Ok here is a job I volunteered for.
This poor thing has been out in a closed room beside a garage for years.
I have no reason to think it is fake.
From what I can tell it says 1864 US Springfield.
It has 2 eagles on the mechanism and no other marks that I have found yet.
Spring is still strong. It was functional when it was hauled down here and tossed in the garage.
My buddy wants me to clean the rust and not harm the wood finish at all. Which I think I can clean the wood with Murphy s oil soap and be safe.
My first impulse is to spray it with Kroil around all the screws and such and tooth brush all metal parts with kroil.
I am concerned wire brushing will mark the metal.
I know not to just go wringing the screws off. File a screwdriver to fit perfect and take my time. It does not matter how long it takes for me to do this as there is no deadline.
Main idea is to STOP the damage. 1 area has enough rust I think there will be noticeable pitting.
Ideas ,input and so on are wanted. Cash value is not a concern because it is not for sale as far as I know.
See what you can find in the way of brass wire brushes. Looks like you need some small size ones. The one below is about twice toothbrush size.
You might also experiment with a fine scotchbrite pad and some oil.
You could try out your methods on some rusty junk before you use them on the rifle.
Wire Brush for Mack.pdf (156.2 k)
Good heavens. That is beautiful.
Do not scrub or wire brush it. It will instantly lose value. You must first establish exactly what you have from a professional gun expert. Then proceed the way he suggests to retain value. A 5000.00 gun can drop to 500.00 if it is cleaned/restored improperly.
Compare to this.
Honestly, neither Jr nor myself has any idea of a reputable person to talk to about this in our area. Most are real "experts" in the modern stuff and just know this is old and that is about it.
It belonged to my friends father in law and he just tossed it in the garage storage room.
From what research I have done so far a nice,fire able 1 can be had for 1500, so must not be as rare as I would have thought.
BUT I haven't touched it yet. I want to learn what to do first before I ruin it. I know a steel brush or course abrasives will ruin the finish.
Mainly I need to get the rust damage stopped from getting worse.
Join this forum and post some pictures, they will tell you what you have. Remember, a small difference can either mean big bucks or not. A German Lugar pistol can sell for 50, 000, or a 1000,00 and they look identical to the untrained eye.
Ok, found a VP and a eagle head on the left side of the barrel at the back.
thanks Ed, I will check it out later this evening. Got some mower repairs to make.
I would wipe it down with an oily rag and see how much rust will come off with that. I would not use a brush, even a brass one.
I have several old guns that I inherited from my gun collector father.
I cleaned them up by carefully removing the wood stocks and trying not to damage any of the screws or twisting anything by force.
Looks like by the pic its original so I would try to preserve as much originality as much as you can.
Don't use any sand paper or anything that's real abrasive that will remove any of the patina.
If you can get the rifles stock off you can use some gun oil or better yet kerosene with a rag and clean the barrel and lock mechanism pretty well by that method.
You can use some scotchbrite pads with the kerosene or machine oil and clean up the metal keeping in mind that your polishing out the rusted areas smooth but not down to bare metal.
Believe it or not you can a sos pad that has plenty of soap in it and it will work pretty well. NO it wont scratch the metal.
I have used it on really rusted gun barrels and they came out nice. Works good on rusted car bumpers or chromne plated older car parts.
Be careful and take your time.
While your rifle is not collector grade it can be carefully cleaned up and made to look pretty nice.
Lightly clean up the stock and you will have a nice piece of history.
Hope this helps.
One more thing to add is pricing old guns is kind of like pricing old cars.
Condition is everything in the old gun world.
Certain rare models are worth a premium but the condition will be the final factor in getting a premium value for it.
Contact this guy, he is one of the gun appraisers on the Antiques Roadshow:
Having brought many Samurai swords back from the dead what I would do is remove the stock and saturate the metal with an oil of your choice for several days. The Japanese are very sensitive to patina and they recommend scrubbing red rust like this with a deer antler. It's hard enough to remove the active red rust but doesn't harm the underlying patina. Don't worry about the brown surface as past abuse has determined this to be the gun's patina from now on. It appears by your photos some areas will go back to bare metal but most will remain brown. I use old carpet scraps to polish the surface after scraping the red rust with oil and antler. Repeating this process multiple times will give you a smooth pleasing aged patina.
Is it loaded? Bud.
I was thinking Evapo-Rust too---but I also know enough to know to find an expert to figure out what it is BEFORE you even start to do ANYTHING to it. If you have none in your area, do as Ed said and start using the internet. I have watched many tv shows where they have said to people holding antiques---"it's great but you should have never "cleaned" it. Now its worth 1/5 of what it was."
Cool find, I am not a gun guy but stuff like that is just neat. My grandfathers house was torn down some years back and the property owner at the time found an old somewhere about turn of the century riffle in a wall. Nobody ever knew it was there, and my grandfather bough the house in the 40's.
you could call my nephew, he is a world famous gun smith & shooter with muskets. I have a 72 caliber confederate musket. his name is lee shaver also has a web site 417-682-3330. charley
Go on to one of the CW Forums, either the Authentic-Campaigner or CWReenactors.
Get a hold of a man named Curt-Heinrich Schmidt. Either he, Craig Barry, or Todd Watts can help you out.
If any of the above people don't work out, try
Dave Taylor's Civil War Antiques
P. O. Box 87
Sylvania, OHIO 43560
I've purchased several muskets from him (both restored and one needing some work). He's very honest,and good about helping you with how to restore a musket without losing value. He'll tell you how far you can go. Call him, and then he'll have you send him some pictures.
M1842 Harpers Ferry Musket
Do nothing until talking to an expert, as Ed says you can ruin the value of an antique firearm by improper cleaning. KGB
Kenneth brings up a good point, of the 30 or 40 muzzle loading guns I have bought, two were loaded, the best way to tell s to find a dowel or rod and run down the barrel, it needs to be long enough to reach from the nipple to the muzzle, it should bottom out just ahead of the nipple, if it is more then half inch ahead of the nipple, then it is probably loaded.
What you have is a Model 1861 rifled musket, it is the most common Civil War weapon, and in present condition is worth about $600 to $700. Oiling the metal with a light machine oil will not hurt the value, but do not use a wire brush of any kind. The Gunbroker link Ed posted is a very different rifle, it is a post Civil War trapdoor conversion.
Has anyone talking about expert opinions taken a look at Mac's photo's? This gun was originally finished in polished bare metal. That finish is 95% GONE! It's been replaced by rust. That equates to not touching a Model T because it has 5% paint left. This gun is in VERY poor condition, cleaning it will only make what is simply a poor condition artifact look better. This is not Antiques Roadshow worthy.
Mack: I would first wipe down with mineral spirits and oil of wintergreen (your pharmacist can obtain that for you if you tell him what it is for) 2 drops oil of wintergreen per ounce of mineral spirits you will be surprised at how much oxidation that will remove and it is an excellent penetrating mixture & works great on rusty screws.
(A parable but also a true story)
Let me tell you a story about a cookie jar. I found an old beat up cookie jar at a rummage sale that was identical to one I stole cookies from as a child.
I bought it, cleaned it, and painted it with the original colors. It came out looking just like the one I used to steal from.
A collector friend of my wifes saw it and told me I had ruined the value of the jar because I painted and cleaned it. I told her that "frankly -------- I don't give a damn". That cookie jar looked like the old one and I wanted it that way. Hang the "value"
I still eat cookies from it.
How would feel if that cookie jar would have been worth $10,000? Now it's worth $1. And when you pass and your family gets it, it's still worth $1.
The worst thing you can do is "try" to restore an antique of any kind of value. While the value may not mean anything now, that can change overnight or next year. And those that own it after you will praise you instead of cursing you.
I wouldn't attempt to even clean the rifle with anything but oil and patches. You can't "restore" it and any attempt to do so will reduce the value by up to 99%. Keep it oiled so the rust doesn't progress but after that, leave it alone.
While I basically agree with what you said, he can ruin it even more than it already is if not done properly. Yes, I looked at the pictures he posted, and that's why I suggested he send them to Dave. If he's never restored a musket (or cleaned one up, depending on how far he wants to go) he needs to talk to someone who's an expert who can keep him from doing MORE damage, like some of the suggestions above. It's very easy to get some advice from someone who's done it before and knows what they're doing.
Right now this M1863 is approaching relic status. Right now it would probably be graded at "antique fair to poor". Stopping the rust wouldn't hurt its value much, and if properly preserved mat actually hep the gun. Since by looking at the hammer screw, it has obviously been turned, I would tear the gun down. Soak the metal parts in Evaporust, clean dry and coat with oil. Do not use brass or any other metal brushes. Toothbrushes are OK to clean with. Wash the stock but do not sand or use any steel wool or metal abrasives on it. It's OK to use a bore brush on the bore. Re-assemble the gun being careful not to bugger up any screws. Collectors expect pits and wear on Civil War era guns. They weren't cared for or cleaned very well at the time or later. That being said, if it can be stabilized, a beginning collector might go up to around $850 or so for a purchase price.
There isn't anything else I can add that hasn't already been said but I just wanted to say what a cool rifle. I love old guns, working or not, especially guns that may have a history.
History is everything. I inherited a Colt 1911, well worn and used by my grandfather in WW2. I also inherited a mint "used once" German Lugar, shot at my grandfather by the officer who carried it, and soon afterward he was subsequently was killed by the Colt 1911. Hows that for a show and tell over a cold beer. I enjoy uncovering both guns, and presenting them while telling the story. It will give you chills to hold them to be sure.
Wow, Glad I didnt just get started. :>0
We had talked and I was going to soak the fasteners with Kroil and clean it with a tooth brush and once took apart, clean the metal by electrolysis. I felt that would save every detail best. But now,I am skeered to do much. I will sit down and get a couple better pictures to send to the folks listed above.
Like I said, this thing can lean in the corner here near the computer for how ever long till something is done.
Plenty of time to learn.
We do eventually want to get it clean as possible for sure.
A friend of mine that is very familar with civil war history in general took the rod and ran it down in the barrel and he says it is not loaded.
I was a gunsmith for many years and have brought many rusty antiques back to life. I also own the same model of musket but 1861 dated. As Howard said, those muskets were bare steel, no finish at all. The best way to restore both the wood and the metal is WD40 and 000 or 0000 steel wool. Never a brush as others have said. The best way to determine if the gun is authentic is by bringing it to a reenactment or a store that sells replicas. The originals are fairly light. The replicas weigh a lot more.
That's quite a story, Ed! Even though they're not my guns, I want you to know that I'll get mileage just off the retelling of it!