Whitney-Beals Walking Beam Pocket Revolver

This revolver, designed by Fordyce Beals (how cool of a name is that?), was developed while Colt’s patent on using the hammer to index the cylinder was still in effect. To avoid that patent, this Beals design uses the trigger to rotate and index the cylinder, with the hammer being cocked separately. The gun was manufactured by Eli Whitney, who ran an industrial factory specializing in working with independent inventors who did not have the capital or resources to do their own manufacturing.

This model of revolver is commonly known as a walking beam or walking lever type, after the mechanism of the trigger moving the cylinder. This was a mechanism commonly used in other application to convert linear motion to rotational motion.

Beals would go on to work with the Remington company on his later pocket pistol design, and would have a major part in designing Remington’s 1858 Army revolver.


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I guess thanks for tuning in to another Video on Forgotten weapons comm I mean I’m here today at the Rock Island Auction company taking a look at some of The guns that are coming up for sale in Their February of 2017 regional auction And today we’re taking a look at a Whitney Beals pocket pistol also known As a walking lever pistol an interesting Mechanism to this and it all stems from The fact that in 1854 when Fordyce Beals By the way fantastically cool 1800s First name therefore dies at any rate When Fordyce Beals made patented this Design cult still held a patent for the Idea of connecting the hammer and Cylinder in a pistol so that when you Cocked the hammer It automatically indexed the cylinder as Long as that patent was enforced you Couldn’t use it without paying royalties To cold and so Beals came up with this Other mechanism where you would index The cylinder separately from cocking the Hammer but he what he did was take this Ring trigger and use it to index the Cylinder and fire the gun so a pretty Cool kind of a clever interesting design And substantially different from most of What we’re familiar with from this Period in history now He took this design to Eli Whitney Eli Whitney was really one of the Forefathers of industrial automation and

Interchangeable parts and really the the True era of modern manufacturing earlier Eli Whitney and Simeon North working Together had created the first really Truly interchangeable manufacturing Process and they did that actually with Whole rifles but that’s a side note what Whitney did at this point was ran a Manufacturing concern but he didn’t do a Lot of inventing himself he would bring In ideas from other inventors who had Patents but didn’t have factory Facilities themselves so you have the Idea he has the factory and worked Together and split the money and so You’ll see a lot of guns that are Whitney something and that was always Whitney as the kind of the finance the Financial backer and the manufacturer And the other person as the inventor and The patent holder this is no different Now there were a couple of different Versions of this there were that the Standard version is a seven shot 31 Caliber pistol and that’s what we have Here there were some six shot versions Early on there were also some 28 calibre Guns all variations on the same theme so Why don’t we take a closer look and I’ll Show you how this walking lever works And why they call it a walking lever in The first place we’re going to start With the markings here we have down on The back of the frame Beals patent

September 1854 and then up on the top Strap address D Whitney that’s Eli Whitney in Whitney Ville Connecticut in Fact his manufacturing complex was large Enough that it basically got its own Name he created the city around the Factory it was Whitney ville now the way This thing actually works is that this Lever indexes the cylinder so you would Index it and then [ __ ] the hammer Manually and this ring trigger also acts As well the trigger so pulling this back Allows you to drop the hammer fire that That chamber and then index the cylinder [ __ ] the hammer and fire the pistol if You want to you can [ __ ] the hammer First and then index the cylinder these Two the hammer and the the cylinder Indexing are completely independent There’s no loading lever built into the Gun to keep it presumably cheaper and a Little lighter and less bulky so to Reload the gun you have to take the Cylinder out and when we do that we’ll Actually be able to also see the Function of this beam in order to remove The cylinder pretty simple we just have The spring-loaded catch that holds the Cylinder access in place you can pull That out put the hammer at half [ __ ] and The cylinder just falls out behind so The idea of a walking lever or a walking Beam as it’s often also called is one That has significant roots in industry

In general and mechanical engineering The idea with this system is that it’s a Way to turn rotational motion into Linear motion so I have my cylinder here That’s moving in a circle Around the center axis and I have the Trigger here that’s simply moving Forward and backward you’ll find this Sort of system in particular in railway Systems so on a steam engine for example A steam locomotive you have a piston the Engine actually drives the piston back And forth and you have to somehow Translate that into rotation of the Wheels and you’ll get that with a system Mechanically similar to this so the way Beals Applied this to his revolver was to have Two hooks on this walking beam and then Two sets of catches on the cylinder Offset from each other and each one of These catches is responsible for half of The indexing movement of the cylinder so When you push the trigger forward this Front arm is going to hook onto one of These front catches and rotate the Cylinder Well that distance you can see the Upward travel of that hook then the rear Hook will have dropped into one of the Caches on the back of the cylinder and When you pull this lever backwards You’re now raising that back lever That’s going to finish the rotation and

Finish indexing the cylinder to its next Station you can hear that click that’s The trigger dropping into one of Actually one of these on the back and Then there’s half our rotation forward So the thing to think about is that Every time you move the trigger in here You have a little lever either on the Front of the back that’s pushing up and Moving the cylinder the firing mechanism Then is actually really quite simple it Is this that’s the the sear that pivots So when I [ __ ] the hammer you can see That moving and then the ring trigger Itself sits on this surface and when I Pull it back the rest of the way it’s Just going to push this sear up so I can Do that by hand if I want to push that Up and it drops hammer so you may be Thinking having looked at this revolver Is a cool idea and clearly a creative And interesting guy came up with But who’s ever heard of Fordyce Beals Clearly he didn’t really go anywhere After this well in fact he did after Having this produced by Whitney Beals Took his next patent and actually went To the Remington company and his first Work with Remington was the Remington Beals pocket pistol in 1856 and then Following that he was actually largely Responsible for Remington’s model 1858 Muzzleloading cap-and-ball service Pistol what you’d call the the remington

Old army which was a major competitor to The colt 1860 and 1851 designs so Beals Went on to have actually quite the Successful career just because he was Working for Remington you don’t Typically see his name on any of his Later guns so hopefully you found it This interesting these are cool little Guns the the walking lever concept is Pretty neat another one of those kind of Work around ideas made necessary by the Patent system so they’re their pros and Cons to the patent system in general I Really like even sometimes the the most Broadly litigated patents will end up Bringing some really creative and Interesting work around solutions that May not be very practical but they’re Sure interesting to look at if you’d Like to own this particular one of Course it is coming up for sale here in February take a look at the description Text below and you’ll find the link to Rock Island catalog page on this pistol And you can take a look at their Pictures and description and price Estimate and all of that and if you Decide you’d like to place a bid you can Do that right through the website as Well or over the phone or live here at The auction thanks for watching Look ma no hand sorry that was terrible I apologize


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