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Old June 18, 2012, 03:35 PM   #1
johnm1
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1842 Springfield - Happy Fathers Day

The wife bought me an 1842 Springfield dated 1851 for Father's Day. It is a smoothbore without the rear sight. Overall nice shape and might even be in firing condition. Metal is a dark brown and the stock is in decent shape with possibly one small strip of wood missing on the left side. I will have pictures in the next few days. It is currently has penetrating oil soaking on the screws to allow disassembly. But my internet searches have not turned up any disassembly instructions and I am significantly out of my element on this firearm. Does anybody know where there are disassembly instructions available on the internet?

Short of finding disassembly instructions, are there any things to watch out for when disassembling this musket? I have read that some specialized tools are required to disassemble the lock works and I'm not planning on doing that yet or possibly ever depending on what the inspection uncovers.

So far I have not been able to locate the proof marks on the barrel or the stamps/cartouche(s) on the stock. But I have not done a detailed inspection with the magnifying glass yet. I’m pretty stoked but other than a detailed inspection I probably won’t be able to do anything with this musket except bring it to my gunsmith for an inspection to determine if it will be able to be fired. From my uneducated initial review I think it will be able to be fired.
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Old June 18, 2012, 07:57 PM   #2
Al Den
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Be careful re: the firing thing -- it is past its prime. Still, ya never know.

As for disassembly? What ya see is what ya got. Lock, stock and barrel. It's really little different in most main respects than our first gun, the 1795 Springfield, that was a copy of the Charleville.
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Old June 18, 2012, 08:08 PM   #3
pohill
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I had a similiar smoothbored musket/rifle relined to .50, for $200, and it's a great shooter.
Have you removed the barrel to check the underside? Do you plan to clean the wood or the barrel? I cleaned the wood on a Springfield trapdoor 50-70 last summer and found the faint cartouche.
I would not take the lockwork apart unless you know how to do it (but I would remove it from the stock). Check the back side of the lockwork for inspector's marks.
Can you post some pics?

Last edited by pohill; June 18, 2012 at 08:51 PM.
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Old June 19, 2012, 12:23 AM   #4
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Not sure why I didn't get notified of the two responses. But thanks for the contact. I went slow and it wasn't difficult. Pretty simple mechanism. I left the lock as I found it minus the grease and dirt. As previously indicated, the lock functions perfectly and the flash hole is clear. I still need to remove the damaged nipple though.

As far as cleaning the most abrasive thing I used was a paper towel wet withpenetrating oil. Picked up as much dirt as I could without being aggressive. The barrel will need to be checked out by a gunsmith. After initial cleaning I find that all but the last 6" on the muzzle end is pretty clean and pit free. The last 6 or 7 inches has three pitted areas. What I can't tell is if the pits are in the barrel itself or if they are in lead deposits. With a small light located at the breach (.69 caliber can fit a decent sized mini light) the pits look large (cast a decent shadow) but as you move the light closer to the pitted area the shadow from the pits disappear and I can't actually see the pits. And the area the pits are located in is shinier than the rest of the barrel. Hopefully the gunsmith will have more experience in making that determination. One advantage of the 1842 was the barrel was formed 'thicker' in anticipation that rifling could be added later. If the pitting is in the barrel steel maybe this added thickness will help.

If the smith determines that the barrel is unsafe to shoot I am considering a replacement barrel to shoot while keeping the original barrel for display. It would be another $350 but the wife got a pretty good deal on the musket.

I did find some numbers on the backside of the lock plate, under the trigger guard plate and on the bottom side of the barrel but cannot find the numbers on the left side of the barrel. The area where the serial number and proof marks should be appears to be 'distressed'. Either by small hammer blows or more likely being in a vise without padding. I can barely make out the 'V' but can't see the P proof mark. The area where the serial number should be looks almost intentionally distressed with small hammer blows. I don't think that the numbers will ever be visible and I wasn't going to take the chance of removing the patina to try any harder. The area of the stock that should contain the cartouche(s) is pretty clean but no sign of a cartouche. Maybe it was a replacement stock or sanded at some point in time. I have no plans to alter the stock as it looks just fine as is. It matches the patina on the metal. I still think it is pretty neat item. This is my first black powder firearm.

I'll post pictures tomorrow. My 13 year old daughter is in charge of photographs and I have to line her out. I have actually 'commissioned' her to photograph all of my firearms this summer.

Thanks again.
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Old June 19, 2012, 04:39 AM   #5
l.cutler
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The model 1842 was not serial numbered. There should have been a date on the top of the tang, that hopefully matches the one on the lock. congratulations, that one is on my wish list.
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Old June 19, 2012, 07:34 AM   #6
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Thanks IC. Not sure what pictures I was looking at that had a serial number. I've looked at so many pictures researching this one. The date on the tang is missing.
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Old June 19, 2012, 03:36 PM   #7
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Well the report from the gunsmith is that there is pitting but it is minor and the barrel is shootable. Recall that the pitting is around 6" from the muzzle. He said (joking) that "you are far enough away from it that it wouldn't hurt even if the barrel did give way". He did say that if it were him, he would not load it to maximum but keep it somewhere in the middle of the load/range. I wouldn't load this thing up more than half anyway. Just because its 161 years old.

Now I need a replacement nipple and were ready to go. I will still lash it to my bench rest and pull the trigger from 50' away for the first couple of rounds though. What I need to find is a safe place to do that with a black powder firearm here in the desert during the brush fire season. Now that would be a headline wouldn't it.
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Old June 19, 2012, 06:55 PM   #8
4V50 Gary
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About the only special tool you need is a mainspring vise to disassemble and reassemble the lock.
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Old June 19, 2012, 10:54 PM   #9
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Thanks Gary. At this point I don't see a need to take the lock apart. It is clean and functioning well.

The broken nipple has been removed. I see that S&S has what I think are originals. is that the best bet for a source? are there any new made nipples?

I have not been a black powder person. it appears that there are only a few types of nipple and they are based on the cap size. Is that correct? It also seems that all of the nipples available in the box stores are intended for the reproduction arms. Other than an S&S type place are there good sources for nipples threaded for an original american rifle.

Thanks again.
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Old June 19, 2012, 11:43 PM   #10
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I brought the original nipple that was in my rifle to the local hardware store and used their thread gauge to determine the thread size. If you don't have the nipple, the thread gauges have a male and female side so you can determine the thread size by the hole threads. Then I ordered two nipples for the gun from Track of the Wolf - one that takes #11 caps and one that takes musket caps. I find that the musket caps ignite the powder much better.
I did the same for a double barrel shotgun I just bought (I bought two #11 cap nipples).
http://www.trackofthewolf.com/List/Item.aspx/64/1
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Old June 20, 2012, 12:08 AM   #11
johnm1
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Thanks Pohil. I do have the old one and I had actually thought about the hardware store. I actually have a thread gauge somewhere. Finding it is another story. I figured the musket cap would be correct for this firearm. I will measure the threads tomorrow. Are all musket cap nipples the same thread?

Thanks for the lead.
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Old June 20, 2012, 12:19 AM   #12
pohill
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I'm not sure but according to the Track of the Wolf listings, it looks like all original American musket cap nipples have a 5/16-24 thread.
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Old June 20, 2012, 04:50 PM   #13
johnm1
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I was able to confirm the thread as 5/16"-24 today and ordered the musket nipple from Track of the Wolf. I also ordered some .648 lead balls. Apparently 69 caliber balls are not the normal stocking item at the box stores either.

Thanks for the help.
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Old June 20, 2012, 07:22 PM   #14
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The correct nipples for those are musket nipples, using musket (top hat) caps. Some folks try to use the modern conversion nipples and #11 caps, and that usually works OK, but the smaller caps don't have enough compound to reliably ignite the big charge in a musket.

Jim
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Old June 20, 2012, 07:34 PM   #15
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I'll throw my 2 cents worth in, in regards to the "lock". As you probably know, the two lock bolts that go through the "side plate" on your "42 need to be removed so that the lock can be removed from the "lock mortise". The internals will consist of the sear, sear spring (small spring at the rear of the lock plate), bridle, tumbler and mainspring. Once you look at it, you'll quickly see the function of each individual part.

My main intent is to warn you in regards to removing the mainspring. This would be the first internal part to remove. For this, yo will need a "main spring vise". You can get these through different suppliers - Track of the Wolf, Dixie, etc. A mainspring vice is designed to compress the spring so that it can be removed from the lock plate - the main spring vise has a "bar" which puts pressure on the lower leg of the mainspring along the length of it. Yea, yea . . . you'll hear of some folks substituting a "C clamp" and it can be done, BUT, it's kind of like using a hammer for a screwdriver. You run the risk of snapping the mainspring because pressure is not applied equally on the bottom portion of the spring. I've seen a number of main springs broken in this manner over the years. If you have a muzzleloader with a lock, you need to have a main spring vise in your tool box. As they say . . "the right tool for the right job". They aren't that expensive and you'll get your use out of it each time you disassemble a lock.

Your '42 sounds like a great present! As you say, you can also get a modern made barrel to drop in it for shooting if need be. Whitacre and others make excellent barrels . . . check the NSSA site for links.
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Old June 20, 2012, 10:19 PM   #16
johnm1
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Thanks James and BBB. I suppose I will learn what I need to know eventually. I see that the mainspring vice is not an expensive tool and I see your point about having one. I should have ordered one with the nipple and round ball that I ordered from Track of the Wolf today. I'm in the process of uploading photo's and will post when it finally gets done.

I researched the replacement barrel before the gunsmith declared this barrel safe to shoot. I really like the idea of one of the rifled barrels and may end up doing just that at some point.
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Old June 20, 2012, 11:22 PM   #17
johnm1
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I finally got around to photographs. These are mine and not my daughters, so bare with me.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/6032394...ream/lightbox/

Lock
http://www.flickr.com/photos/6032394...ream/lightbox/

Sideplate (correct term?)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/6032394...n/photostream/

Buttstock
http://www.flickr.com/photos/6032394...ream/lightbox/

Top View
http://www.flickr.com/photos/6032394...n/photostream/

Lock (closer view)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/6032394...n/photostream/

Lower Band
http://www.flickr.com/photos/6032394...n/photostream/

Middle Band
http://www.flickr.com/photos/6032394...ream/lightbox/

Upper Band
http://www.flickr.com/photos/6032394...ream/lightbox/

Close Up where proof marks should be
http://www.flickr.com/photos/6032394...ream/lightbox/

Known issues are the missing sling swivel on the trigger guard, buttstock condition, wrong ram rod, and some missing wood behind the breach block under the hammer.
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Old June 21, 2012, 08:02 AM   #18
pohill
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Great gun. Your wife has good taste. Lots of history there.
As far as shooting it - I have a bunch of antiques, some from that era, that I shoot maybe once a year just to say I did it. I have a Belgian rifle that began life in 1842 and went through many changes, including a boring of the barrel to make it a shotgun. I had the barrel relined and now it's a great shooter. But it didn't have the historical significance that yours does. Personally, I'd shoot your gun once a year with low loads - having it around for a long time in its great original condition would be more important than hitting targets with it.
Whatever you do with it, it's a great gun. The Real Deal.
And the secret of having your wife buy you guns is...?
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Old June 21, 2012, 08:22 AM   #19
johnm1
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It pretty much has to be shot. I doubt it will be shot much though. If it turns out that I really want to shoot it I will invest in a replacement barrel and shoot that one a lot.

As far as the wife goes. I don't know. This was a first. Hopefully not the last. She also has a knack for finding a bargain. Her price was $380. She also found a Japanese Bayonet in great condition for $50 bucks.
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Old June 23, 2012, 01:36 AM   #20
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The nipple and round ball arrived today. I had the time so I went to the desert to try the 1842. Function test of the cap at home was positive. The plan was to test a couple of 50 gr patch loads (no ball) to confirm we could ignite the powder reliably. Then 50 gr w/a ball. Then 65 gr w/ball. I managed 1 hangfire in 20 attempts. I couldn't get fire to the charge. Although I had cleaned the musket I apparently didn't do it well enough. I also didn't cleanout the residue of penetrating oil I used to remove the damaged nipple. Disappointing at best. We had a partially blocked flash hole.

We returned home and this time I cleaned the bore with boiling water. I cannot believe how much junk came out. I will try again in the morning.
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Old June 23, 2012, 07:18 AM   #21
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I remove the barrel from my old rifles to clean them to protect the wood.
At the range, after I load the gun, before I cap it, I turn it over and give it a spank to set the powder as low as it can go.
If it still doesn't shoot, I remove the nipple and pour some powder into the flashhole, replace the nipple and it should fire.
I use Goex FFG. FFFG is too hot. Pryodex is tough to ignite (in my old guns at least).
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Old June 23, 2012, 09:49 AM   #22
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Pyrodex works fine in my P53 Enfield.

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Old June 23, 2012, 03:52 PM   #23
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Still having issues igniting the powder charge. I have measured the flash hole and it should be just about in the middle of a 60 grain charge. The musket is clean as best I can tell. Lots of boiling water, Hoppes solvent, brush, and scraper until nothing comes out. I dry the bore after cleaning to make sure I haven't left any solvent or oil in it. Although I won't exclude an issue with the firearm, I expect inexperience is playing a role here. This is the first time I have tried anything with a black powder firearm. I am using Pyrodex FFg, musket nipple, CCI musket caps. I am compressing the powder as much as I can under a patch. I find that a 100 grain patch load (no ball) is easier to ignite than the 60 grain load. I can only imagine it is because there is more powder in front of the flash hole. But even the 100 grain load only ignites 2 out of 5 times. What does help with either the 60 or 100 grain load is to drop a pinch of powder in front of the patch. I believe that was 100% successful. But that doesn't help really. Is there something basic I'm not thinking of?

I have not tried to load a ball yet and won't until I can reliably ignite the charge.
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Old June 23, 2012, 04:28 PM   #24
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Put on a cap and fire it at a leaf or blade of grass to make sure the nipple is clear. Dump a 60 grain charge down the bore. Keep it pointed up and fire it off, No compressing the powder, no ball, no patch, no nothing, just loose powder. If that fires off then try loading a patched/compressed blank. If that works then try a real load. If the nipple is clear and the loose powder doesn't ignite that's probably oil contamination. You may have to repeat the process a few times till you get a charge to fire.
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Old June 23, 2012, 04:32 PM   #25
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I have a "modern" Hawkins .50, as does my son. The Hawkins love Pryodex. I have not been able to shoot Pryodex in my antique Belgian .50 - not once would it ignite.
When you run water down the barrel (with the nipple removed) does the water flow easily out of the flashhole?
Have you tried some powder in the flashhole?
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