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  #1  
Old 09-15-2020, 10:27 PM
bnrg bnrg is offline
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Browning design process?

I have always wondered just how John Browning actually designed the 1911, and its predecessors. The 1911 is a busy piece of machinery, with lots of things going on with critical alignments, kind of like a clock in some ways. As a retired design engineer this aspect and the quality of the result he achieved amazes me more and more over time.

But until recently I have not been able to find any insight as to how he did it, get all the pieces of the puzzle to work nicely together. I recently got the 1918 BAR book by James Ballou and lo and behold I found at least one small piece of information on this that you might enjoy. From the book,

"John didn't draw up his gun designs on paper, but rather worked them out in his head, using templates cut from paper or thin steel to check the movement of one intended part against another. Once he was satisfied with his working design he would instruct his half brother Jonathan Edmund, who actually did most of the lathe and milling work to make up a firing model."

This is pretty cool, what we used to call 'manual CAD'. Would be fun to know if any of the templates survived.

On slightly different note the Ballou book describes how Winchester borrowed the prototype BAR from Colt for a weekend to disassemble it, measure it up and make drawings to build it as none existed-they reverse engineered it. The reason I bring this up is that I recall reading elsewhere that Colt did not use drawings to build the BAR as they had another process. Does anyone know what that other process may have been, which i am guessing the 1911 was made from as well. The only thing I can imagine are simple outline drawings of each part with go/nogo gages for each feature. If I understand what Winchester did with the BAR their drawings are dimensioned and toleranced drawings, such as we would see today. I have the internet common drawing set for the 1911 and most of the older drawings (with tolerances) are dated early 1930's or so. Does anyone have any info on this manufacturing process?

BTW, the Ballou BAR book is really excellent, with lots of interesting information and pictures. A bit of an unusual and very specific topic, but a great book.

Thanks,
Bob
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  #2  
Old 09-16-2020, 12:02 AM
bmcgilvray bmcgilvray is offline
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Great post!

Piques my interest.

https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Hard-Pla.../dp/0889352631

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Old 09-16-2020, 08:36 AM
1saxman 1saxman is offline
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'The 1911 is a busy piece of machinery, with lots of things going on with critical alignments, kind of like a clock in some ways.'

JMB was a mechanical genius but I have always believed that all the 'math' and 'engineering' that is applied to describe the workings of the 1911 today is simply how we attempt to describe a trial and error process to refine the basic design that developed over years and involved several models. We recently were treated to a nice thread on the Model of 1905 which was obviously one of the models along the way to the 1911 and which featured the dual link system which was subsequently abandoned.
IOW, JMB did not dream up a 1911 and proceed to build it - he had the idea of how it would work and they built guns until they got it right - then everything was measured and drawings were made. Personally, I think JMB would be amused by all the theory that now surrounds something that he and some guys came up with over a decade of work.
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  #4  
Old 09-16-2020, 11:09 AM
67GT390FBVA 67GT390FBVA is offline
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If you are truly interested in the process get the Meadows book since its a 1/10th the price of clawson and also goes through the multi year model development to arrive at the 1911. the 1911 did not appear like Athena fully formed from Zeus'/JMB's brain

U. S. Military Automatic Pistols Volume 1 1894-1920 Hardcover – January 1, 1993
by Edward Scott Meadows (Author)
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...t_bibl_vppi_i1
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Old 09-16-2020, 11:20 AM
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I think I've seen a photo of a Superposed shotgun receiver mock-up made from wood?
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Old 09-16-2020, 11:41 AM
Iron Mike 631 Iron Mike 631 is offline
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The Meadows book referenced above is the first in a three-volume set, which I recommend that all 1911 and U.S. martial arms enthusiasts purchase. The three books cover the subject from 1894 to 2012. I have read my set several times and learn something new each time.

Mike
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Old 09-16-2020, 12:11 PM
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dsk dsk is offline
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In one episode of Tales of the Gun John Browning was described as being a little eccentric, and he would often be seen sitting alone making motions with his hands like he was working out some sort of mechanical detail. Obviously a lot of his designs had to be drawn on paper then worked out in wood or steel, but he came up with a lot of it just in his head.
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Old 09-16-2020, 12:54 PM
Brian Dover Brian Dover is offline
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Don't recall which book this was in, but Browning would do lots of work while going back and forth to Europe on the ocean liners of the day. Apparently they had wood for him to build mock ups with.
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Old 09-16-2020, 04:23 PM
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dsk dsk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Dover View Post
Don't recall which book this was in, but Browning would do lots of work while going back and forth to Europe on the ocean liners of the day. Apparently they had wood for him to build mock ups with.
Shame he wasn't on the Titanic then. He could've built a few wooden mock-ups of a lifeboat. Full-sized, of course.
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Avoid the temptation to replace everything on your brand-new 1911 just to make it "better". Know what you're changing out and why. You may spend a lot of money fixing things that weren't broken to begin with. Shoot at least 500 rounds through it first, then decide what you don't like and want to improve. Regarding vintage 1911s, pre-1970 pistols are highly collectible in original, unaltered condition and should NEVER be refinished or modified as it completely ruins their monetary value.
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Old 09-16-2020, 04:51 PM
1saxman 1saxman is offline
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Sometimes its good to just sit back and think about everything JMB did for the U.S. military as far as weapons development. I believe the M2 .50 cal. machine gun still in use is his longest-serving design still being bought by the military.
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Old 09-17-2020, 02:19 PM
bnrg bnrg is offline
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Yes, the M2 is still in service and an oldie from 1933 (serial number 324) that was still in use was delivered to Anniston this summer for upgrade. According to wiki over 3 million have been built.

https://www.firearmsnews.com/editori...20US%20service!
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Old 09-17-2020, 04:48 PM
67GT390FBVA 67GT390FBVA is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsk View Post
In one episode of Tales of the Gun John Browning was described as being a little eccentric, and he would often be seen sitting alone making motions with his hands like he was working out some sort of mechanical detail. Obviously a lot of his designs had to be drawn on paper then worked out in wood or steel, but he came up with a lot of it just in his head.
I do a lot of that mental gymnastics figuring out how to make an architects design stand up in my job with a structural engineer. before i start putting it on paper or at the same time i'll envision how the load paths work/travel down from the roof or other parts of the structure
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Old 09-17-2020, 04:53 PM
67GT390FBVA 67GT390FBVA is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iron Mike 631 View Post
The Meadows book referenced above is the first in a three-volume set, which I recommend that all 1911 and U.S. martial arms enthusiasts purchase. The three books cover the subject from 1894 to 2012. I have read my set several times and learn something new each time.

Mike
saving for the next volume now
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