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As long as I have been collecting Imperial Navy P.04s and their accessories I have believed the Brass zig-zag pattern was the original type cleaning rod and the steel ones were the later ones. This is presented as established fact in any number of books on the subject, including the authoritative Görtz and Sturgess set.

But it isn't true!

I've had a copy of the second (1913) printing of the official P.04 manual for a while, but I had not read it from cover to cover. The title page of the 1913 version says that revisions 1, 2 and 4 are incorporated in the text. It also says that revision 3 was in a footnote to the section on the cleaning rod.

Recently I received a copy of an original 1906 manual from a European member, which prompted me to compare them.

Surprise! The original 1906 manual describes the cleaning rod as made of steel, with a brass tip to protect the bore. The 1913 manual has the same text, with the addition of the footnote (which reflects revision 3) which says "Since 1910 the cleaning rod is made of brass."

So, the steel rod with a brass tip is officially the first Navy cleaning rod.
The brass rods came in 1910.

That leaves the steel rods with a steel tip. I know from my research into the ditty boxes that the Navy was very short of brass late in the war, to the extent that they asked the sailors to forego their brass nameplates.

That leaves open the (likely) possibility that the Navy returned to a steel rod to save brass at some point during the war, probably with a steel tip.
 

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Thanks for the info!
 

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Excellent research Mike! Thanks..
 

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Well done, Mike! Nothing's better than original documents and knowing the language. It also confirms retired, long time Navy collector Don Rousseau's opinion expressed in a conversation many years ago. However like others, I went by noted Navy author's / collector's opinion. Meanwhile I've asked two European members for Nico Van Gijn's email address to help settle the LP.08 sight tool question.
 

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I am a bit at a loss of words. Great detective work.

Ed
 

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It will be interesting to see if the value of the Zig-Zags drop and the once regarded red headed stepchild rises as a result of new knowledge.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I think the market has determined their value based on relative scarcity. I don't think order of delivery matters all that much.
 

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Mice you are right... thanks for bringing it to the point. Hans Reckendorf reported that already 20 years ago and I remember that it was discussed here controversy.
 

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Hi Mike, Just to complicate things, think about this. The LP08 (Artillery Luger) was introduced in 1914, at no time was it issued with an all brass cleaning rod, at least I've never seen or heard of one. I think the Navy must have switched back to steel about as soon as the ink on the 1913 manual was dry.
Regards, Norm
 

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Someday this will be forgotten..again...and found ...again. Still, good info based on period materials that is appreciated. Like some, I am not sure it matters much as ANY original Imperial Navy Luger cleaning rod is a treasure. But I think the brass zig zag has enough uniqueness to be of high interest. If nothing else because like Norm says..the Artillery didn't have them.
 

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When the war broke out in August of 1914 the German military ceased the use of brass in all nonessential equipment such as helmets, buckles, buttons, etc. Brass was in limited supply and was used only in the manufacture of munitions. Brass tips on cleaning rods were also replaced with all steel rods.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Hi Mike, Just to complicate things, think about this. The LP08 (Artillery Luger) was introduced in 1914, at no time was it issued with an all brass cleaning rod, at least I've never seen or heard of one. I think the Navy must have switched back to steel about as soon as the ink on the 1913 manual was dry.
Regards, Norm
That's consistent with my last statement that I thought it likely the Navy returned to steel rods at some point. Are all the Artillery rods steel with a brass tip, or do some have a steel tip?

Differentiating between what I now know based on original manuals and my opinion:

Facts:
  • The original navy rods were steel with a brass tip.
  • In 1910 the navy changed to using the all brass "zig-zag" rod.

Opinion:
  • It is likely that the navy switched back to steel rods some time after the 1913 manual was published.
  • The change most likely happened with the 1914 contract for long frame P.04s without a grip safety, known to collectors as the "1908" Navy.
  • Since there are brass tipped lP.08 cleaning rods, the navy probably initially reverted to the original design before eventually dropping the brass tip.
  • I know from my Utensilienkasten research that the brass nameplates were dropped on 10 November 1915 due to metal shortages. Based on that, it's likely that the brass tip would have been dropped on the next P.04 contract, with would mean the 1916 and 1917 short frame P.04s were probably shipped with the all steel rods.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
When the war broke out in August of 1914 the German military ceased the use of brass in all nonessential equipment such as helmets, buckles, buttons, etc. Brass was in limited supply and was used only in the manufacture of munitions. Brass tips on cleaning rods were also replaced with all steel rods.
So does that make my brass tipped Artillery rod more valuable? Since its the only one I have examined, it never occurred to me that it might be unusual.
 

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I wonder how many tons of brass were used to make a German submarine? Then think of the brass Artillery casings shot up on a daily basis! I guess those could be salvaged? I wonder if they were or could have been re loaded?

I know from my Utensilienkasten research that the brass nameplates were dropped on 10 November 1915 due to metal shortages. Based on that, it's likely that the brass tip would have been dropped on the next P.04 contract, with would mean the 1916 and 1917 short frame P.04s were probably shipped with the all steel rods. REALLY! Brass TIPS? How many brass tips would it take to make up even one Artillery casing? That just seems crazy.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Brass artillery casings were, in fact, reloaded. They were marked on the base so they knew how many times they had been reloaded. I'm guessing after x number they went to the smelter.

I guess most small arms ammo went to steel casings at some point???
 

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So does that make my brass tipped Artillery rod more valuable? Since its the only one I have examined, it never occurred to me that it might be unusual.
Generally, brass tipped with acceptance stamps bring the most while brass tipped with no stamps come in second and steel rods last.
 

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When the war broke out in August of 1914 the German military ceased the use of brass in all nonessential equipment such as helmets, buckles, buttons, etc. Brass was in limited supply and was used only in the manufacture of munitions. Brass tips on cleaning rods were also replaced with all steel rods.
It's amazing how apparently minor savings can add up. Sturgess estimates that when Mauser replaced the aluminum bases on P08 magazines with plastic they saved 5 tons of aluminum per year, enough to produce two medium bombers! However, in the case of cleaning rods I think the change over from brass to steel ferrules and washers was largely symbolic, the amount saved per rod would be less than enough to make one Luger round.
Norm
 
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