Rochester Literature

Joined: December 13th, 2017, 4:05 pm

August 3rd, 2018, 6:57 pm #1

Does anyone have an example of a Rochester parts list or instruction booklet?

Also, has anyone ever seen a Rochester with a rear sight in the position as pictured on these advertisements?





It’s farther up on the receiver than any Rochester I’ve ever seen.
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Joined: July 22nd, 2011, 4:46 am

August 4th, 2018, 4:37 am #2

Nice catch. I've never seen one with a rear sight like that. Never seen any instruction or parts list for a Rochester either. I do have some Monroe Gasket letters talking about the Rochester but nothing beyond that. That nice flyer, I've never seen either. 
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Joined: May 9th, 2018, 1:14 am

August 4th, 2018, 4:40 am #3

Heres the two different variation.
var 2.jpg
var 1.jpg
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Joined: July 22nd, 2011, 4:46 am

August 4th, 2018, 4:44 am #4

Bigwave8 wrote: Heres the two different variation.
Looks like, what must be, the first variation has a cast trigger guard. No mention of this variation in the Blue Book.
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Joined: May 9th, 2018, 1:14 am

August 4th, 2018, 5:09 am #5

Rochester Precision Air Rifles
(POSTWAR AIR RIFLES PART 6)

Rochester Precision Air Rifles were manufactured by Monroe Gasket & Manufacturing Co. Inc. This Company located in Rochester New York had been a supplier of Gasket and Seals to Crosman Arms for their Air-guns. With the loss of Military contracts after the end of WWII, Monroe looked for new products to fill this gap in revenue. Monroe Gasket was expanding right after the end of the war and in early 1946 had purchased a War Plant installation through the War Assets corporation to acquire more factory space in Rochester NY. They stated they plan to employ 150 new workers in this installation alone. Monroe had big plans and they decided to enter the Air Rifle market by designing and manufacturing their own Air Rifle. In late 1946, approximately a year after the end of the war, the Rochester Precision Air Rifle was born. A single model was introduced and it very much resembled the popular Crosman model 101 in appearance. In an effort to differentiate it’s product from its competitors, the Rochester used harden steel for working parts instead of brass and bronze like the competition. The Steel Rifled barrel was stamped "ROCHESTER PRECISION AIR RIFLE, Rochester New York" and a unusual for time  Ball bearing Valve was used. This type valve was similar to the one employed by the Sheridan Supergrade. Which Company came up with the idea first is debatable. Monroe decide to offer only one model in a single caliber .22 cal. The Rochester Air Rifle was offered for sale less than a year after the end of the war.                                                                                                            
Monroe entered the Air Rifle market with lofty expectations, and soon discovered the market  was not quite that Rosy after all. It appears that Monroe grossly overestimated demand for their Air Rifle, and proceeded to built more guns than they could sell. They produce a large volume of Air Rifles over a short time period, and as a result Monroe found that the Air Rifle market could not provide the profitability the company required and quickly exited the market. Monroe wasted no time in divesting itself of the Rochester Air Rifle line, quickly selling the tooling and designs to Kessler Manufacturing to recoup what they could from the venture. I believe Monroe, who was not primarily an Airgun manufacturer, want to get back to other manufacturing areas that were more profitable, and wanted to put the Rochester Airgun business behind it as quickly as possible. I suspect that Monroe liquidated almost all the inventory to wholesalers and surplus houses prior to selling Kessler the designs and tooling. This is supported by two known facts. Surplus houses were still selling the Rochester rifle in 1950, a full two years after the Rochester line folded in 1948, and Kessler never sold any Rochester rifles. A few Transition models may have had Rochester labeled barrels, but Kessler strived to give their new Air Rifles their own identity, and redesigned the gun to look different from the Rochester even though internally they were the same gun. Kessler strived to not use those parts from the acquired parts inventory that strongly suggested Rochester visually. You can see how the Air Rifle morphed during the Kessler Transition model. By changing the appearance of the receiver, stock and barrel, it looked like a totally different Airgun. Mission accomplished. I often wished Kessler would have redesigned the rear sight as well.
 

It has been noted among Air Gun Collectors that, even though both Rochester and Kesslers were manufactured approximately the same number of years, there is a much greater number of Rochester out there than Kesslers. One expert suggests ten times as many Rochester than Kesslers. That is easily explained. Monroe was a much large manufacturer than Kessler at that time and as such, had a much larger industrial capacity. They just built more Air Rifles over the same time period as Kessler. When Monroe stopped production, Monroe apparently liquidated remaining stock which was sold at a cut-rate clearance price for years afterwards. Kessler did not go that route, they simply slowly sold off remaining stock themselves and even raised the selling price of the remaining stock. As a result Kessler sold few of the remaining Air Rifle model before declaring bankruptcy in 1953. (Kessler may have liquidated the Air Rifle line some time before declaring bankruptcy)
  
Klein’s Sporting Goods of Chicago was a well-known seller of Mail Order Sporting goods and often carried liquidated and WWII surplus Arms. Klein’s placed an AD offering the Rochester for 50% off the original retail price in 1948. Rochester only produced one model Air Rifle, but 2 variants are known. These will be known as Variant 1 and Variant 2. The Rochester Precision Rifle was manufactured for less than 2 years from late 1946 to mid 1948. 

Rochester Variant 1 Early production: Trigger guard is cast metal. Rear sight is of the Step type located in front of the breech.  Construction, fit and finish appears superior than later produced Rifles. This is the earlier version of the Rifle and is the one that matches the pictures in the Rochester Ads.  

Rochester Variant 2 Late production: Trigger guard stamped metal with a Simple “V” sight located behind the breech over the cocking knob. Top of receiver formed slightly different. This is the later, more common version of the Rifle. 
 
Rochester produce only one model Air Rifle in .22 caliber. Outwardly they strongly resemble The Crosman 101, which I think is more than coincidental. The Rochester was approximately 36 inch in length with a 20 inch rifled steel barrel. It employed a ball bearing type valve and is a multi- pump pneumatic with a two piece wooden stock without buttplate. The more common Variant 2 sports a simple “V” rear sight located behind the breech and blade front sight. The front sight is pinned onto the barrel which is uncommon on Airguns. An Airgun expert surmises that " the pinning of the front sight was due to a lack of manufacturing materials immediately after the war”. Production numbers unknown, but they built a lot of these rifles. I suspect that practically all the Rifles liquidated to wholesalers and surplus houses ended up in circulation when sold at the cutrate prices these places employed to move discontinued products. These Air Rifles were first offered at $19.95 when introduced. Monroe was forced to drop price 25% to $14.95 during mid-production to start moving unsold product. After Monroe moved on to other endeavors and liquidated their stock of rifles, the Rochester was being offered at 50% off, a mere $9.95 by Dec 1948.

This Rochester AD is actually a Rochester - Kessler Hybrid Model A variant 1.  An example of the Rochester - Kessler Model A variant 1 has been found and the barrel is labeled Rochester. 
 


 
 
 
Rochester ad 2.jpg
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Joined: December 13th, 2017, 4:05 pm

August 4th, 2018, 12:08 pm #6

Now that’s what I’m talking about!!!
Way to go Bigwave8!!!!

Dang, that was an amazing read!
Thank you so much for the articles & the photographs as well.
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Joined: July 22nd, 2011, 4:46 am

August 5th, 2018, 8:21 am #7

Bigwave8 wrote: Heres the two different variation.
The 1st variation is so rare and it's pretty clear that in late 1946, when this design was current, Rochester was not shipping. Because of this, I think the 1st variation seen here would be better called a prototype model. 

It would be great to get more pictures.

Regarding the "Rochester" that looks like a Kessler in the Kleins ad, it is likely a "Rochester Arms" model which can be seen in this thread http://www.tapatalk.com/groups/american ... t8019.html

I'm being to suspect that Rochester Precision Air Rifle Co. never got off the ground. There is absolutely no paper associated with any operations by Rochester Precision Air Rifle (Monroe) after January, 1947.  Instead, it looks more like Monroe sold out in 1947 and the new owners (later to be Kessler) took over and produced the Rochester with available parts and then, in 1949 when they still weren't ready to release the Kessler line, they fulfilled the Kleins order with "Rochester Arms" marked versions of the early Kessler. 
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Joined: May 9th, 2018, 1:14 am

August 5th, 2018, 10:35 pm #8

Here are so more Rochester Airgun photos.

I would agree that it appears that Monroe was quickly moving on from the "Rochester Arms"  venture to to other more lucrative ventures after the war.
Its unknown when Kessler bought out and took over the Rochester production. So its unknown whether the Rochester/Kessler hybrid was produced by Rochester Arms or by Kessler. 

The Rochester 1st Variant does have a number stamped on the receiver. Whether it is a serial number or not is unknown since it is the only example I've seen.
Rochester22012.jpg
Rochester22011.jpg
Rochester22001.jpg
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Joined: May 9th, 2018, 1:14 am

August 5th, 2018, 11:08 pm #9

Here are some documents and advertisments for Rochester.

The newspaper articles tend to point toward Monroe moving in a new direction and away from Air Rifle manufacturing.

The other Advertisements and Documents tend to support the notion that Monroe did manufacture the airguns for a short period.
You'll notice the change in appearance of the Airgun from the Dec 1948 Kleins ad and the one two years later in Dec 1950. 
I believe Kessler probably bought out the manufacturing rights and all inventory of Rochester Arms by sometime in 1948. They proceeded to liquidate 
all the Rochester Arms inventory of Rochester Air rifles. This explains the 1948 Kleins advertisement and low price. By the time of the Dec 1950 Advertisement,
Kessler was manufacturing their own version of the rifle with a redesigned receiver. They continued to use old Rochester parts stock until it was used up.
There was no use in producing new barrels until the old stock of Rochester barrels were used up. So that would explain why the hybrid exists as Kessler used up old Rochester stock. Once the old Rochester barrels were used up, Kessler finally produced there own barrels with a different design and labeled Kessler. By this time, the Kessler Airgun exhibit very few visual clues to its Rochester Airgun origin.
Of course this is pure conjecture at this point as no paper trail exist for this transition from Rochester Arms to Kessler, but it does fit the few facts we have.
Rochester letter .jpg
Rochester ad1.jpg
Rochester ad 2.jpg
Monroe Gaskets factory.jpg
Monroe Gaskets factory 1.jpg
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Joined: July 22nd, 2011, 4:46 am

August 6th, 2018, 12:14 am #10

Didn't have those newspaper articles; nice research!  It's possible that the East Rochester "Filter Block Plant" was turned into a pellet manufacturing location. The O'Connell Pellets boxes indicate they were produced in East Rochester. 

The only addition that I have in regards of paper is a series of letters exchanged between SE O'Connell and Roger Marsh (Gun Editor at Hunting and Fishing magazine.) The initial letter (which I don't have) is from Marsh to Monroe requesting a sample rifle for review. The first letter I have is  dated July 30, 1946, from S.E. O'Connell who is the Vice President and Sales manager of Monroe (NB: this must be the same O'Connell as the O'Connell CO2 rifle of the same era.) recognizing the request, he points to a pamphlet on the rifle (I think this would have been the same flyer as seen above) describes how the steel rifle will improve accuracy, describes how the "Production tests on the air chamber which holds the air prior to shooting and is actually the important functioning part of the gun, has been run over 1,000,000 shots and is still in very fine shape."

O'Connell closes with, "I would like to send a sample gun on to you but would rather hold off on doing so for a month or two."  

The next letter is again from O'Connell, dated January 15, 1947 and simply states that a rifle and a box of pellets had been sent under separate cover. 

Letter from Marsh, dated January 20, indicates gun has arrived but without the pellets. He notes that there is not a single .22 cal pellet for sale in the entire city of Cleveland (An interesting historical note) and has enclosed a check of $3 for 5 boxes of pellets.

This exchange of letters suggests that Monroe was not shipping rifles when it published that 1946 advertisement announcing their new air gun, since it is nearly 6 months before a magazine gun editor (a VIP customer) receives his review gun. 

It would seem that Marsh got a type 2 production gun, since he complains about the open rear sights. 

Note that the address of Monroe Gasket is 244 St. Paul St. Rochester, which puts it only two blocks, and over a viaduct, from the longtime Crosman Arms address on 400 St. Paul St. from 1925-1945.

It's also important to note SE O'Connell would almost have to be the same O'Connell behind the O'Connell CO2 rifle.  

The reason I think that Monroe abandoned and sold off their air rifle interests in 1947 is because of a complete absence of activity in either magazine ads or company produced paper: note that for 1946 we have a fair amount of Monroe Gasket air rifle related paper and absolutely nothing after that until the 1948 Kleins magazine ad.  

My guess is that Monroe gave up on the air rifle early in 1947 and sold everything (lock, stock, and barrel) to a group of investors who later became Kessler. I suspect that one mistake that Monroe made was to produce an excessive amount of small parts. Wouldn't be surprised if all of the machined parts for all of the Rochester/Kessler rifles were all produced at the same time in 1946 by Monroe.  Part of this is driven by the sight of the pallets of Rochester/Kessler parts at Smith's Lawnmower Repair shop. Some of the smalls were still there in 10s of thousands and this was the late 1980s. These were later acquired by Ron Sauls.  
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