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1873 Heavy Barrel Shooter Project
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August 9, 2023 - 4:04 pm
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Here is a 1873 rifle; 44 Cal., 24″ heavy barrel, #194xxxB that I would like to get back into service.  I am told it was hanging on the wall for over 50 years.  Lots of surface rust but the action seems smooth.  Missing the dust cover, rear sight and a screw for the crescent buttplate.  Also, the hammer pulls back properly with good spring resistance but it will not stay cocked.  The wood seems ok with typical wear just very dirty and a chip on the top near where it meets the buttplate.

At this point I have begun to disassemble it to check things out.  I am hoping to get advice from some of the experts and other skilled folks here about whether or not I should attempt to clean some of the rust.  I have read about using copper wool with Kroil to remove some of the surface rust but I want to be sure not to go too far, I am not  looking to make this a silver gun.
 
I would like to try to find the correct dust cover and have seen some pics in the Madis book but what is the best way to identify one among others besides the knurling on the sides as being correct for this third model 73?  Which rear sight would be correct for the heavy barrel (barrel measures exactly 1′ across flats at the muzzle)?  Are both of the screws for the buttplate the same length (I am in possession of only the top screw)?
Another interesting thing is the lever latch does not seem to be long enough to secure the lever, any insight on that?
Please let me know if you have any other comments or advice on the best way to proceed with this rifle.
Thank you, Jerry
 
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August 9, 2023 - 4:27 pm
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JFAZ said I have read about using copper wool with Kroil to remove some of the surface rust but I want to be sure not to go too far, I am not  looking to make this a silver gun.

You could go a long way without going too far.  If the rust is as old & hard as it looks, copper will barely touch it.  I’d use those pads made of shavings of stainless steel, sold under different trade names.

Good luck on very worthwhile project!

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August 9, 2023 - 5:25 pm
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  It might be wise to do a Cody search  before you do anything. Is it a set trigger and what’s the barrel length per the letter. What you have is rough but it is also rare. T/R

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August 9, 2023 - 7:22 pm
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TR said
   Is it a set trigger and what’s the barrel length per the letter.

  

No doubt about the single-set trigger.  Working, is another question.

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August 10, 2023 - 4:04 pm
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JFAZ said

 
I would like to try to find the correct dust cover and have seen some pics in the Madis book but what is the best way to identify one among others besides the knurling on the sides as being correct for this third model 73?
Another interesting thing is the lever latch does not seem to be long enough to secure the lever, any insight on that?
Thank you, Jerry

 

Jerry,

Dust covers can be had off of Ebay.

Dust cover

Dust cover repo

The lever latch issue looks like the lever is bent. It should pull up flat to the lower tang . Being bent it makes the length of the lever shorter.

Bob

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73_86cutaway.jpg

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August 10, 2023 - 5:04 pm
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Thanks for the replies.  I will go ahead and order the Cody letter I suppose.  I saw the dust covers on eBay but I will be at the Reno show next week so will be looking there..

Would the confirmation of original configuration with set trigger and heavy barrel change the approach of trying to clean it?  Does anyone know of a solution I could use to soak the parts in a tank which may loosen the rust?  I have seen acetone, carb cleaner and trisodium phosphate w/ dish soap mentioned.  Is it all safe on brass as well?

Any suggestion on which sight is correct or would that info be contained in the letter perhaps?

Thanks again!

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August 10, 2023 - 5:42 pm
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I guess with a project like this, it all depends on what you want as an end result.  If the rifle has a bad bore, it probably wouldn’t make a good shooter.  Personally, I think it is awesome, just the way it is. Going too far in cleaning it up would probably not increase the value and may decrease value for a lot of serious collectors.  It is a rare gun in it’s own right.  It certainly earned every bit of it’s present condition.  The rust dirt and grim is part of it’s appeal for me.

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August 10, 2023 - 9:55 pm
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 There are people that are very good at cleaning up old guns without ruining them and some are not. It’s been this way for a long time, waiting a little longer seems wise. If the gun does not letter then have fun with it, if it does letter, it’s rare and you have to be smart about what you do. If you post the serial number someone on this Forum might have additional information. T/R

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August 10, 2023 - 11:04 pm
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Jerry,

Do you have a dial calipers? If you do measure the height and width of the receiver at the breech. A extra heavy 73 has a heavier frame than standard weight barrels.

Bob

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73_86cutaway.jpg

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August 11, 2023 - 7:00 pm
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Thanks for all the comments, at this point I am inclined to just leave this 73 alone as it is and will wait for the Cody info.

Bob, here are the measurements of the receiver on the exterior in the area outside of the cartridge elevator 1.9550″ x 1.0625″.  Hope this is what you were looking for, thanks.

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August 12, 2023 - 1:44 am
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Jerry,

The height should be closer to 1.975″ which can be loss of metal from rust but the width is way off. I think you measured the narrow section aft of the breach. The measurement is the widest part of receiver at the breech and should be 1.325 – 1.335″

Bob

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Researching the Winchester 1873's

73_86cutaway.jpg

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August 13, 2023 - 1:59 pm
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A lot of good perspectives here and I agree with many. I wouldn’t scrub on it with anything either as oiling it down with some penetrating oil of choice is a good start and slowly and carefully dissembling it properly to get it safely back to shooting condition as it deserves that. 1873man  Expert Bob made several good points as usual as this is his field so to speak. That lever is bent from possibly being forced to close while father times rust was working on it. Springs replaced and like he suggested the dust cover can be replaced,etc……………………..Like several suggested not before a Cody Letter is acquired to see exactly what this 3rd Model Rifle mfg. in 1885 is. Fun project that requires patience. Enjoy it and no need to Rush it. Smile

Antonio

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