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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, a couple of years ago, I purchased a Lee Speed Sporter from
a gunboards member, it is has a full length rib and the the
dust cover is marked C.G. Bonehill. I assume that it was made by
BSA and then sold to and distributed by Bonehill. Do factory records
exist for these? And if so, how does one get a factory letter?

Thanks, PhysDoc2
 

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Hi, a couple of years ago, I purchased a Lee Speed Sporter from
a gunboards member, it is has a full length rib and the the
dust cover is marked C.G. Bonehill. I assume that it was made by
BSA and then sold to and distributed by Bonehill. Do factory records
exist for these? And if so, how does one get a factory letter?

Thanks, PhysDoc2
Generally BSA Lee Speeds are marked on the barrel with the BSA tented rifle trademark.. Their No 1 pattern did have a ribbed barrel, but was invariably engraved.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
yes, it does have engraving on the dust cover, magazine, trigger guard and buttplate, where can I find a pictures of the BSA tented rifle trademark?

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the gif, when I get home I will root around for the pictures.
After I bought it, I tried shooting it but wasn't that happy with the
results, but I was shooting boat-tails in a rifle designed for flat-based
round nose bullets. So it is being stored back in my father's gun safe in
Wisconsin until I buy a safe for the new house. And I probably won't shoot it
until I can work up a more appropriate load. The rifle has seen a lot
of use. Definitely not pristine. But I like that "been there done that" look.
It does have a three-digit serial number and I wondered if there were
any factory records out there. There was some guy selling one on
auctionarms that he said came with a factory letter. So if anyone
knows how to get a factory letter for one of these, that would be much appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I am sorry about this, but the pictures will have to wait, I thought I had
some on the home computer but I guess it was the old home computer which is now trashed. It is too bad that the factory records no longer exist, is there
a good reference book on these? I tried buying some reprints of Bonehill catalogs but they didn't show this rifle. I will put some pictures up when
I get the rifle back, but that won't be for a couple of months.

As to Joel's question, my parents live in Milwaukee. I miss Wisconsin a lot.
I am in Kansas City now. I am glad the Packers are doing well.

By the way, my appreciation for British rifles was there for a long time,
and working in Liverpool for 5 years didn't do any damage. I've got a
couple of Enfield #4's but the Bonehill was and is my first and only sporter.
 

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As to Joel's question, my parents live in Milwaukee. I miss Wisconsin a lot.
I am in Kansas City now. I am glad the Packers are doing well.

Although they're struggling this year K. C. is a great football team, plus you have one of my favorite gunshows out there.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank Joel for the kind words, but I'll always be a Packer fan, through
good and through bad. Did you know that Lynn Dickey lives here in KC.

Alright back to guns, you are right the Missouri Valley Arms Collectors Association show in July and January is fantastic. Our other shows
tend to have a lot of flea market stuff. The Fon du Lac show in Wisconsin
is pretty good from what I've heard from my Dad. If you can make
it down for the Missouri Valley show, why not go the extra distance and
make it to the Tulsa show, only about 4 hours from KC.
 

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Actualy flat base spitzer bullets will work as well as round nose bullets. It's the boat tail that's the problem. Cordite loads caused throat erosion and the boat tail bullets don't like that.
 

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BSA shipping info

http://www.airgunspares.com/
This chap John Knibb will sell you as much info as you want, he bought the BSA factory records.
A 3 digit serial number doesnt necessarilly mean it is old. Some models started a new batch of serials numbers. I have a 1917 BSA with a 3 digit number!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks John, I've got a two-groove #4 Mk 1 that just can't handle boat-tails
but does fine with flat-based bullets. Next time I take the sporter out,
I will try flat based bullets, but I also know that rate of twist in a barrel is optimized for a particular projectile weight. And the bore is a bit worn
in my sporter, so I may get the best performance with cast bullets. It may
take a while to develop a good load but hopefully I will get there.

Thanks 24626151, this is the information I wanted. I'll share the information
I get and pictures eventually. I appreciate this a lot.
 

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PhysDoc2,

I thought you might be able to approach this from the CG Bonehill direction since they marketed the gun but according to the Internet Gun Club, no records survive. Here's the history from the Internet Gun Club (which you should join if you research these guns much):


"Christopher George Bonehill was born in 1831. Reportedly, he was descended from a family of farmers and manufacturing ironmongers. He was apprenticed from about 1844 to 1851 to a Mr Aston (possibly Richard or William Aston).
In 1851 he established his own firm, he was recorded in the 1851 census as a gun implement maker living at 14 George Street with his mother, brother and sisters. Within a very short period he was supplying much more than gun implements. No doubt he started with a few small orders, but he gained a contract for 25,000 Chassepot rifles from the French, supplied 2,000 Snider Cavalry rifles to the British Board of Ordnance, and completed many other contracts.

In about 1855 Christopher Bonehill married Mary, the 1881 census records only three sons but they appear to have had five. Five daughters were also recorded. Of the sons, Christopher Jnr was born in 1856 but was not recorded in the census, George W was born in 1865, Edmund A was born in 1877 and Byron was born in 1879. Reportedly the fifth son was A M Bonehill.

On 19 March 1869 C G Bonehill patented a bolt for locking a side hinged action, this was spring loaded and operated by the hammers (patent No 839).

In 1870 C G Bonehill was recorded at 33 Charlotte Street with a factory in Morville Street.

In 1873 he moved the whole business to the Belmont Firearms and Gun Barrel Works in Belmont Row. These premises had been occupied by the National Arms & Ammunition Company before they moved to Holford Mills. At about this time, military orders were declining and the firm started to move into the sporting gun market at home and abroad, particularly in the USA where the first machine-made military weapons with interchangeable parts were pioneered. The new factory was one of the first to be equipped with machinery.

C G Bonehill was a Guardian of the Birmingham Proof House. His son, Christopher, was working for the firm at this time as, presumably, was his other son, A M Bonehill.

On 6 October 1877 Patent No. 3718 covered a bolting system with top extension, rib and lumps. The guns produced on this design were named "Belmont Interchangeable" (A, B, C and D grades).

On 11 June 1878 Patent No. 2323 covered a combined tumbler and hammer.

On 12 May 1880 C G Bonehill and W J Matthews patented a cocking and barrel bolting mechanism and safety (patent No. 1952) This patent may also have included a type of stock.

Between about 1880 and 1887 the firm either had agents at 110 Cannon Street, London or they opened a London office at that address. Joseph Marres was recorded as an agent at 110 Cannon Street (reportedly gunpowder at that time and later a wadding agent but it would seem that he was also an agent for guns and gun parts). Marres may well have been the agent in England for Auguste Francotte. The firm of Auguste Francotte was recorded at 110 Cannon Street from 1877-1883, he may well have acted as their agent but, as the 110 Cannon Street address has been seen on several Bonehill guns, it is likely that he was an agent for C G Bonehill or that C G Bonehill had an office there between 1880 and 1887 (Edwin Burrows was recorded at 110 Cannon Street in 1878; Curtis & Harvey were there from 1912-1918).

On 31 May 1884 C G Bonehill patented a one-piece rib and lump (patent No. 8469), and a boxlock type of cocking and top lever bolting system and a fore-end fastener (patent No. 8471). On 19 September 1884 patent No. 12586 covered taken out jointly with A J Simpson covered improvements to bolting, cocking and safety catches.

At about this time Thomas Naughton worked for the firm, he left in 1887 to join Holloway & Co as manager.

On 29 May 1888 patent No.7823 covered trigger and hammer safety devices.

Many Bonehill shotguns were exported to the USA, so the firm experienced some difficulties when the McKinley Tariff was introduced in 1890. Surplus capacity was used in the production of rifles and airguns.

On 29 June 1895, patent No.12578 with A Tunstall covered a Martini action with a detachable barrel (this patent was subsequently used to make the Greener GP shotgun).

On 6 November 1905 patent No. 22658 covered a screw adjustable backsight. There may have been another patent for a .22 conversion, the firm converted surplus Martini-Henry rifles to .22 for the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs.

In the 1901 census Christopher Jnr was recorded as manager of a gun works, and had married Isabelle in about 1883. They had two sons, Christopher G born in 1884 and Osbert B born in 1887.

On 11 July 1907 patent No. 15917 with H Horner covered a barrel cocking mechanism for an air rifle, this was the basis for the firm's famous Britannia air rifle. On 23 June 1908 Bonehill and Horner filed ther second air rifle patent (No. 13567) for a fixed barrel mechanism with a pellet pusher.

C G Bonehill died in 1920, and reportedly A M Bonehill took over the business. It would appear that Christopher Jnr had died by this time. The Belmont Firearms Works were closed in 1921 and the firm moved to 4 Price Street.

On 6 October 1928 A M Bonehill and A Tunstall registered patent No. 323726 for an ejector or extractor, and on 23 January 1930 they registered another patent for a central firing mechanism and slotted spindle.

In 1939 the firm was sold to A Mawson, but A M Bonehill remained as manager.

The firm closed in 1962, no records survived."

TAKEN FROM THE INTERNET GUN CLUB


You might be able to date it by the address on the rifle - if it's Belmont Row then it's early 20th century and if it's 4 Price Road then it's post 1921. At least it's something.

By the way, I have a pattern 1 that was marketed by Beesley. Keep looking for the right load to shoot - they're a bit picky - but if you find one it likes it will shoot the lights out. Terrific rifles!

John
 
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