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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently purchased an 1873 Springfield Trapdoor that was actually made in 1874, serial 14xxx. Examining it closely, it looks like there is a large pit or chip in the chamber that seems to be right next to or right at the joint where receiver and barrel seem to join. A dental pick sinks in pretty far but there is no other problems apparent with the rifle. Is there a means to close up and smooth out the pit to allow it to fire or is this a lost cause? The barrel and receiver scrib marks line up OK. I have no means to separate them to examine the threads and connection more closely.
 

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Fire it ,and see if you really have a problem.If the cases stick,and dont want to come out then polishing may help,but if its too deep you wont be able to remove enough metal to make it go away.Just a suggestion,but the first firing of 130 old rifles should be with the butt in an old tire,and a long string on the trigger.
 

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We don't know what it looks like, and it is important to be sure it isn't a crack. Having it fixed to a tyre at the time is feeble compensation for blowing up an original Trapdoor. I've got a 45 degree angled dental mirror and an inspection lamp I made with a grain-of-wheat bulb soldered to coaxial wire and sealed off with heat shrink tubing. With a little aluminium foil lampshade to keep the bulb out of the picture, I think a close-focussing digital camera would give you a picture you could enlarge for a good look.

Assuming it is only shallow, it might be pitting, or the work of some member of the intellectual classes digging out a stuck case. This might not impede extraction with modern cases and light loads, and with an original Springfield they ought to be light. To remove a case that does get stuck on this trial, use a metal rod from the muzzle.

If it does cause an extraction problem, see if it is any better when the hole is filled with hard, cold candle-wax, for that is incompressible, and won't be squeezed anywhere at the speed case expansion happens. It should prevent expansion for a single shot.

If the wax is any help, clean the pitting very thoroughly with soapy water or alcohol and a wire brush. If there is rust in the hole, naval jelly rust remover will remove it easily after degreasing, with no damage to the chamber, but don't get it on the blued surfaces, and don't use any product that claims to leave a protective layer. Then fill the hole with either soft solder or plastic steel. Don't overheat the receiver, but the melting-point of soft solder, or the temperature required to remove unsuccessful plastic steel work, won't do that. Both can be scraped flush with the chamber wall, using a piece of sharpened steel rod or tubing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Calgacus

Thanks, those are some nice suggestions I will consider. I am pretty sure it is not a crack as it does not appear on outside anywhere. It looks looks like a crater but might get a better look with your camera suggestion. By "plastic steel", are you referring to JB Weld, a product that has to be mixed together or is it some other product - I am not familiar with the term?
 

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Best bet would be a steel filled epoxy. High temp ones are available and might work.

BTW to check for cracks an old trick is to dip the receiver in gasoline. A crack shows up as a dark line.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Fired - Here are Results

I decided to shoot the rifle and see what happens first. I loaded up some 405 grainer flat tips and used 60 gr of ffg. I was very impressed with how the rifle shot using the old 1st variation rear sights. I had to hold about 12 inches low at 100 yards at the lowest notch but got a real nice 5" group with 12 rounds - not shabby at all for me. The cartridge cases didn't pop out all the way but extractor did pop them out to end of range of extractor motion and then a flat tip screwdriver did the rest without trouble. The pit makes a blister on the side of the case as shown. I plan to make the pit smaller progressively with some JB Weld but the pit is hard to get to without raising it up above the level of chamber so I will take it slowly. Thanks for the suggestions above and for those who answered off line. Do you think these cases would be a problem to reload with a BP load again after sizing?
 

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Odd place for a cavitation hole...right in the middle of the shell. You probably can re-use the shells. When you re-size that pimple should go away. Watch for "ballooning" at the base of the cartridge, when that gets excessive it is time to start looking at new brass. Mine only does this with BP loads. My favorite is using a 435gr Lee Hollow Base sized to .460 lubed with SPG, a .030" veggie wad, and 62 gr of FFg. Smokeless, I use 28 grains of H4198 and a 405 gr .458 sized hard cast #2.

As far as the cavitation hole in the chamber, JB Weld might work, but my suggestion is send the barrel/receiver to Bob Hoyt in Fairfield Pa and have him sleeve the barrel. When he does that he re-machines the chamber. You will never tell it is not original from the out side, still looks original. I believe his business is called the Fleischauer Shop or something in that order. Very reasonable, I've had a couple done by him that others had given up on.
 

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Not saying that it is the case but are you sure that nobody ever has drilled the chamber in order to "demilitarize" the rifle? I know that it seems ridiculous but I've seen it many times. New owners sometimes fill the hole (after threading it) with some screw and are sometimes masters in "camouflage" on the outside of the chamber. Often they leave some "play" on the inside of the chamber because they don't have the tools to rectify it. I felt that it must be said because it's very dangerous, the last of such "restored" rifles I saw in several pieces (after the first shot) was a WWII Enfield.
Just my 2 cents because I don't know where or how it was purchased.
 

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Indeed it does look like that, and all bets are off on epoxy etc. if it really is a filled hole through both barrel and receiver.

If somebody has fitted a drilled and plugged barrel to an undrilled receiver, I doubt if it would be dangerous with the sort of loads you should be using in a Trapdoor Springfield. I think it would be all right to replace the plug, if it is threaded, with a new one that is really flush with the chamber wall. The outer end of such a plug ought to be threaded, and probably a thousandth or two proud of the barrel threads, so that it actually rubs against the interior of the receiver threads on insertion. I'd soonest soft-solder it in place too. A chamber reamer would be useful to finish the curved inside end.

An alternative, if you feel like doing it to an original rifle, would be to set the barrel back enough to eliminate the hole, and rechamber. I'd probably keep a really original rifle as a wall-hanger, but do this with one of the many that were sporterised long ago.
 

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The fact that the "dimple" is round is a tip off. That is not a normal thing.
With low pressure 45/70 loads I would try the Epoxy/ steel fix and watch
things. You are dealing with quite low pressures. While you have the epoxy
mixed add some height to the front sight.
Good luck!
 

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If the bore is good, just sleeve the chamber....

...after drilling it out, to 3/4" or thereabouts, match the contours of the drill hole, and be sure to leave about half an inch of the original chamber in place for the neck of the case to go into. When I say match the contours, I mean a dead-nuts fit, the kind of seamless fit that is going to be without any flaw. This will require a high polish, both inside the hole, and on the sleeve. I would use 4140 barrel stock, was it me. Then heat the rear of the barrel, a heat gun is nice for this chore, and cool the sleeve with dry ice, and slide 'em together. Recut the rear of the chamber, and you're in business.

Please note that I would not recommend this trick with any other centerfire caliber, and that the case neck must enter the barrel beyond the repair, so that gas cannot attack the sleeve-barrel joint.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
My Word!

Well now, you guys got my attention! Looking at my spent cases again, I notice a tiny pit directly opposite to the blister as shown. This pictures in my mind a large woodscrew-like bolt through the chamber and just a nick by the point of the woodscrew on the opposite chamber wall. I have studied the rifle and it appears that if what you suspect is true then it is only on the barrel as I can't detect any problem whatever with the receiver. So the seller (or someone earlier) must have matched a plugged barrel (one half so) to another receiver. The barrel is clearly a later one than the receiver but they might have tried to salvage the barrel because it is in nearly pristine condition (sans the drilled thread part).

I don't know what to do. Optimist's plan of attack is clearly beyond my capability. I guess I will try to close it up some with some JB Weld and keep any loads I shoot real light. Maybe when I win the lottery I'll try to get this rechambered. How much $ are we talking about for a job like that?

Big Commander-if you run across this thread again- I'm curious about the demilled ones you have come across - were they using a large woodscrew that only went through one side of the chamber?
 

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A partial chamber sleeve like this ....

...went for 45 bucks if I didn't have to rent the reamer, or 90 if I had to rent one. That was a few years back in West Texas, but I doubt it's gone above 60 to 105.
 

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Caution Longwinded FWIW:

I would pull the barrel before going any further. You may be able to view the problem and better assess what to do. TD barrels pull pretty easy with a padded vise and wrench. If welded up ( which I suspect based on the shape of the pit in the case) it's time to rethink the whole deal as heat may have weakened the barrel. There may be a thin weld plug visable. It also may have made the barrel metal very hard/brittle. In either case the sleeve idea appeals to me altho replacing the barrel may be cheaper.

I have seen chambers drilled thru by hollywood prop companies to either allow short .45 blanks to be fired safely (via a partial plug) or to allow smoke and flash to come up and simulate a flintlock. MGM sold hundreds of altered trapdoors some years ago. Fake flintlock hammers and frizzens welded on. Some were fake blunderbusses and pirate rifles and pistols. Also seen chamber damage from attempts to dig out a headless case ala the custer reports. Last year a large bunch of otherwise vg td barrels showed up with holes drilled through the chamber and weld spots near the muzzle. Concensus was they were used in display rack or headboard.

Curious to see what you find.
 
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