition #100XX Romano Spencer carbine was sold between N-SSA skirmishers, with
                   Romano mould, CH4D dies, RMC cases and a Blakeslee box for about $3,800.  The Romano marked 
                   Spencer bullet mould, CH4D dies, and gorgeous Blakeslee box were sold to me in 2022. 

25JUN21:  OBSERVED Romano Spencer’s have variations in how many of the frame number digits are on
                   the bottom of the barrel.  They can be either the last three/two or the full group of digits. 

Aug 2021:  Larry Romano shared that he had made three GEMMER style Spencer’s.
 
30AUG21: It was told that the seemingly authoritative HISTORICAL records widely used on Forums,   
                   such as the Springfield Research Service (SRS) abstract of CW era issued Spencer’s have gaps from
                   inconsistent INPUT and INTERPRETATION!  The “SRS” records are ONLY of shipments TO a
                   Unit, not to an individual AND the reporting is ONLY after a Unit was “Surveyed”.  The problem is
                   MANY surveys were performed but not recorded.  “Arizona Trooper”, posted about this 28MAR21 on
                   the CAS/SSS Forum.     

                   As they are used for Spencer’s, terms such as “shipped”, “delivered”, “received”, “issued” and “inspected”
                   can be confusing:

                   In late August 2021, I emailed Arizona Trooper to see what he could ADD to Marcot’s 2nd Ed, page 206
                   undocumented comment that the first shipment of 327, 1865 56-50 Spencer’s was 10APR65, a day
                   AFTER General Lee surrendered.  Arizona Trooper had commented before that he had documentation
                   otherwise, that enabled the N-SSA to approve 1860 Spencer’s in 56-50 caliber. 

                   In his email, Arizona Trooper shared:

                   1. The Ord Dept. dated deliveries by WHEN the inspection RECEIPTS were processed in Washington
                   and the bills were paid.  This DATE could be WELL AFTER the equipment was ISSUED and create a
                   month or two of GAP between “issue” and LATER “receipt.

                   2. While the “official” delivery of 56-50 Spencer’s IS 10APR65, and 15APR65 for Burnside Spencer’s,
                   the first physical issuance is a MONTH EARLIER in MARCH 1865, vs Lee’s surrender on 10APR65, as
                   confirmed by a 02MAR65 Ord Dept circular alerting about 56-50 Spencer’s in the new caliber/cartridge. 
                   
                  3. Further, Az Trooper recalls reading that “Col Wilson delayed his raid into the deep South … until he
                  could equip all his first line troops with the new (1865, 56-50) Spencer’s.

                  These ADD to his other remarks about WHY N-SSA’s Small Arms Committee “SAC”/Board approved
                  the 56-50 round, first in the single example of Ken Howell’s “Wisconsin” Spencer carbine, then shortly
                  thereafter in Romano’s rifle and carbine, and finally in Armisport’s REPRO, “1860’s” and “1865’s”
                  carbine, only. 

01SEP21:  Larry Romano called to ask for my spare Shiloh Sharps 1874 Sharps TUMBLER for an 1874 Shiloh
                  that had been sent to him for repair of a botched trigger job.  We discussed my measuring and visibly
                  comparing the SHILOH dead-ringer COPY of an 1874 tumbler to HIS Spencer tumblers and the spare
                  tumblers I have from him.  Larry’s are NOT interchangeable because:                 

                  a. The full-cock notch radius profile and the DIAMETER of the tumbler cylindrical portion are different.
                  b. His have a different THREAD pitch in the tumbler for the hammer screw.

                  Larry shared that “While Spencer used Sharps lock parts in EARLY Spencer’s, by later models,
                  SHARPS had changed lock internals enough that most Sharps parts, excluding the mainsprings,
                  are NOT interchangeable with most Civil War era Spencer’s, and not Larry’s repro. 1860’s. 

                  Also, there is “Blair” Taylor’s SSS Forum 20 MAR 22 Post about “Half cock issue”.  In the Thread of
                  “Levers”, on 22MAR22, Blair posted that the SPENCER SEAR “arm” has a relief cut to allow it to clear
                  the exterior magazine tube, and the SHARPS does NOT.  When a Sharps sear is used in a SPENCER
                  lock, the half-cock will not engage.
                             
 08 SEP 21:  Ray Stora, the original owner of Romano Spencer RIFLE, #10435 told me:
a.    He got #10435 NEW from Larry in 1998, and HE had Larry make an interchangeable Hoyt 56”
       56-50 carbine barrel for it. 
b.   At delivery, in 1998, Larry was working in the two-car garage attached to his house, and had
      not built his detached shop located approximately 100 yards behind his house.
c.   Rifle #10435 had the old-style upper block striker with small, square internal shoulder.  The internal
      shoulder broke.  This caused Larry to develop a more robust striker with a much larger internal, cup-
     faced shoulder. 
                    d.  Over a LOT of shooting, Ray never broke a firing pin.

                    Ray gave me:
                    a.  The original #435 upper block with the old style striker shoulder cut. 
                    b.  The “in-the-white”, experimental block Larry made when developing the new-style striker.
                         Larry made Ray a new hardened upper block that accommodated the new striker’s larger internal
                         shoulder. 
                    c.  Two broken old-style strikers and four spare ones.
                    d.  Three Civil War era Spencer mainsprings he got directly from Romano, two of which had the sear
                          leaf wedge removed.  Ray said they came that way from Larry.  Larry told me previously that he did not
                          recall removing wedges and had no idea why it would have happened because doing so makes NO
                          difference in the trigger pull weight.  I have located a few other three-digit Romano Spencer’s with the
                          missing mainspring wedge.

                    Ray said that at the time of delivery of Spencer rifle #10435, he could not get a Romano 56-50 bullet
                    mould because Larry had not yet started making his mould.  Larry later told me he had HIS
                    bullet ready from the start.  Ray ordered 250 of Larry’s cut-down, internally reamed 50-70, 56-50 cases,
                    shot them a lot with NO annealing and never had a split.  He used the Lyman mould #515141, 50
                    Sharps bullet cast in around 12Bhn from recovered “range lead”.  The rifle would shoot, for him – an
                    accomplished high-power shooter, into 1.5” OFFHAND at 50 yards.

10OCT21:   Terry Whipple, who lives near Larry Romano, worked for Larry as a MAYNARD stock finisher.                             
                    Terry shared that Larry was losing too many Spencer butt stock blanks IF THE OUTER MAGAZINE
                    TUBE HOLE WAS DRILLED BEFORE ROUGH PROFILING, SO LARRY SWITCHED TO FIRST,
                    ROUGH PROFILING, THEN DRILLING THE MAGAZINE TUBE HOLE AND THEN DOING ALL
                    OTHER INLETTNG.  Larry confirmed this to me in a later telephone call, adding that ONLY HE,
                    did ALL the woodwork on his Spencer stocks. 

12 OCT 21: Recently shared Romano Spencer frame numbers made me unsure of my prior estimates of 77 completed
                    Romano Spencer’s.  Conversations with Larry and others helped provide the following:

Total Romano SPENCER production as of 14 NOV 2022:
64 NOT 77 FINISHED Romano Spencer rifles and carbines. 
The 64 finished are the 28 in the 1st Group and 34 + 2 in the 2nd and 3rd groups.

FIRST:  28 in the “104xx” group, including Reserved Frame numbers:
The 1st 10 were reserved and used, plus#9998 and #10430 through #10447 equals 10+1+17 = 28.
Larry refers to these 28 as having been made at his “house”, which is the attached garage.

SECOND:  34 in the “100XX” group, #10001 through #10033, with #10030 used TWICE = 34.  These 34 were built in his “shop” behind his house.

THIRD: 2 as a PAIR of FOUR-digit frame numbers, #1037 Carbine and #1037 Rifle = 2.
These two frame numbers otherwise FIT into the Second group.  I think these are part of the 2nd 100XX Group but MISSING A ZERO.
Larry refers to the missing zeroes, two with the SAME number, etc. as due to “midnight hours”.
 
There are FOUR unfinished receivers, two for 56-50 and two for 45 Colt.  The two in 56-50 will be RIFLES, one for Romano as the LAST, and the next to last for a friend.  The 45 Colt’s will NOT be built into finished guns, per Larry, because the internals are not interchangeable, and they are prone to cycling problems related to the narrow 45 Colt rim.  So ONLY TWO of the FOUR unfinished will be completed as RIFLES.

The 64 FINISHED, plus 2 to be completed 56-50 RIFLES = a maximum of 66.

Larry told me he began his Spencer frame numbers ABOVE the FINAL number used by SPENCER on ORIGINAL Model 1860’s to avoid ANY hint of HIS being confused with originals.  He also had “Romano Rifle Company” and “Reproduction” cast INTO the underside of at least the trigger bar.  I have example #10440.  The marked underside raised-lettering has been belt-sanded off some of my finished ones. 

The First Romano Spencer frame number Group/Series is a five-digit BLOCK beginning with 1, followed by one zero and then three-digits, in 104XX format. Except for the “first ten that Larry reserved for himself and special Spencer’s, the military Model 1860’s in this first group began at 10430, per Larry.  According to Ray Stora, who bought an early one, rifle #10435, and Terry Whipple, who lives down the road from Larry and worked in both his “shops”, ALL of the 104XX series were built at his “house’s garage shop”, facing Stewarts Corners Road, NOT at the later built large, two-story shop behind his house.   

The first TEN of the 104XX group were reserved by Larry for special models of which there were perhaps Larry’s three prototypes (a first rifle and first two carbines taken by Larry and his father to N-SSA for approval) that he indicated are numbered “1”, “2” and “3”, then three GEMMER’s with unshared frame numbers, the highly engraved Cheney sporting rifle #9998, and THREE finished 45 Colt versions in CARBINE form.  It is not clear if the three “finished” 45 Colt CARBINES are numbered differently than the 104XX versions.  The 45 Colts were prototypes with different internals, such as twin “paddle” extractors to cycle the narrower rimmed 45 Colt case and are NOT approved for N-SSA skirmishing because of the bore size.  Larry told me that if one of his early Spencer was not a “military” version, he may have used a customer’s requested number on it, such as “9998”.   

During my late Sep 2021 shop visit to pick up some Spencer work, I mentioned to Larry that I could not locate ANY of his 104XX numbered Spencer’s below possibly 10430, so maybe he started with 10430, except for the first ELEVEN known.  He immediately reached for carbine 10434 on his shop office wall and told me THAT was AMONG the first and it was the one sent to the NRA for Dope Bag testing.  Larry KNEW I know of #10433 carbine and now have Ray Stora’s 10435 rifle, so 10430 seems to be a valid beginning for military Model 1860’s.  Larry indicated ALL these First Group of 28 have DOUGLAS 36” buttoned rifling barrels.  He wanted 32” twist and Douglas would not do that, so he bought cut rifling equipment and started the Second Group later.
 
Remember, #9998 custom sporter carbine was finished BEFORE 1997. 10434 was sent to the NRA in early 1998 for THE AMERICAN RIFLEMAN DOPE BAG testing.  My educated guess is that Larry started the three-digit ones at 10430, not 10400 and did NOT USE 10400 through 10430.  No idea why.  So, beyond the first eleven without 104XX numbers, the military ones run from 10430 to 10437.  This means finished First group were the first 10, plus 9998 and 10430 – 10447, which 11 + 17 aggregate 28, FINSIHED of which 12 (48%) have been located.

Second, are the LATER, “post-incorporation”, 100XX frame number grouping, all made in his large SHOP behind his home.  All but a couple of these 100XX ones, which have Douglas 4140 alloy barrels with 36” twists, have 41L40 alloy barrels with 32” twists that HE MADE on his Pratt & Whitney rifling machinery.  Larry said these started at 10001, with NONE of the first ten saved for himself, and ran to 10033 for a FINISHED sub-total of 33, and because 10030 was used TWICE, the total two-digits COMPLETED are, best guess, 34.

On 03 DEC 2021:  TWO different numbered ones, carbine #1037 and rifle #1038, were revealed to me by an SSS/N-SSSA member and Romano Maynard enthusiast in VA.  The owner called me for Romano information and after learning that the frame numbers did not fall within the known GROUPS, at my suggestion he called Larry to learn HOW these two FIT into the frame number blocks.  Larry told him “That was years ago, and he did not recall”.  Since the owner said they his special order, it is possible Larry used a different frame number BLOCK or MERELY SKIPPED A ZERO.  I spoke with Larry, and he did not seem concerned or could recall more. 

As of 14 NOV 22:
64 FINISHED, + 4 UNFINISHED, of which ONLY the 2, 56-50 RIFLES will be completed, makes a NEW total of up to 66 or 11 LESS the 77 FINISHED I previously estimated in 2021. 

Late August 2022:
The owner of the two, consecutive numbered, four-digit frame number Romano Spencer’s, a carbine and a rifle, gave me 100 NEW, unfired, RMC brass cases labeled “For Romano Spencer”.  The cases seemed heavy to me during my visit, but I had no others handy for comparison.  A week later, I weighed them and measured the INTERNAL powder capacity DEPTH.  The cases weighed 43 grains more than all my other RMC cases, and the powder capacity was .094” (3/32”) LESS at .886” vs the RMC “Romano 56-50 Spencer” drawing reciting .978”.  This taught me to verify case dimensions, even from the same source because this much case internal capacity will make a difference in load performance. 

12 NOV 2022:  The INTERNET indicated Roberson Brass of Amarillo, TX, a maker of custom turned CARTRIDGE brass cases including 56-56 Spencer and 56-50 Spencer, had recently declared bankruptcy and was not taking orders.
A quick review of prices from Rocky Mountain Cartridge indicates substantial price INCREASES and long waits.   
While I am happy with ALL of my RMC 56-50 Spencer cases, making fresh 56-50 centerfire cases from STARLINE 50-70/90 brass, which has the correct rim diameter for Romano Model 1860 Spencer’s, remains a cheaper alternative.

14 NOV 2022: This completes the CAS/SSS “SORI” supplement.

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Offline El Supremo

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Re: Kevin Tinny & Blair Taylor "Spencer Supplemental Information"
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2022, 09:11:53 AM »
Hello:
There is an interesting couple day old Thread about the status of The Romano Rifle Company on the N-SSA Forum under "Romano Rifle".  Thanks.
El Supremo/Kevin Tinny
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