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Elderly Percussion rifle

Discussion in 'Firearms Research' started by velocette, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. velocette

    velocette Member

    I recently acquired a percussion muzzloading rifle from the early era of percussion rifles, est 1835 or possibly an earlier flinter converted.
    It is dirty and needs some repairs to be a good wallhanger.
    The stock is full to the muzzle and tiger striped with a small downward curve in the butt.
    Any suggestions on how to clean the stock without damaging the finish or patina of age. Also the brass patchbox is damaged & needs repairs.
    Any suggestions on how to clean the lockwork of surface rust and much dirt?

    Last edited: Feb 16, 2011
  2. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Active Member

  3. Jim K

    Jim K Active Member

    FWIW, I don't think it is that early nor do I see any indication that is it a flint conversion. I believe it dates to after 1850, toward the end of the muzzle loader era.* I think the hammer has been broken and repaired; it looks like the entire body (bottom half) might have been a replacement. So go easy on the hammer and don't snap it, it could break again.

    Repairs on the patchbox and patchbox plates might require removal, a job that requires considerable care to not make things worse. Brass brads can be obtained, and the heads shaped as necessary. If the brass has to be polished, there are products to restore the antique look, including cold blue. In truth, you might be better off to simply leave the gun alone; it is an antique, there is nothing wrong with it looking like an antique.

    For the wood, I would use a furniture cleaner/polish and then wax, hand rubbed in. For the metal, I think I would do nothing except use a light oil coating. If there is live (red) rust, I use G96 Gun Treatment as a solvent to kill the rust.


    *Yes, I know MLs were made and used much later in remote areas and among people immersed in tradition, but after the Civil War most folks wanted breech loading cartridge guns or repeaters; the era of the muzzle loader as the primary firearm was over.

  4. GCBurner

    GCBurner New Member

    No, I think the gap in front of the lock plate where the pan and frizzen might have fitted shows that the whole percussion lock is a replacement. Boring out the touchhole and installing a drum and nipple was the cheapest and easiest way to convert a flintlock to percussion. The hammer of the new lock looks like it was reshaped for proper impact on the nipple. My cousin up in West Virginia has an old family rifle that looks almost identical to this one, which was in use until the Civil War period, at least, then tucked away in the attic of the old family farmhouse for the next 100 years or so, until they found it while cleaning and reinsulating in the 1970s.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011
  5. Slamfire

    Slamfire Active Member

    That is probably the best advice in terms of finish.

    I would wipe the wood down, and put something like Johnson paste wax on the top.

    I would not use any sort of chemical stripper that would dissolve any finish.
  6. GCBurner

    GCBurner New Member

    ^^^Ditto. The patina is great, don't polish up anything. There's some stuff called Renaissance Wax that musems use to clean and protect arms and armor in their collections. Highly recommended.
  7. Iggy

    Iggy New Member

    It almost looks like an old technique used to simulate tiger striping.

    The maker wrapped twine around the stock and set it afire. The result looked similar to natural wood.

    The striping on this one seems so regularly spaced as to lead one to wonder it that is what was done.

    This not to knock the gun in anyway. It is good example of the skills of the makers of those neat old timers.

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