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"Best" Gatling plans...?

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  • "Best" Gatling plans...?

    Might be kind of an odd question, but I'm helping a buddy do a little research: Who has the "best" set of scale gatling gun plans?

    He wants to build the full deal- the carriage and wheels, drum magazines, the works. He said there's a bunch of plans available, but I've never tried to build one so I couldn't say which might be the best set to get.

    Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

  • #2
    Hi Doc!
    Great question i have been asking myself. On the Gatling gun forum the rgg gun seems more popular than the d+e gun (in scale model form).
    I have bought both plans inquisitive about the drawings. I have read all the forum threads and there seems to be many design problems with these guns on that scale. I would like to ask a question if the gun was made full scale would there be so many problems. I wold be so bummed out after 1000 machine hours or so to have a gun that would miss fire or not eject shells. Dean


    • #3
      Years ago I picked up a set of drawings patterned after the original black powder version of the Gatling, produced from the patent drawings. Instead of cartridges, the gun used black powder "chargers" that fed from a hopper on top of the gun. The chargers were machined from a solid round blank with a chamber for powder, patch and ball, and a nipple for the percussion cap. The gun used .50 caliber barrels. I still have the drawings around here somewhere.

      A full-sized gun, it would be impressive belching black power smoke, even firing blanks, but a job to clean afterward, and a lot of work to load all the chargers before hand.
      Weston Bye - Author, The Mechatronist column, Digital Machinist magazine
      ~Practitioner of the Electromechanical Arts~


      • #4
        I have a set of plans, I don't remember which, but roaming around the forums has scared me away, and you never know if the very "best" machinists get it right the first time. It does seem like it hit or miss whether one can ever get one to work right. But it's a complicated machine and there's lots of room for error, and I'm error prone.

        Like so many projects it seems like a retirement project, I always imagine that when (if) I ever get to retire I'll be able to work without interruption. I earn my living making parts, and usually 4 or more different types at a time. Interruptions are part of it all.


        • #5
          Yeah... a... [shifty eyes] [air quotes] ... friend. [/air quotes]

          No, really. The guy's been into blackpowder cannons and the like for a while, and apparently recently picked up some small machines now that he's retired. He's not a total newbie to machining, but also not terribly experienced, and wanted a project that was reasonably challenging.

          He'd gotten a subscription to HSM and saw the gatling plans, and wanted my opinion. My 'opinion' was that I'd love to see one built, and possibly even help, but that I'd never done one, seen a functional one in person, nor knew the difference between the various plans that were available.

          It would be fun to make one that shoots paint balls. I suspect it's been done already.
          -Not as much as you might think. There have been plenty of tries, but the only one I know of that actually works (and isn't just a regular paintball gun with a dummy "shroud" of nonfunctional barrels) is really just eight inexpensive electric markers arranged on a rotating frame.

          Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)


          • #6
            Originally posted by Doc Nickel View Post
            No, really. The guy's been into blackpowder cannons and the like for a while, and apparently recently picked up some small machines now that he's retired. He's not a total newbie to machining, but also not terribly experienced, and wanted a project that was reasonably challenging.
            I have a good friend here in Austin who's mostly done the RG-G plans, and it looks really nice.

            By the way, you realize both sets of plans are .22LR based, right? Doing a black power version seems like a whole lot more work, and not as economical when you consider the cost of a brick of .22LR (at least, when the panic subsides).
            "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."


            • #7
              I want a full size 45/70 which you can buy a 4 barrel econ model ready to shoot for only $50K. My thinkubf besides ammo & steel it's not much more work to build the full size, but I need a complete set of full size plans if anyone knows a source & the 45/70 as you know was 45 cal, 70 grains black powder. 45/70 is my favorite round!


              • #8
                I purchased both sets of plans many years ago but have yet to embark on building one. I have accumulated enough lumps of brass and 22 barrels, but other things continue to get in the way.

                My opinion and that of a couple of people I have spoken with who have built both is that the D&E produces a better finished gun. If you compare the two side by side, the differences are obvious. The RGG looks like a Gatling gun, but the D&E is a much more accurate model, much closer in scale than the RGG, but a bit more difficult to build.

                D&E has updated and redrawn the plans since my purchase and includes a pretty good set of build instructions. I am not sure about RGG.
                Jim H.


                • #9
                  After building all 3 of the CCS Brownings (1917, 1919, & M2/MaDeuce) and the beautiful MG-42 from BigBoy1 (here on the forum) I figured I was ready to tackle a Gatling and proceeded to do research on which plans, degree of difficulty, sense of cost, estimate of build time, etc, etc. I pretty quickly settled on the D&E plans from reading many accounts that gave the edge to them as being the better (tho still with a few glitches). This was a few years ago when brass was on its rocket ship ride to the stars, and I was having trouble locating barrels (at that time) so material cost was becoming a real issue. Then, with the reading of the length of time that could easily be needed to do this project, and a skill level that I thought I just wasnt quite up to - along with the problems many of the finished guns were having... it just wasnt a project I wanted to invest that amount of time and money into and possibly end up with a non functioning piece ---The plans are stuck in a drawer some place.
                  If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something........


                  • #10
                    When you build a replica like that, how do you handle the parts that don't scale well? I'm assuming that the idea is to get as close to the original as possible.

                    It occurred to me that brass parts that are plenty thick enough at full size might be unable to handle the stresses once reduced to 1/2 scale. Do you switch to modern alloys to get the durability that you need, or do you beef up the dimensions?

                    It seems you would have similar problems with springs. A 1/2 scale spring will have very different characteristics than the full sized one if made with the same material and the proper proportions.

                    At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

                    Location: SF East Bay.


                    • #11
                      About 10 years ago I bought both sets of plans and ended up building basically the RGG gun, but modified somewhat. I bought every book I could find on the real Gatling gun and did some research on the various cartridge feed systems. Since a Gatling is essentially gravity fed, there are inherent problems when going from 45-70 to 22 LR. A 22LR cartridge weighs practically nothing compared to a 45-70, so the feed mechanism has to friction free and correctly dimensioned to be reliable. I finally ended up with a fairly reliable feed but it was strictly cut and try starting with the basic Bruce feed. After a couple of years of off and on frustration, I finally got the gun to work on 9 barrels. The tenth barrel has extraction problems and the fix is not easy since it is related to bolt postion in the breech block. About 6 years ago, I moved and the gun club at my new location will not allow a Gatling to be fired on their range as they consider it to be a fully automatic firearm. Having no place to shoot it, I lost interest in trying solve the remaining problems and the gun has been collecting dust since. I have since moved on to engine building and the gun is one of those back-burner projects that is unlikley to ever be revived.



                      • #12
                        Originally posted by RWO View Post


                        I finally ended up with a fairly reliable feed but it was strictly cut and try starting with the basic Bruce feed. After a couple of years of off and on frustration, I finally got the gun to work on 9 barrels.


                        Hey, nine out of ten ain't bad. I would love to fire that thing.
                        Paul A.
                        SE Texas

                        And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
                        You will find that it has discrete steps.


                        • #13
                          I am currently building the RG&G gun. 60% there I'd say. Any questions anyone has ,maybe I could share my insight.
                          Just to answer a few so far...

                          The bolt carrier is machined from a 3 inch brass round with quite a bit of nervous novice machining. But I DID pull it off.

                          The barrels are made from 1/2 inch DOM tubing with off the shelf barrel re-liners. A 30 dollar liner yeilds material for two barrels.

                          The bolt require quite a bit of labor, but you CNC lathe guys could kill 'em. Provided you use the "extra' axis.

                          By the way, I am building two guns, One that will work, and one that "could work"; it will be made from the parts with minimal mistakes for display purposes. If all goes well, I hope it can at least be hand cranked, so one can see the action of it working.

                          I haven't yet tackled the feed mechanisms beyond cutting the stock to rough size though. Word on the web is the BRUCE type magazine should be made for this gun for best results.

                          As long as you remain nervous about making scrap out of your stock, I feel even what I'd call an "ADVANCED NOVICE" is capable of this project. My scrap pile of mistakes is very small.
                          Bricolage anyone? of lifes fun games.


                          • #14
                            My brother remembered me (unsuccessfully) trying to scare the ravens aways from the cherry trees, and just sent me a link to this u-tuber's gattling gun video

                            Probably would have worked better than the traditional single shot weapon I was using...
                            "A machinist's (WHAP!) best friend (WHAP! WHAP!) is his hammer. (WHAP!)" - Fred Tanner, foreman, Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering machine shop, circa 1979


                            • #15
                              I bought the RG plans, based on 1. youtube videos of both guns (not one of them shows the D & E successfully firing a full magazine) and 2. the RG is designed for .22 Long Rifle, the D & E for .22 shorts. Shorts are spendy. The D & E looks great and looks to be a more accurate reproduction of the original design.
                              I'm here hoping to advancify my smartitude.