1850 vintage BP dble barrel restoration


January 8, 2011, 08:44 PM
I just took possession of a double barreled muzzle loader vintage mid 1800s that belongs to my wife's brother. He has asked me to "restore" it to whatever I consider a proper condition. It sat in her father's closet until his passing a couple years ago.
The rifle is in pretty sorry shape - rusty/corroded, stock pretty rough with paint dripped all over it, and one barrel obstructed, probably with a load in it from who knows how long ago.

I can deal with the obstruction and know a fair bit about restoring the stock, but how would the steel have been finished?

I also have a mid 1870s 22lr single shot rifle that belonged to my grandfather that needs some of the same work, but is in much better shape. Still the barrel has need of some restoration.

Any suggestions on how to proceed in work of this nature?


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Pete D.
January 8, 2011, 08:55 PM
A rifle from the 1850s is may well have twist steel/damascus barrels. The shotguns from that era do. Perhaps rifles were different. If they are as corroded and rusted as you describe, they can probably never be made safe. You may be able to restore the gun so that it looks OK but it will never be shootable. You might be able to have an historically correct barrel made for it (and a lock if need be) but once you replace those things....do you really have the same gun?
That being said....I'd sure like to get a look at it.
How about a picture or two or three?

January 8, 2011, 09:26 PM
I just sat down with it in my lap and did some deep inspections. The steel plates below the barrels are engraved with "Edward Middleton" and have engravings of two birds in flight behind each hammer. The stock has what appears to be inlaid checkering on both the forearm around the lock tab and on the neck of the stock. The nipples are different sizes, so I assume one or both have been replaced at some point in time. On top and bottom of the stock are capped holes that I assume were for storage of whatever shot was used for this gun. The ram rod has been lost but the rest of the gun appears to be complete and original.

My bro-in-law's request is to restore it to display condition. I would not attempt to fire this and when finished will probably render it unfirable (maybe by replacing the nipples with fake ones so it can't be fired) as I do not believe it is safe to actually use.

I will upload some pix as soon as I can get them taken.

Jim Watson
January 9, 2011, 01:02 AM
A couple of Googles found:
Edward Middleton was a gunsmith in Birmingham England circa 1855-1895.

Shoot The Moon
January 9, 2011, 06:20 AM
A gunsmith here in the UK used to sleeve damascus barrels so that they could be used - just in case the appeal of using the gun is too much! Chap's name is Nigel Teague. I was going to post a link to his website but it doesn't mention the sleeving service anymore - maybe give him a call if you are interested.

Sounds a lovely piece of history - I have a Belgian made d/b sxs from the late 1800's just waiting for a pair of new hammers from Peter Dyson.

451 Detonics
January 9, 2011, 02:52 PM
For a start you can use 0000 steel wool and lots of machine oil to remove the worse of the rust from the metal. There are Co2 kits available to blow out the obstructed barrel. Wood can be stripped, steam used to raise any dents, Pinkerton Classic Stain and Lin Speed oil can make the wood look close to original.

Pete D.
January 10, 2011, 03:38 PM
Bob: In your first post, you describe the gun as a rifle. Is it a rifle or a shotgun?


January 10, 2011, 08:57 PM
My guess is that is is a shotgun. After seeing the birds in flight on the engraving, that's my best guess. That also means the barrel obstruction is probably a wad of shot, so removing it may be easier that if it was a ball.

January 22, 2011, 04:04 PM
Here are some pix of the gun. From the barrel diameter I assume it is a shotgun, at a little over 9/16". I can't find my calipers so I can't give you a specific measurement.





451 Detonics
January 22, 2011, 04:21 PM
You can replace the missing bits of wood with either slivers of real wood or you could use one of the excellent wood fillers available. From the looks of this it will never be shootable without the investment of probably at least 4 figures. My guess is it is a shotgun or rifling would probably be evident at the muzzle. However you can make a very handsome looking wall hanger out of it.

January 22, 2011, 04:37 PM
for the inside of the barrel. An old way to fix the barrels on the inside. Go to your local auto parts store and buy a wheel cylinder hone. Then if you can have someone weld a longer metal rod onto the cylinder hone. Now spray some penetrating oil in the barrel. Then attach the cylinder hone to a drill. Now you can very easily work your way up and down the barrel on the inside removing all of the rust taking the barrel down to bare metal.

Depending on how the outside of the barrel looks. like others have said some steel wool. Some picks and an old tooth brush will do pretty good. Make sure you put a good coat of oil over the outside and inside.

Now the finish. You can either cold blue the gun barrels to a new style blue or rust finish the barrel or a combo.

Cold blue kits are pretty cheap and can make your gun look fantastic i will post some pics of some in a bit

January 22, 2011, 04:46 PM
wheel cylinder hone
after stripping the gun
first shot is just one application of rust blue finish i applied about 4 coats

before shot

January 22, 2011, 04:52 PM
final finish

so ya you can really get into your gun. you might not want it to look brand new. my plan was to make a new gun look like an old western style gun. finish and all. your gun with the age may look pretty good rust blued. i would not go with a plum finish as they just look almost like what you have then a new cold blue finish may look tooooo new

January 22, 2011, 09:34 PM
My goal will be to give a historical restoration without breaking the bank. Also, my plan will be for this to be a wall hanger. I am very uncomfortable releasing this to someone (my bro-in-law) without ensuring it can't be fired. I don't want to damage it in any way as to reduce the potential value, but plan to install blank nipples. If need be they can always be replaced with the real thing if someone decides to do so, but that will not be my problem.


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