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Gunsmith familiar with Springfield Trapdoor?


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21 replies to this topic

#1 Judd

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Posted July 22 2017 - 05:41 PM

Good afternoon,  I've recently been given a Springfield Model 1873 Trapdoor 45-70 rifle, circa 1881, that's been in the family for 4 generations and if at all possible, I'd like to have a knowledgeable gunsmith go over the weapon carefully and let me know what it would take to bring it to a condition such that it would be safe to fire.  I've done some homework and as far as I can tell, it appears to be largely original and appears to be in good cosmetic condition but has not been fired for at least 70 years. I believe that it requires a new firing pin and a good cleaning and inspection of the barrel.  It seems to be a pretty simple device and I would think that any competent gunsmith could evaluate it and make needed repairs.  Parts availability doesn't seem to be a problem because they made so many of them.

It was owned originally by my great grandfather, who served during the Spanish American War (203rd NY Infantry, Co. K).  I don't know whether it was his actual service weapon, but it was owned by him until his death in 1945 and passed down. 

While I am not a huge gun enthusiast myself, if it's anywhere near a reasonable thing to do I would like to restore the weapon and offer my dad the chance to fire it. I don't believe he ever has done so and he is the last living person to have memory of my great grandfather who first owned it. I'd also like to shoot it and offer the opportunity to other members of the family - my son would make generation 5.  

 

I'm located on eastern LI but willing to travel for the right person.  If anyone here is familiar with this type of rifle and knows a gunsmith who might be willing to have a look at it and make the needed repairs, I'd appreciate it very much.

BTW, the attached photo is believed to be my great grandfather. It closely resembles the photos of him I've seen as an older man; it also resembles my uncle. The regiment, company, time frame, and location of the photo studio (Syracuse) are consistent with my great grandfather, too.

 

 

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Many thanks in advance,

CJ



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#2 mrprovy

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Posted July 22 2017 - 05:53 PM

I would not do any kind of restoration on it, just maintain it and keep it clean.  As far as function check, the only one I can think of locally is Orion7 in Middle Island; they specialize in old military firearms, but primarily WWII stuff.  If they are not familiar with it, I'm sure they know someone who is.


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#3 Judd

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Posted July 22 2017 - 06:15 PM

I won't do anything to it beyond what's required to restore safe function.  It retains all of its original cartouches and inspection markings and  as far as I can tell the finishes are original.  Thanks for the tip - I'll check them out.  (BTW, I grew up in Selden)



#4 Landlubber

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Posted July 22 2017 - 06:58 PM

OK, so I'm only mentioning this because you said you weren't a gun enthusiast:

One REALLY important thing to consider is that gun is a black powder gun, if you put a modern smokeless 45-70 in there it will probably kaboom the gun. 

Chamber pressures for the BP round will be around 18Kpsi and the smokeless will be around 28Kpsi.

BP 45-70 cartridges are available from several vendors.

 

Nice rifle, but I'm not sure I'd shoot it. If you elect to, make SURE you have the correct ammo.



#5 biglou

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Posted July 22 2017 - 07:00 PM

Wow I have something similar that was passed down on my wifes side of the family. Her grandfather was in a NY militia unit in WW1 and was issued a trapdoor. He never returned it. I've had for years since I'm the family gun guy. Havent done a thing but cleaned and coated it with oil. It was in medicore shape when I got since it was stored in a basement for years. Everything seems to work but the  barrel is badly pitted. 45-70 is one caliber I dont have or reload for.I might get dies and make a soft load for this rifle. My kids who are teenagers now want to shoot this rifle. Orion 7 might not be a bad idea.Might bring it there and just discuss if its even worth shooting.Let us know how you make out.



#6 Judd

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Posted July 22 2017 - 08:18 PM

Thank you for the replies and wisdom!

I am aware of the importance of using the correct ammunition for this rifle. I'm not any kind of expert but I try to do my homework, I was trained in firearms safety as a young man, and would like to avoid any dangerous situations.

I've sent a note to Orion 7 and will let you know how things work out.

There's a fairly active Facebook group devoted to these and quite a number seem to shoot regularly with them, but none seem to be local so that's why I posted here.

@biglou -Family legend has it that this was my great grandfather's service weapon but lacking documentation I won't claim that.

Again, thanks to all!

#7 zzrguy

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Posted July 22 2017 - 09:25 PM

This guy does excellent work and preserved my 1876 Winchester production date 1879.

 

http://www.turnbullmfg.com



#8 mrprovy

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Posted July 23 2017 - 06:36 AM



#9 Skywalker

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Posted July 23 2017 - 07:47 AM

That is one nice piece!

 

I'm an antique guy.  That is a great piece of history and it's been in the family.  Doesn't get any better than that.



#10 Nordon

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Posted July 23 2017 - 08:06 AM

Turnbull looks like they have some really nice pieces, but wouldn't a restoration like that destroy the (historical) value of the firearm ? Then again, the work (and price) looks as if they increase the value, some beautiful specimens. I would love to get 2 CMP 1911s and have one redone by them, and the other left as is.

#11 blue steel

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Posted July 23 2017 - 09:58 AM

You might want to contact or go to a meeting of LIAHAS. They hold shows in Freeport a couple times a year. One coming up in Sept. Plus they have meetings in Babylon. This is the kind of stuff they live and breath.

http://www.liahas.org/

Long Island Antique Historical Arms Society
Phone: (631) 722-3248
Email: [email protected]

Edited by blue steel, July 23 2017 - 10:01 AM.


#12 Judd

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Posted July 23 2017 - 10:04 AM

Turbull's work is spectacular but I suspect well beyond what my rifle needs. I'm absolutely fine with the wear my rifle shows because it's old. I'm an old car guy (I also have dad's 79 year old BMW) and I like a solid old original rather than a factory perfect restoration.

Will post photos in a bit. Thank you all for your advice & wisdom.
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#13 blue steel

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Posted July 23 2017 - 12:10 PM

Turbull's work is spectacular but I suspect well beyond what my rifle needs. I'm absolutely fine with the wear my rifle shows because it's old. I'm an old car guy (I also have dad's 79 year old BMW) and I like a solid old original rather than a factory perfect restoration.
Will post photos in a bit. Thank you all for your advice & wisdom.


Old car = 79 Beamer .... that has to be the funniest thing I have heard in a long time... God bless

#14 Judd

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Posted July 23 2017 - 12:11 PM

Old car = 79 Beamer .... that has to be the funniest thing I have heard in a long time... God bless


Not quite. It's a 79 year old BMW, built in 1938 and in the family since 1964. I think it qualifies as an antique.

#15 blue steel

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Posted July 23 2017 - 12:30 PM

Not quite. It's a 79 year old BMW, built in 1938 and in the family since 1964. I think it qualifies as an antique.


Ah... me bad. Carry on.
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#16 NRATC53

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Posted July 23 2017 - 07:53 PM

Turbull's work is spectacular but I suspect well beyond what my rifle needs. I'm absolutely fine with the wear my rifle shows because it's old. I'm an old car guy (I also have dad's 79 year old BMW) and I like a solid old original rather than a factory perfect restoration.

Will post photos in a bit. Thank you all for your advice & wisdom.

For both the rifle and the BMW I'd put you in touch with Cliff Eberhard


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#17 zzrguy

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Posted July 23 2017 - 08:18 PM

Turbull's work is spectacular but I suspect well beyond what my rifle needs. I'm absolutely fine with the wear my rifle shows because it's old. I'm an old car guy (I also have dad's 79 year old BMW) and I like a solid old original rather than a factory perfect restoration.

Will post photos in a bit. Thank you all for your advice & wisdom.

He also dose preservation that what he did for me fix any issue and check the to make sure it was safe to fire.

 

If you want to shoot it I recommend you reload I've load lite loads with Trail Boss for my Winchester and it was still a thumper and the pressure was still safe.


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#18 Judd

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Posted July 29 2017 - 01:08 PM

Quick update: LIAHAS email appears to be dead and an inquiry to Orion7 went unanswered. A friend with a nice Garand said he'd never seen a Trapdoor in their shop, so it's no big deal.

On a whim I stopped into a (very) local shop today - Bait and Barrels in Riverhead - and they seemed very friendly & willing to make some phone calls to help find a knowledgeable gunsmith locally.

If that doesn't pan out, I'll contact Turnbull and go from there.

#19 Judd

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Posted November 24 2017 - 10:24 PM

Quick update- I've not had any luck finding a gunsmith willing to work on the old lady.  Nobody'd even bother to look, I'm guessing because she's so old.  So I did some homework, bought a firing pin from S&S Firearms in Queens, and installed it myself in about 10 minutes.  One thing was encouraging was that even though the firing pin was indeed broken (dad broke it by dry firing the gun as a kid ~70 years ago), it still moved freely and there was a trace of oil still on it. I'll give her a good cleaning next, buy a box or two of appropriate ammunition, and head to the range to see if I can hit anything. 


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#20 NRATC53

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Posted November 26 2017 - 12:33 PM

Cliff Eberhard. P

Probably has the parts for it also






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