Canada's Pioneer Gun Factory

R. P. Chester April 1 1910

Canada's Pioneer Gun Factory

R. P. Chester April 1 1910

Canada's Pioneer Gun Factory

R. P. Chester

IN THE gradual multiplication of her industries, Canada has at last reached the point where she can

boast of possessing the most modern gun factory in America, and where it will be possible for her to say that Made-in-Canada guns can now be procured as good as the best.

To a little group of enterprising citizens of Woodstock, headed by Henry A. Little, a local lawyer, belongs the credit for having attracted to Canada and to their home city this pioneer gun factory, now incorporated and starting business as the Tobin Arms Mfg. Co., Limited, of Woodstock.

An opportunity to inspect the plant,

which for some vears at least will

prove to be a novelty to many a Canadian. and to have a chat with Mr. F. M. Tobin, *the managing director, was afforded me recently, and I took quick advantage of the invitation. The fine new factory stands about a block distant from the C.P.R. station at Woodstock and is thus easily accessible.

I found Mr. Tobin at work getting his office into shape, but he was willing to pause for a short time and talk with me. To my request for some explanation as to the origin and scope of the company, he replied:

“This company, the Tobin Arms Mfg. Co., Limited, of Woodstock, consists of local investors right here in the town. Among them, I might name H. A. Little. E. W. Nesbitt. M.P.. for

North Oxford, Col. John White, A. J. McIntosh and F. A. McIntosh. Mr. Little is president, I am vice-president and managing director, and Mr. L. M. Sovereign is our secretary-treasurer. We have bought out the business of the Tobin Arms Mfg. Co., of Norwich, Conn., well known as manufacturers of an extra high grade of American shot-gun.”

‘Tn undertaking this project,” continued Mr. Tobin, ‘T did something which I was anxious to do for several years, as I felt that there was a future in this business in Canada, which was not in sight on the other side. In figuring out the Canadian market and its possibilities, I made up my mind that the Canadian buyer was a man who wanted a better class of article than the cheap grades so largely sold in the United States, and that is the standard we are going to work to. The fact that there is a protective tariff here, also influenced me to a consider-

able extent to locate in this country.” “Can you give me some details about your equipment and your prospective output?” I asked.

“Well, you can see, that we have a new factory, three storeys in height, 130 feet long and 70 feet frontage. It lias been constructed on the most approved specifications required by the underwriters for preferred risks— what is known as slow-burning factory construction. We have excellent lighting arrangements. In fact, we have secured the very maximum amount of window-space allowed. The class of machinery and tools which we have installed is without exception more down-to-date than in any other gun factory in the world. We intend to use the Hydro-Electric power to run our machines.”

“As to our output, the company nowoffers to the buyer a line consisting of six grades of hammerless shot guns and one grade hammer shot guns, all

double-barreled. Prices on these will range from $20 to $250, and with the very newest machinery, we are prepared to make the very highest type of guns at the price. We can also build guns to order, and you can realize riiat that is often necessary, for no two men are just exactly the same build and each needs a special size of gun, just as he needs a special size of clothes."

"How many hands will you employ, and what will be your output?”

"We start with about 50 men at work, some from the States, others from the town. It means that by our locating here, several families will be added to the population of Woodstock. The initial capacity of the factory is from 20 to 25 guns per day, and this will, no doubt, be increased as the market demand grows.”

"What about export trade? Do you intend selling outside Canada?”

“We certainly do,” asserted Mr. Tobin, emphatically. “Why, our first order actually came from Rangoon. We will ship our guns to Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Mexico, South America—in fact, all over the world, where shot-guns are used.” “What has been your connection with gun-making, Mr. Tobin?”

‘Tve had thirty years of it,” answered Mr. Tobin. “I’m a Canadian, born in Nova Scotia, but I’ve lived most of my life in the United States. I was for many years connected with two large gun factories there. I organized the old company in 1904, with one of mv former connections. My record of sales was a quarter-million shotguns in less than six weeks, 50,000 of them to one customer.”

Mr. Tobin then invited me to inspect the factory and to have a look at gun-making as carried on in it.

The process of manufacture is exceedingly interesting and to the ordinary observer is full of novelty and instruction. The factory is so well arranged and lighted that it is possible ff> watch every step in the making of a gun without any trouble.

The accompanying illustration gives

a capital view of the machine room, in which automatic machines, power and hand milling machines, drillers, profilers, etc., are being operated in the production of the small parts used in completing the finished arm.

In another section of the factory are to be found the stock manufacturing machines, where wooden blocks are carefully shaped into the required form for the gun stocks. It is interesting to note here that the wood used, a kind of walnut, is imported from

Europe, where it is grown by modern forestry methods in the Pyrenees, Swiss Alps and German Black Forest. It is possible to secure this wood almost as cheap as dimension lumber can be purchased from the forests here and the cultivated variety is much better suited to the needs of the business than the domestic kind.

A third department takes care of the barrel operations. Here the forged tubes, which are imported from Belgium, are brazed together and the ribs are fastened to the barrels. After the completion of the machine cuts on the barrels, the latter are taken to the

borers and at this i>oiut the greatest care and attention are given to the work. Each pair of barrels is carefully tested and gauged during the process of boring, until the required description of bore is obtained. Some additional attention is given to this work later on. where special guns are being made up to specifications.

The three parts referred to—stock, barrel actions and lock parts—when brought together take the first stage of assembling and become what is known in the factory as a gun. The operator gives a serial number to the gun. which is repeated on each part, and this is the number by which the gun is ever afterwards known.

It would seem now as if the main part of the gun-making were completed and that a few hours would see the weapon finished. But this is where the novice makes a big mistake. It actually take five or six weeks more to put on the finishing touches, h irst there comes the action work, or jointing, and this is a most important process. It consists of joining the barrels to the frame. The life of the gun depends upon good work at this point, for the slightest deviation from the true will ruin the weapon.

From this operation it next goes to the department where the lock lates

and some of the small parts are fitted in the rough, that is to say, before the metal is hardened. From this it passes to the stocking department, where the wooden part and forearm are fitted to the metal. The woodwork is here fully finished, sand-papered, rubbed and oiled, and put aside until the final assembling. The metal parts are passed along to the polishing rooms, where all the parts are finished. Then they are tempered and

hardened and the barrels are browned.

The gun is now complete, save for the final assembling. This latter

operation calls for the most expe.'t work in the factory. The various parts are brought together and joined up with the utmost care and exactness.

Finally, each gun. as it is finished, is taken to the shooting range and tested. It is targeted, showing the number of shot of a certain size it puts into a thirty-inch circle at forty yards—the accepted distance and size of target, generally known in the trade for describing the shooting qualities of a gun. Then it is all ready for use.

The Tobin Arms Mfg. Co. seems destined to become an important factor in Canadian industrial life.