Winchester 1873 Elevator Cleaning

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Contributing Member
Apr 28, 2009
Central New York
I went to visit my dad yesterday and brought along my 1894C Marlin and 1873 Uberti (Winchester 1873 Clone). He wants to buy a 357 lever gun and wanted to handle a couple of mine. When I arrived to show it to him, the elevator was sticking going up and also going down. Hardly the smooth action that I bragged about.

I have kind of a simple question. How do you keep the 1873 elevator from getting this way? How often do you break it down for cleaning other than just the bore. Just got this last spring. Shot it bunch this summer. 45 Colt of course. Took it apart for cleaning today.

I am sure a good cleaning will have it in good working order. Might not have helped that it was -6 yesterday on my way and the put the rifle in the bed of the truck (with a hard cover of course).
I put the brass elevator in the tumbler with my magic potion and some hot water that I borrowed from the pot we keep on the stove for humidity. One hour later it looks like brand new. Has machining marks on the sides, I will polish them up just a bit and reassemble this afternoon. That might be what helps the gunk build up.
Done. Lessons learned. Hammers work wonders. Well a rubber mallet. Uberti coats the insides with some sort of oil or grease. As it dries it leaves everything inside with a gummy feel. Rem Oil and an old tooth brush works wonders. The brass elevator cleaned up nicely in the tumbler with pins. A little 800 grit helped smooth the sides which were covered in tooling marks. A second cleaning was done to make sure the grit was gone.

The screw for the side covers is the same size/threads as the screw for lever except longer. The shorter screw is for the lever and the longer one is for the covers. Whoops.

After maintenance testing seems to show it is smoother than the day the purchased it. Checked this off my "to do" list . Now to put the new burners on the stove, and shovel off the back deck.
I don’t know what it is that Uberti packs their guns in, but it can be a pain to get it out of all of the books and crannies, and will cause problems if you don’t. Glad you got it all sorted.
Everything seemed to be really gummy inside. Rem Oil and an old toothbrush seemed to do the trick. After shooting, letting it sit, and then the cold made the elevator really stiff.
Back in the day when I was buying 98 Mausers, those that arrived were packed with a rather thick brown grease that had a tendency to harden up. I'm thinking this was done during the ocean ride to get to our shores and keep the metal from rusting. The best stuff that I used to soften and then remove that caked-up grease was kerosene. Soaked the parts for a day or two in kerosene and they came out slick as a whistle.
Many 45 Colt rifles seem to have largish chambers which modern cases have a tough time expanding enough to seal properly with light loads as found in much Colt ammo intended for Cowboy Action events. My Thunderbolt will tie up within 100 rounds from all the blow-back and the empties come out dirty with carbon from end to end. If you've been shooting CA type ammo you might try something a bit hotter which 'should' obturate better and keep the internals of the rifle cleaner.
Thanks RecoilRob. This was a big problem with my 1892, although it never caused a jam. Just that some of the less stout rounds would blow back from incomplete seal. I adjusted by upping the loads a bit until I got a better seal. Has been less of a problem with the 1873. I agree that this is part of the cause of the elevator sticking. The other being that awful oil or grease they used on the internal parts.
After I got tired of having a gummy lifter in my '66 .45 Colt I annealed all of my brass. The annealing softened the brass enough that the case will obturate in the chamber and not blow the gummy powder residue back into the action.
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