Would you clean an original Colt 1860 Army?


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Russ Jackson
January 8, 2013, 02:46 PM
I have an original 1860 Army that has not been cleaned for a longtime. I don't think most the screws have ever been removed. Worried about the Case Hardening. It has no rust and presents very well and I would not want to hurt the patina, remaining bluing and tarnished trigger guard. However the barrel and cylinder might benefit from a good scrub. They are not bad but have a little grime around the nipples. I have oiled everything lightly.

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hwmoore
January 8, 2013, 03:02 PM
clean yes, disassemble I don't know. I think more guns are destroyed by neglect rather that attention. Just don't Bubba it up LOL use the right tool and solvents

swathdiver
January 8, 2013, 03:04 PM
I'm no expert on this but I'd be worried about messing up the patina. Maybe q-tips and gun oil but that's it; unless of course you want to shoot it.

Recently had the honor to meet a civil war veteran, an 1860 army taken off a dead yankee. The owner is leaving it as is, not even oiling it though its kept inside.

BHP FAN
January 8, 2013, 03:41 PM
It might devalue somewhat, it if you clean it. How much it devalues, will depend on how much you clean it. I like 'diver's Q-tips and gun oil approach, if done very darn carefully.

joeschmoe
January 8, 2013, 04:06 PM
It depends. Is it good patina, or bad corrosion/dirt?
Good patina; No. Don't "clean" it, if you mean removing the natural patina over the good finish that is still intact. Showing it's age is fine if it was cared for, not abused or exposed to accelerated wear (weather, chemicals, etc).
Bad patina; You can "clean" any mud or debris or rust. If it's rust or really bad corrosion then it's value is already low. No one pays to see 150 year old rust.

IMO, any "patina" that effects the operation of the gun (that would otherwise function) should be removed to allow the gun to operate safely.

Don't remove the screws. Generally you don't want to "give it a good scrub".
Value is based on how close to orginal condition, how much wear since then, how well it has aged.

ETA; my experience is not with colts, but other antiques (musical instruments, swords, etc), but they all seem to follow similar principles.

Hammerdown77
January 8, 2013, 04:18 PM
I would definitely not turn the screws. In fact, there's a note to gunsmiths in my Kuhnhausen shop manual for the Colt SAA that advises gunsmiths to not turn screws on a 1st Gen pistol that might have some historical value or significance. Pre 1900s especially.

pohill
January 8, 2013, 05:20 PM
I clean the internals of my originals simply to preserve them. I oil the internals and bore (no Bore Butter). It might not be a popular thing to do but I do it. I do not disturb the external patina. I lightly cleaned the backstrap of an original and found an engraved name that had been covered by grime.
But I really do understand why some would not touch an original. It's your choice.
Before:
http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m217/pohill/DSCF3907-1.jpg
After:
http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m217/pohill/DSCF3919-1.jpg

44 Dave
January 8, 2013, 05:22 PM
Had a 3rd dragoon with a broken hand. Changed the hand and the guy that bought it paid top dollar after we shot it.

scrat
January 8, 2013, 08:21 PM
Strip it make sure its in good working order. Clean it good. then shoot it. So instead of it now being an old decoration for a glass case. It is antique working shooter. Same time better start trying to find some OE parts or replacements.

Jim K
January 8, 2013, 08:28 PM
I will almost always clean a gun enough to remove dirt, old fouling, and live rust, and to restore functionality. Beyond that, it depends on the gun and the amount of cleaning required. There is no way that point can be defined in words or some rule set down.

FWIW, I fully agree with Pohill's (#7) cleaning of that gun. I think it would have been a shame to leave it like it was to preserve the original dirt and cobwebs.

Jim

pohill
January 8, 2013, 09:25 PM
I also repaired and fixed the internals. If you look at the 1st pic (the dirty one) you can see a slotted bolt in a fork under the spring. Well, it was in backwards (it now comes in from the other side). And I replaced the spring. Now the gun is functional and probably worth a little more. I haven't shot it yet but I plan to. It's kinda rare but not very valuable - I think they made 300 of them in .28 (James Warner).
I'd definitely clean and fix up an 1860 .44 and shoot it, unless it had historical or family value. They are a sturdy gun. I saw one in a shop that was completely original except for the cylinder - it had a 2nd Generation cylinder. Pietta or Uberti parts should fit the internals.
Can you post a pic of the 1860?

BHP FAN
January 8, 2013, 11:01 PM
Pietta parrts will not fit in an original 1860 Colt. I've tried . Ubertis are almost a drop in, with some minor hand fitting.

Skinny 1950
January 9, 2013, 12:24 AM
I bought an 1860 and someone had lightly sanded the top of the barrel to make the stampings more visible, the entire gun has a brown patina and the bare metal on top of the barrel was annoying so I used some diluted gun blue to match it to the rest of the gun.
The nipples on the gun are a lot larger than any of my other guns which I didn't notice until after I loaded it so I forced some #11's on and shot it. I am not even going to try taking the original nipples out so I am going to try re-sizing the #11's to fit.

Russ Jackson
January 9, 2013, 06:39 AM
I also repaired and fixed the internals. If you look at the 1st pic (the dirty one) you can see a slotted bolt in a fork under the spring. Well, it was in backwards (it now comes in from the other side). And I replaced the spring. Now the gun is functional and probably worth a little more. I haven't shot it yet but I plan to. It's kinda rare but not very valuable - I think they made 300 of them in .28 (James Warner).
I'd definitely clean and fix up an 1860 .44 and shoot it, unless it had historical or family value. They are a sturdy gun. I saw one in a shop that was completely original except for the cylinder - it had a 2nd Generation cylinder. Pietta or Uberti parts should fit the internals.
Can you post a pic of the 1860?
Here are a couple Pics. I don't think the grips, and three of the four screws have ever been removed.
http://i464.photobucket.com/albums/rr1/RussJackson/18601_zpsb42fefed.jpg
http://i464.photobucket.com/albums/rr1/RussJackson/colt1.jpg

pohill
January 9, 2013, 06:52 AM
Nice gun and holster. Still lots of blue left. I would not mess with that patina. Do the nipples come out? Will you shoot it?

Russ Jackson
January 9, 2013, 09:07 AM
Nice gun and holster. Still lots of blue left. I would not mess with that patina. Do the nipples come out? Will you shoot it?
I wont shoot it and I have not tried to take the nipples out. I took it to Cabellas and they offered me quite a bit for it so I know its a nice example. I think I am going to send it to http://www.johnakopec.com/ and have him look at it.

rondog
January 9, 2013, 09:36 AM
Myself, I'm in the camp of gently cleaning off crud, grime and rust, then oiling/ greasing as needed. Definitely NO changing of the finish, no steel wool or sandpaper, etc. I would also open it up, very carefully, to clean and lube the internals. I feel an old gun like that deserves to retain its beautiful patina that it earned, but to leave it filthy and unlubed/unprotected would be a shame.

Beautiful old Pistol! I'd love to own one like that! I've always loved the look of the 1860. What's the story on it?

Russ Jackson
January 9, 2013, 10:15 AM
Myself, I'm in the camp of gently cleaning off crud, grime and rust, then oiling/ greasing as needed. Definitely NO changing of the finish, no steel wool or sandpaper, etc. I would also open it up, very carefully, to clean and lube the internals. I feel an old gun like that deserves to retain its beautiful patina that it earned, but to leave it filthy and unlubed/unprotected would be a shame.

Beautiful old Pistol! I'd love to own one like that! I've always loved the look of the 1860. What's the story on it?
I got it from the descendants of the original soldier. They sold it because they wanted to have a party for their 16 year old daughter.

J-Bar
January 9, 2013, 10:16 AM
The gun has survived 150+ years as it is.

If you were going to shoot it, I would recommend complete disassembly and cleaning.

Since you are not planning to shoot it, don't do anything other than handling it with care, wiping off handprints before returning it to storage, and making sure it is stored where humidity will not be an issue.

I am a shooter, not a collector. But this gun is a treasure to be admired and preserved, fondled often to absorb its memories.

pohill
January 9, 2013, 10:21 AM
If you're curious about its value, you could send some pics to James Julia in Maine. They'll give you a free online appraisal.

http://www.jamesdjulia.com/firearms.asp

arcticap
January 9, 2013, 10:34 AM
In the photos of the nearly $1,000,000 Walker auction gun, it can be seen that they took it apart except for the internals. They even left the green verdigris on the brass grip frame which is sort of disgusting, but probably only because the gun didn't belong to the auction house. I would hope that the new owner would remove it, and clean & preserve the entire gun better than it shows.
I noticed that this 1860 Colt also has a brass grip frame that could have some verdigris. If it does, shouldn't it be removed?
Some folks are still shooting original guns and since it's not a mint specimen, then it can be carefully taken apart without devaluing it.
Even an appraiser or a future buyer might want to inspect the internals to see if the parts are original. If it's ever taken apart once then take some photos.
It probably doesn't really matter if it's ever taken apart or not, but doing so does provide knowledge about the actual condition of the whole gun.

Link to the ~$1,000,000 Walker Julia auction photos showing verdigris:

http://www.juliaauctions.com/auctions/catalog_detail_shots.asp?Details=33737x10&sale=252

pohill
January 9, 2013, 01:11 PM
They let you handle any gun at the James Julia auction. My wife held the Walker.
(This was not the $900,000 Walker. This was the $400,000-$500,000 Walker)
http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m217/pohill/copyofWalker-2.jpg

scrat
January 9, 2013, 03:04 PM
Drool

Big Al Mass
January 9, 2013, 05:00 PM
It is a mechanical device. Mechanical devices do not function at their best with dirt, debris, and grime all over them. People clean up and restore old cars right and left. Why should guns be left to deteriorate?

Also, do not store the gun in its holster. The leather attracts moisture and will cause rust to form on the steel and verdigris (pronounced ver-di-gree) to form on the brass. Verdigris is the equivalent of rust for copper and copper-based alloys and is toxic.

You have a beautiful gun there and it should be taken care of so that it can stay that way.

rondog
January 9, 2013, 05:14 PM
I got it from the descendants of the original soldier. They sold it because they wanted to have a party for their 16 year old daughter.

Unreal! What a bunch of morons. But lucky you!

4v50 Gary
January 9, 2013, 05:18 PM
Provided the cleaning is done with care such as not to remove any of the finish, do it.

Dust attracts moisture and moisture promotes rust. If you clean it, then you should apply Renaissance Wax. It is PH neutral, will penetrate the pores and will prevent rust.

Russ Jackson
January 10, 2013, 09:54 AM
Unreal! What a bunch of morons. But lucky you!
Right place at the right time.

j1
January 10, 2013, 09:57 AM
No. Do not disassemble or clean. Oil is all.

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