View Full Version : 1842 Springfield - Happy Fathers Day

June 18, 2012, 03:35 PM
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.

Al Den
June 18, 2012, 07:57 PM
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.

June 18, 2012, 08:08 PM
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?

June 19, 2012, 12:23 AM
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.

June 19, 2012, 04:39 AM
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.

June 19, 2012, 07:34 AM
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.

June 19, 2012, 03:36 PM
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.

4V50 Gary
June 19, 2012, 06:55 PM
About the only special tool you need is a mainspring vise to disassemble and reassemble the lock.

June 19, 2012, 10:54 PM
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.

June 19, 2012, 11:43 PM
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).

June 20, 2012, 12:08 AM
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.

June 20, 2012, 12:19 AM
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.

June 20, 2012, 04:50 PM
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.

James K
June 20, 2012, 07:22 PM
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.


June 20, 2012, 07:34 PM
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.

June 20, 2012, 10:19 PM
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.

June 20, 2012, 11:22 PM
I finally got around to photographs. These are mine and not my daughters, so bare with me.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7411896138/in/photostream/lightbox/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7411860846/in/photostream/lightbox/

Sideplate (correct term?)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7411863080/in/photostream/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7411867248/in/photostream/lightbox/

Top View
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7411869634/in/photostream/

Lock (closer view)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7411872408/in/photostream/

Lower Band
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7411877286/in/photostream/

Middle Band
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7411879370/in/photostream/lightbox/

Upper Band
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7411881114/in/photostream/lightbox/

Close Up where proof marks should be
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7411883612/in/photostream/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.

June 21, 2012, 08:02 AM
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...?

June 21, 2012, 08:22 AM
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.

June 23, 2012, 01:36 AM
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.

June 23, 2012, 07:18 AM
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).

June 23, 2012, 09:49 AM
Pyrodex works fine in my P53 Enfield.


June 23, 2012, 03:52 PM
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.

June 23, 2012, 04:28 PM
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.

June 23, 2012, 04:32 PM
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?

June 23, 2012, 07:14 PM
The flash hole is clear. Water runs freely and it can be fired by putting powder below the nipple. I will try firing uncompressed powder after I clean one more time. I am beginning to think this may be oil related. This morning while cleaning the firearm I scraped out quite a bit of burned powder residue. I didn't think to measure it. But I bet it was 10-15 grains of powder residue that wouldn't burn when exposed to a flame. even though it is clean I think I will clean again with boiling soap and water and maybe some denatured alcohol. I may be able to accomplish that and try again this evening. I will report back.

Thanks for alll of your help.

June 24, 2012, 12:01 PM
Success! Thanks to each of you for helping. It's funny but it was very much like starting my 1970 Plymouth Duster on a cold morning. It seemed like I had to 'warm it up'. Once I got the powder igniting reliably it shot very well and went bang each time. I did take a couple of uncompressed 'blanks' to get it started this morning. but once that was done it fired each time it was loaded and the trigger pulled. After the blank loads, I moved on to compressed loads as Hawg suggested. I also rolled the rifle over before the charge was compressed like Pohill suggested. Maybe some powder entered the nipple and helped. I really don't know, but rolling the firearm over with that intent will be standard procedure for this rifle. Once a ball was added I found that it must be patched very tight or the result is somewhat disappointing. I am still learning. With a tightly patched .65 ball and 70 grains of Pyrodex the result is below.

Now before you rag me about the look on my face after firing it. I do have another video but it is about 5 minutes long and the shot is at the very end. I don't have my video editing software on any computer right now. So go easy on the look on my face. As far as that goofy look on my face, however goofy it is, it pretty much depicts how I felt.

Waxing nostalgic some things come to mind. Here I am, it's 2012. I have powder, patch and ball and I am doing what troopers did with this very gun starting 161 years ago and almost certainly an event that occurred countless times during the Civil War.

Here is the link:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7433246132/in/photostream

This was fun.

June 24, 2012, 02:46 PM
Why put up a link to your video and then make it PRIVATE so no one can view it?

June 24, 2012, 10:55 PM
I couldn't view the video - they said it was "private".
How accurate was the gun (or the shooter?) When mine was a smoothbore, it was literally hit or miss at 50 yds. Relined with rifling makes all the difference for accuracy.
The bottom one is the Belgian .50, the one that needs a good spanking before it'll shoot (probably made in 1842).
The top one is an 1868 Springfield 50-70.
So, what's next on the Black Powder Wish List? A handgun?

June 24, 2012, 11:13 PM
well if we patch the ball correctly it was hitting a man sized Cholla at around 75 yards. today was function test day. I will bring it to the range next weekend. it functioned flawlessly when we rolled the musket with the intent to get dome powder in the nipple area.

I will go check on the video. I didn't intend it to be private. it will be viewable here in an hour or so. still cleaning it from this evenings outing. Took the wife and 18 year old daughter to shoot it. It doesn't get much better.

June 25, 2012, 12:07 AM
The video has been fixed.

We have some additional video from this evening's outing and I will post when the daughter gets done with the home computer (sometime towards the end of July I figure).

June 25, 2012, 06:47 AM
Yep, the video works fine. One of the only places you can go in public and grin like that and not have a net dropped over you is a shooting range.
AZ sure is wide open country (I shoot in NH)

June 26, 2012, 12:11 AM
Added a video of my 18 year old daughter shooting the musket.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7445473286/in/photostream

July 3, 2012, 12:05 PM
Here is a target at 25 yards. I had several targets at 50 yards, but at that point I was having issues with the patches I was using and none of those were representitive of the firearm. Just the shooter.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7495414152/in/photostream

That is around 3" in both directions and considering there is no rear sight and the front sight is attached to the upper band and moves 3/16" I figure that is about as good as it is going to get.

As far as the patches are concerned, I do have some pitting in the barrel and the patches were sized for .60-.69 so just came to the equator of the round ball. It seems the pitting would sometimes 'grab' the patch and the round ball would fall to the bottom above the patch. Accuracy is pretty miserable when that happens.

I did try both the .648 and .662 round balls with two different sized patches of .010 and .018. The .018 works pretty well with the .648 round ball but is subject to the above issue. The .010 and .662 was still a little too tight for easy ramming. In order to use the .010 and the .648 round balls, I had to double up the .010 patches. This actually was easier to load as I could spread them apart and the issue of the ball falling below the patch was easier to deal with with the two patches. This combination was actuall pretty tight. I think I'm going to test with a square patch of .018 thickness that allows the patch to extend over the top of the round ball.

July 3, 2012, 06:15 PM
Would you ever reline the barrel?

July 3, 2012, 08:03 PM
I wouldn't reline this one. I like it too much and, to me, there is too much history. At some point I will have to decide either to buy a reproduction barrel or a complete reproduction for shooting. In the end, this one won't be shot that often. The reproduction rifled barrel interests me and that may be in the future. But I'm not at that point yet.

July 14, 2012, 09:07 AM
I finally figured a round ball patch combination that appears to work. Tight fit but doesn't blister my fingers ramming the ball/patch. I can keep a group at 25 yards

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7567854088/in/photostream/lightbox/

But 50 yards isn't really a group. More like a general gathering. I can't rule out operator error. I don't have an experienced black powder shooter to help me along. What I think is a tight fit for ball and patch might be too loose. The musket isn't in that great of shape. I can tell the barrel 'opens up' a tad towards the breach end (chamber?). When ramming a ball/patch the resistance decreases slightly as it reaches the breach end of the barrel. Here is a 50 yard gathering:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7567856812/in/photostream/lightbox/

The round at 10 o'clock was my friend shooting the last shot offhand. But several other 50 yard targets look very much the same as this one.

July 15, 2012, 07:02 AM
Give this a try: http://www.blackpowderrifleaccuracy.com/

I did this a few years ago and it's the best $20 I've ever spent on a black powder item in my life. Dutch has a step-by-step system that absolutely will show you how to get the best out of your rifle.

July 15, 2012, 06:28 PM
Thanks MK. I would like to be better. I may have to rely on black powder this year for deer. That won't be with this musket though.