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Remington Arms Auction, Ilion, New York

Joe Michaels

Apr 3, 2004
Shandaken, NY, USA
There is an online auction in progress to liquidate all the machine tools & equipment at the Remington Arms plant. The plant closed a few years back due, in part to to political machinations of NYS wanting to force arms manufacturers out of NY State. I believe ultimately, the original Remington Arms Company went bankrupt and the name was taken over by some other owners. u. In an economically depressed area of NY State where industry once thrived, Remington Arms was one of the last large manufacturing operations. This auction includes Hendey engine lathe, a number of Hardinge HLV lathes, milling machines, drill presses, and an endless online listing of tooling, as well as equipment. I have to chuckle: the auctioneers listed a Moore Jig Borer as a "Moore milling machine". Thus far, bidding seems low dollar. There is one Monarch engine lathe and one LeBlond Regal servo shift engine lathe listed. Quite a number of Brown and Sharpe surface grinders.

I did not get further into the auction listings, but the first few pages seemed to be toolroom machine tools rather than production machine tools. These machine tools are older. My guess is Remington, under its new owners, may be manufactured in a more modern plant. The number of older manual machine tools in this auction looks like good pickings for anyone wanting a Hendey lathe or B &S surface grinder or similar.
Remington Bought Marlin some years back & I know Marlin is still building . I picked up one of these early 1900's Remington Skeet launcher many years back as one of the items folks left when they sold their house . Pretty cool unit .


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Marlin now resides at Ruger............IMHO the Marlin 336 design is the simplest,cheapest ,easiest to make magazine repeating centrefire ,but Ruger have put a high value on it..........The Marlin name had a bit of a hard time last few years with stuff ups like barrels with destroyed bores being shipped to customers ,and warranty returned repairs not being satisfactorily (or at all) fixed.
I bought a 336 in 30-30 used in the 80's from a guy that pushed maybe half a box of ammo through it . My dad had. Mdl 94 that he bought new in the 30's & one day at the range told me that my Marlin shot better than his 94 ever did . Marlin used to tout about their Micro-grooving ?
Marlin owned by Remington had a bad run of major quality issues ........... bad shit on a $1000+ gun .......really trashed the name ,but not half as bad as the bean counters closing down the warranty repair dept ,and sending broken guns back without any repairs ,and claiming they were good ........and taking 12 months to send them back.
ouch , I just looked & suggested asking on a 336 is $1,239.00 . SO I didn't do too bad for my 60 bucks .
The reserves are lower than rigging fees would be where I live. Some amazing machines that you dont see often- gun drills, horizontal broaches, ovens, straighteners…
I looked at the entire auction listing last night. Interestingly, no machinery for making gunstocks is listed. Maybe these were sourced from another plant or an outside vendor. No specific rifling machines, I wonder if the broaching machines were setup to do the rifling.

Nowadays, with CNC machine tools, the production of quality firearms is a lot less of a job than in the days of single (or multiple) operation production machine tools. Probably better firearms with closer tolerances result from the move to CNC.

I have a variety of firearms. My one Remington started life as a US Model 1903 A3 Springfield rifle. I found it as a barrelled action in a trash container when I was an undergraduate engineering student. The ROTC had apparently been using it as a 'drill rifle', and had driven a steel plug into the muzzle and into the chamber of the barrel. There was a tack weld over the bolt face to prevent the firing pin coming out to strike a primer and a tack weld on the bolt catch to al;low the bolt to be removed without having to work that tab. Stock was not there. I grabbed that barrelled action and took it home. I salvaged the receiver, ground off the tack weld on the bolt catch with a die grinder, and did a hardness test on the receiver. It was the first knowledge I had that Remington ever made the Springfield '03-A3's for the US government.

I built up a rifle on that receiver working with a buddy and with a friend of his. The friend was a master gunsmith at the original Abercrombie & Fitch, back when they outfitted people for safaris and sold Griffin & Howe high end 'bespoke' firearms. I used a Douglas 30 caliber barrel blank, ground a form tool to cut the thread on the barrel shank, and got a load of used/serviceable Springfield parts from the original Numrich Arms. Back then, Numrich had buckets of used parts in their store. We drove up from Brooklyn and picked thru those bins and buckets for 03-A3 parts as well as German '98 Mauser parts (we were sporterizing a few '98 Mausers at the same time). We used Fajens semi-inletted stock blanks. I turned the barrels to desired taper/shape in a US War Production Board Lodge & Shipley engine lathe. Ignorance is bliss. I chucked the barrel blanks in a 4 jaw chuck, indicated them to run dead true and turned/threaded the barrel shanks. I recall we did 5 Mausers and my Springfield. MY friend handled the stock work, polishing of parts and hot bluing. The gunsmith from A & F handled chambering and some other details and got us stuff like G & H sling swivels, butt plates and other goodies. Somehow, my Springfield got chambered for .308 Norma Magnum (this was in 1970 or '71). Talk about an uncommon and powerful round. It made fine shooting rifle, but I had to get into reloading due to cost and sketchy availability of ammo. I started off with a Redfield micrometer peep rear sight, but wound up with a Redfield 2 x 9 'scope. Never took any game with that rifle. Too much rifle.

When I was a young buck, fresh out of engineering school, I got into shooting. The local gravel pits near the jobsites were where we shot. I think a lot of young men go thru a phase where we wanted to see how hot a load we could come up with. There were often junked cars at the gravel pits or landfills, and we'd see whose rifle/hot reload could punch thru how much of the junked cars. I remember putting my coat on a car hood and resting my elbows on it to support the .308 Normal Magnum. When I'd fire that rifle, the muzzle blast blew leaves and brush on the ground, and the car jumped on its springs and the hood springs sang. Too much rifle for any real use.

I did get a 1950's 'all steel' model 94 Winchester, and an almost new Model 70 Winchester in .270. I use the Model 94, which has "caliber 30 WCF' on the barrel along with a note as to Winchester's grade of barrel steel. It is all I need in the woods and I've taken a few deer with it and put down a few coyotes with it. The bolt action Model 70 came with a Weaver 'scope and had less than a box of cartridges shot thru it. A guy down on his luck left it for sale at a lumberyard near a jobsite in Wyoming. For 100 bucks, I got a great rifle. I took a few antelope with it at what,. for 'back east' would be considered long range shots. The older rifles had quality, and I do not recall ever hearing of complaints or chronic issues with them. My Remington came out of the Ilion plant, and was likely a WWII production run of 03 A 3's.

Interesting comparison in handguns: Smith and Wesson uses forged frames for their revolvers. Ruger uses investment castings. I have one S & W Model 66 stainless frame .357 magnum revolver, a sweet shooting piece. I also have a Model 39 S & W 9 mm automatic. Long in the tooth and in need of a rebuild. My 'carry' pistol that I use for synagogue security and other times that I carry is a SIG P 220, .45 caliber. This is an older "West German" Sig. Again, fit and finish on the older firearms is something I see and appreciate. People ask why I don't carry a Glock or some newer pistol. I cannot wrap my old head around plastic or polymer framed pistols. I tell them I outgrew plastic guns ages ago. My Sig is an all steel piece, nicely made, and showed no real use when I got it. I do have a Ruger "Security 6' .357, blued steel. Stacked next to my S & W, it has a lighter feel and just seems a bit less 'substantial'. Nowadays, there is a whole new list of firearms makers, and the old 'names' are just that- names only. I am glad I have a classic lot of firearms. They are all I need. I go to the mindset of rifles hav ing hardwood stocks and all steel actions, and pistols being made of metal rather than plastics. Ilion may have been the seat of the original Remiongton Arms, but I suspect it was not the entire operation for some years prior to the plant liquidation. I am sure there will always be fine shooting firearms made and used in the USA, maybe not made in the original plants and maybe made offshore, some bearing the old names. It's the way of the business , demographic, and political forces acting on the firearms industry.
Norma actually made a gunsmith kit for $29-95 that had a long shank reamer so that a M17 ,P14 ,or Springfield could be rechambered without removing the barrel.......The 308 Norma was the same length as a 30-06 ,so no problems with the magazine ..........the P14 already had the correct size boltface ......Incidentally ,Remington made P14s and M17s at Ilion in WW1.
The fine print on the auction limits you to 3 winning bids unless you have purchased from them in the past. Also if you are winning a bid but are below the reserve it counts against your limit of 3. Pretty stupid system and they say they cannot change it. So be careful what you bid on if you are looking to buy more than 3 items.
If a guy needed to cut a lot of keyways, there are a bunch of Cincinnati horizontal rise and fall mills that would be a steal. We used to cut a bunch of spindles with a keyway on one end and paired with an air vise, couldn't be touched by any machining center in our shop.

Thanks for insight as to the .308 Norma Magnum round. The Norma rounds have a much larger and 'belted' cartridge. As a result, the magazine on the Springfield can only hold three (3) rounds vs five (5) of the .30-06.

It has to be nearly 40 years since I've fired my .308 Norma Magnum rifle. The Model 94 .30-30 & the Model 70, caliber .270 are all the rifles I need. Speaking of NY State 'old name' gun manufacturers, Ithaca, NY was home to Ithaca firearms. I have an Ithaca Model 37, 12 gauge shotgun. The Ithaca name still exists, though the ownership and production has moved elsewhere.

I still remember seeing the front sight and muzzle of the Springfield action sticking out of a waste bin in the basement of my engineering school. I grabbed onto it and pulled and came up with the barrelled action. I remember being in disbelief at what I'd found when I read: "US Model 1903A3..... with the serial number (which I remember to this day for some unknown reason), and "Remington". With 20-20 hindsight, it would have been a lot handier if that gunsmith and my school friend had chambered the barrel fort .30-06. The .270 Winchester round is a 'necked down' .30-06. A great shooting round and plenty good for what I've needed it to do.
Nowadays in the USA, getting reloading supplies is increasingly more difficult. Large Pistol Primers are nearly unobtainium. I have plenty of .308 Norma magnum ammo as factory loads and reloads, and I suppose one of these days I will fire a few rounds at a target with it.

Your mention of the M17, if I am not mistaken, was the "US Enfield", a WWI era service rifle. One of the contractors who built the US Model of 1917 for the US military was the Baldwin Locomotive Works. Baldwin's main works was in an area of Philadelphia known as "Eddystone". The M 17's were sometimes known as Eddystone rifles.

I see some of the new sporting rifles and realize how 'dated' my own sporting rifles as well as my knowledge of firearms is. Back when I was working with my friend to build rifles on ex military actions, we went with full length glass bedding of the barrels. We used hardwood gunstocks rather than composite or polymer materials. Barrels and actions were hot blued carbon steel. About the only two types of actions we thought of for high-powered center-fire rifles were bolt and lever actions. When I went in the woods deer hunting, I took maybe five extra rounds, wrapped in a bandana in my jacket pocket. I was taught to wait and take a 'sure shot' that would put the deer down, not dump a whole arsenal at them. Hence, bolt or lever actions worked fine for us. Our house is next to 78 acres of woods. I can hunt it whenever I chose to. There was a sandbank at the foot of the woods with a driveway off the state road. Though it was posted with 'no trespassing' signs, I'd hear people ripping off rapid fire shots, dumping high capacity magazines. That was the people with the so-called 'assault rifles'. Something to prove, I guess. Fortunately, the owners of the woods got wise to this and put a stout chain across the driveway. Years ago, pre 9-11, I was in the woods during deer season, having walked in from our property. NY State, strangely enough, does not have a 'blaze orange law', so hunters wear camo. I came on a young fellow, and he was literally armed to the teeth. Autoloading 30-06 rifle(not reallty a 'brush round;), polymer stock, stainless action and barrel, 'scoped (not handy in the woods), a Glock with high capacity magazine on his hip, and a large sheath knife. He spoke with a real "New Yawk" accent and told me he was an offr duty NYC policeman, and that several more off duty cops were at large in our woods. I thanked him and headed home ASAP. I felt kind of 'dated' even then with a Model 94, iron sights, 5 extra rounds, and a blaze orange vest over my Carhartt coat. No camo, no sidearm, no arsenal, no pig sticker knife. Now we get city hunters who arrive with 4-wheelers on trailers and AR-15 type rifles, fancy electronic or laser sighting systems, so I am appreciative of that chain across the entry to our woods. Traditional, or 'old school, I guess.
Not a robot in sight. I read about the M-1 Garand receiver having 40 separate milling operations, Remington must have been doing it the same old inaccurate way.
I remember reading a book about E. Remington about seventy years ago. On many trips to Vermont, I drove by Ilion but never stopped to see the Remington museum. My wife is willing to wander the Precision Museum, but not so much a gun museum. Remington had their 200 year celebration in 2016. Here is a picture of the banner on the plant building. RIP

When I was born, my parents already owned three pistols: a circa 1870 Remington over/under Derringer .41 rimfire, WWI Colt M1911 .45 ACP with holster and a cheap Forehand and Wadsworth five shot 38 S&W. Dad told me he had traded a guitar for the Remington. Mom refused to say how she got the other two. When I turned 13, they started buying guns for my antique collection. One of the first was a Remington new model army .44 with a chip out of the barrel. I got a new barrel from Dixie Gun Works and fitted it to the revolver. I made paper cartridges and poured bullets and shot the thing a few times. But black powder shooting in the basement was kind of unpleasant. In 1955, I got a Detroit bullet trap to replace the box of old newspapers I first shot into. I perforated the steel trap twice. First was with a WWII surplus Enfield .303 with a surplus military round bought at Sears for about $6. Second was with a mint condition Remington rolling block military rifle in 8mm Lebel with a brand new Remington soft point round. I replaced my Winchester 75 .22 target rifle with a secondhand Remington model 37 .22 target rifle in 1956. These were to shoot at high school, taking the rifle in a case on the school bus once a week. Around 1955, an antique shop in Westfield, NY sold us a muzzleloading target rifle by E. W. Cook, Lockport, NY. When I took it apart, I found the barrel was stamped, "Remington Cast Steel." In the mid-19th century, Remington did a big business in barrels for smaller gun makers. E. Remington's first barrels were hand forged and hammer welded iron, the normal process at the time. Steel making progressed early in the 19th century and rolled steel bar for gun barrels was obviously a great improvement in quality and time saving. It was fairly common for small gunsmiths to buy barrels, locks and other metal parts from specialist suppliers, so the Remington barrels and Leman, Lancaster, PA locks can be found on many old muzzleloading rifles.

Even though the last version of Remington was a hated venture capital play,the company was broken by lawsuits ...the trigger lawsuits debacle ,and then the Sandy Hook lawsuit.
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My 336 is chambered in .35 remington, which is a bit of an oddball - but the 94 win is indeed 30-30. I think my uncle worked at Ilinon, for remington at one time.
I have one of the early Remington semi auto rifles chambered in 22 Rem , Only rifle they made in this chamber i believe . Neato l'il rifle ,I'd like to drill out the barrel & put a 22 cal liner in it . Winchester did something like that with their Win 22 WRF I don't think any other rifle was made to shoot that round except the Mdl 61 & 67 maybe there were others but neither cal is still around if ya have any of that ammo its worth more than the rifle . Looking at that auction with @ 12-14 hrs left seems that all the big machines have not met their reserve as of this moment . This auction may drive the bean counters crazy , Good!!!!!! I'd happily give 200 for a 3 head Rockwell drill press & table setup .