Refurbishing old rifles...


Cascade Man
August 27, 2006, 01:32 AM
Hello all,

I recently aquired an old .54 Cal. New Englander for free. The guy bought it 10 years ago, fired it one day with some friends, and never cleaned it. He just set on the wall and never touched it. For 10 years. Yes, 10 years.... He gave it to me and said "if you can't get it to work, it'll look good above the mantle with a possibles bag and a powder horn". It was rust. The tang was completely rusted to the breech hook, and I amazingly got the whole gun apart, cleaned up, and put back together. I put lapping compound on about a hundred patches and ran them up and down the barrel and was shocked to see the lands 90-95% intact. I will be testing it to see how it fires and check it's accuracy (or lack there of) soon.

I know a guy that brings old guns back to life, and he gave me the tips to make this New Englander breathe fire once more. He told me that two of his old muzzleloaders he has had 60% or so of the lands and grooves left when he was done cleaning them up, and they were still pretty accurate at 50 to 75 yards. He said mine will probably do awesome at 100 yards or more.

My question is: Has anyone here reworked old guns and made them usable for hunting again? Or just reworked them for use at the range? Any input on how it might or might not do? Tips? Tricks? It will all be appreciated.

Cascade Man

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August 27, 2006, 02:55 AM
I've heard of reboring a barrel and turning it into a smoothbore, having old, worn rifling "freshened up" and installing a barrel liner.

s&w 24
August 27, 2006, 04:00 AM
one thing I have done with fouled barrels is boil them in a tank to clean out the fouling and then use a bronze brush to get out the tough stuff. If you have 90% of the rifling you will have near 100% accuracy. Also check the crown for dings and the lock for birds nests and such.

August 27, 2006, 08:32 AM
ThompsonCenter has a lifetime warranty, call them up.

4v50 Gary
August 27, 2006, 09:41 AM
A pitted barrel may still shoot well. Shoot it first and see how well it does before deciding on any further action. Mind you, you should try a different combination of ball sizes & patches & powder charge. Keep a notebook & swab between different combinations.

Loyalist Dave
August 27, 2006, 08:03 PM
The question is the pitting as was said. If your friend who actually saw the gun thinks it'll still shoot, then it probaby will. Mine shoots both patched ball and conicals well, but I prefer the patched ball.

Having it reamed out to a smooth bore will violate the warranty from T/C, and the New Englander is made with a companion barrel in 12 ga. so would be a waste of money (imho). If the barrel is "roached" then look for a replacement or one of the 12 ga barrels (imho).


August 27, 2006, 10:02 PM
I reworked an abused .54 New Englander myself. I picked it up cheap at an auction. It wasn't in as bad of shape as the one you worked on, but whoever owned it didn't clean the bore and it was rusted beyond belief. I cleaned it, touched it up here and there, lapped the barrel till it shined.

Since it's already banged and nicked, it's my toss around hunting gun now. Even with a few pits in the bore, and some rounded edges on the lands, it shoots quite well. Drops elk and deer with the best of them.

If you find your barrel doesn't shoot well afterall, there are barrels available all the way up to .58 if memory serves. Enjoy!

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