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  1. #1
    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    1888 Trapdoor

    Found this at the Virginia Gun Collector's Association show in Prince William county.
    ...the rifle, not the pup, although she had a great time there too.

    It's missing its front sight cover, and rear swivel on the trigger gaurd. but everything else seems to be there.

    Shouldn't be too much work. Looks like a layer of varnish or several coats of tru-oil over top. The original cartouche is 1890 and barely visible, but when I strip of the top layer of added finish, it should pop out again.

    Only one spot around the lock plate is chipped. all else is intact very nice.

    For my first trick...did you notice the barrel bands are upside down?


    So, how to remove the ramrod catch to get the bands off and reversed? There seems to be a taper pin through a block, that fits in a groove milled across the barrel. But the ramrod catch seems to be floating on top of this?

    It also appears the front sight blade may have been replaced, and it seems to be soldered in place.

    But first things first, let's get the bands on correctly, add the missing parts, and go shooting. The bore is pristine. It may be a while before I get to finish this since I just added 4 new gun projects, plus a redoing a flooded kitchen. House and shop are all in chaos.
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  4. #2
    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ssgross View Post
    go shooting.
    Why not do that before anything else? By the way, nice find. Only in the USAicon...

    I suppose you've already tried but...are you sure the bands don't slide off over the fixed fittings present?
    Last edited by browningautorifle; 03-27-2022 at 03:33 PM.
    Regards, Jim

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    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by browningautorifleicon View Post
    Why not do that before anything else?
    Well, first, I don't think I'll make it to the range and the parts will be here before I do . Second, the inside of the bands are milled to match the taper of the barrel, and so are direction specific. There is a slight "scrape" along the top of the barrel where the lower band was tapped into place. If it was reassembled that way and never fired, I worry (maybe incorrectly) that shooting might scrape more under the bands as the barrel heats up.
    The older gentleman I bought it from said all he did was "clean it up", but never fired it...buying from another gentleman who used it as a target rifle and said it shot very well with the right bullets and loads. My guess is it was taken apart for cleaning by the last owner, put back incorrectly and forgotten about until he decided to liquidate at the show.
    Quote Originally Posted by browningautorifle View Post
    Only in the USAicon
    We are indeed blessed with many gifts.

  8. #4
    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ssgross View Post
    shooting might scrape more under the bands as the barrel heats up
    I doubt it, they don't move. The scrape would be from reassembly.
    Regards, Jim

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    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    you're probably right. but if it fit with care, as they did back then, the band should be tight but not binding. reversed and now there is an edge binding on the barrel. It may not shoot to its fullest potential. Kragicon bands fit the same way, and I know from experience that too loose or too tight produce less then optimum.

    I think it's easy. Go figure the best way to find good pics of parts is in an eBay listing...

    pin comes out, whole thing lifts out...don't lose the spring in the side.

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    I guess we shall see.
    Regards, Jim

  12. #7
    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    Well, early to the range isn't going to happen, so last night I started working my magic on this. Everything came apart dandy with no issues, no splinters started around the usual tightly fired areas - likely the layer of varnish held everything down.
    With everything removed but the lock plate screw washers, I started on the side of the buttstock where you can see part of the finish missing. It seems like it was actually the remnants of a sticker. Not only was the top layer of finish not there, but there was gunky sticky residue around the area.

    I lightly rub with steel wool dipped in lacquer thinner, wiping frequently with a clean rag and lacquer thinner. At first, the finish turns in to a sticky mess, wipes away, then then slowly that area evens out with no more traces of whatever happened there. This is when we get to take a peak at what was originally there.

    Normally, as the top layer of oil and grime start to lift out, the wood takes on a bit of pink. This is the queue to stop as now the original linseed oilicon and patina is starting to lift. Gently wiping down with a rag damp with solvent moves that original color around. It gets into all the "new" scratches, and when you're all done in the end those look like the've been there for 130 years too. But This didn't happen. The sludge turned a thick brown color. It looks like my stock had been lightly sanded, stained with a birchwood Casey kit, and then heavy tru oil or varnish on top.

    So I have a mostly clean slate to work with...and look what I found that you couldn't see before...a proof mark, and the inspector's initials! all you could see before was barely the '189' in 1890.


    I'll keep gently at it with my method above until I'm happy what is left of the brown stain is at least even. Then, my home-made red oil should make it look like the finish was never touched in 130 years.

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    Question about the front sight. It certainly isn't original, much taller likely so the target shooter owner could shoot at shorter ranges, and it's longer then the base. The pin is missing, easily replaced, and it looks like the blade, which is .0490 thick, seems to be either soldered or welded in place.
    My library tells me the originals were .090 thick at the base, and a variable thickness above the base. So that makes sense then, and I don't think the groove on the base was messed with.

    I would like to remove it, make shims for it's bottom half to fill out the groove, and pin it so I can put an original back in if I wanted. I don't like it being permanently fixed with no pin. Question is, does that look like solder or a tac weld? I don't weld, so forgive me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ssgross View Post
    Question is, does that look like solder or a tac weld?
    Looks to me like old solder.
    Regards, Jim

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    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    I think I'll remove the front sight post, and re-do it right..shim and pin the taller blade for target shooting and keep an original to replace it in my kit if I ever pass it on.
    Next thing to consider...how to preserve the metal. It has been neglected for some time. The old guy I bought it from never took it out, never fired it. It sat in the corner for years.
    There is a fine layer of splotchy rust inlaces underneath all the grime on the metal that needs to be addressed if this rifle is going to make it another 130 years. I'll degrease and then boil the barreled action to convert it, then see what I have. If looks like a spotted cat, I'll re-blue over top of whatever is there and only as many iterations I need to blend it, so in the end it won't look "new".

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