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I have seen a lot of pictures of WW2 half-tracks with a 1917 mounted on the side armor,but you never see any water cans,not very practical really. So did they just fill the water jacket with water and plug it off or wasn't it that critical for short bursts? Not that I have one or am doing this,it came up on another forum,not machine gun related, so I thought I would ask the people who know.
 

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Watercooled 1917's don't need a hose attached to function. They do not circulate the water. The water can and hose only catch the steam and condense it like a puke tank on a car. You can fire a belt or two before it starts to heat up and boil. On a vehicle the hose and can can be in the way. It is easier to just refill the gun with water as it boils out.
 

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What about a frozen gun? That water had to get below 32 degrees at some point or another.
Water freezing in the water jacket would expand, and I'd think you'd be replacing the jacket. I wonder if they used some alcohol or anti freeze? Of course alcohol wouldn't have made it into the gun...
 

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Water freezing in the water jacket would expand, and I'd think you'd be replacing the jacket. I wonder if they used some alcohol or anti freeze? Of course alcohol wouldn't have made it into the gun...
I seems to recall Dolf mentioning that some Vickers crews used an antifreeze mixture. I need to dig out my GOL and do some research.
 

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I think glycerine/mixed with water was used as an anti-freeze. Or piss with it's high salt content would do in a pinch.
 

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FM 23-55, Oct 1955 specifies the use of "antifreeze compound" (ethylene glycol type) for temperatures as low as minus 60. 60 percent by volume of antifreeze compound and 40 percent water. The manual also says cold water was not to poured into a hot jacket.

You would not want to fire the M1917A1 even with short burst without water. The barrel was no heavier than that of an 03 Springfield and confined inside the jacket would cool even slower. The BAR had a much heavier barrel but overheated pretty fast even with short bursts. Even one magazine could cause burns if touched (personal experience there).
 

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An article in a recent American Rifleman was on a Korean War vet and it was mentioned in the article that in the Winter they filled the 1917's with anti-freeze. It didn't say if that was 100% anti-freeze or if it was added to the water in the jacket.
 

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Back to the original ??

Can you shoot them dry?
Or
Will it destroy the packing if dry?

The tiny bit mine will be shot when done...dry would be easier for clean up etc. So leave the packing out or what say the Herd?
 

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I shoot my semi and full auto a lot without water but only very short bursts, like maybe 30-40 rounds and then let it sit a while. I do this when tinkering with different ammo or letting the kids shoot a few rounds off behind the house. I have never had any trouble or seen damage to the barrel. It is a pain to dry it all out after shooting with water in it before putting it away so I only use the water when its going to be a good day at the range putting lots of lead down range.
 

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If you shoot them slow and only a few rounds like any other semi auto rifle it probably won't hurt anything. but if you intend to shoot a full belt even slow fire it certainly won't do the barrel any good. The first time I fired mine I put about a quart of water in and proceed to shoot no more than about thirty rounds that afternoon slow and intermittently . I don't think the water even got warm. That was all I fired that day but it took a couple days to dry out the inside of the jacket before I put it away. Had I known I was only going to shoot a few rounds I probably would have dispensed with the water. I don't think test firing it with a few rounds would hurt anything.
 

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I found the best way to dry my gun out is with a hair dryer. I use some water soluble oil mixed in the water and when the gun drys, it leaves some oil in the jacket. I just take the gun completly apart and prop the hair dryer in the grip area. With the top cover closed, the air goes right through the gun and its dry in about 5 minutes. I then shoot some gun oil in all the holes of the water jacket and reassemble. I have been doing that for about 20 years with my gun and had no issues.

On a side note getting back to the original question. I have always wondered how much abuse 1917a1 would take until the gun sustained damag (beyond the barrel itself) or stopped working with no water. I have heard of instances where guns were fired during the war with no water because of jacket damage or lack of water. I wonder if the army ever torture tested any to see what it would take?
 

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Back to the original ??

Can you shoot them dry?
Or
Will it destroy the packing if dry?

The tiny bit mine will be shot when done...dry would be easier for clean up etc. So leave the packing out or what say the Herd?
AS noted by others - if you are only firing a few rds for testing, ( and few is subjective, I mean 1-20) for function or whatever, I shoot the guns dry, as in no added water. Packing is not an issue - you should be greasing it anyway, and I run O-rings, so no issues. The guns get cleaned, dried and oiled / re-greased before being put away . I was trouble shooting an 08/15 and fired probably 60 rds altogether, but over the period of 1/2 hour. I pulled the barrel because of the ammo ( corrosive), and while it was warm it was not to hot to handle . YMMV
 

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Agreed with the general consensus here. I test fire new built water cooled guns with no water, but am shooting just 10-20 rounds, with a few seconds inbetween each. Not getting things hot enough to hurt the barrel. Just a little oil, not even using packing.

Also, the water soluble oil idea is one I was taught long ago. Great way to help preserve the inside of a jacket. I like to empty the jacket when hot, shortly after the last rounds are fired, leaving that slight oil residue inside and letting the thing evaporate dry with everything unplugged and wide open. Thought the blow dryer idea is not a bad one either.

When we were shooting the San Quentin gun, I was checking the water level without knowing one of the prison armorers had put the cork in the drain fitting. He thought, I suppose, that it would retain the water better, but the effect was to build up some nasty pressure with boiling water. Again, not having noticed that, I pulled the fill plug. Fortunately, the scalding of that hand was not too bad.... :eek:
 

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As a matter of fact I was told by someone who probably knew from experience that during WWII when firing the gun on the range, it was standard practice to drain the water from the gun and the then fire some rounds to heat up the barrel to help dry out the jacket. The number of rounds quoted was about 30 or 40 but who knows for sure. This made clean up a lot quicker but probably didn't help the barrel life.
 

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One of Dolfs Browning books has some photos of testing done ( or maybe it was the Vickers book?) on shooting the gun without water and the effect on the barrel. I will try to find it this weekend
 
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