Final Prices: RIA September 2017 Premier Auction (and what I bought!)

As usual, I have a recap today of the final prices of the guns I filmed form the most recent RIA auction (#71; September 2017). There were a bunch of machine guns in this one, although a variety of other things as well. I had gotten a lot of comments about the potential of my bidding on the Chatellerault light machine gun,…which I was quite tempted to do. However, I only had a budget to bid on one machine gun, and there was one that was more interesting and less common that I bid on instead. That was a Model 1918 Chauchat in .30-06 caliber, and I am quite happy to report that I won it. So once it goes through the NFA transfer process, we will have some very cool footage of it, including an analysis of the problems it originally had, how to fix them, and what the gun is like once fixed. Stay tuned!



  1. Cool. My grandpappy was issued one of those in France. When he couldn’t clear a stoppage in combat he tossed it and grabbed the 1917 of a fallen doughboy.

    • The 1918 version of the Chauchat had poor quality control and nobody fixed the mistakes made during production or during design drawing. No wonder it was useless. The same production problem befell the initial batch of Browning M1918’s so even if they did get into frontline service they would have jammed more often than the original Chauchat. And remember that the other light machine guns like the Lewis and the Hotchkiss machine rifle were not intended to fire on the attack (you’d get exhausted running around the other team’s trenches with a fully loaded Lewis gun). Did I mess up?

      • As far as I know the problem was quality control in barrel production, the design specs were not followed. Two collectors fixed the barrel chamber issues and the guns functioned well. When you rush things, Winchester ran into the same issues with the M1917 Enfield which delayed production for a month (and which congress inquired on). The military insisted on the corrections before mass production was authorized. The first 1,800 BAR’s also delivered out of spec. The problem one no one put their foot down and insisted on rigorous testing and the problems were not discovered until way too late.
        All three issues were caused by rushing production due to the war effort. However in the US at least it was far enough away from the sound of the guns that the brass hats were not so stressed they could not demand production quality from American companies. However with the Chauchat 1918, there was no such bottleneck to save it.
        The French also had issues with their Hispano-suiza engines. Standing on the success of the Spad VII which was capable of handling more hp than the reliable but low hp that had been getting, someone came up with the brilliant idea to increase horsepower for the engine for the next generation of Spads and added a gear reduction box for the propeller without proper metallurgic and design testing. As a result the unserviceability rate of the Spad XIII was extremely high. The US complained that the French were supplying them with an inferior Spad, but the French were having similar issues. For a while the SPAD XIII’s were suffering from a ridiculous serviceability rate of around 66 percent. Eventually the problems were ironed out over many, many months but eventually the geared Hisso’s were trashed and more powerful engines without the gearing were produced. France industry was under enormous stress during the War as the Germans were in their front yard for four years.

        • That is why there is why rigorous test should take place before starting mass production. Obviously not only fails would be found and it should be honest, but at least in case of fire-arms it is relatively cheap. Few tens examples of prototype weapon should be enough for that, providing honest testing.
          Bigger and more complicated weapon, then more costly is testing.
          Probably, one of biggest flop, of WW1 war engineering was ill-fated British steam-powered Kalamity-class submarines:

          more examples were lost due to accidents rather than enemy actions.

        • “France industry was under enormous stress during the War as the Germans were in their front yard for four years.”

          So was morale of French civilians. Germans upped the ante by application of long range artillery:

          Couple of times even Zeppelin airships showed up. New era of air-warfare started. It must have been depressing.

        • Gear reduction would not increase HP I am afraid, it would merely increase torque at output shaft, which is what may have been in connection with prop pitch needed.

          SPAD VII was not underpowered by the standard of time:
          his adversary Fokker D.III was equipped similarly:

          Most common engines of the time, being rotary 9-cylinders were on both sides about identical:

          • You are correct that engine horsepower (i.e. output at the shaft) would not increase, but it seems likely to me that the gear reduction might provide a better match between optimal engine RPM, and the (I believe) fixed pitch prop used in those days.

            The result would be to optimize engine output, by running at optimal RPMs (and all internal combustion engines provide a range of outputs over a range of RPMs), for the pitch of the prop being used. This would maximize thrust, which is really what matters for an aircraft.


      • I don’t think you messed up. My understanding (unless I am messing up as well) is that the Chauchat was, perhaps from the beginning, intended to be used in the “walking fire” tactic, and until the BAR showed up was probably the only one available to be used as such.

        Please note that I am not suggesting that the BAR was designed for “walking fire” – to my knowledge it was not – but only that in terms of weight it was roughly comparable to the Chauchat.

        I was not aware that early BARs had reliability issues. Can you elaborate?



        • Apparently production of the M1918 was rushed with little to no quality inspection until someone tested a sample with live ammunition. Components of the first production batch were found to fail dimension specific requirements and were not interchangeable between guns. This would make servicing impossible in the field!

  2. The Lewis weighed about the same as an M60, and we could fire those from the hip or the shoulder if need be. The problem would be the airflow jacket on the Lewis and the awkward handling that goes with it.

    • Apples and Oranges. The M60 was designed to fight in a completely different combat environment. The big problem with the Lewis was weight though due to the reliance on walking/running as being the primary mover of troops in the combat zone. With that steel jacket it is a monster, although not as much as the lmg 08/15. Soldiers in Vietnam had the advantage of using vehicles, either ground or air for their transportation to combat and there was no requirement for extended ground advancement, and of course the soldiers were much healthier.

      • “requirement for extended ground advancement”
        How much advancement was required in conditions of Western Front of Great War?

        • It depended on whether you were attacking or defending. If you were set upon capturing enemy territory you first blew the snot out of it with artillery barrages and then sent waves of infantry charging into it (through muddy no-man’s land, hardly a walk in the park) in the hopes that almost all of the defenders were reduced to hamburger.

          During the charge, an attacker could NOT hope to accurately fire a bolt-action rifle at any surviving defenders (who might be manning a heavy machine gun). Unless the attacker is within baseball pitching distance he can’t possibly lob grenades far enough to convince enemy machine-gunners to abandon their mounts. This is where we get the Chauchat to work in suppressing enemy positions so that the attackers don’t get sprayed. The Lewis gun and the Hotchkiss LMG variants might be great at defending positions before and/or after a squad changes position, but while advancing, withdrawing, or charging, one certainly does NOT encourage firing either weapon from the hip.

          • You don’t have to fire your LMG from the hip in order to support your attack. Hip firing is inaccurate, so it’s only useful for suppression very close to the enemy positions. It’s much more important that your LMG is light enough to move with the attacking troops and take can take firing positions for supporting fire. Fire from the hip or shoulder is potentially useful, but not a requirement for effective offensive use of light machine guns.

  3. Spelling nazi here: I thought “transferrable” is written with a single “r”? Apart from that: you lucky bastard!

  4. Regarding collecting firearms: it makes me wonder how prices are determined. Is awareness of collectors in such high level (guessing by settled prices) or is it that someone looks for place where to ‘dump’ their money? I never fell into this lure, partly because of limited resources; but even so – its kind of futile hobby. Once in a while you pick up the thing, work the action and lay it back. Even thinking of due care to prevent rust is enough.

    • @Denny:
      Long-lasting hobby shouldn’t be easily finished.
      Take for example, baseball players card popular in US in 1950s if I am not mistaken. You need to collect all, which is doubtless interesting, but when you collect all… what next?

      “collecting firearms”
      I would suggest following classification:
      a) “accumulators”
      b) “bargainers”
      c) special-category “legals”
      which are deploying following logics:
      a) bought if it will fit collection and it is absent from it
      b) bought if it could be sold later with profit
      c) bought older weapons, as they are easier to obtain due to legal reason, this type exist only where law distinguish antique and modern
      First two need knowledge about what they are buying, a) to avoid cleverly-disguised-knock-off and b) to know if can hope to sold it with bigger price tag, as example: if you are lucky you might buy “old typewriter” for 100€ and sold it for 45000€, see:
      in case of c) main aim of knowledge needed is to able to answer it is legal? question.
      These categories are not mutually exclusive.

      • Collecting/ hoarding of objects is kind of ‘deviant’ mental state, in my perception of existence. I do not intend to enrage anyone, neither to offend, that is not my objective. For myself, I have fairly strict parameters with respect to material possessions – and keep them to ‘comfortable’ necessity. Just consider what happen after you pass away; how survivors will fight for you relics. Not a pretty sight 🙂

        How this thinking took place I will not elaborate here – this is not page on the subject. But, being free-minded person I understand why people collect items. Being able to touch and feel is apparently mentally satisfying.

      • If I should be more direct toward you Daweo,

        I’d say that you look to me as a person who collects knowledge and its reach is at some instances astonishing. I cannot and do not plan to duplicate, perhaps for one simple reason – my interests are multifaceted and firearms is just one of them. And also and mainly, …. it is a matter of mental capacity 🙂

        • “person who collects knowledge”
          Yes, however, when it is needed, importance of creating proper question and matching similarities must be noted. When you know question like why it was done that way?, it is possible to done it another way?. Sometime finding right question is not so simple. Sometimes it might looks like nit-picking for others – for example Lord Rayleigh discovered Argon (chemical element No. 18) by scrupulous study of air, when other investigators say signs of its existence are measurement equipment error. Knowledge is often need to allow creating right question and realizing importance of answer.
          Time for history tidbit:
          In inter-war period Soviet Union railways was main method of transporting cargo, there was need to create new lines, however technology of designing such lines in that times need a lot of geometry operation called integration*. Man named Lyukanov realized that similarity between Darcy’s Law and Fourier’s Law can be exploiting to create machine speeding-up process of integration and called it HYDROINTEGRATOR, described and illustrated
          which is say hydraulic computer (strictly-speaking is not computer in nowadays accepted norm as it is not Turing-complete, name given to it by inventor integrator describe it better). Clearly being mono-task device is disadvantage against what is now know as computer, but then question rise: what advantages over electric [transistor-based] computers it have?, now to answer you need know that transistor-based computers often “bleed” accuracy of computing due to how floats** are implemented – this would never happened in case of Lyukanov design.
          * – there is not place to describing it to full extent, speaking simply: you have solid (in geometric sense) you use integration against it and you receive volume of that solid. I will just assume that anyone interested in this subject will be able to get info about integration from some engineering handbook.
          ** – digit used in floating-point arithmetic, for more data see IEEE 754

          • Hydraulic computer/ integrator…. never heard of. I recall mechanical computing devices and they are couple of hundred years old. At the end, as you say it is important to seek the question – universal concept of human curiosity. Answers are ‘relatively’ easy.

  5. Actually the term “integration” comes from Integral Calculus, a branch of mathematics in which the area under a curve, or (yes) volume of a solid are calculated mathematically. For strictly mathematical conceptulization, the equations and pencil and paper do fine. But for real world objects and curves, the same determinations can be made with reasonable accuracy using machines (and now computers). These are mechanical integrators.

    A good pre-digital computer, analog example of this is the ball-and-disk integrator, which was used in labs to quantitate the area under a curve (which itself was proportional to the signal produced by an instrument. This signal in turn would be proportional to the amount of a particular component in a sample). Although I have not until now heard the term “hydraulic integrator” – and I plan to look it up – I suspect it does the same thing.

    The reason nobody uses these anymore is because computers and software have been doing it faster, cheaper, and better for decades, and don’t require mechanical maintenance to keep them working (well, theoretically at least).


    • “The reason nobody uses these anymore is because computers and software have been doing it faster, cheaper, and better for decades, and don’t require mechanical maintenance to keep them working (well, theoretically at least).”
      Yes, now it is quite obvious, but Lyukanov machine was created in early 1930s, where electric computers didn’t exist.

      • I absolutely agree – in it’s time it was cutting edge, and even today a little amazing (I read about it some last night).


    • “The reason nobody uses these anymore is because computers and software have been doing it faster, cheaper, and better for decades, and don’t require mechanical maintenance to keep them working (well, theoretically at least).”

      This is what I discovered with advent of Acad. Suddenly was able to ingrate areas under curve (as interpretation of physical functions) quickly and accurately. Soon I forgot what I learned (sometimes rather painfully 🙂 ) in school. Well, way to go I guess… we have machines to do the work.

      • Good point. I found out, starting a chemistry degree and profession in the mid 80s, that although you still would find mechanical integrators in some smaller or older labs, computers were taking over and here to stay. We calculated the areas under the response peaks for various analytical signals (e.g. UV absorbance as a chemical compound passes through a sensitive detector cell).

        By the way, my Dad, who was also a chemist, told me that in the USSR during these days they were so short of the technology needed for a non-military application like an analytical lab that the chemists did’t get any kind of integrator at all. They cut the peaks from the paper and weighed them on a balance. The relative weights would have the same ratio as their relative areas.


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