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 Making a British Army Bayonet at RSAF Enfield 1884

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rusteze

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PostSubject: Making a British Army Bayonet at RSAF Enfield 1884   Wed Jan 14, 2015 8:55 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Making a British Army Bayonet at RSAF Enfield 1884   Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:30 am

very interesting. thanks for the post
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PostSubject: Re: Making a British Army Bayonet at RSAF Enfield 1884   Fri Jan 16, 2015 8:29 am

Rusteze good post, There was reasons for the "bend test" after reported issues with the bayonets on the Sudan campaign as the original test only tested the bayonet on its from face. Some lost temper, and became distorted.
The last image of the bend test is the earlier test, the new 1884 test involved initially bending the bayonet on all three faces on a block 21/2” high, next the bayonet was twisted from point to socket through ninety degrees, and, finally the face was struck sharply across an oak block. In early 1885, the Secretary of state ordered that all bayonets in store and in the hands of the troops were to be re-tested by a staff of viewers. The resultant test proved interesting food for thought, with the new test, of those bayonets in store, 3 per cent broke, and 11 per cent were found not to be tempered enough to return to shape, these were classified as “soft”. Those in the hands of troops, and being used regularly in drill and battle, 5% broke, nearly 3% were soft and nearly 5% were actually under gauge or too small at the point.

Most common long socket bayonets were returned to Enfield for re-testing, and subsequently marked were an "R" on the view mark. From July 1882, all bayonets were dated at manufacture to ensure correct auditing of age could be carried out.
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PostSubject: Re: Making a British Army Bayonet at RSAF Enfield 1884   Fri Jan 16, 2015 8:33 pm

Here are a couple more extracts from the article about the bayonets. There had obviously been changes at the Royal Small Arms Factory that the author did not approve of. He talks here about the cost cutting and the poorer quality steel that was being brought in to make barrels and bayonets. Prices are interesting.

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PostSubject: Making a British Bayonet At RSAF 1884    Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:54 pm

Good post Steve , interesting reading for sure ! , good to see nothing's changed in over 130 years when it comes to trying to save the almighty penny ! ( as opposed to the $ ! ) No
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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: Making a British Army Bayonet at RSAF Enfield 1884   Sun Jan 18, 2015 11:00 pm

This is a strange article, very interesting, but rather "provocative" for the time and I'll balance it up a bit. Dixon actually left the RSAF to take up a position as MD at the National Arms and Ammunition Company, who held the patent licence for the Martini Action, and was instrumental is the legal case against the Government for the breech of the patent licence by BSA and LSA, and this article smacks somewhat of vindictiveness and I wonder if he was actually interviewed for it.
His successor was Colonel G Frazer who radically altered the way the RSAF worked (Dixon left in 1871 before final approval of the MH) Frazer did a sterling job in ensuring the whole production methods had changed and whilst this article is somewhat critical of him, history does not back this up. Dixon had been at the RSAF during the breech loading/snider age and it took a whole new approach to ensure mass production of the new Martini arm could actually happen, in Nov 1872 production of MH's was only 1200 rifles per week..Frazer took it to a whole new level to 2,224 per week by Jan 1873. however by 1880 the Superintendent was Henry T Arbuthnot, who had joined as Assistant of the RSAF in 1862 and was very well versed in manufacturing techniques (between Frazer and Arbuthnot the superintendent was Frederick Close RA)

No Martini socket bayonets were produced in the RSAF until 1876, thats a fact, so to try and blame Frazer for the selection of steel is not actually correct, it was June 7th 1876 when the common long socket bayonet was adopted and the Inspector then was Frederick Close, as all MH bayonets before that time were converted pattern 1853 17" examples. What the author of this article did not write, is that when the "faulty" bayonets returned from El Teb and Tamaii were inspected, (this is 1884) those bayonets carried by the 1st Battn the Lancs and Yorks, and the 2nd Bttn Royal Irish Fusililers were actually P53 conversions, made well before the change to Sanderson, and history has proven that it was not purely down to "faulty steel", I found the original blue paper on it in Kew, steel was not the issue.

Was there a problem with the Common long socket bayonet, yes, mainly down to tempering, not the quality of the steel, after manufacture, bayonets were tempered by plunging into molten lead and as I wrote earlier, the testing was not rigorous enough to ensure all bayonets were of equal quality after manufacture, as the later test proved.

One thing the author is correct in, it that Firths were charging extortionate amounts for the steel, the steel was Firths Special and was supplied under sole contract, in 1877 after steel supply was tendered, both the Bolton Iron and steel works and Sandersons supplied the steel, Boltons supplied steel manufactured by the Seimens Martin process and Sandersons crucible steel, there were reasons, MH Barrels had previously been rolled, by early 1878 barrels were turned from solid bars known as Barrel Bars, these steel ingots known were made specially to produce barrels by the Bolton works.

A bit like today, the press like to liven things up a bit.
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PostSubject: Re: Making a British Army Bayonet at RSAF Enfield 1884   Mon Jan 19, 2015 4:20 pm

Thanks for that clarification Neil. The author of the article is a W. Kynynmound, who I think was Lord Minto, a politician.  I have no idea how well qualified he was to comment (but when does that stop a politician!). It appears in the Naval and Military Magazine in 1884.

I attach a couple more passages from what is a quite long article which goes into the manufacture of the bayonets. It mentions your point about them being immersed in molten lead to temper them and says they were then quenched in Sperm Whale Oil.

The first two extracts are about the use of the new Ryder machine to bring them into shape. It compares the process unfavourably with the earlier hand hammering process.

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The final extracts tell about a novel way of testing a sample bayonet from Enfield by taking it to the War Office and driving it into the floor and wall!  The author then reveals that
the true cause of the failure of  bayonets in Egypt was because they were made in "Brummagen" (poor quality Birmingham made?) for the Indian Army!

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True or not, it's a fascinating story.

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PostSubject: Re: Making a British Army Bayonet at RSAF Enfield 1884   Mon Jan 19, 2015 5:00 pm

Good post's..think i would insist on a hand made one, preferably
held in someone else's hand a few thousand miles away.. Shocked
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