The WWI War Contract Model 1904 McClellan saddles
In 1917 you find a distinct change in M1904 series, attributable to the re-allotment of steel and iron resources to
other war production. The steel tubular rivets and caps disappear, as well as the iron/steel wire stirrup loops, replaced by brass rivets
and burrs, and cast brass stirrup loops. On a majority of the trees made, the fine profile of the pommel is lost, with war production trees
having much heavier, blockier looking pommel profile. These seems to reflect a time savings in shaping the pommel. I've seen a few where the shaping
was so rudimentary that you can feel a hard angled edge under the cover.
These 1917 and 1918 production saddles (along with the 1913 mule saddles) are the ONLY McClellans to have the brass stirrup loops, which is a key
identification detail. For the same reason, all (or nearly all) M1928 McClellans will have brass stirrup loops as well, since they
were constructed using WWI surplus saddle seats. For those that rebuild and/or restore these saddle to use, these stirrup loops are a safety
concern - the hard brass straps that hold these to the tree tend to cut into the softer cast brass loops with use, and will eventually need
replacement in order to prevent a potentially disasterous failure.
Image the 20 April 1917 Quartermaster drawings prepared for saddletree contractors, specifying materials reinforcement archs and stirrup loops