Drove up near Michigan to take possession of a muzzleloader. The gent and I arranged payments prior to this, to be paid off after I began work.
When I got up there, we just met in an Arby's parking lot.
He handed me the rifle and said, "We're even. Merry Christmas!"
That man is so cool... and no, not just because of the rifle. Very nice gentleman. Not mentioning names because I don't want to embarrass him.
Here's the rifle:
The long rifle
The brass is dulled a bit, but not too much... just a really nice look.
You can see a bit of the rifling, and I put a magnified view in the inset. You can see how the tool was likely dull - it stuttered bit. If it doesn't smooth out with a bit of shooting, I'm going to do it manually - which is SOOO OKAY as I live to gunsmith.
The lock, which I took apart and redid. The parts were all in top condition except for a bit of surface rust.
When i got home, I immediately stripped the rifle. The lock came apart without too much hassle. The individual parts went to soak in Fluid Film on low heat.
I pulled the drum bolster as it was loose. Inspecting the barrel, I found a bit of rust, but not too much. Just a bit of surface rust and some hairy stuff - but not much of that at all.
Honestly, it looks like this was shot once or twice back in the '70s or '80s, cleaned, maybe left dry, and hung up.
The evidence of this:
The rifling does not show any wear at all.
The tumbler has a sear adjustment on it - and it was not adjusted.
The sights were loose. There is no way they would have stayed on through multiple firings.
The ramrod hardly shows any use. Just a bit of green corrosion.
It just didn't feel fired, if that makes sense.
Now, the sights: I'm not sure what was going on here. They just slid out. Aftermarket and too small, maybe? Or maybe they were metric sights and these were 3/8" dovetails - I don't know. I do know they were loose.
I tried stippling the bottom of the dovetail and front sight, and that didn't make much difference, so I tapped the edges down a bit. A bit tighter, but not by a lot. I finally just got out the soft silver solder (as opposed to the hard stuff I use on modern guns) and used it to hold the front sight in place. I'll still be able to drift it out when and if I replace the front sight, but it'll stay put until I do.
The rear sight I treated similarly, but I didn't use solder. I figure I'll get the windage out of this one, and when I get it sighted the way I want, I'll secure it then, probably mechanically - a pin, or drive part of the dovetail top into the sight. Or I'll just replace the sight!
I inspected the threads before I put the bolster back on. They were just fine. Looks like the reason it wasn't tight (I snugged it up, but not overly so) was that the hammer face does not strike squarely, but rather the edge strikes. The barrel needs to be moved back just a little, and I'm still studying on how I might do that.
Nipple replaced (the old one had been drilled out to more than .040, which is my limit), everything reassembled adjusted the trigger to how I like it (light), and when I was sure it wouldn't fly apart on me, I went to test it.
I put 45gns of FFg down the tube and packed a couple jumbo cotton balls down it - plenty of resistance - it felt as if I were loading a patched ball. I fired it out the door, and as it was dark out, I got a spectacular show.
I then upped it to 70gns, same cotton ball resistance, and a "BOOM!" filled the woods. I also felt a bit of recoil through my heavy jacket..!
The one downside (not really a downside, but something to remedy) is that it's a .45, which would be, to my mind, more correct for a long rifle than would be a .50, but I don't cast for .50 and couldn't find a source for balls last night.
Got to thinking that I might force a cast 230gn .45acp bullet down the barrel, but I really didn't want to fight with the fact that they're hard, and that they would lead the barrel, so I'm waiting.
Since I'm broke, I'll have to trade for a .440" RB mould. I have a Lee .452" 230gn LRN mould I don't use any longer, having gone solely to truncated cone flat nose for my ACP, so I might trade that.
The barrel is 33" long and I got between 1/3 and 1/2 turn on the cleaning rod - I had marked it - so I'm looking at a 1:66" to 1:70" turn, so I doubt it would stabilize a conical, unless maybe I use a Minie ball.
Overall, I'm very happy with my Christmas present. It's an awesome rifle. As soon as I figure out exactly how I'm going to do the sights, I'll clean that part up and let it patina over again, or maybe start it that way with some plum brown in the areas I have to mess with.
You know, I might turn this ol' Kentucky Long Rifle into a long range gun if it proves to be accurate. I think it would look good with a period 'scope. Not sure how much the caliber would hurt it, but I'd think a Minie ball would stabilize to a few hundred yards. It would be a fun project and, since I wouldn't use mounts that didn't fit in the existing dovetails, it would stay original and I could bring it back to stock any time.
Tomorrow I get to go trade for a T/C New Englander, and then I'll be buying a slow twist Hawken replica when I start working again. My collection will start being complete at that point... for now, anyway.