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Author Topic: Who or what was "Allin"?  (Read 826 times)
GCCC
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« on: August 09, 2015, 06:37:30 pm »

During the course of a recent line of research, I encountered the following:

(Quote taken from the Wikipedia entry for "Springfield Model 1866", at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springfield_Model_1866 ; all emphasis mine.)

"The Springfield Model 1866 was the second iteration of the Allin-designed trapdoor breech-loading mechanism. Originally developed as a means of converting rifled muskets to breechloaders, the Allin modification ultimately became the basis for the definitive Model 1873..."

As I warn my students, one should only use Wikipedia as a starting-off point, but I can find no further mention of an "Allin" in relation to gun-making either there or anywhere else on the aethernet. So, now I am stuck with a tantalizing bit of information but with no indications as to where one might pursue that line of inquiry.

Is anyone able to help?
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von Corax
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« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2015, 07:20:41 pm »

The info block on that page indicates that the 1866 was designed by one Erskine S. Allin, if that's any help.
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GCCC
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« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2015, 07:30:37 pm »

Well, kiss my...

Obviously, I need to go back to bed, after having made such a rookie mistake.

(Who does one punch when one is angry with oneself?)

THANK YOU for pointing that out to me!

It doesn't have a hotlink, so I'll report back with whatever I can find on the fellow.

(And again, THANK YOU!)
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Will Howard
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« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2015, 08:38:56 pm »

I believe that Allin was the Superintendent or Foreman of Springfield Armo(u)ry.
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GCCC
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« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2015, 08:46:43 pm »

I believe you may be correct, as so far he only shows up on pages related to the armoury.
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Will Howard
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« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2015, 09:41:52 pm »

He was born in 1809, & started working at Springfield in 1829, as an apprentice at age 20.  In 1853 he was appointed permanent Master Armo(u)rer.  He retired in 1878 & he died September 1879.  The Armo(u)ry closed for his funeral.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2015, 09:57:35 pm by Will Howard » Logged
GCCC
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2015, 04:11:08 am »

This is the best information I've been able to find online for Mr. Allin:

(Text and images taken from http://www.nps.gov/spar/learn/historyculture/genius-of-springfield.htm )

"After the Civil War the United States was left with thousands of muzzle-loading percussion muskets. While the barrels of these rifles were perfectly good, technological advance represented by breech-loading rifles firing metallic cartridges, had been put aside while the Nation faced its crisis. With the conclusion of the war the government decided to convert the muzzleloaders into breechloaders. Erskine Allin was one of several individuals who contributed modification designs.

Allin was born February 3, 1809, and began work at the Armory in 1829 as an apprentice in the Water Shops where his father Diah worked as a foreman. He rose through the ranks, and between October 1847 and May 1848 he served as Acting Master Armorer. In 1853 he was appointed permanent Master Armorer.

Allin’s greatest contribution was the development of the 'Trapdoor' breech mechanism which could be adapted to the existing muzzle-loading rifles. In competition his design proved to be the most acceptable*, and he was requested to convert 5,000 M1861 rifle-muskets to use the new breech. These were known as the M1865s. The next year, after improvements were made in the extractor, 25.000 rifle-muskets were ordered altered. The first rifles built from the start as Trapdoors – not converted from earlier muzszle-loaders – were completed in 1873. Allin retired five years later and died on September 11, 1879. In tribute, the Armory shut down on the day of Allin’s funeral. It is estimated that 250 of the 3000 Armory workers attended the funeral, a testimony of the esteem in which he was held."


"As Master Armorer, Erskine Allin indicated his acceptance of a completed rifle by the imprint on the stock of the weapon of an oval cartouche bearing his initials."


"Erskine S. Allin, Master Armorer, Springfield Armory, 1853-1878."


*This is disputed elsewhere, but in one of "those" blogs, so it is not worth mentioning here. However, other repeating rifles quickly overshadowed the M1865.
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GCCC
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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2015, 04:32:20 am »

I have found one book by Allin and possibly two about Allin.

By Allin:
Rules for the management and cleaning of the rifle musket, model 1855: For the use of soldiers
If I can read the cover correctly, this was originally published in 1862, however this edition has a publication date of 1956, so it's a reprint. Available used for $9.98.
http://www.amazon.com/Rules-management-cleaning-rifle-musket/dp/B0007E9WGW/ref=la_B00IQI6S7W_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1439260294&sr=1-1

About Allin:
Both of these are by the same author, Kevin Spiker. Published only a year apart, and with very similar page counts (enough that endnotes, bibliographies, etc. could be the only difference), I'd be very wary that the second is a reissue of the first. They both appear to be more about the history of the guns, with the most cursory of mentions of Allin. Both are priced as textbooks, and therefore out of the range of most of us armchair scholars. Regardless, I'd say buyer (and reader) beware.

Erskine S. Allin and the Arsenal of Freedom: The United States Armory at Springfield and the American Civil War Era ,1860 - 1876
228 pages, hardcover, 2013, $82.95
http://www.amazon.com/Erskine-Allin-Arsenal-Freedom-Springfield/dp/193632086X

Erskine S. Allin, Director of the U.S. Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts: Inventing and Manufacturing the New Weapons that Won the Civil War
233 pages, hardcover, 2014, $139.95
http://www.amazon.com/Erskine-Director-Armory-Springfield-Massachusetts/dp/0773414738
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Will Howard
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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2015, 05:06:49 am »

The reason the Allin conversion was "most acceptable" was twofold:  First, the U. S. was in the midst of a bad depression in 1873- one almost as bad as the one in 1929.  A rifle that used parts already extant &/or parts for which the tooling already existed was "more acceptable" than one which would require all new tooling, because they were cheaper & quicker to produce (lower labo(u)r costs per rifle).  Second, the War Department was notoriously conservative- even during the war, repeaters were frowned upon.  Only Lincoln's intervention got the Spencer into the hands of the troops, & most units that carried the Henry bought them themselves.  Why?  Repeaters might let the troops fire too much, & waste expensive ammunition!  Hence, a single shot rifle that utilized some existing parts was "more acceptable" than an all new repeater which would have cost more to produce & use.
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GCCC
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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2015, 02:23:00 pm »

...Repeaters might let the troops fire too much, & waste expensive ammunition!...

And thus almost certainly ending the war sooner...

Ah, bean counters have never changed, have they?

Thanks for the summation, Will Howard; that was very cleanly put. I'd read there was some back-door dealing, but I found your explanation of the economics vs. the realities of the battlefield quite helpful.
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von Corax
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« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2015, 05:59:17 pm »

Well, kiss my...

Obviously, I need to go back to bed, after having made such a rookie mistake.

(Who does one punch when one is angry with oneself?)

THANK YOU for pointing that out to me!

It doesn't have a hotlink, so I'll report back with whatever I can find on the fellow.

(And again, THANK YOU!)

Actually I think it was about my third visit to the page that I noticed it. Wink
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