The next competitor in the field of machine guns was produced in 1875 by the Lowell Manufacturing Co., Lowell, Mass. It was the invention of DeWitt Clinton Fairing ton. He organized the company at this time, to produce the Lowell weapon, which he contended was more reliable than any known firing mechanism. Many concurred in his opinion and the official tests conducted by the Navy at its Experimental Battery at Annapolis, Mel., brought out a number of original and improved features. It most certainly did show Farrington to be a man with the single purpose of producing the best machine gun in existence. It seemed to matter little to him that the Government already had similar weapons whose performance, according to ordnance experts, could not be surpassed.
The Lowell is of unusual design. It has 4 barrels mounted between two supporting discs, arranged to revolve in a circle. The ring at the center of the bap-els is provided with trunnions which work in the frame connecting the barrels with the breech mechanism. When in position, the rear ring and enclosed disc lock with the frame. By a fastening and pivoting arrangement, the barrels can be disconnected and the breech end tilted up. This allows the bore to be readily inspected or cleaned and makes it relatively easy to remove any residue, or a stuck case, from the chambers.
One of its most original features is that only the upper barrel is fired. When it becomes overheated, it is rotated out of the way by a lever, and another is locked in place. This change can be made in a matter of seconds, without cutting off the feeder, thus allowing the operator to fire continuously with the assurance of a cool barrel at all times.
The working parts arc exceedingly simple, and of rugged construction. Il requires only a matter of seconds to inspect or remove them. The two extractors have a unique feature in that they do not depend upon springs, but operate by a positioning cam, forming a solid T slot until Lhe empty case is well loosened from the chamber.
The principal parts of the breech mechanism are the crankshaft and worm for rotating the feed or carrier rolls. There is also the lock which encases the bring pin and spring, and serves as a support for the double extractors. All of this mechanism with the two carrier rolls and shaft is housed in a brass casing, the upper left half of which is hinged. Immediate access to the operating parts is permitted by pressing down on a spring-loaded latch, and then raising the whole side. With the barrels tilted and the housing raised, the entire operating mechanism is exposed for inspection, maintenance, or replacement.
The cam used to force the plunger, or lock, home is so designed that after the lock is in battery, and the round has been fired, it continues to back up the member while the crank rotates. This features allows a time lag to take care of hang-fires which are such a dangerous possibility in the manually operated type of machine gun where rounds are feci in and out of a chamber with great rapidity.
The operating crank of the Lowell gun is located directly to the rear, and made so that it can be turned without interfering with the gunner's vision. Because only the barrel located in the center of the gun fires at a given time, there is no tendency for the recoil to throw off the operator's aim.
The feeder consists of a square iron tube, inserted in a recess directly over the carrier rolls. Extending its whole length on the forward side is a T slot milled slightly in excess of the diameter of the cartridge and its rim. The feeder holds 30 cartridges, and can be removed, if necessary, by loosening a set screw located at its bottom end. The top of the feeder is open and
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