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Bishop, J. Leander (John Leander), 1820-1868 / A history of American manufactures from 1608 to 1860 : exhibiting the origin and growth of the principal mechanic arts and manufactures, from the earliest colonial period to the adoption of the Constitution : and comprising annals of the industry of the United States in machinery, manufactures and useful arts, with a notice of the important inventions, tariffs, and the results of each decennial census
Volume 3 (1868)

Manufactures of Hartford,   pp. 406-423


Page 415

SHARPS' RIFLE WORKS.
JOHN C. PALMER, of Connecticut, was elected the first President of the
Company, and has occupied the same position in relation to it ever since,
discharging the duties with marked ability. . Mr. R. S. LAWRENCE, of the
firm of Robbins & Lawrence, manufacturers of fircarms at Windsor, Vt.,
was invited, soon after its incorporation, to take charge of the me-
chanical department as Master Armorer-and most of the improvements
that have been made in the establishment are the result of his experi-
ence and practical skill. The buildings originally erected were small in
comparison with their present extent. The main Armory was about 160
feet in length by 60 feet wide, two stories high, with an L containing
the Forge Shop, etc. Recently new buildings have been erected, and
will soon be filled with machinery and workmen, which will more than
double the present resources of the works. The main building is 215
feet long by 45 wide, and four stories high including the basement. The
Assembling Room occupies the entire first story, without a partition,
and is a most imposing and spacious hall, as may be imagined from the
length and width of the building which has been already stated. In
the basement is an engine of 250-horse power, made by the Corliss Steam-
Engine Company of Providence. It is a horizontal single-cylinder of
26 inches in diameter, having a driving-wheel of 20 feet in diameter, and
is intended to propel the machinery of the whole establishment. It will
be run as a low-pressure engine in summer, and high-pressure in winter,
the exhaust steam in cold weather being used to heat the buildings.
The processes and tools employed in the manufacture of a Sharps'
Rifle are riot essentially different from those in use in other Armories.
The Barrels are cut from round steel bars, large enough to finish to the
required diameter at the breech, and then tilted, or drawn under heavy
trip-hammers, until the required taper is attained. These bars of steel,
soon to become barrels, are then bored by upright machines, then turned,
and finally rifled. The groove in a Sharps' is similar to that in the
Springfield rifle-musket, broad and shallow. Nearly all the work is
done by machinery. No part of the rifle or its appendages is made out
of the establishment, and many of the tools and machinery in use were
also made by the Company under the supervision of Mr. Lawrence.
The " drop" for finishing the formation of the forgings are hand-drops,
operated by means of hand-belt and pulley. Every thing is formed by
dies of steel, so that every piece of forging is a counterpart of another
for the same purpose. The rifling machines are remarkable specimens
of mechanical finish and accuracy in working. Milling, forming, and
compound machines perform operations which seem to require the ex-
ercise of the most exact and almost human intelligence.
Since it was first invented, improvements have been made upon the
415


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