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Posted: 9/6/2010 7:00:21 PM EDT
Aside from the expected mild patina and pitting in the metal, the only (it's a major "only") problem with this ~135 year old Springfield Model 1873 Trapdoor is its stock which is cracked in spots and missing in others. I could buy an original stock for ~$200-300 and replace it - it would look better but it wouldn't be original. I'm debating replacing the stock and I'd appreciate any thoughts about why I should or should not.

According to the 31st Ed of the Blue Book of Gun Values (and no surprise to anyone), "On Springfields and other U.S. military long arms, the importance of the wood being original, unsanded, and with crisp, clear cartouches cannot be overstated." Of course, this particular rifle has only the part of the original unsanded stock and the shape of the stock is bad.

1st pic: appears front half of stock is missing, but rifle is otherwise in tact...

2nd pic: mild patina, stock crack starts here and wraps through/around...

3rd pic: the parts and everything else complete and functional. No rust. The main screw here has only minor marks where someone worked the screw and the top, the one in the trap door, others on opposite side, and buttplate have none...

4th pic: reverse side of the crack, trapdoor works fine...

5th pic: metal in good shape for the age. "U.S. Model 1873" is clear though picture blurred...

6th pic: the front portion of the stock was clearly cut here (not by me!) and I don't have this front portion...

7th pic: these parts, etc, look in complete order, though I am puzzled with the presence of front sling swivel here but lack of it on the trigger guard (see pics above). Not sure where the inconsistency lies, if any, but it does seem odd...

This last picture shows the buttplate with a "US 208" and stock matching "208" in front of it. If I replace the stock, it won't match the buttplate. If I replace both so they match, the metal of the buttplate may not look like the rest of the metal.


Any thoughts are appreciated.
Link Posted: 9/6/2010 8:06:35 PM EDT
It would seem to me that what you do with this rifle is really dependent on what your interest in it is. That is, are you looking for a shooter, an investment or a wall hanger? If you're planning on shooting it––you didn't mention the condition of the bore––then you should restock it and have at it. If you're looking at it as an investment then it would seem that you have a pretty tough row to hoe as that stock is pretty well shot so any financial gain would probably come from parting it out. Finally, if you're mainly interested in it as a wall hanger then restore it using what wood is left as the basis. Graft on a new forend; glue and pin the crack across the wrist; restain the whole thing to match.

Other posters may have better insights.

Link Posted: 9/7/2010 1:08:03 AM EDT
I'd replace the stock and shoot it.

If you want something with true collector value, I'd start with something that acutally has collector value. There's no point in trying to figure out how to restore this gun to make it something it can't be. There are plenty of trapdoors out there in better condition and are a much better gun to start out with if you're looking for a collector value gun.

I think the true value in this gun is to someone who wants a shooter trapdoor. They aren't going to care about a new stock, or whatever. In fact a mis match will sometimes make people like the gun better to shoot because they don't feel disturbed about shooting it.

Link Posted: 9/7/2010 4:01:44 AM EDT
im not sure its worth shooting. those trapdoors were never the strongest and you can get a brand new .45-70 from NEF for like a hundred bux. i say sell it or hang it. but if you do deciede to shoot it BE VERY CAREFUL.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 5:41:39 AM EDT
If you restock it just don't throw away the old wood. It can't hurt values if you want to sell it later. And use the old buttplate.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 3:11:43 PM EDT
Originally Posted By aaronrb204:
If you restock it just don't throw away the old wood. It can't hurt values if you want to sell it later. And use the old buttplate.


Go ahead and restock it and I agree with this statement.
Link Posted: 9/7/2010 8:17:59 PM EDT
Excellent feedback - thank you to all. I haven't thought about using it as a shooter and admittedly haven't cleaned the bore. I can see the rifling through the dust and fuzz and clearly I need to run some patches down there and oil it but, regardless of the condition, my personal (albeit perhaps uneducated) instinct makes me hesitate to shoot the thing or any firearm from pre-WW1 (mostly out of fear of different/unknown specs for powders or bullet dimensions coupled with any time degradations in the metal). Investigation of the Serial Number puts its birth at 1879 but even with inspection by a competent gunsmith the risk/reward of shooting the thing vs it blowing up in my face doesn't even out for me.

It does have some sentimental value in it having been my relative's who passed a while ago - he was truly a skilled woodworker who had begun creating a stock (way too far away from complete for me to finish and not sure it would have been for this rifle) and I suspect he had bought the rifle for the workable metal and parts and was hoping to give it a new stock (the rifle was not an heirloom). He either gave up or lost time - I do not know his intentions for it. I'm sure I'd get the most value by parting it, as mentioned, but it is a little bit of a family thing so don't want to part or sell it if he did have higher hopes for it, even if its end destination is my just keeping it and thinking of it and him. I do still want it to be the best it can be (though I hear and agree with the points about it not really being collectible in this condition).

Anyway, I've read up on disassembly for replacing the stock and it does look tricky and that not all of them were interchangeable with same-sized parts, stocks, etc, so I don't want fit issues. I also don't want to break it more, strip screws, etc. It's not like an AR which pops apart like tinker toys in one hand and with your eyes closed - the stuff looks like it needs prying which I'm afraid of now. I liked the idea of gluing it and adding a front portion of the stock but I can't find just a front portion of a stock (I refuse to cut another intact stock to fix mine) but, regardless, this is a huge project requiring major skill and still requiring delicate disassembly, as well as refinishing, for it to look good enough to be on a wall. I could pay a pro to make it look good, but I think it's in the $thousands and suspect it isn't worth it.

So, shooting aside, selling it or parting it aside, repairing it aside, I'd love to use it as a wall piece for some wall some day (not a fireplace mantle but a lesser wall perhaps). The crack isn't as bothersome to me as the huge missing portion of the stock but, though it is clearly hugely flawed, the rifle still does have some historic and family value even in its current state. I'm going to think about it more though. Good input so far and very appreciated, though still undecided.
Link Posted: 9/14/2010 7:38:20 PM EDT
The stocks are one peice wood and not hard to find,and while handloaded with FFL or Triple 7 or even pyrodex up to 70 grains it can handel the
pressures. was made to handel black powder ! You can load smokless powder too,but with black powder you can fill the case up and tweek
it a few times with your fingers and compresss a 405 or 500 grain properly lubed bullet and fire away!

They are weak actions by todays standards(smokeless powders) but strong enough for black powders!

Bob
Link Posted: 9/15/2010 5:40:11 AM EDT
As long as you save the old stock you are not losing anything by getting a new stock for it.

I'd make it a project. So what if it takes some fitting for the new stock? Take your time when removing old screws, use a properly fitting screwdriver, it will come apart. Then shoot it. Get an old tire, with no rim. Put the buttstock in the tire(the rifle will be sideways), use a sandbag or something soft with some weight to keep the barrel from flipping up. Tie a string to the trigger, stand back and fire it!

See what happens, with some common sense, you'll be able to tell if it is safe to shoulder fire it or not. Have fun
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