Jump to content
I Forge Iron

A recent acquisition...


Recommended Posts

If this is inappropriate, I apologize, but I feel like there is knowledge here that could benefit me, and I know the guys and girls here have varied knowledge they like to share so here goes...

My father passed away last year, and I inherited some of his things. He had a .45-70 Springfield, model 1884, and now I have it. I would like to be able to clean it up, and do the maintenance on it, but have no idea where to start.

I have looked for manuals.. but they are very expensive. I am just looking for some fairly straight forward "Do this .. or DON'T do that!! " I would like to be able to take it apart to oil/clean the inside workings, I doubt this rifle has seen the light of day for 25 years.

I plan on taking it to a gunsmith to have it checked out, but I want at least a clue of what would be reasonable.

To answer a couple of questions it is a model 1884 US Springfield. with a trap door. The stock has been cut down, and because of that I doubt this rifle has very much collectors value, but is very valuable to me. It has spent a lot of time in the deep Maine woods, and a lot of that wear and tear shows.

It has the Buffington sight, and I was wondering if anyone could tell me how it works. Is it worthwhile to clean the brass up?

I have been doing a lot of research online, and I plan to use only the regular cartridges specced for this rifle, after I get it checked out. I only target shoot and know about firearm safety, but I know he took a lot of game with this rifle.

I welcome any information about the "care and feeding", and thanks for your time!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have an old .45-70 myself. It started out as a rifle but had a broken forestock and at sometime was cut down to carbine length. I picked it up cheap at a gun show many years ago. I do 1870s Cavalry reenacting and it works fine for shooting blanks but one of the other reenactors that is very knowledgeable about firearms has advised me not to shoot live rounds out of my particular .45-70 due to a very worn barrel and cracked wrist on the stock. I have fired live rounds out of other antique .45-70s that were in useable shape. Unfortunately the best I can say if find a gunsmith that is familiar with antique weapons. S & S firearms has a book on the .45-70

THE .45-70 SPRINGFIELD, 4th EDITION. by J. Poyer & C. Riesch. Newly Expanded, Almost twice as long as the original. 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", soft cover. A unique book as it analyzes each model of .45-70 by detailing the parts. In this manner, a collector can determine if the gun is authentic and correct for the period in which it was manufactured. Profusely illustrated. Sections on production records, serial numbers, assembly & disassembly, stock markings and bayonets and scabbards. Covers rifle, cadet & carbine. All variations and changes are described. A positive approach for correct I.D

I wish I could be of more help. Enjoy your rifle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you going to reload your own black powder cartridge...i would suggest severa books by Paul Matthews..
Loading the Black power rifle cartridge
Shoothing the blackpowder cartridge rifle
How to's for the blackpowder cartridge rifle shooter
cast bullets for the blackpowder cartridge rifle
and the Paperjacket
also the the book Trapdoor Springfield by MD Waite and BD Ernst

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Trapdoors are relatively weak actions (in comparison to a lever-action or falling/rolling block) but are reliable if kept in good condition. As stated, Matthews' books are probably some of the better ones written on the subject and he also wrote one specifically for the 45-70 - "Forty Years With The .45/70. by Paul Matthews".

A 405 gr lubed lead bullet and 55 gr of black powder will duplicate the old Army carbine load and should be easy on both the rifle and your shoulder if the action checks out as safe. It helps if you can reload and cast your own bullets but these days, there are a lot of rounds made expressly for cowboy action shooting and vintage firearms so check out this site for components and loaded ammo: http://www.midwayusa.com/

I have two 45-70's - a Sharps and a modern Marlin lever - it is a great cartridge and will take any game in North America.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a few trapdoors in my collection, and I find them fun to shoot. I hate cleaning up after blackpowder, so I go with smokeless loads myself. Plenty of info for reloading, just be very careful that you are looking at Trapdoor specs, and not Thompson Center, lever gun, or Ruger No.1 loads.

The main section I inspect on these when purchasing one is the trapdoor assembly. I check it over for a worn out hinge pin,sloppy hinge, and general looseness.

I wouldn't get too gung-ho on tearing it apart until you get the proper screwdrivers. Look for tips like the Chapman sets have where the side are straight, not tapered like most are. With proper fitting screwdriver tips even old stuck screws should loosen up without buggering the slots.

Have fun, and watch the recoil. With 405/500 grain bullets, and a steel buttplate on a relatively light rifle the shoulder can feel it.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do plan on shooting this rifle, with the 405 and black powder equivalent. To my untutored inspection, the screws have been worked many times, and there is a little boogering, but not unreasonable amount for the age. The action and trapdoor seem to function well with very little slop.

As I said before, I would like to learn basic car and feeding for this gun, so perhaps it can make it to another generation.

I don't plan on hand loading, but you never know.

Thanks for your time, as always.

Here are some pics:

post-5746-051664500 1282656063_thumb.jpg

post-5746-083582900 1282656086_thumb.jpg

post-5746-054551500 1282656109_thumb.jpg

post-5746-025152400 1282656133_thumb.jpg

post-5746-016392500 1282656156_thumb.jpg

post-5746-048242600 1282656179_thumb.jpg

post-5746-080554500 1282656202_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Surface rust can be dealt with by rubbing down with 0000, or FINER steel wool, and oil.

Do not overdo the lube, as it can create a situation where dirt sticks to it accelerating wear.

Chamber needs to be lube free, or you can get excessive pressures on the breech block. This happens because the case is supposed to grip the chamber when fired, and slips back if lubed.

A little gun grease on the lockwork, and a drop of oil on the hinge is all that is really needed.

When swabbing the bore use a bore guide/muzzle protector. A lot of guns lose accuracy due to over cleaning which can damage the crown on the muzzle. The steel used in these firearms is relatively soft, so be aware of the crown getting worn.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As far as removing the lock, there are 2 screws.... which I would remove as usual.. and then the lock and trigger assembly come out as one piece?

I don't want to take this apart and have it fly apart, because I have no idea how to do it....but I am very curious how the whole thing works, and want to take good care of it...

I am not expecting miracles, but advice is appreciated..


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yep, remember these were adapted from percussion rifles, so the lockwork is pretty much the same. Nothing is going to go SPROOOOOOIIIIINNNNG! They are very simple.

What I suggest you do is look at how it was made, and try to reverse engineer it. Remember the tooling available at the time-no CNC's. The trigger guard is one item that looks simple, but has a few steps to manufacture.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't imagine there is a huge number of parts... or very complicated... just trying to be prepared. I want to think that the lock work... is all pinned or screwed together.. like a lock set in a door... everything is "contained" or "retained" there is nothing held in place by the stock....

Have you ever taken apart a 4 barrel carburetor? They do go sproing.... which is why I lay a sheet on the floor and take them apart there... Yes I know there is little in common with a rifle made in 1885 and a mid 60's carb.. but tear down is still tear down and if you don't klnow what you re doing it pays to look and think ahead... because eventually I am going to want to rebuild or reassemble everything....

If I could find a manual ... for free or cheap I would read it... and I have found one of the books listed but only the first 3 and last 3 chapters are available online.. the book is about $50... I understand economics... but I don't need 2/3 of the info in the book about every other model and variation .... ever made...


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...