Barrel questions on a 40-85 Ballard

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arkansawyer
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Barrel questions on a 40-85 Ballard

Post by arkansawyer » Wed Feb 11, 2009 8:10 pm

I just bought a Ballard Pacific in 40-85 for a winter project, and because I've always wanted a Ballard, especially love the Pacific and Montana models! It was in somewhat rough appearance but has cleaned up quite nicely. I had to repair some splits in the stock and the horn insert in the forearm was hanging loose but its looking much better now. The metal had some surface rust scale, mostly on the barrel which came off with a sharp razor blade and 0000 steel wool with Kroil. The action is tight and locks up firmly. All in all this appears to be a rifle that was in great shape until the last few years of it's life it was poorly stored. The barrel bore has a fair amount of pitting that gets a little better every time I clean it. It has released massive amounts of leading during each cleaning session. It has the 30 inch heavy barrel with no calibre markings and from what little I know, is an early model, serial number, 16xx. Still had the origional wiping rod but missing the threaded end. All pieces have the same serial numbers. Since this was bought to be a shooter and I've refinished the wood I'm considering reboring and rifling and rechambering to a 45-70. Does anyone know of anyone who does this work? I've checked the web and the one who seems best qualified is Redman's but seems he does Winchesters in cast bullets but doesn't list Ballards. I thought maybe some of you might have had reboring work done and could supply some contacts. Thanks....Roy

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marlinman93
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Re: Barrel questions on a 40-85 Ballard

Post by marlinman93 » Thu Feb 12, 2009 5:07 pm

I haven't used him, but Dan Peterson who used to work for the late Fred Wells in Prescott, Az. has a very good reputation for reboring and barrel making.
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Sure-Shot
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Re: Barrel questions on a 40-85 Ballard

Post by Sure-Shot » Thu Feb 12, 2009 8:51 pm

Vall is this the gentleman you were referring to:

Legendary Gunsmith Fred Wells Dies at 86


Fred Wells, legendary gunsmith and classic Old World gun maker, died January 15, 2006. He was 86. Smith was revered around the world for the custom dangerous-game rifles he produced in his small Prescott, Arizona, machine shop.

Those who knew him remember Wells as an artist and a down-to-earth Merlin of firearms lore. He was known to take the time to help any shooter who asked for his assistance, whether it required finding an arcane gun part or manufacturing one himself. His widow, Rachel Wells, hopes people will remember him as he wished - a good gunsmith, a good craftsman and a kind man who went out of his way to help any young gunsmith who came to him.

Wells produced only a handful of custom rifles per year valued between $15,000 to $20,000 each. The King of Sweden once purchased one of his creations for $85,000. Revered in the gunsmithing community as an old master, the American Custom Gunmaker's Guild formally recognized his contribution to the craft and awarded him an honorary lifetime membership three years ago. Wells was instrumental in establishing the gunsmithing program at Yavapai Community College in the early 1970s. The program is one of eight in the nation and attracts applicants from across the country and around the world. Twenty-five to 30 students are enrolled full-time in the two-year program, and it graduates around nine annually. Wells will be missed by the entire hunting and gun community.

Subscriber Steve Shull, who sent us the news of Wells' passing added the following personal note about the gunsmith: "I did not know Fred as well as I would have liked to, yet he was one of the most pleasant, sharp, witty and gentlemanly men I ever met. And his memory at 86 was uncanny. He worked constantly in his machine shop with a long skinny hose trailing him around - his nasal oxygen! Possible sparks from motors starting up - no problem - D*** the torpedoes, full speed ahead! His wonderful wife, Rachel, is also the person who taught my wife and me to engrave. What a mutually supportive pair they were! And have you ever seen a cartridge for a .700 Nitro Express rifle? Not an elephant cartridge - dinosaurs! What rifles he made. And lovely too."
GBOT, GBUSA

arkansawyer
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Re: Barrel questions on a 40-85 Ballard

Post by arkansawyer » Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:50 pm

Marlinman93,
Thank you for your reply! Do you have any contact information for Dan Peterson? He sounds like a good prospect. Roy

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marlinman93
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Re: Barrel questions on a 40-85 Ballard

Post by marlinman93 » Fri Feb 13, 2009 5:22 pm

Yes Sure Shot, that indeed is the same Fred Wells I mentioned. I did know both Fred and his wonderful wife Rachel through my neighbor who used to work for Fred years before Fred passed. I was fortunate to be introduced to Fred when the NRA convention was in Seattle years ago, and occasionally corresponded through snail mail with him. I've handled a couple of his custom guns which originally were built on old US Enfield Patten 17 actions, which Fred said were superior to anything made. When the stock of surplus actions dried up, Fred began to manufacture his own actions, which were top quality stuff.
Fred's guns were in the hands of a lot of famous and wealthy people all over the world, and his true claim to fame was the .50 Well Express, which was a .460 Weatherby Magnum necked up to .50 caliber. Back in Fred's early days those Enfield actions were rebarreled using surplus .50BMG barrels turned down to sporter weight, and rechambered to .50 Wells. My friend has one that he and Fred built when he worked for Fred. It weighs 11.5 lbs. and he's fired just one shot out of it, put it away and said he'd never fire "that brute" again!-Vall
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marlinman93
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Re: Barrel questions on a 40-85 Ballard

Post by marlinman93 » Fri Feb 20, 2009 8:10 pm

I just picked up a .40-85 barrel for a Ballard Pacific too! All complete, including sights and thimbles! Now to find a good forged receiver to put it on! :D
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blackpowdermax
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Re: Barrel questions on a 40-85 Ballard

Post by blackpowdermax » Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:27 pm

arkansawyer......it is highly unlikely that your Pacific is a 40-85 Ballard given the early serial number. Unless the barrel has been changed, it is way too early for that cartridge. If it is similar in length to the 40-85, it will be a 40-90 Ballard Everlasting. The 40-90 Ballard Everlasting has a 3-1/6" long case as opposed to the 2-15/16" case of the 40-85. The early Ballards such as yours normally did not have the caliber marked, every 40-85 Ballard I have seen had the caliber marking on the barrel.

I tell you this because you will take a big hit value wise should you re-chamber or rebore from the 40-90 Ballard Everlasting. They are fairly rare and difficult to find, much more so than the 40-85 Ballard, hard enough to find themselves. Even with refinished wood, they are desireable, just not a lot of them to be found.

Cases can still be made from a chamber cast (Dave Casey) and they are a hoot to shoot, paper patched or grooved bullet.

Other 40 calibers in the Ballards at that time include the 40-65 Ballard Everlasting and some of the Sharps 40 calibers. A chamber cast will tell you for sure. All are rarer, especially the Sharps calibers, the 40-65 being the easiest found. All will take a huge hit value wise with re-chambering.

By the way, the 40-90 Ballard Everlasting was the longest case ever chambered in a Ballard.

Think long and hard on this one......

max
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arkansawyer
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Re: Barrel questions on a 40-85 Ballard

Post by arkansawyer » Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:35 am

blackpowdermax,
I do believe you are correct that it's a 40-90, the seller had done a chamber cast but didn't send it along with the rifle, however the percussion adapter case I got with it is around 3.10" long and fits nicely. I'm loading and shooting 405 win. cases in it with a .40 cal. snover seated all the way out with 80 grns. of ffg to fireform the cases. I have been leaning in the direction of keeping the barrel as is, especially if it shoots fairly well on paper. I ordered and installed a extractor it was missing and find it sets a smidgin to far out into the chamber. I guess I should have removed the excess thickness from the outside of the extractor instead of the inside so the profile matched up. I'll have someone re-profile it and see about ordering the custom brass. Thanks for the heads-up about the rairety...Roy

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Re: Barrel questions on a 40-85 Ballard

Post by blackpowdermax » Sat Feb 28, 2009 11:56 am

arkansawyer.....glad you are thinking about keeping it as a 40-90 Everlasting......sometimes getting the originals to shoot is difficult, but rewarding when you do.

Here is the link to Dave Casey at Rocky Mountain Cartridge if you do not have it. A fine fellow he is............

http://www.rockymountaincartridge.com/

If you find that you are having a bit too much fouling (lots of powder in those big old cases and not nearly the amount of lube available), duplexing seems to help a lot.

max
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marlinman93
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Re: Barrel questions on a 40-85 Ballard

Post by marlinman93 » Sat Feb 28, 2009 1:04 pm

Hi Max,
I did a chamber cast of the Pacific barrel I just got after seeing your reply here. Wanted to confirm the seller's caliber on this one I got. From the chamber casat it looks like it's a .40-70 Sharps Straight. Was this one of the calibers offered in a Ballard Pacific?-Vall
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Re: Barrel questions on a 40-85 Ballard

Post by blackpowdermax » Sun Mar 01, 2009 12:16 am

Hey Vall....sounds like you have a great find in that barrel. I don't believe that Marlin ever chambered their rifles in the 40-70 SS. I read somewhere (at least I think I did) that the Ballard straight wall cases with lower recoil and less fouling forced Sharps to move to straight wall versions to compete. I think all of the Ballard chamberings of Sharps cartridges were bottleneck versions except for the 45.2-7/8 in the Montana and a few Pacifics.

If your barrel is unmarked as to caliber and is an early serial # (I'm guessing before serial # 6000 roughly), you probably have a 40-65 Ballard Everlasting which is 2-3/8" vs. the 2-1/2" of the 40-70 SS. The 40-63 Ballard Everlasting cases will drop into the 40-65 Ballard Everlasting chamber, but not the reverse, but I believe most of the 40-63 Ballard barrels were marked. Mine is, but both 40-65 barrels are not.

In any event, you have a "new" toy to play with and I hope you find a receiver soon to go with it................

max

P.S. Dave Casey made the 40-65 Ballard cases for mine from a chamber cast.
Load the old ones with the old tools.

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marlinman93
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Re: Barrel questions on a 40-85 Ballard

Post by marlinman93 » Sun Mar 01, 2009 12:49 pm

Serial # on the barrel is 64xx. I'll have to check closer and see. It measured @2.5", but I need to check it again.
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Re: Barrel questions on a 40-85 Ballard

Post by blackpowdermax » Sun Mar 01, 2009 3:21 pm

Interesting......I have serial #55XX and it and everything below that serial # is unmarked, have another serial # 80XX and it and everything above that serial # is marked. So I have a gap there and yours falls into that gap of course. I don't know exactly where they started marking the caliber, but obviously above serial # 64XX.

There is another possibility that they did actually make a rifle in 40-70 SS, they wouldn't turn down the business if someone asked. If so, it would definitely be a shame that barrel isn't still on the original receiver, would be very rare.

There is quite a bit of difference between the rim and base diameters of the 40-65 B and the 40-70 SS, .600" vs. .533" on the rim and .508" vs. .453" on the base diameter. That should help you to sort it out too.

Hopefully it's a 40-70 SS, that would be neat. Then you would have to go on a hunt for the original receiver to restore everything to it's proper place. Should only take a week or two. :shock:

max
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marlinman93
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Re: Barrel questions on a 40-85 Ballard

Post by marlinman93 » Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:27 pm

I've got several in the 6xx, 10xx, 31xx, 51xx, 57xx, 61xx, but then jump to 10xxx and a bunch above that. None of the lower have caliber marking, and 10xx has it. I'd love to see some more in the 7xxx range to figure when they started marking calibers on these early JM Marlin Ballards.
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